Gezer, Ongoing Excavations

November 17, 2015


In ATL, attending meetings of the Near East Archaeological Society. Two of the eight sessions I attended today were on biblical Gezer. A great deal of archaeological work has been done here for the past several seasons, including the ancient tunnel/water system, with more yet scheduled.

There are several Old Testament references to this site. It was one of the cities King Solomon fortified:

Now this is the account of the forced labor which King Solomon levied to build the house of the LORD, his own house, the Millo, the wall of Jerusalem, Hazor, Megiddo, and Gezer. 16 For Pharaoh king of Egypt had gone up and captured Gezer and burned it with fire, and killed the Canaanites who lived in the city, and had given it as a dowry to his daughter, Solomon’s wife. 17 So Solomon rebuilt Gezer and the lower Beth-horon 18 and Baalath and Tamar in the wilderness, in the land of Judah, 19 and all the storage cities which Solomon had, even the cities for his chariots and the cities for his horsemen, and all that it pleased Solomon to build in Jerusalem, in Lebanon, and in all the land under his rule. (1 Kings 9:15-19).

Our photo here shows the standing stones at the high place at Gezer.

Standing Stones at Gezer. Photo by Leon Mauldin.

Standing Stones at Gezer. Photo by Leon Mauldin.

Gezer guarded the entrance into the Shephelah region. It is located approximately thirty kilometers northwest of Jerusalem. Gezer was strategically situated at the junction of the Via Maris, the international coastal highway, and the highway connecting it with Jerusalem through the valley of Ajalon.

I have several previous posts with photos & info here, here, here, here, and here.

Hint: pronounce Gezer with “short” e, not GEEzer (def.: old man).

Cities Israel Did Not Take or Retain: Gezer

May 19, 2011

Our previous post made reference to Israel’s conquest of Canaan, and specifically looked at Caleb’s inheritance of Hebron in Judah.

The book of Joshua not only tells of the cities Israel possessed and inhabited, but also of those cities they either did not take, or else initially captured but did not retain. Probably most readers pass over these texts, or else read them without seeing their significance. But some of the cities specified were especially strategic locations, and to not have them would be a tremendous loss, and really put Israel at a great disadvantage.

We want to consider just a few of these as mentioned in Joshua. In this post, we consider Gezer.

Joshua 16:10:  “The Ephraimites did not conquer the Canaanites living in Gezer. The Canaanites live among the Ephraimites to this very day and do hard labor as their servants” (NET).  Gezer was a large, important city in the Shephelah. Later Solomon made it one of his fortified cities. Our photo below was taken March, 2011.

Solomonic Gate at Gezer. A city not taken during the Conquest. Photo by Leon Mauldin.

The Bible Knowledge Commentary observes:

Gezer was strategically located on Ephraim’s southwest border at the entrance to the Aijalon Valley. It guarded the crossroads of the eastern branch of the coastal highway and the major west-to-east route through the Aijalon Valley to Jerusalem or Bethel.

This is one of many instances where some understanding of the geography will enhance one’s understanding of the text.  More to come. Click image for higher resolution.


November 18, 2010

I’m currently attending the ETS and SBL meetings in Atlanta, and enjoying sharing a room with bro. Ferrell Jenkins.

A couple of the presentationstoday have been on biblical Gezer.  This city was given as a dowry to Solomon by Pharaoh when he married Pharaoh’s daughter.  Gezer became a fortress city, guarding access to the south. Excavation is ongoing.

Today’s post features an aerial photo of Gezer, taken last year (Dec. 2009).

Aerial photo of Gezer. Photo ©Leon Mauldin.

In the center of the photo you can see Gezer’s “standing stones.”  Upper right show an important area of excavation, including the six-chambered gate.


Gezer’s Standing Stones

March 29, 2010

Regarding the biblical city of Gezer, editor Hershel Shanks wrote,

Gezer was a major metropolis in ancient times. It overlooked and dominated the Via Maris (or Way of the Sea), a major highway between Egypt and Mesopotamia. At 700 feet above sea level, Gezer commanded a magnificent view in every direction. Thus it controlled not only the main highway but also the principal trunkline that branched off to Jerusalem. This was one of the most important crossroads in the country. (Biblical Archaeology Review, May/June 1994).

