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KRONOS Vol V, No. 1

The Sulman Temple In Jerusalem


Copyright (C) 1978 by Immanuel Velikovsky & 1980 by the estate of Immanuel Velikovsky

Editor's Note: This article is reprinted from the Special Issue of the SIS Review (II:3, 1977-78, pp. 85-86) by earlier permission of the author and the present permission of SISR. The italicized preface and footnotes marked PJJ were written by Peter J. James in the original printing and are retained here. The Special Issue is a must for those interested in the revised chronology and those readers wishing to purchase a copy should write to R. M. Amelan, 6 Jersey House, Cotton Lane, Manchester 20, England for all the particulars. LMG.

The el-Amarna letters, most scholars believe, date from the 14th century B.C., while there is no doubt that the Temple of Solomon in Jerusalem was constructed in the mid-10th century B.C. As a further challenge to the conventional scheme, Velikovsky presents evidence that the Temple of Solomon was mentioned in the el-Amarna letters, resulting in an "anachronism " of four centuries in the accepted chronology that would be fully corrected by his proposed lowering of Egyptian dates by over five hundred years.

In the el-Amarna letters No. 74 and 290 there is reference to a place read (by Knudtzon) Bet-NIN.IB. In Ages in Chaos,(1) following Knudtzon, I understood that the reference was to Assyria (House of Nineveh). I was unaware of an article by the eminent Assyriologist, Professor Jules Lewy, printed in the Journal of Biblical Literature under the title: "The Sulman Temple in Jerusalem".(2)

From a certain passage in letter No. 290, written by the king of Jerusalem to the Pharaoh, Lewy concluded that this city was known at that time also by the name "Temple of Sulman". Actually, Lewy read the ideogram that had much puzzled the researchers before him.(3) After complaining that the land was falling to the invading bands (habiru), the king of Jerusalem wrote: ". . . and now, in addition, the capital of the country of Jerusalem its name is Bit Sulmani , the king's city, has broken away . . .".(4) Beth Sulman in Hebrew, as Professor Lewy correctly translated, is Temple of Sulman. But, of course, writing in 1940, Lewy could not surmise that the edifice was the Temple of Solomon and therefore made the supposition that it was a place of worship (in Canaanite times) of a god found in Akkadian sources as Shelmi, Shulmanu, or Salamu.

The correction of the reading of Knudtzon (who was uncertain of his reading) fits well with the chronological reconstruction of the period. In Ages in Chaos (chapters vi-viii) I deal with the el-Amarna letters; there it is shown that the king of Jerusalem whose name is variously read Ebed-Tov, Abdi-Hiba, etc. was King Jehoshaphat (ninth century). It was only to be expected that there would be in some of his letters a reference to the Temple of Solomon.

Also, in el-Amarna letter No. 74, the king of Damascus, inciting his subordinate sheiks to attack the king of Jerusalem, commanded them to "assemble in the Temple of Sulman".(5)

It was surprising to find in the el-Amarna letters written in the fourteenth century that the capital of the land was already known then as Jerusalem (Urusalim) and not, as the Bible claimed for the pre-Conquest period, Jebus or Salem.(6) Now, in addition, it was found that the city had a temple of Sulman in it and that the structure was of such importance that its name had been used occasionally for denoting the city itself. (Considering the eminence of the edifice, "the house which king Solomon built for the Lord",(7) this was only natural.) Yet after the conquest by the Israelites under Joshua ben-Nun, the Temple of Sulman was not heard of.

Lewy wrote: "Aside from proving the existence of a Sulman temple in Jerusalem in the first part of the 14th century B.C., this statement of the ruler of the region leaves no doubt that the city was then known not only as Jerusalem, but also as Bet Sulman." "It is significant that it is only this name [Jerusalem] that reappears after the end of the occupation of the city by the Jebusites, which the Sulman temple, in all probability, did not survive."

The late Professor W. F. Albright advised me that Lewy's interpretation cannot be accepted because Sulman has no sign of divinity accompanying it, as would be proper if it were the name of a god. But this only strengthens my interpretation that the temple of Sulman means Temple of Solomon.

In the Hebrew Bible the king's name has no terminal "n". But in the Septuagint the oldest translation of the Old Testament the king's name is written with a terminal "n"; the Septuagint dates from the third century before the present era. Thus it antedates the extant texts of the Old Testament, the Dead Sea Scrolls not excluded.

Solomon built his Temple in the tenth century. In a letter written from Jerusalem in the next (ninth) century, Solomon's Temple stood a good chance of being mentioned; and so it was.

