Changing Perspectives on Cult and Religion in Judah during the First Temple Period
The ongoing discovery of a cultic precinct with a series of temples from the First Temple Period (10th to 6th c. BCE) at Tel Moẓa, less than 7 kilometers from Jerusalem, has rejuvenated the debate on the formation of religion in ancient Judah and Israel. The new finds include a monumental temple complex similar in architectural plan, size, and decoration to the Solomonic Temple in Jerusalem mentioned in the biblical texts, and to contemporary temples found in north Syria. The examination of the various phases of the precinct and their finds affords us an unparalleled opportunity to examine the development of cultic traditions and patterns of ritual activities in Judah in the context of ancient Near Eastern conventions. They indicate that the Solomonic temple in Jerusalem was neither the only temple in Judah nor was it necessarily the ‘First’.
Shua Kisilevitz is Research and Field Archaeologist at the Jerusalem District, Israel Antiquities Authority; she is currently Co-Director of the Tel Moẓa Excavation Project. She studied Archaeology at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, and is currently working on her PhD thesis on Cult in Iron II Judah: The Cultic Precinct at Tel Moẓa as a Case Study with Prof. Oded Lipschits at Tel Aviv University.