Sunday, April 17, 2016

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The Beit Shemesh Palace of King David(s governor)

(Haaretz) Two or three rows of stones stretching across 30 meters. That is what remains of what is believed to be King David's palace, or at least the palace of a senior district governor that served the king some 3,000 years ago, according to scholars from the Hebrew University in Jerusalem and the Israel Antiquities Authority.  These vestiges have been excavated at Khirbet Qeiyafa on the Judean foothills, not far from Beit Shemesh.

…Completed excavation attest to the fact that this was an important district capital that was subordinate to Jerusalem and ruled its surroundings, and that the culture was Judahite-Israelite rather than Canaanite or Philistine. Qeifaya can be identified with the city of Sha'arayim that is mentioned in the Bible. "And the wounded of the Philistines fell along the road to Sha'arayim," relates the book of 1 Samuel, describing the pursuit of the Philistine army immediately after David's glorious victory over Goliath.

Most of the palace was destroyed 1,400 years after it was built, and replaced by a large Byzantine building (that would be cultural imperialism by the Byzantine Romans).

Let’s take a look at this biblical palace, shall we?

Huge stone walls, this was both a large building and a defensive building.

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Mosaic tile floors.  Each piece is hand chipped and hand painted.

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Close up, grapes.

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Another room with a large tile floor but no mosaic.

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Olive or wine press.

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This was a large building, or maybe a series of interconnected buildings.

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Inside the hole a tile floor can be seen.  Was this a cistern or food storage?  A sleeping chamber?  I’m not an archeologist, but you don’t normally see underground rooms that are tiled.  Maybe even a mikvah?

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There’s this nearby olive tree that has a literal mound of broken pottery.  This is something you find also in Tel Shiloh, the site of the Mishkan (the portable temple before the Temple was built in Jerusalem).  It’s because pots were discarded before Passover, and broken to prevent their use (since they could not be kashered – made kosher).

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Here’s a piece up close…notice every piece has this fine detail work…

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Sadly the area is right in the middle of the construction site of Ramat Beit Shemesh Dalet.  Hopefully it’s set aside and won’t be bulldozed.  (There’s so many findings in Israel that not every one can be kept and allow for natural growth.)

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