The Circle of Ancient Iranian Studies
Book 1. The Crisis of Sacred History
Solomon & His Temple Examined
Israel Finkelstein: I have not seen a sherd with a label, “I was made by Solomon”. Maybe you have. Have you?
The evidence for the empire of Solomon is deceptively abundant. It is abundant in the Jewish scriptures and nowhere else! Yet, biblicist archaeologists, who would be struck off the register if they were doctors, have doctored so much archaeological evidence that religious punters today think Solomon is a well established historical figure. You will often meet expressions like “a wall of the time of Solomon” as if there was no doubt about it because the name Solomon was scratched on every brick. What these “scholars” mean is a wall dated to the tenth century BC when they believe that Solomon lived!
The idea of a major state, let alone an empire, centred on Jerusalem in the tenth century BC has been increasingly disputed in recent years. Growing numbers of biblical historians and archaeologists have added weight to the call for a complete reappraisal of the Davidic and Solomonic United Monarchy. The search for the tenth century is now one of the most critical areas of debate among archaeologists.
Margaret Gelinas, a recent scholar, confirmed just before the turn of the millennium that the bible is the only source of information about the so-called “United Monarchy”. A Mazar (Archaeology of the Land of the Bible ) writes:
The time of Saul hardly finds any expression in the archaeological record… The archaological record concerning David’s reign is also poor and ambiguous.
Donald Redford, an author and leading authority on the era, writes in frustration at the absence of anything to verify the biblical stories:
Such topics as the foreign policy of David and Solomon, Solomon’s trade in horses or his marriage to Pharaoh’s daughter must remain themes for midrash and fictional treatment.
Philip Davies (In Search of Ancient Israel ) discounts any possibility of…
…a Davidic empire administered from Jerusalem… The range of indices considered by Jamieson-Drake make it necessary for us to exclude the Davidic and Solomonic monarchies, let alone their empire, from a non-biblical history of Palestine.
The spring 1990 issue of the prestigious journal, the Bulletin of the American Schools of Oriental Research, was entirely devoted to deciding which archaeological levels of the ancient cities of Palestine belonged to the time of king Solomon. The scholars were unable to agree on a conclusion. G E Wright can summarize:
No discovery has been made in Jerusalem which can be dated… to the time of David and Solomon.
B S J Isserlin, like the others, finds it hard to forget his bible, but he cannot escape the reality of archaeology, so he claws for something desperately in these clips, all from just three pages concerning Solomon in his book, The Israelites:
There are hints… A hint of Solomonic architectural magnificence…
…the bible has much to say when describing Solomon’s temple and palace buildings, but no parts of them can now be identified…
…new palaces belonging to later kings from Manasseh onwards, although they still have to be found.
Solomon extended… his royal palace complex—including the temple (their exact location is unknown)…
…the exact limits of Solomon’s royal enclosure are not known. It is agreed, though, that it was very large… the effort involved must have been enormous… no wonder we are told it took Solomon 13 years to build his residence.
At present there is no archaeological proof that this did happen.
The absence of any historical confirmation of a Solomon simply does not deter these scholars. God has told them there was a Solomon, so what scholarship can contradict it? Isserlin is like that, but he is honest enough to intersperse his belief with the occasional doubt:
Our knowlege of Samaria and Jerusalem is at present pretty patchy.
All told, our information is still patchy.
Who would have guessed? There was quite obviously a tenth century BC, but what no one has yet been able to prove is that any emperors called David and Solomon lived in it… or any other time for that matter—unless David means Adad (Adad-nirari) and Solomon means Shalman (Shalmanezer), Assyrian kings who ruled successively in the ninth century. Commonly we read these scholars saying things like, a wall “built by Asa”, “the Solomonic age”, in “the territory of the tribe of Manasseh”, and many more such things based on no scholarship other than an uncritical belief and detailed reading of the biblical myths. Any books that speak of the “time of David” or the “time of Solomon” should be burnt as religious propaganda. Respectable historians do not refer times in history to mythical figures or places. They do not talk of the “time of Hercules” and we can be certain that any historian that spoke of the “time of Atlantis” would be instantly dismissed or certified. Yet these biblical figures, David and Solomon, are no less mythical.
The source of such detailed reporting in the scriptures of 1000 BC was, the biblical experts told us, the official historian of the court of king David, like the work itself an entirely fictional invention. Diehard Christian apologists will still believe this but honest scholars have declared it a forgery, written long after the Persians set up their temple state of Yehud. The central characters, David and Solomon, can barely be admitted even as myths. Nor does, Gelinas tells us, “the intensive building activity attributed to Solomon in the biblical account” find any expression in the material record at Jerusalem.
