Pharaohs known to Old Testament Israel

Image result for pharaohs of bible

Part One: Naming the ruler as “Pharaoh”



Damien F. Mackey



Ishmael, whose toledôt history records the abduction of Sarai, was born of

an Egyptian mother, Hagar, and later married an Egyptian, and so accordingly,

perhaps, follows Egyptian practice.




Pharaoh One: Genesis 12:10-20


The ruler of Egypt who abducted Abram’s wife, Sarai, at the time of the famine, is simply called “Pharaoh”:


Now there was a famine in the land, and Abram went down to Egypt to live there for a while because the famine was severe. As he was about to enter Egypt, he said to his wife Sarai, “I know what a beautiful woman you are.

When the Egyptians see you, they will say, ‘This is his wife.’ Then they will kill me but will let you live. Say you are my sister, so that I will be treated well for your sake and my life will be spared because of you.”

When Abram came to Egypt, the Egyptians saw that Sarai was a very beautiful woman. And when Pharaoh’s officials saw her, they praised her to Pharaoh, and she was taken into his palace. He treated Abram well for her sake, and Abram acquired sheep and cattle, male and female donkeys, male and female servants, and camels.

But the Lord inflicted serious diseases on Pharaoh and his household because of Abram’s wife Sarai. So Pharaoh summoned Abram. “What have you done to me?” he said. “Why didn’t you tell me she was your wife? Why did you say, ‘She is my sister,’ so that I took her to be my wife? Now then, here is your wife. Take her and go!” Then Pharaoh gave orders about Abram to his men, and they sent him on his way, with his wife and everything he had.


He seems to be, from this text, a not entirely unreasonable character.

The same may be said about the “Pharaoh” of Joseph also at the time of a famine.


The life of Moses, though, right down to the Exodus (80 years), experienced only persecuting, hard-hearted pharaohs.


Now, it was standard practice amongst the early Egyptian scribes not to name their Pharaoh (see e.g. professor A. S. Yahuda’s The Language of the Pentateuch in its Relation to Egyptian, Oxford, 1933), despite the fact that the rulers of Egypt had a multiplicity of names. Ishmael, whose toledôt history records the abduction of Sarai, was born of an Egyptian mother, Hagar (some traditions say that she was the daughter of Pharaoh), and he later married an Egyptian, and accordingly, perhaps, followed Egyptian practice. Moses, having been educated in Egypt (Acts 7:22) would have been expected to – and does in fact – do the same. And before Moses, Joseph must have become thoroughly Egyptianised as to court protocol and Egyptian etiquette.


However, when we come to Isaac’s toledôt history, telling the same story of the abduction of Sarai – but whom Isaac names, Sarah (his actual mother):


Toledôt Explains Abram’s Pharaoh


–  the Pharaoh is finally named. He is “Abimelech”.

In my article (above) we even find that the elements, “Pharaoh” and “Abimelech”, connecting in a chiastic structure – although this does not inevitably mean personal identity.

Isaac (or whoever wrote his toledôt) was under no such constraint to follow Egyptian practice.

This may bring us to another point that will be raised in this series. The name given to a biblical pharaoh may not necessarily be an Egyptian name, but simply the name by which that ruler is known to the Hebrews (Israelites, Jews). Still, “Abimelech” may be compatible in meaning with an Egyptian-style name. See my article:


Comparing the Meaning of Names “Abimelech” and Egyptian “Raneb”


“… the majority of scholars believe that Abimelech was not really a personal name but rather a Philistine royal title, not unlike Pharaoh in EgyptCandace in Cush or Caesar in Rome”.


Egypt at this time, we have found, to have taken possession of southern Canaan (or Philistia), hence we get a “Pharaoh” who is also a “king of the Philistines” (Genesis 26:1).

And this, Abram’s “Pharaoh”, I have determined, having ruled from Abram to the marriage of Isaac and Rebekah, must have been an early Pharaoh who reigned for a half century and more.
I favour for this biblical “Pharaoh” the very first dynastic ruler, Hor-Aha (Min = Menes).



For more on this, see e.g. my article:


Dr. W.F. Albright’s Game-Changing Chronological Shift


If Dr. Albright was correct in his view that the Egyptian Manium (or Mannu), against whom the Akkadian potentate Naram-Sin (c. 2200 BC conventional dating) successfully waged war, was none other than the legendary first pharaoh Menes, himself, then that must lead to the shocking conclusion that the beginning of the Egyptian dynastic history (c. 3100 BC conventional dating)

is a millennium out of whack with Akkadian history.


I have even been tempted to try to equate the name “Abimelech” with “Lehabim”, the son of Mizraim (or Egypt). Someone has picked up an old post of mine regarding this:


Genesis 10:6-14

The sons of Ham were Cush and Mizraim and Put and Canaan.  The sons of Cush were Seba and Havilah and Sabtah and Raamah and Sabteca; and the sons of Raamah were Sheba and Dedan.  Now Cush became the father of Nimrod; he became a mighty one on the earth.  He was a mighty hunter before the LORD; therefore it is said, “Like Nimrod a mighty hunter before the LORD.”  The beginning of his kingdom was Babel and Erech and Accad and Calneh, in the land of Shinar.  From that land he went forth into Assyria, and built Nineveh and Rehoboth-Ir and Calah, and Resen between Nineveh and Calah; that is the great city.  Mizraim became the father of Ludim and Anamim and Lehabim and Naphtuhim and Pathrusim and Casluhim (from which came the Philistines) and Caphtorim.


Would not the King Abimelech, contemporary of Abram, be Lehabim (= Abim-lech), son of Mizraim?

Part Two: Who were the nameless Pharaohs of Joseph and Moses?




 “Then a new king, to whom Joseph meant nothing, came to power in Egypt”.


Exodus 1:8





Right at the beginning of my article:


Moses – may be staring revisionists right in the face. Part One: Historical Moses has presented quite a challenge


I declared this with regard to revisionists who are trying to set the biblical Joseph, historically, in the Twelfth Egyptian Dynasty, and who then have to try to find a suitable place for Moses:


If any revisionist historian had placed himself in a good position, chronologically, to identify in the Egyptian records the patriarch Joseph, then it was Dr. Donovan Courville, who had, in The Exodus Problem and its Ramifications, I and II (1971), proposed that Egypt’s Old and Middle Kingdoms were contemporaneous. That radical move on his part might have enabled Courville to bring the likeliest candidate for Joseph, the Vizier Imhotep of the Third Dynasty, into close proximity with the Twelfth Dynasty – the dynasty that revisionists most favour for the era of Moses.

Courville, however, chose to set Joseph in the (so-called Middle Kingdom) Twelfth Dynasty, the dynasty of Moses, thereby losing the opportunity historically to identify both Joseph and Moses. And certain revisionists have tended to follow him in that direction.

Some revisionists recently, though, have woken up to the fact that by far the best historical candidate (or so I have long thought) for the “new king” (מֶלֶךְ-חָדָשׁ) of Exodus 1:8 is pharaoh Amenemes (Amenemhat) I, the founder of the Twelfth Dynasty. See my article on this:


Twelfth Dynasty oppressed Israel


Joseph’s “Pharaoh” of the Famine era thus pre-dated the Twelfth Dynasty, and is best found as pharaoh Zoser of the so-called Old Kingdom’s Third Dynasty, with Joseph himself being the genius Vizier, Imhotep.


What Dr. Courville’s revision has enabled us to do, however, is to revise Egypt’s Old Kingdom in relation to the Middle Kingdom, thereby bringing the Third Dynasty (Joseph’s) into far closer proximity to the Twelfth Dynasty (Moses’s).

The “new king” of Exodus 1:8, Amenemes I, can then be linked to his pharaonic mirror-image Sixth Dynasty counterpart, pharaoh Teti:


Moses may help link 6th and 12th dynasties of Egypt


which move, in turn, facilitates the identification of Moses historically as the Sixth Dynasty’s Chief Judge and Vizier (another genius), Weni, who served pharaohs Teti, Pepi and Merenre.

Moses can then also be the Chief Judge and Vizier, Mentuhotep, of Egypt’s Twelfth Dynasty – this Mentuhotep being Dr. Courville’s actual choice for Joseph.



So far in this series we have concluded that:


The “Pharaoh” of Abram (Abraham) and Isaac was also known as “Abimelech” (may possibly be the biblical Lehabim), and may, historically, have been Hor-Aha (Min = Menes) of the First Dynasty;


The “Pharaoh” of the Famine era of Joseph was Zoser of the Third Dynasty;


The “new king” of Moses’s infancy was Teti of the Sixth Dynasty = Amenemes I of the Twelfth Dynasty.



Part Three: During United Kingdom Era


Going by memory, here, I can think of a potential three Pharaohs (biblically mentioned as such) who ruled Egypt during Israel’s era of the United Kingdom of kings Saul, David and Solomon.

The first of these was reigning at the time of King David, according to I Kings 11:15-20:


Earlier when David was fighting with Edom, Joab the commander of the army, who had gone up to bury the dead, had struck down all the men in Edom. Joab and all the Israelites stayed there for six months, until they had destroyed all the men in Edom. But Hadad, still only a boy, fled to Egypt with some Edomite officials who had served his father. They set out from Midian and went to Paran. Then taking people from Paran with them, they went to Egypt, to Pharaoh king of Egypt, who gave Hadad a house and land and provided him with food. Pharaoh was so pleased with Hadad that he gave him a sister of his own wife, Queen Tahpenes, in marriage. The sister of Tahpenes bore him a son named Genubath, whom Tahpenes brought up in the royal palace. There Genubath lived with Pharaoh’s own children.


The second one was ruler around about the beginning of the reign of Solomon (I Kings 9:16): “Pharaoh king of Egypt had attacked and captured Gezer. He then burned it, killed the Canaanites who lived in the city, and gave it as a dowry to his daughter, Solomon’s wife”.


The third one, now towards the end of the reign of king Solomon, is actually named.

He is “Shishak” (I Kings 11:40): “Solomon tried to kill Jeroboam, but Jeroboam fled to Egypt, to Shishak the king, and stayed there until Solomon’s death”.


Soon, I shall be adding to these a fourth, though biblically unspecified (that is, as “Pharaoh”).


If it were not for the research of Dr. Immanuel Velikovsky, in his series Ages in Chaos, we would still be floundering around within the conventional system, trying desperately to find archaeological and documentary evidence for Israel’s United Kingdom amidst the murky – and archaeologically entirely inappropriate – Third Intermediate Period (so-called) of Egyptian history (c. 1069-525 BC, conventional dating).

Velikovsky happily aligned the rise of the United Kingdom of Israel with the beginning of the famous Eighteenth Egyptian Dynasty (c. 1540-1295 BC, conventional dating), now to be lowered on the timescale by some 500 years by Velikovsky. With this new scheme set in place, kings Saul and David became contemporaneous with the first Eighteenth Dynasty pharaohs Ahmose, Amenhotep I and Thutmose I.

Velikovsky, in Ages in Chaos 1 (p. 99), even claimed to have historically identified the above-mentioned “Queen Tahpenes”, as belonging to first pharaoh, Ahmose:


This was in the days of David. The pharaoh must have been one by the name of
Ahmose. Among his queens must have been one by the name Tahpenes. We open the register of the Egyptian queens to see whether Pharaoh Ahmose had a queen by this name. Her name is actually preserved and read Tanethap, Tenthape, or, possibly, Tahpenes ….


Thutmose I fits nicely into place for Velikovsky as our second Pharaoh, who attacked Gezer. Dr. John Bimson once argued that this identification appears to be supported archaeologically. I had previously written on this:


Velikovsky had identified David’s era as the same as that of the 18th dynasty pharaoh, Thutmose I, as Dr. J. Bimson tells when providing an appropriate stratigraphy (“Can there be a Revised Chronology without a Revised Stratigraphy?”, SIS: Proceedings. Glasgow Conference, April, 1978):


In Velikovsky’s chronology, this pharaoh is identified as Thutmose I [ref. Ages in Chaos, iii, “Two Suzerains”] … In the revised stratigraphy considered here, we would expect to find evidence for this destruction of Gezer at some point during LB [Late Bronze] I, and sure enough we do, including dramatic evidence of burning [ref. Dever et al., Gezer I (1970, pp.54-55 …)].

[End of quote]


Now Thutmose I’s famous (so-called) “daughter”, Hatshepsut, who does figure in the Bible, apparently, but not as a “Pharaoh” (which she would become later, nonetheless), and who was brilliantly identified by Velikovsky as the biblical Queen of Sheba (or Queen of the South), will be that fourth “Pharaoh” to whom I referred above as being “biblically unspecified”.

As to her precise relationship with pharaoh Thutmose I, I previously wrote, in:


The vicissitudinous life of Solomon’s pulchritudinous wife


Though not of royal Egyptian blood, Thutmose I had married pharaoh Amenhotep I’s sister, according to some views. ….

Thutmose I is generally considered to have become the father of Hatshepsut. “Yet”, according to Gay Robins” (“The Enigma of Hatshepsut”), “none of Thutmose I’s monuments even mentions his daughter”:


But what I have suggested is that pharaoh Thutmose I, when crowning Hatshepsut, used a tri-partite coronation ceremony that uncannily followed the tri-partite pattern of David’s coronation of his son, Solomon. See my article:


Thutmose I Crowns Hatshepsut


For kings first and second above no actual name is given as we have learned.

Both are called “Pharaoh king of Egypt”.

We have noted in this series that that was an Egyptian trait – “Pharaoh” being un-named by Egyptianised biblical writers, Ishmael (at least in his toledôt history), Joseph and Moses.

Now there is the possibility that the accounts of our first (I Kings 11) and second (I Kings 9) pharaohs in this article were recorded by the Egyptianised king Solomon (Senenmut), in his “book of the annals of Solomon” according to a verse (I Kings 11:41) following these texts.


The only “Pharaoh” who is actually named in the Bible for this particular period is our third one, “Shishak”. Chronologically speaking – especially in Velikovsky’s context of Hatshepsut as Solomon’s contemporaneous Queen of Sheba – this “Shishak” can only be, as Velikovsky had indeed identified him, pharaoh Thutmose III (the “Napoleon of Egypt”: Breasted), who reigned contemporaneously with Hatshepsut. See also my article on this:


Solomon and Sheba


for my identification of Solomon-in-Egypt as the famous, quasi-royal official, Senenmut (var. Senmut), thought by some to have been ‘the real power behind Hatshepsut’s throne’.


Moreover, the “Genubath” whom Queen Tahpenes bore to Hadad, as we read above, Velikovsky claimed to have identified, now as a people, at the time of “Shishak”/Thutmose III.

I wrote of this in my “… vicissitudinous life …” article (above) as follows:


As for “Genubath”, the son of Hadad, Velikovsky had rather strikingly identified his name amongst those giving tribute to Thutmose III, very soon after the latter’s First Campaign. Velikovsky wrote about it (in ch. iv) in “Genubath, King of Edom” (pp. 179-180):


Hadad had returned to Edom in the days of Solomon, after the death of Joab [I Kings 11:21-22]. Since then about forty years had elapsed. Genubath, his son, was now the vassal king of Edom …. Tribute from this land, too, must have been sent to the Egyptian crown; there was no need to send an expedition to subdue Edom. When Thutmose III returned from one of his inspection visits to Palestine he found in Egypt tribute brought by couriers from the land, “Genubatye”, which did not have to be conquered by an expeditionary force.


When his majesty arrived in Egypt the messengers of the Genubatye came bearing their tribute.3 [3. Breasted: Records, Vol. II, Sec. 474].


It consisted of myrrh, “negroes for attendants”, bulls, calves, besides vessels laden with ivory, ebony, and skins of panther.

Who were the people of Genubatye? Hardly a guess has been made with regard to this peculiar name. The people of Genubatye were the people of Genubath, their king, contemporary of Rehoboam.


Velikovsky had, in the course of his historical revision – and despite his obvious mistakes – managed to come up with many such brilliant and helpful identifications as this one pertaining to Genubath – an identification obviously impossible in the conventional system, with Egypt’s 18th dynasty and the biblical Genubath separated in time by some 500 years.

[End of quotes]



While there is still plenty of work to be done by revisionists, especially to modify appropriately certain controversial aspects of the “Shishak” identification, I would now consider Velikovsky’s Hatshepsut-Sheba and Thutmose III-Shishak twin identifications to be firm pillars of the revision. Revisionists who have rejected these twin links have inevitably failed to come up with any plausible alternatives.

Recently a researcher has tried to shift the identification of “Shishak” to Thutmose III’s successor, pharaoh Amenhotep II. For more detail on all of this, see my series beginning with:


Slightly Shifting “Shishak”


This writer, a Creationist believer in a biblical literalism, is inconsistent in looking for the name “Shishak” in Amenhotep II’s nebty name, when the Bible actually uses only the Egyptian prenomen or nomen whenever it actually names a pharaoh.

We shall find this to be the case in Part Four.

Here is a small, but relevant section of my interchange with this researcher in Part Two:


The article under review follows a conga-line of revisionists who have tried to find an Egyptian explanation for the biblical name, “Shishak”, in this case taking the Egyptian nebty name of pharaoh Amenhotep II, weser fau, sekha em waset, whilst admitting that:

“At first glance, this name might not look like “Shishak”.”

And with very good reason, I say. It looks nothing like it!

It certainly does look like it. I recognized it at once when I saw it. The “f” seemed to be in the way, until I researched it and discovered that they didn’t have the “f” sound back then.

I found perhaps more plausible K. Birch’s suggestion (“Shishak Mystery?”, C and C Workshop, SIS, No. 2, 1987, p. 35) that “Shishak” may derive from pharaoh Thutmose III’s Golden Horus name, Djeser-khau [“chase a cow”] (dsr h‘w): “… the (Golden) Horus names of Thutmose III comprise variations on: Tcheser-khau, Djeser-khau …”.


[End of quotes]


More than likely, though, I think that the name “Shishak” was the name by which young Thutmose III was known to king Solomon and his court in his close relationship with his relative, Hatshepsut-Sheba. Solomon had officials, secretaries, whose father was named “Shisha” (I Kings 4:1-3):


So King Solomon ruled over all Israel.

