Archive for the ‘archaeology’ Category

>Dating of the Hammurabi Code

2009 May 24 6 comments

> When was the Code of Hammurabi written?

Similarities have been noted with the Law of Moses. For example in the International Standard Bible Encyclopedia parallels are identified for Exodus 21:2, 15, 18, 22, 24, 28-32; 22:7,10; Leviticus 19:35f; 20:10; 24:19f; 25:39f; Deuteronomy 19:16f; 21:15f, 18f; 22:22; 24:1, 7.

Legal codes from ancient history can be helpful in understanding why specific laws existed. They can show us that a certain way of thinking was more widespread in the ancient world. It is claimed that Moses borrowed from Hammurabi because the latter antedates Moses. Other legal codes include those of Ur-Nammu and Eshnunna.

There is no intrinsic problem with the Bible having parallels to a prior code. The parallels may be because similar issues were being faced by the community. And the Bible claims to be historical, thus it interacts with nations surrounding it. God can approve of the practices of other nations or disapprove of them. Frequently we see the prophets condemning Israel for her actions which are worse than their pagan neighbours. Because God may approve or disapprove of a nations laws it is important to look at the differences as well as the similarities.

Nevertheless, I am not convinced that Hammurabi antedates Moses. I have previously mentioned my disagreement with secular ancient chronology.

Hammurabi was a king of Babylonia. Dating of the reign of Hammurabi is difficult and as has been noted several times, the chronology of ancient history is highly dependant on the chronology of Egypt. The chronology of the Egyptians is known to be a mess, even by those holding to the traditional dating. Alternate secular Egyptian dating systems have been proposed. Peter James, author of Centuries of Darkness states,

Numerous synchronisms have been drawn between Egypt and Mesopotamia, but many of these are based on unproved assumptions. Of those that are genuine, closer examination reveals that in many cases Mesopotamian chronology is actually dependent on Egyptian – and not the other way around. For example it is clear (Brinkman 1976) that the list of kings for the late Kassite period in Babylonia, conventionally 14th-13th centuries BC, has been heavily restored from Egyptian and Hittite evidence. (Hittite dating is directly dependent on that of Egypt.)

Scripture alone demands an Egyptian rewrite.

My knowledge of Babylonian history is limited. I am going to propose an alternative date for the code based on scriptural considerations and various secular synchronisms.

Pinches dates Hammurabi c. 2000 BC. Van De Mieroop dates him c. 1800 BC. Other suggestions based on shorter chronology suggest c. 1700 BC. Based on king lists Hammurabi son of Sin-mubalit son of Abil-Sin belonged to the First Babylonian Dynasty.

Following traditional dating we have the following (approximate) claims

  • 1750 BC in traditional Egyptian chronology corresponds to the 12th and 13th Egyptians dynasties
  • The first Babylonian dynasty ended with the fall of Babylon
  • The fall of Babylon is dated c. 1500–1600 BC which corresponds to the beginning of the 18th Egyptian dynasty

Following Scripture we have the following data

  • The very earliest date for the beginning of the Egyptian dynasties is c. 2200 BC
  • Moses led the exodus of the Israelites out from Egypt around the time of the 12th and 13th dynasties (which may also correspond to the 6th dynasty)
  • The 18th dynasty was of some duration. The beginnings of which are possibly about the time of Samuel and Saul

Comparing secular Egyptian and Babylonian synchronisms and and correcting the dates from the biblical data we have Hammurabi ruling about the time of Moses at the earliest.

While I am confident in the reduction of the date of the Hammurabi Code, I have not established significant synchronisms between Babylon and either Israel or Egypt. More data or a closer review of the data may lead to a more exact and more confident date.

This suggests that the the correspondence between the Hammurabi Code and the Law of Moses is unlikely due to the latter’s dependence on the former. The Hammurabi Code may be dependant on the Mosaic Law based on chronological considerations alone. Both codes could relate to underlying customs of the Ancient Near East. Or they both could have some relationship to prior laws. Many who hold to the Mosaic authorship of Genesis propose Moses had access to more ancient Hebrew records.

