January 14, 2009 Steve Collins Mt. Ebal in ancient Israel was the site of several biblical events. Judges 8:30-33 records that when the Israelite tribes entered the Promised Land, Joshua built an altar on Mt. Ebal and there was a ceremony in which the tribes divided into two groups on Mt. Gerizim and Mt. Ebal and then these two groups recited the blessings of obedience to God and the curses that would result from disobedience. This ceremony had been commanded by God to Moses in Deuteronomy 11:26-29, and Joshua implemented this command when he led the tribes into the Promised Land. That altar has been found. An alert reader of this website sent me the link below which details the results of an archaeological dig on Mt. Ebal. The archaeological/historical evidence strongly indicates that the located altar was, indeed, the very altar built by Joshua and the Israelites. It was quite a sophisticated facility. The ashes of animal sacrifices confirm that “clean” animals were offered there as sacrificial offerings and the manner of its construction confirms that it was an Israelite altar. The construction of the facility was done in the very manner required by Exodus 20:25-26 (hewed stones shaped by metal tools were not allowed). This confirms that this ancient altar had to be built on Mt. Ebal at a time when the Israelites were scrupulously obedient to the laws given by God to Moses. Joshua was Moses’ successor so the lifetime of Joshua would have been one of the very few biblical periods during which the Israelites would have been mindful of the Torah laws on all matters. The link also reports that this sophisticated altar was built over a smaller, earlier altar, and the article proposes that this earlier altar was the very one built by Abraham when he entered the Promised Land. Genesis 12:6-7 relates that God Himself appeared to Abram in the region of Shechem (the KJV renders it “Sichem”), and Abram then built an altar at the site. Shechem is not far from Mt. Ebal. It makes sense that Joshua would build the commanded altar over a previous altar only if the previous altar had been dedicated to the God of Israel and not used for any kind of idolatrous sacrifice to any other deity. That argues that this even-more ancient altar had to be one which was previously dedicated to the God of the Bible. Who else would have built it but Abram on his way into the Promised Land? When the Israelites entered the Promised Land under Joshua, the Israelites had been in Egypt for centuries so any altar dedicated to the God of Israel had to date to the time of the Israelite Patriarchs. Biblical “minimalists” (the so-called “experts” whose denial of biblical truth seems to be a full-time job) must be gnashing their teeth over this discovery as it so clearly affirms the truthfulness of the Bible’s accounts. As the article notes, it is rare to find a site in the old Promised Land which is not a jumble of artifacts from many civilizations or which hasn’t been badly destroyed by time or ancient enemies. This altar site on Mt. Ebal has only Israelite ruins. This site also is a strong affirmation that the Israelites did enter the Promised Land under Joshua and conquered it, as biblical accounts relate. I recommend that readers take the time to read this somewhat lengthy description of this archaeological dig on Mt. Ebal as it will boost your faith. The link was sent to me by reader Bob Berentz, whose email and accompanying link is below. Steve From: Bob Berentz Tel Aviv University grudgingly discovers Israeli Roots. Unbelievable. The altar of Abram to Joshuah; 1st and 2nd Temples http://ebal.haifa.ac.il/ebal01.html