Cherubs and Lions in Temple Design

Source =http://www.flickr.com/photos/isawnyu/5446033390/ |Author =Institute for the Study of the Ancient World Contact, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ain_Dara_(archaeological_site)

Following Leviticus’ description of ritually defiling skin afflictions, Leviticus 14 delineates the purification process. Once deemed clear of the condition, the afflicted person brought two birds, one of which would be killed and the other released. This would be followed by washing of the person’s clothes, followed by shaving the person’s hair and then bathing in water. On the 8thday, the now cleansed person would bring offerings to the Tabernacle.

If the purification process was the same during the first temple period, then the temple the afflicted person would be visiting would be more ornate than the Tabernacle building. 1 Kings 6 gives the following description. “The main hall in front of this room was forty cubits long. The inside of the temple was cedar, carved with gourds and open flowers.” On the exterior of the building, “On the walls all around the temple, in both the inner and outer rooms, he carved cherubim, palm trees and open flowers.”

The entrances featured designs. “For the entrance to the inner sanctuary he made doors out of olive wood that were one fifth of the width of the sanctuary. And on the two olive-wood doors he carved cherubim, palm trees and open flowers, and overlaid the cherubim and palm trees with hammered gold. In the same way, for the entrance to the main hall he made doorframes out of olive wood that were one fourth of the width of the hall. He also made two doors out of juniper wood, each having two leaves that turned in sockets. He carved cherubim, palm trees and open flowers on them and overlaid them with gold hammered evenly over the carvings.”

The Ain Dara Temple in northwestern Syria, which was active between the 14th and 8th centuries BCE, provides an example of a temple that was contemporary with Solomon’s temple as described in the Bible. In addition to similarities in size, layout and a shrine room, it also was lined with carved designs both inside and outside.

The carved reliefs included images of lions, winged cherubs, sphinxes and a clawed figure, of which only the claws remained. It also contained images of palmettes, the fan shaped leaves of the palm tree, and floral patterns.

The similarity in the specific design elements between the Ain Dara temple and the Solomon’s temple in the Bible is yet another sign that Solomon’s temple fit the time period in the 10th and 9th centuries BCE.

The image above is of the Ain Dara temple, with a winged figure in the lower left corner.

An Elevated Holy of Holies

In Leviticus 10, God killed Aaron’s sons for violating the sanctity of the Tabernacle. “Aaron’s sons Nadab and Abihu took their censers, put fire in them and added incense; and they offered unauthorized fire before the Lord, contrary to his command. So fire came out from the presence of the Lord and consumed them, and they died before the Lord. Moses then said to Aaron, “This is what the Lord spoke of when he said: Among those who approach me, I will be proved holy; in the sight of all the people I will be honored.” Aaron remained silent. Moses summoned Mishael and Elzaphan, sons of Aaron’s uncle Uzziel, and said to them, “Come here; carry your cousins outside the camp, away from the front of the sanctuary. So they came and carried them, still in their tunics, outside the camp, as Moses ordered.”

The sanctity of the Tabernacle was built into its design. The area in front of the Tabernacle held wash basins for ritual purity. Entry inside was restricted to priests. In Leviticus 16, the Holy of Holies was limited to only the high priest on the Day of Atonement.

In 1 Kings 6, Solomon built his temple along the same design plan, only larger and with a portico added in front. “The temple that King Solomon built for the Lord was sixty cubits long, twenty wide and thirty high…He partitioned off twenty cubits at the rear of the temple with cedar boards from floor to ceiling to form within the temple an inner sanctuary, the Most Holy Place. The main hall in front of this room was forty cubits long…He prepared the inner sanctuary within the temple to set the ark of the covenant of the Lord there. The inner sanctuary was twenty cubits long, twenty wide and twenty high.”

