Sunday, July 5, 2015

Rebuilding Jerusalem's Temple

East Face of Mount Moriah  time of  Jacob (~1550 BCE)
On the Eastern slope, toward the Southern end of Mount Moriah, archaeology on a ridge above Jerusalem’s Gihon Spring leads to one striking conclusion: This location and its features confirm the re-discovered Matzevah (monument) as the stone Jacob anointed (Genesis 28:22) to mark his covenant at Beit El. Therefore, it is the beacon that will ultimately identify the location of the altar for Israel’s third temple!  

It has been confirmed that features carved into the bedrock, immediately below the upper ridge, date back at least to the early bronze age. Further, that the ‘soft’ burial (indicated in the next image) by one of the last kings of Israel, around 2600 years ago protected the upper ridge for thousands of years until its recent discovery.

East Face upper ridge detail - end of Early Bronze
It is most likely the city wall (seen in the image below) was built above the upper ridge after Jacob, by the Emorites and Jebusites while Israel lived in exile in Egypt. The fortress protruding down the valley below the city wall, constructed over the Gihon Spring was constructed earlier and may have been developed to prevent access to the upper ridge in the 210 years Israel was in Egypt and especially when they returned to their land.

Jebusite City (looking North), fortress over Gihon Spring
and city wall at the time of Joshua (~1300 BCE)

The next image cuts the mountain, immediately south of the Fortress over the Gihon Spring revealing several features in the bedrock. These date to the end of the Early Bronze Age and were well used before any walls were constructed at the site. In the cavity above the Upper Gihon Pool, large boulders, which were purposefully deconstructed and are still piled on site, connected to the upper ridge to the pool.

Mount Moriah  (north slice) at upper ridge and Gihon pool, outside of city wall

At the cut through in the image above, remnant steps between the Upper Gihon Pool and Upper Ridge are extended to the east from those in the image below. The destroyed stairway arrived (from the pool) to the room containing the matzevah (as identified toward the end of this article). I believe this could be associated with the Millo and is not the stepped structure identified by Eilat Mazar. This is a different stairway and should not be confused with the Double Wall section of the Fortress over the Gihon Spring excavated by Reich and Shukron, about 30 meters to the north.

 Steps to Upper Ridge

High Ridge Art (3).jpg
Upper ridge as it may have once looked (~1550 BCE)
King David kept the Ark of the Covenant in the City of David for 37 years. After this his son Solomon moved it to the temple he constructed, which was most likely located a few hundred meters north. Some say King David constructed on the upper ridge to temporarily locate the Ark of the Covenant. In any event, Iron age King David would not have erected a matzevah because that practice ceased with Israel’s forefathers at the end of the Middle Bronze age, time of Jacob. Additionally, the bedrock was chiseled using stone implements not iron, a sure sign of its earlier Bronze Age origin. Finally the matzevah must have been naturally formed because it is thin, precisely honed and smoothed, well beyond the technology of that time.

Four rooms on the upper ridge  (click for enlarged version)
The impressive features of the upper ridge including, oil and grain press, vessel holders, small animal pen, animal processing area, matzevah liquids channel and platform of the original altar are definitive signatures of holy worship. Based on small artifacts retrieved in soft layers, some archaeologists have opined it may have been used for unholy worship, but they misread the overwhelming holy character of the high ridge in context. Further, only the bones of kosher animals were discovered in the Upper Gihon Pool below.

Oil remnants exist between the stones supporting Jacob's matzevah
Matzevah Avi .jpeg
Jacob's stone (matzevah) anointed by him maintains oil residues
The upper ridge location on the neck of Mount Moriah contradicts mainstream Jewish custom that the correct place for the altar of the future temple will be on the summit of the mountain. This issue can be resolved in a number of ways according to the character and stature of Jewish law and custom, but it will take time before it is accepted as its valid location by the authoritative leaders of Israel. Traditionally the neck of a mountain was always the location associated with the altar, but the first and second temple altar followed the location chosen by King David based on events of his life which opposed prevailing Jewish law.

As the excavation on the upper ridge nears completion the public will, for the first time in thousands of years be able to make decisions about this amazing discovery Exposing this phenomenon may just be the beginning of an impressive transformation.