And these were his chief officials:

Azariah son of Zadok—the priest;

Elihoreph and Ahijah, sons of Shisha—secretaries ….



Part Four: During Divided Kingdom Era



Going by memory, here, I can think of a potential four Pharaohs who ruled Egypt during Israel’s era of the Divided Kingdom (c.930–c.586 BC, conventional dating).


The first of these was this enigmatic ruler at the time of Assyria’s Shalmaneser and Israel’s Hoshea (2 Kings 17:4):


 But the king of Assyria discovered that Hoshea was a traitor, for he had sent envoys to So king of Egypt, and he no longer paid tribute to the king of Assyria, as he had done year by year. Therefore Shalmaneser seized him and put him in prison.


“So king of Egypt”.

Intriguingly, the Lucianic tradition of the LXX refers instead to “Adrammelech the Ethiopian, living in Egypt” (Duane L. Christensen, “The Identity of “King So” in Egypt”, Vetus Testamentum, Vol. 39, Fasc. 2 April., 1989, p. 141).



Vol. 39, Fasc. 2 (Apr., 1989

The second one was Tirhakah, and happily by now we have far more solid Egypto-Assyrian historical links. Tirhakah is especially famous for this incident (Isaiah 37:9-10):


Now Sennacherib received a report that Tirhakah, the king of Cush, was marching out to fight against him. When he heard it, he sent messengers to Hezekiah with this word: ‘Say to Hezekiah king of Judah: Do not let the god you depend on deceive you when he says, ‘Jerusalem will not be given into the hands of the king of Assyria’.’


The third one, late in the reign of King Josiah of Judah, is Necho, who actually killed Josiah (2 Chronicles 35:20-24):


After all this, when Josiah had set the Temple in order, Necho king of Egypt went up to fight at Carchemish on the Euphrates, and Josiah marched out to meet him in battle. But Necho sent messengers to him, saying, ‘What quarrel is there, king of Judah, between you and me?

It is not you I am attacking at this time, but the house with which I am at war. God has told me to hurry; so stop opposing God, who is with me, or he will destroy you’.

Josiah, however, would not turn away from him, but disguised himself to engage him in battle. He would not listen to what Necho had said at God’s command but went to fight him on the plain of Megiddo.

Archers shot King Josiah, and he told his officers, ‘Take me away; I am badly wounded.”  So they took him out of his chariot, put him in his other chariot and brought him to Jerusalem, where he died’.


From the Assyrian records we know that Tirhakah and Necho were contemporaneous rulers of Egypt and/or Ethiopia.

And what tightens things even further, at least according to my chronology, is that King Hezekiah of Judah, a contemporary of King Hoshea of Israel (and hence of So king of Egypt), is to be identified with Josiah of Judah (and hence was also a contemporary of Necho king of Egypt).

For this chronological tightening, see e.g. my article:


‘Taking aim on’ king Amon – such a wicked king of Judah


The fourth is this one at the time of King Nebuchednezzar II (Jeremiah 44:30):


This is what the LORD says: ‘I am going to deliver Pharaoh Hophra king of Egypt into the hands of his enemies who want to kill him, just as I gave Zedekiah king of Judah into the hands of Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, the enemy who wanted to kill him’.


It needs to be said of these four named pharaohs that some may turn out to be duplicates.

That is unlikely to be the case, though, with Tirhakah and Necho, who appear from the Assyrian records to have been two distinct rulers at the time of Ashurbanipal (or Assur-bani-pal):


ASSUR-BANI-PAL (“Assur creates a son”), the grand monarque of Assyria, was the prototype of the Greek Sardanapalus, and appears probably in the corrupted form of Asnapper in Ezra iv. 10. He had been publicly nominated king of Assyria (on the 12th of Iyyar) by his father Esar-haddon, some time before the latter’s death, Babylonia being assigned to his twin-brother Samas-sum-yukin, in the hope of gratifying the national feeling of the Babylonians.

After Esar-haddon’s death in 668 B.C. the first task of Assur-bani-pal was to finish the Egyptian campaign. Tirhakah, who had reoccupied Egypt, fled to Ethiopia, and the Assyrian army spent forty days in ascending the Nile from Memphis to Thebes. Shortly afterwards Necho, the satrap of Sais, and two others were detected intriguing with Tirhakah; Necho and one of his companions were sent in chains to Nineveh, but were there pardoned and restored to their principalities. Tirhakah died 667 B.C. ….


In my reconstructed history the neo-Assyrian succession from Esarhaddon to Ashurbanipal becomes altered. Esarhaddon, following Sennacherib, is now identified as Ashurbanipal. Whilst Esarhaddon-Ashurbanipal is now further identified as Nebuchednezzar II.

See my series on this most radical revision:


Aligning Neo Babylonia with Book of Daniel. Part One: Shortening the Chaldean Dynasty


Aligning Neo-Babylonia with Book of Daniel. Part Two: Merging late neo-Assyrians with Chaldeans


I have also suggested, in light of this revision, that Necho I and Necho II of conventional history might be condensed into just the one pharaoh Necho.


What we find with our potentially four pharaohs in this article is that all of them are named:

“So”; “Tirhakah”; “Necho” and “Hophra”.

Of these, “So” – just like “Shishak” – may not be an actual Egyptian name, but the name by which the pharaoh was known to the scribes of Israel. Conventional scholars have searched long and hard for him, always destined to arrive at a dead end.

The situation is briefly summed up at:


2 Kings 17:4 says that king Hoshea sent letters to “So, King of Egypt”. No pharaoh of this name is known for the time of Hoshea (about 730 BC), during which Egypt had three dynasties ruling contemporaneously: 22nd at Tanis, 23rd at Leontopolis, and 24th at Sais. Nevertheless, this ruler is commonly identified with Osorkon IV (730–715 BC) who ruled from Tanis,[5][6] though it is possible that the biblical writer has mistaken the king with his city and equated So with Sais, at this time ruled by Tefnakht.


Dr. Courville was far closer to the mark (The Exodus Problem and its Ramifications, 1971) when he proposed for “So” the great Ramses II himself of the Nineteenth Egyptian Dynasty. Though his suggestion that “So” was derived from the Suten Bat name of Ramses II is far-fetched. Moreover, Courville had the long reign of a now-aged Ramses II concluding with the ‘So’ incident, whereas I think that the ‘So’ era would be far closer to the beginning of the reign of Ramses II. Previously I have written on this:


Courville’s hopeful derivation of the name, ‘So’, from a Suten Bat name of Ramses II is far from convincing. I wrote of this in my university thesis:

A Revised History of the Era of King Hezekiah of Judah

and its Background




(Volume One, p. 266):


Now according to Courville’s system … Ramses II, whose reign would have terminated in 726/725 BC, must have been the biblical “King So of Egypt” with whom Hoshea of Israel conspired against the king of Assyria (2 Kings 17:4).

Courville had plausibly (in his context) suggested that the reason why ‘So’ was unable to help Hoshea of Israel was because the Egyptian king was, as Ramses II, now right at the end of his very long reign, and hence aged and feeble.

Courville had looked to find the name ‘So’ amongst the many names of Ramses II, and had opted for the rather obscure ‘So’ element in that pharaoh’s Suten Bat name, Ra-user-Maat-Sotep-en-Ra.727 (See also pp. 286-287). ….

[End of quotes]



Slightly Shifting “Shishak”


 Damien F. Mackey






Whenever a revisionist comes to light with yet another of those hopeful biblico-historical models then I invariably find this exclamation from the Book of Jeremiah springing to mind (11:13):


“For according to the number of your cities so are your gods, O Judah!”


It seems that everyone wants to be a Time Lord.

Over the past 30-35 years I have read dozens or more such hopeful revisions, each one proposing a different model.

This has led me eventually to write articles such as, “Distancing oneself from Velikovsky” (, which article includes this critical observation:


“However, the so-called “New Chronology” of [David] Rohl – somewhat similar to [Peter] James’s efforts at reconstruction – situated halfway between convention and Velikovsky, fails at virtually every point despite the optimistic advertisements. It is far inferior to the respective revisions of Courville and Martin Sieff – the latter tending to persevere with the most promising aspects of Courville and “[the] Glasgow [School”, but with excellent modifications and contributions of his own. Sieff, in fact, adopted the perfect approach to Velikovsky, by building upon his solid foundations, but also modifying him where there were problems, and rejecting outright Velikovsky’s glaring mistakes. He even wrote by far the best account of the psychology of Velikovsky (who was a psychiatrist), the fascinating “Velikovsky and His Heroes” (SIS Review, vol. v, no. 4, 1980/81, pp. 112-120)”.


A trap for young players


One must be very careful about the ramifications, further down the line, of any particular biblico-historical identification. In a new case, it is the suggestion that the biblical “Shishak” who despoiled the Temple of Yahweh, in the 5th year of king Rehoboam, was pharaoh Amenhotep II.

David Rohl, for example, was taken to task by Dale Murphie for not anticipating the biblical ramifications of Rohl’s identification of Shishak with Ramses II ‘the Great’. Thus Murphie wrote (“Critique of David Rohl’s A Test of Time”, C and C Review, 1997:1, p. 31):


“In Rohl’s historical scheme, this is a paramount issue. He gives three full chapters (4-6), plus his Preface as reinforcement, to the proposition that Ramesses II is Shishak. If he is mistaken here, the New Chronology comes under considerable threat. It is worth examining the general milieu into which Rohl thrusts Ramesses II, to see how snugly he fits. There seem to be a number of problems, stemming from biblical evidence that the regional power of Egypt became diminished and the Judaean state re-established full independence in this very period.

Firstly, given Ramesses’ 67 year reign, he would only have reached Year 22 when Asa of Judah, grandson of Rehoboam, ascended his throne. The significance of this date is that only one year previously Ramesses concluded his famous treaty with the Hittite King, Hattusilis. At this stage, with Egypt and the Hatti entering a long period of unprecedented harmony, consider the remarkably provocative actions of miniscule Judah. This tiny nation, under her new king, flouted the Egyptian/Hatti pact (which provided for mutual aid in just such an event), by starting the greatest fortress building phase of its entire history and developing a standing army of 540,000 men [II Chronicles 14:6-8] – and where did this military build up take place? Not in some distant corner of Egyptian/Hatti territory, away from prying eyes, but right in the demilitarised zone between the two powers, where all might see and not be under the slightest doubt that Judah meant business”.




Similarly, if Amenhotep II is to be Shishak, then the early to middle part of King Solomon’s reign of peace and prosperity is now set to coincide, most awkwardly, with decades of his supposed father-in-law Thutmose III’s rumbling through Syro-Palestine in campaign after successful campaign – this mighty pharaoh’s years 22-50 approximately.

Thutmose III, ‘the Napoleon of Egypt’ as he has been called.

Not much evidence in the Bible for such violent military incursions into Syro-Palestine during the high point of King Solomon’s reign.


Now, in Velikovsky’s scheme (also Courville’s and Sieff’s), no such problem occurs, with the rampant phase of Thutmose III belonging a few years after the death of Solomon.


Moreover, Velikovsky’s identification of Solomon’s pharaonic father-in-law with Thutmose I is more biologically likely (in relation to his Thutmose III as Shishak), since the reign of the father-in-law would not have so significantly overlapped the reign of the son-in-law as is the case with the article under review.


That there may be reason to query whether, as according to a common view, Thutmose III actually destroyed the city of Gezer becomes apparent from a footnote [29] to John Bimson’s important article, “Can There be a Revised Chronology Without a Revised Stratigraphy?” (SIS: Proceedings, Glasgow Conference, April, 1978), according to which: “The oft-repeated statement by Dever that Thutmose III claims to have destroyed Gezer (e.g. BA 34, 1971, p. 127; IEJ 22, 1972, p. 159; EAE II, p. 438) is untrue”. Here follows Bimson’s full footnote [29]:


“… J. D. Seger, IEJ 23 (1973), p. 250 W. G. Dever at first suggested a date as late as the reign of Thutmose IV: IEJ 20 (1970), p. 226 and Gezer I (1970), p. 55. However, he subsequently retracted this date, believing it to be too late (cf. IEJ 23, 1973, p. 26, n. 6), and suggested linking the destruction “provisionally” with the first campaign of Thutmose III (EAE II, p. 438). But Seger prefers a date earlier still (op. cit.) as also does Kempinski, IEJ 22 (1972), p. 185. The oft-repeated statement by Dever that Thutmose III claims to have destroyed Gezer (e.g. BA 34, 1971, p. 127; IEJ 22, 1972, p. 159; EAE II, p. 438) is untrue. Reliefs in the Temple of Amon at Kamak, illustrating this pharaoh’s campaigns, depict rows of Asiatic prisoners identified by the names of their towns of origin, one of which is Gezer. There is no reason to assume that this indicates the destruction of the town. For references to Asiatic campaign(s) by Thutmose I, see Breasted: Ancient Records of Egypt II (1906), pp. 28-31, 33-35; cf. Velikovsky, A in C, iii: “Two Suzerains”.”


Let us return again to Dale Murphie, who now touches on the inadequacies of Rohl’s chronology in relation to the biblical Queen of Sheba. According to Murphie:


“At the beginning of this time frame Shishak is tied chronologically to another celebrity who, like Zerah, simply cannot be ignored. On p. 178 Rohl mentions the Egyptian princess, bride of Solomon, but pays little attention to the contemporary visit of the Queen of Sheba, to whom he assigns 2 lines on p. 32 and a patronising comment about Velikovsky on p. 402. By aligning Dynasty XIX with the middle to near end of the United Monarchy of Israel, the New Chronology lacks a suitable candidate for Solomon’s celebrated visitor. It is not good enough to stay with the received opinion that she was a denizen of the south-west regions of Arabia Felix, when Josephus [Antiquities of the Jews, VIII, vi, 5] informed us that she was the Queen of Egypt and Ethiopia …. Further, the Ethiopian Kebra Nagast (The Book of the Glory of the Kings), discussing their Queen’s visit to Solomon, delivers her name as Makeda, almost identical to the royal name of Dynasty XVIII Queen Hatshepsut Makera, used repeatedly in the Dier [sic] el-Bahri mortuary complex inscriptions of her trading mission to Punt, placing the events in Dynasty XVIII”.


Note well: “… the New Chronology lacks a suitable candidate for Solomon’s celebrated visitor. It is not good enough to stay with the received opinion that she was a denizen of the south-west regions of Arabia Felix, when Josephus [Antiquities of the Jews, VIII, vi, 5] informed us that she was the Queen of Egypt and Ethiopia …”.


Where the revisions of Velikovsky, Courville and Sieff have a magnificent historical queen who fully accords with the ancient testimony of Josephus, and whose throne name, Makera (Maat-ka-re), is extremely close to the Ethiopian name for her of Makeda, these fancy pants new chronologies end up with absolutely no flesh-and-blood historical candidate whatsoever for the biblical queen. Be it Dr. John Bimson, Patrick J. Clarke, or any others, there is just no viable candidate to be found by them.

My comment on this in the case of Bimson, in “Solomon and Sheba”, is relevant here, too (


“Bimson suggested that the biblical queen was from Yemen in Arabia, but van Beek … has described the geographical isolation of Yemen and the hazards of a journey from there to Palestine and none of the numerous inscriptions from this southern part of Arabia refers to the famous queen. Civilisation in southern Arabia may not really have begun to flourish until some two to three centuries after Solomon’s era, as Bimson himself has noted … and no 10th century BC Arabian queen has ever been named or proposed as the Queen of Sheba.

If she hailed from Yemen, who was she?”


“Sheba” has brought many unstuck. Again, in my article, “The Queen of Beer(sheba)” (, I have demonstrated that Jesus Christ himself actually gave the perfect geographical co-ordinates for the kingdom of “Sheba” that would easily have been grasped by his Israelite (Jewish) audience, but that would be completely lost on modern western-minded, non-Semitically attuned, readers.


How the queen progressed from her brief period as ruler of Beersheba, to queen, then Pharaoh, of Egypt and Ethiopia (as according to ancient testimony), as the wondrous Hatshepsut, I have outlined in my recent article: “The vicissitudinous life of Solomon’s pulchritudinous wife” ( And what enormously supports my thesis (built upon the efforts of Velikovsky, Courville and Sieff), is the evidence as given in my “Solomon and Sheba” for the in-pouring of Israelite wisdom into Egypt at the time of Hatshepsut, images from Genesis, from Proverbs, and, most notably – from a chronological point of view – from David’s Psalms and Solomon’s love poetry.


The new proposal follows a conga-line of revisionists who have tried to find an Egyptian explanation for the biblical name, “Shishak”, in this case taking the Egyptian nebty name of pharaoh Amenhotep II, weser fau, sekha em waset, whilst admitting that: “At first glance, this name might not look like “Shishak”.”

And with very good reason, I say. It looks nothing like it!

I found perhaps more plausible K. Birch’s suggestion (“Shishak Mystery?”, C and C Workshop, SIS, No. 2, 1987, p. 35) that “Shishak” may derive from pharaoh Thutmose III’s Golden Horus name, Djeser-khau [“chase a cow”] (dsr h‘w): “… the (Golden) Horus names of Thutmose III comprise variations on: Tcheser-khau, Djeser-khau …”.


However, it may be a complete waste of time seeking after an Egyptian meaning for this biblical name. “Shishak” was how he was known to the Jews (and he was probably very well known to them due to the pervasive influence of his ‘stepmother’, Hatshepsut.

See “The vicissitudinous life”).

According to I Kings 4:3, there were high-ranking officials, sons of a “Shisha”, in the court of King Solomon. And there was also a biblical “Shashak” (I Chronicles 8:14).

Finally, to say something much in favour of any revisionist article that would locate the Eighteenth Dynasty pharaohs Hatshepsut and Thutmose III to the approximate time of kings David and Solomon, it will always be some half a millennium closer to chronological reality than is the Sothic-based textbook chronology. 


Hammurabi and Zimri-Lim as Contemporaries of Solomon

 Image result for zimri-lim


 Damien F. Mackey


If this reconstruction is correct, then it completely puts paid to the opinion that the Torah was influenced by the famous Law of Hammurabi. More likely, the Babylonian Code was based upon the law practiced in David’s and Solomon’s influential kingdom of Israel.

