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THE SECRET OF BAALBEK (CONCLUDED)
Copyright (C) 1981 by the Estate of Immanuel Velikovsky
In the valley that gives birth to two rivers of Syria – the Orontes flowing to the north, and the Litani flowing to the south and west, between the mountains of Lebanon and Anti-Lebanon, where roads from Palestine in the south, Damascus in the east, and the sea-coast on the west meet and run from there to Hamath in Upper Syria – lie the ruins of Baalbek.
From the time when this was first written, in the fifties of the eighteenth century, and till today, nothing was added to dispel the obscurity which envelops the origin of this temple city.(2) The excavations undertaken there brought no solution to the problem of its origin or the nature of its cult.(3) No early inscriptions were found.
Throngs of travelers who spend their day wandering among the ruins of a magnificent acropolis go away without having heard what the role of the place was in ancient times, when it was built, or who was the builder. The pyramids, the temples of Karnak and Luxor, the Forum and Circus Maximus in Rome were erected by builders whose identity is generally known. The marvellous site in the valley on the junction of roads running to Hamath is a work of anonymous authors in unknown ages. It is as if some mysterious people brought the mighty blocks and placed them at the feet and in front of the snow-capped Lebanon, and went away unnoticed. The inhabitants of the place actually believe that the great stones were brought and put together by Djenoun, mysterious creatures, intermediate between angels and demons.(4)________________________
1. Robert Wood, The Ruins of Palmyra and Baalbek (Royal Geographical
Society, London, 1827), Vol. III, p. 58; first published as The Ruines of
Local tradition, which may be traced to the early Middle Ages, points to a definite period in the past when Baalbek was built: the time of Solomon.
Idrisi, the Arab traveler and geographer (1099-1154), wrote: "The great (temple-city) of astonishing appearance was built in the time of Solomon."(1) Gazwini (d. 1823 or 4) explained the origin of the edifices and the name of the place by connecting it with Balkis, the legendary Queen of the South, and with Solomon.(2)
The traveler Benjamin of Tudela wrote in the year 1160 of his visit to Baalbek: "This is the city which is mentioned in Scripture as Baalath in the vicinity of the Lebanon, which Solomon built for the daughter of Pharaoh. The place is constructed with stones of enormous size."(3)
Robert Wood, who stayed at Baalbek in the 1750's, and who published an unsurpassed monograph on its ruins, wrote: "The inhabitants of this country, Mohomedans, Jews and Christians, all confidently believe that Solomon built both, Palmyra and Baalbek."(4)
Another traveler who visited Syria in the eighties of the eighteenth century recorded: "The inhabitants of Baalbek assert that this edifice was constructed by Djenoun, or genies in the service of King Solomon."(5)________________________
1. Idrisi in P. Jaubert, Géographie d'Edrisi (Paris, 1836-1840), I, p. 353 quoted
by C. Ritter, Die Erdkunde, Vol. XVII (Berlin, 1854), p. 224.
ON – AVEN
The identification of Bikat Aven, referred to in Amos 1:5 with the plain of Coele-Syria is generally accepted.(1) The text, already quoted, reads: "I will break also the bar of Damascus, and cut off the inhabitant from the plain of Aven . . ." The Septuagint, the Greek translation of the Bible by the Seventy, renders the above text as "the valley of On," written the same as On (or Heliopolis) in Egypt. The Hebrew spellings of Aven and On do not differ in consonants; and vocals were inserted in the texts by the Masoretes in a late period. On is the Hebrew name of Heliopolis in Egypt, pronounced also as Aven, as in Ezekiel 30:17; Bikat Aven is the name of the plain of Baalbek in Amos. Tradition has it also that the cult of Baalbek was brought there from Heliopolis in Egypt.(2)[*!* Image]
Hosea, however, called by the name of Aven (Beth-Aven) the cities of Bethel and Dan;(3) and he spoke of "high places" there, and in the instance where he referred to "the sin of Israel" he obviously meant Dan.(4)
Amos, who in the eighth chapter speaks against the worshippers at Dan, in chapter one speaks against the plain of Aven – and thus, comparing Hosea and Amos, one wonders whether Amos 1:5 speaks of Baalbek or of Dan.
