Bet Shemesh

Our nine neophyte archaeologists enjoyed a week of digging at Shiloh the week before. It was the last week of a four-week dig conducted by Associates of Biblical Research.

Now, as promised, we have a week of touring the major archaeological sites and historical sights of Israel. And we might even cite a scripture or two.

ABR touring group at Caesarea Maritima

Later in the same day our family went to Mt Scopus, we traveled with our dig team on a NetTours bus and went to Tel Aviv to pick up new arrivals to our group.

Saw lots of grain fields, east of Tel Aviv. Wheat was already cut, just like back home in Grandfield, OK. The area has 10-12” topsoil. Fields of grain were spoils of war in Joshua’s time.

[When Joshua and his army came down from the pass at Beth Horon on the day the sun stood still, and as his army chased after the fleeing Amorites, they would have been traversing this area from north to south as we were traveling west to east to return to Jerusalem. And it would have been about this same time of year, late May or early June.]

Charred barley was found in burn layer of Jericho–evidence the fall of Jericho happened near Passover as described in Joshua 4:10-11.

Actually,  there are at least three, maybe four, “harvests” in Israel in the Bible: barley, the poor man’s famine-breaker  occurring in early spring, the wheat harvest in May/June (approximate time of the day the sun stood still) the grape harvest in August/Sept, and the olive harvest in late fall. Grain, wine, and olive oil were/are the staples of Middle Eastern cuisine.

[Just now realized a reason why God would delay the Hebrews from proceeding into Canaan quickly after defeating Jericho and Ai. This delay allowed the Canaanites to harvest their wheat. If Hebrews attacked earlier, they would trample unripened grain. Famine in the land would result.]

From the tour bus, I saw the corn had tassels … almost ready to harvest. We did not grow much corn in my area of OK. According to my mother, corn did not grow well on “tight land” … what she called our red clay soil.

We stopped on the way to see an abandoned dig  at Bet Shemesh just off the road from Tel Aviv. According to Dr. Scott Stripling, the name is related to Chemosh, the Amorite God east of Jordan River, the area of the Ammonites and Moabites. Molech, of early Jerusalem and the bin Hinnom valley, who required child sacrifices, is related.

Joshua does not mention Beit Shemesh in his pursuit of the five kings who attacked Gibeon. But it would have been on his way to Lachish. 

It was an official from ancient Bet Shemesh who sent a communication to Egypt asking for help to battle the invading Hebrews of this era.

From the Jerusalem Post, APRIL 16, 2009:


“Around 1350 BCE, there was unrest in the region, and Canaanite kings expressed their fears using clay tablet “letters” to the Egyptian Pharaoh, asking for military assistance. But among all the correspondence by kings were two rare and unusual letters among the 382 el-Amarna tablets uncovered by Egyptian farmers a few decades ago. The two letters came from a “Mistress of the Lionesses” in Canaan. She wrote that groups of bandits and rebels had entered the region and that her city might be endangered. Because the el-Amarna tablets were found in Egypt rather than Canaan, historians have tried to trace the origin of the tablets. “The big question became, ‘What city did she rule?” the researchers said. Lederman and Bunimovitz believe that she served as king (rather than “queen,” which at the time described the wife of a male king) over a city of about 1,500 residents. A few years ago, TAU’s Prof. Nadav Naaman suggested that she might have ruled the city of Beit Shemesh, but there has been no proof until now…”

So there you have it! Another mystery of ancient Israel. Always complicated by the differing opinions about the timing of the conquest of Canaan by Joshua, and then by those who deny it happened at all, and deny the validity/reliability of the Biblical narrative.

For me and my house…