Next up in Biblical Locations, after years of research we believe we have located The Land of Moriah and possible candidates for Mount Moriah. By the looks of it, may very well be in the Highland Mountains of western Lesotho. Now, close to Lesotho and inside the country you will find interesting names such as Nazareth, Roma, and in the area now called Free State, there is Bethlehem. These are historically very central places mentioned in the Bible, which may or may not be the actual place today. Now we can trace Morija or Moriah as a town in western Lesotho, not too far away from the border Capital of Maseru. This place has a very special historical and cultural significance for the Sothos, and they call it Selibeng sa Thuto or the Fountain or Well of Learning. Now as the story goes Lesotho has had an early invasion of missionaries, perhaps Catholic (The Beast) it is hard to say, at least there was a mission established there in 1833. We will recount more in this in the coming post on Basotho ruler Moshoeshoe, who made sure Lesotho stayed hidden from invaders and the Sothos remained a united people. A very interesting story indeed.
Now Mount Moriahs history in the Bible starts in Genesis 22, where SoNiNi commands Abraham (Genesis 22,2):
2 Then SoNiNi said, “Take your son, your only son, whom you love—Isaac—and go to the region of Moriah. Sacrifice him there as a burnt offering on a mountain I will show you.”
This region were SoNiNi led Abraham was to be know as Mount Moriah. Now Abraham trusted in SoNiNi (Genesis 17,19) and SoNiNi did intervene and spared Isaacs life by providing a Ram to be sacrificed instead. Thereafter Abraham called this place "SoNiNi will provide".
And to this day it is said "On the Mountain of SoNiNi it will be provided (Genesis 22,14). Now because of Abrahams obedience on Mount Moriah, SoNiNi told Abraham that his descendants will take possession of the enemy towns and areas in the Land given to The Bantu Children of Ntu. and through your offspring all the nations on earth will be blessed because you have obeyed me (Genesis 17 & 18). A thousand years later at the same location, King David bought the so-called threshing floor of Arauna the Jebusite and built an altar to SoNiNi to hold the plague back from the people (1. Samuel 24,18,21). And it was Davids son, Solomon, who after his fathers death built The Temple somewhere inside the vast area of the City Jerusalem at the same site. This Temple stood until it was destroyed by the Babylonian King Nebuchadnezzar, as history in the Bible teaches us.
Fast forward 70 years later, the Temple was rebuilt again on the very same site by the ancestors of the Bantus sent into Exile from their Babylonian captivity. After a time it was King Herod who made fro himself significant additions to the original structure, later known as Herod's Temple. This is said to be the Temple that Immanuel cleansed in John 2,15. Now not long after it was the Roman armies turn to overtake Jerusalem, led by Titus son of Vespasian, who destroyed the Temple thoroughly, as recorded by the historian Josephus. What remained after Titus armies came through, we can look for today, but that is not much. But there is some. More research will follow as soon as we have spent more time in western Lesotho.
Now here is the rub, SoNiNi called Abraham for that place, and called Solomon, and according to Daniel and Chapter 9, someone will be called again and a third Temple will be built on this very site. When it will happen we can only speculate, however it will entail for a severe awakening off our Sotho brothers, especially those in the Northern parts of the Kingdom.
Now the Historical information is sparse and very recent, if you don't include old sources. We know for sure that Morija is one of Lesothos oldest and well kept towns. The town is overlooked by the spectacular sandstone escarpment of Mount Makhoroane, 45 kms south of Maseru. Now even its recent sources says it is named after the Biblical Mount Moriah, but has lately been the house by the fist and oldest French Protestant Mission. This was established in 1833 by three French missionaries Thomas Arbousset (1810-1887), Eugene Casalis (1812-1891) and Constant Gosselin (1800-1872). Wether these missionaries was catholics, is hard to say and deserves a post of its own really. Either way the mission will say these are the countries two oldest standing buildings, that survived recent wars such as Anglo-Boer War of 1858. There are some constructions there today, a modest structure by Swiss missionary François Maeder (1811-1888) erected in 1843. And a more imposing structure by Lesotho Evangelical Church by these French Protestant Missionaries erected between 1847 and 1857.
Now think back on the verses of the Bible, the Region of Moriah, meaning it was a description of a much larger area than what is simple a small town today.
More Scriptures tells us (2. Chronicles 3,1):
"Then Solomon began to build the temple of SoNiNi in Jerusalem on Mount Moriah, where SoNiNi had appeared to his father David. It was on the threshing floor of Arauna the Jebusite, the place provided by David.2 He began building on the second day of the second month in the fourth year of his reign."
Now in the colonial eras the area got the nickname Selibeng sa Thuto (Well-Spring of Learning) do to its role it was/is playing by providing education to the Sotho royals. Now that reputation was solidified when in 1956, the Morjia Museum & Archives was established to store and tell tales of Lesothos ethnography, geology and strange fossil collections found by the missionaries.
Now in a rather conspicuous yellow building the Morija Museum houses a very important historical archives, with a plethora of documents going back in time to the 1800s and perhaps further. But we need to go back far in time to get the answers of what has actually been going on with this collective historical amnesia we currently seem to be suffering under. It feels like we are under water at present, sunken continent indeed.
There are four large mountain tops in western Lesotho 45kms from Maseru, that are good candidates for the actual peak of Moriah itself (Masiti, Makhoroanem Mahareng, and Mokoaneng). Other important landmarks include a sandstone post office built in 1884 and the Morija Printing Press responsible for publishing the first edition of Little Light of Lesotho (Lesenlinyana la Lesotho) in 1863.
There is a Morija Arts Centre where you can find paintings, pottery and tapestry, but also other things in the craft shop set up in Maders old house. Now Matsieng, a little East of Morjia has been the home of the Monarch of the Sothos since Letsie I succeeded Mosheoshoe I as king in 1870. Now this is where it gets interesting, Matsieng has three more modern country palaces built for Moshoeshoe II and Letsie III, and ruins of an original stone palace built by Letsie I... this structure seems much older than meets the eye. At Matsieng you can also find the Royal Archives, Museum and Information Resource Centre, that offer things such as tour guides of this original stone palace built by Letsie I.
Now if you walk about 30 minutes from Morjia, either direction actually, you will find some interesting fossils of so-called dinosaurs (another topic all-together). With intriguing footprints like Bird of Makhoarane (Nonyana ea Makhoarane), could have been a dragon from the Drakensberg? Another topic surely..
If we look closer into Moriah (Moriyya) with different spellings from different manuscripts used (Genesis & II Chronicles). Genesis refers to a mountainous region called Moriah. In 2. Chronicles we see that Araunahs threshing floor is on Mount Moriah was the Temple of Solomon was built over. Lets go into one of these manuscripts, namely the Septuagint and have a look see (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 says: 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."
Then II Chronicles 3,1:
"And Solomon began to build the house of SoNINi in Jerusalem in the mount of Amoria, where SoNiNi appeared to his father David, in the place which David had prepared in the threshing-floor of Ornan the Jebusite."