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RESEARCH

The Search for Mount Zion and a call to raise the Tabernacle of David

 

 

We first became aware of the house of Yahweh artifacts in 1986 at the Metropolitan Museum of Art special presentation "Treasures of the Holy Land". The show was hosted by the Director of the Metropolitan Museum Phillip Demarbilo, with the help of Martin Weyl, the director of the Israel Museum. This was the first American exabition to survey the archaeological collections of the Israel Museum in Jerusalem. However, the show didn't mention where the artifact concerning the House of Yahweh was discovered. Nevertheless this artifact meant to us that the tabernacle of David was found.

 

The following year we decided to visit Israel to discover the location or area where this piece might have been found. Therefore, when we first arrived in the land of Israel in 1987 the first place we went to was Jerusalem in order to investigate the mystery behind this inscription and to investigate the city. The image on the right (done by Broadman Supplies and copyrighted by Holman Bible Publishers in 1983) shows the difference between the structure of the tabernacle and the structure of Solomon's Temple. However, we were not looking for the Temple of Solomon on Mount Moriah because we knew it to have been destroyed in 70 A.D. by the Romans. Yet, we were looking for the Citadel or fortress which David took and called the City of David (2Sa:5:7-9; 1Ch:11:5-8), and later made a place there for the ark in the tabernacle of David (the House of Yahweh) on Mount Zion (2Sa:6:16-17; 1Ch:15:1), where it was prophesied at Am:9:11:"In that day will I raise up the tabernacle of David that is fallen, and close up the breaches thereof; and I will raise up his ruins, and I will build it as in the days of old:" and the faithful will come there (Isa:16:5: And in mercy shall the throne be established: and he shall sit upon it in truth in the tabernacle of David, judging, and seeking judgment, and hasting righteousness.)   We sat down first before what is called Mount Zion because it is written at Psalms:87:2: "The LORD loveth the gates of Zion more than all the dwellings of Jacob." Then, we looked at the walls around the city call old Jerusalem, which did not extend around the place called mount Zion (place below to the right shows air view of the Jerusalem area from the Zondervan Pictorial Bible Dictionary and copyrighted by MPS). In the Armenian Quarter, David's Tower and citadel are on the westside of the city on one of the high's points in the Old City next to the Jaffa Gate. The Mount of Zion was on the south-west side outside the Old City and had built upon it the Church of the Dormition near the Zion Gate. And also outside of the Old City near the Jewish Quarter and below the Mount Ophel (on the south-east side) is the City of David. But all we knew said that all three of these places are biblically the same location (2Sa:5:7-9; 1Ch:11:5-8; 2Sa:6:16-17; 1Ch:15:1), however presently they are different.   While reading the scriptures and examining the history of the wall around the city we found some discrepancies in the place of what was said to be Mount Zion today, and what the scriptures said the conditions of Zion should be.  Such as Isaiah 49:14-16 said that Zion should have walls around it.  Secondly, Zion should have a wilderness, waste places, and a desert (Isa:64:10, Isaiah 51:3). Third, Zion would be left alone (Isaiah 49:14-23). Fourth, the scripture which said "Zion which no man seeketh after", Jeremiah 30:17.  Fifth, the scripture which said Zion was said to be foresaken (Isaiah 62:11-12). Also, we verified that modern Jerusalem did have walls surrounding it, but the walls did not extend to the time of David and Solomon (Isa 62:6-8). Nor was it desolate or wasted (Isaiah 1:7, 3:8, 64:10, Jeremiah 6:8), until we return.  Neither was modern Jerusalem in a valley surrounded by mountains (Ps:125:2); and Mount Zion on the side of the north (Ps 48:2).  

 

So as a result of these discrepancies we started traveling through out all the land of Israel in search of Mount Zion and Jerusalem. That same year in July of 1987 Biblical Archaeology Review published an article concerning the Phoenician Israelite Broad-Room Temples found in Israel. In the article it stated that "the tenth-century B.C. temple from Arad is the only Israelite temple to the Hebrew god Yahweh ever recovered in an excavation." However we had no real evidence to show that the artifact and this place had anything to do with one another.

 

Nevertheless, in 1990 we did research on the location of Arad in books like 'The Harper Atlas of the Bible' (on the left) that showed a map done by Lane Ritmeyer on page 11 of the ancient site of Arad, twin temples, and the city walls. And on page 53 under the 'Temples in Palestine' section there was shown the holy of holies area in the Israelite temple at Arad. However because the previous discription of the site on page 11 had only the two twin temples in its diagram and did not mention any other temple at the site we concluded that these temples must have been what the previous articles had spoke about. Because this and the other reference (on the right) of Arad did not describe the dimentions of a citadel or fortress, as was said that David took on Mount Zion, we excluded Arad as a possibility. Yet, as you can see the two books that mentioned Tel Arad only spoke of the lower city and doesn't show that their was a citadel built on the upper hill there.

