The books of Kings and Chronicles describe King Hezekiah (late 8th century BCE) as a God-fearing religious reformer who “removed the high places, broke down the pillars, and cut down the sacred pole” (2Kings 18:4). According to most interpreters, this and other passages imply that Hezekiah not only cracked down on idolatry but banned the offering of sacrifices anywhere outside the Jerusalem Temple. Recent discoveries seem to confirm this narrative, as Robin Ngo writes:
Excavations at Tel Lachish fully exposed the massive city-gate complex, which measures about 80 feet by 80 feet. Discovered at the complex were remnants of storage jars—including some that bore the stamp l-m-l-k (“[belonging] to the king”)—that may be evidence of Hezekiah’s preparations against the Assyrian king Sennacherib’s impending attacks. Lachish was completely destroyed in 701 BCE.
Part of this gate complex, the archaeological team found, was a large room that appears to have been a shrine. The room contained two four-horned altars, whose horns [cube-like protrusions on the four corners of an altar’s top surface] had been intentionally damaged, and several ceramic lamps, bowls, and stands. [The scholars overseeing the excavation] believe that the destroyed altars corroborate biblical references to King Hezekiah’s reforms: his efforts to centralize worship in Jerusalem and abolish it elsewhere.
Most surprising of all was that in one corner of the room, the archaeologists discovered a seat carved of stone with a hole in the center—what [they] believe to be a toilet. This latrine . . . was unquestionably a form of desecration of this shrine room—a practice described in the Hebrew Bible: “Then they demolished the pillar of Baal, and destroyed the temple of Baal, and made it a latrine to this day” (2Kings 10:27).
[The researchers] believe the latrine excavated at Lachish was symbolically placed. . . . “Laboratory tests we conducted in the spot where the stone toilet was placed suggest it was never used,” [one] said in a press release; “hence, we can conclude that the placement of the toilet had been [merely] symbolic.”
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