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Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Second Temple treasures in Israel?

An article in the Times of London claims that the treasures of the Second Temple, long believed to still be in Rome where they were taken after the Temple's destruction, are actually in Judea.
Sean Kingsley, a specialist in the Holy Land, claims to have discovered what became of the collection, which is widely regarded as the greatest of biblical treasures and includes silver trumpets that would have heralded the Coming of the Messiah.

The trumpets, gold candelabra and the bejewelled Table of the Divine Presence were among pieces shipped to Rome after the looting in AD70 of the Temple, the most sacred building in the ancient Jewish faith.

After a decade of research into previously untapped ancient texts and archaeological sources, Dr Kingsley has reconstructed the treasure’s route for the first time in 2,000 years to provide evidence that it left Rome in the 5th century.

He has discovered that it was taken to Carthage, Constantinople and Algeria before being hidden in the Judaean wilderness, beneath the Monastery of Theodosius.

Dr Kingsley said: “The treasure resonates fiercely across modern politics. Since the mid-1990s, a heated political wrangle has been simmering between the Vatican and Israel, which has accused the papacy of imprisoning the treasure.

“The Temple treasure remains a deadly political tool in the volatile Arab-Israeli conflict centred on the Temple Mount [the site of the Jewish Temple and the Muslim Dome of the Rock].

“The treasure’s final hiding place – in the modern West Bank . . . deep in Hamas territory – will rock world religions.” [The monastery is not exactly located "deep in Hamas territory." While I have never been there, here is a description of its location, which sounds like it's awfully close to the Green Line: "From Bethlehem a good (though narrow) asphalted road runs east to Bet Sahur and then northeast to the monastery of St Theodosius (12km/7.5mi). Founded in 476 by St Theodosius, a native of Cappadocia in Asia Minor, the monastery had a population of 400 monks in its heyday. It was destroyed by the Persians in 614, along with Mar Saba and St George's Monastery in the Wadi Qilt. Around 1900 it was reoccupied and rebuilt by Greek Orthodox monks." Beit Sahur is right next to Gilo and northeast of there sounds like somewhere near Beitar if I have my bearings correctly. CiJ]

Emperor Vespasian ordered the destruction of the Temple at Jerusalem after a Jewish revolt and Roman forces took about 50 tons of gold, silver and precious art to Rome.

The Arch of Titus, built a decade later, depicts Roman soldiers bearing the sacred spoils on their shoulders. The Jews were expelled from Jerusalem and dispersed throughout the world.

Between AD75 and the early 5th century, the treasure was on public display in the Temple of Peace in the Forum, in Rome.

The Vatican has told Dr Kingsley that there is no evidence in its archives that the treasure resided in Rome from the medieval period onwards.

He said: “One thing is for sure – it is not imprisoned deep in Vatican City. I am the first person to prove that the Temple treasures no longer languish in Rome.”

Dr Kingsley’s sources include Josephus, a 1st-century Jewish historian who sometimes exaggerated but is an authority on Roman and Jewish history. Dr Kingsley also found evidence in, among others, the works of Procopius, a court historian of the Emperor Justinian, who died in AD562, and from Theophanes Confessor (c760-817), a Christian monk from Constantinople.

In Chronographia, which spanned AD284 to 813, Theophanes recorded that Gaiseric, king of the Vandals, loaded the treasures that “Titus had brought to Rome after the capture of Jerusalem” on a boat to Carthage in Tunisia in AD455.

In the first holy crusade in AD533, the Byzantine Belisarius seized the treasure from a royal ship fleeing the Algerian harbour of Hippo Regius. It was then shipped to Constantinople, the capital of Byzantium.In the 7th century, Persians sacked Jerusalem, killing thousands of Christians, and dragging the Patriarch, Zacharias, to Persia. Dr Kingsley believes that his replacement, Modestus, spirited away the treasures to their final hiding place in AD614.

Dr Kingsley will reveal his findings in God’s Gold: The Quest for the Lost Temple Treasure of Jerusalem, to be published by John Murray on October 5.
If it's really located where Kingsley claims it us, I wonder if the 'Palestinians' will even be interested in finding it. After all, they have destroyed many tons of First and Second Temple ruins on the Temple Mount itself. Also, if the treasure were to be found, it would constitute yet another proof that the Temple existed, and Yasser Arafat, the 'Palestinian leader,' always claimed that the Temple never existed. But I'm sure that the 'Palestinians' would be pleased to find the treasure and give it to Christie's or Sotheby's for auction - with the proceeds to go to the 'leaders.'

Update 2:20 PM

I have been going back and forth about this with Stemir all morning long and it turns out I had my bearings wrong. Beitar would be west of Beit Sahur and the Monastery is to the East. I found another site which places it near the village of Ubaidyya, which seems to be somewhere between Bethlehem and Ma'aleh Adumim. That's a desert area that is largely unsettled (not surprisingly) and I certainly would not classify it as "deep in Hamas territory."


At 9:49 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Here is some more information about where this place is:
Type in the following coordinates at GoogleEarth or Google Maps
Israel Images

At 9:51 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

PIMF. Here is the correct link to Google Maps. Google Maps

At 11:17 AM, Blogger Carl in Jerusalem said...


I can;t really tell anything from Google Maps. From the description it sounds like it is somewhere in the Beitar area. But I tried (unsuccessfully) to input Hadassah Ein Karem as a starting point to get directions and confirm that and it didn't work.

At 11:31 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

here is another link for you:

If you find Bethlehem, look just east and you will see Beit Sahur. The monastery is outside of the town, to the north-east whidh is south-east of Jerusalem.

At 8:34 PM, Blogger FrumWithQuestions said...

I found all of that very interesting. I also wonder why no one knows where these objects are. Hashem must have erased peoples memory and all evidence because we are not worthy of discovering or using them again.

At 8:47 PM, Blogger Carl in Jerusalem said...


You are probably - almost certainly - correct.

But the claim may be credible because I don't believe there is anything on the list that was hidden by Yoshiyahu. No ark, no mana, etc.

At 11:03 PM, Blogger ShumBaayaMyLord said...

Since the current government is unlikely to take any steps in this situation that are favorable to the Jewish people (if anything, they would probably do the opposite), is there any reasonable and halachically acceptable basis for hesder yeshivot to organize an operation to properly investigate and perhaps "liberate" these keilim?

I don't want to promote an operation that would undermine the welfare and unity of the Jewish people broadly constituted under the Reishit Tzmichat Geulateinu (a.k.a., the State of Israel), so hooliganistic behavior would have to be utterly banned in the undertaking. But it seems to me that, if all this is going to be out in the open, a peaceable but firm approach has to be made to the monastery--and by people unconnected to the TNDI regime. (TNDI = Toxically Narcissistic Delusional Incompetents.)

Maybe put Rav Chaim Druckman in charge of such an operation, with Rav Sabato (of Y.Birkat Moshe) as Chief of Operations?


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