Samson and the Dagon Temple
For a long time beginning in the 19th century, skeptics lightly dismissed the biblical account of Samson as a myth. For example, in 1966 John McKenzie wrote, “... the historical quality of heroic tales is always low. This is easy to see in Samson. A palace or temple which could support several thousand people on its roof supported by two central pillars separated by an arm’s length never existed” (The World of Judges). As has happened countless times, the Bible’s critics have been proven wrong. The temple at Gaza has not been located, but Philistine temples excavated at Tel Qasile (northern Tel Aviv, 1970s) and Gath (2010) had central pillars upholding the roof as described in Judges 16. Archaeologist Bryant Wood, Ph.D., describes these findings: “Both temples share a unique design—the roof was supported by two central pillars. The pillars were made of wood and rested on stone support bases. With the pillars being about six feet apart, a strong man could dislodge them from their stone bases and bring the entire roof crashing down. ... The [biblical] report is that of an eye-witness, again demonstrating that indeed the Bible is the world’s most accurate textbook” (“Samson and the Temple of Dagon,” Bible and Spade, 1974, pp. 53-54). I have stood between the stone bases of the pillars at the Philistine temple at Tel Qasile, and I could touch them with my hands. This is not the temple where Samson died, but here is clear evidence that Philistine temples were constructed with two central pillars supporting the roof and that a large man operating in supernatural strength could push the pillars apart as the Bible says. Samson would doubtless have been larger than me, and the pillars in the Gaza temple could have been closer. The foundation stones of the pillars at Gath appear to be closer together than the ones at Tel Qasile, though I have not seen this first hand.
(Friday Church News Notes, April 4, 2014, www.wayoflife.org email@example.com, 866-295-4143)
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