A carved pillar discovered close to Bethlehem may be linked to the Biblical King David, or at least able to validate the scope of wise Solomon's majestic kingdom. Experts say it may confirm Old Testament text if politics don't interfere.
Binyamin Tropper, an Israeli tour guide who thought he was the first to discover the historical artifact, was amazed to realize that authorities had known about the pillar for decades but keeping it as secret all that time – he was told to "shut up".
Earlier this month, Time of Israel said, several prominent Israeli archaeologists were brought to inspect the site. Among them was Yosef Garfinkel, an archaeology professor from Hebrew University. They say further evidence of the real-life world behind the Biblical stories is related to the Old Testament. They say the stone pillar, aged about 2,800 year, could help locate those legends on a map and connect the modern Israel with its historical roots of Judaism.
The pillar matched monumental construction from the 9th or 8th centuries BCE — the time of the First Temple in Jerusalem. That signaled the presence of an important and previously unknown structure from that period. The pillar, Garfinkel said, marks the entrance to a carved water tunnel reaching 250 yards underground complex construction that would almost certainly have been carried out by a central government. At the time, the area was ruled by Judean kings in nearby Jerusalem. The existence of a large water tunnel at the new site suggests the presence nearby of a large farm or palace.
A carved pillar discovered close to Bethlehem may be linked to the Biblical King David.
“The construction is first-rate. There is definitely something important there from biblical times, the 9th or 8th centuries BCE,” he said.
Unfortunately the complexities of Arab-Israeli relations make the finding ignored to avoid a major political battle over centuries of debate concerning who has the more legitimate claim to the Holy Land.
"As the site is located in the West Bank, not within the official borders of Israel, it is more problematic to excavate there than inside Israel," Yosef Garfinkel told Fox News. There is no doubt the remains are those of monumental construction from the time of the First Temple, Garfinkel added. An internal debate in Israel during the last 20-30 years has ensued over the size and importance of King David's kingdom as described in the Bible. This pillar's design, Tropper says, is consistent with the time period of the First Temple and would help provide concrete evidence of the Judean king's existence in Israel.
"This pillar weighs approximately five tons, so you can't move it," Tropper said. "Because it is so big, we know it must belong to this location." While he is reluctant to reveal the exact location of the pillar in order to prevent attracting antiquity thieves, he admits the find is all the more controversial as it currently rests on privately owned land belonging to a Palestinian.