The Ain Dara Temple in Syria demonstrates that Solomon’s temple was built along the lines of other contemporary temples of the time. It had a rectangular layout, with similar dimensions. The two buildings were similar in the placement of a shrine area at the end of the building. And they had another similarity.

At Ain Dara, at the end of chain of rooms, the main hall led to an elevated shrine area. A ramp led up to the podium. This elevated area featured a niche where an image of a god would have been placed. It is thought that this main hall would have been separated from the shrine area by some form of barrier, creating two rooms from this one large area.

In Solomon’s temple, the building was sixty cubits long, twenty wide and thirty high. But the Holy of Holies, the inner sanctuary area was twenty cubits long, twenty wide and twenty high. If the building was thirty cubits high and the inner sanctuary was only twenty cubits high, it would mean that either the inner sanctuary had a roof at twenty cubits or the inner sanctuary was elevated to ten cubits high, which would have required either steps or ramp to enter. The ark, with its cherubs above, could have sat on an elevated platform, just as there was an elevated platform at Ain Dara.

The photo in the link below shows the elevated portion of the holy of holies at the rear of the Ain Dara temple:

https://www.livius.org/pictures/syria/ain-dara/ain-dara-temple-from-se/

Where Temples Kept Their Stuff

Credit: Robert D. Bates, http://www.asor.org/resources/photo-collection/pid000564/

Leviticus 6 gives instructions for a series of offerings in the Tabernacle. For the burnt offering, “Every morning the priest is to add firewood and arrange the burnt offering on the fire and burn the fat of the fellowship offerings on it. The fire must be kept burning on the altar continuously; it must not go out.” For the grain offering, “The priest is to take a handful of the finest flour and some olive oil, together with all the incense on the grain offering, and burn the memorial a portion on the altar as an aroma pleasing to the Lord.”

The wood and grain for these offerings would have needed to be kept in storage close to the altar for easy access. In the Bible, King Solomon appears to have added a storage area for his temple, something which was not done for the Tabernacle. In 1 Kings 6, “Against the walls of the main hall and inner sanctuary he built a structure around the building, in which there were side rooms. The lowest floor was five cubits wide, the middle floor six cubits and the third floor seven. He made offset ledges around the outside of the temple so that nothing would be inserted into the temple walls…The entrance to the lowest floor was on the south side of the temple; a stairway led up to the middle level and from there to the third. So he built the temple and completed it, roofing it with beams and cedar planks. And he built the side rooms all along the temple. The height of each was five cubits, and they were attached to the temple by beams of cedar.

The Ain Dara temple in northwestern Syria dates to the early 13th century BCE and continued in operation until 740 BCE. It contains many features that are comparable to Solomon’s Temple in the Bible, most notably the long room structure, a rectangular building with a series of rooms that led to a shrine, along with a portico.

The Ain Dara temple was developed over time, with new features added at later dates. One such feature is hallways that surrounded the temple building. These hallways were added in the 9th century BCE. The hallway may have included a stairway, which would indicate that the hallway contained an upper level. The logical explanation for this area would be to serve as storage for the temple. This is yet another way in which Solomon’s Temple building in the Bible reflected a contemporary style.

The image above is of the Roman-era Temple of Baal in Palmyra, Syria, which featured an area surrounding the central sanctuary. Just like Solomon’s Temple, this temple was largely destroyed, only more recently by ISIS.

Similar Temples, Similar Results

Source: https://www.flickr.com/photos/isawnyu/5446033390/, Institute for the Study of the Ancient World Contact

In Leviticus 1, God begins to give Moses instructions for bringing offerings in the Tabernacle. “The Lord called to Moses and spoke to him from the tent of meeting. He said, “Speak to the Israelites and say to them: ‘When anyone among you brings an offering to the Lord, bring as your offering an animal from either the herd or the flock.”

