When workers found this ancient toilet seat earlier this year at the gate of Tel Lachish, they knew it was no ordinary latrine. This was a direct connection to King Hezekiah’s reforms we read about in II Kings 18:4! (Igor Kreimerman photo.)
Tel Lachish has long been one of the most important and most impressive of the ancient cities on display in Israel today.
The massive hill lies 26 miles southwest of Jerusalem. When Lachish was a fortified city, it served as the southern-most guard for all of Judah. Along with Azekah, these two cities and their armed forces were critically important for Jerusalem’s protection.
Because he knew Assyrian forces would eventually attack Judah, Hezekiah heavily fortified Jerusalem, Azekah and Lachish. In time, the two smaller cities were taken, but Jerusalem was saved as a direct result of Hezekiah’s zealous faith in the Lord alone.
The problem with Judah’s people, of course, is that they constantly wavered between a devotion to God and the lure of the pagan religions that also permeated the area.
In Lachish, there came a time when one of the pagan religions took hold of the city. As visitors crossed the moat and climbed an incredibly impressive ramp to the city gate, they were met with a most unusual scene at the city entrance.
It was a shrine to a pagan god, complete with a “holy of holies!”
It was one of those seasons when the people of Judah had completely lost their spiritual bearings.
Thankfully, some kings and leaders in Israel’s history did their best to lead the people back to the worship of God. When Jehu was cleaning house in the northern kingdom, for instance, he not only killed the prophets of Baal and destroyed the sacred objects, but he made the Baal temple a latrine!
If we could smell that last sentence, the impact would be more impressive. The psychological effect would have been amazing. Can you imagine your community using your place of worship as a public restroom?
Some years later, Hezekiah led a series of reforms in the southern end of Israel. That shrine of pagan worship at the entrance of Lachish? Apparently, he flushed it.