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Archaeology, Evangelism, and Personal Faith: Why the Past Matters to Our Future

Michael Hasel


Michael Hasel

Director of the Institute of Archaeology at Southern Adventist University




  • August 6, 2009
    10:45 AM
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Michael hasel

Let’s bow our heads for prayer before we begin today.

Heavenly father, we want to thank you that we can come together to ASI this weekend to reflect on the amazing things that you’re doing. To reflect on the mission of this church, the gospel commission that you’ve given us in your word, and to encourage one another in the faith. We pray that you would bless us in our session here today. In Jesus name, Amen

Today’s presentation focuses on an individual who the historical narrative of the Bible is mentioned more frequently than any other individual in scripture. This a particular individual is known to us form the earliest books of the Bible clear down to the last chapter of Revelation. We may think to ourselves who is this person. Is it Abraham, the founder of the Jewish faith, one of the founding fathers of the great three monotheistic religions in the world today. It’s not Abraham, is it Moses who lead the people of Israel out of captivity and brought them to the brink of the promised land. It’s not Moses. Is it Joshua who lead the people into the promised land and conquered that land for Israel. It is not Joshua. Even Jesus is not mentioned as frequently in the Bible by the name Jesus, he’s mentioned of course by other names as well, than this individual. This individual was a person who was a poet, he put together most of the songs and liturgy that is still used today in Synagogues and churches around the world. He is a person that was a great statesmen, he was a hero of the old testament, and he is mentioned over 1100 times in scripture. He is known to us as David.

David was an incredible person of history, not only was he a poet, not only was he a statesmen, not only was he a great thinker and philosopher, having composed much of the book of the psalms, not only was he a great king and leader for his people, David was also the person that God said, He’s a man after my own heart. He was also a simple person that came from simple origins, a shepherd boy who was anointed to be king of Israel. But David is more than all of these things, David is more than simply someone who is mentioned more often than any other person in the Bible. Why is David so important to history? He is more than simply the founder of a capital and he holds the unique position of anyone in the world to this point in history that founded a capital at Jerusalem which still serves as a capital today three thousand years later. Think about it for a moment.

I was there in 1996 as Jerusalem celebrated the three thousand year anniversary of the city. You have not seen Fireworks like that on the fourth of July anywhere else in the United States. It was amazing. And sure enough on the walls, I don’t know who they hired to do this spectacular program. But on the walls of the Israel museum with laser lights was the famous battle of David and Goliath. But David is known for something more important than that. He is also known as the progenitor of the Messiah. He is known as the one through who’s line, through the line of Jesse his father, the messiah would one day come. He records as much in several of the psalms, the messianic psalms. He also tells us later on in other writings that the messiah’s to come.

Matthew of course and Luke mention David specifically by name in the genealogies of Jesus. and Matthew goes so far as to indicate David in the narrative of when the angel comes to Joseph, he says Joseph, Joseph the son of David when he announces to him that he is soon to become the adoptive father of the Messiah. And so, even in the last chapter of the book of revelation, Jesus himself refers to himself as the root of David. David, such a crucial person in history. And so it may come as a surprise to some of us that David in today’s culture and in today’s world, David’s historicity as a person is under more attack than perhaps any other person in history. Today in the secular world, and in the world of Biblical scholarship even, David is maligned, he is doubted as to have even existed. David is of course in our early critical scholarship, The story of David and Goliath which we all know very well, was often thought to be somewhat of an exaggeration. Goliath being that tall, David actually having beaten him with a simple stone, this story seemed to be exaggerated. But today it is not only the stories that seem to be exaggerated, it is the entire history of David and the united monarchy itself that is under increasing skepticism in the post modern world in which we live.

In 1992, this story was in the U.S. News and world report. In 2001, the fight for history and in that fight of course the story of David comes up. In 1992, a book was published In search of Ancient Israel, where the writer, a biblical scholar at the university of Sheffield in England writes the following. “The Israel of the Biblical literature as it reads for the most part not an historical entity at all. The biblical empire of David and Solomon has not faintest echo in the archaeological record.” And then he adds the two little words, “As Yet” to cover himself because what Davies and many others are doing, they’re simply arguing on the basis of silence. We haven’t found David or the mention of David in the archaeological record yet therefore he must not have existed as a historical figure. Other scholars have gone down similar routes with other individuals and other entire peoples in history. We can remember, in the 1700s there was great skepticism over the Hittites who were mentioned 28 times in the Bible. Today we know they had a vast empire all over Turkey, and that they were the major rivals to the Egyptians further to the south. Arguments of silence are dangerous in any discipline and archaeology is extremely dangerous to make such an assertion that something doesn’t exist. You never know what might be found next year, or the next ten years in that particular field or in that particular aspect. And that’s exactly what happened a year after Davies published this book.

In 1993, one year later at the sight of Tel dan in Northern Israel, and this by the way, is the high place that was found at Dan. You remember Jeroboam the first after the divided monarchy, he established a center at Dan and at Bethel, he had golden calves made and the Bible says he told the Israelites for fear that they would go back down to Jerusalem and worship there and he would lose his control over them. He told them this is the God that brought you out of the land of Egypt. And sure enough the Hebrew Union College excavations there in the 1980s and 90s uncovered the high place which undoubtedly Jerboam had built. That is a reconstruction of the four horned altar that once stood there. How do we know it stood there? Because we found one of the horns of that particular altar. I’m standing here in front of the high place where undoubtedly the golden calf probably stood originally. And this is the northern most city in Israel historically, remember the borders were always described in the Bible as from Dan to Beersheba, so this is the northern most city and you’re looking into the hills of Lebanon, and if you looked further to the east you’d be looking into the golon heights which of course used to be long to Syria and it’s still under dispute today. But it wasn’t here in this location of the sight that the discovery was made.

