Digging up new insight on the David and Goliath story

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This overhead view of Khirbet Qeiyafa clearly shows a fortified city that once overlooked the Valley of Elah, where David defeated Goliath. Because it has two gates, this could be the lost city of Sha’arayim, which means “Two Gates.”

The Jerusalem Post published an interesting story this week on the finds that have been uncovered at Khirbet Qeiyafa, which may be the biblical city of Sha’arayim.

You know more about Sha’arayim than you might think.

When David left his brothers and King Saul on the hillside, slipped into the Valley of Elah and battled Goliath, it might have been Sha’arayim that he left behind.

The name of the village means “two gates.” Sure enough, when archeologists started poking around the dirt atop the ridge overlooking the Elah Valley, they found a double-gated city just 8 inches beneath the dirt.

That discovery came about 10 years ago. Climb the steep hill to see it for yourself, and you’ll see that the city has been greatly excavated. Visit the Bible Lands Museum in Jerusalem, and you’ll see the pottery and other items that have provided rare confirmation of David and Saul’s existence.

Why does this make a difference to us?

First of all, it adds a new insight on why the Philistines and Israelites were at a stalemate. We’ve long known the Philistines were better equipped and more numerous than the Israelites in this particular battle. Even so, Goliath and his band of brothers could not dislodge Saul and his trembling army from their hillside post.

If Saul’s forces had both the protection of the steep hill and a fortified city at the top of the hill, it immediately explains why Goliath was limited to his frustrated calls to battle in the valley.

More importantly, it’s one more incredible confirmation of why you can trust the Bible’s message.

Over and over, the Bible tells the truth about the places of its history. In 1 Samuel 17, where you can read the story of David taking on Goliath, there are five geographic reference points in the first three verses alone! You’ll find Sha’arayim mentioned toward the end of the passage, when the Philistines are running for their lives toward Gath.

One of the archeologists quoted in the Post story said, “what is written in the Bible fit(s) 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.”

“It’s incredible historical evidence all coming together at the same time,” said another expert.

When people return from a tour of Israel, this is one of the messages they’ll never forget. Over and over, in chapter after chapter, the writers of the Bible told the truth about the where of each story. And my question is a simple one. If they went to that much trouble to tell you the truth about a story’s location, wouldn’t they also be telling the truth about the story they’re telling?

Inside the ruins of Khirbet Qeiyafa, overlooking the Valley of Elah. (William Haun photo)

Inside the ruins of Khirbet Qeiyafa, overlooking the Valley of Elah. (William Haun photo)