The most recent issue of “Israel My Glory” is perhaps the single best issue of any periodical on Israel I’ve ever read. From start to finish, this bi-monthly magazine from The Friends of Israel is packed with relevant news, incredible photography and insightful writing.
This photograph of Khirbet Qeiyafa is part of an “archeological” package in this month’s issue that is a must-read for anyone wondering why archeology is important to readers of the Bible.
I first visited Khirbet Qeiyafa in 2009. It must have taken 45 minutes for us to walk along the mile-long ridge before we found it that day. Very intentionally, the site wasn’t being publicized at the time and it still was naturally hidden by all the growth around it. Those digging through the dirt wanted time to discover what they’d found before the world came to visit!
Known by its distinctive two city gates, this community dates back to the era of Saul and David and is likely “Shaaraim,” a city mentioned in 1 Samuel 17. “Shaaraim” means “two gates.”
Important to you? More than you might think!
The Elah Valley — seen in the background of this photograph — is where David killed Goliath. Maybe the writer assumed you’d know that Saul’s fortress of Shaaraim overlooked the valley. After all, he certainly wanted you to know where this battle took place. Did you know that there are eight geographical reference points in 1 Samuel 17? It’s almost as if the writer was saying, “Look, I know you’re not going to believe what I’m about to tell you, but if you want to visit the battlefield, here’s how you can get there!”
Now for the insight to the David-and-Goliath story.
The Philistines were obviously the stronger fighting force when the confrontation came. They had more fighters and better weapons. So why didn’t they just storm the poorly led, poorly equipped Israelites?
Perhaps because they were in a fortified city at the top of a steep ridge!
Visit this site one day and you’ll see how close — and yet how far away — these forces were. When Goliath belted out his challenges, anyone in Shaaraim would have heard his insults. The ridge nearly hangs over the valley, and the path that leads directly to it is so steep, you’ll need both hands just to help you climb the hill. No matter how well armed, the Philistines couldn’t take the fight to Saul’s forces!
Sadly, Saul’s forces were too frightened to take the fight to the Philistines. Even one giant seemed too much of a challenge!
A young shepherd from Bethlehem decided to do something about the situation. He had come to the battlefield only as a visitor. Before that day was out, David’s name was known all over Israel.
As recently as ten years ago, scholars were expounding on a “convincing” lack of evidence for any proof from kingdoms of Saul and David. In other words, they believed Saul and David weren’t even real people!
Today, they’re eating crow and admitting they spoke too soon. From Jerusalem to Khirbet Qeiyafa, archeologists are pulling proof for the Bible’s reliability right out of the ground.
This is the greatest lesson, I think, the land of Israel can give us: If there’s such an overwhelming amount of evidence for the places of the Bible, you can also believe the Bible’s message!
Ask an archeologist to show you his or her Bible. When they’re investing millions of research dollars in a project like this? They use every reliable tool they’ve got. And yes, she’s got a Bible nearby.
No other religious text has anything remotely like the geographic reference points listed in the Bible. There are thousands of references in the Bible. All of those references interact with other references. In this case, if the David and Goliath story is true, then there needs to be a Judah, a Bethlehem, a Gath, an Elah Valley, plus cities named Azekah, Sokoh and Shaaraim.
The places are all there, exactly in the positions they should be.
You will find this to be true all over the lands of the Bible. You can trust the Bible when it comes to geographic reference points! Faith takes the next step and believes the message of the Bible.
Amazingly, you and I live in a time when sites like Shaaraim are being discovered … and when digital technology is able to share incredible images like this one with all of us, wherever in the world we might happen to be reading magazines like Israel My Glory.
I’m proud to be associated with The Friends of Israel, a ministry that is selling “Secrets from the Ancient Paths” to their readers around the world. Want to check out the magazine? The first year is free! Visit this link to learn more.