King David Ruled Cities, Not Shepherds

Posted on April 24, 2012 in Bible and Theology, Intelligent Design

Ongoing archaeological finds from Khirbet Qeiyafa in ancient Judah now show conclusively that the site had fortified walls with gates, administrative buildings, bronze and iron objects, and artifacts suggesting extensive trade with foreign powers.  These discoveries cast doubt on the “minimalist” chronology of some liberal scholars who claim that King David, even if he existed, was a tribal chief over pastoralists.

Todd Bolen at Bible Places Blog has summarized the major finds.  The full report on the Israeli Antiquities Authority website by Yossi Garfinkel et al. tells how the goal of the 4th and 5th excavation seasons last year was to identify Iron Age IIA features of the fortress city south of Jerusalem that has been radiometrically dated to the late 11th and early 10th centuries BC – the time of David and Solomon.

Khirbet Qeiyafa received international press in 2008 with the discovery of a pottery inscription from that period (11/16/2008, 1/07/2010).  Although the new report does not mention inscriptions, the findings are suggestive of a complex civilization during the time of David:

The lower stratum, from Iron Age IIA, dates to the late eleventh–early tenth centuries BCE. The remains of this settlement, uncovered to date, included two gates, two gate plazas, twenty-eight casemates (twenty complete), ten residential buildings and remains of administrative buildings at the top of the site. Large quantities of artifacts were discovered on the floors of the houses in each area, including hundreds of pottery vessels that can be restored, hundreds of stone objects, dozens of metallic objects and small finds. It is obvious that this stratum was suddenly destroyed. Much evidence was found of ritual activity, including mazzevot, a cultic chamber, models of temples (two of ceramic and one of stone) and a figurine.

The Iron Age city had impressive architectural and material finds:
1. A town plan characteristic of the Kingdom of Judah that is also known from other sites, e.g., Bet Shemesh, Tell en-Nasbeh, Tell Beit Mirsim and Be’er Sheva‘. A casemate wall was built at all of these sites and the city’s houses next to it incorporated the casemates as one of the dwelling’s rooms. This model is not known from any Canaanite, Philistine or Kingdom of Israel site.
2. Massive fortification of the site, including the use of stones that weigh up to eight tons apiece.
3. Two gates. To date, no Iron Age cities with two gates were found in either Israel or Judah.
4. An open space for a gate plaza was left near each gate. In Area C an area was left open parallel to three casemates and in Area D, the area was parallel to four casemates.
5. The city’s houses were contiguous and built very close together.
6. Some 500 jar handles bearing a single finger print, or sometimes two or three, were found. Marking jar handles is characteristic of the Kingdom of Judah and it seems this practice has already begun in the early Iron Age IIA.
7. A profusion of bronze and iron objects were found. The iron objects included three swords, about twenty daggers, arrowheads and two spearheads. The bronze items included an axe, arrowheads, rings and a small bowl.
8. Trade and imported objects. Ashdod ware, which was imported from the coastal plain, was found at the site. Basalt vessels were brought from a distance of more than 100 km and clay juglets from Cyprus and two alabaster vessels from Egypt were discovered.

It should be noted that Khirbet Qeiyafa was a relatively small outlying fortress in Judah.  The conclusion of the excavators is that the minimalist chronology has been falsified in light of this evidence:  “The excavations at Khirbat Qeiyafa clearly reveal an urban society that existed in Judah already in the late eleventh century BCE. It can no longer be argued that the Kingdom of Judah developed only in the late eighth century BCE or at some other later date.

Incidentally, the fortress is within eyesight of the Elah valley, the location of the battle of David and Goliath.

Update 5/08/2012:  The discovery of cultic objects at K. Qeiyafa was announced today in a press release from the Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs.  A couple of shrines display miniatures of sophisticated architectural elements reminiscent of Greek temples that appeared centuries later:

The findings at Khirbet Qeiyafa also indicate that an elaborate architectural style had developed as early as the time of King David. Such construction is typical of royal activities, thus indicating that state formation, the establishment of an elite, social level and urbanism in the region existed in the days of the early kings of Israel. These finds strengthen the historicity of the biblical tradition and its architectural description of the Palace and Temple of Solomon.

Be sure to read Todd Bolen’s entry at BiblePlaces.com on the Biblical significance of these objects.

Aren’t you glad you waited?  When you heard that King David couldn’t have ruled real cities if even lived, aren’t you vindicated for suspending judgment till the facts were in?  Minimize the minimalists; maximize the seekers for facts about artifacts – which usually affirm the Biblical historical record and embarrass the skeptics.

Don’t forget that archaeology is an intelligent design science.  A great deal can be inferred about the intelligence and purpose of the creators of these artifacts, even though we have never met the designers, don’t know their names, and cannot describe everything that brought their work into existence.  This goes to show that intelligent design is a working scientific principle and method in the sciences.  If the same methods are used to infer intelligent causes in other phenomena, such as genetic software and fine-tuning of the laws of physics, then so be it.

The findings at Khirbet Qeiyafa also indicate that an elaborate architectural style had developed as early as the time of King David. Such construction is typical of royal activities, thus indicating that state formation, the establishment of an elite, social level and urbanism in the region existed in the days of the early kings of Israel. These finds strengthen the historicity of the biblical tradition and its architectural description of the Palace and Temple of Solomon.

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Saturday Shorts – 4-28-12 | Designs on the Truth April 24, 2012

[…] ~ Pretty amazing – in a country where the penalty for apostasy is frequently death.   King David Ruled Cities, Not Shepherds ~ Archaeological findings continue to refute liberal Bible scholars’ interpretations; in this […]

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