2009-08-27

The strongest argument for revised histories of Israel & Judah

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by Neil Godfrey

Finding this or that new artefact or foundation of fort or shrine in Iron Age Judea and Jerusalem may make headline news in relation to the Bible story, but it is unlikely in the extreme to change the basic geographic facts we do know about Jerusalem and the area of the supposed kingdom of Judea as outlined in my previous post, Jerusalem unearthed — 1000 to 700 b.c.e.

The facts of Jerusalem’s size, relative isolation, and political and economic position position in relation to Lachish, Ekron, Hebron and Arad, as well as in relation to the greater neighbouring kingdoms of Israel, Syria, etc, make any notion of it having the power base to dominate a Judean kingdom before the seventh century b.c.e. completely implausible.

Such a village could not have the critical mass of educated elites required to preserve a noble history, quite apart from the fact that such a village simply lacked the economic and political and cultural backgrounds from which such historical notions are necessarily spawned. These facts belie the biblical history of Jerusalem as the major power centre of a united kingdom of Israel, or even a dynastic hub controlling Judea.

Sensationalized news about discoveries of new artefacts are unlikely to result in any significant changes to these facts.

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Neil Godfrey

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3 thoughts on “The strongest argument for revised histories of Israel & Judah”

  1. That reminds me of arguments for evolution being fact, not theory. As the body of knowledge about a theory grows it becomes more and more certain, and as you note, new finds which do not fit in perfectly with people’s existing theories are less and less likely to radically change the theories. You explained it well.

    I have really been benefiting from your recent posts. I’ve been reading Finkelstein’s “David and Solomon” and the added perspectives have been very helpful.

    1. I think the comparison with fundamentalist responses to evolution is a good one. Glad the posts have been of some use. After years of letting myself believe all sorts of nonsense I like to think I have some opportunities to share with others things I wish I had read and understood years ago.

  2. You are forgetting the unexcavated Temple Mount, the Stepped Stone Structure, and evidence Judah was fortifying its borders in the 9th century BC (at Mizpah, Tel Beersheba, Arad, Lachish, etc.). Remember, the Assyrians record no kingdom of Lachish or Arad(!), but record Judah as early as the 730s BC.

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