One of the lingering questions concerning the reliability of the Bible has been whether Kings David and Solomon ever really lived and if they did, was the nation of Israel a powerhouse or
just a little backwater nation. Beginning in the middle of the 20th century, strong archaeological evidence has been found to indicate not only the reality of these two kings, but that the United Kingdom was indeed rich and powerful. Much of this has relied on the unearthing of Solomon’s Gates.
Here is the account of the forced labor King Solomon conscripted to build the LORDs temple, his own palace, the terraces, the wall of Jerusalem, and Hazor, Megiddo and Gezer. (1 Kings 9:15)
King David was known as the uniter of the twelve tribes into one nation. Extra-Biblical evidence of a Davidic rule has been found.
Even stronger archaeological evidence is found with the unearthing of the 6-chambered gates at Hazor, Megiddo and Gezer. All three of these gates are located in the Northern Kingdom and in the lands of three different tribes: Hazor-Tribe of Naphtali, Megiddo-Tribe of Manasseh, Gezer-Tribe of Ephraim.
Things that make the discovery of these gates so significant include the similarity of there construction and the amount of power and wealth of a central government rather than tribal rule to build these structures. The quote above includes reference to slave labor. This is confirmed in:
20 There were still people left from the Amorites, Hittites, Perizzites, Hivites and Jebusites (these peoples were not Israelites). 21 Solomon conscripted the descendants of all these peoples remaining in the land” whom the Israelites could not exterminate” to serve as slave labor, as it is to this day. 22 But Solomon did not make slaves of any of the Israelites; they were his fighting men, his government officials, his officers, his captains, and the commanders of his chariots and charioteers. 23 They were also the chief officials in charge of Solomon’s projects”550 officials supervising those who did the work. (1 Kings 9:20-23)
We learn elsewhere that the ambitious building campaign of Solomon was a major reason for the division of the United kingdom into the nations of Israel and Judah.
Original dating of these sites used a number of methods such as stratification and classification of pot shards. The problem with the original dating here is that the pot shards were dated by using the ruins of the gates rather than the other way around. Later radio carbon dating of the pot shards placed the sites to be in the early to mid-10th century BCE, the time of David and Solomon.
Solomon had received Gezer from an unnamed Pharaoh when Solomon married the pharaoh’s daughter. Pharaoh had earlier defeated and destroyed Gezer. There is clear evidence of this destruction shortly before the building of the 6-chambered gate. The buildings and walls were constructed of limestone. Like other kinds of rock, limestone will crack under high temperatures. Limestone, however, will also melt down into lime. At Gezer and other similar sites archaeologists have found the evidence of lime running down like lava, indicating very hot fires.
1 Kings along with extra-Biblical evidence also allows us to put specific dates to things.
25 In the fifth year of King Rehoboam, Shishak king of Egypt attacked Jerusalem. 26 He carried off the treasures of the temple of the LORD and the treasures of the royal palace. He took everything, including all the gold shields Solomon had made. (1 Kings 14:25-26)
Stela and wall recordings in Egypt place the attack on Jerusalem by Pharaoh Shishak in 925 BCE. Shishak was the founder of the 22 Dynasty in Egypt and the dates area solidly recorded. This would place Solomon’s death in the year 930 BCE.
So, through the Tale of the Tel: Solomon’s Gates, we have further evidence that helps us to understand Biblical history, cultures and reliability. Most archaeologists today agree that this evidence is far too strong to ignore or dismiss.
More interesting facts from The Tale of the Tel.