A HISTORY OF ANCIENT ISRAEL

:
FROM THE PATRIARCHS THROUGH THE ROMANS
COURSE GUIDE

Professor Eric H. Cline
THE GEORGE WASHINGTON UNIVERSITY

A History of Ancient Israel:
From the Patriarchs Through the Romans Professor Eric H. Cline
The George Washington University

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A History of Ancient Israel: From the Patriarchs Through the Romans Professor Eric H. Cline

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Lecture content ©2006 by Eric H. Cline Course guide ©2006 by Recorded Books, LLC

72006 by Recorded Books, LLC
Cover image: King David brings the Ark of the Covenant to Jersusalem © Clipart.com #UT078 ISBN: 978-1-4193-8872-9
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Course Syllabus A History of Ancient Israel: From the Patriarchs Through the Romans

About Your Professor...................................................................................................4 Introduction...................................................................................................................5 Lecture 1 Lecture 2 Lecture 3 Abraham and the Patriarchs..................................................................6 The Exodus and Egypt ........................................................................13 The Conquest of Canaan: Israelites, Philistines, and Phoenicians ..................................................................................20 King David in History and Tradition .....................................................25 King Solomon in History and Tradition ................................................31 Excursus: The Ark of the Covenant.....................................................37 The Kingdom of Israel and the Omride Dynasty .................................42 The Kingdom of Judah Until the Time of Sennacherib .......................48 Neo-Babylonians and the End of the Kingdom of Judah ....................54 Persians and Greeks in Judea ............................................................61 The Coming of the Romans and Christianity ......................................66 Excursus: Qumran and the Dead Sea Scrolls.....................................71 From the First Jewish Revolt and the Destruction of Jerusalem to Bar Kochba and the Second Jewish Rebellion ....................................................................77 Excursus: Masada, What Really Happened? ......................................82

Lecture 4 Lecture 5 Lecture 6 Lecture 7 Lecture 8 Lecture 9 Lecture 10 Lecture 11 Lecture 12 Lecture 13

Lecture 14

Course Materials ........................................................................................................87

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Photo courtesy of Eric H. Cline

About Your Professor Eric H. Cline
Dr. Eric H. Cline, a former Fulbright scholar, is chair of the Department of Classical and Semitic Languages and Literatures at The George Washington University in Washington, D.C., where he holds a joint appointment as an associate professor in both the Classics/Semitics Department and the Anthropology Department. A prolific researcher, Dr. Cline is the author or editor of seven books and has more than seventy articles and book reviews to his credit. His books include The Battles of Armageddon: Megiddo and the Jezreel Valley from the Bronze Age to the Nuclear Age, which received the 2001 Biblical Archaeology Society (BAS) Publication Award for Best Popular Book on Archaeology; Jerusalem Besieged: From Ancient Canaan to Modern Israel; Sailing the Wine-Dark Sea: International Trade and the Late Bronze Age Aegean; Amenhotep III: Perspectives on His Reign (coeditor); The Aegean and the Orient in the Second Millennium BC; Thutmose III: A New Biography; and a book for young adults entitled The Ancient Egyptian World (coauthor with Jill Rubalcaba). Professor Cline received the Morton Bender Award for Teaching at The George Washington University in 2004 and the Archaeological Institute of America’s National Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching Award for 2005. He currently teaches a wide variety of courses, including Troy and the Trojan War, History of Ancient Greece, History of Rome, and Art and Archaeology of the Aegean Bronze Age. Professor Cline has lectured at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C., the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, and the Skirball Museum in Los Angeles. His research has been featured in the Washington Post, the New York Times, US News & World Report, the London Daily Telegraph, the London Mirror, and many other publications around the world. In addition, Professor Cline has been featured on numerous radio and television broadcasts, such as the BBC World Services, National Public Radio, the Discovery Channel, the National Geographic Channel, and the History Channel. Dr. Cline is married, with two children, two cats, and varying numbers of fish. 4

King David brings the Ark of the Covenant to Jersusalem

Introduction
Israel conjures up myriad associations for peoples of all cultures and religious backgrounds. Inextricably associated with the world’s three most prominent religions (Judaism, Christianity, and Islam), Israel is steeped in history and conflict, much of which is known through the tales of biblical figures such as Moses, David, Solomon, and, of course, Jesus Christ. But how much of the Bible can be relied upon as accurate history? And how much of the biblical record can be verified through archaeology? Esteemed professor, researcher, and author Eric H. Cline of The George Washington University addresses these and other questions in this fascinating series of lectures. A History of Ancient Israel follows the course of Israel’s history from Abraham and the Patriarchs through the Exodus, Exile, and two great Jewish rebellions, encompassing a rich history that increases one’s understanding of Israel’s place in the world today. In addition to this storied region’s tumultuous past, Professor Cline delves into such compelling digressions as lectures on the Ark of the Covenant, the Dead Sea Scrolls, and controversy surrounding the fabled mass suicide at Masada. 5

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Lecture 1: Abraham and the Patriarchs

The Suggested Reading for this lecture is Hershel Shanks’s (ed.) Ancient Israel: From Abraham to the Roman Destruction of the Temple (chapter 1: “The Patriarchal Age: Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob”).

ny attempt to teach the history of ancient Israel depends primarily on the biblical record. Some say the Bible is a completely accurate and adequate account. Others view it as a collection of folk tales and miracle stories. The biblical writers themselves did not claim to base their work on factual records, because they were not as concerned with what actually happened as with conveying the Word of God. On the other hand, there is a lot of information in the Bible that can be correlated with independent sources. The Holy Land The land of ancient Israel and Judah was known before the Israelites got there as the land of Canaan, which is what the Egyptians called it. This region is a coastal corridor, positioned between great empires for most of its history. To the north were the empires in ancient Mesopotamia, modern-day Iraq and northern Syria, which housed the Assyrians and the Babylonians throughout time, and the Hittites, who dwelled in Turkey. To the south were

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This area is frequently referred to as the Holy Land. That designation covers the modern states of Israel and Jordan, for the most part, but the borders change dramatically over the course of the history of this region. The Mediterranean is always the western boundary, but the eastern boundary is more indeterminate. Sometimes it lies on the Jordan River, and sometimes it lies further east, where the region gives way to desert. Down south is the Sinai, which historically formed a barrier to settlement. To the north is difficult hill country, where modern-day Israel now gives way to modern-day Lebanon. East to west, this region is divided into five different zones, mostly by topography and climate. The westernmost is the Coastal Plain, next to the Mediterranean Sea. The plain itself is broken up into the Plain of Sharon, the Plain of Dor, the Plain of Acco, and the Plain of Phoenicia. Eastward, the second zone is the so-called Western Hills. These foothills, known as the Shephelah, rise up from the Coastal Plain to the central ridge of the country. They were heavily wooded in antiquity and heavily settled. The higher ground, just above these, is known as the Hill Country. This is where ancient Israel and Judah is located, and this is where the classic trinity of Mediterranean food is found: wheat, olives, and vines. Along the summit line of this ridge are important towns from the Bronze Age and Iron Age (for example, Hebron, Jerusalem, Shechem, Beth-shean). The highest peak along these hills is about four thousand feet above sea level. Slightly further east is the Rift Valley, the third zone, one of the deepest points on the face of the earth. The Rift Valley is a major structural rift that runs up from East Africa and forms the Red Sea, the Dead Sea, the Jordan Valley, Lake Tiberias, and Lake Huleh. Continuing east is the fourth zone, known as the Eastern Hills, which are high and rugged. These are where the Moabites, the Ammonites, and others mentioned in the Hebrew Bible lived. Beyond the Eastern Hills is the fifth zone, the desert of Syria, Jordan, and Arabia. This formed the eastern border of the area for much of its history. Frequently, the eastern border was at the Jordan River, rather than the desert, but this is as far as this course will extend geographically. 7

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the Egyptians, not only King Tut and the people of the New Kingdom, but Egyptians from even earlier. Later came the Greeks and the Romans from Egypt and elsewhere in the ancient Near East, so ancient Israel was many times caught between two powers.

Early History The biblical books of Genesis through 2 Kings provide a continuous account of Israelite and Judean history from their earliest times until the fall of Jerusalem in 586 BCE. Genesis through Joshua tell about the origins of the Israelites and how they came to possess the land of Canaan. The story begins with the Creation in Genesis. By the end of the Book of Joshua, the people are at rest in the Land of Promise. The Hebrew Bible is the only ancient source that directly addresses the question of Israelite origins. After the Great Flood, which Noah survived in his ark, the descendants of Noah’s three sons began to multiply. They migrated to the land of Shinar, which is believed to be in lower Mesopotamia, the land of Iraq today. There they began to construct a great tower that was supposed to reach the heavens. To stop the project, God ordained diversity, hence the Tower of Babel. Not able to understand each other anymore, the descendants of Noah’s three sons scattered to different parts of the world. Among the distant descendants of Shem in the ninth generation is a tent dweller named Abraham. Abraham’s father had left Ur of the Chaldees to migrate to the land of Canaan, but rather than migrating immediately, Abraham’s father settled in the vicinity of a place called Haran in Upper Mesopotamia. It was only after his father’s death that Abraham migrated from Haran to Canaan, where he lived as a sojourner in the land; that is, he resisted integration into local society. God promised Abraham that someday the whole land would belong to his descendants and that they would be great in number, so eventually he made a permanent camp near Hebron and had two sons. The older son was Ishmael, and he became the father of the desert folk, but his favorite and the only son of his wife Sarah was Isaac, born when Abraham was one hundred years old and Sarah ninety. In the meantime, Lot, Abraham’s nephew, settled in one of the cities of the plains, in the vicinity of the Dead Sea. He barely escaped with his two daughters when God destroyed several of the cities with fire and brimstone. It was during this time that Lot’s wife was turned into a pillar of salt, while they were escaping from Sodom and Gomorrah. Lot’s daughters gave birth to two sons, who became 8

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Lot’s wife is turned into a pillar of salt after looking back on the burning Sodom and Gomorrah.

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the ancestors of the Ammonites and the Moabites. After Sarah died, Abraham remarried and had additional children, the ancestors of various Arabic tribes. Abraham himself died at the age of 175. Before he died, he obtained a wife for his son Isaac, and Isaac then went on to have children of his own. Abraham and His Descendants If Abraham’s father took the journey from Ur in Mesopotamia up to Haran near modern Turkey, he would have followed the course of the Euphrates River, which was a known international trade route at that time, and it is quite possible that he settled down in a region in either north Syria or south Turkey. There are villages in the region today that still look much as they did four thousand years ago. Abraham also fits into some of the general migrations during this time period. It is quite conceivable that Abraham’s and his father’s movements should be seen in the light of these major migrations, which take place at the beginning of the second millennium BCE. Abraham’s descendants then migrated into the land of Egypt. This falls into the general historical era of the Hyksos, a group of people who ruled Egypt from 1720 to 1550 BCE. Abraham himself fits well into what was happening during the early second millennium BCE, that is, a breakdown of powerful city-states that had flourished during the third millennium (disruptions occurred in Egypt and in Mesopotamia). Some of the disruptions of urban life that took place in the early second millennium have been attributed to a group called the Amorites, and they begin to be mentioned in textual documents of the Mesopotamian city-states. Building on the Evidence In the 1930s, William F. Albright, one of the most famous historians studying ancient Israel, built upon the artifactual and documentary evidence. Using texts from later Amorite states of the Middle Bronze Age, Albright and other scholars formulated what is known as the Amorite hypothesis, which states that the Hebrew Patriarchs entered the area of Canaan as a part of widespread Amorite movements that disrupted the whole region during the early second millennium BCE. They said that the patriarchal narratives told in the Hebrew Bible should be seen accordingly, that is, against the background of early Amorite society. An early second millennium date for Abraham and Isaac and Jacob essentially agrees with the chronology found in the early Hebrew Bible, that is, in 1 Kings 6.1, which says that the Exodus took place about 480 years before Solomon’s Temple was built. In Exodus 12, the Israelites stayed in Egypt for about 430 years. This means that Abraham and Isaac and Jacob would have been roaming around the ancient Near East sometime during the nineteenth century BCE, that is, the beginning of the second millennium, because Solomon’s Temple was built about the year 960. If 480 years are added to get to the Exodus, and then another 430 years as the length of time the Israelites stayed in Egypt, the year would be 1870 BCE. This was during the time when the Amorites were moving around the ancient Near East, and it also would allow the Hebrews to be placed in Egypt during the so-called Hyksos period, when Egypt was ruled by foreigners. The stories of 9

Abraham’s migration from Mesopotamia to Canaan, and then the later migrations of Jacob into Egypt, make sense when viewed against the political conditions of the early second millennium BCE and the geographical migrations taking place at that time. Moreover, the names of the Patriarchs and some of the customs that are reflected in the Hebrew Bible are quite similar to those that are mentioned in second millennium Mesopotamian texts, such as writings from the cities of Mari and Nuzi. There are a number of problems with the Amorite hypothesis. One is the idea that the disruption of urban life in Canaan at the end of the Early Bronze Age and the beginning of the Middle Bronze Age was the result of widespread Amorite movements. This is by no means universally accepted by all archaeologists and historians, so to say that Abraham was part of this Amorite movement is to stack one hypothesis upon another. Moreover, the Amorite hypothesis creates problems for the associated genealogical data; for example, Genesis 15 assumes a four-generation stay in Egypt, and Moses is identified as a fourth-generation descendant of Jacob (Jacob to Levi to Amram to Moses). If the genealogical data is to fit with the chronological data, each generation has to last an average of one hundred years. Usually, a generation lasts thirty years, so these people must have lived an awfully long time if the genealogy is to be squared with the chronology. A second argument against the Amorite hypothesis is that the parallels between biblical names and customs and those that are known from biblical texts become less impressive in light of the fact that the names and customs involved are not confined to the second millennium, but are characteristic of the first millennium as well. If the Hebrew Bible is not written down until the eighth or even the seventh century BCE, then all kinds of things might not be accurate. So some historians and archaeologists say that the parallels are actually relatively useless for pinpointing a particular period and calling it the Patriarchal Age. Finally, the biblical tradition never associates the Patriarchs with the Amorites, but rather with the Arameans. So the Amorite hypothesis should be called the Aramean hypothesis, but it’s not, because they’re not wandering around just yet. And some of the other groups mentioned in these biblical traditions cannot be placed in an early second millennium BCE context. They are going to come later in the second millennium or even in the first millennium. Possibilities for the Patriarchs What are the possibilities then, in looking at Abraham and the Patriarchs? One possibility is that the Amorite hypothesis is correct and that Abraham and the Patriarchs date to the early years of the Middle Bronze Age. The other possibility is that Abraham and the Patriarchs date to a little bit later in the Middle Bronze Age, maybe into the seventeenth or the sixteenth centuries BCE. This is definitely a possibility, though it cannot be corroborated. The third possibility is that Abraham and the Patriarchs date to the Early Iron Age, that is, the early years of the first millennium, and that the writers of the Hebrew Bible simply placed them more than a thousand years earlier to concoct a made-up history of ancient Israel.

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The fourth hypothesis is that there were no Patriarchs, that Abraham and Isaac never existed. They were simply made up to illustrate particular stories and were part of an invented history. How does one choose between these hypotheses? The Amorite hypothesis is a likely one, because the movements of Abraham and his descendants are most possible in the early years of the second millennium BCE. Also, Abraham and his father must have been moving around Mesopotamia in the nineteenth and eighteenth centuries BCE in order to get Jacob and the Israelites down into Egypt by the seventeenth century BCE and make everything else fit. The early second millennium may be the best time for Abraham and the Patriarchs, but there is no archaeological evidence that Abraham and the Patriarchs ever actually existed. That’s not to say that they did not, however, because absence of evidence does not mean evidence of absence.

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FOR GREATER UNDERSTANDING

Questions
1. How does the breakdown of city-states in the early second millennium BCE match with the proposed migration schedule for Abraham? 2. What are some of the problems with the Amorite hypothesis?

Suggested Reading
Shanks, Hershel, ed. Ancient Israel: From Abraham to the Roman Destruction of the Temple. 2nd rev. ed. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall, 1999.

Other Books of Interest
Finkelstein, Israel, and Neil Asher Silberman. The Bible Unearthed: Archaeology’s New Vision of Ancient Israel and the Origin of Its Sacred Texts. New York: The Free Press, 2001. Geoghegan, Jeffrey C., and Michael M. Homan. The Bible for Dummies. New York: Wiley Publishing, Inc., 2003. Mazar, Amihai. Archaeology of the Land of the Bible: 10,000–586 BCE. New York: Doubleday, 1992. Rast, Walter E. Through the Ages in Palestinian Archaeology: An Introductory Handbook. Philadelphia: Trinity Press International, 1992.

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Lecture 2: The Exodus and Egypt

The Suggested Reading for this lecture is Hershel Shanks’s (ed.) Ancient Israel: From Abraham to the Roman Destruction of the Temple (chapter 2: “Israel in Egypt: The Egyptian Sojourn and the Exodus”).

he story of the Exodus is filled with problems and questions similar to some of those concerning the Patriarchs. After Sarah died at the age of 127, Abraham remarried and had additional offspring by his second wife and by several concubines. These became the ancestors of various Arabic tribes. Before Abraham died, he chose a wife for his son Isaac from their kinsmen. Isaac married Rebecca and settled near Beersheba, in the southern part of the territory, and Isaac and Rebecca gave birth to twins, Esau and Jacob. Out of Egypt Esau became the ancestor of the Edomites, while Jacob fathered twelve sons by his Aramean wives and concubines, and these twelve sons became the ancestors of the Twelve Tribes of Israel. One of Jacob’s sons, Joseph, was sold as a slave by his brothers and was carried off into Egypt. While he was in prison there, Joseph displayed his ability to interpret dreams, gained his freedom, and eventually became the chief administrative officer over Egypt, second only to the Pharaoh. Meanwhile, there was a famine in Canaan that forced Jacob and his family to emigrate to Egypt in search of food. Joseph arranged for them to settle in a place called Goshen, and in Egypt, the families of the twelve brothers multiplied into the Twelve Tribes. Eventually, a Pharaoh came into power who knew not Joseph, and he reduced the Hebrews to slavery. God commanded Moses (who, although a Hebrew, had grown up in the Pharaoh’s court after being rescued as a baby from the Nile) to lead the people out of Egypt and back to the land that God had promised Abraham. The escape from Egypt by Moses and the Hebrews is surrounded by spectacular miracles, including the Ten Plagues that God sent upon Egypt. After each of the plagues, the Pharaoh agreed to allow the Hebrews to leave, but then God would harden the Pharaoh’s heart so that he’d change his mind and thus invite another plague upon his land. These plagues included blood, frogs, lice, flies, pestilence, boils, hail, locusts, darkness, and the slaying of the firstborn. When the Hebrews did finally manage to leave Egypt, the Pharaoh, his heart having been hardened once again, assembled his army and chased the peo13

ple as far as the Red Sea. God parted the waters and allowed the Hebrews to cross on dry land, but when the Pharaoh and his army followed, God caused the waters to return and destroyed the Egyptian army. The story in the Hebrew Bible is told in a number of different ways. A couple of different sources seem to have been combined in antiquity within the account of Exodus. Scholars today refer to the strands within the Hebrew Bible as the Yawist, the Elohist, and the Priestly sources. These refer to the characters in the stories or the people who wrote them down. Forty Years in the Desert The Hebrews made their journey to Canaan in stages. God sent a pillar of cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night to indicate when they should move their camp and where they should pitch their tents. Along the way, he fed them with quail and manna in the wilderness. After three months, the people reached a mountain in the wilderness of Sinai. They remained encamped at the foot of the mountain, while Moses climbed the mountain several times and spoke to God directly. Up there, along with seeing a burning bush, he received from God extensive legal and cultic instructions and regulations. These laws, instructions, and regulations were put into practice with the understanding that they were to be followed by the people from that time on. And indeed, these are the laws that have governed the Jewish people ever since, and even had an impact upon Christianity and Islam. These are not only the famous Ten Commandments, which are unique in history, but also more than six hundred other laws found in the Hebrew Bible, which determine, among other things, how one remains kosher and which are still followed by people today. The Hebrews were still encamped at the mountain when they celebrated the first Passover, that is, the anniversary of the escape from Egypt. On the twentieth day of the second month of the second year, the cloud that God had sent was taken up, and it was time for the people to move on. They set out again and eventually came to a place called Kadesh in the southwest of the Negev. From there, they sent out twelve spies to explore the Promised Land. The spies returned with glowing reports about the land’s fertility and its produce (the land of milk and honey), but they also warned that the cities were too strong to be conquered and that the land was inhabited by giants. While they were still wandering around, Moses died in the region now called Transjordan, east of Israel, and Joshua assumed leadership of the people. He began preparations for an invasion of the western part of Canaan. The crossing of the Jordan River and the conquest of Jericho were essentially ritual operations surrounded by miracles—and at the same time were quite good military operations. Moses and the Hebrews, soon to be named the Israelites, wandered around the region for forty years. Did they go on a northern route, up near the coast? Did they go on a middle route across the Sinai, or did they go far down south? These routes are all possible, and yet the northern route is most likely out of the picture, because the Egyptians had a series of forts across this route. The middle route is probably out too, going across the middle of the Sinai, because it is in the middle of the desert. It’s really only the very southern route, going almost all the way to Sharm El Sheikh, that makes the most sense for where 14

