King Saul and Archaeology
 
by Rick Dack, Founder and Director of Defending the Bible Int’l.
 
 
 

(All images and text are owned/purchased by Defending the Bible Int'l. and cannot be used without permission)
 
 
"To many people it seems remarkable that David and Solomon still remain unknown outside the Old Testament or literary sources derived directly from it. No extra-Biblical inscription, either from Palestine or from a neighboring country, has yet been found to contain a reference to them." - Kathleen Kenyon, former Jericho and Jerusalem Excavator (Price 1997, 162).
 
"Similarly, the David of the Bible, David the King, is not a historical figure." - Neils Peter Lemche (Biblical Archaeology Review, July/August 1997, 40).
 
. .."of exuberant imagination." J.A. Montgomery, in The International Critical Commentary, labeled the passages 1 Kings 6:20-22, 30 and 2 Chronicles 3:4-7 as products of myth concerning the inside of Solomon's Temple as being pure gold. - (Bible and Spade, Autumn 1994, 97).
 
"Tom, I don't care in the least whether Solomon ever existed. I'm probably more of a disbeliever than you. I don't really care about the traditions. I don't believe any of the myths." -William Dever addressing Thomas Thompson. (Biblical Archaeology Review, July/August 1997, 33).
 
"I want to be sure you understand me about David and Solomon. For me, as an archaeologist, it's simple. I don't have to argue whether this Solomon existed. I do have to argue that somebody built these gates (at Gezer, Megiddo and Hazor) in a government that was highly centralized, and for me that means statehood. In other words its Solomon by another name. I don't care. I'm talking about centralization and the rise of the state. And I use the term Solomon as a kind of convenient short hand. And so therefore I would say a Solomon of sort existed but not necessarily the Solomon of fable." - William Dever, (Biblical Archaeology Review, July/August 1997, 40).
 
 
For a number of years, the critics of the Bible have invaded our literature, television, and other forms of media. Unfortunately, many people of conviction, including students in Christian institutions, have fallen prey to perceived literature and films that must be pro-Bible just by the very nature of their publicized name. I have no problem with the concept of all ideas being expressed, but there must be an alternative to information for the student to consume that will compliment rather than offend and confuse the person of faith. Fortunately, there are publications such as Artifax magazine and Bible and Spade, but these young publications are not allowed into libraries because they do not fit all the standards necessary for indexing. A perfect of example of this problem happened at Northwestern College in St. Paul, Minnesota, where a student denied the very existence of Jericho and its destruction. I was shocked at hearing this student rail against the biblical city that was destroyed after the Exodus. Even more unbelievable, is knowing that a year and a half prior to this, Dr. Bryant Wood spoke at Northwestern College where he supported the biblical city's historical and archaeological merits. The next logical question arises: Is the Bible of exuberant imagination (see title and quote above), or can it be trusted? This question has been exhausted by minimalist and maximalist scholars for years, and one cannot help but logically make the leap with the following set of circumstances. If the Exodus never happened, then Jericho must be a myth, and the Hebrews never escaped the bondage initially started by the Hyksos. If this scenario is true, then there is no basis for Judges and the beginning of the nation of Israel is pure fancy. Also, there is no need for Kings if you have no Kingdom. As will be seen there is ample evidence for Kings Saul, (Ishbosheth of 2 Samuel 2:10  - temporary King not covered in this paper), David and Solomon, much to the dismay of critics who either choose not to believe, have not researched the evidence, or have pre-conceived ideas about early Israel.
 