It was at another location outside the city gate. Here you see the gate at TelDan. outside the city gate, a volunteer a college student was working on an ancient wall and happened to cause one of the rocks in the wall to tumble out. And as the rock tumbled out that student noticed on the bottom an inscription on that rock. It had been reused as a building stone in the wall, but originally was no building stone at all. It was part of a huge steela that commemorated an event in history that is also recorded in the Bible. Here it is, what the student found was the part there on this side and the following year in 1994 these two fragments were found not very far away.

And what does it say? It records a campaign by the king of Aram against Israel and Judah. It dates to about 150 years after the time of David, but what doe sit say? It says that the campaign took place against the house of Israel, the northern kingdom, and the house of David which is the southern kingdom, which is exactly the way the Bible describes that kingdom. It refers to it as the house of David again and again. In Hebrew, Bet Dahveed. Now do you Davies and others accepted this inscription? They began to make all kinds of excuses. They said, well, first of all the inscription, Hebrew doesn’t have vowels and so how do you know it was an A and an I, they didn’t a’s and I’s back then but anyway, how did you know there was an A and an I in there. Could it be an O or a U, maybe it was the house of Doud, just add a t at the end, house of Doubt right? House of doud, that’s what they said, now there’s now house of Doud that exists that we know of anywhere. We have that Bethshemesh, the house of the sun, we have Bethlehem, the house of bread. But we don’t have a bet Doud, but it had to be bet doud because it couldn’t be Bet David. So the scholarly establishment didn’t accepted that interpretation at all. And when that wasn’t accepted, they said maybe it was planted there by the archaeologists, it was a forgery that was planted there. Now that borders on libel and all kinds of others things. That’s what was printed in biblical archaeology review in the early 1990s after this discovery was made.

Here we have for the first time, an extra biblical mention of David who is remember as the founder of a dynasty a 150 years later, just as the bible describes. So that’s exciting stuff, but you know Davies wasn’t the last person, in fact he was the first in a series of scholars and it continues today more rapidly than anytime before in the post modern age in which we live, that Israel is simply being erased form History. And more and more this is coming out in literature. This is a book that that came out in 2006, now that’s fourteen years after Davies published his book. 2006, this book was published in English by Israel Finklestein, and archaeologist at Televive University, and Neil Asher Silverman , a journalist from Connecticut. They wrote this book, the second book very popular book by the way. This is not a scholarly book addressed to scholars. This is a popular book that you will find in paperback all over the united states at Barnes and Nobles and other stores like it. In fact, Finklestein recently said to me that he can retire off the proceeds of this volume and the other volume that the published before that.

They say in this book, “there was no evidence for extensive literacy or writing in the time of David and Solomon.” So they’re questioning whether the records were actually written down that far back then. In fact, they say that all the stories of David and Solomon were written in the seventh century, three hundred years later. No evidence for extensive wars as the Bible describes, no evidence for major building, no evidence for dynastic intrigues between Saul and David. Jerusalem appears at this time to be a small village, controlling a very sparse hinterland, a kind of overgrown Cow town. That’s how they used to describe Tuscan when we lived down there. I understand Phoenix and Tuscan have grown a lot more in the last fifteen years. A sparsely populated hinterland, Jerusalem and Judah and Israel, Israel at this time was not the kingdom that the Bible describes.

Now if you describes that this is only making circulation here in the united states, two weeks ago I was doing a camp meeting at Bogen Hofen Seminary in Austria. I wanted to see if these books were published in German. So I went across the river to a little town called Simba, right on the border in Germany. There in the local bookstore in this little tiny town of a population of maybe ten thousand of so, there is was in paperback in german. Not only was it in paperback, but I noticed a sticker in the front of it that said, the book of the Month. It was being promoted as the book of the month in bookstores all over the country last month. Published there in 2007.

Then I went across the river back to Austria and went grocery shopping at the grocery store. You know you have to do that sometimes when you’re traveling overseas sometimes. And there I found a brand magazine I left it for my cousin over there so he could have it, but a brand new magazine just came out in July. Despeagle, which is the equivalent of TIMe of News Week magazine puts out several special additions, and they had a special addition on the history of Jerusalem. And in that magazine a whole article over the controversy and Finklestein was quoted there as well. So this is making waves all over the world, especially in the western world in which we live.

The question that I have for you today is why does it matter? Does it matter to us whether David or any of these people ever existed, does it matter for us? If David is indeed such a central figure in scripture why does it matter? Without David there is no founder of Jerusalem, think about it who founded Jerusalem as the capital? Without david there is no author for Israel’s worship liturgy, at least most of it. Without David there is no united monarchy in Israel in the tenth century B.C. without David, how can a Jesus Christ in the book of revelation in the last chapter later claim to be of the root of David. In fact, without David there is no hope for a messiah which means there’s no hope for a first coming which means for us as Adventist there’s no hope for a second coming. You see how crucial this is?