No trace of the temple of Solomon has ever been found. Not a single votive offering. Be assured that nothing at all that has been found under the earth or in ancient archives can certainly be assigned to Solomon. Though architecture and artefacts corresponding to the tenth century BC are routinely ascribed to the “period of Solomon”, absolutely nothing found has ever said anything about a king Solomon!
According to 1 Kings 9:10ff, Hiram, king of Tyre, was alive and lived for 20 more years after the temple was started. That was in Solomon’s fourth year, so he died in Solomon’s 24th year. The same Hiram was a pal of David, Solomon’s father, “all his days” (1 Kg 5:1), and built a palace for him in Jerusalem. David supposedly reigned 40 years including 33 in Jerusalem, so, even if only the 33 in Jerusalem count as “all his days”, Hiram reigned for 57 years. It is not an impossible reign, admittedly, even for those days—Rameses II reigned longer—but Josephus, citing the Annals of Tyre, says Hiram reigned only 34 years and died when he was 53!
Josephus had noticed the discrepancy and dropped the long friendship of Hiram and David, because of the need to retain the friendship with Solomon. Despite this, Josephus cannot give dates that match the biblical ones regarding the building of the temple. Citing the Annals of Tyre, Josephus says the temple of Solomon was built 143 years and eight months before Tyre founded Carthage. Josephus seems to be trying to harmonize the Annals of Tyre with the bible to claim that the Annals of Tyre verified the bible. It is as if a biblicist claimed that, from Homer, Solomon’s temple was built 143 years and eight months before the Trojan war. It might be possible to make some such deductions but the impression left is that Homer explicitly confirms the building of the temple of Solomon. Or, in this case, the Annals of Tyre did.
Josephus wrote as an apologist for the Jewish scriptures, but really succeeds in showing the bible must be in error about the long friendship of Hiram with David and then with Solomon. If the long friendship with David is an exaggeration, then another “fact” in the bible is wrong. Incidentally, though Carthage was not founded until 813 BC in tradition, explaining Josephus’s claim, archaeology has found nothing there before about 740 BC.
Finally, Josephus, in Contra Apion, lists the kings of Tyre from Hiram in 969 BC to Pygmalion in 774 BC. He mentions another one Eloulaios, who reigned for another 36 years, but can be dated from Assyrian records to the period 736-701 BC. It leaves a gap of 38 years from 774 to 736 BC. Again the Assyrian records help, and Phoenician inscriptions in Cyprus too. Tiglath-pileser III (745-727 BC) received tributes from successive kings of Tyre called Hiram and Mitinna. Hiram paid tribute in 743 BC, and must have been succeeded by Mitinna soon after, but the latter must have reigned only for a few years. Unless there are other unknown kings, this later Hiram must have reigned from 774 BC to about 741 BC, a period of 34 years. Josephus says the first Hiram, the friend of David and Solomon, reigned for 34 years. Hiram I ruled Cyprus and so too did Hiram II 200 years later. The contemporaries of Solomon and Jeroboam I fit better a period 200 years later in real history.
Was Solomon a God?
The mythical purpose of “king” Solomon is to build and dedicate the temple to establish that Jerusalem had been associated with a temple founded by a great king called Solomon, not with a god called Solomon. The Solomonic temple to Yehouah did not really exist—the temple was to the god Solomon (Salem, Shalma)—but, having been destroyed by the Babylonians, the Persian administrators could pretend it had always been to Yehouah. No one in Yehud was in a position to deny it because it happened about a hundred years before. So, the second temple set up by the “returners” is not the second temple to Yehouah—it is the second temple all right, but the first to Yehoauh or, at least exclusively to Yehouah.
In the bible Solomon has the powers of a Mesopotamian king—he is a melchizedek, in charge of the priesthood and the cult. He conducts the consecration of the temple as High Priest and blesses the qahal—the cultic community or congregation. But Solomon cannot escape the inevitability of the agreed formula that God does not like kings and even he is made to succumb to the temptations of apostasy and is punished as the Deuteronomic Historian makes clear (1 Kg 11).
The procedure for building the temple—decision of the king, confirmation by god, securing materials and labour, planning the building, inauguration and the king’s prayer, all followed in 1 Kings 5-8—is that commonly attested in Mesopotamia from Gudea of Lacash on. Because it was common practice, it says nothing about this particular temple.
So, the temple to Solomon did exist, but it was a Pagan temple to a Pagan god! El-Amarna letters 74 and 290 mention “Bit-NIN.IB”, at first sight a reference to Assyria (House of Nineveh), but Professor Jules Lewy, an Assyriologist, said it was better read as Bit Shulman—the House of Solomon! The king of Damascus had commanded his chiefs, in letter 74, to attack the king of Jerusalem, ordering them to “assemble in Bit Shulman”. It must be near Jerusalem, or even in it if the plot was an assassination not a field attack.
