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Biblical Archaeology Review 4:2, June 1978

The Mystery of the Horses of the Sun at the Temple Entrance

Kathleen Kenyon's discovery in cult center illuminates puzzling Biblical passage

The last great Yahwistic religious reform before the fall of Jerusalem in 586 B.C. was carried out in Judah by King Josiah in about 621 B.C.

The Bible tells us that Josiah “did what was right in the eyes of the Lord, following in the footsteps of his forefather David” (2 Kings 22:2). Josiah repaired the Temple, discovered a book of the law which most scholars believe to be the book of Deuteronomy, and suppressed pagan religions and pagan shrines both in Jerusalem and elsewhere in the kingdom (from “Geba to Beersheba”, the Bible says).

The Bible is very specific in its description of the pagan cult objects and practices which Josiah destroyed and suppressed. One of the things Josiah destroyed has, however, long been a puzzlement to scholars. In 2 Kings 23:11, we are told that Josiah “destroyed the horses that the kings of Judah had set up in honor of the sun at the entrance to the House of the Lord.”

Kathleen Kenyon, the eminent British archaeologist, excavated a cult center near Jerusalem which may have solved the puzzle.

The cult center which Dr. Kenyon excavated was just outside the wall of the city—where the Canaanite cults no doubt flourished in the 8th–7th century B.C.

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