Solomon’s Rebuilding of Gezer & Archaeology

Solomon’s Rebuilding of Gezer & Archaeology April 24, 2024

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1 Kings 9:15-17 (RSV) And this is the account of the forced labor which King Solomon levied to build the house of the LORD and his own house and the Millo and the wall of Jerusalem and Hazor and Megid’do and Gezer [16] (Pharaoh king of Egypt had gone up and captured Gezer and burnt it with fire, and had slain the Canaanites who dwelt in the city, and had given it as dowry to his daughter, Solomon’s wife; [17] so Solomon rebuilt Gezer) . . .

The article, “The chronology of Gezer from the end of the late bronze age to iron age II: A meeting point for radiocarbon, archaeology egyptology and the Bible” (Lyndelle C. Webster et al, Plos One, 15 November 2023) states about this:

During the timeframe of the debated ‘United Monarchy’, Gezer appears in several intriguing texts. 1 Kings 9:15–17 mentions Gezer’s capture, burning and presentation as a wedding gift by Solomon’s father-in-law–an unnamed Egyptian king; it then claims that Solomon proceeded to build up Gezer, along with Megiddo, Hazor and other towns. . . . For those who would see a historical capture of Gezer during the 10th century BC, Siamun of the 21st Dynasty [r. 986-967] has most often been suggested as the unnamed king [1720]. [Follow the footnotes for further documentation]

According to Encyclopaedia Britannica (“Solomon”), King Solomon flourished from c. 975 to c. 926. Thus, his reign and Pharaoh Siamun’s overlapped for eight years.

Stratum VIII and its six-chambered gate is the most interesting aspect of recent excavations, in relation to Solomon and his building campaigns, as mentioned in the Bible. Webster et al note:

The date and political association of monumental building activity in Stratum VIII, with its casemate wall, six-chambered gate and large administrative building. This marked change at Gezer was traditionally dated to the 10th century BC [4953555961], the gate initially featuring in chronological discussions due to Yadin’s association of six-chambered gates at Gezer, Hazor and Megiddo with 1 Kings 9:15 and Solomonic building activity [39]. . . . Following a low chronology for the Iron I to IIA transition, Finkelstein and others dated Stratum VIII to the 9th century BC and suggested associating it with the northern Israelite kingdom under the Omride dynasty [818588]. . . .

The construction of Stratum VIII (Tandy Stratum 8) likely occurred in the first part of the 10th century BC (Start 8: 998–957 BC, 68.3% hpd; 1023–942 BC, 95.4% hpd). The data and model–with constraints provided by overlying Stratum 7 –rule out a 9th century BC date for Stratum VIII (contra [818588]). The start of Stratum 8 provides an estimate for the Iron I to IIA material culture transition in this geographic area. The transition cannot be later than Stratum 8, since this horizon is unambiguously Iron IIA, however it could (at least in theory) be slightly earlier since the attribution of intermediate Stratum 9 may be Iron I or Iron IIA.

The two estimates of the time of the rebuilt Stratum VIII, therefore, overlap Solomon’s reign by 33 and 18 years, thus verifying the biblical account. Thirty-five radiocarbon dates were obtained from seven stratigraphic layers in the study, mostly from seeds: ranging from the 13th to 9th centuries BC.

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This is the 161st section of my free online book, The Word Set in Stone: “Volume Two”More Evidence of Archaeology, Science, and History Backing Up the Bible.

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Photo credit: The six-chambered gate at Gezer. Photo: Todd Bolen/BiblePlaces.com; posted in the article, “Top Ten Discoveries in Biblical Archaeology in 2023” (Bryan Windle, Bible Archaeology Report, 12-27-23).

Summary: Recent excavations of the ancient city of Gezer in Israel confirm the building activity during King Solomon’s reign: particularly the accurate account of 1 Kings 9:15-17.

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