Joshua-Samuel

JOSHUA

 

JOSHUA 1:1 ~ Moses was the Lord’s servant. Joshua son of Nun was Moses’ helper. After Moses died, the Lord spoke to Joshua. The Lord said, “My servant Moses is dead. Now you and these people must go across the  Jordan River. You must go into the land I am giving to you, the people of Israel.

The Amarna Tablets from officials in Palestine to Pharaoh mentions Joshua’s name.

Amarna Tablet

JOSHUA 6:2-5 ~ Then the Lord said to Joshua, “Look, I will let you defeat the city of Jericho. You will defeat the king and all the fighting men in the city. March around the city with your army one time every day. Do this for six days. {Tell the priests to carry the Holy Box ~ Ark of Covenant.} Tell seven of the priests to carry trumpets made from the horns of male sheep and march in front of the Holy Box. On the seventh day, march around the city seven times. On the seventh day, tell the priests to blow the trumpets when they march. The priests will make one loud noise from the trumpets. When you hear that noise, tell all the people to begin shouting. When you do this, the walls of the city [Jericho} will fall down and your people will be able to go straight into the city.”

Archaeologists have found that the walls of Jericho did indeed fall down, they date the destruction of the wall to the time of Joshua (c. 1400 BC).

Ancient JERICHO Excavations

The first major excavation of Jericho found piles of mud bricks at the base of the mound the city was built on.  Archaeologist John Garstang, director of the British School of Archaeology in Jerusalem and Dept. of Antiquities of the Palestine Government, excavated the ruins.  “The wall fell down flat.”  The outer wall fell outward and down the hillside, dragging the inner wall with houses with it, the streak of bricks gradually getting thinner down the slope.

JOSHUA 2:15, 18-19; 6:23  ~ The woman’s house was built into the city wall. It was part of the wall. So the woman used a rope to let the men down through a window…. You are using this red rope to help us escape. We will come back to this land. At that time, you must tie this red rope in your window. …We will protect every person who stays in this house…. So the two men went into the house and brought out Rahab. They also brought out … and all the other people that were with her. They put all the people in a safe place outside the camp of Israel.

Cross-section of Jericho’s double walls & slope

The common explanation is an earthquake must have caused the collapse.  It must have been a very unusual earthquake because it struck in such a way as to allow a portion of the city wall on the north side of the site to remain standing, while everywhere else the wall fell.

Rahab’s house was evidently located on the north side of the city.  The wall was double with two walls being 15 ft apart, the outer wall 6’[ thick; the inner wall 12’ thick, both being about 30 ft. high.  They were built on faulty uneven foundations of brick 4 inches thick and 1-2’ long laid in mud mortar.  The two walls were linked together by houses built across the top.

JOSHUA 6:24 Then the people of Israel burned the whole city. They burned everything in the city except the things made from silver, gold, bronze, and iron. They put those things in the Lord’s treasury.

Signs of  Jericho’s destruction were marked.  Garstang found great layers of charcoal and ashes and wall ruins reddened by fire.  Archaeologist Kenyon wrotet:  “The destruction was complete. Walls and floors were blackened or reddened by fire, and every room was filled with fallen bricks, timbers, and household utensils; in most rooms the fallen debris was heavily burnt.”

BETHEL Excavations


Joshua 8 :12, 17, 28 ~ Then Joshua chose about 5,000 men.  Joshua sent these men to hide in the area west of the city, between Bethel and Ai…. All the people of Ai and Bethel chased the army of Israel. … Then Joshua burned the city of Ai.  That city became an empty pile of rocks. It is still like that today.

The mound of Bethel (Beitan) was excavated by the Kyle Memorial Expedition under the 
leadershiup of W. F. Albright.  They found it had been destroyed at a time coinciding with Joshua’s invasion.  There was a solid mass 5 ft. thick of “fallen brick, burned red, black ash-filled earth, and charred and splintered debri.”  Albright said he had seen nowhere in Palestine indications of a more destructive conflagration.

AI Excavations

JOSHUA 10:1,5 ~ At this time Adoni Zedek was the king of Jerusalem. This king heard that Joshua had defeated Ai and completely destroyed it. The king learned that Joshua had done the same thing to Jericho and its king. The king also learned that the people of Gibeon had made a peace agreement with Israel. And those people lived very near Jerusalem….So these five Amorite kings joined armies. (The five kings were the king of Jerusalem, the king of Hebron, the king of Jarmuth, the king of Lachish, and the king of Eglon.) Those armies went to Gibeon. The armies surrounded the city and began fighting against it.

