Toilet discovered at 2,800-year-old shrine reveals Biblical tale of desecration of religious sites by King Hezekiah of Judah

Toilet discovered at 2,800-year-old shrine reveals Biblical tale of desecration of religious sites by King Hezekiah of Judah

  • The city gate at Tel Lachish in Israel has been found to have once contained a sacred shrine with two altars
  • Raised corners once decorated the altars have been cut and a toilet was installed in the corner of the shrine
  • Archaeologists believe this was a desecration as part of a religious crackdown on cults and idol worship
  • King Hezekiah is said in the Bible to have ‘removed the high places’ and ‘smashed the sacred stones’

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King Hezekiah instituted one of the most zealous religious crackdowns in the history of Judaism and saw the numerous cults in ancient Judah smashed to pieces.

Now evidence of the reforms implemented by King Hezekiah, which are described in the Old Testament, around 2,800 years ago have surfaced in a surprising form.

Archaeologists digging at the site of an ancient gate to the ruined city of Tel Lachish in Israel have uncovered the remains of a shrine that was desecrated during the purges in the 8th century BC. The discovery at Tel Lachish, however, is the first time that an archaeological find confirms this practice.
The Lachish city gate, as it is known, consists of six chambers which contain signs of city life at the time. In one of the chambers, however, is a shrine that once had walls covered with white plaster and two altars decorated with raised corners – known as horns.

These, however, appear to have had their tops deliberately cut off, a sign that there had been an attempt to end the spread of religious cults and centralise worship in Jerusalem  Putting a latrine at a holy site was considered to be sacrilege as it soiled a religious location that was to be respected. In the case of Jehu who destroyed the cult of Baal in Samaria the Bible states “And they demolished the pillar of Baal and demolished the house of Baal and made it a latrine to this day” (2 Kings 10:27).

Perhaps the greatest sign that the shrine had been the site of one of King Hezekiah’s crackdowns was the installation of the toilet within the inner sanctum of the shrine.

This stone with a hole cut through the centre would have been the ultimate desecration of the holy site. 38e07e1f00000578-3811712-tests_on_the_stone_toilet_pictured_and_the_ground_around_it_sugg-a-59_1475070670278

Sa’ar Ganor, excavation director on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority, said: ‘Steps to the gate-shrine in the form of a staircase ascended to a large room where there was a bench upon which offerings were placed.

‘An opening was exposed in the corner of the room that led to the holy of holies.

‘To our great excitement, we found two four-horned altars and scores of ceramic finds consisting of lamps, bowls and stands in this room.

‘It is most interesting that the horns on the altar were intentionally truncated. That is probably evidence of the religious reform attributed to King Hezekiah.’ According to the narrative given in the Book of Kings in the Bible, King Hezekiah oversaw a widespread effort to abolish the religious cults and idol worship that had sprung up in Judah.

It states in II Kings 18:4: ‘He removed the high places, smashed the sacred stones and cut down the Asherah poles…’

Tests at the site showed that while the toilet stone appears to have been installed to desecrate the shrine, it was never actually used. Archaeologists instead believe it had been placed there symbolically and the inner sanctum of the shrine was sealed shut.

Dr Ganor said: ‘The size of the gate is consistent with the historical and archaeological knowledge we possess, whereby Lachish was a major city and the most important one after Jerusalem’.

‘According to the Biblical narrative, the cities’ gates were the place where ‘everything took place’.

‘The city elders, judges, governors, kings and officials – everyone would sit on benches in the city gate. These benches were found in our excavation.’

The ruins of the city gate today:

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A reconstruction of the city gate:

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Water and The Bible

It’s raining again – what a surprise!

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In the UK perhaps, we do not appreciate the value of this precious liquid.

