King David’s Palace Found?

King David’s Palace Found?

The Shalem Center

Does an amazing new discovery show that the Bible is supported by science?
From the March 2006 Trumpet Print Edition

Many archeologists are calling the latest Israeli archeological discovery “the find of the century” (Canadian Jewish News, Oct. 20, 2005). Israeli archeologist Eilat Mazar claims to have unearthed the palace of biblical King David.

King David was the 10th-century b.c. poet-warrior and slayer of Goliath whom the Bible says consolidated and expanded the ancient Israelite kingdom into a regional power. In approximately 1000 b.c., King David conquered Jerusalem from the Jebusites and subsequently made it his capital (2 Samuel 5:6-7). According to the Bible, King David’s palace was partially built by workers sent to him by the Phoenician king of Tyre as a gesture of friendship (verse 11).

Mazar relates that, although the location of King David’s palace was very elusive, the Bible itself played a significant part in her being able to locate it. Ms. Mazar speculated that a previously uncovered and famous stepped-stone structure located below her proposed excavation site was actually part of the Jebusite fortress that King David conquered. Also in the same area and slightly lower than her proposed dig site, Phoenician capitals (the tops of Phoenician-made columns) had been previously unearthed. This too suggested that a monumental building may have stood further up the hill.

Combining these two known archeological finds with the Bible’s description, she then theorized where David’s palace would have been built. The Bible indicates in 2 Samuel 5 that when the Philistines came to fight, King David “went down to the hold,” or fortress, to meet them. Ms. Mazar said that, after reading this, she wondered, “down from where? Presumably from where he lived, his palace” (New York Times, Aug. 5, 2005).

According to Ms. Mazar, the area above the fortress ruins and Phoenician capitals was a logical location for King David’s palace because it would have placed it outside the original walls of the cramped city of Jerusalem and on the road to Solomon’s Temple on the Mount.

Within weeks of beginning the dig, Ms. Mazar’s team was uncovering the remains of many rooms. At first, most were more recent Roman structures, like baths and pools, but then, within the boundaries of the limited excavation area, she found the remains of “massive older walls underneath the Roman structure, running toward the rim of the Kidron Valley” (Washington Post, Dec. 2, 2005). The walls, constructed with boulders, are on average 2 yards thick and extend at least 30 yards. Their size gives credence to the importance and grandeur of the structure.

Below the walls, Mazar first found 11th-century b.c. pottery. Then, inside a room above the 11th-century b.c. fill, 10th-century b.c. pottery, dating to the time of King David and free from material from any other period, was found. According to a relative of Ms. Mazar who is also an archeologist, “The sample was among the finest from that time found in Jerusalem” (ibid.).

To this point, only a small fraction—approximately 10 percent of the structure—has been exposed, but the finds have been remarkable. Ms. Mazar described her discovery, which was potentially David’s home, as “not just a house, but a fantastic house” (ibid.). In another uncovered room, dating to the 6th century b.c., a bulla, or seal, was found inscribed with the ancient Hebrew name of Jehucal, son of Shelemiah, son of Shevi (Canadian Jewish News, op. cit.). Jehucal was a Judean prince mentioned in Jeremiah 37:3. This fact suggests that the site was an important seat of Judean royalty for four centuries after King David. It also matches the biblical account of the palace being in continuous use from its construction until the conquest of Judea and Jerusalem by the Babylonians in 604-585 b.c. Several years ago, another royal seal was found in the general region. It showed the name of Gemaryahu, son of Shaphan, who is also mentioned in the book of Jeremiah (New York Sun, Aug. 1, 2005).

Also lending support to the conclusion that this was David’s palace is that up to this point there have been no finds of idolatrous statuettes or ritual crematoria which are found in contemporary Phoenician and Philistine settlements. “Furthermore, the building appears in a time period where such massive constructions were extremely rare and represented the greatest sort of public works” (Canadian Jewish News, op. cit.).

Why is King David’s palace important?

Skeptical of the Bible’s account, archeologists have long debated “to what extent Jerusalem was an important city or even a city in the time of David and Samuel” (Times, op. cit.). Some scholars suggest that King David and Solomon were nothing more than petty tribal chieftains who ruled over an area comprising little more than a few scattered rural clans. One renowned archeologist has even hypothesized that Jerusalem during David’s time was nothing more than a “typical hill country village” (International Herald Tribune, Aug. 5, 2005). Some scholars go even further, suggesting that the biblical account of King David is nothing more than a myth.

If the massive structure found by Ms. Mazar does prove to be 10th century, Seymour Gitin, director of the Jerusalem-based Albright Institute of Archaeological Research, says it will “demolish the view of the minimalists” who dismiss the biblical accounts of history and religion (ibid.).

