Links of Ritmeyer’s View of the Temple Mount

The Locations of the Pools of Siloam

This post relies upon Nov 2007 Digital Globe imagery.

There were several pools in the Siloam area:

1. The Old Pool-This pool was the pool surrounding the Gihon (identified since the late 19th century with the spring called the Virgin’s Fountain, 31°46’23.60″N, 35°14’12.50″E; before, it was identified as being a cistern to the west of the Old City [the Gihon was, like the Jordan, never given an explicit identifier in the Bible]).

2. The Pool of Shiloakh-This is the present Birket el-Hamra, 31°46’14.75″N, 35°14’5.35″E. It was fed by the Middle Bronze Channel, discovered in 1889. It was also the “lower pool” mentioned in Isaiah 22:9, as there was an “Upper Pool” existing at the time of Ahaz and the lower pool is mentioned two verses before the Pool of Hezekiah in Isaiah 22. Its name is interpreted as “sent“, since it was was the outlet of the Gihon, interpreted as “rushing forth“. It is not known whether this pool is the King’s or the Shelah pool of Nehemiah (a Hasmonean work), but, in any case, it was called “Solomon’s Pool” by Josephus. A Hasmonean plaster surface with coins of Alexander Jannaeus embedded in the plaster was found below the Herodian steps. A dam below this pool existed over the course of the modern road. Herod rebuilt this pool, which was used to hold fishes. Also, a Herodian plaza was built between this pool and Hezekiah’s. The pool still existed during the early Byzantine period. The pool was uncovered in its northeastern side (31°46’13.30″N,  35°14’7.20″E) in spring 2004 during construction work on a pipe and continued to be excavated toward the southeast into 2006.

3. The Upper Pool-This pool had a canal leading to it from the Gihon, which was to the north. It was apparently in the Kidron, above the Lower Pool. It may have been the same as the Old Pool.

4. The Pool of Hezekiah or Siloam-This is the present ‘Ain Silwan. It was originally dug by Hezekiah in the years 703-701 BC. A tunnel was built by Hezekiah to connect this pool with the Gihon, which was discovered by Quaresmius, but was forgotten again until Robinson’s visit to it in 1838. Before that, the pool was thought to be a spring, as reflected in its Arab name, even En Rogel, and was even called “the Fountain of Siloam” by Josephus, though it was called “the Pool of Siloam” by the author of the Gospel of John (although the author of the “Lives of the Prophets” still knew of Hezekiah’s Tunnel). A record of the making of the tunnel was inscribed in the tunnel, c.19-20 ft. from the pool, which, while giving the length of the tunnel in cubits, did not state which king was responsible for its building. According to Josephus, the First Wall passed near this pool, indeed, it passed so near that there was even a “Tower of Siloam” in this wall mentioned by Luke. The pool had a street pass by it during the Herodian period. The pool was rebuilt by Hadrian, as attested by the Pilgrim of Bordeaux. The present cylindrical stones are remains of columns from the time of Aelia Eudocia, who built a church above the site. The Persians destroyed the church in 614, but the pool survived. Bliss and Dickie excavated the church between 1894 and 1897, but the Arabs built a mosque on top of the site after they left in order to hide the remains. This mosque exists even to this day.

Pictures of this pool:
1610, west end.

19th century, north end.

late 19th century, north end.

By 1894, the pool was 53 feet N. to S., 18 ft. E. to W., and 19 ft. deep.

1898-1914, north end.

early 1900s, north end.

early 1900s, south end.

1937, south end.

The Pool Today, north end.

The Pool Today, north end.

Where is Ophel?

The Term “Ophel” is used to refer to a hill or ridge (Micah 4:8). Josephus describes it as being “joined to the eastern cloister of the temple” at the south. It seems this “Ophel” should be identified with the area of the Akra of Josephus, due to Josephus’s reference to Ophel and should therefore be identified as being an extension of Jerusalem bordering both the the Temple Mount and City of David, opposite the Water Gate.


Gibeah, deriving from the same root (gbiya’, hill) as the nearby Geba (Jaba) and Gibeon (el-Jib) , is often confused with them by the scribes of the Tanakh (Judges 20:31, 1 Samuel 14:2). There is only one biblical narrative which can hint about the location of Gibeah: Judges 19-20. Let us see what each of them reveals.

The Judges narrative up until verse 13 states that a Levite was going back to Ephraim (north of Beitin) from Bethlehem, and that, when his servant asked him whether they should spend the night at Jerusalem, the Levite said to continue to either Gibeah or Ramah. Now, Jerusalem is six miles from Bethlehem, and it is 3 and 2/3 miles from  Tell el-Ful, the nearest prominent hill, and six miles from Ramah (er-Ram, in this case). Geba is two miles further on from Ramah. It is, however, Judges 19:12’s implication Gibeah is the southernmost Israelite place with inns which fixes it not at Geba, but at Tell el-Ful. Since we do not know the locations of the places in Judges 20:33, the rest of Judges provides us with no other locator for Gibeah.

In addition, the prophets Hosea and Isaiah can also give us hints regarding Gibeah’s location. Hosea 5:8 makes slightly better sense in light of Gibeah being at Tell el-Ful (if the place-names were in a rational order) and, so does Isaiah 10-Ramah is mentioned just before and Anatoth (Anata) and Laishah (Issawiya?) are mentioned just after.

Update (as of June 12, 2011): I am not quite sure when occupation at the second fortress of Tell el-Ful began. It certainly continued into Iron IIa (mid-10th century through late 9th). But, was there any Middle Iron I pottery? We might preliminarily accept the idea occupation at Tell el-Ful began in the time of Saul, but I cannot find any conclusive sources yet.

