One of the least visited places in Jerusalem is the portion of the village of Silwan that is located on the lower western slope of the Mount of Olives—opposite the “City of David.”
The village itself is built over 50 tombs from the 8th and 7th centuries B.C. This necropolis – “city of the dead” – was investigated by David Ussishkin and Gabriel Barkay between 1968 and 1971. Travel to this area is very difficult (= impossible) for the inhabitants of Silwan are normally very hostile to outsiders.
The two most famous tombs from this necropolis are “the Tomb of Pharaoh’s Daughter” and the “Tomb of the Royal Steward.”
Tomb of the “Royal Steward” located in the Village of Silwan
The two inscriptions have been carved out and taken to the British Museum
Note the door on the left — this important tomb was used as a storage room at the time that this picture was taken
Unfortunately the second most important tomb from the First Temple Period is located in this village. This tomb was discovered by Clermont-Ganneau in 1870. It had two Hebrew inscriptions – one above the door and the other to the right of it. Both were carved out and sent to the British Museum where they are still housed. The largest inscription was over the door (note the large “gash” there).
Nahman Avigad translated the larger inscription as “This is [the sepulcher of . . . ] yahu who is over the house. There is no silver and no gold here but [his bones] and the bones of his amah with him. Cursed be the man who will open this!”
In the text the phrase “who is over the house” refers to a very important personage in the Judean government (about second to the king). His name, according to the inscription, was “. . . yahu.” Unfortunately the first part of his name is missing but many believe that the person who was buried here was none other than Shebna [yahu], the Royal Steward, whom Isaiah condemned for ‘hewing a tomb for himself on high’ – SEE Isaiah 22:15-17!
The amah (a female) mentioned in the inscription may also have been a very high functionary in the Judean government.
For a popular description of this necropolis see: Shanks, Hershel. “The Tombs of Silwan.” Biblical Archaeology Review, vol. 20, no. 3 (May/June, 1994):38-51
You also may be interested in viewing the First Temple Tombs found on the grounds of the Ecole Biblique in Jerusalem – Click Here.
Posted in Archaeology, Daily Life, Inscriptions, Jerusalem, Museums, Places in Israel, Tomb, Tombs
Tagged Gabriel Barkay, hebrew inscriptions, Isaiah, necropolis city, Royal Steward
Well, two of my favorite things to do are to eat and to visit antiquity sites. We recently were on a “Tutku–Mark Wilson” tour visiting the Turkish city of Bodrum. This is ancient Halicarnassus where the Mausoleum of Mausolus, one of the seven wonders of the ancient world, was located.
The local Super Market that we stopped at.
Snacks and Ice Cream are on the way. I can hardly wait!
Wait a minute!! What is this in the back of the store???
Yup, a tomb from the 3rd century B.C.
This tomb had 6 burial chambers and although it was robbed in antiquity, some human bones, amphora, and other pots were found when it was excavated!
Really now, does it get any better than this? Food + Antiquities = Bliss!
The Entrance to the Garden Tomb.
This tomb was discovered in 1867, at which time it was proposed that this was the burial place of Jesus, mainly because of its nearness to what would become known as “Gordon’s Calvary“. Since that time, some Protestant piety has encouraged this identification, although the wardens of the property (The Garden Tomb Association) stress that it is the resurrection of Jesus, not the issue of finding the exact spot of his burial, that is important.
Inside of the tomb are the partial remains of a burial bench. Looking at “burial place” #5 (below) The date of the tomb is not certain.
A plan of the interior of the tomb.
The Modern Door into the Tomb.
The Guides at Garden Tomb stress that it is the resurrection of Jesus, not the issue of finding the exact spot of his burial, that is important.
To visit the official site of the Garden Tomb Association Click Here.
To view, what in my opinion is the best “rolling stone tomb” in Israel Click Here.
It is well–known from literature that the Romans crucified rebels and criminals. In 1968, an ossuary (bone box; see below) was found, among others, in a tomb in north Jerusalem in which were the bones of a 28 year old man and those of a child.
This is a replica of a right heel bone of a 28 year old man who was crucified in Jerusalem prior to its in AD 70. This replica is presented in the Israel Museum.
A 4.3 inch nail penetrated the right heel bone of the man. A piece of wood was placed on each side of the heel prior to the pounding of the nail to affix the person to a cross.
The skeletal remains of the man with the nail in his heel bone were found in this ossuary that was discovered north of Jerusalem.
Clearly visible is the Hebrew writing of the name “Yehohanan son of Hagkol.” Note the two clear lines. Above and to the right of the name “Yehohanan,” in the first line, is another faint inscription (click on image to enlarge to view inscription).
A diagram in the Israel Museum.
The above picture represents a scholarly reconstruction of how Yehohanan son of Hagkal was crucified. Note how his arms are tied to the cross—no nails were found in his hands or wrists. In contrast, Jesus of Nazareth’s hands were nailed to the cross—Thomas wanted to see the “mark of the nails in his hands” (John 20:25).
Revision — In a PBS program on Jesus, (aired 4 April 2017) the heel bone with nail were taken out of a small storage box located in a huge warehouse. Thus, it does not appear that the original comment (deleted) regarding its “location” was correct.
For a convenient description of this find see pp 318–22 in Clyde E. Fant and Mitchell G. Reddish, Lost Treasures of the Bible — Understanding the Bible Through Archaeological Artifacts in World Museums. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2008.