The following is a re-working of an old Christmas 2000 article of similar title.




In an article published in 1986, entitled “The Dating of Hammurabi”, its author Professor George Albert Hickman, Dean of Toronto University, argued for an early C10th BC placement for King Hammurabi of Babylon (conventionally dated to c. C19th BC); thereby making him a contemporary of David and Solomon.

Hickman went even further than this and provided an outline revision of Mesopotamian history down to the mid-C9th, which, despite certain deficiencies, rendered some very plausible synchronisms between the Mesopotamian kings and their neighbours. Surprisingly though, as far as I am aware, Hickman’s article does not appear to have stimulated much interest or discussion amongst revisionists. One possible reason for this may be that he, like Velikovsky, was not able to offer a satisfactory revision of Mesopotamian history for the troublesome el Amarna [EA] period of Pharaoh Akhnaton (conventionally dated to c.1350 BC). The effect of Hickman’s revision, in bringing Hammurabi and his dynasty down some 800-900 years, into and beyond the C10th, was to clutter the EA period all the more. He made no real attempt to tie up the loose kings that he had circulating around in this period. This is unfortunate in that EA, probably more than any other period, is in need of a satisfactory solution as regards Mesopotamian chronology if the revision is to be taken seriously by the experts.


Here, though, I wish to consolidate one area only of Hickman’s research: the era of Solomon.


Now, just as Hickman began his interesting article with mention of Zimri-Lim, king of Mari – and certain events that occurred during his reign and that of his father, Iahdulim – it will be this same Zimri-Lim who will become the central character of this article. Hickman had managed to identify most of Zimri-Lim’s outstanding contemporaries with major characters of the C10 world, but he did not actually link Zimri-Lim or his father with any particular persons. The identification of Zimri-Lim, king of Mari, will therefore be the special task of this article.


I believe that a very satisfactory identification can be made between Zimri-Lim and Rezin (or Rezon), Syrian adversary of King Solomon, and son of Eliada (I Kings 11:23). It is wholly in keeping with the framework established by Hickman for the era of Hammurabi, Zimri-Lim’s contemporary, and may thus serve to reinforce Hickman’s thesis. Logically it must follow from this identification that Zimri-Lim’s father, Iahdulim/Yahdu-Lim, be identified with Rezin’s father, Eliada.

The similarity in the names Iahdulim and Eliada is actually quite striking.


Benjaminites and Davidites


Hickman found what he believed to be the people of Saul and David in the names “Benjamites” (Benjaminites) and “Dawidum” (Davidum), cited in “three date formulas” of the kings of Mari. It was customary for ancient kings to date certain years of their reigns with reference to notable historical events that occurred within those years. Thus the kings of Mari recorded these years:


  1. “The year in which Iahdulim went to Hen and laid hands on the territory of the Benjamites.”
  2. “The year that Zimri-Lim killed the Davidum of the Benjamites.”
  3. “The year after Zimri-Lim killed the Davidum of the Benjamites.”


Hickman was quite safe, from a linguistic point of view, in associating the “Benjamites” of the Mari Letters [ML] with the biblical Benjaminites. And, since Saul belonged to the tribe of Benjamin (I Samuel 9:1-2), he was quite entitled to suggest an identification between the “Benjamites” and the peoples ruled by Saul. André Lemaire concurred with this view that the “Benjamites” of ML corresponded in name precisely to the southern tribe of Israel. More controversial, though, was Hickman’s attempted revitalization of an old and not very popular theory according to which the word “dawidum” of the letters was thought to relate to David’s name. According to Lemaire, the word “dawidum” was actually derived from a word “dabduum” meaning “defeat”.

But more pressing than the linguistic question were the powerful historical reasons why, within the context of conventional reasoning, the ML could not possibly bear any references to King David or his era. It is an undisputed fact that Zimri-Lim was a contemporary of Hammurabi, king of Babylon. We know that Hammurabi eventually overthrew Zimri-Lim and brought destruction upon Mari. And, though historians may have found Hammurabi extremely difficult to date precisely, they certainly would not question that he preceded David by more than half a millennium. Though recently dated towards the end of the C19th, Hammurabi’s era tends to shift with variations ranging up to in excess of a century. No wonder then that Dr. Courville felt compelled to describe this great king of Babylon as “floating about in a liquid chronology of Chaldea”!

Hickman, however, not bound by the stifling strictures of conventional chronology, was free to re-assess the earlier connection between the “dawidum” and the name David. As regards Lemaire’s “dabduum” he noted that the use of the letter “b” instead of “w” or “v”, did “not conclusively exclude the possibility that a word meaning ‘David'” was intended in the letters; and that in the Old Testament Hebrew “the name of David is variously written ‘Dawid’ () and ‘Dabid’ b=(/) instead of “w” or “v” ().” Even though, as he said, “current archaeological wisdom precludes it”, Hickman felt inclined nonetheless to explore the possibility that “Dawidum” related to David and that Hammurabi belonged to the Davidic era.


Here we are concerned more with historical, than philological considerations.


Shamsi-Adad’s Identity

Hickman’s first notable identification between a Mari correspondent and a C10th character was to equate Shamsi-Adad I (c.C19th BC) with David’s mighty adversary, Hadadezer, the Syrian. Not only David, but Saul also, had to contend with the aggressive kings of Zobah in Aram, or ancient Syria (I and II Samuel). Yet, according to conventional opinion, the kings of Zobah (pronounced Tzobah) are not supposed to have left any inscriptions concerning their accomplishments. In CAH, we read that the name Zobah occurs in the Assyrian documents of the C8th and C7th’s as “Subatu, Subutu or Subiti”. Josephus called Zobah, “Sophene”, and its king, “Hadad”. Accordingly, Hickman identified Shamsi-Adad, son of Ilu-kabkabu, with biblical Hadadezer, son of Rekhob. And he added that the ubiquitous Shamsi-Adad’s best known city of Shubat-Enlil was to be equated with Hadadezer’s city of Zobah or Subatu. Hickman also provided an interesting explanation as to why he thought that Rekhob, the name of Hadadezer’s father, bore “some resemblance to Ilu-kabkabu”, the name of Shamsi-Adad’s father.

The next task was to identify the regions wherein lay the kingdom of Shamsi-Adad and his alter ego Hadadezer. Shamsi-Adad’s kingdom is known to have included the plain of Assyria, stretching southward through the middle Euphrates Valley almost to the latitude of Eshnunna.

Cities described as belonging to Hadadezer were Betakh, Berothai, Tibhath or Tebah, and Chun (2 Samuel 8:8 and I Chronicles 18:8). In CAH, Tebah is identified as Late Bronze Tubikhu, Chun as Late Bronze Kunu (Roman Conna), and Berothai tentatively as Bereitan, a town south of Baalbek. Hickman added that Berothai, thought to be north of Damascus, “is probably the same as Berothai of Ezekiel 47:16, between Hamath and Damascus”.

In a date- formula from Eshnunna the army of Iasmakh-Adad, the son of Shamsi-Adad, is called “The host of Shubartu and Khana”.

Hickman suggested that Khana may possibly refer to the city of Chun in I Chronicles 18:8; and that Shubartu may be derived either “from Zobah or from Sibraim” (Ezekiel 47:16).

Shamsi-Adad boasted that he had erected triumphal stelae in Lebanon. He was allied with princes of upper Syria, notably Carchemish and Qatna, and with Hammurabi of Babylon.
We know from Scripture that Hadadezer liked to set up victory monuments; David defeated him “as he went to set up his monument at the river Euphrates(I Chronicles 18:3). Scripture records also that the Syrian was ruler of the kings beyond the river (2 Samuel 10:16, 19), i.e. the Euphrates, as later records from Assyria confirm as well.

Hickman thought that “this description resembles that of Shamsi-Adad”.

Hadadezer opposed David with phenomenal forces, but was defeated by the Israelite king in two major campaigns. In the first campaign David took from the Syrian an incredible 1000 chariots, as well as 7000 horseman, and 20,000 footmen (I Chronicles 18:4). Hickman was interested to discover that Shamsi-Adad had informed one of his sons, Ishme-Dagan, that he could supply him with 20,000 troops; the same number as cited in Scripture. In the second campaign, Hadadezer allied himself with the Ammonites who had called upon him for help (II Samuel 10:6).

Hickman identified Shobach, “the commander of the army of Hadadezer” (II Samuel 10:16) with Shamsi-Adad’s pleasure-loving son, Iasmakh-Adad.

The Kingdom of Hamath

The first conflict between David and Hadadezer had occurred near Hamath, when Hadadezer went to recover his border at the river Euphrates. Hickman wondered if Hamath might be the state of Yamkhad. The Mari archive has enabled us to know the greatness of the Syrian kingdoms, which previously had been overshadowed by Babylonia especially. As Dalley put it: “… we now know that Syria had cities and monarchs equal in power and civilisation to Larsa and Babylon”. She added that Syria’s mightiest kingdom “was centred on Aleppo, ancient Halab in the state of Yamkhad”; Halab being “the mightiest of many kingdoms in Zimri-Lim’s day”.

Dalley could back up this claim simply by citing the very celebrated ML which stated that”:


There is no king who is mighty by himself. Ten or fifteen kings follow Hammurabi the ruler of Babylon, a like number Rim-Sin of Larsa, a like number Ibal-pi-el of Eshnunna, a like number Amud-pi-el of Qatanum, but twenty follow Yarim-Lim of Yamhad.


When David had defeated Hadadezer and his allies in the region of Hamath, a king of Hamath named To’i sent him tribute by the hand of his son Joram (2 Samuel 8:9). Hickman identified this Joram of Hamath with Iarim-Lim of Aleppo (Halab) in the kingdom of Yamkhad.

This Iarim-Lim may even turn out to be the great Hiram, ally of David and Solomon.


Indeed, I have since identified Iarim-Lim with Hiram, in:


King Hiram the Historical and Hiram Abiff the Hysterical


The Syrian (Amorite) world was a conglomerate of kingdoms loosely united and oftentimes prone to fall out one kingdom with another. We read in Scripture that Hadadezer, for instance, called upon “the Syrians of Damascus” (II Samuel 8:5), and that the Ammonites hired “the Syrians of Beth-rehob, and the Syrians of Zobah” (II Samuel 10:6). Then there was the Syrian kingdom of Hamath, which may eventually have absorbed Zobah; hence “Hamath-zobah”. But, as we shall see, there could be serious conflicts amongst the Syrian kingdoms. Thus Rezin, son of Eliada, fell out with his master Hadadezer, and fled from him, and became leader of his own army (I Kings 11:23-24). The reason for this enmity will become clearer in the next section as we pursue the identity of Rezin and Eliada, with Zimri-Lim and Iahdulim of ML.


Like Hadadezer, Shamsi-Adad employed confederate Syrian kingdoms to assist him in his campaigns. But it seems that the aggressive Shamsi-Adad was nervous when it came to the Benjaminites and their kinsmen. Shamsi-Adad wrote to his son, who had seized Mari from Zimri-Lim’s father:

Reference:“..the proposal to take a census of the Benjamites, about which you have written me …. The Benjamites are not well disposed to the idea of a census. If you carry it out, their kinsmen, the Ra-ab-ay-yi, who live on the other bank, of the river, will hear of it.”
“They will be annoyed with them and will not return to their country. On no account should this census be taken!”

Hickman’s summary of this letter was that Shamsi-Adad, characterised as “the greatest figure of his generation”, who claimed control of “the land between the Tigris and the Euphrates”, was wary of the Israelites. He identified the “Ra-ab-ay-yi” of Shamsi-Adad’s letter, who were dwelling “on the other bank of the river”, with the Reubenites (one of the 12 tribes of Israel) who dwelt east of the Jordan river along with the tribes of Gad and Manasseh. Scripture records that these Transjordanian Israelites began to expand eastwards in Saul’s day, and began to engage the Hagarites (Arabs) in battle, and defeated them (I Chronicles 5 and II Chronicles 5).

Era of Solomon

Peace, which had been unknown in the time of Saul and David, came to Israel during the glorious reign of Solomon, David’s son and successor. David had smashed the mighty forces of Hadadezer king of Zobah, and had put garrisons in the land of Aram around and in Damascus; and the Syrians became servants to David and brought tribute (II Samuel 8:5-6). For more than 20 years Solomon reigned in peace and prosperity, with Israel’s enemies subdued on every side. It appears that Solomon absorbed both the kingdoms of Hadadezer and of the Aleppo region, because he took Hamath-zobah (II Chronicles 8:3). He built Tadmor in the wilderness – which was connected by a desert road to Mari – and he also built store cities in Hamath (8:4). Even after his 20th year of rule (II Chronicles 8:1), things were still going well for Solomon; for Scripture recalls the celebrated visit of Queen Sheba. See my:


Solomon and Sheba


Solomon had an incredible 1400 chariots, and 12,000 horsemen with which to defend Jerusalem (I Kings 10:26).

But the happy situation was not to last. In the latter half of his long reign Solomon apostatised from Yahweh worship by courting the foreign gods of his wives (I Kings 11:4). Scripture names three adversaries who “lifted up their hand” against Solomon in those days (I Kings 11): Hadad, the Edomite; Rezin, son of Eliada, who had fled from his master Hadadezer king of Zobah and Jeroboam, an Ephraïmite.

It is this Rezin upon whom our attention will be focussed for the remaining pages.

From Rezin to Hammurabi

In identifying Rezin with Zimri-Lim, and his father, Eliada with Iahdulim, we are able to refine Hickman’s chronological scheme somewhat. Hickman had surmised that Zimri-Lim belonged to the time of David, which meant that Iahdulim was roughly contemporaneous with Saul: “Since … Iahdulim … mentions only the Benjamites [in the date-formula quoted earlier] he must belong to Saul’s time”. Hickman thought that there was reason to suspect “That the incursion of this [Iahdulim] into Benjamite territory resulted in Saul’s wars against Zobah and that Mari was associated with the Zobah kingdom”.

It seems that Hickman was correct in his last statement in that Iagit-Lim of Mari, who was Zimri-Lim’s grandfather, had once been an ally of Shamsi-Adad. But Iagit-Lim and Shamsi-Adad quarrelled eventually, with dire consequences. Iagit-Lim’s son and successor, Iahdulim – who claimed to have strengthened the foundations of Mari – was assassinated by his own servants. Shamsi-Adad then occupied the city of Mari, and set up his son, Iasmakh-Adad, as ruler. Zimri-Lim, the heir to the throne, was forced to flee for his life, spending many years in exile at Aleppo. Zimri-Lim returned to Mari about the 16th year of Hammurabi of Babylon, and ruled there for at least most of Hammurabi’s remaining years.

Since Shamsi-Adad’s death coincided with the 12th year of Hammurabi, Zimri-Lim apparently was returning to a less hostile environment, where he ruled for at least 17 years. For most of that time he and Hammurabi were on quite friendly terms with one another; but Hammurabi eventually turned against Zimri-Lim and, in his 33rd year, he came to Mari and dismantled its walls. However, this may not have been the end of Zimri-Lim because the number of years-names attested for his reign would indicate that he continued to rule Mari for some years after this event.


When we transfer all of these events onto a revised time plane, there emerges a more precise picture. Hadadezer (Shamsi-Adad), a one-time ally of Rezin’s (Zimri-Lim’s) grandfather, king of Mari, quarrelled with the king of Mari. Later, Eliada (Iahdulim), Rezin’s father, was assassinated by his servants – presumably at the instigation of Hadadezer – and Hadadezer’s son Shobach (Iasmakh-Adad) was established as ruler of Mari. The assassination of his father, and the occupation of the city throne to which he was heir, explains why Rezin “fled from his master Hadadezer king of Zobah” (I Kings 11:23).

We also now know the city to which Rezin fled, Aleppo, or Halab, in Hamath (Yamkhad).

Scripture goes on to record that “after the slaughter of David” (i.e. after David had slaughtered Hadadezer’s forces), Rezin “gathered men about him and became leader of a marauding band” (I Kings 11:24). Some of his band may have been remnants of Hadadezer’s decimated forces. We know from Scripture that it was just after Solomon’s 20th year as king of Jerusalem that adversaries began to spring up about him. Now, since Solomon’s 20th year is to be dated at approximately 950 BC, Rezin’s reign probably began shortly after that date.

What follows is a quotation of what Hammurabi wrote to Zimri-Lim:


“To Zimri-Lim communicate the following: Thus says your brother Hammurabi [of Yamhad]: The king of Ugarit has written me as follows: `Show me the palace of Zimri-Lim! I wish to see it.’ With this same courier I am sending on this man.”


Now since Zimri-Lim with whom we identify Rezin returned to Mari from exile “about the sixteenth year of Hammurabi”, Hammurabi’s 16th year must correspond closely to Solomon’s 20th year. It is more accurate to say, therefore, that Zimri-Lim was a contemporary of Hammurabi, it seems. Shamsi-Adad had died 5 years before Zimri-Lim returned from exile; in Hammurabi’s 12th year, approximating to Solomon’s 16th year. But he was already a spent force before that.

It is obvious then that the event of Zimri-lim’s return from exile in the 16th year of Hammurabi is a very crucial clue for organizing a chronology of this period; especially when it is associated with Rezin’s return from exile. Scripture does not say that Rezin seized Mari on his return, but Damascus, where he was made king (I Kings 11:24).

We cannot determine whether he took Damascus or Mari first.

Chances are that Rezin was, as Hickman described Shamsi-Adad: “… continually on the move and did not really possess a capital”.

A Syrian, as was Hadadezer also, Rezin too remained a foe of the House of David. Scripture records that Rezin “was an adversary of Israel all the days of Solomon, doing mischief as Hadad [the Edomite] did; and he abhorred Israel and reigned over Syria” (I Kings 11:25). After that, Scripture has no more to say about Rezin, and we have to turn back to ML. Actually the historical evidence matches the scriptural data very well, if we are correct in associating Zimri-Lim’s return from exile in Aleppo with that of Rezin. In both cases the master or overlord of the Syrians was dead. We know that Zimri-lim and Rezin ruled for close to two decades. Zimri-Lim definitely ruled for 17 years, until Hammurabi’s sack of Mari; and he may have ruled somewhat longer, as the inscriptions indicate. Rezin saw out at least 17-20 years of Solomon’s 40 year reign (I Kings 11:42); and he may have survived partly into the next reign; though we hear no more about him.



