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Tel el Ful

Tel el-Ful (literally, Hill of Beans) is located within the boundaries of the Jerusalem Municipality, just west of Pisgat Ze’ev in Beit Hanina, and overlooks the Arab neighborhood of Shuafat. It is 2,754 feet above sea level, making it one of the highest summits in the entire region. Many identify Tel el-Ful with the original Givat Shaul mentioned in sefer Shmuel, which was the capital of Shaul Hamelech. However, others, such as Israel Finkelstein,  suggest other identifications. See: TELL EL-FUL REVISITED: THE ASSYRIAN AND HELLENISTIC PERIODS (WITH A NEW IDENTIFICATION) Israel Finkelstein

There are ruins of a double-walled rectangular fortress, and four corner towers are evident. A number of archeological digs have been carried out here, the first conducted in 1868 by Charles Warren, and further excavations in 1874 and again in 1922/3.

The Royal Palace аt Tell el-ful stands near Beit Hanina, atop а hill named Tell el-Ful . Іt wаs intended tо be а summer residence fоr King Hussein оf Jordan, whо hаd controlled Jerusalem аnd the rest оf the West Bank by annexing the territory аfter the 1948 Arab-Israeli War. Construction started іn the mid-1960s, but wаs interrupted when Israel captured the area during the 1967 War. Still owned by the Hashemite Kingdom, іt remains today аs found іn 1967, аn unfinished shell. The palace wаs built іn reaction tо the locating оf the residence оf Israel’s president іn West Jerusalem.

The site is referred to today by the Arabs as Al Kusor (Home of the King) referring to  Hussein’s Palace.

The building was planned by the Hashemite Kingdom’s finest architects, and the site was chosen owing to its spectacular views of the rolling Jerusalem hills and to its strategic location. The grandiose structure was to be an architectural masterpiece and serve as the official vacation retreat of the Jordanian royal family.

In 1964, just before King Hussein of Jordan began building his “dream villa” on the site, a sixweek excavation took place in order to save and document archeological findings before construction would have caused it all to be destroyed. The finds corroborate the various events that are recorded in the Bible in connection to the region.

In sefer Yehoshua 18:28, Binyamin is allotted the Givah among cities and their villages. The city lay along the main highway that linked the region of Yehudah and Yerushalayim to the hills of Ephraim (Shoftim 19:11-13).

At the end of Shoftim we are told that Am Yisrael did not tolerate misdeeds of a small fringe element of youth who lived in Givah, who had tried to copy the evil Canaanite ways. Klal Yisrael arose as one man to uproot and eradicate evil from their midst, resulting in a great civil war; some 75,000 of Bnei Yisrael fell in battle. The city of Givah was burnt to the ground, and also the rest of the nation vowed to withhold their daughters from marrying the remainder of Shevet Binyamin, thereby causing the Shevet to die out. However, after contemplating how terrible it would be to lose one of the twelve Shevatim, Bnei Yisrael took 400 women from Yavesh Gilad – a city in Ever HaYarden that had not participated in the battle against Givah and was thus not bound by the oath – so that the small number of men of Binyamin who survived would have women to marry (Shoftim 19 and 20).

The Navi Shmuel anointed Shaul from Shevet Binyamin as king (Shmuel I 10). After he was proclaimed king, Shaul immediately went home to Givah. It is told he ruled from the rebuilt Givah, after which the site started to be called Givat Shaul.

Nachash, the king of Ammon, had been oppressing Yisrael for quite a while (which was, in fact, one of the reasons the nation had requested a king). The blood relatives of Shevet Binyamin from Yavesh Gilad had being especially hard hit. They begged Shaul Hamelech to help them.

He roused the people by taking a pair of oxen, dismembering them, and sending the pieces to all twelve tribes, warning them that their own herds would meet the same fate if they did not join in battle against Ammon. (This symbol is reminiscent of the way the nation was galvanized into the civil war against Givah). The first Jewish king sent his graphic message from Givah (Givat Shaul). Thus, instead of Givah’s being the source of terrible violations and the cause of the nation’s separation, it now became the uniting force from where justice against the Jews’ enemy emanated. People flocked to join Shaul’s army. Hashem wrought a great victory for his people, and from this point on, Shaul was accepted unanimously as king. (Shmuel I 11).

Apparently, the location was the source of more strife later on. Josephus tells us that the infamous Roman 10th Legion camped at Givah, awaiting instructions to destroy Yerushalayim and the Beis Hamikdash before the destruction of Jerusalem.

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The magnificent three-level edifice with interconnected arches and coated with Jerusalem stone was
intended to host dignitaries from around the globe. Construction was halted after Israel regained control
of the region during the 1967 Six Day War, and the uncompleted palace stands on the ruins of what apparently was the massive citadel of Shaul Hamelech.

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