Archeology Confirms Biblical Commandments in 10th Century at Khirbet Qeiyafa, Israel
by Rich Deem


Skeptics have claimed that Old Testament writers exaggerated or made up the existence of the Hebrew kingdoms described in the Old Testament, including kings David and Solomon. However, recent archeological evidence has shown that the written Hebrew language was in existence by the 10th century B.C. The archaeological site of Khirbet Qeiyafa is the location of a massively fortified city of megalithic stones 6-9 feet tall.1  In 2008, two city gates were discovered, which was very unusual for cities of that time (which usually had only one gate). This unusual characteristic clearly identified the city as being the biblical Sha‛ărayim, which has the meaning of "double gate."2 The city is mentioned three times in the Old Testament (Joshua 15:36, 1 Samuel 17:52 and 1 Chronicles 4:31).3 The existence of written Hebrew commandments at Khirbet Qeiyafa suggested that the peoples at the site were following the commands found in the Old Testament scriptures. Professor Yosef Garfinkel has now confirmed through archeological excavation that at least some of the Old Testament commandments were being followed at Khirbet Qeiyafa by the 10th century B.C. The city was violently destroyed in 980 B.C. (according to 14C dating).

Biblical commands

Located 30 km. southwest of Jerusalem in the valley of Elah, Khirbet Qeiyafa was a heavily fortified city at the time of King David. Numerous religious and other artifacts were recovered from the site, including several shrines, tools and pottery. However, the shrines were quite different from those of the surrounding Philistines and Canaanites, since no images of human beings or animals were associated with the site. According to the biblical commands, the Israelites were not to make or worship images of human beings or animals (Exodus 20:4, Leviticus 26:1, Deuteronomy 5:8, 4:15-18, 27:15, Romans 1:22-25).4 The religious objects at Khirbet Qeiyafa included five standing stones (Massebot), two basalt altars, two pottery libation vessels and two portable shrines.5 The other commandment that seems to have been followed at Khirbet Qeiyafa involved the eating of only "clean" animals (Leviticus 11:1-46). Although hundreds of bones were found at the site, none of them were from pigs (in contrast to surrounding sites), since those animals were not to be eaten according to the Old Testament laws.6 According to Garfinkel, "Over the years, thousands of animal bones were found, including sheep, goats and cattle, but no pigs."5

Conclusion Top of page

The archeological site at Khirbet Qeiyafa not only shows that the written Hebrew language was in existence by the 10th century B.C., but that the Old Testament laws were being practiced at that time. The finds blow apart the claims that Old Testament was not in existence until hundreds of years after King David lived. According to Professor Garfinkel, "Thus, various suggestions that completely deny the biblical tradition regarding King David and argue that he was a mythological figure, or just a leader of a small tribe, are now shown to be wrong."5 Once again, archeological evidence has been found to support claims found in the Old Testament books of the Bible.

References Top of page

  1. Yosef Garfinkel and Saar Ganor. 2008. Khirbet Qeiyafa: Sha`arayim. Journal of Hebrew Scriptures 8: Article 22.
  2. Brown-Driver-Briggs' Hebrew Definitions:
    sha‛ărayim שׁערים (Strong's H8189)
    Shaaraim = "double gate"
    1. a town in Judah
    2. a town in Simeon
    Part of Speech: noun proper locative
    A Related Word by BDB/Strong's Number: dual of H8179
  3. In the lowland: Eshtaol and Zorah and Ashnah, and Zanoah and En-gannim, Tappuah and Enam, Jarmuth and Adullam, Socoh and Azekah, and Shaaraim and Adithaim and Gederah and Gederothaim; fourteen cities with their villages. (Joshua 15:33-36)
    The men of Israel and Judah arose and shouted and pursued the Philistines as far as the valley, and to the gates of Ekron. And the slain Philistines lay along the way to Shaaraim, even to Gath and Ekron. (1 Samuel 17:52)
    They lived at Beersheba, Moladah and Hazar-shual, at Bilhah, Ezem, Tolad, Bethuel, Hormah, Ziklag, Beth-marcaboth, Hazar-susim, Beth-biri and Shaaraim. These were their cities until the reign of David. (1 Chronicles 4:28-31)
  4. The Israelites were commanded not to make and worship images of humans or animals:
    • "You shall not make for yourself an idol, or any likeness of what is in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the water under the earth." (Exodus 20:4)
    • 'You shall not make for yourselves idols, nor shall you set up for yourselves an image or a sacred pillar, nor shall you place a figured stone in your land to bow down to it; for I am the LORD your God.' (Leviticus 26:1)
    • 'You shall not make for yourself an idol, or any likeness of what is in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the water under the earth.' (Deuteronomy 5:8)
    • "So watch yourselves carefully, since you did not see any form on the day the LORD spoke to you at Horeb from the midst of the fire, so that you do not act corruptly and make a graven image for yourselves in the form of any figure, the likeness of male or female, the likeness of any animal that is on the earth, the likeness of any winged bird that flies in the sky, the likeness of anything that creeps on the ground, the likeness of any fish that is in the water below the earth." (Deuteronomy 4:15-18)
    • 'Cursed is the man who makes an idol or a molten image, an abomination to the LORD, the work of the hands of the craftsman, and sets it up in secret.' And all the people shall answer and say, 'Amen.' (Deuteronomy 27:15)
    • Professing to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the incorruptible God for an image in the form of corruptible man and of birds and four-footed animals and crawling creatures. Therefore God gave them over in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, so that their bodies would be dishonored among them. For they exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen. (Romans 1:22-25)
  5. Cultic shrines from time of King David. May 8, 2012. Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
  6. Pigs were not to be eaten:
    • and the pig, for though it divides the hoof, thus making a split hoof, it does not chew cud, it is unclean to you. 'You shall not eat of their flesh nor touch their carcasses; they are unclean to you. (Leviticus 11:7-8)
    • "The pig, because it divides the hoof but does not chew the cud, it is unclean for you. You shall not eat any of their flesh nor touch their carcasses. (Deuteronomy 14:8)
Last Modified June 1, 2012


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