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Height 743 section Jerusalem map, scale 10,000 scale, 1st edition, Survey of Palestine, Jaffa, August 1925, Ordnance Survey Offices, Southhampton, 1926.png
Section of the Jerusalem map (1925) showing location of Mount Moriah according to the TaNaKh sources
Highest point
Elevation768 m (2,520 ft) (Mount Moriah)
Coordinates31°46′40.7″N 35°14′8.9″E / 31.777972°N 35.235806°E / 31.777972; 35.235806Coordinates: 31°46′40.7″N 35°14′8.9″E / 31.777972°N 35.235806°E / 31.777972; 35.235806
LocationJerusalem (according to Jewish sources)
Parent rangeJudean (Mount Moriah)

Moriah /mɒˈrə/ (Hebrew: מוֹרִיָּה, Modern: Moriyya, Tiberian: Môriyyā, Arabic: ﻣﺮﻭﻩ‎, romanizedMarwah) is the name given to a mountainous region by the Book of Genesis, in which context it is the location of the sacrifice of Isaac. Through association with the biblical Mount Moriah (the Temple Mount), Mount Moriah has been interpreted as the name of the specific mountain at which this occurred, although this identification is typically rejected by scholarship.

Muslims believe the historical mount is Marwah in Arabic, as mentioned in the Qur'an, located close to the Kaaba in Mecca, Saudi Arabia; or Petra, Jordan. There has been an historical account of rams' horns preserved in the Kaaba until the year 683, which are believed to be the remains of the sacrifice of Ishmael.[1]

Biblical references[edit]

In the Tanakh, the name Moriyya (Hebrew: מוֹרִיָּה‎) occurs twice (with minor differences of spelling between different manuscripts).[2] Tradition has interpreted these as the same place:

  • Genesis[3]: "Then God said, 'Take your son, your only son, whom you love—Isaac—and go to the region of Moriyya. Sacrifice him there as a burnt offering on a mountain I will show you.'"
  • 2 Chronicles[4]: "Then Shlomo (Solomon) began to build the temple of the LORD in Yerushalayim (Jerusalem) on Har Moriyya (Mount Moriah), where the LORD had appeared to his father David. It was on the threshing floor of Araunah the Jebusite, the place provided by David.."

Speculation and debate[edit]

Religious views[edit]

Whereas the mention of Moriah in Genesis could be referring to any mountainous region, the book of Chronicles says that the location of Araunah's threshing floor is on "Mount Moriah" and that the Temple of Solomon was built over Araunah's threshing floor.[5] This has led to the classical rabbinical supposition that Moriah was in Jerusalem.[2] In consequence of these traditions, Classical Rabbinical Literature theorised that the name was a (linguistically corrupted) reference to the Temple, suggesting translations like the teaching-place (referring to the Sanhedrin that met there), the place of fear (referring to the supposed fear that non-Israelites would have at the Temple), the place of myrrh (referring to the spices burnt as incense).[6] On the other hand, some interpretations of a biblical passage concerning Melchizedek, king of Salem, would indicate Jerusalem was already a city with a priest at the time of Abraham, and thus is unlikely to have been founded on the lonely spot where Abraham tried to sacrifice Isaac.[7] However, the view that the word Salem in this passage actually refers to Jerusalem (in David's time, Jebus) and not peace (shalome, shelomo) is much debated between many sects of Jews and Christians.[citation needed]

There is also debate as to whether the two references (Genesis 22:2 and 2 Chronicles 3:1) are correctly understood as the same word. Ancient translators seem to have interpreted them differently: whereas all ancient translations simply transliterated the name in Chronicles, in Genesis they tended to try to understand the literal meaning of the name and to translate it. For example, in the Greek Septuagint translation, these verses are translated as:

  • Genesis 22:2: "And he said, Take thy son, the beloved one, whom thou hast loved—Isaac, and go into the high land (Koine Greek: εἰς τὴν γῆν τὴν ὑψηλὴν), and offer him there for a whole-burnt-offering on one of the mountains which I will tell thee of"[8]
  • 2 Chronicles 3:1: "And Solomon began to build the house of the Lord in Jerusalem in the mount of Amoria, where the Lord appeared to his father David, in the place which David had prepared in the threshing-floor of Ornan the Jebusite."[9]

Moreover, other ancient translations interpret the instance in Genesis in different ways from the Septuagint:[2][6]

  • The Samaritan Pentateuch spells the name differently from the Hebrew-alphabet text, giving "’ereṣ hammôrā’āh", which seems to interpret the name as coming from the root rā’āh ("to see"), and accordingly means "the land of vision". Correspondingly, Symmachus's Greek translation renders the Genesis place-name as "tês optasías" ("into the land of appearance/manifestation") and Jerome's Latin Vulgate similarly says "in terram Visionis" ("into the land of Vision").
  • Targum Pseudo-Jonathan interprets the name as land of worship.

Scholarly views[edit]

Some modern biblical scholars, however, regard the name as a reference to the Amorites, having lost the initial a via aphesis; the name is thus interpreted as meaning land of the Amorites. This agrees with the Septuagint, where, for example, 2 Chronicles 3:1 refers to the location as Ἀμωρία.[citation needed]

Some scholars also identify it with Moreh, the location near Shechem at which Abraham built an altar, according to Genesis 12:6. Hence a number of scholars believe that Moriah refers to a hill near Shechem, supporting the Samaritan belief that the near-sacrifice of Isaac occurred on Mount Gerizim – a location near Shechem.[6]

See also[edit]

Notes and citations[edit]

  1. ^ Imam Farahi, Hamiduddin (November 1, 1995). ""The Great Sacrifice" (3)". Al-Mawrid. Retrieved December 5, 2015.
  2. ^ a b c Jože Krašovec, 'Transliteration or Translation of Biblical Proper Names', Translation Review, 67:1 (2004), 41-57 (pp. 50-51); doi:10.1080/07374836.2004.1052385.
  3. ^ 22:2
  4. ^ 3:1
  5. ^ "Moriah". Easton's Bible Dictionary. Retrieved 2008-07-14.
  6. ^ a b c Jacobs, Joseph; M. Seligsohn. "Moriah". Jewish Encyclopedia. Retrieved 2008-07-14.
  7. ^ Peake's commentary on the Bible.
  8. ^ English Translation of the Greek Septuagint Bible (Genesis)
  9. ^ English Translation of the Greek Septuagint Bible (2 Chronicles)