Solomon’s Temple was designed along the same lines as the Tabernacle, though as a larger, permanent structure. In 1 Kings 6 it describes Solomon’s construction project. “In the four hundred and eightieth a year after the Israelites came out of Egypt, in the fourth year of Solomon’s reign over Israel, in the month of Ziv, the second month, he began to build the temple of the Lord. The temple that King Solomon built for the Lord was sixty cubits long, twenty wide and thirty high. The portico at the front of the main hall of the temple extended the width of the temple, that is twenty cubits, and projected ten cubits from the front of the temple.”

The tabernacle floor plan was 10 cubits wide by 30 cubits long. Solomon’s Temple was double the size at 20 cubits wide by 60 cubits long. In addition, it had a portico that extended an additional 10 cubits in the front of the building, for total dimensions of 20 cubits by 70 cubits.

The portico featured two pillars. “He erected the pillars at the portico of the temple. The pillar to the south he named Jakin and the one to the north Boaz. The capitals on top were in the shape of lilies. And so the work on the pillars was completed.”

A temple discovered at Ain Dara in Syria provides an example of a temple contemporaneous with and comparable to Solomon’s Temple that is described in the Bible.

Ain Dara is located in northern Syria, northwest of Aleppo. Its ancient temple was located on the highest point of the site. It was initially built in approximately 1300 BCE, and underwent a series of modifications over the centuries. Solomon’s Temple in the Bible is built in the 10th century BCE.

Both Solomon’s Temple and the Ain Dara temple are rectangular in shape, with rooms in a row. In Solomon’s Temple, the portico opens into a main room, followed by the Holy of Holies that was the shrine area. The Ain Dara temple had a portico that led into an antechamber, which then led into a main hall with an elevated shrine area in the rear.

The ‘Ain Dara temple area was 98 feet long by 65 feet wide. Solomon’s temple was 60 cubits long by 20 cubits wide, with an additional 10 cubits for the portico. Assuming a cubit measurement of 18 inches, This would give Solomon’s Temple a building size of 90 feet by 30 feet, or 105’x30’ with the portico. A larger estimated cubit size would expand these dimensions.

The Ain Dara temple has a unique feature in the portico, two large footprints over 1 meter each, followed by a left footprint in front of the pair. A right footprint is carved into the area between the antechamber and the main hall. It is believed to represent the deity stepping into the temple.

In addition to the footprints, the Ain Dara Temple portico was discovered to have two column bases, which would have supported columns in the portico, similar to the description of the portico in Solomon’s Temple.

Alas this temple appears to have another similarity with Solomon’s Temple. In the Bible, Solomon’s Temple was destroyed during the Babylonian conquest. No remains of this temple have been found. In 2018, during the war in Syria, the Turkish Air Force bombed the temple site, completely destroying it, and the bombed area was further looted in 2019, removing important remnants.

The image above is of the Ain Dara Temple, prior to the bombing 2018.

Solomon’s Borrowed Temple Floor Plan

Photo Credit: Stephen Batiuk, https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/e/e7/Iron_Age_Temple_%28photo_credit_Stephen_Batiuk%29.jpg

In Exodus 36, construction began on the Tabernacle: They made upright frames of acacia wood for the tabernacle. Each frame was ten cubits long and a cubit and a half wide, with two projections set parallel to each other. They made all the frames of the tabernacle in this way. They made twenty frames for the south side of the tabernacle and made forty silver bases to go under them, two bases for each frame, one under each projection. For the other side, the north side of the tabernacle, they made twenty frames and forty silver bases, two under each frame. They made six frames for the far end, that is, the west end of the tabernacle, and two frames were made for the corners of the tabernacle at the far end. At these two corners the frames were double from the bottom all the way to the top and fitted into a single ring; both were made alike. So there were eight frames and sixteen silver bases, two under each frame.

The Tabernacle was rectangular in shape, built with 20 boards on each side running lengthwise and 8 boards in the rear along the width. The interior was divided into two rooms, a main room and the holy of holies, separated by a curtain.

