Researchers announced their belief that they may have uncovered the biblical town of Ziklag. Located between Kiryat Gat and Lachish in southern Israel, Khirbet a-Ra‘i has been the site of excavations since 2015. Many of the artifacts discovered show signs of being from the Philistine culture. The biblical town of Ziklag is noted in the Books of Joshua and Samuel as a Philistine town near the city of Gath (for which Kiryat Gat is named). Radiocarbon dating from the hilltop site indicates the settlement was from the early 10th century B.C.E., the time period associated with King David.
The connection to Ziklag was announced by the team of researchers, led by the Israel Antiquities Authority, as well as Macquarie University of Sydney Australia, and Hebrew University. The lead archaeologists Yoseph Garfinkel, Saar Ganor, Kyle Keimer, and Gil Davis believe Khirbet a-Ra‘i is the biblical town of Ziklag. Not all archaeologists are convinced, however; the indicators could be more coincidental than proof. Also, this site may not be far enough south to align with every biblical reference.
In the biblical telling, David fled from King Saul’s threat on his life and asked King Achish of Gath for asylum. Achish granted Ziklag to the future King David. David built his resources and even raided neighboring peoples from Ziklag. While he was away with his forces, Ziklag was raided and burned by the Amalekites, who took captive all that stayed behind. David’s army chased them down, and rescued all the captives and treasure from the Amalekites. In the Book of Samuel this was referred to as “David’s Spoil”.
Ziklag remained a part of King David’s realm when he became King of Judah and resided in Hebron. Ziklag was later granted to the Simeonites, then remained a part of Judah under the Divided Monarchy. It was even a location where some Hebrews may have returned after the Babylonian exile. Yet, it has been lost to history for thousands of years.
David sent some of his spoil to nearby Judean elders, in the southern mountains and the Negev,
providing some clues as to its location. Despite that, and the reference to biblical Gath, narrowing down an exact location has eluded archaeologists, and has long been a source of dispute. At least a dozen different locations have been proposed as ancient Ziklag. It remains to be seen if this latest discovery, at Khirbet a-Ra‘i , will finally put the debate to rest.
A version of this post originally appeared in Bible History Daily in July 2019
Not a BAS Library or All-Access Member yet? Join today.
Read about Gath, Lachish, Khirbet Qeiyafa, and Ashkelon in the BAS Library:
Excavating Philistine Gath: Have We Found Goliath’s Hometown?
Newly Discovered: A Fortified City from King David’s Time
Strata: Exhibit Watch: Ashkelon Through the Ages
Get more biblical Archaeology: Become a Member
The world of the Bible is knowable. We can learn about the society where the ancient Israelites, and later Jesus and the Apostles, lived through the modern discoveries that provide us clues.
Biblical Archaeology Review is the guide on that fascinating journey. Here is your ticket to join us as we discover more and more about the biblical world and its people.
Each issue of Biblical Archaeology Review features lavishly illustrated and easy-to-understand articles such as:
• Fascinating finds from the Hebrew Bible and New Testament periods
• The latest scholarship by the world’s greatest archaeologists and distinguished scholars
• Stunning color photographs, informative maps, and diagrams
• BAR’s unique departments
• Reviews of the latest books on biblical archaeology
The BAS Digital Library includes:
• 45+ years of Biblical Archaeology Review
• 20+ years of Bible Review online, providing critical interpretations of biblical texts
• 8 years of Archaeology Odyssey online, exploring the ancient roots of the Western world in a scholarly and entertaining way,
• The New Encyclopedia of Archaeological Excavations in the Holy Land
• Video lectures from world-renowned experts.
• Access to 50+ curated Special Collections,
• Four highly acclaimed books, published in conjunction with the Smithsonian Institution: Aspects of Monotheism, Feminist Approaches to the Bible, The Rise of Ancient Israel and The Search for Jesus.
The All-Access membership pass is the way to get to know the Bible through biblical archaeology.
The post Biblical Town of Ziklag May Have Been Discovered appeared first on Biblical Archaeology Society.
BAS Names New Publisher
The Gospel of the Lots of Mary
Celebrating BAR Publisher Susan Laden