Eilat Mazar’s Quest to Uncover King David’s Palace

Near the beginning of this century, the Israeli archaeologist Eilat Mazar hypothesized that the remains of King David’s palace were likely located in the area of Jerusalem known as the City of David, adjacent to the Temple Mount. Eventually, despite the skepticism of her colleagues in the field, she began dig. She died last May at the age of sixty-four, having changed scholars’ understanding of Iron Age Jerusalem. Roger Hertog writes:

Some archaeologists have argued that David and his predecessor, Saul, were merely “tribal chieftains” with hilltop strongholds rather than kingdoms, thus relegating the Jews of that era to the status of just one of several nomadic groups in the region. . . . Eilat . . . never engaged in a real conflict with any of them. She would only say “Let the stones speak for themselves.” Time and scholarship will tell the story.

She was convinced that a passage in the book of Samuel contained clues to a palace in the northern part of Jerusalem’s oldest area. She was also inspired by the work of the British archaeologist Kathleen Kenyon, who in the 1960s discovered in that area what she believed to be a wall built by King Solomon, dating to the 10th century BCE.

Eilat’s enthusiasm was contagious. Sure enough, her team from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, where she was a professor, quickly began to unearth treasures. I recall the first excited call in which she reported artifacts from the 4th to 7th centuries BCE, including one bearing the name of Yehukhal, a figure mentioned in the biblical book of Jeremiah.

In August of 2005, Eilat announced her belief that what would come to be called the Large Stone Structure, in close proximity to the Stepped Stone Structure excavated by Kenyon decades earlier, was part of King David’s palace. She argued that the two sites were once part of a single complex, and that it made sense that the palace might be outside the protective walls of Jerusalem due to the city’s increasing expansion.

Read more at Times of Israel

More about: Ancient Israel, Archaeology, Hebrew Bible, Jerusalem, King David

To Save Gaza, the U.S. Needs a Strategy to Restrain Iran

Since the outbreak of war on October 7, America has given Israel much support, and also much advice. Seth Cropsey argues that some of that advice hasn’t been especially good:

American demands for “restraint” and a “lighter footprint” provide significant elements of Hamas’s command structure, including Yahya Sinwar, the architect of 10/7, a far greater chance of surviving and preserving the organization’s capabilities. Its threat will persist to some extent in any case, since it has significant assets in Lebanon and is poised to enter into a full-fledged partnership with Hizballah that would give it access to Lebanon’s Palestinian refugee camps for recruitment and to Iranian-supported ratlines into Jordan and Syria.

Turning to the aftermath of the war, Cropsey observes that it will take a different kind of involvement for the U.S. to get the outcomes it desires, namely an alternative to Israeli and to Hamas rule in Gaza that comes with buy-in from its Arab allies:

The only way that Gaza can be governed in a sustainable and stable manner is through the participation of Arab states, and in particular the Gulf Arabs, and the only power that can deliver their participation is the United States. A grand bargain is impossible unless the U.S. exerts enough leverage to induce one.

Militarily speaking, the U.S. has shown no desire seriously to curb Iranian power. It has persistently signaled a desire to avoid escalation. . . . The Gulf Arabs understand this. They have no desire to engage in serious strategic dialogue with Washington and Jerusalem over Iran strategy, since Washington does not have an Iran strategy.

Gaza’s fate is a small part of a much broader strategic struggle. Unless this is recognized, any diplomatic master plan will degenerate into a diplomatic parlor game.

Read more at National Review

More about: Gaza War 2023, Iran, U.S. Foreign policy