Daily Archives: March 10, 2010

The entrance to the temple of Baal-Berith

Edward F. Campbell, in a report on the 1960 excavation at Shechem, tells about Sellin’s discovery more than three decades earlier.

“While this work was underway, he found time to study some stones in the court before the temple. On each side of the door there was a large stone block, one of them nearly 4M ft. long, the other nearly 6 ft. long. Both had long depressions cut into their tops, and Sellin had first thought that they were watering troughs—though how such small depressions could have served any such purpose in front of the temple is difficult to imagine. Directly in front of the door in the courtyard to the southeast was a much larger stone with a similar though much deeper and wider trough, which also had been interpreted as a receptacle for water. Now, however, Sellin took note of a large, flat stone with rounded sides lying nearby. Though broken and much of it gone the reminder is still over 5 ft. high, some 4M ft. wide and 1 m ft. thick. Experiment showed that the smooth flat stone had been made to stand up in the trough, so Sellin put the two together. Two more flat stones were found to fit together in the left (southwestern) stone base beside the temple door. Sellin concluded that these three could only be installations of sacred standing stones that once framed the temple entrance—stones that in Old Testament Hebrew are called massebot” (Biblical Archaeologist: Vol. 20 1-4, electronic ed. (American Schools of Oriental Research).

The stone bases on either side of the entrance to the temple are visible today, and marked here by the red arrows. The base on the left has the broken sacred standing stone in place.

Courtyard and entrance to temple of Baal-Berith. Photo by F. Jenkins.

Notice the courtyard in front of the temple entrance. In a future post we will report how the largest standing stone was almost destroyed.