The expression Bikat* Aven, or the Valley (Plain) of Aven in Amos impelled the exegetes and commentators to refer the place to Coele-Syria, and this because Bi'qa is the specific name of the Coele-Syrian plain – still in use today. The very name Baalbek is generally explained as the Baal of Bi'qa or Bekaa – of the valley.
Baalbek is situated in the valley between Lebanon and Hermon. Of Dan it is also said that it was situated in a valley:
". . . And it was in the valley that lieth by Beth-Rehob. And they built a city, and dwelt therein."(5)________________________
1. E. Robinson, Biblical Researches in Palestine and the Adjacent Regions
(London 1874), Vol. III, pp. 519-520.
BAALATH, BAALGAD, BAAL ZAPHON, BAALMELECH
Is Baalbek the Scriptural Baalath, as Benjamin of Tudela thought? About Baalath it is said: "And Solomon built . . . Baalath, and Tadmor in the wilderness."(1) Tadmor is Palmyra, far to the northeast of Baalbek.(1a) Baalath is said to have belonged to the tribe of Dan.(2)
Or, is Baalbek the Scriptural Baal Gad? deliberated a few scholars.(3) It is said: "Baal Gad in the valley of Lebanon under mount Hermon."(4) In the valley of Lebanon under mount Hermon lies Baalbek. If this identification is correct then Baalbek was inside the Israelite kingdom. However, against this supposition of Baal Gad in the valley of Lebanon it was argued that the Israelite kingdom never embraced the area of Coele-Syria, or the valley between Lebanon and Hermon (Anti-Lebanon).(5)
Some writers would regard Baalath and Baal Gad as two names of one place and would locate it at Baalbek.(6)
If Solomon built in Palmyra in the desert between Syria and Mesopotamia, the region of Coele-Syria between Lebanon and Hermon could certainly be in the area of his building activity, argued these scholars. But placing Baal Gad in Coele-Syria, where would they place Dan, the northernmost point of the Kingdom of Israel? To keep Dan in Galilee and to place Baal Gad, an Israelite city, one hundred fifty kilometers farther to the north will not stand up against the indisputable fact that Dan was the northernmost city in Israel.
Some scholars, looking for Baalbek in the Scriptures, identified it with Baal-Hamon, referred to in the Song of Songs.(7) And again, Baal Hamon is supposed to be another name for Baalath and Baal Gad (8)
Also Baal Zaphon, or Zeus Cassius, was proposed as Baalbek.(9) In this connection it can be said that, according to the Talmud, Gad was the name of the planet Jupiter;(10) and Zeus Cassius signifies Jupiter of Lebanon; and Hamon was supposed to be a Syrian form of the name Amon(11) who, according to the Greek authors, was Zeus-Jupiter.(12)
All this together, if correct, points toward the cult of Jupiter in Baalbek, a matter to which we shall return in one of the next sections.
Besides Baal Gad, Baal Zaphon or Zeus Cassius, Baal Hamon, and Baalath, one more name is identified as Baalbek: Baalmelech, or "the royal Baal".(13)________________________
1. I. Kings 9:17-18.
Already in the last century it was observed that the Acropolis of Baalbek and the temples built on it date from different epochs. The massive substratum – the great base of the acropolis – appears to be of an earlier date; the three temples on the substratum, of a later date.
It is even probable that the wall of the acropolis did not originate in one epoch. Among the stones of which it is built there are three* of an unusual size – almost twenty meters long. Each of them weighs about one thousand tons. These huge monoliths are incased in the wall. The question arises whether they are not the survivals of the original cyclopean structure – that which carried the name Rehob, or Beth-Rehob, and which served as a landmark for the scouts dispatched by Moses in their survey of Canaan, and for the emissaries of the tribe of Dan in their search for the territory in the north. Like Stonehenge in Great Britain, or Tiahuanaco in the Andes, it may have originated in an early time – not necessarily neolithic, since it appears that these stones are subjected to hewing by metal tools.
In the quarry a mile away is found another stone of comparable size, cut out of the rock from all but one side; it appears that this stone of more perfect cut was quarried in a later time, possibly in the days of Jeroboam, or even later; but, for probably mechanical considerations, the work was not finished and the stone not removed, and the emulation of the early builders not completed.(1)
In another place I intend to return to the problem of the Trilithon of Baalbek, when treating cyclopean buildings and the mechanical means of quarrying and transporting these monoliths.
