Missing ar of 8th-7th century BCE fortification place in concern narrative that 2 emperors in which dominating Babylonians ‘tore under Jerusalem’s walls on every side’


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The excavation directors sit on the exposed section of the first Temple-era protective wall surface on Jerusalem"s eastern perimeter. (Yaniv Berman/ Israel Antiquities Authority)
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An illustration of what the safety walls neighboring Jerusalem probably looked like throughout the very first Temple era. (Leonardo Gurevitz, City of David Archive)

This stamp seal was found amongst other objects in a building near the stays of the very first Temple-era wall surface protecting Jerusalem"s eastern side. It bear the surname Tsafan in old Hebrew script. (Koby Harati/ City of David)
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Remains of damage discovered in ahead excavations in ~ the damages of the very first Temple-era wall that safeguarded Jerusalem"s eastern side. (Eliyahu Yanai/ City of David Archive)
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The manage of a jug found among other destroyed objects in a structure near the continues to be of the an initial Temple-era wall protecting Jerusalem"s east side. The take care of bears a rosetta imprint, associated with the last years of the Kingdom that Judah. (Koby Harati/ City that David)

In a potential contradiction to the biblical account the the 586 BCE damage of Jerusalem, continuing excavations in Jerusalem’s City of David nationwide Park have revealed a formerly unseen section of the very first Temple-period fortification wall that was breached — but apparently not completely razed — through the Babylonians.

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According come 2 emperors 25:10, “The entire Chaldean pressure that was v the cook of the guard tore down the walls of Jerusalem top top every side” (The Jewish Publication culture Tanakh). However this newly found extant ar of the east city wall, linked to two previously excavated and also documented sections, method that potentially the entire length the the eastern border was no in fact torn under by the overcoming Babylonians.

With this discovery, excavators are currently able to reconstruct the run of the wall surface that encircled the ancient Kingdom of Judah resources on the eve of that destruction, which is commemorated by the Jewish vacation of Tisha B’Av ~ above Sunday.


The brand-new eastern section connects v two other previously discovered adjacent wall surface sections found in the 1960s by British excavator Kathleen Kenyon and also in the 1970s by archaeologist Yigal Shiloh. By connecting the dots top top the map, there is currently an almost constant 200-meter (656-foot) fortified wall surface on the eastern slope that the City of David facing the Kidron Valley. This brand-new section to be uncovered throughout excavations in 2020.

The fortification wall surface was created in the so late 8th century or beforehand 7th BCE, Israel Antiquities government excavation co-director Dr. Joe Uziel, who is also the head that the IAA’s Dead Sea Scrolls unit, called The time of Israel top top Wednesday.


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Whether the fortifications to be built prior to the previously siege the the Assyrians in 701 BCE or later on is quiet unclear. Pinpointing a much more precise date is “a tiny too fine-tuned in terms of historical data we have,” said Uziel, who added that “hopefully later on we’ll be able to narrow it down more.”

The new find put to remainder an recurring debate amongst archaeologists over whether the formerly known wall surface sections were undoubtedly used for fortification or instead as support walls for construction on the steep 30-degree steep on the east side of the city. Component of the reason excavators traditionally argued that this existing sections could not have actually been offered for fortification is the truth that the biblical stare relates that the fortification walls had actually been not correct by overcoming soldiers. Presumably, then, the debate went, part of wall found to it is in still stand must have served a various purpose.

But now, “with the present exposure that the section that virtually physically connects between the two , it is clear the there’s a wall surface that’s to run for hundreds of meters,” claimed Uziel. This an extensive wall ar on the eastern slope, put together with previously well-known sections that Jerusalem fortification in various other parts of the city such as the Jewish Quarter’s Broad wall surface (45 meters/148 feet long, 23 meters/75 feet thick) method that it “only renders sense” that it was a fortification bordering the city, said Uziel.