I believe that the powers that be are working very hard to undermine the authority of scripture in the time in which we live. So it’s important, it’s important to have these aspects of history. But what about the Bible, do we need these archaeological evidences to show that the Bible is true? No, we don’t. and I as an archaeologist, don’t go out into Israel on a regular basis in order to prove that these things happened, that’s not my task. The Bible stands on it’s own as the word of God. It has it’s own internal evidences. In fact, God is the God of history and if he is the God of history, what does that mean? It means that we as we read scripture are reading the ways in which he has carefully documented through inspired writers his work among men and women throughout history.

The Bible itself is a testimony, it contains the evidence for God’s work in this world, for a period of thousands of years. That’s what we have. If all the history that could be written of the ancient world, would be here, and believe me as a historian many times I wish there would be more details here, it would fill libraries. The purpose of the writers of the Bible was to show God’s acts in history. And for us as Christians that is an extremely important aspect.

Archaeology provides us the reality of those acts, but Christianity has been well and alive for two thousand years, long before archaeology came into the scene. But I believe that archaeology in today’s post modern world is important. Why? Because we are reaching, or trying to reach out to people on a daily basis, on a yearly basis who have major questions about the Bible. They watch the history channel, they watch the discovery channel, they watch all kinds of things, they hear all kinds of things and their faith even the faith of our own believers are being challenged on a regular basis in the world that we live in today. And if we’re not engaged in these kinds of battles, who else is going to be? We need to continue to be engaged in these things.

So with that introduction I’d like to move a step forward and go with you to one of the most, if you brought your Bibles with you that’s great because we’re going to open the bible today. It is the word of God for our time and we’re going to open our Bible to one of the most famous stories that all of us if we’ve grown up as Christians if we’ve grown up the Jewish faith, we’ve heard since we were knee high the story of David and Goliath. It’s found in 1 Samuel 17.

Now just to give you a little background, Philistia is located here on the coastal plain, it incapsilates the five major cities mentioned as the mentapolis cities in the Bible. Gaza, Eskelon, Ashton, Ekron, and Gath. And then across from Philistia, right on the border to Philistia is the territory of Judah. So these were neighbors and the philistines were under constant, while the israelites were under constant harassment and attack from the philistines and vice versa. You know the stores that are described there. This is the territory that we’re talking about, and Jerusalem is located up high in the hill country, Philistia is down on the coastal plain and you have this huge area in between. The main road to Jerusalem lead through a valley called the valley of Elah. Now today the modern interstate or highway 1 goes from Televiev over this direction a little bit further over here. But in ancient times this one the main road leading from Philistia from Egypt up to Jerusalem the main capital. And it was for that reason that many of these cities like Lahish and azakka and Suco and Bethshemesh and other cities further are mentioned in the Bible as having been refortified again and again as border cities and fortresses that guarded the way up to the hill country to Jerusalem. Why? Because whenever the Egyptian king would come he would have to go through that route in order to make it up to Jerusalem. Whenever the Babylonian king of the Assyrian king Nebuchadnezzar or Shalmanezzer, or Tiglathpileser III or any of these individuals would have to come and attack Jerusalem, they would have to come up from the coastal plain up through the hill country. So this was a very important area in the ancient world. And there’s a wonderful description of it right here in 1 Samuel 17.

Let’s read it together, I’ll start with verse 1. “Now the Philistines gathered together their armies to battle, and were gathered together at Shochoh, which [belongs] to Judah, and pitched between Shochoh and Azekah, in Ephesdammim.” We don’t know where Ephesdammim is we don’t even know exactly what that means, it may mean boundary of blood which would be an appropriate name because this is where a lot of battle took place. “between Shochoh an Azekah.” We know where those places are, I’ll show you in a minute. “And Saul and the men of Israel assembled and camped in the valley of Elah and drew up their battle line to meet the philistines, And the Philistines stood on a mountain on the one side, and Israel stood on a mountain on the other side: and [there was] a valley between them.” Isn’t that a wonderful geographical description? As historians we love those kinds of descriptions, because we can actually go there. In fact, we can go today, we don’t even have to go to Israel. You can get right on your computer and google earth it right down to the spot. It’s great, you can fly anywhere in the world. I’ve seen my in laws home down in Brazil and have gone to Berrien Springs recently. And I noticed that the picture, I don’t know if they’ve changed it since then, but the picture was taken on Sabbath. You know how you know, Pioneer Memorial Church parking lot is completely full and all the university parking lots are empty. Good sign right. They didn’t tell me the date, but I can tell you right now it was on Sabbath.

So here we are we’re at the Elah valley. It’s lush, it’s agricultural area. This is the valley with the Philistines on one side and the Israelites on the others. How do we know these two sites. Azekah was excavated in the late 1880s by Bliss and MacAlister. Suchoh has not been excavated, but surveys there have found actual stamped jar handles that say Suchoh on them. So we can have a fairly good idea that this was the location. So if we go back to the biblical description.

“The Philistines camped on one hill between Azekah and Suchoh and the Israelites on the opposite hill with the valley between them.” Does that make sense. When you’re over there it’s really exciting to see this. And tour busses by the way, stop by droves right here, they hike down to this little spot, there’s some cliffs and there’s a bunch of nice flat stones that are disappearing very fast with all the tourists that come. Because it’s around here that David picked up his stones. Oh no, I forgot the stone, it’s at my hotel room in the Hyatt, I’m sorry. Anyway, I brought one even for you to see and now I can’t show it to you.

David and Goliath what do we do with this story? It’s an amazing story isn’t it. It’s one of my favorite in the Bible. Here you have Goliath the champion of the philistines being brought forward terrorizing the Israelites day after day. David is sent down by his father Jesse to bring some food to his brothers and he arrives there and hears the taunts of this guy.

