Archaeologist in Tel Lachish Confirm Biblical Account of King Hezekiah

The Tel Lachish National Park and gate structure that was unearthed (Photo credit: Guy Fitoussi/Israel Antiquities Authority)

“Her husband is known in the gates, when he sits among the elders of the land.” Proverbs 31:23

An ancient gate, dating from the eighth century BC, has found its way into today’s headlines and archaeologists believe it could be evidence that King Hezekiah “removed the high places, smashed the sacred stones and cut down the Asherah poles” as described in 2 Kings 18:4.

Ze’ev Elkin of the Jerusalem Heritage and Environmental Protection ministry said that discoveries such as this “show us time and time again how biblical tales that are known to us become historical and archaeological stories.”

Lachish, originally inhabited by Canaanites, was a flourishing metropolis at the time of Joshua. In Joshua 10 we read that God delivered Lachish into the hands of Israel and it went on to become the second most important city after Jerusalem. Lachish remained a Jewish stronghold for decades until it was conquered by the Assyrians, Babylonians and, ultimately, the Persians. Lachish was then abandoned and remained buried for centuries, lying dormant with its secrets.  

Lachish has undergone excavations since the 1870s and many discoveries  and was made into a National Park in 1955. Since then, visitors have been able to see many remnants and artifacts, but Lachish’s gate was only partially uncovered until now.  

“The size of the gate is consistent with the historical and archaeological knowledge we possess, whereby Lachish was a major city and the most important one after Jerusalem,” excavation director Sa’ar Ganor said. “According to the biblical narrative, everything took place at the city gates where the elders, judges, governors, kings and officials sat on benches.  These benches were found in our excavation.”

As is clear in the Bible, gates were more than just structures to block a passageways, but were large defensive structures – even towers – built into city walls. Crucial decisions of national importance were made at the gates.

The sizable gate at Lachish measures 80 by 80 feet and is preserved to a height of 16 feet. It consists of six rooms – three on each side with the city’s main road running through the middle. The discoveries there include benches with armrests, jars, scoops for loading grain and jar handles bearing the name of the official or a seal impression indicating they belonged to the king.  

“A staircase ascended to a large room where there was a bench upon which offerings were placed. An opening was exposed in the corner of the room that led to the holy of holies,” Ganor said.

The Jerusalem Post reported that the Israel Antiquities Authority, the Nature and Parks Authority and Jerusalem Heritage and Environmental Protection Ministry prioritized development of the historic park and began excavating in March.

The digging unearthed other objects of interest including two four-horned altars and ceramics including lamps, bowls and stands in the room, Ganor said.  

“The horns on the altar had been intentionally truncated which is probably evidence of the religious reform attributed to King Hezekiah, whereby religious worship was centralized in Jerusalem and the cultic high places that were built outside the capital were destroyed,” Ganor said.

Archaeologists also found a stone chair with a hole, probably used as a toilet.

“Evidence of abolishing cultic locations by installing a toilet in them is known in the Bible, as illustrated in the case of Jehu destroying the cult of Ba’al in Samaria: ‘And they demolished the pillar of Ba’al, and demolished the house of Ba’al, and made it a latrine to this day (2 Kings 10:27),’” Ganor explained.

Director General of the Nature and Parks Authority Shaul Goldstein said Tel Lachish is one of the most “quintessential places” that offers “proof of Israel’s hold to the land.”

Miri Regev, minister of culture and sport, said that the discovery deepens Israel’s connection to its ancestors.

“The uncovering of these finds joins a long list of discoveries that enlighten us about our historic past, a past that is manifested in our country’s soil and in the writings of the Book of Books,” she said. “The Bible – the founding book of the Jewish people – draws the country’s boundaries and the heritage of the Jewish people that was exiled from its country and returned to its homeland. It boldly commemorates the way of our forefathers, the prophets, the kings, and the judges.”

Tel Lachish, near Kiryat Gat,is open year round.

Related article: Seal of King Hezekiah Found in Excavation by Temple Mount

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Dee Catz
Israeli-born Dee Catz is a Jewish believer in Yeshua, happily married with children. She has an interest in cooking and baking and all things Biblical. History, Geography, and Archaeology are some of her favorite hobbies, as well as touring Israel's national parks and landmark sites with her family and friends. She has been contributing to Kehila News Israel since December 2015.