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

 

To the Anti-Semite, Jews Aren’t Just One Problem among Many, but the Source of All Problems

While it likely had some ancient antecedents, the blood libel—the myth that Jews murder Christian children and consume their blood as part of a Passover ritual—as we know it began in Norwich, England in 1144. That same city was the location of one of several blood-libel-fueled massacres of Jews in 1190, and researchers have recently concluded that a mass grave found in Norwich contained the bones of the victims. Meir Soloveichik reflects on this discovery:

The popularity of the blood libel, in its very absurdity, captures the essence of anti-Semitism. By taking the tale of the origin of Jewish chosenness—the exodus from Egypt—and turning it into a pernicious plan for annual evildoing, the libel illustrates how, as Robert Nicholson once wrote, hatred of Jews “isn’t just any old hatred or racism. It is a grand anti-myth that turns Jewish chosenness on its head and assigns to the people of Israel responsibility for all the world’s ills.”

The readiness of all today to denounce the massacres of medieval Jewish communities often highlights how, as the writer Dara Horn put it, “people love dead Jews.” The blood libel is not a thing of the past. It is ongoing. The world is all too prepared to bemoan the injustice against Jews in the past and yet all too ready to overlook those who purvey blood libels today.

Such a phenomenon can be seen in the successful career of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. As Seth Mandel has noted, . . . the congresswoman has taken rhetorical dishonesty about Israel to entirely new level, linking—like the libelists of old—purported Jewish activity to grievances around the world. Commenting on the situation at the Mexican-American border, she accused, without offering any evidence, Israel of placing Palestinian children in cages. During one debate, standing on the floor of the House next to an image of a dead Palestinian child, she linked Israel’s airstrikes to the naval base in Vieques, Puerto Rico.

The bones of murdered Jews may have been exhumed from the soil of the site where the blood libel was born, but what has yet to be exhumed from the present is the blood libel itself. And it is only if we do all we can to identify, and call out, the liars and the libelists that we can honestly hope that the murdered Jews of Norwich will rest in peace.

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Read more at Commentary

More about: Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Anglo-Jewry, Anti-Semitism, Blood libel