A few hours walk along Tel Gezer. You can start a day with a picnic in the charming forest of Hamagenim. Then, through the village of Karmay Yosef, we rise to the famous ancient hill Gezer. At this place, the battles of ancient history took place and the Egyptian pharaoh subjugated the disobedient rulers of Canaan. These rulers gathered together and concluded military alliances near one of the most mysterious structures of the ancient East - stone giants from Tel Gezer. Descent into an ancient well of forty-meter depth is the most mysterious part of the walk. We will end the day in the cool water spring of Yarda, where the battle of the Crusaders against Saladin once took place.
Cover photo by: Maximidf - Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=62461515
Hamagenim Forest occupies a vast territory and is located on hills from 170 to 260 meters high. The forest includes many ancient pieces of evidence of human presence, such as water reservoirs carved into the rock, wells, caves, wine presses, and ancient tombs. The modern forest is dedicated to the defenders of the country. This explains its name. One of the most significant sites in the forest is the ancient archaeological hill Tel Gezer. In the second century BC, the territory of the forest belonged to a local landowner named Alcius (Jona), as evidenced by the discovered stone with an inscription.
Photo By Shayshal2 - Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=66362973
The settlement of Karmey Yosef was founded at the beginning of the eighties of the last century. It was established by a group of settlers from neighboring Rehovot and Ness Ziona. Eli Shimoni stood at the head of the settlement council. They called the village after Yosef Sapir, the Minister in the Government of Israel and the founder of the Liberal Party, which later became a member of the Likud Party. The word Kramim means vineyards in Hebrew. Thus, the name of the settlement, Karmey Yosef, denotes the vineyards of Joseph. Initially, settlers wanted to found the colony on the site of the historical Tel Gezer, but this was not possible because of the tremendous archaeological value of the hill. The settlement was established to the south; it is divided into the eastern and western parts by the Gezer stream, which flows into the Ayalon River.
Photo By צילום:ד"ר אבישי טייכר, CC BY 2.5, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=11929054
Tel Gezer is an ancient city in the hills of the Shfela region at the midway between Jerusalem and Tel Aviv. It is now an Israeli national park. Gezer was a prominent fortified Canaanite city in the first half of the 2nd millennium BCE. The city was several times destroyed and rebuilt since to its strategic position at the crossroads of the trade route linking Egypt with Syria and the road to Jerusalem and Jericho. The coastal trade route continued to Anatolia and Mesopotamia and thus linked the two centers of the ancient world, The Egyptian Empire and the Mesopotamian kingdoms. The essential archive ever discovered of the ancient world named "Amarna letters" mentions kings of Gezer swearing loyalty to the Egyptian Pharaoh. In the Hebrew Bible, Gezer is associated with Joshua ben Nun and Solomon.
Photo By Mickael101 at Hebrew Wikipedia - Transferred from he.wikipedia to Commons by מתניה., Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=9624397
The discovery of city gate named after Solomon begins In 1957 when Yigael Yadin identified a city gate very similar in construction to remains excavated at Megiddo and Hazor. Despite the willingness of modern researchers to connect the archaeological shreds of evidence with eminent biblical kings, the determination of the city gate as Solomon gate is problematic. The historical texts tell us that the Egyptian Pharaon gives the city of Gezer to Solomon for his marriage with the pharaoh's daughter. The only mention in the Bible of a pharaoh who might be the father-in-law of Solomon is Siamun. The British archeologist, Kenneth Kitchen believes that Siamun conquered Gezer and gave it to Solomon. Other researches disagree, and states that "it is impossible to conclude which Egyptian monarch ruled concurrently with David and Solomon". Some argue that Gezer was destroyed late in the 10th century and thus not contemporary with Solomon.
An inscription of conquered sites of Canaan at Thutmose's temple at Karnak tells us that Egyptian pharaoh Thutmose III (ruled 1479–1425 BC) burned and destroyed Gezer in the wake of his campaign against rebelled cities of Canaan. In the 14th century, the Tell Amarna letters described the kings of Gezer swearing loyalty to the Egyptian pharaoh. Archaeologists excavated several pottery vessels, a cache of stamps with the emblem of pharaoh Amenhotep III providing strong evidence of the existence of a city at Gezer in the 14th century BCE. The fortification wall, four meters thick, and a palace were constructed at this period.
The water supplying system was hewn in the Middle Canaanite period and includes a shaft and a sloping tunnel that descends to a depth of 40 m below the surface - to the groundwater level. The tunnel allowed the city access to water sources even during a siege. Today, there is no water at the end of the tunnel. The descent takes place on a narrow, steep staircase (with a railing, but does not allow two people to pass at the same time). One of the best-known artifacts dug up in this area is the Gezer calendar. This is a plaque with a text, which seems to be a schoolboy's memory exercises or some descriptions for the collection of taxes. Some researchers even suppose that the text was a folk song, listing the months of the year. The tablet with an ancient inscription, dated back to 10th century BCE, is now in the Museum of Archaeology in Istanbul. It lets us know about the agricultural seasons and the ancient Middle East calendar.
The central symbol of Gezer is the "Temple of the Tombstones" - a ritual complex that includes one stone basin and ten stone tombstones, of various sizes and shapes. The Canaanite tribes or state-cities used this site to forge alliances, as well as to renew partnerships.
In the western part of the hill are the remains of Sheikh's tomb, which is attributed to Sheikh Muhammad al-Ghazali. Abu Hamed Muhammad bin Muhammad al-Ghazali was born in 1058 AD in the city of Fly in the Khorasan region of eastern Persia, near the town of Mashhad. Mentioned in medieval Hebrew texts called "al-Ghazali," he was a Muslim philosopher and corrector, one of the most important Muslim theologians.
Yarda spring is the ultimate natural water source in the area of Tel Gezer, originates in a well about two meters in diameter next to it are fig trees. When the water level is high, the excess water flows out down the Gezer stream - one of the tributaries of the Ayalon River. Around the water spring, there is a meadow in which grows the marsh clover, and a memorial corner for soldier Itai Steinberger, a member of Carmi Yosef village, who fell in the Second Lebanon War. In 1177, this plain near Gezer was the site of the Battle of Montgisard. The small Crusaders army of Baldwin IV defeated the forces of Saladin. A castle of Crusader Lordship of Montgisard stood there, a short distance from Ramleh.
Photo By udi Steinwell Pikiwiki Israel, CC BY 2.5, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=25156391