In letter 290, the king of Jerusalem complained to the Pharaoh that the Apiru were invading the land, adding:
…and now, in addition, the capital of the country of Jerusalem—its name is Bit Shulman—the king’s city, has broken away…
Towns in the ancient near east were often called after the ruling god (or vice versa). Lewy concluded that Jerusalem was also known at that time by the name “Temple of Shulman”—“bit” (“beth” in Hebrew) in this context meaning temple. The text is ambiguous, but Jerusalem here seems not to refer to a city but to a country. The capital city or the king’s city was called Bit Shulman, after the temple of Shulman in it, yet after the conquest by the Israelites under Joshua, no mention is made of it. It was called Jebus or Salem before David conquered the Jebusites and made it his capital city.
Now “salem” is taken to mean “peace” but in view of this information, it looks to be a corruption of Shulman. The biblical story of Solomon begins to look like a rationalization of the traditional name of a city named after Shulman, a god found in Mesopotamian sources as Shelmi, Shulmanu or Salamu. The last of these spellings is “salem!” In the Hebrew Bible, “Solomon” has no terminal “n”, the “n” being added in the Greek Septuagint.
Indeed, it is interesting that the Greek Solomon, Salmoneus is the father of Tyro, the founding goddess of Tyre, the Phoenician city—the Phoenicians were Canaanites. More pertinent is that an important Phoenician god was Salim (Salem), the god of the evening, the evening star symbolized by Venus, and the setting sun, representing peace, whence “shalom”. Jerusalem, Absalom and Solomon share this root which appears all over the near east, and is still a popular Moslem name.
Was this a reference to Solomon’s temple even at such an early date? The Egyption glyphs read as “Shulman” have no sign of divinity, implying the name is not that of a god. If it is named after its founder then Bit Shulman means Palace of Solomon, and Solomon lived much earlier than anyone thought, or Egyptian chronology is hundreds of years out. Or, perhaps the Egyptians did not recognize Shulman as a god. Either way, the Solomon legend was written to explain the memory of the old name of the city—Salem or Bit Shulman.
More Aspects of the Myth
There is a tradition related by Josephus, in Against Apion, quoting Dius Polyhistor, author of a history of Phoenicia and also Menander of Ephesus. Both authors speak of Abibalus (Abibaal) and his son Hirom (Hiram) who built a causeway to the temple of Olympian Zeus because it was on an offshore island. Menander says he dedicated shrines to Herakles and Astarte. Solomon is not mentioned, but André Lemaire, as bent a scholar as you find, assures us that later traditions and inscriptions which confirm that Phœnicia, mainly Tyre, was a power in the Red Sea “during the first millennium BC” is evidence of the reality of the Solomon myth. Unbiased people would conclude the opposite. If the Phœnicians were a power then Solomon was not. The stories in Josephus belong to the eighth century BC not the tenth.
The Negev sites, previously thought to represent part of a network of royal fortifications, have been reinterpreted by Finkelstein and Perevolotsky (1980) as resulting from nomads settling down into a sedentary mode of life during a period of economic prosperity.
The interpretation of Shishaq’s campaign, central to the tenth century dating of destruction layers, has also been challenged by Thompson (1992), Davies (1992), and Gelinas (1995). Barkay (1992) from his survey of the archaeology of Iron II concludes:
The precise dating of the settlement strata and find assemblages of the tenth and ninth centuries is fraught with difficulties… The attribution of destruction levels to the end of the tenth century at many sites is mere conjecture.
No sites have been proved to have been destroyed by Shishaq in 925 BC. Sheshonq I (Shishak?), according to the interpretation of his Karnak monuments which have the names of many northern cities, invaded Israel. This is confirmed by the fragment of a victory stele found at Megiddo. It is less clear that the Karnak inscriptions list Judahite cities, but only the attack on Judah appears in the bible.
The dating and interpretation of the so-called Solomonic gates has become the most spectacular area of disagreement between archaeologists over the identification and understanding of tenth century remains. Several substantial gateways of a similar design at Megiddo, Hazor, and Gezer were glibly assigned to Solomon. Barkay in 1992 highlighted the differences in the construction of the gates, the inconsistencies in the size, construction, and the type of wall to which they are bonded, and denies they were “built according to a single blueprint designed by a central authority”. He is forced to conclude that the “glorified picture” emerging from the biblical traditions does not correspond to “the reality reflected in the archaeological findings”.
