By happy coincidence, three articles came together in this issue to provide a rare in-depth look at one of Jerusalem’s most dramatic, but at the same time hidden, features: its ancient underground water systems, which include both Hezekiah’s tunnel and Warren’s Shaft. Gifted photographer Garo Nalbandian waded, undaunted, into neck-high water to take many of the photographs illustrating these Biblically significant structures.
Hezekiah’s tunnel, one of the great engineering achievements of the ancient world, contains several baffling features. Dug to ensure Jerusalem’s water supply during the siege of the Assyrian king Sennacherib in 701 B.C., the 1,748-foot tunnel meanders for no apparent reason, its ceiling rises to a great height in places and the tunnelers who dug it seemingly lacked a source of ventilation. Similarly, the adjacent Warren’s Shaft water system poses puzzles to historians and engineers alike: Why does it contain an adjacent dead-end shaft, a nearly hairpin turn in the access tunnel and a second exit tunnel? With a single stroke, Dan Gill answers all these questions in “How They Met: Geology Solves Long-Standing Mystery of Hezekiah’s Tunnelers.” Gill proposes that both the Warren’s Shaft system and Hezekiah’s tunnel began as part of a natural cave system, which was enlarged and adapted for human use.
Gill is a senior geologist with the Geological Survey of Israel. Previously he worked as a petroleum geologist and as head of the Mathematical Geology Section of the Geological Survey of Israel. From 1985 to 1987, Gill served as chief technical adviser and senior hydrogeologist of a UN Development Program project in Thailand. In 1980 he received Israel’s Geological Society award for outstanding contributions to geology.
A single word, tsinnor—appearing only twice in the Bible—has spawned centuries of controversy over its proper translation. The dispute is more than academic, because on this word hangs the secret of how Joab penetrated the Jebusite city of Jerusalem (Jebus), thereby leading David’s successful attack on the city in about 1000 B.C. (2 Samuel 5:6–8 and 1 Chronicles 11:4–6). The recent discovery of a parallel word in Ugaritic by Terence Kleven upholds the most common translation, “watershaft” or “water channel,” as explained in “Up the Waterspout: How David’s General Joab Got Inside Jerusalem.” This translation strongly supports the possibility that Joab entered the city through the Warren’s Shaft water system.
A professor of Jewish history at Hebrew University in Jerusalem, Kleven is proficient in many languages besides Ugaritic, including Hebrew, Aramaic, Arabic, Greek and Syriac. With a doctorate in Biblical interpretation and eastern philosophy, Kleven currently teaches courses in Bible and political philosophy. He claims, however, that what really keeps him busy are the four best kids he knows, his children.
Stifled by time and custom, the authentic voice of the common people of ancient days rarely reaches us. Monumental inscriptions tell of the deeds of kings, the Bible presents the royal perspective in its historical books and most other inscriptions preserve only a dry economic record. For this alone, the Siloam Inscription is extraordinary; it records the thoughts and emotions of an anonymous non-noble at the dramatic moment in about 701 B.C. when diggers working from opposite directions broke through to each other near the middle of Hezekiah’s tunnel. The inscription is all the more noteworthy for offering another perspective on the Biblical story of this engineering wonder. In “Siloam Inscription Memorializes Engineering Achievement,” Simon B. Parker reveals the unusual perspectives of the inscription through an analysis of its style and content.
Parker is associate professor of Hebrew Bible and the Harrel F. Beck Scholar of Hebrew Scripture at Boston University’s School of Theology and Graduate School. Many of his numerous publications deal with Ugaritic language and literature, including 005The Pre-Biblical Narrative Tradition (Scholars Press, 1989) and a forthcoming translation of Ugaritic narratives in Writings from the Ancient World series (Scholars Press).
“John Strugnell cannot be permitted to function any longer as chief editor of the Dead Sea Scrolls,” BAR editor Hershel Shanks wrote in 1991, condemning the Harvard University professor who controlled scroll publication from 1987 to 1991. Shanks was responding to an anti-Semitic interview that Strugnell gave to the Hebrew newspaper Ha’aretz in late 1990 (largely translated in “Chief Dead Sea Scroll Editor Denounces Judaism, Israel; Claims He’s Seen Four More Scrolls Found by Bedouin,” BAR 17:01), which led to Strugnell’s dismissal as chief editor. But despite his stormy relationship with BAR, Strugnell agreed to a lengthy interview by Shanks and today the two enjoy a collegial relationship. In “Ousted Chief Scroll Editor Makes His Case,” Strugnell attempts to explain the controversial statements he made in the earlier interview, discusses the current state of scroll research and hints that more scrolls—long on the black market—may yet come to light.
Virtually absent from public life since 1990, Strugnell is now preparing his memoirs for publication. The book will cover his nearly 40-year involvement with the Dead Sea Scrolls.
In “Yigael Yadin: Hoarder and Monopolist,” Strugnell shares his views on the preeminent Israeli archaeologist’s activities as a “scrollster”—Yadin was involved both in the acquisition and publication of some of the most important Dead Sea Scrolls, and uncovered several fragmentary scrolls in his excavation of the desert fortress of Masada. Dissenting from the glowing eulogies Yadin received after his death in 1984, Strugnell claims that Yadin’s approach to the scrolls—which, Strugnell says, included high-handedly usurping a scroll assigned to another scholar—was more monopolistic then the team of official editors Strugnell was to lead.
Born in England, Strugnell received his M.A. from Jesus College, Oxford University. In the early 1950s, he came to Jerusalem, as an original member of the official Dead Sea Scroll publication team. Strugnell is now on medical leave from Harvard University Divinity School, where he has been an associate professor of Christian origins since 1966. He is the co-editor, with Elisha Qimron, of the forthcoming volume on the important and controversial scroll known as MMT (Oxford Univ. Press).
“‘David’ Found at Dan,” declared our BAR 20:02 article on the electrifying discovery at Tel Dan of an inscription that refers to the “House of David.” But is it really the dynastic house of David? Philip Davies, in “‘House of David’ Built on Sand,” writes that the reading of excavator Avraham Biran and epigraphist Joseph Naveh is premature. Anyway, says Davies, King David has about as much historical reality as King Arthur.
Davies is professor of biblical studies at the University of Sheffield, in England, specializing in the Dead Sea Scrolls. His books include In Search of Ancient Israel (JSOT, 1992), The Damascus Covenant (JSOT, 1983) and Qumran (Eerdmans, 1982).
By happy coincidence, three articles came together in this issue to provide a rare in-depth look at one of Jerusalem’s most dramatic, but at the same time hidden, features: its ancient underground water systems, which include both Hezekiah’s tunnel and Warren’s Shaft. Gifted photographer Garo Nalbandian waded, undaunted, into neck-high water to take many of the photographs illustrating these Biblically significant structures. Hezekiah’s tunnel, one of the great engineering achievements of the ancient world, contains several baffling features. Dug to ensure Jerusalem’s water supply during the siege of the Assyrian king Sennacherib in 701 B.C., the 1,748-foot tunnel meanders […]