David Harris

A 5-foot-tall white slab, called a masseba, marks the approach to a mighty temple that once stood at Biblical Shechem and was the site of a grisly attack: Judges 9 describes how Abimelech set fire to the temple and killed a thousand Shechemites who had rebelled against his rule. The temple shown here had been known for decades, but earlier excavators—led by G. Ernest Wright—who believed that this temple had gone out of use long before the time of Abimelech. Author Lawrence E. Stager, in the accompanying article (“The Shechem Temple”), untangles the misdating of the great Shechem temple and shows how neatly its various features dovetail with the Biblical descriptions of migdal, or fortress, temples in ancient Canaan.