Archaeologists in Jerusalem have uncovered rare majestic capitals (column heads) along with other “evidence of a magnificent” palace that they believe was built during the time of King Hezekiah (c. 700 BC) or soon afterward. The finds match the Bible’s account of conditions in the kingdom of Judah during the famous king’s reign and point to the under-appreciated influence it had on surrounding cultures, including ancient Greece.

Many in the archaeological community doubt the Bible’s version of a strong and centralized Israel in the days of kings David and Solomon and through much of the First Temple Period. Instead, they propose these accounts are largely exaggerations and that Israel’s early kings were merely rustic tent-dwellers ruling over a clans of herdsmen. However, archaeological findings such as this continue to push back the dates for highly robust and cosmopolitan kingdoms in the land of Israel.

The finds were made on a strategic hill just south of Jerusalem’s Old City. At a little over a mile from the Temple Mount it had a commanding view of the city and Temple. The excavation team from the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA), directed by Yaakov Billig made the announcement recently. It is unknown whether the palace was built by a king or by a family of nobility and wealth.

The Book of 1 Kings chapters 18-20 tells of the invasion of Judah by the Assyrians in the 14th year of King Hezekiah’s reign. The Assyrians, fresh off their conquest of the northern kingdom of Israel, soon defeated all of Judah’s major cities and laid siege to Jerusalem. However, Hezekiah humbled himself and cried out to the Lord for deliverance. The Assyrians broke off the attack, ushering in a period of renewed growth and expansion in Judah, especially Jerusalem. This rejuvenation is reflected in several recent 7th century BC finds in the area.

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Patterns of Evidence