Situated on the crossroads near the International Coastal Highway and also guarding the primary route into the Israelite hill country, Gezer was one of the most strategic cities in the Canaanite and Israelite periods. The Gezer site is a prominent 33-acre site that overlooked the Ayalon Valley and the road leading through it to Jerusalem. Tel Gezer has not yet been given the status of a national park, and the tel remains run-down and unprotected as you can see below.
The ancient name of Gezer is preserved in the Arabic name of the tel: Tel el-Jazari. Verification of the site comes from Hebrew inscriptions found engraved on rocks, several hundred meters from the tel. Such Sabbath boundry inscriptions are found in many Judaean and Galilee villages. These inscriptions from the 1st century BCE read “boundary of Gezer, referring to the Sabbath boundry.” Tel Gezer (Gezer Mound), located near the village of Karmei Yosef, is a unique National Park due to the fact that 25 layers of settlement were found in it. It rises to the height of 210 meters above sea level, which is very high in comparison to other mounds such as Lachish, and about 95 meters above the area at its foot. Tel Gezer (Gezer Mound) was inhabited already 5,500 years ago, but the Roman period was the last time in which it was thriving.
Tel Gezer Calendar
Researchers attribute the famous Gezer Calendar, found in excavations conducted at the beginning of the 20th century, to the Solomonic period. The calender is a small limestone tablet on which a list of agricultural chores performed during the different seasons, identified by months, is engraved. The Gezer Calendar is regarded as one of the earliest paleo-Hebrew texts known, and testifies to the use of Hebrew writing as early as the the 10th century BCE.1
All around the Tel Gezer National Park there are remnants from the Middle Bronze Age and the early Kingdom of Israel.
Tel Gezer Water System
One of the most impressive examples is the Gezer waterworks, established either during the Canaanite period or the Israelite period. This very deep system reaches down to the water table by a 7 meter round shaft and a 45 meter sloping tunnel.
Grave of Sheikh
There is also the destroyed tombstone of a 16th century sheikh and other Muslim graves.
Middle Bronze Tower
The city was protected by a large wall which included a massive tower. Fifty-two feet in width, this tower is the largest structure in any defensive system in this period.
Middle Bronze Gate
Built with a stone foundation and a mudbrick superstructure, this city gate was constructed about 1650 BC. and is of the typical style of the period. This gate was connected to a four meter wide city wall which likely had 25 or more rectangular towers. The Middle Bronze city was probably destroyed by Thutmose III in his invasion c. 1477 BC.
A series of ten standing monoliths were uncovered in early excavations of the site. The stones may have represented a treaty alliance (cf. Exod 24) or have been a cult center (cf. Lev 26). A row of the ten stone steles – the tallest 3 m. high – stood at its center, is oriented north-south. A large, square, stone basin that has been interpreted as serving for libations in cultic ceremonies, was found in front of one of the steles. This could be a unique Canaanite temple of mazzeboth (standing stones), both in terms of the number of steles and their size. Some researchers suggest that the stones represent the city of Gezer and nine other Canaanite cities; rituals related to a treaty between these cities may have been probably performed here. The Canaanite city at Gezer was destroyed in a violent conflagration, traces of which were found in all excavation areas of the tel. It is assumed that the destruction was the result of the campaign of the Egyptian pharaoh Thutmose III.
The date of this gate is confirmed by the presence of a destruction level underneath it (from the unnamed pharaoh who gave the city to Solomon) and a destruction level not long after its construction (by Shishak in 925 BC). Biblical history is dramatically confirmed by these archaeological findings. At the beginning of the 10th century BCE, Gezer was conquered and burned by an Egyptian pharaoh (probably Siamun), who gave it to King Solomon as the dowry of his daughter. Pharaoh King of Egypt had come up and captured Gezer; he destroyed it by fire, killed the Canaanites who dwelt in the town, and gave it as dowry to his daughter, Solomon’s wife. (I Kings 9:16)
The Destruction of Gezer
Gezer appears to have been destroyed soon after the death of Solomon and the division of the United Kingdom, during the campaign waged by Shishak King of Egypt against King Jeroboam in 924 BCE. (I Kings 14:25)
Arrival through road number 44.
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