An Astonishing Archaeological Discovery Is Imminent!

Over the last three decades, the legacy of King David has been resurrected through several archaeological discoveries. But the greatest discovery is still to come.
Julia Goddard/Watch Jerusalem
From the December 2020 Watch Jerusalem Print Edition

I would like to draw your attention to a crucial prophecy recorded in Jeremiah 7 and 8. I hope you carefully read this article, including the biblical verses I quote, as well as the article by my son “Where Is the Tomb of David?” It is possible that this incredible prophecy might soon be fulfilled.

The coming of the Messiah was prophesied by virtually all of the biblical prophets. Great men like Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Amos, Joel and Hosea all describe very specific events that will occur just before His arrival. Many people are familiar with these main prophecies. But few are familiar with a remarkable prophecy in Jeremiah 7 and 8.

The prophecy in Jeremiah 7 warns that the Messiah will come during a time of global upheaval and suffering. “Therefore, behold, the days come, saith the Lord, that it shall no more be called Topheth, nor The valley of the son of Hinnom, but The valley of slaughter; for they shall bury in Topheth, for lack of room. And the carcasses of this people shall be food for the fowls of the heaven, and for the beasts of the earth; and none shall frighten them away” (Jeremiah 7:32-33).

God takes no pleasure in this terrible suffering. In Ezekiel 33, a parallel prophecy, God says, “… I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from his way and live; turn ye, turn ye from your evil ways; for why will ye die, O house of Israel?” (verse 11). Man can avoid the horror—God will protect any person that turns to Him.

Where Are the Tombs of the Kings?
Watch Jerusalem

The prophecy in Ezekiel 33 is directed at the nations of Israel (America and Britain), but the parallel account in Jeremiah 7 and 8 shows that these events will also afflict Judah (prophetically, the modern nation of Israel) and Jerusalem. You can prove the biblical identity of America, Britain and the Jewish state in our free book The United States and Britain in Prophecy.

Jeremiah 7:34 says, “Then will I cause to cease from the cities of Judah, and from the streets of Jerusalem, the voice of mirth and the voice of gladness, the voice of the bridegroom and the voice of the bride; for the land shall be desolate.

Jeremiah delivered this prophecy in the early sixth century b.c.e., just before Jerusalem was conquered and the temple destroyed by the Babylonians in 586 b.c.e. Some believe this warning applied only to the Jews anciently. But the context shows that this prophecy is specifically for the end time.

Yet to Be Fulfilled

Notice—the prophecy continues in Jeremiah 8:1: “At that time, saith the Lord, they shall bring out the bones of the kings of Judah, and the bones of his princes, and the bones of the priests, and the bones of the prophets, and the bones of the inhabitants of Jerusalem, out of their graves.”

What a scene! This is talking about a tomb—referred to in many biblical passages as “the sepulchers of the kings”—in which several of Judah’s righteous kings and prophets were buried. And Jeremiah prophesied that during this future time of suffering, that tomb will be raided, and the bones of the kings will be brought to the surface and very publicly destroyed.

Obviously, for this to happen, the tombs of the kings will have already been discovered. Some people claim that David’s tomb has been discovered on modern Mount Zion or in the northern part of the Old City, but these locations are inconsistent with where the Bible places the location of the “sepulchres of David” (see “Where Is the Tomb of David?”).

View looking north over the City of David at the Temple Mount (photo from the 1970s).

The tomb holding the bones of Judah’s greatest kings is yet to be discovered!

Consider verse 2: “And they shall spread them [the bones] before the sun, and the moon, and all the host of heaven, whom they have loved, and whom they have served, and after whom they have walked, and whom they have sought, and whom they have worshipped; they shall not be gathered, nor be buried, they shall be for dung upon the face of the earth.

This verse says explicitly that after the bones have been exhumed, they “shall not be gathered, nor be buried.”—they will not be returned to the tomb. This did not happen when King Nebuchadnezzar and the Babylonian army conquered and destroyed Jerusalem in 586 b.c.e. There is no record in the Bible or in Jewish history of the bones of the kings in the tomb of David ever being disentombed.

In fact, biblical passages show that the bones of Judah’s kings were safely ensconced in their tomb during the time of Ezra and Nehemiah, more than 100 years after the Babylonian destruction. New Testament passages like Acts 2:29 show that the tomb of the kings remained undisturbed in the first century. The writings of Jewish historians reveal that the tomb of the kings remained undisturbed even in the third century c.e.