Amarna Letter

An ancient Amarna letter engraved on stone has been found, written by a man named Abdi-Hiba, Governor of Jerusalem, to Pharaoh Amenhotep IV (1378-1367BC), requesting aid from Egypt in fighting the approaching Hebrews. The letter states the following:

Pharaoh Amenhotep IV

“Why do you not hear my plea? All the governors are lost; the king, my lord, does not have a single governor left! Let my lord, the king, send troops of archers, or the king will have no lands left. All the lands of the king are being plundered by the Habiru [Hebrews].  If archers are here by the end of the year, then the lands of my lord, the king, will continue to exist; but if the archers are not sent, then the lands of the king, my lord, will be surrendered.”  

Display of some of the many
Amarna Letters on clay tablets sent
to Pharaoh Amenhotep IV.


According to historians, the Abdi-Hiba letter was written between 1387 and 1366 BC, right in the middle of Joshua’s conquest of Canaan.  Joshua 24:29 states that he lived to be 110 years old, which means he would have died around 1352 BC, at least ten years after this letter was written.

(See above for dates of Exodus from Egypt.)  Exodus chapter 32, chapter 33 verse 11 states that Joshua was a “young man” at this time. If he were fifteen, then was present for the 40 years wandering in the wilderness, Joshua’s would be approximately 55 years old when he first entered into the land of Canaan in 1406 BC.   He lived to be 110 years of age, so died close to 1352 BC.  

Excavation of LACHISH


Joshua 10:32 ~ The Lord allowed them to defeat the city of Lachish. They defeated that city on the second day.

The Wellcome Archaeological Expedition found at Lachish a layer of ashes coinciding with Joshua’s time.

JOSHUA 10:39 ~ They captured that city, its king, and all the little towns near Debir.

Debir (Kiriath-sepher, Tel Beit Mirshim), was found a deep layer of ashes, charcoal and lime, indications of a terrible fire.  Cultural debri under it was Canaanite, all above it was Israelite.

 

Excavation of DEBIR

Joshua 11:11 ~ Then Joshua went back and captured the city of Hazor.

Archaeologist Garstang found in the ruins of Hazor the ashes of Joshua’s fire with pottery evidence showed it occurred about 1400 BC.  

Also, an Amarna Tablet written to Pharaoh 1380 BC by the Egyptian envoy in N. Palestine says,

Image result for Hazor
Excavation of HAZOR

“Let my lord the king recall that Hazor and its king have a ready hand to endure.”

JOSHUA 11:22 ~ There were no Anakite people left living in the land of Israel. The only Anakite people that were left alive were in Gaza, Gath, and Ashdod.

Even though Joshua destroyed most of the inhabitants of the cities he came across, the city of Gath was spared. Evidence from the Amarna Tablets.

Letters requesting aid from Egypt have been discovered that were written during this same time frame. The following letter is from a man named Shuwardata, governor of Gath:

“May the king, my lord, know that the chief of the Hapiru [Hebrew] has besieged the lands which your god has given me; but I have attacked him. Also let the king, my lord, know that none of my allies have come to my aid, it is only I and Abdu-Heba who fight against the Hapiru [Hebrew] chief. I plead with the king my lord, if you agree, send Yanhamu, and let us quickly go to war, so that the lands of the king, my lord, might be restored to their original boundaries!”

Excavation of Temple in ancient GATH.
Notice bases for columns

Shuwardata governor of Gath is also mentioned in the following letter from a man named Milkilu, a prince of Gezer, with whom he was allied:

“Let it be known to the king that there is great hostility against me and against Shuwardata. I ask the king, my lord, protect his land from the approaching Hapiru [Hebrews].”  

Columns from ancient temple at
GEZER

These two men later seem to have offered allegiance to Joshua, as evidence from a second letter from Abdi-Heba, governor of Jerusalem:

“Let it be known what Milkilu and Shuwardata did to the land of the king, my lord! They sent troops of Gezer, troops of Gath, they took the land of Rubutu; the land of the king went over to the Hapiru [Hebrew]. But now even a town near Jerusalem, Bit-Lahmi (Bethlehem) by name, a village which once belonged to the king, has fallen to the enemy. Let the king hear the words of your servant Abdi-Heba, and send archers to restore the imperial lands of the king! But if no archers are sent, the lands of the king will be taken by the Hapiru [Hebrew]  people. This act was done by the hand of Milkilu and Shuwardata.”

At Gezer in the Canaanite stratum around 1500 BC before the Israelites came, are the ruins of a temple.  It was an enclosure about 150’ x 120’ surrounded by a wall, open to the sky.  Within the walls were 10 rude stone pillars 5 to 11 ft high, before which the sacrifices were offered.  

Under the debris, Archaeologist Macalister found great numbers of jars containing the remains of children who had been sacrificed to Baal.  The whole area proved to be a cemetery for new-born babies.

A Baal mask discovered in ancient 
HAZOR.  Baal worship included 
prostitution and sacrificing 
babies.  Baal was worshipped 
throughout the area of 
Canaan/Palestine.

