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Are these the footprints of God?


They are being referred to in some circles as “the footprints of God.”

But, though they a phenomenal archaeological discovery, they are actually ancient man-made stone structures, possibly dating back to the time of Joshua and the entry of the children of Israel into the Promised Land after their 40-year Exodus journey from Egypt.

Found just to the east of the Jordan River, these six sandal-shaped rock structures – one bigger than two football fields in length and 228-feet wide – are getting attention, not just from archaeologists, but increasingly from the Israeli public.

Perhaps the most famous of these sites is one found on Mount Ebal. Its unique feature is a massive altar found in the center measuring about 23 feet by 30 feet feet in size and a story high. Charred animal bones and ash were found in and around the altar.

Adam Zertal, the archaeologist who discovered the site, believes this is the altar Joshua created when Israel first entered the Promised Land. He believes he may be the one mentioned in the Bible (Joshua 8:30).

Before the Israelites entered the Promised Land, Moses instructed Israel that they were to write the curses associated with the law and place them on Mount Ebal and at nearby Mount Gerizim they were to place the blessings (Deuteronomy 11:29). In Deuteronomy 27, Moses further added they were to build an altar on Mount Ebal with unhewn or uncut stone. They were to cover the rocks in lime on which the curses were also to be written. Mount Ebal contains large lime deposits and remnants of ancient quarries.

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In a ceremony, Moses instructed half of Israel to go to Mount Ebal and pronounce the curses and other half to nearby Mt. Gerizim where they declared the blessings.

In Biblical Archaeology Magazine, Megan Sauter points to research by Professor Ralph Hawkins of Averett University who believes these are none other than the “gilgal” sites mentioned several times in the Bible. According to Hawkins, gilgal means simply “circle [of stones].” These were gathering places for Israel and Hawkins believes the Bible refers to upwards of five gilgal sites.

Why foot-shaped?

Researcher Adam Eliyahu Berkowitz has a theory.

“Before entering the Promised Land, God gave Israel this interesting promise,” he wrote.

He cites Deuteronomy 11:24: “Every place whereon the soles of your feet shall tread shall be yours: from the wilderness and Lebanon, from the river, the river Euphrates, even unto the uttermost sea shall your coast be.” (KJV)

“Everywhere Israel left a foot print that was to be their land,” Berkowitz writes. “It was very similar to the promise God gave Abraham after he and Lot separated because their herds were too large. So were these giant footprints, Israel’s message to God – we have walked here? This is our land. We claim it as our inheritance. They were also a reminder Who had given them the land.”

As usual in Israel, there’s controversy about the sites. One of them is in danger of being destroyed before it can reveal its secrets. The site overlooking the Jordan Valley is endangered by a foreign-funded garbage dump serving the Palestinian Authority.

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Green Now, an Israeli environmental NGO, launched a campaign to protest the project. Ariel Filber, the Director for the Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel in Judea and Samaria, explained the reasons for the protest to Breaking Israel News.

“The spot is about 200 meters from this Gilgal site,” she said. “The heavy equipment, all the tractors that will work in building and servicing the site, they may inadvertently damage the Gilgal site.”

The project is being financed by the Bank of Germany. Filner says the dump is substandard and wouldn’t be allowed in Europe or Israel. Protests have been organized.

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