Ahab's Temple

This blog continues to explore the temple that sits atop Mount Gerizim. This may also be the location of Ahab's temple. This blog explores the evidence. Also, a flurry of new features landed in the scripture apps this week, details follow below.

The Samaritan People (Youtube.com)

The link here is to a short, 23 minute, video that introduces the modern Samaritan people. This is the modern remnant of the people we read about in the NT at Sychar. This covers some of the modern history of that group. This video is the source of comments I made in the earlier blog about population statistics.

They are generally accepted as the modern heirs of the northern kingdom of ancient Israel. Neither these people, nor the Jews, are the bulk of the lost tribes. The bulk of the populations were deported by the Assyrians and became Rome. The Jews and Samaritans are at best remnants that remained in the land.

The existence of Samaritans is in some ways a witness against some of the general claims made by Jews and Christians regarding the general history of Canaan.

So if you are not familiar with this group generally, I would recommend watching the video linked above.

This group's primary modern neighborhood is on the south side of the ruins of the Samaritan temple that once sat atop mount Gerizim. In earlier times they were centered at the town of Sychar east and below Gerizim. They also had their capital in Samaria, which I will get to below.

The Woman At The Well's Well (youtube.com)

The link here is to another short video showing the modern location of the story of the woman at the well. There is now a church at that location, which is typical of all of the holy sites.

In a few of the slides you can see the hill above Sychar where the Samaritan temple was located.

This valley, and location of the well was known as Shechem in more ancient writings. It was the valley where the tribes gathered for Tabernacles from the time of Joshua son of Nun going forward. Of course without all the modern buildings.

We have long hunched that the NT editors where shifting references to the Samaritan temple to the Jewish temple as they were pulling the story of Joshua in the NT to be a branch of the Jewish religion. So for example, Joshua's age 12 visit to the Jerusalem temple may have been a visit to the Samaritan temple instead.

We have long tried to fill in the history in this valley because it was also likely in this valley where Abraham's scroll vault was located. We also think the land of Abraham's scroll vault was eventually inherited by Joshua.

We recently stumbled on a serious new clue in our hunt for this history. Let me explain.

Ahab's Temple (1 Kings 21:1, BRB)

The link here is to 1 Kings 21:1, the introduction to the story of Ahab where we learn about how he came to take Naboth's vineyard.

Probably everyone reading this blog who knows the story, knows it as a story where Ahab is trying to increase the land for his own house, often called his palace. There is a problem with this verse. Conventional English translations do not track the key underlying term well.

Ryan has been auditing the BRB against various important key words found in the Aramaic text. He is generally changing English in the BRB to agree consistently with those high value words.

It is not possible to reason about how the text explains the world around us unless the English terms map back 1-to-1 against the underlying original language text. Ryan recently worked through the Aramaic term 'Fe-Ku-Lu', the root for the word that in English normally becomes 'temple.'

Ryan found an Aramaic 'temple' reference in a very unexpected place, the introduction to the story of Ahab and Jezebel.

Those 2 people did not want to take Naboth's vineyard to expand their "Ba-Yo-Ta" or the house/palace as we normally think. They wanted Naboth's vineyard to expand Ahab's "Fe-Ku-Lu" or temple.

Fe-Ku-Lu is the root for English words like 'facility' or 'faculty' or 'fecal.' (Note the K becomes C on the way to these English words.)

Ahab's House (1 Kings 22:39 BRB)

The link here is to the other place where Ahab's house is mentioned. In this case it really is a house. In this case it is telling us that Ahab built a house/palace of ivory.

In this case the text is using the normal root for house, 'Ba-Yo-Ta.' So the stories surrounding Naboth and his vineyard are at Ahab's temple, while he has a house of ivory, identified by the use of a different term.

Use of 2 different terms suggests strongly these are 2 different things. Ahab's temple was not Ahab's house/palace.

In preparing this blog I went back and checked Ryan's work on this. Indeed, he is translating this as the base text would call out. But I also wanted to check that the Hebrew was using the same term these 2 places as well.

I fully expected to find the 'Ba-Yo-Ta' in both places. This would make the change into a likely Ezra era edit. I expected this because the normally careful translations like the NIV are calling both of these locations Ahab's house/palace. The NIV never mentions Ahab's temple.