JOSHUA 15:53-54 ~ The people of Judah were also given these towns: Arab, Dumah, Eshan, Janim, Beth Tappuah, Aphekah, Humtah, Kiriath Arba (Hebron), and Zior. There were nine towns and all the fields around them.
Found on the walls of an Egyptian temple at Medinet Habu contain a list of cities that Rameses II (1304-1238) recorded as enemy towns.   The cities are represented on the wall by men bearing shields. Within the shields are the names of the cities.   Among the list of cities are Janum, Aphekah and Hebron.  
HEBRON listed in the Medinet 
Habu Temple, Egypt, as one of 
Rameses’ enemy cities.
List of enemy cities in this temple

JOSHUA 21:21 ~ The city of Shechem from the hill country of Ephraim. (Shechem was a city of safety.) They also got Gezer.

One of the Amarna letters indicate that the prince of Gezer and the prince of Shechem
surrendered to Joshua during the conquest of the land:

Remains of ancient SHECHEM

“See the actions taken by Milkilu, the prince of Gezer, and the sons of Labayu, the princes of Shechem, who have handed over the land to the Hapiru [Hebrews]

JUDGES

            

JUDGES 1:18, 29 ~ The men of Judah also captured the cities of Ashkelon….There were Canaanite people living in Gezer.

The Merneptah Stela was discovered in Merneptah’s mortuary temple in Thebes, Egypt, by Archaeologist Flinders Petrie.  It is a eulogy to Pharaoh Merneptah who rules Egypt c. 1236-1223.  At the end is a poem describing one of his campaigns into Canaan/Palestine.  Two lines are as follows:

“Israel is laid waste, its seed is not.”
“Carried off is Ashkelon; seized upon is “Gezer; Yanoam is made as that which does not exist.”

Merneptah Stela

These cities which were conquered by the Israelites around 1400 BC were later destroyed during the time of Merneptah.  

JUDGES 2:2,5 ~ Here are the names of the nations the Lord left in the land….The people of Israel lived with the Canaanite people, the Hittite people, the Amorite people, the Perizzite people, the Hivite people, and the Jebusite people.

The Canaanite people were very religious, but it was a religion of idolatry, especially Baal and Ashteroth worship which included male and female prostitutes and sacrifice of babies.  

Canaanite Fertility Goddess

The Canaanites, Amonites and Phoenician people of the western Middle East also worshiped Moloch, the god of fire who demanded people sacrifice their children by throwing them into his fire.

Moloch, fire god of the Canaanites

For centuries, cynics claimed there had been no such people as the Hittites.  Archaeology always unlocks the mysteries.  Here is a statue of the Hittite King Khatusaru was a contemporary with Rameses II and Joshua.

Amorite goddess Ishtar

The Amorites adopted the Mesopotamian goddess of fertility, Ishtar, shown here with her accolites dressed as a warrior.

Hittite King Khatusaru

The  Perizzites are often identified with the Pirati who are found in an Egyptian vocabulary list and  in a fragment from the Amarna Tablets (see Joshua).

Hivite god 
Teshup

The Hivites are associated with the Hittites.  Teshup, a weather god, was worshiped the most, along with his wife Hebat/Hepa, the mother goddess of fertility and the sun.

The Jebusites occupied a hill that later became known as the city of David or Zion, and became known as Jerusalem.


Jebuse became Jerusalem

JUDGES 3:19 ~ They left the king’s palace.} When {Ehud} reached the statues near Gilgal, he turned and went back {to see the king}.

The site of Gilgal is still known today.

Site of GILGAL

JUDGES 4:2 ~ So the Lord allowed Jabin king of Canaan to defeat the people of Israel. Jabin ruled in a city named Hazor.

A cuneiform tablet fragment was found at an excavation of Hazor, addressed to a king named Jabin.

Cuneiform tablet from HAZOR 
about JABIN


JUDGES 5:19 ~ The kings of Canaan came to fight, but they didn’t carry any treasures home! They fought at the city of Taanach, by the waters of Megiddo.

The city of Taanach did actually exist.  Artifacts found at the ancient city date back to the time of Joshua.

Ornamentaincense stand 
found in TAANACH ruins

JUDGES 8:33 ~ As soon as Gideon died, the people of Israel again were not faithful to God—they followed Baal.They made Baal Berith their god.

Baal was considered to be the god of fertility, the father god.  Worship to him often required prostitution, or what they called priestesses.  In later centuries, after the Israelites finally left idolatry forever, they linked Baal to Beelzebub ~ Satan.

Foundation of ancient temple to
Baal Berith in ancient SHECHEM

JUDGES 9:45 & 46 ~  Abimelech and his men fought against the city of Shechem all that day. Abimelech and his men captured the city of Shechem and killed the people of that city. Then Abimelech tore down the city and threw salt over the ruins.

