The Biblical account of the destruction of Solomon’s Temple has been called into question after a missing section of the original fortification was found showing it was certainly breached by the Babylonians but not razed to the ground ‘on every side’.
Solomon’s Temple, also known as the First Temple, was built under King Solomon’s reign and completed in 957 BCE.
A missing section of the fortification has been found in the City of David National Park in Jerusalem, casting doubts over the Biblical narrative that it was torn down ‘on every side’.
Two Kings 25:10 says: “The entire Chaldean [Babylonian] force that was with the chief of the guard tore down the walls of Jerusalem on every side.”
The recently excavated section of the city’s eastern wall links two previously unearthed sections that suggest the entire eastern wall was not literally razed to the ground by the invading Babylonians, but probably breached.
Archaeologists have been able to reconstruct the wall that protected the city until its eventual destruction, marked by the Jewish annual fast day Tisha B’Av on the evening of 17th July until the evening of 18th July.
After linking two sections found by British archaeologist Kathleen Kenyon in the 1960s and archaeologist Yigal Shiloh in the 1970s, scientists discovered there was a near-continuous 200-metre wall on the City of David’s eastern slope.
However, it is unknown if the fortifications were built before the earlier siege by the Assyrians in 701 BCE.
Israel Antiquities Authority excavation co-director Dr Joe Uziel said: “With the current exposure of the section that almost physically connects between the two [previous sections], it is clear that there’s a wall that’s running for hundreds of metres.”
Dr Filip Vukosavovic of the Ancient Jerusalem Research Center said the new section of the wall is around 5 metres wide and up to 3 metres in height.
Dr Uziel said: “We’ve put the discussion almost to an end, although archaeologists do love to argue, but it seems like we have the run of the First Temple fortification.”
Scientists said the wall protected the city from a number of attacks during the reign of Judah’s kings, until the Babylonians conquered the city in 587 BC.
Archaeologists have found remains of the ruins during digs as not everything was razed and some sections still remain standing.
In a nearby building, scientists found broken storage jars with ‘rosette’ stamped on the handles, common in the Kingdom of Judah’s final years.
Also near the wall, researchers found a stone Babylonian seal featuring a figure and two symbols of the Babylonian gods Nabu and Marduk.
They also unearthed a clay seal-stamp impression with the Judaean name ‘Tsafan’, one of a number of seal impressions discovered in Jerusalem from this period.
Dr Uziel said the name Tsafan appears on other clay seals found in the city, and believes they are linked to governing officials of the Kingdom of Judah.