>Ancient Hebrew text found

2008 November 19 2 comments

>If you haven’t seen this, archaeologists found a potsherd with a text in ancient Hebrew characters.

The glyphs have been described as proto-Canaanite, though the era is claimed to be that of King David c. 1000 BC. Paleo-Hebrew was thought to have formed into square Hebrew near the time of Ezra/ Nehemiah at the end of the exile. Below is the first 3 paleo-Hebrew glyphs (alef, bet, gimel; a, b, g).

Categories: alphabet, archaeology

>The Dead Sea Scrolls are to be placed online

2008 September 9 1 comment

>Exciting stuff.

The Dead Sea Scrolls, at least the initial manuscripts, were found in 1947. Different groups were given the task of transcribing and translating the discoveries; probably a good thing given how long at least 1 group took. Reasonable quality photographs could have been made at the time the time of the discovery (and in fact were) with facsimiles distributed to interested parties around the world, but this didn’t happen.

If all the photos manage to be uploaded then hopefully interested groups will be able to create text files. Much of this may have already been done. These can subsequently be integrated into a database of various Bible manuscripts. This kind of open access resource could aid in creating a more accurate Old Testament text.

Newer technologies allow photographing in other wavelengths. The image on the right above being an infrared image. This should help in clarifying hard to read passages.

In similar news the Codex Sinaiticus is gradually being uploaded. Though photos of previous photos are already available online.

>Bible glasses

2008 April 11 6 comments

>Young Earth Creationism claims that the world is about 6000 years old and God created it in 6 24-hour days. Geology is interpreted as being in a large part due to Noah’s flood. These views are held because it is claimed that the meaning of the Bible, especially Genesis, demands this chronological interpretation and that the Noachian deluge was global in its extent. There is good grammatical reason to assert this belief. And I see few difficulties with scientific data finding it more compatible with this belief than biological or stellar evolution.

While my initial creationist beliefs were strengthened thru scientific evidences, my conviction is probably stronger now because of biblical considerations. Not because the science is less convincing than the biblical evidence but because philosophically I think that truth is more firmly grounded in Scripture.

This change to a more biblical approach has been quite helpful. When I was younger I wondered how the Bible could be reconciled with secular evidences, especially archaeological “facts” that pre-date creation, ie. are “older” than 6000 years. This “problem” is actually more acute as these “facts” only need to pre-date the Flood to cause a dilemma given the Flood’s removal of antediluvian artefacts. This led to ideas like favouring the Septuagint chronology because it “gives more time.” My approach now is, “How can secular claims be reconciled with Scripture?” The Bible is assumed to be true and contrary claims are treated with scepticism.

This is actually quite reasonable. Why should every secular interpretation be held up as the standard that the Bible is judged by? Especially given that these interpretations change, are inconsistent with each other, and often derive from an anti-biblical bias. Further, the Bible has been vindicated multiple times, and its documentation of the failings of its heroes points even more so to its authenticity.

The Flood was approximately 4500 years ago. Any claim for artefacts that pre-date this I assume is incorrect. I assume some bias by the claimants, even if it is not revealed. And I think that the true solution will be compatible with the biblical record.

This is my default position. I think that God intended for Scripture to be a true description of reality: historical, moral and prophetic. It is not exhaustive for sure, but correct in what it does assert.

Is this a biased approach? Definitely. But all approaches are biased. Do I base my bias on the pride of men or on the revelation of the true God? The secular bias is very real. It assumes that its foundations are firm, that Middle East dating should be based a reconstructed Egyptian dating, that any ancient historical text should have precedence over the Bible. All of these assumptions are based in the ideas of men and there are even good non-biblical reasons to reject them.

It is astonishing how much of what we read and hear has this bias. Claims about history are especially affected by secular assumptions. These secular biases are frequently present in study Bibles which give a multitude of unlikely synchronisms, conservative reasoning based on underlying liberal theology, wrong assumptions about the the origins of monotheism. I think it is prudent to hold secular historical claims and several other factual claims very tentatively.

And there is a need for developing a completely biblically based history and chronology thru which all claims, historical, archaeological, and others, can be filtered.

>Sons of Ham

2008 February 18 1 comment

>Ham was the youngest son of Noah.