King Hiram extended biblico-historically

Image result for idrimi

Part One:

Hiram as Idrimi of Alalakh



 Damien F. Mackey



Level VII [at Alalakh], which did not contain the [characteristic] pottery,

was the level containing the inscribed tablets of the Yarim-Lim dynasty.”




To flesh out historically the biblical kings David and Solomon (c. C10th BC) one needs also to:


  • delve right back to a conventionally-estimated Syro-Mesopotamia of the era of c. 1800 BC so as to locate their contemporaries in Rekhob and Hadadezer (historically, Uru-kabkabu and Shamsi-Adad I); Eliada and Rezon (historically, Iahdulim and Zimri-Lim); and Hiram (historically, Iarim-Lim); and then to


  • dip into the conventionally-estimated Egypt of the era of c. 1500 BC to locate their Eighteenth Dynasty contemporaries in (Thutmose I and II), “Queen of Sheba” and “Shishak” (historically, Hatshepsut and Thutmose III).


In what will follow here, that same conventionally-estimated (but quite incorrect) era for the Eighteenth Egyptian dynasty (c. 1500 BC) will also to found to contain a colourful character who may be yet another face of the biblical king Hiram.


Hiram as Idrimi


I had previously sought to identify this Idrimi (conventionally dated to c. 1500 BC) with one of King Solomon’s three adversaries (I Kings 11:14-26) namely, Hadad, or Hadar, the Edomite: “That name, Hadar, is the same as Hadoram (Adoram), and, as it seems to me, as Idrimi”.


But Hadoram (Adoram), or Adoniram, are also names that can be associated with the Hebrew name, Joram, and also with Hiram, as according to Abarim:


Associated Biblical names








Moreover, the geography of Idrimi, Alalakh, is much more befitting of Hiram, as Iarim-Lim.

Thus I would write, in my university thesis:


A Revised History of the Era of King Hezekiah of Judah

and its Background



the following (very Courville-based) sections regarding Iarim-Lim, the Philistines (Cretans) and the archaeology of Alalakh:


The Earlier Philistine History


It remains to be determined whether or not the Philistines can be traced all the way back to Crete in accordance with the biblical data; though obviously, from what has been said, to well before the time of the ‘Sea Peoples’, whose immediate origins were Aegean, not Cretan.

Courville has looked to trace just such an archaeological trail, back through the era of the late Judges/Saul; to Alalakh (modern Atchana) at the time of Iarim-Lim (Yarim-Lim) of Iamkhad (Yamkhad) and Hammurabi of Babylon; and finally to Crete in early dynastic times. I shall be basically reproducing Courville here, though with one significant chronological divergence, in regard to his dating of the Alalakh sequences. Courville has, according to my own chronological estimation for Hammurabi and Iarim-Lim, based on Hickman … dated the Hammurabic era about four centuries too early (as opposed to the conventional system’s seven centuries too early) on the time scale. Courville had wonderfully described Hammurabi as “floating about in a liquid chronology of Chaldea”, just after his having also correctly stated that: …  “Few problems of ancient chronology have been the topic of more extensive debate among scholars than the dates to be ascribed to the Babylonian king Hammurabi and his dynasty …”. And so he set out to establish Hammurabi in a more secure historical setting. This, I do not think he managed successfully to achieve however.

Courville’s re-location of Hammurabi to the approximate time of Joshua and the Conquest is still fairly “liquid” chronologically, as it seems to me, without his having been able to establish any plausible syncretisms beyond those already known for Hammurabi (e.g. with Shamsi-Adad I and Zimri-Lim). Revisionist Hickman on the other hand, despite his radical lowering of the Hammurabic era even beyond the standard [Velikovsky-date lowering] scale, by about seven centuries to the time of kings David and Solomon (c. C10th BC), has been able to propose and develop what are to my way of thinking some promising syncretisms, e.g. between David’s Syrian foe, Hadadezer, and Shamsi-Adad I (c. 1809-1776 BC, conventional dates), with the latter’s father Ilu-kabkabu being the biblical Rekhob, father of Hadadezer (2 Samuel 8:3); … and between Iarim-Lim and the biblical Joram (var. Hadoram), son of To’i, and prince of Hamath (cf. 2 Samuel 8:10 & 1 Chronicles 18:10).

I shall have cause to re-visit some of these kings in the following chapter.

So now, with Hammurabi and his era somewhat more securely located, as I think, than according to Courville’s proposed re-location – and hence with the potential for a more accurate archaeological matrix – we can continue on with Courville’s excellent discussion of the archaeology of the early Philistines: ….


VIII. The Culture of the Sea Peoples in the Era of the Late Judges


The new pottery found at Askelon [Ashkelon] at the opening of Iron I, and correlated with the invasion of the Sea Peoples, was identified as of Aegean origin. A similar, but not identical, pottery has been found in the territory north of Palestine belonging to the much earlier era of late Middle Bronze. By popular

views, this is prior to the Israelite occupation of Palestine. By the altered chronology, this is the period of the late judges and the era of Saul.

… That the similar pottery of late Middle Bronze, occurring both in the north and in the south, is related to the culture found only in the south at the later date is apparent from the descriptions of the two cultures. Of this earlier culture, which should be dated to the time of Saul, Miss Kenyon commented:


The pottery does in fact provide very useful evidence about culture. The first interesting point is the wealth of a particular class of painted pottery …. The decoration is bichrome, nearly always red and black, and the most typical vessels have a combination of metopes enclosing a bird or a fish with geometric decoration such as a “Union Jack” pattern or a Catherine wheel. At Megiddo the first bichrome pottery is attributed to Stratum X, but all the published material comes from tombs intrusive into this level. It is in fact characteristic of Stratum IX. Similar pottery is found in great profusion in southern Palestine … Very similar vessels are also found on the east coast of Cyprus and on the coastal Syrian sites as far north as Ras Shamra. [Emphasis Courville’s]


Drawings of typical examples of this pottery show the same stylized bird with

back-turned head that characterized the pottery centuries later at Askelon. … The anachronisms and anomalies in the current views on the interpretation of this invasion and its effects on Palestine are replaced by a consistent picture, and one that is in agreement with the background provided by Scripture for the later era in the very late [sic] 8th century B.C.


Courville now turns to the archaeology at the site of Alalakh on the shore of the Mediterranean at its most northeast protrusion, in order “to trace this culture one step farther back in time” (though in actual fact, by my chronology, it will bring him to approximately the same time – though a different place). ….


  1. The Culture of Level VI at Alalakh Is Related to That of the Philistines


He commences by recalling Sir Leonard Woolley’s investigations at this site in the

1930’s, during which Woolley discovered “seventeen archaeological levels of occupation”:


A solid synchronism is at hand to correlate Level VII at Alalakh with the era of Hammurabi of the First Dynasty at Babylon …. The basis for this synchronism is found in the Mari Letters where it is stated that “… there are ten or fifteen kings who follow Hammurabi of Babylon and ten or fifteen who follow Rim-sin of Larsa but twenty kings follow Yarim-Lim of Yamkhad”.

Investigations at Alalakh revealed numerous tablets inscribed in cuneiform, most of which are by the third of the three kings of the dynasty, Yarim-Lim by name.

…. Since the First Dynasty at Babylon was of Amorite origin, then so also was the Yarim-Lim dynasty of Amorite origin.

In the reports by Woolley, he indicates the find at Alalakh of two characteristic pottery types which were designated as “White-Slip milk bowls” and “Base-Ring Ware”. As the digging proceeded downward, he found that such types of pottery were plentiful in Level VI, all but disappeared in Level VII, and then reappeared in all levels from VIII to XVI. Level VII, which did not contain the pottery, was the level containing the inscribed tablets of the Yarim-Lim dynasty. The obvious conclusion was that the people of Yarim-Lim (Amorites) had conquered this city and probably also the surrounding territory, ruling it for a period estimated to have been about 50 years. At the end of this time, the original inhabitants were able to reconquer the site and reoccupy it.

Courville now turns his attention to seeking an identity for the people from whom the city of Alalakh was taken for about half a century, but who then reoccupied it: ….

What then was this culture like …? We let Woolley tell us about the culture:


… We do indeed know extremely little about the Level VI buildings. It is to the pottery that we must look for information about Level VI, and the pottery can tell us a good deal. On the one hand we have what I have called the “nationalist revival” of the traditional painted ware which had been suppressed under the late regime, and some examples of this are perfect replicas of the old both in form and in decoration, but as time goes on, there appear modifications of the long-established types – instead of the isolated and static figures of birds or animals these become active and are combined in running scenes surrounding the whole pot without the interruption of the triglyph-like partitions which were once the rule … For the first time we get a polychrome decoration in red and black paint on a buff surface, and the design includes not only birds but the “Union Jack” motive which is specially characteristic of contemporary Palestine … [Emphasis Courville’s]


As one examines this pottery description, he will be struck with the notable similarities of decoration found on the pottery at Megiddo for the era of Philistine occupation in the time of Saul. There is the same use of red and black paint, the similar use of birds as a decoration motif, and the same use of the “Union Jack”.


Finally, Courville traces this distinctive archaeological path all the way back to Crete. I am giving only the barest outlines of his discussion here: ….


  1. The Sea Peoples of Crete


With the evidences thus far noted before us, we are now in a position to examine the archaeological reports from Crete for evidences of the early occupation of this site by the Caphtorim (who are either identical to the Philistines of later Scripture or are closely related to them culturally). We now have at least an approximate idea of the nature of the culture for which we are looking …. … we can hardly be wrong in recognizing the earliest occupants of Crete as the people who represented the beginnings of the people later known in Scripture as the Philistines, by virtue of the stated origin of the Philistines in Crete. This concept holds regardless of the name that may be applied to this early era by scholars.

The only site at which Cretan archaeology has been examined for its earliest occupants is at the site of the palace at Knossos. At this site deep test pits were dug into the earlier occupation levels. If there is any archaeological evidence available from Crete for its earliest period, it should then be found from the archaeology of these test pits. The pottery found there is described by Dr. Furness, who is cited by Hutchinson.

“Dr. Furness divides the early Neolithic I fabrics into (a) coarse unburnished ware and (b) fine burnished ware, only differing from the former in that the pot walls are thinner, the clay better mixed, and the burnish more carefully executed. The surface colour is usually black, but examples also occur of red,

buff or yellow, sometimes brilliant red or orange, and sometimes highly variegated sherds”.

A relation was observed between the decoration of some of this pottery from early Neolithic I in Crete with that at the site of Alalakh ….

Continuing to cite Dr. Furness, Hutchinson commented:


Dr. Furness justly observes that “as the pottery of the late Neolithic phases seems to have developed at Knossos without a break, it is to the earliest that one must look for evidence of origin of foreign connections”, and she therefore stresses the importance of a small group with plastic decoration that seems mainly confined to the Early Neolithic I levels, consisting of rows of pellets immediately under the rim (paralleled on burnished pottery of Chalcolithic [predynastic] date from Gullucek in the Alaca [Alalakh] district of Asia Minor). [Emphasis Courville’s]


While the Archaeological Ages of early Crete cannot with certainty be correlated with the corresponding eras on the mainland, it would seem that Chalcolithic on the mainland is later than Early Neolithic in Crete; hence any influence of one culture on the other is more probably an influence of early Cretan culture on that of the mainland. This is in agreement with Scripture to the effect that the Philistines migrated from Crete to what is now the mainland at some point prior to the time of Abraham. ….

King Solomon needs a shift to Late Bronze Age of wealth and international trade

Image result for hatshepsut trade


Damien F. Mackey


“The wealth and international trade attested by these [Late Bronze Age] levels certainly reflect the age of Solomon far more accurately than the Iron Age cities normally attributed to him, from which we have “no evidence of any particular luxury”.”



Revisionists have accepted the need to re-date the Eighteenth Dynasty era of Egyptian history, of the Late Bronze Age [LBA], to the time of kings David and Solomon of Israel. See e.g. my:


Solomon and Sheba


Archaeologically, Dr. John Bimson had re-set this all into a proper perspective in his important article, “Can There be a Revised Chronology Without a Revised Stratigraphy?” (SIS Review, 6:1-3, Glasgow Proceedings, pp. 18-20).

Here is the relevant section of it for King Solomon:


  • The Late Bronze Age and the Reign of Solomon



Although an exhaustive study of the LBA contexts of all scarabs commemorating Hatshepsut and Thutmose III would be required to establish this point, a preliminary survey suggests that objects from the joint reign of these two rulers do not occur until the transition from LB I to LB II, and that scarabs of Thutmose III occur regularly from the start of LB II onwards, and perhaps no earlier [14]. Velikovsky’s chronology makes Hatshepsut (with Thutmose III as co-ruler) a contemporary of Solomon, and Thutmose III’s sole reign contemporary with that of Rehoboam in Judah [15]. Therefore, if the revised chronology is correct, these scarabs would suggest that Solomon’s reign saw the transition from LB I to LB II, rather than that from LB I A to LB I B.

Placing the beginning of LB II during the reign of Solomon produces a very good correlation between archaeological evidence and the biblical record of that period. It is with this correlation that we will begin. In taking the LB I – II transition as its starting-point, the present article not only takes up the challenge offered by Stiebing, but also continues the revision begun in my previous articles, and will bring it to a conclusion (in broad outline) with the end of the Iron Age.

Though KENYON has stated that the LB I – II transition saw a decline in the material culture of Palestine [16], ongoing excavations are now revealing a different picture. LB II A “was definitely superior to the preceding LB I”, in terms of stability and material prosperity; it saw “a rising population that reoccupied long abandoned towns” [17]. Foreign pottery imports are a chief characteristic of the period [18]. According to the biblical accounts in the books of Kings and Chronicles, Solomon’s reign brought a period of peace which saw an increase in foreign contacts, unprecedented prosperity, and an energetic building programme which extended throughout the kingdom [19].

I Kings 9:15 specifically relates that Solomon rebuilt Hazor, Megiddo and Gezer. In the revised stratigraphy envisaged here, the cities built by Solomon at these sites would therefore be those of LB II A. More specifically, these three Solomonic cities would be represented by Stratum VIII in Area AA at Megiddo [20], by Stratum XVI at Gezer, and by Stratum XIV of the Upper City at Hazor (= Str. Ib of the Lower City) [21].

The wealth and international trade attested by these levels certainly reflect the age of Solomon far more accurately than the Iron Age cities normally attributed to him, from which we have “no evidence of any particular luxury” [21a].

The above-mentioned strata at Megiddo and Gezer have both yielded remains of very fine buildings and courtyards [22]. The Late Bronze strata on the tell at Hazor have unfortunately not produced a clear picture, because of levelling operations and extensive looting of these levels during the Iron Age; but the LB II A stratum of the Lower City has produced a temple very similar in concept to the Temple built by Solomon in Jerusalem, as described in the Old Testament [23].

Art treasures from these cities not only indicate the wealth of the period, but reflect contacts with Egypt and northern Mesopotamia [24]. These contacts are precisely those we would expect to find attested during Solomon’s reign, the Bible records Solomon’s trade with Egypt and his marriage to the Pharaoh’s daughter [25], and says (I Kings 4:24) that his kingdom extended as far to the north-east as Tiphsah, which is probably to be identified with Thapsacus, “an important crossing in the west bank of the Middle Euphrates … placed strategically on a great east-west trade route” [26].

The Bible adds extra detail concerning Gezer: namely, that Solomon rebuilt it after it had been captured and burnt by the Pharaoh, who had given the site to his daughter, Solomon’s wife, as a dowry (I Kings 9:16-17). In Velikovsky’s chronology, this pharaoh is identified as Thutmose I [27]. In the revised stratigraphy considered here, we would expect to find evidence for this destruction of Gezer at some point during LB I, and sure enough we do, including dramatic evidence of burning [28]. The “latest possible date” for this destruction is said to be the reign of Thutmose III, with some archaeologists preferring an earlier date [29]. We may readily identify this destruction as the work of Solomon’s father-in-law.

From the period between this destruction and the LB II A city comes a group of several dozen burials in a cave. DEVER remarks that most of these “show signs of advanced arthritis, probably from stoop labour, which may be an indication of the hardships of life during this period” [30]. Yet contemporary finds, including “Egyptian glass, alabaster and ivory vessels, and a unique terra-cotta sarcophagus of Mycenaean inspiration” [31], indicate considerable prosperity and international trade at this time. In a revised framework, it is tempting to speculate that the burials were of people who suffered under Solomon’s system of forced labour, by which Gezer was built according to I Kings 9:15. It emerges in I Kings 12 that this forced labour caused sufficient hardship to contribute to the bitterness which split the kingdom after Solomon’s death.

We must turn briefly to Jerusalem, where Solomon’s building activities were concentrated for the first twenty years of his reign, according to I Kings 9:10. Here we find that traces of occupation datable to Solomon’s time in the conventional scheme are rather poor [32] In the revised scheme, we may attribute to Solomon the impressive stone terrace system of LBA date excavated by Kenyon on the eastern ridge [33]. In fact, this is probably the “Millo” which Solomon is said to have built (I Kings 9:15, 24; II:27). Kenyon describes the nucleus of this terrace system as “a fill almost entirely of rubble, built in a series of compartments defined by facings of a single course of stones…” [34]. “Fill”, or “filling”, is the probable meaning of “Millo” [35]. Also to Solomon’s time would belong at least some of the LBA tombs discovered on the western slope of the Mount of Olives; many of these contain LB I – IIA material which includes “a surprisingly large number” of imported items from Cyprus, Aegean and Egypt [36]. The number would not be surprising in the context of Solomon’s reign. ….

Comparison of (A) LB II (Stratum Ib) temple at Hazor with (B) the basic ground plan of Solomon’s Temple in Jerusalem, as deduced from biblical information. Both have a tripartite division on a single axis, side-rooms and a pair of free-standing pillars (though the latter are not identically situated in both cases) …”.


