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KRONOS Vol VI, No. 2

The Secret Of Baalbek



Copyright (c) 1981 by The Estate of Immanuel VeIikovsky

The story of Jeroboam, son of a widow of Zereda, an Ephraimite and Solomon's servant, begins with this passage:

Solomon built Millo, and repaired the breaches of the city of David, his father.

And the man, Jeroboam, was a mighty man of valor; and Solomon, seeing the young man that he was industrious, made him ruler over all the charge of the house of Joseph.(1)

The ambitious servant was not satisfied with this honor of administering the land of Menashe (Manasse) and Ephraim, or even the entire northern half of the kingdom; he wished to be a king himself. When Jeroboam's plans became known to Solomon, the king intended to kill him, but Jeroboam ran away to the Pharaoh of Egypt. When Solomon died, he returned; he tore the ten tribes' land from Rehoboam, son of Solomon. Solomon's realm was split in two: Jeroboam became king of Israel in the north, and Rehoboam retained the kingdom of Judah in the south. To make the rift permanent Jeroboam had to keep the people from going to Jerusalem and its new temple.

And Jeroboam said in his heart, Now shall the kingdom return to the house of David.

If this people go up to do sacrifice in the house of the Lord at Jerusalem, then shall the heart of this people turn again unto their lord, even unto Rehoboam, king of Judah, and they shall kill me, and go again to Rehoboam, king of Judah.(2)

From the viewpoint of serving his own ends, it was a sound idea to build on some ancient sites places for folk gathering which would compete with Jerusalem.

Whereupon the king [Jeroboam] took counsel, and made two calves of gold, and said unto [his people], It is too much for you to go up to Jerusalem....

And he set the one in Beth-el, and the other put he in Dan.(3)

Beth-el was in the south of his kingdom, close to Jerusalem, Dan in the north of his kingdom. In order to attract pilgrims from the land of Judah, Jeroboam also made Beth-el the site of a new feast, "like unto the feast that is in Judah".(4) Setting up the image of the cult in Dan, Jeroboam proclaimed: "Behold thy gods, O Israel, that brought thee up out of the land of Egypt."(5) Thus, Dan in the north competed with Jerusalem in the days of Passover and Tabernacles. The temple of Dan was a much larger edifice than the temple in Bethel, and it became a great place for pilgrimage, attracting people even from the southern kingdom.

And this thing became a sin; for the people went to worship before the one [of the two calves], even unto Dan.(6)

The temple of Dan was called a "House of High Places": "And he made an house of high places . . ."(7) The Temple of Jerusalem was also called a "House" in Hebrew.

For centuries the temple of Dan in the north successfully contested with the Temple of Jerusalem and attracted throngs of pilgrims.

Jeroboam, the man who supervised under Solomon the building of Millo, the fortress of Zion with its strong wall, and who, in recognition of his ability demonstrated in this work, was appointed governor of the northern provinces, now, when king, must have desired to erect in Dan a temple surpassing the magnificent Temple of Solomon in Jerusalem. Only in offering a more imposing building could he hope not only to turn the people from going to Jerusalem, but make the people of Judah elect a pilgrimage to Dan over one to Jerusalem. Meanwhile, Jeroboam had seen the temples and palaces of Egypt, and his ambition was, of course, to imitate all the splendor he had seen in Jerusalem, in Karnak, and in Deir el-Bahari. Or would this "mighty man of valor", industrious constructor of Zion's citadel, and a shrewd politician, try to contest the Temple of Jerusalem by means of an ignoble chapel? That he succeeded in his challenge is a testimony to the size and importance of the temple at Dan.

It was not enough that Dan and Beth-el were ancient places of reverence: magnificence was displayed in the capital of Solomon, and magnificence had to prevail in the temple cities of the Northern Kingdom.

[*!* Image] Source: Ages in Chaos.