It would also discredit the claims of many Arabs, including the late Yasser Arafat, who have denied any Israelite links to Jerusalem. Digs in the city, especially in areas around the Temple Mount, have been politically sensitive in the past.

Even if this structure does not turn out to be the palace, it could still be a revolutionary archeological find. It is certainly a major construction from the early Israelite period in Jerusalem, which negates the views of critics who claim there is no evidence of a major Israelite presence during this time. The Bible’s description of a great, unified and influential monarchy of David and Solomon is also reinforced.

Other Finds

Lately, other archeological discoveries within Israel have also supported the Bible’s validity.

Last July, in what archeologist Michael Homan calls an “Indiana Jones moment,” the sun’s rays illuminated an inscription of the Hebrew alphabet on a 40-pound stone found at the Tel Zayit excavation site in southwest Israel. After analysis of the stone, the two lines of incised letters were reportedly determined to be the earliest known specimens of the Hebrew alphabet and an important benchmark in the history of writing. Lawrence Stager, a Harvard archeologist working on other excavations in Israel, said that what makes this find exceedingly rare is that it was found with pottery that “fit perfectly with the 10th century” (New York Times, Nov. 9, 2005). Dr. Ron Tappy, the lead archeologist for the dig, stated that actually, “All successive alphabets in the ancient world, including the Greek one, derive from this ancestor …” (ibid.).

Tel Zayit is thought to be an ancient Israelite border town 18 miles inland from the ancient Philistine port of Ashkelon established by an expanding Israelite kingdom based in Jerusalem. Dr. Tappy said that such a well-developed border town suggested a “centralized bureaucracy, political leadership and literacy levels that seemed to support the biblical image of the unified kingdom of David and Solomon in the 10th century b.c.” (ibid.).

Another interesting find of late was that of a tiny ceramic shard that was unearthed at the biblical city of “Gath of the Philistines.” According to the Jerusalem Post, this shard contains the earliest Philistine inscription ever discovered. Fascinatingly, the inscription mentions two names that are surprisingly similar to the name Goliath. What makes this story even more exceptional is that the Bible identifies the city of Gath as Goliath’s hometown (1 Samuel 17:4). Although Goliath was supposedly a popular name during the time of King David, this find still enhances the Bible’s validity.

As more and more evidence of the Bible’s accuracy is unearthed, scholars are forced to reconsider the veracity of the Bible as a historical document and its use as a reliable map for archaeological discovery.

For many people, this brings up some unsettling questions. After all, if the Bible is proven to be archeologically and historically accurate, what about the rest of the written Word? Is it possible that what the entire Bible says is true? Should we also consider it as a reliable map for instructions on human living?

In light of these and the many other recent archeological finds, it is important to reevaluate just what modern education and society say about the Bible. It is time to question Bible critics, and to prove the veracity of the Bible for yourself.

United Against Israel

Iran is looking to make the plight of the Palestinians a pan-Islamic cause—and to crown itself king over the effort.
From the February 2006 Trumpet Print Edition

“The Islamic world will not let its historic enemy live in its heartland.” These were Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s words last October when he declared that Israel should be “wiped off the map” (Telegraph, Oct. 27, 2005).

In case anybody thought Ahmadinejad didn’t really mean those statements, he has reiterated them several times since. In one such instance, during a live speech broadcast on Iranian television in December, the Iranian president described the Holocaust as a “myth.”

Some feel that the president’s stance doesn’t truly reflect the official position of his country—or even that of its clerical leadership. Commentators talk about Iran’s clerical establishment getting more than it bargained for in Ahmadinejad, and the “pragmatic conservative” camp disagreeing with the confrontational approach of the president.

It is true that as Ahmadinejad rages against Israel, other Iranian politicians wheel and deal behind the scenes to secure Iran’s rights to a nuclear program and enhance its position in the region. But, as Stratfor stated, “The blend of these two approaches—inflammatory remarks by the new and relatively inexperienced president, coupled with sophisticated backdoor negotiations by less public but more seasoned hands—is an example of Tehran’s preferred method of power politics” (Dec. 14, 2005; emphasis ours).

Statements coming from all Iranian camps—the radical president, the pragmatic conservatives, the clerical leadership—clearly demonstrate their solidarity, particularly over the question of Israel.

The Jewish state, for obvious reasons—its proximity and the fact that it is the target—takes Iran’s threats quite seriously. It also has the military capability—if not the will—to do something about those threats. Israel has responded by making thinly veiled threats to take military action against Iran’s nuclear sites.

