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Tel Dan and the Bible

Exploring the Golan Heights

Tel Dan in the Bible was an important city in the Bronze and Iron Ages. these days it is a mound located about north of Kibbutz Dan; in the area of ​​the Tel Dan Nature Reserve in the Hula Valley. The biblical tell is identified with the city of Dan is mentioned in the Bible, and a number of locations on the site were excavated and unearthed many unique archeological finds from different periods.

So in the middle of the 3rd millennium BCE (Bronze Age), a Canaanite city called Laish was built on the mound. In fact, Laish is mentioned in the Book of Judges. In contrast, items from the Mycenaean culture were found on the mound; including a Mycenaean tomb with the remains of about forty people.  Also, we know that in the middle of the 15th century BCE, the city was conquered by Thutmose III.

So Tel Dan has 16 strata from the Iron Age and before it.  As well as a stratum from the Persian-Hellenistic period, a Roman stratum, and a late Muslim stratum. After the exile of the Kingdom of Israel in 733 BCE, a settlement continued to exist in the city; as a result of a population exchange made by the Assyrians. Later, the settlement declined; but during the Hellenistic period; worship continued at the site, on the same site where the remains of the temple built by Jeroboam son of Nebat stood. During the Roman period, the city was abandoned and the inhabited center in the area moved to Banias.

Tel Dan in the Bible: Canaanite Archaelogical Remains

Important remains from the Canaanite city include the Canaanite city gate on the southeastern side of the city; and the embankment that surrounds the tell. The battery dates to the Middle Bronze Age (1750-1550 BCE) and has a stone core in the center.

The core of the southern part of the mound is a stone wall that has been preserved 10.5 meters high and 6.5 meters wide. On its northern and eastern sides, the nucleus uses ancient structures from the Middle Bronze Age; when in some of the exposed areas a number of mud layers were discovered that were used to raise the battery and create a slope of between 38 and 45 degrees. There is no consensus in the study as to whether the role of the battery is defensive or propaganda.

Tel Dan in the Bible: Iron Age Remains

On the northern side of the mound is the sacred compound from the Iron Age; this is the largest ritual center from this period excavated in the Land of Israel. In a stratum from the 9-10th centuries BCE, worship-supporting industries were discovered. A cloth and olive oil industry were necessary for ritual activity in the sacred compound, an activity that was accompanied by oil-rites, candle lighting, oiling, and offering semolina in oil and at the same time also served as a source of income, In addition, there is a complex of metal recycling facilities the size of close to an acre, the largest of its kind in the whole of the Land of Israel.

Remains From the Time of Jerobam Ben Nebat

The temple is identified with the Bible described in the Bible built by Jeroboam son of Nebat in the 10th century BCE. Of kosher animals, and a number of scholars hold that these are the bones of sacrifices made on the altar. (Exodus, 20:22). One of the foundations of the altar was discovered nearby. Near the altar were pots and a copper bowl – ritual vessels that were also used in the Temple in Jerusalem.

The Temple platform, located north of the altar complex; was also built during the time of Jeroboam son of Nebat, later expanded during the time of Ahab in the 9th century BCE, and steps were added during the time of Jeroboam son of Jehoash in the 8th century BCE. An elongated structure was discovered near the stage, which was probably used by the priests who ran the site.

Tel Dan in the Bible: Remains From the Time of King Ahab

The restored city wall is probably from the time of Jeroboam. Near the Israeli city gate, south of the mound, it can be seen that the wall was reduced, probably by King Ahab (9th century BCE); who turned the area outside the wall into “streets” – markets.

Here the city’s public life was concentrated, and even possible The gate is quite large and includes an outer part; a middle part with four compartments; and an inner part that climbs the embankment that surrounds the city and leads into it. In the outer threshold of the gate, the threshold stones remain, and sockets built for hinges are preserved. Furthermore, the doors and stones that stopped the gate doors Adjacent to the tower east of the gate were five basalt tombstones that may have served as the “gate stage.”

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Hi! My name is Arik Haglili, an Israeli native who decided to dedicate his life to share my knowledge about the Holy Land to those that are interested to know more about this amazing piece of land. My career as a private tour guide started at the International School For the Studying of the Holocaust and the rest is history. 

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