Beauty for Ashes

Updated: Sep 18, 2020

My husband, Tamir, and I had the opportunity to join the excavations at the City of David a week or so ago. We were working in the area where they reached the First Temple Period layers and we were excavating a house that caved in under the scorching fire of the Babylonian destruction.

Whenever they dig in the City of David they are anticipating already a known pattern - two ash layers, an upper layer connected to the Roman destruction, and a few layers deeper that of the Babylonian destruction. Like clockwork, the black soot emerges. Your soul instantly mourns.

For the archaeologists its routine, for me, it still hits very deep. You are touching history. You are part of this history, a very difficult history. But along with that comes a promise of a restored and vindicated future - for Jerusalem, for Zion - the Jewish people taking their rightful place in the world.

Pottery sherd covered with ashes, at the top a burned piece that was part of wooden beam. Credit: AnaRina Kreisman

To appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them a garland for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the mantle of praise for the spirit of heaviness; they will be called terebinths of righteousness, the planting of the LORD, wherein He might glory. - Isaiah 61:3

But even through the ashes, Jerusalem communicates HOPE. She refuses to be silenced.

  • Ancient seal impressions that sealed governmental documents, that were made of soft clay which would naturally disintegrate after a few hundred years, survived. How? They hardened (baked) under the intense heat of the destruction. Why? Because they have to bear witness.

[Photo, seal right: Yuchal Ben Shelemiyahu, seal left: Gedalyahu Ben Pashur  - names appear in Jeremiah 39:1].
©Eilat Mazar, Photo Gabi Laron.

You see, these seals have the names of governmental officials as mentioned in the Bible inscribed on them. You can watch the video HERE regarding the seals. [Photo LEFT, seal right: Yuchal Ben Shelemiyahu, seal left: Gedalyahu Ben Pashur - names appear in Jeremiah 39:1]. In a time when the World Heritage Foundation (UNESCO), the body that is supposed to preserve world history, claims that there is only one religion connected to Jerusalem - that of Islam; the Holy City herself cries out with empirical proof that she was, is and will remain the Eternal Capital of the Jewish People, ultimately to take up her position as the Chosen and Eternal Capital of all mankind.

Having enemies mocking her dust is nothing new to the ancient city. In Nehemiah we read that her destruction and those taking pity on her destruction and endeavoring to rebuild her, were greatly mocked.

"...will they revive the stones out of the heaps of rubbish, seeing they are burned?"

- Nehemiah 3:34 (Hebrew Bible numbering)

Note carefully, the literal Hebrew says "revive - to bring to life". By rebuilding the ruins of Jerusalem, Nehemiah revived the stones. We know Jerusalem has a soul, she communicates to G-d. You can see it in the dialogue between her and the Almighty in Isaiah 49 where she claims she is forgotten. G-d then answers that it is impossible for Him to forget her, she is imprinted on the palms of His hands. "...even these may forget, but I will never forget you" He promises.

  • Through the destruction