Dig directors Yosef Garfinkel and Saar Ganor identify Khirbet Qeiyafa with Biblical Sha’arayim, Hebrew for “two gates” (Joshua 15:36; 1 Samuel 17:52; 1 Chronicles 4:31)—a fitting name for the site. The two monumental four-chambered city gates at Khirbet Qeiyafa are located on the western and southern sides of the site and measure approximately 35 feet wide and 42 feet deep into the city. The western gate controls access to the road going west toward Philistia, while the southern one opens down to the Elah Valley that eventually connects to Jerusalem.
As the point where three of the world’s major religions converge, Israel’s history is one of the richest and most complex in the world. Sift through the archaeology and history of this ancient land in the free eBook Israel: An Archaeological Journey, and get a view of these significant Biblical sites through an archaeologist’s lens.
“Some scholars view King David’s kingdom as a simple agrarian society, sparsely inhabited, with no fortified cities, no administration and no writing,” write BAR authors Garfinkel, Ganor and Silver. “These scholars find it very hard to accept the new discoveries at Qeiyafa, which have completely dismantled these hypotheses.”
Indeed, the excavations at Khirbet Qeiyafa show that Biblical Sha’arayim, mentioned in the David and Goliath story in 1 Samuel 17:52, was no ordinary city:
“At the summit of the site, we found a palatial structure that probably served as the central administrative building for this area of the Davidic kingdom,” explain Garfinkel, Ganor and Silver. “This, along with the rest of the site, disproves the early assumption by some scholars that David was simply a local chieftain who ruled the area around Jerusalem at most. Excavation showed that more than 200,000 tons of stone was required to construct this administrative center.”
To learn the fascinating story behind the discovery of the unique second city gate at Khirbet Qeiyafa, read the full article “Rejected! Qeiyafa’s Unlikely Second Gate” by Yosef Garfinkel, Saar Ganor and Joseph Baruch Silver in the January/February 2017 issue of BAR.
BAS Library members: Read the full article “Rejected! Qeiyafa’s Unlikely Second Gate” by Yosef Garfinkel, Saar Ganor and Joseph Baruch Silver in the January/February 2017 issue of Biblical Archaeology Review.
Not a BAS Library member yet? Join the BAS Library today.
Explore a Temple model from Khirbet Qeiyafa in Solomon’s Temple and Palace by Yosef Garfinkel and Madeleine Mumcuoglu, available for purchase in the BAS Store >>
Related reading in Bible History Daily:
The Doorways of Solomon’s Temple
Temple model from Khirbet Qeiyafa may unlock a mysterious Biblical passage
Biblical Name Eshbaal Found Outside of the Bible
Khirbet Qeiyafa excavators publish new Iron Age inscription
The Oldest Hebrew Script and Language
Christopher Rollston examines the Qeiyafa Ostracon, Gezer Calendar and other candidates for the oldest known Hebrew inscription
The Great Minimalist Debate
Citing the major archaeological discoveries at Khirbet Qeiyafa, Yosef Garfinkel has argued that David and Solomon ruled over a well-organized and fully urbanized Judahite state in the tenth century B.C.E. In doing so, he rejects some of the essential tenets of Biblical minimalism and the Low Chronology.