The Two Palaces of King David – Part Two
In the light of the new revelations that King David and Solomon had also a second fortressed palace at Khirbet Qeiyafa about fifteen miles to the west of Jerusalem along the militarized border against the Philistines, we have to come to a new reality. The archeologist minimalists continue to denounce these archeological treasures and claim that they come from other cultures and civilizations. Yet, the day is coming that the G-d of Israel has promised that He will reveal to us a “messiah” that will be a Prince of David, that will come from the very literal genetic loins of King David.
What the artist failed to conceive was that the City of David looked down upon virgin forests in the surrounding mountainous hills surrounding Jerusalem for Jerusalem in 1000 BCE. This land was the breast basket of the Roman Empire and rich in the abundant in the fauna and trees of a land of plenty.
The modern depiction of a barren wasteland surrounding Jerusalem came when the Roman forces under Titus, now the victors with Jerusalem destroyed and the magnificent Temple of King Herod disassembled the block by block down to bedrock. After that, the Romans cut down every tree within twenty miles of Jerusalem in 71 CE, to make a wooden palisade around the city walls. Then the land was salted to prevent any forest from growing back from native seeds in the region.
Some of these trees, including the immense forests of cedars, some over 1000 years old which the Jews had planted and nurtured through all the centuries were wasted in order to prevent any Jews, upon the pain of death, to return to the land of their forefathers for now they were permanently exiled from Jerusalem, the capital of their former homeland.
Yet the trees and the lush terrain again return to G-d’s Zion, only to again be denuded by the Ottoman Empire who ruled the entire Middle East for eight Jubilees from the years of 1517 to 1917, when the British forces under the command of General Allenby took control of the city of Jerusalem and the Ottoman Empire within six months was history.
During the 400 years under the harsh rule of the Ottoman Turks, the land of Roman Palestine, dedicated by the League of Nations in its entirety to be the new homeland for the Jewish people, was only populated sparsely by the Arabs and the Bedouins nomads. By the 17th century the land now owned by absentee owners was now being leased out to tenant farmers impoverished by their harsh Ottoman overlords.
The Forested Mount of Olives looking from the Eastern Gate of the Temple Mount from the Vantage point of King Herod’s Temple – Photo by Robert Mock (2006)
The region was poorly cultivated and the tenants allowed the expanse of forest lands to become denuded and transformed back into eroding hills, sandy deserts, and malarial infested marshland. The ancient terraces and irrigation systems were abandoned as the remaining towns and villages were progressively abandoned. The remainder of the agricultural land became like the remaining forests, destroyed by the crippling taxation of the Ottomans, so the remaining Arabs living in the region cut down the forests to pay the taxes in order to fuel the wood burning steam engines that carried goods for the Turkish Empire from Istanbul to Beirut, over to Damascus and then down to Cairo. The glorious city of Jerusalem, once the capital of the greatest empire in the world lay abandoned almost disappearing from the world populations except from the hearts of the Jews who daily prayed; “someday in Jerusalem.”
The wasting fauna and the trees now stripped down made this region a virtual wasteland by the 18th century. The great forests that surrounded the Sea of Galilee and ranged over to the mountainous region in Carmel were stripped to the ground. The desert and the swamps encroached upon the disappearing farms and terraced orchard vineyards and groves when in the year of 1967, Mark Twain visited Palestine and there he described this region the following:
The Denuded Mountains surrounding Jerusalem and the Kidron Valley from the Mount of Olives – Painting by the Scottish Painter, David Robert (1849)
Mark Twain – “A desolate country whose soil is rich enough, but is given over wholly to weeks – a silent mournful expanse…We never saw a human being on the whole route…There hardly a tree or a shrub anywhere. Even the olive and the cactus, those fast friends of a worthless soil, had almost deserted the country.”
Forty seven years later in 1913, the Palestine Royal Commission by the British quoted an account of the condition of the Coastal Plains along the Mediterranean Sea:
Palestine Royal Commission – “The road leading from Gaza to the north was only a summer track suitable for transport by camels and carts…[there were] no orange groves, orchards or vineyards to be seen until one reached Yavne Village…houses were all of mud. Schools did not exist…the western part, towards the sea was almost a desert…The villages in this area were few and thinly populated…many villages were deserted by their inhabitants.”
So the desolated land of Israel, first destroyed by the Roman forces after the dreadful siege of the city which left hundreds of thousands dying of disease and hunger, now witnessed upon the mountains of Israel from Galilee to Jerusalem some one hundred thousand Jewish resistant forces that were crucified by the Romans upon forests of crosses dotted also the mountains surrounding Jerusalem.
The last of the resistant forces under Eliezer upon the immense craggily mountainous fortress of King Herod at Masada met their fate when 960 of them, men, women and children suicide their lives rather than be enslaved or crucified by the Romans. Then in 133 CE, after the Second Jewish Revolt, the Roman Emperor Hadrian destroyed what was left of the Roman Province of Judea and in a deliberate insult to the Jewish survivors, renamed the Jewish homeland, Palestina. This was in memory of the nemesis of King Saul, the Philistines; the long extinct biblical enemies of the Jews in the days of Kings Saul, David and Solomon.
As first part of this series, “The Two Palaces of King David”, titled “The Western Palace of King David at Khirbet Qeiyafa nearby to the Plain of David’s Victory over Goliath”, we studied the amazing hilltop fortress at Khirbet Qeiyafa, where a royal palace to King David and a large warehouse was constructed as part of the defense perimeters against the Philistines to the west.
