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Ancient gates of Solomon discovered at Biblical Tamar Park?


Palm Trees in Israel Credit: fabcom/flickr/Creative Commons

Palm Trees in Israel Credit: fabcom/flickr/Creative Commons

According to Breaking Israel News, a group working in Biblical Tamar Park have found what they believe are the gates to an ancient fortress built by King Solomon.

The 55-acre, Biblical Tamar Park in Southern Israel is considered one of the most unusual archaeological sites in Israel. Because of its fresh spring waters, it was a popular spot in this desert climate. The word “Tamar” means “Palm Trees” that grew in the area because of the springs.

It was also an important stop for camel caravans along the major trading route known as the Silk Road as they journeyed into the far east. They have found evidence of Phoenicians, Canaanite and Arabs who also inhabited the area at various times through the centuries.

But most importantly, the site has an archaeological record of the Hebrews through all their historical periods dating back to Abraham, through the Mosaic era, into the formation of Israel and then through the Roman and Christian periods to modern times.

In Numbers, we read that Israelis camped at a placed called Oboth, just on the outskirts of the Promised Land, shortly after the Brazen Serpent incident:

10 Now the sons of Israel moved out and camped in Oboth. (Numbers 21:10 NASV)

The Hebrew word “obot” translated Oboth literally means “water-skins,” indicating it was a place where people could replenish their water supplies. The word also has a secondary translation of “Palm Trees” again a reference to its oasis like feature because of the springs.

Some believe Biblical Tamar Park (BTP) is the location of Oboth and the park that includes a museum has a display of the Tabernacle of Moses.

The Bible says that King Solomon built fortresses (storage cities and several military outposts) in the wilderness to solidify his control of the area.

19 and all the storage cities which Solomon had, even the cities for his chariots and the cities for his horsemen, and all that it pleased Solomon to build in Jerusalem, in Lebanon, and in all the land under his rule. (1 Kings 9:19 NASV)

Tamar because of its springs was one of those locations. The gates to this fortress were first discovered in 1995, but were covered back up to protect them because the team did not have the resources to complete the excavation.

This year, they decided to work on the gates and dug down to the very foundations or street level.

But as they were working on the site, they made a second discovery that led some to question if those were Solomon’s walls. They found destroyed pagan altars outside the gates.

This may be a reference to a second Biblical incident that took place 300 years later when King Josiah destroyed pagan alters at the site:

Then he gave a sign the same day, saying, “This is the sign which the Lord has spoken, ‘Behold, the altar shall be split apart and the [c]ashes which are on it shall be poured out.’” (1 Kings 13:3 NASV)

But whatever the case, there is no question about the park’s Biblical roots where they found the oldest known four-room house in Israel dating back to Abraham’s day.

What makes the work at the Biblical Tamar Park (BTP) unique in Israel is that the excavation has been largely funded by an American-based Christian organization called Blossoming Rose.

Since 1985, it has provided millions of dollars in funding and the Israel Antiquities Authority has named Blossoming Rose as the official curator of the park.

Because of the park’s growing importance, it is suspected at some point Israel will classify BTP as a national park.

Sources:

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