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    Default Judaic ritual shrines at the time of David

    The writers of this article claim that this new discovery of a ritual shrine in Judah has implications for our understanding about whether David was a real king of Israel and whether Solomon’s Temple was a real place. However......Health Warning: it does come from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem whose funding is dependent upon certain a political view. Therefore, what they see as confirming history can also be read differently. Solomon's Temple could have been a way of transmitting an ideal template for a ritual area.

    But what's also interesting is that it shows that the ritual practises, well certainly in this shrine, were different to those practised elsewhere across the Middle East at this time.


    Khirbet Qeiyafa in the Valley of Elah

    Prof. Yosef Garfinkel, the Yigal Yadin Professor of Archaeology at the Institute of Archaeology at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, announced today the discovery of objects that for the first time shed light on how a cult was organized in Judah at the time of King David. During recent archaeological excavations at Khirbet Qeiyafa, a fortified city in Judah adjacent to the Valley of Elah, Garfinkel and colleagues uncovered rich assemblages of pottery, stone and metal tools, and many art and cult objects. These include three large rooms that served as cultic shrines, which in their architecture and finds correspond to the biblical description of a cult at the time of King David.

    This discovery is extraordinary as it is the first time that shrines from the time of early biblical kings were uncovered. Because these shrines pre-date the construction of Solomon’s temple in Jerusalem by 30 to 40 years, they provide the first physical evidence of a cult in the time of King David, with significant implications for the fields of archaeology, history, biblical and religion studies.

    The expedition to Khirbet Qeiyafa has excavated the site for six weeks each summer since 2007, with co-director Saar Ganor of the Israel Antiquities Authority. The revolutionary results of five years of work are presented today in a new book, Footsteps of King David in the Valley of Elah, published by Yedioth Ahronoth.

    Located approximately 30 km. southwest of Jerusalem in the valley of Elah, Khirbet Qeiyafa was a border city of the Kingdom of Judah opposite the Philistine city of Gath. The city, which was dated by 10 radiometric measurements (14C) done at Oxford University on burned olive pits, existed for a short period of time between ca. 1020 to 980 BCE, and was violently destroyed.

    The biblical tradition presents the people of Israel as conducting a cult different from all other nations of the ancient Near East by being monotheistic and an-iconic (banning human or animal figures). However, it is not clear when these practices were formulated, if indeed during the time of the monarchy (10-6th centuries BC), or only later, in the Persian or Hellenistic eras.

    The absence of cultic images of humans or animals in the three shrines provides evidence that the inhabitants of the place practiced a different cult than that of the Canaanites or the Philistines, observing a ban on graven images.

    The findings at Khirbet Qeiyafa also indicate that an elaborate architectural style had developed as early as the time of King David. Such construction is typical of royal activities, thus indicating that state formation, the establishment of an elite, social level and urbanism in the region existed 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.

    According to Prof. Garfinkel, “This is the first time that archaeologists uncovered a fortified city in Judah from the time of King David. 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.”

    Garfinkel continued, “Over the years, thousands of animal bones were found, including sheep, goats and cattle, but no pigs. Now we uncovered three cultic rooms, with various cultic paraphernalia, 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.”

    Description of the findings and their significance:

    The three shrines are part of larger building complexes. In this respect they are different from Canaanite or Philistine cults, which were practiced in temples—separate buildings dedicated only to rituals. The biblical tradition described this phenomenon 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” (2 Samuel 6).

    The cult objects include five standing stones (Massebot), two basalt altars, two pottery libation vessels and two portable shrines. No human or animal figurines were found, suggesting the people of Khirbet Qeiyafa observed the biblical ban on graven images.

    Two portable shrines (or “shrine models”) were found, one made of pottery (ca. 20 cm high) and the other of stone (35 cm high). These are boxes in the shape of temples, and could be closed by doors.

    The clay shrine is decorated with an elaborate façade, including two guardian lions, two pillars, a main door, beams of the roof, folded textile and three birds standing on the roof. Two of these elements are described in Solomon’s Temple: the two pillars (Yachin and Boaz) and the textile (Parochet).

    The stone shrine is made of soft limestone and painted red. Its façade is decorated by two elements. The first are seven groups of roof-beams, three planks in each. This architectural element, the ''triglyph,'' is known in Greek classical temples, like the Parthenon in Athens. Its appearance at Khirbet Qeiyafa is the earliest known example carved in stone, a landmark in world architecture.

    The second decorative element is the recessed door. This type of doors or windows is known in the architecture of temples, palaces and royal graves in the ancient Near East. This was a typical symbol of divinity and royalty at the time.

    The stone model helps us to understand obscure technical terms in the description of Solomon’s palace as described in 1 Kings 7, 1-6. The text uses the term “Slaot,” which were mistakenly understood as pillars and can now be understood as triglyphs. The text also uses the term “Sequfim”, which was usually understood as nine windows in the palace, and can now be understood as ''triple recessed doorway.”