[Editor's Postscript: In a private communication (5/3/78), Peter James agreed with Velikovsky's argument that "Bit-Shulman means 'House of Solomon' because of the absence of a god-sign". However, James also thought that " 'House of Solomon as a synonym for Jerusalem should be interpreted more literally, in the same way as 'House of Omr' rather than referring to the Temple":

James' idea finds support in a letter to the SIS Review (III:1, Summer 1978, pp. 7-8). There, P. N. Friedman writes:

"Although today the phrase 'Temple of Solomon' is commonly used, it never occurs in the Old Testament, where the Jerusalem Temple is always the 'House [or Temple] of Yahweh ' ('House of the Lord ' in most English translations). It is therefore unlikely we should render Beth Sulman as 'Temple of Solomon'.

"We should note that the Hebrew beth means essentially 'house' and only secondarily 'temple'. Lewy adopted the reading 'temple' in his article because of his assumption that Sulman was a deity. Working with the assumption that Solomon is intended here, we may read 'House of Solomon' rather than Velikovsky's 'Temple of Solomon'. Because of the context in which Bit Sulmani occurs in letter 290, both Lewy and Velikovsky have to assume that 'Temple of Sulman' came to designate the city of Jerusalem itself, not just its Temple. We may now suggest that the phrase never referred to the Temple at all, but from the start was another name for the city."

Friedman continues: " 'House of Solomon' should be perfectly acceptable as an alternative name for Jerusalem itself. We have a close parallel to such usage in the Assyrian records, which refer to Israel as Bit Humri, 'House of Omri' This term remained in use long after Omri's dynasty had fallen (cf. ANET, pp. 284-5). It is therefore perfectly feasible to suggest that a century after Solomon's reign Jerusalem was still known as the 'House of Solomon'. We should also consider the possibility that in letter 290 Bit Sulmani is synonymous with 'the country of Jerusalem' i.e. that 'House of Solomon' meant not merely the capital, but the whole kingdom of Judah, approaching even more closely the use of 'House of Omri' for the kingdom of Israel."

The above comments only serve to reinforce Velikovsky's contention that the el-Amarna correspondence should be dated to the 9th century B. C. rather than its present placement in the 14th LMG]


1. A in C, vii: 'The Second Siege of Samaria".
2. JBL 59 (1940), pp. 519 ff.
3. Cf. Weber in Knudtzon: Die El-Amarna Tafeln, p. 1160 and p. 1343, for the various attempts to read the ideograms for NIN.IB. Lewy solved the problem: "The ideogram dNIN.IB may be pronounced Sulmanu."
4. In an article preceding that of Lewy, P. Haupt (Orientalistische Literaturzeitung XVIII, 1915, cols. 71-2) translated the verse in EA 290: "Die Landeshauptstadt Namens Jerusalem, die Stadt des Ninib-Tempels, die Königsstadt." Replacing Ninib by Shulman or Shalmi, we arrived at the conclusion that the sentence deals with Solomon's Temple. Latest is an article in Hebrew in Eretz-lsrael IX (Jerusalem, 1969), by Tadmor and Kalai, who read the ideogram as Beth-Ninurta and locate it in Beth-Horon. This is an error; but they have brought the pertinent literary references together.
5. [EA 74. was written to the Pharaoh by Rib-Addi of Gubla and Sumuru. Commenting on the mention of "Bit-Ninib" in this letter, Mercer wrote: "There was an albit-dNinib in the 'city of the land of Urusalim (290, 16), but it can hardly be identical with this. This, of course, may only be a temple." (S. A. Mercer: The Tell el-Amarna Tablets, Toronto, 1939, Vol. I, p. 274.) - -PJJ] The idea that the reference in EA 74 to Beth-Ninurta or Beth-Shulman is to some other place is based on the erroneous location of Sumur on the Syrian coast; in A in C it was shown that Sumur is Samaria, a short distance from Jerusalem.
6. See A in C, vi:"Jerusalem, Samaria, Jezreel". [The name of Jerusalem, however, is known from other records predating the Exodus - it occurs in the Egyptian "Execration Texts" of the XIIth and XIIIth Dynasties, the time of the Hebrew bondage in Egypt (see ANET, p. 329); and recently the name has been discovered on the Ebla tablets (see Hyam Maccoby's report on "Ebla: New Discoveries" in SISR I:4, p. 3). - PJJ]
7. I Kings 6:2

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