How have you imagined Goliath in the past? Well, tall for one thing, burly, tough, muscular. I always imagined him kind of as a hairy brute, uncivilized, just a powerhouse of sky, could just take on anybody. The philistines however, you have to understand were the most sophisticated people in the region at that time in terms of culture and in terms of technology. The Bible itself says they controlled iron technology and only Jonathan and Saul fighting with AK 47s and the Philistines had Apache helicopters that they were sending in.

Here we have the situation, David and goliath. Let’s look at the story a little bit in chapter 17. I’m going to read what Goliath says here. Actually before that I just want to focus a little bit on David. Verse 38, after David decided to take this guy on, “Saul clothed David with his armor and he put a bronze helmet on his head and also clothed him a coat of mail. David fastened his sword to his armor and tried to walk for he had not tested them. And David said to Saul, I cannot walk with these for I have not tested them. So david took them off” you know what the spirit of prophecy says about this. She says very pointedly that David did not want any of the credit of the outcome of this battle to go to Saul’s armor and to Saul’s sword. Because he was going under the directorship of God and all credit was to go to God. Very interesting that you have that here. David goes forward in battle.

The Philistines is taunting him. listen to this in verse 42, “and when the philistine looked and saw David, he distained him for he was only a youth, ruddy and good looking. So the philistine said to David, am I a dog that you come to me with sticks and the philistine cursed David by the gods. And the philistine said to David come to me and I will give you flesh to the birds of the air and to the beasts of the field. Then David said to the Philistine, you come to me with a sword with a spear and with a javelin, but I come to you in the name of the Lord of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel whom you have defied. This day the Lord will deliver you into my hand and I will strike you and take your head from you and this day I will give the carcasses of the camp of the Philistines to the birds of the air and the wild beasts of the earth that all the earth may know that there is a God in Israel.” Do we still believe today that there’s a God in Israel. Do we believe that he’s the same God that is able in today’s powerful forces that surround us to still work the same as he did back then? He’s able to those things still today. And David goes forward in courage and in faith taking up those five stones and advances towards him.

It’s an amazing story as we look at it in 1 Samuel. But I want to move a little bit with you and share with you some exciting things that have just happened in the last few months in regards to this story because you see in yellow here a new site in this valley that until about a year and a half ago was not even know to exist or have importance to this particular story in history. I will share with you at the end of this presentation what me might think it is today.

Now you have to understand that there is this gray zone between the territory of Judah and Philistia that we just talked about. There’s Gath and Ekron, the two philsitines sites, then we have Suchoh, Azekah and Bethshemesh, three sites that are recorded in the Bible as belonging to Judah. In fact, you remember when the ark of the covenant was captured by the Philistines, it was captured it made it’s way around several of the different sites. The philistines finally got tired of it after half the people died. After their god Dagon fell down twice in the temple. They finally send it by ox cart and it ended up going straight to Bethshemesh. And there’s bethshemesh right there, in fact the modern city that you see next to it has the same name today. There’s a wonderful MacDonald’s there, if you eat at Macdonald’s, I don’t. there’s an office depot. Bethshemes has been excavated for the last eighteen seasons, I was there again this summer. Wonderful huge destruction layer, with huge whole pots and everything. One of the excavators told me something. Several years ago, when I visited the sight, he gave me a two hour tour, he said after all these seasons of excavation at Bethshemesh, do you know what? We have not found one single pig bone is eighteen seasons. Interesting. There’s sheep and goat, they weren’t quite vegetarians back then, but no pig bones. I excavated in Ekron for several years, I also excavated with Harvard at Ashtelon, another philistine site on the coast. And 35%- 40% of the bones found there are pig bones. That’s true for all the philistine sites as well. But not at Bethshemesh and not at Azekah and not at Tirgakiapah.

There is a kind of invisible ethnic boundary that’s there between these two territories, and you can tell archaeologically, scientifically through the fallow analysis of the bones that we dig up at these sites. Kind of exciting isn’t it? We need all kinds of experts when we do our archaeology, including zooarchaeologists, who can analyze the bones. I don’t know the difference, I grew up a vegetarian, I don’t know the difference between a pig bone and a sheep bone. I think I probably could recognize a bird bone.

So here’s this amazing sight of Tirgakiapah. This is what is looks like today. We knew it was there, because you can still see the walls surrounding this site, it’s great, it’s a fortified city but it was always thought to be late. That is dating to the time of Alexander the Great, the Hellenistic period. So many of the biblical archaeologists weren’t interested in it because it was not belonging to the earlier period. But in 2007 it was explored again by Yosi Garfinkle of the Hebrew university with one of his students, and they discovered there that there is an earlier wall underneath the layer wall that is enormous in proportion with stones that are larger than any other Judean site known up to this point in time. So they decided to do a probe excavation last year in 2008, and they worked at the site.

Here you can see where they opened up along the wall line some new areas. It’s amazing what you can do in on season, they found the city gate in the first season they were excavating. Here is the outline of the gate from up above, this is a architectural drawing looking from above. Here’s the threshold of the gate, here are three sets of piers, that each could have supported doors. There’s the drain that goes out, they had a sewage system back then that took stuff out. Here are chambers inside the gate area. This is a four chambered gate. It’s a huge structure and then along the gate here you can see it was a double wall with rooms in it. There’s a doorway going into the room, these rooms that we call this a casemate wall that surrounds the entire place. We estimate today that the city was surrounded by a double wall that weighed in axcess of stone two hundred thousand tons. It’s a huge undertaking at this particular area. Here you can see this particular building here. Some amazing discoveries were made in 2008 at this particular site.