Sons of Ham(1): Cush(2), Seba(3), Havilah(3), Sabtah(3), Raamah(3), Sheba(4), Dedan(4), Sabteca(3), Mizraim(2), Ludim(3), Anamim(3), Lehabim(3), Naphtuhim(3), Pathrusim(3), Casluhim(3), Philistines(4), Caphtorim(3), Put(2), Canaan(2), Sidon(3), Heth(3), Jebusites(3), Amorites(3), Girgashites(3), Hivites(3), Arkites(3), Sinites(3), Arvadites(3), Zemarites(3), Hamathites(3).

The name Cush occurs frequently in Scripture. It is the region south of Egypt where Sudan and Ethiopia is located. They were a black race. This noted in a verse in Jeremiah,

Can the Cushite change his skin/
or the leopard his spots? (Jeremiah 13)

In the Septuagint the word Cushite is translated Ethiopian, however the region is likely to be more closely aligned to Sudan; essentially south of Aswan in Egypt.

Seba was the ancestor of the Sabeans who dwelt in south Arabia.

The name Havilah appears twice in the Table of Nations, the other is a Semitic tribe. The same name occurring in genealogical tables (in general) may suggest that descendants of both men lived in a similar area and possibly intermarried to become a single tribe. Bill Cooper thinks that in the case of Havilah however there were 2 distinct tribes living in different regions of Arabia.

Sabtah was the ancestor of the Hadhramaut people in southern Arabia.

Raamah’s descendants were probably another Arabian tribe.

The nation of Sheba existed in southern Arabia in the area of Yemen. Though some claim this is the kingdom from whence came the queen of Sheba, a better case can be made for Queen (of) Sheba being an Egyptian.

Dedan dwelt in west Arabia. Interestingly Abraham several years later had a son called Jokshan by his wife Keturah whom Abraham took after Sarah’s death. Abraham sent his other sons eastward as it was Isaac who was to inherit the land of Canaan. Jokshan is also named as the father of Sheba and Dedan. Presumably these Semites joined the Hamitic tribes. If this is not the case Jokshan’s tribes may have got their name by dwelling in the same region as the Hamites. If the first suggestion is correct, then it would seem reasonable than the tribal blending occurred while Sheba and Dedan lived in close proximity with subsequent migration of the tribe(s) apart to their new locations.

Sabteca’s descendants also dwelt in Arabia. In the area of modern day Yemen.

So Cush was the ancestor of several tribes that dwelt in Arabia, though his other descendants, who took his name, migrated to Africa.

Mizraim is unequivocally Egypt. Egypt is called Misr by its citizens. Mizraim is mentioned multiple times in the Bible. How closely the modern inhabitants are related to the ancient dynasties given the interactions of Egypt with its neighbours over the centuries would make for interesting research.

The Ludim (not to be confused with the Semitic Lud) are thought to have migrated to Libya in northern Africa, east of Egypt. Note that the Ludim are descendants of Mizraim. A possible inference that they migrated from Babel to Egypt as Mizraim and a tribe broke off and shifted west.

The people of Anamim are not well identified. The land of Anami was adjacent to the land of Caphtor, another descendant of Mizraim. Anami was probably located at Cyrene in the east of Libya.

The Lehabim are sparsely mentioned in ancient texts.

The Naphtuhim are mentioned in some Egyptian writings as dwelling in the Nile delta.

The Pathrusim possibly dwelt in Upper (ie. south) Egypt.

The Casluhim are little known though they are the ancestors of the Philistines.

The Philistines are well documented in the Bible from the time of Abraham. They dwelt in the Gaza region in Palestine. Palestine is clearly etymologically related to Philistine.