Archaeologist Sellin excavated the ruins of ancient Shechem near the modern city of Shechem.  He found a stratum of Canaanite ruins beginning around 1600 BC. Shechem had a layer indicating it had been destroyed and abandoned about 1100 BC. This was the time of Abimelech.

Image result for dagon
Dagon, the fish god

JUDGES 16:21-30 ~ 21The Philistine men captured Samson. They tore out his eyes, and took him down to the city of Gaza. Then they put chains on him to keep him from running away….The rulers of the Philistine people came together to celebrate. They were going to offer a great sacrifice to their god Dagon….They made Samson stand between the columns in the temple of the god Dagon….The temple was crowded with men and women. All the rulers of the Philistine people were there. There were about 3,000 men and women on the roof of the temple. They were laughing and making fun of Samson….Then Samson held the two columns in the center of the temple. These two columns supported the whole temple. He braced himself between the two columns. One column was at his right side and the other at his left side. Samson said, “Let me die with these Philistines!” Then he pushed as hard as he could. And the temple fell on the rulers and all the people in it.

Two main supporting columns in
the center of temple in Tel Aviv

Archaeologists have uncovered two temples in the Philistine territory.  One is at Tel Qasile in northern Tel Aviv, and one at Tel Miqne, ancient Ekron, both not far from Gaza. Both temples have two large pillars six feet apart in the middle of the temple as main supporters.

JUDGES 20:43 ~ The men of Israel surrounded the men of Benjamin and began chasing them. They did not let them rest. They defeated them in the area east of Gibeah.

The outer edge of Albright’s 
excavations of GIBEAH

The ruins of Gibeah are located along the Central Benjamin Plateau, 3 miles (4.8 km) north of Jerusalem along the Watershed Ridge.  Archaeologist Kenneth Kitchen explained, “Upon this strategic point was found an Iron occupation” which was the earliest time it had been occupied.  Centuries later it was rebuilt, destroyed, rebuilt again, and finally destroyed permanently. Archaeologist Albright found in the ruins of Gibeah, a layer of ashes from a fire that occurred about 1200 BC.

RUTH

        
RUTH 1:6, 16 ~ While Naomi was in the hill country of Moab, she heard that the Lord had helped his people. He had given food to his people {in Judah}. So Naomi decided to leave the hill country of Moab and go back home. Her daughters-in-law also decided to go with her….But [Moabitis] Ruth said, “Don’t force me to leave you! Don’t force me to go back to my own people. Let me go with you. Wherever you go, I will go. Wherever you sleep, I will sleep. Your people will be my people. Your God will be my God.”

Moabite Stone

The chief god of the people in Moab was Chemosh,  The Israelites sometimes referred to the Moabites as the “people of Chemosh.”  According to II Kings, at times, especially in dire peril, human sacrifices were offered to their god, Chemosh (known as Molach elsewhere).  Mesha, king of Moab sacrificed his son and heir to Chemosh.  References are made to the Moabite god, Chemosh, and his worship in the Moabite Stone.  

Image result for chemosh
Fire god, Chemosh

 SAMUEL


I SAMUEL 1:3 ~ Every year Elkanah left his town of Ramah and went up to Shiloh. Elkanah worshiped the Lord All-Powerful at Shiloh and offered sacrifices to the Lord there.
(JOSHUA 18:1 ~ All of the Israelite people gathered together atShiloh.  At that place they set up the Meeting Tent [place of worship].

Upper Ramah for worship

Ramah was the birthplace of the prophet Samuel, Elkanah being his father. Ramah consisted of an upper part on solid rock where religious activities took place like slaughtering and sacrificing of animals.  The lower section was more residential and was built on less rocky terrain.  The lower section was more residential and was built on less rocky terrain.
Lower Ramah

In Shiloh was the holy Meeting Tent, often called the Tabernacle, set up during the days of Joshua around 1200 BC.  Inside the tent was a Holy Box also called the Ark of the Covenant that held the two stone tablets of the Ten Commandments, some manna from the 40 years they had wandered in the wilderness, and the rod of the first high priest, Aaron.  On the lid were angels.  David, the second king of the Jews, moved it to Jerusalem around 1050 BC.  The ruins of Shiloh were excavated by a Dutch Expedition, and evidence of having been occupied traced to 1200 to 1050 BC.  Then it remained unoccupied until about 300 BC.  These dates exactly coincide with the biblical record in
Samuel.

Excavation of SHILOH

I SAMUEL 4:1-2 ~  The Philistines made their camp at Aphek. The Philistines prepared to attack Israel. The battle began.

After years of Philistine oppression, the Israelites attempted to break free by a direct military engagement.  The encounter was at Aphek in the Sharon plain.

Aphek was fortified city spread over 30 acres with public and private buildings. The town’s name, Aphek , was first mentioned in Egyptian inscriptions, dating from the beginning of the second millennium B. C.  