Now I have to tell you something in advance. In 2007, I was in San Diego for professional meetings, and Yosi Garfinkle approached me and invited southern Adventist University to be a full partner in this project. And at the time we were involved in negotiations for another site in Israel. And I didn’t jump on it because we were in the middle of that. And in 2008, they had this amazing season, our negotiations for the other site did not work out and we have sense gone back. I’ll share more about that in a moment. In 2008, here’s is how tall the ancient Israelite walls stood. How do we know that the earlier walls do not date to the Helenistic period of Alexander, but date earlier? Based on the pottery that was found there along the floors associated with those walls. It’s only a two or three period site, there are not all kind of extensive cities built on top of the other, like other sites that we have. And look at the preservation, the stones are completely different as well. There much larger than the later wall that date to the Hellenistic or roman period. The complete jars were found. We have thirty restorable vessels that were found just in the first season of that excavation in 2008 in these rooms.

In two room of the city. So in two rooms of the city there was a massive destruction, thirty restorable vessels. They are gorgeous vessels, beautifully painted, they all dated to the tenth century B.C. right in the time period of David. We can tell this because of cottery typology in comparison with other surrounding sites and some of the stuff they have. But we can also base this on other grounds as well. Yosi Garfinkle held a conference right after the first season and he brought forty of the top archaeologists in Israel together, showed them the pottery. It was a very open dialogue, and said what do you think. He brought the critics as well, by the way, those who have been somewhat skeptical about the time of David. And they all said there’s no question, this is the first really clear early tenth century pottery. Right from the beginning, about one thousand to nine hundred fifty B.C. that we have. Very important discovery in the valley of Elah where David and Goliath fought. That’s precisely the time when David ruled as king over the territory. Here’s the beautiful goblet, how would like to drink out of that at ASI supper this evening? I didn’t bring it with me, so you won’t have the chance. It’s been mended on the side and little bit on top as well.

The most shocking discovery that was made in 2008, in the first six week season was as a couple of volunteers were washing the pottery, 27,000 pottery shards, broken pieces of pottery were found that first season and all of those needed to be washed by the people that come there. So if you think you get out of dishwashing for six weeks, when you come on a dig, you don’t. you have to wash the ancient dishes, and here they are scrubbing away. And one of the people that was scrubbing soon recognized, luckily didn’t scrub too hard and too long, because she would have scrubbed it right off, recognized a letter on one of the broken pieces. Here it is, she recognized the letter A. that’s what precisely what it is, only it’s an ancient A. it’s the Aleph in Hebrew, did you know that our letter A comes from an Egyptian sign. The way we right it in capital letters, it comes from an Ox head. The two parts of the a that come down should have been originally pointing up. They’re the two horns of the ox, and the bottom part is the head of the ox. That’s where A comes from, so next time you right an A you think about that.

The R roach in Hebrew means head. The R is simply, you know that last part of the R that we write is the beard of the man, the rounded part is the head and the other stroke is the neck. You can imagine a capital R that’s where it came from, from an Egyptian hieroglyphic many year earlier. Guess where Moses came? From Egypt right?

But here is a text, eight lines on a pottery shard. The oldest Hebrew inscription ever found in history, eight hundred years older than the dead sea scrolls. It came from the floor of these houses, from the time of David. Now that is significant. What does it say?

It will be announced at the professional meetings in New Orleans, the American schools of oriental research meetings in November. The official translation of this. And I’m going to be chairing the session where that will be. The media will be there, where this is going to be presented for the first time. Do you know that three of the words are King Judge and Land. And the big question is which king, which land, which judge. What’s going on here. So we’ll see when we get to that point next time. But all the conservatories have worked on this, it was brought to Boston for professional meetings last year. It was taken to some of the top imaging labs in the country both in Boston and in Los Angeles. Before that was done, Yosi Garfinkle who is the director of the site showed it to the leading epigrapher who specializes in ancient languages in the world, Frank Morcross, of Harvard university. He is 88 years old. And his health is failing quickly but according to Larry Stagger, his colleague at Harvard, Professor could not sleep for two nights after looking over this astrocon and reading what he read. So that’s just an amazing thing, so we’re all waiting in anticipation of what it says.

It was taken to head wall photonics for specialized photography, so that some of the faded letters could be exposed a little bit better. It was taken to mega vision in Santa Barbara and also to Cedar Siany hospital in LA with all kinds of different technologies that were given to it. And here’s a photograph that I’m really not supposed to show you it. But there it is anyway, I’ll go fast through it.

Yosi Garfinkle here is excavating something important and we found several more this summer. In our field. He was excavating a small little seed there, an olive pit. There were several of them sent to oxford University, to the radio carbon labs there. And there it is, the carbon dates all came back to the same time that the pottery dates to as well. So there’s a confirmation for some of the dating. There’s issues with carbon dating it’s not always working properly, but at least the data from this shows positively and so we’ll just have to see what further tests will show in future seasons and so forth.

Here we have a site that is located in the boundary area between Judah and Philistia. Right in the over looking the valley of Elah which is so important as that highway up to the territory. We have a city that is a fortress city that is built with 200,000 tons of stone just for the walls and the houses in the periphery. We haven’t excavated yet in the center of the site, there’s not as much to excavate there. 200,000 tons of stone. The implications are that if this is a Judean site, and we have no reason to believe it isn’t it’s within the territory, that we have a city that wasn’t built by a farmer who wanted a small fort. This required organization, this required central organization and planning to build something of this massive proportion. It is not near Jerusalem, which supposedly was a tiny little cow town controlling the little hinterland. It is on the periphery of Judah, right on the border to Philistia. Which makes sense because this was an area of contention. So what is the major planned place like this doing on the border if finklestein and others are correct in their conclusions in 2006 about Judah and about David.

