JERUSALEM-the 50 sites you may overlook

In a historic and religious city like Jerusalem there is so much to see no matter how much you tour. When time is a limiting factor, even the most efficient tour guides have to compromise while deciding what to incorporate in the itinerary. Although it depends on the interest of the individual visitor as well, there is still a huge must-see-list in Jerusalem that cannot be avoided. At every stop so much information is thrown on a visitor that sometimes s/he tends to forget the details after leaving the place.

I remember when I first visited the Church of Holy Sepulcher, it appeared to me more like a small museum than a church. I was virtually clueless inside a dark and dull overcrowded massive complex of more than 25 chapels with several curious artifacts and antiques scattered under some dusky arches and dingy columns. It took me at least three visits with a proper map in hand to understand the Church complex. A normal visitor for instance would be satisfied with Golgotha, the ‘Stone of Unction’ and the ‘Holy Sepulcher’, but the oldest part of the complex, viz. the first century tombs inside the Syrian Orthodox Chapel could be easily missed.

In the upcoming posts I plan to upload 50 such sites from Jerusalem that I believe can be easily overlooked or go unnoticed by an average visitor. I am incorporating the following sites from my previous visits, again with no specific order of importance. I am sure that a serious traveler who loves history, traditions and the Bible has noticed or been to most of them.

Monday, July 16, 2012

"Mesha Stele" or "Moabite Stone" (9th Century BC), Louvre Museum, Paris. Considered as one of the oldest inscription where the sacred name "Yahweh" (YHWH) is used in written form. The name 'Israel' is mentioned 6 times in this stele from 840 BC.

"The Mesha Stele" or the "Moabite Stone" was by erected by the Biblical King "Mesha", king of Moab, at Dhiban (in modern Jordan) around 840 BC. Scribbled on a three feet tall black basalt rock in Moabite language (very similar to ancient Hebrew), the 34-lined Mesha Stele is one of the longest monumental inscriptions ever found from Israel-Palestine region.

"And Mesha king of Moab was a sheepmaster, and rendered unto the king of Israel an hundred thousand lambs, and an hundred thousand rams, with the wool.But it came to pass, when Ahab was dead, that the king of Moab rebelled against the king of Israel"( 2 Kings 3:4-5).

Mesha stele is an important discovery in the field of Biblical archaeology due to a couple of reasons. It is the first non-biblical text (and one of the oldest too) or inscription found in modern times using “Yahweh” (YHWH, or Jehovah), as a name for the God of Israel. The name “Israel” is mentioned six times on the stele. It also names Israel’s sixth king Omri and refers to his sons as well. Some identify the stele containing the earliest mention of the "House of David". In addition, the stone validates  many places mentioned in the Bible.

The stele was discovered in 1868, in Dhiban (biblical Dibon) by the German missionary F.A. Klein.In 1873,the local  Bedouins smashed the stone into pieces, assuming that it contained a treasure after they saw the great interest it aroused among Europeans. They broke the stele into several fragments, burned it and poured water on it. How unfortunate it is after surviving nature's harshness for about 2500 years, this historic inscription meets such a tragic fate in greedy human hands.

Luckily, with the help of an impression of the Stone made by a young Frenchman named Charles Clermont-Ganneau before it was broken, archaeologists were able to reconstruct about two-thirds of the texts inscribed on the stone (613 of the estimated 1000 letters). Around 60 fragments were recovered (38 purchased by Clermont-Ganneau himself) and the stele was reconstructed in Paris. Since 1875, it has been displayed in Louvre Museum, paris.

In the 18th line of the inscription appear the Sacred name, "Yahweh" and the word "Israel". Look for the words in the enlarged snap.

Mesha Stele (9th Century BC)

See, the word "Yahweh" in the right end (1) and "Israel" in the left end (2) in ancient Moabite language.

A street from Old City of Jerusalem

The holiest spots of Christianity, Golgotha and Holy Sepuchre, Jerusalem.