This LBA world, though, does not even enter the mind of a conventional archaeologist such as Israel Finkelstein as a possible setting for King Solomon. We read of Finkelstein’s views on the matter in Robert Draper’s article, “Kings of Controversy” (National Geographic Magazine, December 2010):


…. The once common practice of using the Bible as an archaeological guide has been widely contested as an unscientific case of circular reasoning—and with particular relish by Tel Aviv University’s contrarian-in-residence Israel Finkelstein, who has made a career out of merrily demolishing such assumptions. He and other proponents of “low chronology” say that the weight of archaeological evidence in and around Israel suggests that the dates posited by biblical scholars are a century off. The “Solomonic” buildings excavated by biblical archaeologists over the past several decades at Hazor, Gezer, and Megiddo were not constructed in David and Solomon’s time, he says, and so must have been built by kings of the ninth-century B.C.’s Omride dynasty, well after David and Solomon’s reign.

During David’s time, as Finkelstein casts it, Jerusalem was little more than a “hill-country village,” David himself a raggedy upstart akin to Pancho Villa, and his legion of followers more like “500 people with sticks in their hands shouting and cursing and spitting—not the stuff of great armies of chariots described in the text.

“Of course we’re not looking at the palace of David!” Finkelstein roars at the very mention of [Eilat] Mazar’s discovery. “I mean, come on. I respect her efforts. I like her—very nice lady. But this interpretation is—how to say it?—a bit naive.”

…. To the minimalists, David and Solomon were simply fictitious characters. The credibility of that position was undercut in 1993, when an excavation team in the northern Israel site of Tel Dan dug up a black basalt stela inscribed with the phrase “House of David.” Solomon’s existence, however, remains wholly unverified.

…. “You can find evidence in radiocarbon for David being a villager in Norway in the sixth century A.D.!” declares Israel Finkelstein—exaggerating to make a point, as he is prone to doing. “But look, I enjoy reading everything Tom writes about Khirbat en Nahas. It has brought all sorts of ideas to me. I myself would never dig in such a place—too hot! For me, archaeology is about having a good time. You should come to Megiddo—we live in an air-conditioned B&B next to a nice swimming pool.”

This is how Finkelstein begins his rebuttals, with amiable preambles that cannot conceal the Mephisto-like gleam in his eyes. For a scholar, the Tel Aviv archaeologist has a highly visceral manner—leaning his tall, bearded frame into a visitor’s face, waving his large hands, modulating his baritone with Shakespearean agility.

Yet his charm wears thin for those who have felt the sting of his attacks. “If you want to attract attention, you behave like Finkelstein,” says Eilat Mazar. Similarly unamused is Yosef Garfinkel, who says of Finkelstein’s recent receipt of a four-million-dollar research grant, “He doesn’t even use science—that’s the irony. It’s like giving Saddam Hussein the Nobel Peace Prize.” Still, Finkelstein’s theories strike an intellectually appealing middle ground between biblical literalists and minimalists. “Think of the Bible the way you would a stratified archaeological site,” he says. “Some of it was written in the eighth century B.C., some the seventh, and then going all the way to the second B.C. So 600 years of compilation. This doesn’t mean that the story doesn’t come from antiquity. But the reality presented in the story is a later reality. David, for example, is a historical figure. He did live in the tenth century B.C. I accept the descriptions of David as some sort of leader of an upheaval group, troublemakers who lived on the margins of society. But not the golden city of Jerusalem, not the description of a great empire in the time of Solomon. When the authors of the text describe that, they have in their eyes the reality of their own time, the Assyrian Empire.

“Now, Solomon,” he continues with a sigh. “I think I destroyed Solomon, so to speak. Sorry for that! But take Solomon, dissect it. Take the great visit of the Queen of Sheba—an Arabian queen coming to visit, bringing all sorts of exotic commodities to Jerusalem. This is a story which is an impossibility to think about before 732 B.C., before the beginning of Arabian trade under Assyrian domination. Take the story of Solomon as the great, you know, trainer in horses and chariots and big armies and so on. The world behind Solomon is the world of the Assyrian century.” ….


Wrong era, wrong cultures, Israel!

The following recent article by Dave Aeilts and Steve Law is a refreshing change from such endemic biblical minimalising:


Contents of Greek Tomb May Rewrite History



The miniature masterpiece, as UC Magazine calls it, was carved on an agate just under 1-½ inches in length. (Credit: University of Cincinnati)


For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord. – Isaiah 55:8 (ESV)


A worker at an archeological dig unearths a lump of limestone and puts it to the side. It’s just another shapeless artifact to clean and classify as a team from the University of Cincinnati excavates this 3,500-year-old gravesite in southern Greece. What the team does not realize is that, underneath layers of sediment deposited by the ages lies the work of a genius. This masterpiece may change scholars’ views of Late Bronze Age art—and the other contents of the burial may reveal new insights about this neighbor of Israel, including the dates that should be assigned to events in the ancient world.

What’s going on in the Bible lands has been the focus of many Thinker Updates, but this time we’re exploring a find from one of Israel’s neighbors that just might help us better understand the world of the Bible and its place in history.

A year-and-a-half ago, archeologists affiliated with the University of Cincinnati (UC) made a startling discovery. They were excavating the tomb of a Mycenaean warrior near the Palace of Nestor in Pylos, Greece. They believed this warrior was buried around 1,500 BC, during what is commonly referred to as the “Late Bronze Age.”

The Mycenaean civilization is thought to have controlled what is now southern Greece as well as other lands around the Aegean Sea from about 1,600 to 1,200 BC. Around 1,200 BC at the end of the Late Bronze Age, this early Greek culture went into a downward spiral along with many of their neighbors at the time of the Sea Peoples incursion. By about 1,100 BC, according to standard dating, the Mycenaeans were gone and Greek history had entered a dark period of weakness and disunity about which relatively little is known.


The image of a male warrior has been recreated by layering muscle and skin over the well-preserved skeletal remains in his tomb. (Credit: University of Cincinnati)


The skeletal remains in this tomb were so well preserved that an image of the male warrior has been recreated by overlaying muscle and skin. He has been dubbed “the Griffin Warrior” because of a plaque found next to him. On that plaque, made of ivory, was engraved the body of a lion and the head and wings of an eagle. That character, in both Greek and Egyptian mythology, is known as a griffin—hence the Griffin Warrior.

Besides the plaque, workers unearthed more than 3,000 objects buried with the warrior. The number and quantity of these items speak to his elevated status. According to UC Magazine’s article Unearthing a Masterpiece, the treasure trove included “four solid gold rings, silver cups, precious stone beads, fine-toothed ivory combs, and an intricately built sword, among other weapons.”

No wonder it was a full year before anyone got around to cleaning and categorizing the aforementioned lump of limestone. Imagine their surprise when they removed the crusted veneer of the small agate and realized that its flat surface bore an almost microscopic carving that may change how scholars view the development of art at that time and place.


This artifact was discovered in the grave, next to the Mycenaean warrior. Little did archaeological workers know what was under the limestone veneer. (Credit: University of Cincinnati)


First of all, the image on the stone depicts a battle scene in which a warrior overcomes a foe with his sword while trampling another underfoot. This scene is characteristic of warfare in that era, but it was the extremely fine detail of the artwork that astounded archaeologists who unearthed it.


“Looking at the image for the first time was a very moving experience, and still is,” the magazine quoted Shari Stocker, dig leader and senior research associate in UC’s Department of Classics. “It’s brought some people to tears.”


“What is fascinating is that the representation of the human body is at a level of detail and musculature that one doesn’t find again until the Classical period of Greek art 1,000 years later,” explained Jack Davis, dig leader and professor of Greek archeology, in UC Magazine.

Not only the detail but the size of Pylos Combat Agate, as it is referred to, is amazing. The agate on which this depiction of armed combat is carved is just under 1-1/2 inches in length and contains tiny features which may only be appreciated when viewed through a photographic lens.

“Some of the details on this are only a half-millimeter big,” said Davis in the magazine. “They’re incomprehensibly small.” The small size has prompted some to speculate that a magnifying glass was needed to engrave such exquisite detail.

The intricate detail of the Pylos Combat Agat is revealed in this enlarged drawing of the image on the stone. (Courtesy of Tina Ross/the University of Cincinnati)


The warrior scene is thought to have been created by artisans of the Minoan culture, which inhabited the island of Crete, southeast of Pylos.

“Although the Minoans were culturally dominant to the Greek mainlanders, the civilization fell to the Mycenaeans around 1500-1400 BC—roughly the same time period in which the Griffin Warrior died,” according to the magazine.

What surprised the archeologists was the large number of artifacts of high quality discovered in this Mycenaean warrior’s grave. “It seemed the Minoans were producing art the sort that no one ever imagined they were capable of,” Davis told the magazine.

According to the UC archeologists, this treasure trove also suggests that relations between Mycenaean and Minoan were closer and their cultures more interwoven than earlier thought.

Will this remarkable find rewrite the history of Greece and Greek art? Could the advanced quality of the Pylos Combat Agate, engraved 1,000 years before any comparable artwork, cause scholars to rethink their ideas of when these societies rose and fell?

The Pylos tomb and future archeological digs may reveal more answers. As has been mentioned, Greece supposedly fell into a dark age of nearly 500 years after the collapse of the Mycenaean Greece and the Bronze Age in about 1,200 BC. Yet many scholars have noted the close stylistic similarities in many aspects of the culture (including art) between Mycenaean Greece and the rise of Classical Greece about 500 years later.


One book, Centuries of Darkness by Peter James (Athens: Aiolos, 2006), points to problems with the dating of these dark ages around the Mediterranean. James notes that evidence from before and after the dark periods shows that some of these styles are so similar that the time of depression must be much shorter than normally thought. He concludes that the “dark periods” in the cultures have all been artificially lengthened by centuries due to their reliance on Egypt’s timeline for their dates.

Apparent problems with standard dating are what prompted Egyptologist David Rohl to explore potential revisions. The New Chronology being proposed by Rohl and others would decrease the long dark periods in Egypt and its neighbors by centuries, which would pull a remarkable pattern of archaeological evidence matching the Bible’s Exodus account from the Middle Bronze Age forward in time to match the biblical dates for the Exodus. It would also have the effect of drawing Mycenaean Greece much closer to classical Greece.

David Rohl has noted that some scholars have been puzzled by the historical detail gotten right by Homer in his great tale of the Iliad. Many think Homer lived in the 800s BC, but the Trojan War, which is the subject of the Iliad, was about 400 years earlier. Under the New Chronology, the end of the Bronze Age and the Trojan War would move forward by at least three centuries, so Homer could have spoken with some whose grandfathers participated in the war. This would explain how he got so much right.


So Hiram supplied Solomon with all the timber of cedar and cypress that he desired … So Solomon’s builders and Hiram’s builders and the men of Gebal did the cutting and prepared the timber and the stone to build the house… and Hiram king of Tyre had supplied Solomon with cedar and cypress timber and gold, as much as he desired, – 1 Kings 5:10, 18, 9:11 (ESV)


Will connections drawn from evidence at Pylos show signs that the Bronze Age happened later in history than the standard view holds. If so, the Mycenaean civilization could have been active through the time of kings David and Solomon, rather than collapsing centuries earlier. The result would be that the glorious kingdom of Solomon would no longer be lost. Currently, most scholars conclude that the Bible is exaggerating when it describes the peace, wealth and cosmopolitan nature of Solomon’s kingdom. This is because the period of the Iron Age in which Solomon is currently set was the most impoverished in Canaan. But a shift as called for in the New Chronology would set Solomon in the era of wealth and international trade found in the Late Bronze Age. This controversial proposal is dismissed by many, but troublesome anomalies continue to point to the fact that something is wrong with the standard view.

Researchers continue to sort through this amazing find in one of the world’s oldest continuously populated regions. The UC archeological team has yet to restore and catalog some of the items found in the grave with the Griffin Warrior.

“There will be many more surprises to come, for sure,” stated Davis confidently in UC Magazine. Keep Thinking.


For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts. – Isaiah 55:9 (ESV)


Thutmosides Envisaged their Empire as Davidides did.

Image result for king david garrisons

Biblical Claims About Solomon’s Kingdom

in Light of Egyptian “Three-Zone” Ideology of Territory

Christopher B. Hays

Ideology of the Thutmosids’ Territory
During at least the New Kingdom, Egypt appears to have conceived of its empire in terms of various zones. Typically, scholars have perceived two zones: an internal zone over which Egypt exercised firm and consistent military control, and a more flexible outer zone that was largely dedicated to ensuring the nation’s economic interests. The internal zone was marked by h^tm fortresses that limited movement in and out of the Nile Valley. (Interestingly, the Egyptian term h^tm has the common meaning “lock, seal,” and has a cognate in the Hebrew word h˙tm; such fortresses might have been thought to seal off the Egyptian homeland from external threats. 8)
The northern and southern boundaries of the internal zone were the fortress cities of Tjaru and Elephantine, respectively. Ellen F. Morris notes that men stationed at each of those fortresses carried out analogous duties, 9 and she adduces textual evidence that “the two fortresses could be invoked together to call to mind the entirety of Egypt” (Morris 2005: 196)
Read the full article.

Temple of Jerusalem Located in City of David?

New Evidence
for the Site of the
Temple in Jerusalem

Two Academic Reviews of my New Research in the Book “The Temples that Jerusalem Forgot.”

The first is from: Prof. James D. Tabor, Dept. of Religious Studies, The University of North Carolina at Charlotte, Charlotte, NC 28223. Given in May, 2000.

“When I first read of Ernest L. Martin’s thesis that both the 1st and 2nd Jewish Temples, those of Solomon and Herod, were located south of the presently accepted Dome of the Rock location–down in the area of the ancient City of David over the Ophel spring, my reaction was short and to the point–impossible, preposterous!! Having now read his arguments I am convinced this thesis, however revolutionary and outlandish it first appears, deserves careful, academic and critical consideration and evaluation. I am not yet convinced that Martin has ironed out all the problems or handled all the potential objections, yet he has set forth a case that should be heard. His arguments regarding the size of the Fortress Antonia, based on Josephus and other evidence we have about Roman military encampments, must be addressed. He also makes a most compelling argument based on Luke, writing a decade or so after the 70 C.E. destruction, and obviously wanting to report on the lips of Jesus an accurate prediction of the state of things regarding “not one stone left upon another” in the post-War city of Jerusalem. Historians of the Byzantine, Islamic, and Crusader periods are more qualified to judge his arguments from subsequent epochs, however, my initial reading of Martin’s presentation has left me with the same impression–all of this evidence needs to be reexamined in the light of this radical proposal. Martin’s thesis is so bold, so utterly non-conventional, and so potentially upsetting, radically altering central aspects of the theological, historical, cultural, and political understanding of Jerusalem and its holy places, it should not be ignored. I hope Martin’s book will begin a most interesting debate and critical discussion of all relevant issues.”

The second is from: Dr. Michael P. Germano, Editor, Professor Emeritus Ambassador University, a graduate of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and who holds earned doctorates from the University of Southern California and the University of La Verne. He has completed post-graduate study in anthropology, archaeology, and theology at Southern Methodist University and Texas A&M University at College Station in Texas. You can contact him at PO Box 2494 Cullowhee, NC 28723-2494. It is my pleasure to recommend his excellent BibArch Web Site that explores the world of biblical archaeology. It is fully scholarly and is at ]. Given in May, 2000.

“This is an unexpected, exceptional analysis of the historical and archaeological data of the Temples of Jerusalem. This new explanation of the venue of the First and Second Temples provides the solution to heretofore incongruous statements in Josephus with the evidence of the biblical and archaeological records. Not only a work of significant scholarly impact it may well serve as the awaited stimulus for the building of Jerusalem’s Third Temple by shifting our collective focus from the Haram esh-Sharif to the area of the Gihon Spring.”

Note: This article contains many endnotes. These are noted within the text as superscript numbers 1 . Simply click on the number to read the endnote. Then use the browser BACK button to return to where you were in the article. – webmaster.

A new and accurate evaluation is essential regarding the site of the former Temples in Jerusalem. Neither the Dome of the Rock near the center of the Haram esh-Sharif in Jerusalem, nor the Al Aqsa Mosque occupying the southern side of the Haram (nor ANY area within the four walls of that Haram) was the real spot in Jerusalem where the holy Temples of God were located. Biblical and literary accounts dogmatically place the site of all the Temples over the Gihon Spring just north of the ancient City of David (Zion) and on the southeastern ridge of Jerusalem. All the present antagonists fighting in Jerusalem over the Temple site are warring over (and for) the wrong place. They need to turn their swords and guns into plowshares.

The first source to discover the true site of the Temples in Jerusalem is to read the biblical descriptions about the location of Mount Zion because in the Holy Scriptures the term “Mount Zion” in many contexts is synonymous with the site of the Temples. Any modern map of Jerusalem will correctly indicate the true location of the original Mount Zion (also called the City of David). Zion was situated at the southern end of the southeastern ridge of Jerusalem. This is the section of the city that Josephus (the Jewish historian of the first century) called “the Lower City.” The fact that the original “Zion” was described by Josephus as “the Lower City” became a geographical enigma to early scholars since the Bible itself consistently described “Zion” as a high and eminent place. How could something “high” be legitimately called “low”? 1 This misunderstanding about the former eminence of the southeast ridge was the first confusion that caused even religious authorities to lose the true site of “Mount Zion” and also the location of the Temples. But historical and biblical evidence reviewed and analyzed between the years 1875 and 1885 C.E. 2 finally indicated that the southeast ridge was truly the original Zion.

