A Hebrew University archaeologist has uncovered spectacular evidence confirming the reign of King David and that there were groups who believed in one Creator at the time. Architecture that was uncovered pre-dates the First Temple built by King Solomon.
Prof. Yosef Garfinkel announced on Tuesday the discovery of objects found in the ruins called Khirbet Qeiyafa, a fortified border city in the Kingdom of Judah adjacent to the Valley of Elah, less than 20 miles southwest of Jerusalem and five miles west of Gush Etzion.
The archaeologist and colleagues uncovered rich assemblages of pottery, stone and metal tools, and many art and ritual objects. The architecture and discoveries correspond to the biblical description of a local, organized group that observed the second of the 10 Commandments prohibiting belief in graven images.
The absence of cultic images of humans or animals in the shrines provides evidence that the local inhabitants practiced a different cult than that of the Canaanites or the Philistines.
This discovery is the first time that shrines from the time of early biblical kings were uncovered. The village of Khirbet apparently existed for only about 40 years and was violently destroyed.
The People of Israel conducted their lives according to a religion different from all other nations of the ancient Near East by being monotheistic and banning human or animal figures. The Bible describes this in detail.
The findings at Khirbet Qeiyafa also indicate that an elaborate architectural style had developed as early as the time of King David. The construction is typical of royal activities and indicates the establishment of a state and of urban life in the region in the days of the early kings of Israel.
“These finds strengthen the historicity of the biblical tradition and its architectural description of the Palace and Temple of Solomon,” Hebrew University stated.
“This is the first time that archaeologists uncovered a fortified city in Judah from the time of King David,” according to Prof. Garfinkel. “Even in Jerusalem we do not have a clear fortified city from his period. Thus, various suggestions that completely deny the biblical tradition regarding King David and argue that he was a mythological figure, or just a leader of a small tribe, are now shown to be wrong.
“Over the years, thousands of animal bones were found, including sheep, goats and cattle, but no pigs. Now we uncovered three cultic rooms… but not even one human or animal figurine was found. This suggests that the population of Khirbet Qeiyafa observed two biblical bans – on pork and on graven images – and thus practiced a different cult than that of the Canaanites or the Philistines.”
The three shrines are part of larger building complexes, different from the style of Canaanite or Philistine cults, and Prof. Garfinkel pointed out the Biblical verse in the time of King David: “He brought the ark of God from a private house in Kyriat Yearim and put it in Jerusalem in a private house” (Chapter 6 in the Second Book of Samuel).
Parts of the structures, such as the doors, help explain obscure technical terms in the description of Solomon’s palace as described in the First Book of Kings 6.
“For the first time in history, we have actual objects from the time of David, which can be related to monuments described in the Bible,” the archaeologist said.