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02 April 2013

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Babak Makkinejad

Richard Sale:

Are yoou aware of any archeological evidence that supports the existence of the Kingdoms of David and Solomon?

harry

I am aware of such evidence Babak, at least in the case of the kingdom of David.

But I still disagree with the first page of Mr. Sales piece. I disagree with the idea that the fragments which make up the Old Testament are historical without aggrandisement or propoganda. Or that they were written with ethics in mind first. I believe the midrash to be a great intellectual edifice. But I do not attribute it to the original authors. Even Ezekiel (who was primarily an editor) was not the author of the vast body of thelogical thinking that we now have access to. Rashi was an 11th century rabbi. He was using an older tradition but it was a literature built up over the years by a tradition of theological thought.

Im getting wordy. All I mean to say, is what we see today in scripture wasnt what was originally written. And what Ezekiel put together, was conditioned by geopolitics as much as theology. You might be better off saying that the Old Testament was sponsored by the Great King of Persia.

Babak Makkinejad

Thank you for your comments.

So, what are those evidence?

Note that both kings are mentioned in the Quran - evidence for their historical existence, I am sure, would be welcome by Muslims as well.

The Great King might have had something to do with it since my understaning was that Torah etc. were written down in the Persian Period.

And then there is the emulation of Zorastrian Law in the Old Testament.

harry

Let me try again to write something cogent as I am ashamed of my first effort.

We know with a fair degree of certainty that the OT that we know today was primarily the work of editors working in Babylon under Ezekiel. There are a number of tell tale pointers. My favorite tell is the book of Job, of which there are variants which have been found on Mesapotamian tablets which massively predate the OT - it seems Ezekiel liked the story so much he incorporated it into the Hebrew scripture. This is not prooof but it is evidence.

Regarding your point about literal truth of course you are right. Here I will refer to Rashi's analysis of the first lines of Genesis (a book of the Penteutarch which appears to have had the creation myth completely rewritten). Rashi explains that the way the separation of land and sea is written makes it clear that this is poetic metaphor and does not tell us of the real order of creation.

The writing (or rather, bringing together) of the Torah would not have taken place without the exile in Babylon because the exile created the need for a Jewish identity separate from the geography of Judea. The irony is that just as Ezekiel completed the work, Belshazar failed to read the writing on the wall. The Persians ended his reign.

It was the Persians who freed the Jews, and allowed for their return to their ancestral lands. And it was the Great King who recieved one of the first copies of Ezekiel's new Torah. Its good to remember that not everyone chose to go back.

This is why I am always surprised by the incredible irony of the anti-persian policies of the Likudniks. They clearly took the book of Esther very badly.

Babak Makkinejad

From 1025 through to 1569, Poland was the most tolerant country in Europe; known as paradisus Iudaeorum - Paradise of Jews.

All of that and more ended during World War II.

Be that North America and Europe recapitulate the history of Jews in Iran - 2500 years of continuous presence. (Baghdad was another place before Arab Nationalists got to it, as well as 1 or 2 villages in Palestine.)

Let us hope.

mbrenner

There has been an enormous amount of Biblical scholarship that has prompted a reconceptualization of both the Old and New Testaments. One thinks of Katherine Armstrong, Paul Erdman and Elaine Pagels among many others. They agree on a few key points pertinent to this discussion.

1. The Hebrew god evolved from the tribal god Yaweh, who fought on their behalf against other recognized tribal gods, to Elohim. The latter derived from the Phoenician god El who was an abstract entity. El in turn took on features of a benevolent personal god quite different in temperament than Yahew. This transformation began in the Northern Kingdom and then was fully developed in Babylonia from whence it was transported back to Israel.

2. The Hebrews were never in Egypt. No historian today believes that was the case. The myth was the imaginative fabrication that served the purposes discussed. Moses had a very prominent role in the Northern kingdom's collective imagination but a minor one in that of the Southern kingdom.

