For decades now, liberal archaeologists have claimed there’s little or no support for the biblical account of the Exodus. That’s never bothered me, because nomads traveling in tents don’t leave a lot of archaeological evidence. Plus, these “reductionists” usually fail to mention the archaeological evidence that does exist.
But now things have changed some. Reports from several news outlets tell us that Professor Adam Zertal of Haifa University has found structures at biblical Gilgal that are shaped like human feet and which were apparently built by the Children of Israel when they first entered the Land of Canaan. The Jewish newspaper, Haaretz, reports: “Two days before Passover, a University of Haifa archaeologist has unearthed foot-shaped structures he believes were constructed by the Israelites at the time of the Exodus from Egypt and move into the Promised Land.” A current article in Science Daily adds:
“Foot-shaped” structures have been revealed in the Jordan valley and are among the earliest sites that archeologists believe were built by the ancient people of Israel. The structures are thought to be symbolic of the biblical concept of ownership. The ‘foot’ structures that we found in the Jordan valley are the first sites that the People of Israel built upon entering Canaan and they testify to the biblical concept of ownership of the land with the foot,” said archaeologist Prof. Adam Zertal of the University of Haifa, who headed the excavating team that exposed five compounds in the shape of an enormous “foot” — likely to have been used at that time to mark ownership of territory. The finding is believed to represent the first time that enclosed sites identified with the biblical sites termed in Hebrew “gilgal”, which were used for assemblies, preparation for battle, and rituals, have been revealed in the Jordan valley.
The article goes on to say:
Prof. Zertal emphasized that the “foot” held much significance as a symbol of ownership of territory, control over an enemy, connection between people and land, and presence of a deity. Some of these concepts are mentioned in ancient Egyptian literature. The Bible also has a wealth of references to the importance of the “foot” as a symbol of ownership, the link between people and their deity, defeating the enemy ‘underfoot’, and the temple imaged as a foot.
“The discovery of these ‘foot’ structures opens an entirely new system of linguistic and historical perceptions,” Prof. Zertal emphasizes. He explains that the meaning of the biblical Hebrew word for “foot” — “regel” — is also a “festival” or “holiday”. As such, the source of the Hebrew term “aliya la-regel”, literally translated as “ascending to the foot” (and now known in English as a pilgrimage), is attributed to the “foot” sites in the Jordan valley. “Now, following these discoveries, the meanings of the terms become clear. Identifying the ‘foot’ enclosures as ancient Israeli ceremonial sites leads us to a series of new possibilities to explain the beginnings of Israel, of the People of Israel’s festivals and holidays,” he stated.
It gives new meaning to God’s promise to Joshua: “I will give you every place where you set your foot, as I promised Moses” (Joshua 1:3).
PS – You can also read about this in Christianity Today and in Israel21c.