Excavating a Biblical city north of Jerusalem

We are just back from another season at Kh. el-Maqatir, where the newly appointed dig director, Dr. Scott Stripling, wanted me to concentrate on the layout of the First Century village. Examining the architectural remains, it became clear that this village was fortified with a city wall and a massive fortress, updating its status to a “city”.  The dig, which is located c. 10 miles north of Jerusalem, is organised by the Associates for Biblical Research. Gary Byers wrote an account of the first week of the dig. Here is a picture of the remains of the fortress:

The newly discovered fortress at Maqatir

Last February, a conference was held at the Houston Baptist University , where I was asked to lecture on the topic “Does the Byzantine Church at Maqatir Reflect the Sacred Architecture of the Temple in Jerusalem?” If you have nothing better to do, you can watch the presentation here:

6 thoughts on “Excavating a Biblical city north of Jerusalem”

  1. Hi there Leen

    I had nothing better to do and watched the whole presentation (video)

    You seem to understand (31:40 in the video) that the bishop and priest are in heaven (the central apse) and that the church congregation is on earth (church floor)

    How come you don’t understand that the dead Christians are in Hades (the crypt)

  2. The typology is based on the Book of Revelation. In Ch.6.9 it says: “I saw under the altar the souls of them that were slain for the word of God, and for the testimony which they held”. A reliquary is usually beneath the altar, while the crypt is often located in the central apse, but not necessarily beneath the altar.

  3. Hi Leen and thank you for your excellent pages “RAD”.

    You haven´t posted anything new in many months, I just hope you are not abandoning these great pages?
    I discovered these pages about half a year ago, and studied right away everything here, and was astonished to find just the things I am most interested; that is Jerusalem and especially its archaeology.

    Really hope to read some news soon.

  4. Timo,
    Thanks for your encouraging comments. We haven’t had time to blog as over the last few months we have updated two of our books and written a new guide book: “Jerusalem – The Temple Mount”. Will soon blog about it.

  5. In a previous blog in 2008, you posted a description of some “weird” or otherwise interesting comments on the whereabouts of the Ark of the Covenant. I recently ran across those comments.

    One of those comments was from someone who claimed to have lived in the Ethiopian quarter of Jerusalem and further claimed that on two previous occasions Israeli soldiers tried to wrestle the Ark of the Covenant out of the hands of the Ethiopian Guardians in Axum.

    My book “Last Journey of the Ark” written after 15 years of research and published in 2012 (available on Amazon among other places) describes how this probably happened in the actual 1991 “Operation Solomon” airlift of 14,000 Ethiopian Jews to Israel. In this action adventure story, we propose that the Ark was taken to Israel from an area near Yeha possibly one of the flat top mountains such as Debra Damo after a battle between the Jewish Monks and Israeli soldiers and others. (And it was one heck of a battle!) The book bring in to the discussion the group call “Temple Mount Faithful” (called by a pseudonym in the book) who routinely attempt to lay a stone at the Temple Mount each year in preparation for the “return” of the Ark of the Covenant (Which is already in Israel and awaiting the day it will be revealed to the World. Most probably people will claim it was hidden in Israel all this time–but it wasn’t!!

    My unimpeachable source for the claim that Ethiopian Jews returned to Israel with the ark of the covenant is the book of Isaiah 18:1-7 (quoted in the End of my book) that talks about the Ethiopian people bringing a gift to the Mount of Zion that the whole world will see. Just to quote one verse it says ” At that time a gift will be brought to the Lord All Powerful from people who are tall and smooth-skinned” (referring to the Ethiopian Jews).

    Or perhaps you would like a second source —then go to Zephaniah 3: 10 (and I quote)

    “From beyond the rivers of Ethiopia my suppliants, even the daughter of my dispersed shall bring mine OFFERING.

    The truth of the matter is that when you look at the most credible location for the Ark of the Covenant, all roads lead to Ethiopia.

    One road to Ethiopia leads thru Elephantine where to this day the priests on this Island claim that the Jews brought the Ark from Israel around 1000 BC. On this Island, locked in their treasury to this day is a basin (in which the blood of the animal was collected) as well as other artifacts that they have kept since ancient times. These priests claim that the Ark was kept on Elephantine until a outbreak of disagreements between the Jews (who were heading south) and Egyptian priest. The Jews went on their merry way further south to Ethiopia.

    Or perhaps you should visit or read about the priests on the Island in the middle of Lake Tana in Ethiopia who can go to their treasury and pull out a metal chest plate frame (crudely fashioned) and claimed to be the breast plate used by the Ethiopian priests once the Ark CAME to Ethiopia.

    Further more, folklore point to Ethiopia as the place the Ark was kept for thousands of years as we are all aware of the claims that a series of guardians (each 7 years old when they were appointed) guarded the ark in Azum until 1991 supposedly in the Church of St. Mary of Zion in Axum (although it is more likely that it was kept in the mountains.)

    But Fact also points to Ethiopia. Because Israel rescued the Jews from Ethiopia during Operation Solomon and paid 35,ooo,000 dollars to take these poor, starving Jews to Israel at a very chaotic time during the War in 1991. Why did they pay anything if not for the very holy ark. Why did they risk this—if not because they were afraid they would lose a chance to rescue the Ark of the Covenant.

    Even whispers from Ethiopians who now live in Jerusalem who went thru Operation Solomon or knew someone who did— point to this return of the Ark being the true facts about the fate of the Ark of the covenant as mentioned –as humor– in your blog.

    Of course some people are of the same belief as Vendyl Jones (now deceased) that a poor minority nation such as Ethiopia would never be granted the privilege to hold the Ark of the Covenant.

  6. If you had read my blog post carefully, you would have noted that I lived in the Ethiopian compound with my family and that the monks claimed (not me!) that the IDF tried unsuccessfully to get the Ark.
    The Biblical texts of Isa 18.7 and Zeph. 3.10 need not necessarily refer to the Ark. King Solomon received many gifts in his time and an ark was not part of those gifts.
    By the way, we only deal with archaeology and don’t comment on “action adventure stories”.

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