Rich imaginations create incredible stories that sometimes turn into exciting films. One of the most memorable is indisputably “Raiders of the Lost Ark”. It sparked a series of blockbuster sequels…and the image of Indiana Jones has become iconic.
Ironically, the year that “Raiders” first appeared – 1981 – also marks the beginning of the real life saga of an archaeological site which, according to the Bible, actually housed the “Lost Ark”. Until now, this story has been relegated to the narrow confines of those interested in Biblical archaeology. Of course, it hasn’t had the benefits of the powerful Hollywood PR machines. Yet the story is starting to spread because it has something even more powerful: the potential to alter our understanding of the history embedded in the philosophical and cultural base of Western civilization – the Hebrew Bible.
The archaeological site in the story is Mt. Ebal. It is located north of the ancient city of Shechem – modern Nablus – the most populous city in what is known as the “West Bank”. The excavations of Mt. Ebal were headed by Professor Adam Zertal. The central feature of the site – a large structure – was identified by Zertal as the altar mentioned in the Bible which was built by Joshua (Josh. 8:30) in fulfillment of an earlier directive by Moses (Deut. 27:4)
The saga of the excavation and the author’s subsequent research are at the center of the book “The Lost Temple of Israel”. It has been described by a Nobel Literature nominee as “a great story”. In addition to being an exciting read, featuring elements of the “Raiders of the Lost Ark”, the ideas put forth in the book are starting to get traction.
Research by an amateur, which impacts the Biblical profile of Jerusalem and the historicity of the stories in the Bible, is likely to be deliberately ignored, or scoffed at by academics. But the research and ideas in “The Lost Temple of Israel” have been quoted over the past few years by prominent scholars in Israel. And – as one of them said – “It will be very difficult for either Biblical scholars or archaeologists to disprove the conclusions”.