A 2,750-year-old temple about three miles from Jerusalem dates back to the Old Testament times of Solomon’s First Temple according to archaeologists. The discovery was made during excavations at the Tel Motza archaeological site, an ancient settlement called “Mozah” in the Bible’s Old Testament book of Joshua.
The Bible says the first Jewish Temple was built on Jerusalem’s Temple Mount by Solomon, son of King David. According to TempleMount.org, this temple was destroyed by the Babylonian empire, only to be rebuilt again by the Jews as described in both the books of Daniel and David. Then as Jesus predicted the Temple was once again destroyed, with the Romans tearing down the entire structure in order to get at the melted gold buried within the stones. A portion of the Temple mount is currently occupied by a Muslim mosque and Jews have long hoped they may one day rebuild the Temple.
The discovery of this temple points to a time before all worship in Israel became centered on the Temple. Archaeologists estimate that construction of this ritual building was undertaken in the 10th century B.C. So far the figurines hint at the influence of the Philistines who lived in the area so the temple possibly was not intended for worshiping the God of the Bible.
According to Fox News, “such finds are rare because alternative ritual practices were banned after the construction of the First Temple in Jerusalem by King Solomon about 3000 years ago.” The excavation’s directors released a statement, saying that the Tel Motza temple must have been active in an era “prior to the religious reforms throughout the kingdom at the end of the monarchic period (at the time of Hezekiah and Isaiah), which abolished all ritual sites, concentrating ritual practices solely at the Temple in Jerusalem.”
According to NBC, excavation directors Anna Eirikh, Hamoudi Khalaily and Shua Kisilevitz say the finding is unusual because of its vicinity to Jerusalem:
“The ritual building at Tel Motza is an unusual and striking find, in light of the fact that there are hardly any remains of ritual buildings of the period in Judaea at the time of the First Temple. The uniqueness of the structure is even more remarkable because of the vicinity of the site’s proximity to the capital city of Jerusalem, which acted as the Kingdom’s main sacred center at the time.”
The directors also say the east-facing entrance conforms to the tradition of temple construction at the time:
“The rays of the sun rising in the east would have illuminated the object placed inside the temple first, symbolizing the divine presence within. The find of the sacred structure, together with the accompanying cache of sacred vessels, and especially the significant [Philistine] coastal influence evident in the anthropomorphic figurines, still require extensive research.”
This archaeological find is also rare because Muslims unfortunately have a long history of destroying historical artifacts and especially anything that contains Hebrew writing. As recently as this month there have been accusations of Muslims destroying artifacts found at the Temple Mount in Jerusalem. Muslim extremists have also called for the destruction of the Sphinx and the pyramids and temples as far away as Timbuktu.
What do you think of this ancient temple that relates history from the times of the Bible and King Solomon’s First Temple?