 
Nahash the Ammonite
 
1 Nahash the Ammonite went up and besieged Jabesh Gilead. And all the men of Jabesh said to him, "Make a treaty with us, and we will be subject to you." - 1 Samuel 11:1 (http://bible.gospelcom.net/bible)
 
Prior to Saul's proclamation as King (at Gilgal) by his people, Nahash the Ammonite laid siege against Jabesh Gilead with his marauders. The people of Jabesh Gilead tried to make peace with Nahash (Serpent), he refused, Saul was contacted at Gibeah, and he eventually won the day by attacking the Ammonites with his three companies until the heat of the day (1 Samuel 11:11). This act not only assured Saul's place as Israel's first King but also showed his competency as a great military leader who could lead his people to victory (Life Application Bible, 1993, 462). Jabesh Gilead (dry heap of stones) is located 19 miles southeast of Beth Shan and 12 miles north of the Jabbock River (Bible and Spade, Winter 1982, 13). When King Saul and his sons were slain by the Philistines and his body was placed at Beth Shan, it was the men of Jabesh-Gilead who gave them a proper burial.
 
 
Saul and the Witch of Endor
  
3 Now Samuel was dead, and all Israel had mourned for him and buried him in his own town of Ramah. Saul had expelled the mediums and spiritists from the land. 4 The Philistines assembled and came and set up camp at Shunem, while Saul gathered all the Israelites and set up camp at Gilboa. 5 When Saul saw the Philistine army, he was afraid; terror filled his heart. 6 He inquired of the Lord , but the Lord did not answer him by dreams or Urim or prophets. 7 Saul then said to his attendants, "Find me a woman who is a medium, so I may go and inquire of her." "There is one in Endor," they said. 8 So Saul disguised himself, putting on other clothes, and at night he and two men went to the woman. "Consult a spirit for me," he said, "and bring up for me the one I name." 9 But the woman said to him, "Surely you know what Saul has done. He has cut off the mediums and spiritists from the land. Why have you set a trap for my life to bring about my death?" 10 Saul swore to her by the Lord , "As surely as the Lord lives, you will not be punished for this." 11 Then the woman asked, "Whom shall I bring up for you?" "Bring up Samuel," he said. 12 When the woman saw Samuel, she cried out at the top of her voice and said to Saul, "Why have you deceived me? You are Saul!" 13 The king said to her, "Don't be afraid. What do you see?" The woman said, "I see a spirit [1] coming up out of the ground." 14 "What does he look like?" he asked. "An old man wearing a robe is coming up," she said. Then Saul knew it was Samuel, and he bowed down and prostrated himself with his face to the ground. - 1 Samuel 28:3-14 (http://bible.gospelcom.net/bible)
 
After a careful examination of the text, there are some interesting points that should be touched upon. 1 Samuel 28:11 speaks of the witch wanting to bring up the person who she is trying to contact. The Ob (pronounced "Ov") pit was more than likely what she was using. The pit was 6 feet wide, 6 feet deep, and was used for conjuring spirits. Offerings of blood, milk, and honey were dropped into the pit, and the conjurer would recite spells and incantations over the concoction in order to lure the spirits up out of the hole. The reason that a witch would use the pit was to ask questions of the deceased as seen in the Old Testament story in which Saul contacted the prophet Samuel. The description of the Ob pit is mentioned in Hittite literature, but there is no indication within the text that the Witch of Endor was a Hittite (Old Testament Archaeology video, Northwestern College, 2000).
 
 
The Death of Saul and the Philistines at Beth Shan
 
1 Now the Philistines fought against Israel; the Israelites fled before them, and many fell slain on Mount Gilboa. 2 The Philistines pressed hard after Saul and his sons, and they killed his sons Jonathan, Abinadab and Malki-Shua. 3 The fighting grew fierce around Saul, and when the archers overtook him, they wounded him. 4 Saul said to his armor-bearer, "Draw your sword and run me through, or these uncircumcised fellows will come and abuse me." But his armor-bearer was terrified and would not do it; so Saul took his own sword and fell on it. 5 When the armor-bearer saw that Saul was dead, he too fell on his sword and died. 6 So Saul and his three sons died, and all his house died together. 7 When all the Israelites in the valley saw that the army had fled and that Saul and his sons had died, they abandoned their towns and fled. And the Philistines came and occupied them. 8 The next day, when the Philistines came to strip the dead, they found Saul and his sons fallen on Mount Gilboa. 9 They stripped him and took his head and his armor, and sent messengers throughout the land of the Philistines to proclaim the news among their idols and their people. 10 They put his armor in the temple of their gods and hung up his head in the temple of Dagon - 1 Chronicles 10: 1-10 (http://bible.gospelcom.net/bible)
 