1. See the recent discussion by Jean-Pierre Adam, "À propos du trilithon de Baalbek, Le transport et la mise à l'oeuvre des mégalithes," Syria LIV (1977), pp. 31-63.
THE EMBOSSED QUADERS
Aside from the incased trilithon, the attention of the visitor to Baalbek who inspects the wall of the acropolis is drawn to stones of a bossed shape with an indented rim on all four sides of the face of the stone.[*!* Image]
O. von Richter in 1822(1) and S. Wolcott in 1843(2) drew attention to the fact that the quaders of the wall of the temple area of the acropolis of Baalbek have the same form as the quaders of the Temple of Solomon, namely, of the surviving western (outer) wall, or Wailing Wall. The Roman architects, wrote Wolcott, never built foundations or walls of such stones; and of the Israelite period it is especially the age of Solomon that shows this type of stone shaping (chiseling). The photograph of the outer wall of Baalbek's temple area illustrates that the same art of chiseling was employed in the preparation of stones for its construction. Whatever the time of construction of other parts of Baalbek's compound – neolithic, Israelite, Syrian, Greek, or Roman – this fundamental part of the compound must have originated in the same century as the surviving (western) wall of the area of Solomon's temple. [Cf. G.M. Lamsa, "Solomon's Lost Temple,"New Magazine, Feb. 1967 – LMG][*!* Image] _______________________
1. O. von Richter, Wallfahrt, p. 88; quoted by Ritter, Die Erdkunde, XVII, p.
THE TEMPLES OF THE ACROPOLIS
The buildings on the flat plateau of the Acropolis have columns with capitals of Corinthian style. The time of the origin of these temples is disputed. An author of the last century(1) brought forth his arguments against a late date for the temples atop the acropolis; he would not agree to ascribe them to the Roman period, or Greek period; he dated them as originating in an early Syrian period: the Romans only renovated these buildings in the second century of the present era.
The opinions of scholars are divided over whether these buildings can be ascribed to Roman times, though the source of the designs on the doorways and the ceiling and in the capitals of the columns speak for a Roman origin. When the Roman authorship of the buildings is denied, the Romans are credited only with renovating the structures.
The Emperor who is sometimes said to have built the largest of the temples in the temple area – that of Jupiter – is Aelius Antoninus Pius (138-161). The source of this information is the history of John of Antioch, surnamed Malalas, who lived not earlier than in the seventh century of this era, and wrote that Antoninus Pius built a temple for Jupiter at Heliopolis, near the Lebanon in Phoenicia, which was one of the wonders of the world.(2)
Julius Capitolinus, who wrote the annals of Antoninus Pius and enumerated the buildings he erected, offers no material support for the assertion made by the Syrian writer of the early Middle Ages. Though Antoninus Pius did build in Baalbek, as is evidenced by his inscriptions found there,(3) his activity was restricted to reparation of the temples or the construction of one of the edifices in the temple area.(4) The work in its entirety could not have been his because Lucian, his contemporary, calls the sanctuary of Baalbek already ancient, and because Pompey had already found it in existence and Trajan consulted its oracle.
The style of the temples caused the same divergence of opinion as the style of the surviving ruins of Palmyra. Some regard them as Roman,(5) others as Hellenistic and Oriental.(6) They are sometimes[*!* Image]
INSERT KVI3_12.JPG HERE
called East-Roman.(7) In the case that only the ornamentation is of the Roman period the question may arise whether the walls and the columns of these buildings could be of as early a period as the seventh century before the present era, or the time of Manasseh, of whom Pseudo-Hippolytus says that he reconstructed Baalbek, built originally in the time of Solomon.(8)_____________________
1. See von Schubert, Reise in das Morgenland, op. cit., Vol. III, p. 325.
It was almost a common feature in all places where pilgrims gathered to worship at a local cult that diminutive images of the deity were offered for sale to them. Also small figures of the god or of his emblem in precious or semi-precious metals were brought by worshippers as a donation to the temple where the large scale figure had its domicile.
In Baalbek archaeological work produced very few sacred objects or figures that could shed light on the worship of the local god. "It was a disappointment, next to the brilliant success of so rich an excavation, that nothing was learned of the nature of the deity and the history of its worship."(1)
Figures of Jupiter Heliopolitanus standing between two bullocks or calves have been found at Baalbek, dating from Roman times.(2) In addition, an image of a calf was also found.
