Monday, November 24, 2008

Judahite Fortress

Hebrew University archaeologist Yosef Garfinkel believes the discovery of the two fortified gates at Elah Fortress not only proves the existence of Sha'arayim named three times in the Bible in connection with David, but also suggests that the fortified city was part of a centralized government administered by King David.

Elah Fortress is the oldest known fortress of the biblical period. It dates to the tenth century B.C. The fortress is southwest of Jerusalem on what was the border between the Kingdom of Judea and the coast lands of the Philistines. The massive stone gate faces Jerusalem.

Garkinkel's team also found a 3,000-year-old pottery shard with five lines of text at the Elah Fortress. He believes the text provides evidence for the existence of a vast kingdom under David's rule. Garfinkel believes the site was the westernmost outpost maintained by the Kingdom of Judea, which controlled land in southwest Asia and Palestine before the Kingdom of Israel.

Read more here and here.


Doug P. Baker said...

Very interesting. I'd like to know exactly what the pottery says. But it is likely a piece of a larger text, so it will not likely be very informative, although the language is important.

Was that city already standing when David and Goliath faced off, or was it built later?

Alice C. Linsley said...

Apparently the site was already a settled area because it is mentioned that David battled Goliath in the Elah Valley near Sha'arayim. I Samuel 17:52 says that once Goliath was killed the Philistines turned to flee and the Israelites pursued them so that the Philistine dead lay all along the road from Sha'araim.

Doug P. Baker said...

Well then that kills the idea put forth in one of the articles (somewhat facetiously) that one of the gates may have a "built by David" marquee. It also makes it likely that even if it was later a Judahite city it would contain mixed artifacts.

But I am always delighted to see archeological finds that destroy the ground under the adherents of a late writing of the biblical record.

Alice C. Linsley said...

Doug, I'm delighted to have you as a reader at Just Genesis.

Doubtless, you have noted the inconsistencies that show up in new reports that touch on biblical events and persons. Sometimes these are because the reporter isn't well informed. Other times, it seems due to an extraordinary effort to avoid the facts, especially facts that lay outside one's area of expertize. This is why it is important to look at the bigger picture, drawing on many disciplines: linguistics, anthropology, the biblical text, archaeology, etc.

The more one learns, the more the biblical testimony holds up. Some people just can't accept that.