We have now the oldest Hebrew inscription ever found at this site, again not at the center in Jerusalem, but found in the periphery right at the border of Philistia. What does that say about literacy at the time of David? You see how important this is. The media went into a frenzy when this was first announced on October 29, in a New York Times article. I was with Mark Finley at the Discoveries ’08 that weekend. And was presenting with him on Archaeology that weekend for the satellite series and on October 30, which was the evening that I was there. CNN had it as the second top story online. After that it went all over the world of course and we have all kinds of headlines. Archaeologists report finding all this Hebrew text. New evidence surfaces of David’s kingdom. A close look at the ancient fine print. One Newspaper in London went a little bit to far and said that finally evidence have been found for Goliath. Well, that’s not really true. But anyway, you know how the media can get some times. There was huge media attention to this from the Los Angeles Times, San Francisco chronicle, ABC News. All the way across

This summer, just a couple of weeks ago, southern Adventist university was working at this site. Opening our own field, here field D which we have publication rights for and which we will be working in close conjunction with the Hebrew university at this new exciting site here. I am very pleased to share with you a little bit about that season.

We were just there for three weeks, a short time not the full six weeks because we wanted to train and test out some new equipment with just staff this summer. We didn’t take with us a whole group of volunteers, there were twenty of us. Here’s some of them that didn’t leave to early, a small team of specialized archaeology students and graduates who have experience in the field. We brought along, southern Adventist university’s professor of computing, Scott Anderson and his wife Patty who is a statistician and mathematician. We brought along a professional surveyor. Some team members to help us with this. We even brought along our president, Dr. Beats. And put him to work out at the site, here he is in one of the bucket chains, moving things along. We tested out some brand new equipment which is just absolutely fabulous to use. We had an anonymous donor, very generous donor give us funding for GPS and total station equipment that allows us to precisely pinpoint and survey things to within a couple of millimeters. And that was just an incredible blessing. What this allows us to do in the field digitally, every single day we used to come up with a plan for what we’re excavating. Every single day our team produces one of these and charts that as time goes along.

There’s only two other sites in Israel that’s using this kind of technology, one is Harvard University and one is Televive University Bethshemesh. So we’re right on the cutting edge with developing this. We want to go a step beyond this. And what we’re doing with the data that we got this summer, and this is a lot of post processing that is taking place in the next couple of months. And I hope to present this at our professional meetings in New Orleans. But we’re wanting to basically go through layer by layer and digitally show as we peal back the layers, digitally reconstruct that in a way that artifacts can be placed in there original setting with digital photography. It’s very exciting to see what the future holds. I wish I could show you that here now, but we’ve only been back from the season for a few weeks. And there’s a lot of work that stills needs to be done by our team working on this. We’ve got students the computing department at Southern working on this as well as other professionals that are helping us with some of this data.

The wall, that you can see here in the area that we excavated. We excavated the casemate wall that continued south of the gate. The gate that was found in 2008, we excavated down to the floors of those. Now in 2008, the casemate walls that were excavated, the rooms inside the walls were empty devoid of pottery. All the pottery that was found was in the areas inside. So the breakthrough this summer was that in our area at least, we had complete restorable vessels inside the casemate walls themselves. Gusta moralus who’s the museum coordinator at Southern Adventist university was with us this summer, and here he holds part of a challis like the one you just saw a moment ago, one of those cups that he just picked up off the floor of the entry way or the doorway into his part that he was excavating into one of the casemate rooms. We found complete restorable huge storage jars about this tall. Here are some of the handles, notice the thumbprints that you have in there. Always, the question is who’s thumbprint is it? We all have individual thumbprints, at least I’d have to have mine taken when I go through security in Atlanta and travel internationally. Here we have thumbprints, so that’s makes us wonder.

We found literally dozens of these jar handles and we found in our area this summer in just three weeks of digging we found two restorable vessels that were these thumbprint jars that are very typical from the time of David from the early part of his history. Here are some of the restorable vessels that have been found and what is very exciting is we were working in this area over here. In this area over here another team was excavating a second gate. Now this brings us to the question of what site is this. By the way how long do I have till 12. Okay good

The second gate, here you can see the difference in the size of stone between this stone and this stones up above. That’s the later rebuilding of the Hellenistic wall, and here you have the earlier huge stones of the Israelite. And here you have the dimensions in the opening between the gate area. This was later filled in by alexander’s people in the fourth century B. C. and then you’ve got this opening that’s identical to the first gate that was found on the other side. By why two gates? Up to this point in Judah no other site besides Jerusalem and we only know that from later periods, no other site has more than one gate. Lahish, the second most important city in Judah has one gate. Bethshemesh, one gate. All the other, Dezer, one gate. Why two gates? Strategically, militarily, it’s certainly not to the advantage of this particular site to have two gates. Because the gate of course is the weakest part of the defense system and the part that was always attacked first. So why two gates? What could two gates hint to us about the identification of the site.

