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Wednesday, November 21, 2018

Tiny Solomon's Temple Artifact Discovered


A 3,000 year old stone weight called a 'beka' – mentioned in the Bible and dating from the time of King Solomon's Temple – has recently been discovered from the base of the Temple Mount in Jerusalem. The tiny round stone was used as a half-shekel weight to calculate the visitor's tax for pilgrims coming to the Temple around 1000 BC. It was discovered by a volunteer in the City of David’s sifting project in Jerusalem’s Emek Tzurim National Park, which carefully attempts to examine every bit of dirt and rubble excavated around the Mount's base.

The word “beka” appears twice in the Torah: first as the weight of gold in a nose ring given to matriarch Rebecca in the Book of Genesis, and later in the Book of Exodus as a weight for the donation brought by the Jewish people for the maintenance of the Temple and the census, as recorded in Exodus 38, Verse 26: “One beka per head; [that is,] half a shekel, according to the holy shekel, for each one who goes through the counting, from 20 years old and upward, for 603,550 [people].”
Curiously, the Hebrew letter bet is inscribed in reverse from its usual appearance, leading archeologists to believe it was pressed into wet clay from a seal that had not been created in a proper mirror image. 
During this era, there was no half-shekel coin. Pilgrims brought the equivalent weight, a beka, in silver to pay their tax, which would have been measured out on scales in the very spot under the Temple Mount where the tiny stone weight was unearthed.
The ‘beka’ biblical weight stone was discovered in earth taken from a 2013
archaeological excavation at the foundations of the Western Wall in a
drainage ditch directly under the Robinson’s Arch. The sifting of that same dirt
continues today in search of more artifacts from the period of the First Temple.
 Archaeologist Eli Shukron directed the excavations on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority. He told The Times of Israel that no other similar weights had previously been found with this exact inscription. 
Shukron said in a press release, “When the half-shekel tax was brought to the Temple during the First Temple period, there were no coins, so they used silver ingots. In order to calculate the weight of these silver pieces they would put them on one side of the scales and on the other side they placed the Beka weight. The Beka was equivalent to the half-shekel, which every person from the age of 20 years and up was required to bring to the Temple.”
The entire article can be read HERE. 

2 comments:

  1. hmmm...this seems a bit fishy to me.

    It's pretty well accepted amongst archaeologists that the "First Temple" is legendary; it didn't actually exist.

    Also, as someone who has been an antiques dealer for the past couple of decades, as well as a collector of antiquities, this piece looks completely wrong for being a stone that was supposedly engraved 3,000 years ago, and has been buried since then. It lacks the contact marks, erosion, weathering and bleaching that one would expect.

    My suspicion is that this was recently created as a way to lend legitimacy to the Jewish claim to Jerusalem. Unfortunately, fake antiquities are all too common, and aren't infrequently created to promote or support a particular sociopolitical claim. (Cf. "The Gospel of Jesus' Wife")

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm not defending it in any way, but a clay ball of that tiny size, buried without use is unlikely to have much in the way of contact marks and bleaching. Beka stones have been found in that area in the past. No real way to date them, but coins with the bet mark go as early as 5000 BC.

      As for it being "pretty well accepted that the 'First Temple' is legendary," I would disagree with you there. The Waqf certainly wants to declare it legendary, while the Israeli Antiquities Authority wants it proved. The Waqf dumps the excavated refuse and doesn't want it examined by the Israelis. That alone rings my alarm bells every time I hear it.

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