The Tower of Siloam
Reprinted with permission from
The Expository Times
Vol. 115 No. 2 (November 2003): 37-45
By George Wesley Buchanan
Wesley Theological Seminary, Washington, D.C.
As soon as I arrived in Israel (Julyâ€“August, 2000) I went at once to Jerusalem, where I had previously lived for two years, and the first day I was there I walked to the City of David, which I had seen many times. I was there after Kathleen Kenyon said the City of David was not on the Dome of the Rock, but down near the spring of Siloam. Most people did not believe her, and I had serious doubts. How could Davidâ€™s holy city be this little town of about 10â€“12 acres, about Â¾ of a mile long and 1/3 mile wide?
Now, however, archaeologists have discovered a wall that is more than 5,000 years old that circumscribed that little ridge, and alongside the eastern wall, on the Kidron Valley side, remains the footing of the Tower of Siloam. These are only the remnants of a much more complete recovery in 1920 by the archaeologist, Raymond Weill. 1 Weill, however, identified these ruins as constituting only “a circular structure.” It was not until the old wall was discovered in relationship to this structure that it was identified as the Tower of Siloam.
The whole picture now becomes clear. That 10â€“12 acre city was a strategic location. The spring was central to the city, and the ridge made it a secure fortress. It was easy to fortify a triangular, rocky ridge that was very steep on two sides, as it had been before the Hasmonean, Simon, removed the citadel and used the residue to fill in the entire Tyropoeon Valley. All the ancients had to do was to build a wall of small rocks, like a huge retaining wall, with the solid cliff to back it up. At that time the ridge displayed two hills on top. The tall hill was at the south end, and it became Davidâ€™s citadel. That was Mount Zion. At the north end there was a lower, broader hill, called Mount Ophel, which lay west, and north, of the Spring of Siloam. In between were Davidâ€™s palace and either Davidâ€™s altar and tent or one of the temples, right over and behind the spring. After the time of Solomon, along the eastern wall, at the north end, was the temple, which was also a fortress. At the south end was Davidâ€™s citadel, another fortress. In between was the Tower of Siloam, closer to the Spring of Siloam than to the Valley of Hinnom. On the western side of the ridge was once also a steep cliff that was fortified by a western wall. That is now an unfortified Tyropoeon Valley.
During the Maccabean period, the Syrians took control of the citadel and from it controlled the entire city. Jews hated that intrusion, and as soon as Simon gained freedom from Syria, he spent three years, removing the entire hill, down to bed rock, dumping the dirt into the Tyropoeon Valley (Ant 13.214â€“217), and filling in the valley between Zion and the ridge to the west. That which had been the tallest part of the ridge and city became the lower city (Ant 13.214â€“217). The temple became the highest point.
When Romans took control, they built a huge fortress, which is now mistakenly called the temple mount, north of the city of David, which enclosed 35 acres â€” about three times as much as the entire City of David. This was the Tower of Antonia. This fortress follows the same pattern as Roman fortresses and camps in other places in the world. 2 Herodâ€™s fortress was built to replace the old Syrian citadel, and it was notoriously superior. It was much bigger and taller. From it soldiers could look over the top of the temple from the north, as Davidâ€™s citadel did earlier, from the south. As many as 6,000 Roman soldiers were kept in the Tower of Antonia at one time. Roman deities were worshipped there. Orthodox Jews would not enter Herodâ€™s temple, let alone the Roman city, because of its defilement. Six hundred feet south of Herodâ€™s fortress, Herod built a new temple, which Romans could overlook from the Tower of Antonia (War 6.144). There were two bridges that connected the two.
When I first saw the City of David in July 2000, I knew at once that Solomonâ€™s temple had to have been there, rather than up in the enclosure of the Dome of the Rock. I also thought Davidâ€™s altar and tent had to have been here, and also Zerubbabelâ€™s temple. At first, however, I thought that Herodâ€™s temple was inside Herodâ€™s city, but then I read Dr Ernest Martinâ€™s excellent book, The Temples that Jerusalem Forgot (Portland: ASK Publications, 2000). Martin collected literary evidence, both contemporary and later Jewish, Christian and Muslim literature, that proved that Herodâ€™s temple was also down, behind the Spring of Siloam. Scriptural testimony also places the temple on the ridge above the spring of Siloam. 3
The Temple and the Springs
Nehemiah described the stairs that went down to the spring of Siloam from the City of David (Neh. 3:15â€“16) and the fountain gate at the base of the stairs (Neh. 12:37). This may have been where the high priest descended (yah-rÃ¡hd ×¨×¨×™) to immerse himself five times on the Day of Atonement and where the priests of the temple went for purification after nocturnal emissions (mYoma 3â€“34). All of that water from the spring was necessary for the performance of sacrifices in the temple. The numerous sacrifices made could not have been satisfied by water from the cisterns inside Herodâ€™s fortress. Describing the temple of Zion before its fall (70 IA) 4 Tacitus said,
“The temple was built like a fortress . . . There is an ever-flowing spring tunnelled under the hills into collecting pools and cisterns.”
Aristeas (c.285 BIA) explained how the landscape of the temple area was designed with paved stones and gutters to carry away the blood washed down from the sacrifices. There was an inexhaustible supply of water gushing into the temple for sacrifices (Aristeas 87â€“89). This suggests that part of the temple was built over the spring or else the temple was so close to the spring that water from the spring could be directed from it into the temple itself. The temple scroll gives directions for establishing a place where priests could change their garments, bathe, and change into priestly garments before participating in the temple services. This bathing place required flowing water with a canal around it so the bath water, like the blood, could flow away into a drain that escaped into the ground (1QT 32.11â€“15). This mixture should not be touched before it vanished into the ground, because it would be defiled with blood (1QT 32.14â€“15). Rabbis said it would flow into the brook Kidron (mMid 3.2).
