JERUSALEM (JTA) — When Amit Re’em embarked on a 1999 excavation of an abandoned Ottoman prison in the Old City of Jerusalem, he didn’t expect anything revolutionary
The dig was primarily aimed at inspecting the site before it was transformed into an event space for the nearby Tower of David Museum, and Re’em, then just 28, hoped at most to uncover some remains of a Herodian palace, or maybe part of a wall from the second century.
He did find those things — along with much more.
For thy servants take pleasure in her stones, and favour the dust thereof – Psalm 102:14 (KJV).
In one 49 meters by 9 meters (160 feet by 30 feet) space, Re’em unearthed an archaeological timeline of Jerusalem dating back 2,700 years. Layers from nearly every era of the city’s history lay on top of each other, from the time of the First Temple through the Roman, Crusader and Ottoman periods, and up to Israel’s independence in 1948.
Remains from those eras are strewn throughout the Old City, but rarely are they found so close together or so well-preserved.
Called the Kishle — Turkish for prison — the site was built as a jail by the Ottoman Turks in the 1800s and used by the British in the 1940s to hold captured Jewish militia members. A map of Greater Israel etched by an imprisoned member of the pre-state Irgun militia is still visible on the wall.“The strength of the remains and the layering of them one on top of each other is like an open book, the whole historical and archaeological sequence of Jerusalem laid out in front of our eyes,” Re’em told JTA. “We expected to find things, but the strength that we saw them in was beyond our expectations.”
Below the prison lay the foundations of a fortification wall built in the eighth century BCE by the ancient Jewish King Hezekiah, who like later rulers took advantage of the site’s strategic high ground. Across the room are remains of another defensive wall built 600 years later by the Hasmoneans, who ruled Jerusalem after the Maccabees revolt.
The room also houses remains of the wall of a massive Herodian palace built near the beginning of the Common Era, as well as basins from the Crusader period that were likely used to dye clothes and tan leather. The current walls of the Old City, built by the Ottomans in the 16th century, sit atop the Herodian wall and later served as the outer wall of the prison.
Re’em also believes the room may have been the site of Jesus’ trial by Pontius Pilate. Pilate would have tried Jesus in a prominent location like Herod’s palace, Re’em said, noting that the original route of the Via Dolorosa that Jesus followed to his crucifixion passed the spot where the Kishle now stands.
“A lot of times you expect something and don’t find it because you didn’t get down to the lower layers because of logistics, budget, you name it,” Re’em said. “On the other hand, archaeological layers and remains are [sometimes] destroyed. Here we were lucky the remains weren’t damaged or destroyed. We could dig for two years from the top down to the bottom.”
Re’em’s findings convinced the Tower of David Museum not to build on the site. But since the dig ended in 2001, the room remained closed due to budget constraints until the museum’s new director, Eilat Lieber, opened it to the public last year.
The room has not been changed since 2001 and looks like an active archaeological dig. Lieber hopes to place a glass floor above the remains and to augment them with 3-D imaging that will show what the space looked like in different periods.
“It’s like a hello from different historical eras that connect us to this place and allow us to understand what was here,” Lieber told JTA. “What remains are stones, but behind the stones are what was here, who the characters were.”
Many of Re’em’s conclusions about the room are based on dating techniques and inferences from historic sources. The claim that the walls belonged to Herod’s palace come in part from the writings of the historian Josephus Flavius. Re’em’s belief that the basins were used for cloth dying is derived from an account by Benjamin of Tudela, a medieval Jewish traveler, plus remnants of red dye on the basin walls.
But Re’em added that at a certain point, dating and accuracy become less important than what the site means to visitors looking for a spiritual experience.
“As an archaeologist who works in Jerusalem, it doesn’t matter where the real location of Jesus’s trial was,” he said. “What matters is what people believe.
“At the Kishle site, people can touch the stones of the Herodian palace. Whoever wants can see this place as the location of the trial of Jesus.”