To gain a complete understanding of the imperial rise of the United Kingdom of Kings David and Solomon, the Davidian palace at Khirbet Qeiyafa must be evaluated in the context of the King David’s palace in Jerusalem. Here upon the ridge overlooking the Kidron Valley to the east, the Palace of King David was constructed, lost, and then rediscovered when excavations began there in the year of 2005 by the Israeli archeologist Eilat Mazar. This palace stood just to the southeast of the Western Wall where the Jews daily go to pray for the rebuilding of the Temple of the L-rd and the return of the Maschiah ben Dovid (Messiah son of David).
It was in the year of 1997 that Eilat Mazar seeking clues to the site of the Jerusalem Palace of King David used the reference in II Samuel 5:17 to give evidence as to where its location could be.
II Samuel 5:9-17 – “David settled in the fortress and called it, “The City of David.” David built around [the city], from the Millo and inward. David kept becoming greater, and HaShem, the G-d of Legions, was with him.
Hiram, king of Tyre, sent a delegation to David, with cedar word, and carpenters, and mason of wall-stones, and they built a palace for David. David realized that HaShem had established him as king over Israel and that He had exalted his kingdom for the sake of His people Israel.
The Philistines heard that [all the tribes] had anointed David as king over Israel, so all the Philistines came up to seek out David. David heard and went down to the fortress”
The Millo, according to the sages if Judah was an open place, which Rashi called a “landfill” and Radak, called an open plaza for large gatherings and Abarbanel called a moat. Looking upwards from the Kidron Valley, we can now understand that all of these descriptions were correct for looking down upon the Kidron Valley from the palace balcony to the northeast toward the Mount of Olives (second picture of this article”, we can perceive 3,000 years ago, an open plain where the people of Jerusalem could congregate beneath the palace of King David.
Looking up towards the terraced retaining wall outside the palace of King David, called the “Stepped Stone Structure” we can again perceive the magnificent view that King David had, looking down upon the forested hills surrounding the city of Jerusalem; then called the “City of David.”
The Site of the Eilat Mazar’s Excavations on King David’s Palace by the Stepped Stone Structure overlooking the Kidron Valley – Photo by Robert Mock (2006)
Beginning in the year of 2005, in February, Eilat Mazar began an excavation in the only area higher than the elevation of the Ophel which sits over the Gihon Springs in the oldest regions of the City of David. It took the first months of the excavations to discover that only two meters below the topsoil were the ruins from the 4th to the 6th century Byzantine Era. Here artifacts were discovered such as well preserved mosaic floor.
Down beneath were artifacts from the Second Temple Era of King Herod in the 1st century BCE and then underneath they came upon the large foundations of a structure of substantial size which she claims is the Palace of King David. Today it is called the “Large Stone Structure.”
Artist Drawing using Eilat Mazar’s discoveries of what the Davidian Palace Complex might have appeared – Photo credit @ WGBH Educational Foundation
Significant relics and remains had already been discovered three decades earlier to this site later identified as the King David’s Palace in Jerusalem. Two of these discoveries were bullae called “seals” that were embossed clay and fired hard, maybe from the burning destruction of Jerusalem by the Babylonians, to become the legal signatures of those whose name was imbedded upon them.
First there was the Seal of “Berechyahu, the son of Neriyahu, the Scribe
One of these seals was purportedly discovered in 1975 when the City of David excavations were first conducted under the direction of the late Professor Yigal Shiloh representing the City of David Society, the Israel Exploration Society, the Jerusalem Foundation and a group of South African sponsors headed by Mr. Mendel Kaplan.
In what was called the “Burnt House” excavated by Yigal Shiloh from the era of the destruction of the First Temple of Solomon, a seal purportedly appeared in the possession of a Palestinian antiquities dealer along with 250 other bullae. This cache of bullae was quickly purchased by a prominent Israeli collector, Dr. R. Hecht. He then permitted the famed Israeli archeologist Nahman Avigad to study and publish the findings. Archeologist would later reminiscence of this era when she reported:
Archeologist Eilat Mazar – “At the beginning of the 1980s, Professor Yigal Shiloh, a mentor of mine, excavated an area that includes what is known as the Burnt Room and the Bullae House. In their destruction layer, he found pottery typical of this period together with arrowheads that show that some fight was conducted here. It really revealed the destruction of Jerusalem by the Babylonians in 586 B.C….In my excavations at the Ophel, to the south of the Temple Mount, I discovered a royal structure that appears to have been destroyed by an immense fire around 586 B.C. As we excavated, our hands were black with the ashes. And the Bible tells us that the Babylonians set houses on fire.”
As Mazar continued to describe the Bullae Room called the “Burnt House” discovered in the burnt out area of 6th century BCE Jerusalem when the Babylonian forces torched the houses, elegant homes of the nobility and the Temple of Solomon in the city of Jerusalem surrounding the temple of the L-rd, she continued to reminisce about her professional archeological opinion the purpose of the “Bullae Room” in the “Burnt House”:
Archeologist Eilat Mazar – “We think it was likely a royal archive. It has the name Bullae House because Shiloh found there, in addition to pottery and arrowheads, 51 bullae. A bulla is a very small seal impression made of clay. They were used by officials sealing documents. They would roll up a papyrus document, tie it with string, and then put a bit of soft clay on top of the string and stamp it with a seal. This kept the document secret, because the seal would be broken if it was opened.”
