The Bible Lands Museum Jerusalem offered a unique preview of an exhibition showcasing 3,000-year-old artifacts recovered from Khirbet Qeiyafa which archaeologists believe could be the biblical city of Sha’arayim that is mentioned in the biblical story of the battle of David and Goliath. Khirbet Qeiyafa, overlooking the Elah Valley, southwest of Jerusalem is an ancient fortified city that was discovered around a decade ago. But it was not until the second year of excavations in 2008 that archaeologists realized they had stumbled upon what was possibly the earliest physical evidence of a Davidic city dating back to the 11th Century BCE.
“Here in Khirbet Qeiyafa from 2007 and onward, for the first time in the archaeology of Israel and in the ancient Near East, we have a fortified city from the time of David, because it was built and destroyed after 20 or 30 years, everything was frozen. So you really have like a ‘Biblical Pompeii’. If you want today to know anything about David you had to look at Khirbet Qeiyafa; this is the only source that we have about this period,” said Professor Yosef Gurfinkel, Archaeology Institute – Hebrew University of Jerusalem.
Over the course of seven years, excavations revealed a walled city with two equally large and dominant gates – a highly unusual feature for a relatively small city. The Elah Valley divided the lands of the Israelites and the Philistines, whose champion warrior was killed by the young shepherd boy David. When archaeologists excavated the gates they were reminded of the ancient city of Sha’arayim, literally ‘Two Gates’ in Hebrew, that featured in the famous story. Despite strong evidence that suggests Khirbet Qeiyafa could be the lost city of Sha’arayim, Gurfinkel, added that the findings could neither prove nor disprove the Bible, but that it could establish “what is written in the Bible fits the geographical situation and the anthropology of the period. The story of David and Goliath and the city are located in exactly the same location; they’re from the same period, so it cannot be a coincidence.”
The Bible Lands Museum in Jerusalem will open the new exhibition on September 5th, entitled “In the valley of David and Goliath,” which will provide an opportunity for visitors to go back in history to the time of Israel’s King David.