The stone slab was discovered inside a temple dating from the 12th century BC, a time when the Israelites and the Philistines were at war. Inside the temple, an unusual stone table was found reminiscent of the biblical “big stone” upon which the Ark of the Covenant was placed.
Israeli archaeologists made an important finding in what appears to be a 3,100-year-old temple, located in the territory of the former settlement of Beth Shemesh, near Jerusalem (Israel).
The temple has been in excavation since 2012, but only last summer the specialists discovered a particularly striking object inside, as it was made public this week.
Inside the building, an unusual stone table was found reminiscent of the biblical “big stone” upon which the Ark of the Covenant was placed, also known as the Ark of the Covenant, which is traditionally believed to contain the tablets of the Ten Commandments received by Moses on Mount Sinai, reports The Jerusalem Post.
“This would be a rare case in which we can merge the biblical narrative with an archeological find,” said Zvi Lederman, an archaeologist at Tel Aviv University, who directs the excavation along with his colleague Professor Shlomo Bunimovitz.
The 3,100 years old temple where the ark of the covenant was placed
The structure of the temple, dating from the twelfth century BC, is square in shape, with walls 8.5 meters long. Bunimovitz noted that this particular building was isolated from residential areas and had stronger walls. In addition, it has the characteristics of a religious structure: a place for ceremonies, a deposit of wine or sacred oil and signs of rituals, as well as a pile of animal bones.
“There is a lot of evidence that this was really a temple. When you look at the structure and its content, it is very clear that this is not a standard domestic space, but something special, ”Bunimovitz said.
According to archaeologists, everything indicates that in the mid-12th century BC the building was destroyed. The ceramics inside were destroyed and shortly afterward the possible temple was converted into an animal pen. Based on biblical chronology, the act could be attributed to the Philistines, whose closest settlement, Tel Batash, was only seven kilometers from Beth Shemesh. During the 12th-11th centuries BC, both peoples often clashed.
Likewise, the excavations allowed to discover four different villages of those same centuries and built one on top of the other. This means that the place was conquered, abandoned or destroyed, and then rebuilt several times in the space of 200 years, experts say.
The Ark of the Covenant
In the midst of their work, the specialists discovered a possible clue about the importance that the building could cover: the huge stone slab that rested horizontally on two smaller rocks.
In his view, the enigmatic table conforms to the time frame and the profile of the “big stone” on which, according to the First Book of Samuel, the Ark of the Covenant was deposited after being recovered from the Philistines and taken to Beth Shemesh:
Samuel 6: 13-15
13 The inhabitants of Bet-semes, who were in the valley reaping the wheat, looked up and saw the ark were filled with joy. 14 When the cart arrived at Joshua’s field, that of Bet-semes, it stopped. There was a big stone there. Then those of Bet-semes made firewood with the wood of the cart, and offered the cows in holocaust to the Lord. 15 The Levites had already unloaded the ark and the box in which the gold objects were, placing them on the great stone; and that day the inhabitants of Bet-semes offered the Lord burnt offerings and other sacrifices.
If the archaeologist’s hypothesis were confirmed, that finding would be evidence that the Bible contains nuclei of historical truths about much older periods than most experts previously thought.
Source: The Jerusalem Post