Hopkins (1997) has remarked that many archaeologists now contest the dating and the purported constructional unity of the four-entry gateways at Hazor, Megiddo, and Gezer. They do not, in his opinion, exhibit the uniformity implied by centralized planning and bureaucracy.
For the Solomonic period, there is precious little indication of regional integration in the archaeological record.
Solomon’s stables were discovered at Megiddo, and are still described as such by religious liars, but they are not stables, most modern archaeologists think. They are also not Solomon’s if he lived in the tenth century because they are 200 years later. No one has ever found Solomon’s port at Ezion-Geber. It is not at Eilat or at Aqaba or anywhere between, so Biblicists have been obliged to reposition it down the coast into Sinai, but no one knows where. Solomon’s pillars or Solomon’s mines north of Eilat were not Solomon’s because they were abandoned before the tenth century and were probably Egyptian.
The kingdom of Sheba did not exist in the tenth century, and Ophir remains an unidentified place. It is only speculation that Tarshish is Tartessos in Spain (according to some) or Tarsus in Cilicia (according to others), neither being accessible entirely by sea from Solomon’s supposed port in the tenth century except by circumnavigation of Africa. Darius II built a canal at Suez in the fifth century BC—only then was a direct sail from Eilat to Tarsus possible. Both Ophir and Tarshish might be entirely mythical places like Shangri-La, intended to depict the kingdom of Solomon as of equal civilisation and wealth—and equally mythical!
André Lemaire cites Assyrian texts from the eighth and seventh centuries BC which mention a Sheba in Arabia, and some other Arabian queens, as confirming Solomon, two or three centuries earlier. It suggests that events of the seventh and eighth centuries have been retrojected to an earlier time. An academic at Tel Aviv University, Nadar Naaman, admits the tenth century kings have been “modelled on” eighth century kings. He paints it as an “innocent filling in of the details” but it is more than that. There is no framework of the supposed older characters, Hiram, Solomon, Jeroboam, to fill in, so what is happening is that the eighth century monarchs were retroscripted into the tenth century. The Solomonic and Davidic ages are simply the eighth century set 200 years earlier, with mythical elaborations.
Lemaire continues that almost nothing in the way of tablets or inscriptions have been found from the glorious time of David and Solomon. The best example is a small limestone tablet called the Gezer calendar. Yet Lemaire concludes Solomon’s time was “probably an important period of literary creation”. “Probably” and “maybe” are favourite words of this supposed scholar who invariably concludes the opposite of whatever the evidence suggests. With no evidence in the least of a literary tradition in tenth century BC Palestine, Lemaire can write:
There were schools in Jerusalem and in the capitals of the administrative districts!
Solomon, ruling the empire built by his father, married the Pharaoh of Egypt’s daughter, and the Pharaoh—deduced from biblical dating, probably wrongly, to have been Siamun—gave him the town of Gezer as a dowry. Pharaoh had just conquered Gezer and flattened it, so it did not seem much of a gift. Moreover, it is only about 20 miles west of Jerusalem, so should already have been part of David and Solomon’s “empire”. Pharaoh must have captured it from Solomon so that he could give him it as a dowry for his daughter! Furthermore, it is more likely that Solomon was Siamun than that Solomon married one of his daughters. The Egyptians only reluctantly married off royal princesses to foreigners, whereas the Pharaonic line was itself passed on matrilinearly.
The wealth of Solomon must also be part of his legendary growth because he was at some stage supposedly unable to pay his debts to Hiram, king of Phoenicia (1 Kg 9:10-14). The idea of Jerusalem as capital is undermined by the observation of Hopkins in 1997:
There is a fundamental contradiction in portraying vast wealth gained through control of transit trade as Solomon takes advantage of an interlude in which the traditional coercive forces of Egypt, Mesopotamia, and Anatolia are quiescent.
He asks, “What was the cumulative value of trade?” The archaeological record of Palestine’s tenth century is severely impoverished in imported items that would be expected of a rich trading nation. Hopkins notes it is difficult to see how Jerusalem of the tenth century could have been the centre of a bureaucratic centralized state or empire when its was “barely the center of its contiguous domain”. Even when he argues for the existence of Judahite and Israelite states with a degree of homogenous material culture, he notes that these replicated the city-states of the Bronze Age to a far greater extent than they anticipated the European nation states. The nationalist ideology of the biblical literature projects a unity that simply did not exist economically or sociologically.
Jeroboam is supposed to have rebelled and taken the ten northern tribes out of the confederation of tribes to form Israel leaving Judah and Benjamin to form Judah. Since he followed an oracle of God in doing this, he was again expressing the Persian propagandist’s view that God had no desire for His people to have kings and he would undermine them if they insisted on it.
