The Two Jerusalems

According to the Tanakh, there were two locations called Jerusalem, one inhabited by the Amorites and the other inhabited by the Jebusites

Old City from the Mount of the Olives

According to the Tanakh, there were two locations called Jerusalem, one inhabited by the Amorites (Joshua 10:5), and the other inhabited by the Jebusites (Joshua 15:63; Judges 1:21). One in the mountains (Joshua 10:6) and the other surrounded by mountains (Psalm 125:2; Nehemiah 8:15). One the Children of Israel conquered when they entered the land of Israel (Judges 1:8) and the other was took by King David some 300 years later (2 Samuel 5:7; 1 Chronicles 11:5). One in the mount of Ephraim (Genesis 33:18; Genesis 14:18; Joshua 18:1; Judges 4:5;) and the other just north of Rimmon which is in the southern part of Judah (and the inheritance of Simeon- Joshua 19:7-8) (Zechariah 14:10; Joshua 15:21-32). Therefore, reasonably two questions come to mind: Which one is the modern city Jerusalem that we all know? And where is the other Jerusalem?

Modern Jerusalem’s name is well known to mean Salem that was the place of King Melechzedek, and was written to be in the mountain of Ephraim. Jerusalem is located in some of the highest mountains in the region (on the top, not surrounded by mountains) and is also just next to Bethel. The mountains from the site of Shechem, Bethel, and modern Jerusalem are all on the same mountain range that streach from Shimron north to Har Hebron south. Just considering the geographic clues I would conclude that Modern Jerusalem is the Jerusalem of King Adoni-zedek the Amorite that Joshua fought against and chased to Makkedah (also not far from modern Jerusalem).

However, if this is the Amorite Jerusalem then where is the Jebusite one? It was this Jerusalem that David came to and took a fortress that was built there on Mount Zion. And this place he set up his own tabernacle to place the Ark within the citadel. This place was a House of Yahweh and the city of David fortified by Solomon and other kings of Judah (2 Samuel 5:9; 2 Chronicles 8:11; 1 Kings 9:24; 1 Kings 11:27; 2 Chronicles 32:5), but wasn’t the Temple built by Solomon on Mount Moriah (2 Chronicles 3:1). Today there is only one place that has been found and proven to be a House of Yahweh in Israel.

Tel Arad Wikimedia Commons

Tel Arad (Hebrew: תל ערד‎) (not to be confused with biblical Arad) is located west of the Dead Sea, about 10km west of modern Arad in an area surrounded by mountain ridges which is known as the Arad Becken. The Arad area is north of the old and modern place of Mizpe Rimmon The site is divided into a lower city and an upper hill which holds the only ever discovered ‘House of Yahweh’ in the land of Israel.

The House of Yahweh upon the hill of Tel Arad even after over 40 years has sparked a number of questions with many trying to understand why the site has a sanctuary, holy of holies that were built in time of the two greatest kings of Judah. Why does it have records of well known priestly families, and countless amounts of offerings and pottery from the time of its establishment in King David’s time to the Roman and Islamic Empires. One conclusion many are beginning to come to is that this is the tabernacle of David (1 Chronicles 6:32; Isaiah 16:5; Amos 9:11), the hill of Zion, and area of the Jerusalem of the Jebusites. And although it might seem unbelievable the evidence behind the theory is beginning to have allot of weight.

In the 11th century BCE (the time of Samuel, Saul and David), initially, the upper hill was an unwalled piece of land cut off as an official or sacred domain, and then later as a garrison-town known as ‘The Citadel’.

Tel Arad
Wikimedia Commons

The citadel and sanctuary were constructed in the time of King David and Solomon. Artifacts found within the sanctuary of the citadel mostly spoke concerning offerings of oil, wine, wheat, and etc. brought to there by numerous people from not just David and Solomon’s time but throughout the reign of the kings of Judah till the kingdoms fall to Babylon. However, in the Persian, Maccabean, Roman, and early Mohammadean eras locals continued to transport these items to the sacred precinct of the upper hill. Markers of this ancient Israelite service remain til this day from broken pottery litered upon the entire site.

During the reign of the kings of Judah the citadel was periodically refortified, remodeled and rebuilt upon one another a number of times, until ultimately it was destroyed between 597 BCE and 577 BCE whilst Jerusalem was under siege from the Babylonian Nebuchadnezzar. Among the most fascinating artifacts unearthed from this time are ostraca from the mid-7th century BCE that refered to this citadel as the House of Yahweh.

Habitation of Tel Arad and the upper citadel did not end with the Babylonians. In fact, during the Persian period (5th – 4th centuries BCE) almost a hundred ostracon and pottery were written in Aramaic and were mostly accounts of locals that brought oil, wine, wheat, and etc to the upper hill.

Thus, several citadels were built upon one another and existed in the Hellenistic and Roman periods. Herod even reconstructed the lower city for the purpose of making bread.

The Jewish historian Flavius Josephus in the first century wrote an almost perfect geographic description that fits Tel Arad and also gave a matching explaination of why the citadel dealt with so much food and supplies in pottery. As stated in the ‘Wars of the Jews’ 5:1: “.. The city was built upon two hills which are opposite to one another, and have a valley to divide them asunder; at which valley the corresponding rows of houses on both hills end. Of these hills, that which contains the upper city is much higher, and in length more direct. Accordingly, it was called the “Citadel,” by king David; he was the father of that Solomon who built this temple at the first; but it is by us called the “Upper Market-place.” But the other hill, which was called “Acra,” and sustains the lower city, is of the shape of a moon when she is horned; over-against this was a third hill, but naturally lower than Acra, and parted formerly from the other by a broad valley.”

The site lasted til the Romans destroyed Jerusalem and completely expelled the ‘circumcised’ in 135 AD.

Archaeology has already substantiated that Tel Arad existed and was inhabited at the time that Josephus would have wrote this. However, this description of the citadel of David could only be on Mount Zion and only in Jerusalem. Yet, one fact that is rarely spoken of directly in the Tanakh is that there were two Jerusalems.

With such clear-cut differences between the two Jerusalems the possibility that the House of Yahweh at ‘Tel Arad’ is the Citadel of David, the Arad Becken is the Jerusalem surrounded by mountains, and not too far north from Mizpe Rimmon does not stray too far from logic. Nevertheless, time will tell whether clear proof will come to the light on the issue.

For more developments on this, I suggest you search ‘House of Yahweh’ or ‘Tel Arad’ on Wikipedia and read these two pages Citadel History, Zion Search from people presently on the site.

Source by Yisrael Today News Team