The only figure of an earlier time found in Baalbek is an image of a calf. Since it is to be expected that images found in an ancient temple are reproductions of the main deity worshipped in the holy enclosure, it is significant that the holy image in the temple of Baalbek was that of a calf, and of no other animal.*
The name Baal-Bek (Baal-Bi'qa) is sometimes transmitted by Arab authors as Baal bikra, or Baal of the Steer or Calf, which is the way of folk etymology to adapt the name to the form of the worship practiced in the temple. This, together with the finding of the images of the calf in the area of the temple, strengthens the impression that the god of Baalbek was a calf.______________________
1. Winnefeld in Wiegand, Baalbek, op. cit., Vol. II(1923), p. 110.
THE ORACLE OF BAALBEK
Baalbek or, as the Romans called it, Heliopolis, was venerated in the Roman world as the place of an old cult of an ancient oracle, and it rivalled successfully other venerated temples of the Roman Empire.
It is known that the Emperor Trajan, before going to war against the Parthians in the year 115, wrote to the priests of Baalbek and questioned its oracle. The oracle remained in high esteem at least as late as the fourth century of the present era, when Macrobius in his Saturnalia wrote of Baalbek: "This temple is also famous for its oracles."(1)
Was it the ancient oracle of Micah? In the words of Jeremiah, shortly before the Babylonian exile of – 586 in which he spoke of "a voice . . . from Dan",(2) we had the last biblical reference to the oracle of Micah. In the days of Jeremiah the oracle must have been seven or eight hundred years old. Did it survive until the days of Trajan and even later, until the days of Macrobius?
In the Tractate Pesahim of the Babylonian Talmud is written the following sentence: "The image of Micah stands in Bechi."(3) Bechi is known as the Hebrew name for Baalbek in the time of the Talmud. As we have seen, in the Book of Exodus it is recounted that the Danites, migrating to the North, took with them Micah and his idol, and that it was placed in Dan of the North. The Talmud was composed between the second and the fifth centuries of the present era.
This passage in the Tractate Pesahim is a strong argument for the thesis of this essay, namely that Baalbek is the ancient Dan.(4)___________________
1. Sat. I. 23. 12.
TWO PROBLEMS: A SUMMARY
The problems will be put side by side. Dan was the abode of the old oracle of Micah. Jeroboam built there a "house of high places", or a temple. Previously, he was the builder of Jerusalem's wall under Solomon; before becoming king of the Northern Kingdom he lived as an exile in Egypt. He introduced the cult of the calf in Dan.
The new temple was built to contest and to surpass the temple of Jerusalem. It became the gathering place of the Ten Tribes, or "the sin of Israel", and pilgrims from Judah also went there.
The prophets, who opposed the cult of Dan, called the place Aven, like Aven, or On (Heliopolis) in Egypt.
Its oracle was still active in the days of Jeremiah, in the beginning of the sixth century.
Dan was the northernmost city of the Kingdom of the Ten Tribes, and the capital of the tribe of Dan. It was situated in a valley. If Baal Gad, between the Lebanon and the Anti-Lebanon was not the same place, Dan must have been more to the north.
The place was at the point where the roads meet that run toward Hamath.
No ruins of this temple-city are found. Where was Dan and its temple?
* * *
Remains of a great temple-city are preserved in Baalbek. At the beginning of the present era it was described as already ancient. It bore the name of Heliopolis, like the Egyptian On, or Aven (Ezekiel); and Amos, who spoke against the worshippers at Dan, prophesied the desolation of Bikat-Aven, or the Valley of Baalbek.
Its cult was introduced from Egypt. During excavations, the figure of a calf was unearthed.
The temple possessed an old oracle. The Talmud contains the information that the oracle of Micah (which according to the Book of Judges was in Dan) stands in Baalbek.
Local tradition assigns the building of the temple of Baalbek to the time of Solomon. The wall of the temple area is built of great stone blocks of the same peculiar shape as those of the Wailing Wall in Jerusalem, the remains of the outer wall of the temple area erected by Solomon.
Baalbek lies in a valley (Bi'qa) between the Lebanon and the Anti-Lebanon, and on the junction of the roads that connect Beirut from the west and Damascus from the east with Hamath in the north.
The history of the temple-city of Baalbek in pre-Roman times is not known, neither is its builder known, nor the time when it was built.
