KHIRBET A-RA’I, ZIKLAG – Archaeologists believe they have found the biblical location where David hid from King Saul.
Pottery dating back to the time of King David, geography and biblical history all point to Khirbet a-Ra’i as the Philistine town of Ziklag where David escaped King Saul.
Over the years, experts have suggested eleven different sites as the location for Ziklag. Now, archaeologists believe they have evidence linking this site to the Ziklag of David.
“People debate about Ziklag already in the 7th century so people really had an interest about this site. If you’re talking the biblical narrative it’s mentioned only in the time of King David,” said Yosef Garfinkel, Head of the Institute of Archaeology at Hebrew University in Jerusalem.
The Bible says David fled to Achish at Gath (or Gat in Hebrew) with 600 men and two of his wives.
1 Samuel 27:5-6 reads, “Then David said to Achish, ‘If I have now found favor in your eyes, let them give me a place in some town in the country that I may dwell there. For why should your servant dwell in the royal city with you?’ So Achish gave him Ziklag that day. Ziklag has belonged to the kings of Judah to this day.”
Garfinkel told CBN News that Achish and gat are about a “half-day” walk from the ruins of what he believes is the biblical city of Ziklag.
“Ziklag cannot be far away in the Negev…. It has to be close to Gath. Then we are told that Ziklag became part of the kings of Judah. So it cannot be on the coastal plain near Ashkelon and Ashdod. It had to be here on the border between the lowland and the highland. So this site perfectly match(es) these requirements.”
Garfinkel also pointed out why this new site is different from other proposed locations.
“This is a site that has Philistine background and later it became Judean. If you take the other sites that have been proposed to be Ziklag, …if they don’t have a level from the time of David how can they be Ziklag? And in the end this is the only site that matches the geographical and historical together.”
And then there’s the pottery. Workers uncovered dozens of 3,000-year-old vessels.
“All these vessels and 70 others all came from the level that is dated by radio-carbon sample to the early 10th century B.C. and this is exactly the time of King David. So you can see here vessels that maybe King David used and maybe he didn’t but this is the vessels that were used in the time of King David.”
The Bible also describes the burning of Ziklag while David and his men were out at war. Archaeologist Saar Ganor of the Israel Antiquities Authority says even signs of that attack are clear.
“The period is correct and the pottery vessels and the destruction is great for us not for them and it means we have the connection to the Bible to David, to the 10th century…2:50 and now we can say that we have a lot of points on the map that connecting to the 10th century BCE (BC). It means that the Kingdom of Judah was here before 3,000 years,” Ganor explained.
Until 12 years ago, archaeologists did not have one site from the time of King David in the Judean Hills.
“Then people started debating maybe David never existed, he was just a mythological figure or maybe he existed but he was only a Bedouin sheik in a tent so nothing was really left from his period,” said Garfinkel.
Now, with this second site linked to King David, Garfinkel believes even more sites will be uncovered to support the history of King David and the biblical narrative.