The land of Caphtor where the Caphtorim lived is frequently identified with Crete. This however is incorrect. Cretans spoke an Indo-European language and thus were Japhetic, they were likely descended from Javan whose sons colonised the regions of the Aegean Sea. The Caphtorim initially dwelt adjacent to the Anamim as mentioned above. The Targum (Aramaic) gives them the name Caphutkia which is identified with Pelusium, the eastern region of the Nile delta. The Captorim subsequently migrated (or some of them) to Gaza:

As for the Avvim, who lived in villages as far as Gaza, the Caphtorim, who came from Caphtor, destroyed them and settled in their place. (Deuteronomy 2)

This raises the question of whether they intermingled with the Philistines (see Jeremiah 47). But based on the migration of the Caphtorim, their identity in the Targums, the location of the Anamim, the locations the other descendants of Mizraim settled in, and that they were involved in the Ethiopic War; it is almost certain they settled in north-east Africa.

So Mizraim and his sons settled along the Nile and the southern coast of the Mediterranean.

Put was probably in the area of Libya near Cyrene.

Canaan was in the area of the Levant. Numbers mentions the Canaanites dwelling by the sea and next to the Jordan.

Sidon dwelt adjacent to the Mediterrean. The city of Sidon was well known in Biblical times and is often mentioned in conjunction with Tyre. The Sidonians are identified as the Phoneticians.

Heth is probably the father of the Hittites. They are mentioned frequently in the Bible. A dynasty that dwelt in Turkey was identified with the Hittites due to a similarity in name. While the latter group is now universally referred to as the Hittite nation in the English language, there is good reason to suspect the original identification was incorrect and the Hittites of the Bible are very unlikely to be the Hittites of Anatolia. The latter spoke an Indo-European language while the sons of Heth spoke a Semitic one. They almost certainly dwelt in the Levant and were a smaller tribe. Further confirmation can be seen in the report brought back by the spies sent into Canaan by Moses:

The Hittites, the Jebusites, and the Amorites dwell in the hill country. And the Canaanites dwell by the sea, and along the Jordan. (Numbers 13)

The Jebusites occupied at least Jerusalem and probably the surrounding hills. David defeated them when he conquered the city.

The Amorites dwelt in the region of Canaan and were defeated by Israel during the conquest. Numbers mentions that Sihon was a king of the Amorites and he dwelt east of the Salt Sea, north of the Arnon River up to the Jabbok River. Another Amorite king, Og, was king of Bashan. His kingdom was north of Sihon’s kingdom. Other Amorites dwelt in the hill country west of the Jordan. Joshua mentions 5 kings in the west: the king of Jerusalem, the king of Hebron, the king of Jarmuth, the king of Lachish, and the king of Eglon. Given that the inhabitants of Jerusalem at time of Joshua were the Jebusites, they may have dwelt there with the Amorites, or more likely, Amorite may have become a more general term for many tribes in Canaan.

Cooper places the Girgashites east of the Jordan river.

The Hivites dwelt under Hermon in the land of Mizpah (Numbers 21). Hermon is north of the Sea of Chinnereth. The Gibeonites who made a treaty with Israel were Hivites.

The Arkites dwelt in region that is currently called Akkar in Lebanon.

The Sinites settled near the Arkites.

The Arvadites
dwelt on the island of Arwad approximately 3 km west of the Syrian Coast.

The Zemarites dwelt near where the city of Tripoli, Lebanon is located.

The Hamathites lived in the region that still bears their name Hamat, which is a city in the north of modern day Lebanon.

This is more detailed map of the sons of Canaan, the son of Ham.

>Sons of Shem

2008 February 14 Leave a comment

>Japheth is possibly the oldest of the 3 sons of Noah. The translation of Genesis 10:21 is debated though currently it is thought that the Hebrew is best translated to state that Shem is the eldest. Shem was born when Noah was 502. Noah had his 3 sons after he was 500 suggesting that Japheth may have been born when Noah was 500 and Shem 2 years later. The chronology of Noah’s family is less precise than the other patriarchs (except Terah which parallels it) and therefore the data should be held more tentatively. Ham is the youngest (Genesis 9:24).

Sons of Shem(1): Elam(2), Asshur(2), Arpachshad(2), Shelah(3), Eber (4), Peleg(5), Joktan(5), Almodad(6), Sheleph(6), Hazarmaveth(6), Jerah(6), Hadoram(6), Uzal(6), Diklah(6), Obal(6), Abimael(6), Sheba(6), Ophir(6), Havilah(6), Jobab(6), Lud(2), Aram(2), Uz(3), Hul(3), Gether(3), Mash(3).