Speaking specifically of the standing stones at Gezer’s high place, Shanks said,

This is one of the most impressive archaeological sites in Israel, yet it is rarely visited even by aficionados because it is so difficult to get to—unmarked and neglected. The high place consists of ten monumental standing stones dating from the Canaanite period (about 1600 B.C.) that probably retained their now-mysterious religious significance for hundreds of years thereafter. Does each of these huge standing stones represent a tribe? Or a city? Were they placed here as witness to some kind of covenant? (ibid.).

Today’s photo shows the standing stones at Gezer. This high place was located at the highest point in the city.

Standing Stones at High Place at Gezer. Photo by Leon Mauldin

Standing Stones at High Place at Gezer. Photo by Leon Mauldin

Scholars believe that this high place dates back to Canaanites occupation (1500 B.C.). While some suggest that these stones, some of which are more than nine feet high, were erected to signify treaties between nations, others believe this was a cultic center.  The site brings to mind Lev. 26:1: “You shall not make for yourselves idols, nor shall you set up for yourselves an image or a sacred pillar [Heb. matstsebah], nor shall you place a figured stone in your land to bow down to it; for I am the LORD your God” (NASB).

Gezer’s Defense Gate

March 28, 2010

Our previous post featured a photo of one of Gezer’s boundary stones.  We noted, “Excavations (1964–73) have uncovered a six-chambered gate and defenses” (NBD).  Pharaoh king of Egypt took Gezer from the Canaanites and gave it as dowry for his daughter, who became Solomon’s wife (1 Kings 9:16).  Because of its strategic location in the Shephelah in the south, Solomon made it a fortress city.  The six-chambered gate referenced in the NBD article was characteristic of Solomon’s other fortress cities, such as Hazor and Megiddo (both also strategically located).

This aerial photo shows the tel of Gezer from the south looking north.

Gezer Aerial Overview. Photo by Leon Mauldin.

In the right center in photo below you can see the 6-chambered  gate.

Gezer Aerial Detail. Photo by Leon Mauldin.

This shows the gate at ground level. You can see the central hill country in the background.

Gezer Six-Chambered Gate. Photo by Leon Mauldin.

Inside the gates there were benches where people could sit and visit, or carry on business transactions. In Dec. 2009 my friend and former professor Ferrell Jenkins and I visited the site.  This photo demonstrates the concept of “sitting at the gates” references in such passages as Gen. 19:1; 2 Sam. 19:8; Prov. 31:23, etc. Visit his blog at

Ferrell Jenkins at Gate at Gezer. Photo by Leon Mauldin.

Gezer Boundary Stone

March 27, 2010

The New Bible Dictionary (3rd ed.) gives this information about the biblical city of Gezer:

One of the chief cities of pre-Roman Palestine from at least 1800 BC. It is strategically located on the road from Jerusalem to Joppa, on the most N ridge of the Shephelah overlooking the Ayyalon valley, and 12 km from the main highway between Egypt and Mesopotamia. Pharaoh Thutmosis III captured the Canaanite city in c. 1468 BC. Ten el-AMARNA letters from Gezer show the city vacillated but finally remained loyal to Egypt in the 14th century BC. At the time of the Hebrew conquest its Canaanite king, Horam, tried to help Lachish but was defeated (Jos. 10:33; 12:12). Gezer, however, was not taken by the Israelites (Jos. 16:10; Jdg. 1:29). Even so the city was included in Ephraim’s territory as a Levitical city (Jos. 21:21). Soon after the conquest Pharaoh Merenptah claims, on his stele, to have recaptured it. Archaeological evidence indicates that after 1200 BC the Philistines controlled the city, possibly with Egyptian approval, which may explain David’s battles in this region (2 Sa. 5:25). Gezer became an Israelite possession when the Egyptian pharaoh gave it to his daughter on her marriage to Solomon, who rebuilt the city and its defenses (1 Ki. 9:15–17). Excavations (1964–73) have uncovered a six-chambered gate and defenses.

The Biblical Archaeology Review (July/August 1983) observes that the city of Gezer was one of only a handful of biblical cities identified by an inscription found at the site. In the case of Gezer there were eleven boundary stones found, nine of which contain the words, “Boundary of Gezer.” Most of these are bilingual, written in both Hebrew and Greek (see Dictionary of NT Background, entry on “Epigraphy”).  Today’s photo features one of the Gezer boundary stones which is located in the Archaeological Museum at Istanbul.

Gezer Boundary Stone. Istanbul. Photo by Leon Mauldin

When you study the Bible, you are not reading fiction.  It deals with real places, real people, and real events.  Discoveries such as these boundary stones reinforce the factual nature of Scripture.

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