In 1 Kings 6, King Solomon built a temple in Jerusalem with a similar floor plan, but added a portico, a front porch with columns in the entranceway. “The temple that King Solomon built for the Lord was sixty cubits long, twenty wide and thirty high. The portico at the front of the main hall of the temple extended the width of the temple, that is twenty cubits, and projected ten cubits from the front of the temple. He prepared the inner sanctuary within the temple to set the ark of the covenant of the Lord there. The inner sanctuary was twenty cubits long, twenty wide and twenty high.”

In 1 Kings 7, Solomon added the pillars. “He erected the pillars at the portico of the temple. The pillar to the south he named Jakin and the one to the north Boaz. The capitals on top were in the shape of lilies. And so the work on the pillars was completed.”

To date, no evidence of Solomon’s Temple has been unearthed. This is unsurprising. The temple site was overturned, expanded and built over during Herod’s reign. The Temple Mount complex is managed by the Jerusalem Islamic Waqf, and cannot currently be excavated.

In lieu of evidence for Solomon’s temple, other temples within the Levant can at least demonstrate that the building described in 1 Kings matches the structural design of other temples of the time.

Bronze Age temples at Ebla, Emar, Tell Musa and Megiddo feature a rectangular shaped long room temple. A Bronze Age Canaanite temple at Hazor was built with three rooms in a row, comparable to Solomon’s building having two rooms and the portico in a row. An Iron Age temple at Tell Tayinat in Southern Turkey, near the Mediterranean Sea and the Syrian border, is built in a rectangular shape with three distinct areas, including a portico supported by columns. One particularly close comparable is the Late Bronze Age era Ain Dara Temple located in Ain Dara, northeast of Aleppo, close to the Turkish border.

These temples do not prove that Solomon’s Temple existed, but can at least demonstrate that the description fits the time period in which it was said to have been constructed.

The image above is of the floor plan at the Tell Tayinat temple.

A Land for Temple Swap

Photo Credit: BiblePlaces.com, Lebanon, Byblos Museum

In Exodus 33, after the sin of the Golden Calf, God tells Moses to go to the promised land. “Leave this place, you and the people you brought up out of Egypt, and go up to the land I promised on oath to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, saying, I will give it to your descendants. I will send an angel before you and drive out the Canaanites, Amorites, Hittites, Perizzites, Hivites and Jebusites.”

In Joshua 19, the tribe of Asher is allotted territories in the northern part of the promised land. Their territory included: “Helkath, Hali, Beten, Akshaph, Allammelek, Amad and Mishal. On the west the boundary touched Carmel and Shihor Libnath. It then turned east toward Beth Dagon, touched Zebulun and the Valley of Iphtah El, and went north to Beth Emek and Neiel, passing Kabul on the left. It went to Abdon, Rehob, Hammon and Kanah, as far as Greater Sidon. The boundary then turned back toward Ramah and went to the fortified city of Tyre, turned toward Hosah and came out at the Mediterranean Sea in the region of Akzib, Ummah, Aphek and Rehob. There were twenty-two towns and their villages.”

Despite the promise, in Judges 1, the tribe of Asher could not displace the local population. “Nor did Asher drive out those living in Akko or Sidon or Ahlab or Akzib or Helbah or Aphek or Rehob. The Asherites lived among the Canaanite inhabitants of the land because they did not drive them out.” Tyre lies between Akko and Sidon, and would seemingly be included in this unconquered region.

In 1 Kings 4, Solomon is said to have extended his reign to the Euphrates River and along the coast, but he did not hold this land for long. In 1 Kings 9, he relinquished control of parts to the king of Tyre in appreciation for the materials he gave him to build his temple and palace. “King Solomon gave twenty towns in Galilee to Hiram king of Tyre, because Hiram had supplied him with all the cedar and juniper and gold he wanted. But when Hiram went from Tyre to see the towns that Solomon had given him, he was not pleased with them. “What kind of towns are these you have given me, my brother?” he asked. And he called them the Land of Kabul, a name they have to this day. Now Hiram had sent to the king 120 talents of gold.”