Source: Times of Israel
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Jesus Comes Before Pilate for the First Time
Scripture: Luke 23:1-5; Mark 15:1-5; Matthew 27:1-2, Matthew 27:11-14; and John 18:28-38
The Jewish leadership had coerced Pilate to set up court outside on the pavement, this request came as the Jews wanted to avoid being defiled by being inside a Gentile “domain.” The Roman officer obliged Jews and consents to hear the case. It is painfully obvious the Sanhedrinists (an assembly of 20 or men appointed in every city in the Land of Israel. See Numbers 35:24-5, and Exodus 23:2), attempt to deceive Pilate into condemning Jesus because they demanded it! Pilate was not convinced, and took Jesus to his quarters for a private interview (John 18:33-37). This would be one of the five times Pilate declares Jesus as innocent (John 18:38; Luke 23:4).
Jesus made an astounding impact upon Pilate: Note especially Paul’s injunction to Timothy in 1 Timothy 6:12-14. The “confession” of Jesus before Pilate was embedded to the memory of the early church.
Meanwhile, The Kiss of Betrayal that leads to the Judas Iscariot Suicide – Fulfillment of the Potter’s Field Prophecy
Scripture: Matthew 27:3-10
Prior to the trial, Jesus had prophesied that Judas would betray him with a kiss. In exchange for the “kiss of betrayal,” Judas was paid thirty pieces of silver (Matthew 26:23-25). The betrayal occurred at the Garden of Gethsemane after the Last Supper. The kiss identified Jesus to the Roman soldiers, and led to his arrest. Knowing that he had betrayed Jesus and feeling remorseful, Judas went to the Chief priests to return the silver he had been given to “identify Jesus with a kiss.” (Matthew 26:15). The Priests refused the money, so Judas throws the money down in the temple and leaves to hang himself. Meanwhile, the Chief Priests said they were unable to put the money in the temple treasury – “because it is the price of blood.” So instead, they conferred and the money was used to buy the Potter’s Field – a burial-place for strangers. Which was a fulfillment of prophecy described in Matthew 27:9 (See Jeremiah 32:6-8 and Zechariah 11:12-13).
Jesus Stands Before Herod Antipas
Scripture: Luke 23:6-12
Pilate hears Jesus’ accusers claiming Jesus had begun his ministry in Galilee. Because Pilate’s jurisdiction did not include Galilee, Pilate was not able to conduct the trial. Pilate, then gets summons Herod (Governor of Galilee and Perea) and son of Herod the Great, to deal with the issue.
Jesus Before Pilate Again
Scripture: Matthew 27:15-26; Mark 15:6-15; Luke 23:13-25; and John 18:39-40
It becomes painfully clear that Pilate did not want to execute Jesus. Making several attempts to exonerate him. Eventually, threatened to tell Caesar that Pilate was willing to tolerate a ‘rebel against authority’ in his province, Pilate is persuaded and turns Jesus over to be crucified. About 8:00 a.m., Jesus is condemned to die by Roman crucifixion.
Again, Jesus is taken in the palace for a private interview with Pilate (John 19:8-13). Jesus knows that prophecy must be fulfilled. Through it all, even the betrayal and the arrest, Jesus never resists, he willingly went, and he willingly gave up the ghost, to die for us, that we may have eternal life. Just take a moment to think about that. Pilate, obviously upset that Jesus will not answer his questions, asserts his authority by saying he has given the vested authority to crucify Jesus, to which the only reply Jesus gives is this:
Jesus answered, Thou couldest have no power at all against me, except it were given thee from above: therefore he that delivered me unto thee hath the greater sin – John 19:11 (KJV).
Scripture: John 19:16; Mark 15:16-20; and Matthew 27:27-31
The place of crucifixion was already prepared. Angry spectators watching as Jesus was nailed to the cross, beaten and then given a drink of sour vinegar,
When Jesus therefore had received the vinegar, he said, It is finished: and he bowed his head, and gave up the ghost – John 19:30 (KJV).