The Kingdom of Judah’s New Administrative Center

Credit:, Judah, Israel

Exodus 38 explains the source of material for Israel’s desert Tabernacle, its traveling center of worship. “The silver obtained from those of the community who were counted in the census was 100 talents and 1,775 shekels, according to the sanctuary shekel, one beka per person, that is, half a shekel, according to the sanctuary shekel, from everyone who had crossed over to those counted, twenty years old or more, a total of 603,550 men. The 100 talents of silver were used to cast the bases for the sanctuary and for the curtain, 100 bases from the 100 talents, one talent for each base. They used the 1,775 shekels to make the hooks for the posts, to overlay the tops of the posts, and to make their bands.”

Governments typically manage these forms of administrative functions and collections from administrative centers. In the Iron IIB period Kingdom of Judah, this appears to have occurred from an area that is today’s Ramat Rachel, which replaced Jerusalem in that role.

Ramat Rachel is located in the southeastern corner of Jerusalem, near the neighborhoods of Talpiot and Arnona, on a hill that is roughly between the Old City of Jerusalem and Bethlehem. In the Iron IIB period, the site appears to have been connected to royalty. It contained a fortified palace or citadel. The stones were hewn, indicating a degree of wealth. It had a large courtyard and a tower on the summit of the hill. East of the hill was a building. The site also produced many vessels that were stamped with seals with the word “LMLK,” meaning to the king. These vessels would have held agriculture goods that were collected from the population. Thus by archaeological appearances, Ramat Rachel appears to have been an important center for the operation of the Kingdom of Judah.

The image above of ashlar masonry stones at Ramat Rachel.