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Index To Archaeology And The Bible

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The Pool Of Gibeon

“But when the inhabitants of Gibeon heard what Joshua did to Jericho and to AI, they worked craftily, and went, and pretended to be ambassadors. And they took old sacks on their donkeys, old wine skins torn and mended…” Joshua 9:3-4

“And Joab, the son of Zeruiah, and the servants of David, went out and meet them by the pool of Gibeon. So they sat down, one on one side of the pool, and the other on the other side of the pool.” 2 Samuel 2:13

“And each one grasped his opponent by the head and thrust his sword in his opponents side; so they fell down together. Therefore that place was called the Field of Sharp Swords, which is in Gibeon. So there was a very fierce battle that day…” 2 Samuel 2:16-17

In 1956, American excavations brought to light not only traces of the walls of the town of Gibeah, which is so frequently mentioned in the Bible, but also uncovered the scene of a bloody encounter in those days. Beneath the field of tomatoes in el-Jib, as the place is now called, Professor J.B. Pritchard of Columbia University discovered the Pool of Gibeon. He found a circular shaft, over thirty feet in diameter and thirty feet deep, driven vertically into bedrock. A spiral path led down a ramp cut into the inside wall. Below that a winding staircase, with two openings for light and air, descended for a further forty-five feet to the reservoir itself. When the rubble was cleared away, the great cistern began to fill slowly with water from the fissures in the rock as it had done three thousand years ago.

“…that they feared greatly, because Gibeon was a great city, like one of the royal cities…” Joshua 10:2

Valuable evidence as to the celebrated wealth of the place was collected by the American scholars from the rubble of the vast cistern. It was now clear that Gibeon’s prosperity was a flourishing and well-organized wine trade. Sixty handles belonging to clay wine pitchers along with appropriate clay stoppers and fillers were stamped in ancient Hebrew characters with the firm’s trademarks. Among them were vintners with genuine Biblical names.

Near the reservoir further diggings in 1959 and 1960 led to the discovery of extensive wine cellars. Sixty-six almost circular cavities about six feet deep and six feet in diameter had been carved out of the rock and sealed with round stone bungs. It was obvious that some of these cellars had been used as wine presses for trampling out grapes and others could be identified as fermentation vats. The total storage capacity so far discovered approaches 50,000 gallons.

Joshua’s Knives

At a ripe old age Joshua died and was buried ‘in Timnath-Serah which is in mount Ephraim, on the north side of the hill of Gaash’ Joshua 24:30. However the Greek text (LXX 24:306) adds a very significant remark: ‘There they put with him into the tomb in which they buried him, the knives of stone with which he cirumcised the children of Israel in Gilgal’. the Bible says.. ‘Now all the people that came out were circumcised: but all the people that were born in the wilderness by the way as they came forthout of Egypt, them they had not circumcised’. (Joshua 5:5).

Ten miles north-west of Bethel lies Kefr Ishu’a, the ‘Village of Joshua’. In the neighbouring hillside there are some rock tombs. In 1870 a number of stone knives were found in one of these sepulchres.

The Way of The Water Shaft (Gihon)

Now David said on that day, “Whosoever climbs up by way of the water shaft and defeats the Jebusites (the lamb and the blind, who are hated by David’s soul), he shall be as chief and captain.” 2 Samuel 5:8.

In 1867 Captain Warren, a British army captain, visited “The Fountain of the Virgin Mary” called Gihon in the Old Testament. Located on the east side of Jerusalem towards the Kidron Valley, it has been always been the main water supply for the inhabitants of Jerusalem. Thirty steps lead down to a little basin in which the pure water from the heart of the rock is gathered.

Warren noticed a dark cavity in the roof, which nobody could tell him anything about. Equipped with a ladder and a rope, he went back the next day and discovered that behind the spring a narrow shaft lead off horizontally and then straight up. After about forty feet the shaft came to an end. Feeling his way, Warren found a narrow passage and crawled down it. After some time he saw a glimmer of light and reached a vaulted chamber which contained nothing but old jars and bottles. Forcing himself through a gap in the rock, he found himself in the middle of the city, with the Fountain Of The Virgin Mary far below him.

Closer investigation in 1918 showed that this tunnel dated from the second millennium B.C. The inhabitants of Old Jerusalem had cut a corridor through the rock so that in times of siege they could reach, in safety, the spring that meant life or death to them.

David’s scouts must have known about this secret passage. The Hebrew word ‘Sinnor’ means shaft or channel. However, the opening of the shaft lay outside the walls, which in that day was thought to be those of old Jebusite Jerusalem. However in the 1960’s, Kathleen Kenyon discovered a much older wall dated from before David’s day, which ran along the slope below the entrance to the spring.

Archaeology And The Bible