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the Hebrews, or Israelites, could have been for forty years. So most archaeologists and historians assume that Moses and the Hebrews wandered around the very southern part of the Sinai for much of these forty years. Holes in the Desert How much of this biblical story can be believed, and how much has been corroborated by archaeology or other sources? In brief, there is the biblical narrative and little else. It may be a matter of faith to believe that the Exodus and everything else took place as the Bible describes it. On the other hand, even if the Israelites camped in the desert for forty years, little can be expected to be found in the desert through archaeology. If they were camping, they would have used tents with post holes, rather than permanent structures, and so an archaeologist is not going to find houses and walls and remains of permanent structures, but rather simply holes in the ground in which the tent pegs had once been placed, and those are almost impossible to find. But again, absence of evidence is not evidence of absence. However, there are other difficulties with using the biblical narrative for historical reconstruction: the number forty and multiples of forty are in evidence throughout the Book of Genesis through 2 Kings. Forty is a sacred number, but it also may simply represent a generation. There were forty years of wandering in the desert. The interval from the Exodus down to Solomon’s building of the Temple is recorded as 480 years, which is simply forty times twelve, so that could just be twelve generations. The time from the building of Solomon’s Temple until the time that the exiles returned from Babylon in 539 is given as another 480 years. In other words, Solomon’s Temple was built at the midpoint between the Exodus and the return from Babylon, with 480 years, or twelve generations, on either side of Solomon’s Temple. This is enough to make one a little suspicious. Some of the other difficulties with using the biblical narrative also deal with numbers. Exodus 12.37–38 says that the people of Israel journeyed from Ramses to Succoth. The biblical account states that there were six hundred thousand men on foot, plus women and children. A mixed multitude also went with them, as did many cattle. This means that altogether there would have been about two and a half million people, for most of the men would have had wives, and most of the couples would have had two children, which makes 2.4 million people. The mixed multitude would probably add another hundred thousand people, which explains how the figure of at least 2.5 million people leaving Egypt was calculated. However, there is no way the Egyptians would have had that many slaves. And if they had, there would have been a revolt even earlier. Moreover, if 2.5 million people did leave Egypt, and they marched ten across, those numbers would have formed a line about 150 miles long. If Moses did part the Red Sea, it would have had to have been held apart for eight or nine days before all the Hebrews managed to get through. Then there are the logistics of organizing such a group and sustaining it for forty years of wandering in the wilderness, as well as the fact that the Bible says there were only two midwives to care for the women. 15

All of this raises enormous questions for any historian who wants to use this information as it is recorded. But perhaps there are simply a few too many zeroes. If, rather than having six hundred thousand Hebrews of fighting age leave Egypt, there were only sixty thousand, or six thousand, or perhaps even six hundred, it would make a great deal more sense, and the wandering and the two midwives would be resolved a bit more. However, there are additional questions raised by the biblical narrative. Did the Hebrews flee Egypt without the Pharaoh’s knowledge, in great haste and without preparation, or was the departure deliberate, with the Hebrews organized as an armed military force? How exactly were they able to leave Egypt, and who was the Pharaoh who knew not Joseph? What was happening on the international political scene at the time of the Exodus, and when did the Exodus actually take place? Also, what were the social and political circumstances among the Canaanites at the time of Joshua that allowed him to conquer Canaan? These sorts of questions are basic to modern historians’ interest, but are incidental to the theological message that the people compiling Genesis through 2 Kings wished to convey. The ancient writers, mostly because it wasn’t central to their interests or concerns, often failed to report precisely the type of information considered crucial by modern historians. Other Questions There are other, perhaps even more crucial, problems. Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, and Joshua are not mentioned in any nonbiblical records. Nor is there any reference to an Israelite stay in Egypt, the Exodus, or the conquest of Canaan in any ancient source contemporary with the time these events occurred. Furthermore, with one exception, there is no mention of Israel or the Israelites in extrabiblical sources before the ninth century BCE, well after the time of David and Solomon. This mention of Israel is in the so-called Merneptah stele, which dates to 1207 BCE, the fifth year of Pharaoh Merneptah of Egypt. So the Exodus had to have taken place by this time, but how much earlier did it take place? Dating the Hebrew Exodus from Egypt is difficult. A variety of biblical, historical, and archaeological data needs to be taken into account. Most scholars argue for either an early date, about the year 1450 BCE, or a later date, about the year 1250 BCE. The early date tends to be held by scholars who rely heavily on the Bible. The later date tends to be held by scholars who give 16

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more weight to the archaeological evidence. Arguments for the early date point to Kings 6.1, which says that the Exodus took place 480 years before Solomon began to build the Temple in Jerusalem. Solomon began to build the Temple in Jerusalem in the fourth year of his reign. Because Solomon’s reign is about 970 to 930 BCE, this would then place the Exodus about 1450 BCE, that is, during the reign of King Thutmose III. There are a number of letters from Egypt that date to about a hundred years after this, about 1350 BCE, which document a period of social chaos in Canaan that is caused by a group called the Habiru. The name sounds suspiciously similar to the name Hebrews, and if this is the case, then this would represent extrabiblical evidence and an approximate date for an Israelite invasion of Canaan sometime before 1350 BCE. However, Thutmose III was the greatest conqueror that Egypt ever had, and under him the Egyptians were in firm control of both Egypt and Canaan. There is little archaeological evidence that he would have allowed the Hebrews to leave Egypt during his reign, and in fact, there is little archaeological data anywhere to support a date for the Exodus about 1450 BCE. Moreover, it is now doubted by scholars that the Habiru are the Hebrews, or at least that they are not the invading Israelites led by Moses and Joshua. Basically, they seem to have been a social class on the outskirts of society rather than a given set of people. A Later Date for the Exodus As for the arguments for a later date for the Exodus, the people following this line of argument say that the 480 years mentioned in 1 Kings is simply a symbolic number (that is, twelve generations of forty years each) and can be safely ignored. They also point to the fact that the cities of Pithom and Ramses in the Nile Delta region of Egypt, which were supposedly built by the Hebrews, were in fact founded by the Egyptian King Seti I in about the year 1304 and were completed by Ramses II, who ruled from 1290 to 1224. So if the Hebrew slaves built the cities of Pithom and Ramses, they would still be in Egypt until about 1250 BCE. Moreover, archaeological evidence from various sites in Canaan may support a thirteenth-century date for the conquest, because a number of these cities were destroyed sometime during the thirteenth century, which would fit quite well with the coming of Joshua and the Israelites. Additional arguments for the later date of 1250 BCE for the Exodus point to the Merneptah stele, which mentions Israel, in the year 1207 BCE. Historians and archaeologists say that if the Israelites had entered Canaan around 1450 BCE, there should be other mentions of Israel before the year 1207 BCE, but there are not. Therefore, there would be more than two hundred years when Israel is not mentioned. If, however, the Exodus took place at 1250 BCE and the Israelites wandered for forty years, then having Israel mentioned by Merneptah in the year 1207 is actually perfect. If the Exodus took place at 1250 BCE, one could count back 430 years, which is what Exodus 12 says was the length of time that the Hebrews were in Egypt during their period of servitude. Counting back from 1250 BCE would put the Hebrews in Egypt during the so-called Hyksos period, from 17

about 1720 to 1550 BCE, when Egypt was ruled by foreigners from the region of Canaan for nearly two hundred years. This fits well with the time of Jacob and Joseph’s experiences in Egypt. This is not to say that the later date of 1250 BCE is completely convincing, because it’s not clear from the archaeological record that the cities of Lachish and Hazor were destroyed simultaneously or even by a common enemy. Indeed, it can’t be established that those cities were destroyed by military action as opposed to acts of Nature. There is, however, a third possibility. Perhaps the Exodus was a process rather than an event. It might have taken place over several centuries, from 1450 BCE until 1250 BCE. It is, of course, eminently possible that there were people leaving Egypt and heading for Canaan over the course of two hundred years, in a series of small groups rather than in one large group, but even this cannot be proven one way or the other.

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FOR GREATER UNDERSTANDING

Questions
1. Why is it difficult to find archaeological proof of the Hebrews’ supposed forty-year stay in the desert? 2. What problems exist with the number of Israelites that the Bible claims left Egypt during the Exodus?

Suggested Reading
Shanks, Hershel, ed. Ancient Israel: From Abraham to the Roman Destruction of the Temple. 2nd rev. ed. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall, 1999.

Other Books of Interest
Dever, William G. What Did the Biblical Writers Know & When Did They Know It?: What Archaeology Can Tell Us about the Reality of Ancient Israel. Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 2001. Feiler, Bruce S. Walking the Bible: A Journey by Land Through the Five Books of Moses. New York: William Morrow, 2001. Finkelstein, Israel, and Neil Asher Silberman. The Bible Unearthed: Archaeology’s New Vision of Ancient Israel and the Origin of Its Sacred Texts. New York: The Free Press, 2001. Marcus, Amy D. The View from Nebo: How Archaeology Is Rewriting the Bible and Reshaping the Middle East. Boston: Little, Brown & Co., 2000. Miller, J. Maxwell, and John H. Hayes. A History of Ancient Israel and Judah. Philadelphia: The Westminster Press, 1986.

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Lecture 3: The Conquest of Canaan: Israelites, Philistines, and Phoenicians

The Suggested Reading for this lecture is Hershel Shanks’s (ed.) Ancient Israel: From Abraham to the Roman Destruction of the Temple (chapter 3: “The Settlement in Canaan: The Period of the Judges”).

srael is mentioned in the Merneptah stele, in the fifth year of Pharaoh Merneptah of Egypt, about 1207 BCE. In this inscription, Merneptah says that Israel has been laid to waste. In this same year, in another set of inscriptions, Merneptah mentioned the invasion of the Sea Peoples, who conquered most of the countries of the Mediterranean at this time. The Mycenaeans and Minoans of Greece were conquered by them. The Hittites of Turkey were conquered by them. Even Cyprus was conquered, as were the peoples of Canaan. It was only the Egyptians under Merneptah, and then his successor Ramses III, who were able to stand up to the Sea Peoples. The Invasion of the Sea Peoples Did the invasion of the Sea Peoples allow the Israelites to eventually take over the land of Canaan? The Exodus took place (most likely) by 1250 BCE at the absolute latest, and may, in fact, have been a process that took place over a period of two hundred years. If the Israelites wandered in the desert from 1250 to about 1210 BCE, and then conquered the land of Canaan by 1207 (the time of Merneptah’s inscription), this coincides with the time that the Sea Peoples took over Canaan as well. The Sea Peoples pillaged and then departed the region (until they were later resettled in the area by the Egyptians). Some think the Sea Peoples left the Canaanite city-states in smoking ruins, allowing the Israelites to take over territory that they would not otherwise have been able to conquer. This would contradict the biblical story of Joshua’s conquest, which credits Joshua and the Israelites for conquering the region—but then again, does it? Who Conquered Canaan? The Book of Joshua tells of Joshua’s conquest of Canaan. This is after Moses died, in Transjordan, within sight of the Promised Land. Joshua took over, and it is under his command that the Israelites conquered Canaan. Joshua 12 lists thirty-one kings who were conquered by Joshua. At the same time, the Book of Judges says, “[B]ut the people of Benjamin did not drive out the Jebusites, who dwelt in Jerusalem. So the Jebusites have dwelt with the people of Benjamin to this day”—and says that other tribes did not drive out inhabitants from other villages they shared, such as the inhabitants of Megiddo, and that the Canaanites continued to dwell there. “When Israel grew strong, they put the Canaanites to forced labor, but did not utterly drive them out.” 20

LECTURE THREE

Obviously, there are two tales, one in which Joshua and the Israelites were able to conquer the land of Canaan completely and another account in which they conquered the land, but did not absolutely kill and suppress everyone. Both the biblical accounts and the archaeological accounts leave enough contradictions and negative evidence that an advocate of a military conquest has to accept that theory on faith. On the other hand, recent archaeological research and information offers several possibilities in addition to military conquest. William F. Albright of Johns Hopkins University was one of the original proponents of the theory that the conquest took place as told in the Bible. However, Albrecht Alt suggested that semi-nomadic Israelites peacefully infiltrated unoccupied areas of the Hill Country, gradually built settlements, and became sedentary; that is, they became tied to the land and only later displaced the Canaanites in the cities. Alt thought that the military encounters only took place after the Israelites began expanding out of these central highlands, so then would follow the conquest put forth by Albright. The third suggestion is what’s known as the Revolting Peasants hypothesis, or the Peasants’ Rebellion. This was put forth by George Mendenhall and Norman Gottwald, who suggested that Israel emerged from a melting pot of Canaanite culture in a revolutionary social movement among peoples who were already in Canaan, and that this revolt might have begun in Transjordan to the east and then spread westward across the Jordan to the West Bank and beyond. The model for this was taken from Habiru inscriptions that say that they rebelled against the Egyptians about a century earlier. Here was basically an alliance of disenfranchised elements of Canaanite society going up against established society. In this case, the so-called conquest of Canaan is not so much a conquest as an internal revolution led by population elements that were already there. There was no unified military campaign conducted by forces from the outside, and there was no mass killing of the inhabitants of the land. The problem with the Peasants’ Revolt hypothesis is that there is no supporting evidence from archaeology or other texts. The fourth possibility suggests that the Canaanites and the Israelites were one and the same people; that is, the Israelites were part of the Canaanites, and they simply took over. The story of the invasion was then made up by later biblical writers. The Phoenicians However the Israelite conquest of Canaan took place, when the Israelites ended up in Canaan, they came into contact with the Phoenicians and the Philistines. In fact, the first king of Israel, Saul, was killed in a battle against the Philistines. The Phoenicians are basically the latter-day inhabitants of the Syrian coastal area. The names for both Canaanites and Phoenicians are derived from words that mean purple. The land of Phoenicia is where Lebanon is today. The political and economic centers of Phoenicia were the cities of Tyre and Sidon and Arvad, as well as Beirut and Byblos. Some of these cities were already major Canaanite centers by the Bronze Age, and some, like Beirut, remain inhabited today.

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The civilization of Phoenicia is a conglomeration of different elements. This region of the Lebanese and Syrian coasts has always been a meeting place of Europe and Asia. However, the main contribution of the Phoenicians is undoubtedly the invention of the alphabet, which was taken by the Greeks and Romans throughout Europe. The Phoenicians were remarkable merchants and traders. They sailed from modern-day Lebanon to Crete and Greece, to Italy and Sicily, to North Africa, and even founded the city of Carthage. They sailed as far as Spain, and to Sardinia and areas in between. The name Phoenician means purple, and their name implies that they were merchants of purple dye, as were the Canaanites before them. The tenth century is the golden age of Phoenician wealth and power, and it was during this period that the Phoenicians interacted with the Israelites and the earliest kings of Israel down to the time of David and Solomon. The Philistines The history of the Philistines is known mostly from the Bible, Egyptian records, and archaeological finds. The Philistines are first mentioned in the Egyptian inscriptions about the Sea Peoples, where they are known as the Peleset. According to Egyptian sources during the time of Merneptah and Ramses III, at the end of the thirteenth and beginning of the twelfth centuries BCE, the Peleset are defeated by the Egyptians and settled in Philistia in the southern part of Canaan. They named the land Palashtu, from which the name Palestine eventually came. The Philistines ruled in small city-states and seemed to have had a military advantage over the local Israelites, because they had chariots and knew how to forge iron. During the period of the Judges, the Philistines exercised a definite superiority over the Israelites, and it was not until the time of Saul and David that there was a shift toward Israelite advantage. The five cities of the Philistines (Gaza, Ashkelon, Ashdod, Ekron, and Gath) are all in the Coastal Plain, on the far western side of the region of Israel, or in the neighboring foothills, the Shephelah region. In addition, there are smaller sites (a site in Tel Aviv, for example). Philistine pottery owes quite a bit to Mycennean pottery from Greece and to native Canaanite styles. And Philistine pottery seems to have a particular preference for birds, particularly birds looking backwards. The Phoenicians and the Philistines interacted with the early Israelites during the period when the Israelites became a monarchy. The first kings of Israel came along during the time of Saul, David, and Solomon. Saul’s Rise to Power
LECTURE THREE

The Bible contains what are known as the Samuel-Shiloh stories, in 1 Samuel. Samuel lived at a temple in Shiloh, which was run by an old priest named Eli and his two sons. Samuel was the last of the Judges, the spokesmen for God. The people of Israel wanted a monarchy, and Samuel was asked to anoint Israel’s first king. Samuel said it was not a good idea, but the people of Israel wanted it, and so the period of Judges gave way to the peri22

od of the first kings. Samuel opposed the institution of the monarchy and warned the people of the many ways that future kings would take advantage of them, but then, following divine guidance, he is reported to have selected Saul. Samuel then explained the rights and duties of kingship and wrote these in a book. The stories of Saul in the Bible are the primary source of information about Saul’s rise to power, but they are probably a mixture of folk memory and legend intertwined with a kernel of actual truth. When Saul came to the throne, he immediately had to deal with the Philistines, and it seems that much of Saul’s reign was a fight against the Philistines in an attempt to establish his own kingdom. Saul vs. the Philistines Saul believed that his kingdom needed to expand. The Philistines saw the expansion of the Israelites as detrimental to their existence, so for much of Saul’s reign, there were ongoing battles between the Israelites and the Philistines. This was probably somewhere in the eleventh or into the tenth centuries BCE. There is little extrabiblical evidence, but David must emerge by the year 1000 BCE, so Saul should be placed a couple of decades before that. Saul’s final battle against the Philistines took place in the Jezreel Valley, in the north of Israel, near Megiddo, the biblical Armageddon. The Philistines considered this area crucial, and they wanted to encircle and capture the heart of Saul’s kingdom. The Philistines already held Beth-shan to the east of the Jezreel Valley and the Coastal Plain to the west. If they won the Jezreel Valley, they would cut Saul’s kingdom into two parts and separate the Israelites in Galilee and the Jezreel Valley from the rest of the Israelite tribes. Saul, therefore, had no choice but to fight the Philistines for control of the valley. The story of the battle is told in 1 and 2 Samuel and 1 Chronicles. There are as yet no contemporary extrabiblical sources to confirm these accounts, but in Saul’s case, at least, the story is repeated with some embellishment about a thousand years later by Josephus, the Jewish general turned Roman historian, in his book The Antiquities of the Jews. The Valley of Jezreel was extremely important in antiquity. The Via Maris, the Way of the Sea, went right through the valley. Megiddo is in the middle of the valley. The Jordan River is to the east and the Mediterranean Sea is to the west. Anybody who wanted to invade this area had to go through the Jezreel Valley, so there have been no fewer than thirty-four battles fought in the last four thousand years in this single valley. It is one of the bloodiest places on earth. It is not surprising that the author of the Book of Revelation placed one of the final battles between good and evil at Megiddo, near where Saul fought his last battle. During this battle, Saul was killed, along with his son Jonathan and several other sons. The Philistines won the battle. David became king upon the death of Saul, whose head was cut off and whose body was hung up on the wall at Beth-shan. And with that, the first era of the Israelite monarchy came to an end. David assumed the throne, and there followed the period referred to as the United Monarchy, the golden age of Israel. 23

FOR GREATER UNDERSTANDING

Questions
1. What is the Revolting Peasants hypothesis? 2. Why did the Philistines consider the Jezreel Valley to be such a crucial area to control?

Suggested Reading
Shanks, Hershel, ed. Ancient Israel: From Abraham to the Roman Destruction of the Temple. 2nd rev. ed. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall, 1999.

Other Books of Interest
Cline, Eric H. The Battles of Armageddon: Megiddo and the Jezreel Valley from the Bronze Age to the Nuclear Age. Ann Arbor, MI: University of Michigan Press, 2002.