This amazing seal discovered in the remains of the 6th BCE Babylonian destruction of Jerusalem measured 17 x 16 mm and had a single line that borders the impression. Dated to the late 7th and the early 6th century, it was then stamped with an oval seal that is 13 by 11 mm. Written in the ancient Hebrew language, it also possibly had a partial impression of a finger print upon it by the owner that was embossed in the upper corner of the seal. Here we notice that a single line borders the seal impression and then it is divided by double horizontal lines into three registers that bears the following Inscription:
Ibrkyhw (belonging to Berachyahu) bn nryhw (son of Neriyahu), hspr (the scribe).
It appears, according to scholarly opinions, that here was the seal of the famous biblical scribe of the Prophet Jeremiah; Baruch the son of Neriah (Jeremiah 36:4). The fame of Jeremiah was profound in the last of the era of the Davidian rulers in the Southern Kingdom of Judah before the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple of Solomon by the Babylonians in 586 BCE. Part of this influence in part was that the Prophet Jeremiah from Libnah was probably the grandfather of King Zedekiah and truly had the biblical imprint of being the prophetic voice of HaShem, the G-d of the Jews in this era. This bulla once owned and used by Jeremiah the Prophet’s scribe, Baruch ben Neriah is today located in the Israeli Museum for the visiting public to appreciate.
Avigad was most noted for his publications notably on Hebrew seals; the most famous at that time was the seal discovered in 1964 which he tentatively identified as the Seal of Queen Jezebel, the Phoenician queen of King Ahab of Elijah’s Fiery Barbecue on Mount Carmel fame.
“A Seal fit for a Queen, Jezebel” – The Israel Museum/Courtesy Israel Antiquities Authority
Nahman Avigad’s fame was equal to the reputation that stood behind this great Israeli archeologist, for it was the Bible scholar Frank Moore Cross, the Hancock Professor of Hebrew and Other Oriental Languages Emeritus at Harvard University, who was most notable for his work in the interpretation of the Dead Sea Scrolls, his 1973 magnum opus Canaanite Myth and Hebrew Epic, and his work in Northwest Semitic epigraphy, who wrote that Avigad “was Israel’s most distinguished epigraphist in his generation, and one of the great figures in the history of Hebrew and Jewish epigraphy.”
We know that the relationship of Baruch was indelibly sealed with the voice of Jeremiah for Baruch was the prophet’s amanuensis, the literary or artistic assistant of the prophet who took his dictations and inscribed them on manuscripts or copies to kept in a literary archive. Yet, Baruch was more than just a scribe. He had a profound a secret mission that he and several others had conducted probably unknowing to the last royal ruler of the throne of King David, King Zedekiah.
Baruch the scribe, years earlier before the destruction of Solomon’s Temple, was one of the priestly commandos who in a daring mission under the direction of Jeremiah the Prophet and under the royal command of King Josiah hid all the sacred treasures of King Solomon’s Temple. This is true and the actual living legend was hidden in a secret Tosefta, an addition to the Talmud, which was preserved not in but separate from the Hebrew Talmud.
It was in 1992 that Rabbi Rachnael Steinberg with his student Rabbi Mendel Tropper discovered in Amsterdam, Holland the long lost writings called the “Emeq HaMelekh”, meaning the “Valley of the Kings.” It had been written by Rabbi Naftali Hertz Ben Ya’acov Elchanon in the year 1648 in Amsterdam.
According to rabbinic history, “Rav Hertz” was known as a prominent and holy Rabbi who excelled in the knowledge of the written and the oral Torah. His lineage of rabbinic knowledge came from the famed Rabbi Ari Ben Luria, leader of the rabbinic mystical sages which included the great Torah sage, Rabbi Yosef Cairo, author of the Shulchan Aruch. According to the records, Rabbi Naftali Hertz cited as his source as the Massakhet Keilim, a Tosefta (addition) to the Talmud, which is not found in any modern Talmud today.
As recorded in the BibleSearchers research on the Emeq HaMelekh, in the series of articles titled, “The Emeq HaMelekh (Valley of the Kings)”, the Hebrew Account of Hiding the Ark, the Sanctuary and the Treasures of Solomon’s Temple” See Parts (1), (2), (3), (4), (5), (6), (7), (8), (9), (10), (11), (12); we can today read the amazing story as preserved by the famous “ark and Mishkhan hunter”, the late Vendyl Jones who was blessed by Rabbi Menachem Schneerson as a “Righteous Gentile”.
BibleSearchers Reflections – “According to the discoverer of the Emeq HaMelekh, Rabbi Steinberg, in the Talmud Huriot 12A, describes the prophet Jeremiah, realizing that the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple was imminent, organized a heroic rescue operation. He was commanded by the King of Judah, King Josiah, who had recently repaired the Temple of Solomon and found the ancient writings of the Torah hidden in the Temple, to hide the Ark of the Covenant, the bottle of Anointing Oil, Aaron’s Staff and the ‘Chest’ sent by the Pelishtim (Philistines) to Israel as “a gift to the God of Israel”.
Rabbi Tropper, also citing also the Babylonian Talmud in Tractate Yoma 72 A, stated that the Mishkhan (Wilderness Sanctuary) and all its contents were hidden away but will one day be found.