Well, let’s go to 1 Samuel 17:52 which is the end of the story of David and Goliath and look at that quickly. It says there, “when the Philistines saw that their hero was dead, they turned and ran.” Remember that part of the story. “Then the men of Israel and Judah surged forward with a shout and pursued the Philistines to the entrance of Gath and to the gates of Ekron.” Their dead were strewn along the shariam road to Gath and Ekron. To go back, here we have the valley of Elah. Here we have Gath and Ekron. Here they’re traveling along the valley, they didn’t go this way, because there’s mountains right here. They went around the valley here around Azekah undoubtedly and then fled to the gate of Ekron and to the gate of Gath.

But where did they go along the Shaariam road. That word Shaariam is only found three times. And in all three times it’s found in the context of David and this setting of this territory of the valley of Elah. Shaariam, what does it mean in Hebrew? Shaa means gate or door and Iam means a plural ending like our s at the end of the word. But it’s more than simply a plural ending, it is a dual ending. In Hebrew you have two plural ending, you have E which is like S. the iam at the end is a dual ending. So here we have two indicated two. Two what? Two Shaar, gates. So the name of the place is two gates. Why would it have that kind of name because perhaps it was very unique and certainly it is in the history of archaeology in that region. We don’t have another city in Judah with two gates. Perhaps Tergakiapah is in fact Shaariam as mentioned in this context in the Bible. Wouldn’t that be interesting if we had just found a new biblical city and are excavating it for the first time in history.

The gate by the way faces the road to Jerusalem, the other gate faces towards Philistia. So again, interesting. And this summer, this second gate was excavated and sure enough, well part of the piers were destroyed and robbed out by the later Hellenistic rebuilding. We have some of the piers very nicely preserved just as we have them in the other area as well. So here we have a site in a very crucial part of Judah, the heart land of the Bible. Tied to a very crucial period of Judah’s early history. And particularly to a story that is well known to any Jew and any Christian around the world. And it is the wonderful privilege to be involved in excavations there.

Who know why we have been as the Adventist Institution at such a time as this. In one of the biggest controversial topics in biblical archaeology and biblical studies today. The history of David and his monarchy. And so it’s exciting to be involved in something like that. It’s exciting for our students and our staff and for us as an institution to have that kind of an impact there with the Hebrew University and we hope to continue that relationship in the future. In fact our hopes are in the future to move perhaps from the site of Shaariam across the valley down the road, so we’ll have to see how that goes.

But the battle of David and Goliath is a big battle. It’s a battle in proportion for the early history of Israel, but certainly that battle continues to rage today. David realized that he was not battling a giant, he realized with Paul in Ephesians if you don’t mind turning there with me. In Ephesians 6, he realized “For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.”

The challenges that we face today in the western world are great challenges. The attack that we find coming in the popular front and in scholarly fronts from every angle to the Bible is serious. From creation to the patriarchs, to David, to the very history of these events that take place. It’s core to what we’re doing, if we are called to be evangelists. And what have we been called to do? To take that everlasting gospel of the first angel’s message and the second angels’ message and the third angel’s message. Ellen White calls those the everlasting gospel, the three angels’ messages. If we’re to take that to the world, but the world has major doubts about the Bible, how are we going to cross that bridge to them.

There’s some very serious issues with that as we look at the world around us. I just came from Europe on Tuesday as I said. Here’s a territory, I’m speaking now of the western world. Here’s a territory where Christianity began. Here’s an area where we have the wars of Christianity played out. The Waturp castle where Luther translated the New Testament for the first time. I was there last week, and I was standing in the room where Luther did that for the German people. and opened the word of God for the first time.

Prague, what and incredible city where Huss and Jerome preached the gospel and preached the Bible in the local Bohemian language from the Bethlehem chapel and finally gave their lives for that. My ten year old daughter were walking over the Charles bridge one day, she said to me, “Daddy if all these things happened here so many years ago…” and there we’re trying to grapple my eight and ten year olds with when this was in relationship to where they were. “Where are all the protestants today?” Wow, from a ten year old. Where are all the Protestants today?

My wife spent six weeks studying German at Bogen Hofen seminary this summer in Austria. Austria has 3,500 Adventists. I attended church in collegedale Tennessee that almost that many members. This is the western world, and even in this country where we send out missionaries early on to Europe, we sent J.N. Andrews out to be the first missionary to that part of the world. Even in this country we are facing huge challenges. Most of our demographic, some of demographic groups are growing but in other areas their not. What are we going to do to reach out to this generation and this time. When they’re grappling with all of these questions and all of these things. It’s not an easy tests. So I think one of the things that we have to do, and I’m speaking here to the choir, because you guys are doing it. ASI is doing it. Is coming up with different ways and different methods of reaching people around the world. Different avenues to do that. Archaeology is one of those.

In Chattanooga Tennessee in 2006, Mark Finley came to do a huge revelation of Hope series. And he had experimented a year early in Denver, with a series of archaeology meetings. And he called me up and said, Michael, I’d like to do this with a real archaeologist. I did it in Denver and it was very successful, but it would be more successful if we had a trained archaeologist on board as well. So we did. We opened it up in an Adventist church, we just sent I think about twenty thousand of these flyers out into the community and the first night, Friday evening we had 750 people come out. Now I know that that is an Adventist community. Collegedale is, and from our records and our registration, we saw that about half of those were Adventist. But half of them were not. On Saturday night, the second night, we had to call the police in to delegate traffic because over 800 people came. It was amazing to see the response to this particular topic of archaeology.

