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Gerard Leval analyzes the view that the Qeiyafa Ostracon refers to the formation of the Kingdom of Israel. Following the scholarship of Émile Puech, Leval suggests that the find from Khirbet Qeiyafa describes the coronation of Saul or David.
The Biblical archaeology world is abuzz with anticipation over Hebrew University archaeologist Yosef Garfinkel’s press conference on Tuesday, May 8. The press release for the event promises to “announce all-new findings related to the time of Kings David and Solomon, including presentation of artifacts never before seen by the public related to construction of Solomon’s temple and palace.”
Now even more fascinating finds from Khirbet Qeiyafa are shedding light on the crucial historical period of King David. Announced today at a press conference in Jerusalem, Garfinkel shared with the public for the first time several cultic items that were recently excavated from three “shrine rooms” at the site, including two portable shrine models, two basalt altars, two pottery libation vessels and five standing stones. According to Garfinkel and his codirector, Saar Ganor of the Israel Antiquities Authority, these finds offer the first clear archaeological evidence of cultic activity in Judah during the time of King David. The shrine models also show the existence of sophisticated royal architecture styles during that period and may shed light on design elements of Solomon’s Temple as described in the Bible.
See the images and press release below from the Hebrew University for more about the discovery that has the archaeological world buzzing.
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.
“This is the first time that archaeologists uncovered a fortified city in Judah from the time of King David,” Hebrew University’s Yosef Garfinkel explains. “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.”
At the time of the David and Goliath encounter, the Philistines were attempting to reassert dominion over King Saul and his people. The Philistine dominion over the Hebrews had lasted several decades. Khirbet Qeiyafa, dated about 1020 to 980 B.C., was an imposing fortress town strategically located near the Philistine border, perhaps the very sort of fortress that would draw a military response from the affronted Philistines.
Writing found at Khirbet Qeiyafa has not named its ruler, but the writing is in ancient Hebrew, not Philistine or Canaanite. In contrast to the artifacts of typical Canaanite sites, those at Khirbet Qeiyafa have two Jewish distinctives: the religious artifacts are conspicuously lacking in graven images, and the garbage is conspicuously lacking in pig bones.