The Elamites are well known and mentioned several times in the Bible. The dwelt north of the Persian Gulf in the area of modern day Iran.

Asshur was the ancestor of the Assyrians. The capital of Assyria was Nineveh.

Arpachshad is said to be the father of the Chaldeans. Chaldean history is somewhat difficult to pinpoint. It is known that they dwelt in the area of Babylonia, but some suggest that they shifted there from the north-west.

Shelah is notable as the father of Eber; whether any other nation descends from him is unknown.

Eber gave his name to the Hebrews though they are descended from Abraham who is several generations later. Eber’s other descendants are not known by the name “Hebrew” which is essentially synonymous with Israelite.

Peleg is mentioned in the ancestry of Abraham and is also noted for the events documented in his name. He is not known to be the founder on any nations.

Joktan is the father of several Arab tribes along the southern and eastern border of the Arabian peninsula.

The territory in which they lived extended from Mesha in the direction of Sephar to the hill country of the east. (Genesis 10)

Many of Joktan’s 13 sons mentioned in the Table of Nations are well documented, see Appendix 1 of After the Flood.

Almodad = al-Morad, location unknown. Sheleph = Salif; north of Sanaa, Yemen. Hazarmaveth dwelt around Hadramaut, Yemen. Jerah = Yarki; near Hadramaut, Yemen. Hadoram; near the Yarki. Uzal dwelt around Sanaa, Yemen. Diklah possibly near Kuwait. Obal dwelt between Hadeida and Sanaa, Yemen. Abimael dwelt in Yemen. Sheba possibly dwelt in Yemen. Ophir dwelt in Yemen. Havilah uncertain. Jobab dwelt near Mecca.

Josephus claims that Lud was the ancestor of the Lydians who dwelt in the area of modern day western Turkey. However the Lydian language was Indo-European (ie. Japhetic) and Lud was Semitic so this association may be incorrect.

The Arameans who descended from Aram are well documented and lived in the area of modern day Syria. Their interactions with Israel are documented thru-out Scripture.

Uz is unknown currently. Job lived in Uz but whether that is the same area or nation is unclear.

Descendants of Hul possibly dwelt north of the Sea of Galilee.

Descendants of Gether possibly dwelt south of Damascus.

Descendants of Mash possibly dwelt in the region of modern day Lebanon.

Map of Shem's descendants

>Sons of Japheth

2008 February 12 1 comment

>So what are the nations that are mentioned in the Table of Nations? Some are clear from elsewhere in the Bible. Many are mentioned in ancient texts, Josephus gives some identifications, it may be hard to be certain for some.

Several modern authors have documented the identities of these nations. Bill Cooper has summarised many ancient sources in his book After the Flood. Parts of it are probably due for review and update. He has 3 appendices identifying the descendants of the sons of Noah including others mentioned in Genesis outside chapter 10. I will limit discussion in these 3 posts to names mentioned in the Table of Nations.

Sons of Japheth(1): Gomer(2), Ashkenaz(3), Riphath(3), Togarmah(3), Magog(2), Madai(2), Javan(2), Elishah(3), Tarshish(3), Kittim(3), Dodanim(3), Tubal(2), Meshech(2), Tiras(2).

Bracketed numbers are the generational number.

Gomer is thought by some to be the ancestor of the Cimmerians who initially lived near the Caspian Sea, though were driven out later. Josephus however identifies them with the Galatians in the area of modern day Turkey . The Galatians were the ancestors of the Gauls so if this identification is correct this gives us the source of the French.

Ashkenaz is well known to refer to Germanic. The Ashkenazim are thought to be the ancestors of the Germanic peoples though they first settled in Armenia before subsequently moving westward.

Riphath was the ancestor of the Paphlagonians who lived adjacent to the Black Sea. they are mentioned by Herodotus and Xenophon.

The descendants of Togarmah settled in Armenia.

So we can see that Gomer and his family travelled north and settled on the Caspian Sea and across Armenia to the Black Sea.

Magog in Scripture seems to refer north into the region that is now Ukraine or further north into Russia, though others claim he was the ancestor (solely or with the Ashkenazim) of the Scythians.

