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December 6, 2016 / 6 Kislev, 5777

Posts Tagged ‘ir david’

Where is King David Really Buried?

Thursday, May 15th, 2014

This article originally appeared in Jewish Action, Summer 2007

Misconception: King David is buried on Mount Zion, in a room that bears the inscription “King David’s Tomb.” Mount Zion is located just outside and to the south of the Armenian Quarter and Zion Gate of Jerusalem’s Old City.

Fact: Evidence indicates that the area known today as Mount Zion was not part of inhabited Jerusalem in King David’s time (tenth century BCE) and that he was not buried there. Rather, King David was buried in the southeastern area of Jerusalem’s real Old City, which is located to the south of the Temple Mount and Dung Gate and is known today as Ir David—the City of David.

Background: [1] The question regarding King David’s Tomb seems almost as inane as the riddle popularized by Groucho Marx on his 1950s game show “You Bet Your Life.” In order to guarantee that no one left his show empty-handed, Marx would ask a losing contestant: “Who is buried in Grant’s Tomb?” (He would usually accept “Grant” as a correct answer despite the fact that the US National Park Service states that “technically, no one is ‘buried’ in Grant’s Tomb. The 159-foot neo-classical structure is a tomb, therefore both General Grant and his wife are ‘entombed’ above ground” and not buried.[2]) Unlike Marx’s joke, however, the question concerning King David’s burial site is not trivial.

Signs direct visitors to Mount Zion through a series of anterooms to an interior room housing a cloth-covered granite cenotaph. This site is believed by many to be the tomb of King David.[3]

To locate King David’s actual burial site, one need only consult the Bible to discover that King David died and was buried in Ir David, the City of David (1 Kings 2:10).[4] The same place, City of David, also appears in Samuel 2 (5:7, 5:9) where the text states that David captured a fortress named Metzudat Tzion from the Jebusites and renamed it “the City of David.” Thus, in order to find his burial site, one needs to ascertain the location of Metzudat Tzion, i.e., the City of David.

The name “Zion” appears in Tanach in reference to the original, ancient Jerusalem. In the Middle Ages, Byzantine pilgrims mistakenly thought that the hill located south of today’s Old City’s Armenian Quarter was part of that ancient city and named it “Mount Zion.”[5] This error was not recognized until 150 years ago when archaeological evidence suggested, and more recently has conclusively shown, that the city captured by David was on the smaller, lower hill located to the south of the Temple Mount (the modern-day City of David). That lower hill was the site of the Jebusite city, which then became King David’s capital, and constituted the whole Jerusalem for probably more than 200 years until it gradually expanded westward and incorporated the area that is today known as Mount Zion.[6]

The erroneous notion that King David is buried on Mount Zion developed over a period of many centuries. During the middle of the second century CE, Jerusalem was razed, Jews were banished from the area, and the knowledge concerning the true location of King David’s Tomb was lost. By the mid-fourth century, the tombs of King David and his father, Jesse, are described as being in Beit Lechem.[7] The first mention of Mount Zion as King David’s final resting place was in the ninth century, and by the eleventh century, this fallacy was so well-established that the Crusaders erected a Gothic cenotaph, in this case an empty sarcophagus, to mark the site, which remains until today.[8]

In the twelfth century, the colorful Jewish traveler Benjamin of Tudela related that during his stay in Jerusalem, he heard a fantastic story regarding the re-discovery of King David’s Tomb. Two Jewish workers employed by the Christian patriarch to reconstruct a damaged monument on Mount Zion accidentally happened upon a secret passage and found themselves in a palace made of marble columns. Within the palace was a table upon which rested a golden scepter and golden crown, with riches all around. The workers decided this was King David’s Tomb. Suddenly, they were struck down by a fierce wind and heard voices that told them to leave immediately. Three days later, the two workmen were sick in bed and could not be persuaded to return to the site.[9]

The present building housing the cenotaph was erected in 1335, but it is built on top of what is probably a second- to fourth-century building. Little was known about the building until a shell exploded there during the War of Independence in 1948, affording an opportunity for archaeological excavations during repair work. In 1951 an Israeli archaeologist and expert in synagogue architecture, Jacob Pinkerfeld, who was later killed in a terrorist attack at the 1956 Archaeological Convention at Ramat Rachel, carried out an archaeological survey. Behind the cenotaph of King David, Pinkerfeld found a niche that was part of the original structure of the building, and beneath the floor, he found three earlier floor levels: a Crusader floor, a late Roman or early Byzantine floor and the plaster of the original building’s floor. He noted that the niche was oriented towards the Temple Mount and concluded that the building was originally a synagogue and the niche was the aron.[10] Others have argued with his conclusion, and based on various reasons, asserted that it was possibly a church or a Judeo-Christian synagogue.