 

By our Biblical references we knew that the first thing that we were looking for the ruins of a tabernacle within a citadel. It was clear to us that the citadel was built on a long-room plan, and that the tabernacle was a broad-room plan.

 

First of all, this citadel should be forsaken, which no man seek after and left alone according to Isa:62:4: "Thou shalt no more be termed Forsaken; neither shall thy land any more be termed Desolate: but thou shalt be called Hephzi-bah, and thy land Beulah: for the LORD delighteth in thee, and thy land shall be married" and at Jer:30:17: "For I will restore health unto thee, and I will heal thee of thy wounds, saith the LORD; because they called thee an Outcast, saying, This is Zion, whom no man seeketh after." and Isa:49:21: "Then shalt thou say in thine heart, Who hath begotten me these, seeing I have lost my children, and am desolate, a captive, and removing to and fro? and who hath brought up these? Behold, I was left alone; these, where had they been?"

 

Second, we looked for Millo as it is stated at 2Sa:5:9: "So David dwelt in the fort, and called it the city of David. And David built round about from Millo and inward." and also at 2Ch:32:5: "Also he strengthened himself, and built up all the wall that was broken, and raised it up to the towers, and another wall without, and repaired Millo in the city of David, and made darts and shields in abundance." According to the Smith's Bible Dictionary, Millo (meant 'filling') was an ancient Jebusite name of a part of the citadel of Jerusalem. And the Zondervan Pictorial Bible Dictionary stated that this was "a mound or rampart built up and filled in with earth and stones to raise the level." "In Judges 9:6, 20 "the house of Millo" mentioned three times probably means the inhabitants of this tower or fortification." The fortification as shown in the image on the left (done by Broadman Supplies and copyrighted by Holman Bible Publishers in 1983) of the city of David with Millo at its gate.

 

Third, the breaches or benches of the wall of the house was another thing we looked for. Benches or breaches at ancient city gates are quite common, a rectangular structure near the towers or along the outer wall of the great towers (usually 4.5 meters long). This was where the elders of Israel used to sit and the Psalmist speaks of those "that sit in the gate" (Psalms 69:13). A good illustration is given in the Book of Ruth 4:1-2: "Then Boaz went up to the gate and sat down there and behold, the kinsman of whom Boaz had spoken came by; and he said to him... sit down here and he ... sat down... and he took ten men of the elders of the city and said 'sit ye down here' and they sat down." And also at Sodom where Lot sat at the gate of Sodom (Gen. 19:1). As for the tabernacle of David it was said at Am:9:11:"In that day will I raise up the tabernacle of David that is fallen, and close up the breaches thereof; and I will raise up his ruins, and I will build it as in the days of old:"  

 

Fourth, another piece of geological evidence that we were looking for was the gutter that David and his soldiers went through in order to capture the Jebusite fortress of Zion. This is like the example on the right (done by the artists Irene Bates, Duncan Mackay, Rex Nichollas and Malcolm Swanston) from page 49 of 'The Harper Atlas of the Bible'. It is stated at 2Sa:5:8: "And David said on that day, Whosoever getteth up to the gutter, and smiteth the Jebusites, and the lame and the blind, that are hated of David's soul, he shall be chief and captain. Wherefore they said, The blind and the lame shall not come into the house."

 

 

Our earliest historical reference comes from the Book of Josephus in chapter 5 'The description of Jerusalem'; pg 552 which stated, "The city of Jerusalem was fortified with three walls, on such parts as were not encompassed with unpassable valleys; for in such places it had but one wall. The city was built upon two hills which are opposite to one another, and have a valley to divide them asunder; at which valley the corresponding rows of houses on both hills end. Of these hills, that which contains the upper city is much higher, and in length more direct. Accordingly, it was called the "Citadel," by king David; he was the father of that Solomon who built this temple at the first; but it is by us called the "Upper Market-place." But the other hill, which was called "Acra," and sustains the lower city, is of the shape of a moon when she is horned; over-against this was a third hill, but naturally lower than Acra, and parted formerly from the other by a broad valley."

 

Second, shown on the left, is a 17th century A.D. engraved map of the area of Jerusalem which substanciates Josephus description.

