Thursday, July 11, 2019

Report from City of David

After living in exile for 210 years in Egypt and after wondering the desert for 38 years, Israel sought to enter the land of its inheritance. To their surprise Amelikites disguised as Canaanites attacked them, Edomites refused them passage, Moabites and Amonites withheld the offer of food or water. All these events took place on Israel's southern approach along the eastern side of the Jordan river and are recorded for posterity in passages of Chukat (Numbers:20-22) from the Bible.

What inspired these independent nations to collaborate against Israel? They could not have individually or collectively attributed harm, ill treatment or designation as enemy of their various states, yet they unanimously stood against Israel's attempt to reach its destination. The threat of Israel rising must have been a significant motivating factor that contributed to these coordinated national actions against Israel.

If we use the Bible as a context, Israel's redemption from exile in Egypt must have seemed like the impossible come true. This fledgling nation of 70 had grown to an army of 600,000 men and now their families were amassed along the south eastern boundary of Jordan River. The daunting prospect should have dampened the conviction of the alliance against Israel, yet each nation stood resolute against them.

This article is not about the war that ensued, during which Israel conquered the land of Moab, Amon and the Emorites east of the Jordan river instead it focuses on the ultimate destination, the mountain that motivated Israel's allied opponents to remain united and intransigent.

Some 300 years after these events, there was good reason King David waited for 7 years before he could advance on the mountain from which he would ultimately establish the united kingdom of Israel. The mountain, is ancient Jerusalem's Mount Moriah associated with some of Israel's most significant events during establishment, and post redemption from Egypt. Israel's preamble, as recorded in the Bible and commentaries preserved over multiple millennia include stories of, Adam, Malchi-Tzedek, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joshua, David and a 1000 year lineage of kings. So why was conquering the mountain a go-no-go event for David and why did he risk his fragile kingdom to capture it?

To answer that I offer the following pictorial study of the early through late bronze age (4000-3300 years ago) artifacts that preceded King David (3000 years ago) on Mount Moriah.

Passage out of cave home, north to steel steps
Inside cave home (south of steel steps) on the lower
eastern slope of Mt Moriah
Early bronze graveside pottery discovered by Parker north of iron steps
Connection arrives at upper ridge altar and liquids channel
Connection from top of iron steps to upper ridge

Upper ridge steel bedrock and steel cabinet
Standing stone/pillar or matzevah on upper ridge

Oil press on upper ridge (north end)

V-markings on upper ridge (animal processing - south end)

Double wall fortress of Zion
north of upper ridge, south of Gihon spring
View from upper ridge into the double wall fortress of Zion

 More at this interactive map 

The massive double wall of the fortress of Zion was built up the steep eastern slope of Mount Moriah. It was an enormously complex feat of architecture and engineering during the middle and late Bronze Age. It could not have been accomplished by the small local population alone. They must have obtained the full support of the alliance and there must have been a deeply rooted reason to dedicate resources required for its construction because the water of the adjacent Gihon Spring was not protected by it.

The artists rendition of the eastern slope of Mt Moriah demonstrates how the double wall fortress of Zion circa 3300 years ago may once have cut access across north-south directions on the eastern slope. The city wall was a later addition circa 2700 years ago before the destruction of the first temple.

The ~2700 year old city wall can be seen
in the upper section of this image on top
 of an older wall connected to the bedrock
Connect the blue plastic to piece together remnant of the
 southern element of the double wall fortress of Zion

Apparently the allied forces opposing Israel did not want Israel to come back to the mountain and particularly this section on the south section of the eastern slope. Why and why did King David make sure to conquer this mountain in order to unify his kingdom?

Eli Shukron, the lead archaeologist who excavated these discoveries, contradicts the view that this area was especially important to Israel because it was the original Beit El designated by Jacob. It was once known as Luz, and Salem previous to that. It was the area that Malchi-Tzedek practiced as high priest, where Abraham tithed to him, Isaac was offered as a sacrifice and Jacob erected the pillar, standing stone or matzevah. For these reasons Israel's allied enemies were intent on permanently isolating it and they did all they could to ensure the impracticality of its future. These are my opinions, I invite you to form yours!