Damien F. Mackey
Reference is made in El Amarna [EA] letters 74 and 290 to a place that professor Julius Lewy read as Bet Shulmanu – House (or Sanctuary) of Shulman (“The Sulman Temple in Jerusalem”, Journal of Biblical Literature LIX (1940), pp. 519 ff.).
EA 290 was written by the King of Urusalim, Abdi-Hiba, who had to be, according to the conventional chronology, a C14th BC pagan ruler of what we know as Jerusalem. This view of Abdi-Hiba is summed up by Wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Abdi-Heba):
Abdi-Heba (Abdi-Kheba, Abdi-Hepat, or Abdi-Hebat) was a local chieftain of Jerusalem during the Amarna period (mid-1330s BC). Abdi-Heba’s name can be translated as “servant of Hebat“, a Hurrian goddess. Whether Abdi-Heba was himself of Hurrian descent is unknown, as is the relationship between the general populace of pre-Israelite Jerusalem (called, several centuries later, Jebusites in the Bible) and the Hurrians. Egyptian documents have him deny he was a ḫazānu and assert he is a soldier (we’w), the implication being he was the son of a local chief sent to Egypt to receive military training there.
Also unknown is whether he was part of a dynasty that governed Jerusalem or whether he was put on the throne by the Egyptians. Abdi-Heba himself notes that he holds his position not through his parental lineage but by the grace of Pharaoh, but this might be flattery rather than an accurate representation of the situation. ….
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From a revisionist point of view, this is all quite incorrect.
Dr. Immanuel Velikovsky was able to show in his Ages in Chaos, I (1952), that the EA era actually belonged to, not to the C14th BC, but the C9th BC era of Israel’s Divided Kingdom. And it is from such a revised perspective that Velikovsky was able to make this comment about professor Lewy’s reading:
The Šulmán Temple in Jerusalem
From a certain passage in letter No. 290, written by the king of Jerusalem to the Pharaoh, Lewy concluded that this city was known at that time also by the name “Temple of Šulmán.” Actually, Lewy read the ideogram that had much puzzled the researchers before him.(3) After complaining that the land was falling to the invading bands (habiru), the king of Jerusalem wrote: “. . . and now, in addition, the capital of the country of Jerusalem — its name is Bit Šulmáni —, the king’s city, has broken away . . .”(4) Beth Šulmán in Hebrew, as Professor Lewy correctly translated, is Temple of Šulmán. But, of course, writing in 1940, Lewy could not surmise that the edifice was the Temple of Solomon and therefore made the supposition that it was a place of worship (in Canaanite times) of a god found in Akkadian sources as Shelmi, Shulmanu, or Salamu.
The correction of the reading of Knudtzon (who was uncertain of his reading) fits well with the chronological reconstruction of the period. In Ages in Chaos (chapters vi-viii) I deal with the el-Amarna letters; there it is shown that the king of Jerusalem whose name is variously read Ebed-Tov, Abdi-Hiba, etc. was King Jehoshaphat (ninth century). It was only to be expected that there would be in some of his letters a reference to the Temple of Solomon.
Also, in el-Amarna letter No. 74, the king of Damascus, inciting his subordinate sheiks to attack the king of Jerusalem, commanded them to “assemble in the Temple of Šulmán.”(5)
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Dr. Velikovsky’s identification of the idolatrous Abdi-Hiba of Urusalim with the extremely pious King Jehoshaphat of Judah needed the slight modification, as provided by P. James, that Abdi-Hiba was actually King Jehoshaphat’s evil son, Jehoram – a modification that I fully supported in:
King Abdi-Hiba of Jerusalem Locked in as a
‘Pillar’ of Revised History
Apart from that, though, the EA evidence completely favoured Velikovsky’s revision, as he himself hastened to point out (op. cit., ibid.):
It was surprising to find in the el-Amarna letters written in the fourteenth century that the capital of the land was already known then as Jerusalem (Urusalim) and not, as the Bible claimed for the pre-Conquest period, Jebus or Salem.(6) Now, in addition, it was found that the city had a temple of Šulmán in it and that the structure was of such importance that its name had been used occasionally for denoting the city itself. (Considering the eminence of the edifice, “the house which king Solomon built for the Lord”,(7) this was only natural.) Yet after the conquest by the Israelites under Joshua ben-Nun, the Temple of Šulmán was not heard of.