Rabbi Dr. Ari Zivotofsky

Why I Got Excited by a Jerusalem Manhole Cover

Thursday, April 4th, 2013

I had such a great Pesach! My family was in from the States, and for a brief time, and once again, we felt like a family (and then of course there was the ritual crying when everybody left.) My awesome Jerusalem apartment (rented) allows for everybody to crash while there are here, and thereby we fulfill the promise of Jerusalem being blessed with her children within her – Berach Banayich BeKirbech (Psalms 147;13)

While they were here, we got to act like tourists, that is, we got to see the amazing things that exist right under our noses. So we walked from the Mount of Olives (where I live) to Ir David (City of David Archaeological Park in Silwan, 15 minutes away) and had a tour there.

Here is the image that I wanted to share with you from that trip:

Ancient Manhole

No, this is not an alien face staring at you. If you look closely you will make out the outline of what is, amazingly, an ancient manhole cover from the Herodian period (Second Temple hayday) in Jerusalem. This actually is the face of a complex drainage system which ran below the city street and it caught rainwater and kept the street from puddling up. It is indented, concave, bowl shaped – it draws they water to itself and whisks it safely away.

You have to admit it, drainage is cool anywhere. But 2,000 year-old classy Jewish capital drainage makes me want to fall on my face and kiss the stones. My mothers and fathers walked here as they headed up and up from the City of David to the amazing Temple above. Here is what their ascent looked like – dunk at the pool at the bottom and just walk “Yashar Yasher” up the stairs:

City of David

Later that same day, I had yet another moving moment when I walked through the bustling river of people at the outdoor Mamilla shopping mall (avenue? promenade?)

Mamila

And in this modern marvel of shopping and lots-of-eating, where only a few years ago it was no-man’s land filled with dust and rocks, I saw this:

Modern Manhole

You guessed it; modern Jerusalem drainage.

And here’s what I thought: Ancient Jerusalem was destroyed by Rome, we were dispersed around the world, and now we are returning, reclaiming, and rebuilding. We have much more to do, but sometimes its nice to have a reminder from the past that our direction is right and that we are, indeed, ascending. And there is nothing like coming full circle on a full stomach!

Here are some French kids eating Matzah on their Eight Day Pesach – Yom Tov Sheini:

Kids Eating Matzah at Mamilla Mall

Paris is beautiful, but now Jerusalem is home again…

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Yishai Fleisher

Historic Jerusalem Home Firebombed (Video)

Monday, December 24th, 2012

A historic Jewish building in Jerusalem’s ancient City of David was firebombed by local Arabs , with supporters recording and posting the videotape on YouTube.

Arabs living in Shiloach/Silwan, just outside the walls of Jerusalem’s Old City and just a few hundred feet from the Kotel Plaza accosted the historic Meyhuchas House, uploading the video to YouTube courtesy of the “Bustan Cultural Center”.

The white stone house was built by Rabbi Rachamim Natan Meyuchas, a sephardic Jew who settled his family outside the Old City in the City of David in the late 1800s following at least 200 years of his family’s residence inside the Old City.  Soon after Rabbi Rachamim bought the property, Jews of Yemenite origin began arriving in the area and founded Kfar Shiloach.  By 1920, approximately 200 Jewish families lived in the area.  However, local Arab riots from 1936-1939 forced Jews to abandon their homes.

Arabs continued to maintain control in the area until recent years, when Jewish families began re-establishing a connection to the area, living in homes purchased by Jewish philanthropists from the Arabs who had possessed them.  Jewish residents are forced to maintain a high level of security in the area, and exercise caution when travelling on the local roads, due to concerns of rock and Molotov cocktail attacks.

The attack was conducted using crude firebombs and fireworks, which Arabs in eastern Jerusalem frequently fashion into ignited projectile weapons.

A letter published by Arutz Sheva and written by Rabbi Rachamim states: “We are establishing our home from now on in the village of Shiloah near the city. There we will live and there we will have light and breathe fresh air. We will no longer drink murky well water, and we will no longer eat purchased vegetables, but rather our water will be living water from the spring, and with our own hands we will sow vegetables and will partake of them.”

Malkah Fleisher

Artifact Found in Time for Shavuot Proves Bethlehem Existed During First Temple

Wednesday, May 23rd, 2012

In a press release issued on Wednesday, the Israel Antiquities Authority and the Ir David Foundation announced that a clay seal was discovered bearing the name of the city of Bethlehem, evidence that the city existed during the period of the First Temple in Jerusalem.  The find fortuitously coincides with the upcoming holiday of Shavuot, during which time Jews from around the world focus on the story of the biblical figure Ruth, set in the city of Bethlehem.

The 1.5cm seal – called a bulla – was discovered during sifting of soil removed from the archeological excavations the Israel Antiquities Authority is carrying out in the City of David, just outside the walls of Jerusalem’s Old City.  The sifting is underwritten by the Ir David Foundation, which treated The Jewish Press to a private tour.

The clay bulla was meant to seal a document or object, used as a way of showing that the private item had not been tampered with.

