Thousands of years ago Joshua lead the children of Israel across the Jordan river. According to the book of Joshua they crossed the Jordan River parallel to the city of Jericho at a place called Gilgal. When they completed the crossing they made a ceremony with twelve large stones symbolizing the twelve tribes. From there they began the conquest of the promised land.
In this week’s Torah portion (Ki Tavo) we read of a blessing and a curse which will be given to the twelve tribes once they are in the promised land. In the book of Joshua this same curse and blessing is recorded as having been given.
These shall stand upon mount Gerizim to bless the people, when ye are passed over the Jordan: Simeon, and Levi, and Judah, and Issachar, and Joseph, and Benjamin and. these shall stand upon mount Eval for the curse: Reuben, Gad, and Asher, and Zebulun, Dan, and Naphtali.; Devarim 27:12-13
Adam Zartal- an Israeli archaeologist found the site on mount Eval where this blessing was given.
In1989 a number of ancient archaeological sites were discovered in the Jordan valley. The most intriguing of them are the five ‘foot print sites’. These sites are dated to the 12-13th century B.C., which aligns itself with the period of the conquest.
Incredibly when viewed from above they have an uncanny resemblance to the sole of a shoe or a foot print. Hence being called ‘foot print sites’ (אתר כף הרגל )
The conquest of the land of Israel was completed over a period of many. It started with the city of Jericho followed by the Ai followed by other cities in the Jordan Valley.
Adam Zartal believed that these were ceremonial cites due to their shape and the presence of an alter at the center of each of them. He also drew a connection between these sites and ‘Gilgal’ ,which is mentioned multiple times in the bible, as they are made of conjoined circles.
He believed that the foot shape of the sites signifies that the children of Israel making a statement that they had taken ownership over the land.
The above-mentioned curse and blessing was given at one of these foot print sites which is located at mt. Eval which is close to the Palestinian city of Nablus (Shchem).
These incredible archaeological and historical sites are in the mountains of the Jordan valley, The majority of which is Palestinian controlled territories. This area has little supervision, legislation and/or enforcement over the well being of archaeological sites.
Many decisions pertaining to building of infrastructure made by the Israeli military administration in the areas of Judea, Samaria and the Jordan valley are influenced by strategic, or sometimes monetary decisions while failing to take into account possible damage to archaeological site. The decisions or making them less accessible to Israeli citizens.
Unfortunately the Israeli military administration recently made such a decision with regards to one of these foot print sites. They have given permission to the Palestinian authority to build a garbage dump beside this archaeological and historical treasure.
I highly recommend learning more about these sites and getting out to see them if you can.
Further more If you are concerned about the protection of these and other precious archaeological sites you can write to The Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories Unit (COGAT) at Cogatspokesman@gmail.com with your concerns about the foot print archaeological site located at Rimonim!