However, Iran has another weapon in its political arsenal enabling it to more or less blackmail the Jews: its Palestinian proxies.

Hezbollah is the Lebanon-based terrorist organization that is armed, financed and ideologically motivated by Iran; Hamas is a Palestinian terrorist organization also largely supported and funded by Iran. Iran has strong influence over other Palestinian terrorist organizations as well. Iran uses these terrorist groups as agents to fight against Israel.

As Trumpet editor in chief Gerald Flurry has written, “The real power behind the Palestinians is Iran. No other nation would dare finance and blatantly encourage such terrorism in Israel” (The King of the South).

A clear demonstration of this reality came in November, when Iran’s foreign minister met with leading figures from Hamas, Hezbollah and Islamic Jihad “to coordinate a united front against Israel” (Sunday Times, Dec. 11, 2005). The result? A week later, Hezbollah fired a cascade of rockets and mortars at Israeli targets, initiating the fiercest fighting between the two sides since Israel withdrew from Lebanon five years ago.

Clearly, Iran has the capability and the will to pressure the Israelis using these terrorist organizations. With a Hezbollah command center now established in the Israeli-vacated Gaza Strip, as Middle East Newsline reported Dec. 13, 2005, Iran will be in a better position than ever to squeeze Israel. “Hezbollah has set up a forward headquarters in the Gaza Strip to provide a direct link with terrorists in Judea and Samaria [West Bank] to transfer funds and instructions,” an Israeli government statement said. “Hezbollah conditions the receipt of such funds on the perpetration of terrorist acts against Israeli targets, regardless of the particular ideology of the cells and terrorists involved.”

So, after Israel recently hinted that it is prepared to use military means to halt Iran’s nuclear program, Tehran responded by stepping up its support for the Palestinians. From anti-Zionist conferences to high-level meetings with terrorist leaders, all Iranian factions have shown unity of purpose in their policy on Israel.

In December, Hamas’s leader, Khaled Mashal, visited Tehran for three days of talks with top political and security officials from across the political spectrum. The same day (Dec. 12, 2005) that Ahmadinejad was pooh-poohing the Holocaust at a Tehran conference on “Supporting the Islamic Revolution of Palestine,” two-time former president Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani—the pragmatic conservatives’ head—was encouraging Hamas’s leader. Rafsanjani offered continuing support in Hamas’s war against Israel, stating that “resistance” is the only option left for the Palestinians (Israelnn.com, Dec. 13, 2005).

As for the man who holds the ultimate power in Iran, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, he told Hamas’s leader the following day: “The only way to guarantee the freedom and future of Palestine is to continue with the resistance …” (mehrnews.com, Dec. 13, 2005). He encouraged the Palestinians to continue their jihad.

The Palestinians are only too happy to provide Iran the leverage it seeks. In mid-December, the Hamas leader blatantly threatened Israel with increased terrorist attacks should any preemptive measures be taken against Iran. Mashal told reporters Hamas would “step up its war” against Israel if it attacked Iran’s nuclear facilities (Israelnn.com, Dec. 15, 2005).

Clearly, Palestinian and Iranian ambitions align perfectly.

In his meeting with Mashal, Khamenei stated, “Yesterday they withdrew from Lebanon, today they have been forced to leave Gaza, and, God willing, tomorrow the Palestinian people and groups will oust them from Beit-ul-Moqaddas [Jerusalem].” And herein lies Iran’s true motivation: to gain control of Jerusalem. (Visit theTrumpet.com to read our February 2005 article “The Precious Jewel of Iran’s Plan.”)

The Iranian president’s rants against Israel; the top-level meetings between Iran’s leadership and Palestinian terrorist organizations; Hezbollah’s expansion in the Gaza Strip—these all point to what the Bible prophesies: that a unified Iran will lead an Islamic power bloc in an effort to take over Jerusalem.

The New Technology Leader

From the February 2006 Trumpet Print Edition

Many analysts believe Beijing wants to control the technology market worldwide.

Consider the evidence. Last May, China demonstrated how seriously it takes technological dominance when Chinese computer maker Lenovo paid $1.75 billion to purchase the personal computer arm of ibm. The Chinese had already outsold American technology goods in 2004, after its information- and computer-technology exports increased 46 percent—to $180 billion—just that year. Add to all that China’s moves to assign its own standards to technology.

Certainly these developments have serious economic ramifications. What might not be so evident, however, are the military implications of this technological boom.

Rick Fisher, vice president of the International Assessment and Strategy Center in Washington, said that China’s army is “moving very quickly to adopt practically every information-related aspect of military technology that the U.S. is pursuing at this time” (New York Times, Dec. 11, 2005).

