By Joseph DeCaro, Worthy News Correspondent
JERUSALEM, ISRAEL (Worthy News)-- Yosef Garfinkel, a professor from the Institute of Archaeology at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, recently announced the discovery of ancient objects that reveal how religion was organized in Judah before the reign of King Solomon.
In excavations at Khirbet Qeiyafa (pictured to the left) -- a fortified city in Judah -- Garfinkel and his colleagues uncovered pottery, art and religious objects in three large rooms that served as shrines; these shrines pre-date the construction of Solomon's Temple in Jerusalem and provide the first physical evidence of religion as practiced during the time of King David.
"This is the first time that archaeologists uncovered a fortified city in Judah from the time of King David," said Garfinkel. "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. Over the years, thousands of animal bones were found, including sheep, goats and cattle, but no pigs ... 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 ..."
Biblical tradition depicted the Israelites as monotheists who forbade human and animal images; the absence of these images in the three shrines shows the inhabitants practiced a religion radically different from the surrounding Canaanites and Philistines.
In addition to the three shrines, two portable box-shaped shrines, or shrine models, were found: one made of clay and the other of stone. The clay shrine included two pillars and folded textile as described in Solomons Temple: the two pillars of Yachin and Boaz and the Parochet textile.
The stone shrine is made of soft limestone and painted red. Its facade is decorated by seven groups of roof-beams with three planks in each called a "triglyph," which are also found in the Parthenon, but its appearance at Khirbet Qeiyafa is the earliest known example carved in stone.
The stone model can help clarify obscure, technical terms in the description of Solomon's palace in 1 Kings 7:1-6. The biblical text uses "slaot" -- which were mistakenly understood as pillars, but can now be understood as triglyphs -- and "sequfim" once thought to be nine windows, but can now be understood as "triple recessed doorway.”
Similar triglyphs and recessed doors can be found in the description of Solomon’s temple in 1 Kings 6:5, 31-33 and the description of a temple in Ezekiel 41:6; these texts contain obscure technical terms that have long ago lost their original meaning, but with the discovery of the stone model at Khirbet Qeiyafa, the texts can now be clarified.