The most likely historical basis of the twelve tribes, if there is one at all, is that they were divisions of the province for taxation purposes. A system like this was attributed to Israel under Solomon (1 Kg 4:7-19;5:2-4,7). Each of the twelve divisions had to provide tribute for one month of the year. This was an Egyptian system used by the Pharaoh Shoshenq, a successor to Siamun and contemporary of the mythical Solomon.
All these traditions were set down at a relatively late period, often more than 500 years after the events to which they refer…
Much in the stories of David and Solomon was probably added by the scribes of the Maccabees who wanted to justify their setting up of a Jewish free state. They depicted their own battles with the Seleucid Greeks allegorized as Philistines and Canaanites.
Who Wrote It?
William Dever, trying in 1997 to construct a case for a centralized state in the tenth century BC, argued that a system of writing was essential for “the functioning of the requisite urban bureaucracy” necessary for maintaining control over an increasingly diversified and resistant society. He acknowledged that the archaeological data was limited, but the size of Jerusalem for this period also militates against an extensive bureaucracy. The Amarna texts show how minimal military organization was, and of a different order to that needed for the organization of a centralized state.
One puzzling element in the claims for a centralized state is the lack of comparison with the MBII period. Dever, rejecting the notion that the state presumes the prior existence of urbanism, says that Palestine in the Early and Middle Bronze Ages was highly urbanized, yet no one supposes that a true state had yet come into existence, only the characteristic pattern of Southern Levantine city-states. Yet many elements supposed to be of centralization and statehood in the Iron II period such as increasing urbanism and development of fortifications and gate structures are all present in the MBII period. Nothing clearly differentiates the two periods except the appeal to the bible.
Such towns, even if containing up to 2000 inhabitants, were primarily agricultural with most of the population involved in food production or the refining of agricultural products. Few were engaged in the production of artifacts, including pottery, and even fewer handled the production of luxury goods. As Lemche says:
The townships were mostly agricultural strongholds which probably housed the population which tilled the fields around the town themselves.
Towns were primarily a place of residence and acted as protective fortresses in periods of unsafety. Jerusalem had barely emerged from the countryside at this period, and the chances of it having a literacy able to run an empire seems incredible.
According to V Harris (Ancient Literacy ) widespread literacy does not happen by accident but requires central commitment and investment, usually by government, and the setting up of a complex social network of support. Such a social structure would be needed to allow any substantial and accurate reporting of history such as emerged even in Greece only in the fifth century BC, with Herodotus and Thucidydes, yet the Israelite so-called Court Historian of Kings supposedly lived in 1000 BC in a society that has left no visible trace! It shows it is fiction—a romance written much later, and not by the natives.
F W Golka in The Leopard’s Spots, dismisses the idea of “schools” in Israel during the United Monarchy as a “consensus of scholarship” with no foundation, even biblical! The first mention of schools is in Sirach (Wisdom 51:23) written in the second century BC, 800 years after David. If there were no schools there were no sages who would have been their teachers.
The school story began with August Klostermann in 1908. The “scholars” trying to show schools existed in Israel would seek analogies in the great empires of Egypt and Babylonia, cite Sirach and the Rabbis of a later period, then come to Klostermann to fill in the gaps.
Klostermann only had three citations and he used them in ways that modern scholars would decry, yet they still cite him, because, says Golka, they have not read the original. One of Klostermann’s examples (Prov 22:17-21) is now known to be a translation from passages in the Egyptian hieratic papyrus, Amen-em-ope. This was obtained by the British Museum in 1888 but not published until 1923. German scholars in studies from 1924-1926 showed that Wisdom 22:17-23:11 was in Amen-em-ope. The Egyptian provenance of these verses cut away Klostermann’s idea that it was an exercise of a school teacher in Ancient Israel.
Isaiah 28:9-13 pertains indirectly to teaching, but fits a parent teaching a young child better than a school situation. Klostermann thought that Isaiah 50:4-9 was to do with discipleship and therefore with a master and his students. It seems to be mistranslated and actually refers to a “practised tongue”.
The biblical story of David’s court was that he had an advanced civil service. Indeed by coincidence, he had seven chief officers, just as the Persian king had seven advisors, although the priests were doubled up:
David executed judgment and justice unto all his people. And Joab the son of Zeruiah was over the host; and Jehoshaphat the son of Ahilud was recorder; And Zadok the son of Ahitub, and Ahimelech the son of Abiathar, were the priests; and Seraiah was the scribe; And Benaiah the son of Jehoiada was over both the Cherethites and the Pelethites; and David’s sons were chief rulers.
