What an Ancient City’s Second Gate Tells Us about Biblical Israel

Jan. 11 2017

After seven years of excavations, a team of Israeli archaeologists has discovered a city that existed during the reign of King David; their findings suggest that he ruled over a kingdom larger and more sophisticated than many scholars have previously thought. Robin Ngo writes:

Overlooking the Elah Valley [where David battled Goliath], about twenty miles southwest of Jerusalem, lies . . . Khirbet Qeiyafa. . . . Among the incredible finds at Qeiyafa was a second city gate from the 10th century BCE; no other site from this period in Israel has more than one gate. . . .

The dig’s directors, Yosef Garfinkel and Saar Ganor, identify Khirbet Qeiyafa with the biblical Sha’arayim, [whose name is] Hebrew for “two gates” (Joshua 15:36; 1 Samuel 17:52; 1 Chronicles 4:31). The two monumental four-chambered city gates at Khirbet Qeiyafa are located on the western and southern sides of the site and measure approximately 35-feet wide and 42-feet deep into the city. The western gate controls access to the road [to] Philistia, while the southern one opens down to the Elah Valley that eventually connects to Jerusalem.

“Some scholars view King David’s kingdom as a simple agrarian society, sparsely inhabited, with no fortified cities, no administration, and no writing,” write Garfinkel, Ganor, and Joseph Baruch Silver. “These scholars find it very hard to accept the new discoveries at Qeiyafa, which have completely dismantled those hypotheses.”

Read more at Bible History Daily

More about: Archaeology, Hebrew Bible, History & Ideas, King David


How the White House Can Bring Mahmoud Abbas to the Negotiating Table

April 28 2017

Next month, the Palestinian Authority president is expected to arrive in Washington to meet with President Trump, perhaps as a prelude to a summit between Abbas and Benjamin Netanyahu under American auspices. A Palestinian delegation is currently in the U.S. to conduct preliminary meetings with administration officials. Eran Lerman discusses what can be accomplished:

The most important aspect [in the present discussions] may remain unspoken. It can be defined as “strategic reassurance”: the realization that after years of uncertainty under Barack Obama, the American administration . . . is once again committed without reservation to its friends in the region, the so-called “camp of stability.”

President Obama’s abandonment of [the former Egyptian president], Hosni Mubarak, regardless of the merits of the case, was catastrophic in terms of the loss of any residual political courage on Abbas’s part. Obama was sympathetic to the Palestinians’ cause, but his policies generated an acute level of uncertainty for the Palestinian leadership in Ramallah, laced with what seemed like a measure of support on Obama’s part for the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt and elsewhere. This was not an environment in which to take fateful decisions.

The Trump team seems to be working to restore confidence and reconstruct [alliances with] both Israel and the pro-Western Arab states. In this new environment, it could be safer for Abbas to take measured risks and enter into an open-ended negotiation with Netanyahu. The effort may still fall apart, if only because the Palestinians have fallen into the habit of posing preconditions. But there seems to be a better chance of drawing them in when they feel that their traditional patrons in the Arab world, Egypt and Saudi Arabia, are once again basking in the sunshine of American strategic support. . . .

At least in theory, it should therefore be easier now for . . . the White House to persuade Abbas to accept a point of entry into negotiations that stays within the two-state paradigm but is no longer predicated on strict adherence to the June 4, 1967 lines.

Read more at BESA Center

More about: Donald Trump, Hosni Mubarak, Israel & Zionism, Mahmoud Abbas, Peace Process, U.S. Foreign policy