A farmer in Israel who was using a “controlled fire” to clear land for agriculture is responsible for the wildfire that recently burned large areas of the Tel Gezer National Park. It took 20 firefighters, four planes, and two helicopters to contain the blaze that spread quickly as a result of the windy, dry conditions. An initial assessment by the Israel Nature and Parks Authority has determined that no irreversible damage was done to the antiquities at the site, although they will need to be cleaned and restored. In particular, the ancient Canaanite water system at Tel Gezer came through unscathed. Gezer is a prominent city in biblical history: the king of Gezer was defeated by Joshua during the Conquest (Jos 10:33), and Pharaoh later conquered Gezer and gave it to Solomon as a dowry for his daughter, who became Solomon’s wife (1 Kgs 9:16). The gate system at Gezer is famous for the fact that it is similar to the ones at Megiddo and Hazor, providing evidence of Solomon’s building campaigns described in 1 Kings 9:15.
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