by Immanuel Velikovsky
THE TEMPLE AT DAN
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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” ?
THE SEARCH FOR
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.” 9
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.10
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”.11
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 -722.12
Therefore, it is only proper to go back to the Scriptures in trying
to locate Dan.
THE PORTION OF
THE CHILDREN OF DAN
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”.13
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”.14
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.15
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.16
In their new place of abode the Danites became kindred with the
In Dan-Laish, “the children of Dan set up the graven image” of
Micah.17 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’”.18
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.19
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”.20
Since then, there was an oracle in Dan.
The name Dan-jaan, found in the Scriptures,21
is apparently a synonym for Dan: it means “Dan of answer”, or “of
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.
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.22
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
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
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,24 apparently
the chapel of Beth-El remained a minor sacrarium and did not attract
Hosanna, another prophet who lived in the eighth century,
“Let not Judah offend... neither go
yea up to Beethoven.” 25
He prophesied also that the “inhabitants
of Samaria shall fear because of the calves of Beethoven”, and that
the glory of that place will depart from it.26
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 Beth-El”
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...”
“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,29
were built in Dan.
At the beginning of the Book of Amos, the following sentence
“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
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”,31
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?
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.
When we compare the ruins of Baalbek with those of many ancient
cities which we visited in Italy, Greece, Egypt, and in other parts
of Asia (and Africa), we cannot help thinking them to be the remains
of the boldest plan we ever saw attempted in architecture. Is it not
strange then, that the age and the undertaker of the works, in which
solidity and duration have been so remarkably consulted, should be a
matter of such obscurity...? 32
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.33
The excavations undertaken there brought no solution to the problem
of its origin or the nature of its cult.34
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 Kamak and Luxor, the
Forum and Circus Maximus in Rome were erected by builders whose
identity is generally known.
The marvelous 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.35
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.
Ildrisi, the Arab traveler and geographer (1099-1154), wrote:
“The great (temple-city) of
astonishing appearance was built in the time of Solomon.”
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.37
The traveler Benjamin of Tudela wrote in the year 1160 of his visit
“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.”
Robert Wood, who stayed at Baalbek in
the 1750’s, and who published an unsurpassed monograph on its ruins,
“The inhabitants of this country,
Mohomedans, Jews and Christians, all confidently believe that
Solomon built both, Palmyra and Baalbek.”
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.” 40
ON - AVEN
The identification of Bikat Aven, referred to in Amos 1:5 with the
plain of Coele-Syria is generally accepted.41
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.42
Hosea, however, called by the name of Aven (Beth-Aven) the cities of
Bethel and Dan;43 and
he spoke of “high places” there, and in the instance where he
referred to “the sin of Israel” he obviously meant Dan.44
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
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.”
BAALATH, BAAL GAD,
BAAL ZAPHON, BAAL MELECH
Is Baalbek the Scriptural Baalath, as Benjamin of Tudela thought?
About Baalath it is said:
“And Solomon built . . . Baalath,
and Tadmor in the wilderness.” 46
Tadmor is Palmyra, far to the northeast
of Baalbek. Baalath is said to have belonged to the tribe of Dan.47
Or, is Baalbek the Scriptural Baal Gad? deliberated a few scholars.48
It is said:
“Baal Gad in the valley of Lebanon
under mount Hermon.” 49
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).50
Some writers would regard Baalath and Baal Gad as two names of one
place and would locate it at Baalbek.51
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
Some scholars, looking for Baalbek in the Scriptures, identified it
with Baal-Hamon, referred to in the Song of Songs.52
And again, Baal Hamon is supposed to be another name for Baalath and
Also Baal Zaphon, or Zeus Cassius, was proposed as Baalbek.544
In this connection it can be said that, according to the Talmud, Gad
was the name of the planet Jupiter;55
and Zeus Cassius signifies Jupiter of Lebanon; and Hamon was
supposed to be a Syrian form of the name Amon56
who, according to the Greek authors, was Zeus-Jupiter.57
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
Besides Baal Gad, Baal Zaphon or Zeus Cassius, Baal Hamon, and
Baalath, one more name is identified as Baalbek: Baalmelech, or “the
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
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.59
In another place I intend to return to the problem of
of Baalbek, when treating cyclopean buildings and the mechanical
means of quarrying and transporting these monoliths.
