The Jerusalem Millo and its Implications
I have painted the background behind the complexity of archaeological digs in the centre of Jerusalem before. I have also explained the issues surrounding the dating of the conquest of the land and the fall of Jericho and subsequent issues concerning the timing of the peak of the Monarchy in Israel and archaeological evidence for the Kingdom building programmes. Hence the claims by many archaeologists that there has been no evidence found to substantiate the biblical description of the zenith of Kingdom under to the two prime examples of David and Solomon.
I have also spent some time laying out the New Chronology according to David Rohl which changes things markedly in terms of archaeological evidence found to prove biblical claims. Not only that but I have been gathering together the latest information available for recent archaeological evidence discovered and digs in process in the last ten years. Now I wish to attempt to bring it all to a conclusion by using the discoveries or pending discoveries related to the millo. In the last Nugget I summarised for you the discoveries made at Megiddo related to Solomon’s building programme and the likelihood that there is now proof of Solomon’s designs at Megiddo which mirror what the Bible describes was built in Jerusalem. Let’s now pull together the work of David Rohl and what has been postulated by Nadav Na’aman for what is likely to be found in Jerusalem on the basis of the evidence already found.
Solomon’s greatest building programmes were the Temple in Jerusalem, sacked and demolished by the Babylonians, the royal palace and its surroundings along with the building extensions to the City of David in Jerusalem (See 1 Kings 9:15 and 11:27). We now know both from archaeological discoveries and advances in translation that the term millo refers to terraces or massive foundations achieved through retaining walls in-filled to provide more level, stable ground on which to extend the city. It has been estimated that “this extension“ of the city summit added at least six thousand square metres to the occupational area of early Jerusalem. (Quoted by David Rohl – A Test of Time p. 180 and calculated by Yigael Shiloh). Such an extension would have increased the size of Jerusalem’s population and provided space within the city to extend the King’s palace as suggested by Eilat Mazar. In 1961 Kathleen Kenyon began her exploration of the tell of the City of David. She had a transverse trench dug straight down the eastern slope from the Temple Mount area to the floor of the Kidron Valley. Kathleen Kenyon uncovered what Eilat Mazar now calls the Stepped Stone Structure.
Kathleen Kenyon announced to the world that she had found the Millo of Solomon. But Kenyon had a problem. The associated pottery and filling material proved to be late Bronze Age which didn't match the established archaeological time period accepted in Kenyon’s day. It was too late to fit the time of the Kings of Israel. That is the terraces she supposed had been constructed by Solomon had, according to the accepted dating schema of the day, been constructed several centuries before Solomon reigned as King. Kathleen Kenyon’s way of getting around the problem had been to suggest that rather than buildingthe millo, Solomon had rebuiltor repairedthe millo. Kenyon’s excavations indicated that the millo of Jerusalem had been constructed 360 years before Solomon reigned in Jerusalem. Kenyon was of course calculating the dates on the basis of the Old Chronology. David Rohl (a prominent British Egyptologist) developed his New Chronologywhich perfectly harmonized the discrepancy between the theory and the archaeological discoveries. Using the New ChronologySolomon can again be considered as the builder of the Millo of Jerusalem.
Nadav Na’aman picks up on a puzzling verse in 2 Kings 12:20 which reads “Joash’s officers plotted against him and assassinated him at Beth-millo on the road to Silla.” What is ‘the house of Millo’ referred to in this verse? The House of Millo appears to a term used for the royal residence. That is Joash was assassinated in the palace. 2 Chronicles 24:25 records that he was slain on his bed. This is the same area of the City of David where Eilat Mazar discovered the two bullae – see the Nugget I posted on Oct 26th2019 called What Eilat Mazar Found. What is interesting is that the extended City of David was occupied by the kings of Israel from David’s time through to Joash.
I have already pointed out that there is little chance of archaeological work taking place on the Temple Mount anymore given the disputed nature of this area. In the absence of hard evidence Nadav Na’aman is of the opinion that Solomon’s Temple was developed over time to the point where it became the magnificent edifice it was reknown to be. Nadav suspects Solomon had two palaces, one on the Temple Mount and the other in the City of David. The palace on the summit called the City of David would have been the first of Solomon’s palaces. Then later as the focus on attention shifted to the Temple Mount, Solomon would have built his second palace and then added to its size and splendour over the years until the end of his reign. What now is starkly evident is that the evidence found in Megiddo of Solomon’s building programme matches the account given in the Bible. It is now reasonable to assume that we would find the same evidence on the expanded site of the City of David if the archaeologists were allowed to dig.
As Kathleen Kenyon’s father said all those years ago, “Archaeology has not yet said its last word; but the results already achieved confirm what faith would suggest, that the Bible can do nothing but gain from an increase in knowledge.” Which is ironic in the light of the subsequent doubt placed on the veracity of the David and Solomon by Frederick Kenyon’s own daughter. Now we trust more light will be shed on the questions which still remain concerning the zenith of the Kingdom of Israel under King David and King Solomon. But it is safe to assume the truth of the Biblical descriptions of the palaces of the kings of Israel in both Jerusalem and Megiddo and elsewhere in the light of what has been found already and the prohibition to dig in the light of modern religious tensions.