Saturday, April 28, 2012

Hezekiah’s tunnel

Hezekiah’s tunnel

King Hezekiah of Judah feared that the abundant water flowing outside the city would be used by the Assyrian army.  He therefore diverted the water of the Gihon to a tunnel cut through the bedrock.

Hezekiah’s tunnel led the water to the Shiloah Pool, built within the walls of the southern part of the city.  The winding tunnel was hewn simultaneously from both sides for 533 metres.  The difference in height between the source of the spring and the end of the tunnel is a mere 30 cm (an average slope of 0.06%) – a truly amazing feat of engineering.

2 Kings 20,20:
Now the rest of the acts of Hezekiah, and all his might, and how he made the pool, and the conduit, and brought water into the city, are they not written in the book of chronicles of the kings of Judah?

In 1880 an inscription in ancient Hebrew was discovered about 6 metres from the end of the tunnel.  It describes the last moments of the complex tunnel operation and the dramatic encounter between the 2 groups of diggers:
“While the hewers wielded the axe, each man toward his fellow, and while there were still 3 cubits to be hewn, there was heard a man’s voice calling to his fellow, for there was a zdh (fissure?) in the rock on the right and on the left.  And on the day of the tunneling the hewers hacked each man towards his fellow, axe upon axe.  And there flowed the waters from the source to the pool for 200 and 1,000 cuts.  And a 100 cubits was the height of the rock above the heads of the hewers.”

 The Weill Excavations (“The tombs of the House of David”)

In 1913 the French-Jewish archeologist Raymond Weill was commissioned by Baron Edmond de Rothschild to find the tombs of the House of David in the City of David.  He uncovered several rock-cut tunnels and caves, that he believed were the remains of the tombs, but the discovery of more lavish burial caves from the 1st Temple period has since cast doubt on this theory.

The Meyuhas house

Rahamim Nathan Meyhus, from an old Sephardic family in Jerusalem, was a livestock butcher who lived in the Old City in the late 19th century.  In 1873 he left the cramped, but relatively safe confines of the Old City, to build his house in the City of David.  In a letter to his family, he wrote: “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 each purchased vegetables, but rather our water will be living water frpm the spring, and with our own hands we will sow vegetables and will partake of them.”


The Ariel center is unique in that it focuses on the study of Jerusalem during the First Temple period.
A new model showing Jerusalem towards the end of the First Temple period has been installed at the centre. From a bird's-eye view, the visitor can examine the city's size, the width of the ramparts and gates, to view the Temple and King's palace, generally to instill a sensation of actually walking through the streets and alleys of the city.

A new and enthralling multimedia exhibit has  been installed next to the model. The presentation portrays an artist attempting to create his life's work by painting Jerusalem. He longs to capture Jerusalem's individuality with his paintbrush, to enlighten the city's secrets with his paints. On his expedition, he encounters characters and events that have left their mark on the generations.

Other exhibits in the center include: A permanent exhibition of artifacts illustrating everyday life in Jerusalem during the First Temple period - models, displays and reproductions of archeological findings such as Sennacherib's sawmill, the Siloam inscription, a silver plaque engraved with the Priests' blessing, a burial cave, jewelry and more.
"Bird in a Cage" – the story of the Assyrian siege of Jerusalem, the drama that determined the city's destiny, its character and its status for thousands of years. The Assyrian relief maps, the Bible verses, the official reports of the Assyrian king and the archeological findings join together to paint a full and fascinating picture of that epoch. In addition, a portion of Hezekiah's tunnel has been restored in the centre.


King's David Tomb

David's Tomb is a site traditionally viewed as the burial place of David, King of Israel. It is located on Mount Zion in Jerusalem, near the Hagia Maria Sion Abbey. The tomb is situated in a ground floor corner of the remains of the former Hagia Zion, a Byzantine church; the upper floor of the same building has traditionally been viewed as the Cenacle of Jesus.

1335, the church became a Franciscan monastery, but, due to tensions with the Greek Orthodox Patriarch, the monastery was closed in 1551 and ownership of the site was transferred to a Muslim family. The site was apparently not viewed as David's Tomb until the 12th century. According to Benjamin of Tudela, writing about 1173, the tomb was discovered during repairs to the church; the motivation for it being declared to be the tomb of David is uncertain. It is impossible to verify whether the tomb is original to the location, as Crusaders removed the tomb from its earlier context, and placed within it a stone sarcophagus, newly built for the purpose; the sarcophagus now rests over a 14th century floor.
After the 1948 Arab–Israeli War, it fell on the Israel side of the Green Line. Between 1948 and 1967 the Old City was occupied by Jordan, which barred entry to Jews even for the purpose of praying at Jewish holy sites. The closest accessible site to the site of the ancient Jewish Temple was Mount Zion. Jewish pilgrims from around the country and the world went to David's Tomb and climbed to the rooftop to pray. Since 1949, a blue cloth, with basic modernist ornamentation, has been placed over the sarcophagus. The building is now part of the Diaspora yeshiva.
The contents of the sarcophagus have not yet been subjected to any scientific analysis, to determine their age, former appearance, or even whether there is actually still a corpse there.
The authenticity of the site has been challenged on several grounds. According to the Bible, David was actually buried within the City of David together with his forefathers.  In contrast, the 4th century Pilgrim of Bordeaux reports that he discovered David to be buried in Bethlehem, in a vault that also contained the tombs of Ezekiel, Jesse, Solomon, Job, and Asaph, with those names carved into the tomb walls.
Archaeologists, doubting the Mount Zion location and favouring the biblical account, have since the early 20th century sought the actual tomb in the City of David area. In 1913, Raymond Weill found eight elaborate tombs at the south of the City of David, which archaeologists have subsequently interpreted as strong candidates for the burial locations of the former kings of the city.  Hershel Shanks, for example, argues that the most ornate of these (officially labelled T1) is precisely where one would expect to find the burial site mentioned in the Bible. Among those who agree with the academic and archaeological assessment of the Mount Zion site, some believe it actually is the tomb of a later king, possibly Manasseh, who is described in the Bible as being buried in the Garden of the King rather than in the City of David like his predecessors.

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