August 4, 2015 | David F. Coppedge

Massive Wall and Gate Found at Goliath's Hometown

Excavations at Gath confirm Biblical history in multiple ways.

Tell es-Safi, Biblical Gath of the Philistines, has yielded secrets buried beneath the dusts of time. Most recently, a large city wall and gate—one of the largest ever found in Israel—has shed light on the importance of this city to Philistine culture. PhysOrg lists some of the other finds that fit Bible accounts of the city that intersects its narrative from the times of Samson, David, Hazael and Uzziah.

Among the most significant findings to date at the site: Philistine Temples dating to the 11th through 9th century BCE, evidence of an earthquake in the 8th century BCE possibly connected to the earthquake mentioned in the Book of Amos I:1, the earliest decipherable Philistine inscription ever to be discovered, which contains two names similar to the name Goliath; a large assortment of objects of various types linked to Philistine culture; remains relating to the earliest siege system in the world, constructed by Hazael, King of Aram Damascus around 830 BCE, along with extensive evidence of the subsequent capture and destruction of the city by Hazael, as mentioned in Second Kings 12:18; evidence of the first Philistine settlement in Canaan (around 1200 BCE); different levels of the earlier Canaanite city of Gath; and remains of the Crusader castle “Blanche Garde” at which Richard the Lion-Hearted is known to have been.

The Ackerman Family Blog, a record of archaeologists’ findings in the dig, lists the interviews that project director Aren Maier had with reporters about the city gate discovery. A month ago, Chris McKinny gave an early tip about the wall and gate in the Bible Places Blog. He quoted two Bible verses that mention this very gate, one in the time of David, and one in the time of Uzziah.

The Bible is unique among “religious” literature in providing extensive details that can be cross-checked from other sources. It’s not a collection of ramblings by self-proclaimed holy men (usually by a single author). It’s not a collection of fables about events that have no other corroborating evidence. It’s about real people and real places we read about in other sources, through thousands of years of empires, from ancient Ur to the Romans. When it talks about the Philistines, Canaanites, Moabites, Ammonites, Egyptians, Hittites, Amorites, Jebusites, Edomites, Syrians, Assyrians, Babylonians, Greeks and Romans, it’s accurate. Cities are found as archaeology reveals them to be. Numerous individuals named in Biblical records are found outside the Bible, including Balaam, Goliath, Esh-Baal, Nebuchadnezzar, Hezekiah, Cyrus, Pilate, Claudius and even local officials like Gallio. What other “holy book” comes even close? What other “religious text” has 40 authors from different backgrounds and times spanning 1,500 years who agree on their theology?

Today’s elites present a false dichotomy of faith vs. science (example yesterday in Current Biology: Steven Pinker‘s glowing review of atheist-Darwin-defender Jerry Coyne’s new book, Faith vs. Fact: Why Science and Religion Are Incompatible). Actually, everybody exercises faith, and everybody is a supernaturalist who believes in miracles (we’ve pointed this out repeatedly). You have to exercise faith to do science: faith in induction, in logic, and in the human mind’s reliable access to external reality. You have to have faith that facts are facts. Logic is supernatural; it cannot evolve, and it is not made of matter. Believing that matter and life created itself is blind faith in the ultimate miracle.

“Faith” in the religious sense can be empirically grounded, while secular science can be dishonest (example). Proper faith follows the evidence where it leads, then takes a step beyond in the direction it points. That’s not really “faith” the way moderns use the word; it’s more like logic, wisdom, and trust. That’s why Christian apologists like Greg Koukl (Stand to Reason) doesn’t use the word “faith” in his conversations. He wants people to learn to trust the soundness of evidence and arguments, just like every mature thinker must learn to do, and to distrust fallacious or groundless claims. Archaeology has shown the Bible to be worthy of our trust.

 

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