Scripture tells us that “A person’s heart plans his way; but the LORD determines his steps” (Prov. 16:9, CSB). This text comes to mind when considering the NOBTS Tel Gezer team, particularly in regards to our work in the water system. God has brought NOBTS a unique task in excavating the water system and he has equipped our dig team with unique people to accomplish this undertaking.
Most archaeology takes place in a square space that is contained by nylon string. The goal of the workers in the square is to move down through the material keeping everything flat and neat as you go. Two of our areas at Tel Gezer operate on this traditional model, but the water system is a different project altogether.
Working in the water system is like working in a mine. The work is wet, muddy, and has the potential to be dangerous. You cannot dig in a square because you are excavating an enormous tunnel with 17’ ceilings, nor can you keep your area neat because you are digging through mud the consistency of modeling clay (if you are lucky) and slop (if you aren’t lucky). Currently we have reached the bottom of the stairs, which go approximately 150’, and are trying to find the boundaries of the pool at the bottom of the system.
Our chief goal this week is to make sure that our workers in the water system can dig in safe conditions. Ensuring that conditions are safe is no easy task. Our team is blessed to have Dr. Jim Parker as one of our directors. His background in mining is an invaluable asset to our team. Under his direction our workers in the water system spent the week removing overhead material, laying sand bags for secure footing, and stringing lights so that we can see what we are doing.
Beginning next week we expect to be at a point to dig a probe and attempt to find the back of the water system. Once we have found this point, we will have an answer to the question of how deep the water system goes. The NOBTS team has been working on an answer to the question of the extent of the water system since 2010 and that answer may finally be within reach.
Right now the work is exciting, but it is also a lesson in how God orders our lives. Our water system team has spent the week under the leadership of a man who God called from a career in engineering to become an expert in the fields of biblical studies and archaeology. Today as our water system team worked, they experienced the fruit of how being faithful to God and following non-conventional paths enables you to contribute to exciting work. The work is exciting indeed; can you dig it?
For dig photos, CLICK HERE.
Cory Barnes is a Ph.D. student at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary.