Archaeological Evidence for the Kingdom of David and Solomon

April 5 2016

In recent decades, many scholars of biblical history and archaeology have questioned the existence of the “united monarchy”: that is, a single kingdom of Israel ruled successively by Saul, David, and Solomon around the 10th century BCE. In light of new evidence from a ruin known as Khirbet Qeiyafa, Lawrence Schiffman argues that such skepticism is no longer justified:

In many academic circles, previous to the excavation of Khirbet Qeiyafa and its publication, scholars denied the entire notion of a centralized Jewish polity in the late 11th-early 9th centuries BCE. Khirbet Qeiyafa as well as some of the discoveries in ancient Jerusalem have shown that this view should be rejected. . . .

Because of the [Bible’s] presentation of [the history of this period] in quasi-mythic terms, it cannot be taken literally by historians. Yet properly evaluated it can and should contribute in broad outlines to the construction of a historical picture of our period. . . .

The early kings of Israel rose to political power beginning with a limited territorial base later supplemented by military conquest. Saul’s territory was that of the tribe of Benjamin. His son, Ishbaal (this name appears on an inscription from Khirbet Qeiyafa), who ruled for a very brief period . . . , also claimed to rule over Ephraim, Gilead, the Jezreel [Valley], and Asher. David first ruled in the territory of Judah. His capital was in Hebron in the Judean Hills for seven years until he moved it to Jerusalem. The Bible attests to his beginning as a chieftain and traces the evolution and machinations that led to his kingship. . . . As David gained power and expanded from his Judean base, he ruled parts of what would later be considered Israel. . . .

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Read more at Lawrence H. Schiffman

More about: Ancient Israel, Archaeology, Davidic monarchy, Hebrew Bible, Hebron, King David, King Saul

Will Tensions Rise between the U.S. and Israel?

Unlike his past many predecessors, President Joe Biden does not have a plan for solving the Israel-Palestinian conflict. Moreover, his administration has indicated its skepticism about renewing the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran. John Bolton nevertheless believes that there could be a collision between the new Benjamin Netanyahu-led Israeli government and the Biden White House:

In possibly his last term, Netanyahu’s top national-security priority will be ending, not simply managing, Iran’s threat. This is infinitely distant from Biden’s Iran policy, which venerates Barrack Obama’s inaugural address: “we will extend a hand if you are willing to unclench your fist.”

Tehran’s fist is today otherwise occupied, pummeling its own people. Still, it will continue menacing Israel and America unless and until the internal resistance finds ways to fracture the senior levels of Iran’s regular military and the Revolutionary Guards. Netanyahu undoubtedly sees Iran’s growing domestic turmoil as an opportunity for regime change, which Israel and others can facilitate. Simultaneously, Jerusalem can be preparing its military and intelligence services to attack Tehran’s nuclear program, something the White House simply refuses to contemplate seriously. Biden’s obsession with reviving the disastrous 2015 nuclear deal utterly blinds the White House to the potential for a more significant victory.

To make matters worse, Biden has just created a Washington-based position at the State Department, a “special representative for Palestinian affairs,” that has already drawn criticism in Israel both for the new position itself and for the person named to fill it. Advocated as one more step toward “upgrading” U.S. relations with the Palestinian Authority, the new position looks nearly certain to become the locus not of advancing American interests regarding the failed Authority, but of advancing the Authority’s interests within the Biden administration.

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Read more at 19FortyFive

More about: Benjamin Netanyahu, Iran, Joe Biden, U.S.-Israel relationship