Israel’s Stonehenge?

‘Standing Stones’ may signal cult worship in 10th century BCE.

February 21, 2018 16:58
 The Khirbet Qeiyafa shrine, ‘Standing Stones’

The Khirbet Qeiyafa shrine, ‘Standing Stones’. (photo credit: HEBREW UNIVERSITY OF JERUSALEM)

THE DISCOVERY of “Standing Stones,” a possible form of cult worship, at Khirbet Qeiyafa, in the Ela valley, which was built around the early 10th century BCE, is a striking example of the process of social and religious transition taking place as the Jewish people settled Eretz Yisrael.

The initial stages of political consolidation as a monarchy accompanied a process of ritual centralization which culminated in the building of the Temple in Jerusalem, and attempts to establish authoritative Jewish worship, primarily when, where, and how animal and incense could be offered, and prohibiting cult and idol worship. Making a clear distinction between pagan Canaanite practices and what was Jewish was critical. Depending on how stones were used, two categories were delineated matzevot (single stone pillars/monuments), and mizbehot or bamot (altars for ritual offerings).


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