LECTURE THREE

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Lecture 4: King David in History and Tradition

The Suggested Reading for this lecture is Hershel Shanks’s (ed.) Ancient Israel: From Abraham to the Roman Destruction of the Temple (chapter 4: “The United Monarchy: Saul, David, and Solomon”).

ing David is one of the most beloved figures in the Hebrew Bible. He’s also one of the most enigmatic. Much has been published about him in recent times. Questions About the House of David David founded a dynasty that was destined to rule from Jerusalem for the next four hundred years. Even after Jerusalem fell to the Babylonians in 586 BCE, ending the long line of Davidic Kings, many of the people of Jerusalem and Judah continued to hope for a return to the days of the House of David. So it’s not surprising that David received so much attention in the biblical materials or that there was an obvious effort to present him in a favorable light. The Hebrew Bible devotes forty-two chapters to David and portrays him as God’s chosen, the true and righteous king. Then there is a second extended biblical account in Chronicles that begins its history of Judah with David and devotes twenty chapters to his reign. Finally, David is associated by tradition with the Book of Psalms, where thirteen of the individual psalms are connected with particular moments in his career. A number of basic questions face anyone trying to study David’s reign and the period of the United Monarchy. Can archaeology or other sources shed light on the transition that took place in Israelite society? Does archaeology actually indicate that a mighty kingdom existed, such as was described in the biblical sources? To what extent are the elaborate commercial and political relations described in the Bible actually reflected in the archaeological remains? Unfortunately, the extrabiblical evidence is sparse, often controversial, and does not provide unequivocal answers to these questions. David’s History The story of David reads like a modern soap opera: plenty of sex, violence, and struggles for power. David, before being anointed king by Samuel, fought famously with Goliath. Samuel met with David’s father, Jesse, who brought all of his sons to see Samuel. Samuel asked if all of Jesse’s sons were actually there. One was not and had to be called in, namely David, who was tending the flock. David started out as a minstrel for Saul during Saul’s melancholy period, but was rapidly promoted to armor bearer. He then had his first successes as a young warrior and commander, so that the women sang that Saul had slain 25

thousands, but that David had slain ten thousands. There was the famous friendship between Saul’s son Jonathan and David, which eventually led to the mistrust of Saul as Saul became increasingly unstable. There was a quarrel, after which Saul tried to kill David. David ran away and returned to Judah, his homeland. He became a mercenary, leading his own troops. David lived as a warrior, a kind of a bandit, an outlaw who was tolerated rather than admired. He operated in large part with Saul pursuing him. David even entered into the service of the Philistines, albeit temporarily. After Saul was killed, David became king, and his kingdom assumed a different character from that of Saul’s. Saul came from a tradition of charismatic leaders, but he didn’t have a permanent foundation among the tribes. He had no real residence, and no effective administration. David, on the other hand, obtained a residence and a very effective administration. But he wasn’t necessarily a charismatic leader in terms of ruling from God, by God, and of God. He was a warrior, supported by his troops, independent of the tribes, and he became king over the territory. He ruled over a nation, which was limited, and yet was going to expand quite fast. David first ruled from Hebron, for about seven years. He had expanded his territory to the north, and in expanding to the north, he decided that the city of Hebron was no longer suitable for his capital. He wanted a city that was politically and geographically neutral and one that was relatively isolated. Jerusalem itself is high up in the Hill Country, but it was not at the crossroads of any great trade routes. It was geographically separated from most of David’s territory. From his new capital, David could rule both north and south, so the formulation of his kingdom seems to be David’s foremost achievement. David’s capture of Jerusalem from the Jebusites, somewhere around the year 1000 BCE, may be among the ten most important conflicts in Jerusalem’s history—and there have been more than one hundred battles fought for control of Jerusalem over the past four thousand years. The Capture of Jerusalem David’s capture of Jerusalem is what brought Judaism to the city and began the long association of the city with three of the great religions of the world: Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. In about 1000 BCE, the Jebusites controlled the city. The city was protected on three sides by deep ravines, so it was only from the north that David could capture the city. The text of 2 Samuel presents a number of different difficulties in translation, especially with the Hebrew word “tsinnor.” In the King James Version, this is translated as “gutter,” but in the Revised Standard Version, “tsinnor” means a water shaft, and the implication is that David’s soldiers, in particular his righthand man Joab, climbed some sort of water shaft from near the Gihon Spring and thereby entered the city.
LECTURE FOUR

However, the New English Bible translates “tsinnor” as grappling iron, and others translate “tsinnor” as ladder or other meanings. Recent archaeology conducted in the vicinity of the Gihon Spring, on the eastern side of Jerusalem, has shown that the Canaanites built fortifications, towers, and walls to protect the Gihon Spring, the only water source for Jerusalem. These constructions would have been already eight hundred years old by the time 26

David came along, and they are perhaps the tsinnor that allowed Joab to climb up through the water system and enter the middle of Jerusalem around midnight. He and his men would have killed the guards at the gate and opened the gates to Jerusalem. Then David and his men would have marched in. Thus Jebusite Jerusalem became Israelite Jerusalem. At this time, Jerusalem lay only on the easternmost of two spurs of land running side by side. It was this eastern ridge that David captured. Over time, Solomon would expand up to the north on that ridge, and then, over the centuries, the city would expand to the west, gradually filling in the ravine to the middle and taking over the western ridge as well. Once he captured the city, David promptly brought the Ark of the Covenant there. He put it in a tabernacle and danced around it, then got in trouble for doing so. Eventually, the Ark was moved on top of the rock on which Abraham supposedly was going to sacrifice Isaac. This is the rock that today is inside the Dome of the Rock, and which lay inside Solomon’s Temple. Indeed, Solomon built his Temple, among other reasons, specifically to house the Ark of the Covenant. Bringing the Ark to Jerusalem made the city not only David’s political capital, but also the religious capital for both David and, later, Solomon. Archaeology has been unable to pinpoint structures that definitely belong to David’s Jerusalem, aside from recent claims by Eilat Mazar to have discovered David’s palace. There is not much that can be conclusively said to date to the tenth century in Jerusalem, and so there has been an ongoing debate about the size and extent of David’s Jerusalem, and his entire kingdom, for that matter. So far there is no archaeological evidence that Jerusalem was

A satellite view of modern Jerusalem showing areas of the city during the time of David and the Jebosites

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© Eric H. Cline; Background: NASA

anything more than a modest highland village during the time of David and Solomon. It is true that there is little evidence for what Jerusalem looked like in the tenth century BCE, but many see the downgrading of David and Solomon as rather ominous, as part of a political agenda that gives ammunition to people who might be anti-Israel or anti-Semitic. The other aspect that David’s capture of Jerusalem has given rise to is the political ramifications. Indeed, the original battle fought between David and the Jebusites three thousand years ago for control of Jerusalem is still being fought today, mostly because the modern Israelis claim to be descendants from the Israelites and the modern Palestinians claim to be descendants of the Canaanites and the Philistines. So the modern political and physical battles between Israelis and Palestinians echo the original battle between David and the Jebusites. Once David captured the city, he fell in love with the famous Bathsheba after seeing her bathing. The union of David and Bathsheba resulted in the birth of Solomon, who continued his father’s process of expansion of the kingdom and who ruled over the United Monarchy. Mentions of David In 1993 and 1994, three fragments of an inscription in old Aramaic were discovered at the site of Tel Dan, in the north of Israel. If the restoration and translation of the inscription are correct, it contains the first mention of David, or rather the House of David, found outside the Bible. The three fragments mention the House of David as well as the kings of both Israel and Judah. It is now clear that the inscription should be dated to about the year 842 BCE. This is the first time that the name David has been found in any ancient inscription outside the Bible, and it would therefore be the oldest extrabiblical reference to Israel apart from the Merneptah stele, which dates to 1207 BCE. The critical letters in the inscription are the ones that are usually translated as “House of David.” Some scholars have said that this is not the meaning and that it means “House of the Uncle,” or “House of the Beloved,” or even “House of the Kettle,” but these claims are spurious and may be dismissed. There may be other inscriptions that mention David. There’s the so-called Mesha stele, which may contain a mention of the king of Israel and the House of David, but this inscription is broken and much debated. There may be another mention down in Egypt in a list left by King Shishak (Sheshonq) of Egypt. All of these inscriptions have been reinterpreted recently, and so there might be more mentions of David than thought before. On the other hand, a group of scholars referred to by others as biblical minimalists (some call them the Copenhagen school) tend to argue that the history of Israel, Judah, David, and Solomon is all made up.

LECTURE FOUR

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Biblical Minimalism Biblical minimalists take the view that the Bible is a narrative of mythology interwoven with some historical elements, and that trying to read the Bible as a historical text in the modern sense of the term is doomed from the start. They say this because the Bible is written in a tradition of storytelling and religious worship, not with the intention of relating facts. They say that the United Monarchy and the figures of David and Solomon are legendary and not historical at all. In short, biblical minimalists say that the Bible is nearly irrelevant for constructing the history of ancient Palestine and especially of the ancient Israelites. Essentially, biblical minimalism arose out of the need to account for the major discrepancies between the Bible and what archaeologists have dug up in Israel and Palestine. How much can archaeology prove or corroborate the biblical account? The arguments about the legitimacy of David and whether or not he existed are part of this debate, which is one of the most fiercely debated issues in biblical archaeology. Biblical stories paint a picture of David in intense detail. On the other hand, there is no archaeological evidence to prove any of this and, until the finding of the Tel Dan stele, there was no extrabiblical evidence mentioning David whatsoever. It is now thought possible, however, that the House of David may also appear in the Mesha stele, and in Shishak’s inscription as well, so there is now good evidence that someone named David actually did exist. But whether it is the biblical David or some other David is still being argued. It is a topic that continues to generate controversy.

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FOR GREATER UNDERSTANDING

Questions
1. Why was David’s capture of Jerusalem one of the ten most important conflicts in the city’s history? 2. Where is the first mention of David believed to be found?

Suggested Reading
Shanks, Hershel, ed. Ancient Israel: From Abraham to the Roman Destruction of the Temple. 2nd rev. ed. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall, 1999.

Other Books of Interest
Cline, Eric H. Jerusalem Besieged: From Ancient Canaan to Modern Israel. Ann Arbor, MI: University of Michigan Press, 2005. Finkelstein, Israel, and Neil Asher Silberman. The Bible Unearthed: Archaeology’s New Vision of Ancient Israel and the Origin of Its Sacred Texts. New York: The Free Press, 2001. ———. David and Solomon: In Search of the Bible's Sacred Kings and the Roots of the Western Tradition. New York: The Free Press, 2006. Halpern, Baruch. David’s Secret Demons: Messiah, Murderer, Traitor, King. Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 2001. Kirsch, Jonathan. King David: The Real Life of the Man Who Ruled Israel. New York: Ballantine Books, 2001. McKenzie, Steven L. King David: A Biography. New York: Oxford University Press, 2000.

LECTURE FOUR

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Lecture 5: King Solomon in History and Tradition

The Suggested Reading for this lecture is Hershel Shanks’s (ed.) Ancient Israel: From Abraham to the Roman Destruction of the Temple (chapter 4: “The United Monarchy: Saul, David, and Solomon”).

ing Solomon is renowned for his wisdom, wealth, and wives. He’s credited in the Hebrew Bible with ruling over an empire that stretched from Egypt to the Euphrates. However, like his father David, Solomon and his accomplishments have become the subject of recent controversy. The Epitome of Wise Governance Solomon’s reign was considered to be the golden age of Israelite and Judean history, at least from a casual reading of the biblical account. His reign lasted forty years, approximately 970 to 930 BCE, and he was buried in Jerusalem, the city of David, which Solomon expanded magnificently. In the Book of Chronicles, the chronicler neutralized any negative aspects of Solomon’s reign and elaborated on his role as builder of the famous Temple in Jerusalem and cofounder with his father David of the United Monarchy. The Book of Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, and the Song of Songs appear to credit Solomon for vast amounts of wisdom. So it’s not surprising that his reign came to be considered the epitome of splendor and wise governance, not to mention wealth. But the biblical text reveals certain ironies. Wealthy Solomon developed cashflow problems. Powerful
Solomon by Gustave Doré, from The Bible and Its Story Taught by One Thousand Picture Lessons, vol. 7, edited by Charles F. Horne and Julius A. Bewer, 1908

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Public Domain

Solomon was troubled by adversaries close to home. And wise Solomon apparently exploited his people through forced labor and other despotic practices, so that the bulk of his kingdom chose to break away after his death. Wealth and Women Solomon’s reign is among the first where specific ties may possibly be drawn between the biblical and archaeological records. In 1 Kings, there is mention of several cities that Solomon built or fortified, including Jerusalem, Hazor, Megiddo, and Gezer. Archaeological excavations at these sites have revealed layers of building and fortification remains that were dated to Solomon’s reign and which do in fact suggest, both by their large scale and similar design, that they were centralized (a royal building program, perhaps). So there may have been material evidence of Solomon’s accomplishments as a builder. On the other hand, this same evidence shows that his accomplishments were rather modest when compared with the kings of Egypt or Mesopotamia. In 1 Kings, Solomon loved many foreign women, including the daughter of a Pharaoh, as well as Moabite, Ammonite, Ebonite, Sidonian, and Hittite women. Solomon had seven hundred wives and princesses and three hundred concubines. We are told that these women turned his heart after other gods. He built sanctuaries to the gods of the Moabites and the Ammonites, respectively, and therefore God became angry with Solomon and sent adversaries. Solomon had an abundance of silver and gold. In 1 Kings, the weight of gold that came to Solomon in one year was 666 talents, besides that which came from the traders, the traffic of the merchants, and the kings of Arabia and governors of the land. King Solomon made two hundred large shields of beaten gold and a great ivory throne overlain with the finest gold. The biblical account from Genesis through 2 Kings serves as the primary source of information on Solomon, but the presentation in the Hebrew Bible consists largely of extended descriptions of Solomon’s cultic activities and sweeping claims about his great wealth, wisdom, and international prestige. However, the meager information available today simply does not support the sweeping claims, and biblical minimalists and others claim that the account of Solomon in the Hebrew Bible bears no relation to the archaeological record. Solomon inherited a kingdom from David that was not unified by any means. The fact that he was able to hold it together was one of his many accomplishments. The trend of a Jerusalem-based kingdom reached full development under Solomon. He was wealthy and powerful by the standards of the early first millennium BCE, but he should probably be regarded more as a local ruler of an expanded city-state than as a world-class emperor like Alexander the Great or Julius Caesar. He engaged in the usual royal pursuits, including building programs and patronage of literature. Whether he was wise or not was something to be discussed even in his own day, and like many of the kings of his day and afterward, Solomon had international contacts, including the famed visit of the Queen of Sheba (if it actually took place). A Peaceful King Solomon is described in the Bible as a peaceful king, and this may well have been the case. There are no known clashes, military or otherwise, during his reign. The achievements credited to him lie mostly in the religious, economic, 32

LECTURE FIVE

and cultural spheres. He completed the Temple at Jerusalem, erected buildings in other cities, and made trade alliances and economic treaties with neighboring countries. He might not have been as vigorous or creative as David, but he did piece together the empire. Solomon had inherited this kingdom from his father David, and he managed to keep control of it by various diplomatic connections, including through his wives. At that time, it was common to cement a treaty by having the signers marry each other’s daughters. A lot of the women in Solomon’s palace may well have gotten there because of the various peace treaties that he signed with his neighbors. It’s easy to see foreign politics underlying these marriages, because these are women of the countries with whom Solomon would have wished to be at peace. In particular, the daughter of the king of Egypt played a prominent role. She’s mentioned five different times, which may indicate that he wanted to be friends with Egypt. He also cultivated extensive trade relationships with various countries and sent ships to the land of Ophir to bring back gold, valuable wood, and other luxuries. Because his Israelites were not seafarers themselves, he was supported in this by the king of Tyre, from the coast of Lebanon, where the sea-going Phoenicians were located. Solomon’s Temple The king of Tyre in 1 Kings put shipwrights and sailors at Solomon’s disposal, and so Solomon had a city constructed for his fleet on the northern coast of the gulf of Aqaba. Excavations have confirmed that ruins in this area may indeed be those built by Solomon. The Bible tells us that this is when Israel became open to the international world. Great buildings were erected and literature was collected. However, this whole development must be seen in fairly modest terms within a small area. It is highly doubtful that the empire stretched from Egypt to the Euphrates. More likely, it was about the bounds of the modern state of Israel as it exists now, if even that. This age of Solomon should not be underestimated, however. Rather, it should be appreciated, because immediately upon his death, violent conflicts broke out and the United Monarchy split into the Divided Kingdoms. The city with which Solomon’s name is forever linked is the city of Jerusalem, even though little or nothing of what he built there has actually been identified by archaeologists. Solomon’s Temple and palace were built to the north of the Jebusite city, the city David had captured on the southernmost part of this eastern ridge. Solomon then built up the northern part of that eastern ridge, which is where the Temple Mount lies today. It was not easy to build there— Solomon’s workmen, architects, and construction engineers would have been hard-pressed to build in that area. Nevertheless, the famous Temple of Solomon was built on this northern part of the eastern ridge, about 750 feet to the north of the Jebusite city, joining the two by a narrow strip. But none of this has been confirmed by archaeology, in part because this city has been rebuilt so many times over the last couple of thousand years. The Temple Mount is today the home of the Dome of the Rock, sacred to Islam, located on the Haram al-Sharif, the Noble Sanctuary, as it is known to the Arab world. This particular area is the center of battles that have been fought for Jerusalem over the last four thousand years. 33

The Temple Mount was probably already a Canaanite high place back in the third millennium BCE. There have probably been five thousand years of continuous religious worship on the Temple Mount, which may make it the oldest piece of real estate in the world with a continuous religious presence. Here is the rock on which Abraham was going to sacrifice Isaac and on which Mohammed ascended to Heaven on his nocturnal journey. There are indentations in the rock, which, depending on the story, are either the marks made by the legs of the Ark of the Covenant or the marks made by Mohammed’s steed as he leaped up to the heavens—or by the ladder as he climbed up to the heavens. Detailed descriptions of Solomon’s Temple are found in the Book of Kings and 2 Chronicles in the Hebrew Bible and in the firsthand evidence of Ezekiel. We are told that the Temple was begun in the fourth year of Solomon’s forty-year-long reign, which was also the four hundred and eightieth year after the Exodus from Egypt. Solomon’s building projects took exactly half his reign, twenty years, and during those twenty years, seven years were devoted to the building of the Temple. One problem here is the presence of symbolic numbers: four, forty, multiples of forty, and seven, and so it might be best not to take these numbers literally. Once Solomon began to build the Temple, Hiram, the king of Tyre, agreed to supply building materials and skilled workmen. Solomon himself raised forced labor for the project and hired a bronzesmith from Tyre, who made bronze fixtures and furnishings for the Temple. When all the work was completed, Solomon stored in the Temple all the things that David had dedicated: silver, gold, and vessels, including the Ark of the Covenant. There was a dedication ceremony that included the ritual transfer of the Ark into the Temple and a long prayer by Solomon to reconfirm his promise to David to bless the Temple with his presence and to forgive the people. Then there were elaborate sacrifices, followed by a great feast. After the people returned to their homes, God appeared to Solomon and assured him that his prayers would be answered, depending upon the king’s faithfulness. Solomon gave twenty cities to Hiram in payment for everything that Hiram had contributed and the daughter of the Egyptian Pharaoh was moved to her own house. Solomon then began to make burnt offerings in the Temple three times a year. Descriptions of the Temple The Temple itself presents a puzzle. The biblical description is not entirely clear and could be interpreted in a number of different ways, for the Bible’s description of the Temple is fairly inexact. The furniture and the utensils are described in minute details, but the building itself lacks detail except for a brief notice concerning its windows. However, descriptions of the internal aspects are described in tremendous detail: the doors to the inner sanctuary, side chambers, and so on.
LECTURE FIVE

Solomon’s Temple seems to have been a long-room temple, one that is oriented with the entrance on the short side and the shrine at the opposite end of the building. This type of building is not uncommon and can be found in Syria, Greece, and other places. It can be traced back to the so-called Megaron type of building found in Turkey and Greece in the third and second millennia BCE. 34

Solomon’s Temple seems to have comprised three parts. First was a porch at the front, with two free-standing columns, then came the main hall or sanctuary, and then at the far end was the inner sanctuary known as the Holy of Holies. This was where the Ark of the Covenant would have been kept. One scholar claims that the Bible says the Temple was sixty cubits (about a hundred and three feet) long, twenty cubits (thirty-three feet) wide, and thirty cubits (fifty-one feet) high. Other scholars say that the whole building was about one hundred cubits long by fifty cubits wide (a hundred and fifty feet by seventy-five feet). This type of temple is completely unlike the indigenous Israelite temples that existed at that time, which are called broad-room temples (more like a square than Solomon’s Temple). Why didn’t Solomon follow the more usual Israelite temple plan? Why did he build something more like that found in North Syria? The answer probably lies in the fact that when it came time for him to build a house for God, he looked to Phoenician examples. Also, the fact that Hiram of Tyre helped Solomon probably had a lot to do with it. So Solomon’s Temple looked more like a Phoenician temple than an Israelite one. Solomon’s Royal Cities Next to the Temple in Jerusalem, Solomon built a palace. It included units such as the House of the Forest of Lebanon, the Hall of Pillars, and the Hall of the Throne, where he was supposed to pronounce judgement. There have been a number of similar palaces discovered, but the Palace of Solomon at Jerusalem has not yet been discovered. However, a passage from the Hebrew Bible has long attracted the attention of archaeologists. The Book of Kings states that “this is the account of the forced labor which King Solomon levied to build the house of the Lord and his own house and the Millo and the wall of Jerusalem and Hazor and Megiddo and Gezer.” Indeed, archaeological excavations at Hazor, Megiddo, and Gezer have uncovered architecture which has long been dated to the time of Solomon. Thus Gezer, Hazor, and Megiddo have become popularly known as Solomon’s royal cities. Each of these cities is uniquely situated to command important areas within the kingdom (Hazor in the Jordan Valley, Megiddo in the Jezreel Valley, and Gezer at the foot of the Hill Country). All of these were powerful Canaanite city-states that passed into the hands of Solomon. In each of these cities have been found multichambered gates, so archaeologists thought for a long time that there was a global blueprint used by Solomon’s architects at each of these cities. This idea has come under attack in recent years. It seems that these gateways might not date to the time of Solomon, but could be anywhere from a hundred to two hundred years later. At the very least, they may well date to the period of the Divided Kingdoms, the later part of the Iron Age. In fact, the whole account of Solomon in the Hebrew Bible has recently been called into question and is currently the subject of much debate.