It was the indefatigable efforts of W.F.Birch in England with his numerous articles in the Palestine Exploration Fund Quarterly over that decade (along with the discovery in 1880 C.E. of the Hezekiahan inscription about the construction of the tunnel from the Gihon Spring to the southern end of the southeast ridge) that finally settled the controversy over the true location of “Zion.” It was then determined by the scholarly world that the former designation of the southwest hill in Jerusalem as “Zion” (what was written in Josephus as the “City of David” being located in the “Upper City”) was not the correct evaluation for the original site of “Zion.” So, the world finally learned (correctly so) that the southeast ridge was the actual site of “Mount Zion” (the true City of David) and that Jerusalem was built in ancient times around and over the Gihon Spring in order to have water from the only spring within a radius of five miles of the city. This correction was a major step in the right direction in restoring true geographical parameters to Jerusalem. Unfortunately, when the scholars properly returned “Mount Zion” to the southeast ridge, the Temple location was not considered an issue in the matter. They continued to accept that somewhere within the Haram esh-Sharif was the Temple site. This was in spite of the fact that many texts in the Holy Scriptures identified “Zion” as equivalent to the “Temple.” And, the Bible even indicated that the Temple was abutting to the northern side of the “City of David.” This should have been a significant clue to the nineteenth century scholars that the original Temples had to be positioned very near the “City of David.” on the southeast ridge, but those historians failed to make the needed correction. They retained the site of the Temple as being about 1000 feet to the north of the Gihon Spring and that it was once located within the confines of the Haram esh-Sharif. This region had become the popular Temple site since the period of the Crusades (by Christian, Muslim and Jewish authorities). 3 The actual location of all the Temples, however, was over the Gihon Spring immediately to the north of (and abutting to) the City of David. When the Temples are rightly placed at that site, the biblical and historical accounts about “Mount Zion” being equivalent to the “Temple Mount” consistently make sense.

The Importance of the Gihon Spring

The Gihon Spring is the only spring within the city limits of Jerusalem. We have the eyewitness account of a person from Egypt named Aristeas who viewed the Temple in about 285 B.C.E. He stated quite categorically that the Temple was located over an inexhaustible spring that welled up within the interior part of the Temple.  4 About 400 years later the Roman historian Tacitus gave another reference that the Temple at Jerusalem had within its precincts a natural spring of water that issued from its interior.  5 These two references are describing the Gihon Spring (the sole spring of water in Jerusalem). It was because of the strategic location of this single spring that the original Canaanite cities of “Migdol Edar” and “Jebus” were built over and around that water source before the time of King David. That sole water source was the only reason for the existence of a city being built at that spot.

The Gihon Spring is located even today at the base of what was called the “Ophel” (a swelling of the earth in the form of a small mountain dome) once situated just to the north and abutting to “Mount Zion” (the City of David). The Ophel Mound was close to the City of David. David soon began to fill in the area between the two summits with dirt and stones (calling it the Millo or “fill in”) to make a single high level area on which to build his city and after his death the Temple. 6 David’s son Solomon completed the “fill in” between the two summits and called that earthen and rock bridge the Millo. 7 Solomon then built the Temple on the Ophel Mound directly above the Gihon Spring. This Ophel region became known as a northern extension of “Zion.” This made the Temple so close to the City of David (where the citadel or akra was located) that Aristeas said a person could look northward from the top of the City of David and could easily witness all priestly activities within the Temple precincts. 8 The area of the Dome of the Rock, however, is 1000 feet north of the original City of David and is much too far away for anyone to look down into the courts of the Temple as Aristeas dogmatically stated one could. Also, there has never been a natural water spring within the Haram esh-Sharif. That fact alone disqualifies the area around the Dome of the Rock from being the site of the former Temples.

The Ark of the Covenant and the Gihon Spring

Most people have not noticed an important geographical indication in the Scriptures. When David took the Ark of the Covenant to Jerusalem he made a special tent (tabernacle) for it and pitched it over the Gihon Spring. 9 For the next 27 years of David’s reign (and for the first eleven years of Solomon – that is, for 38 years) the Ark remained in this particular tent at and over the Gihon Spring. That is where Solomon was crowned king. 10 This led the Jewish authorities to demand that all later kings of Judah be crowned at a spring. “Our Rabbis taught: Kings are anointed only by the site of a spring.” 11 As an example, when Joash was made king, the Scriptures show his crowning was in the Temple itself beside the Altar of Burnt Offering where the laver of Solomon was positioned to provide spring water from the Gihon Spring located underneath the Temple platform.  12 So, Joash (like Solomon) was crowned next to the Gihon Spring. Indeed, the Psalms show consistently that the Temples (called “God’s Houses”) had to have spring waters emerging from their interiors. Notice Psalm 87:1-3 and 7.

“His [God’s] foundation is in the holy mountain. The Lord loveth the gates of Zion more than all the dwellings of Jacob. Glorious things are spoken of thee, O city of God. The singers as the players on instruments shall be there [in the Temple]: ALL MY SPRINGS ARE IN THEE [in the Temple].”

The fact that the Psalmist stated that “ALL MY [God’s] SPRINGS” (“springs,” plural) were located in Zion (NOT anywhere else) and though the Gihon is only one spring is no problem because the single Gihon is even called in the Scriptures “springs” (plural). 13 The fact that “one spring” is pluralized (if not an idiomatic usage) can be accounted for because of the peculiar manner in which the Gihon produces its waters. Though it is a perennial spring, it was in the past a karst-type of spring that thrusts out its water as much as five times a day in the springtime when water is plentiful (with intervals when there is no water at all). Thus, the Gihon was at first a siphon type of spring that gushes forth intermittently. The word “Gihon” means “to gush.” In the dry season the flow may occur a few minutes once a day. This oscillating effect of the Gihon could be a reason the ancients called this single spring with the plural word “springs.” Over the centuries the waters have lessened in quantity output and have assumed more of a constant flow.

Whatever the case, Aristeas and Tacitus both stated that the Temple of Jerusalem had an inexhaustible spring within its interior and the Gihon is the only spring in Jerusalem and the Scriptures affirm it. This spring water is mentioned in numerous ways throughout the Psalms as the “waters of salvation” that come from the Throne or House of God. 14 Spring waters were an essential part of Temple requirements and water springs are to accompany future Temples that are to be built. 15 And since there was only ONE SPRING in the Jerusalem area, all the Temples of God had to be constructed over that single spring associated with the southeast ridge. The Haram esh-Sharif region (though it has 37 cisterns — much inferior waters for ritualistic purposes) has NO SPRINGS and there is not the slightest historical or geological evidence that it ever had a natural spring! 16

The Temple Was Situated in the Center of Early Jerusalem on the Southeast Ridge

There is another simple way of showing the location of the original Temples. Josephus said that the “Lower City” which was once the site of the elevated Citadel (called the Akra or the City of David) was on a ridge shaped like a crescent moon. 17 That is, when one observed this ridge from the Mount of Olives, it appeared “crescent-shaped” in a north to south view and its “horns” pointed toward the Kidron Valley. The northern “horn” would have been near the present southern wall of the Haram esh-Sharif and the southern “horn” just north of the confluence of the Valley of Hinnom. The exact center of this “crescent-shaped” ridge would have been at the Ophel Mound directly over the Gihon Spring. Remarkably, we have an eyewitness account by Hecateus of Abdera written near the time of Alexander the Great that informs us that the Temple was located “nearly in the center of the city.” 18 Coupled with this observation, we have other eyewitnesses in the Holy Scriptures telling us the same thing. Note, for example, Psalm 116:18,19 where it plainly states the Temple was located in the center of Jerusalem (NOT in the extreme north part of early Jerusalem where the Haram esh-Sharif is located).

“I will pay my vows unto the Lord now in the presence of all his people, in the courts of the Lord’s house [within the Temple], in the midst [center] of thee, O Jerusalem.”

The Psalmist knew that the Temple (just like Hecateus of Abdera said) was located in the center of the City of Jerusalem. [In Hebrew, the English word rendered “midst” means “center” in geographical contexts and is so translated by several versions.] There are quite a number of texts within the Scriptures that reckon the Temple to be situated directly in the center of Jerusalem. 19 Remember, the original Jerusalem of David and Solomon only covered the southeast ridge and the Temple was in the precise center of that ridge.

Interestingly, we also have a geographical designation in the Scriptures that confirms the centrality of the Temple on the southeast ridge. In Second Kings 23:13 it mentions a spot on the southern flank (or extended spur) of the Mount of Olives that was directly to the east of the Jerusalem that existed at that time. The text states: “The high places that were before Jerusalem [that is, east of Jerusalem], which were on the right hand on the Hill of Corruption [on the southern right hand spur of the Mount of Olives].” Since the highest point of the Mount of Olives is directly east of the Dome of the Rock (which is about 1000 feet north of the Gihon Spring), this statement in Scripture must refer to a very different area much further south — an area that was directly east of the Jerusalem of that time.

This region was on the right hand side of the Mount of Olives at a lower summit on the southern spur of Olivet. This other southern summit was a separate and a lower ridge called the Hill of Corruption. This again reveals that the Temple (being in the center of Jerusalem) was directly west of the Hill of Corruption (about 1000 feet south of the central and highest summit of the Mount of Olives and consequently it was also about 1000 feet south of the Dome of the Rock). Let us be honest with ourselves. The present Haram esh-Sharif where the Dome of the Rock now exists IN NO WAY can be considered to be in the center of early Jerusalem. In the Jerusalem of Herod and Jesus, the Haram was about 36 acres of land located in the northeast part – one of the most northerly areas of the Jerusalem in David and Solomon’s time. In the time of Solomon (and even in Herod’s time) this northeast area would have to be reckoned as a lop-sided northern extension to the southeast ridge. The Temple, however, was situated in the center of Jerusalem (as several texts in the Holy Scriptures tell us), and not in the extreme north where the Haram esh-Sharif is found.

What Happened to the Temple After the Jewish/Roman War of 66 to 70 C.E.?

Jesus had some important words to say about the future status of the Temple and its walls. Standing outside the east Temple walls, Jesus told his disciples that not one stone of the Temple and its support buildings would be left on top the other. 20 And in Luke 19:43,44 Jesus expanded the scope of destruction even further. He said:

“For the days shall come upon thee [Jerusalem], that thine enemies shall cast a trench about thee, and compass thee round, and keep thee in on every side. And shall lay thee [Jerusalem] even with the ground, and thy children within thee: and they shall not leave in thee one stone upon another; because thou knowest not the time of thy visitation.”

Even the most liberal of scholars admit that these statements were recorded in these Synoptic Gospels within a generation or two after the Jewish/Roman War. Had the statements not been true, there were hosts of hostile people to the teachings of Christianity up to the middle of the second century and beyond who would have gladly stated that these prophetic utterances made by Jesus were an outright lie (if they were indeed a lie). But I have recorded in my book numerous eyewitnesses over the next 300 years that attest to the accuracy of what the Gospel writers stated about the prophecies of Jesus given above. Jerusalem and the Temple (with their walls) were leveled to the ground — to the extent that even their very foundation stones were uprooted and overturned. No stone remained on top another, just as Jesus said would happen.

And for prime evidence of this fact, we have eyewitness accounts of both Josephus and Titus (the Roman general who conducted the war against the Jews) who give the description of utter ruin and thorough destruction of Jerusalem. Josephus and Titus mentioned that if they had not been in Jerusalem during the war and personally seen the demolition that took place, they would not have believed that there was once a city in the area.  21 But they were eyewitnesses to its utter ruin. It is significant that Josephus used the exact words of Jesus’ prophecy to describe the uprooted condition of even the foundation stones that constituted Jewish Jerusalem. He said:

“It [Jerusalem] was so thoroughly laid even with the ground by those that dug it up to the foundation, that there was nothing left to make those that came thither believe it [Jerusalem] had ever been inhabited.” 22

No one should pass over this eyewitness account in a trivial manner. Not a foundation stone was in place from all the buildings in Jerusalem, including the stones of the Temple. It is significant that Jesus said the same thing as Josephus. Jesus said that Jerusalem was to be “laid even with the ground.” Josephus explained the reason why every stone was overturned in the city (including those that made up the very foundations). The Jews were accustomed to hide their gold and other valuables in the walls of their homes. The Temple itself was also the treasury of the Jewish nation. 23 When the fires consumed the whole of the Temple and City, the gold melted and descended into the cracks and crevices of the stone foundations. In order to recover this melted gold, the Tenth Legion had the Jewish captives uproot every stone of the Temple and the whole of the City. So much gold was discovered in this fashion that the price of the metal in the Roman Empire went down half of its pre-war value. 24 This action of looking for gold by overturning the stones (including all foundation stones) left Jerusalem as a vast quarry of dislodged and uprooted stones in a state of unrecognized shambles.

There was such an abundance of various stones dislodged from their foundations that the emperor Hadrian sixty years later was able to build an entirely new city (Aelia) to the northwest of the former city by reusing many of those ruined stones. The original southeast area of Jerusalem remained an open quarry until as late as the time of Eusebius. He lamented that stones of Jerusalem and the Temple were in his day still being used for homes, temples, theatres, etc. 25 What must be realized is the fact that Jewish Jerusalem and the Holy Temple were so dismantled and torn down that even the foundational stones of the buildings were uprooted and in complete ruin. These eyewitness descriptions are in contrast to one complex of buildings that almost completely escaped the destruction and continued to remain as functioning structures within the devastated area of Jerusalem. That complex of buildings was the Haram esh-Sharif that we still see standing to this day.

Only One Architectural Facility Survived the Jewish/Roman War in Jerusalem

The whole of the Jewish Temple and Jewish Jerusalem were leveled to the ground and not one stone even of their foundations remained on top one another — just as Jesus prophesied and Josephus and Titus attest. But one man-made construction did come through the war relatively unscathed. That single structure is still with us today. Since Titus determined to leave the Tenth Legion in Jerusalem to prevent any further revolutions, the Legion had to have military quarters in which to reside. At first, Titus thought of leaving three small fortresses in the Upper City as the forts to protect the Tenth Legion. But Josephus said that while Titus was away in Antioch, those “local fortresses” (as he called them) were demolished in the Roman quest for gold. 26 This western area as a place to house the Tenth Legion proved to be inappropriate and inadequate. Incidentally, archaeological surveys of the entire “Upper City” (as much as could be uncovered) have revealed that NO ROMAN TROOPS ever occupied the western part of Jerusalem after the Jewish/Roman War. 27

Titus, however, had another fortress in mind that was more than adequate to house the Tenth Legion. The answer regarding where the Tenth Legion had its geographical headquarters is provided to us by an eyewitness who should certainly have known the truth. Eleazer, the leader of the last remnant of Jews in Masada who finally committed suicide rather than fall into the hands of General Silva of the Tenth Legion (three years after the main war was over) said that the Temple then lay in ruins and the City of Jerusalem was utterly destroyed. Notice his comments:

“It [Jerusalem] is now demolished to the very foundations [even the foundational stones were all overturned], and hath nothing left but THAT MONUMENT of it preserved, I mean the CAMP OF THOSE [the Romans] that hath destroyed it [Jerusalem], WHICH [CAMP] STILL DWELLS UPON ITS RUINS: some unfortunate old men also lie upon the ashes of the Temple [then in total ruins – burnt to ashes], and a few women are there preserved alive by the enemy [for prostitution purposes], for our bitter shame and reproach.” 28

So, only one architectural edifice from the Jerusalem of Herod and Jesus survived the war. It was the former Roman camp that Titus (the Roman general) allowed to remain of all the buildings of former Jerusalem. And it is still in evidence today. That was Fort Antonia, the fortress built by Herod the Great that was much larger than the Temple in size. Josephus said it was as large as a city and could hold a full Legion of troops. 29 Titus thought at first to demolish this fortress, but on second thought he decided to put it to Roman use. He continued to use it as the Camp of the Romans in the Jerusalem area and it housed the Tenth Legion unto 289 C.E. Since its prodigious walls were still very much in place after the war (and there were 37 huge cisterns for an adequate water supply inside its walls), the Tenth Legion had a ready-built fortress to protect them. This is the obvious reason why Titus spared the Haram esh-Sharif and made it the permanent fortress of the Romans to house the Tenth Legion and all subsidiary inhabitants that normally accompanied a Legion in a permanent fort in a foreign area. It was most natural to continue using Fort Antonia as a vital and protective fortress. Josephus said that Fort Antonia was built around a massive and prominent outcropping of rock that was a notable protective feature within its precincts. 30 That “rock” is still the centerpiece feature of the remains of Fort Antonia. Indeed, that “rock” is identified in later histories as important.

This descriptions of Josephus fits perfectly the present Haram esh-Sharif with its majestic Herodian and pre-Herodian walls and with the present Dome of the Rock now covering that significant outcropping of rock. It was a natural place for the Tenth Legion to make their headquarters. Fort Antonia was also called the Roman Praetorium and it was the place where Pilate sentenced Jesus to crucifixion. That central rock outcropping was a significant spot in the fortress, as Josephus stated, and even the apostle John singled it out for comment regarding the judgment of Jesus. John called it the lithostrothon [a rock, on which people could stand and be judged,]. 31 This “Rock” had a Hebrew name: “Gabbatha.” 32 The Haram esh-Sharif built around this well known “rock outcropping” was the only building with its four massive walls to survive the Jewish/Roman War. We can still see its stones in place in its lower courses (all 10,000 of them). Those Herodian walls of Fort Antonia (including where the Jewish Wailing Wall is located) have withstood the ravages of time for centuries. But eyewitness accounts attest that all the inner and outer walls of the Temple and the walls that surrounded Jerusalem were dismantled including their very foundations (not even those uprooted foundation stones were left in situ), the 10,000 stones of the Haram remained in their pristine positions. Those walls of Fort Antonia surrounding the famous “rock” in the center area were retained by Titus to protect the Roman Legion permanently encamped in the Jerusalem area. This was the “rock” in the Praetorium where Jesus stood when Pilate judged him.

Events in the Bar Kochba Revolt Can Now Be Explained Rationally

In the later Bar Kochba Revolt of the Jews from 132 to 135 C.E., there is no mention of any battles being fought in Jerusalem or anywhere near the city. This has amazed Jewish scholars. But now that we realize that the Haram esh-Sharif was Fort Antonia (the Praetorium where the Tenth Legion was headquartered), it can be seen that such a fortress was so impregnable that none of the Jewish revolutionaries dared attack the area. The Romans had one of the greatest forts of the east as their place of protection (and even slightly larger than the main Roman fortress in Rome itself). The Haram with its four massive walls defending it was an invincible fortress with plentiful supplies of food and copious water supplies. This fact allowed the Tenth Legion to stay in Fort Antonia [the Praetorium] until the Legion moved to Ailat in 289 C.E.

