Friday, January 1, 2010

Tel Dan in Israel is a 4,000 year old city

Exploring Israel - Tel Dan

This view has probably changed very little in the last 4,000 years. In the background is Mount Hermon as seen from near the Cannanite Gate of Dan. These eucliptius trees are not native to Israel.

This is Nancye at the Dan River in Israel.
We are headed up the old path to Tel Dan.

During Thanksgiving week in November 2009, Nancye and I were on Tel Dan with Sid Roth's group. Dan was the northern most city of the Promised Land of the Israelites. Nearby to the west is the country of Lebanon and to the east is Syria. The phrase "From Dan to Beersheba is used many time in the Old Testment of the Bible "So the king said to Joab and the army commanders with him, 'Go throughout the tribes of Israel from Dan to Beersheba and enroll the fighting men, so that I may know how many there are.' " (2 Samuel 24:2 NIV)

Tels are artificial mounds resulting from the destruction and rebuilding of ancient cities. Larger tells, such as Megiddo in Israel and Troy in Asia Minor have been excavated to reveal between 25 and 30 levels of civilization.

We stood on top of Tel Dan where Jeroboam I, the first breakaway king of Israel built a high altar for the Golden Calf of Dan in about 932 B.C. This is said to be the only surviving monumental temple complex from the Biblical kingdom of Israel.

This the high altar of Jeroboam I on the top of Tel Dan. The metal represents where the altar with the golden calf might have been.

Our group at the 4,000 year old triple gate at Laish, which was renamed Dan in about the 12th century B.C. when the Israelites defeated the Canaanites here. Abraham probably broke through this gate to rescue his nephew Lot in the 18th century B.C.

Jeroboam is a good example of a bad leader. He led his people away from worshiping the true God and turned to the worship of idols. He established an independent kingdom and a new religion. To prevent those in the north from returning to Jerusalem in Judah and making the pilgrimage there, he built temples at Dan and Bethel. At each city, he set up a golden calf and called them Elohim. He told the people that Elohim was the god who brought the Israelites out of Egypt. Those who believed the Hebrew Bible called his new interpretation of the Exodus story the “Sin of Jeroboam.” The Bible is clear in stating that when nations turn from worshiping God, they will eventually come to destruction. Our nation is certainly headed in that direction.

This 10th century B.C. construction is on the top of the tel. The city beneath is more than four thousand years old. On the eastern side of the hill, a triple-arched mud-brick gate complex was discovered. This gate is called the “Gate of Abraham” because it is believed to be from the Middle Bronze Age (19th-18th century B.C.). Some believe that Abraham, the patriarch, could have entered the gate when he came from Ur of the Chaldees on the way to Canaan.

The ancient trade route from Egypt, via Galilee, to Damascus and Mesopotamia passed near this ancient city.

The city here at Tel Dan was once a Canaanite city called Laish. In Old Testament times Abraham came here. Four kings of Mesopotamia had defeated the king of Sodom and four other cities after they stopped paying tribute to the far away kings. They took away men, women and possessions, including Abraham's nephew Lot. Abraham, along with 318 of his slaves who were trained as warriors, headed north and attacked Laish (Dan) during the night and took back Lot and all the other captives and their possessions. When they arrived at Jerusalem, the King of Salem (peace) and the king of Sodom (evil) met them. Lot went back to Sodom to live among those who lived an evil lifestyle. God later destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah because of the way the people's lived.

It was hundreds of years later that the Tribe of Dan took the city of Laish and renamed it Dan after their ancestor. The Bible tells about the tribe of Dan relocating to the north because the Philistines held the land to the south that they were promised. Samson, the most famous member of the Tribe of Dan, remained with his family and others of his tribe in the Judean hills.

At right is the Plaza outside the outer gate. The gate was in the left corner. This was the main enterance to the Israelite city of Dan where the tribe of Dan settled in the 12th century B.C. In this plaza among the rocks I found one of the pottery shars shown below.

The 9th century B.C. King's seat here is at the main gate to Dan. To my back along the wall are rock seats where the elders of the city sat. The main outer gate is directly in front of these seats (see previous photograph).

This is the King's seat. There were four bases with carved leaves which supported poles for a canopy over the king's throne. Large rocks along the wall at right were used as seats. These are pottery shards which I found in the small rocks. In the photo above the center shard is one I picked up. It was in the small rocks among the large paving stones in the plaza outside the main gate. Below is a picture before I picked it up.

