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Baalbek

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Key Facts
Location 34° 0′ 25″ N , 36° 12′ 14″ E
Original Name Ba'al Bek
Year Founded 1270 BCE
Founders King Solomon (Shulmanu I) or Shalmaneser I king of Assyria. (1274 BC – 1245 BC).
Location Function Most Sacred Temple to Ba'al Moloch
Etymology Ba'al (Lord) + Bek (God)
1st Name Change Heliopolis (323 BCE)

 

 

Background

Approximately 86 kilometers northeast of the city of Beirut in eastern Lebanon stands the temple complex of Baalbek . Situated atop a high point in the fertile Bekaa valley, the ruins are one of the most extraordinary and enigmatic holy places of ancient times. Long before the Romans conquered the site and built their enormous temple of Jupiter there stood at Baalbek the largest stone block construction found in the entire world.

Baalbek is situated at an altitude 1,170 m (3,850 ft), east of the Litani River, with expansive view over Bekaa Valley below. It is situated. 85 km north east of Beirut, and about 75 km north of Damascus.

The Roman Parthenon

Baalbek was the official Mount Olympus and Parthenon of the Romans and the Roman Empire and their most sacred Temple complex in the world.

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The primary structures at the ruins are the Great Court; the Temple of Baal/Jupiter situated upon the massive pre-Roman stone blocks known as the Trilithon; the so-called Temple of Bacchus; and the circular temple believed to be associated with the goddess Venus.

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The Great Court, begun during the reign of Trajan (98-117), measured 135 meters by 113 meters, contained various religious buildings and altars, and was surrounded by a splendid colonnade of 128 rose granite columns.

These magnificent columns, 20 meters tall and of enormous weight, are known to have been quarried in Aswan, Egypt but how they were actually transported by land and sea to Baalbek remains an engineering mystery. Today, only six columns remain standing, the rest having been destroyed by earthquakes or taken to other sites (for example, Justinian appropriated eight of them for the basilica of Hagia Sophia in Constantinople).

The Temple of Baal/Jupiter was begun during the reign of Emperor Augustus in the late first century BC and completed soon after 60 AD. The single largest religious edifice ever erected by the Romans, the immense sanctuary of Jupiter Heliopolitanus was lined by 104 massive granite columns, imported from Aswan in Egypt, and held a temple surrounded by 50 additional columns, almost 19m (62ft) high. The Temple is believed to have been consecrated to a triad of deities: Hadad (Baal/Jupiter), the god of Heaven; Atargates (Astarte/Hera), the wife of Hadad; and Mercury, their son.

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The Assyrian and Neo Assyrian Kingdom Structure

Prior to the restoration and enlargement projects of various Roman Emperors, Baalbek was the site to one of the Greatest and most famous Temples of all history- the Great Temple of King Solomon (Shulmanu I) or Shalmaneser I king of Assyria. (1274 BC – 1245 BC).

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The massive stones range in size from thirty to thirty three feet in length, fourteen feet in height and ten feet in depth, and weigh approximately 450 tons each. Nine of these blocks are visible on the north side of the temple, nine on the south, and six on the west (others may exist but archaeological excavations have thus far not dug beneath all the sections of the Grand Terrace). Above the six blocks on the western side are three even larger stones, called the Trilithon, whose weight exceeds 1000 tons each. These great stones vary in size between sixty-three and sixty-five feet in length, with a height of fourteen feet six inches and a depth of twelve feet.

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Another even larger stone lies in a limestone quarry a quarter of a mile from the Baalbek complex. Weighing an estimated 1200 tons, it is sixty-nine feet by sixteen feet by thirteen feet ten inches, making it the single largest piece of stonework ever crafted in the world.

The incredible weight and dimensions of this foundation to the Temple of the Great King Solomon of Assyria has led many writers to conjecture as to just how such work was possible. Some have suggested the existence of long lost ancient machinery and even supernatural forces. The Assyrians themselves cultivated such mysteries concerning one of the greatest Temples and wonders of the ancient world in the great mystery work the Testament of Solomon (also known as the Lesser Keys of Solomon).

Exile of the High Priest Dynasty and the age of Cybele and the Phrygians

Around 1159 BCE a particularly savage meteorite swarm associated with the migration of a comet the Greeks called Phaethon devastated the lands across the Levant up through the Anatolian region and down south as far as Arabia.

The subsequent, dust and “nuclear winter” effect caused mass crop failures and starvation across the whole east of the ancient world causing the simultaneous collapse of the Hittite Kingdom and the Assyrian Kingdoms.

The horrors from heaven forced old demonic gods to the fore and relegated the old gods such as Baal, to less importance for a time. Throughout the Levant, Moloch grew in popularity as people sacrificed children and each other to the demon god of fire.

