Tel Arad is a significant archaeological site located between the Judean Mountains and the Beer-Sheva valley. In ancient times Arad was on an important cross roads between the Dead Sea and the Mediterranean sea, and was the southern border of the Judean Kingdom to its neighboring Edomite kingdom.
Archaeology and History of Tel Arad
Intensive excavations carried out at the site in the 1960s and 1970s indicated the site was densely populated in Proto-historic Canaanite times. Although it was abandoned during the time of the Exodus, the Book of Numbers records a fierce battle between the Israelites coming from the desert and the king of Arad. Defeated by him, the Israelites were forced to traverse through the land of the Edomites and the Moabites, and would enter the Holy Land only years later, next to Jericho. On top of the abandoned Canaanite city the Israelites later built a fort to defend the Judean Kingdom from the Edomite attacks. Excavations of the fort yielded rare and significant letters with orders to the commander of the post, as well as a one-of-a-kind Judaic temple. Its holy of holies had two standing stones (“Masseboth”). Recent study indicated that the incense burnt in the temple included cannabis.
Touring Tel Arad
Today, Tel Arad is national park. It is open every day of the week, and has an admission fee. The remains of the 4500 years old Canaanite city include a massive wall, private dwellings, a palace, and a well. The Israelite fort at the citadel was partially reconstructed. Its square shape and gate house is a good example of Biblical era fortifications. The unique temple found in the citadel is on display at the Israel Museum, but a replica of it is set at the site. Recently, the water cistern beneath the temple was cleared and opened to the public as well. Tel Arad is one of the most significant sites for the study of Biblical Archaeology. It is especially important for the evaluation of the reality behind the story of the Exodus. It is also an important site to study the rituals in Biblical times, and the formation of Monotheism.
A tour of Tel Arad can be combined in a day tour of the South.