And what was even more amazing was that of the 400 or so non Adventist that attended, and these were premeetings to the main revelation of hope meetings that were in the downtown convention center in Chattanooga where by the way the net meetings all started in 1995, you remember that. The cross over into those main meetings was almost 90% from those 400. There’s a dynamic that is happening here that is very good.

So with that we decided that following year to go to the university of southern Main, in Portland Main where Teenie originally from. And we decided to try out the same thing. This time we didn’t do it in an Adventist church, in Chattanooga it was in an Adventist church. the archaeology meetings were. This time we decided to rent a brand new multi million dollar facility at the university of southern Maine. Now Maine is a different demographic completely. Portland is a small city, it’s not as large as Chattanooga. And we did not have the same kind of turnout, but we had about between 300 and 400 people that would come out on a nightly basis to these meetings. I still remember right here they’re sitting, four of them they were there two hours before the first meeting began. And they watched us wrestle with our computer, there were 500,000 dollars worth of technology equipment in this new hall and there was a bad VGA cable to the computer. So they thought it was our computers, we finally got it to work. But they came faithfully every single night we had these meetings. Turned out one of them is a catholic chaplain at the local catholic hospital. Dear ladies, and one night they came to Teeny and they said, you know what, these meetings have been wonderful, we’re so excited that we’re here. But we have been meeting as a Bible study group, we’ve been meeting on a regular basis for months now. And we’ve been praying for months that God would somehow direct us in a way that we can study the book of revelation more deeply. We have been praying about this, and these meetings have been wonderful, but do you have any idea how we could find that. And Teeny pulled out one of the brochures for the follow up meetings that we were having in a couple weeks. She says, well, actually we’re going to be hosting a whole series right here in this very same place for the next five weeks. And they just were blown away, they couldn’t believe it. God had answered they’re prayers and they came faithfully throughout that time. And attended those meetings.

The guy operating the sound booth in the back by the way, at the university of southern Maine was a student there, was a former seventh-day Adventist. And it was worth it just for that to be there and to have the meetings in that place.

Discoveries ’08, many of you watched it on television, the whole series especially the beginning part was revolving around archaeology. You noticed how Mark is dressed here? In a leather jacket, is that reminiscent of anybody or anything? So the idea here was to kind of emphasize archaeology, and I came down just for a weekend. I was teaching fulltime and couldn’t be down more than that. To work and show some artifacts live there as we did that. And then continue that. So this is an avenue that seems to work very well.

Tulsa, Oklahoma, I was there. Some of you know Bill McClendin, he is built up in the lat fifteen years, I think it’s probably the fastest growing church in North America. He went from a small group to seven hundred members in just short period. I think it’s less than fifteen years. And invited me to come out and do a series. And it was a delight to be with him there. I just got a letter two weeks ago, from one of the attendees of February of that meetings. Saying that she was a through and through skeptic, she said but those meetings helped her make a decision and she’s now a baptized member of the seventh-day Adventist church.

Boise Idaho, we’re going to be there with nadie, at the end of this month that’s involving six or seven different churches there with Dr. Ron Clouzet. Got to go back to the beginning you know, to the heart of things. So we’ll be at Battle creek tabernacle in Michigan as a prelude to an evangelistic series there.

And then we’re going to go overseas and try it in secular Europe for an entire week in Lisbon, portugual this coming October. So it’s exciting to see what God is doing and what he continues to do.

One of the things that we’re also trying to do is produce materials that can be use by church members and lay people as well. This is a series of ten programs that we just put out in 2007, which basically is the series that we do live, but for television and it’s been shown on the Hope channel. So these are all avenues.

The point is this, God has given us all means to reach people, I am not an professional evangelist. I’m a scientist and an archaeologist, but this can work in my field I have found. And why am I doing five meeting sthis year. When I should be writing books and articles which I do as well, because I believe in evangelism. There’s a lot of pastors in our north American division today that don’t believe in public evangelism today and members that don’t either. There’s a lot of people in Europe that don’t believe it works anymore. But I believe it can as we explores new avenues and new ways in which to make that happen. So I thank ASI for the work that they’re doing in making new plans and cutting edge new developments with various programs and things. And this is one way in which I hope in the future we can continue to reach out to the secular mind.

I want to end with a text from scripture it’s found in Revelation the last chapter the few verses. This is what Jesus says in verse twelve of the last chapter of the Bible. And the word if for you and I as well. “Jesus says, and behold I am coming quickly.” Nobody who looks at the events around the world today can doubt that Jesus is coming very soon. “And my reward is with me to give to everyone according to his work. I am the alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end, the first and the last.” And then in verse 16 he says, “I jesus have sent my angel to testify to you these things in the churches. I am the root, and the offspring of David, the bright and morning star.” I’m looking forward to seeing that bright and morning star again soon. But I believe that he still has a great deal for us to do before then, and I challenge each oen of us to pray for each other as we continue to reach out to those around us and share with them this everlasting gospel.

Let’s bow our heads for prayer.

Heavenly, father we thank you for the way you work in your church today. We have been called to a time and place in earth’s history that is challenging there’s no question about it. It’s is probably going to be the most challenging period of earth’s history that any church has ever faced. Thank you for preparing us. Thank you for giving us your instruction in your word and for the hope and courage that you provide for us. Thank you that you are coming quickly. And we ask more than anything else that your holy spirit would infuse each of us. That when we read your word, that we would be convicted of what it says and that it wouldn’t end in our homes or in our places of work but that it would go out and that we would have the courage to share and to proclaim that which you have called this church at this time to share and proclaim to the world. We thank you in Jesus name, amen.


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