Madai was the ancestor of the Medes who lived north-west of Persia (both in modern day Iran). They became a world empire and with the Persians (who became the dominant power) conquered Babylon in the time of Daniel.

Javan was the ancestor of the Greeks.

Elishah was the ancester of the Aeolians, a Greek tribe who initially dwelt in the region of Thessaly, west of the Aegean Sea.

The descendants of Tarshish are traditionally said to have lived in what is now Spain. I am not fully convinced of this. Tarshish is where Jonah attempted to flee to. Josephus suggests Tarshish is the region of Cicilia which is part of modern day Turkey, north and north-east of Cyprus. The city of Tarsus, which appears to be etymologically related to Tarshish, is in the province of Cicilia.

The Kittim dwelt on Cyprus.

Dodanim is the Hebrew name for the Dardanians who settled in the Dardanelles, a small strait in East Turkey opening onto the Aegean Sea.

So Javan and his sons occupied the region of Greece and Southern Turkey along the Mediterranean as well as Cyprus. This adds credence to the view that Tarshish is the region of Cicilia (South Turkey) and not Spain.

Tubal’s desendants were the Iberians who dwelt in the region which is now Georgia (north of Armenia). They (or some of them) subsequently migrated over the Caucasus mountains (northern border of Georgia) travelling north-east some distance into what is now Russian territory.

Meshech’s descendants are less certain. Some claim they were the Cappadocians (who dwelt in the region of Turkey), others Russians.

Tiras was probably the ancestor of the Thracians who dwelt in a region north of the Aegean Sea and west of the Black Sea (parts of modern day Turkey, Greece, Bulgaria, Romania, Moldova).

Following the listing of the sons of Japheth we read,

From these the coastland peoples spread in their lands, each with his own language, by their clans, in their nations. (Genesis 10)

I am uncertain whether the Japhetic nations mentioned above are to be identified as these coastland peoples or whether the coastland peoples references subsequent tribes descended from them (or possibly just Javan’s line).

Below is a map of the earliest migrations I can identify. Note that they may not be contemporaneous.

Map of Japheth's descendants

>Absense of evidence equals legend?

2007 December 12 Leave a comment

>In a Nature article in May Haim Watzman writes

One way to experience the Elad view of the City of David is to tour the site with an Elad-trained guide. It is possible to visit the excavations on your own or with a guide you’ve brought yourself. But the default option for tourists and school groups is to hear the narrative that asserts the Jewish claim and historical connection to the site, say Greenberg and his colleagues.

There is some truth to these claims, as a Nature visit to the site suggests. The tour guide provided by Elad was well-spoken and knowledgeable, but mixed myth and fact in her presentation. For example, she asserted that the reason David chose the site for his capital is that it lies just below the Temple Mount, which is identical to Mount Moriah, the site where, according to the Bible, Abraham took his son Isaac to offer him as a sacrifice to God. Although the identification of the Temple Mount with Mount Moriah is well-established in Jewish tradition, there is no archaeological evidence for Abraham’s presence on the site — or indeed for the existence of Abraham and Isaac.

In fact, a handful of archaeologists go so far as to say that David and Solomon may also be largely mythical characters. This view is rejected by most experts on the period — they tend to agree that it is likely the two ancient rulers did reign in Jerusalem. But many scholars argue that the evidence discovered so far — both at the City of David and at other sites in the region — indicates that the biblical description of the extent and wealth of their kingdoms is exaggerated.

Besides the interesting assumption that a Nature writer is the unbiased judge of a archaeological/ tourist guide (which may or may not be valid), how exactly has the guide mixed myth with fact?

Identifying Mount Moriah with the Temple Mount is enough for a fact for Watzman because of tradition (and presumably some archaeological data) and because many archaeologists happen to think there is some substance to idea that David and Solomon existed; but Abraham is a myth because of lack of archaeological evidence?

Then what of the well-established Jewish tradition for the existence of Abraham and Isaac? Since when is lack of a specific type of evidence evidence of myth? And what specific archaeological evidence does one expect to find for a specific individual that lived 4000 years ago?

