January 2, 2009
Steve Collins
In the January-February, 2009 issue of Biblical Archaeology Review and on its website, there are two articles about archaeological discoveries which affirm biblical accounts. One pertains to the time of King David and the other pertains to the time of King Solomon.
The Bible’s accounts of the time period before and during King David’s reign mentions a variety of walled cities in the Promised Land. As many readers know, the Bible dates the beginning of the reign of King David to approximately 1000 BC. This was long an accepted standard. However, as evolution, political-correctness and atheism came to increasingly dominate academia, the Bible came under attack from all fronts. There arose a “minimalist” group of scholars and writers who dismissed the Bible’s accounts and rejected its Divine authorship. These minimalists also rejected that Kings David and Solomon had any reign or kingdom as described in the Bible. Minimalists have even doubted that David and Solomon lived. Others assert that if they did live, they were petty chieftains of an unorganized Israelite clan of shepherds who couldn’t have built the cities or accomplished the biblical feats attributed to them. The minimalists apparently have no doubts that the Philistines and Canaanites could build fortified cities, but they have denied the Israelites accomplished the things recorded in the Bible.
An article entitled Newly Discovered: A Fortified City from King David’s Time, strongly refutes the claims of the minimalists. A new archaeological dig has discovered the remains of a strongly-fortified Israelite city in the border region between the territory of the tribe of Judah and the Philistine region. This walled city, called Khirbet Qeiyafa, dates to the time of King David as recorded in the Bible. Radiocarbon dating indicates the site was inhabited approximately 1000-970 BC, precisely the time of King David’s reign. Given the many conflicts recorded in the Bible between the Israelites and the Philistines, this would be a logical place to find an Israelite fortification. Indeed, the article notes that it is in the region where David fought Goliath. The head of the dig, Yossi Garfinkel, states that “the new excavations clearly indicate that already in the time of King David, urban cities were constructed in Judah.” The article adds that the walled fortification covers six acres and “more than 200,000 tons of stone were needed to construct this wall. It would take a complex, highly-organized society to build a wall like this.” In other words, it would need to be made by a large nation with many resources which was ruled by a central king who could command the activities of the nation. This is exactly what the Bible says Israel was in the time of King David. The dig has also found a Hebrew inscription dating to the tenth century BC, although little about the inscription has yet been released. The first link below gives some information about this article, but to read the full article, you will need to read it in the Biblical Archaeology Review magazine or subscribe on-line. Many city and college libraries are likely to have this issue available to read.
The article combines an earlier inscription found at Tel Dan which mentions the “house of David” with the new discovery of a fortified Israelite city in King David’s time and concludes that “it begins to look as if King David lived and that he ruled a unified nation state.” In other words, the Bible was right all along. It should be noted that this fortified city dates to the time when the tribes of Israel were all united under King David. The article states that this fortified city was “violently destroyed” circa 920 BC. Who destroyed this Israelite/Judahite city? I have a theory.
The Bible records that when the United Kingdom of Israel subdivided into the northern kingdom of Israel and the southern kingdom of Judah, these previously united tribes of Israel fought a series of wars against each other. I Kings 15:6 records that these two Israelite kingdoms, led by Rehoboam of Judah and Jeroboam of Israel, fought many wars with each other. These wars continued under Rehoboam’s successor, King Abijah of Judah (I Kings 15:7). The fortified city which is the subject of the above-cited article was west of Jerusalem but not far south of the territory of the northern kingdom of Israel. This fortified city would have been in “the line of fire” of these conflicts between Israel and Judah. Since it was located within the region of Judah, it was likely destroyed by an invading army from the northern kingdom of Israel during one of these wars as the article states it was “violently destroyed” at the time these wars between the kingdoms of Israel and Judah were being fought. Since these wars occurred so soon after the time of the United Monarchy, there would have been soldiers in the northern Kingdom of Israel’s army who had previously been stationed at this particular fortress when it was garrisoned by Israelites from all tribes during Solomon’s reign. These Israelite soldiers would have known every detail of this fortified city and would have used this advantage in an assault on the city.
The second item which affirms the Bible dates to the reign of King Solomon. The Biblical Archaeology Review website posted an article dated December 16, 2008 (see second link below) which relates that a leading Israeli scientist has affirmed the validity of an inscription found on an “ivory pomegranate” which “is probably the only surviving artifact from Solomon’s Temple.” The minimalists had denied the inscription was valid, but this article lists strong scientific evidence that the artifact and inscription is valid. The inscription on the pomegranate reads: “[Belonging] to the Temple of [Yahwe]h, consecrated to the priests.”  This inscription would surely date the pomegranate to Solomon’s Temple. It now seems assured the inscription is valid, meaning that Solomon’s Temple did exist and was built just as the Bible describes.