Wednesday, January 23, 2019

The Judean Motza Temple of Pre-Exilic Times

The site of Motza west of Jerusalem had been understood since the 1990s as a locale of large silos of the Judean monarchy, a kind of national bank of the state of Judah from the tenth to the sixth centuries BCE. Since 2012, further excavations have unearthed what appears to many scholars to be a large shrine of the ninth century BCE. Broken cult objects, including figurines of horses, help to identify the site as a temple.
The meaning of the horse figurines is not certain, but, in my view, they could be connected with notions of solar theophany and rites of solar vigil at the Motza temple. The connection of horses with the sun and its poetic/ritual importance is clear from texts such as 2 Kings 23:11; Zech 6:1; and by the upper tier image on the Taanach stand. The importance of the sun in at least some forms of Israelite worship is evidenced by references to the rising sun in Pss 17:15; 46:5; 63:1; 84:11; and 110:3; by the narratives of 2 Kings 23:5-11 and Ezek 8:16, by the just-mentioned Taanach stand, and by horse figures with sun disks found at Lachish, Hazor, and Jerusalem.

I have poked around the Web a bit, and have been unable to find any good diagram or labeled photos of the Tell Motza Temple. There are pictures and video of the Motza site, but without labels, it is hard for people to make out any sacral structures with a sense of confidence:
Thus, I've gone ahead and looked at some of the work done on understanding the temple by folks such as Garfinkel, Mumcuoglu, Greenhut, de Groot, and Kisilevitz, and produced the following image, which attempts to make some initial sense out of the above aerial photograph of the temple site (click to enlarge):


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