Biblical Archaeology Review 3:4, December 1977

Yadin Answers Beer-Sheva Excavator—Reply to Rainey's "No Bama at Beer-Sheva"

By Yigael Yadin

Anson Rainey’s vicious and vulgar attack on my theory concerning the Beer-Sheva cult place (“Beer-Sheva Excavator Blasts Yadin—No Bama at Beer-Sheva,” BAR 03:03) deserves no reply. But since BAR is widely read by people whose only interest is the archaeological truth, I will disregard any reference to some of Rainey’s unprecedented personal attacks and answer only the concrete facts raised by him.

• In trying to refute my suggestion (and it was not more than that) that the angled steps led to the altar, Rainey writes “There is no logic in building a staircase around the altar; the narrow steps would require some clever acrobatics to wrestle a sacrificial animal up to the altar hearth”. Logically or not, some ancient altars had stairs, as attested by Biblical and other Near Eastern sources. More than that—the animal (even if sacrificed as a whole offering) was first cut into pieces. Please read, for example, the first verses of the first chapter of Leviticus: “If his offering is a burnt offering from the herd he shall offer a male without blemish … Then he shall kill the bull before the Lord, and Aaron’s son the priest shall present the blood … And he shall flay the burnt offering, and cut it into pieces (my italics, Y.Y.). And Aaron’s sons, the priests, shall lay the pieces, the head and the fat in order upon the wood that is the fire upon the altar … ” etc. (Leviticus 1:3–9). In any case, the absence of any traces of soot on the horns shows that the Beer-Sheva altar was used mainly for offering the fat and the entrails.

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