"At the Feet of My Lord"—Jordan Valley Excavation May Reveal Ceremonial Sites of First Israelites
Teresa Neumann (July 25, 2009)
"The Hebrew word for foot, ‘regel,’ has a variety of meanings, from symbolizing the ownership of territory to the image of the footstool at the site of the Temple…[it] symbolizes the connection between the people and the land, as in 2 Kings 21:8: "Neither will I make the feet of Israel move any more out of the land which I gave their fathers."
Canaanite feet (Israel) — An absorbing article in Haaretz details the archaeological study of ancient footprints in a compound known in Arabic as Bidat al-Shaab in the Jordan Valley. Led by University of Haifa professor Adam Zertal, the compound is situated within a square yard surrounded by a low stone wall which is within a "larger, strangely shaped structure that from the air resembles the sole of a shoe or a foot."
According to the report, "similarly shaped sites have been found, all of them built in the same period, in the early Iron Age, which is identified with the beginnings of an Israelite settlement in the Land of Israel."
Other structures, one inside the other, are reportedly located at Mount Ebal, adjacent to Nablus. They also are sandal-shaped and inside one is a structure Zertal identifies as "the altar where the formative ceremony celebrating the people of Israel’s arrival in the land, took place as described in Joshua 8 and in Deuteronomy 27:12-13."
Zertal believes they were intended for ritual purposes, their special design based on some conception originating in beliefs that were prevalent in the ancient East at the end of the Bronze Age and the beginning of the Iron Age. Egyptian literature of that period, he notes, especially in texts relating to government and law, "is rich in expressions in which the sole of the foot or the sandal symbolize the king or his rule."
Haaretz reporter Ran Shapira writes that "in the Amarna letters, a collection of correspondence between the pharaoh and kings of Canaan and other lands during the Bronze Age, there is repetition of the following expressions by rulers of relatively lesser status: ‘Seven times seven I have fallen at the feet of my lord,’ and ‘I am dust under my lord’s feet.’
In the Bible, he adds, "the Hebrew word for foot, regel, has a variety of meanings, from symbolizing the ownership of territory to the image of the footstool at the site of the Temple."
According to Zertal, in other Biblical contexts, the foot symbolizes the connection between the people and the land, as in 2 Kings 21:8: "Neither will I make the feet of Israel move any more out of the land which I gave their fathers."
Not all scientists agree with Zertal’s assertions, but his hypothesis has been reinforced recently by additional findings which connect the Hebrew word for "holiday" (hag) and ritual pilgrimages or processions which entailed circumambulating around elevated ground.
In the report, Zertal concludes that "despite controversy over whether the Bible is truly an accurate historical source, parts of it are more firmly based in fact than has been assumed."
Source: Ran Shapira – Haaretz ©Breaking Christian News 2005-2008. All Rights Reserved. Used with special permission