The New York Times called the cooperation among the Chinese armaments industry, information technology companies, and government research and development groups a “‘digital triangle’ that supports the country’s rapid military modernization” (ibid.).

A November 2005 report to Congress from the United States-China Economic and Security Review Commission said that China’s repositioning itself at the center of the technology supply chain is “raising the prospect of future U.S. dependency on China for certain items critical to the U.S. defense industry as well as vital to continued economic leadership” (ibid.; emphasis ours). Fisher warned that the Chinese have the money to turn their ideas into weapons.

What’s more, on December 12, Alan Paller, the head of a leading security institute, said that efforts to hack U.S. government and industry computers were probably the work of the Chinese military. After explaining that the attacks were traced to the Chinese province of Guangdong, Paller said the attackers “were in and out with no keystroke errors and left no fingerprints, and created a backdoor in less than 30 minutes. How can this be done by anyone other than a military organization?” (China Post, Dec. 14, 2005).

The story here is two-fold.

First, while the U.S. export of information technology is still growing, the leadership position is gone—and it isn’t coming back. In accordance with biblical prophecy, the United States is losing its superpower status in one area after another, continually being overtaken by China and the European Union. Now that the U.S. has been overtaken in technology exports, we can expect its growth to slow and eventually become a bona fide decline.

Second, dependency on any foreign power leaves a country in a weak position militarily. Ezekiel 7:14 talks about a time when the alarm of war will be sounded, but no one goes to battle. This could very likely be a result of mission-critical military systems being compromised by cyberattacks or other foreign-initiated sabotage.

The U.S. is allowing itself to be marginalized by the Chinese economically. Does Washington place enough value on technological leadership to prevent future disasters? Bible prophecy says no.

Pushy, Pushy

Is Iran’s president deliberately trying to get under Germany’s skin? If so, it appears to be working.
From the February 2006 Trumpet Print Edition

Some Western observers are publicly airing their views that Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s vociferous outbursts about Israel and about his nation’s nuclear capability are the results of political naiveté. But at least one nation, Germany, is taking him seriously.

According to German Foreign Minister Frank Walter Steinmeier, the German government recently lectured Iran’s top diplomat in Berlin on the issue, condemning his president’s remarks. A few days earlier, German Vice Chancellor Franz Müntefering implied that Germany wouldn’t take the president’s comments lying down. “What is said will one day be wanted and also done,” he said, referring to Ahmadinejad’s call for Israel to be wiped off the map or moved to Europe. Müntefering called for diplomatic ties with Iran to be reviewed.

In particular, what really stung the German government was just how specific Ahmadinejad was in offering a future location for the Jewish state, “suggesting that if the Europeans really felt that bad for the Jews, that Israel should be picked up and moved to Europe—specifically to Germany and Austria.” As Stratfor mused, “That went over in Germany about as well as a lead zeppelin” (December 13, 2005).

All this is causing ructions in German foreign policy circles. Under former Chancellor Gerhard Schröder, the Germans pursued a policy of engagement with Iran. It is well known that Germany has provided technical expertise for Iran’s industrial capacity, a capacity that is now intent on developing nuclear technology. This could prove to be Germany’s nemesis.

With an unsteady coalition government to control, new German Chancellor Angela Merkel has sought to render a “steady as you go” approach to foreign policy, not wishing to rock the boat unduly with any foreign nation and be caught without majority support in this vital policy area in the tenuous early days of coalition government. However, the Iranian president has forced the issue with his statements—statements that could easily be interpreted as deliberately intended to stimulate a reaction from Germany!

He did not have to wait long for that reaction. Stratfor described Vice Chancellor Müntefering’s apparently livid response as “thundering … that Germany is pulling out the stops in seeking ‘political consequences’ for Iran in the European Union and at the United Nations” (ibid.).

What is particularly interesting about this situation is that not only has it forced an early declaration on foreign policy by the German coalition government, but it has also driven the odd mixture of political parties that comprise it toward unprecedented unity. As Stratfor observed: “For Merkel, this little foreign policy crisis will be liberating. With the entire country and all of its five major parties suddenly unified on a topic, Merkel will be able to stake out a major foreign policy shift with broad support. Combine that with a rapidly dissolving Schröder legacy, and the stage is set for a top-to-bottom German about-face. The only question remaining, of course, is, which combinations of directions will a newly empowered Merkel turn her country?” (ibid.).