Now Joab was over all the host of Israel: and Benaiah the son of Jehoiada was over the Cherethites and over the Pelethites: And Adoram was over the tribute: and Jehoshaphat the son of Ahilud was recorder: And Sheva was scribe: and Zadok and Abiathar were the priests: And Ira also the Jairite was a chief ruler about David.
Solomon expands the officers to 11, including an office of King’s Friend, but has no place for a top teacher. Lemaire, who makes a cause of bad causes, tries to prove schools existed from isolated ostrocons he thought were student’s exercises, but he has to admit that the findings were poor and fragmentary. They are! All are isolated suggesting that they are individual, probably family examples of tuition and not schools where sets of exercises might be expected to be found together. No such tranches of ostraca have been found.
The “scholars” assume that Israel in the United Monarchy will have had institutions comparable with Egypt. Egypt had schools from the time of the Middle Kingdom, before the Hyksos kings—still believed or hoped by “scholars” to have been Israelites—so Israel must have had schools. Golka points out that if they had schools then they were Egyptian! Evidence for them is still lacking.
Besides comparing contemporary institutions in different countries, another approach is to compare countries at the same stage of development. Israel would be compared with the Egyptian Old Kingdom. There were no schools. The educational system was based on an apprentice system whereby a civil servant or a craftsman took on an apprentice as an adopted son. This is why “sons” were disciples of a master. It was a system that continued to the time of Christ, although, by then, the Greeks had already introduced schools after Alexander’s conquests. The Israelite boy was normally trained by his father, and took his father’s profession, but might be apprenticed to someone else. Jesus might have been the “son” of the carpenter because he was his apprentice, and not his natural son. The Persians had the same system. The magi inherited their position, just as the Israelite priests did.
The fault of all apologists, puzzled by a fictional history that is far from glorious, containing many incidents derogating the people and their kings, is that they take the history to be the work of the Jews themselves, and expect it to be laudatory. People, especially in those days, did not present critical histories of themselves. Jews and Christians have to realize, though, that stories written by a conqueror about a subject people need not be laudatory. They were written as propaganda to shame the people of Canaan into behaving the way the Persians wanted. The history therefore showed the immense potential the people had if only they would behave in the right way!
They had been introduced to the universal God of Heaven in a uniquely privileged way in the distant past but their subsequent history showed them as consistently apostatizing against this great god. The god reacted by having to punish them repeatedly, culminating in having them deported to distant parts of the Assyrian and Babylonian empires. But the great and generous god was giving them another chance through the action of his earthly agent, the Persian king, who was returning deported people to their rightful homes and restoring the proper worship of their gods. They were god’s saviours of people and restorers of gods.
The native people naturally began totally unfamiliar with this new notion of a god and will have thoroughly opposed it. So, they were shown as unrepentent sinners, opposed not to the Persians but to the God of Heaven, who would punish them accordingly. Among the remnants of history and the romances, the “returners” told a story of the pure religion revealed by God as being corrupted by contact with the Canaanite religions. Stories like those of David and Solomon, and the adulterated history of the divided monarchy, were meant to hammer home the message of potential greatness constantly rejected through ungodly behaviour. Even their greatest kings finshed up apostates. Many lesser ones were thoroughly wicked.
J Hughes (Secrets of the Times: Myth and History in Biblical Chronology ) says that the stories of Judges and Samuel are fiction written to give a 1000 year background to the Jewish province set up by the Persians. David is depicted as having a policy of leaving the local administration in place when he conquered—Jerusalem, for example. This was what Cyrus the Persian did too, suggesting that David was modelled on the great Persian king.
Historians know that genealogies are often unreliable because those who commission them are more interested in claims in the present rather than any past actuality. In short, they are often produced to justify the present. That is just as true of Egyptian genealogies as it is for the genealogies given in the gospels. Actual blood relationships in the past are subordinated to present needs, to prove a legitimate claim for example. It is no less remarkable that native Canaanite chroniclers suddenly developed a preference for accurate genealogies than it is that they inexplicably evolved an ethical religion. Both were imposed from outside.
In the history of the monarchies, good and apostate kings alternate, a device meant to show that previous generations had repeatedly come back from error and apostasy to the true God, so that this generation could feel good about returning to the fold as others did before them. They were the remnant, the few Israelites who remained true and pure while others stayed with their idols. The supporters of the new religion and those who repented their apostasy were justified against those who refused to abandon their age old gods and goddesses.
In these stories the king is also divine, though commentators will rarely observe upon it. The only proper king was the Shahanshah, a manifestation of God on earth. In Psalms 45:7, the king is addressed as God! In 1 Kings 21:11-14, those who blaspheme “God and the king” are put to death. In 2 Samuel 23:17, Elyon the Canaanite high god elevated the king (David) above men. The king has the attributes of a fertility god in Psalms 72:6-7,16. He is a priest-king, Melchizedek, in charge of the cult as well as the country!
