- Does an amazing new discovery show that the Bible is
supported by science?
- Many archeologists are calling the latest Israeli archeological
discovery "the find of the century" (Canadian Jewish News, October
20). Eilat Mazar, an Israeli archeologist, is claiming to have unearthed,
in East Jerusalem, the palace of biblical King David.
- King David was the 10th century b.c. poet-warrior and
slayer of Goliath, whom the Bible says consolidated and expanded the ancient
Israelite kingdom into a regional power. In approximately 1000 b.c., King
David conquered Jerusalem from the Jebusites (Washington Post, December
2), and subsequently made it his capital. According to the Bible, King
David's palace was partially built by workers sent to him by the Phoenician
king of Tyre as a gesture of friendship, as is described in 2 Samuel 5:11.
- Eilat Mazar relates that, although the location of King
David's palace was very elusive, the Bible itself played a significant
part in being able to locate it. Ms. Mazar speculated that a previously
uncovered and famous stepped-stone structure located below her proposed
excavation site was actually part of the Jebusite fortress that King David
conquered. Also, in the same area and slightly lower than her proposed
dig-site, Phoenician capitals (the tops of Phoenician-made columns) had
been previously unearthed. To her, this too suggested that a monumental
building may have stood further up the hill.
- Combining these two known archeological finds with the
Bible's description, she then theorized where David's palace would have
been built. The Bible indicates in 2 Samuel 5 that when the Philistines
came to fight, King David "went down to the hold," or fortress,
to meet them. Ms. Mazar said that, after reading this, she often wondered,
"down from where? Presumably from where he lived, his palace"
(New York Times, August 5)
- According to Ms. Mazar, the area above the fortress ruins
and Phoenician capitals was a logical location for King David's palace
because it would have placed it outside the original walls of the cramped
city of Jerusalem and on the road to Solomon's Temple on the Mount.
- Within weeks of beginning the dig, Ms. Mazar's team was
uncovering the remains of many rooms. At first, most were more recent Roman
structures, like baths and pools, but then, within the boundaries of the
limited excavation area, she found the remains of "massive older walls
underneath the Roman structure, running toward the rim of the Kidtron Valley"
(Washington Post, op. cit.). The size of the walls, which constructed with
boulders are on average two yards thick and extend at least 30 yards (Times,
op. cit.), give credence to the importance and grandeur of the structure.
- Below the walls, they first found 11th-century pottery.
Then, within one room above the 11th-century fill, 10th-century pottery,
dating to the time of King David and free from any other material from
another period, was found. According to a relative of Ms. Mazar who is
also an archeologist, "the sample was among the finest from that time
found in Jerusalem" (Washington Post, op. cit.).
- Up to this point, only a small fraction-up to approximately
10 percent of the structure-has been exposed, but the finds have been remarkable.
In fact, Ms. Mazar described her discovery which is potentially David's
home as "not just a house, but a fantastic house" (ibid.). In
another uncovered room, dating to the 6th century b.c., a bulla, or seal,
was found inscribed with the ancient Hebrew name of Jehucal, son of Shelemiah,
son of Shevi (Canadian Jewish News, op. cit.). Jehucal is a Judean prince
mentioned in Jeremiah 37:3. This fact suggests that the site was an important
seat of Judean royalty for four centuries after King David. It also matches
the biblical account of the palace being in continuous use from its construction
until the conquest of Judea and Jerusalem by the Babylonians in 604-585
b.c. Several years ago, another royal seal was found in the general region.
It showed the name of Gemaryahu, son of Shaphan, who is also mentioned
in the book of Jeremiah (New York Sun, August 1).
- Also lending support to the conclusion that this was
David's palace is that up to this point there have been no finds of idolatrous
statuettes or ritual crematoria which are found in contemporary Phoenician
and Philistine settlements. "Furthermore, the building appears in
a time period where such massive constructions were extremely rare and
represented the greatest sort of public works" (Canadian Jewish News,
- Why is King David's palace important?
