How an Israeli Archaeologist Accidentally Upended a Skeptical Account of the Bible’s Accuracy

Nov. 17 2021

In 1934, Nelson Glueck—an American rabbi and expert on ancient pottery—came across evidence of ancient copper mining in the Timna Valley, a remote desert area in southeastern Israel. Based on the potsherds he discovered nearby, he dated the site to about 1000 BCE, and concluded that he had discovered King Solomon’s mines. Subsequent archaeologists discredited this theory, uncovering evidence that the site was much older, and had been established by Egyptians. But then, in 2009, the archaeologist Erez Ben-Yosef arrived with a team to do geological research. Matti Friedman describes what followed:

The dig quickly took an unexpected turn. Having assumed they were working at an Egyptian site, Ben-Yosef and his team were taken aback by the carbon-dating results of their first samples: around 1000 BCE. The next batches came back with the same date. At that time the Egyptians were long gone and the mine was supposed to be defunct—and it was the time of David and Solomon, according to biblical chronology.

In the past decade, Ben-Yosef and his team have rewritten the site’s biography. They say a mining expedition from Egypt was indeed here first. . . . But the mines actually became most active after the Egyptians left, during the power vacuum created by the collapse of the regional empires. A power vacuum is good for scrappy local players, and it’s precisely in this period that the Bible places Solomon’s united Israelite monarchy and, crucially, its neighbor to the south, Edom.

Far from any city, ancient or modern, Timna is illuminating the time of the Hebrew Bible—and showing just how much can be found in a place that seems, at first glance, like nowhere.

What the archaeologists had found was striking. But perhaps more striking was what no one had found: a town, a palace, a cemetery, or homes of any kind. And yet Ben-Yosef’s findings left no doubt that the people operating the mines were advanced, wealthy, and organized. What was going on?

Read more at Smithsonian

More about: Ancient Israel, Archaeology, Edomites, Hebrew Bible

Israel Is Courting Saudi Arabia by Confronting Iran

Most likely, it was the Israeli Air Force that attacked eastern Syria Monday night, apparently destroying a convoy carrying Iranian weapons. Yoav Limor comments:

Israel reportedly carried out 32 attacks in Syria in 2022, and since early 2023 it has already struck 25 times in the country—at the very least. . . . The Iranian-Israeli clash stands out in the wake of the dramatic events in the region, chiefly among them is the effort to strike a normalization deal between Israel and Saudi Arabia, and later on with various other Muslim-Sunni states. Iran is trying to torpedo this process and has even publicly warned Saudi Arabia not to “gamble on a losing horse” because Israel’s demise is near. Riyadh is unlikely to heed that demand, for its own reasons.

Despite the thaw in relations between the kingdom and the Islamic Republic—including the exchange of ambassadors—the Saudis remain very suspicious of the Iranians. A strategic manifestation of that is that Riyadh is trying to forge a defense pact with the U.S.; a tactical manifestation took place this week when Saudi soccer players refused to play a match in Iran because of a bust of the former Revolutionary Guard commander Qassem Suleimani, [a master terrorist whose militias have wreaked havoc throughout the Middle East, including within Saudi borders].

Of course, Israel is trying to bring Saudi Arabia into its orbit and to create a strong common front against Iran. The attack in Syria is ostensibly unrelated to the normalization process and is meant to prevent the terrorists on Israel’s northern border from laying their hands on sophisticated arms, but it nevertheless serves as a clear reminder for Riyadh that it must not scale back its fight against the constant danger posed by Iran.

Read more at Israel Hayom

More about: Iran, Israeli Security, Saudi Arabia, Syria