Pagan temple found just outside Jerusalem

An ancient pagan temple was found just three miles from Jerusalem.  It dates from the time that the Biblical Temple to the true God was in operation.  The discovery shows what the Prophets were railing against, God’s people turning to idols.  Solomon built the Temple in accord with God’s commands, but he then built temples to other deities to please his pagan wives.  I wonder if this is one of them.  From the Jerusalem Post:

Archeologists uncovered rare remains of ritual objects and a 3,000-year-old temple while conducting excavations ahead of the renovation of the Tel Aviv-Jerusalem highway, the Antiquities Authority announced on Wednesday.

A major expansion of the highway, in the section from Sha’ar Hagai to Jerusalem, has revealed many important archeological finds at Tel Motza, west of the capital, including Neolithic Era ruins and an enormous underground water reservoir from the Crusader Period at the Motza Stream.

A First Temple-period discovery announced on Wednesday was a large structure with massive walls and an east-facing entrance, believed to be a temple.

The entrance is aligned with the sun’s rays to illuminate the ritual object placed within the temple, “symbolizing the divine presence within,” according to archeologist Anna Eirikh. Eirikh, Dr. Hamoudi Khalaily and Shua Kisilevitz are directing the excavation for the Antiquities Authority.

Inside the building, archeologists discovered a square structure, most likely an altar, and a cache of sacred vessels nearby. The ritual objects include decorated pedestals, pottery vessels, fragments of chalices, and clay figures of humans and domesticated animals, all of which they believe were used for religious or spiritual ceremonies.

“The finds recently discovered at Tel Motza provide rare archeological evidence for the existence of temples and ritual enclosures in the Kingdom of Judah in general… prior to the religious reforms throughout the kingdom,” Eirikh said.

via Archeologists dig up 3,000-year-old temp… JPost – National News.

Here are some of the graven images found at the site.  This may be a rendition of what ancient Israelites looked like:

Figurines

One of the horses Solomon traded in that got him into trouble (Deuteronomy 17:16-17; 2 Chronicles 1:16)?

It should perhaps reassure Christians battling false religions, bad theology, and syncretism even within the church that this is nothing new, but that it was a constant problem even in the Biblical era.

About Gene Veith

Professor of Literature at Patrick Henry College, the Director of the Cranach Institute at Concordia Theological Seminary, a columnist for World Magazine and TableTalk, and the author of 18 books on different facets of Christianity & Culture.

  • SKPeterson

    This will probably be taken by many “biblical historians” as “proof” that monotheistic Judaism is a late cultural and socio-political invention designed with the express purpose of creating a cohesive, unitary state structure to perpetuate the monarchy of Judah, etc., etc. Thus, Judaism and monotheism emerge as part of a national identity movement that eventually drives out the native pagan religion of the people and replaces it with a religious structure conducive to the hierarchical machinations of a dynastic elite. As a result, Samuel, Kings and Chronicles should not be taken at face value, but rather need to be read in the context of early Judaic myths supporting state formation and the resulting suppression of dissident cultural and religious practices that would counter that development.

  • SKPeterson

    This will probably be taken by many “biblical historians” as “proof” that monotheistic Judaism is a late cultural and socio-political invention designed with the express purpose of creating a cohesive, unitary state structure to perpetuate the monarchy of Judah, etc., etc. Thus, Judaism and monotheism emerge as part of a national identity movement that eventually drives out the native pagan religion of the people and replaces it with a religious structure conducive to the hierarchical machinations of a dynastic elite. As a result, Samuel, Kings and Chronicles should not be taken at face value, but rather need to be read in the context of early Judaic myths supporting state formation and the resulting suppression of dissident cultural and religious practices that would counter that development.

  • Hanni

    We owe a lot to professional archaeologists, I can only imagine their passion, and their total excitement at this find.

  • Hanni

    We owe a lot to professional archaeologists, I can only imagine their passion, and their total excitement at this find.

  • kerner

    Dr. Veith: “ This may be a rendition of what ancient Israelites looked like…

    Sooooo….. The ancient Israelites looked like Marty Feldman?

    http://www.blogcdn.com/news.bigdownload.com/media/2009/01/marty_feldman_ameri_186080m.jpg

  • kerner

    Dr. Veith: “ This may be a rendition of what ancient Israelites looked like…

    Sooooo….. The ancient Israelites looked like Marty Feldman?

    http://www.blogcdn.com/news.bigdownload.com/media/2009/01/marty_feldman_ameri_186080m.jpg

  • Micah Burke

    Wow, man… the Simpsons were on way too long.

  • Micah Burke

    Wow, man… the Simpsons were on way too long.

  • fjsteve

    It’s very interesting that people in Israel and the rest of the Middle East are not infrequently walking just feet above thousands of years of human (and biblical) history. It also adds another regrettable component to the constant wars leveling large swaths of land. I often thought about how those bunker busters could potentially be erasing some of this history forever.

  • fjsteve

    It’s very interesting that people in Israel and the rest of the Middle East are not infrequently walking just feet above thousands of years of human (and biblical) history. It also adds another regrettable component to the constant wars leveling large swaths of land. I often thought about how those bunker busters could potentially be erasing some of this history forever.

  • helen

    kerner @ 3

    More likely that Marty Feldman looks like the ancient Israelites?

  • helen

    kerner @ 3

    More likely that Marty Feldman looks like the ancient Israelites?

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