Yadin noticed that there was a great deal of agreement among the sources regarding the necessity of flowing water for sacrifices, but he seemed not to wonder what the source of all this water was if the temple was up north on top of the Dome of the Rock, where there is no water flowing. 5 Other archaeologists, historians and religious people have also assumed for many years that the temple once stood in the very place where the Dome of the Rock now stands. Four of the most recent archaeologists to publish their choice locations for the temple inside the huge walls built by the Romans during Herodâ€™s time were Kaufman, Sporty, Ritmeyer and Jacobson. They all presumed that the temple had once existed in the area where the Dome of the Rock now stands. None of them agreed on its exact location. 6
Pre-Martin Scholarly Opinions
The Roman fortress constructed under Herodâ€™s administration is large. There is easily room for a temple and an altar within that space in several locations, and fourteen scholars have indicated fourteen slightly different places, each one of which is intended to establish the very point where he thought the temple formerly stood. 7 Each one assumed that the temple had been inside of the walls that surround the Dome of the Rock. The four most recent suggestions are as follows.
Kaufman said the temple had not been located on the spot where the Dome of the Rock now stands. 8 He thought it would have to be directly in front of the Golden Gate entrance, and studied the ground to argue his case. Kaufman chose the NW corner of the grounds for the true location.
Ritmeyer, however, took a different approach. He claimed that the rock at the centre of the Dome of the Rock was the place where the ark was placed in the holy of holies. Ritmeyerâ€™s theory had been widely accepted, and many accepted him as the one who had â€˜identified the original Temple Mountâ€™. 9 At first, other scholars asked only technical questions of detail about Ritmeyerâ€™s interpretation of rabbinic literature or neglect of a few relevant texts, 10 and Ritmeyer answered them to the satisfaction of many. For example, Pretzky was one of Ritmeyerâ€™s early critics. To answer one of Pretzkyâ€™s criticisms, 11 Ritmeyer said Pretzkyâ€™s point was not valid because it was based on the Talmud. He said,
â€˜The Talmud was written approximately a thousand years after the last sighting of the Ark, during the reign of Josiah. It is doubtful whether memory can stretch so far.â€™ 12
Hershel Shanks invited Jacobson to evaluate the work of Kaufman and Ritmeyer, to learn which was correct. Jacobson thought they were both wrong. 13 He thought that the temple should have been where the Dome of the Rock now is but the altar should be east of the temple. None of these scholars even considered the possibility that the temple could have been anywhere else except inside the walls that surrounded the Dome of the Rock. This means that Martinâ€™s book, The Temples that Jerusalem Forgot, came as a shock. Only Ritmeyer responded. He had been comfortable with his position of academic status, until Martinâ€™s book appeared showing that the primary assumption upon which Kaufman, Sporty, Jacobson and Ritmeyer based their technical observations was false.
The temple never existed within the walls that surrounded the Dome of the Rock. Instead of the Talmud, Ritmeyer based most of his rabbinic arguÂments on the Mishnah, that was finally edited in the third century IA â€” centuries after the eyewitnesses either of the ark or the temple in which it was housed. Following his own logic, however, Ritmeyer should have been still more favourably impressed by the accounts written by the contemporary witnesses of Enoch, Hecataeus, Aristeas, Tacitus, Josephus and the Temple Scroll, but he was not. Yadin had recognized the necessity for lots of water in the temple for all the sacrifices and cleansings; he just overlooked the fact that the area near the Dome of the Rock had only cisterns for water supply. Kaufman, Ritmeyer and Jacobson, however, never even tried to find a huge spring near that area that would meet the needs of sacrifices and be available all the year around. Except for Josephus none of them consulted the earlier testimony written from eyewitnesses to the location of the temple.
Martin showed clearly that the temple had been located near the Spring of Siloam, rather than any place inside of Herodâ€™s walled city and fortress. Kathleen and Leen Ritmeyer worked intensively to learn details about the temple. Part of their insights might be adapted to a different location, 6oo feet south of Herodâ€™s fortress (War 6.144), if Leen Ritmeyer had analysed the new data Martin introduced appreciatively. Their analyses of Herodâ€™s walls are just as valid if they were recognized as parts of Herodâ€™s fortress as if they had been parts of the â€˜temple mountâ€™.
Ritmeyer followed others in concluding that the Herodian walls had been built on top of earlier walls, and that there was a moat somewhere in the vicinity. 14 The ridge that David found at Zion needed some kind of northern fortification. There were steep cliffs to protect the city on the east and west sides. Mount Zion was a natural hill that could easily have been fortified at the south end of the ridge. This became Davidâ€™s citadel, placed at the end of the ridge as fortresses ordinarily are, such as Megiddo, Dan and Gezer. At the north end of this ridge, however, other fortification was needed, and the Hasmoneans had started to strengthen that before the time of Herod. If there had not been a fortress and strong walls there when David began his attack on the city, he could have conquered the city from the north without any resistance.
Instead of adapting appreciatively to Martinâ€™s discoveries Leen Ritmeyer took Martinâ€™s insights as a threat, and responded defensively. He ignored most of Martinâ€™s data, arguments and contexts. Instead he selected a few of Martinâ€™s statements, took them out of context, and said they were â€˜flawedâ€™, â€˜strangeâ€™, and â€˜outrageousâ€™. 15 Before his death, Martin answered Ritmeyer, point by point. Martin is no longer alive to defend his thesis, but there are still scholars who agree with Martinâ€™s insights, 16 so these important Interpretations are not likely to vanish. Ritmeyer can still take them into account if he chooses. The secular witnesses given above are not the only sources that assumed the close relationship between the Spring of Siloam and the temple. There is also scripture.
Ezekielâ€™s vision of the new age involved the stream flowing out from under the threshold of the temple, running down under the south edge of the temple toward the altar (Ezek. 47:1), down the Kidron Valley, toward the Dead Sea. It sweetened the water of the Dead Sea so that fish could survive there (Ezek. 47:10), because it flowed out from the sanctuary (Ezek. 47:12.). 17 All of this water had its origin in the temple from which it flowed south and then went [through Hezekiahâ€™s tunnel] under the threshold of the temple and on into the Kidron Valley (Ezek. 47:1â€“2, 12; 2 Chron. 32:3, 30; 2 Kings 20:20), and down Wady Qumran to the Dead Sea.