Yes, the ancient Mishkhan, or Wilderness Temple, which was built by Bezaleel under the supervision of Moses and the blueprint given to him by the Lord of hosts on Mount Sinai, was still in existence before the last days of King Zedekiah and kept in a sacred repository in a grotto under the Temple of Solomon. It had been preserved in the days of Jeremiah and King Josiah and now it was imperative to hide it even a more secret location to keep it out of the hands of anticipated invasion of the Babylonian forces of King Nebuchadnezzar. In an article written by Rabbi Tropper, we today can read the following:
Rabbi Tropper – “This house of worship (“Mishkhan”) contained the altar for the daily and seasonal sacrifices, the elaborate Menorah (candelabra) of solid gold, the Qalal (copper urn) containing the Ashes of the Red Heifer, and the numerous other vessels utilized for the detailed services of the Kohanim (priests).
Within the Mishkhan's inner chamber, the Holy of Holies could be found the magnificent Ark of the Covenant containing among other sacred items, the Tablets of the Ten Commandments brought down by Moses at Sinai. Because of these sacred contents and the level of holiness attained by the Prophet Moses, only the Mishkhan reached a pure enough state to warrant that the Shechina (Divine Presence of G-d) would come to rest within it for all eternity. When the First Temple was built in Jerusalem, the Ark of the Covenant was placed inside while the rest of the Mishkhan was buried beneath in a secret vault."
The story does not end. Later in the 1990’s, at Cambridge University was discovered work done by a Solomon Schechter in 1896, who had bought about 100,000 pages that had been discovered in a Genizah of the ancient and revered Ben Ezra Synagogue in Cairo, Egypt.According to the Torah, any document contained the name of the Holy One could not be destroyed, so when it was damaged or too old to be used, it was put in a document depository called a Genizah. The documents within the caves of Qumran were also suggested as being a Genizah depository for the Essenes or for the priests in Herod’s Temple in Jerusalem.
The reason being that Qumran was suggested as being a Genizah is that every book in the Torah, the Writings and the Prophets, plus countless other inter-testament writings and commentaries were represented in the Qumran library except for the Book of Esther; the only book written by or about the Jews that does not give the holy name of HaShem, the G-d of Israel.
Within the scrolls found in the Ben Ezra Synagogue’s Genizah in Cairo, Egypt was found a copy of the missing Tosefta, listed under the section of Keilim (‘Vessels’) and noted to be the same source writings that Rabbi Hertz was citing in his 1648 Mishnayots. The only difference, these source writings were believed to be from the 8th and 9th century; 800 years earlier.
Rabbi Naftali (Ben Elchanan) Hertz, called these records Mishnayots and were included in the introduction of his text. The Mishnah as the rabbinic written documentation of the oral traditions passed down by the Levites from the time of Moses is the first section of the Talmud, which also includes ‘the summary’, called the Gemara. Here in the 9th Mishnah, we find the role of Baruch the Scribe as given to him by his rabbinic mentor; Jeremiah the Prophet.”
Let us then read the 9th Mishnah of the Emeq HaMelekh and the secret mission of Baruch son of Neriah, the Scribe conducted and it’s role on heralding the Future Messianic Reign of David son of David
The 9th Mishnayot of the Emeq HaMelekh - “David [also] made 1,000 lyres and 7,000 harps to atone for Israel. He had Zilzalim (cymbals) for singing, extolling, thanksgiving, and praising the G-d of Israel which were handed down to him from Moses, from Sinai. The words, “From beneath the legs of the Throne of Glory, sapphire stone, in the likeness of the Throne” (cf. Exodus 24:10), were inscribed upon them.
The lyres were made of Almugim wood, overlaid with fine gold, with 8 stones on each lyre, carried by the clouds, the demons and the spirits that were under Shlomo's dominion. On each lyre was a bell of "Nehoshet Kalal" (burnished copper) from before the Throne of Glory, together with a priceless, precious stone that Moses quarried on Mount Sinai from under the Throne of Glory which was upon the Sapphire Stone.
All these were hidden and concealed in "Ein Zidkiyah" that the fittest [men] of Israel knew in secret, lest they fall, G-d forbid, into the hands of the enemy who hated Israel. For these vessels are not to be used except to atone for Israel. Baruch [ben Neriah] and Zidkiyahu thus concealed them to prevent the Chaldeans from using them, G-d forbid.
They hid them until the day when Israel will return to their former stature and reclaim [eternal] honor and worldly glory, and they find a man whose name is David, son of David. The silver and gold shall then be unearthed to him, when “All Israel” (Northern 10 Tribes) and the Jews] shall gather and make a complete Aliyah (ascent) to Jerusalem. Amen.”
The View from the Palace of King David overlooking the Kidron Valley and the Arab homes at Silwan to the East-Southeast - Photo by Robert Mock (2006)
Today, we can look down upon the Kidron Valley with the packed homes in the Palestinian city called Silwan, we can imagine what it may have looked like when the verdune hillside was a luscious forest and down in the Kidron Valley where the Gihon Springs ran through the valley to the south were once upon a time, the fames Botanical Gardens of King Solomon, which he created from the exotic plants and animals that were brought back on the voyages of his royal ships manned with Phoenician sailors which plied the world for exotic animals plus the vast quantities of gold and silver. This is what made the empire of Kings David and Solomon a living legend of all ages.
The secret mission of “Baruk the scribe”, along with the young and zealous Prophet Zedekiah the leader of the post-exilic Jews before Baruch fled with Jeremiah to Egypt was to find a secure hiding place for the stringed instruments and percussion section of the Levitical choirs and orchestra in King Solomon’s Temple that was renowned in all the world. As described, they were made also of Almugim wood; overlaid with gold and encrusted each with 8 jeweled stones.