3. The covenant was not between God and the Hebrews but between tribes on the two sides of the Jordan who "smoked the peace pipe." It was written down, placed in the tabernacle and then sacrilized in new ways - perhaps the Babylonian interlude facilitated its transmogrification.

4. The tribal impulse and the universal humanism that emerged in Babylonia co-existed in tension that never was resolved. It was also manifest in the split between Jewish Christians and the Paulines.

5. We find that same tension in contemporrary Judaism with a profound political underlay and overlay. Israeli ultra-nationalists are tribalists - whether religious fundamentalists or secularists like Netanyahu. Some fundmanetalists, a small minority, are co-existencists (read Uri Avnery on them). The universal humanist tradition of Judaism is rejected by the fundmanetalist for theological reasons; it is ignore, and suffers from the secular tribalism of the Netanyahus. Most American jews remain universal humanists - so they're in a bind

optimax

The Jews have always been storytellers, in words, music and film.

optimax

that should be "... good storytellers...."

harry


http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/middleeast/israel/3331221/Pottery-shard-lends-evidence-to-stories-of-Biblical-King-David.html

From wikipedia

Two archaeological finds, the Tel Dan Stele and the Mesha Stele, have direct bearing on the question of the existence of a historical David. The first of these is an Aramean victory stele (inscribed stone) discovered in 1993 at Tel Dan and dated c.850–835 BCE: it contains the phrase ביתדוד (bytdwd), and the reading "House of David" for this "is now widely accepted". [17] The Mesha Stele from Moab, dating from approximately the same period, may also contain the name David in line 12, where the interpretation is uncertain, and in line 31, where one destroyed letter must be supplied.[18]

Babak Makkinejad

Thank you for your response.

I have been aware of that which you supplied; I saw that first in an issue of the now-defunct "Biblical Archeology" magazine.

I did not find those discoveries persuasive - the interpretations in the “Biblical Archeology” magazine left me with the idea of "clutching at straws."

The absence of anything more in the intervening 20 years leads me to doubt the historical existence of those kingdoms.

That is to be contrasted with the “Book of Judges” which evidently have more solid archeological support.

ked

Armstrong, Erdman & Pagels are great (highly readable, clear, objective) sources for those interested in keeping up w/ the latest scholarship, without becoming a scholar.

optimax

Did Armstrong write the book Jerusalem?

CaL

http://ngm.nationalgeographic.com/print/2010/12/david-and-solomon/draper-text
Here what the Jewish archeologist and funders of archeology say their agenda is.....
"Our claim to being one of the senior nations in the world, to being a real player in civilization's realm of ideas, is that we wrote this book of books, the Bible," says Daniel Polisar, president of the Shalem Center, the Israeli research institute that helped fund Eilat Mazar's excavation work. "You take David and his kingdom out of the book, and you have a different book. The narrative is no longer a historical work, but a work of fiction. And then the rest of the Bible is just a propagandistic effort to create something that never was. And if you can't find the evidence for it, then it probably didn't happen. That's why the stakes are so high."
'I've found one olive pit at a stratum in Megiddo, and this olive pit—which goes against hundreds of carbon-14 determinations—is going to decide the fate of Western civilization.' " He snickers. The lack of pig bones, suggesting it is a Judaean site? "A gun, but not a smoking gun." The rare inscription found at the site? Probably from Philistine Gath rather than the kingdom of Judah.''
Arguing among themselves about the meanings of objects like pottery shards, animal bones and the foundations of long-ruined buildings is something archaeologists usually do in the privacy of their own profession. But when the argument is about who wrote the Bible, why it was written and what, if any, of the historical events described in the Old Testament are true — and when the archaeologist’s excavations are conducted on some of the most contested land in the world, the Middle East — the tempest is almost guaranteed to boil over the rim of the teapot. No one knows this better than Israel Finkelstein, chairman of the Archaeology Department at Tel Aviv University, who, with archaeology historian and journalist Neil Asher Silberman, has just published a book called “The Bible Unearthed: Archaeology’s New Vision of Ancient Israel and the Origin of Its Sacred Text.”
“The Bible Unearthed” is the latest salvo fired in a pitched battle between those who consider the Old Testament to contain plenty of reliable historical facts, and those who, at the opposite extreme, say it’s pure mythology. The debate reached the general population of Israel, sending what one journalist called a “shiver” down the nation’s “collective spine,” in late 1999, when another archaeologist from Tel Aviv University, Ze’ev Herzog, wrote a cover story for the weekend magazine of the national daily newspaper, Ha’aretz. In the essay, Herzog laid out many of the theories Finkelstein and Silberman present in their book: “the Israelites were never in Egypt, did not wander in the desert, did not conquer the land [of Canaan] in a military campaign and did not pass it on to the twelve tribes of Israel.
Perhaps even harder to swallow is the fact that the united kingdom of David and Solomon, described in the Bible as a regional power, was at most a small tribal kingdom.” The new theories envision this modest chiefdom as based in a Jerusalem that was essentially a cow town, not the glorious capital of an empire. ''


