Truth in the Toilet?
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Truth in the Toilet?

It’s a good time to be interested in archaeology. In an age where some critics immediately dismiss the Bible as myth, archaeology has provided some fascinating corroborating evidence of the biblical record. A toilet at the ancient city of Lachish is just one example.

Hezekiah was one of the best kings of the Southern Kingdom of Judah. The biblical authors indicate that his dedication to God set him apart from all the kings of Israel and most of the kings of Judah. 2 Chronicles 29-32 describes his efforts to restore biblical worship among his people. During the eighth century BC, he refurbished the Temple in Jerusalem and removed elements of pagan worship. The text states, “he removed the high places, broke down the pillars, and cut down the sacred pole” (2 Kings 18:4).

Archaeologists have discovered evidence of Hezekiah’s reforms in the city of Lachish. As the second most important city in Judah after Jerusalem, Lachish had a massive six-chambered gate bigger than any yet excavated in the region. One of the chambers housed a gate shrine, where excavators made two discoveries of note. First, they found two horned altars that someone desecrated in ancient times. Almost all of the horn-like protrusions on each of the four corners of the altars had been cut off, rendering them useless.

Second, archaeologists found a seat carved with a hole in the center—what appears to be an ancient toilet. Its inclusion was intended to desecrate the shrine. The Bible gives an example of this very thing occurring in a temple of Baal during the reign of Jehu of Israel: “they demolished the pillar of Baal, and destroyed the temple of Baal, and made it a latrine to this day” (2 Kings 10:27). Lab tests indicate that the stone toilet in Lachish was never actually used by any of the city’s inhabitants. Even though the placement of the toilet seat was symbolic, its inclusion still defiled the shrine.

Among all the nations of the ancient Near East, Israel was distinctive because of its exclusive devotion to a single God. It seems that the evidence of this commitment has been found in an ancient toilet. Odd as it may seem, it proves the rule that sometimes the truth is stranger than fiction.


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