ISRAEL - Rare First Temple Ivories Unearthed

Arno Froese

A team of Israeli archaeologists has unearthed an extraordinary collection of ivory plaques from the First Temple Period—the first of their kind to be found in Jerusalem, the Israeli Antiquities Authority (IAA) announced.

According to Prof. Yuval Gadot, who heads Tel Aviv University’s Archaeology Department and was one of the excavation directors, the findings are “remarkably significant” and likely belonged to a very well-connected person.

“Ivories are really the elite art of the ancient world,” Gadot told The Media Line. “We knew of ivories in other capitals at the time, like Samaria or earlier in Megiddo, but we never found anything like this in Jerusalem [before].”

Following the death of King Solomon circa 930 BCE, the Israelites were split between two kingdoms: the Kingdom of Israel in the north and the Kingdom of Judah in the south.

Dr. Yiftah Shalev, an archaeologist at the IAA and one of the excavation’s directors, told The Media Line that the ivories showcase the prestigious status of Jerusalem during that period and “puts the capital of the Judean Kingdom more or less at the same rank as the capital [of the Kingdom] of Israel.”

The findings further show that the palatial structure where they were uncovered was one of the main administrative quarters of Jerusalem during the First Temple period. It is located very close to the Temple Mount itself and as such might have housed priests or ministers.

In addition to the ivory plaques, archaeologists found jars with vanilla-spiced wine and decorated stones and wooden objects, and a seal impression carrying the name “Natan-Melech servant of the king,” a tantalizing find suggesting that it could belong to the same Natan-Melech who is mentioned in the Bible (2 Kings 23:11) as an officer of King Josiah., 5 September 2022

Arno's Commentary

The word “ivory” appears 13 times in our Bible, the first time in 1 Kings 10:18: “Moreover the king made a great throne of ivory, and overlaid it with the best gold.” The last time ivory is mentioned is when the Bible pronounces judgment upon “that great city Babylon,” which we understand to be Jerusalem. That will be the end of the world’s economy: “And the merchants of the earth shall weep and mourn over her; for no man buyeth their merchandise any more: The merchandise of gold, and silver, and precious stones, and of pearls, and fine linen, and purple, and silk, and scarlet, and all thyine wood, and all manner vessels of ivory, and all manner vessels of most precious wood, and of brass, and iron, and marble, And cinnamon, and odours, and ointments, and frankincense, and wine, and oil, and fine flour, and wheat, and beasts, and sheep, and horses, and chariots, and slaves, and souls of men” (Revelation 18:11-13).

While these archaeological findings are significant, we notice how little is left that can be identified as the Jerusalem of old. This reminds us of Jesus speaking about the temple compound: “There shall not be left here one stone upon another, that shall not be thrown down” (Matthew 24:2b).

While there remains an abundance of archaeological evidence—even great walls, amphitheaters, roads, and aqueducts—to be found all over Europe, there is virtually little to nothing left of the glorious temple that once stood on Mount Moriah.

Arno Froese is the executive director of Midnight Call Ministries and editor-in-chief of the acclaimed prophetic magazines Midnight Call and News From Israel. He has authored a number of well-received books, and has sponsored many prophecy conferences in the U.S., Canada, and Israel. His extensive travels have contributed to his keen insight into Bible prophecy, as he sees it from an international perspective.

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