The topography and geography of Ezekielâ€™s vision fit perfectly, once it is recognized that the temple was adjacent to the spring of Gihon (Siloam) that provided all of that water. After all, Ezekiel had lived in Jerusalem before he was taken to Babylon. He knew the geography and topography of that area. He would not have pictured a temple high on the dry hill north of the spring where this could not happen. Enoch also claimed to have seen the holy mountain with a stream that flowed underneath that mountain toward the south (1 Enoch 26:2â€“3). There is no such stream flowing underneath the Dome of the Rock. Hezekiahâ€™s tunnel does not flow north. The holy mountain was obviously the temple mount, located just above Ain Gihon. This is the location of which Ezekiel spoke, where the stream that flowed underneath the mountain also flowed underneath the temple near Siloam. That was a reference to Hezekiahâ€™s tunnel. 18
An early author, who had obviously read Ezekiel 47, visualized having been taken to Paradise, where there were blooming and fruit-bearing trees, whose roots were from an immortal land that were watered from a river of gladness, and the region around them, otherwise known as Zion, was the land of life of the age [to come]. These fruits were probably watered by the river in the Kidron Valley, and the area around was the land of life of the age [to come] (Odes of Sol [G] 11.15â€“16)
The psalmist spoke of the temple, where â€˜Yehowah 19 sits over the floodâ€™ where he is â€˜enthroned as king for the ageâ€™ (Ps. 29:10). â€˜The voice of Yehowah is over the water; the God of glory roars; Yehowah over much water.â€™ The flood was the huge fountain of water, pouring through Hezekiahâ€™s tunnel, under the temple. Another psalmist said, â€˜There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God, the holy dwelling place of the Most Highâ€™ (Ps. 46:5). â€˜The dwelling place of the Most Highâ€™ was the temple positioned near the streams that â€˜make glad the city of Godâ€™. The Scroll of Blessings asked that the â€˜Lord blessâ€™ the recipient from his holy dwelling, â€˜the fountain of the ageâ€™ (1 QSb 1.3). The holy dwelling at â€˜the fountain of the ageâ€™ was clearly the temple just above Ain Gihon.
One of the factors Zechariah anticipated in the future restoration, when Yehowah would become king over all the land, was having â€˜the water of life flowing out from Jerusalemâ€™ (Zech. 14:8â€“9). The Jerusalem he pictured was Zion, near the spring of Gihon (Siloam) â€” not the hill to the north that later became Herodâ€™s city.
When the NT seer looked forward to a new Jerusalem, he anticipated a heavenly city that had come to earth from God in heaven, prepared as a bride for a new wedding contract. In this new city one of the basic descriptions was â€˜the river of the water of life going out from the throne of Godâ€™ (Rev. 22:1, thrÃ¡w-noo too theh-oÃ³ [Î¸ÏÏŒÎ½Î¿Ï… Ï„Î¿Ï… Î¸ÎµÎ¿Ï…] = keÃ©-say Ã¡yl, ×œ× ××¡×›]; cf. meek-dahsh Ã¡yl × ï¬ª×¨×§× (1 QpHab 12:8â€“9]).
Those who had come up out of great tribulation would be before the â€˜throne of Godâ€™ where â€˜the Lamb would lead them to the springs of the water of lifeâ€™ (Rev. 7:15, 17). These â€˜springs of waterâ€™ were Ain Gihon and Ain Rogel at the base of the temple mount in Zion, where the Spring of Gihon streamed from the altar of the temple down the Kidron Valley to the south. The seer related the temple to the area near the spring of Gihon.
Hezekiah and the Rabshekah
Once I saw all of this and realized how much history took place in this little town, the scripture became clearer Suppose you were Hezekiah, for example, and you knew there were thousands of Assyrian soldiers stationed on Mount Scopus and the Mount of Olives, just across the Kidron Valley from Jerusalem. The Assyrian spokesman (the Rab-shekah) was standing on top of your wall and shouting so that nearly all of the people of that little town could hear, without any type of magnification, announcing that the Assyrians would come the next day and destroy every person in that little city if they did not surrender immediately. What would you do?
Hezekiah first consulted the chief of military intelligence, the Prophet Isaiah. Isaiah told Hezekiah not to worry. Isaiah and his team had the situation well in control. These soldiers would all be gone by the very next day. How did Isaiah know? He knew that all of these soldiers depended on the spring for water He also knew that the wall was built right over the top of the spring, so that water could be obtained on both sides of the wall. Inside the wall there was a pool where people could come and dip water. There was probably a pool on the outside as well where water was not in motion. All the Jews had to do was to poison the water the Assyrians used, and thousands of Assyrians would lie dead upon the mountains the next day. Hezekiah prayed, but the Lord probably had a little help from the Jewish intelligence. This might have been one of the earliest uses of chemical and biological warfare.
This is not the usual explanation of this story, but it is more reasonable than others. Some scholars suppose that â€˜The angel of the Lordâ€™ (Isa. 37:36) that killed the Assyrian army was really a disease. 20 That is, of course, possible, but how did Isaiah know when diseases were going to break out? Most scholars are non-committal about the validity of this story. They think it might be exaggerated fact or it could be fabricated legend. 21 Sarosdy, for example, thought this was some sort of fairytale. He thought the numbers given were ridiculous. He argued that if some Assyrians died, they would have died of thirst when Hezekiah may have closed up the spring, but this could not have happened overnight. 22
Sarosdy did not explain how Hezekiah could have closed that huge spring under the watchful eye of the Assyrians. The spring probably did not run through a water tap that could be turned off and on at will. Closing it would not have been an easy undertaking. Shea had made a strong case for two invasions against Hezekiah. By comparing the biblical texts with Sennacherabâ€™s annals and the Egyptian inscriptions, he held that there was one invasion in 701 BC and another in 688 or 687 BC. 23 Shea thought that Hezekiah had spent the intervening years strengthening his defences and working to develop the tunnel. It is not clear how much of this work was finished before the Assyrians returned, but Shea thought it was the second attack that left the Assyrians dead in the Kidron Valley.
