יום שני י"ח בסיון תשפ"ד 24/06/2024
  • The Mission Continues

    As in the past so it remains today - we were and still are under the selfsame commitment to adhere to the directions of the Gedolei Yisrael, who stand guard against breaches of purity threatening our camp. When we were required to ask – we asked. When we were instructed to depart – we left. The moment we are summoned back to raise the flag, every other consideration is pushed to the side and we answer: We are ready!


בראי היום

  • Harav Yisrael Friedman zy”a, the Rebbe of Husyatin

    מוטי, ויקיפדיה העברית

    The ancestral chain of Harav Yisrael Friedman, the founder of the Husyatin chassidic court, originates with the holy Baal Shem Tov. The Husyatin chassidus has its roots in Galicia and eventually came to Tel Aviv, during the turbulent years between the two World Wars.



  • Maccabi'im Gravesite

    In honour of Chanukah, we will discuss a fascinating, ongoing investigation attempting to establish the place of burial of Mattisyahu Kohen Gadol and his family.


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In Jewish Sites

A Trip Through History -Chapter 4

A visit to 'Ir David' is a trip through history, that returns the visitor thousands of year back.

David Katz 21/10/2009 13:00

Chapter1, Chapter 2, Chapter 3

Along the way, we uncover another archaeological remain. This appears to be ‘Beis Achiel’, a large, ancient structure, partially destroyed, with four pillars at its centre. The flooring seems to be from the second floor of the building – a private residence, possibly constructed for the guards of the royal palace. “After extensive excavations at the site, we uncovered a thick layer of dust, which appeared to be from the times of Bayis Rishon,” the guide tells us. “We found remains of furnishings in the building, which had been constructed from expensive wood imported from Damascus. All the rooms of the house had been burned. We found hundreds of painted pottery shards there. The archaeologists managed to piece together some of them, and found the writing ‘Al Achiel’ – from which originated our name for the edifice, ‘Beis Achiel’, after the person who appears to have lived in it.”

“We also found here two types of arrow heads, Jewish ones and Babylonian ones,” the guide continues to relate, opening as he does so Sefer Yirmiyahu. He turns to the passages where Yirmiyahu haNavi describes the siege on Yerushalayim, and then how the city walls were breached on the seventeenth of Tammuz by Nevuzaradan, who burned down the Beis haMikdash and the royal palace; “and every large structure was burned down.” Which large structures are indicated?

Perhaps this means to refer to Beis Achiel. What is the significance of the two types of arrowheads found there? The Jewish arrowhead has a triangular head, whereas the Babylonian arrowheads had a pointed tip. In this building, fierce battles took place between the Jews who lived there near to the edge of Yerushalayim and the Babylonian attackers.
Within one of the rooms were found remains dating back two thousand years to the time of Churban Bayis Sheni, including a seal from the Bayis Sheni era. After making a preliminary search of the room, and cleaning it and trying to create a picture of how it must have once looked, the researchers decided to sift through the dust that had been removed from the site, along with the pieces of stone and pottery that they had taken out. There they found fifty-three letter-seals. The fires that had raged in the building had had the effect of hardening these seals, which had probably been used to seal letters or scrolls, which had obviously been consumed by the flames. Upon one of these seals, the archaeologists found the inscription; “Germiyahu ben Shafan” – a name known to refer to one of the official scribes of the royal court.

There is an additional significance to all these discoveries, beyond the simple historical importance of the unearthing of the Ir David area. Several of the archaeologists who hold official university posts, mainly in Tel Aviv, have been attempting for many years to rewrite the history of the Davidic dynasty of Yerushalayim, even though they contradict the words of Tanach in doing so. The fact that for a long period of time no discoveries were made linking Dovid haMelech to Yerushalayim allowed these ‘professionals’ to make their heretical claims with impunity. It is important to note that in the past there existed a heretical school of thought, to which various archaeologists belonged, that held that there had never been a royal house in Yerushalayim, and certainly not a monarchy that ruled over the entire country – that there had only been a small, insignificant aristocratic style of rule.