The existing section that the wall surface is circa 5 meters broad (16 feet) and also up to 3 meters high (10 feet), according to Dr. Filip Vukosavović of the ancient Jerusalem Research center in a video clip released ~ above Wednesday.


“We’ve placed the discussion nearly to an finish — although archaeologists do love to argue,” laughed Uziel, “but that seems prefer we have actually the run of the first Temple fortification.”

According to the co-directors that the excavation, Vukosavović and the IAA’s Uziel and Ortal Chalaf, “the city wall surface protected Jerusalem indigenous a variety of attacks during the power of the kings of Judah, till the come of the Babylonians who managed to break through it and also conquer the city. The remains of the ruins have the right to be checked out in the historical excavations. However, not whatever was destroyed, and also parts of the walls, which stood and protected the city for decades and more, continue to be standing come this day.”

As explained in the biblical book of 2 monarchs Chapter 25 and also in Jeremiah thing 39, Babylonian King Nebuchadnezzar II’s army held ancient Jerusalem under a prolonged siege until “the famine was sick in the city.” The Babylonian military then breached the wall surfaces of the city, after i m sorry King Zedekiah and his warrior fled. Subsequently, according to 2 monarchs 25:10, “The entire Chaldean force that was with the chief of the safety tore under the wall surfaces of Jerusalem top top every side.”

However, no all scholars believe that the text have to be take away literally to mean all the walls, bordering the entire city, come down. Joshua Berman, a professor of holy bible at Bar-Ilan University, told The time of Israel in an e-mail that the vast majority of English translations render the verse in the way of the brand-new Revised standard Version (NRSV), “All the military of the Chaldeans who were through the captain the the guard damaged down the walls approximately Jerusalem.”


“The import of the verse is come tell us that the Babylonians walk not simply penetrate the city’s walls. They want to placed an finish to Judah’s rebelliousness and also thus damaged down the walls about the city come ensure the they might not be conveniently rebuilt. The Babylonians had actually no have to take under the walls 360 degrees to attain that goal,” stated Berman.


Remains of damage discovered in previous excavations in ~ the ruins of the an initial Temple-era wall surface that protected Jerusalem’s eastern side. (Eliyahu Yanai/ City the David Archive)

Just together the revelation that the new wall section calls into question the totality of the walls’ destruction, current excavations in various other parts of the City of David have displayed that the city was likely not entirely abandoned. Excavations have shown that the refugees the the Babylonian conquest used debris indigenous the rampant damage to create new, little homes in old Jerusalem’s outskirts.

Uziel’s team of excavators is now reconstructing the resides of the city’s inhabitants prior come its fall.


The exposed section of the very first Temple-era protective wall on Jerusalem’s eastern perimeter. (Koby Harati/ City of David)

Inside a structure abutting the new wall section, continues to be of rows the smashed warehouse jars to be discovered, bearing “rosette” stamped handles, indicative of the last years that the Kingdom the Judah. Additionally near the wall, a stone Babylonian rubber stamp seal was found etched v a number standing in former of signs of the two Babylonian gods Marduk and Nabu.


The Babylonian rubber stamp seal found among other objects in a building near the stays of the very first Temple-era wall protecting Jerusalem’s eastern side. (Koby Harati, City of David)

Likewise, the team discovered a clay bulla (stamp seal impression) inscribed with the Judaean an individual name “Tsafan.” It is among dozens of seal impressions and also seals indigenous this era uncovered in Jerusalem.


This rubber stamp seal was found among other objects in a building near the stays of the very first Temple-era wall surface protecting Jerusalem’s east side. It bear the name Tsafan in old Hebrew script. (Koby Harati/ City that David)

According come Uziel, the surname Tsafan has actually been found on various other clay sealings transparent the Kingdom the Judah and especially in Jerusalem. He said the surname is connected with officials running the kingdom’s bureaucratic administration — possibly showing yet again that the just things specific in this human being are death and also taxes.


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