The new bulla bears the words:   בשבעת   Bishv’at    בת לים    Bat Lechem [למל[ך   [Lemel]ekh

Eli Shukron, director of the excavation on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority, said “it seems that in the seventh year of the reign of a king (either Hezekiah, Manasseh or Josiah), a shipment was dispatched from Bethlehem to the king in Jerusalem.”

“The bulla we found belongs to the group of “fiscal” bullae – administrative bullae used to seal tax shipments remitted to the taxation system of the Kingdom of Judah in the late eighth and seventh centuries BCE,” Shukron said.  “The tax could have been paid in the form of silver or agricultural produce such as wine or wheat”.

According to Shukron, this is the first time the name Bethlehem has appeared in an inscription from the First Temple period, proving that Bethlehem was a city in the Kingdom of Judah, and possibly in earlier periods.”

The first mention of Bethlehem in the Bible occurs in regard to the matriarch Rachel, wife of Jacob, sister of Leah, and mother of Joseph, who died while giving birth to Benjamin “in Ephrat, which is Bethlehem, and was buried there (Genesis 35:19; 48:7).

In later generations, when the region was settled by the descendants of Jacob and Leah’s son Judah, a man named Boaz made Ruth, a Moabite convert and daughter-in-law of Naomi, his wife (Book of Ruth).  The couple’s great-grandson, David, became the most celebrated king in Jewish history, and made his capital in Jerusalem, on the site of the modern day “Ir David” – City of David.

Malkah Fleisher

NEW Jewish Press Film: Uncover the Secrets of the Ancient City of David

Monday, May 21st, 2012

The JewishPress.com staff went under the City of David with Doron Spielman of the City of David Museum – to areas not open to the general public. We were astounded by what we saw and learned. Join us on this 45 minute exploration of the hidden secrets under the City of David, the Old City, and the Kotel itself.

What is known today as “the Old City of Jerusalem” actually dates from a much later time than the settlement in the “City of David”.

In this new JewishPress.com film, the ruins of the original city of Jerusalem – now referred to as “the City of David” – is explored in a fascinating trip into new areas of excavation with Doron Spielman and the Jewish Press’s own Yishai Fleisher.

Doron Spielman (the Director of International Development for the Ir David, City of David, Foundation) is a passionate and engaging teacher on the subject of ancient Jerusalem.

Follow along with Doron and Yishai as they take us on a journey back in time and put us in touch with the experiences, both painful and joyous, of the ancient Jewish people in their beloved holy city of Jerusalem.  After watching the film, you will want to learn more!  You can visit the website of the City of David here.  Better yet, visit the ancient walls yourself and feel the centuries melt away in front of your eyes.

Yocheved Seidman

“Pure for God” Seal Found in Temple Mount Excavation

Monday, December 26th, 2011

A rare seal certifying the ritual purity of an item to be used in the Second Temple in Jerusalem was discovered by the Israel Antiquities Authority as part of excavations under the Robinson’s Arch right next to the Temple Mount.

The find of the Aramaic inscription, “Pure for God”, occurred during an extensive sifting of soil removed from layers which were once part of a paved Herodian street serving as a main Jerusalem thoroughfare.  The soil dates to the first century CE (late Second Temple period), just prior to – or maybe even during – the Maccabean rebellion celebrated during the holiday of Hanukkah.

The item is stamped with an Aramaic inscription consisting of two lines – in the upper line “דכא” (pure) and below it “ליה” (to God) – and is probably the kind of seal referred to in the Mishnah as a “seal (Tractate Shekalim 5:1-5), according to excavation directors and archaeologists Eli Shukron of the Israel Antiquities Authority and Professor Ronny Reich of the University of Haifa.

“To the best of our knowledge, this is the first time that such an object or anything similar to it was discovered in an archaeological excavation and it constitutes direct archaeological evidence of the activity on the Temple Mount and the workings of the Temple during the Second Temple period”, Shukron and Reich said.

Jerusalem District Archaeologist Dr. Yuval Baruch drew a connection between the find and Hanukkah. “It is written in the Gemara (Talmud Bavli, Tractate Shabbat 2:21) that the only cruse of oil that was discovered in the Temple after the victory of the Maccabees over the Greeks, “lay with the seal of the High Priest” – that is, the seal indicated that the oil is pure and can be used in the Temple. Remember, this cruse of oil was the basis for the miracle of Hanukkah that managed to keep the menorah lit for eight days”, Baruch noted.

Other items discovered in the excavation included oil lamps, ceramic cooking pots and Hasmonean coins dating to kings Alexander Jannaeus and John Hyrcanus.

The findings were presented Sunday at a press conference attended by Culture and Sports Minister Limor Livnat and Education Minister Gideon Sa’ar at Ir David (the City of David).

Malkah Fleisher

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/pure-for-g-d-seal-found-in-temple-mount-excavation/2011/12/26/

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