Assyria was the real threat to Judah in the time of Isaiah. When Hezekiahâ€™s father, Ahaz, was worried about the imminent danger of Israel and Syria, he started to check out the cityâ€™s water supply at the upper pool (Isa. 7:14). The archaeologists, Reich and Shukron, recently discovered the upper pool, near the Spring of Siloam. 24 It was a normal place for a king to be who was in danger of a military attack. Isaiah reminded Ahaz that the nationâ€™s real danger was not either of these two small countries. It was Assyria (Isa. 7:17â€“20). The water supply was important both for the security of Judah and the success of any attacking enemy. Hezekiah had the tunnel built to provide secure water sources for Judah and to close off the water supply to attackers (2 Chron. 32:4). He may even have arranged a small pool on the outside of the wall, precisely for the purpose of trapping the Assyrians.
Sarosdy correctly held that the spring was there as a necessity for the Assyrians and played an important role in the event. If, however, the Assyrians had been poisoned, none of the problems Sarosdy suggested would have occurred. Death could have come rather suddenly, just as Isaiah expected. Since Hezekiah submitted to the Assyrians and gave them all of the gold of the national treasury (2 Kings 18:16â€“37), some think there could not have been any other event, such as this. That does not follow. Had this slaughter of Assyrians happened first, Hezekiahâ€™s submission might still have happened later. On the other hand, Hezekiah is reported to have had many possessions. Some of them might have been hidden in places outside of the treasury that he showed Sennacherib (2 Chron. 32:29), allowing him to continue his building projects. New archaeological evidence shows the small size of Zion at the time and the military importance of the spring.
It would not have taken thousands of Assyrian soldiers to take that small town. The Assyrian campaign was really organized to expand Assyrian borders westward. That is why so many troops were present. Controlling Palestine was just part of the programme. Palestine was the land bridge between Egypt and the great nations of the north and east. Even if this had been the massive, miraculous slaughter that was reported, it would not have desÂtroyed all of the Assyrian army. Assyria still could have sent other troops to confront Hezekiah again and obtained his submission.
The submission of Hezekiah does not invalidate the report that there was also destruction on Mount Scopus, the Mount of Olives, and the Kidron Valley even if the actual number was smaller than the one quoted. The destruction of all of these soldiers did not destroy Assyria or prevent it from returning and forcing Hezekiah to submission. Hezekiah depended on Egypt for protection against Assyria.
The fact that Joel expected a similar event to happen later in the Kidron Valley when all of the armies of the enemy would be overcome (Joel 4:11â€“20; RSV 3:11â€“20) might indicate that Joel knew of a similar earlier event that happened in that valley in the time of Hezekiah. Joel thought that since God did this once to save Israel, he might do it again. That was not a ridiculous dream or prophecy. Almost any country that wanted to capture Jerusalem would have to camp on the mountains east of the city and use the water from the spring. When that happened the attackers could be cut down like grain or grapes, by just poisoning the water
The details of the event may be exaggerated and explained to suit the faith of the interpreter, just as the exodus from Egypt was, but the Israelites really got out of Egypt, and it is likely that numerous Assyrians really died in the Kidron Valley. The needs of water for the Assyrian army and the fact that Isaiah was certain that it would happen in advance suggests that the deaths were not accidental. The reports in Isaiah, 2 Kings, and 2 Chronicles may be more valid than scholars have recognized.
Davidic Family Quarrels
Think of the Davidic family quarrels that took place in this little town! Absalom claimed possession of the kingdom, so he climbed up on the roof of Davidâ€™s palace and had intercourse with four of Davidâ€™s concubines, â€˜in the sight of all Israelâ€™ (2 Sam. 16:22) where everyone in the city could look down from Mount Zion or Mount Ophel and observe the theatrical performance. That could not have happened if the palace had been up on the Dome of the Rock.
When Adonijah was celebrating his succession to the throne at Ain Rogel â€” just 300 metres south of Ain Gihon â€” Solomon, Nathan and the priest Zadok were gathered at Ain Gihon. While there, â€˜Zadok, the priest, took the horn of oil from the tentâ€™ â€” that is the tent of the Lord (1 Kings 2:2 8 ) that David estabÂlished for the chest containing the contract, which he brought up to Jerusalem. There he placed it adjacent to the altar near Ain Gihon. The text continues:
â€˜Then he [Zadok] anointed Solomon. Then they sounded the shofar and shouted, â€œLong live King Solomon!â€â€™
1 Kings 1:39
Adonijah and his friends heard the shout, just a few city blocks away. Adonijah had to run at once to Davidâ€™s altar and take hold of the horns for security, but he did not have to run up to the Dome of the Rock. He had only a few city blocks to run. By the time he got there, Solomon had already ridden his fatherâ€™s mule to the palace, just a short distance from the spring where he had been anointed, and he was sitting on the throne when people told him Adonijah was asking for security. Solomon promised that so long as Adonijah remained virtuous he would be secure, but if he did anything evil he would die. He soon displeased Solomon, and Solomon had him killed. All of these events took place within easy walking distance of one another (1 Kings 1:5â€“2:25).
The Lukan Tower of Siloam
The tower of Siloam was small, compared to the huge towers in the Old City of Jerusalem. The remaining walls or footings have been recovered. The inside of the tower was about 19 feet (6 metres) in diameter, and the outside was about 22 feet (7 metres) in diameter. 25 It was situated along the old wall on the inside, between the spring of Siloam and the Hinoam Valley. 26
It existed in NT times and is reported in a chreia in Luke. It is one of the most reliable and early textual passages in the gospels. The reference was written down in the form of two chreias (kbray-ah, Ï‡ÏÎµÎ¯Î±), earlier than any of Paulâ€™s writings or anything in the Gospel of Mark.
A chreia is a literary form, possibly designed by Diogenes, about 2,500 years ago. He required his students to memorize important passages from the works of great people, including his own. He taught them short cuts in memory which probably meant taking sharp lines from these works and putting them in chreia form, so that a much larger report could be remembered. Other chreias were made from hearing things said and writing them down at once in chreia form. In either case it is likely that Diogenes actually checked the work. Most of these are only one sentence long. A responsive chreia summarizes an entire event that
(1) identifies the speaker or actor,
(2) gives the situation that prompted the person to act or speak, and
(3) tells what the person did or said.
In Greek, the identity of the speaker or actor and the situation that prompted him or her to speak or act are usually contained in a genitive absolute. The rest of the sentence tells what the person did or said. The entire unit is very brief.