With this in mind, the discoveries made some five years ago were greeted with suspicion by some in the field, who argued that Mazar was indulging in wishful thinking in her assertion that they had any connection to the royal house of Dovid haMelech. These voices attempted to conceal the findings of the digs in Ir David, but nevertheless, a not-insignificant number of the sceptical did come to see for themselves the finds that had been made, and were forced, begrudgingly, to admit that Mazar had stumbled on a site of great cultural importance to the history of the Jewish people, one of the most exciting finds of recent decades.

Those working at the site are sure that the finds there in Ir David are just the tip of the iceberg in terms of the extent of the possible remnants under the earth, as indicated by the historical importance of the site in Tanach – there is no doubt that further investigations will reveal more and more findings of great historical significance.

Even remnants of fish bones have been found at the site in Ir David – a surprising discovery given that Yerushalayim is far from all bodies of water that hold fish – and this indicates that there were fish merchants during that era who would transport their wares from afar for sale.

Our next stop on this trip into history in Ir David takes us into the bowels of the earth. A heavy iron door opens for us, and we find ourselves inside the water system of the ancient city of David, a system known as ‘Fair Warren’ after Charles Warren, who was the first to discover this water system in the year 5627 (1867CE).

Warren discovered an underground tunnel that began in Ir David and ended at a depth of thirteen metres underground, near to the Gichon spring.

An informational plaque that we see mounted opposite us informs us that in ancient Yerushalayim, the main water source was the Gichon spring. This spring, which is located at the foot of the eastern slope of the hill, outside the city walls, was inaccessible during the siege on the city, which was then located in Ir David. Already in the Canaanite period, some four thousand years ago, a wall encircled Ir David, and the waters of the Gichon spring were themselves surrounded by four towers. In order to provide water for the inhabitants of the city during a Babylonian siege, the Canaanites dug out a underground tunnel from with the city to the spring, so that a source of water would always be assured. This tunnel that they built leads to a pool hewn out of stone, which collected the spring waters – and the area was protected by the presence of the towers and fortresses, ensuring the site against the invaders.

We are presently in the first section of the tunnel, the first section to have been uncovered, in a previous period of excavation. The further within we penetrate, the more spacious our surroundings become. This is an extremely wide and deep tunnel, and high enough to stand comfortably in – it is also illuminated with electric lighting. We are literally walking into the past, back four thousand years. Several tens of metres within, the downward incline of the slope increases sharply, and we then find ourselves close to a deep shaft that descends for thirteen metres. As of yet, nobody has any idea of the purpose of this steep shaft.

Further on, we reach the second part of the tunnel, that which was first uncovered in a more recent period, just fifteen years ago. There are those who associate a certain verse in Sefer Shmuel Beis with this tunnel; “And Dovid conquered the Fortress of Zion – this is Ir David – and Dovid said on that day that any person who struck a Yevusi…” When we go just a few metres further we reach ‘Beis haMayan’, which is a large structure, which reveals more storeys and findings within them, the more the researchers excavate there. It appears that this building was constructed in reverse, beginning with the upper floor and going downwards, into the depths of the hillside.

Opposite us are the remains of a Canaanite tower, one of the four ramparts that surrounded the Gichon spring. Below, beneath the ramp we are standing on, we can see remnants of the original large pool that collected the waters from the Gichon spring nearby. From this pool tens of people could draw water at one time. An investigation of the pottery found in the area around the pool and its fortifications has revealed that the underground water system was in use already in the times of the Canaanites, some four thousand years ago.

From here, according to the archaeologists, one can derive that Yerushalayim was an important city, and well protected, even in those days – these are the times of Avraham Avinu. Perhaps this is even the place where Avraham Avinu met with Malchi Tzedek the king of Shalem?

This is also the same spring referred to in Pirkei d’Rabi Eliezer, where it states that Adam haRishon entered the spring; “On the first day after Shabbos [the first after Creation] Adam entered the upper waters of the Gichon until the waters reached his neck – and he afflicted himself for a whole week, until his body became bent over completely…”

(To be continued, b’ezras Hashem, next week.)