3000-year-old horned Israelite altar discovered in Samaria earns protection

Its dimensions fit those mentioned in the Bible (“five amot long and five amot wide… and make horns upon it”).

By David Isaac, World Israel News

An ancient horned Israelite altar dating back 3,000 years that was in danger of being destroyed will now be protected after having been damaged by recent building activity at the site, Makor Rishon reported.

The altar, hewn from stone, is one of only three discovered in Israel to date and the most perfect of them, according to Prof. Yoel Elitzur of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, who discovered the altar 17 years ago together with attorney Doron Nir-Tzvi.

“One winter evening Doron suddenly calls me and says, “‘Listen, it looks to me like I have an altar in the yard.’ I came immediately and saw that we were indeed absolutely talking about an altar, and from there things developed.” Elitzur told the paper.

The altar is located in Givat Harel in the Binyamin region of Judea and Samaria. It has a flat surface for sacrifices and four horns, one on each corner. Its dimensions fit those mentioned in the Bible (“five amot long and five amot wide… and make horns upon it”).

Also noteworthy is that the altar is located at the base of a slope and not on the hilltop as in keeping with pagan worship in which altars were place on the tops of mountains and hills.

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Elitzur has struggled for a year to protect the altar in the wake of construction in the area that has damaged it. At one point, a metal cable was attached to one of the horns. Also a large stone fell on it damaging two of the horns, Makor Rishon reports. Trash was also dumped on the altar from the nearby building activity.

Several weeks ago, the settlement of Givat Harel and the Binyamin Regional Council took an interest in the altar. The large rock that had damaged it was removed and they are developing the area as a tourist attraction.

“The discovery of the altar is profound expression of our meaningful connection to the land. It’s evidence before the whole world of our historical right to Judea and Samaria,” Binyamin Regional Council head Israel Gantz told the paper.

Prof. Elitzur is also trying to save one of the other altars, the one located in the Shimson Industrial Zone. He discovered a few months ago that the altar is in danger of being lost due to the industrial development around it.