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FOR GREATER UNDERSTANDING

Questions
1. What ties exist between Solomon’s reign and the archaeological record? 2. What are the beliefs about the marks in the rock at Temple Mount?

Suggested Reading
Shanks, Hershel, ed. Ancient Israel: From Abraham to the Roman Destruction of the Temple. 2nd rev. ed. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall, 1999.

Other Books of Interest
Dever, William G. What Did the Biblical Writers Know & When Did They Know It?: What Archaeology Can Tell Us about the Reality of Ancient Israel. Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 2001. Finkelstein, Israel, and Neil Asher Silberman. The Bible Unearthed: Archaeology’s New Vision of Ancient Israel and the Origin of Its Sacred Texts. New York: The Free Press, 2001. ———. David and Solomon: In Search of the Bible’s Sacred Kings and the Roots of the Western Tradition. New York: The Free Press, 2006. Marcus, Amy D. The View from Nebo: How Archaeology Is Rewriting the Bible and Reshaping the Middle East. Boston: Little, Brown and Company, 2000.

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Lecture 6: Excursus: The Ark of the Covenant

The Suggested Reading for this lecture is J. Maxwell Miller’s and John H. Hayes’s A History of Ancient Israel and Judah (chapter 5: “David, King of Jerusalem” and chapter 6: “The Reign of Solomon”).

onsidered the most holy and powerful object in the Hebrew Bible, the Ark of the Covenant measured only 21/2 cubits by 11/2 cubits by 11/2 cubits (4 feet 2 inches long by 2 feet 6 inches wide by 2 feet 6 inches high). The Power of the Ark The description of the Ark is found in Exodus 25.10–22: “They shall make an ark of Acacia wood, 2 cubits and a half shall be its length, a cubit and a half its breadth and a cubit and a half its height. And you shall overlay it with pure gold, within and without shall you overlay it and you shall make upon it a molding of gold roundabout, and you shall cast four rings of gold for it and put them on its four feet . . . “You shall make poles of Acacia wood and overlay them with gold and you shall put the poles into the rings on the sides of the Ark to carry the Ark by them. The poles shall remain in the rings of the Ark and shall not be taken from it. And you shall put into the Ark the testimony which I shall give you. And you shall make a mercy seat of pure gold . . . and you shall make two cherubim of gold . . . on the two ends of the mercy seat . . . The cherubim shall spread out their wings above, overshadowing the mercy seat with their wings . . . And you shall put the mercy seat on the Ark, and in the Ark you shall put the Testament . . .” In the Ark were the two tablets of stone on which God made a covenant with the people of Israel when they came out of the land of Egypt. The tablets of the Law were put into the Ark, and this is what gave it its power. Many great deeds were performed with the Ark as it traveled in front of the army. In the Book of Joshua, it says that the walls of Jericho came tumbling down when the Ark was carried around its wall in front of the army. The Ark Arrives at Jerusalem The journey of the Ark through the Hebrew Bible proceeds as follows: The Ark was first kept at the city of Shiloh (Joshua 18 and 1 Samuel 3) and accompanied the Israelite army into battle. It fell into the hands of the Philistines, who took it to three of their five cities. According to 1 Samuel, “When the Philistines captured the Ark of God . . . they took it into the house of Dagon and set it up beside Dagon, and when the people of Ashdod rose early the next day, behold, Dagon had fallen face downwards beside the Ark 37

of the Lord.” The Philistines thus decided to send the Ark back to the Israelites, because it had created such a panic among their people. Because Shiloh had been destroyed, the Ark moved on (Jeremiah 26 and Psalms 78): “When God heard He was Eighteenth-century engraving of Joshua and the Israelites tearing down the full of wrath and walls of Jericho He utterly rejected Israelite. He forsook his dwelling at Shiloh, the tent where He dwelt among men, and delivered His power to captivity, His glory to the hand of the foe. He gave His people over to the sword and vented His wrath on His heritage.” The Ark was returned to Beth-shemesh, an incident described in 1 Samuel. The Ark remained there until a plague necessitated its transfer to the house of Abinidab, where it stayed for twenty years. Then David moved the Ark to Jerusalem (1 Samuel), dancing and singing before it as it was led to the city. He first left it at a house on the outskirts of the city, before finally moving it into a special tent within Jerusalem (2 Samuel 6). Eventually, a year later, it was finally placed within in the Holy of Holies in Solomon’s Temple. First Kings 8 says, “And all the elders of Israel came and they brought up the Ark of the Lord, the tent of meaning, and all the holy vessels in the tent, and King Solomon and all the congregation of Israel were with him before the Ark, sacrificing so many sheep and oxen that they could not be counted or numbered. Then the priests brought the Ark of the Covenant of the Lord to its place in the inner sanctuary of the house in the most holy place underneath the wings of the cherubim.” Where Is the Ark? After it was moved to the Temple, there is no further mention of the Israelites carrying the Ark to war or to festivals. Some scholars note that it was not among the vessels carried into exile or brought back, suggesting that the Ark was no longer in the Temple when the city was destroyed by the Babylonians in the year 586 BCE. So the Ark probably disappeared sometime between the end of Solomon’s reign and the time that the city was destroyed.

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© Clipart.com

The Book of 2 Esdras, found only in Bibles that contain the Apocrypha, implies that the Ark was destroyed. The author, lamenting the fall of Jerusalem, says that the sanctuary was laid waste, the altar broken down, and the Ark spoiled. Another possibility is that the Ark was captured and carried off. There is a passage in the Talmud that says that the Ark was hidden by King Josiah “in its place.” There is no indication of where this might be, but according to the Talmud, Josiah hid the Ark ten or fifteen years before the destruction of the city by the Babylonians. This statement has led to the theory that the Ark is in a secret chamber carved deep beneath the Temple Mount in Jerusalem. Indeed, there are chambers underneath the Mount where no one is allowed to go; some ultraorthodox Jews claim that the Ark is down there and will be revealed at the proper time. There are stories that when a tunnel was being excavated next to the Temple Mount, two rabbis went in to see if they could find the Ark. In the course of these investigations, the rabbis noticed water seeping from a stone, removed the stone, and revealed a vaulted chamber. From there, they discovered another lower chamber; in this lower chamber, they believed they would find the Ark. Unfortunately, the authorities got wind of the investigations and sealed up the entrance to the caves before the rabbis were able to locate the Ark. This is a common theme: Everyone who claims to have discovered the Ark, without exception, can never produce evidence of it. Great Discovery, or False Sighting? Numerous people have found, or claimed to have found, the Ark. This includes people like Ron Wyatt, who claimed to have discovered Noah’s Ark, among other things. In 1979, he began excavations with his sons to find the Ark of the Covenant. They dug for a couple of years and claimed to have broken through the rocks into an open space. There they caught a glimpse of something shiny. Entering, they discovered dry-rotted wooden timbers and animal skins, which turned to powder when they moved them, as well as objects from Solomon’s Temple. They couldn’t uncover all the artifacts, and yet they are confident that they saw the Ark, the Great Menorah, a large sword, a mitre with an ivory pomegranate, and so on. Unfortunately, they did not take any photographs, nor were they able to bring out any objects. Another favorite suggestion for the location of the Ark is Mount Nebo in Jordan, on the eastern side of the Dead Sea, because 2 Maccabees says that Jeremiah hid the Ark of the Covenant there. In the autumn of 1981, Tom Crotser and his team from the Institute for Restoring Ancient History went to the Franciscan monastery on the summit of Mount Nebo. They said that they found a plaque that indicated that the Ark of the Lord was buried there. At night, they entered a tunnel that was 35 feet long and 4 feet wide. At the end of the tunnel, they ran into a wall. After knocking the stones down, they entered a small cave and discovered a large object, under whose covering they could see a golden box. They did not touch the box because they remembered what had happened to others who had touched it (namely, they were killed). So they photographed the box and withdrew. An archaeologist later looked at the photographs, which were not of the highest quality. One of them showed a very modern-looking box with a nail sticking out of one corner. 39

Other people have suggested that the Ark is buried in the area of the Qumran caves, but there have been major excavations in the area and no one has yet found the Ark there. The Ark in Ethiopia There is also a tradition that claims that the Ark is in Ethiopia. Journalist Graham Hancock, in particular, investigated this claim. According to the story, the Queen of Sheba and Solomon had a son. This son went to Ethiopia and brought the Ark with him. Eventually it reached the site of Axum. Others have tried to follow up on this theory and have traced this movement of the Ark to one particular church, but nobody has been allowed in to see the Ark, if indeed it exists there.

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FOR GREATER UNDERSTANDING

Questions
1. What is the history of the Ark before its arrival in Jerusalem? 2. What are the possibilities for what became of the Ark?

Suggested Reading
Miller, J. Maxwell, and John H. Hayes. A History of Ancient Israel and Judah. Philadelphia: The Westminster Press, 1986.

Other Books of Interest
Boren, Kerry R., and Lisa L. Boren. Following the Ark of the Covenant. Springville, UT: Cedar Fort, Inc., 2000. Cornuke, Robert, and David Halbrook. In Search of the Lost Ark of the Covenant. Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 2002. Hancock, Graham. The Sign and the Seal: A Quest for the Lost Ark of the Covenant. New York: Touchstone/Crown Publishers, 1993. Jones, Cheviene. The Ark of the Covenant. New York: Clarion Publishing, 1994. Munro-Hay, Stuart, and Roderick Grierson. The Ark of the Covenant: The True Story of the Greatest Relic of Antiquity. London: Weidenfeld & Nicholson, 1999. Woudstra, Marten H. The Ark of the Covenant from Conquest to Kingship. Philadelphia: Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing Company, 1965.

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Lecture 7: The Kingdom of Israel and the Omride Dynasty

The Suggested Reading for this lecture is Hershel Shanks’s (ed.) Ancient Israel: From Abraham to the Roman Destruction of the Temple (chapter 5: “The Divided Monarchy: The Kingdoms of Judah and Israel”).

ollowing the death of King Solomon, the United Monarchy dissolved and split into the Divided Kingdoms of Israel in the north and Judah in the south. The Omride dynasty was the most infamous family to rule Israel, especially in the view of the biblical writers, but then the expansionist ambitions of the Neo-Assyrians from Mesopotamia in the eighth century BCE spelled an end to the Kingdom of Israel and gave rise to the tradition of the Ten Lost Tribes. The Kingdom Splits When Solomon died, his son Rehoboam came to the throne. In his rule, the first question he faced was whether he could hold the kingdom together—a question that was quickly answered when the North broke away. The Israelites in the North declared emphatically that Solomon had made their lot too hard. They asked Rehoboam to lighten the load, but rather than decreasing the burden on the North, Rehoboam increased it. The Northern tribes of Israel broke away, so there was the Kingdom of Israel in the North and the Kingdom of Judah in the South. The resulting kingdoms existed alongside each other for approximately two hundred years. The northern kingdom reverted to the name Israel, centered in the Hill Country north of Jerusalem. The southern kingdom took the name Judah and was centered in the southern Hill Country, encompassing Jerusalem and extending south to the Negev. Pharaoh Shishak Rehoboam went back to Jerusalem, and the Israelites made Jeroboam king of Israel. The Bible tells of the Egyptian Pharaoh Shishak, who besieged Jerusalem. The Egyptian accounts talk about a Pharaoh named Shoshenq (note the similarity between the names) who campaigned against the Northern Kingdom of Israel.
LECTURE SEVEN

Pharaoh Shoshenq was a Libyan mercenary who founded the twenty-second dynasty of Egypt and ruled from about 945 to 923 BCE. He came to the throne toward the end of Solomon’s rule. Shoshenq left behind (on the wall of a temple in Karnak in Egypt) an impressive list of cities that he claimed to have captured. The cities are all located in the region now called Israel and Judah. According to the inscription, he captured Megiddo, Taanach, Shunem, and other cities and towns in Israel and 42

the Negev. Shoshenq’s campaign, on the heels of the death of Solomon, indicates that he had been waiting for Solomon to die and that the splitting of the kingdoms was to his benefit. His campaign in the lands of Israel and Judah was probably an attempt to recapture some of the glory days of Egyptian dominance, when Canaan was regarded as belonging to the Egyptian empire. However, because one cannot always believe the evidence put forward by Egyptian Pharaohs, it has to be asked whether this campaign actually happened. In Egypt, Shoshenq claimed that he captured Megiddo, while at Megiddo, there is an inscription indicating that Shoshenq captured the city, so the campaign probably did take place. The next question to be asked is whether this Egyptian Pharaoh is the Egyptian Pharaoh Shishak who is mentioned in the Bible and who fought in Judah some five years after the death of Solomon. In 1 Kings and 2 Chronicles, King Shishak of Egypt came to Jerusalem and took away the treasures of the House of the Lord and the treasures of the king’s house. He also took the shields of gold that Solomon had made. This might be when the Ark of the Covenant disappeared. Are these Pharaohs the same person? The cities that are named in the Egyptian account are almost all from the Northern Kingdom of Israel. The cities named in the biblical account are almost all from the Southern Kingdom of Judah. Were there in fact two different Egyptian Pharaohs, one who attacked Israel and one who attacked Judah? The biblical accounts are concerned with the events in Judah, which didn’t put up much of a fight. The Egyptian account emphasizes the major military events that took place in the North. It’s highly unlikely that these are records of different campaigns, so these are probably two versions of the same military conquests, and there are not two Pharaohs, just one, for Shishak and Shoshenq are probably one and the same. The Omrides In the Northern Kingdom of Israel, a man named Omri ascended to the throne of Israel in 885 BCE, introducing a new era for both kingdoms that would last for about forty years. Even though they remained separate entities, Israel and Judah entered into a close alliance and together entered a time of prosperity, which may have even surpassed the earlier days of David and Solomon. Omri was the chief architect of the policies that characterize the era, but it was under his son Ahab, who came to power in 875 BCE, that the new policies came to fruition and under whom the two kingdoms enjoyed their best relations in years. After the death of Ahab, the situation declined rapidly, and this era came to an abrupt end about 842 BCE with the massacre of both the royal family in Israel and in Judah at the hands of Jehu the Usurper. Omri and Ahab are the first kings in Israelite or Judean history to be mentioned in nonbiblical documents from the ancient Near East and other places outside of Israel and Judah, so it is at least possible to begin to corroborate the episodes and peoples mentioned in the Hebrew Bible. Moreover, the Omrides were the first Northern kings to accomplish a dynastic succession, which they did for three succeeding generations. Long after they had passed 43

from the scene, Israel was still referred to by the Assyrian monarchs as the Land of Omri. Information about the Kingdom of Israel and about the Omride era in particular is derived from several different sources, including the Hebrew Bible (2 Kings and Chronicles) and extrabiblical evidence from King Mesha of Moab, King Shalmaneser III of Assyria, and others. The Mesha inscription is particularly interesting—it is a commemorative inscription written in Moabite that was discovered in 1868 on the east side of the Dead Sea. Unfortunately, the inscription was broken into pieces soon after its discovery, but later was reconstructed almost completely. The inscription was commissioned by King Mesha of Moab, apparently late in his reign, in connection with the dedication of a sanctuary to the Moabite god Chemosh. The inscription recounts the deeds of King Mesha, who ruled Moab during the ninth century and who is mentioned in 2 Kings. The text reports the main accomplishments of Mesha’s reign. In particular, it mentions Omri, king of Israel, for Mesha brought Israelite dominance over Moab to an end and recovered all of the Moabite territory north of the ancient city of Madiba. Shalmaneser III There are other inscriptions, such as the so-called Monolith inscription of Shalmaneser III, which dates to the ninth century BCE. These inscriptions report Assyrian activities in what is now Iraq, where Shalmaneser III ruled from 858 to 824 BCE. In the sixth year of his rule, he campaigned in Israel, and did so again in the tenth, eleventh, fourteenth, eighteenth, and twentysixth years of his reign. The first campaign is described in some detail in the so-called Monolith inscription, discovered in the mid 1800s in present-day Iraq. This inscription tells of a coalition of kings from Israel and surrounding areas who fought against Shalmaneser. They apparently halted his march in the vicinity of a place called Qarqar. The following are the words of Shalmaneser III: “I decisively defeated them from the city of Qarqar to the city of Gilzau. I felled with the sword fourteen thousand troops, their fighting men. Like Adad, I rained down upon them a devastating flood. I spread out their corpses and filled the plain.” The Black Obelisk, which dates to 838 BCE, reveals that Shalmaneser marched all the way to Damascus and Syria with no serious opposition and that he besieged the city, but didn’t actually take it. Then he marched into Israel, where he collected tribute from Jehu, the general who usurped the throne of Israel from the Omrides in about 841 BCE. Jehu is not actually the son of Omri. Jehu is the Usurper, who does away with the House of Omri, and yet the Omrides are so famous that the Land of Israel was referred to as the Land of Omri.
LECTURE SEVEN

The Tel Dan inscription dates to about 841 BCE and was probably put up by King Hazrael of Aram when he destroyed this area. These are the fragments that were found in 1993 and 1994 at the site of Tel Dan in northern Israel—the ones that mention the House of David. The Black Obelisk and contemporary inscriptions mention individuals: Omri, Ahab, Jehu, the House of David; so for the first time there is a series of external references from 44

sources outside the Bible. In the early years of the first millennium BCE, the biblical account, extrabiblical account, and archaeology all come together to help corroborate some of these events, so there are at least three independent sources to work with—a most desirable situation from the point of view of an ancient historian or archaeologist. Solomon or the Omrides? The Omrides far surpassed any other kings in either Israel or Judah as both builders and administrators. In a sense, theirs was the first golden age of the Israelite kings. Yet in the Bible the description of the Omride kingdom is quite sketchy. There’s mention of elaborate palaces at Samaria and Jezreel, but there’s almost no reference to the size, scale, or opulence of their kingdom. Indeed, these northern kings are despised by the authors of the Bible and referred to in derogatory terms. The writers of the Hebrew Bible consistently tried to uphold the kings of Judah in the South rather than the evil kings of Israel in the North. Yet the kings in the North, the Omrides, were rather impressive. The city of Samaria was built by Omri and became the capital city of the North. When the site of Samaria was first excavated in 1908 by Harvard University, the splendor of Omri’s buildings was revealed. The site was further explored in the 1930s, at which time additional evidence for the spectacular nature of the ancient city was found. Even today, the site of Samaria is in a rich agricultural region, and there are numerous buildings and other architectural remains at which the modern tourist can marvel. It was conceived as the capital city of the Omride dynasty, and, as such, reveals fittingly grandiose architecture from the time of Omri and Ahab. The chambered gates at Hazor, Gezer, and Megiddo were for a long time identified as part of Solomon’s grand building plan, but they have now been redated by some archaeologists to the time of Omri and Ahab. The chambered gates at these cities, as well as some of the palaces at Megiddo, and perhaps even the so-called stables at Megiddo, might have to be redated from the time of Solomon in the tenth century to the time of Ahab and Omri in the ninth century and perhaps even into the eighth centuries BCE. Perhaps the most impressive engineering achievements possibly linked to the Omrides are the enormous underground water tunnels cut through the bedrock beneath the cities of Megiddo and Hazor. These tunnels provided the cities’ inhabitants with secure access to drinking water even in times of siege. In the ancient Near East, this was a critical challenge, because while important cities were surrounded by elaborate fortifications that allowed them to withstand a siege, they seldom had a source of fresh water within a city’s walls. Many of the building activities that were previously attributed to King Solomon may have to be reassigned to the Omrides. Both archaeologically and historically, the redating of architecture at sites like Hazor, Megiddo, and Gezer from Solomon’s time to the period of the Omrides has enormous implications. It removes the only archaeological evidence that there really was a United Monarchy and suggests that David and Solomon may have been little more than Hill Country chieftans, or so some archaeologists would argue.