The Bordeaux Pilgrim in 333 C.E. Describes the Haram esh-Sharif as the Praetorium

When the Bordeaux Pilgrim came to Jerusalem in 333 C.E., he first witnessed a “Temple” then standing with associated buildings. The Pilgrim spoke of these remains of this “Temple.” It had just been rebuilt by Jews in the time of Constantine. This “Temple” was later rebuilt in Julian’s time. This was on Jerusalem’s southeast ridge. The Pilgrim then climbed the southwest hill and entered the walled city of Jerusalem. He stood between the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in the west part of the “Upper City” (then being built by the order of Constantine) and another facility to his east that had walls. The Pilgrim said the walls of this structure (located east of the Holy Sepulchre) reached downward into the bottom of the Tyropoeon Valley. He correctly identified it as the Praetorium. The Pilgrim was clearly describing the remains of the Haram esh-Sharif (which does indeed have its western and southwestern walls reaching downward into the Tyropoeon Valley).

We now arrive at a major point that needs emphasizing. The Bordeaux Pilgrim understood this particular edifice that was opposite (east of) the Church of the Holy Sepulchre as being the Roman Praetorium. The name was a common word used by the public for a Roman headquarters fortress of a general and his staff. Because of the association of the Praetorium with Jesus’ trial before Pilate, the records show that Constantine’s mother built a small church within the confines of this Praetorium and she called it the Church of St.Cyrus and St.John. 33 This church was enlarged in later times (certainly by the time of Justinian) to be called The Church of the Holy Wisdom (Saint Sophia).

In the sixth century, during the time of Justinian, the Piacenza Pilgrim visited Jerusalem. He identified this Church of the Holy Wisdom with precision. He said it was at the site of the former Praetorium of Pilate. He also mentioned a significant architectural feature over which that Church had been built. It was an “oblong rock” on which the people (in the sixth century) believed that they could see the footprints of Jesus as indentions in the rock. That Church was built specifically and exclusively to be situated directly over that important “Rock.” The Church did not survive long, however. The Persians in 614 C.E destroyed it. But Sophronius, the Archbishop of Jerusalem when the Muslims took over Jerusalem in 638 C.E., remembered the Church when he was a young man and he singled out the prominent Stone that was at that Christian spot. 34

Later when Omar the Second Caliph wanted to build a place to pray at the site where David prayed (over which the Temple of Solomon was built), Omar avoided showing any attention whatever to this “Rock” over which a later Caliph in 692 C.E. built the present Dome of the Rock. And why was the “Oblong Rock” of the former Praetorium and the Church of the Holy Wisdom later honored by the Muslims? Because Jesus’ footprints were supposed to be on the “Rock.” This belief provided the prime religious significance for the later development of many Muslim folklore tales that began to be associated with the “Rock” and its holiness. It was the “footprints” of Jesus that started it all. In fact, by the time of Saladin the Kurdish commander of the Muslims who reconquered Jerusalem from the Christians in 1187 C.E., Saladin’s court recorder praised the Commander of the Faithful for rescuing the “Rock” under the Dome of the Rock on which the outline of Jesus’ feet were supposed to have been indented. 35 But by this time, it was not only the “footprints” of Jesus that were indented in its surface. Many more “footprints” and “hands” had also appeared over the 400 years of Muslim power.

Not only were Jesus’ “footprints” thought to be indented on the “Rock.” By the period of the Crusades, many other Muslim tales became attached to the “Rock.” The Muslims by the time of Saladin thought that Muhammad’s feet and hand were also indented in the “Rock.” It did not stop there. The feet of Abraham, the hand of the Archangel Gabriel and even the “footprints” of God himself were also reckoned by later Muslims to be on the “Rock.” The Muslims added these later beliefs to gain prestige for Muhammad to accompany the Christian legend that the “footprints” of Jesus were found on the “Rock” underneath the Dome of the Rock. Muslims invented these later stories to justify the existence of the shrine as then having some Muslim significance. Later Muslim scholars knew that these folktales were mere fables without any real historical foundation. 36

In spite of the folklore elements that later developed, this historical evidence shows that the “Rock” under the Dome of the Rock is a precise geographical indication that people (throughout the early Byzantine period and as late as the time of Saladin in 1187 C.E.) identified the Dome of the Rock with the site of the Praetorium [or, the central part of Fort Antonia]. It was the former site of the Church of the Holy Wisdom (which enshrined the revered “oblong rock”) where Christians had long believed Pilate sentenced Jesus. The feet of Jesus were believed to have stood on that very rock that the New Testament identified as the lithostrothon (John 19:13). And let us recall, Josephus made a significant point out of the fact that such a notable “Rock” was also located in the interior of Fort Antonia back in his day. These historical indications over the centuries show that the “Rock” under the Dome of the Rock had been the main geographical feature of Fort Antonia in the time of Jesus. The historical documents are so clear on this matter that I am amazed this fact has not been recognized before the publishing of my recent book on the Temples. The Haram esh-Sharif is the site of Fort Antonia (the Praetorium of Pilate).

This means that the area of the Dome of the Rock is really an original Christian holy site (not a Jewish or Muslim one). Interestingly, when Omar made his covenant with Sophronius and the Christians at the time the Muslims conquered Jerusalem, Omar gave his solemn promise that he would not build any Muslim shrine or mosque over any former Christian holy place or any present one that then existed. 37 This is one of the main points why Omar paid no religious attention to the “Rock” under the Dome of the Rock. Omar kept his word and left that “Christian Rock/Shrine” alone. Only when later Muslim folklore stories began to develop in regard to its sanctification did the “Rock” start to become important to those in Islam. That is when Abd al-Malik in 692 C.E. built the Dome of the Rock over that “Rock” which was the “oblong rock” of the Wisdom Church. It is ironic that Muslim authorities today often show the Dome of the Rock as the central symbol of Islam in many of their political displays. The shrine, however, was once a Christian Church that honored the kingship of Christ Jesus over the world (remember, Pilate acknowledged Jesus at his trial as the messianic King of the Jews).

The Scriptures Show that NO Stationary Rock Was Ever Associated with the Temples

There was a significant “Rock” around which Fort Antonia (the Praetorium) was built on which Jesus stood before Pilate. But note this! It is essential to realize that nowhere in the Holy Scriptures do we find the slightest hint that a “Rock” (such as that under the Dome of the Rock) was ever a part of the geographical features of any Temple from Solomon to Herod. No stationary “Rock” was ever associated with the Temple in Jerusalem. On the contrary, the most significant feature of the Temple in any biblical description was it being built over a “threshingfloor” (II Samuel 24:16,18,24). All “threshingfloors” (as even the English rendering states and the Hebrew demands) were “floors” (that is, they were leveled areas like normal floors made by man that were usually of dirt or smooth manufactured stone or timber). Threshingfloors were not jagged and rugged natural outcroppings of rock). 38 No one should think of the top part of a rugged outcropping of rock (like that under the Dome of the Rock) as a level floor.

There is another disqualification that the historical documents emphasize. It is clear that Solomon’s Holy of Holies and also the Altar of Burnt Offering that he built were not located over a permanent outcropping of rock. We are informed in the historical documents that the Temples and their courtyards were expanded and made progressively larger over the centuries by being located further north at each move. The fact is, the Holy of Holies was relocated further north each time the Temple platform was extended. 39 While all ground features of the Temple courts remained static, yet buildings and Temple furniture on top of the expanded platform were moved progressively northward at each extension. Note that Solomon’s Temple was about 100 feet wide from north to south with the Holy of Holies in the center of that width. But we are later informed that the Temple in Alexander the Great’s day was 150 feet wide with the Holy of Holies evenly spaced between the north and south walls (Josephus, Contra Apion I.22). Even the Temple just before Herod’s time was extended to be 300 feet wide with the Holy of Holies again evenly spaced between the north and south walls. We know this because Josephus, as an eyewitness, described Herod’s Temple as a precise square of 600 feet on each side, and that Herod had doubled the size of the Temple by tearing down its north wall and extending the linear measurements a further 300 feet north (War V.5,1). This made the outer walls of Herod’s Temple (in its final shape) to be a perfect square of 600 feet on each side. The Mishnah (a Jewish document of the start of the third century) gave a further square measurement of 500 cubits (750 feet) on each of the four sides. This measurement DOES NOT contradict the dimensions given in Josephus because the Mishnah is describing another feature of the Temple [the Levitcal camp that surrounded the outer walls of the Temple and it was technically called “the Temple Mount”]. See my book for the interesting and informative details which show the consistency in the dimensions of Josephus and those of the Mishnah.

So, in the history of the Holy of Holies (including the Altar of Burnt Offering) this shows that they were at first located 50 feet north of the south wall in Solomon’s time with the Holy of Holies in the center of that width. Later, in the time of Alexander the Great, the Sanctuary part of the Temple was then positioned 75 feet north from the south wall. Even later, the Sanctuary was again moved and was relocated 150 feet north of the south wall with the Holy of Holies evenly spaced between the north and south walls (Josephus, Contra Apion I.22). Finally, the Holy of Holies at Herod’s time was moved even further north and spaced 300 feet north of the south wall and equadistant from the north and south walls of the Temple square. We know this because Josephus [and this matter deserves emphasis] described Herod’s Temple as a precise square of 600 feet on each side with the Holy of Holies in its center (north to south). Herod doubled the size of the Temple platform by tearing down its north wall and repositioning it 300 feet further north (War V.5,1).

So, in the history of the Holy of Holies (and the Altar of Burnt Offering) this shows that they were positioned at different places within the platform of the Temple every time it was enlarged. Only the south wall from the time of Solomon to Herod remained static. This well-known fact precludes any stationary rock on a ridge as being the prime object for the placement of these holy parts of the Temple. This indicates that such a stationary “Rock” as that under the Dome of the Rock is disqualified as being any part of the Temples in Jerusalem. Besides, there is NOT A WORD in Scripture that any stationary “Rock” was an essential sanctified spot of the Temples in Jerusalem. See footnote 38.

Why Later People Selected the Haram esh-Sharif as the Place of Solomon’s Temple

The reason why people in the period of the Crusades accepted the region of the Haram esh-Sharif as the Temple site was because Omar took a portable stone from the remains of two Jewish attempts to rebuild the Temples at the correct site over the Gihon Spring and brought that portable stone from those ruined Temples to his Al Aksa Mosque that he was beginning to construct. I have already mentioned in brief these two attempts to rebuild the Temples by the Jews (the first attempt was from 312 C.E. to 325 C.E. in the time of Constantine and the second in the time of Julian the Apostate in 362 C.E.). Omar made that portable stone from this ruined Temple site into the qibla stone that pointed Muslim worshippers in his Al Aksa Mosque toward Mecca.

In the following century, by applying a Muslim belief called baraka, the later Muslims felt that a stone from one Temple (or holy site) could be dislodged and taken to another place and that the latter place would take on the same degree of holiness as the former spot. So, a portable stone was used by Omar that was found in the ruins of the former Jewish Temples built in the times of Constantine and Julian. That particular stone was consecrated as a stone to re-inaugurate “Solomon’s Temple.” When Omar placed that stone in the holiest place of the Al Aksa Mosque at the southern end of the Haram esh-Sharif, Muslims could then (and from their point of view, legitimately by applying the custom called baraka) identify the site as being “Solomon’s Temple.” Interestingly, when the Crusaders arrived in Jerusalem, Christians also began to call the Al Aksa Mosque by the name “Solomon’s Temple” (the Muslim designation) while they felt that Herod’s extension of the Temple was located at the Dome of the Rock (which they then called the Lord’s Temple). Yet the Christians knew of the tradition that Jesus’ footprints were indelibly on the Rock. How did they get in the Temple? They cleverly altered the actors of the tale and made it the Rock on which the priest placed Jesus at his infant dedication.

The Jewish Authorities Finally Accept the Haram esh-Sharif as the Temple Site

It was in this time of the Crusades (about 1165 C.E.), that a Jewish merchant by the name of Benjamin of Tudela made a visit to Jerusalem. He was not a historian or theologian. He simply reported in a chronicle of his journey what he saw and what he was told without criticism. He is noted for some absurd geographical identifications of former biblical spots. Be that as it may, when he heard the Christian and Muslim accounts that the Haram esh-Sharif was the location of the former Temples, the Jewish merchant accepted their explanation (for the first time by any Jewish person). Benjamin did so without expressing the slightest historical criticism to justify such identifications.

There was an overpowering reason for this. Benjamin of Tudela was enthralled over a supposed discovery of the tombs of the Kings of Judah (those of King David and Solomon and others). He was told that the tombs of the Judean kings were supposed to have been found on the southwest hill about 15 years before he arrived in Jerusalem. Benjamin did not see the “Tombs,” nor has anyone else since that time. But this hearsay “story” so impressed Benjamin (and later Jews after the time of the Crusades) that the Jewish authorities very quickly began to accept the southwest hill as being the original “Mount Zion” of the Holy Scriptures (and that Zion was not located on the southeast ridge). This false acceptance led them also to give credence that the Haram esh-Sharif area might possibly be the Temple Mount (after all, with this new “archaeological discovery” on the southwest hill — and they did not question its legitimacy — it meant to them that “Mount Zion” had now been found on the southwest hill and that it was no longer believed to be over the Gihon Spring in the Kidron Valley). This was counter to all Jewish belief before the Crusader period. Because of this, even the location of the Gihon Spring was changed to be in the upper western extension of the Valley of Hinnom — at least 2000 feet west of where the spring actually was located.

This hearsay account recorded by Benjamin of Tudela concerning the so-called tombs of the Judean Kings (and that is all it was — pure hearsay without a tissue of provable evidence to back up the supposition) quickly spread far and wide. This hearsay tale of discovering David’s Tomb finally won the day. Thankfully, not all Jews at first accepted the new site for their former “Mount Zion” on the southwest hill (or the Temple site at the Haram). Benjamin of Tudela was countered by the great Maimonides (though neither mentioned each other) who stated that the place of the Jewish Temple in Jerusalem was still in complete ruins, 40 while the Haram esh-Sharif was then the most built-up region in Jerusalem and was nowhere in ruins. Indeed, the Haram was decorated and groomed as a prime holy site. Though Maimonides had no love for a physical Temple because it displayed an anthropomorphic belief in God (which he utterly repudiated), he knew that the Dome of the Rock and the lavishly built-up area around it was not the site of the Temple. This is because most of the Haram precincts were built up and paved over. They were not ruins.

This was also believed by the Jewish authority Rabbi David Kimchi who (just after the time of Maimonides) stated that the Jewish Temple was still in utter ruins and that no Christian or Muslim had ever built over the spot where the true Temples stood. This express dogmatism of Rabbi David Kimchi, one of the great biblical commentators of the Jews (otherwise known as the RADAQ) who lived from about 1160 to 1235 C.E., is of utmost value. Rabbi Kimchi said that as late as his time the region of the former Temples still remained in ruins and that NO GENTILES (whether Roman, Byzantine or Muslim) HAD YET BUILT ANY OF THEIR BUILDINGS OVER THE SITE OF THE TEMPLE (emphases mine). He said (and I quote him verbatim): “And [the Temple] is still in ruins, [in] that the Temple site WAS NEVER BUILT ON BY THE NATIONS.” 41 These comments of Rabbi David Kimchi are first-class Jewish evidence in about 1235 C.E., and they show in no uncertain terms that the built-up area of the Haram esh-Sharif (long built over by the Christians and Muslims) WAS NOT the Temple site. The real Temple area was located over and around the Gihon Spring on the southeast ridge which was in Rabbi Kimchi’’ time outside the walls of Jerusalem and was a derelict area used for a dump.

So, Rabbi Kimchi around 1235 C.E. without doubt states that NO GENTILE BUILDINGS had ever been built on the site of the Temple – and this included the period of 600 years before him when the Muslims (and during the Crusader period, the Christians) had control over all areas of Jerusalem! In fact, Rabbi Kimchi said that the exclusive region for the Temple EVEN IN HIS DAY was “still in ruins.” This historical observation by Kimchi is proof positive that many Jews were not being led over to Christian and Muslim beliefs about the Temple site in the Crusade period, because it is obvious that the Dome of the Rock had been built over the Church of the Holy Wisdom which only later (in 692 C.E.) became the Muslim Shrine of the Dome of the Rock. And, what the Muslims called Solomon’s Temple (and so did the Christian Crusaders – that is, the Al Aksa Mosque) was also a Muslim building within the Haram esh-Sharif. David Kimchi, however, made the clear teaching that the original area of the Jewish Temples was in his time (about 1235 C.E.) still unoccupied by any Christian or Muslim buildings from the past or at the present and that the site was in Kimchi’s time in complete ruins.

This true observation of David Kimchi, however, did not prevail in Judaism. The Jewish authorities became so impressed by the so-called “discovery” of the Tombs of all the Judean Kings (especially that of King David) on the southwest hill (which was given to them from hearsay alone, and we know now to be in complete error), that they became convinced that the southwest hill was indeed the original “Zion.” As a result, this made the Jewish people feel that the Haram esh-Sharif could probably be the site of their former Temples since the lower southeast ridge could no longer be reckoned as “Zion.” This erroneous evaluation by the Jewish authorities of locating “Zion” on the southwest hill was a major geographical mistake. Indeed, archaeologists have proved that the so-called “Tomb of David” now located on the southwest hill is of Crusader origin and anyone should have known it was a fake.

This made little difference to those of that period. In the main, pure geographical nonsense then began to rule in Jerusalem. This was a period of religious “Dark Ages” that set in among all religious groups in Jerusalem and elsewhere. The Christians, Muslims and yes, even the Jewish authorities, lost all knowledge of where the former Temples were located when they erroneously accepted the “Upper City” as the site of Mount Zion. This profound error in locating “Mount Zion” on the southwest hill remained popular (and even sacrosanct and entrenched in the scholarly world) until 1875 to 1885 C.E. when the outstanding research of F.W. Birch in England demolished its credentials. Still, this false acceptance of the southwest hill as “Zion” by the Jewish authorities in Crusader times and their consequent recognition of the Haram as a contending site for the Temples were in stark contrast to what the earlier Jewish authorities believed before the Crusades.

The fact is, Jewish authorities up to the time of the Crusades knew that the Temples were built over the Gihon Spring on the southeast ridge and that the real “Tomb of David” was in that southeast area. Indeed, it was on the proper southeast ridge that the Jews started to rebuild the Temples in the time of Constantine and Julian. And later, when Omar finally let 70 families of Jews settle in Jerusalem in 638 C.E. (immediately after the conquest of Jerusalem by the Muslims), the Jews stated categorically that they wanted to live near the ruins of their Temple that they said were “in the south part of Jerusalem” (that is, further south from the Haram esh-Sharif where Omar prayed and wanted to build his Mosque).

