The discovery of three intricately carved capitals have been called a “once in a lifetime discovery” by archaeologists who found them recently during an archaeological dig in Old Jerusalem.
The capitals were installed on top of columns and used to hold up roofs. Since, these three are not particularly large, it suggests that they weren’t intended for a roof of a building but perhaps a smaller covering in a courtyard.
They also discovered a toilet at the site and since these were only used by the rich, it suggests that the building was owned by a rich, probably politically connected family.
The three intricately decorated capitals were carved on both sides with symbols associated with King David’s dynasty and particularly the first Temple constructed by King David’s son, Solomon. According to the archaeologists this decoration style was reserved for either palaces or important government buildings.
Based on other dateable items at the site, archaeologists believe the 2,700-year-old capitals are connected to the reign of King Hezekiah and/or his son Manasseh.
However, the building was located at an “exit from the walls,” or outside the city walls. This small detail, suggests it was built after Judah’s miraculous salvation from an attacking Assyrian army that was destroyed by an Angel of God forcing the Assyrian King, Sennacherib, to withdraw:
35 That night the angel of the Lord went out and put to death a hundred and eighty-five thousand in the Assyrian camp. When the people got up the next morning—there were all the dead bodies! 36 So Sennacherib king of Assyria broke camp and withdrew. He returned to Nineveh and stayed there.2 Kings 19:35-36 NIV
The widespread deaths suggest that the angel probably struck the Assyrian army with some type of plague.
The writer of 2 Kings noted that Sennacherib returned to Nineveh and stayed there. This implies there was an extended time of peace and explains why the owners felt secure enough to build outside the walls of the city. They also must have believed the Assyrian army was so devastated, that it would not return any time in the near future.
But, this is not the only archaeological evidence to support Jerusalem’s miraculous salvation.
Archaeologists have uncovered a massive relief from Sennacherib’s palace in Nineveh, (modern Iraq) describing Assyria’s invasion of Judah while Hezekiah was king. Located in the British Museum in London, it records in detail Sennacherib’s siege and destruction of the small, insignificant Judaean city of Lachish, a battle noted in 2 Chronicles 32:9.
Why all this effort to describe the destruction of an irrelevant Judaean city?
In his annals, Sennacherib describes Hezekiah as being trapped in a cage by Sennacherib’s surrounding army, but there is no mention of Jerusalem’s fall in his annals or on the relief.
Many archaeologist’s suspect the relief, that was probably started during Sennacherib’s year-long invasion of Judah, was initially intended to describe the fall of Jerusalem, but since that never happened, it was simply renamed the fall of Lachish.