A new short film titled “Khirbet Qeiyafa: A Fortified City in the Kingdom of Judah” now debuts on this blog. It summarizes the major finds at Khirbet Qeiyafa and presents the excavators’ conclusions on how the site shapes our understanding of biblical Judah.
Khirbet Qeiyafa is the modern name for a 3,000 year-old ancient city dating to the time of kings Saul and David. It is located where David slew Goliath along the Philistine-Judah border as described in 1 Samuel 17.
So how does this city connect with the biblical kingdom of Judah? You may view the 20-minute short film here.
The film begins with images of the current Israeli-Palestinian conflict but soon travels back three millennia to the Israelite-Philistine conflict. (Notice similarities in the names of the past/present antagonists? Yes, “Palestine” comes from the word “Philistine.”)
In my view, the film does a good job summarizing the evidences from architecture, pottery, animal bones, and other finds that identify the city with ancient Judah. It also teases the possible connections between the 3,000+ year-old inscription on the Qeiyafa ostracon and the biblical text. Definitive connections between the model shrines and the temple in Jerusalem may be less certain since the Qeiyafa shrines shown in the film share some features with other non-Judahite shrines from the region. Still, some of the details appear compelling. At the very least, the Qeiyafa shrines confirm that architectural features of Solomon’s temple were known in the region shortly before the time of the temple’s construction.
The film mentions a few opposing viewpoints on Kh. Qeiyafa without going into depth. Digging into the ongoing debates over political/religious identities would turn this project into an epic-length film. Anyone hungry for those back-and-forth rejoinders can peruse scholarly articles from the past several years.
This film offers a good summary for anyone interested in learning about the significance of Khirbet Qeiyafa to ancient Judah and Israel. Scholarly debates over what the discoveries may or may not mean will continue for some time. In the meantime, sink your teeth into the discoveries presented in this short film. It is currently the *only* well-preserved city we have from Judah in Saul and David’s time. Learn about it and ask what these finds mean for our understanding of the early biblical kingdoms.
This short film was written, produced, and directed by Peter Hagyo-Kovacs. Peter holds an M.A. in Archaeology from Hebrew University. He served as an Area C supervisor for two excavation seasons at Khirbet Qeiyafa and wrote his M.A. thesis on the site. Peter also directed the documentary film “Inside Jerusalem.”