Fortification Dating to Time of King David Discovered in Golan Heights

JERUSALEM — A fortification dating to the time of King David has been discovered in the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights, along with an engraving of two horned figures on a stone tablet. The find is believed to be that of the Geshurites, a people group mentioned in the Old Testament who did not follow Yahweh but maintained amicable relations with Israel.

The Israel Antiquities Authority conducted the dig near the Hispin region in the Golan Heights and located a “defensive structure constructed out of very large stones.” Archaeologists believe that the fortification was built by the Geshurites, who lived in Southern and Central Golan, to control the area.

“The complex we exposed was built at a strategic location on the small hilltop, above the El-Al Canyon, overlooking the region, at a spot where it was possible to cross the river,” explained Barak Tzin and Enno Bron, in an announcement shared by the Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs. “The c. 1.5 m wide fort walls, built of large basalt boulders, encompassed the hill.”

In addition to the stone structure, volunteers also found a basalt stone with a stick-figure engraving of two men with horns. A possible altar was discovered near the stone, and a figurine was additionally uncovered that appears to depict a woman holding a drum.

Joshua 13:13 outlines regarding the Geshurites, “But the Israelites did not drisve out the people of Geshur and Maakah, so they continue to live among the Israelites to this day.”

The Scriptures also note that Maachah, the daughter of Talmai, king of Geshur, was a wife of David. She became the mother of Absalom.

Absalom, after having his half-brother Amnon murdered for raping his sister, “fled and went to Geshur,” 2 Samuel 13 outlines. “[H]e stayed there three years.”

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Archaeologists carried out the dig prior to the construction of a new neighborhood in Hispin. The project was funded by the Ministry of Housing and Construction and the Golan Regional Council.

The finds will be preserved, and “[t]he complex will be developed as an open area along the El-Al riverbank, where educational-archaeological activities will be carried out, as part of the cultural heritage and a link with the past.”

The Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs notes that in 2019, a cultic stone stele was found in Bethsaida, north of the Sea of Galilee. The stele similarly featured an engraving of a horned figure with outstretched arms and was unearthed adjacent to a raised platform, also known as a bama or a “high place.”

Dr. Rami Arav of Nebraska University, who led the Bethsaida Expedition Project, believes that find represents pagan worship of the “moon god” cult.

Bethsaida is said to be the capital of the kingdom of Geshur.

“After comparing [Hispin] to the other site, it kind of points us to the direction of the Aramean influences within the Golan,” Bron said in a video released by the Israel Antiquities Authority.

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