The Tel Dan Utensil Collection

Credit:, Israel

In Exodus 36, Moses tasked “Bezalel and Oholiab and every skilled person to whom the Lord had given ability and who was willing to come and do the work” with constructing the sanctuary and its furnishings. As mentioned in Exodus 27, this included utensils. “Make all its utensils of bronze, its pots to remove the ashes, and its shovels, sprinkling bowls, meat forks and firepans.”

In 1 Kings 6 Solomon built his Temple. “Against the walls of the main hall and inner sanctuary he built a structure around the building, in which there were side rooms.” Later, when in 1 Kings 12 Jeroboam led the northern tribes to secede from the Davidic kingdom he built temples at Bethel and Dan to compete with the Jerusalem Temple.

Tel Dan is an archaeological site in the northeastern corner of the Hula Valley, north of the Korazim Plateau and the Sea of Galilee. Archaeologists working the site discovered an Iron IIA temple complex in the northwest section of the site. The temple’s earlier Iron IIA iteration shared the rectangular shape of Solomon’s Temple. The temple construction also included side rooms.

One of the side rooms discovered at Dan has been interpreted as being an “altar room,” with three items described as altars within the room. The room also contained a series of utensils.

In the Bible, there were a variety of utensils used in the Tabernacle and Temple. There were shovels for removing ashes from the altar, shovels for scooping incense, a fork for maneuvering a sacrificial animal and bowls for collecting blood and ash. The excavations in the side room at Dan exposed a series of utensils: two iron shovels, an incense pan, a jar containing ash with animal bone remains, a bronze bowl, and a long iron handle, potentially from a large fork. This collection demonstrates the likelihood of the similarity in operation between the temple in Jerusalem and the temple at Dan.

The image above is of the side rooms at the ancient temple at Dan.