Once again, we see the same almugim wood overlaid with gold, just like the carved fruited trees in the golden Garden of Eden in the Temple Complex of the Temple of Solomon and how it was recreated in the Temple of Solomon by overlaying Almugim, which was coral from the Red Sea with gold in garden like “tree formations” extracted from the Red Sea coral gardens at the modern Israeli city of Eilat today. These coral formations were then gold electroplated to become a “golden forest” surrounding the Temple of Solomon.
On each lyre and harp were inscribed the words, "From beneath the legs of the Throne of Glory, sapphire stone, in the likeness of the Throne" (cf. Exodus 24:10).
So the seal, now called the Baruch Bulla was endowed by Dr. Avigad with a new spiritual significance, for as he stated that he had the feeling of having a “personal contact with persons who figured prominently in the dramatic events in which the giant figure of Jeremiah and his faithful follower Baruch were involved in a most critical time preceding the down fall of Judah.”
The Bulla (Seal) of Seraiah ben Neriah, brother of Jeremiah’s Scribe, Baruch
Soon afterward, Avigdad also published another seal bearing the inscription “Belonging to Seriah (ben) Neriah." This Seriah, the brother to Baruch the scribe was the “chief chamberlain” in the court of King Zedekiah (Jeremiah 51:59). It was he, Seriah the son of Neriah and the brother of Baruch the Scribe, who accompanied the blinded Jewish king to Babylon.
Earlier, before the forces of Nebuchadnezzar had arrived, Seriah had the duty to carry a written oracle from the Prophet Jeremiah, written down as dictated by this brother, Baruch the scribe by Jeremiah, the grandfather of King Zedekiah. Anticipating the ultimate destruction of Babylon, which he was to read aloud on his arrival in the city, it was Seriah’s duty to then throw the document into the Euphrates (Jeremiah 59:64). So now we have two brothers involved in the dynastic conflict within the Palace of King David, now inhabited by King Zedekiah; both of whom were close friends and associates of the prophet Jeremiah.
But that was not all! Inside the royal palace compound back in Jerusalem, the courtiers and counselors of King Zedekiah were in an uproar. The news had come that the forces of Nebuchadnezzar in Babylon were heading towards Jerusalem. The Egyptian camp wanted to form an alliance with the Egyptian Pharaoh against Babylon but the Prophet Jeremiah was advising vehemently against such an alliance. With the prophetic seal of HaShem’s approval, it was Jeremiah’s duty to advice King Zedekiah that to remain as a vassal of King Zedekiah, the city of Jerusalem would be saved. To make an alliance with Egypt, the city of Jerusalem and Solomon’s Temple would be destroyed.
In the Palace of King David, Eilat Mazar, the Israeli archeologist then discovered two more seals or bullae. These two seals were the personal seals of two Jewish counselors serving in the royal court of King Zedekiah. Amazingly they were discovered in the palace ruins of King David overlooking the Royal Botanical Gardens in the Kidron Valley below. As Dr. Eilat Mazar described this archeological discovery:
Dr. Eilat Mazar – “The bullae that first Shiloh's excavation (in the Burnt House) and later my excavation found were remarkably well-preserved. The papyrus was destroyed in the fire, but the clay seal impressions were hardened because of the fire. The amazing thing is, we can actually read the names that were sealed in the clay. One of the famous names we see is Yehuchal ben Shelemiyahu, a personality we know from the Bible. He was a very high official and minister, a well-known scribe at the end of the First Temple period, in the service of the Judean king Zedekiah. To find the seal impression of such a celebrity is astonishing. It's a case of archeology confirming what is in the Bible.”
The (L) Seal Juhucal (Yehuchal), son of Shelemiah (Shelemyahu), son of Shevi, and the (R) Seal of Gedaliah (Gedalyahu), son of Pashhur; a Judean government officials in the days of Jeremiah the Prophet
Here was truly a “case célèbre” in the archeological world when the first identifiable bulla (seal) discovered at King David’s Palace inside the Large Stone Structure was that of Jehucal (Yehuchal), a Jewish government official that was the son of Shelemiah (Shelemyahu), son of Shevi mentioned in the Book of Jeremiah in the late 7th century to the early 6th century.
Jeremiah 37:1-10 - “King Zedekiah son of Josiah, whom Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylonia, enthroned in the land of Judah, reigned in place of Coniah son of Jehhoiakim. He did not listen, [neither] he [nor] his servants [nor] the people of the land, to the words of HaShem, which He spoke through Jeremiah the prophet.
King Zedekiah sent Jehucal son of Shelemiah and Zephaniah son of Maaseiah the Kohen to Jeremiah the prophet, saying, “Please pray on our behalf unto HaShem our G-d.” Now Jeremiah was coming and going among the people; they had not [yet] put him into prison. The army of Pharaoh had departed from Egypt; the Chaldeans who were besieging Jerusalem heard the news about them and withdrew from Jerusalem.
The word of HaShem came to Jeremiah the prophet saying, “Thus said HaShem, G-d of Israel; Say this to the king of Judah, who sends you to Me to inquire of Me:
“Behold, the army of Pharaoh that left to assist you is returning to its land, Egypt; and the Chaldeans will return and fight against this city, and they will capture it and burn it [down]. Thus said HaShem: Do not delude yourselves, saying, ‘The Chaldeans will surly depart from us’, for they will not depart! For even if you would strike the entire Chaldean army that is fighting against you, and only wounded men will remain of the of them, each man would rise up from his tent and burn [down] this city in fire.”