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Neo-Assyrians and the Lost Tribes One thing is clear: the Kingdom of Israel and the Kingdom of Judah were at the mercy of a new set of empires that were emerging elsewhere in the ancient Near East. The first of these large empires was the Neo-Assyrians, who came back more fierce and determined than ever, particularly in the form of Tiglath-Pileser III, whom the Bible calls Pul, and who ruled from 744 to 727 BCE. For a little over a century, the Assyrians dominated life in the Middle East, and Israel as an independent kingdom ceased to exist quite early in the period of Assyrian domination. The capital city of Israel, at Samaria, was captured in the year 722 BCE, and Israelite territory was subsequently incorporated into the Assyrian provincial system. Not content with going up against the Northern Kingdom of Israel, the NeoAssyrians of Tiglath-Pileser III actually campaigned against the Southern Kingdom of Judah as well. In the Hebrew account, in the days of Pikah, king of Israel, Tiglath-Pileser captured a number of cities and carried the people to Assyria, the beginnings of the deportations. When they captured a new country, the Assyrians often deported its people and placed them elsewhere in their empire, the idea being that people are less likely to rebel if they are far from their native land. The beginnings of the Neo-Assyrian deportations can be traced to the days of Tiglath-Pileser III, in about 734 BCE. These continue through the reign of Shalmaneser V, from 727 to 722 BCE, and even down into the reign of his successor, Sargon II. In the years 722 and 721 BCE, the Northern Kingdom of Israel essentially ceased to exist. By the year 720 BCE, the Northern Kingdom of Israel had been incorporated into the Neo-Assyrian Empire. What happened to the people living in the Northern Kingdom of Israel? More than twenty-seven thousand people were carried off into exile, the famous Ten Lost Tribes, never to be seen again. Where are they today? Like the Ark of the Covenant and Noah’s Ark, it is going to be difficult to ever find the Ten Lost Tribes. And yet the quest to locate them continues today, and numerous books are published every decade claiming that the authors have found the Lost Tribes or know where to look for them.

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FOR GREATER UNDERSTANDING

Questions
1. What is the significance of the Tel Dan inscription? 2. What are the implications of the reassigning of building activities from Solomon to the Omrides?

Suggested Reading
Shanks, Hershel, ed. Ancient Israel: From Abraham to the Roman Destruction of the Temple. 2nd rev. ed. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall, 1999.

Other Books of Interest
Cline, Eric H. Jerusalem Besieged: From Ancient Canaan to Modern Israel. Ann Arbor, MI: University of Michigan Press, 2005. Finkelstein, Israel, and Neil Asher Silberman. The Bible Unearthed: Archaeology’s New Vision of Ancient Israel and the Origin of Its Sacred Texts. New York: The Free Press, 2001. Miller, J. Maxwell, and John H. Hayes. A History of Ancient Israel and Judah. Philadelphia: The Westminster Press, 1986.

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Lecture 8: The Kingdom of Judah Until the Time of Sennacherib

The Suggested Reading for this lecture is Hershel Shanks’s (ed.) Ancient Israel: From Abraham to the Roman Destruction of the Temple (chapter 5: “The Divided Monarchy: The Kingdoms of Judah and Israel”).

he Kingdom of Judah consistently found itself caught between mighty empires far to the north in Mesopotamia and far to the south in Egypt. Sister States? Rehoboam came to the throne when he was forty-one years old, following the death of Solomon. Rehoboam ruled for seventeen years in Judah. There are few details about his reign, except an account of his actions when Israel split off from Judah, an account of his actions in connection with Shishak’s invasion from Egypt, and a note that there was constant warfare between Israel and Judah, that is, between Rehoboam and Jeroboam. The time between Solomon’s death in about 930 BCE and the Babylonian conquest in 586 BCE is referred to as the Divided Monarchy. This period of 350 years is treated largely by the Bible as a period of moral decline and religious laxity. The history of Israel is dealt with in a fairly cursory manner, and the history of Judah fares only a bit better. The Bible clearly considers Israel and Judah to be sister states, that is, two branches that share the same ethnic, cultural, and religious roots and that emerged from a larger Israelite kingdom. Residents of both kingdoms worshiped the same god, spoke a similar language, and wrote using the same script. But the latest archaeological data doesn’t fit this picture. There are differences in everything from pottery traditions to architectural styles in the two kingdoms. Israel and Judah, although close geographically, had different climates and topographies. Pottery traditions changed more slowly in Judah, in part because Judah lay off the beaten path of the 48
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main trade routes, and it was these trade routes that brought new styles, techniques, and technology to Israel. The kings of Israel built more monumental architecture than their counterparts in Judah. Israel’s rulers were looking for ways to impress and intimidate their subjects, in part because they were in contact with other kingdoms across the ancient Near East. Even at the height of its power, Judah never commanded the economic resources or population necessary to pursue such grandiose architectural projects. In terms of cultural and political development, settlement patterns, and climate, both Ammon and Moab, across the Jordan River, fulfilled the role of sister state to Israel better than Judah. In fact, Judah had more in common with Edom, across the river in southern Jordan, than it did with Israel, so scholars and archaeologists question the portrayal of the Divided Kingdoms just as they question the Bible’s portrayal of the United Monarchy. Development of the Kingdoms This was a critical time in the ancient Middle East, as national boundaries were being decided. Today, archaeology is helping to reconstruct the jockeying for power that was taking place throughout the region. There are numerous military powers of the day, and people like Ahab and Omri in Israel had to deal with them, as did the kings of Judah, albeit a little later. Israel developed into a full-blown state in the ninth century BCE. Judah finally followed in the eighth century BCE, taking off only when Israel collapsed in the year 720 BCE, in part because refugees from Israel fled south to Judah and settled there, bringing with them technology and new ideas for architecture. In short, recent investigations have led many scholars to conclude that there was a gap of about a century and a half between the time that Israel and Judah became full-fledged states. Until recently, most biblical archaeologists took the biblical description of Judah and Israel at face value. They showed Judah as being a fully developed state as early as the time of Solomon. But recent evidence published by Israel Finkelstein and Neil Asher Silberman in their book The Bible Unearthed shows that accomplishments attributed to Solomon should be downdated by a century or more. Finkelstein, Silberman, and other archaeologists have argued that the early kings of Judah were not the equal of the kings of Israel, that not a trace of literary activity has been found in the tenth century, or even in the ninth century, and that monumental inscriptions and personal objects with names of individuals appear in Judah only two hundred years after the time of Solomon. Sudden Expansion Similarly, archaeological surveys indicate that until the eighth century, the population of the highlands (the hills in Judah) was about one-tenth the population found in similar highlands in the North. Of the twelve tribes of Israel, ten were in the North; only two were in the South. Judah underwent a long, gradual development over hundreds of years, in large part because it had limited economic potential. It was isolated geographically and was tradition bound. But with the rise of the Neo-Assyrians in Mesopotamia and their attacks on Israel, Judah began to expand. 49

The year 734 BCE saw a rather complex political situation. The king of Israel was a man by the name of Pekah. The king of Aram, that is, of Damascus in Syria, was named Rezin. The two conspired to attack Judah and lay siege to Jerusalem, whose king at the time was Ahaz. Threatened by the kings of Israel and Aram, Ahaz turned to Tiglath-Pileser III, the Neo-Assyrian king who had already attacked Israel. Ahaz emptied out the treasury in Jerusalem to pay the necessary bribe. It worked; Tiglath-Pileser went away. After the year 720 BCE, with the conquest of Samaria, the capital city of Israel, and the fall of all Israel, Judah found itself surrounded by NeoAssyrian provinces and vassals. The royal citadel of Jerusalem was transformed in a single generation from the seat of an insignificant local dynasty into the political and religious nerve center of a regional power, both because of its dramatic internal developments and because thousands of refugees from the conquered Kingdom of Israel fled south. Excavations conducted in Jerusalem have shown that, at the end of the eighth century BCE, Jerusalem underwent an unprecedented population explosion. Its residential areas expanded from the former narrow ridge on the east to cover the entire western ridge as well, as the city doubled in size. A formidable defensive wall was constructed to include these new suburbs. In a matter of decades, Jerusalem went from a modest highland town of about ten or twelve acres to a huge urban area of a hundred and fifty acres of densely packed houses, workshops, and public buildings. In demographic terms, the city’s population may have increased as much as fifteen times. Finkelstein and Silberman state that a similar picture of tremendous population growth emerges from the archaeological surveys conducted outside Jerusalem, in its hinterland. In the districts south of the capital city, relatively empty countryside filled with new farming settlements. What had been sleepy little villages became real towns. Lachish, south in the Shephelah, is a good example. Until the eighth century, Lachish was a relatively modest town. Then, sometime after about 720 BCE, it was surrounded by a formidable wall and transferred into a major administrative center—and it became the second most important city in Judah. In the Grip of the Neo-Assyrians Judah experienced a tremendous social evolution. There are archaeological indications of state formation, monumental inscriptions, seals and seal impressions marking private property, royal inscriptions for the administration, masonry and stone capitals used on public buildings, mass production of pottery vessels and other crafts, and central workshops and distribution throughout the countryside. Middle-sized towns served as regional capitals and large-scale industries in olive oil and wine pressing, which shifted from private production to state industry.
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Evidence of burial customs suggests that there was a new elite in the social structure. Elaborate tombs were cut into the rock of the ridges surrounding the city of Jerusalem. Many of these are extremely elaborate, with ceilings and architectural elements, and there is no doubt that these were used for the burial of the noble class.

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Where did the wealth and movement toward full state formation come from? Finkelstein and Silberman have argued that Judah was integrated into the economy of the Neo-Assyrian Empire. King Ahaz of Judah had already started cooperating with the Neo-Assyrians, but the most dramatic changes came after the collapse of Israel. Wealth began to accumulate in Judah, especially in Jerusalem, where the kingdom’s diplomatic and economic policies were determined. Jerusalem became the administrative and religious capital of a powerful kingdom. In the final years of the eighth century BCE, Judah saw a chance to break free from the Neo-Assyrian grip. The powerful king Sargon II died, leaving his throne to a young, untested son named Sennacherib. The Neo-Assyrian empire was preoccupied with troubles to the east, so the king of Jerusalem, Hezekiah, thought it was a good time to rebel, and tried to play the two great empires of the day (Egypt to the south and Assyria to the north) off against each other—with little success. The Book of 2 Kings states that Hezekiah rebelled against the king of Assyria and would not serve him. In these early years of Sennacherib, who came to the throne in 705 BCE, Hezekiah participated in a widespread revolt against Assyrian rule. He withheld the payment of his tribute to Assyria, but the revolt was quickly suppressed by Sennacherib and the Neo-Assyrians in the year 701 BCE. The account of Sennacherib’s campaign is found in 2 Kings and 2 Chronicles, as well as in Sennacherib’s own account. Jerusalem was surrounded. An Assyrian general, speaking for his king, addressed the people and offered them two options: surrender or die. The Assyrian general’s arrogance provoked Hezekiah to pray and ask for divine assistance in defending Jerusalem. According to the Book of Isaiah, an angel of God was sent out that very night and killed one hundred and eighty-five thousand Assyrians. When the people of Jerusalem awoke the next morning, the city was surrounded by dead soldiers. Sennacherib retreated back to his capital, Nineveh, where he was subsequently killed by his sons while praying. Hezekiah’s Tunnel The Assyrian attack on Jerusalem was no surprise to Hezekiah. He clearly saw it coming. According to Sennacherib’s own records, the Assyrians conquered forty-six cities in Judah before attacking Jerusalem. Jerusalem was well protected, though, so Sennacherib decided to subdue the city by siege. Hezekiah had no doubt prepared for the siege by laying in vast stores of food. But water presented a more difficult problem. The city’s water supply lay outside the city, near the floor of the Kidron Valley. Hezekiah solved this problem by building a tunnel that led under the city, from the spring to a pool known as the Siloam Pool on the other side of town. Hezekiah’s Tunnel was dug through 1,750 feet of solid rock. This is an amazing story of engineering done almost three thousand years ago, and it is a story that ranks right up there with the biblical story of Hezekiah’s triumph, in which God struck down the Neo-Assyrian army in a single night. Exactly what took place there is not known, but it can be concluded from archaeology and the biblical account that Sennacherib was not 51

able to capture Jerusalem in 701 BCE. Indeed, what probably happened is that he was bribed and released Jerusalem from the siege on the condition that it would pay tribute every year. Attack at Lachish The other major city that Sennacherib attacked in 701 BCE was the city of Lachish, which was the second most important city in Judah. Unlike Jerusalem, however, Lachish was not able to hold out and was attacked and destroyed by Sennacherib. There are no fewer than four independent accounts of its destruction: first, the biblical account; second, an account by Sennacherib himself; third, an account in pictures that Sennacherib put up in his palace at Nineveh; and fourth, the archaeological evidence. Lachish was the scene of excavations for many years, directed in large part by David Ussishkin of Tel Aviv University. Archaeology makes clear that the Assyrians mounted their siege of the city from the southwest, which makes sense topographically. They built a large siege ramp, up which they could push their war engines up against the walls of the city. The Judeans defending the city built a counter-ramp; archaeologists have discovered both the Assyrian siege ramp and the Judean counter-ramp. Back at Nineveh, Sennacherib’s capital city, the battle of Lachish was depicted in scene after scene carved into stone, beginning with the phalanxes of infantry marching toward the battle and ending with the deportation of the conquered Judeans. These reliefs show that Lachish ultimately fell, and that the defenders were deported or killed. After the capture of Lachish, Sennacherib made his way to Jerusalem, but Jerusalem, in turn, did not fall. Jerusalem probably paid a bribe to Sennacherib and was allowed to continue as the capital city of Judah. However, this would not be the last time that Jerusalem came under attack from a foreign power, and, in fact, the days of Jerusalem and the Kingdom of Judah were numbered.

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FOR GREATER UNDERSTANDING

Questions
1. What are the major cultural, climatic, and topographical differences between Israel and Judah? 2. How did Hezekiah’s Tunnel help Jerusalem to withstand the siege by Sennacherib?

Suggested Reading
Shanks, Hershel, ed. Ancient Israel: From Abraham to the Roman Destruction of the Temple. 2nd rev. ed. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall, 1999.

Other Books of Interest
Cline, Eric H. Jerusalem Besieged: From Ancient Canaan to Modern Israel. Ann Arbor, MI: University of Michigan Press, 2005. Finkelstein, Israel, and Neil Asher Silberman. The Bible Unearthed: Archaeology’s New Vision of Ancient Israel and the Origin of Its Sacred Texts. New York: The Free Press, 2001. Miller, J. Maxwell, and John H. Hayes. A History of Ancient Israel and Judah. Philadelphia: The Westminster Press, 1986.

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Lecture 9: Neo-Babylonians and the End of the Kingdom of Judah

The Suggested Reading for this lecture is Hershel Shanks’s (ed.) Ancient Israel: From Abraham to the Roman Destruction of the Temple (chapter 5: “The Divided Monarchy: The Kingdoms of Judah and Israel”).

udah rose to great prominence in the seventh century BCE, after Israel was destroyed by the Neo-Assyrians. Unfortunately for Judah, it would come to an end not much more than a century later. Nebuchadnezzar and the NeoBabylonians destroyed Jerusalem not once, but twice, burning the Temple to the ground and exiling the leading citizens to the faraway city of Babylon. A Contested Periphery Josiah was one of the last major kings of Judah and one of the last descendants of the House of David to rule independently in Judah. He enacted reforms in an effort to return Judah to the grand days of David and Solomon. Judah was a contested periphery during the last decades of the seventh century and the first decades of the sixth century BCE. It was on the periphery of the Assyrian Empire, the Babylonian Empire, and the Egyptian Empire. All three thought that they could claim Judah and all three were willing to fight over it. This was not a good time to be a king of Judah. Of the last five independent kings descended from the House of David, two met their deaths in direct connection with international struggles and the other three died in foreign exile. Josiah came to the throne of Judah in the year 639 BCE at the age of eight. Halfway through his reign, he began a series of far-reaching reforms. A scroll of laws was found in the Temple of Solomon in Jerusalem; there is some question as to whether it was really discovered or if it was planted there. Josiah realized that the people of Judah had strayed from where they 54

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A depiction of Josiah listening as the scrolls found in Solomon’s Temple are read to him

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should have been, religiously speaking, and so he implemented sweeping religious and political reforms. Along with these reforms, Josiah was actively involved in expanding Judah’s territory to the north, and in doing so, he annexed the city of Samaria, which had been the former capital of Israel. He also annexed Megiddo and the Jezreel Valley. He was probably trying to take Judah back to the greatness of the United Monarchy three hundred years earlier. Unfortunately, Josiah ran up against the Egyptians. A Period of Tremendous Turbulence For many who study ancient history and religion, the meeting of Josiah and Pharaoh Necho II is considered the most significant of the battles that took place in the Jezreel Valley. The battle is related in 2 Kings, 2 Chronicles, and the recounting by Josephus. In the spring or the summer of 609, Necho II of Egypt and his army headed northward, up to the city of Carchemish. They went to the aid of their ally, the Assyrians, and the two fought against their common foe, the Babylonians. Because the battle was to be fought at Carchemish in northern Syria, Necho’s army had to traverse the length of Judah to get there. He asked permission from Josiah for his army to march through Judah en route to northern Syria. Josiah refused the Egyptians permission and instead marched with his army up to the Jezreel Valley and waited for the Egyptian army there. When the Egyptians came into the valley, they found the Judean army waiting. Josiah climbed into his chariot and drove up and down in front of his army, encouraging the men. He sounded the attack, but just as the battle got under way, an Egyptian archer let fly with his arrow and hit Josiah, either killing him outright or mortally wounding him. Either dead or dying, Josiah was transported out of the battle and taken south to Jerusalem, where he was buried along with his dreams for a rejuvenated Judah. After the death of Josiah, Judah suffered a period of tremendous turbulence. By 605 BCE, Nebuchadnezzar and the Neo-Babylonians had emerged as the prime power in the region. Judah was under the thumb of the NeoBabylonians for the next twenty or more years. The year 586 saw the destruction of Jerusalem, but even then the Neo-Babylonians continued to rule Judah until 539 BCE. Overall, there were about seventy years of NeoBabylonian domination over Judah. Jehoachim Withholds Tribute In comparison with other periods, the source material for this time period is quite abundant, with both biblical and nonbiblical texts. The biblical text is found in 2 Kings and 2 Chronicles as well as in some of the Books of the Prophets, such as Jeremiah and Ezekiel. The book of Jeremiah, especially, provides important information on this period. From Babylon itself, the so-called Babylonian Chronicles (not a single document, but rather a genre of literature) present selective summaries of royal reigns, probably based on year by year records of events. Only portions of these survive, but they include coverage of the years from 616 to 594 BCE. In particular, there are accounts from a number of the years of Nebuchad55

nezzar, and it is from these Babylonian Chronicles that the exact dates when Nebuchadnezzar captured Jerusalem (namely, 597 and 586 BCE) can be determined. Nebuchadnezzar came to the throne of the Neo-Babylonians in 605 BCE and ruled for the next forty-three years. One of the first things he did was expand his empire to the south, down into Judah and beyond. He destroyed the cities of Ashkelon and perhaps Ekron in the year 604, and then, in 601, he again fought against the Egyptians. Once again, the Egyptians were led by Necho II. As in the earlier battle at Carchemish, the Neo-Babylonians fought the Egyptians, but this time without the Assyrians, who were no longer a player on the world stage. As far as can be learned from the Babylonian Chronicles, neither side was able to claim victory, and both sides suffered heavy casualties. Both the Babylonians and the Egyptians withdrew from the battlefield to recover and regroup. At this time, the king of Judah was Jehoachim, who seems to have been a fairly faithful vassal of the Neo-Babylonians ever since he came to the throne a couple of years before, in 604 BCE. In 601, after Nebuchadnezzar and the Neo-Babylonians failed to conquer Egypt outright, Jehoachim saw this as a sign of weakness and withheld the tribute he was supposed to pay the Neo-Babylonians. He was probably proEgyptian anyway, because it seems that he came to the throne of Judah with the help of the Egyptians. The Babylonian Exile Nebuchadnezzar retreated back to Babylon after he failed to defeat the Egyptians. He took some time to get his army back to full strength, and then set off again to Judah to bring his rebellious vassal back under his thumb. Josephus, writing about six hundred years after the actual events, says that Nebuchadnezzar attacked Jerusalem in the year 598 and put Jehoachim to death for rebelling and failing to pay tribute. He also exiled many of the leading citizens of the city or put them to death. The Bible provides a similar account to Josephus’s, although a bit more ambiguous. After Nebuchadnezzar captured Jerusalem, he exiled three thousand people, including the prophet Ezekiel. This is the first of what will be no fewer than four deportations, which together became known as the Babylonian Exile, in which the leading people of Jerusalem were taken away as captives to Babylon. The worst, though, was yet to come, because Nebuchadnezzar laid siege to Jerusalem at least twice more, in 597 and 586. When Jehoachim was killed, his son Jehochin became the king of Judah at either eight or eighteen years of age. He was king for a very short time, even by the standards of Judah. Josephus says that he ruled about three months.
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Somewhere around the middle of March in the year 597 BCE, Nebuchadnezzar returned to Judah and encamped against the city of Jerusalem. On the second day of the month of Adar, he captured the city and seized its king. He then appointed a new king in the city and took vast tribute back to Babylon.