Documentary evidence is strong evidence and the Bible gives documentary evidence that Abraham existed. Abraham is discussed in the genre of historical narrative. His ancestry, geography and activities are well described. His behaviour, both good and bad, are mentioned which can only add to the authenticity of the accounts. Moriah is even mentioned by name in connection with Abraham.

He said, “Take your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains of which I shall tell you.” (Genesis 22)

With regard to his slight on David and Solomon, a reading of opinions concerning the existence of Nineveh and Babylon from a century ago should caution men against having too much faith in “scholars.”

Categories: apologetics, archaeology

>New temple wall findings

2007 December 9 2 comments

>Archaeologists have uncovered a wall near the Temple Mount.

Wall from above From Arutz Sheva

The Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA) announced Wednesday afternoon the discovery of a large-sized house from the Second Temple Period several dozen meters south of the Temple Mount.

It is a reasonably large structure

The find includes massive foundations, walls whose remains soar five meters high in some places, two-story-tall halls, a basement, ritual baths (mikvaot), remains of colored frescoes, and more.

The reports are speculating whose house they think the wall was part of. Of more interest is the location

The wall was found beneath a parking lot about 300 meters south of the area known as the Temple Mount to Jews and al-Haram al-Sharif to Muslims.

Unfortunately I do not know the layout of the area around the temple mount. I have created an annotated map, I assume the parking lot is between the Temple Mount and the Gihon Spring. Below is the current reconstruction of the old city.

Reconstruction of the Old City However Ernest Martin makes a good case for the temple being 600 metres south of the Temple Mount, near the area of the Gihon Spring. He comes to this conclusion after getting an architect to draw the temple based on the descriptions of Josephus Flavius. The reconstruction based on the eyewitness account put the temple further south with the south-east corner going down into the Kidron Valley. He claims the temple mount is in fact part of Fort Antonia, thus the Wailing Wall is part of the fort and not of the temple.

Reconstruction of Herod's temple and Fort AntoniaIf Martin is correct, finds like this and future finds may challenge the ruling paradigm and the correct location of the temple can be acknowledged. And the Muslim claim to the Temple Mount should not prevent the rebuilding of the temple today. View an animation and commentary of the reconstruction here.

Categories: archaeology, temple

>Who is Nabu-sharrussu-ukin?

2007 July 15 Leave a comment

>Michael Jursa has found a receipt for gold on a Babylonian tablet. The tablet reads

1.5 minas of gold, the property of Nabu-sharrussu-ukin, the chief eunuch, which he sent via Arad-Banitu the eunuch to [the temple] Esangila: Arad-Banitu has delivered [it] to Esangila. In the presence of Bel-usat, son of Alpaya, the royal bodyguard, [and of] Nadin, son of Marduk-zer-ibni. Month XI, day 18, year 10 [of] Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon.

The claim is Nabu-sharrussu-ukin, chief eunuch may be Nebuzaradan, the captain of the guard who is mentioned in Kings and Jeremiah.

He is mentioned in 2 Kings 25:8,11,20; Jeremiah 39:9,10,11,13; 40:1; 41:10; 43:6; 52:12,15,16,26,30.

Nebuzaradan was the officer who burned Jerusalem

In the 5th month, on the 10th day of the month—that was the 19th year of King Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon—Nebuzaradan the captain of the bodyguard, who served the king of Babylon, entered Jerusalem. And he burned the house of the LORD, and the king’s house and all the houses of Jerusalem; every great house he burned down. And all the army of the Chaldeans, who were with the captain of the guard, broke down all the walls around Jerusalem. And Nebuzaradan the captain of the guard carried away captive some of the poorest of the people and the rest of the people who were left in the city and the deserters who had deserted to the king of Babylon, together with the rest of the artisans. But Nebuzaradan the captain of the guard left some of the poorest of the land to be vinedressers and plowmen. (Jeremiah 52:12-16)

I withhold judgment currently. I am not a linguist so my opinions on the similarity of the name is of minor consequence. I am not convinced about other commonly accepted identifications such as Ahab and Jehu in Assyrian documents. It would be interesting if this proves correct and thus a reminder of the veracity of the Bible.

Categories: archaeology