Then there was a second bulla that was discovered at this site also of another government official, called Gedaliah (Gedalyahu), the son of Pashhur. His name also was discovered in the Book of Jeremiah. His bulla was discovered with a cache of broken pottery beneath a tower that was built by Nehemiah.
Jeremiah 38:1-10 – “Shephatiah son of Mattan, Gedaliah son of Pashhur, Jehucal son of Shelemaih, and Pashhur son of Malchiah heard the things that Jeremiah was speaking to the people, saying:
‘Thus said HaShem: Whoever remains in this city will die by the sword, by the famine or by the pestilence, whereas whoever goes out [in surrender] to the Chaldeans will live; he will have his life as a booty and he will live. Thus said HaShem: This city will surely be delivered into the hands of the army of the king of Babylonia and He will capture it.’
And the[se] officers said to the king, ‘Let this man be put to death now, because he is weakening the hands of the soldiers who remain in this city, and the hands of all the people, by speaking to them such things. For this man does not seek the welfare of this people, but rather [their] detriment.'
King Zedekiah then said, ‘Behold, he is in your hands; for the king has no word to dispute you.’ So they took Jeremiah and threw him into the pit of Malchiah son of the king which was in the Courtyard of the Confinement; they lowered Jeremiah with ropes. In the pit there was no water, only mud; and Jeremiah sank [partially] into the mud.”
Reading this account make us truly sober, for once again the city of Jerusalem is again in the international limelight of those nations who seek to destroy her. For the oracles written by the ancient prophet of old, today we can see a certain reality that these prophecies are about to again unfold. As to them so today, most of the world, even those that are “believers of the Bible” have developed a case of amnesia, saying, “Surely these events will not happen!”
As it was in the days of Jeremiah, so it will be our days that the faithfulness of the G-d of Israel to disclose what will happen in our future will be fulfilled. These catastrophic will not occur just in Jerusalem but will occur throughout the whole earth, until out of the devastation and the pyres of inferno, the Lost Ten Tribes of the House of Israel and the remaining Jews left in the diaspora who continue to seek their fame and fortune will return in aliyah to the lands of their forefathers. Then the whole House of Israel (Klal Yisrael) will be reunited once again in brotherhood with one another.
Interestingly both of these government officials in the royal House of King Zedekiah were responsible for the daily operations of the royal palace of King Zedekiah. There in the palace it was their duty to place their seals upon the objects that were the property of the king or the secret communications within the royal court that sealed for those the communication were to be sent. When the palace was looted and destroyed by the forces of King Nebuchadnezzar from Babylon, these seals that spoke of their authority were be tossed out and scattered about in the palace debris and to lay dormant for almost 2,600 years for their story to be revealed at the time of the end.
Yet, what is of greater interest, these two royal court officials directly opposed the prophetic oracles of doom written by the Prophet Jeremiah (Jeremiah 38:1-6). In response, it was they who imprisoned the Prophet Jeremiah in a water cistern with mud up to his waste and left him there to die.
Yet, these were not the first bulla to be discovered in the near vicinity of King David’s Palace. It was the two earlier bullae that were discovered that sealed the confirmation that this was the Prophet Jeremiah, the grandfather of King Zedekiah. It was this Jeremiah who authored both the Books of Jeremiah and Lamentation; the latter read every year on the day of the infamous 9th of Av when Solomon Temple was destroyed in Jerusalem.
It was Baruch the Scribe, called Baruch ben Neriah (Berachyahu ben Neriyahu) who was the Prophet Jeremiah’s literary assistant. From his pen he inscribed Jeremiah’s prophetic text, the Book of Jeremiah that stated that Jerusalem and Solomon’s famous temple would be destroyed if the Jerusalem political counselors and the king persisted in allying themselves with Egypt in alliance against Nebuchadnezzar. Baruch then wrote the words of the profound grief of the Prophet Jeremiah’s “Lamentations” as he witnessed the destruction when this prophecy became a literary reality.
The Stepped Stone Formation next to and below the Palace of King David – Photo by Robert Mock (2006)
There in the oldest part of Jerusalem, at the top of that ancient city, the site for the palace of King David was build. It’s platformed height was quite modest an area, very narrow about 60 meters (about 200 feet) wide. According to the text in II Samuel, David’s royal friend and vassal, King Hiram of the Phoenician city of Tyre, traveled to Jerusalem and with him brought his master mason and men skilled in the art of buildings with large stones to begin the construction of building a palace for King David.
Knowing from the ancient historical script in the 11 Samuel, it gives a descriptive account of King David descending “down into his fortress” when his scouts in the outer regions of his dominion towards the Philistines to the west, sent messages that the Philistines were coming to attack him. So where did David descend from? Where was the fortress into which he descended?
Eilat Mazar’s first impression was that the “Stepped Stone Structure” was a Canaanite terraced structure that was constructed to be a supporting wall for the Canaanite fortress that David and his men captured and then retrofitted to make into his new palace.
Forty years earlier, the Israeli archeologist Kathleen Kenyon did excavate in this region in the 1960s. What she found then were building structural remains that included pottery from the 10th century BCE and suggested that this massive structure was built in the 10th century BCE. This also make a “nice fit” for the beginning of the biblical chronology of King David and his United Kingdom of Israel.
