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The El-Burnat (A) Structure(s): Joshua’s Altar?

The book of Joshua records a ceremony of blessings and curses that the Israelites held on Mount Ebal and Mount Gerizim shortly after their arrival in the promised land. According to Joshua 8:30, “Then Joshua built on Mount Ebal an altar to the Lord, the God of Israel.”


The El-Burnat (A) Structure(s): Joshua’s Altar? provides a thorough analysis of Joshua’s altar first by examining Mount Ebal and altars in the Bible and then by analyzing biblical references to Joshua’s Mount Ebal altar to determine the exact biblical specifications for that altar. It then discusses the surveys and archaeological work that have taken place on Mount Ebal and specifically at one site on the mountain, el-Burnat (A). Adam Zertal, who excavated at the site, claimed to have found Joshua’s altar. This review of the corresponding evidence seems to confirm that one of the structures at the site does indeed qualify as Joshua’s altar on Mount Ebal.


Author Abigail Leavitt is a PhD student at Ariel University, where she is studying archaeology. She has a Master’s degree in Biblical History and Archaeology from The Bible Seminary and serves as Assistant Director of Excavations at Tel Shiloh. She has served as Objects Registrar and Square Supervisor at both Tel Shiloh and Khirbet el Maqatir, as Assistant Director of the Mount Ebal Dump Salvage project, and participated in the Mount Zion excavation in Jerusalem, the Temple Mount Sifting Project, the Khirbet ‘Auja el-Foqa excavation, and the Fazael excavations. She also serves as a team member on the Manasseh Hill Country Survey.




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