The Phoenicians of Byblos, Sidon and Tyre in the Iron II period are thought by many to be one and the same people with the Canaanites. The material remains uncovered in today’s northern Israel demonstrate the connection between the regions in the Iron Age. Running from north to south, Akhziv, Tel Kabri, Akko, Tel Keisan, Tell Abu Hawam in Haifa and Tel Dor all show a Phoenician material culture, including Phoenician style pottery.

Control of this region would have given Tyre control of the ports along the Mediterranean coast. Tyre could then control the trade in goods into the Kingdom of Israel and then through the Jezreel Valley and into Syria and beyond. In the Bible, the king of Tyre may have unimpressed with the lands he was given by Solomon, but these lands would help Tyre entrench itself in northern Canaan and maintain its dominant economic role.

The image above is of a Phoenician Middle Bronze ship anchor, one that would have been used to dock at port. It is on display at the Byblos Museum in Lebanon.

Solomon’s Source for Wood

Photo Credit: bibleplaces.com, National Museum of Beirut

In Exodus 27-30, God continues to give Moses the instructions for completing the tabernacle and for items needed to perform the service within. Moses was to collect oil for the menorah and to anoint the priests, to ensure the tabernacle had an altar on which to burn incense and a washbasin. He also described for Moses the clothes which were to be made for Aaron and Aaron’s sons. 

In 1 Kings 5, when King Solomon decided to build a temple, he looked to a king further north for the wood that was required to build it.

“When Hiram king of Tyre heard that Solomon had been anointed king to succeed his father David, he sent his envoys to Solomon, because he had always been on friendly terms with David… So Hiram sent word to Solomon: “I have received the message you sent me and will do all you want in providing the cedar and juniper logs. My men will haul them down from Lebanon to the Mediterranean Sea, and I will float them as rafts by sea to the place you specify. There I will separate them and you can take them away. And you are to grant my wish by providing food for my royal household.”

There is not enough information in the archaeological record to reconstruct a complete list of kings for Tyre. Josephus in ‘The Antiquities of the Jews’ quotes a Greek historian Menander to prove the historicity of Hiram of Tyre. Josephus says that Menander wrote the work ‘Chronology,’ and in it he translated Tyre’s archives into Greek. Josephus quotes Menander:

“When Abibalus was dead, his son Hiram received the kingdom from him, who, when he had lived fifty-three years, reigned thirty-four. He raised a bank in the large place, and dedicated the golden pillar which is in Jupiter’s temple. He also went and cut down materials of timber out of the mountain called Libanus, for the roof of temples; and when he had pulled down the ancient temples, he both built the temple of Hercules and that of Astarte; and he first set up the temple of Hercules in the month Peritius; he also made an expedition against the Euchii, or Titii, who did not pay their tribute, and when he had subdued them to himself he returned. Under this king there was Abdemon, a very youth in age, who always conquered the difficult problems which Solomon, king of Jerusalem, commanded him to explain.”

Josephus’ quote of Manander appears to attempt to prove a number of elements of the biblical account. He affirms that there was a king named Hiram of Tyre. Hiram of Tyre cut trees to be used in building temples. He also alludes to Solomon’s wisdom in mentioning the “difficult problems” Solomon posed to Abdemon.

In the 9th century BCE, a king of Tyre would appear in Assyrian records. For the 10th century BCE, Josephus quote of Menander remains the best available source for Hiram outside of the Bible.

The image above is of a 7th century BCE funerary mask from Tyre.

