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.

Read more at Bible History Daily

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


Syria’s Druze Uprising, and What It Means for the Region

When the Arab Spring came to Syria in 2011, the Druze for the most part remained loyal to the regime—which has generally depended on the support of religious minorities such as the Druze and thus afforded them a modicum of protection. But in the past several weeks that has changed, with sustained anti-government protests in the Druze-dominated southwestern province of Suwayda. Ehud Yaari evaluates the implications of this shift:

The disillusionment of the Druze with Bashar al-Assad, their suspicion of militias backed by Iran and Hizballah on the outskirts of their region, and growing economic hardships are fanning the flames of revolt. In Syrian Druze circles, there is now open discussion of “self-rule,” for example replacing government offices and services with local Druze alternative bodies.

Is there a politically acceptable way to assist the Druze and prevent the regime from the violent reoccupation of Jebel al-Druze, [as they call the area in which they live]? The answer is yes. It would require Jordan to open a short humanitarian corridor through the village of al-Anat, the southernmost point of the Druze community, less than three kilometers from the Syrian-Jordanian border.

Setting up a corridor to the Druze would require a broad consensus among Western and Gulf Arab states, which have currently suspended the process of normalization with Assad. . . . The cost of such an operation would not be high compared to the humanitarian corridors currently operating in northern Syria. It could be developed in stages, and perhaps ultimately include, if necessary, providing the Druze with weapons to defend their territory. A quick reminder: during the Islamic State attack on Suwayda province in 2018, the Druze demonstrated an ability to assemble close to 50,000 militia men almost overnight.

Read more at Jerusalem Strategic Tribune

More about: Druze, Iran, Israeli Security, Syrian civil war, U.S. Foreign policy