The Geniza Records from Egypt Confirm the Temple Site on the Southeast Ridge

We have absolute evidence that the Jews in the seventh century knew the location of their former Temples (and their former “Western Wall” of the Holy of Holies from the Temples built in the time of Constantine and Julian). It was in the south from the Al Aksa Mosque and near the Siloam water system. The statement of fact is found in a fragment of a letter discovered in the Geniza library of Egypt now in Cambridge University in England. Notice what it states:

“Omar agreed that seventy households should come [to Jerusalem from Tiberias]. They agreed to that. After that, he asked: ‘Where do you wish to live within the city?’ They replied: ‘In the southern section of the city, which is the market of the Jews.’ Their request was to enable them to be near the site of the Temple and its gates, as well as to the waters of Shiloah, which could be used for immersion. This was granted them [the 70 Jewish families] by the Emir of the Believers. So seventy households including women and children moved from Tiberias, and established settlements in buildings whose foundations had stood for many generations.” 42 (emphasis mine)

This southern area was very much south of the southern wall of the Haram (where Omar had his Al Aksa Mosque) because Professor Benjamin Mazar (when I was working with him at the archaeological excavations along the southern wall of the Haram) discovered two palatial Umayyad buildings close to the southern wall of the Haram that occupied a great deal of space south of that southern Haram wall. Those 70 families certainly had their settlement further south than the ruins of these Muslim government buildings. Also, when the Karaite Jews a century later settled in Jerusalem, they also went to this same southern area as well as adjacently across the Kidron into the Silwan area.

To these Jews in the seventh, eighth and ninth centuries, this is where the ruins of their Temples and the real “Tomb of David” were located — over and around the Gihon Spring. They even had a synagogue in a cave that led to underground passages in the area. And they were right. Indeed, the Jewish authorities did not abandon the area around the Gihon Spring and its tributary waters of the Shiloah channel until the major earthquake of 1033 C.E. that destroyed the early Eudocian Wall constructed in the Byzantine period. That destruction by the earthquake made the southeastern region around the Gihon Spring to be outside the walls of Jerusalem. The whole southeast quadrant became unprotected. This opened the region to attacks by the Seljuk Turks and other enemies.

And then something happened that was quite remarkable and ritualistically devastating. In that period, the waters of the Gihon Spring turned bitter and even septic (between 1033 C.E. and 1077 C.E.). The interpretation placed upon this event was as if God himself had turned the former “waters of salvation” into a corrupt liquid inside the precincts of God’s own House. The Jewish authorities were well aware of the account in Numbers 5:11-31 that showed bitter waters were associated with the adulterous woman in Temple symbolism. With this final ritualistic setback to their religious customs, the Jerusalem Academy abandoned Jerusalem and moved to Damascus. To the Jewish authorities by 1077 C.E., there was nothing of contemporary holiness left to the former Temple area over the Gihon Spring. Jerusalem was later taken over by the Christian Crusaders in 1099 C.E. and no Jew was able to step inside Jerusalem for the first 50 years of the Crusades.

How Josephus Described the Actual Temple that He Saw

There is another important observation that needs to be made. Josephus described the Temple as being a square (a precise square of one stadium length on each side — about 600 feet). 43 The Mishnah shows that there was another square measurement around the actual Temple square that measured 500 cubits or 750 feet (Middoth II.1). This was a different measurement. It gives the dimensions of an imaginary camp area around the Temple that was known in the first century as the “Camp of the Levites,” or in simple terms “the Temple Mount.” The actual square of the Temple had two colonnade roadways from the northwest corner of the Temple porticos to the southwestern corner of Fort Antonia. 44 These roadways were a stadium in length. Combining the square lengths of the Temple square with the two roadways that led to Fort Antonia, the length was six stades of 600 feet each.

The walls around the Temple were prodigious in height according to Josephus. The southeastern corner of the outer Temple walls was located directly over the very bottom of the Kidron Valley (the bedrock center) and extended upwards 300 cubits or 450 feet 45 where it reached the four-square platform on which the actual Temple stood and where its various courts were located. The northeastern corner was also located within the depths of the Kidron though not quite as high as the southeastern corner. This made the four Temple walls to be a 600 square feet TOWER (all sides were equidistant) like a 40 story skyscraper in Chicago that extended upward with its southeast section of the wall within the river bottom (its deepest part) of the Kidron. Barnabas described the Temple (15 years after its destruction) as a TOWER, 46 and the Book of Enoch and the Shepherd of Hermas give numerous references that the Temple was indeed shaped as a TOWER (see my Web Page references). The above description is that of Josephus, an eyewitness to the Temple and its actual dimensions.

Let us now take those four square walls of the Temple (each 600 feet in length) and transport them to center over the Dome of the Rock some 1000 feet north of the Gihon Spring. The TOWER would indeed fit well into the enclosure known as the Haram esh-Sharif. But its southeast corner would NOT be located in the bottom of the Kidron Valley as Josephus said it was (it would be up on the level area of the Haram), nor would its northeast corner be precipitous and over the Kidron Valley as Josephus also reiterated. Indeed, if the Temple stood over the Dome of the Rock, the Temple platform on top of a 40-story skyscraper would have been higher than the top summit of the Mount of Olives. In no way was this the proper scenario. If, however, one will return the Temple and its dimensions (as Josephus gave them) to the Gihon Spring site, everything fits perfectly. What this shows is the fact that the walls around the Haram esh-Sharif are NOT those of the former Temple. They are those of Fort Antonia (which are not a square of 600 feet, but of much larger — over double the size of the Temple). Even the walls of the Haram are not precisely rectangular. They are trapezium in shape. It also makes perfect sense that Titus would have wanted the Tenth Legion to be housed in this remaining fortress that survived the war that formerly overshadowed the Temple on its north side.

What happened to the stones of the Temple? All of the Temple and its walls were torn down to their foundations just as Jesus prophesied they would be. As a result of this fact, let us not get the two different buildings (Fort Antonia and the Temple) mixed up as all scholars and religious leaders have done since the time of the Crusades. It is time to get back to this truth of the Bible. The Haram esh-Sharif is NOT the site of the Temples. People in Jerusalem are now fighting over the wrong areas. All should read my book “The Temples that Jerusalem Forgot” where the historical evidence shows (without doubt) that the real place of the former Temples was over the Gihon Spring on the southeast ridge.

The Western (Wailing) Wall of the Jews

This abridgment of my book on the Temples needs a concluding comment regarding the Western (or Wailing) Wall where the Jewish people now congregate as their holiest of places in Judaism. On my Web Page on the Internet (where I have an abundance of historical information from early and even modern Jewish scholars), I show that the Jewish people paid no attention whatever to the present Western (Wailing) Wall until they finally took over the site from the Muslims (about 1570 C.E.) who in turn had renovated it from being a Christian holy place where Christian women would discard soiled undergarments. The Wailing Wall as a Jewish holy place is a modern invention that was selected for Jewish worship (without the slightest historical precedent) by one of the greatest mystics of the Kabbalistic age. His name was Isaac Luria (called “the Lion”) who in his many geographical mistakes (as I show in my research writings) selected the Western Wall as a holy place for the Jews to assemble. Rabbi Luria only sanctified and initiated this Western Wall in the last part of the sixteenth century – only 430 years ago.

In actual fact, the Jewish people today at their Wailing Wall are NOT praying at a wall of their former Temples. They are sanctifying the western wall of Fort Antonia that was built by King Herod but taken over by the Romans as their prime fortress in Jerusalem in 6 C.E. at the end of the earlier Herodian dynasty. The shrine on the other side of the Wailing Wall in the time of Jesus was NOT the Temple built by Herod. As a part of the Roman Praetorium, it necessarily possessed a Temple dedicated to the Roman Emperor and the Gods of Rome (or similar accepted divinities of the Roman pantheon) that all encampments of the Romans had near their center section. It is sad to see but the symbolic “heart and soul” of modern Judaism (as Jews are persistently calling it today) is the site of a former Roman Temple dedicated to Jupiter. The place was once holy to the very people who destroyed the real Temple in 70 C.E. This is occurring while the true site of their Temples lies forlorn and languishing in utter ruin and degradation in the Ophel part of the southeastern ridge. How ironic!

1 The original Mount Zion was cut down. The southeast ridge was once much higher in elevation than it is today (or even in the time of Josephus). Josephus said the high area was chiseled down to bedrock in the period of Simon the Hasmonian about 140 years before the birth of Jesus (Antiquities XIII 6,7). It took the Jews three years working day and night to demolish the original Mount Zion (the City of David). What was once an elevated citadel and city then became known, ironically, as “the Lower City.” Because the Jewish people lowered the original Mount Zion on the southeast ridge, it became common after the time of Simon the Hasmonean to call the higher southwestern hill the new “Mount Zion.” This was a mistake that was not rectified until the decade of 1875 to 1885 C.E. mainly by the research of F.W. Birch.

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2 In this article I use the scholarly C.E. (which means “Common Era”) and B.C.E. (“Before Common Era”) in order not to perpetuate the erroneous “A.D. and B.C. system” devised by Dionysius Exiguus which the world is accustomed to using. The latter does not accurately provide the proper year in which Jesus was born.

3 Early Jewish authorities never accepted the Haram esh-Sharif as the site of the Temples until Benjamin of Tudela (a Jewish merchant of the twelfth century who was not a trained historian or theologian). Other Jewish notables in this period disputed this Christian/Muslim identification. Benjamin did not argue the point, but accepted it wholesale. This was a major mistake. It took scholars 800 years to rectify the error that prevailed as certain in all academic and theological circles of the three Abrahamic faiths.

4 Aristeas, translation by Eusebius, chapter 38.

5 Tacitus, History, Bk.5, para.12.

6 II Samuel 5:9.

7 I Kings 11:27.

8 Aristeas lines 100 to 104 as translated by Eusebius, Proof of the Gospel, chapter 38 (Grand Rapids:Baker, 1982).

9 In II Samuel 6:17 it states that David pitched a “tabernacle” (tent) for the Ark. Solomon was taken to this same “tabernacle” (tent) to be crowned (I Kings 1:38,39) which the account shows was at the Gihon Spring. Both I Chronicles 15:1 and I Chronicles 16:1 mention this special “tent” for the Ark. This particular “tent” at the Gihon Spring (where David and Israel offered sacrifices and other Temple duties — I Kings 3:15) must not be confused with the “Tabernacle” constructed in the days of Moses which was then located at Gibeon (I Chronicles 16:39; I Kings 3:4). In a certain sense, the “Temple” for Israel for the last 27 years of David’s rule, and the first 11 years of Solomon’s rule was where the Ark of the Covenant was located at the Gihon Spring. All the references in the Psalms to waters coming forth from the throne of God refer in type to those exclusively from the Gihon Spring. This shows how significant it was to David and Solomon to have “spring waters” at the site of the Temple in Jerusalem. So, Solomon built his Temple on the Ophel mound situated just above the Gihon Spring. There is no doubt of this fact!

10 I Kings 1:38,39.

11 Kerithoth 5b.

12 II Chronicles 23:10,11 shows Joash was crowned in the Temple.

13 II Chronicles 32:3,4.

14 Psalm 36:7-9; 46:3,5; 65:4,9; 93:1-5. It should be noted that all of these Psalms by David or his associates were penned by the King before the Temple was built by Solomon. They all referred to the temporary Temple (called a “tent” or “tabernacle”) located at the Gihon Spring in which David placed the Ark of the Covenant. Solomon simply built his Temple on top of the Ophel mound above the Gihon Spring.

15 See the following references to “spring waters” issuing forth from future Temples that are yet to be built: Ezekiel 47:1ff; Zechariah 14:8; Joel 3:16-18; Isaiah 30:19-26 and especially verses 19 and 25. The apostle John also spoke in the Book of Revelation about those who were thirsty that they could drink from the fountain (spring) of water that issued from the New Jerusalem that would come down from heaven to earth (Revelation 21:2-6; 22:1,17). It is a consistent theme that spring waters were always associated with the Temples on earth as well as those abodes of God that originate in heaven. On the other hand, waters from cisterns were reckoned symbolically to be far inferior to natural spring waters, simply because cistern waters could be contaminated by vermin and other unclean things falling into the cisterns and rotting in the waters. Cistern waters also were stagnant and this fact alone rendered them far less holy. See Jeremiah 2:13 where cistern water is contrasted in disfavor with the pure “fountain of living waters” (spring water).

16 The EnRogel water source about half a mile south of the Gihon Spring is a well, not a spring.

17 War V.4,1. The “crescent shape” can easily be seen on a map. It looked like a theatre style configuration and the horns of the crescent were directed toward the spur ridge that was a part of the southern Mount of Olives.

18 Hecateus of Abdera, see Josephus Contra Apion I.22.

19 Ezekiel 37:26 & 28; also Ezekiel 48:10,15,21 (the Catholic New American Version correctly translates the Hebrew word as “center”); also see Zechariah 2:4,5; 8:3,8. These verses in context show that the biblical peoples knew that the Temple itself was positioned in the center of Jerusalem (in the center of “the crescent-shaped” City of Jerusalem) that was confined at that period solely in the southeast ridge.

20 Matthew 24:1,2; Mark 13:1,2; Luke 21:5,6.

21 War VI.1,1; VII.1,1.

22 War VII.1,1.

23 War VI.5,2.

24 War VI,6,1.

25 Eusebius, Proof of the Gospel, Book VIII, chapter 3 (sect.405).

26 War Introduction I.11 ¶29, Loeb edition.

27 See the reports of the archaeologists Hillel Geva and Hanan Eschel in an extensive article in the November/December, 1997 issue of Biblical Archaeology Review which shows NO ROMAN ARMY resided in any part of the “Upper City” where most scholars have thought the Tenth Legion was housed. Also see the excellent research by the archaeologist Doron Bar in the Palestine Exploration Fund Quarterly for January/June, 1998 where the same position is taken. There is simply no evidence that the Tenth Legion was housed in the Jerusalem area in any part of the “Upper City.”

28 War VII.8,7.

29 Compare the main description of the largeness of Fort Antonia (it was a vast area) given by Josephus in War V.5,8 with his illustration of all normal Roman military camps being like a city in War III.5,2.

30 War V.5,8.

31 The Gospel of John 19:13, translated “pavement” in most translations.

32 It meant an important “high place.”

33 See the “Life of Constantine,” recorded in Wilkinson’s Jerusalem Pilgrims Before the Crusades, p.204.

34 See Sophronius, Antacroeontica by Wilkinson in Jerusalem Pilgrims Before the Crusades, p.91.

35 See Brill’s Encyclopaedia of Islam (first five volume edition) in the article “Saladin.”

36 See the critique by the Muslim scholar Ibn Taymiyya who wrote in 1328 C.E. (his English translation can be found in Peters’ Jerusalem, Princeton. NJ: Princeton University Press, 1995, p.377).

37 See the account by the first Christian Arab historian by the name of Said b. al-Bitrik (whose Greek name was Eutychius) cited by D.Baldi, Enchiridion Locorum Sanctorum, pp.447,448 and further cited in the excellent book by Prof. F.E.Peters, Jerusalem, Princeton. NJ: Princeton University Press, 1995, pp.189,190.

38 True, the later Jews tell us that Solomon made a “foundation stone” that a few modern scholars have guessed may be the “Rock” under the Dome of the Rock. It is called the Even Shetiyyah. But Jewish sources tell us this was a manufactured slab of stone (like a pavement stone) made in the days of Samuel and David that could fit snugly into the twenty cubit’s square floor of the Holy of Holies. Its smooth top was elevated three fingers above the level floor (See Sanhedrin 26b; Yoma 53b). In no way could that Even Shetiyyah be considered a natural outcropping of rock that was almost twice as large as the Holy of Holies of Solomon (as is the “Rock” under the Dome of the Rock). Neither could it be the “pierced stone” of the Bordeaux Pilgrim.

39 The largest size of the Temple was that Sanctuary in the time of Herod. Josephus said Herod doubled the size of the previous Temple and that its outer walls were a perfect square of 600 feet on each side (War V.5,2; VI.2,9 with VI.5,4 and Antiquities XV.9,3). Josephus said that the Temple was a square tower that had its southeastern corner in the depths of the Kidron Valley and from the valley floor to the top of the tower (on which was a platform on which the Temple itself was built) was 450 feet in elevation – or as high as a 40 to 45 story building in Chicago. The Mishnah, however, shows another measurement of a perfect square also around the Temple of 750 feet on each side (Middoth 2:1 Danby translation). This is not a contradiction of Josephus. The Mishnah is simply recording another squared area called “the Temple Mount” or “the Camp of the Levites” which was an unwalled imaginary limit around the actual physical walls of the Temple in which Levitical duties could be officially performed. This Camp of the Levites had “gates” into it like the Camp of the Levites did in the time of Moses while Israel was in the Wilderness, but these “gates” were mere designated entrances (not physical gates like those in the walls of cities). So, this 40 to 45 story high tower was the Temple of Herod and it is precisely described by Josephus. The Haram esh-Sharif (Fort Antonia), however, is a trapezium with its corners not at the same angles of measurement. The Haram is measured: East wall at 1556 feet; North wall at 1041 feet; West wall at 1596 feet and the South wall at 929 feet in length. In no way can the two structures be compared as being identical because the Haram is vastly larger than was the Temple just as Josephus stated. In reality, the Temple and the Haram are two different buildings.

40 See Mishneh Torah, sect.8, “Temple Service.”

41 Commentary on Isaiah 64:10 and quoted by Prof. Kaufman in Biblical Archaeology Review, March/April, 2000, p.61 – the letters in capitals are my emphasis.

42 Reuven Hammer, The Jerusalem Anthology, Philadelphia: Jewish Publication Society, 1995, p.148.

43 See War V.5,2 with War VI,5,4 and Antiquities XV.9,3.

44 War II.15,6.

45 Antiquities VIII.3,9.

46 Barnabas 16:4-8.


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