 

Third, is our earliest map of the area (as shown on the right) is the first atlas of the Holy land by J. Ziegler entitled 'Quae intus continentur' from 1532 A.D. Which shows the Roman name Aelia Capitolina, in the land of Benjamin in the place of the 'Jubusite Jerusalem',Jerusalem surrounded by mountains (Ps ch 125:2)and Zion on the side of the north (Ps ch 48:2),1206 years later after Constantine had renamed the other 'Amorite Jerusalem' Jerusalem.

 

Geographic references state that Zion should be called a wilderness and a desert according to Isaiah 51:3: "For the LORD shall comfort Zion: he will comfort all her waste places; and he will make her wilderness like Eden, and her desert like the garden of the LORD; joy and gladness shall be found therein, thanksgiving, and the voice of melody." and Isa:64:10: "Thy holy cities are a wilderness, Zion is a wilderness, Jerusalem a desolation." On the left is shown a map of the land of Israel divided according to it's desert, forest, and evergreen areas. From these it can be seen what is modernly the desert area of Israel. However Modern Jerusalem is located in the area of a forest.

 

Also, we were looking for a farmland environment that fit Jer:26:18: "Micah the Morasthite prophesied in the days of Hezekiah king of Judah, and spake to all the people of Judah, saying, Thus saith the LORD of hosts; Zion shall be plowed like a field, and Jerusalem shall become heaps, and the mountains of the house as the high places of a forest."

 

A Meteorological sign that would give us the correct areas to consider are those that fit Psalms:133:3: "As the dew of Hermon, and as the dew that descended upon the mountains of Zion: for there the LORD commanded the blessing, even life for evermore." Therefore the dew of Hermon would have to travel to this location on a normal basis. This could be identified in the areas of high annual dew amounts in Israel (as shown on the map to the right).

 

 

In 1997, we saw an article in the Chicago Jewish Star Newspaper that spoke of another fragment that mentioned the house of Yahweh and was dated to be older than the first we heard about 11 years earlier. Nevertheless, the article also did not mention where the piece was found. It was not until we did further research that year that we discovered the newly released artifact reported in the Nov. 1997 edition of Biblical Archaeology Review entitled 'Three Shekels for the Lord'.

 

The article spoke of an ancient inscription record of three shekels to the House of Yahweh which they supposed to be a reference of Solomon's Temple. And also just as the previously mentioned article in the Jewish Star the writer stated here that "no one knows where they were discovered-- or as least they're not talking." However, the piece by Hershel Shanks made mention that "..BYT YHWH had been found complete in only one extra-Biblical inscription, a faded ostracon from Arad with an obscure context,.." Finally, the location of the first artifact was revealed! So we decided to take a more careful look at information on Arad.

 

In May of 2001 Biblical Archaeology Review published an article by Ephraim Stern entitled 'Pagan Yahwism: The folk Religion of Ancient Israel' mentions the house at Arad and shows both a picture of the inner sanctuary and the House of Yahweh inscription next to one another. However the picture displayed of the site resembled a tabernacle, and not a temple structure. Also because the artifact beside it talked of this place being the House of Yahweh this could very well be the tabernacle of David. In addition, the article put up the thought that previous artifacts found like the ivory pomegranate (a priestly object) and three-shekel ostracon were referring to this place.

 

Also in the same edition of BAR on pg 34 in an article entitled 'Sacred Stones in the Desert' by Uzi Avner, again a picture of the holy of holies was shown with a picture of two artifacts with Ancient Hebrew written upon them. The article stated that "much evidence found at Arad, such as two potsherds inscribed with the names of the Israelite priestly families Pashur and Meremoth, prove that the temple is Israelite." these names were well known priest in the Tanach (Bible) which worked close to the house of Yahweh in the time of Erza and Nehemiah. However, another Pashur mentioned was also a priest in the house of Yahweh, but in the time of Jeremiah (according to Jer. 20). This information was unignorable for the fact that we now saw three artifacts found at the site which had simularities to things mentioned in the Bible around the Jerusalem area. It was then that it became clear that we would have to visit the site and determine for ourselves the truth of the matter of whether or not there was a citadel and the tabernacle of David on this site.

 

It wasn't until Janurary of 2002 through our internet research that we discovered a web page "The Temple Inscriptions" that we saw both the 'Three Shekel' and the other 'House of Yahweh' artifacts together. Yet on the page it again stressed the location of the second was found in Arad (Tel Arad) in Israel. We could no longer deny the necessarity of a trip to investigate the site personally.

 

 

 

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