These literary units that were used more than 2,000 years ago were not invented by the so-called form critics of the twentieth century â€” Dibelius, Bultmann, and Taylor. Twentieth-century form critics who knew of chreias misunderstood them. Chreias are defined extensively in Greek books of Rhetoric, 27 written nearly 2,000 years ago. They selected choice parts of the actions, sayings, or writings of important people to preserve them for the future.
I have translated 194 chreias from the Greek that are preserved containing sayings of Diogenes. They are impressively coherent. There are hundreds of chreias attributed to church fathers, preserved to retain the memory of things church fathers did and said â€” used just as Diogenes planned these forms to be used. They could later be expanded into sermons, and many were â€” for example, the chreia in Matthew 15:1â€“3 is expanded in Mark 7:1â€“9 â€” but they were first written down before that happened, at a time when they were understood just as they were. They were not later composed on the basis of any oral tradition or so called â€˜silences of Jesusâ€™.
There are twenty-eight chreias in the gospels preserving sayings of Jesus â€” all of which are coherent among themselves and coherent with the thirty-eight parables of Jesus. Wherever history or geography is mentioned in one of these chreias, it is in Palestine at the time of Jesus and Pilate. Two of these are found in Luke 13:1â€“5:
â€˜Certain people, going along, at that time announced to him about the Galileans whose blood Pilate mixed with their sacrifices. He answered them, â€œDo you think that these Galileans were worse criminals than all the Galileans because they suffered these things? No, but if you do not repent all of you will likewise perish. Or those eighteen on whom the Tower of Siloam fell and killed them. Do you think that these were worse debtors than all the inhabitants of Jerusalem? No, but I tell you if you do not repent all of you will likewise perish.â€â€™ 28
The Galileans whose blood Pilate mixed with their sacrifices are nowhere else mentioned in scripture or surrounding literature. The eighteen who were killed when the Tower of Siloam fell are mentioned nowhere else. Both events occurred around Jerusalem, just a few metres apart, during Jesusâ€™ ministry, when Pilate was governor (26â€“36 IA). These reports were written down when people knew all about the events and did not have to be told â€˜which Galileansâ€™ or â€˜which eighteenâ€™. How far away from Jerusalem could that have been? Or how much later than the events could that have been written down without any explanation? Think about it â€” 2,000 years ago, when there were no cell-telephones, no TVs, no radios, no newspapers, no telegraphs, e-mail, web, or other modern means of communication. The ruins of this tower have now been discovered inside the City of David, near the old wall and near the spring of Siloam, several metres south of Herodâ€™s fortress, 29 confirming the validity of Luke 13:1â€“5.
Now the ruins of the Tower of Siloam have been found, and the location of the temple is known. These two structures were constructed very close to one another. At most they were only a few blocks apart. The blood Pilate shed in the temple is readily understood as a military confrontation. The eighteen who were killed when the Tower of Siloam fell might have been killed in a construction accident, but the fact that both chreias are mentioned together, and that the areas involved are geographically very close to each other, suggests that both events probably occurred at the same time and for the same reason, but this is only a deduction. The original readers of these chreias knew precisely what happened. The chreias only reminded them of something they already knew. That is why they were called â€˜shortcuts in memoryâ€™.
The event in which Pilate killed the Galileans while they were offering sacrifices is nowhere else recorded, but if some redactor had invented these sayings fifty years later in Rome, Egypt, or Asia Minor and wanted to attribute them to Jesus for the local needs of the local church, he or she would have had to describe the Galileans and the eighteen more completely. Anyone who would believe that these were the inventions of the later church would have to be able to believe eight or ten incredible things before breakfast. The most logical conclusion of an objective historian is that these were actual reports of the sayings of Jesus. They happened in history at the very time Jesus and Pilate both lived and within the walls of the very city of David in which the temple stood.
The only reason NT scholars have not noticed this before is not that they did not have the ruins of the Tower of Siloam to look at. It is because they have been imprisoned by the hypothesis that Mark was the earliest gospel and that most of Matthew and Luke are additions of the later church. This hypothesis was invented by Ewald in the early nineteenth century â€” not as an analytical, historically based conclusion, but for defensive purposes, only. It has been used rhetorically ever since for the same reason. Archaeological discoveries and the Dead Sea Scrolls, however, continue to intrude upon the security of antiquated hypotheses.
At the meeting of the Society of New Testament Studies meeting in Durham, England, August 2002, Professor James Dunn astutely suggested, in his presidential address, that NT scholars were inhibited by their doctrinal â€˜default settingsâ€™ that excluded important data. Archaeological data, such as this, may sooner or later force NT scholars to change their academic â€˜default settingsâ€™ and open their minds to historical data. When this happens scholars will learn that the church can stand the tests of truth.
These data suggest the following:
1. Davidâ€™s tent and altar and all of the temples were constructed upon the ridge just above and behind the spring of Siloam (old Ain Gihon). They could never have belonged on the dry hill, surrounded by Herodâ€™s walls and the Tower of Antonia.
2. Jesus does not come to us as one unknown. There is an impressive amount of valid data for Jesus research available for the objective historian who will look for them on the soil of Palestine and in the scripture and surrounding literature rather than the ivy halls of Europe or America and rhetorical books on trial techniques.
George Wesley Buchanan, November, 2003
* This article is presented as given in The Expository Times with British spelling and punctuation. Minor formatting changes were made. DWS
1 T. Ariel (ed.), Excavations of the City of David 1978â€“1985. Directed by Yigal Shiloh V (Jerusalem: Hebrew University, c.2000), pp. 18â€“21 R. Weill, La CitÃ© de David (Paris: Geunther, 1920â€“47), p. 2.
2 J. D. Tabor, â€˜Locating the Herodian Temple: Old and New Theories in Light of Ancient Literary Evidenceâ€™ (Video-tape made by Biblical Archaeology Society). Martin, Temples, pp. 58â€“59.
3 Tabor read Martinâ€™s book and reported that he was first shocked by the boldness of Martinâ€™s conclusions, but was later 80 per cent persuaded. M. R Germano, Editor, BA [www.bibarch.com, DWS], said, â€˜Not only a work of significant scholarly impact it may well serve as the awaited stimulus for the building of Jerusalemâ€™s Third Temple.â€™
4 IA and BIA (international age and before the international age) are politically correct abbreviations used in preference to the apartheid abbreviations, AD, BC and CE, BCE.
