April 8, 2009 — Archeologists at Haifa University have announced a major find connected to the Israelite exodus from Egypt just in time for Passover.
They have uncovered several structures shaped like a “foot” in the Jordan Valley which were referred to in Biblical Hebrew as “gilgal”(mentioned 39 times in the Bible) and were used for ancient Israelite assemblies, battle preparations and religious rituals.
“The structures that we found in the Jordan valley are the first sites that the people of Israel built upon entering Canaan and they testify to the biblical concept of ownership of the land with the foot,” said archaeologist Prof. Adam Zertal of the University of Haifa. “The biblical text testifies to the antiquity of these compounds in Israel’s ceremonials, and the ‘foot’ structures were built by an organized community that had a central leadership.”
Prof. Zertal explained that the ‘foot’ structure was very important in the Ancient Near East to show ownership of territory, control over the enemies of a people, the presence of a people’s God (or gods) and the connection between a people and the land. The sites have also yielded clues as to the origins of many of Israel’s holidays’ and religious festivals, including Passover.
Two of the five sites are said to date from the 13th century BC and were used for hundreds of years. The claims undermine the position of many archeologists who doubt the Bible’s account of the Israelite exodus from Egypt and entry into Canaan, contending their arrival here was several centuries later.
This story was orginally posted on www.icej.org