7 When the Israelites along the valley and those across the Jordan saw that the Israelite army had fled and that Saul and his sons had died, they abandoned their towns and fled. And the Philistines came and occupied them. 8 The next day, when the Philistines came to strip the dead, they found Saul and his three sons fallen on Mount Gilboa. 9 They cut off his head and stripped off his armor, and they sent messengers throughout the land of the Philistines to proclaim the news in the temple of their idols and among their people. 10 They put his armor in the temple of the Ashtoreths and fastened his body to the wall of Beth Shan. - 1 Samuel 31:7-10 (http://bible.gospelcom.net/bible).
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
The excavations by Amahai Mazar at Beth Shan have uncovered Philistine pottery, a strainer jug, a fertility goddess statue, a Philistine bowl which were all Aegean in their styles (Archaeology and Biblical Research, Spring 1992, 63). In addition, a strong Egyptian presence from 1450 - 1150 B.C. was uncovered according to area supervisor Bob Mullins (Price 1997, 147). Its earliest level of occupation dates to about 3000 B.C., and the latest evidence found is from the Roman period which includes inscriptions, pottery, and an amphitheatre. Beth Shan is located between the Jordan and Jezreel Valleys (Blaiklock, 1983, 100). After Saul's death, his body and the bodies of his sons (except Ishbosheth's, who would reign two years before David's rule) were placed on the wall at Beth Shan, his armor was placed at an Ashtoreth Temple, and his head was placed in a Temple of Dagon. A problem arose with this portion of Scripture because both Temples could not have existed at the same time. It was known that a Philistine Temple (of the god Dagon) and a Canaanite Temple (the goddess Astoreth) could not be present within the same level of occupation because the Canaanites were an earlier people and had gods of opposing peoples. The answer to this riddle is the belief that the Philistines more than likely absorbed the Canaanite gods into their beliefs and thus kept the Temple as an adjoining part of their Dagon Temple. In 1930, Alan Rowe uncovered the Philistine and Canaanite Temple in the same level of occupation at Beth Shan. This discovery once again proves that the Bible is textually and archaeologically accurate (Bible and Spade, Winter 1972, 9-11).
 
    
Bibliography (includes source material for David and Solomon from original article)
 
Aling, Charles F. Egypt and Bible History (Michigan: Baker Book House, 1981)
 
Billington, Clyde., Aling, Charles. Readings in Old Testament Archaeology (video). St. Paul: Northwestern College, 2000.
 
Biran, Avraham. "David" found at Dan. Washington, D.C. Biblical Archaeology Review, (March/April 1994).
 
Blaiklock, Edward M. The New International Dictionary of Biblical Archaeology. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan Publishing House, 1983.
 
Brantley, Garry K. Digging for Answers. Montgomery, Alabama: Apologetics Press. Inc, 1995.
 
Byers, Gary A. "To Sling or Not to Sling/Ekron." Walkersville, Maryland. Bible and Spade - The Associates for Biblical Research, (Winter 1998).
 
Free, Joseph P. Archaeology and Bible History. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan Publishing House, 1992.
 
"High-State Officials under David and Solomon." Ann Arbor, Michigan: Word of Truth Productions/Bible and Spade - The Associates for Biblical Research, (Autumn 1973).
 
The Illustrated Bible Dictionary (Volume 1). Leicester LE1 7GP, England. Inter-Varsity Press, 1998.
 