5 Y. Yadin (ed.), The Temple Scroll (Jerusalem: The Israel Exploration Society, 1983) I, p. 222.
6 H. Shanks, â€˜Everything You Ever Knew about Jerusalem is Wrongâ€™ BAR 25.6 (1999): 20â€“29, and â€˜I Climbed Warrenâ€™s Shaftâ€™, BAR 25.6 (1999): 30â€“35; J. Sudilovsky, â€˜Virtual Temple Mountâ€™, BAR 27.4 (2001): 16. R. Reich and E. Shukron, Light at the End of the Tunnelâ€™, BAR 25.1 (1999) 22â€“33, 72. A. S. Kaufman. â€˜Where the Ancient Temple of Jerusalem Stoodâ€™, BAR 9.2 (1983): 40â€“59, D. Jacobson, â€˜Sacred Geometryâ€™, BAR 25.4 (1999): 42â€“53, 62â€“63; 25.5:54â€“64, L. Ritmeyer, â€˜Locating the Original Temple Mountâ€™, BAR 18.2 (1992): 44.
7 Ritmeyer, â€˜Locatingâ€™, p. 44.
8 Kaufman, â€˜Ancient Templeâ€™, pp. 40â€“59; Jacobson, â€˜Sacred Geometryâ€™, BAR 25.4 (1999): 54â€“64.
9 L. Ritmeyer, â€˜The Ark of the Covenantâ€™, BAR 22 (1996): 49. It had been accepted by E. Stern (ed.), The New Encyclopedia of Archaeological Excavations in the Holy Land (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1993), II, p. 718.
10 G. Avni, â€˜Jerusalem as a Textbookâ€™, BAR 22.3 (1996): 65â€“68.
11 Z. Pretzky, â€˜The Long and the Short of itâ€™, BAR 22.3 (1996): 66â€“67.
12 L. Ritmeyer, BAR 22.3 (1996): 67.
13 D. Jacobson, â€˜Sacred Geometryâ€™, 42â€“53, 62â€“63; 25.5 (1999): 54â€“63, 74.
14 L. Ritmeyer, â€˜Locatingâ€™, pp. 22â€“45, 64â€“65.
15 http://www.templemountonline.com. [Note: As of December 2003, http://templemountonline.com does successfully link. DWS]
16 At his own website, http://www.askelm.com/temple/t010513.htm, Martin answered Ritmeyer competently and extensively. Those who read both web sites will recognize Ritmeyerâ€™s motivation in trying to dismiss Martinâ€™s book.
17 See further Buchanan. The Gospel of Matthew 2 (Lewiston: Mellen Biblical Press, c.1996), pp. 816â€“18.
18 So Martin, Temples, pp. 277â€“280.
19 This is the correct pronunciation of the tetragramaton, as is clear from the pronunciation of proper names in the First Testament (FT), poetry, fifth-century Aramaic documents, Greek translations of the name in the Dead Sea Scrolls and church fathers. See further Buchanan, â€˜Some Unfinished Business with the Dead Sea Scrollsâ€™, RevQum 49â€“52, 13 (MÃ©morial Jean Carmignac (ed.), F. Garcia Martinez et E. Peuch (Paris, 1988), pp. 411â€“20.
20 R. B.Y. Scott, The Book of Isaiah (New York: Abingdon Press, c.1956), p. 371. G. A. Smith, The Book of Isaiah (London: Nodder & Stoughton, n.d.), p. 359.
21 J. N. Oswalt, The Book of Isaiah (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, c.1986), Pp. 669â€“70; J. Maachline, Isaiah 1â€“39 (New York: Macmillan, c.1962), p. 233; E Delitzsch, Isaiah (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1976), p. 198. W. W. Hallo, â€˜Jerusalem under Hezekiah: an Assyriological Perspectiveâ€™, L. I. Levine, Jerusalem: its Sanctity and Centrality to Judaism, Christianity, and Islam (New York: Continuum, 1999), p. 38, noted that there were very few defendants of the two-campaign theory. He also observed, however, that â€˜The account in II Kgs. 19:35 and Isa 37:36 attributes Sennacheribâ€™s retreat to the angel of the Lord who struck down 185,000 men â€” a figure uncannily close to the 200,150 exiles of Sennacheribâ€™s annals.â€™
22 C. Sarosdy, â€˜What Really Happened at Lachishâ€™, BAR, 18.5 (2002): 14, 70.
23 W. H. Shea, â€˜Jerusalem under Siegeâ€™, BAR 25.6 (1999): 36â€“44, 64.
24 R. Reich and E. Shukron, â€˜Light at the End of the Tunnel,â€™ BAR 25.1 (1999): 22â€“33, 72.
25 Y. Shiloh, Excavations at the City of David (Jerusalem: The Hebrew University, 1984), pp. 46â€“47.
26 Shiloh, Excavations, p. 40.
27 Such as L. Spengel, Rhetores Graeci (Lipsiae: B. G. Geubneri, 1854), 2, pp. 96â€“106, Greek.
28 The first part of this chreia was omitted because of its association with the previous chreia which belonged to the same situation.
29 Buchanan, Jesus: The King and his Kingdom (Macon, GA: Mercer University Press, 1984), pp. 227â€“230, 238.
Hope of Israel Ministries (Church of YEHOVAH):
Running Water at the Temple of Zion
George Wesley Buchanan
In a recent issue of Expository Times (â€œThe Tower of Siloam,â€ Expository Times 115.1 (2003): 37â€“45), I reported the exciting experience I enjoyed when I went to Jerusalem to see the ruins of the Tower of Siloam. When I thought of Ezekielâ€™s account of the way the water would flow out from under the threshold of the temple and on down to the Dead Sea where it sweetened the water of the Dead Sea (Ezekiel 47:1), I immediately realized that the Jerusalem temple had to be located on the ridge above the spring of Siloam and not on the dry mound where the Dome of the Rock and Al Aqsa Mosque are now located. Ezekiel was a good geographer. He had lived in Jerusalem, and he knew the topography and geography of the land. Ezekiel was one of the First Testament authors to identify the boundaries of the Promised Land. He was not just imagining the way things had once been. 1 Since that article was published, I have found even more evidence to support that claim, which I will present here to supplement the earlier article. 2
Two centuries before the time of Herod, Aristeas saw the spring water flowing through the temple, flushing out the blood from sacrifices. When Yadin was editing the Qumran Temple Scroll, he quoted the text that gives directions for establishing a place where priests could change their garments, bathe and change into priestly garments before participating in the temple services. This place for bathing required flowing water with a canal to direct the bath water away into a drain that escaped into the ground (1QT 32.11â€“15). The mixture of blood and water was forbidden to be touched before it vanished into the drain, because it would have been defiled with blood (1 QT 31.14â€“15). Rabbis said it would flow into the brook Kidron (mMid 3.2). The canal which drained the bath water away may also have been the same canal that washed away the blood from the sacrifices.
