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Altar from Beersheba

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Altar from Beersheba
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This monumental altar was found by Y. Aharoni at Beersheba and set up in the Israel Museum in Jerusalem.  It is made out of hewn sandstone blocks.  It probably dates to the eighth-century B.C.  It was used for animal sacrifices.  Note the snake—a fertility symbol—incised on one of the blocks.

The altar measures 63 x 63 in. (1.6 x 1.6 m.). In fact, it is approximately biblical dimensions, that is, 5 x 5 x 3 cubits (Exodus 27:1–8), but it is made of hewn stones (not the local wadi stones) — contrary to the biblical injunction (Exodus 20:24–26). It does have four "horns" (Aharoni found three of them, the fourth was added to complete the reconstruction).

The altar was part of an Israelite sanctuary that was located at Beersheba (Amos 5:5: 8:14; compare the Israelite temple found at Arad). This sanctuary was probably destroyed during the religious reforms of one of the good Judean kings, either Hezekiah (715–686 B.C. — 2 Kings 18:22) or Josiah (640–609 B.C. — 2 Kings 23:8). Its stones were desecrated and reused for a secular purpose. Aharoni actually found the stones being reused in the wall of one of the storehouses that he excavated.