Translated by Steven Schwarzman.


In various translations, “Ophel” is translated in different ways—“citadel,” “tower” or “excrescence” (Jerusalem Bible, 2 Kings 5:24)—or left untranslated, because no one knows its exact meaning. The root “Ophel” (‘PL) should be understood simply as the upper city—the part of a city that is higher than the rest and is enclosed with a wall. The different translations often approach this meaning, but they lack an understanding of the reality behind the word.


The “millo” (MIL-loh; related to the Hebrew word for “earthen fill”) was a terraced supporting construction in Jerusalem (and probably elsewhere), which continually needed repair and strengthening. The word is used six times in the Bible. “Beth (BAYT) Millo” was the “House of Millo,” a building associated with the millo, apparently the king’s palace at the “Lower House of the King,” in the City of David.



The excavations were conducted on behalf of the Institute of Archaeology of Hebrew University of Jerusalem in association with the Israel Exploration Society.


See Siegfried H. Horn, “Why the Moabite Stone Was Blown to Pieces,” BAR 12:03. In this article, Horn understands the word “Qorchah” in the stone’s text to refer to the name of a place—that is, a city. This is a hypothesis without foundation. There is no city that we know of by this name. It is generally accepted that Qorchah should be understood as part of Dibon, the capital of Moab, mainly because the whole paragraph concerns Mesha’s activity in Dibon. According to Benjamin Mazar (in Encyclopedia Biblica [Jerusalem: Tomus Quartus, 1962], p. 923, in Hebrew), the word “Qorchah” means the fortified palace of the king, based on ancient Mesopotamian records. On the basis of our discoveries in Jerusalem, it seems that the term “Ophel” refers to the fortified upper section of a capital city; in the Ophel can be found royal buildings and prestigious dwellings. The Qorchah was situated inside the Ophel. Thus, the prophet Elisha did not actually live in the area of the inner fortress of Samaria, but in the larger area of the Ophel, which was apparently on the lower terrace, inside what the excavators called the “lower wall.”


See Benjamin Mazar, in Encyclopedia Biblica, p. 923.


See Hershel Shanks, “The City of David After Five Years of Digging,” BAR 11:06; Yigal Shiloh, “Jerusalem’s Water Supply During Siege—The Rediscovery of Warren’s Shaft,” BAR 07:04; Mendel Kaplan and Yigal Shiloh, “Digging in the City of David,” BAR 05:04; see also Yigal Shiloh, “The Material Culture of Judah and Jerusalem in Iron Age II: Origins and Influences,” in The Land of Israel: Cross-Roads of Civilizations, Proceedings of the Conference Held in Brussels, December 3–5, 1984, ed. E. Lipinski (Lueven: Uitgevvrij Peeters, 1985), pp. 113–146, esp. pp. 115–117.


Nahman Avigad, “A Note on an Impression from a Woman’s Seal,” Israel Exploration Journal 37 (1987), pp. 18–19.


The Ophel excavations were conducted under the auspices of the Institute of Archaeology of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, with the assistance of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, the Jerusalem Foundation, the Department of Antiquities of the Israel Ministry of Education and Culture, the East Jerusalem Development Company and Dr. Reuben Hecht.

Seven weeks of excavation were conducted in March, April and September 1986. Four additional weeks were conducted in September 1987. Professor Benjamin Mazar and Eilat Mazar headed the expedition. Members of the team included: Yonatan Nadelman, principal assistant and area supervisor; Paul Davies, assistant supervisor; Aharon Meir, Tamar Shabi, Yigal Yisrael, Shoshi Yisraeli, Stephen Wimmer and Zvika Shamir, area supervisors; and Margalit Hayush, registrar. Thanks also to Ditza Shmuel, for registration and drawing; to surveyors Leen Ritmeyer, Wolf Schleicher; to architects Doron Chen, David Milson and Gary Lipton—who also prepared the final plans; and to photographers Ilan Sztulman and Gabi Laron. Yaacov Kalman and Manoach Zahavi were in charge of field administration; Ruti Rivak, restoration; MaryLou Goetz, laboratory; and Shifra Eisenstein, drawing.

Special thanks are due to my colleague Egon Lass, for his assistance in the project’s initial stage.

I am also most grateful to Professor Amihai Mazar and to David Tarler, supervisor of Area G at the City of David Excavations, for their important and enlightening comments.

Also taking part were workers and volunteers who assisted greatly in various ways.


Yohanan Aharoni, ed., Beer-Sheba I: Excavations at Tel Beer-Sheba, 1969–1971 Seasons (Tel Aviv: Tel Aviv Univ. Institute of Archaeology, 1973), pl. 84.


Eilat Mazar and Benjamin Mazar, Excavations in the South of the Temple Mount: The Ophel of Biblical Jerusalem, forthcoming in Qedem 29, published by Hebrew University.


Robert S. Lamon, Geoffrey M. Shipton, Megiddo I, Seasons of 1925–1934. Strata I–V (Chicago: Univ. of Chicago, 1939), figs. 12, 29.