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Build Up the Highway

"Pass through, pass through the gates! Prepare the way for the people. Build up, build up the highway! Remove the stones. Raise a banner for the nations." Isaiah 62:10

Protocol is beautiful, especially when it comes to any kind of building development in Israel, as the Israeli Antiquities Authority is obligated to check a demarcated area for any archaeological traces before it’s cleared for construction.

During one of these routine check-ups where the National Roads Authority of Israel sought to broaden the highway of Route 38 that runs adjacent to the town of Beit Shemesh, in order to deal with the increasing traffic load, a site with unique historical importance was discovered beneath the highway.

Olive Oil Production in the ancient settlement | Photography: Tal Rogovski

A Judean settlement from the end of the First Temple period was uncovered and the location is believed to be an important ancient intersection, as discoveries include a large industrial zone for olive oil production, hundreds of jar handles with stamp seal impressions bearing the inscription LMLK (“LaMelech” translated to mean belonging to the King) to signify royal ownership of a jar's contents.

The location and route also played a key part in the story of King David returning the Ark of the Covenant to Jerusalem.

Tel Beit Shemesh Excavations: Photography: Tal Rogovski

What is, as always, exciting about these discoveries, is the timing, as the exhibition hosting some of the archaeological finds, opened on the eve of the Jewish Festival of Purim. Most of us connect this time to the story of Esther, but something else also happened annually during the ancient times when the Temple stood. The Rabbinical Court sent out workers on the 15th of Adar to start preparing the highways for the upcoming pilgrimage. Stones and debris that cluttered the roads during the rainy season had to be removed, sign posts had to be erected to help usher the thousands of pilgrims on their way to Jerusalem, and the water cisterns, now brimming with water, were opened to ease the pilgrim’s journey.

History Repeats Itself – a Biblical Phenomenon

Eccleciates 3:15 says: “That which is, already has been; that which will be, already has been”.

Amanda Weiss, Director of the Bible Lands Museum where the “Highway through History” exhibition is hosted, reiterates this verse. “We can only prepare for the future, by understanding our history”.

In Hebrew we have a saying that is difficult to translate. If somebody buys a new item, or builds a new house, you say “Titchadshu!” We are wishing the new owner to enjoy his/her new acquisition. But it’s literal translation actually means “renew yourself!”

The Jewish sages say that these repetitive times are not just cycles, they are an ever-widening upwards spiral. The ancient highways are being renewed, and as we are getting ready for the nations to also ascend to Jerusalem in the days to come, these highways are significantly being enlarged, joined by a new airport in Israel to help carry the international tourist influx, a high speed-train to carry visitors in a matter of minutes from Ben Gurion Airport to Jerusalem, and a cable car system that will ease up the increasing busloads of tourists visiting the heart of Jerusalem.

Connecting the Dots

Ancient Pilgrim Path : City of David Archives: Photo: Vladimir Naikhin

Over the last five years the Israeli Antiquities Authority has also been excavating the final ascent of this pilgrim road, ending at the foot of Temple Mount. This last key section starts at the Shiloah Pool, better known as the Pool of Siloam, where the pilgrims had to ritually immerse themselves in preparation for their worship in the Temple. This road lies on the western slope of the ancient City of David.


As the ancient road map is revealing itself, not only by the final ascent located in the ancient Biblical Jerusalem being dusted off, but also this key intersection being revealed, the ancient call resounds again:

This is what the LORD says: "Stand at the crossroads and look; ask for the ancient paths, ask where the good way is, and walk in it, and you will find rest for your souls” - Jeremiah 6:16.

Align With Zion. Learn more about these ancient paths, by learning about the Biblical and spiritual significance of Jerusalem, the Jewish Festivals, the Hebrew language and more. You can do so by:

Take an ACTIVE STEP: Learn more about our Zion Script:

Set your own personal Biblical marker as a constant reminder in your home to turn your heart towards Jerusalem. The word marker, "Tziun" (Jer 31:20)* is pronounced exactly the same as Zion, "Tzion" in Hebrew. It means that the marker referred to in this verse has to carry the "DNA" of Zion, something from Zion itself. Our Zion Script is exactly that - made in Zion, by a Torah Scribe on Torah Parchment.

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