What I found surprised me. Hebrew and Aramaic are in agreement. Ahab had 2 different structures, a 'Fe-Ku-Lu' (Temple) and a 'Ba-Yo-Ta' (house/palace). Naboth's vineyard was taken to be able to expand the temple, not the house. Anyone reading the Hebrew can easily see these are not the same word. This is not an Aramaic fight any more.

The removal of Ahab's temple from translation is happening later in history, at least when the KJV level of English translation is happening.

Someone in the modern translation traditions did not want to tell English readers that Ahab had a temple that was independent of his house.

I then turned to the next question. Was Samaria, the town of Ahab, like Jerusalem, with a house/palace and a temple in close proximity? In Jerusalem Solomon built both a temple and a house/palace. 7 years he spent building his temple. 13 years he spent building his house/palace.

Or was Ahab's temple somewhere else? Was that temple farther away?

To understand that town better, we turn to another video. This time, a walking tour of the remains of ancient Samaria, renamed by Romans as Sebastia, a name it retains to this day. Here is the link.

Sebastia (Youtube.come)

This video is by the same tour guide we have used before, Zahi Shaked. As he explains, this is in Palestinian territory. There is a bus tour available on Wednesdays so Israelis can visit the site. You will see Israeli army soldiers who are escorting the tour Zahi was part of. Note that army escort is required by law in Israel whenever there are school age children on field trips. You will see that too.

The video starts near the bus parking lot, which is more clear at the end. The columns early in the video are what remain from the time of the Romans. Pay attention as he discusses how different styles of stonework match different historical eras.

Below the Roman layer is a layer from the time of Alexander the Great, who also conquered this territory. Below that are remains from Ahab's house of ivory. Zahi points out the area where ivory was found in excavations atop that mountain. The political situation is usually blamed for why there is no recent archaeological work done in this area. It may also be that the powers that be do not want anything counter to their Jerusalem temple narrative to be dug up.

There is a walking path that circles the rim of the top of the hill of Samaria. Zahi walks that path counter clockwise. He shows the various remains and history there as he goes. He also shows views in various directions from the hill. You will get a very good sense of the size and prominence of that hill.

Zahi adds a bunch of details about Herod and the NT history that is thought to have happened here too. In particular, as Herod's seat of Roman era government, any interaction with John the Baptist also happened here.

There is a church that Zahi shows atop the mountain dedicated to the history of John the Baptist. It is unclear to us if Ananias might have written in some of the story of John. John the Baptist might have gone on to become John the writer of Revelation. We will see as the audit work progresses.

There is another church related to John in view at the bottom of the mountain. That one is where John is thought to be buried.

Zahi also shows where Naboth's vineyard might have been located if the conventional wisdom is correct, that Ahab's palace and temple were the same structure. Arabs do not drink wine, so the mountain is now an olive grove. The curse pronounced over Samaria in the text is that it would become a vineyard. Close enough for a modern fulfillment.

How Did Ahab Get Here?

If you are familiar with the general history of the northern kingdom, you know it was formed at a civil war that happened soon after the death of Solomon.

The key events that triggered that civil war took place in the valley of Shechem. The southerners were sent back to Jerusalem and the northerners remained where they were.

Eventually, after a capital in Tirzah, land is purchased from Shemer for a new capital. The modern place name for that is the roman city named Sebastia. The video above was taken on the eastern edges of that modern Arab village that is part of Nablus, the town that sits between Gerizim and Gebal.

Here is a link to Google maps so you can see Sebastia (ancient town of Samaria) and where it is located in the broader geography.

Sebastia (Google Maps)

What you need to notice is that Sebastia is northwest of Nablus. Nablus is wedged in the valley floor between Gebal and Gerizim. You can use Google maps to find a driving route between Sebastia and Gerizim. The driving distance is about 10 miles, the last several going up switchbacks to get to the top of Gerizim. By straight line distance it is well under 10 miles from Ahab's house to the location of the Samaritan's temple.

What I am implying here is that Ahab's temple might have been the northern kingdom's already extant temple atop mount Gerizim. Ahab's temple might not have been atop the Sebastia hill at all. Thus the writer of Kings was using different terms to distinguish 2 very different places. Ahab's temple might well be what we know from history as the temple discussed in the story with the Woman at the Well.

Modern translators who are making Ahab's Temple into his house are trying to hide the elephant in the room, the big temple atop Gerizim. They are playing to an exclusivity narrative of the Jerusalem temple location that even the Hebrew base text does not support. These translators are trying to hide the Samaritan people and their claim to a northern temple.