Life Application Bible. Wheaton, Illinois: Tyndale House Publishers Inc. 1993
 
Millard Alan."Does the Bible exaggerate Solomon's Wealth?" Ephrata, Pennsylvania: Bible and Spade - The Associates for Biblical Research, (Autumn 1994).
 
Millard Alan. "Solomon in All His Glory." Ballston Spa, New York: Word of Truth Productions/Bible and Spade - The Associates for Biblical Research, (Spring-Summer-Autumn 1982).
 
Millard, Alan. Treasures from Bible Times. Herts, England: Lion Publishing, 1985.
 
Mullins, Robert. "Philistines at Beth Shan." Ephrata, Pennsylvania. Archaeology and Biblical Research - The Associates for Biblical Research, (Spring 1992).
 
"Neurologist says Goliath Dies from bad eyesight." Spring 2000 Archaeology News Digest. http://www.msn.fullfeed.com/~scribe/digest20002.htm.
 
Price, Randall. The Stones Cry Out. Eugene, Oregon: Harvest House Publishers, 1997.
 
Ritmeyer, Leen and Kathleen. "Thy Servants Take Pleasure in Her Stones." Ephrata, Pennsylvania: Bible and Spade - The Associates for Biblical Research, (Winter 1997).
 
Robert Wadlow Pershing: 1918-1940. (http://www.who2.com/robertwadlow.html)/ http://www.altonmuseum.com/robertwadlow.htm: Who2: 2003.
 
Schoville, Keith N. Biblical Archaeology in Focus. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Book House, 1978.
 
Shanks, Hershel. "Biblical Minimalists: Face to Face." Washington, D.C. Biblical Archaeology Review, (July/August 1997).
 
Shanks, Hershel. "Has David been found in Egypt." Washington, D.C. Biblical Archaeology Review, (January/February 1999).
 
Shanks, Hershel. "Is this King David's Tomb?" Washington, D.C. Biblical Archaeology Review, (January/February 1995).
 
Shanks, Hershel. "Three Shekel's for the Lord." Washington, D.C. Biblical Archaeology Review, (Novenber/December 1997). Thompson, Henry O. "The Biblical Ammonites." Ballston Spa, New York: Word of Truth Productions/Bible and Spade - The Associates for Biblical Research, (Winter 1982).
 
Wilson, Clifford. "The Death of King Saul." Burnt Hills, New York: Word of Truth Productions/Bible and Spade - The Associates for Biblical Research, (Winter 1972).
 
Wilson, Clifford. "Solomon and Israel's Golden Age." Burnt Hills, New York: Word of Truth Productions/Bible and Spade - The Associates for Biblical Research, (Winter 1972).
 
Wilson, Clifford. "Solomon and Israel's Golden Age" (II). Burnt Hills, New York: Word of Truth Productions/Bible and Spade - The Associates for Biblical Research, (Summer 1972).
 
Wilson, Clifford. "Solomon and Israel's Golden Age" (III). Burnt Hills, New York: Word of Truth Productions/Bible and Spade - The Associates for Biblical Research, (Autumn 1972).
 
Wood, Bryant. "Archaeology - Confirming the Truth." Ballston Spa, New York: Word of Truth Productions/Bible and Spade - The Associates for Biblical Research, (Winter 1982).
 
Wood, Bryant. "Important finds at Hazor." Walkersville, MD: Bible and Spade - The Associates for Biblical Research, (Spring/Summer 1997).
 
Wood, Bryant. "In Search of Solomon's Temple." Ephrata, Pennsylvania: Bible and Spade - The Associates for Biblical Research, (Spring 1994).
 
Wood, Bryant. "New light on David's capture of Jerusalem." Burnt Hills, New York: Word of Truth Productions/Bible and Spade - The Associates for Biblical Research, (Autumn 1972).
 
http://http://bible.gospelcom.net/bible, Gospel Communications International. Muskegon, Michigan: 1995-2003