Apologetics, Archaeology, Bible, Main, z60
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A donkey speaks again, this time about King Solomon’s copper mines

Credit: Rob Fransdad/Flickr/Creative Commons

Credit: Rob Fransdad/Flickr/Creative Commons

Liberals have tried to picture King David and King Solomon as little more than tribal chieftains instead of how the Bible portrays them as leaders of a nation numbering millions of people.

Unfortunately, a donkey seems to have upset the Liberal apple cart. Archaeologists working at the site of an ancient copper mine in Israel’s Timma Valley made an unusual discovery — they found donkey dung. It wasn’t just any kind of donkey dung, when they carbon dated it, they discovered it was 3,000 years old.

This made the site older than archaeologists initially thought and the donkey’s appearance dated the mines to King David’s and King Solomon’s day.

The area being excavated not only contained numerous mines, but also several areas where it was smelted including furnaces and piles of slag. This was a major production center.

The mines explain several verses in the Old Testament that spoke of Solomon’s incredible wealth. When King David charged his son with building the temple, he listed bronze as part of the kingdom’s resources:

16 Of the gold, the silver and the bronze and the iron there is no limit. Arise and work, and may the Lord be with you.” (1 Chronicles 22:16 NASV)

While gold, silver and iron are pure metals, bronze is created with a mix  of 90%  copper with tin. It resulted in a much stronger metal, resistant to heat upwards of 1,600 degrees Fahrenheit.

Bronze was extremely valuable and was at times on par with Gold:

27 and 20 gold bowls worth 1,000 darics, and two utensils of fine shiny bronze, precious as gold. (Ezra 8:27 NASV)

Though gold was rarer it had limited decorative  value– such as jewellery for the rich and famous.

But in addition to its decorative qualities, bronze also had industrial use as weapons (2 Chronicles 12:10), equipment and utensils — including the brazen altar on which animals were sacrificed because of its resistance to heat (2 Chronicles 1:6).

Bronze was a valuable commodity that not only required a major source of copper but forges to produce it in large quantities.

The mines explain an interesting verse in Kings — an off the cuff remark, that now makes sense. As King Solomon was constructing the Temple, he ordered utensils made of both bronze and gold.

But the writer of 1 Kings adds:

47 Solomon left all the utensils unweighed, because they were too many; the weight of the bronze could not be ascertained. (1 Kings 7:47 NASV)

When it says Solomon didn’t bother keeping track of the amount of bronze used, many commentators thought this was a way of expressing Solomon’s wealth. In fact, it may suggest the opposite, because of his access to the copper mines, Solomon had so much bronze it lost its sense of value to him.

The mines were probably developed by the Edomites, but King David had defeated Edom in a number of battles and made them his servants (2 Samuel 8:14). David also conquered several Edomite forts in the process and archaeologists found several fortifications in the area around the mine.

After David defeated Edom, it gave his son Solomon access to these copper mines either through tribute or actual ownership.

The donkey’s presence at the site was not unusual. They were not only critical for transporting the metal but as well bringing in food and water as the nearest known water source was 20 kms (12 miles) away.

This donkey dung confirms what the Bible says about King David and King Solomon.

Of course, this is not the first time a donkey made a Biblical statement. We also have the story of Balaam’s donkey that spoke to the prophet when he was heading out to curse Israel on behalf of the Moabite King. God sent an angel to block Balaam’s journey, but only the donkey saw the angel and would not proceed. Balaam beat the donkey. God then had the donkey speak to Balaam (Numbers 22:22-41).


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