Digging Through the Bible: David and Goliath

Recent archaeological finds provide indications of a fortress city where the youth David may have fought Goliath before becoming King of Israel.

Contact Editor
Matt Zeiderman,

The "dig" in the Elah Valley
The "dig" in the Elah Valley
Israel news photo: Yishai Fleisher

The story of David and Goliath is known the world over. A recent archaeological dig by Prof. Yosef Garfinkel of Hebrew University in Israel’s Elah Valley is yielding scientific evidence of the Kingdom of David, and giving credence to the Biblical story of David and Goliath that took place in this valley.

Yishai Fleisher, host of the Israel National Radio’s Yishai and Friends, toured the Elah Fortress, an archaeological excavation site in the Elah Valley.

Part one of the interview:  

Yishai was invited by Foundation Stone, a Jewish education group that focuses on archaeology as a link between the Bible and Israel. They are eager to showcase the recent findings and highlight the historical and spiritual significance of the fortress where they are using science, once considered the antithesis of religion, to confirm Biblical accounts.

The Elah Fortress has been an archaeological mystery for over 150 years. However, recent findings indicate archaeologists have found the 10th century biblical city of Sha'arayim, Hebrew for "Two Gates.” Archaeologists believe this discovery of a fortress city provides evidence that King David ruled a kingdom from his capital of Jerusalem.

The Bible says that Sha'arayim was located near the clash between David and Goliath. Discovery of a second gate to the Fortress confirms archaeologists’ beliefs that the site mentioned in the David and Goliath story has been discovered. Archaeologists hope the findings at the fortress will draw scientific and historical links to the story of David and Goliath.

Part two of the interview:

Many artifacts continue to be dug-up. Pieces of burnt material can be carbon-dated. Yehud coins, small silver coins from the brief period of Persian rule, bearing the Aramaic inscription 'Yehud', the Persian province of Judaea, have been found at the site. The coins date back 2300 years to before Alexander the Great and indicate a long-term presence of Jews in the fortress city. Such findings are expected to point to further evidence of the Kingdom of David and the presence of Jews as described in the Bible.

David Willner (pictured) of Foundation Stone notes how “it became very popular to diss the Bible” during the 1960s. Many archaeologists felt that it “could not be relied up as a guide to understanding the time and place described in the Bible” and “that it was not accurate.”

“These attitudes carried over to a whole generation of archaeologists,” he explained. Willner hopes the Elah Fortress will show such attitudes to have been out of line. “Now,” said Willner, “what we are finding in contemporary, modern archaeology is that the context of the Bible is becoming clearer and clearer.”

Archaeological projects like the Elah Fortress are inherently expensive, but invaluable information regarding Biblical stories is worth the investment, according to Barnea Selavan, project director of Foundation Stone. It costs “tens of thousands of dollars for every piece of this project, and it’s worth it” he said. “We have to support the science here,” said Selavan, and this project is “supporting understanding of Israel, the Bible, and history.”

The project director expressed his continued excitement at the recent finding. “Anybody who comes here and opens up the Bible and thinks, ‘I’m standing where this happened’… it’s electrifying.”

Archaeologist Michael Hassle conveyed similar sentiments. “You cannot visit Israel without thinking about connections to the Bible,” he says. “As you look down this valley, you imagine stories in the Biblical tradition, and it’s an amazing thing.”