Major news sources are reporting the discovery of a 3,000-year-old Iron Age temple from Khirbet ‘Ataroz near the town of Madaba (close to Mount Nebo and about 20 miles SW of Amman). The head of the Jordanian Antiquities Department said the find dates to the 8th century B.C. (a little shy of the 3,000 years mentioned by the news sources). Here are a few comments from the AP article.
He said the complex boasts a main room that measures 388 square feet (36 square meters), as well as two antechambers and an open courtyard.
The sanctuary and its artifacts — hewn from limestone and basalt or molded from clay and bronze — show the complex religious rituals of Jordan’s ancient biblical Moabite kingdom, according to al-Saad.”
Today we have the material evidence, the archaeological proof of the level of advancement of technology and civilization at that period of time,” he said.
The Moabites, whose kingdom ran along present-day Jordan’s mountainous eastern shore of the Dead Sea, were closely related to the Israelites, although the two were in frequent conflict. The Babylonians eventually conquered the Moabites in 582 B.C.
Archaeologists also unearthed some 300 pots, figurines of deities and sacred vessels used for worship at the site. Al-Saad said it was rare to discover so many Iron Age items in one place.
The article continues,
Among the items on display Wednesday, there was a four-legged animal god Hadad, as well as delicate circular clay vessels used in holy rites. Al-Saad said the objects indicate the Moabites worshipped many deities and had a highly organized ritual use of temples.
The AP report, with small photos of some of the artifacts, may be read here. The typical news reports fail to give adequate information about the discovery. In these cases, we wait for scholarly information.
Below I have a quotation from the revised ISBE giving a brief explanation about Hadad.
An alternative name for Baal, the head of the Canaanite pantheon, whose worship was expressed in fertility rites. The storm-god Hadad is mentioned in Assyrian inscriptions, and called on the monolith of Shalmaneser “the god of Aleppo.” In the Assyrian inscriptions he is identified with the air-god Rimmon. The union of the two names in Zec. 12:11 suggests this identity. (Hovey and Harrison, The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, Revised (Eerdmans, 1988; 2002). 2:590-591.)
Several thing should be noted by the Bible student.
- Hadad is the Baal of the Old Testament.
- Hadad is called the “god of Aleppo.”
- Hadad is identified with Baal from discoveries at Ras Shamra (Ugarit).
- The Israelites were warned not to “inquire about” the gods of the nations of Canaan, saying “How did these nations serve their gods?–that I also may do the same” (Deuteronomy 12:30). If you are reading this post you probably know what happened.
A few years ago I visited the archaeological museum in Aleppo. The entrance is decorated with replicas of the god Hadad (think Baal) standing on a bull
HT: Joseph Lauer