Yigael Yadin noticed that there was a great deal of agreement among the sources regarding the necessity of flowing water for sacrifices, but he seemed not to wonder what the source of all this water was if the temple was up north on the platform of the Al Aqsa Mosque, where there is no water flowing. 3 Like Shanks, Yadin defined one situation without noticing how that insight effected other details. Warren knew that the temple required lots of water for sacrifices. He assumed that the area that contains the Dome of the Rock and Al Aqsa Mosque was also the temple area. He did not know where all that water came from, but he thought there must be a spring somewhere north of the northern wall of the Al Aqsa area, although he was not able to find one. 4
It is clear from the literary testimony that there had to be water flowing through the temple area. It is also obvious that there was no such water available in the area of the Dome of the Rock, but there was also no spring up on the top of the ridge in the City of David, either. There was the huge Spring of Siloam down in the Kidron Valley, but the temple was many metres away, up on top of the ridge where the City of David was located, far above the Spring of Siloam. How did the water get up to the temple area? There is an answer to that question.
There is a shaft that still exists that goes almost straight up from the level of the spring to a platform area where it joins a tunnel that goes several metres horizontally to the west before it comes out of the ground. At the end of the war between the Jews and the Romans (AD 70), Simon, one of the messianic rebels that led that war, surrendered to the Romans by appearing out of the ground at the place where the temple had stood before it was destroyed. He appeared dressed in royal garments of white and purple to show that he claimed royalty, and he demanded to see the top general. As a pretending king, he claimed royal respect. He had obviously been hiding in that tunnel under the temple, which had also been a fortress â€” the last defence of Jerusalem (War 7.28â€“30).
This shows the direct route from the spring to the temple area. The temple was also a fortress, and fortresses always have to be built where water can be made accessible for a large number of troops. Fortresses, such as Megiddo, Gezer and Hazor all have good water systems. It was no accident that the temple-fortress at Zion was built in relationship to the Spring of Siloam. The last of the war between Rome and Israel had been fought at the temple, 5 and Simon had evidently been in that fortress as the temple had begun burning. He took the normal route for refuge through the nearby tunnel. The temple had been built over that channel where, if it was dry, might provide an escape route for the fortress. It was more important, however, that it provide the necessary water both for the fortress and for the temple sacrifices. Faust argued that this huge shaft, sometimes called Warrenâ€™s shaft, was used to dip water in buckets for the city. 6 After they had been pulled up to the tunnel level, they would still have to be carried through the tunnel to become accessible to the city. The city needed more water than could be provided in small buckets, dipped and pulled up long distances with ropes. Think of the number of ropes this would wear out as they rubbed along those rocky walls!
Faust recognized some problems with his conjecture. He knew that pulling water up by the bucketfuls was not easy, and he suggested that it would have been used only in emergencies. He also noted that in order for water to be reached by buckets on ropes, the water would have to have been dammed up at the bottom of the shaft, so that water could have been forced several metres up the shaft to bring the water level closer to the reach of the platform on which the people stood when they drew the water. 7 He neglected only to consider the possibility that the dam could have worked to allow the water to be forced all the way up the shaft, through the tunnel, and out on to the top of the ridge in the temple area.
It is more likely that the shaft was constructed originally to bring water up to the city by force. This shaft was known as the water channel (tsee-nohr) (Second Samuel 5:8) at the time that David took the city. A water channel is normally designed and used to allow water to flow from one place to another. There was no water up on the ridge to flow down to the spring, so the water must have flowed upward from the spring to the top of the ridge, where it poured out the way Aristeas and the temple scroll testified. It evidently had to be possible, because Josephus said that was the precise spot where the temple had been before it was destroyed, and Aristeas claimed to have seen the water flowing up on the temple level.
The next question is, â€œWhere did the water get all of the power required to force the water up the channel?â€ There seems to be only one answer. The huge Spring of Siloam (Gihon) was blocked somewhere near the spring and diverted the water up the chimney-like channel where it could join the horizontal tunnel, taking the water to the temple area where Simon appeared. If this was actually functioning in Davidâ€™s time, as the evidence seems to show, it would mean that the Jebusites had a superb running water system operating in that little town, perched on a ridge, three thousand years ago!
If this was really so, then the Jebusites were justly confident that their little city was secure. It was well defended and supplied with all the water it needed. That is why the Jebusites thought David could never conquer this town. They had steep walls on two sides of their triangular ridge. According to Strabo, there was a wall and moat that was 60 feet deep on the north side of the city at the time of the Hasmoneans. It may not have been 60 feet deep at the time of David, but some such defence was required to provide the Jebusites with the military confidence they expressed. 8 The water channel was not an entrance into the city. It was filled with rapidly running water. How could anyone lead troops into this city?
The text says that David conquered the town by approaching through the water channel (wuh yee-gÃ¡h buh tsee-nÃ³hr). If the water was running at full speed, that would have seemed impossible. The walls would have been slippery, and the force of the water would have prevented any human movement through that large canal. Davidâ€™s team probably had to break into the channel and turn away the water first. If they diverted the water, they could have climbed up the shaft â€” still with difficulty â€” but they also would have cut off the water supply for the city at the same time, forcing the Jebusites to surrender.
