The Bible Is Their Battlefield: Archaeology and Israel's Right to Be

By Meyers, Nechemia | The World and I, May 2004 | Go to article overview

The Bible Is Their Battlefield: Archaeology and Israel's Right to Be


Meyers, Nechemia, The World and I


Nechemia Meyers is a freelance writer based in Rehovot, Israel.

The battle for the legitimacy of Israel, even perhaps for its survival, is being fought by archaeologists in Jerusalem. And the Bible is their battlefield.

Can the Jewish presence in the holy city be traced back to the days of Solomon, the building of whose temple is described so precisely in First Kings? There we read: "And it came to pass in the four hundred and eightieth year after the children of Israel were come out of the land of Egypt, in the fourth year of Solomon's reign over Israel, in the month of Ziv, which is the second month, that he began to build the house of the Lord."

Perhaps, alternatively, it is all a myth, as claimed by Sheikh Ikrima Sabri, the mufti of Jerusalem appointed by the Palestinian Authority. When interviewed by Die Welt in January 2001, Sabri declared: "There is not even the smallest indication of the existence of a Jewish Temple on this place in the past. In the whole city, there is not even a single stone indicating Jewish history."

This was not always the Islamic viewpoint. Haram al-Sharif, the name given to the Temple Mount by Muslims, was described in a guidebook published by the Supreme Muslim Council in 1930 as a place "whose sanctity dates from the earliest times. Its identity with the site of Solomon's Temple is beyond dispute. This, too, is the spot, according to universal belief, on which David built an altar unto the Lord, and offered burnt offerings and peace offerings."

The same guide also has something to say about Solomon's Stables, which the Wakf, the Islamic body that controls the area, converted into a new mosque in 1996. "Little is known," the 1930 publication notes, "about the early history of the chamber itself. It probably dates as far back as the construction of Solomon's Temple."

Today no Arab public figure would express such sentiments, no matter how embarrassed he might be by the claims of the Islamists in regard to Jewish links with the Temple Mount. At best, people like Sari Nusseibeh, the president of Al-Quds University, and Mohammad Dajani, the director of the university's American Studies Institute, will declare that archaeological excavations should be carried out on the Temple Mount only with the agreement of all concerned. This means, in effect, that there won't be any, because a Wakf veto can be counted upon.

Seeking to confirm biblical accounts

Israeli archaeologists have been barred from excavating on the Temple Mount since 1987. In the meantime, the Wakf has been carrying out various construction projects in the area, projects that often obliterate sites of great archaeological interest. This enrages Eilat Mazar. Her grandfather, Benjamin Mazar, was one of Israel's pioneering archaeologists and supervised digs in the area of the Temple Mount between 1967 and 1978. Mazar, who has followed in her grandfather's footsteps, describes the Temple Mount as "one of the most important archaeological sites in the world." Mazar finds it difficult to understand "how nothing has been done to stop the Islamic fundamentalists from carrying out their aim to transform it into one great mosque."

Mazar recalls how, in November 1999, the Wakf brought in hundreds of trucks that were used to carry out twelve thousand cubic meters of material, which were dumped into a nearby wadi. "The material included," she declares, "objects that could have been very significant if they had been found in a clear archaeological context, but lost much of their significance once they had been removed from where they had been lying for thousands of years."

She criticizes the Israeli government for failing to stop the vandalism for fear of Muslim reactions. Mazar also notes that the Western world as a whole, despite its biblical roots, has paid little or no attention to what is happening on the Temple Mount. Mazar attributes this in part to the fact that cameramen are not allowed in the area. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

The Bible Is Their Battlefield: Archaeology and Israel's Right to Be
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.