When Eilat Mazar began to excavate nearby in the “Stepped Stone Structure”, she discovered huge, almost megalithic boulders that appeared throughout the structure. The walls themselves were about 16 feet (five meters) thick, yet still Mazar did not believe at that time that this was King David’s Fortress and Palace.
Suddenly they began to find pottery that was not just 10th century BCE pottery but earlier in the 12th and the 11th century. It was located under or beneath the massive stone structure. In her mind, Mazar suddenly realized that the Jebusite Canaanite fortress was actually in a lower deposition layer that was built several hundred years earlier. The megalithic stones above were the Palace and Fortress of King David now located in the City of David, now located in G-d’s Mount Zion. Suddenly the clues began to thicken. There was pottery beneath and also on top of the large stone structure; not just select pieces or two but a “great quantity of earlier Canaanite pottery from the 12th to the 11th century BCE. Yet, there were other clues.
The Household utensils Carved in Ivory from the Royal Palace of King David – Photo credit: Courtesy the Shalem Center
Within the palace premises they also began to uncover not just everyday pottery used by the local citizens, but “beautiful, elegant pottery”, which Mazar called “certainly a prestigious collection.” Also discovered were ivory utensils for the royal kitchen that also included the handle of a knife, in a region where no one else had ivory. Truly this had to be a palace, “fit for a king.”
As the Israeli archeological excavation continued into 2008 and 2009, the outline of the palace and fortress began to take on new dimensions. Even though it was massive in ancient terms, this whole area of construction was only one-fourth of an acre inside. Yet, according to Mazar, she believes that they have only uncovered only about 20 percent of the entire palatial structure sitting on top of the City of David.
The construction itself, the largest ever discovered in Israel from the ancient Hebrew Israelite period depicted one fact; here was the evidence of a sophisticated and centralized government structure that had not only a royal but also a military fortress built in massive stone defensive type buildings. The foundation of the palace was built with massive walls on top, yet below the bedrock was very steep, yet cracked. It needed the integrity of a massive stone structure to support the bedrock below, therefore the Stepped Stone Structure was not built for a Canaanite fortress as was earlier believed but as one massive palatial structure by the skilled Phoenician masons of King Hiram in Tyre that included a palace and a defense fortress nearby.
We have to agree that this Israelite archeologist, Eilat Mazar is a brave yet realistic discoverer of the ancient world. She does not compromise her Jewish faith in the literal integrity of the TaNaKh as a historical document, yet allows the archeological remains to speak for themselves and affirm the biblical reality in the literal accounts written in the TaNaKh. Even so, it still was not fully understood as to whether this was a palace, fortress or a temple, except again from the biblical record, later a temple was built by King Solomon on the Temple Mount to the north of the palace site. So how did Eilat Mazar describe the City of David about 1000 BCE?
Looking back in time upon her work, Eilat Mazar has brought a new dimension to the era of King David. With the stepped-stone structure now recognized as the largest Iron Age structure in Israel that covers the northeastern slopes of the City of David, have now been excavated with its mantle of terraces and walls. Earlier thought to have been the Jerusalem fortress of King David, there is now a newer consideration that the actually site of the Palace of King David is just to the north adjacent to the fortress.
What is known, the construction was a dramatic change from what was built in the earlier Jebusite Canaanite city of Salem before. The material for its construction included according to the biblical text, dressed building stones plus cedar wood from Lebanon. Neither one of them were in common use in the 10th century BCE. Nearby in a area that was excavated by Dame Kathleen Kenyon, a British archeologist who worked in the City of David between the years of 1961 and 1967, a proto-Aeolic type capital was discovered in the excavations nearby to Shiloh’s Area G excavations mixed within the region of other large buildings and palaces. Later, thirty three other capitals have been discovered in such sites as Megiddo, Ramat Rahel and Dan.
Also nearby at Area G, there were uncovered ashlars, and square blocks of hewn stone no doubt formed by the master craftsmen of sent by King Hiram of Lebanon. Nearby also to the fortress was a casement wall with square compartment that appeared also to be a unifying part of the entire capital construction by King David and included a fortress, palace and other government buildings. With all of these discoveries, Mazar with great satisfaction could now reminisce on how amazing the biblical testimony about King David’s Jerusalem is now actually unfolding before our eyes. As she explains:
Archeologist Eilat Mazar – “It seems to me that Jerusalem at the time of King David and King Solomon was very much like the Bible describes. It was monumental; the constructions were massive. They used the Phoenicians, with their capability and skill, to build the largest structures ever built in Jerusalem: the temple, the two palaces—King David's and later the palace of King Solomon—and the wall of Jerusalem around these structures. This was a new wall that King Solomon added to the ancient wall of the old Canaanite town.
King David captured a Canaanite town that was very centralized, very important. He most probably did so purposely and didn't kill most of the people. He continued most of the existing administration. It gave him strength. I believe that Jerusalem continued to be a great metropolitan center and to serve as the capital of the Israelites.”
She then went on to describe a structure that was very impressive. According to the archeological finds, “astonishing structure” was completed no later than the late Iron Age I, because there were no deposition finds from later eras discovered in the “fills below this structure.” In another area of this palace ruins were discovered also Iron Age IIA pottery that was a part of a later and secondary construction site that was used later as it appeared that the building construction expanded in later years. In the mind of Mazar as she testified:
Archeologist Eilat Mazar – “What this clearly means is that in the very late Iron Age I, or the very early Iron Age IIA (whether you date this to late 11th/early 10th, or late 10th), there were substantial public architectural activities in Jerusalem.”