Excavations of APHEK

One palace at Aphek is well preserved. It was built during the Late Bronze Age (1550-1200 B. C.), and was the home of the Egyptian governor of Aphek. Excavations in that site revealed many findings, such as rare scrolls written in cuneiform script, Acadian and Sumerian dictionaries.

The Israelites settled in Afek in the early tenth century B.C. Following King David’s victory over the Philistines.  During the Romans occupation, it was renamed Antipatris.

Ruins of sea fortress of ASHDOD

I SAMUEL 5:1-2 ~ 5The Philistines carried God’s Holy Box, from Ebenezer to Ashdod. The Philistines carried God’s Holy Box into the temple of Dagon and put it next to the statue of Dagon.

The site of Ashdod in the Bronze Age and Iron Ages was at a tell just south of the modern city. It has been excavated by archaeologists David Noel Freedman of the Pittsburgh Theological Seminary, Moshe Dothan, and the Israel Antiquities Authority.

The Mezuda Gate into ASHDOD

Ashdod is mentioned in ancient documents of the Canaanites. At the end of the 13th century BCE the Sea Peoples conquered and destroyed the city. By the beginning of the 12th century BCE, the Philistines, generally thought to have been one of the Sea Peoples, ruled the city. During their reign, the city prospered and was a member of the Philistine pentapolis, which included the five city states of Ashkelon, Ekron, Gath, and Gaza in addition to Ashdod.

I SAMUEL 5:8,10 ~ The people of Ashdod called the five Philistine rulers together. The people of Ashdod asked the rulers, “What must we do with the Holy Box* of the God of Israel?” The rulers answered, “Move the Holy Box* of the God of Israel {to Gath}”….So the Philistines sent God’s Holy Box to Ekron.  But when God’s Holy Box came into  Ekron, the people of Ekron complained.

EKRON inscription

The W. F. Albright Institute of Archaeological Research and Trude Dothan of Hebrew University of Jerusalem excavated at Tel Miqne in Israel and discovered it was the city of Ekron, one of the leading cities of the Philistines and had a temple to their god Dagon.  An inscription found in the temple being excavated called the city “Ekron”. It was a royal inscription carved into a slab of limestone.

Excavations of EKRON

I SAMUEL 10: 24-26 ~ Samuel said to all the people, “See the man the Lord has chosen. There is no person like Saul among the people.” Then the people shouted, “Long live the king!” Samuel explained the rules of the kingdom to the people. He wrote the rules in a book. He put the book before the Lord. Then Samuel told the people to go home. Saul also went to his home in Gibeah.  God touched the hearts of brave men, and these brave men began to follow Saul

The first king of the Jews was Saul.  He built his palace at Gibeah.  It has been identified as Tell el-Ful located at the northern outskirts of Jerusalem.  Archaeologist Albright excavated Gibea and found the ruins of the fortress which Saul had built there.  The excavations by Albright, checked by Lapp, agreed that it was Saul who built the first fortress, later repaired by him or David. The first fort (quadrangular) had at least one rectangular corner-tower at its southwest angle; it may have had others at the other corners, but no traces were detected.”

King Saul’s palace ruins at GIBEAH

Saul’s stronghold was built in 1015 BC.  The outer citadel walls were 170 feet by 155 feet, and were 8-to 10- feet thick.  It had two stores with a stone staircase.  Casemented walls and separately bonded towers are unique to this period.  The palace was of simple design and was more of a fortress than a residence.

King Saul’s palace ruins at GIBEAH

King Hussein of Jordan began construction on his Royal Palace in Tel el-Ful, but construction was halted and the palace was never finished.  Today, all that remains is the skeleton of the building.

I SAMUEL 11:1, 9 ~ Nahash the Ammonite and his army surrounded Jabesh Gilead…. Saul and his army told the messengers from Jabesh, “Tell the people at Jabesh in Gilead that by noon tomorrow, you will be saved.”

Tell Maqlub is identified with Jabesh Gilead. Eusebius in his Onomasticon locates Jabesh Gilead in the mountains near the 6th milestone from Pella on the road to Gerasa. This description fits with Tell Maqlub. A surface survey of the site has found Iron Age pottery.  It is located in a fertile hilly area.

I SAMUEL 13:3 ~ Jonathan defeated the Philistines at their camp in Geba.

Ancient GEBA in foreground of modern Jeba.

One of the Philistine garrisons was at Geba. Their forces included 3,000 chariots, 6,000 horsemen, and foot soldiers.  Geba is identified with Modern Jeba, located opposite Michmash.  Southwest of Michmash is the modern Arab village of Jaba, which is the biblical site of Geba. Because of the present day occupation the site has not been excavated.

I SAMUEL 13:16, 23 ~ The Philistines were camped at Micmash.…A group of Philistine soldiers guarded the mountain pass at Micmash.

