A New Theory about the Location of a City Where King David Once Took Shelter

Aug. 18 2022

In the book of Samuel, a young David must flee from his father-in-law, King Saul, who becomes obsessed by his fear that David wishes to usurp his throne. David at one point seeks refuge in Ziklag, which scholars several years ago identified with an archaeological site southwest of Jerusalem known as Khirbet al-Ra’i. But Zachary Thomas and Chris McKinney have recently presented a competing theory, as Parker Blackwell explains:

According to the Hebrew Bible, Ziklag was a small city gifted to David by King Achish of Gath during David’s flight from King Saul. Biblical accounts tell that from Ziklag, David raided the towns of the northern Negev, suffered attacks from the Amalekites, and restored great wealth to the people of Judah (1Samuel 27–30). Ziklag was also the place where David received the news of Saul and [his son] Jonathan’s demise [at the hands of the Philistines] (2Samuel 1:17).

Thomas and McKinney argue . . . that Khirbet al-Ra’i cannot be ancient Ziklag because the site’s major phases of occupation do not coincide with the biblical account. Moreover, they posit that the biblical authors listed Ziklag among the cities of the northern Negev or the Beersheba Basin, and that it was not a city in the Shephelah, [the low, rolling hill between Jerusalem and the coastal plain], where Khirbet al-Ra’i is located (Joshua 19:1–10).

Instead, Thomas and McKinney argue that the little-known site of Tell esh-Shari’a, located in the northern Negev, halfway between Gaza and Beersheba, is a much better candidate for biblical Ziklag. Archaeological evidence from Tell esh-Shari’a suggests continuous occupation from the Middle Bronze Age to the early Roman period. Additionally, written records that describe Ziklag’s location—ranging from the Greek historian Eusebius’s Onomasticon to the travel logs of a 17th-century explorer—place the city about fifteen miles east of Gaza, which aligns much more closely with the geographic location given in the biblical account.

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Read more at Bible History Daily

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

How the Death of Mahsa Amini Changed Iran—and Its Western Apologists

Sept. 28 2022

On September 16, a twenty-two-year-old named Mahsa Amini was arrested by the Iranian morality police for improperly wearing a hijab. Her death in custody three days later, evidently after being severely beaten, sparked waves of intense protests throughout the country. Since then, the Iranian authorities have killed dozens more in trying to quell the unrest. Nervana Mahmoud comments on how Amini’s death has been felt inside and outside of the Islamic Republic:

[I]n Western countries, the glamorizing of the hijab has been going on for decades. Even Playboy magazine published an article about the first “hijabi” news anchor in American TV history. Meanwhile, questioning the hijab’s authenticity and enforcement has been framed as “Islamophobia.” . . . But the death of Mahsa Amini has changed everything.

Commentators who downplayed the impact of enforced hijab have changed their tune. [Last week], CNN’s Christiane Amanpour declined an interview with the Iranian president Ebrahim Raisi, and the Biden administration imposed sanctions on Iran’s notorious morality police and senior officials for the violence carried out against protesters and for the death of Mahsa Amini.

The visual impact of the scenes in Iran has extended to the Arab world too. Arabic media outlets have felt the winds of change. The death of Mahsa Amini and the resulting protests in Iran are now top headlines, with Arab audiences watching daily as Iranian women from all age groups remove their hijabs and challenge the regime policy.

Iranian women are making history. They are teaching the world—including the Muslim world—about the glaring difference between opting to wear the hijab and being forced to wear it, whether by law or due to social pressure and mental bullying. Finally, non-hijabi women are not afraid to defy, proudly, their Islamist oppressors.

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Read more at Nervana

More about: Arab World, Iran, Women in Islam