Archaeologists in Israel have discovered a stone tablet that somewhat resembles a description in the Old Testament that played a role in the story of the Ark of the Covenant, an Israeli newspaper has reported.
A 3,100-year-old temple uncovered near Jerusalem in the ancient settlement of Beth Shemesh has been under excavation since 2012 and workers at the site recently found a stone tablet that might be linked to the Ark of the Covenant.
The Ark of the Covenant is a gold chest believed to have carried the stone tablets engraved with the Ten Commandments received by Moses from God on Mount Sinai.
Tel Aviv University archaeologist Zvi Lederman, who is leading the Beth Shemesh dig alongside his colleague Shlomo Bunimovitz from Tel Aviv University, told Haaretz the find could align with the biblical narrative.
The structure being excavated dates back to the 12th century B.C. and is a perfect square over 9 yards (8.5 meters) long.
“There is a lot of evidence that this was indeed a temple,” Bunimovitz told Haaretz. “When you look at the structure and its content, it’s very clear that this [is] not a standard domestic space but something special.”
The archaeologists believe the building was destroyed in the mid-12th century B.C. and converted into an animal pen. The archaeologists also discovered that the building was covered in ancient animal feces.
“To me, this is an act of hostility, an intentional desecration of a holy place,” Lederman was quoted as saying.
Lederman suggested that the Philistines could have been responsible for destroying the temple as their closest settlement was just over 7.6 yards (7 kilometers) away. Evidence also suggests that Beth Shemesh was a border town that was conquered, destroyed and rebuilt multiple times.
Inside the temple structure archaeologists found a stone tablet resting horizontally on two smaller rocks.
“At the beginning, we thought it was a massebah that had fallen over,” Lederman told Haaretz. “But soon we realized that it was meant to be a table.”
Lederman further explained that the object fit the profile of a “large stone” described in the Old Testament’s book of 1 Samuel where the Ark of the Covenant rested when it was brought to Beth Shemesh after being recovered from the Philistines who captured the ark in battle.
The passage from 1 Samuel 6:13-15 states that the people of Beth Shemesh were reaping their harvest in the valley when they saw the ark being carted back and rejoiced.
“Then the cart came into the field of Joshua of Beth Shemesh, and stood there; a large stone was there,” the biblical passage reads. “So they split the wood of the cart and offered the cows as a burnt offering to the Lord. The Levites took down the ark of the Lord and the chest that was with it, in which were the articles of gold, and put them on the large stone.”
The biblical account goes on to explain how God struck down residents of the town who looked inside the ark. The ark was then taken to Kiriath Yearim for 20 years before it was taken by King David to Jerusalem.
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SOURCE: Christian Post, Samuel Smith