Wood from Tyre

Photo Credit: BiblePlaces.com, Giza Pyramids

In Exodus 25, God instructs Moses to begin the process of building a tabernacle: The Lord said to Moses, “Tell the Israelites to bring me an offering. You are to receive the offering for me from everyone whose heart prompts them to give. These are the offerings you are to receive from them: gold, silver and bronze; blue, purple and scarlet yarn and fine linen; goat hair; ram skins dyed red and another type of durable leather; acacia wood; olive oil for the light; spices for the anointing oil and for the fragrant incense; and onyx stones and other gems to be mounted on the ephod and breastpiece. “Then have them make a sanctuary for me, and I will dwell among them. Make this tabernacle and all its furnishings exactly like the pattern I will show you.“

In 1 Kings 5, Solomon announced his intention to build a temple. He sent word to Hiram the king of Tyre to initiate an order of wood to build the temple. “I intend, therefore, to build a temple for the Name of the Lord my God, as the Lord told my father David, when he said, Your son whom I will put on the throne in your place will build the temple for my Name. So give orders that cedars of Lebanon be cut for me. My men will work with yours, and I will pay you for your men whatever wages you set. You know that we have no one so skilled in felling timber as the Sidonians.”

In 1 Kings 7, Solomon built a palace. The palace is referred to as the Palace of the Forest of Lebanon, for the large quantity of cedars used in its construction.

At the end of the Late Bronze Age, eastern Mediterranean ports such as Ugarit in the area of Syria collapsed. Trade shifted to other ports. In the Iron Age II, three major coastal cities in the area of modern day Lebanon, Byblos, Sidon and Tyre running north to south, picked up the trade volume.

Tyre is the southernmost of theses cities, less than 15 miles distance from today’s northern border of Israel. In Arabic it is pronounced Tzur, meaning rock, for the rocky outcropping on which it is built.

Tyre evolved to become a major shipping port. It connected inland Mesopotamia with the Mediterranean. Trade routes running along the coast connected Europe and Anatolia with Egypt. Trade routes inland ran into Mesopotamia, to Iraq and beyond. Shipping routes reached to the western Mediterranean and Iberia.

For the all the trade in goods, the region itself was best known for its cedar wood. Iraq and Egypt lack wood, and the cedars of Lebanon were sent elsewhere for use in building projects and other uses. In Egypt, the wood was used for building ships and for the sarcophagi which contained mummified bodies. In the Bible, that wood was used to build Solomon’s temple and palace.

One use for Lebanon’s cedar wood was in the Solar barge of Cheops. This boat was discovered under the sands besides the Great Pyramid of Giza, the pyramid for the Old Kingdom Egyptian king Khufu, in the 3rd millennium BCE. It was constructed using cedar wood from Lebanon. The boat is shown in the image above. It is on display at the Giza Solar Boat Museum.

Shoshenq Was Here

Photo Credit: BiblePlaces.com, Israel, Rockefeller Museum

In Exodus 23, God prepares Israel for their entry into Canaan.  “See, I am sending an angel ahead of you to guard you along the way and to bring you to the place I have prepared. Pay attention to him and listen to what he says. Do not rebel against him; he will not forgive your rebellion, since my Name is in him. If you listen carefully to what he says and do all that I say, I will be an enemy to your enemies and will oppose those who oppose you. My angel will go ahead of you and bring you into the land of the Amorites, Hittites, Perizzites, Canaanites, Hivites and Jebusites, and I will wipe them out. Do not bow down before their gods or worship them or follow their practices. You must demolish them and break their sacred stones to pieces.”

In 2 Chronicles 12, Israel did not follow God’s ways, and the Egyptian pharaoh Shishak attacked the land that once belonged to the Amorites, Hittites, Perizzites, Canaanites, Hivites and Jebusites. “After Rehoboam’s position as king was established and he had become strong, he and all Israel with him abandoned the law of the Lord. Because they had been unfaithful to the Lord, Shishak king of Egypt attacked Jerusalem in the fifth year of King Rehoboam. With twelve hundred chariots and sixty thousand horsemen and the innumerable troops of Libyans, Sukkites and Cushites that came with him from Egypt, he captured the fortified cities of Judah and came as far as Jerusalem.”