Plainly in the Hellenistic period, and notably in the Maccabaean period, these stories were being reworked again to render the Jews and their kings much better people than they were shown as by the Persian administrators. David and Solomon in Chronicles seem much more saintly than in Samuel and Kings.
Scholars assume that the Wisdom literature came from the supposed schools of scribes, sages and wise men in the Israelite kingdom. Yet, the Wisdom literature is universal not peculiar to a small ancient kingdom in the near east. Golka speaks of “the complete operational blindness of Old Testament scholarship”.
Where was the Second Temple?
Temples in the Near East were of a standard pattern—a womb. They were a long narrow building often oriented toward the sunrise with a fairly narrow door protected by two pillars forming an entrance portico. Canaanitish religion was supposed to have been based on fertility rites and the temple orientation is reminiscent of the tombs in Ireland such as Newgrange and Shanballyemond that catch the rays of the sun at sunrise at sugnificant times of the year. The tomb or temple was an earthly vagina for the fertilizing rays of the sun as they penetrate the darkness. The sun was then seen as fertilizing the earth. For a tomb the hope was for a rebirth, but in fertility cults it was originally to stimulate the land to fruition. Only later did it begin to signify a personal rebirth for individuals.
The whole place was holy, but within was a particularly holy place—the inner sanctum. The general orientation of these buildings show that they were pointing east to catch the morning sun and particularly often the midsummer or equinoctial sun. The Persians were familiar with the idea although their temples were in open places. They always prayed toward the morning sun, had to do all their worship before noon, and Persian soldiers oriented their tents to the rising sun, just as the temples are.
The Canaanite temple of Baal-Hadad in the Lower City of Hazor (c 1500-1200 BC) had the same plan as the Jewish temple except that the latter was oriented east-west and the temple of Hadad was north-south. The Hazor temple consisted of a porch, a main hall and a Holy of Holies in a line, with the Holy of Holies to the north. The Porch was the labia of the vagina up to the hymen or Veil, the Hall was the vagina itself, and the inner sanctum, or Holy of Holies, was the uterus.
The anteroom is called “Ulam”, the ritual hall “Hekhal” and the holiest part “Dvir”. The latter, which relates to “divine” looks to be related also to the name David which means “Loved”. The two other names comes from the Sumerian, Ulammu and E-gal. The Gospel of Philip calls the Dvir, the Holy of the Holies, the bridal chamber, entered only by the high priest. It was a room of thirteen by nine meters with a deep niche in its northern wall for the cult figure.
The Persians represented the temple as a microcosm of the world, combining heaven and earth. The shrine of the deity is the highest heaven, and the doors, the doors of heaven, with various levels between.
The two basalt pillars in the porch had no structural purpose. Solomon’s temple had the pillars “Jachin” and “Boaz”. Everyone pretends they have no idea what these pillars stand for, but, since they originated in fertility religions, they could be nothing other than phallic. The bible tells us repeatedly that the apostatizing Israelites erected pillars and standing stones for the fertility god and his consort. “Jachin” means “He erects” and “Boaz” supposedly means “strength” but punningly implies “shame”, so seems to allude to a phallus. In the accompanying picture of the temple at Tell Ta’yinat, the remaining pillar bas has two supporting lions taking the place of the testicles.
Most of the buildings and surface features on the Temple Mount are Islamic—no sign of the First or Second Temples can be found on it today. The temple was thoroughly razed and leveled to the ground on the 9th day of Ab in 70 AD. After the Bar Kosiba revolt in 132 AD, the Romans razed the entire city of Jerusalem and a built a Roman city, Aelia Capitolina, on the ruins. With the reconstructions of the Roman, Moslem and Crusader ages, no one now knows where the temple was.
The Romans thought that Judaism could be destroyed as a force of nuisance in the empire by destroying its temple and the sacerdotal rites it practiced. Titus tried it in 70 AD but the ruins of the temple remained and, in the second century, Rabbi Akiba and his wife saw a fox leave the ruins of the Holy of Holies. Jews had not been barred from Jerusalem and hoped to renew the work on the temple. The revolt of Bar Kosiba scotched that and Hadrian decided on drastic measures. He closed off the Jewish temple ruins, including the Temple Mount and the Antonia fortress, by erecting a wall to the South, West and North. He put an immense platform over the temple so that it was utterly hidden and its position could not be found. On the platform, he built the Temple of Jupiter.
Hadrian changed the name of the city to Aelia Capitolina and prohibited Jews from the city, so that it was purely gentile. With these measures and the earlier butchery of many Jews across the empire, Hadrian succeeded in eliminating Jewish subversion. Jews were stopped from entering the city until the seventh century, and the Byzantines and Arabs continued to call the city “Aelia”.