- In contrast to the Bible's account, archeologists have
long debated "to what extent Jerusalem was an important city or even
a city in the time of David and Samuel" (Times, op. cit.). Some scholars
suggest that King David and Solomon were nothing more than petty tribal
chieftains who ruled over an area comprising little more than a few scattered
rural clans (Washington Post, op. cit.). One renowned archeologist has
even hypothesized that Jerusalem during David's time was nothing more than
a "typical hill country village" (International Herald Tribune,
August 5). Some scholars go even further, suggesting that the biblical
account of King David is nothing more than a myth (Washington Post, op.
- If the massive structure found by Ms. Mazar does prove
to be 10th century, Seymour Gitin, director of the Albright Institute of
Archaelogical Research in Jerusalem, says it will "demolish the view
of the minimalists" who dismiss the biblical accounts of history and
- It would also discredit the claims of many Arabs, including
the late Yasser Arafat, who deny any Israelite links to Jerusalem. Digs
in the city, especially in areas around the Temple Mount, have been politically
sensitive in the past (New York Sun, op. cit.).
- Even if this structure does not turn out to be the palace,
it could still be an archeological find of "revolutionary proportions"
(Canadian Jewish News, op. cit.). Regardless, it is a major construction
from the early Israelite period in Jerusalem. As such, it would negate
the views of critics who claim there is no evidence of a major Israelite
presence during this time period. The Bible's description of a great, unified
and influential monarchy of David and Solomon would also be reinforced.
- Lately there have been other archeological discoveries
within Israel that have also supported the Bible's validity.
- This past July, in what archeologist Michael Homan calls
an "Indiana Jones moment," the sun's rays illuminated an inscription
of the Hebrew alphabet on a 40-pound stone, found at the Tel Zayit excavation
site. After analysis of the stone, the two lines of incised letters was
reportedly determined to be the earliest known specimen of the Hebrew alphabet
and an important benchmark in the history of writing. Lawrence Stager,
a Harvard archeologist working on other excavations in Israel, says that
what makes this find exceedingly rare is that it was found with pottery
that "fit perfectly with the 10th century" (New York Times, November
9). Dr. Ron Tappy, the lead archeologist for the dig, is stating that actually
"[a]ll successive alphabets in the ancient world, including the Greek
one, derive from this ancestor " (ibid.).
- Tel Zayit is thought to be an ancient Israelite border
town 18 miles inland from the ancient Philistine port of Ashkelon established
by an expanding Israelite kingdom based in Jerusalem. Dr. Tappy says that
such a well-developed border town suggested a "centralized bureaucracy,
political leadership and literacy levels that seemed to support the biblical
image of the unified kingdom of David and Solomon in the 10th century b.c."
- Another interesting find of late was that of a tiny ceramic
shard that was unearthed at the biblical city of "Gath of the Philistines."
According to the Jerusalem Post, this shard contains the earliest Philistine
inscription ever discovered. Fascinatingly, the inscription mentions two
names that are surprisingly similar to the name Goliath. What makes this
story even more exceptional is that according to the Bible, the city of
Gath is identified as Goliath's hometown (1 Samuel 17:4). Although Goliath
was supposedly a very popular name during the time of King David, this
find still enhances the Bible's validity.
- As more and more evidence of the Bible's accuracy is
unearthed, scholars are forced to reconsider the veracity of the Bible
as a historical document and its use as a reliable map for archaeological
- For many people, this brings up some unsettling questions.
After all, if the Bible is proven to be archeologically and historically
accurate, what about the rest of the written Word? Is it possible that
what the entire Bible says is true? Should we also consider it as a reliable
map for instructions on human living?
- In light of these and the many other recent archeological
finds not mentioned here, it is important to reevaluate just what modern
education and society say about the Bible. Maybe it is time for all people
to question Bible critics and prove the veracity of the Bible for themselves.
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