An Ancient Fortress Sheds Light on the Land of Israel before the Israelite Kingdom

Aug. 26 2020

Israeli archaeologists recently uncovered a 3,200-year-old fortification near the center of the country. As Jonathan Laden explains, it dates from the period described in the book of Judges:

The book of Judges . . . describes a period when the tribes of Israel were in the land of Canaan, but were not united. As Ellis Easterly [has argued, the Hebrew word usually rendered “judge”], shofet, could better be translated as “warrior ruler.” These leaders’ distinguishing feature was their rare ability to get more than one tribe to follow them, generally uniting militarily to fight and defeat threatening neighbors: including the Ammonites, Canaanites, Moabites, Midianites, Philistines, and Mesopotamians.

The archaeologists [who made the discovery] explain the complicated geopolitics of the region, consistent with the stories of Judges, at a time when new powers emerged in the Land of Israel. At the time, Canaan had been controlled by the powerful Egyptian empire, but the Philistines and Israelites both became major competitors, the Israelites settling in the mountains, and the Philistines building major cities Ashkelon, Ashdod, and Gath along the coast. The fortress may have been built by the Canaanites and the Egyptians who ruled them to try and protect the kingdom of Lachish from Philistine Gath.

Read more at Bible History Daily

More about: Ancient Israel, Book of Judges, Hebrew Bible, Philistines

In the Aftermath of a Deadly Attack, President Sisi Should Visit Israel

On June 3, an Egyptian policeman crossed the border into Israel and killed three soldiers. Jonathan Schanzer and Natalie Ecanow urge President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi to respond by visiting the Jewish state as a show of goodwill:

Such a dramatic gesture is not without precedent: in 1997, a Jordanian soldier opened fire on a group of Israeli schoolgirls visiting the “Isle of Peace,” a parcel of farmland previously under Israeli jurisdiction that Jordan leased back to Israel as part of the Oslo peace process. In a remarkable display of humanity, King Hussein of Jordan, who had only three years earlier signed a peace agreement with Israel, traveled to the Jewish state to mourn with the families of the seven girls who died in the massacre.

That massacre unfolded as a diplomatic cold front descended on Jerusalem and Amman. . . . Yet a week later, Hussein flipped the script. “I feel as if I have lost a child of my own,” Hussein lamented. He told the parents of one of the victims that the tragedy “affects us all as members of one family.”

While security cooperation [between Cairo and Jerusalem] remains strong, the bilateral relationship is still rather frosty outside the military domain. True normalization between the two nations is elusive. A survey in 2021 found that only 8 percent of Egyptians support “business or sports contacts” with Israel. With a visit to Israel, Sisi can move beyond the cold pragmatism that largely defines Egyptian-Israeli relations and recast himself as a world figure ready to embrace his diplomatic partners as human beings. At a personal level, the Egyptian leader can win international acclaim for such a move rather than criticism for his country’s poor human-rights record.

Read more at Washington Examiner

More about: General Sisi, Israeli Security, Jordan