Archaeology Team from New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary Finds More Canaanite Evidence

New Orleans Seminary’s archaeology team built a 130-foot plywood ramp to protect the ancient steps of the Gezer water system at the dig site in Israel where they have worked the past six years. Photo by Gary D. Myers
New Orleans Seminary’s archaeology team built a 130-foot plywood ramp to protect the ancient steps of the Gezer water system at the dig site in Israel where they have worked the past six years. Photo by Gary D. Myers

Added evidence that an ancient water system at Tel Gezer in Israel could be the product of Middle Bronze Age Canaanites living between the time of Abraham and the Israelite conquest was uncovered by New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary’s archaeology team during a challenging dig season this summer.

The Bible provides a tantalizing parallel to the Gezer system in the accounts of King David. In 2 Samuel 5:6-9, David’s men utilized a “water shaft” to invade and conquer the fortress of Zion/Jerusalem. This rock-hewn system has been located in Jerusalem’s “City of David” area. Visitors can walk the entire length of that Canaanite system.

Based on all the available data, Dan Warner, co-director of the NOBTS Gezer dig, believes the City of David tunnel and the Gezer system are both products of the Middle Bronze Age.

The Gezer water system excavation is a joint project of the Moskau Institute for Archaeology at NOBTS and the Israel Nature and Parks Authority (INPA). The dig is co-directed by Dan Warner, an NOBTS professor, and INPA chief archaeologist Tsvika Tsuk. Jim Parker, NOBTS professor and executive director of the Moskau Institute, and Dennis Cole, professor and chairman of the division of biblical studies, also provide leadership for the three-week dig season in May and June.

Warner estimates that the Canaanites likely built the water system during the height of Gezer’s prominence as a Canaanite city-state. Though this would place construction approximately 600-700 years before the Israelite conquest of Canaan, the water system can shed light on the Canaanite people and their culture — a culture which plays a formidable role in the Old Testament.

Canaanite Gezer is mentioned multiple times in the Israelite conquest narrative recorded in the Old Testament book of Joshua. The most notable mention occurs in Joshua 10:33. When Joshua and his men attacked Lachish, approximately 20 miles south of Gezer, the army of Gezer came to that city’s aid. The Israelites defeated Lachish and the army of Gezer, killing King Horam of Gezer.

Another important reference to Canaanite Gezer is connected to the Israelite failure to take the entire land that God had given them. In Joshua 16:10, the biblical author notes that the Israelites “did not dislodge the Canaanites living in Gezer.” And though the Israelites set aside Gezer as a “city of refuge,” the Bible indicates that the Canaanites controlled Gezer until the time of Solomon when they were finally defeated by an Egyptian pharaoh (1 Kings 9:15-17).

The Canaanites had experienced a time of cultural decline in the years before the conquest but were still a frightening foe with heavily fortified cities. The water system, along with the massive defensive walls and gate, illustrate an advanced society with great technical know-how, significant engineering skills and a desire to build things on a large scale, Warner said.

 

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SOURCE: Baptist Press
Gary D. Myers