The bones of Judah’s kings and prophets remain in their original tomb, which has not yet been found—which means this stunning prophecy is yet to be fulfilled.

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Buried in One Tomb

The Bible records a remarkable amount of detail about the death and burial of Judah’s righteous kings, priests and prophets. We know that the righteous kings of Judah were buried in one large tomb, and that this tomb was situated in the City of David.

1 Kings 2 describes the death of King David; verse 10 says that “David slept with his fathers, and was buried in the city of David.” This is why his tomb cannot be in the Old City or on modern Mount Zion. The Bible clearly says it’s in the “city of David,” which is adjacent south of the Old City and east of what many identify today as Mount Zion.

When King Solomon died, he also “slept with his fathers, and was buried in the city of David his father” (1 Kings 11:43). Other righteous kings were also buried alongside David in this tomb (1 Kings 14:31; 15:8; 2 Kings 8:24; 9:28).

We also know there were separate burial sites for Judah’s exceedingly wicked kings. For example, 2 Chronicles 21:20 records that when King Jehoram died, they “buried him in the city of David, but not in the sepulchres of the kings.” Manasseh, another evil monarch, was buried “in his own house,” not in the tomb of the righteous kings (2 Chronicles 33:20).

Finally, we know that the primary tomb was likely connected to the palace of King David, or at least situated close by. The historical record, the archaeological record and the biblical account all show that it was customary for both Jewish and non-Jewish monarchs and leaders to build their tombs under their homes. For example, 1 Samuel 25:1 records that the Prophet Samuel was buried “in his house at Ramah.” (This is explained in more detail in “Where Is the Tomb of David?”)

It is noteworthy that God would record so much detail about the tombs of the kings. However, more sources than just the Bible discuss the tombs.

For many centuries, the location of the tombs of the kings was public knowledge. After the Jews returned to Jerusalem to rebuild the temple and the city in the late sixth century b.c.e., everyone knew the location of the “sepulchres of David” (Nehemiah 3:16). Even King Herod knew where the tomb was in the first century c.e. Historical records indicate that the tombs were even infiltrated by marauders searching for gold and other wealth.

King Herod raided the tomb; though he found no money, he did steal golden furniture and other precious goods.
Public Domain

According to Josephus, when the Seleucid King Antiochus vii attacked Jerusalem in the second century b.c.e., the Jewish high priest Hyrcanus broke into the tomb of the kings to loot some of the wealth to pay off Antiochus. A century later, King Herod raided the tomb; though he found no money, he did steal golden furniture and other precious goods.

Herod’s first incursion into the tombs proved fruitful, so he returned, hoping to find more treasure. According to Josephus, Herod wanted to go all the way back to the bones of David and Solomon, but was stopped in his tracks when a fiery flame burst out from the tombs and incinerated two of his guards. This terrified Herod so much that he had the entrance to the tomb sealed, making it virtually impossible for anyone to break into.

This remarkable history raises all sorts of questions. Why have the bones been left alone for thousands of years? Why would God, after safeguarding the bones of the Jews’ greatest kings and prophets for 3,000 years, allow them to be discovered? What would God want us to learn from this event?

The prophecy in Jeremiah 7 and 8 answers all these questions.

Declaring King David

In almost every instance where the Bible talks about this tomb or the bones of Judah’s righteous kings and prophets, it refers to King David. In some instances, it refers to the “sepulchres of David”; others record that the tomb is in the “city of David.”

We need to think deeply about why God would connect these righteous men to King David. By placing the bones of these men alongside Israel’s greatest king, God connected the legacy of Judah’s righteous kings and prophets to the legacy of King David. The main reason these kings and prophets were righteous was that they followed David’s example of faith and obedience. They held fast to the religion and religious practices established by God through David.

Through this tomb, God puts the spotlight on King David and his magnificent legacy and example!

Across the valley from the City of David is the Mount of Olives, which contains the graves of thousands of Jews and Christians. Some authorities say the Jewish Cemetery there is the most ancient and most important cemetery in Jerusalem. Many of the greatest rabbis and Jewish scholars are buried in this cemetery.

But surely the most ancient and most important cemetery in Jerusalem would be the one that contains the bones of Judah’s greatest kings and prophets!

The Bible reveals that this tomb is in the City of David, and most probably in the vicinity of King David’s palace. It also prophesies that the specific location of this great tomb will be known!