* * *
Two problems – when was Baalbek built and who was its builder, and where was Dan and what was the fate of its temple – have a common answer.
The tradition as to the age of the acropolis and temple area of Baalbek is not wrong. Only a few years after Solomon's death the house of the high places of Dan-Baalbek was built by Jeroboam.* Possibly, Solomon had already built a chapel for the oracle, besides the palace for his Egyptian wife.
The Djenoun who, according to Arab tradition, built Baalbek for Solomon were apparently the tribesmen of Dan. In the Hebrew tradition, too, the tribesmen of Dan, because of the type of worship in their capital, were regarded as evil spirits. In the corrupted name of Delebore, who, according to Macrobius, was the king who built Baalbek and introduced there the cult of Heliopolis from Egypt, it is possible to recognize the name of Jeroboam who actually returned from Egypt before he built "the house of the high places".
* * * * *
Velikovsky's essay on Baalbek was planned to include a discussion of the names by which this place was known in Egyptian texts. This part was not written, but a few notes of his, scattered among his papers, may help us to follow his reasoning. One note reads: "Dunip (Tunip) of the el-Amarna letters and other ancient sources was Dan. It was also Kadesh of Seti's conquest. Finally, the place is known as Yenoam ('Yahwe speaks') which refers to the oracle."
Tunip : As Velikovsky noted in "From the End of the Eighteenth Dynasty to the Time of Ramses II" (KRONOS III:3, p. 32) certain scholars(e.g., Gauthier) have identified Tunip with Baalbek, though others (e.g., Astour) have disputed the link. Thutmose III recorded the capture of Tunip in the 29th year of his reign; an inscription recounts the Egyptian king's entering the chamber of offerings and making sacrifices of oxen, calves, etc. to Amon and Harmachis. The el-Amarna letters indicate that the same gods were worshipped at Tunip as in Egypt
On the walls of a Theban tomb of the time of Thutmose III (that of Menkheperre-Seneb), among paintings of foreigners of various nations, there is one of a personage from Tunip, carrying a child in his arms. Velikovsky thought that, possibly, it was a depiction of Jeroboam, and that the painting illustrated the passage in the First Book of Kings (11:40): "And Jeroboam arose, and fled into Egypt, unto Shishak, king of Egypt. . ."
Among the considerations which led Velikovsky to identify Tunip with Dan-Baalbek were (1) Tunip was located in the general area of Baalbek, with some scholars asserting that the two were one and the same. (2) There was a temple of Amon at Tunip; the Roman equivalent of Amon – Jupiter – was worshipped at Baalbek.
Kadesh of Seti's Conquest : This identification was given in brief in Velikovsky's article in KRONOS III:3, mentioned above. The relevant passage reads: "There is a mural that shows Seti capturing a city called Kadesh. Modern scholars recognized that this Kadesh or Temple City was not the Kadesh mentioned in the annals of Thutmose. Whereas the Kadesh of Thutmose was in southern Palestine, the Kadesh of Seti was in Coele-Syria. The position of the northern city suggested that it was Dunip, the site of an Amon temple built in the days of Thutmose III. Dunip, in its turn, was identified with Baalbek." Pseudo-Hippolytus (Sermo in Sancta Theophania in J. -P. Migne, Patrologiae Cursus Completus [Graecal Vol. 10, col. 705) gives the information that Manasseh, son of Hezekiah, restored Baalbek. In his forthcoming Assyrian Conquest, Velikovsky suggests that this could have been a reward for Manasseh for his "loyalty to the Assyrian-Egyptian axis".
Yenoam : Regarding Yenoam, I find only the following among Velikovsky's notes: "Yenoam-Dan (Yehu probably introduced the cult of Yahwe at Dan)." Yenoam, read in Hebrew, could be interpreted as "Ye [Yahwe] speaks"; Velikovsky evidently saw in the name a reference to the oracle at Dan. Yenoam is mentioned among the towns taken by Thutmose III (he captured it soon after taking Megiddo). In the el-Amarna letter no. 197 there is a reference to a town named Yanuammu. Later, Seti recorded the despatching of an army against Yenoam, in the first year of his reign. Yenoam is once again mentioned on Merneptah's so-called Israel Stele; the claim is that it was "made non-existent" In Ramses II and His Time this deed is ascribed to Nebuchadnezzar.
– Jan N. Sammer