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

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

Hamas Has Its Own Day-After Plan

While Hamas’s leaders continue to reject the U.S.-backed ceasefire proposal, they have hardly been neglecting diplomacy. Ehud Yaari explains:

Over the past few weeks, Hamas leaders have been engaged in talks with other Palestinian factions and select Arab states to find a formula for postwar governance in the Gaza Strip. Held mainly in Qatar and Egypt, the negotiations have not matured into a clear plan so far, but some forms of cooperation are emerging on the ground in parts of the embattled enclave.

Hamas officials have informed their interlocutors that they are willing to support the formation of either a “technocratic government” or one composed of factions that agree to Palestinian “reconciliation.” They have also insisted that security issues not be part of this government’s authority. In other words, Hamas is happy to let others shoulder civil responsibilities while it focuses on rebuilding its armed networks behind the scenes.

Among the possibilities Hamas is investigating is integration into the Palestinian Authority (PA), the very body that many experts in Israel and in the U.S. believe should take over Gaza after the war ends. The PA president Mahmoud Abbas has so far resisted any such proposals, but some of his comrades in the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) are less certain:

On June 12, several ex-PLO and PA officials held an unprecedented meeting in Ramallah and signed an initiative calling for the inclusion of additional factions, meaning Hamas. The PA security services had blocked previous attempts to arrange such meetings in the West Bank. . . . Hamas has already convinced certain smaller PLO factions to get on board with its postwar model.

With generous help from Qatar, Hamas also started a campaign in March asking unaffiliated Palestinian activists from Arab countries and the diaspora to press for a collaborative Hamas role in postwar Gaza. Their main idea for promoting this plan is to convene a “Palestinian National Congress” with hundreds of delegates. Preparatory meetings have already been held in Britain, Lebanon, Kuwait, and Qatar, and more are planned for the United States, Spain, Belgium, Australia, and France.

If the U.S. and other Western countries are serious about wishing to see Hamas defeated, and all the more so if they have any hopes for peace, they will have to convey to all involved that any association with the terrorist group will trigger ostracization and sanctions. That Hamas doesn’t already appear toxic to these various interlocutors is itself a sign of a serious failure.

Read more at Washington Institute for Near East Policy

More about: Gaza War 2023, Hamas, Palestinian Authority