    Similar triglyphs and recessed doors can be found in the description of Solomon’s temple (1 Kings 6, Verses 5, 31-33, and in the description of a temple by the prophet Ezekiel (41:6). These biblical texts are replete with obscure technical terms that have lost their original meaning over the millennia. Now, with the help of the stone model uncovered at Khirbet Qeiyafa, the biblical text is clarified. 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.
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    Dating archaeological finds to some famous historical (or psuedo-historical in the case of David) personage is a good way to attract attention. Biblical archaeology thrives on this sort of attention, turning what's probably a molehill into a mountain. It's good for tourist $$$ and Israel has a thriving tourist industry (i.e. there are multiple tombs of Jesus in Jerusalem, I believe, which makes me wonder if there were several Jesii strolling about ancient Judea). Unearthing ancient settlements is certainly interesting but how in heaven can it be tied in any way to the yarns of the Bible? It could've been a settlement of iconoclastic Canaanites for all we know, as if prohibiting cult images was unique to the ancient Jews (which it wasn't as a couple of examples can tell- Herodotus indicates that the Persians kept no images in their temples; Rome had no images in its temples during the reign of King Numa).

    * Has the supposed temple built by Solomon ever been discovered? To my knowledge it hasn't. The Wiki article on the temple states that "Because of the religious and political sensitivities involved, no archaeological excavations and only limited surface surveys of the Temple Mount have been conducted" (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Solomon...le#Archaeology). How convienient! As far as I know only the rubble of the Herodian temple, demolished by the Romans, remains in situ.

    * David may've existed as inscriptions attesting to the "House of David" have been found (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tel_Dan_Stele) but this doesn't attest to any of his deeds as the biblical narrative gives.

    * Lack of cultic objects, etc. doesn't indicate that the excavated site was used as a center for worship does it? It could've been for storage or some other purpose.

    The article errs on the side of caution with this comment:

    "The biblical tradition presents the people of Israel as conducting a cult different from all other nations of the ancient Near East by being monotheistic and an-iconic (banning human or animal figures). However, it is not clear when these practices were formulated, if indeed during the time of the monarchy (10-6th centuries BC), or only later, in the Persian or Hellenistic eras."

    The biblical tradition is, at best, semi-legendary and silly at worst in that its taken at face value when it contains tall tales (i.e. flat Earth, giants ala Jack and the Beanstalk, talking animals, etc.).
    Last edited by Zeno; May 17th, 2012 at 04:37 PM.

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    This is why I LOVE maps, Ish. Gaze at this one and note the relative position of Khirbet Qeiyafa and Beth Shemesh - from the other thread. They are at virtually the same longitude and more importantly at the dividing line between the coastal plain and the interior highlands.

    Garfinkle, in his haste to find his precious Israelites/Judahites misses the obvious fact that a fort built along a road can be used to defend from either direction. The Philistine town of Gath is nearby and Kh. Qeiyafa makes more sense as a Philistine outpost. In the 10th century archaeology tells us that Judah was an undeveloped region of pastoralists. The Chinese built the Great Wall to keep out pastoralist Mongolian tribes. The Romans built the Limes along the entire border with Germany and Hadrian's Wall to keep out the Scots. It is always the settled and agricultural peoples who build defenses to protect against nomadic raiders. The nomads rely on speed, surprise and movement....not defensive works.

    No less an epigrapher than Christopher Rollston has trashed Garfinkle's attempt to read "hebrew" into this one ostracon.

    As far as Tel Dan goes, Zeno I would highly recommend George Athas' The Tel Dan Inscription: A Reappraisal and a New Interpretation. Painstaking archaeological research to the point of boredom but Athas evaluates virtually every stroke of the chisel in an attempt to make sense of the inscription. His conclusion is that the words bytdvd do not refer to "House of David" in the sense of a dynasty but rather are a toponym for what was then a minimal settlement or perhaps a fortified manor house ( or castle ) by that name. There is no word divider ( a dot ) between the byt and the dvd and such word dividers are apparent on the extant portion of the inscription.

    If you are willing to risk the boredom in spots it is well worth the read. Especially when the religious start asserting that "David" has been proven. No. He hasn't. Bytdvd could mean City of David in the same sense that Athens is named for Athena or Rome for Romulus.
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    Just noticed a direct contradiction in the original article:

    No human or animal figurines were found, suggesting the people of Khirbet Qeiyafa observed the biblical ban on graven images.
    Then the paragraph after next says:

    The clay shrine is decorated with an elaborate façade, including two guardian lions, two pillars, a main door, beams of the roof, folded textile and three birds standing on the roof. Two of these elements are described in Solomon’s Temple: the two pillars (Yachin and Boaz) and the textile (Parochet).
    Since when are lions and birds not of the animal kingdom, I wonder? Talk about cognitive dissonance.

