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Archaeologists discover biblical town where David found shelter before he was king

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The archaeological evidence supports the biblical records of a great fire in Ziklag.

A joint operation led by archaeologists from the US and Australia has identified what is believed to be the site of Ziklag, where David and his men were given shelter from the forces of Saul in 1 Samuel 30. According to the Times of Israel, the discovery comes after four years of excavation at a site known as Khirbet a-Ra‘i, in the Judaean foothills.

A press release from the Hebrew University in Jerusalem and the Israel Antiquities Authority reported the discovery of an ancient Philistine settlement, dating back to the 12-11th centuries BC, with a rural settlement built on top of its ruin. This is in keeping with the biblical narratives, which this new evidence supports.

According to the Hebrew biblical accounts, David spent over a year at Ziklag prior to becoming king. In those times retaliating forces burned Ziklag to the ground and made off with the women and children of the Israelite forces. The archaeological evidence not only shows Philistine buildings and the presumed later Israelite camp, but they also indicate that a devastating fire took place in between the two settlements.

The search for the city of Ziklag has been on for decades, and many archaeologists have thought they were close before. These previous sites, however, were unable to reconcile the biblical accounts with archaeological evidence. Now, according to the archaeologists who led the excavation of Khirbet a-Ra’i, this site has all the required qualifications.

The Times of Israel describes some of the artifacts that indicated the existence of a Philistine-era settlement at the site. The reported findings include:

“massive stone structures and typical Philistine cultural artifacts, including stylized pottery in foundation deposits — good luck offerings laid beneath a building’s flooring … along with stone and metal tools …”

To date, archaeologists at Khirbet a-Ra’i have unearthed more than 100 examples of pottery vessels — used for oil, wine, and more — in a style concurrent with the style of the ancient Philistines. Only time will tell what further artifacts may be found to link the site to David and the narrative of the Hebrew Bible.

 

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