Update (as of Sept. 2, 2011): Tell el-Ful was inhabited during the habitation of Shiloh V (mid-late 11th C BC); this was originally thought by the excavators to be the stratum destroyed by the non-Benjaminites. The site was re-inhabited during Iron IIa (Shishak-Jeroboam II). However, since the Iron I-IIa pottery only comes from fills from the Assyrian period fortress (there are no Iron I architectural remains), it seems tough to assign any strong dating to Tell el-Ful’s Iron I-IIa settlement.

Joshua’s attack on Ai: Option 1

Today, I shall attempt to show the world how the various options for Bethel and Ai might work. Sadly, I only have time to do Option 1:

Bethel=Beitin, 31°55’36″N, 35°14’20″E

Ai=et-Tell, 31°55’0″N, 35°15’41″E

Iron II B-C Ai (if Nehimiah 7:32 and/or Isaiah 10:28 refers to this Ai)=Deir Dibwan

Hellenistic Ai (Nehemiah 11:31 is referring to Hellenistic data, as Beitin was uninhabited in Persian times)=Khirbet Haiyan, 31°54’18″N, 35°16’17″E

Beth Aven=???

Mountain of Gen 12:8=Burj Beitin (Byzantine-Crusader remains only), 31°55’21″N, 35°14’42.18″E

Valley to the North of Ai: Wadi el-Gayeh. At present, it would be hard to see anything in the valley, but et-Tell certainly had watchtowers.

Ambush site between Bethel and Ai not visible from Ai (Bethel does not matter, see vs. 17): Anywhere on the western half of the ridge between Burj Beitin and et-Tell would be okay if the walls were under 100 ft. high. While the narrow part of the valley at 31°55’36″N, 35°15’25.20″E could have provided some cover, the western option remains preferable (Josh 8:9).

So, the scenario works, except for the fact there is no suitable candidate for Beth-Aven, Josh 10:2 is dismissed (et-Tell=27 acres, Gibeon=16), and the mountain of Genesis 12:8 is turned into a low ridge.

NOVA: Quest for Solomon’s Mines: Review

The PBS program “NOVA” had, in December(?) of 2010, shown a program called “The Quest for Solomon’s Mines”. As all know, “Nothing in the Levant which is called “Solomon’s” is Solomon’s“.

Now, as we know, not even the Bible mentions Solomon operating any mines. The whole “mines” thing came from the idea Solomon actually owned gold mines in Ophir, a baseless hypothesis in itself (division of labor!). The NOVA program, like most television (Frontline‘s program on Jesus excepted), has its flaws. The basic idea behind it (King Solomon has no evidence behind him, but those Nahas&Qeiyafa sure do illuminate the United Monarchy!) shows a startling misunderstanding of methods “we” can use to reconstruct the United Monarchy.  The most important part of it all is the dispute regarding when the Iron IIA (“Solomonic Gates” period, Megiddo gate possibly excluded) began, since this is key to interpreting what building projects mentioned in 1 Kings 9 (esp. vs. 15)  were actually done. The earlier NOVA Bible program tried to argue that the beginning of Iron IIA was sometime in David’s time, but this program assumes this to be in the later 10th century. This dispute can only be solved by radiocarbon dating. So far, it’s working against Solomon. The program, by adding music and inducing Petra, which was Nabataean Arab, not Edomite, romanticizes and sensationalizes Edom as a “mysterious land” something which only distracts from the main point of the program. Kh. en-Nahas  (30°40’51″N, 35°26’10″E) is not in the Wadi Feinan (Punon), nor is it in any way “mysterious”.

Tom Levy happens to be a Syro-Palestinian Archeologist, not a biblical one. He does not do archeology in the manner of the Albright school. The description of copper production was, however, one of the best parts of the show, explaining the process of copper manufacture quite well. The 3-D image of Khirbet en-Nahas was, by far, the best part of the show (but why the dark sky?). The description of site analysis was also done well. But why! Why use the term “Dead Sea Rift Valley” for the Aravah? Then, why remove the word “rift”, when you’ve already established the program’s word usage for the Aravah?

Also, one does not need a state to mine copper. Most of the copper mining at Nahas was probably done by the well established Iron IIa Tel Masos chiefdom (itself controlled by the Philistines). The Kingdom of Judah’s later fortresses (Lachish IV, Arad XI, Tel Beersheba V) were quite different, although Judah might have done some mining in the later stages of the 9th century BC, since the Bible mentions Jehoshaphat as ruling over Edom and, in 2 Kings 8:20, Edom revolting from Joram, even in 2 Kings 3, where Mesha of Moab is a well-attested king (he made a stele in Dibon, which might also support Judean conquests in the E. Dead Sea Region if it mentions the House of David). In any case, the copper certainly reached Jerusalem (what other functioning copper source was there, but Cyprus, which eventually destroyed the Tel Masos chiefdom)? The fortress was certainly built under Assyrian auspices.

As for Khirbet Qeiyafa, the Late Iron I probably Israelite (not early Iron IIa!) site was inhabited from after 1050 BC to sometime in the 10th century BC-when, we don’t know-anyway, it has little to do with David. The inscription, however, does provide a late 11th century “no-longer-missing link” of alphabetic script written in a Northwest Semitic language (like the one discovered at Izbet Sartah, 32° 6’16″N, 34°57’51″E).

The most funny part about the program was the delicious quote mining of Israel Finkelstein and Amihai Mazar, making them switch roles from their actual positions (read the transcript)- the latter is usually taken as a “maximalist”, the former, a “minimalist”-even though they are both far from both the Baltimore and Copenhagen schools.

In short, the glory of the United Monarchy is not added to by either Nahas or Qeiyafa; however, both reveal things of great importance when reconstructing the history of the Near East between 1177 and 734 BC.