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A Puppet King The recording of the exact month for the capture of Jerusalem is extremely unusual. It probably reflects the importance of the conquest of the city. The campaign, from start to finish, lasted no more than three months. This includes the time to march from Babylon to Jerusalem (about two months), so the city gave in after a siege that lasted no longer than about a month. The Bible tells of the capture of Jerusalem, but does not provide any details of the siege itself. It simply says that Nebuchadnezzar arrived after the siege was already underway. In 2 Kings, we are told that Nebuchadnezzar came to the city while his servants were besieging it, and that Jehoachin gave himself up to the king of Babylon, who took him prisoner and carried off all the treasures of the House of the Lord. The biblical account also says that in addition to King Jehoachin, Nebuchadnezzar also exiled some ten thousand captives from the conquered city. The Ark of the Covenant is not mentioned, suggesting that it had already disappeared or been destroyed before the capture of Jerusalem. After 597, Nebuchadnezzar installed a new king on the throne of Judah to be his puppet king. This was Zedekiah, brother of the former king Jehoachin and son of the earlier king Josiah. Nebuchadnezzar probably hoped that Zedekiah would obey him, and Zedekiah did for the first few years. But just like his predecessors, he eventually rebelled, and just as they had done, he misjudged the power of the Neo-Babylonians. Zedekiah’s Rebellion The Babylonian Chronicles break off after Nebuchadnezzar’s eleventh year of rule, in about 594 or 593 BCE, so historians must rely on the biblical account and on the later commentary by Josephus for the story of Zedekiah’s rebellion against Nebuchadnezzar in 586. However, there is archaeological evidence for the destruction of Jerusalem by Nebuchadnezzar in 586 BCE. The biblical account says that Nebuchadnezzar came down on the tenth day of the tenth month in Zedekiah’s ninth year of rule (about January 15, 587 BCE). As Nebuchadnezzer’s army swept down from Jerusalem, they destroyed the cities of Judah one by one. Archaeological evidence found at a number of different cities in Judah agrees with this. There are houses with burnt and toppled walls, as if they’d been destroyed by siege engines. Lachish seems to have been destroyed once again. Josephus says that the siege of Jerusalem lasted a total of eighteen months this time. Either they had managed to put the walls back up or they had learned better tactics, because rather than withstanding the siege for one to three months, they were able to last for eighteen months. Both Josephus and the biblical accounts agree that the siege ended around July 18, 586 BCE. This was the ninth day of the fourth month of Zedekiah’s eleventh year of rule. The Hands of Compassionate Women The siege tactics were the standard ones used by the Neo-Babylonians everywhere and were the same ones that had been used by the NeoAssyrians. They built siege ramps and a dike to surround the city, and it was only after a breach had been made in the fortification walls that the 57

Babylonians were able to enter the city. The inhabitants had been reduced by famine and disease and offered little resistance. The archaeology of the city, excavated after 1967, shows that the biblical accounts and Josephus were correct in what happened. There are ruins, ash, burnt wood, and destruction debris that remain from the houses that Nebuchadnezzar destroyed. There are also Neo-Babylonian arrowheads found in the houses and in the streets. The Book of 2 Kings says that the famine was so severe in the city by the end of the siege that there was no food for the people of the land. And the book of Lamentations says that “the hands of compassionate women have boiled their own children,” suggesting that the famine was so severe that people were reduced to cannibalism. Archaeologists have found no fewer than three toilets in the ruins. They were able to excavate the material in at least one of the toilets. Looking at the feces and other remains underneath a microscope, the archaeologists were able to determine that the people of Jerusalem, in 586, were not eating what would be expected. They were not eating wheat, barley, or other grains. Instead, they were eating backyard plants: mustard grass, dandelions, weeds. The archaeologists also found something else interesting. The inhabitants of Jerusalem were suffering from parasites, particularly from tapeworm and whipworm, parasites contracted from living in unsanitary conditions, using polluted water, or even fertilizing using human waste rather than other kinds of fertilizer. There is also evidence that they were not cooking their meat properly, perhaps an indication that there was not enough wood or other fuel available. Fortunately, human remains were not found in the toilet, so it seems that the people of Jerusalem had not been reduced to eating their children after all. A Calculated Act Zedekiah fled from Jerusalem under the cover of darkness, but was caught near Jericho and brought before Nebuchadnezzar. He was condemned to be blinded, but first he was forced to witness the killing of his own sons. His eyes were then put out, so that their deaths were the last things he ever saw. Zedekiah was then bound in chains and taken away as a prisoner into exile, to Babylon along with many of his leading citizens. There was a delay of approximately one month between the fall of Jerusalem and the destruction of the city and the Temple of Solomon. Some scholars have suggested that the Neo-Babylonians used this month to loot the city and deport its inhabitants, as the biblical text reports. There are similar accounts in 2 Chronicles and the Book of Jeremiah. There are some discrepancies in the biblical accounts as to when exactly these events took place, but the destruction of the Temple is traditionally said to have taken place on the ninth of Av (August 16, 586 BCE). Archaeology has confirmed that the destruction of the city was complete. The Temple of Solomon was destroyed, its treasures looted and carried off to Babylon.

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Considering that Nebuchadnezzar had attacked and besieged Jerusalem several times during his reign, it’s not surprising that he finally burned the city to the ground. Some scholars propose that the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple of Solomon was a calculated act to remove the House of David forever, after it had proved disloyal time and time again.

The Fate of Zedekiah by Gustav Doré Zedekiah is forced to witness the murder of his sons before being blinded by Nebuchadnezzar.

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© Clipart.com

FOR GREATER UNDERSTANDING

Questions
1. Why is the meeting of Josiah and Necho II considered the most important of the battles that took place in the Jezreel Valley? 2. How was it determined that the people of Jerusalem probably did not resort to cannibalism during the siege of Nebuchadnezzar?

Suggested Reading
Shanks, Hershel, ed. Ancient Israel: From Abraham to the Roman Destruction of the Temple. 2nd rev. ed. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall, 1999.

Other Books of Interest
Cline, Eric H. Jerusalem Besieged: From Ancient Canaan to Modern Israel. Ann Arbor, MI: University of Michigan Press, 2005. Finkelstein, Israel, and Neil Asher Silberman. The Bible Unearthed: Archaeology’s New Vision of Ancient Israel and the Origin of Its Sacred Texts. New York: The Free Press, 2001. Miller, J. Maxwell, and John H. Hayes. A History of Ancient Israel and Judah. Philadelphia: The Westminster Press, 1986. Sweeney, Marvin A. King Josiah of Judah: The Lost Messiah of Israel. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2001.

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Lecture 10: Persians and Greeks in Judea The Suggested Reading for this lecture is Hershel Shanks’s (ed.) Ancient Israel: From Abraham to the Roman Destruction of the Temple (chapter 6: “Exile and Return: From the Babylonian Destruction to the Reconstruction of the Jewish State” and chapter 7: “The Age of Hellenism: Alexander the Great and the Rise and Fall of the Hasmonean Kingdom”). he immediate results of the Babylonian conquests are clear. Much of the country was destroyed, and though a fair number of citizens were killed, even more were taken into exile. Life in Exile The exile in Babylon lasted for about fifty years, from 586 to 539 BCE. It had an enormous impact on the Jewish people and the evolution of religious thought for the Western world. For example, it’s during this time that the books of the Pentateuch were edited into their final form and religious practices evolved into what was going to become Second Temple Judaism and ultimately early Christianity. The exile occurred in four different phases. There were deportations in the years 598, 597, 586, and 582 BCE. All told, just under fifteen thousand people were exiled: three thousand in 598, ten thousand in 597, just under a thousand in 586, and about 745 in the year 582 BCE. Scholars have estimated that there were probably about seventy-five thousand people in Judah at this time and about fifteen thousand in Jerusalem. If this is accurate, that would mean about 70 percent of the population still remained in Judah even after the final set of deportations in 582 BCE. In the exile, a number of Jews lived in Egypt and other places as well as Babylon. For example, the prophet Jeremiah went to Egypt rather than Babylon, along with quite a number of his fellow Judeans. There are also some non-Jewish accounts of life in exile. For example, in the Babylonian materials, there are royal cuneiform texts that talk about King Jehoachin in exile. And there are numerous documents in Aramaic from Egypt that provide information about the people there. The most significant of these are the Elephantine papyri. They were found in the late 1800s at Elephantine Island, opposite Aswan in Egypt, and were from a Jewish military settlement. The documents present many of the legal and religious conditions that existed in the colony. Most of the documents date from the fifth and fourth century BCE, but they can nevertheless be used to reconstruct the Babylonian period. Contrary to popular opinion, the people in exile did not live in bad conditions. They were simply treated in the same way as exiles from any other nation. They were settled all over the place in Babylonia. They served in the military, could own property and slaves, and occasionally even became quite wealthy. 61

They were relatively free and were able to practice their religion. There was little or no pressure to assimilate. The Returner of the Dispersed The middle years of the sixth century BCE saw the rise of a new power in the ancient Near East: the Persians. They quickly established the largest Near Eastern empire that had ever existed. The person behind this was Cyrus the Great, who took over all of the lands previously occupied by Assyrians, Babylonians, and Egyptians. The Persians ruled this area for over two hundred years, from 539 until the time of Alexander the Great in 332 BCE. Essentially, the people of Judah and Israel traded one overlord for another. After living under Persian rule, the people of Judah and Israel fell under the control of the Greeks and then the Romans, with only small interludes of independence in between. In September of 539, the Persians defeated the Babylonian army. Soon thereafter, the Persians took Babylon. A Persian text reads, “On the sixteenth day the army of Cyrus entered Babylon without a battle. On the twenty-ninth of October, Cyrus himself entered Babylon. There was peace in the city as Cyrus spoke his greeting to all of Babylon.” It is not an accident that history remembers Cyrus as a great liberator. That was an image he fostered. When he captured Babylon, he issued proclamations that allowed all of the people in exile to return home; that is, he allowed the Judeans to go back to Jerusalem. So he is portrayed as the restorer of the gods and their sanctuaries, the returner of the dispersed. The Book of Ezra contains two decrees from Cyrus in 539 BCE. One is written in Aramaic and is described as the official edict. In this decree, he actually said that the Temple in Jerusalem should be rebuilt, and he provided the dimensions and the specifications. He said that the vessels that had been stolen from the Temple of Solomon should be sent back. A second decree, written in Hebrew, was distributed throughout the kingdom. It said that Cyrus was charged by God to reconstruct the Temple in Jerusalem and that anyone who wished was granted permission to return to Jerusalem to rebuild the Temple. With this, Cyrus brought an end to the exile and charged the Judeans with rebuilding the Temple.
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Persian Rule When the exiles returned, rival Judeans had differing opinions of who should be in charge. Eventually, after much squabbling, 62
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The Persian king Cyrus

they rebuilt the Temple and rededicated it in 516 BCE; it took more than twenty years to rebuild the Temple. In the meantime, Cyrus had been killed in battle and succeeded by his son Cambyses, who invaded Egypt and added it to his empire. Darius subsequently came to the throne, and the people of Judah had their Temple once again, around seventy years after the first one had been destroyed. During the Persian period, the kingdoms of Israel and Judah were ruled by a governor who reported back to Persia, but for the most part, the inhabitants were left to their own devices. It was during this period that the word Jews came into play, referring to the people who lived in Judea. Alexander the Great The period of Persian rule lasted for about two hundred years. It was a relatively quiet period for the Jews, but it came to an end when Alexander the Great and the Greeks appeared on the scene, late in the fourth century BCE. Alexander conquered the Persians between 324 and 333. He took control of most of the Persian empire, including the province that they called Yehud (Judea, Judah, and Israel). Under Alexander, the Greeks ruled most of the ancient Near East. But when he died in 323, having named no successor, the empire collapsed and was split up under his generals. The period when the Greeks ruled Judea was known as the Hellenistic Age, which lasted for approximately three centuries, from 323 until 30 BCE. This was a period that began with Alexander’s death in Babylon and was a time characterized by upheaval. Alexander’s successors fought over his empire for the next three hundred years. There were feuds between the Ptolemies in Egypt and the Seleucids in the Levant (the area of modern-day Israel and Syria). The Ptolemies in Egypt regarded Jerusalem and the surrounding territories as their own, while the Seleucids regarded it is as their own. Jerusalem itself was ground zero for more than twenty conflicts that took place during these years. Antiochus IV Around 167 BCE, a Seleucid named Antiochus IV captured Jerusalem. Once he took the city and its inhabitants, he ordered parts of the wall torn down and the building of a new fortress called the Akra, in which he installed a garrison of soldiers to keep order. He introduced a number of measures that were seen as burdensome. In particular, he instituted a series of restrictions on religious practices. He forbade circumcision and the observation of the Sabbath and various religious spectacles. He also forced the Jews to eat pork and worship idols. The people who did not obey were beaten or killed. Antiochus ordered his delegates to pollute the Temple in Jerusalem and call it the Temple of Zeus. Josephus said that Antiochus placed an altar in the Temple and killed pigs on it. His motives were to civilize the Jews, but the Jews saw things differently. Following his decrees and pollution of the Temple, there was the Maccabean Rebellion, a rebellion by the Judeans against the Greek overlords in which the Jews hoped to form their own independent kingdoms. The story is found in 1 and 2 Maccabees. The rebellion started in about 167 BCE. 63

The incidents that set off the rebellion included the flogging to death of an old scribe for refusing to eat pork, the killing of a mother and her seven children for refusing to worship an idol, and various other abuses. The final straw came on December 25, 168, when Antiochus offered a pig to Zeus on the altar in the Temple. The Maccabean Rebellion The rebellion was led by Judas Maccabees (Judas the Hammer) from the family of Hasmon. The rebels fought the Greeks and were eventually victorious. The prohibitions against religious practices were lifted. They also recaptured and rededicated the Temple. During the cleaning of the Temple, they found oil to light the flame of the Great Menorah for eight full days, until more sacred oil could be found. It is from this that Hanukkah and the Festival of Lights are celebrated today. After the successful rebellion, the Jews planned to set up their own kingdom. However, it took approximately twenty more years for the Hasmoneans to win their battles against the Greeks, and it was not until 142 that they established a new dynasty called the Hasmonean Kingdom, where Jews ruled themselves for the first time in centuries. It would last until 63 BCE, only to come to an abrupt end when the Romans, in the form of Pompey the Great, made all of Judah, Israel, and Syria into a Roman province with the name of Syria-Palestina. The Maccabean Rebellion was more than just a struggle for religious freedom. It was for national liberation, independence, and the establishment of a free Jewish state. As a result, the Zionists in the nineteenth century liked to refer to the period of the Maccabees as the only time when an independent Jewish state had been set up. Theodore Herzel, the father of modern Zionism, said in a pamphlet called The Jewish State, “Therefore I believe that a wondrous breed of Jews will spring up from the earth. The Maccabees will rise again.” He said this in the year 1896, so the rebellion has been used in relatively modern propagandistic statements as incentives for establishing the modern state of Israel.

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FOR GREATER UNDERSTANDING

Questions
1. What was life like for the Jews in exile? 2. What events led to the Maccabean Rebellion?

Suggested Reading
Shanks, Hershel, ed. Ancient Israel: From Abraham to the Roman Destruction of the Temple. 2nd rev. ed. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall, 1999.

Other Books of Interest
Cline, Eric H. Jerusalem Besieged: From Ancient Canaan to Modern Israel. Ann Arbor, MI: University of Michigan Press, 2005. Finkelstein, Israel, and Neil Asher Silberman. The Bible Unearthed: Archaeology’s New Vision of Ancient Israel and the Origin of Its Sacred Texts. New York: The Free Press, 2001. Harrington, Daniel J. The Maccabean Revolt: Anatomy of a Biblical Revolution. Wilmington, DE: Michael Glazier, 1988. Lipschits, Oded, and Joseph Blenkinsopp (eds). Judah and the Judeans in the Neo-Babylonian Period. Winona Lake, IN: Eisenbrauns Publishing, 2003. Miller, J. Maxwell, and John H. Hayes. A History of Ancient Israel and Judah. Philadelphia: The Westminster Press, 1986. Stern, Ephraim. Archaeology of the Land of the Bible. Volume II: The Assyrian, Babylonian, and Persian Periods (732–332 B.C.E.). New York: Doubleday, 2001.

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Lecture 11: The Coming of the Romans and Christianity

The Suggested Reading for this lecture is Hershel Shanks’s (ed.) Ancient Israel: From Abraham to the Roman Destruction of the Temple (chapter 8: “Roman Domination: The Jewish Revolt”).

n 63 BCE, Pompey and the Romans ended the rule of the Hasmonean Dynasty and took over Jerusalem. In 40 BCE, Herod, a Jew by religion, was placed in charge. In the year 30, he was recognized by the Romans as the king of the Jews. He ruled over the whole of the territory as well as other districts. This is the region known as Palestine to the Romans. To the north is Syria, and to the south is the Nabatean Kingdom. Restoration of the Temple Herod remained in power for thirty years and proved to be an ambitious builder. He rebuilt the city walls of Jerusalem, which may have been as large as 230 acres and may have had a population of as many as forty-thousand permanent inhabitants. In about the year 35 BCE, Herod had a massive fortress constructed in Jerusalem, so that his soldiers could keep an eye on what was happening in the Second Temple. He called it the Antonia after his good friend, the Roman Mark Antony. About a decade later, he built a huge palace in Jerusalem. Then, about 19 BCE, he began his most ambitious building project, renovating the Second Temple, which had originally been finished in about the year 516 BCE by the Jews who had returned from Babylon. Five hundred years later, it was beginning to show signs of its age. Herod wanted to make the Temple one of the eight wonders of the ancient world. He doubled the size of the platform on which it stood to about thirty-five acres. In addition, in expanding the Temple Mount, he had arches built underground and then paved over to extend the area for building. It is these underground arches that are erroneously called Solomon’s Stables, even though they were not built by Solomon or used as stables, except by the Crusaders. The so-called Western (or Wailing) Wall was the western retaining wall of the Temple Mount as built by Herod. In restoring the Temple, Herod essentially built a new Temple, but in order for it not to be seen as a new Temple, he had all the building materials prepared beforehand and then trained the priests as carpenters and masons and bricklayers, so that the religious services continued during the building and reconstruction. As a result, even though this Temple should be called the Third Temple, technically speaking, Herod’s is still called the Second Temple. Sometime around the year 10 BCE, Herod held the dedication ceremony. Apparently, the reconstructed Temple was an absolute marvel. Josephus 66

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wrote that “the outward face of the Temple . . . was covered all over with plates of gold of great weight, and at the first rising of the sun it reflected back a very fiery splendor and made those who forced themselves to look up on it to turn their eyes away, just as they would have done at the sun’s own rays.” Very little remains of anything Herod built. Most of his constructions were destroyed by the Romans when they crushed the First Jewish Revolt and destroyed Jerusalem in 70 CE. One of the three towers built by Herod survived; it is now known erroneously as the Tower of David and is located just inside the old walls of Jerusalem. Herod himself died in the year 4 BCE after spending his final years suffering intestinal pain, swollen feet, difficulty breathing, and other problems. The Life of Jesus Things remained reasonably quiet in Jerusalem for the next thirty years. It was during this period that the territory became a Roman province and was put under the governance of a Roman procurator. This period also saw the birth of Jesus, either in the year 7 or the year 4 BCE, and it was during this time, just after the death of Herod, that Jesus grew to adulthood. Some of the events that are well known in the life of Jesus took place in the Temple restored by Herod. The best known of the events are depicted in the Gospels, specifically in Matthew 21, where it says, “Jesus entered the Temple of God and drove out all who sold and bought in the Temple, and he overturned the tables of the money changers and the seats of those who sold pigeons. He said to them, it is written, my house shall be called a house of prayer, but you make it a den of robbers. And the blind and the lame came to him in the Temple and he healed them.” There is also the story that Jesus accurately predicted the fall of Jerusalem at the hands of the Romans. In Matthew 24, it is written, “Jesus left the Temple and was going away when his disciples came to point out to him the buildings of the Temple. But he answered them, you see all these, do you not? Truly I say to you, there will not be left one stone upon the other that will not be thrown down.” Indeed, the destruction of the city by the Romans would take place about four decades later. The question is whether or not this is a prediction. Many say the Gospels were written after the death of Jesus, in the year 40 or 50 CE. This would have been before the assault of the Romans, in the year 70, but others say they were not written down until 90 CE, so the event prophesied would have already taken place. The Origins of Christianity The triumph of Christianity represents one of the most remarkable cultural revolutions in history. Up until this time, the Greek and Roman philosophers had taught the notion of carpe diem, because they believed there was nothing beyond this world. Christians taught of an afterlife in Heaven. So Christianity started out appealing to slaves, the underclass, and the army. There are two origins for Christianity: the so-called mystery religions and Judaism. Mystery religions were so termed because only initiates knew what occurred within them. These religions explained the ultimate mystery of life and offered life after death. They had strange initiation rights, and they worshiped heroes who had conquered death. 67

