David’s Fortress At Khirbet Qeiyafa And Shoshenq’s Invasion -- By: Clyde E. Billington

Journal: Bible and Spade (Second Run)
Volume: BSPADE 28:3 (Summer 2015)
Article: David’s Fortress At Khirbet Qeiyafa And Shoshenq’s Invasion
Author: Clyde E. Billington


David’s Fortress At Khirbet Qeiyafa And Shoshenq’s Invasion

Clyde E. Billington

and

Bretta Grabau

Introduction

In 2008, Professor Yossi Garfinkel of the Hebrew University in Jerusalem excavated an ostracon (a piece of broken pottery with an inscription) at Khirbet Qeiyafa, southwest of Jerusalem, with the oldest Hebrew inscription ever discovered.1 The French epigrapher Emil Puech, of the Ecole Biblique et Archeologique Francaise in Jerusalem, has declared the written text on this ostracon to be Hebrew and dated it to ca. 1000 BC.2 Carbon-14 dating of burned olive pits from this same site by Oxford University scientists has yielded dates between 1020-980 BC.3

The ruins which Garfinkel excavated at Khirbet Qeiyafa are the remains of a large ancient fort that has been named the Elah Fortress. Garfinkel estimates that it took 100,000 tons of cut stone to build this massive fort; he also believes that King David built it.4 This article upholds Garfinkel’s contention that the Elah Fortress was a Jewish site which was almost certainly built by King David of the Old Testament.

The Elah fortress was apparently built only as a military post and lookout site, since there is no evidence that a large civilian population lived there during the period of the United Monarchy. It was almost unquestionably built to protect both Jerusalem and Hebron from attack by the Philistines. It also was apparently abandoned shortly after it was built, which suggests that David no longer needed it after he defeated the Philistines.

There is, however, a “rich destruction layer”5 at Khirbet Qeiyafa which has also been dated to the reign of King David. This is strange since there is no biblical evidence suggesting that David ever suffered a defeat at the hands of the Philistines, who were his only enemies south and west of Jerusalem. This article will argue that this destruction layer has been misdated by about 75 years, and it will also argue that this destruction layer was made by King Shoshenq I of Egypt (the biblical Shishak) when he captured the Elah Fortress on his way to attack Jerusalem in 925 BC.

Clara Amit, Israel Antiquities Authority

Infrared image of the ostracon discovered at Khirbet Qeiyafa in 2008, with a Hebrew ink inscription.

The Elah ...

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