Living Like A Judge: A House At Khirbet el-Maqatir From The Time Of The Judges -- By: Gary A. Byers

Journal: Bible and Spade (Second Run)
Volume: BSPADE 26:4 (Fall 2013)
Article: Living Like A Judge: A House At Khirbet el-Maqatir From The Time Of The Judges
Author: Gary A. Byers

Living Like A Judge: A House At Khirbet el-Maqatir From The Time Of The Judges

Gary A. Byers

In 1995, I submitted my thesis to Baltimore Hebrew University. Entitled “The Central Mountains of Iron Age 1A Palestine: A Pattern of Autonomy among Settlements, Houses and their Inhabitants,” my focus was on life during the 12th century BC (Iron Age 1).

I got interested in the topic because I wanted to know the people of the Bible better, and I figured studying their houses was a great way to get to know them. Getting to know people by observing what was sitting around their houses was a technique I had “perfected” as a pastor in Frederick, Maryland where I lived and served.

It might surprise some to know that my thesis conclusions back then, based on the most recent archaeological data at the time, have continued to be supported as additional evidence is uncovered every year in excavations. But of no surprise is how the archaeological evidence is totally consistent with the biblical record.

Unfortunately, all my research was done in the library because I had never excavated an Iron Age 1 (IA1) house from the time of the Judges. I still hadn’t—until this year (2013) at Khirbet el-Maqatir (KeM).

Michael Luddeni

This interior wall was still standing over 5 feet high under a pile of stones when excavated in 2011. Known as a fenestrated wall, it was a common feature of New Testament era houses, and was the first century AD counterpart to the 12th century BC interior pillared house walls. Both are generally understood to separate domestic stables from the rest of the house.

Khirbet el-Maqatir

This was our eleventh season of excavation at KeM, ten miles north of Jerusalem in the West Bank. Dig director Dr. Bryant Wood wanted me to excavate a pile of stone rubble at the northwest corner of the Late Bronze Age city wall of the Canaanite city of Ai, captured by Joshua about 1400 BC. Since my square sits between the 90’s excavation of two Israelite houses from the Judges period, we are certain this is what I have under my stone pile, too.

As frequently seen in the hills of Israel’s West Bank, farmers from the post-biblical world tended to clear grain fields by piling stones on top of still standing ruins. While they also took many of these stones to build their own houses, eventually these ancient ruins were completely covered over with small boulders and cobble stones. The same phenomenon was true of KeM’s first century house excavated in 2011 (Byers 2012).

While these stone piles are a bit difficult to excavate by hand, they are actually a blessin...

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