Archaeologists excavating at Tel Lachish have discovered a structure which they have identified as a Bronze-Age Canaanite temple. Their findings were recently published in The Journal of the Council for British Research in the Levant. The structure, dubbed the “North-East Temple,” is modest in size when compared to other temples from similar eras. The front of the structure had two columns and two towers which led into a large hall. The inner sanctum had four supporting columns and several “standing stones” which the archaeologists hypothesize may have represented the temple gods. The structure differs from typical Canaanite temples in that it includes side rooms, which has led to a dispute over whether it is a temple or a ceremonial place. Numerous ritual items were found within, including bronze cauldrons, Egyptian-inspired jewelry, daggers, axe-heads, scarabs, and a gold-plated bottle inscribed with the name of Rameses II. In the inner sanctum, archaeologists also discovered two small, bronze smiting gods, likely representing the Canaanite gods Baal or Resheph.
The Bible states that Joshua and the Israelites conquered Lachish when they entered the Promised Land (Jos 10:32). According to biblical chronology, this occurred in the 15th century BC. The recently discovered “temple” at Lachish dates to the 12th century BC, during the period of the judges. This would appear to affirm what is written in the book of Judges: “Israel did what was evil in the sight of the LORD and served the Baals…They abandoned the LORD and served the Baals and the Ashtaroth.” (Jdg 2:11,13).