October 31, 2008
Steve Collins
Two recent archaeological finds in the old Promised Land have affirmed biblical narratives. Interestingly, both pertain to the time of King David.The first find corroborates the biblical account in II Samuel 5:8 that David’s forces wrested Jerusalem from the Jebusites by gaining access to the fortified city via a hidden “gutter”‘ or tunnel. The first three links below provide varying perspectives on what apparently is the archaeological discovery of this very tunnel utilized by David’s forces to capture Jerusalem. This account is also referenced in I Chronicles 11:6-9.
The ancient tunnel dates “back to the First Temple era…[or] even earlier” according to the second link so this 3,000 year-old tunnel would dates to the time of King David. It is a very small opening through which the Jebusite city could have been taken by David’s forces led by Joab.  Oil lamps dating to the time of King David were found in the tunnel, and the links below indicate it may have served as a watercourse and even as a secret passageway in some biblical periods. Much of the tunnel is now filled with debris so the entire route of the tunnel is not accessible.
The fact that the tunnel exists confirms that the Bible’s narratives are correct even when discussing very minute details. Such discoveries affirm that biblical narratives are exactly what they claim to be: the inspired Word of an infallible Creator who preserved vital information for future generations in the biblical books.
The second discovery relates to the discovery of a pottery shard with the oldest known inscription of ancient Hebrew language. As the fourth link below notes, It “is being hailed as one of the most important finds in Israel since the Dead Sea scrolls.” One key aspect of this discovery is where it was found. It was found at a site called Ela Fortress (or Khirbet Kheyafa) in the Elah Valley region, the location of David’s defeat of the Philistine champion, Goliath. However, one rabbi is cited as stating that local Bedouins refer to the site as “David’s ruin.” The shard on which the inscription was found has been carbon14-dated to “1000-975 BC,” the time of King David. The inscription has not yet been fully deciphered but it is clearly Hebrew and has been found in a historical context when and where the Bible states King David defeated Goliath. Some of the words translated so far include “king,” “judge,” etc. which could indicate that the shard may contain a fragment of information about either the first king of Israel (Saul) or the second king of Israel (David). At that time, the final “judge” of Israel, Samuel, would also have been well-known and remembered.
I Samuel 17:2-3 records that the famous confrontation between David and Goliath took place in the valley of Elah, where the inscription was found. There is no report that the ancient inscription mentions King David by name, but it confirms that the ancient Hebrews were, indeed, present at that ancient site when and where the Bible says they were present. The site also is the location of a large ancient fortress covering “four acres” and it is “surrounded by a 700 meter long wall” which apparently was built with “200,000 tons of rock.” It also has “a massive and ornate gate.” This kind of structure, located where Israelite and Philistine territories adjoined each other, confirms that the Israelites and Philistines were not minor or petty tribal powers. The size, construction and architecture of the stone fortress attests that the civilization that built it was a large, sophisticated nation with very capable miners and engineers as well as a very large labor force. This is precisely what the Bible records the Kingdom of Israel was during the reigns of Kings David and Solomon! The ancient kingdom of Israel’s real power and global influence is examined in detail in my books, The Origins and Empire of Ancient Israel, and Israel’s Lost Empires.
One needs to consider whether it was the Philistines or the Israelites who built this large fortress, but the evidence presented in the links below argue that it was an Israelite fortress due to the “chemical analysis of the ceramics” and the fact that “no pig bones” were found at the site. During David and Solomon’s reign, the Israelites were faithful to Torah dietary requirements (which forbid consumption of swine flesh) so the lack of pig bones forcefully indicates that this strong fortress was built and garrisoned by the Kingdom of Israel. The final two links below contain more information, photos and perspectives about this ancient Hebrew inscription and the fortress found at an ancient site closely linked to King David’s rise to the position of King of ancient Israel.
Biblical “minimalists” make a career of downgrading and denying the literality of biblical accounts. Discoveries such as the ones detailed above indicate that the job of being a biblical “minimalist” is getting more difficult as archaeology confirms biblical narratives. Daniel 12:4 prophesies that “knowledge shall be increased” at the end of our age. It appears that this prophecy meant not only that mankind’s technological skills would greatly advance at the end of our age, but also that more information would become known that affirms the accuracy of the Bible.