As Easter approaches I thought I would share a few related blog posts that contain some images that some of you might find useful for Easter presentations.
View Looking East at the Entrance to the First Century A.D. Tomb
View looking east at the entrance to the tomb. The rolling stone was 6 ft. [1.8 m.] in diameter and 1.3 ft [0.4 m.] thick. It was placed between two walls, each built of hewn stone. When discovered, it still rolled in its trough!
The tomb itself was in use during the Roman Period — up until A.D. 135.
In my estimation, it was the best example of a rolling stone tomb in the country of Israel. It seems to illustrate well passages from the Gospels which speak of Jesus’ tomb as being closed by a rolling stone. See especially Matthew 27:57-66; 28:1-2; Mark 15:42–47; 16:1–8; Luke 24:1–2, 10–11; and John 20:1, 11–18.
Horvat Midras (Hebrew) or Khirbet Durusiya (Arabic) is located 19 mi. [30 km.] southwest of Jerusalem in the Shephelah. The ancient remains are spread over hundreds of dunams in the area. The site dates to the Hellenistic and Roman periods.
View of the Courtyard of the “Rolling Stone Tomb” at Khirbet Midras—prior to its destruction
In 1976 part of the cemetery was excavated. Several tombs were uncovered, including, in my estimation, THE BEST ROLLING STONE TOMB in the country. Unfortunately in the late 1990’s the tomb site was totally destroyed by vandals!#%$@!!
BUT it has been reconstructed and is now visible in the Adullam Park!
To view 3 additional image of the tomb Click Here.
For images of the Church of the Holy Sepulcher see: Calvary and Tomb.
Click to see images of Gordon’s Calvary and the Garden Tomb.
In Matthew 15:21-28 and Mark 7:24-31 there is the story of a “Canaanite woman” from the vicinity of Tyre and Sidon who said:
“Lord, Son of David, have mercy on me! My daughter is suffering terribly from demon-possession.” . . . The woman came and knelt before him. “Lord, help me!” she said.
Matt 15:22–25 and compare Mark 7:26ff.
It seems that Jesus’ response was somewhat “off-putting” for the subsequent “conversation” went as follows:
He replied, “It is not right to take the children’s bread and toss it to their dogs.” “Yes, Lord,” she said, “but even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters’ table.” Then Jesus answered, “Woman, you have great faith! Your request is granted.” And her daughter was healed from that very hour.
Dogs are not highly thought of in some of the Middle Eastern Cultures today but evidently in New Testament times they were kept as household pets.
Note the dog under the couch “feasting” on the crumbs that have fallen on the floor (Matt 15:27; Mark 7:28) — Click on Image to Enlarge and/or Download
The above is a votive relief (5th century BC.) found in the Asclepion of Piraeus (port of Athens). It represents a funerary banquet. The heroized dead person reclines on a couch with a seated woman on the right and a naked youth on the left side of the image—drawing wine from a large krater. Note especially the dog under the couch feasting on the food that has dropped on the floor (Matt 15:27; Mark 7:28).
Note the dog under the couch “feasting” on the food that has fallen on the floor (Matt 15:27; Mark 7:28) — Click on Image to Enlarge and/or Download
The above votive relief also represents a funerary banquet. The heroized dead person reclines on a couch with a seated woman on the left and a naked youth on the far left side of the image—drawing wine from a large krater. Note especially the dog under the couch feasting on the food that has dropped on the floor (Matt 15:27; Mark 7:28).
Note the dog under the couch waiting for crumbs from the meal — Click on Image to Enlarge and/or Download
The above is a votive relief (4th century BC.) found at Argos in southern Greece. The god or hero is reclining on a couch with a woman on the left holding a tray with food. On the far left is a nude boy drawing wine from a large krater. Note the dog under the couch, waiting for crumbs!
Suleiman the Magnificent was the most powerful ruler during the long period of the Ottoman Empire (ca. 1517–1917). He died in 1566 and was a contemporary of Luther (d. 1546) and Calvin (d. 1564) and was the builder of the walls of Jerusalem!
View looking north northwest at the Türbe of Süleyman that houses his cenotaph and those of his daughter and two later sultans: Suleiman II and Ahmet II. All total, it houses 8 cenotaphs. Click on Image to Enlarge and/or Download.
This structure was designed by the famous architect Sinan and was completed in 1566, the year that Suleiman the Magnificent died. Note the porch that surrounds this octagonal structure and the slender columns that support it.
View looking at the cenotaphs in the interior of the Türbe of Süleyman. Click on Image to Enlarge and/or Download.
Besides Suleiman’s cenotaph there are those of his daughter and two later sultans: Suleiman II and Ahmet II.
Looking at the walls, from bottom to top, note the Iznik tiles, the Arabic freeze, the marble paneling, and the colorful glass windows.
The “Suleymaniye” is a mosque complex that was built between 1550 and 1557 by the famous architect Sinan to honor and house the remains of Suleiman the Magnificent (ruled 1520 to 1566). The complex (Turkish külliye; ca 18 acres in size) consists of the famous mosque, schools, a hospital, a hospice, a “soup kitchen,” a Turkish bath, and the tombs (Türbe) of Suleiman, his wife Roxelana, the architect Sinan and others.