Patterns At Jerusalem

At Jerusalem we have the seat of government and the Temple in very short proximity to each other. The entire town of Jerusalem is tightly integrated together.

It looks like Ahab's seat of government was about 10 miles away from his temple. The Northern Kingdom's history suggests why the kings before Ahab would want to move away from existing towns and why a defensible hill would be so appealing.

In this view, the reference in 1 Kings 21:1 is providing historical continuity back to Shechem and the stories there. But, importantly, all of this also moves the location of Naboth's vineyard.

Naboth's Vineyard

So where was Naboth's vineyard? Presumably on the land at the south side of the temple complex atop Gerizim.

We have long thought that Naboth's vineyard was the source of the fuser used in the ink for the scrolls made in the time of the Judges at Shechem. The heritage of Naboth is why he is so firm on resisting selling out to Ahab.

Naboth's vineyard being up the hill from Shechem makes a lot of sense. The vinegar produced at that vineyard only needed to be brought down the mountain. Somewhere near Shechem is where that ingredient would be used for making the ink used in making scrolls. That vineyard might have been planted on a nearby hill intentionally to minimize travel distance to the scroll works at Shechem.

Joshua's Home Town

So now let me add more to the story. When Joshua is finished at Sychar, he leaves with a comment that a prophet is without honor in his home town (see John 4:40-43). That story stands in contradiction to the idea that he was born in Bethlehem.

Even some of the Jews thought he was a Samaritan. See John 8:48 for an example. They may have been correct in terms of his origin, and their mistake was to think he shared the theology of the Samaritans.

We generally think Shechem/Sychar is where he was born and where his family had property. They had likely inherited land all the way down from Abraham. It would turn out to be on their own land where Joshua was born.

Now, think about his age 12 visit to the temple. They traveled their yearly. See Luke 2:40-46. Was the location of this travel changed too?

Maybe their yearly visit was from Nazareth to their home town. They needed to travel yearly to check on their farm. What temple would he have visited at age 12?

The Samaritan temple up the hill from Sychar is as good as any. Now we have a possible new name. Maybe we can also call it Ahab's Temple.

In the story of the woman at the well, Joshua rejects both temple systems. He sees them as equal. Throughout much of history they were. They were competing with each other only in details.

Both were created as branches of secular government. Joshua did not just have a problem with, say, the Jewish temple, but with all temples.

As should we.

Updates This Week

The scripture apps are back on their weekly update schedule. Most of the underlying tech is settling down. The apps are now starting to get new features. Let me explain what is new this week.

Quote Links

Last week Quote Links had started to become active. But the code was not yet finished. This week we finished the code and formatting support for 'hot quote links.' This means that any quote link can be clicked/tapped and the apps will go to the other end of the quote link.

Once there, the return link then gets highlighted so readers can quickly return to where they left off using the same trick. This makes quote links easy, fast and safe to use. It is hard to get lost, at least when going only 1 quote link out.

In the BRB all quote links support this round trip use. In the TT some quote links have no destination. These dead links are marked with a strike-through in their cite and they have no interaction.

URL Changes

Quote links are similar to search results and the destinations for lots. All 3 systems cause movement in the displayed page and changes to the displayed text. These systems now uniformly use internal signalling to make this all work.

The URL on the app itself is now only used to indicate the current location in the text, nothing more. For the BRB the URL drives the book and chapter. For the TT the URL drives the book. Everything else is done internally.

This makes everything faster and it eliminates a bunch of trouble with validating the URL that might have been tampered by someone. It also allows us to think about different possible uses and formats for the URL itself.

Poetic Forms

This week, the code and formatting support for poetry was added. 2 examples are in the text to test that this is working. See the paragraph at Genesis 4:23 for an example. In that example Lamech is speaking in a poetic form.

Lamech's family line seems to have learned how to use iron and copper, guitar and harp. So they mastered electricity and frequency. These were probably used later as a weapon, to destroy the world of Noah's day.

Use of poetic form at that point in the story adds a limited but important detail to our general understanding of the world before Noah. Poetic forms are just another use of frequency.

Psalms 1 and 2 are other examples where the new poetic markup tags are in use. In the case of Psalms 2 you can see how the speaker voice is changing with the stanza structure of the chapter. The change in voice is evidence that the Psalms were being changed in keeping with the poetic structure.

Adding poetic formatting to all areas where this is found in the text is work that will be done in the future as time and resources allow. The tech for this, though, is now solidly in place.

