A “gate-shrine” dating to the 8th century BC was uncovered during excavations at Lachish, a major city during the First Temple Period and the most important one after Jerusalem. The large city gate was a place of idol worship as described in the biblical record of King Hezekiah: “He removed the high places, smashed the sacred stones and cut down the Asherah poles” (2 Kings 18:4).
The Bible tells of how the elders, judges and officials would sit at the city gate. Hezekiah was fearless in confronting these gate shrines and the idolatry that was being practiced at the highest levels of government. Even the benches where the elders sat were found in the excavation.
“Before our very eyes these new finds become the biblical verses themselves and speak in their voice,” said Cabinet Minister Ze’ev Elkin. “We in the Ministry of Jerusalem and Heritage will continue to lead the effort whereby as many Israelis as possible will be exposed to the enthralling experience of ancient stones that speak to us of the Bible in their own unique voice.”