Ketef Hinnom excavation

In order to reach the Ketef Hinnom excavation one must enter through the Menachem Begin Heritage Center. Jewish Ideas Daily reported May 6th about the neglect of the excavation.

Interestingly, the Heritage Center also hosts an actual biblical site: Ketef Hinnom, or the “Shoulder of Hinnom.” This is a chain of Jewish burial chambers that were carved out of the rock in the 7th century B.C.E.  In 1979, a dig conducted by the archaeologist Gabriel Barkay yielded one of the most significant finds in Israel’s history: tiny rolled-up silver scrolls on whose inner surface is inscribed the Priestly Blessing—”The Lord bless you and keep you . . .” (Numbers 6:24-26)—in ancient Hebrew. These are the oldest surviving texts of the Bible—older than the Dead Sea Scrolls by roughly a half-millennium. Barkay speculates that the scrolls were originally worn “as amulets to give their wearers protection against evil.”

Ketef Hinnom is thus one of the most important sites in the history of biblical archeology. Yet it suffers from serious neglect. The burial chambers lie hidden behind the Heritage Center’s courtyard; you won’t even find a sign pointing you in the right direction. More troublingly, the site is completely exposed to the elements, and in winter months some of the chambers are filled with standing rainwater. Trash is strewn between the graves; unattended foliage grows over the stone.

Read the article in its entirety here.

This morning I went to the Begin Heritage Center to visit the Ketef Hinnom excavation. It is true that no signs direct one to the site. In December, and again today, the receptionist pointed me in the right direction.

Ketef Hinnom Iron Age Tomb. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Ketef Hinnom Iron Age Tomb. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

The site was somewhat as described by the Jewish Ideas Daily article.  This photo shows standing water, a rusty drum, and trash only feet from the area shown in the previous photo.

Trash in the Ketef Hinnom Excavation. May 11, 2010. Photo by F. Jenkins.

Trash in the Ketef Hinnom Excavation. May 11, 2010. Photo by F. Jenkins.

HT: PaleoJudaica

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