2,700 YEAR-OLD ALTAR SHEDS LIGHT ON PASSAGE FROM 2 KINGS – Sermons and Biblical Studies


Josiah, King of Judah, “did that which was right in the sight of the Lord” (2 Kings 22:2). As part of his campaign to eliminate idolatry, he “defiled the high places [altars] where the priests had burned incense from Geba to Beersheba, and break down the high places [altars] of the gates” (2 Kings 23:8). A discovery at Beersheba in the summer of 1972 has shed light on this passage.

A team of Tel Aviv University archaeologists, led by Professor Yohanan Aharoni, completed their fourth consecutive season of excavating at Beersheba this past summer. (See BIBLE AND SPADE, Vol. 1, No. 1, pp. 17 and 18 for an earlier report.) One of the highlights of the campaign was the discovery of an incense altar which, according to Professor Aharoni, was found near what appears to have been the city gate.

A similar structure was discovered among the ruins of ancient Dan, in the north, but it was thought at the time to have been a throne. (See BIBLE AND SPADE, Vol. 1, No. 1, pp. 16 and 17.) The Beersheba dig has established that this was apparently one of the gate altars used in idol worship which King Josiah ordered destroyed.

Professor Aharoni explained that the gate discovered at Dan was similar in design to the Beersheba gate, an indication that both Dan and Beersheba — at the northern and southern extremes of the kingdom — were similarly fortified.

(JERUSALEM POST, September 13, 1972)

Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.

(Hebrews 12:1, 2)

BSP 2:1 (Winter 1973) p. 20