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Israelite altar at Beer-Sheva | by Ian W Scott
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Israelite altar at Beer-Sheva

This is a reconstruction of the Iron Age altar found at Tel Beer-Sheva. From a biblical point of view it is problematic for two reasons. First, it is made from cut stones, while the instructions in Exodus specify that altars should be built from uncut rough stones. Second, this is a sacrificial altar outside Jerusalem, violating the centralization of sacrifice advocated in Deuteronomy and elsewhere. Perhaps for this reason the altar seems to have been desecrated and taken out of use later in the Israelite period. The stones were found built into later walls and it appears that one "horn" of the altar was deliberately cut off. Perhaps this desecration of the altar could have coincided with the cultic reforms attributed by the biblical authors to the kings Hezekiah and Josiah.

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Taken on May 25, 2011