When this sensational discovery is made, the whole world will be reminded of King David’s legacy. Why would God want humanity to focus on David? Ultimately, it points back to the special promise He made to David in 2 Samuel 7 and repeated throughout the Bible: the promise that the Messiah will come from the line of David and will rule the Earth from the throne of David!

This towering prophecy is discussed all through the Bible. Isaiah wrote about this prophecy:For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even for ever. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this” (Isaiah 9:6-7; King James Version).

Over the past three decades, a lot of dramatic archaeological evidence has been uncovered proving what the Bible records about King David, his royal house and the united kingdom of Israel. The first big find was the Tel Dan Stele, discovered in 1993—a stone tablet inscribed with text that specifically mentions the “house of David.”

Sunset view of the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem (from the south).
Andrew Shiva / Wikipedia / CC BY-SA 4.0

Many of the greatest finds have been discovered in Jerusalem by archaeologist Dr. Eilat Mazar. In 2006, she uncovered part of King David’s royal quarter. Since then, she has uncovered part of King Solomon’s palace and Nehemiah’s wall, as well as bullae (clay seals) inscribed with the names of King Hezekiah and Isaiah, and two of the Judean princes (mentioned in Jeremiah 38). All these discoveries are directly connected to King David and the religious and political systems he created!

All of these discoveries carry wonderful lessons for us. For example, the bullae of the two princes, Jehucal and Gedaliah, uncovered by Dr. Mazar in the City of David, invoke the history recorded in Jeremiah 38. These two Judean princes tried to have Jeremiah killed, but God intervened and saved His prophet, who was able to continue his commission to uproot and to plant the throne of King David. (To learn about this commission, request The United States and Britain in Prophecy.)

The Mount of Olives contains the graves of thousands of Jews and Christians. But surely the most ancient and most important cemetery in Jerusalem would be the one that contains the bones of the Jews’ greatest kings and prophets.

These seals carry an encouraging lesson: God always protects those who love and obey Him! We all need to be more like Jeremiah and deeply value the throne of David and follow King David’s example of faith and obedience.

Through archaeology, and the efforts of Dr. Eilat Mazar, Israel’s greatest king is being progressively brought back to life.

The prophecy in Jeremiah 7 and 8 will continue this trend. We have already located the palace of David, and it is certain that the location of King David’s bones will be discovered.

Over the past 30 years, as more and more archaeological evidence has emerged, it has become more difficult for skeptics to disregard the biblical account of King David. The evidence is now firmly against the biblical minimalists, the people who believe David was an imaginary figure or the leader of an insignificant backwoods tribe. Even still, some refuse to accept what the Bible, and even archaeological discoveries, reveal about King David.

Most of us haven’t given enough attention and thought to the many sensational archaeological discoveries proving the monarchy of Israel—and the many lessons and warnings they carry for us today.

What will it take for us to give this subject the attention it deserves? Is this why God will allow the literal bones of King David and Judah’s righteous kings and prophets to be discovered? Will this finally be the dramatic discovery that causes this critical history to resonate with people?

Who Destroys the Bones?

When the tomb of the kings is discovered, it will be—and must be—treated with tremendous respect. The discovery of human remains is deeply sensitive, and it’s hard to imagine anyone who reveres these towering biblical figures wanting to disturb the bones in any way.

But the prophecy in Jeremiah 8 clearly says these bones will be exhumed and then publicly destroyed. This is an act of towering contempt and hatred. Who does this? And why?

To answer this question, we must look at other prophecies describing events surrounding the Messiah’s arrival. These prophecies show that this terrible act will be committed by a modern resurrection of the Holy Roman Empire.

The prophecy in Daniel 11:40-45 describes this time. Here the Holy Roman Empire is called the “king of the north.” After it destroys the “king of the south,” this European power “shall enter also into the beauteous land.” The passage continues by stating that his “palace” would be set up in “the beauteous holy mountain”—Jerusalem.

Jeremiah 1 describes this power as a “seething pot from the north”—modern-day Europe (verse 13). “Out of the north the evil shall break forth upon all the inhabitants of the land. For, lo, I will call all the families of the kingdoms of the north, saith the Lord; and they shall come, and they shall set every one his throne at the entrance of the gates of Jerusalem …” (verses 14-15). This power will be bent on utter destruction of the city, and will “destroy wonderfully” anything considered sacred to the people of God (Daniel 8:24). We see similar prophecies in Isaiah 10:5-6 and Hosea 5.