Examples of mystery religions include those built around Mithras, Orpheus, Adonis, and Osiris, all pagan gods. Mithras was a favorite of the Roman Army, and was usually accompanied by a scorpion, a dog, and frequently, a bull. Initiates were placed underneath a white bull, whose neck was then cut, and the initiates were splashed from head to toe with the blood of the sacrificial bull. Orpheus’s lyre attracted animals, and Adonis was extremely good looking (of course). These gods all shared common characteristics. Another figure who fit the pattern of the mystery religions was Jesus. He was a hero who was said to have explained the ultimate purpose of life. It was thought that he offered his followers personal salvation. There were mysterious rituals of initiation, such as baptism. His followers believed that he had risen from the dead. There are, however, some differences. The major difference is that Jesus was a historical person and the others were not. Moreover, Christianity required an upright and moral life, and the mystery religions did not. Jesus in History During this period, the Jews who were living in this region were not united. There were different sects of Judaism, which included the Sadducees, Essenes, and Pharisees. The Sadducees advocated strict adherence to Jewish law, rejected belief in an afterlife, denied the existence of angels, and weren’t happy with the idea of a personal, redeeming god. The Pharisees were more liberal. They believed in life after death, accepted Gentile (nonJewish) converts to Judaism, and were willing to accommodate both Jewish law and Greco-Roman culture. Then there were the Essenes, an ascetic community that sought isolation from the world. The earliest accounts of Jesus date from decades after his death. There are therefore many problems in arriving at a clear picture of his life. The sources themselves present difficulties, because Jesus wrote nothing and his life is only seen through the writings of others, all of whom wrote well after the death of Jesus. These earliest writings probably date from about the year 70 CE. The latest date from about the year 100 CE. It’s thought that the New Testament itself was collected and collated in about the year 90, that is, at the end of the first century CE. Even in the books of the New Testament, the authors concentrate on the miracles of Jesus, not on his life in chronological order. Thus, little is known about his life as a child or as a young adult. It’s similar to the Hebrew Bible in that descriptions are not meant as history but as statements of faith by true believers. According to his followers, Jesus was the son of Mary; he was born in either 7 or 4 BCE. The dating system used today was determined by Dennis the Monk in about the sixth or seventh century after the birth of Christ. He was trying to figure out when Christ was born, but miscounted by either four or seven years. Thus, Jesus was born either in the year 7 or 4 BCE, in the province of Judea or Palestina. At about the age of 30, Jesus was publicly baptized, and thereafter entered into a life of teaching. He was an effective teacher, in the tradition of the 68

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Israelite prophets and of the teachers of the day. Indeed, the Romans might not have known what to make of him. His preaching could have been understood as belonging to one of the mystery religions. Technically, it was illegal to practice mystery religions, but so many soldiers followed them that they tended to be overlooked, as long as people worshiped the Roman gods as well as their own mystery religion. Once the Romans figured out that Jesus and his followers were not members of a new mystery religion, it was easy to assign them to a branch of Judaism. Christians could be lumped in with the Pharisees, Sadducees, and Essenes. One could be a Jew in the Roman Empire, though one might have to pay a fee. It was only after the death of Jesus, who was crucified on the order of the Roman governor Pontius Pilate, probably in the year 30 CE, that Christianity really began to spread. Even after the death of Jesus, the Christians initially formed only one of the many sects within the larger body of Judaism. They called themselves Christians, and they seemed to have been a little lost. There was no clear notion as to whom Jesus had directed his message: Was it the Jews or the Gentiles? A Coherent Christian Tradition The man who clarified these issues was Saul, a Jewish man from Tarsus. Saul converted to Christianity and took the name Paul. After he converted to Christianity, he became its principal architect, organized churches throughout the Roman world, and is by far the best known of its teachers. Acts of the Apostles is concerned primarily with his career. There are also letters as well. From the writings both by Paul and about him, the first coherent Christian theology was developed. Paul was the one who also began the mission of preaching to the Gentiles. The Christians set themselves apart from other religions by refusing to worship the Roman gods. People could follow whatever religion they wanted in the Roman Empire, but they had to worship the Roman gods, and the Christians refused to do this. Thus, there were the infamous persecutions. Persecutions, however, were not carried out as frequently as many seem to believe. There was one set of persecutions in the year 64 by the emperor Nero, who set Rome on fire and famously fiddled while it burned (except he didn’t actually fiddle; he sang the poem “The Sack of Troy,” then blamed the Christians for setting the fire and persecuted them). There are a number of other persecutions, but they didn’t begin in earnest until the year 300.

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FOR GREATER UNDERSTANDING

Questions
1. Why is Herod’s Temple called the Second Temple and not the Third Temple? 2. Why was Christianity such a revolutionary religion?

Suggested Reading
Shanks, Hershel, ed. Ancient Israel: From Abraham to the Roman Destruction of the Temple. 2nd rev. ed. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall, 1999.

Other Books of Interest
Charlesworth, James, ed. Jesus and the Origins of Christianity. Vol. 5: The Bible and the Dead Sea Scrolls. North Richland Hills, TX: Bibal Press, 2004. Shanks, Hershel, ed. The Search for Jesus: Modern Scholarship Looks at the Gospels. Washington, DC: Biblical Archaeology Society, 2002. Smallwood, E. Mary. The Jews Under Roman Rule. Leiden, The Netherlands: E.J. Brill, 1976.

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Lecture 12: Excursus: Qumran and the Dead Sea Scrolls

The Suggested Reading for this lecture is Hershel Shanks’s (ed.) Understanding the Dead Sea Scrolls: A Reader from the Biblical Archaeology Review.

he Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered by Bedouin boys in 1947. The scrolls were thought to be part of the library of the settlement of Qumran, located on the shores of the Dead Sea. They contain copies of almost all of the books of the Hebrew Bible. The Caves at Qumran The Dead Sea Scrolls refer to scrolls and fragments discovered between 1947 and 1960 in at least seven different sites on the northwestern shore of the Dead Sea. The most important of these are approximately eight hundred scrolls found in the caves around Qumran. The scrolls date roughly from 200 BCE to 70 CE. According to William F. Albright, the dean of biblical archaeology, the Qumran scrolls are the greatest manuscript discovery of modern times. The caves at Qumran are situated about a mile from the western shore of the Dead Sea, and about three miles from its northern end. Jerusalem is about thirteen miles to the west; Jericho is about nine miles to the north. This is the Judean wilderness, approximately thirteen hundred feet below sea level. The ruins of Qumran are about a half mile to the south of the cave in which the first scrolls were found. At the time, back in 1947, there wasn’t much visible of the ruins. But several eminent travelers in the early nineteenth and twentieth centuries had described the remains of Qumran. One even suggested that they were the biblical remains of Gomorrah, though this is not true. The ruins of Qumran were excavated in five original seasons, 1951 and then 1953 to 1956. The earliest period of occupation of Qumran was during the Israelite period, approximately the eighth century BCE. The final period of occupation, a brief one, was when the area was occupied by Roman soldiers sometime after the year 68 CE, after the Essene community at Qumran was destroyed by the Tenth Legion in the year 68, during the First Jewish Revolt against Rome. There were three phases of occupation that represent almost continual inhabitation of the site by the Essenes. However, the exact nature of the settlement is the focus of ongoing debates. Some scholars have suggested that Qumran was a giant villa, or even something entirely different. Josephus mentions that there were three kinds of schools or divisions of Jews in his 71

day: Pharisees, Sadducees, and Essenes. He devoted his longest description to the Essenes in his book The Jewish Wars. Even though Qumran doesn’t agree in every detail with Josephus, most scholars have accepted the identification of the Qumran community with the Essenes or some branch of them, and thus think that the Dead Sea Scrolls represent the library of these Essenes. The Jewish philosopher Philo of Alexandria said that the Essenes numbered about four thousand, and Pliny the Elder, who lived in the first century CE, tells of a community of Essenes in his Natural History, “On the west side of the Dead Sea . . . is the solitary tribe of the Essenes . . . [which] has no women and has renounced all sexual desire . . . Day by day, the throng of refugees is recruited to an equal number by numerous successions of personnel tired of life and driven there by ways of fortune to adopt their manners. Thus for thousands of years, incredible to relate, a race where no one is born lives on forever.” Most scholars would agree that Qumran was the home of the Essenes. Whether or not it was, it seems most likely that the Dead Sea Scrolls came from Qumran and represent the library of the settlement. They were most likely hidden by members of the community, who fled from the Romans in the year 68 CE, intending to return and retrieve their library. Unfortunately, they were probably all killed or sent off into exile. So their library remained in the caves in which they hid it, for nearly two thousand years. Discovery of the Scrolls The first Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered sometime during the winter of 1946 and 1947. Three cousins belonging to a Bedouin tribe were watering their flock of goats about two miles to the south of Qumran. One of the boys began exploring the hundreds of caves in the area, hoping to find hidden gold. Intrigued by the openings in the cliff face many feet above him, he threw a rock into the opening and heard something shatter. He decided to wait until the next morning and bring his two cousins with him, but the next morning, one of the cousins woke early and climbed up to the cave. He found the floor covered with broken pottery and saw ten jars stacked against the walls. Eight of the jars were empty, but from one of the others, he pulled out two bundles wrapped in linen and a leather scroll. When he got back, the boys unrolled the bundles and found two more scrolls. These three scrolls, covered in a strange script, were taken back to their Bedouin camp and left to hang in a bag from a tent pole. Eventually, they went to Bethlehem and sold the scrolls to an antiquities dealer and leather maker known as Kando, who figured that if he couldn’t sell the scrolls, he could make them into sandals using the leather. The Bedouins eventually found four more scrolls and gave them to Kando. The very first scholar to see the scrolls was Eleazar L. Sukenik, who was a professor of archaeology at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem. During the last week in November in 1947, he received an urgent message from a friend asking to meet him. When they met, the friend handed him a scrap of parchment. Sukenik realized that it was an ancient scroll, and he agreed to buy all the scrolls on behalf of Hebrew University. Sukenik went down to Bethlehem, bought the scrolls, and returned with them. A couple of hours after he got back to Jerusalem, the United Nations passed a resolution creating the state 72

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of Israel, and all contact was cut off with the Arab world for a number of months. So he made it back with the scrolls by scant hours. The Contents of the Scrolls The first two scrolls were nonbiblical. One was called the War of the Sons of Light Against the Sons of Darkness, and the other was called the Thanksgiving Scroll. The third scroll was a copy of the Book of Isaiah. Before the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls, the oldest part of the Hebrew Bible was dated to the year 895 CE. This copy of the Book of Isaiah was dated to about 100 BCE, so it is nearly a thousand years earlier. The difference between the Dead Sea Scroll copy of the Book of Isaiah and the later copies is insignificant. There are only about thirteen little differences, which shows the care with which the text has been transmitted over the centuries. Upon further research, it turned out that the so-called Thanksgiving Scroll was a copy of the prayer book of the community, and the so-called War Scroll describes a time when God and his angels will join the Sons of Light in wiping out the Sons of Darkness. This is one of the first descriptions of Armageddon. Portions of the New Testament are very similar to phrases found in the War Scroll. First Thessalonians says, “But you are not in darkness, brethren, for you are all Sons of Light and Sons of the Day.” Second Corinthians says, “For what partnership has righteousness with iniquity, or what fellowship has light with darkness?” The comparison of light and darkness is continued in the fourth gospel: “Jesus said to them, he who walks in the darkness knows not where he goes. While you have the light, believe in the light that you may become Sons of Light.” The Essenes and early Christians appear to have had a common theological worldview. Both thought they were living in the End Days, and both lived in a world where the powers of righteousness and the powers of evil were engaged in warfare. The Essenes saw themselves as soldiers in an army at the end of time. Because they were engaged in a war for God, they believed in keeping the purity of their camps, refraining from sex and marriage, and keeping stringent sanitary regulations. No Sale Two months after Sukenik bought the scrolls, someone else produced four more scrolls and asked if he wanted to buy them. The scrolls belonged to the head of the Syrian Orthodox Church, Archbishop Mar Athanasius Yeshue Samuel. The archbishop had bought the four scrolls from the same dealer from whom Sukenik had bought them, reportedly for about fifty dollars. Sukenik looked at the four scrolls and said that they were genuine. He told the archbishop that he was willing to buy the four scrolls, and they agreed to meet a couple of days later, but the sale never took place. That was the last that Sukenik saw of the scrolls. Months later, he received a message saying that the archbishop had decided not to sell the scrolls. Indeed, it turned out that Sukenik had only been called in to ascertain that the scrolls were genuine. The archbishop then tried to sell them in the United States for several million dollars, but he never found a taker at that high price. 73

Sukenik died early in 1953, never knowing that the additional four scrolls would end up back in Jerusalem and that he would know well the person responsible for retrieving them. A Surprising Buyer In 1954, a famous Israeli archaeologist named Yigael Yadin was in the United States lecturing in Baltimore and New York on his interpretation and explanation of the scrolls that Sukenik had bought. While chatting with William F. Albright at Johns Hopkins University, Yigael Yadin heard that Samuel had dropped his price for the four scrolls to half a million dollars and was advertising them in the classifieds section of the Wall Street Journal. Yigael Yadin then bought the scrolls for two hundred and fifty thousand dollars, through an intermediary. Most interesting, and what many don’t realize, is that Yigael Yadin was the son of Eleazar L. Sukenik. He had taken an Israeli name, and he had managed to purchase the four scrolls that had eluded his father. He brought the scrolls back to Jerusalem, where they were reunited and placed in the Shrine of the Book. The Copper Scroll What was in the four scrolls that Yigael Yadin had bought from Samuel? One was another copy of the Book of Isaiah, which was in better condition than Sukenik’s. The other scrolls were the Manual of Discipline, the Genesis Apocryphon, which is a retelling of the story of Genesis from Noah to Abraham, and the Pesher, a commentary on Habakkuk. The Bedouins discovered another cave, called Qumran Cave 2, and from it came thirty-three fragmentary texts (eighteen biblical and fifteen nonbiblical). This discovery provoked a full-scale official search of all the caves extending over a stretch of five miles. This search revealed Cave 3, which contained fourteen fragmentary texts (three biblical and eleven nonbiblical). Cave 3 also contained two scrolls that caused great excitement, for they were both made of copper. When connected, they formed a single manuscript known as the Copper Scroll. The Copper Scroll was extremely difficult to unroll. Finally, in Manchester, England, it was sawn into separate pieces, flattened, and reattached so that it could be read (it was written in Hebrew). The contents dealt with hidden treasures, specifically sixty-four different treasures and their locations. It has been speculated that this list refers to Temple treasures smuggled out of Jerusalem during the First Jewish Revolt, from 66 to 70 CE. But despite more than one expedition in search of this lost wealth, nothing has been found. It’s now widely suspected that not only the hiding places, but also perhaps the treasures themselves, were made up.
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Cave 4 contained the remains of five hundred manuscripts. It didn’t have any complete scrolls, but it had heaps upon heaps of fragments: between fifteen and forty thousand fragments. To date, a total of five hundred and twenty texts have been identified: one hundred and fifty-seven from the Bible, thirteen commentaries on quoted parts from the Bible, and three hundred and fifty nonbiblical documents, including sectarian texts, originals of previously known literature, and many previously unknown Hebrew and Amaraic texts.

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Virtually all of the manuscripts are fragmentary and in an advanced state of decay. Some of the manuscripts are preserved in no more than one or two fragments. Others contain more than forty columns of texts. These texts comprise virtually every book of the Hebrew Bible. The only missing book is Esther. One fragment, from the Book of Samuel, is the oldest piece of the Bible yet found, dating to the third century BCE.

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Questions
1. Why were the Essenes considered such an unusual tribe? 2. What similarities were there between the Essenes and the early Christians?

Suggested Reading
Shanks, Hershel, ed. Understanding the Dead Sea Scrolls: A Reader from the Biblical Archaeology Review. New York: Vintage, 1993.

Other Books of Interest
Abegg, Martin G., and Peter Flint. The Dead Sea Scrolls Bible: The Oldest Known Bible Translated for the First Time Into English. San Francisco: HarperSanFrancisco, 1999. Brown, Judith A. John Marco Allegro: The Maverick of the Dead Sea Scrolls. Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 2005. Davies, Philip R., George J. Brooke, and Phillip R. Callaway. The Complete World of the Dead Sea Scrolls. London: Thames & Hudson, 2002. Elledge, C.D. The Bible and the Dead Sea Scrolls. Boston: Brill Academic, 2005.

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Lecture 13: From the First Jewish Revolt and the Destruction of Jerusalem to Bar Kochba and the Second Jewish Rebellion

The Suggested Reading for this lecture is Hershel Shanks’s (ed.) Ancient Israel: From Abraham to the Roman Destruction of the Temple (chapter 8: “Roman Domination: The Jewish Revolt”).

he First and Second Jewish Revolts took place in the first and second centuries CE. Both ended as dramatic failures. The first resulted in the destruction of Jerusalem and the Second Temple. The second rebellion resulted in the banishment of the Jews from Jerusalem for more than five hundred years. Together, the failed rebellions led to the Diaspora, spreading Jews and Judaism to the four corners of the earth. The First Revolt After the Maccabean Rebellion, the Jews rose up against the Romans. In 66 CE, the uprising spread across Palestina and into Egypt and other areas of the Roman Empire. The Romans decided they could not allow this to continue and sent Roman troops to put down the rebellion in Palestina. The troops were the Twelfth Legion, known as the Thunderbolts, based in Antioch. The legion probably boasted close to thirty thousand infantry and horsemen. They were led by the Roman governor of Syria. Josephus says, “As for the Jews, when they saw the war approaching to their metropolis, they left the feast and betook themselves to their arms. Taking courage greatly from their multitude, they went in a sudden and disorderly manner to the fight with a great noise and a rage that made them forget their religious observance, because it was the Sabbath . . . five hundred fifteen of the Romans were slain, of which number four hundred were footmen and the rest horsemen, while the Jews lost only twenty-two.” The Romans besieged Jerusalem, but suddenly withdrew. The Jews followed and ambushed the Romans. The Roman troops were absolutely massacred—they lost five thousand three hundred footmen and three hundred eighty horsemen. The Jews lost only a few men. This defeat happened in the twelfth year of the reign of Emperor Nero. The historian Suetonius, in his book The Life of Vespasian, says that the Jews captured the Eagle standard of the Twelfth Army. It was an absolute disgrace for any legion to lose its Eagle standard. It happened rarely and meant that the legion itself was probably annihilated. In every other known case when this happened, the Romans sent armies to

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retrieve the standards. So for no other reason, the Romans would have come up against the Jews again. The First Jewish Revolt lasted for a good five years. It is not known whether the Romans regained their lost standard, though it can be presumed that they did. Under Siege It actually took the Romans a while to attack Jerusalem, because in 67, 68, and even 69 CE, things were not going well in Rome. There were four Roman emperors in the year 69 alone, and the man who emerged victorious was none other than Vespasian, who had been sent to crush the Jewish revolt previously. Because he had become emperor and could not lead the army, he sent his son Titus to do the deed. So it was probably during the month of May in the year 70 that the battle for Jerusalem and the end of the First Jewish Revolt came to pass. Josephus says there were about twenty-three thousand fighting men in the city. Tacitus says that the number of every person in the city was six hundred thousand, which may have included the pilgrims who had come to celebrate Passover. The usual population was probably only about eighty thousand, so Josephus’s number makes more sense. The Romans attacked from the north, breaking through no fewer than three different walls. The Romans then put the city under siege. Josephus tells us that the famine became so severe that the children pulled the very morsels out of their fathers’ mouths and the mothers did the same to their infants. It sounds very much like the siege of Jerusalem by Nebuchadnezzar and the Neo-Babylonians. By July, Titus had launched an assault on the Antonia Fortress that Herod had built. Titus captured it and ordered its demolition. Then came the Temple itself. Within a week of capturing the fortress, the Romans began to build siege embankments, and eventually brought up the battering rams. The gates of the Temple were set on fire, and then the Roman soldiers dashed in. After taking control of the outer courts, the defenders went in to the inner part of the Temple, where the sanctuary lay. Only a couple of days later, in the last days of August 70 CE, the Roman soldiers broke into the inner Temple. Josephus says that the defenders were everywhere slain. Eventually, the sanctuary and Temple were set on fire, accidentally, by an ordinary Roman soldier throwing a piece of burning wood into the Temple. Titus later claimed that he never meant to destroy the Temple, and that he had ordered his men to save it. But it was too late. The Temple was consumed by flames and for the second time in history, the holiest place of the Jews was destroyed by an invading force. It took place on August 28, 70 CE, the ninth of Ab, the same day that the Temple of Solomon had been destroyed more than 650 years earlier. In the end, the Romans marched into the smoldering ruins of the Temple, set up the rest of their standards, and made sacrifices to them. It took another month for the Romans to subdue the rest of Jerusalem. Titus ordered his soldiers to kill the inhabitants, plunder the city, and set it on fire. By the end of September, the entire city was destroyed. Josephus says that ninety-seven thousand people were taken captive, and that more than one million were 78

