NEVE SHALOM, Israel (BP) -- After the Israelites entered the Promised Land of Canaan following 400 years of bondage in Egypt, the ancient city of Gezer was memorialized in Scripture, but not in a positive way. Gezer is forever connected with the failure of God's people to fully possess the land He had given them.
Gezer -- where New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary is engaged in archaeological discovery -- was allotted to the tribe of Ephraim, as recorded in Joshua 16:3 and 16:10, and it became one of the Levitical cities, according to Joshua 21:21. At that time, the Bible offers a blunt assessment of what did not happen at Gezer:
"But, they did not drive out the Canaanites who lived in Gezer. So the Canaanites live in Ephraim to this day, but they are forced laborers" (Joshua 16:10, HCSB).
In the biblical record, Gezer also is connected to the Israelites' conquest of the land. In Joshua 10:33 and again in 12:12, Scripture records an account of the Battle of Makkedah in the Aijalon Valley. When the king of Gezer led his army south to help defend the Canaanite stronghold of Lachish, Israel prevailed, capturing Lachish and killing the king of Gezer.
The monumental Canaanite ruins at Gezer still bear witness to their strength and their devotion to false gods. Because the Israelites failed to drive out the Canaanites in cities such as Gezer, the worship of idols became a trap for God's people.
For the past five years, a team of archaeologists and volunteers from New Orleans Seminary's Moskau Institute of Archaeology has excavated at Gezer with the goal of determining who constructed the ancient water system and when it was constructed.
The Gezer excavation is a joint project of NOBTS' Moskau Institute and the Israel Nature and Parks Authority (INPA). The dig is co-directed by NOBTS professor Dan Warner and INPA chief archaeologist Tsvika Tsuk. Jim Parker, NOBTS professor and executive director of the Moskau institute, and Dennis Cole, professor and chairman of the division of biblical studies, also provide leadership for the dig. In conjunction with the dig, NOBTS has launched an academic program in archaeology, offering a master of arts in biblical archaeology. Read More