The spring is large and strong. It also swells every day, just the way `Old Faithfulâ€™ emerges in the state of Wyoming. That makes the water level in Hezekiahâ€™s tunnel rise regularly. If Hezekiahâ€™s tunnel were non-existent or dammed up, that water would be forced to rise up and fill that shaft and run through the tunnel to appear in the temple area. This is evidently the way it happened, and Josephusâ€™ testimony tells exactly where the temple was. This channel was a huge tube through which water could be channelled from the spring to the temple, just as Aristeas and the temple scroll testify. If there had been a rope ladder at the east end of the tunnel, and the water had been turned off, Simon could probably have escaped through the spring. The fact that he confronted the Romans from the west end of the tunnel means that he had no other exit. 9
The topography and geography of Ezekielâ€™s vision fit perfectly, once it is recognized that the temple was closely associated with the Spring of Siloam that provided all of that water. He was learned in this geography. He would not have pictured a temple high on the dry hill north of the spring where there would have been no water to flow down to the Dead Sea. Enoch also claimed to have seen the holy mountain with a stream that flowed underneath that mountain toward the south (1 Enoch 26:2â€“3). There is no such stream flowing underneath the platform of the Al Aqsa Mosque and the Dome of the Rock. All Warren could find was a sewage drain down the Tyropoeon Valley, but no water running into the Dome of the Rock area.
Hezekiahâ€™s tunnel does not flow north, but it had been constructed before Ezekielâ€™s time. The holy mountain was obviously Mount Ophel, located just above the Spring of Siloam. This is the location which Josephus pinpointed â€” 600 feet south of the Roman city of Antonia and right at the western end of the water tunnel (War 6.144). It is also the location of which Ezekiel spoke, where the stream that flowed underneath the mountain also flowed underneath the temple near Siloam. That was a reference to Hezekiahâ€™s tunnel. 10
Before Hezekiahâ€™s tunnel, there would have been more water pouring through that canal than either the town or the temple required. Where did the water go? There are several possibilities.
1. It might have filled the defence moat at the north edge of the town that Strabo described (Strabo, Geography 7.16, 2, 40), and after it was full, the run-off might have run either
2. down the Tyropoeon Valley, where Warren found a huge sewage drain, or
3. it might have run into the Kidron Valley, as the rabbis held.
Either way would have made an abundance of water available for those outside of the city, including foreign armies. Hezekiahâ€™s tunnel was probably designed partly so that the amount of water that ran outside of the city could be controlled. The Chronicler said Hezekiah built that tunnel as part of his defence system against the Assyrians. He stopped up the water of the spring that was outside of the city (2 Chronicles 32:3). He must have built the tunnel to prevent the run-off from existing. This would have involved a system whereby part of the spring could still fill the water channel and provide all the needed water in the city, but the rest would have been channelled through the tunnel to the Pool of Siloam. Kathleen Kenyon thought the Pool of Siloam would have had a roof over it so that no one outside of the city would have known that it existed. 11
This meant that Hezekiah planned to have the spring controlled, without huge amounts of water pouring down the banks of the Kidron Valley to provide water for an attacking enemy. This would not have kept him from having a special pond near the spring to provide water for the Assyrians when they gathered â€” a special pond that could be poisoned from inside the city. The scripture does not say that the Jews poisoned the water the Assyrians drank, but it reports that Isaiah knew the day before that it was going to happen, and the military intelligence of the nation risked the lives of all the people in the city on the basis of their plan. True to their plan, there were 185,000 Assyrians dead in the Valley the next day.
None of us was there to see all of this happening, and there may be some flaws in this conjectured reconstruction of events, but there are several points that all come together to indicate the location of the temple behind the spring, in addition to all of the biblical testimony reported in the first article. Some of them are these:
1. The testimony of Ezekiel, indicating the water flowing out from the temple to the Dead Sea.
2. The testimony of Aristeas and the temple scroll of the huge amount of water that flowed through the temple area to wash away the bath water and the blood from the sacrifices.
3. The testimony of Tacitus (Hist 11.12) and Enoch (1 Enoch 26:2â€“3) of the relationship of the flowing water to the temple.
4. The anointing of Solomon at the spring of Gihon, because that was where the anointing oil was kept in the Tent of Meeting near the altar.
5. Josephus told of a hand-to-hand battle that took place between Antonia and the temple and said the space was narrow for that purpose. It was only 600 feet wide (a stab-dÃ¡iÂ¬-ahn) (War 6.144). When he told that Simon appeared out of the ground at the very place where the temple had been (War 7.28â€“30), he provided still more specific information about the location of the temple.
6. When attention is called to the water channel into which Simon was hiding, it suggests the way all of the water was brought up to the temple from the spring.
These facts and conjectures provide possible answers to questions that have puzzled historians and archaeologists for many years.
1) Buchanan, “From River to River,” The Consequences of the Covenant (Leiden: Brill, 1970), 911-1103; “Withering Fig Trees and Progression in Midrash,” The Gospels and the Scriptures of Israel, eds. C.A. Evans and W.R. Stegner (Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press, c. 11994), 252-69.
2) Hershel Shanks first aroused my interest in the City of David in his article, “Everything You Ever Know about Jerusalem is Wrong,” Biblical Archeology Review 25.6 (1199), 20-25.
3) Y. Yadin (ed.), The Temple Scroll (Jerusalem: The Israel Exploration Society, 11983), I, 222.
4) C. Warren, Underground Jerusalem (London: Richard Bentley & Son, 1876), 352.
5) Remnants of the war continued, however, for two more years until Machaerus and Masada were taken.
6) A. Faust. “Yes, It Really Was Used to Draw Water,” Biblical Archaeology Review 2-9.5 (2003), 70-76.
7) Faust, “Used to Draw Water,” 73-74.
8) M. Steiner, Excavations by Kathleen Kenyon in Jerusalem 1961-1967, Vol. III (London: Sheffield Academic Press, 2001), 21, may have found that wall and moat.
9) For a different opinion see, H. Shanks, “I Climbed Warren’s Shaft (But Joab Never Did),” Biblical Archaeology Review, 24.6 (1999), 31-35.
10) See E. Martin, The Temples that Jerusalem Forgot (Portland: ASK Publications, c. 2000), 277-80.
11) Kenyon, Jerusalem, 70-77.