These concepts by Eilat Mazar were posted in a blog by Aren Maeir in February, 2006 which stated:
Aren Maeir – “The structure is in fact very impressive, and it appears, based on the finds from below this astounding structure, that it was built no later than the late Iron Age I, since no later finds were found in the fills below this structure. Also, in one area, Iron Age IIA pottery was found in a context of secondary construction and use of the building. What this clearly means is that in the early late Iron Age I, or the very early Iron Age IIA (whether you date this to late 11th/early 10th, or late 10th), there were substantial public architectural activities in Jerusalem.”
Then in 2008, Mazar archeological team discovered the entrance of what appeared to be an extensive tunnel running under the Stepped Stone Structure. She believe that it could have been the water tunnel that was called the tsinor in the biblical story of King David’s conquest of the Jebusite city of Salem (Jebu-salem) as chronicled in I Chronicles 11:4-6 and II Samuel 5:6-8.
It could have been also the escape route of King Zedekiah when he fled the city through an underground tunnel during the Babylonian siege of Jerusalem. As she describes the tunnel, it is composed of unworked stone and bedrock where one person at a time could crawl through the tunnel was at the time of Mazar’s discovery littered with oil lamp reminiscent of a military siege.
Then to her surprise, they came also upon the remains of what they believed to be the remnants of a wall believed to be the wall that the Prophet Nehemiah, who governed the city of Jerusalem during the days of the Persians around the date of 445 BCE after the return of the Jewish exiles from the land of Persia. At the base of the wall was a collection of pottery, bullae and arrowheads that assisted Mazar in the dating of the 100-foot long wall to the Prince of David, Nehemiah, the prophet and political governor at Jerusalem who also headed a massive construction project to complete the building of the enormous wall around the city of Jerusalem near to King David’s former palace, all in the matter of 52 days.
Considering that the G-d of Israel is the Sovereign ruler of the Universe and there is nothing is is occurring today that is without His behest and command, why is there suddenly so much information being revealed during these present days? Why has the extent of the Davidian United Kingdom of Israel been languishing for the past 3,000 years in the bedrock of Jerusalem and the surrounding regions of the Tribe of Judah?
Is it not being revealed because this is the time of the end when everything that G-d wants to be revealed will be revealed before the Maschiah ben Dovid comes to set up his kingdom on Planet Earth just as the prophets of Israel predicted 2,800 years ago? Consider the implications of these facts upon your life and upon the lives of the Lost Ten Tribes of the House of Israel. Your day has come, when you will have to make a decision. Will you yield to the calling of the Spirit of the Divine and begin preparing your future life, as a Lost Ten Triber of the House of Israel to one day you will become again a resident in the tribal homelands of your forefathers?
You might want to Read the Entire Series on the Two Palaces of King David’s Empire
The history of the King David comes out of the loins of the Jewish people. If anyone should know their history, it should be them. Not only that, King David was a proto-type of the future Messiah and his life was a dramatic rehearsal of the Messiah who would later come and bring the “Drama of the Ages” to its fullest realization.
The Israelite people arrived on the scene of history out of one of the greatest planetary apocalyptic eras of catastrophes of bolides of fire, great plagues, and a global apocalypse. They became a “nation of twelve tribal peoples” at the mount called Sinai and there the Children of Israel were called by G-d; “The Nation of Israel”. Today, we recognize them only by the visible portion as the Jewish people. Three thousand and five hundred years later, the Jews erupted out of the ashes of a holocaust that almost eliminated them from the face of the earth, and created also in one day, a “Nation of Israel”.
There are no peoples who have arrived in the modern age from the mists of history with their history, language, cultural identity, streams of prophecies that were given hundreds and thousands of years before they arrived, except the Jewish people. They also gave us their G-d who claimed He birthed them, nurtured them, and will preserve them for Eternity. Yet, we believe that the rest of the Ten Tribes of Israel are still “lost”?
If you want to learn more, Contact “Kol Ha Tor Vision”, the Voice of the Turtledove. Here is a joint Orthodox Jewish and 10-Triber Vision to bring awareness of the imminent fulfillment of the Biblical Prophecies regarding the Redemption of all Israel (12 Tribes Re-conciled and Re-United). The author of this blog is a supporter of Kol Ha Tor Vision and while we are publishing material that may be relevant to the Lost Ten Tribes of the House of Israel, the leadership of Kol Ha Tor do not necessarily agree with everything we have published.
Yet, we understand, until the Messiah son of David comes to give us full insight into what is happening to our lives and our world today, we may know only in part while we continue to support the rabbanim of Israel and seek reconciliation with the Jews of the House of Israel until we are finally one family; the family of our Patriarchs Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.
This reunification will truly be a super Event of all Times that will entail Establishing Shomron (the Ancient Bible Heartland of the Patriarchs) and the Judean Wilderness as part of the Land of Israel, and preparing the “Land” for the Return of the Lost Tribes of the House of Israel and then the Redemption of All Israel.
For inquiries about Kol Ha Tor Vision for the Lost Tribes of Israel, we invite you to make a personal Visit to Israel and stay at “Shomron Lives!”, a Spiritual Retreat and Guest House in Samaria, that hosts Shomron (Samaria) Tours to reacquaint the Returning Lost Tribers of the House of Israel.