The temple of Beth-el, the smaller of the two Israelite temples, was demolished three centuries later by King Josiah, a few decades before the Temple of Jerusalem was destroyed by Nebuchadnezzar. It was trampled into smithereens by the king, jealous for his God.(8) There is no mention of a destruction of the temple in Dan.

Where was Dan and its "House of High Places"?

1. I Kings 11:27 28.
2. I Kings 12:26 27.
3. I Kings 12:28, 29.
4. I Kings 12:32, 33.
5. I Kings 12:28.
6. I Kings 12:30.
7. X Kings 12:31.
8 II Kings 23:15.


Dan was the northernmost point of the Israelite settlement where one of the twelve tribes chose its domicile. A familiar expression was: "From Dan even to Beer-Sheba.''(1)

Students of biblical geography have agreed to place Dan in the Arab village of el-Kadi, on the upper flow of the Jordan, which is there but a rivulet. In recent years very insignificant ancient ruins have been found on this place.(2) This is in accord with what the biblical archaeologists expect, for they think the temple of Dan to have been a very modest structure of which, most probably, hardly any ruins would have remained.

The biblical Dan is placed on the upper flow of the Jordan because of a passage in Josephus Flavius. In his Jewish Antiquities, Josephus says that Dan was on "a spot not far from Mount Libanus and the sources of the lesser Jordan".(3) Commentators of Josephus deduced that by the "lesser Jordan" the upper flow of the Jordan, above the Lake of Huleh, or above the Lake of Tiberias, is meant; however, this interpretation is not supported by the words "not far from Mount Libanus" since, from the surroundings of el-Kadi and the sources of the Jordan, the snow-capped Hermon or Anti-Lebanon can be seen in the distance, but not Lebanon, far behind the Anti-Lebanon.

After having chosen the source of the Jordan as the area where to look for Dan, this ancient city was located at el-Kadi for the following reason: the name Dan is built of the Hebrew root that signifies "to counsel" or "to judge". El-Kadi means in Arabic "the judge". There was no other reason, beside this philological equation of Hebrew and Arabic terms, to locate the site of the ancient temple city in the small village of el-Kadi, since until quite recently no ruins, large or small, were found on the site.

The aforementioned reference in Josephus makes one wonder whether by "the lesser Jordan" the river Litani was meant. This river begins in the valley between Mount Lebanon and Mount Anti Lebanon, flows to the south in the same rift in which farther to the south the Jordan flows, and towards the source of that river, but changes its course and flows then westwards and empties itself into the Mediterranean. Its source being near Mount Lebanon, it appears that the Litani was meant by "the lesser Jordan".

However, Josephus, who wrote in the first century of the Christian era, was not necessarily well-informed concerning the location of Dan the temple city of the Northern Kingdom a state whose history ended with the capture of Samaria by Sargon II in -722.(4)

Therefore, it is only proper to go back to the Scriptures in trying to locate Dan.

1. Judges 20: I; Samuel 3:20.
2. See lsrael Exploration Journal, Vol. 16(1966),pp 144-145;ibid Vol.19(1969),pp. 121-123. [In 1980, an arched city gate was reportedly uncovered at this site. -LER]
3. Antiquities v.3.i.
4. Similarly, the passage in the Book of Enoch (13:7),which refers to Dan to the "south of the western side of Hermon" must not be treated as an historical location.


When the Israelites, after the Exodus from Egypt, roamed in the wilderness, they sent scouts to Canaan to investigate the land and to report. The scouts passed the land through its length"from the wilderness of Zin unto Rehob, as men come to Hamath".(1) These were also destined to be the southern and northern borders of the land: "Your south quarter shall be from the wilderness of Zin" and in the north "your border [shall be] unto the entrance of Hamath".(2)

The expressions "as men come to Hamath", or "unto the entrance of Hamath" signify that Rehob, the northern point of the land visited by the scouts, was at a place where the road began that led to the city of Hamath in Syria.