Present-Day Micmash (Mukhmas)

Michmash is present day Mukhmas (fig. 5), on the northern ridge of Wadi Suweinit, east of Bethel on the way to Jericho.  The Arab village of Mukhmas preserves the name of the biblical city of Michmash. The town sits next to “the pass” mentioned twice in the Bible.

The pass Suweinit among many 
wadis/canyons in the area

I SAMUEL 14:4-5, 12-13 ~ Jonathan was planning to go through a pass to get to the Philistine camp. There was a large rock on each side of the pass. The large rock on one side was named Bozez. The large rock on the other side was named Seneh. One large rock stood looking north toward Micmash. The other large rock stood looking south toward Geba….The Philistines in the fort shouted to Jonathan and his helper, “Come up here”….So Jonathan climbed up the hill with his hands and feet.

The hill country in the area of Michmash and Geba is deeply cut by deep canyons (wadis). These restrict traffic to the ridges above the wadis, making passage difficult. One exception to this is the pass in the Wadi Suweinit – a broad place in the canyon where passage is easy. You can see the Wadi Suweinit in the lower mid section of the picture, what was referred to as “the pass.

BETHLEHEM in 1800s.

I SAMUEL 16:1, 4,13 ~ Fill your horn [to anoint someone priest or king] with oil and go to
Bethlehem. I am sending you to a man named Jesse. Jesse lives in Bethlehem. I have chosen one of his sons to be the new king”….Samuel did what the Lord told him to do. Samuel went to Bethlehem….Samuel took the horn with the [ceremonial] oil in it, and poured the special oil on Jesse’s youngest son in front of his brothers. The Lord’s Spirit came on David with great power from that day on..

Painting of BETHLEHEM 1882

The first historical reference to Bethlehem appears in the Amarna Letters (c. 1400 BC) when the King of Jerusalem appeals to his overlord, the King of Egypt, for help in retaking “Bit-Lahmi” in the wake of disturbances by the Apiru [Hebrews].  

Bethlehem was first settled by the Canaanite tribes, naming the city Beit Lahama. They built a temple to the God Lahama on the present mount of the Nativity. Around 1200 BCE, the Philistines had a garrison stationed in Bethlehem because of its strategic location.

I SAMUEL 17:1-3 ~ The Philistines gathered their armies together for war. They met at Socoh in Judah. Their camp was between Socoh and Azekah, at a town called Ephes Dammim.  Saul and the Israelite soldiers also gathered together. Their camp was in the Valley of Elah. Saul’s soldiers were lined up and ready to fight the Philistines. The Philistines were on one hill. The Israelites were on the other hill. And the valley was between them.

SOCOH and tel 
AZEKAH in the 
Elah Valley

Aerial of Socoh in Elah Valley.  In the distance (just right of wing brace at top) you can see tel Azekah. (Photo by Leon Mauldin).  Elah Valley is also called Wadi es-Sat.  It is 17 miles southwest of modern Jerusalem.

The picture under the Elah Valley is what is believed to be the remains of the “Philistia Gate” into  Ephes Dammim.  Azekah can be seen in the distance. The Valley of Elah is to the left. This depicts the two hills with the valley between.
EPHES DAMMIM

1 Sam. 22: 1-2; David ran away to the cave of Adullam. David’s brothers and relatives heard that David was at Adullam. They went to see David there. Many people joined David.  All those kinds of people joined David, and David became their leader. David had about 400 men with him.

Adullam is a region of Israel near the Valley of Elah, west of Gush Etzion. The villages of Aderet, Neve Michael/Roglit, and Aviezer are located here.

The site at Aid-el-ma (Hurvat Adulam), about 4 km south of the Valley of Elah, and about 20 miles west from Bethlehem, is commonly accepted as the place David hid. At this place is a hill some 140 m high pierced with numerous caverns, some of them large enough to hold 200 or 300 men.

Caves of ADUL-LAM

I SAMUEL 23:1 ~ People told David, “Look, the Philistines are fighting against the city of Keilah. They are robbing grain from the threshing floors.”

Keilah has been Identified as Khirbet Qila, six miles east of modern Beit Guvrin, 18 miles southwest of Jerusalem, three miles south of Adullam.  Today, it is a Palestinian village located twelve kilometers north-west of Hebron

Amarna Tablet

One of the Amarna tablets originates from Keilah and reads as follows:

“To the king, my Lord, my God and Sun, thus speaks Shuwardata, your servant, the dust under your feet. At the feet of my Lord, the king, my God and Sun, I have prostrated myself seven times seven times . The king, my Lord, has sent me to do battle with Keilah. After the fighting there is peace. My city has been preserved for me. Why has Abdu-Heba [ruler of Hebrews] asked of the people of Keilah to accept silver and stand behind him? The king, my Lord, ought to know, that Abdu-Heba [ruler of Hebrews] has conquered my city. Moreover, may the king, my Lord, examine me. If I have taken one man, one ox or one ass from him, then he is in the right. Moreover, Labayu [ruler of Shechem] who conquered our cities has died and Abdu-Heba [ruler of Hebrews] is a second Labayu taking our cities. May the king judge his servant according to his deeds. He will do nothing until the
king conveys his will to his servant.”