http://ngm.nationalgeographic.com/print/2010/12/david-and-solomon/draper-text
Here what the Jewish archeologist and funders of archeology say their agenda is.....
"Our claim to being one of the senior nations in the world, to being a real player in civilization's realm of ideas, is that we wrote this book of books, the Bible," says Daniel Polisar, president of the Shalem Center, the Israeli research institute that helped fund Eilat Mazar's excavation work. "You take David and his kingdom out of the book, and you have a different book. The narrative is no longer a historical work, but a work of fiction. And then the rest of the Bible is just a propagandistic effort to create something that never was. And if you can't find the evidence for it, then it probably didn't happen. That's why the stakes are so high."
'I've found one olive pit at a stratum in Megiddo, and this olive pit—which goes against hundreds of carbon-14 determinations—is going to decide the fate of Western civilization.' " He snickers. The lack of pig bones, suggesting it is a Judaean site? "A gun, but not a smoking gun." The rare inscription found at the site? Probably from Philistine Gath rather than the kingdom of Judah.''
Arguing among themselves about the meanings of objects like pottery shards, animal bones and the foundations of long-ruined buildings is something archaeologists usually do in the privacy of their own profession. But when the argument is about who wrote the Bible, why it was written and what, if any, of the historical events described in the Old Testament are true — and when the archaeologist’s excavations are conducted on some of the most contested land in the world, the Middle East — the tempest is almost guaranteed to boil over the rim of the teapot. No one knows this better than Israel Finkelstein, chairman of the Archaeology Department at Tel Aviv University, who, with archaeology historian and journalist Neil Asher Silberman, has just published a book called “The Bible Unearthed: Archaeology’s New Vision of Ancient Israel and the Origin of Its Sacred Text.”
“The Bible Unearthed” is the latest salvo fired in a pitched battle between those who consider the Old Testament to contain plenty of reliable historical facts, and those who, at the opposite extreme, say it’s pure mythology. The debate reached the general population of Israel, sending what one journalist called a “shiver” down the nation’s “collective spine,” in late 1999, when another archaeologist from Tel Aviv University, Ze’ev Herzog, wrote a cover story for the weekend magazine of the national daily newspaper, Ha’aretz. In the essay, Herzog laid out many of the theories Finkelstein and Silberman present in their book: “the Israelites were never in Egypt, did not wander in the desert, did not conquer the land [of Canaan] in a military campaign and did not pass it on to the twelve tribes of Israel.
Perhaps even harder to swallow is the fact that the united kingdom of David and Solomon, described in the Bible as a regional power, was at most a small tribal kingdom.” The new theories envision this modest chiefdom as based in a Jerusalem that was essentially a cow town, not the glorious capital of an empire. ''


mbrenner

Unless you're an Israeli tribal nationalist and/or a fundamentalist who uses religion to sanctify a political agenda, what difference does it make? The enduring parts of the Bible have nothing to do with pseudo-narratives aiming to inflate a parochial history. As to modern claims to a Jewish right to a homeland, it wasn't acceded to because Biblical claims were validated but because of politics - and the Holocaust

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