In the days of conquest under Joshua son of Nun, when the land was partitioned by lot, the tribe of Dan received its portion in the hilly country on the road from Jerusalem to Jaffa. The tribe was opposed by the Philistines, also invading the same country. When the population of Philistia increased through the arrival of new immigrants from the Mediterranean islands, the tribe of Dan, being the advance guard of the Israelites, had to suffer not mere resistance, but strong counter-pressure. The Samson saga reflects this struggle. Tired of continuously opposing the increasing influx of the Philistines, the Danites migrated to the north.

They . . . came unto Laish, unto a people who were quiet and secure; and they smote them with the edge of the sword, and burned the city with fire.

And there was no deliverer, because it was far from Zidon, and they had no business with any man; and it was in the valley that lieth by Beth-Rehob. And they built a city, and dwelt therein.

And they called the name of the city Dan . . . howbeit, the name of the city was Laish at the first.(3)

Here we meet again the northern point Rehob or Beth-Rehob. We are also told that it was situated in a valley. Next to it was the city of Laish, and the Danites burned the city and then erected there a new city, Dan.

Beth-Rehob, or House of Rehob, is the place we met in the story of the scouts sent by Moses - as the most remote point they visited going to the north.

The place was "far from Zidon"; if it were where it is looked for today at the source of the Jordan - it would not have been proper to say "far from Zidon", but rather "from Tyre". But if Zidon (Sidon) is named as the nearest large city, Tyre must have been still farther from Laish-Dan, and the latter city must have been more to the north, in the valley between Lebanon and Anti-Lebanon.

The Danites were in contact with the Zidonians already at the time when they fought with the Philistines for the possession of territory. Because of want of land, they sent many of their sons as sailors on Phoenician ships.(4) In their new place of abode the Danites became kindred with the Phoenicians.

In Dan-Laish, "the children of Dan set up the graven image" of Micah.(5) The story of this holy image is connected with the migration of the Danites to the north. Before migrating they sent a few men to find for them "an inheritance to dwell in".(6) These men traversed, on their errand, the mountainous land of Ephraim. Micah was an Ephraimite who built a private chapel in Mount Ephraim, where he placed "a graven image and a molten image", and hired a Levite to serve there as a priest.(7) The men of Dan, dispatched on the errand to find a new domicile for the tribe, heard an oracle from the priest. After having spied the place of Laish, they returned to their tribe that dwelt in the hilly borderland of Zarah, and with six hundred warriors went to the north. Passing again Mount Ephraim, they took with them the image and the priest, despite the bitter protests of Micah. When they conquered Laish "the children of Dan set up the graven image".(8) Since then, there was an oracle in Dan.

The name Danjaan, found in the Scriptures,(9) is apparently a synonym for Dan: it means "Dan of answer", or "of oracle".

Dan became the site of the temple built by Jeroboam. It was a holy place long before he built his temple there, since the story of the oracle of Micah is conspicuously narrated in the Book of Judges; it is rather probable that Rehob was a sacred place even before the Danites built their city on the ruins of Laish close by.

It cannot be said of the present village of el-Kadi that it lies on the road "as men come to Hamath"; to satisfy this description, Rehob must be looked for farther to the north.

1. Numbers 13:21.
2. Numbers 34:3, 7-8.
3. Judges 18:27-29.
4. Judges 5 17.
5. Judges 18:30.
6. Judges 18:1.
7. Judges 17 4, 7-13.
8. Judges 18:30.
9. Samuel 24:6.


Being located in an outstretched part of the Israelite kingdom, Dan was often the subject of wars between the kings of Damascus and of Israel. Shortly after the death of Jeroboam, the temple city was conquered by the king of Damascus.(1) It appears that, at the time of the revolution of Jehu, three generations later, in the ninth century, Dan was still in the hands of the kings of Damascus; but it is said that Jehu, who destroyed the temple of Baal in Samaria, did not destroy the temple of Dan, nor did he abolish its cult, "the sin of Jeroboam". This implies that Dan came back into the hands of the Israelites in the days of Jehu. In any case, the population of the northern kingdom that of Israel but also of the southern kingdom that of Judah continued to go to Dan on the feasts of Passover and Tabernacles, preferring it to Jerusalem.

