The Bible lists several major construction projects of King Solomon: “Here is the account of the forced labor King Solomon conscripted to build the Lord’s temple, his own palace, the terraces, the wall of Jerusalem, and Hazor, Megiddo and Gezer” (1 Kings 9:15, New International Version).
The significance of most of these projects is self-evident: He built a magnificent temple to God in Jerusalem, constructed his own palace, reinforced what is thought to be supporting walls and terraces along the steepest side of the city facing the Mount of Olives, and beefed up the city’s defensive walls. All were fitting enhancements to the capital city of the growing Israelite empire.
But what about the other three cities mentioned—Hazor, Megiddo and Gezer? While their significance is not readily apparent to most people today, anyone at the time of Solomon, nearly 3,000 years ago, would’ve immediately recognized their importance.
From ancient times, the Holy Land was bisected by a major trade route running between Egypt and Mesopotamia. Known as “the Way of the Sea,” it ran from Egypt along the Mediterranean Sea before going inland through the territory of ancient Israel. It was also the major invasion route between the ancient superpowers of Egypt and Mesopotamia, which is one reason we see so many wars recorded in the Bible involving the kingdoms of Israel and Judah.
The cities of Hazor, Megiddo and Gezer lay at strategic choke points along this route, and Solomon converted them into strong fortress cities. In doing so he was able to both protect the northern and southern approaches to his kingdom as well as control—and tax—the trade caravans that used this ancient superhighway. Through this strategy wise King Solomon was able to both provide military security for his kingdom and add to its economic growth.
In the 20th century, archaeological excavations were conducted at all three of these sites, and archaeologists noticed a striking parallel. The city gates—the most vulnerable point of attack for an enemy—constructed in the 10th century B.C. (Solomon’s time) were identical at all three. All shared a unique design, obviously working off the same “blueprints” of the same fortification designer.
This was powerful support for the statement recorded in the Bible, that Solomon had fortified all three cites at the same time during his reign. Although some critics have questioned the dating of the construction of the gates, the hard facts on the ground are evidence of exactly what we read in the Bible.
After a decades-long hiatus, excavations at Gezer resumed in 2006. In the most recent excavation season, the summer of 2016, yet more evidence has come to light there supporting the biblical account.
Although it is not mentioned in the biblical record, excavators uncovered an enormous palatial building dating to the time of Solomon adjacent to the city gate. The structure featured a large central courtyard, as with similar large buildings found in Hazor and Megiddo dating to the same time. While there is no record or evidence of Israelite kings living there (they lived in Jerusalem), these structures demonstrate the importance of these cities to the Israelite kingdom at the time.
Further support for the biblical record came from a layer of Philistine pottery predating the palatial building. The Bible shows that Philistines occupied Gezer (2 Samuel 5:25; 1 Chronicles 14:16) until it was captured by the Egyptian pharaoh and given to Solomon as a dowry when Solomon married his daughter (1 Kings 9:16-17). Excavations have shown that the city was indeed destroyed, with a new city, new fortifications, a new gate and the now-revealed palatial complex constructed atop the earlier ruins.