A city gate from the time of King David was discovered after 32 years of excavation in the ancient city of Bethsaida in the Golan Heights’ Jordan Park, opening up a world of new of opinions and theories about the ancient landscape of the Land of Israel.
The ruins of the New Testament city of Bethsaida is turning out to be a goldmine of amazing discoveries for biblical archaeologists because it has remained nearly completely untouched for almost 2,000 years. We told you last year about the discoveries in the lost city of Zer, and today’s article is a follow-up-to that.
“And the apostles, when they were returned, told him all that they had done. And he took them, and went aside privately into a desert place belonging to the city called Bethsaida. And the people, when they knew it, followed him: and he received them, and spake unto them of the kingdom of God, and healed them that had need of healing.” Luke 9:10,11 (KJV)
Do you realize that with all these new finds, that there has never once been anything that has contradicted or gone against what is laid out in the Bible? In fact, these incredible finds only add more light to the Bible passages that mention them. Compare that to the Book of Mormon, for example, that talks about dozens of people and places Joseph Smith said existed, and yet not one scrap of archaeological evidence has ever surfaced to support those claims. Hmm, I wonder why that is? I thank God that He gave me a Book that is true and trustworthy.
Bethsaida is an almost untouched archaeological heaven for getting the real story about what happened during the times of the Hebrew Bible and the Second Temple period.
FROM THE JPOST: According to Professor Rami Arav of the University of Nebraska, chief archaeologist overseeing the excavations, told the Jerusalem Post that the gate and further findings found within the ancient city give the notion that it was possible that Solomon and David might not have been the sole kings of the Israelite kingdom at their respective times, but instead chieftains of large tribes of Israelites.
“And the fenced cities are Ziddim, Zer, and Hammath, Rakkath, and Chinnereth,” Joshua 19:35 (KJV)
The previously uncovered gate found in the area last year was cautiously identified to be a part of the biblical city of Zer, a name used during the First Temple period. However, the newly found gate dates back to the time and rule of King David, which is purportedly from the 11th to 10th centuries BCE.
“There are not many gates from capital cities in this country from this period,” said Arav. “Bethsaida was the name of the city during the Second Temple period, but during the First Temple period it was the city of Zer.” Arav cited Joshua 19:35, which says: “The fortified towns were Ziddim, Zer, Hammath, Rakkath, Kinneret.”
The excavation and research, sponsored by the Hebrew Union College of Jerusalem, has brought together archaeologists from all over the world to help.
Findings presented by the researchers point to the possibility that Bethsaida was not an Israelite kingdom but instead an Aramaic one. Within the city limits of Bethsaida, there was a stone stele bearing the image of their bull-shaped moon god, which dates back to the 11th century BCE. This monument is one of seven other similar tombstones found from the ancient world, from southern Turkey to Egypt. Two have been found in Bethsaida alone.
Some of these monuments have been found in cities dating to later periods, such as the 9th-8th century BCE. The rare stone stele dating back to the kingdom of Geshur was unearthed in the archaeological excavation.
“But Absalom fled, and went to Talmai, the son of Ammihud, king of Geshur. And David mourned for his son every day.” 2 Samuel 13:37 (KJV)
The kingdom of Geshur is mentioned in the Bible as having co-existed alongside the Kingdom of David. It was eventually annexed by King Hazael, who ruled what is today modern Syria. The biblical kingdom of Geshur existed in parts of what is now the Golan Heights.
Although the area of the Golan Heights is not thought to be an Israelite kingdom, the archaeologists on the dig presume that Jerusalem and David’s capital in Bethsaida were actually quite similar to one another.
Seven kingdoms are believed to have ruled the ancient Land of Israel. However, according to Arav, the researchers know little about the archaeology of these capitals since they have been destroyed and rebuilt many times over.
Arav said that these types of excavations are difficult in places like Jerusalem, because researchers need to get permission from landowners as well as the government to excavate these sites. In addition, other ancient cities, such as Damascus, have been destroyed and rebuilt multiple times in the past, making it difficult to connect inferences in what actually happened there during these time periods. Bethsaida is an almost untouched archaeological heaven for getting the real story about what happened during the times of the Hebrew Bible and the Second Temple period.
“Bethsaida is a unique example of a capital city from the 11th-8th century BCE that is available for archaeological research, as there has been no disturbance to this site,” said Arav. Excavations will continue on site as archaeologists attempt to discover everything dating from the 11th century BCE to the period of Roman rule following the end of the Common Era. READ MORE
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