The destruction of the Second Temple by Titus, the massive building program by Hadrian and the cutting off of Jews from the city of Jerusalem led to an error in the identification of the site of the temple.
A similar temple, also to Jupiter, commissioned by Hadrian, built by the same builder, completed in the reign of Antoninus, is at Baalbek in Lebanon. Like the works on the Temple Mount, it is built over an earlier temple—famous for the Prophecies of Micah! Micah is Michael or Mithras. Baalbek’s Roman name was Heliopolis or On. The site is immense and the stones cyclopean, so the local tradition is that it was built by jinns at the command of Solomon! The source of the designs on the doorways and the ceiling and in the capitals of the columns at Baalbek are Roman. Figures of Jupiter Heliopolitanus standing between two bullocks or calves have been found dating from Roman times. The wall of the temple area is built of great stone blocks like those of the Wailing Wall in Jerusalem, but bigger.
The Wailing Wall is not what remains of the outer wall of Solomon’s temple, but is part of Hadrian’s Roman reconstruction. The stones are decorated by quading—a cut is made round the four sides effectively framing the face of the stone, but not below ground level in the footings (a waste of effort)—typical of Roman practice found also at Baalbek. Such stones are far superior in workmanship to anything that has ever been found from the supposed time of Solomon.
The Dome of the Rock showing its polygonal shape
Roman architectural fashion of the time was for a rectangular basilica, and a polygonal centrepiece opposite a courtyard. The Al Aqsa Mosque and the Dome of the Rock exactly have this plan. It seems the Roman Temple to Jupiter on this site may have been converted for Christian purposes in the fourth Century, and the foundations of the ruined churches then reused for the Moslem structures, the Al Aqsa Mosque and the Dome of the Rock, built in the seventh century.
Jews wail at a Pagan Roman wall, and know it! What then does their jealous God think? Christian tourists look on in wonder, but they are ignorant, not even realising that the large stones are Roman. Moslems are as ignorant as the Christians—the Jews maintain the charade for their benefit!
In the third century AD, the Jews of Babylon could not identify the site of the holy temple. In Jerome’s fourth century commentary on Isaiah, an equestrian statue of Hadrian was exactly over the the Holy of Holies. The Holy of the Holies must have been where the present El Kas fountain now is. According to most authorities, the mounted figure was in the centre of the square before the temple. The Byzantine Christians destroyed the Pagan temple but left the statue of Hadrian on his horse.
The Arabs conquered Palestine, realized the platform was the Temple Mount, cleared the site, discovered the remains of the Roman temple and thought it was Solomon’s Temple—holy to Moslems too. So, they built on it the Dome of the Rock and Al-Aksa. Since then everyone has assumed that the walls of the ancient buildings remaining were the ruins of the Jewish Temple when they were really Roman. Because the Roman walls were thought to have been Solomon’s or at least Herod’s, it is not surprising that the walls of Aelia Capitolina have never been found, though they were more recent and ought to have been more substantial than the Jewish remains. Nor have the buildings been found of the Tenth Roman Legion (symbolized by a boar), which was stationed and served in Jerusalem for 200 years, and quite possibly was the origin of the gospel legend of the Gadarene Swine.
Tubia Sagib’s Proposal
Tubia Sagib, a Tel Aviv architect, has proposed a southern location for the holy places of the temple. The Dome site may have been originally a Canaanite High Place with tombs beneath, and the location of an Asherah pillar.
The level of the Herodian temple court in this more southerly location would have been 16 meters lower than the level of the Temple Mount courts that we see today. “Living water”, fresh, flowing water, not water from a cistern, was required for the ritual bath (mikveh) used by the temple priests, just as it was for the Zoroastrian ritual purification from which it came. There is no way to bring the water from the aqueduct to the ritual bath by gravity as is required by religious law unless the temple was south of its presumed position.
Josephus writes that the second temple was called “the Sanctuary, and was ascended to by fourteen steps from the first court. The “Sanctuary” was “Paradise”, the kingdom of God—heaven!
Antonia’s fortress and the Temple Mount were connected. There were steps which one could descend, from the fortress to the arcades of the Temple Mount. The Dome of the Rock in Tubia’s view was the site of Antonia’s Fortress. It was in the Northwestern corner of the Temple Mount. The purpose of the fortress was to protect the Temple Mount from the North, the least protected side of the city. During the time of Nehemiah it was Hananel’s Tower, also called Birah. The fortress was rebuilt by the Hasmoneans who called it Baris. Herod the Great enlarged and reinforced it, renaming it after Mark Antony.
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