Moriah (Hebrew: מוריה, Mōriyyā = "ordained/considered by God") is the name given to a mountain range by the Book of Genesis, in which context it is given as the location of the near sacrifice of Isaac. Traditionally Moriah has been interpreted as the name of the specific mountain at which this occurred, rather than just the name of the range. The exact location referred to is currently a matter of some debate.
In the book of Chronicles it is reported that the location of Araunah's threshing floor is "in mount Moriah" and that the Temple of Solomon was built over Araunah's threshing floor. This has led to the classical rabbinical supposition that this is at the peak of Moriah; a later Islamic tradition recounts that Moriah is the same location as the Foundation Stone, which Jewish tradition holds to be the former location of the Temple of Solomon. However, this tradition is not reported by the centuries earlier Books of Samuel; and biblical scholars view the tradition as somewhat implausible. According to a biblical passage concerning Melchizedek, Jerusalem was already a city with a priest at the time of Abraham, and thus is unlikely to have been founded after this, at the site of a sacrifice made by Abraham in the wilderness.
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). Targum Pseudo-Jonathan interprets the name as land of worship, while the Samaritan Targum regards it as being land of vision.
Most modern biblical scholars, however, regard the name as a reference to the Amorites, losing the initial a via aphesis; the name is thus interpreted as meaning land of the Amorites. This also agrees with the biblical text as it appears in the Syriac Peshitta – where the near-sacrifice occurs at the land of the Amorites, and in the Septuagint, where, for example, 2 Chronicles 3:1 refers to the location as Ἀμωρία – Amōriā. This would give it the same etymological root as Hamor, a person's name in the narrative at Genesis 34 which concerns Shechem. 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.
This article incorporates text from the 1901–1906 Jewish Encyclopedia, a publication now in the public domain.
This article incorporates text from Easton's Bible Dictionary (1897), a publication now in the public domain.
MORIAH, an obscure place-name of ancient Palestine with apparently two distinct connotations. (1) A land entirely unknown, on a mountain in which Abraham offered Isaac (Gen. xxii. 2). The text is probably corrupt: some have suggested "land of the Amorites," others "land of Midian." The etymology of the word is equally obscure. Traditionally, of course, "the land of Moriah" is identified with the site of the Temple at Jerusalem,' except by the Samaritans and a few western scholars (such as Dean Stanley) who accept their belief that the mountain. was Gerizim. (2) The upper part of the hill of Ophel, the threshing floor of Araunah, upon which Solomon erected the Temple, is once called Mount Moriah (2 Chron. iii. 1). Whether this name be derived from the corruption in Genesis or not cannot be definitely decided; it very likely is. The testimony of Josephus, who often names the temple hill "Moriah," is of course not original, and of no weight. (R. A. S. M.)
James Morier >>
Meaning: the chosen of YHWH
Some contend that Mount Gerizim is meant, but most probably we are to regard this as one of the hills of Jerusalem. Here Solomon's temple was built, on the spot that had been the threshing-floor of Ornan the Jebusite (2 Sam 24:24f; 2Chr 3:1). It is usually included in Zion, to the north-east of which it lay, and from which it was separated by the Tyropoean valley. This was "the land of Moriah" to which Abraham went to offer up his son Isaac (Gen 22:2). It has been supposed that the highest point of the temple hill, which is now covered by the Mohammedan Kubbetes-Sakhrah, or "Dome of the Rock," is the actual site of Araunah's threshing-floor. Here also, one thousand years after Abraham, David built an altar and offered sacrifices to God.
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