Block Formatting

This week, the code and formatting support for special formatting of blocks of text was added. In general, this new code gives formatting control to groups of paragraphs. This capability then gets applied to all paragraphs within these special blocks of text.

In this week's update, block formatting is being added to specially format embedded letters. See the letter in Ezra 7 as a big example. Again, note how the change in voice has formatting details to go with it. Note how it is indented like typical block quotes in standard writing.

The most important letters are those that identify the villains. These are so important that letters deserve some special formatting.

We have reviewed special formatting in standard printed Bibles. At times use of special formatting seems excessive. We plan on using it sparingly.

List Medallions

This week, the code and formatting support was added for list related medallions. See Ephesians 6:12-17 for an example. Items in lists are marked with a distinct medallion in the flow of running text. Those medallions count position in the list and indicate the number of items in the list. Be sure to turn the medallions on under Lists in the options menu.

The number of items in these lists is something that is very important to understanding all lists. This is because all inspired lists of the same length are to be matched against each other for interpretation.

We would expect readers to recognize exactly how to use these markers given only the list length. For example, the villain list is 6 long, and lists of 7 wrap back to 6. This is as I explained in a recent blog.

All inspired lists of 6 and/or 7 are expected to grid to the villains in some way. At times villain lists are expanding on their individual villainy and at other times the lists of 6 and/or 7 are explaining how we are to escape their villainous clutches.

Currently the medallion for lists is only a visual effect. They are formatted more like buttons because we may make them active eventually. We will get a better feel for what pressing such a button should do as we add more of these markers to the text. As with all these new markup based features, adding these list medallions will take time to add to the BRB markup.

Assist In Translation

The code and formatting for marking assists in translation has also been added this week.

These are a strange concept that goes back at least to the KJV translators around 1600. Those translators knew well that they were adding English words that did not have any matched word in the Hebrew and/or Greek.

At times these were probably done for real reasons of translators. At other times I suspect they were added because of pressure from external sources. They were working for the king himself, after all. They could be burned at the stake for their work, so they had to do what they were told.

So they used a different font to mark words where no actual support for the word was found in their source documents. Originally their translation was printed in a gothic font, while inserted words were printed in a simple font.

Eventually this convention was changed. A regular font was used for the normal text and inserted words were printed in an italic font.

The 'flies' in the plague of flies is an example of this in the KJV. The KJV has 20,949 total places where the translators added words beyond what they felt the base text normally allowed them to translate. This is not a small game.

The use of font changes as a convention was likely importantly so subtle that normal readers would not even notice what game might be afoot with these sorts of words.

The modern academic convention used to mark where this is going on is through the use of square brackets. '[' opens an insertion. ']' closes an insertion. This convention screams at readers that some game is afoot at this point in the text. We will be using the square bracket notation in the texts we manage to mark when this is going on.

So the use of brackets will show up soon in the KJV where we use the KJV in our apps. The quote boxes in the bibletime.com articles will be the first place to see this, but not this week.

In the BRB text our philosophy is to not use inserted words whenever possible. There really has been a game in play in most English language Bibles. We do not want to play that game. We want to expose that game.

In order to test our new tech in the BRB, there is 1 single inserted word example at the start of Genesis 1:1. If you want to see an example of what this looks like, go there.

That example is not likely to remain in the BRB for very many weeks. So check it out now while you still can.

Shop Work

I have kept 3 of the 3d printers busy this week. My attention is on getting ready to do large clock faces on the new, large, 3d printer. On the equipment side this means getting the new printer configured for automatic multi-color printing. This is not absolutely required for the current designs, but it is an important feature for future possible designs.

An 'Enraged Rabbit Carrot Feeder' kit arrived this week to that end. Many more 3d printed parts are needed for that kit to be built and installed. I started printing those parts in earnest this week. It was easy to keep 3d printers fed as I continued to do code work for the scripture apps.

I am also currently 3d printing the SP1 by Steve Peterson. This is a popular, free, downloadable design for a weight driven pendulum clock. It requires over 90 hours of printer time for the 3d printed parts. I've got a Prusa working on this model. Maybe another week to get those parts printed.

I want to see it in my hands to learn more about the gearing, escapement and winding used in mechanical clocks. A working clock is now on my list of Tabernacle items, so I need an education in how clocks actually work.

Maybe I can design a clock with a proper second hand? We will see.

More Later,