>The Discovery of a “Gilgal”

>Photo: A foot-shaped structure

Credit: Image courtesy of University of Haifa

The Bible says that after the people of Israel crossed the Jordan, they encamped at Gilgal:

“On the tenth day of the first month the people went up from the Jordan and camped at Gilgal on the eastern border of Jericho. And Joshua set up at Gilgal the twelve stones they had taken out of the Jordan” (Joshua 4:19-20).

ScienceDaily is reporting that a “Foot-shaped” structures was unearthed in the Jordan valley and it is believed to be one of the earliest sites that was built by the people of Israel after they entered the land of Canaan. According to Adam Zertal, an archaeologist at the University of Haifa, the structure probably reflects the biblical concept of ownership.

According to Zertal, “the finding is believed to represent the first time that enclosed sites identified with the biblical sites termed in Hebrew ‘gilgal’, which were used for assemblies, preparation for battle, and rituals, have been revealed in the Jordan valley. The Hebrew word ‘gilgal’ (a camp or stone-structure), is mentioned thirty-nine times in the Bible. The stone enclosures were located in the Jordan valley and the hill country west of it.”

According to the article published by ScienceDaily, “Prof. Zertal emphasized that the ‘foot’ held much significance as a symbol of ownership of territory, control over an enemy, connection between people and land, and presence of a deity. Some of these concepts are mentioned in ancient Egyptian literature. The Bible also has a wealth of references to the importance of the ‘foot’ as a symbol of ownership, the link between people and their deity, defeating the enemy ‘underfoot’, and the temple imaged as a foot.

Claude Mariottini
Professor of Old Testament
Northern Baptist Seminary

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2 Responses to >The Discovery of a “Gilgal”

  1. psalterium says:

    >Would you agree with the assessments of F. M. Cross and H-J Kraus concerning the worship they located at the Gilgal cultus and the traditions that stemmed from it, e.g. Joshua 3-5, Ps. 114 etc?


  2. >Richard,Although the place discovered by archaeologist may not be the “gilgal” of Joshua 4, it is possible that such a place would be associated with festivals and pilgramages.If you did not read the article in ScienceDaily, click on the link and read it because you will discover that Zertal associates the place with festivals.Claude Mariottini


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