    The two pillars are highly significant though.
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    Well spotted Ishtar.
    I think the distinction they are trying to make – which is moot – is that there were no “graven” images in the shrines that adherents could worship. I believe this is the injunction contained in the Old Testament.
    The guardian lions were not worshipped but were merely a presence keeping the adherents safe while they carried out their rituals in the interior, therefor broke no biblical scripture.
    If this is right, then I wonder if the builders thought that the animal guardians (presumably their spirits) would keep the worshippers safe or whether they were purely decorative (such as the lions guarding the approaches to stately homes). If it is the former, might we be seeing a reluctance to abandon completely older animistic beliefs?
    It’s a fascinating site!

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    Ain Dara pre-dates the alleged "Solomonic Temple" and ruins of it actually exist.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ain_Dara_temple

    A courtyard built with sandstones provides approach to the temple. The courtyard is paved with flagstones where a chalkstone basin for ceremonial purposes is seen.[4] The temple, 98 by 65 ft (30 by 20 m) in size, faces southeast.[3][4] Its exterior contains a cherubim relief.[11] The entrance porch, or portico, marked by two basalt piers or pillars, and a wide hall, were not roofed over and were part of an open courtyard. The entrance pillars appear to have architectural and cultic significance.[3] A sphinx and two lions decorate the temple portico flanking the three steps (out of four) made in basalt.

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    Thanks, Min. Two columns, eh?

    This is now in Syria, though.

    I still have my doubts that Solomon was historical, or his temple. I think it that part of the OT was the Judaic way of teaching sacred geometrical proportions.

    Ain Dara temple
    The remains of the Ain Dara temple


    Shown within Syria

    Location Ain Dara village, northwest of Aleppo, Syria
    Coordinates 36.459351°N 36.852025°E
    Type Temple
    Part of Acropolis
    Length 30 m (98 ft)
    Width 20 m (66 ft)
    Area 600 m2 (6,500 sq ft)
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    Quote Originally Posted by Minimalist View Post
    As far as Tel Dan goes, Zeno I would highly recommend George Athas' The Tel Dan Inscription: A Reappraisal and a New Interpretation. Painstaking archaeological research to the point of boredom but Athas evaluates virtually every stroke of the chisel in an attempt to make sense of the inscription. His conclusion is that the words bytdvd do not refer to "House of David" in the sense of a dynasty but rather are a toponym for what was then a minimal settlement or perhaps a fortified manor house ( or castle ) by that name. There is no word divider ( a dot ) between the byt and the dvd and such word dividers are apparent on the extant portion of the inscription.

    If you are willing to risk the boredom in spots it is well worth the read. Especially when the religious start asserting that "David" has been proven. No. He hasn't. Bytdvd could mean City of David in the same sense that Athens is named for Athena or Rome for Romulus.
    I get it! In this view that you've put forth it's simply a place name in a topographical sense, like Wansdyke (Woden's Dyke) in England. I never thought of that- "House of David" could literally mean that, i.e. a settlement that had some connection to a personage named David.

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    I found an article giving a dissenting opinion about this. (Qeiyafa Tel Aviv 2012.pdf


    http://bit.ly/VjRoV7

    TEL AVIV Vol. 39, 2012, 38–63

    Khirbet Qeiyafa: An Unsensational
    Archaeological and Historical
    Interpretation

    Israel Finkelstein and Alexander Fantalkin

    ~
    Has anybody read the following books by Prof. Margaret Barker? - fascinating insights into Israel's 'other' religion!
    The Older Testament (1987) · The Lost Prophet (1998) · The Gate of Heaven (1991) · The Great Angel (1992)

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    Hello Phineas and welcome to the Gate.

    I'm sure Min and Zeno, and possibly some others like Cartomancer, will have a view on what you've posted and I look forward to hearing it.

    Meanwhile, it would good if you could post a little about yourself in the Introductions section, so we can get to know you a little and you can get to know to us.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Phineas View Post
    I found an article giving a dissenting opinion about this. (Qeiyafa Tel Aviv 2012.pdf


    http://bit.ly/VjRoV7

    TEL AVIV Vol. 39, 2012, 38–63

    Khirbet Qeiyafa: An Unsensational
    Archaeological and Historical
    Interpretation

    Israel Finkelstein and Alexander Fantalkin

    ~
    Has anybody read the following books by Prof. Margaret Barker? - fascinating insights into Israel's 'other' religion!
    The Older Testament (1987) · The Lost Prophet (1998) · The Gate of Heaven (1991) · The Great Angel (1992)



    I got nowhere with that link. Just went to something called "Google docs."

    I do recall Finkelstein suggesting a few years ago that the site will probably turn out to be Philistine.
    Last edited by Minimalist; December 1st, 2012 at 12:51 AM.

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