Wilderness of Ziph

I SAMUEL 23:14-15  ~ David also went to the hill country in the Desert of Ziph. Every day Saul looked for David, but the Lord didn’t let Saul catch him. David was at Horesh in the Desert of Ziph. He was afraid, because Saul was coming to kill him.

The desert of Ziph is below Hebron.  See more about the wildernesses/deserts of Judea below under Maon.

Wilderness of Maon.

I SAMUEL 23:25-26 ~ David then went down to “The Rock” in the Desert of Maon. Saul heard that David had gone to the Desert of Maon. So Saul went to that place to find David.  Saul was on one side of the mountain. David and his men were on the other side of the same mountain. David was hurrying to get away from Saul. Saul and his soldiers were going around the mountain to capture David and his men.

The desert of Maon is below Hebron.

Because of its lack of water and good routes, the Judean wilderness has been (mostly) uninhabited throughout history. Consequently it was an ideal place for those seeking refuge from enemies or retreat from the world.

Wilderness of En Gedi by the Dead Sea

I SAMUEL 23:29; 24:1-3, 24 ~ David left the Desert of Maon and went to the fortresses near En Gedi.…After Saul had chased the Philistines away, people told Saul, “David is in the desert area near En Gedi.” So Saul chose 3,000 men from all over Israel. Saul took these men and began looking for David and his men. They looked near Wild Goat Rocks. Saul came to the sheep pens beside the road. There was a cave near there. Saul went into the cave to relieve himself. David and his men were hiding far back in the cave….David and his men went up to the fort.

En-Gedi was at first called Hazezon-tamar, a city of the Amorites. It is the modern ‘Ain Jidy.


It is 16 miles straight east from Ziph and is ten miles from the fortress Mesada.. En Gedi  has the largest oasis along the western shore of the Dead Sea.  A beautiful waterfall flows out of the rocks at one point, thus creating the oasis.  
Caves of En Gedi

En Gedi means literally “the spring of the kid (goat).”  Evidence exists that young ibex have always lived near the springs of En Gedi.  One time when David was fleeing from King Saul, the pursuers searched the “Crags of the Ibex” in the vicinity of En Gedi.  Goats still graze in parts of En Gedi oasis.

Waterfall out of Rock at En Gedi

I SAMUEL 27:1-2, 6; 30:1 ~ But David thought to himself, “Saul will catch me some day. The best thing I can do is to escape to the land of the Philistines”….So David and his 600 men left Israel. They went to Achish son of Maoch. Achish was king of Gath….That day Achish gave David the town of Ziklag. And Ziklag has belonged to the kings of Judah ever since….On the third day, David and his men arrived at Ziklag. They saw that the Amalekites had attacked Ziklag. The Amalekites invaded the Negev area. They attacked Ziklag and burned the city.

 

Tell Sera (Tell esh-Sharia), is identified as Ziklag. The site is situated midway between Beersheba and Gaza at 535 ft (168 m) above sea level. About five acres at the summit, the tell is horseshoe shaped with steep slopes on all sides except on the west side. Six seasons of excavations by Eliezer Oren uncovered remains from the Chalcolithic period and forward.

(See Joshua above for verifications of Gath.)

I SAMUEL 28:4; 29:1; 31:1  ~ The Philistines prepared for war. They came to Shunem and made their camp at that place….The Philistines gathered all their soldiers at Aphek. The Israelites camped by the spring at Jezreel.…31The Philistines fought against Israel, and the Israelites ran away from the Philistines. Many Israelites were killed at Mount Gilboa.

Village of SHUNEM in 1900

(See the beginning of this section ~ Samuel ~ for verifications of Aphek.)

The Plain of Esdraelon which was united with the Jordan valley with the maritime plain, along the Mediterran​ean, and separated from the mountain ranges of Carmel and Samaria from those of Galilee. Its western portion was known as the Plain of Megiddo, while its eastern slope was called the Vale of Jezreel.  On the east is Endor, Nain and Shunem, ranged around the base of the “hill of Moreh with Beth Shean in the center of the plain here the Valley of Jezreel opens toward Jordan

Shunem has been Identified with modern Solem or Sulem at the eastern foot of “Little Hermon”.

JEZREEL Valley as seen from
MT. GILBOA

Jezreel is a large fertile plain and inland valley south of the Lower Galilee region in Israel. The Samarian highlands and Mount Gilboa, border the valley from the south and the northern outskirts of the West Bank cities of Jenin and Tulkarm have spread into the southern part of the valley. To the west is the Mount Carmel range, and to the east is the Jordan Valley.

