On the sound advice of Todd Bolen, I have read last year’s IAA Hadashot report on the ‘Ain Joweizeh water tunnel (31°44’14.09″N, 35° 9’33.27″E), discovered in 1984. I suggest this tunnel was built to water a small royal estate (as is strongly suggested by the proto-Aeolic capital and the massive amount of labor required to build the tunnel) possibly related to wine production in the Rephaim valley (today the area produces olives and almonds, but this is because wine consumption is prohibited in Islam). The proto-Aeolic capital (carved right into the rock!) may symbolize the life-giving capabilities of spring water by means of date palm/”tree of life” imagery. The area watered by the spring and tunnel is surprisingly small, being less than half a kilometer long. This article capably summarizes the info about the site, but is utterly incorrect in one major detail: the Rephaim valley is by no means “as-yet archaeologically inconspicuous part of the hinterlands of Jerusalem”. Ever heard of the Iron IIB-Persian sites of Khirbet er-Ras? Manahat? Rogem Ganim? The area is filled with 7th-3rd C BC farms. I suspect a Hezekian connection to this tunnel, as Hezekiah is very likely responsible for Hezekiah’s tunnel in the City of David (I was about to write on this tunnel on this blog before ‘Ain Joweizeh gained new-found publicity).

And, just for the sake of sheer irresponsibility and reckless speculation, I’m going to say that the royal estate related to this spring was once possibly known as the MMST of the lmlk stamps (MMST was particularly unproductive before the Undivided Bottom Inscription lmlk stamp phase, agreed by most to be the last lmlk stamp phase before Sennacherib’s campaign of destruction in 701 BC). You’re welcome. Use the Google Custom Search feature to search for “MMST” on this blog.

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