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

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.

Read more at Bible History Daily

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

Only Hamas’s Defeat Can Pave the Path to Peace

Opponents of the IDF’s campaign in Gaza often appeal to two related arguments: that Hamas is rooted in a set of ideas and thus cannot be defeated militarily, and that the destruction in Gaza only further radicalizes Palestinians, thus increasing the threat to Israel. Rejecting both lines of thinking, Ghaith al-Omar writes:

What makes Hamas and similar militant organizations effective is not their ideologies but their ability to act on them. For Hamas, the sustained capacity to use violence was key to helping it build political power. Back in the 1990s, Hamas’s popularity was at its lowest point, as most Palestinians believed that liberation could be achieved by peaceful and diplomatic means. Its use of violence derailed that concept, but it established Hamas as a political alternative.

Ever since, the use of force and violence has been an integral part of Hamas’s strategy. . . . Indeed, one lesson from October 7 is that while Hamas maintains its military and violent capabilities, it will remain capable of shaping the political reality. To be defeated, Hamas must be denied that. This can only be done through the use of force.

Any illusions that Palestinian and Israeli societies can now trust one another or even develop a level of coexistence anytime soon should be laid to rest. If it can ever be reached, such an outcome is at best a generational endeavor. . . . Hamas triggered war and still insists that it would do it all again given the chance, so it will be hard-pressed to garner a following from Palestinians in Gaza who suffered so horribly for its decision.

Read more at Washington Institute for Near East Policy

More about: Gaza War 2023, Hamas, Israeli-Palestinian Conflict