NEWS FROM THE FRONT PORCH: Malls may have existed in biblical times

  • Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Did you know there is recent archaeological evidence of David, King of Israel’s wartime victories? While cleaning up an excavation at the current site of the biblical Dan, one of the excavation team members noticed an inscription on a stone that was sticking out of the ground. It turned out to be part of a victory monument erected by an Aramean ruler celebrating a victory over Israel and possibly Judah. It is written in the type of Hebrew letters used before the destruction of the first temple in 586 BC. It boasts of the victory over a king, whose name is missing, but mentions the “House of David/King of Israel.”

There is also evidence that King David may have gone to the mall. Archaeologists are trying to determine whether shopping malls originated in the 11th century BC.

Archaeologists have long speculated on the purpose of the buildings they call tripartite pillared buildings. These were long, rectangular buildings that were divided into thirds by two interior rows of pillars. Thirty five of these buildings have been found at 12 sites. Some thought they were storehouses. Others suggested they were stables.

Their size and the thickness of the walls made it clear to archaeologists that these were not private homes. Nor has a used household bowl ever been found in one. However, many new, unused vessels – including lamps which have no soot – have been found in them. In addition, evidence of high windows has been found at one site. Based on this and other evidence, one archaeologist has suggested that these buildings were, in fact, marketplaces such as those described in 1 Kings 20:34. They originated in the land that Ben Hadad ruled.

David could have gone to the mall, for the Philistines had them. King Ahab appears to have been active in getting malls built in Judah. Perhaps these people three thousand years ago were not so different from us today.

“‘I will return the cities my father took from your father,’ Ben-Hadad offered. ‘You may set up your own market areas in Damascus, as my father did in Samaria. Ahab said, “On the basis of a treaty I will set you free.’ So he made a treaty with him, and let him go.” 1 Kings 20:34

Dianne Brady is an author and speaker and can be reached at gracekeeper@comcast.net.

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