Water is necessary for life. Much has been learned about the provisions made for water in the cities of the biblical world. We know about the tunnels dug to bring water into the city at Hazor, Megiddo, Gibeon and Jerusalem, and about the well at Lachish.
For many years we have known about the water tunnel at Gezer. Now, as a result of the current Gezer Water System Expedition, new information is coming to light about the water system there. This project is a joint effort of New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary and the Israel Nature and Parks Authority.
I appreciate this comment by Dan Warner, associate professor of Old Testament and Archaeology at NOBTS:
“The research at Gezer is important to Baptists because of our commitment to understand the Bible within its historical context,” Warner said. “Any information we can gain to give better insights into the cultures of the biblical world helps us interpret the Bible.
“Most think of the Canaanites as an old, rustic culture — not so,” Warner noted. “Digging the water system took great technical and hydraulic skill. This was a very advanced and sophisticated culture that had pronounced impact in biblical times.”
A news release from NOBTS says,
It is believed the Canaanites cut the massive tunnel around the time of Abraham using flint tools. Measuring nearly 13 feet wide by 24 feet high at the opening and stretching 150 feet into the ground at a 38 degree slope, the Gezer tunnel is the largest ancient water system ever unearthed.
Late in the last week of the 2011 dig, the NOBTS team found the natural cave at the end of the massive rock-hewn water system — the prime objective of this season’s dig. It is believed that the system’s original water source is located in or near the opening of the cave.
Two reports on the recent work may be read here. Here is one of the photos available with the reports.
The photo below is an aerial shot that I made in December, 2009. This shows the massive Canaanite wall and the entrance to the water system to the right of center in the photo. The path goes down into the shaft that is now being excavated.
We included an aerial photo of Tel Gezer suitable for use in presentations here. From that same post we summarized the biblical information about Gezer.
- The king of Gezer fought against Joshua and the Israelites during the conquest (Joshua 10:33; 12:12).
- Gezer was allotted to Ephraim (Joshua 16:3).
- Gezer became a city of the Levites (Joshua 21:21). It was designated as a city of refuge (1 Chronicles 6:67).
- Israel failed to drive out the Canaanites who lived in Gezer (Joshua 16:10; Judges 1:29).
- By the time of David the Philistine seem to be living at Gezer (2 Samuel 5:25; 1 Chronicles 14:16; 20:4).
- Pharaoh, king of Egypt, captured Gezer, burned it, and gave it as a dowry to his daughter, Solomon’s wife (1 Kings 9:16).
- Solomon (re)built the cities of Hazor, Megiddo, and Gezer (1 Kings 9:15-17).
The excavators are looking for volunteers for the 2012 season. This provides a good chance to do the kind of work you hire someone else to do at home.
Update: I failed to call attention to the web site of the Center for Archaeological Research at NOBTS here, and Can You Dig It? archaeology blog here. Under PHOTOS you will find a large gallery of photos and videos of the recent excavation.
HT: Joseph Lauer