In the Anatolian region a new Empire quickly sprung up known as the Phrygians who worshipped Cybele and her instantiation as black meteorites – the kind that had caused so much devastation.

The Phrygians took control of the whole region including Baalbek no later than 1070 BCE forcing the old priest dynasty into exile. Some of the priests returned to Egypt and successfully petitioned the priests of Amen-Ra who now controlled Upper Egypt to build a sacred temple on the Isle of Yeb (Elephantine Island). The remainder built new Temples at Shechem, Shomron and Beit El.

The age of Empires

The Assyrians regained Baalbek around 740 BCE and under the reign of King Solomon V (Shalmaneser V King of Assyria 727 to 722 BCE), most of the exiled “Israelite” priests of the Kingdom of Israel were uprooted from their new lands and returned to attend the Temple Complex of Baalbek and its restoration.

Some priest families negotiated with Solomon to be allowed to remain and attend the new temples in the Sarmatian region and became the House of Menasheh, the bitter enemies to the House of Hammon (Hanan) who were forced to return to Baalbek.

Heliopolis

Following the death of Alexander in 323 BC, Phoenicia was ruled successively by the Ptolemaic kings of Egypt and the Seleucid kings of Syria until the arrival of the Romans. The priests of Ba’al Hammon were banished once again and forced to build their own settlement known as Ba’al Hammon between Tyre and Acre on account of the House of Menasheh (Samaritans) now controlling Sarmara .

The name of Baalbek was now changed to Heliopolis Meaning ‘City of the Sun’, the name was also used by the Ptolemies of Egypt between 323 and 198 BC, in order to express the importance this holy site held for the Egyptians.

In the historical writings of Ambrosius Theodosius Macrobius, a Latin grammarian who lived during the 5th century AD, the god of the holy place was called Zeus Heliopolitanus (a Greek god) and the temple was mentioned as a place of oracular divination, similar to such sites as Delphi and Dodona in Greece and the temple of Amun at Siwa in Egypt.

The Romans

The golden age of Roman building at Baalbek/Heliopolis began in 15BC when Julius Caesar settled a legion there and began construction of the great Temple of Jupiter. During the next three centuries, as emperors succeeded one another in the imperial capital of Rome, Heliopolis would be filled with the most massive religious buildings ever constructed in the far reaching Roman Empire.

Many Roman emperors were of Syrian birth, so it would not have been unusual for them to have promoted the worship of the country's indigenous deities under their adopted Roman names. Whatever the nature of the pre-Roman worship at Baalbek, its veneration of Baal created a hybrid form of the god Jupiter, generally referred to as Jupiter Heliopolitan. The Romans also assimilated the worship of the goddess Astarte with that of Aphrodite or Venus, and the god Adonis was identified with Bacchus.

Christianity and the end of Baalbek

Heliopolis remained the most holy of temple structures until Christianity was declared the official religion of the Roman Empire in 313 AD, following which the Byzantine Christian emperors and their soldiers desecrated thousands of pagan sanctuaries. At the end of the 4th century, Emperor Theodosius destroyed many significant buildings and statues, and constructed a basilica with stones from the Temple of Jupiter. This signaled the end of Roman Heliopolis. The city of the sun declined and lapsed into relative oblivion.

The silent Bible

As arguably the oldest and most significant dedicated sacred sites in the region, dedicated to the gods under which most of the Jewish tribes worshipped for over a millenia, it is astounding that Baalbek is mentioned but once in the official ancient Jewish scripture. Even then, it is mentioned by a pseudonym in a way that remains obscure.

Biblical passages (I Kings, IX: 17-19) mention the name of King Solomon in connection with a place that may be ancient Baalbek (“And Solomon built Gezer and Beth-Horon, the lower, and Baalath and Tadmor in the wilderness”), but most scholars are hesitant to equate this Baalath with Baalbek and therefore deny any connection between Solomon and the ruins.

Apart from the fact that Solomon was a great Assyrian King, the main reason for such incredible silence may derive from the fact that the High Priests of Ba'al and Moloch practised the very darkest of arts including child sacrifice, human sacrifice, temple prostitution, incest, ritual homosexuality and cannibalism.

Furthermore, the High Priests of Baalbek became the High Priests of Israel, with the House of Hanan even named after their original demonic god Ba'al (Hamon) Hammon. It is no wonder then that the Jewish scriptures first written as a Canonical text by Ezra in 455-450 BCE and heavily edited since that time makes no mention of the true past.

Baalbek was an important site in the ancient world. Yet many thousands of innocent lives were sacrificed for its construction and as sacrifices to the evil gods.