The desecration of the bones of the kings will be upsetting—yet ultimately, it won’t make any difference. These kings will live again! They will be resurrected, and they will rule alongside the Messiah on the throne of David (Jeremiah 39; 1 Kings 1:31; Ezekiel 37:25).

The Good News

The Bible describes multiple signs of the Messiah’s coming. The discovery of the tombs of the kings will be one of those signs, and then the desecration of the bones of the kings and prophets will be yet another. God wants us to recognize just how close that earthshaking event is. Signs of the Messiah’s coming are everywhere! If you really want to find God, you can! Just follow the signs.

Look at world conditions; at covid-19 and the way it has destabilized the world; at the political turmoil and deep social divisions in America; at the mounting tensions in Europe between Europeans and Muslims; at the aggressive behavior of Russia, China and Iran. Each of these is a major sign that the world is undergoing massive change!

When you look at this the way God does, all of these negative signs carry a positive message. The purpose of all these signs is to get us thinking about the Messiah’s arrival and to inspire us to make the necessary changes in our lives to prepare for this event!

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Dr. Mazar, whom we have had the pleasure of assisting on archaeological excavations since 2006, regularly stresses the need for vision when conducting an archaeological dig. She has told us: “You need to have vision to do a dig in Jerusalem. You need to see the big picture of how things fit in the biblical picture” (emphasis mine).

That is wonderful advice: It is good to be excited about all these archaeological discoveries proving King David’s legacy—but we must see the vision behind these artifacts! These discoveries should get us thinking about the coming Messiah, who is a descendant of King David and will rule from the throne of David!

In Psalm 102:15, the psalmist writes this about Jerusalem: “For Thy servants take pleasure in her stones, And love her dust.” Look at the context of this verse. What is the time frame? Verse 14 says, “Thou wilt arise, and have compassion upon Zion; For it is time to be gracious unto her, for the appointed time is come.” God will have mercy upon Zion and will favor Zion. Then, verses 16 and 17: “So the nations will fear the name of the Lord, And all the kings of the earth Thy glory; When the Lord hath built up Zion, When He hath appeared in His glory.” First He builds up Zion—then He comes in glory. So that really dates this psalm as a prophecy for right now! It is for today!

It is in this context that verse 15 says God’s servants take pleasure in Jerusalem’s stones and “love her dust.” This is shortly before the Messiah’s arrival. Over the past three decades, archaeologists have been slowly resurrecting the ruins of King David and his legacy.

Jeremiah 7 and 8 indicate that the next great discovery could be the “sepulchres of David.”

But we must keep the big picture in mind: The resurrection of David’s legacy will culminate in the coming of the Messiah and the resurrection of King David himself!

This prophecy in Jeremiah 7 and 8 is graphic and sobering, yet it is ultimately filled with hope and excitement. The discovery of the tombs of the kings is a sign that the Messiah is coming soon!

With editorial assistance by Brad Macdonald.

Sidebar: But What About ‘King David’s Tomb’ on Mount Zion?

Today many people believe Mount Zion is situated on the southwest side of the Old City. On this hill, about 100 meters from the Zion Gate, is a site known as “King David’s tomb,” visited each year by thousands of Christians, Jews and Muslims. But both archaeology and the historical record show that this popular tourist destination is neither David’s tomb nor Mount Zion.

This site was first recognized as David’s tomb by Byzantine Christians in the ninth century c.e. This belief was most likely based on a misreading of Josephus, the famous Jewish historian. The identification of this site became solidified during the rule of the Catholic Crusaders, and for roughly 800 years it was assumed that this western hill was biblical Mount Zion.

In the 19th century, this belief began to be proved wrong when archaeological excavations commenced. Scientists soon realized that the true Mount Zion—the one on which the Bible places the City of David and where King David is buried—was actually the smaller hill located directly south of the Temple Mount and due east of the traditional “Mount Zion.”

Over the past three decades, many features have been discovered in this location proving it to be biblical Mount Zion. These include the Gihon Spring, Hezekiah’s tunnel, King David’s palace and the Ophel royal quarter, as well as other small discoveries, such as the bullae of King Hezekiah, Isaiah and numerous princes and administrative officials. All these features and discoveries are linked to biblical Mount Zion.

Finally, few biblical-era remains have been discovered on the site the Byzantine Christians identified as Mount Zion. The earliest city remains go back only as far the late eighth century b.c.e., the time when King Hezekiah began to expand Jerusalem to the West.