Jehu, jealous of the God Yahweh, did nothing to keep the people from going to Dan, and obviously even encouraged them to do so; the cult of Dan was one of Yahweh, though in the guise of a calf, or Apis.

In the eighth century the prophet Amos, one of the earliest prophets whose speeches are preserved in writing, spoke of the worship at Dan:

They that swear by the sin of Samaria, and say, Thy god, O Dan liveth; and, The manner of Beer-Sheba liveth; even they shall fall, and never rise up again.(2)

For a time Amos prophesied at Beth-el, the other sacred site of the Northern Kingdom. In his time the place had a royal chapel; and in view of the statement that, of the two places where Jeroboam placed the calves, the people went to worship in Dan,(3) apparently the chapel of Beth-el remained a minor sacrarium and did not attract many worshippers.

Hosea, another prophet who lived in the eighth century, admonished: "Let not Judah offend . . . neither go ye up to Beth-Aven."(4) He prophesied also that the "inhabitants of Samaria shall fear because of the calves of Beth-Aven", and that the glory of that place will depart from it.(5)

It is generally agreed that Hosea, speaking of Beth-Aven ("the House of Sin"), referred to Beth-el. This is supported by the verse in the Book of Joshua which tells: "And Joshua sent men from Jericho to Ai, which is beside Beth-Aven, on the east side of Bethel."(6)

It appears that the name Beth-Aven, or "The House of Sin" was applied to both places where Jeroboam built temples for the worship of the calf. It is possible that, in another verse of his, Hosea had in mind the temple of Dan; he said: "The high places also of Aven, the sin of Israel, shall be destroyed . ."(7)

"The sin of Israel" is the usual term for the cult of Dan; and the "high places", according to the quoted story of Jeroboam placing calves in Dan and Beth-el,(8) were built in Dan.

At the beginning of the Book of Amos, the following sentence appears: "I will break also the bar of Damascus, and cut off the inhabitant from the plain of Aven (me'bik'at Aven) . . . and the people of Syria shall go into captivity unto Kir. . ."(9)

I shall return later to this passage and to the accepted interpretation of "the plain of Aven".

During the wars of the eighth century, the temple city of Dan may have taken part in the struggle of the Northern Kingdom for its existence, being oppressed first by Syria, and then by Assyria. Dan may have been besieged, and may have changed hands during these wars, but nothing is known of its destruction.

In the latter part of the eighth century the population of the Northern Kingdom was deported by Sargon II to remote countries, from where it did not return. More than a century later Jeremiah referred to the oracle of Dan: "For a voice declareth from Dan",(10) which shows that the oracle of Dan was still in existence after the end of the Northern Kingdom.

An oracle venerated since ancient times, a magnificent temple where the image of a calf was worshipped, a place where the tribes of Israel gathered in the days of the feasts, and the people of Judea used to come, too this was the cult.

On the way to Hamath, on the northern frontier of the Northern Kingdom, closer to Zidon (Sidon) than to Tyre, and strategically exposed to Damascus this was the place.

Would no ruins help to identify the site?

. . . to be continued.

1. Kings 15:20.
2. Amos 8:14.
3. I Kings 12:30.
4. Hosea 4 15.
5. Hosea 10:5.
6. Joshua 7:2; cf. Joshua 18:1 1-12:"and the lot . . . of Benjamin . . . and their border . . .at the wilderness of Beth-Aven." Cf. also I Samuel 13:5 and 14:23.
7. Hosea 10:18.
8. I Kings 12:28-30.
9. Amos 1:5
10. Jeremiah 4:15. 32

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