That is a worrying question. Which way will Merkel jump? She has an early opportunity to cement coalition unity on the most crucial of political portfolios: foreign policy. The direction she takes could prove to be a make-or-break move for the future of her grand coalition government.

But more importantly, as long-time Trumpet readers know, the Bible prophesies of an explosive friction developing between Germany and Iran in the near future. Developments in this arena warrant the closest scrutiny

Palestinian Authority Puts Terrorists on Payroll

From the February 2006 Trumpet Print Edition

On Dec. 5, 2005, Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas approved financial aid for the families of suicide terrorists. This act guarantees that the cycle of violence between Palestinians and Israel will continue.

With the new law, “The bomber’s family, along with those of every other deceased killer, will now receive at least $250 a month in direct government aid …” (Jerusalem Newswire, Dec. 5, 2005).

This means that the annual “martyr” stipend budget will grow by $20 million to meet demand.

Another recently approved law will allot $50 million per year to support wounded terrorists or those in Israeli prisons. According to Palestinian Authority (pa) figures, Palestinians already budget $4 million for those in prison.

$11 million is allotted for families of the 3,746 Palestinians who have succeeded in terminating their own lives and those of innocent Israelis. In fact, more than 10 percent of the pa’s overall $1 billion budget is earmarked as stipends for “martyr” families and imprisoned or wounded suicide bombers.

With this new law joining related laws already on the books, the Palestinian Authority is funding a culture of terror.

The money legitimizes criminals and provides incentive for new recruits. “That amount of money [$250] is more than most lower class ‘Palestinians’ can hope to make working menial jobs. This fact, coupled with a culture that glorifies deceased terrorists as national heroes, has the potential to increase the number of young Palestinian Arabs willing to give their lives to kill Jews” (ibid.).

The day Abbas signed the law, a Palestinian suicide bomber detonated explosives in a shopping center in an Israeli town north of the West Bank, killing five and wounding scores of others. In a written statement, Abbas reacted with mock shock: “This operation … against civilians causes the most serious harm to our commitment to the peace process and the Palestinian National Authority (pna) will not go easy on whoever is found to be responsible for this operation” (Xinhua News Agency, Dec. 5, 2005).

This new law belies Abbas’s tough rhetoric. What, in fact, will really happen? At a minimum, a $250 check will be sent to the family.

Even though the Palestinian leadership claims to desire peace, its laws evidence the contrary. If Abbas was serious about the Palestinian commitment to peace with Israel, his politics would not be a fountainhead of support for terrorism.

And despite Abbas claiming that terrorist suicide bombers pose “serious harm” to the peace process, his actions speak otherwise.

Leaders must be judged by what they do, not what they say. Christ said, by their fruits you shall know them (Matthew 7:20).

EU Exerts Power Over American Industry

From the February 2006 Trumpet Print Edition

The European Parlia ment approved a regulation Nov. 17, 2005, that could seriously handicap the U.S. chemical industry. This approval highlights a worrying trend that could severely cripple American industry in general.

The Registration, Evaluation and Authorization of Chemicals (reach) regulation is designed “to protect consumers from the adverse effects of chemicals found in a wide range of products from soap powder, children’s toys, pesticides to building materials” (Deutsche Welle, Nov. 17, 2005).

Under the European Union’s new regulation—ostensibly designed to protect the health of Europeans—American chemical manufacturers that export chemicals to Europe could be forced to spend millions of dollars testing, reporting and registering their chemicals in order to meet EU standards and conditions.

The EU’s approval of this regulation highlights an aspect of globalization that has staggering implications. By creating and passing this bill, the EU is able to extend its influence into the industries and economies of other nations outside of the EU.

Analysts at Stratfor noted: “[A] single body representing less than 5 percent of the global population would, in effect, be making chemicals policy for the entire globe” (Stratfor, Nov. 17, 2005).

In the case of America’s chemical exports, this legislation could seriously burden an industry already hurting economically.

This is an alarming trend. While reach’s primary motive may not have been to disadvantage America’s chemical industry, it could certainly prove a pleasant side benefit, in the EU’s eyes. Might the EU or other nations enact similar changes in order to deliberately harm American industries?

As global trade grows more competitive and new players enter the scene, don’t be surprised if regulatory authorities in the EU, China and other large markets seek to exploit this powerful weapon—made possible because of modern globalization. By developing cumbersome internal regulations, these nations could put foreign companies at a serious disadvantage.

Because of its position as the industrial powerhouse of the world, the U.S. would bear the brunt of such hostility.

The U.S.’s economy and industry have never been in such a fragile state. Both are on the verge of collapse. We can be sure that the EU and other foreign powers are acutely aware of this possibility and could seek to hasten it.