Palestine Excavations Confirm Bible Stories, Examination Shows

(Jewish Telegraphic Agency)

Archaeological finds which seem to confirm the Biblical descriptions of the town Beth Shean are reported here by the Pales tine expedition of the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Philadelphia which, under Alan Rowe, has now completed an examination of the material found at Beisan, the Beth Shean of the Bible.

The expedition discovered four Canaanite temples, two dating from the reign of the Pharoah Ramses II, one from that of his predecessor, and one from the Tel el Amarna period.

The evidence shows that the southern temple of the Pharoah Ramses II was dedicated to the warrior god Resheph, and the northern one to goddess Antit, or Ashtaroth, whose monument was discovered in the building.

Dr. Rowe’s investigations show that the building called the Temple of Dagon was the southern temple of Ramses II, and that that called the House of Ashtanoth and the house of their gods was the northern temple.

The Book of Chronicles clearly indicates the existence of two temples at Beth Shean during the Philistine occupation, and the fact that there were two is now proven by the excavations.

The walls of the temples of Seti and Ramses bear evidence of having been built by Cretan (Minoan) mercenaries, who left signs on the bricks, characteristic cylindrical cult objects and ring flower stands. These indicate the presence of Cretan mercenaries in the Egyptian army at an earlier time than was previously supposed.

A report of the results of the excavations carried on at Kiryath Sepher, the town mentioned in Joshua and known to the Palestine Arabs as Tell Beit Mirsam, 13 miles southwest of Hebron, was brought by Professor Melvin G. Kyle, President of the Xenia Theological Seminary, St. Louis, who returned Sunday on the Holland-America liner Volendam from Palestine.

The excavations, which were carried on at a cost of not more than $2,500, revealed ruins which tell a complete and continuous history of the Canaanitish town from 2000 to 600 before the Christian era, confirming the historical narrations of the Bible.

z”Kiryath-Sepher was burned down five times between its foundation in 2000 B.C. and its final destruction. The layers of ashes were found with five to six feet of debris between them, which marked the times the city was fired. The first was in 1800 B.C., by whom is not known; the second was in 1300 B.C., by Othniel, in the time of Joshua, and the third, fifty years later, but it is uncertain by whom it was fired. The fourth burning of the city occurred in 900 B.C., by Shishak, in the time of Jeroboam, and the fifth by Nebuchadnezzer in 600 B.C.,” Professor Kyle declared.

“The only ashes you could find of the last destruction of the city by fire were at the East Gate, because the heavy rains of the intervening centuries had washed them away.

“We could find only two streets, and they were not more than three to four feet wide. The majority of the houses led from one into the other. The two wells mentioned in Joshua, the upper and the lower, were intact.

“We drew water from the lower spring for drinking purposes all the time the excavation work was in progress. It was interesting to discover that the hard stone curb which goes around the wells in Palestine had been renewed six times, which meant at least two centuries for each curb. The bucket rope wears a groove in the stone three to four inches deep and the dirt is tracked in by the drawers of the water until it becomes level with the top of the curb. A new stone therefore has to be sent in around the well to prevent the dirt from falling into the water below.

“There were fully two dozen grooves cut into the stone at each curb by the multitudes of Canaanites and Israelites who had used the wells in all those years.”

Dr. Kyle said that Kiryath Sepher was built on top of a hill, 700 feet high on the north side and sloping down toward the south side. For that reason the walls, which were from forty to forty-five feet high, were fifteen feet in thickness on the south and ten feet on the north side, where there was less danger of the city being besieged. The base of the wall, he said, was protected by a revetment fifteen feet deep at the level of the ground and tapering off as it ascended. The revetment, Dr. Kyle said, had been constructed with engineering skill, and consisted of beaten clay covered with two feet of rough stones so well set together that it took four of their native workmen two hours to pry one of them loose. The east gate was found in a good state of preservation, Dr. Kyle said, and the zig-zag narrow passages to conceal the entrance to the city, were found and cleared of debris. The west gate, he said, was destroyed when Kiryath Sepher was burned and sacked by Nebuchadnezzar.

Dr. Kyle said that no attempt had been made to rebuild the city since 600 before the Christian era, but, he said, “there was a Byzantine colony there in A.D. 600, and a small temple was erected in the valley a short distance away from the hill on which the ruins of the old city remained.”

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