Tel Dan Temple Menu


The early chapters of the Book of Leviticus list the various types of offerings brought in the Tabernacle. These offerings were limited to a select group of animals. Leviticus 1 begins, “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.” A herd is of cattle, with a male bull and female cow. A flock refers to sheep, with a male ram and female ewe.

Leviticus 1 describes the burnt offering, the ‘Olah’, which could be brought from a bull, ram or if a bird, from a dove or young pigeon. Leviticus 3 describes the peace-offering or fellowship offering, the ‘Shelamim’, which could be brought from a bull or cow, ram or ewe, a lamb, or a goat, a male billy or buck and female doe.

In 1 Kings 12 Jeroboam led the northern tribes to secede from the Davidic kingdom and he built temples at Bethel and Dan, at the southern and northern edges of his kingdom, respectively. Tel Dan is an archaeological site at the northern edge of Israel today, and it is the site of an Iron IIA temple complex that appears connected to the Kingdom of Israel.

At the temple site, archaeologists found thousands of animal bone fragments, consistent with the operation of a temple engaging in animal sacrifice. The bones were predominantly of sheep, goats or cattle, consistent with the biblically prescribed animals allowed for sacrifices. There was a higher percentage of sheep and goats relative to cattle, consistent with these animals being smaller and less costly than cattle. There was also a distinct lack of pig bones amongst the remains, again consistent with the biblical ban on pig and with the findings of animal remains at the Second Temple at Jerusalem, the period for which significant animal remains exists. There were lion and bear remains found on the site, but it is unclear what use these animals might have had within the temple.

Thus, directionally speaking, the temple at Dan appears to have been likely similar in function to a temple at Jerusalem.

The image above is of the temple complex at Tel Dan.