 

In many parts of the world, especially in Africa, there is a desperate shortage of drinking water. Experts reckon that over a billion people have no easy access to water. Yet in the depths of the ground there is plenty! Alain Gachet, a French geologist, has devised a computer programm130508559e92082b6cb7c7b6c74f3f4916ed10e whereby he can look deep below the earth’s surface and expose water ‘shining’ far underground. For example, in 2013 he located a lake bigger than Lake Windermere up to 300 metres in the northern tip of Kenya. His advice is sought by the USA and the United Nations. However, to extract it would be very expensive and since water is not a market-quoted commodity, there is no commercial infrastructure for pumping it to the surface.

When Jesus comes back to establish the Kingdom of God, shortage of water will be a thing of the past. There will be plenty for crop production, and for the global population. Here is a glimpse from the Bible of that time:

“The wilderness and the dry land shall be glad; the desert shall rejoice, and blossom like the crocus. It shall blossom abundantly, and rejoice even with joy and singing… for waters shall break forth in the wilderness, and streams in the desert. The burning sand shall become a pool, and the thirsty grounds springs of water.” (Isaiah 35:1,2 and 6,7)

“There shall be an handful of corn in the earth upon the top of the mountains …” (Psalm 72:16)

It will be possible to grow crops where they cannot be grown now! Psalm 72 goes into great detail about this wonderful time to come. Please read it carefully and prayerfully.

In this Kingdom Jesus, the King and his saints will guide the nations in righteousness – that which is right in the sight of God. They will have the power of God to overcome all problems. Monetary considerations will play no part in their decision making. Please look at Isaiah 32:1 and 2 and Jeremiah 23:5.

So that during that age “the work of righteousness shall be peace; and the effect of righteousness quietness and assurance for ever”(Isaiah 32:17).

Perhaps Jesus will make use of the waters that Alain Gachet has discovered!

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*Quotes are taken from the ESV & KJV

To find out more about our hope and how you can become a part of it, visit our website: www.ammanfordchristadelphians.co.uk. Our next public meeting will be held at 2.30pm on Sunday, in our hall, Foundry Road, Ammanford. All are welcome to attend!

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Happy Hanukkah! But wait, what is ‘Hanukkah’?

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Hanukkah, also called the ‘Feast of Dedication’ or ‘Festival of Lights’ will be celebrated by Jews from the 6th to the 14th of December 2015 (25th of Kislev). But what is it, and why is it important to us today?

HANUKKAH, the only Jewish festival not mentioned in the Hebrew Bible, is an eight-day festival that commemorates the cleansing and rededication of the temple following the victories of Judas Maccabeus in 167/165 B.C. over the atrocities committed to the Jewish temple and priesthood by ‘vile’ Syrian king Antiochus IV.

Daniel writes accurately (Dan 11:29-30) about Antiochus’ defeat in Egypt – “he shall be grieved, and return, and have indignation”, and about the way Antiochus vented upon Judah because of his loss “they shall pollute the sanctuary of strength, and shall take away the daily sacrifice”, of which the book of Maccabees records that an altar was set up to Olympian Zeus (Jupiter), upon which pigs (unclean by the Jewish law) were sacrificed. This abomination, was only turned around by the hand of God’s plan for the nation through Judas Maccabeus.

While the Jewish book of Maccabees describe the events in Daniel from this period, we do not have to rely only on one historical source of information of the events prophesied by Daniel. Polybius – a historian – is another who describes Antiochus’ actions (31.9).

Judas Maccabeus is said to have ended up cleansing and restoring the temple, after the revolt against Antiochus had ended, he dedicated the new altar with sacrifices, song, and joyous worship for eight days.

The obvious lesson from the tradition is that it follows in a long line of Jewish oppression. Time and time again, a nation will have power over them. The Egyptians, Philistines, Assyrians, Medes/Persians, Greeks, Romans. Yet where are these great superpowers, along with Antiochus and his vile crimes? God says about Israel that “You are My witnesses” (Isaiah 53:10), and that “…he that touches you touches the pupil of His eye” (Zech 2:8). Such promises were made first to Abraham and his seed, that “..I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee..” (Gen 12:3).

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