The Book of Chronicles focuses on events in the southern Kingdom of Judah, and pays less attention to events in the northern Kingdom of Israel. There is no mention in Chronicles of Shishak’s northerly excursion. But if Shishak and the Egyptian pharaoh Shoshenq I are one and the same, then evidence points to Shoshenq I’s presence in the north. The Karnak Temple lists Megiddo as one of the cities Shoshenq I captured in his invasion of the north. A destruction layer at Megiddo may have been left by Shoshenq I’s troops.

A common practice was for kings to leave monuments of their conquests at the sites they captured. The New Kingdom 19th Dynasty Egyptian ruler Seti I left a monument at Beth Shean that recorded his defeat of local Canaanites. The fragments that remain of the Tel Dan Stele belonged to a monument recording the Aramean king’s triumph there. Shoshenq I appears have done the same at Megiddo.

A small fragment of a monument to Shoshenq I was unearthed at Megiddo. The king’s name appears in a cartouche, an oval containing hieroglyphs with the king’s name, along with incomplete praises to the king. This fragment further solidifies the likelihood that Shoshenq I made his way to northern Israel, and that he asserted his power enough to set up a monument in his own honor.

An image of the fragment is shown in the image above. It is on display at the Rockefeller Museum in Jerusalem.

For this last of the posts on Shoshenq, the closing music to Shawshank:

 

David on the Map

Photo Credit: BiblePlaces.com, Egypt, Karnak Temple

In Exodus 18, Moses’ father-in-law was pleased to learn of the turn of events: Jethro was delighted to hear about all the good things the Lord had done for Israel in rescuing them from the hand of the Egyptians. He said, “Praise be to the Lord, who rescued you from the hand of the Egyptians and of Pharaoh, and who rescued the people from the hand of the Egyptians.”

In 2 Chronicles 12, the news about the Egyptians was not as good for Judah. “Shishak king of Egypt attacked Jerusalem in the fifth year of King Rehoboam. With twelve hundred chariots and sixty thousand horsemen and the innumerable troops of Libyans, Sukkites and Cushites that came with him from Egypt, he captured the fortified cities of Judah and came as far as Jerusalem.”

At the Karnak Temple in Egypt, in the Bubasite Portal, the Egyptian king Shoshenq I recorded his triumphs over the cities and towns of the southern Levant. On the wall, 156 names were each recorded within an oval, against the backdrop of a prisoner with arms bound above the elbow. This can be seen in the image above, a photo of Shoshenq I’s list. Some of the names are easily recognizable and familiar: Beth-Shean, Gibeon, Megiddo.

The listing of the names reveals a pattern of travel. Shoshenq I first attacked northern cities that were within the realm of the Bible’s Kingdom of Israel, and later attacked locations in the Negev and around Arad. Not every name is clear. Some appear to have been erased or damaged over the course of time. Some place names cannot be identified with an exact location.

One location that cannot be identified is what is listed as the 106th name on the list. Transliterated, the name is written as ‘dwt.’ The Egyptologist Kenneth Kitchen has suggested that this could be a reference to King David. He notes that elsewhere in Egypt, the ‘d’ sound could be transcribed as a ‘t’ sound. This occurs in versions of the name Megiddo, which in places is written with the consonants ‘mkt.’

The name ‘dwt’ appears amongst the locations in the south. King David was associated with the southern Kingdom of Judah, increasing the odds of a possible connection.

The 9th century Tel Dan Stele contains the first broadly accepted mention of a ruler in the southern hill country name David. The 9th century Moabite Stele may contain an earlier mention. Assuming that the Bible’s Shishak and Egypt’s Shoshenq I are one and the same, if Shoshenq I’s list does indeed refer to location named after King David, this 10th century monument could contain the earliest known reference to the Bible’s King David.