Lewy wrote: “Aside from proving the existence of a Šulmán temple in Jerusalem in the first part of the 14th century B.C., this statement of the ruler of the region leaves no doubt that the city was then known not only as Jerusalem, but also as Bet Šulmán.”—“It is significant that it is only this name [Jerusalem] that reappears after the end of the occupation of the city by the Jebusites, which the Šulmán temple, in all probability, did not survive.”
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The conventional system has the habit of throwing up such “surprising” historical anomalies!
Velikovsky continues here:
The late Professor W. F. Albright advised me that Lewy’s interpretation cannot be accepted because Šulmán has no sign of divinity accompanying it, as would be proper if it were the name of a god. But this only strengthens my interpretation that the temple of Šulmán means Temple of Solomon.
In the Hebrew Bible the king’s name has no terminal “n”. But in the Septuagint — the oldest translation of the Old Testament — the king’s name is written with a terminal “n”; the Septuagint dates from the third century before the present era. Thus it antedates the extant texts of the Old Testament, the Dead Sea Scrolls not excluded.
Solomon built his Temple in the tenth century. In a letter written from Jerusalem in the next (ninth) century, Solomon’s Temple stood a good chance of being mentioned; and so it was.
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- Friedman, writing for a British revisionist journal, soon insisted upon another necessary modification of the Velikovskian thesis. The description, “Temple of Solomon”, he explained (in “The Temple in Jerusalem?” SIS Review III:1 (Summer 1978), pp.7-8), is in fact a modern English rendition which is never actually found in the Hebrew as used in the Old Testament. There, King Solomon’s Temple is constantly referred to as the “House of Yahweh” or, simply, the “House of the Lord”. Friedman also drew attention to the fact that, in Assyrian records, the Kingdom of Israel is called the “House of Omri” in deference to Omri’s dynasty. He therefore suggested that Bet Shulman should, in like manner, be understood to refer to the Kingdom of Judah in deference to King Solomon’s dynasty (p. 8): “‘House of Solomon’ meant not merely the capital [i.e., Jerusalem], but the whole kingdom of Judah, approaching even more closely the use of ‘House of Omri’ for the kingdom of Israel”.
Another possible interpretation of the phrase Bet Shulman is, as S. Dyen would later argue, that it should be understood literally as “the House”, that is the Palace, of King Solomon (“The House of Solomon”, KRONOS VIII:2 (Winter 1983), p. 88).
This, I think, is a reasonable possibility.
The apparent reference back to his great (x 3) grandfather, King Solomon, by Abdi-hiba/ Jehoram of Urusalim/Jerusalem – [e.g., Matthew 1:7-8:
Solomon the father of Rehoboam,
Rehoboam the father of Abijah,
Abijah the father of Asa,
Asa the father of Jehoshaphat,
Jehoshaphat the father of Jehoram …],
serves to vindicate the Old Testament against the reckless biblical minimizing of the likes of Israeli archaeologist, Israel Finkelstein. He, as I have noted in:
Israel Finkelstein has not archaeologically “destroyed Solomon”,
as he thinks. He has completely missed Solomon.
…. is quoted as saying in … a … National Geographic article, “Kings of Controversy” by Robert Draper (David and Solomon, December 2010, p. 85): “Now Solomon. I think I destroyed Solomon, so to speak. Sorry for that!”
What Finkelstein ought to be “sorry” for, however, is not the wise King Solomon – who continues to exist as a real historical and archaeological entity, despite the confused utterances of the current crop of Israeli archaeologists – but for Finkelstein’s own folly in clinging to a hopelessly out-dated and bankrupt archaeological system that causes him to point every time to the wrong stratigraphical level for Israel’s Old Testament history (e.g. Exodus/Conquest; David and Solomon; Queen of Sheba).
He is Risen!