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killed. That is certainly an exaggeration, but it is nevertheless likely that the Judeans lost a substantial portion of their population. Booty from the Temple In the Jewish quarter, at a place called the Burnt House, there was found the arm and hand of a twenty-year-old woman, who had died in 70 CE. It is not known what happened to the rest of her body; the arm and the hand are the only human remains left from the destruction of the city in 70 CE. The majority of the captured were taken to work in mines or were killed in amphitheaters by gladiators. Indeed, so many people were sold as slaves that the price of slaves dropped by half. The Romans destroyed the rest of Jerusalem and left standing only the three towers built by Herod. In the meantime, upon Titus’s return to Rome, he held a parade in which hundreds of Jewish prisoners were forced to march, and the booty from the campaign, including objects from the Temple, was displayed. Josephus says, “There was here to be seen a mighty quantity of gold and silver and ivory, running along like a river. Those that were taken in the Temple of Jerusalem, they made the greatest figure of them all, that is, the golden table of the weight of many talents, the candlestick also that was made of gold, and the last of all the spoils was carried the law of the Jews [the Torah].” To celebrate his victory, Titus built a Triumphal Arch at the eastern end of the Forum in Rome. Inside, he had carved a depiction of his soldiers carrying off the treasures from Herod’s Temple. The inscription that accompanies it is not entirely accurate, but is only a little exaggerated: “The Roman Senate and the people dedicate this to the emperor Titus. He subdued the Jewish people and destroyed the city of Jerusalem, which all generals, kings, and peoples before him had either attacked without success or left entirely unassailed.” A Single Letter The famous Coliseum in Rome may have been built using the loot the Romans captured after putting down the First Jewish Rebellion. Outside the Coliseum is an inscription that says that a certain Roman restored at his own expense the Coliseum. It is dated to the fifth century CE, just before Rome was destroyed. But recently, a professor from Heidelberg University noticed a series of holes in the actual marble of the slab. He realized he was looking at a ghost inscription. The original inscription on the block had been composed of bronze letters that had little pegs which were inserted in the marble. After much examination, he came up with an interesting reconstruction of the original inscription. The inscription that he determined had been on the original slab of marble reads as follows, “The Emperor Caesar Vespasian Augustus ordered the new amphitheater to be made from the proceeds of the sale of the booty.” This dates to 79 CE, nine years after Jerusalem fell. No other campaign would have yielded so much money and booty, so if the reconstruction is correct, the proceeds from the looting of the Temple may have gone toward the construction of the Coliseum. One part of the inscription bothered the professor. Some holes didn’t fit his pattern, and he realized an adjustment had been made to the display. The 79

very next year, in 80 CE, somebody had inserted the letter T into the pattern and changed it completely, so it said that the Emperor Titus Caesar Vespasian Augustus had ordered the new amphitheater to be made. So with the insertion of a single letter, Titus claimed that he had built the Coliseum, rather than his father. The Diaspora With the end of the First Jewish Rebellion, the Jews were subdued, but the Romans didn’t leave. Instead, they built their headquarters in Jerusalem. Archaeologists have excavated remnants from this period, including inscriptions, coins, traces of an aqueduct, and roof tiles stamped with the logo of the Tenth Legion. The Second Jewish Rebellion, known as the Bar Kochba Rebellion after its leader, started in the year 132 CE, and lasted four years until 135 CE. By this time, Josephus had died, but archaeology, the Roman historian Dio Cassius, the Church historian Father Eusebius, and Hadrian’s biography provide a lot of information about this Second Jewish Rebellion. Hadrian visited Jerusalem as part of a grand tour of his empire. He announced that Jerusalem would be renamed, and henceforth would be called Aelia Capitolina, named for the emperor himself and the cult of Capitolia at Rome. This announcement was met with intense resentment, and rebellion soon broke out. The uprising lasted for four years and was led by Bar Kochba, whom some regarded as the Messiah. His name meant Son of the Star, and he was one of the most effective leaders the Jews ever had. It took eighty thousand Romans to repress his revolt. Dio Cassius said that many Romans perished in the war. According to his account, Hadrian did not say the legions were in health when he wrote to the Senate, which has been interpreted as meaning that the Judeans killed a large number of Romans. But the Judeans fared worse. Dio Cassius says that fifty important outposts and almost one thousand villages were burned to the ground. He also says that so many people were taken as slaves that once again the price of slaves dropped drastically. So many Judeans were taken off that the whole of Judea became desolate. In the end, the rebellion was repressed and Hadrian renamed Jerusalem Aelia Capitolina. He put up new streets, erected a temple to Jupiter, and expelled all remaining Jews from Jerusalem, forbidding them to ever live there again. The Jews could only go into Jerusalem once a year, on the ninth of Ab, and even for that they had to pay a price. But the city became a holy city to the Christians, and sometime after 200 CE, pilgrims began coming to Jerusalem. The city flourished with this new business.

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FOR GREATER UNDERSTANDING

Questions
1. What is the possible link between the Coliseum and the First Jewish Rebellion? 2. Who was the leader of the Second Jewish Rebellion?

Suggested Reading
Shanks, Hershel, ed. Ancient Israel: From Abraham to the Roman Destruction of the Temple. 2nd rev. ed. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall, 1999.

Other Books of Interest
Applebaum, Shimon. Prolegomena to the Study of the Second Jewish Revolt (A.D. 132–135). Oxford: British Archaeological Reports, 1976. Berlin, Andrea M., and J. Andrew Overman, eds. The First Jewish Revolt: Archaeology, History, and Ideology. London: Routledge, 2002. Cline, Eric H. Jerusalem Besieged: From Ancient Canaan to Modern Israel. Ann Arbor, MI: University of Michigan Press, 2005. Furneaux, Rupert. The Roman Siege of Jerusalem. New York: David McKay Company, Inc., 1972. Yadin, Yigael. Bar-Kokhba: The Rediscovery of the Legendary Hero of the Second Jewish Revolt Against Rome. New York: Random House, 1971.

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Lecture 14: Excursus: Masada, What Really Happened?

The Suggested Reading for this lecture is Yigael Yadin’s Masada: Herod’s Fortress and the Zealots’ Last Stand.

asada is perhaps the most spectacular site in Israel. Located just south of Qumran and the Dead Sea Scroll caves, it is a great rock rising up out of the Judean desert, moored to the western cliffs of the Dead Sea. It was excavated between 1963 and 1965. Up the Snake Path Prior to the excavations, all information about Masada came from Josephus. Most details are from his book The Jewish War, in which he says, “There was a rock, not small in circumference, and very high. It was encompassed by valleys of such vast depth downwards that the eye could not reach their bottoms. They were abrupt and such as no animal could walk upon, excepting two places on the rock where it subsides, affording a passage of ascent, though not without difficulty. Now of the ways that lead to it, one is from Lake Asphaltitus toward the sun rising and the other on the west, where the ascent is easier. The one of these ways is called the Serpent, as resembling that animal in its narrowness and its perpetual windings.” This path is now called the Snake Path, and many tourists walk up it today. The siege ramp built by the Romans is also in place today. Masada was first fortified during the Hellenistic period, and was used by Herod the Great in the year 40 BCE, when he left his fiancée and eight hundred soldiers at Masada as he fled across the desert to Rome. When he came back, he realized Masada would be a great place to escape to and so continued to fortify the site, though he never had to use it. In the end, Masada contained an elaborate set of buildings that Herod had ordered constructed, including two palaces. The Great Siege Ramp
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At the beginning of the First Jewish Rebellion, in the year 66, rebels took over Masada. They didn’t take much part in the war after that. Masada didn’t pose any threat to the Romans, and even after Jerusalem fell, Masada held out. The Romans ignored it until the winter of 73. Then the Roman general Flavius Silva moved against it. Flavius Silva set up a ring of camps surrounding Masada. There were eight fortified camps, all linked by a wall, as dictated by the Roman military textbook. To reach the top, he built a huge ramp that rose 450 feet above the 82

desert floor. Having built the ramp, he then brought up Roman siege engines and began the assault of Masada. Josephus says, “There was a certain eminence of the rock, very broad and very prominent. But it was 300 cubits beneath the highest part of Masada. Accordingly, he got upon that part of the rock and ordered the army to bring earth. And when they fell to that work with alacrity . . . the bank was raised and became solid for 200 cubits in height. Yet was not this bank though sufficiently high for the use of the engines to be set upon that still another elevated work of great stones compacted together was raised upon that bank.” Josephus continues, “The other machines that were not got ready were like to those that had been first designed by Vespasian and afterwards by Titus for sieges. There was also a tower made to the height of sixty cubits and all over plated with iron out of which the Romans threw darts and stones from the engines.” So the Romans hurled stones and arrows, getting the siege engines up to the walls, and letting the battering rams go to work. Excavations inside and on top of Masada provide proof of the siege. For example, stones have been found that the defenders hurled down upon the attackers. Through the Wall Josephus continues, “At the same time, Silva ordered that the great battering ram that he had made to be brought thither and to be set against the wall and to make frequent batteries against it, which with some difficulty broke down a part of the wall and quite overthrew it.” Josephus says that when the Romans battered down this outer defensive wall, they found inside a new wall that the defenders had put up. This was a wooden wall that Josephus describes as follows. “It was made soft and yielding and so was capable of avoiding the terrible blows that affected the outer wall. It was framed after the following manner. They laid together great beams of wood lengthwise, one close to the end of another, and the same way in which they were cut. There were two of these rows parallel to one another and laid at such a distance from each other as the breadth of the wall required.” And earth was put into the space between those walls. So there were two sets of wood, and in between the wood was earth. As the battering ram hit the outer wall, the inner, softer wall absorbed the impact. Thus, it took much longer than the Romans expected to knock a hole in the outer wall. Once they put a hole in it, they found themselves facing that first stack of wood, which had defenders on top of it shooting down at them. The Romans did as one might expect. They tossed burning arrows and torches inside, and the wall quickly blazed up in flames. The defenders had one moment of hope when the wind changed direction and blew the flames against the Roman towers, but the wind changed again, and the wall burned down. By Their Own Hands Josephus says that night was falling and the Romans, according to him, returned to their camp with joy and resolved to set the attack the next day. On top of Masada, the Jews realized that everything was lost. Josephus 83

says, “Neither did Eleazer once think of flying away, nor would he permit anyone else to do so. But when he saw their wall burned down by the fire and could devise no other way of escaping or room for their further courage, setting before their eyes what the Romans would do to them, their children and their wives, if they got them into their power, he consulted about having them all slain. Now as he judged this to be the best thing they could do in their present circumstances, he gathered the most courageous of his companions together and encouraged them to take that course by a speech.” Josephus quotes Eleazer, “Since we long ago, my generous friends, resolved never to be servants to the Romans, nor to any other than to God himself, who alone is the true and just lord of mankind, the time is now come that obliges us to make that resolution true in practice. It is still in our power to die bravely and in a state of freedom . . . It is very plain that we will be taken in a day’s time, but it is still an eligible thing to die in a glorious manner together with our dearest friends. The punishments let us not receive from the Romans but from God himself, as executed by our own hands, for these will be more moderate than the other. Let our wives die before they are abused and our children before they have tasted of slavery. And after we have slain them, let us bestow that glorious benefit upon one another mutually and preserve ourselves in freedom as an excellent funeral monument for us. But first let us destroy our money and the fortress by fire, for I am well assured that this will be a great grief to the Romans, that they shall not be able to seize upon our bodies and shall fall of our wealth also . . .” This is one of the most famous statements from antiquity. Josephus says that as he was carrying on in this exhalation, they all moved off and did this work on their own, seized with a demonical fury. “For the husbands tenderly embraced their wives, and took their children into their arms, and gave the longest parting kisses to them with tears in their eyes, yet at the same time did they complete what they had resolved on. Every one of them dispatched their dearest relations.” Then they chose ten men by lots to dispatch the rest, and when those ten had killed all of the other men, one of the ten killed the others and then killed himself. When the Romans came in the next morning, they found no one alive. All nine hundred sixty were dead. Uncertain Historicity How did Josephus know this story? He claimed that two old women and five children had concealed themselves in caverns underground, emerged the next morning, and told the Romans the story. The story of Masada has been told and retold. Moreover, from 1948 until the early 1980s, new recruits into the Israeli army were sworn in at the top of Masada.
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The problem is that the historicity of this basic plot is completely uncertain. The general facts are accurate and confirmed by archaeology. The ramp is still there. Fragments from the camps are still there. But Josephus was not at Masada, so it is not a firsthand account. He did have access to the official field reports, and he may even have consulted Flavius Silva, so he is reliable on some instances. But the secondhand nature of his knowledge is evident upon a close examination of the details. 84

Josephus is wrong in his description of the northern palace. He is wrong about the number of palaces on top of Masada, and his account goes completely wrong when he reports that the Romans stopped for the night just after they had breached the wall. Even though nighttime had fallen, the Romans would never have stopped. The military textbook manuals instructed them to push the attack wherever and whenever it was called for. If they had broken through, they would have carried on with the attack. And indeed, the burning wood on top of Masada would have meant that they could have seen as plainly as day. And yet Josephus has them stop, which gives the Jews time for their mass suicide. What actually happened up on top of Masada? Probably some Jews killed themselves and their families, but the majority were killed by the Romans. In other words, it was a massacre and not a suicide. The speech that Eleazer gives is highly unlikely and mimics an event that occurred during Josephus’s own life. Before he was a Roman historian, he was a Jewish general who had been captured by Vespasian after hiding in a cave with other survivors. He had persuaded all of the others to commit suicide, leaving only him and one other man alive—and then he persuaded the other man to give up with him. So he had seen an event very close to what he had described, only he had survived it. The thinking is that Josephus may have invented the speech of Eleazar in part to lay the blame on the Jews themselves, to take the burden of the massacre off the hands of the Romans, and to turn the massacre into a suicide for which the Romans were not responsible. Here again, there is much debate today. A number of scholars have reinvestigated Masada, and the Israeli army has ceased to swear in new soldiers on top of Masada. Indeed, the entire notion of the suicide has been called into question. It’s now being referred to as the myth of Masada, though there are those who still hold that it was a mass suicide.

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FOR GREATER UNDERSTANDING

Questions
1. How did the Romans go about their siege of Masada? 2. What is meant by the “myth of Masada”?

Suggested Reading
Yadin, Yigael. Masada: Herod’s Fortress and the Zealots’ Last Stand. New York: Random House, 1966.

Other Books of Interest
Ben-Yehuda, Nachman. The Masada Myth: Collective Memory and Mythmaking in Israel. Madison, WI: University of Wisconsin Press, 1995. ———. Sacrificing Truth: Archaeology and the Myth of Masada. Amherst, NY: Humanity Books, 2002. Cline, Eric H. Jerusalem Besieged: From Ancient Canaan to Modern Israel. Ann Arbor, MI: University of Michigan Press, 2005. Josephus, Flavius. The Works of Josephus: Complete and Unabridged. Trans. William Whiston. New York: Hendrickson Publishers, 1980.

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COURSE MATERIALS

Suggested Readings for This Course: Miller, J. Maxwell, and John H. Hayes. A History of Ancient Israel and Judah. Philadelphia: The Westminster Press, 1986. Shanks, Hershel, ed. Ancient Israel: From Abraham to the Roman Destruction of the Temple. 2nd rev. ed. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall, 1999. ———. Understanding the Dead Sea Scrolls: A Reader from the Biblical Archaeology Review. New York: Vintage, 1993. Yadin, Yigael. Masada: Herod’s Fortress and the Zealots’ Last Stand. New York: Random House, 1966. Other Books of Interest: Abegg, Martin G., and Peter Flint. The Dead Sea Scrolls Bible: The Oldest Known Bible Translated for the First Time Into English. San Francisco: HarperSanFrancisco, 1999. Applebaum, Shimon. Prolegomena to the Study of the Second Jewish Revolt (A.D. 132–135). Oxford: British Archaeological Reports, 1976. Ben-Yehuda, Nachman. The Masada Myth: Collective Memory and Mythmaking in Israel. Madison, WI: University of Wisconsin Press, 1995. ———. Sacrificing Truth: Archaeology and the Myth of Masada. Amherst, NY: Humanity Books, 2002. Berlin, Andrea M., and J. Andrew Overman, eds. The First Jewish Revolt: Archaeology, History, and Ideology. London: Routledge, 2002. Boren, Kerry R., and Lisa L. Boren. Following the Ark of the Covenant. Springville, UT: Cedar Fort, Inc., 2000. Brown, Judith A. John Marco Allegro: The Maverick of the Dead Sea Scrolls. Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 2005. Charlesworth, James, ed. Jesus and the Origins of Christianity. Vol. 5: The Bible and the Dead Sea Scrolls. North Richland Hills, TX: Bibal Press, 2004. Cline, Eric H. The Battles of Armageddon: Megiddo and the Jezreel Valley from the Bronze Age to the Nuclear Age. Ann Arbor, MI: University of Michigan Press, 2002. ———. Jerusalem Besieged: From Ancient Canaan to Modern Israel. Ann Arbor, MI: University of Michigan Press, 2005. Cornuke, Robert, and David Halbrook. In Search of the Lost Ark of the Covenant. Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 2002. Davies, Philip R., George J. Brooke, and Phillip R. Callaway. The Complete World of the Dead Sea Scrolls. London: Thames & Hudson, 2002.

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Other Books of Interest (continued): Dever, William G. What Did the Biblical Writers Know & When Did They Know It?: What Archaeology Can Tell Us about the Reality of Ancient Israel. Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 2001. Elledge, C.D. The Bible and the Dead Sea Scrolls. Boston: Brill Academic, 2005. Feiler, Bruce S. Walking the Bible: A Journey by Land Through the Five Books of Moses. New York: William Morrow, 2001. Finkelstein, Israel, and Neil Asher Silberman. The Bible Unearthed: Archaeology’s New Vision of Ancient Israel and the Origin of Its Sacred Texts. New York: The Free Press, 2001. ———. David and Solomon: In Search of the Bible’s Sacred Kings and the Roots of the Western Tradition. New York: The Free Press, 2006. Furneaux, Rupert. The Roman Siege of Jerusalem. New York: David McKay Company, Inc., 1972. Geoghegan, Jeffrey C., and Michael M. Homan. The Bible for Dummies. New York: Wiley Publishing, Inc., 2003. Halpern, Baruch. David’s Secret Demons: Messiah, Murderer, Traitor, King. Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 2001. Hancock, Graham. The Sign and the Seal: A Quest for the Lost Ark of the Covenant. New York: Touchstone/Crown Publishers, 1993. Harrington, Daniel J. The Maccabean Revolt: Anatomy of a Biblical Revolution. Wilmington, DE: Michael Glazier, 1988. Jones, Cheviene. The Ark of the Covenant. New York: Clarion Publishing, 1994. Josephus, Flavius. The Works of Josephus: Complete and Unabridged. Trans. William Whiston. New York: Hendrickson Publishers, 1980. Kirsch, Jonathan. King David: The Real Life of the Man Who Ruled Israel. New York: Ballantine Books, 2001. Lipschits, Oded, and Joseph Blenkinsopp, eds. Judah and the Judeans in the Neo-Babylonian Period. Winona Lake, IN: Eisenbrauns Publishing, 2003. Marcus, Amy D. The View from Nebo: How Archaeology Is Rewriting the Bible and Reshaping the Middle East. Boston: Little, Brown & Co., 2000.
COURSE MATERIALS

Mazar, Amihai. Archaeology of the Land of the Bible: 10,000–586 BCE. New York: Doubleday, 1992. McKenzie, Steven L. King David: A Biography. New York: Oxford University Press, 2000. Munro-Hay, Stuart, and Roderick Grierson. The Ark of the Covenant: The True Story of the Greatest Relic of Antiquity. London: Weidenfeld & Nicholson, 1999.

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Other Books of Interest (continued): Rast, Walter E. Through the Ages in Palestinian Archaeology: An Introductory Handbook. Philadelphia: Trinity Press International, 1992. Shanks, Hershel, ed. The Search for Jesus: Modern Scholarship Looks at the Gospels. Washington, DC: Biblical Archaeology Society, 2002. Smallwood, E. Mary. The Jews Under Roman Rule. Leiden, The Netherlands: E.J. Brill, 1976. Stern, Ephraim. Archaeology of the Land of the Bible. Volume II: The Assyrian, Babylonian, and Persian Periods (732–332 B.C.E.). New York: Doubleday, 2001. Sweeney, Marvin A. King Josiah of Judah: The Lost Messiah of Israel. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2001. Woudstra, Marten H. The Ark of the Covenant from Conquest to Kingship. Philadelphia: Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing Company, 1965. Yadin, Yigael. Bar-Kokhba: The Rediscovery of the Legendary Hero of the Second Jewish Revolt Against Rome. New York: Random House, 1971. These books are available online through www.modernscholar.com or by calling Recorded Books at 1-800-636-3399.

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