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
O. von Richter in 1822 60
and S. Wolcott in 1843 61
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.
THE TEMPLES OF
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 century62
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
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.63
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,64
his activity was restricted to reparation of the temples or the
construction of one of the edifices in the temple area.65
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,66 others as
Hellenistic and Oriental.67
They are sometimes called East-Roman.68
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
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
Figures of Jupiter Heliopolitanus
standing between two bullocks or calves have been found at Baalbek,
dating from Roman times.71
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.
THE ORACLE OF
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 rivaled successfully other venerated temples of the Roman
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
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”,73
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.”
74 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.75
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
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
No ruins of this temple-city are found. Where was Dan and its
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
(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
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
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
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
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. toAmon 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
depletion of Jeroboam, and that the painting illustrated the
passage in the First Book of Kings (II :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 [Graeca]
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
“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 Megiddoj.
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 ofhis 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 Sammer
I Kings 11:27, 28.
I Kings 12:26, 27.
I Kings 12:28, 29.
I Kings 12:32. 33.
I Kings 12:28.
I Kings 12:30.
I Kings 12:31.
II Kings 23: 15.
Judges 20:1; I Samuel 3:20.
See Israel 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]
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
Judges 17:4, 7-13.
Amos 8: 14.
I Kings 12:30.
Joshua 7:2; cf. Joshua 18:11-12:
“and the lot . . . of Benjamin . . . and their border . . .
at the wilderness of Beth-Aven.” Cf. also I Samuel 13:5 and
I Kings 12:28-30.
Robert Wood, The Ruins of
Palmyra and Baalbek (Royal Geographical Society, London,
1827), Vol. Ill, p. 58; first published as The Ruinen of
“Wir wissen aussert wenig von
dem Schicksal Baalbeks in Altertum”, O. Puchstein, Führer
durch die Ruinen von Baalbek (Berlin, 1905), pp. 3-4.
“Es war leider bei den an
glanzenden Erfolgen so reichen Ausgrabungen eine
Enttauschung, dass sie uber das Wesen des Gottes und die
Geschichte seiner Verehrung nichts gelehrt hat.” H.
Winnefeld, Baalbek, Ergebnisse der Ausgrabungen und
Untersuchungen von 1895-1905, ed. by Th. Wiegand, Vol. II
(Berlin, 1923), p. 110.
C. F. Volney, Voyage en Syrie et
en Egypte, pendent les années 1783-1785 (Paris, 1787), p.
Idrisi in P. Jaubert, Geographie
d’Edrisi (Paris, 1836-1840), I, p. 353; quoted by C. Ritter,
Die Erdkunde, Vol. XVII (Berlin, 1854), p. 224.
Al-Qazwini Zakariya ibn
Muhammad, Kosmographie, H. F. Wüstenfeld ed. (Berlin,
1848-49), II, p. 104.
A. Asher tr. and ed.. The
Itinerary of Benjamin of Tudela (N.Y. 1840-41).
R.Wood, TheRuins of Palmyran
Baalbek (London, 1827),p.58.
C. F. Volney, op. cit., p. 224.
E. Robinson, Biblical Researches
in Palestine and the Adjacent Regions (London, 1874), Vol.
Ill, pp. 519-520.
Lucian, De Dea Syria, par. 5;
Macrobius, Saturnalia I. 23: Assyrii quoque Solem sub nomine
Jovis, quem Dia Heliopoliten cognominant, maximis ceremoniis
in civitate, que Heliopolis nuncupatur. Ejus dei simulacrum
sumtum est de oppido Aegypti, quod et ipsum Heliopolis
apellatur, regnante apud Aegyptios Senemure; perlatum est
primum in eam per Opiam, legatum Deleboris, regis Assyriorum,
sacerdotesque Aegyptios, quorum princeps fuit Partemetis,
diuque habitum apud Assyrios, postea Heliopolim commigravit.
