Archaeology of the Judges Period

The Israelite Conquest under the leadership of Joshua was a relatively short period of time, lasting approximately 5 years (cf. Joshua 14:7-10). Following the time of Joshua, there is a period of over 300 years until the Israelite Monarchy begins with the kingship of Saul, leading to the period of David and Solomon (cf. Judges 11:26). This period is the time of the Judges, when Israel was ruled by more localized leaders instead of one king or supreme commander.

The "Samson" Seal from Beth-Shemesh

A stone seal from the 11th century BC, possibly depicting a man fighting a lion, was discovered at the site of Beth Shemesh in 2012. The archaeologists who excavate the site have suggested identifying the scene on the seal with the story of a man fighting a lion; they claim that this story or legend eventually found its way into the text of the Bible and the Samson story rather than the Samson story being the original source.

Ancient Temple from 1100 BC at Beth Shemesh

Archaeologists excavating at Beth-Shemesh uncovered a structure identified as an ancient temple dating to approximately 1100 BC which had been destroyed and perhaps desecrated. The city had been excavated in 1911-12, 1928-33, and renewed excavations began in 1990. Ancient Beth-Shemesh is about 20 km (12 miles) west of Jerusalem in the Sorek Valley. In the time of the Judges and the Monarchy, it was near the border of Philistia, and Samson lived nearby.

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