The broken pottery was similar to the smal rocks of the Tel Dan.

(Copyright 2009 Robert D. Ricketts)

See some of my other sites about Israel:

Sermon on the Mount:

Jesus at Mt. Precipice:

Shores of Galilee:
More to come.

Tel Megiddo - Alpha and Omega - The First and the Last:

The story of the Tibe of Dan settling in Laish is told in the Bible in 18th chapter of Judges 18:

1 In those days Israel had no king. And in those days the tribe of the Danites was seeking a place of their own where they might settle, because they had not yet come into an inheritance among the tribes of Israel.

2 So the Danites sent five warriors from Zorah and Eshtaol to spy out the land and explore it. These men represented all their clans. They told them, "Go, explore the land." The men entered the hill country of Ephraim and came to the house of Micah, where they spent the night.

3 When they were near Micah's house, they recognized the voice of the young Levite; so they turned in there and asked him, "Who brought you here? What are you doing in this place? Why are you here?"

4 He told them what Micah had done for him, and said, "He has hired me and I am his priest."

5 Then they said to him, "Please inquire of God to learn whether our journey will be successful."

6 The priest answered them, "Go in peace. Your journey has the LORD's approval."

7 So the five men left and came to Laish, where they saw that the people were living in safety, like the Sidonians, unsuspecting and secure. And since their land lacked nothing, they were prosperous. Also, they lived a long way from the Sidonians and had no relationship with anyone else.

8 When they returned to Zorah and Eshtaol, their brothers asked them, "How did you find things?"

9 They answered, "Come on, let's attack them! We have seen that the land is very good. Aren't you going to do something? Don't hesitate to go there and take it over.

10 When you get there, you will find an unsuspecting people and a spacious land that God has put into your hands, a land that lacks nothing whatever."

11 Then six hundred men from the clan of the Danites, armed for battle, set out from Zorah and Eshtaol.

12 On their way they set up camp near Kiriath Jearim in Judah. This is why the place west of Kiriath Jearim is called Mahaneh Dan to this day.

13 From there they went on to the hill country of Ephraim and came to Micah's house.

14 Then the five men who had spied out the land of Laish said to their brothers, "Do you know that one of these houses has an ephod, other household gods, a carved image and a cast idol? Now you know what to do."

15 So they turned in there and went to the house of the young Levite at Micah's place and greeted him.

16 The six hundred Danites, armed for battle, stood at the entrance to the gate.

17 The five men who had spied out the land went inside and took the carved image, the ephod, the other household gods and the cast idol while the priest and the six hundred armed men stood at the entrance to the gate.

18 When these men went into Micah's house and took the carved image, the ephod, the other household gods and the cast idol, the priest said to them, "What are you doing?"

19 They answered him, "Be quiet! Don't say a word. Come with us, and be our father and priest. Isn't it better that you serve a tribe and clan in Israel as priest rather than just one man's household?"

20 Then the priest was glad. He took the ephod, the other household gods and the carved image and went along with the people.

21 Putting their little children, their livestock and their possessions in front of them, they turned away and left.

22 When they had gone some distance from Micah's house, the men who lived near Micah were called together and overtook the Danites.

23 As they shouted after them, the Danites turned and said to Micah, "What's the matter with you that you called out your men to fight?"

24 He replied, "You took the gods I made, and my priest, and went away. What else do I have? How can you ask, 'What's the matter with you?' "

25 The Danites answered, "Don't argue with us, or some hot-tempered men will attack you, and you and your family will lose your lives."

26 So the Danites went their way, and Micah, seeing that they were too strong for him, turned around and went back home.

27 Then they took what Micah had made, and his priest, and went on to Laish, against a peaceful and unsuspecting people. They attacked them with the sword and burned down their city.

28 There was no one to rescue them because they lived a long way from Sidon and had no relationship with anyone else. The city was in a valley near Beth Rehob. The Danites rebuilt the city and settled there.

29 They named it Dan after their forefather Dan, who was born to Israel—though the city used to be called Laish.

30 There the Danites set up for themselves the idols, and Jonathan son of Gershom, the son of Moses, and his sons were priests for the tribe of Dan until the time of the captivity of the land.

31 They continued to use the idols Micah had made, all the time the house of God was in Shiloh.