I Kings 9:17-18.
Michaelis, Supplementa ad lexica
hebraica (Gottingen, 1784-1792), pp. 197-201; Ritter, Die
Erdkunde, Vol. XVII, pp. 229-230; E. F. C. Rosenmüller, The
Biblical Geography of Asia Minor, Phoenicia and Arabia,
tr.by N. Morren (Edinburgh, 1841), 1. ii., pp. 280-281; W.
H. Thomson, “Baalbek” in Encyclopaedia Britannica (14th
ed.), Vol. II, p. 835.
Joshua ll:17;cf. St. Jerome,
Onomastica, article “Baalgad”.
E. Meyer, Geschichte des
Alterthums, Vol. I (first ed., Berlin, 1884), p. 364, note;
Robinson, Biblical Researches, III, p. 410, n. 2.
Cf. Robinson, Biblical
Researches, III, p. 519; Ritter, Die Erdkunde Vol. XVII, pp.
Song of Songs 8:11.
G. H. von Schubert, Reise in das
Morgenland in den Jahren 1836 und 1837 (Erlangen, 1838,
1839); Wilson, Lands of the Bible, Vol. II, p. 384.
O. Eissfeldt, Tempel und Kulte
syrischer Stadte in hellenistischromischer Zeit (Leipzig,
1941), p. 58.
F. H. W. Gesenius, Thesaurus
philologicus linguae hebraeae et chaldeae Veteris Testamenti
(Leipzig, 1829), p. 264.
Michaelis, Supplementa ad lexica
hebraica, p. 201; Rosenmüller, Biblical Geography, I. ii, p.
281, Wilson, Lands of the Bible, II, p. 384.
Herodotus, Histories II. 42;
Diodorus Siculus 1.13.2.
G. Hoffman, “Aramäische
Inschliften.’’Zeitschrift für Assyriologie, XI (1896), p.
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.
O. von Richter, Wallfahrt, p.
88; quoted by Ritter, Die Erdkunde, XVII, p. 231.
S. Wolcott, “Notices of
Jerusalem; and Excursion to Hebron and Sebeh or Masada; and
Journey from Jerusalem northwards to Beirut, etc.” in
Bibliotheca Sacra (1843), p. 82; quoted by Ritter, Die
Erdkunde, XVII, p. 232.
See von Schubert, Reise in das
Morgenland, op. cit.. Vol. III, p. 325.
Chronographia in Corpus
Scriptorum Historiae Byzantinae 11, p. 280.
Robinson, Biblical Researches,
III, p. 509.
Robinson suggested that
“Antonine rebuilt the great temple of the Sun: and erected
the lesser temple to Jupiter Baal” (Biblical Researches,
III, p. 520, n.6).
O. Puchstein in Th.Wiegand ed.
Palmyra (Berlin, 1932).
B. Schulz in Wiegand ed.,
H. Winnefeld, B. Schulz, Baalbek
(Berlin, Leipzig, 1921, 1923).
L. Ginzberg, Legends of the Jews
(Philadelphia, 1928), VI, p. 375.
Winnefeld in Wiegand,Baalbek,
op. cit., Vol. II (1923), p. 110:
Rene Dussaud, “Jupiter
heliopolitain,” Syria 1 (1920), pp. 3-15; Nina Jidejian,
Baalbek Heliopolis “City of the Sun” (Beirut, 1975), ill.
Sat. i. 23. 12.
Pesahim 117a; see Ginzberg,
Legends of the Sews, VI, p. 375.
The readers of this passage
probably understood it in the sense that Micah’s oracular
image, after being removed from the temple of Dan, was
placed in Baalbek. Baalbek being Dan, such an interpretation