This morning we went out to Nebi Samwil [prophet Samuel], a site suggested as the location of Mizpah by some scholars. Others suggest Tell en-Nasbeh, a mound located at Al Bira in the West Bank. (See Jeffrey Zorn, “Mizpah: Newly Discovered Stratum Reveals Judah’s Other Capital.” BAR 23:05 (Sep/Oct 1997).
- Samuel, the last judge of Israel, called all of the people of Israel to Mizpah and judged them (1 Samuel 7:5-6).
- Samuel also anointed Saul to be the first king of Israel at Mizpah (1 Samuel 10:1).
- Mizpah became the headquarters of Gedaliah as governor of Judah after the Babylonian destruction of Jerusalem (2 Kings 25:23).
From the hill, we were able to look north to the Benjamin plateau. Both King Saul and Saul of Tarsus (Paul) were from the tribe of Benjamin. El Jib, the tell of Gibeon, is also visible from Nebi Samwil.
Some new excavations were underway under the direction of the National Parks Authority. We were told that Hasmonean ruins has been excavated, and there was some evidence from the Persian and Babylonian periods.
After Nebi Samwil we went to the Israel Museum campus for a visit of the Second Temple Model, the Shrine of the Book, and the Israel Museum. This is the first time I have been in the Museum since photos (without flash) have been allowed.
I will share one photo that I am pleased to have in my collection. It shows a bronze bull, dating to the 12th century B.C., found in the Samaria region.
This bull, and others those that have been found at Ashkelon and Hazor, remind us of the calf at Sinai (Exodus 32:24) and the calves set up by Jeroboam at Dan and Bethel (2 Kings 10:29).
The information posted with the statuette says,
Canaanite in inspiration, it attests to Israelite adoption of Canaanite motif. For the Israelites it may have symbolized God, or the pedestal of an unseen God.
Thank you, Israel Museum, for allowing photos.
In the late afternoon we visited The Garden Tomb. While this tomb is clearly not the tomb of Jesus, it provides a good illustration in a natural setting — far different from the Holy Sepulcher.
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I have always been fascinated with archaeology, but when I discovered just how much discipline is required on a dig, I decided that I would rather read about what others have found.