(6) To visit this location is now on my wish list! So any reader having been here, please contact me!
Recent archeological excavations at Khirbet Qeiyafa have unearthed an early iron age IIa settlement that confirms the early organised national infrastructure of Israel. There was no porcine bone fragments and pottery shards were different to the nearby Philistine occupations. What was remarkable about the excavations was the estimated 200,000 tons of stones moved onto the site for construction and the presence of two gates. Carbon dating of organic matter dated this earliest construction layer (on bedrock) to 1051-969BC around the time of the establishment of the monarchy in Israel.
The presence of two gates is unusual, with even major cities such as Lachish and Megiddo having only one gate. The location of this site near Azekah (west 2km) and Shocoh ((southeast 2.5km) makes this an excellent candidate for Shaarayim (heb two gates) listed next to them in the lists of Josh 15:36 .
A remarkable ostracon was found at the site with the inscription interpreted by Dr Misgav and Prof Galil et al, assumed to be similar sentiments to Isaiah 1:17, Psalms 72:3, Exodus 23:3 but not a copy of a particular biblical text, and now on view in the Israel Museum. It is considered the most ancient Hebrew text. (1)
- you shall not do [it], but worship the [Lord].
- Judge the sla[ve] and the wid[ow] / Judge the orph[an]
- [and] the stranger. [Pl]ead for the infant / plead for the po[or and]
- the widow. Rehabilitate [the poor] at the hands of the king.
- Protect the po[or and] the slave / [supp]ort the stranger (1)
The hebrew Sha’ar is translated as gate in all occasions except one, and this verse highlights the concept of gates: “as he thinketh in his heart, so is he” Prov 23:7 The root word of gate means to split open, reason out, calculate, reckon etc. Gates represent then the “desire of the mind” Deut 18:6 and the opening into the real motivation of a person. That a city had two gates is an indication of a “double minded” man James 1:7,8; 4:8 who is unstable in all his ways, because he is not committed to one course of action. A divided city, family or ecclesia cannot stand. Mark 3:24 It is this uncertainty of commitment that God hates Ps 119:113.
The city is mentioned two other times: It was the escape route for the Philistines 1 Sam 17:52. This then was the failure of the Philistines, they fled because there was division in their camp and escaped via Shaarayim 1 Sam 17:52. This was a direct contrast to a positive stand made earlier by the Philistines 1 Sam 4:9 “quit ye like men, quit ye and fight” Good advice taken by the apostle Paul to persevere under duress 1 Cor 16:13.
The second is a city listed amongst the cities of Simeon 1 Chron 4:31. The list of Simeon’s inheritance is remarkable, for this was an inheritance that was obtained by the encouraging conduct of the tribe of Judah who joined Simeon to take their inheritance. Judges 1:17 The Chronicles record outlines the spiritual development of the tribe of Simeon so there where the family was once:
- “did not multiply like the children of Judah” 4:27 they became a house “that increased greatly” 4:38
- they had sons and daughters 4:27 they became men “mentioned by name” 4:38
- a tribe which lost their inheritance around the time of David 4:31, they became a tribe that retook their inheritance in the time of Hezekiah 4:41
This development of the tribe demonstrates that there were vital failures in their early occupation, and one of these cities was Shaarayim 4:31 double mindedness!
God wants our whole heart, soul and mind. Mark 12:30 and to commit ourselves wholeheartedly to service of our father and our brethren. This city is a timely reminder to dedicated service.
Over 100 water pots were found at Khirbet Qeiyafa. leading to some question to whether this site may also be later known as Netaim or the place of potters in the service of the king 1 Chron 4:23 a city that has never been identified. The city was previously identified by Toponuym by Albright with Khirbet En-Nuweiti but this has later been demonstrated to be a byzantine site. The other site of the potters Gederah at nearby Khirbet Ğudraya has led to this postulation. Others ask whether this is the same location as Efes Dummin, however why would two different names be used within the same chapter for the same place?
- Report on the findings at Khirbet Qeiyafa: http://qeiyafa.huji.ac.il/ostracon2.asp
- Location of Socoh and Azekah see Anson Rainey The sacred bridge pg 147
- A report on the excavation of this site can be read at: http://www.arts.ualberta.ca/JHS/Articles/article_99.pdf
Merrill et al: The World and the Word: An Introduction to the Old Testament pg 127
- Photograph courteously wikipedia.org