Discovery Near US Embassy in Jerusalem Appears To Back Up Biblical Account of the Kingdom of Judah
Another piece of the ancient history of the Holy Land has been revealed in Jerusalem and casts light on the story of the Kingdom of Judah.
Amid excavations for the new U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem, a tax collection and administrative complex was uncovered that dates back roughly 2,700 years, according to The Times of Israel.
“This is one of the most significant discoveries from the period of the kings in Jerusalem made in recent years,” said Israel Antiquities Authority excavation co-directors Neri Sapir and Nathan Ben-Ari.
“At the site we excavated, there are signs that governmental activity managed and distributed food supplies not only for shortage but administered agricultural surplus amassing commodities and wealth.”
The compound was located 1.8 miles outside of the Old City of Jerusalem.
Experts believe the center functioned during the reigns of Kings Hezekiah and Manasseh, which would be around the 8th century B.C. to the 7th century B.C.
Archaeologists discovered over 120 jar handles stamped with Hebrew script indicating that the jars belonged to the king.
An insight into Judean life was also found in the form of a collection of clay idols.
“Some of the figurines are designed in the form of women, horse riders or as animals. These figurines are usually interpreted as objects used in pagan worship and idolatry — a phenomenon, which according to the Bible, was prevalent in the Kingdom of Judah,” Sapir and Ben-Ari said.
For example, 2 Chronicles 33:21-23, reads: “Amon was twenty-two years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem two years. He did evil in the eyes of the Lord, as his father Manasseh had done. Amon worshiped and offered sacrifices to all the idols Manasseh had made. But unlike his father Manasseh, he did not humble himself before the Lord; Amon increased his guilt.”
References from the time of Hezekiah also make it clear that the battle against pagan idols was raging.
In 2 Kings 18: 1-4, the Bible says: “In the third year of Hoshea son of Elah king of Israel, Hezekiah son of Ahaz king of Judah began to reign. He was twenty-five years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem twenty-nine years.
“His mother’s name was Abijah daughter of Zechariah. He did what was right in the eyes of the Lord, just as his father David had done. He removed the high places, smashed the sacred stones and cut down the Asherah poles. He broke into pieces the bronze snake Moses had made, for up to that time the Israelites had been burning incense to it. (It was called Nehushtan.)”
Archaeologist Yuval Baruch of the IAA said efforts will be made to preserve the site.
“The archaeological discoveries at Arnona identify the site as a key site — the most important in the history of the final days of the Kingdom of Judah and of the return to Zion decades after the destruction of the Kingdom,” he said.
“This site joins a number of other key sites uncovered in the area of Jerusalem which were connected to the centralized administrative system of the Kingdom of Judah from its peak until its destruction.”
When the site was at its zenith, it sat amid an agribusiness center of the Judean state.
“The site once dominated large agricultural plots and orchards of olive trees and grape vines which included agricultural industrial facilities such as winepresses for winemaking,” Sapir and Ben-Ari said.
The site appears to have been abandoned at the time of the exile to Babylon, which took place in approximately 586 B.C.
However, the archaeologists said activity resumed in 538 upon the return of the Jewish people to Jerusalem.
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