Jerusalem’s Jewish Roots

From Jerusalem’s Jewish Roots:

The recently ended season of excavations at the top of the City of David slope in Jerusalem was accompanied by much excitement. With every passing day, more and more parts of an enormous building were unearthed. “It is without doubt a public building. It matters little if it is a palace or a fortress. The fact is that a structure like this from this period has not been found in Jerusalem until now, so the findings are most certainly sensational,” said Dr. Gabi Barkai of Bar-Ilan University.

The excavation took place in a rectangular strip 10 meters wide by 30 meters long, and the structure that has been unearthed occupies the entire site, even extending beyond its boundaries. It is constructed from immense stones that were placed on an earthen landfill in which hundreds of broken pieces of pottery were found. Dr. Eilat Mazar, the Hebrew University archaeologist in charge of the site, states that the pottery can be dated to the 12th and 11th centuries BCE, to the Jebusite period which immediately predates King David’s reign.

“For years, there have been those who contended there was no evidence of public construction in 10th century BCE Jerusalem,” says Mazar. “Based on this, they claim that David and Solomon were not important rulers, as described in the Bible. Now there is evidence of such construction, and those who minimize the importance of David and Solomon have to deal with the facts. Because in an out-of-the-way and remote settlement you would not find a structure like this, the construction of which required abundant resources and a great capacity to plan and execute.” “According to the Bible [II Samuel, Chapter 5], David conquered a fortress and then built a palace outside the boundaries of the Jebusite city,” says Mazar.

Two weeks before the end of the excavation season, Mazar headed home with a rare find that had been unearthed that day in one of the structure’s rooms: a bulla, a round clay seal about one centimeter in diameter in which its owner’s name was inscribed. With the help of a needle and a magnifying glass, she cleaned the grains of dust from the bulla and gradually its inscription was revealed. Three lines in a Hebrew script characteristic of the late First Temple period contained the name of Yehokal ben Shlamyahu ben Shavi, who is mentioned twice in the Book of Jeremiah as a senior minister in the government of Zedekiah.

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