Those insights, along with many other examples, describe the experience of 10 students enrolled in FHU’s Graduate School of Theology who spent 10 days this summer on an archaeological dig at Shiloh, believed to be the ancient site of the tabernacle. The trip was led by Dr. Jonathan Moore, who, along with his wife, Kim, helped to fund the excursion and taught the course. On Day 1 of the trip, the group visited Mount Ebal, where the Curse Tablet, declared last year to be the number one archaeological discovery in Israel, was found. The small lead tablet is “centuries older than any known Hebrew inscription from ancient Israel,” according to the Armstrong Institute of Biblical Archaeology. It contains an ancient Hebrew inscription believed to date to the Late Bronze Age (circa 1400- 1200 B.C.). Mount Ebal was one of the first places seen by the Israelites after Moses had led them out of the wilderness. He told one group to proclaim curses from Mount Ebal and another group to proclaim blessings from Mount Gerizim.
Day 2 took them to Shechem. Moore calls it “a place of promise” because it became a part of the Promised Land and “a place of commitment” because it is where they proclaimed their allegiance to Jehovah. A trip to Jerusalem filled Day 3, a Sunday. They visited Hezekiah’s tunnel and the Temple Mount, including the Wailing Wall, where devout Jews and others offer prayers, as well as other sites. When the students arrived at Shiloh, the actual digging began. Blood from scratches made by thorns, sweat from moving buckets of dirt and tears of raw emotion ensued. The group did, in fact, move 1.5 meters of dirt and rocks in the five days of the actual dig.
Why? Why travel thousands of miles to a hot, dry land to dig in the dirt? “Because,” Moore said in a presentation at FHU’s Golden Year Reunion, “archaeology can illuminate the biblical text to the historical reality of scripture. It tethers biblical events to real time and space. More than ever, we must defend the historical veracity of scripture.”
“The special thing about this class is that I was able to experience hands-on learning in the presence of fellow students and a knowledgeable and passionate teacher, to talk with them about the places of the Bible and to swap ideas about opportunities and challenges in our different ministries,” Dutton said. “What an awesome spiritual blessing to be able to worship our God, sing praises in biblically meaningful places, remember Jesus’ death in the places He walked and taught and work alongside God’s people where the people of God once lived and worshiped!”
“Already when conversing with people about the Bible, I feel more equipped to speak to the reality the text often assumes, yet we often miss,” Mahana said. “It has already allowed me to engage others in ways I’ve simply not been able to before, so I’m excited to see how this enhances my ministry.”
Other students engaged in the biblical archaeology short course were Ryan Smallwood, Angela Smallwood, Tyler Hawkins, Scott Ihle, Mitchell Rogers, Brice Wilson, Ben Coleman, Dimitri Sims and Stacey Tucker.
The Moores, from Somerset, Kentucky, underwrote a substantial portion of the cost of the trip, so that students incurred only a small percentage of the total price tag. The credit earned may be used as elective hours in any of FHU’s Graduate School of Theology master’s programs. In addition, the Moores have established an endowment to ensure the program continues in perpetuity.
The excavation at Shiloh is under the oversight of Associates for Biblical Research. Dr. Moore was a group leader at Shiloh in 2019 and an assistant square supervisor in 2022. For four years, he served as an instructor for Bible Land Passage Tours and helped to develop and instruct a faith-building instructional series for World Video Bible School.
SOURCE Freed-Hardeman University