(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE CHRISTIAN POST)
Archaeologists have reportedly uncovered the ancient entrance gate to the biblical city of Zer in Israel, also known as Bethsaida, which is mentioned in the New Testament as the city where Jesus fed the 5,000 with five loaves and two fish in one His most well-known miracles.
“There are not many gates in this country from this period. Bethsaida was the name of the city during the Second Temple period, but during the First Temple period it was the city of Zer,” said Dr. Rami Arav, director of the Bethsaida Project, according to The Jerusalem Post.
The discovery of the gate was made during excavations carried out in the Golan Heights, with the size and wealth of the fortification suggesting that Zer was a big city.
In recent weeks, archaeologists have also found coins, beads, jugs, a house key, along with a shield that belonged to a Roman soldier. One of the coins was dated back to 35 BCE, or not long before the birth of Christ.
Arav has been carrying out excavations in the Bethsaida area for close to 30 years, which have increased the popularity of the region, and led to masses of Christian pilgrims visiting the site.
Avi Lieberman, director of the Jordan Park, where Bethsaida is located, said that the latest discovery can attract even more people.
“The staff at the Jordan Park and the Golan Tourism are happy for the tens of thousands of visitors who visit the park every day. The wonderful park is also an impressive archaeological site. I [am] amazed each time by the arrival of thousands of evangelical visitors to Bethsaida. I am confident that the latest discoveries will bring more visitors to the park from around the world and from Israel,” Lieberman said.
Relics of other faiths have also been discovered in and around Bethsaida. In January, an Israeli team identified a small, highly decorated pottery shard, which is about 2,300 years old, depicting the birth of the Greek goddess Athena.
Although the shard was originally found in 2016, researchers had been unable to determine until then that it depicts Athena springing to life fully formed from the head of her father Zeus.
Another notable discovery came in 2014, when archaeologists found a rare Roman coin issued in 85 CE by Agrippa II bearing the phrase “Judea Capta,” meant to mark the victory over the Jewish rebels and the destruction of the temple in Jerusalem.
The residents of ancient Bethsaida are criticized by Jesus in Matthew 11, when He calls them out, among others, for refusing to believe the Gospel despite witnessing His miracles.
“Woe to you, Bethsaida!” He says. “For if the mighty works done in you had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes. But I tell you, it will be more bearable on the day of judgment for Tyre and Sidon than for you.”