Queries & Comments

More Queries & Comments Spring 2024

The Millo

THE ARTICLE “The Millo: Jerusalem’s Lost Monument,” by Chris McKinny et al. is excellent and makes a good case for the purpose and location of the Millo. I would like to add some points to support the article by following a possible chronology of events in the life of the Millo as the authors have cited it.

In 2 Samuel 5:8, we read that David suggested the Jebusite city be taken by “going up the water shaft.” My interpretation had been that Joab and his men climbed up Warren’s Shaft or something similar.  However, I do not know whether the shaft existed at that date. In any case, the biblical description could also describe climbing up whatever access route existed from the spring into the city, even if the house over the spring was a smaller structure than the Spring Tower shown in the article.

In 2 Samuel 5:9, we read that David “built the city all around from the Millo inward.” I suggest we can assume that this included enlarging and fortifying the Millo/Spring House. The next event recorded regarding the Millo is the crowning of Solomon at the Gihon Spring (1 Kings 1:33).

Then there is 1 Kings 9:15, where we are given a list of the several facilities that Solomon built: “… the house of the Lord and his own house and the Millo and the wall of Jerusalem and Hazor and Megiddo and Gezer ….” I concur with the authors that the Millo must have been a major facility to be included in this list. We also read, in 1 Kings 11:27, that “Solomon built the Millo and closed the breach of the City of David.” This probably greatly enlarged the Millo, which would then appropriately be part of the major projects listed in verse 15.

The next Millo reference is in 2 Chronicles 32:3–5. With Sennacherib having already defeated most cities in Judah, Hezekiah digs a tunnel from the Gihon Spring under the City of David to the west side so the water flowed into the Pool of Siloam. In verse 4, we read, “A great many people were gathered, and they stopped all the springs and the brook that flowed through the land ….” Once the tunnel was complete, the Spring Tower over the Gihon Spring was apparently blocked with rock and debris. Even if Sennacherib’s forces were aware of the spring’s location, the Judahites on the wall above would be able to defend it.

Verse 4 also says they stopped all the springs, which would have included Ein Rogel, located about 650 feet down the Kidron from Gihon. Regarding the brook, that likely refers to the Kidron, which, before Hezekiah’s Tunnel, would have flowed year-round because of Gihon overflow that was not being used.

Steven C. Borell
Lindsborg, Kansas


Shimon’s Receipt

On page 16, there is a small news article about “Shimon’s Receipt.” The last paragraph is a bit misleading since it reads, “Recovered from an old tunnel created in the 19th century.” Those who do not know its history might think the drainage ditch was first created in the 1800s, not knowing that it was first excavated in the 1800s. That tunnel existed well before AD 70, and ran under the now-excavated pilgrimage road, which had been enhanced by Herod Agrippa, if I recall correctly from Josephus.

Lia Mason
Scottsdale, Arizona

The team headed by Joe Uziel of the Israel Antiquities Authority recently concluded that the road construction was started and completed under the Roman prefect Pontius Pilate, around AD 31. This is because the coins they found under the pavement do not predate Pilate, and the latest one dates to around AD 31. But not everyone agrees with these findings published in Tel Aviv 46.2 (2019). Some, such as Leen Ritmeyer, assume it was built not long before AD 70, likely under Agrippa II. In AD 70, the road ended up buried under rubble following the Roman destruction of Jerusalem. And, indeed, the road was first excavated by British archaeologists Frederick Bliss and Archibald Dickie at the end of the nineteenth century.—Ed.


The Location of Ur

THE ANSWER TO “WHERE IS IT?” states that the great Sumerian city of Ur “was also known to the biblical writers as the birthplace of the patriarch Abraham (Genesis 11:31).” This popular belief and oft-repeated statement is totally baseless, however. Instead, as I have published on several occasions, including here, the birthplace of Abraham is to be identified with Urfa (called Ura in antiquity), located in modern south-central Turkey, 28 miles north of Harran (also mentioned in Genesis 11:31).

While I cannot review all the evidence here, suffice to note that Abraham’s homeland was located “beyond the River [Euphrates]” (Joshua 24:2‒3), which works for Urfa in northern Mesopotamia, but not for Ur of Sumer in southern Mesopotamia. The same opinion was expressed on the pages of BAR many years ago by my teacher Cyrus Gordon (BAR, June 1977); and then Hershel Shanks also weighed in on the matter decades later (BAR, January/February 2000).

Gary A. Rendsburg
Distinguished Professor
Rutgers University
Brunswick, New Jersey


Moses as Pharaoh’s Equal

IN RENDSBURG’S ARTICLE “Moses as Pharaoh’s Equal—Horns and All” (Fall 2023), the focus is on the Hebrew word qaran. A brief look at the Masoretic text shows that the Masorites pointed this word as a Qal verb, not as a noun. My investigation of multiple lexicons consistently stated that the Qal form indicates “rays,” while the Hiphil form would suggest “growing horns.” The other uses of q-r-n are pointed as a noun, which does mean “horn.”

I also disagree with the interpretation of Exodus 4:16 and 7:1 as suggesting that Moses was “elevated to the level of deity.” Instead, I would see those verses as an emphasis on Moses’s authority with the phrase “as a god” or “like god.”

Daniel Burnham
Uniontown, Ohio


The Genesis of Judaism

I WANT TO COMMENT on Yonatan Adler’s recent BAR article “The Genesis of Judaism” (Winter 2022). Adler posits a very slow onset of halachic observance in the public sphere, as late as the Hasmonean period, yet the article omits whole areas of halacha, totally ignoring these, as if they didn’t exist. There is a modern coloring to his outlook, and significant elements of halacha, especially those that conflict with his thesis, are simply not discussed. Thus, it seems to me that his thesis is fundamentally flawed.

My critique is that Adler apparently makes no reference to the great amount of Temple stipulations. Whether or not these were observed in the First Temple, Second Temple, or prior, clearly something was going on in the temples. Some framework of rules and practices was followed, founded upon stipulations in the Torah, whenever these may have been put down. There is a significant body of halachic-legal stipulation involved in Temple practice, and no one would question or deny that these temples existed and were in operation 800 years prior to the Hasmoneans.

David Schonberg
Jerusalem, Israel

YONATAN ADLER RESPONDS: Sacrificial worship of the Israelite/Judean national deity, YHWH, was undoubtedly practiced on a wide-scale basis many centuries prior to the Hasmonean period. Among other places, the temples in Jerusalem were certainly a central locus for this activity. There is nothing surprising about this; I know of no human group living in the ancient Near East that did not offer sacrifices to its gods. Indeed, temples abound in the entire region, and well beyond! Regardless of the society involved, sacrificial rituals (like most rituals) tend to have rules and regulations surrounding the “proper” performance of the various rites. None of this is unique to ancient Israel/Judea.

Importantly, however, none of this implies that any ancient Israelites/Judeans were practicing this sacrificial worship in line with the rules and regulations of the Torah. We simply do not know what ritual rules these early YHWH worshipers followed when performing their sacrifices. There is little compelling reason to assume that the sacrificial regulations followed at the Jerusalem temple (or other YHWH temples) during the Iron Age and Persian periods were those stipulated in the Pentateuch. Although the Pentateuchal rules concerning sacrificial worship most likely date to these early periods, this does not imply that officiating priests necessarily knew about these laws, regarded them as authoritative, and were actually putting them into practice at such an early date. To make such a claim, one would need to provide evidence of some sort. As of now, no such evidence is available.

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