I SAMUEL 31:8-10 ~ The next day,  the Philistines went back to take things from the dead bodies. They found Saul and his three sons dead on Mount Gilboa. The Philistines cut off Saul’s head and took all his armor. They carried the news to the Philistine people and to all the temples of their idols. They put Saul’s armor in the temple of Ashtoreth. The Philistines also hung Saul’s body on the wall of Beth Shan.

(I CHRONICLES 10:10 ~ The Philistines put Saul’s armor in the temple of their false gods. They hung Saul’s head in the temple of Dagon.)

Image result for dagon
Dagon, the sea god
Bethshan is just east of Mt.Gilboa. Archaeologists from the University Museum of Pennsylvania excavated Beth Shan and found ruins of a temple to Ashtaroth and another temple of Dagon dated around 1000 BC, the exact time that Saul’s body and head were put on display in those very temples.
Beth Shan became an important Canaanite site in the Early and Middle Bronze Ages (3300-1500 B.C.), but came under the domination of Egypt’s 18th dynasty in the Late Bronze Age. The name Beth shean (or -shan) is mentioned in the Egyptian texts of Thutmose III (1468 B.C.), the Amarna letters (1350 B.C.), Seti I (1300 B.C.), Ramses II (1280 B.C.) and Shishak (925 B.C.)
Excavation of  BETH SHAN

Pictured is the Basalt stele of Seti I, mentioning his victory over cities and tribes in the Beth Shan region. It was found at Beth Shan by University Museum expedition.

2nd SAMUEL 2:10-1    Ish Bosheth was Saul’s son. Ish Bosheth was 40 years old when he began to rule over Israel. He ruled two years. But the family group of Judah followed David. David was king in Hebron. David ruled over the family group of Judah for seven years and six months….the officers of David also went to Gibeon.…They met Abner and Ish Bosheth’s officers at the pool of Gibeon. Abner’s group sat on one side of the pool. Joab’s group sat on the other side of the pool.

Pool of Gibeon

The Pool of Gibeon is dated to about the 11th or 12th century BC.  It is 37 feet a across and 82 feet deep.  It is carved from solid rock and is accessed by a circular staircase of 79 stone dsteps.  At the bottom is a 167-foot tunnel leading to the cistern that was fed by a spring outside of the city’s walls, in the eastern slope of the hill.

II SAMUEL 5:11 ~ Hiram king of Tyre sent messengers to David. Hiram also sent cedar trees, carpenters and stonemasons. They built a house for David.   

King Hiram’s Tomb

During the 1st millennium BC Tyre experienced its golden age, especially during the reign of Hiram (Ahiram), King of Tyre. Hiram was the first to join this island city to the mainland by filling in the ocean, something he also did along to coast to expand the area of the city itself. Hiram is responsible for a number of other improvements to the city, including cisterns for collecting rain water, enclosing part of the sea to create a stable port and shipyard, as well as a large palace and important temples. Phoenician traders began to seriously expand their range, giving Tyre the nickname “Queen of the Seas”.

Remains of Tyre in today’s Lebanon

II SAMUEL 5:18, 22; 23:18 ~ The Philistines came and camped in the Rephaim Valley….Again the Philistines came and camped in Rephaim Valley.

Valley of Rephaim descends southwest from Jerusalem to the Valley of Elah below.  It is an ancient route from the coastal plain to the Judean Hills, probably named after the legendary race of giants.

Jerusalem the City on a Hill ran down to the Valley of Ben Hinnom along the southern slope of the Jebusite city (that is, Jerusalem)​. At the west end of the Hinnom Valley was a hill over which began the Valley of Rephaim.   It extends several miles southwest from Jerusalem, then contracts into a narrow passage leading toward the Mediterranean.

Valley of Rephaim looking toward Jerusalem

II SAMUEL 17:11; 24:2 ~ You must gather all the Israelites together from Dan to Beersheba….King David said to Joab, the captain of the army, “Go through all the family groups of Israel from Dan to Beersheba, and count the people. Then I will know how many people there are.”

Archaeologist, Avraham Biran, who has excavated Tel Dan in the north of Israel at the foot of Mount Hermon, discovered a broken fragment of basalt stone being used as a building block in a wall. It turned out to be a stone erected to pay tribute to a Syrian king, and a record of his victories over Israel.

Tel Dan Stele referring to defeating
“the house of DAVID”

The stone mentions Kind David’s dynasty, “the House of David”

The Tel Dan Stele was erected by an Aramaic king in the mid-9th century BC. Ancient Aram was to the northeast of Israel, in present day Syria. The inscription on the basalt stele, written in Old Aramaic, describes his accession to the throne and his victory over the King of Israel and over “the House of David.” The stele was broken in antiquity; only three fragments have been discovered to date, preserving about 13 lines of text. The writing on the stones is dated through paleography to the mid-9th century BC.