During an excavation in the City of David National Park in Jerusalem, archaeologists have discovered a small golden bell that may be from the high priest’s garments (Elad  Benari, ‘Archaeologists discover high priest’s bell?’ Israel National News, 21 July 2011[1]).

Archaeologists Eli Shukron and Professor  Ronny Reich of Haifa University are reported  as saying: “The bell looked as if it was sewn on  the garment worn by a man of high authority in  Jerusalem at the end of the Second Temple period.  [It] was exposed in the city’s main drainage channel  of that period, between the layers of dirt that had  been piled on the floor of the channel.” The channel  “drained the rainfall in the different parts of the  city, through the City of David and the Shiloah  [i.e. Siloam] Pool to the Kidron valley,” they said.

It is thought that the bell was lost in the streets of  Jerusalem near what is known today as Robinson’s  Arch. It appears that the bell fell off the garment  and entered the drain beneath the street.

The Bible describes the hem of the high priest’s  robe as having golden bells and pomegranates  attached to it that “his sound shall be heard when he  goeth in unto the holy place before Yahweh” (Exod  28:33–35). The sound of the golden bells represents  the teaching and preaching of the word of God to all  who will hear, which was the role of the priests in  Israel (Mal 2:7). It may be that this tiny bell was lost  at the time that the apostles had begun to preach the  Word throughout the ancient world (Rom 10:17–18),  and when a corrupt priesthood had become silent and  was “ready to vanish away” (Heb 8:13).

The same excavation has also uncovered a  sword, oil lamps, pots and coins believed to be  from the Jewish rebellion that led to the overthrow  of Judea and the destruction of Jerusalem in 70  AD (Matti Friedman, ‘In a Jerusalem tunnel, a  glimpse of an ancient war’, Associated Press, 8  August 2011[2]).

The drainage channel is thought to have been  used as a hiding place by the rebels during the  Jewish revolt. Archaeologist Eli Shukron said: “We  found many things that we assume are linked to the  rebels who hid out here, like oil lamps, cooking  pots, objects that people used and took with them,  perhaps, as a souvenir in the hope that they would  be going back.” Among the discoveries was a sword  about sixty centimetres long with its leather sheath  still intact, which the archaeologists think may have  belonged to a member of the Roman garrison at the  time of the revolt.

As the Roman legions overran Jerusalem in the  final stages of its destruction, the contemporary historian Josephus records that the rebels attempted  to hide in the drainage channels (Jewish Wars,  6.9.4). The Romans, however, broke up the ground  above and discovered their hiding place.

“There were also found slain there above two  thousand persons, partly by their own hands, and  partly by one another, but chiefly destroyed by the  famine,” Josephus wrote. The stench of the rotting  dead did not stop many of the soldiers looting: he  records, “for a great deal of treasure was found in  these caverns”.

The excavation of the drainage channels which  began in 2007 remains a sensitive political issue  between Israel and the Palestinians. For Israel, the  discoveries are further evidence of Jewish historical  links with Jerusalem, but for many Palestinians they  are a threat to their claims to the city.

Jerusalem, however, is God’s chosen city  destined to be the centre of true worship in the  Kingdom of God (Isa 2:1–3). There the Lord  Jesus Christ will reign in righteousness and truth  over a world at peace. He has invited us to be with  him in that great day (Rev 3:12), so let us live in  awareness of God’s blessings and seek the way  that leads to life.


[1] http://www.israelnationalnews.com/News/News.aspx/145970#.


[2] http://www.seattlepi.com/news/article/In a-Jerusalem-tunnela-