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. . . .

Read more at Lawrence H. Schiffman

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

When It Comes to Peace with Israel, Many Saudis Have Religious Concerns

Sept. 22 2023

While roughly a third of Saudis are willing to cooperate with the Jewish state in matters of technology and commerce, far fewer are willing to allow Israeli teams to compete within the kingdom—let alone support diplomatic normalization. These are just a few results of a recent, detailed, and professional opinion survey—a rarity in Saudi Arabia—that has much bearing on current negotiations involving Washington, Jerusalem, and Riyadh. David Pollock notes some others:

When asked about possible factors “in considering whether or not Saudi Arabia should establish official relations with Israel,” the Saudi public opts first for an Islamic—rather than a specifically Saudi—agenda: almost half (46 percent) say it would be “important” to obtain “new Israeli guarantees of Muslim rights at al-Aqsa Mosque and al-Haram al-Sharif [i.e., the Temple Mount] in Jerusalem.” Prioritizing this issue is significantly more popular than any other option offered. . . .

This popular focus on religion is in line with responses to other controversial questions in the survey. Exactly the same percentage, for example, feel “strongly” that “our country should cut off all relations with any other country where anybody hurts the Quran.”

By comparison, Palestinian aspirations come in second place in Saudi popular perceptions of a deal with Israel. Thirty-six percent of the Saudi public say it would be “important” to obtain “new steps toward political rights and better economic opportunities for the Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza.” Far behind these drivers in popular attitudes, surprisingly, are hypothetical American contributions to a Saudi-Israel deal—even though these have reportedly been under heavy discussion at the official level in recent months.

Therefore, based on this analysis of these new survey findings, all three governments involved in a possible trilateral U.S.-Saudi-Israel deal would be well advised to pay at least as much attention to its religious dimension as to its political, security, and economic ones.

Read more at Washington Institute for Near East Policy

More about: Islam, Israel-Arab relations, Saudi Arabia, Temple Mount