Writing in the publication “Beit Hamikra” (“House of the Bible” ), two Tel Aviv University professors, Oded Lipschits and Nadav Na’aman, propose a view of ancient Jerusalem that is a substantial departure from the accepted wisdom up to now about the city. The most major change in conception relates to the area called “Gan Hamelech” (“The King’s Garden” ) south of the current Old City walls in the lower portion of the Silwan neighborhood. The area has been in the news over the past couple of years since Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat announced plans to create an archaeological park there, at a site which is considered among the most ancient biblical areas of the city. Tradition has it that Gan Hamelech was the site at which King Solomon wrote the Book of Ecclesiastes (“Kohelet” ). The garden’s beauty is also noted in the biblical Song of Songs.
UPDATE: Oded has been generous and sent along the abstract to the actual essay which he and his colleague penned: – From “Baal-Perazim” to “Beth-Haccerem”: Further Thoughts on the Ancient Name of Ramat Raḥel by Oded Lipschits and Nadav Na’aman
In this paper we suggest that the site of Ramat Raḥel, which was a bare hill until the late 8th-early 7th century BCE, was formerly known by the name “Baal-Perazim” (2 Sam 5:20; also called “Mount Perazim” in Isa 28:21). We further suggest that somewhere on the hill there was a cult place connected to the God Ba‘al, and this may explain why the site remained empty until late in the Iron Age II.
In the wake of the Imperial decision to establish a Judahite administrative center close to Jerusalem, the hill of Ramat Raḥel and the valleys surrounding it were chosen for development as royal estates. Vineyards and orchards were planted around the hill, giving rise to the new name of the administrative center that was built on its crest – “Beth-Haccerem” (“the House of the Vineyard”). The new name was a reversal of the previous one. No longer was this an undefended hill, open to the breaching winds. It was now a secured mound, magnificently built, unlike any other structure in Judah, surrounded by a splendid garden, and with vineyards and orchards on its slopes.
Tagged: Tel Aviv University