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