The Bible Unearthed-An Extended Review, Part 5

Chapter 4

Israel Finkelstein continues into his archeological theory about the origins of the Israelites. Since Finkelstein did plenty of surveying in the 80s, the should be trusted with interpreting the results of his findings. His results?


1. The Israelites were not warmongers. Judges is a projection of the warlike later eras into a rather primitive time period. No weaponry was found at the vast majority of Israelite sites. Also, the sites were almost never fortified MB style, but were tiny farming communities intensively using oil-and-wine processing technologies.

2. The desert could not supply the number of pastoralists needed to ferment such a settlement movement. The original Israelite population was nomadic and only began to rise after the fall of the great Canaanite city states c. 1130-20 BC (as confirmed by Radiocarbon dating). However, the stele of Merenptah (1209/8 BC) raises problems for this theory.

3. As to culture, no pig bones are found at Israelite sites, suggesting some kind of cultic prohibition. Neither were burials given much reverence. Culture seemed to come from the east, nullifying any suggestion of lowland origins. Heavy settlement began immediately to the N. of Jerusalem. Three settlement areas can be discerned from the map on p. 116: Benjamin (center between Beitin and Jerusalem), Ephraim (having a center around Shiloh and stretching into Shechem) and Mannaseh, between Shechem and Taanach. Judah was sparsely settled, comprising only 19 sites. The cultic importance of Shiloh in this arrangement is not discussed, and probably for the better.

4. The vast majority of the Judges stories probably originated in pre-722 BC Israel. It is not known how much of them are factual.

I only have two pities here: that F&S do not discuss settlement to the E. of the Jordan and Finkelstein’s theory of southern Iron IIa settlement (ala Qudeirat) being caused by the rise of the Masos-Nahas copper network and its fall due to the Phoenician Omrides and their expansion of the Cypriot trade.

What is the evidence for a Fortified LB Hebron?

This site has published an article proposing a city-state of Hebron to exist throughout the Late Bronze Age, the time of the Conquest. I will here respond to each of their points.

Blunder 1: Yes, there are numerous sites around Hebron. However, no one denies the original Hebron was at Tel Rumeida, until late Hasmonean times, only moving to the Old City on the SEern slopes after the Hasmonean takeover. The Cave of the Patriarchs was originally in a plain at Machpelah, which was near Mamre, which was near Hebron (Gen 23:19). Tel Rumeida was, in fact, a city-state during the MB IIB-C (c. 1720-1530), as attested by a fact it had a scribal class (a cuneiform tablet was discovered at the site). Jebel Nimra is just to the NE of the Cave of the Patriarchs and seems to be Persian-Roman. Archeological work has been conducted at Ramet alKhalil and has yielded little between MB IIC and Iron IIB (1530-760 BC)-the same gap as at Rumeida. Josephus’s Mamre, a kilometer N. of Hebron, has still not been found archaeologically. Khirbet en-Nasara (31°32’56″N, 35° 5’36″E) was an Iron Age and Byzantine-Medieval settlement.

Blunders 2 and 3: As for the mentions of Hebron in Egyptian texts, these are all false. This idea was first proposed by Charles R. Krahmalkov. Contra him, it does not appear in the Amarna letters (in my copy EA 281, Moran claims the reading “Hebron” is “extremely doubtful”) Considering the fact the city-states of Jerusalem and Gath (the author of 281) were fighting over Qiltu/Keilah/al-Qilla, and Lachish and Rabud were quick to stop any Gittite southern expansion, it seems extremely unlikely Hebron was meant in that letter. As for the Ramesside inscriptions, the locales are in Lebanon, and the name is Khibur, not Hebron.

Blunders 4-6: According to Chadwick (a Garden Tomb apologist, I might add) the area N. of Hebron was a cemetery throughout the LB, and there was some sparse occupation in LB II. But sparse occupation and a necropolis a city-state ala Joshua does not make! ALL fortifications of Hebron date to either Iron IIB or the MB II. The most prominent LB site in the vicinity was Rabud (Debir?), some 8 miles to the SW. According to Chadwick, this sparse occupation at Hebron continued into Iron I and IIa. The earliest building remains at Hebron after the MB are four-room houses from the 8th century BC.

The Location of Jahaz

Finkelstein has postulated Jahaz, mentioned by Mesha in his stele, along with Ataroth ( 31°34’27″N, 35°39’54″E) (“And the king of Israel had built Jahaz, and he dwelt in it while he was fighting with me, but Kemosh drove him out before me. so I took from Moab two hundred men, all his captains. And I brought them to Jahaz, And I seized it in order to add (it) to Dibon.”), is Medeineh on the Wadi eth-Themed (31°35’20″N, 35°54’28″E, see Musil’s map), largely due to its Omridic architecture. According to Deut 2:24-35, Jahaz was somewhere at the southern border of the imaginary (legendary?) Kingdom of Heshbon, toward the Arnon, somewhere in the north(?) of the wilderness of Kedemoth. Numbers 21:20 probably refers to a mount other than Nebo. Technically, there is nothing preventing this Medeineh from being Jahaz, unless another Omridic site is found in the E. Arnon area.

The Location of the Selucid Akra

The Akra was a Selucid fortress made to control Jerusalem. It was on the east (not west) side of the city and overlooked the Temple. According to 1 Maccabees 13:52, the Akra was “alongside” the then-square Temple Mount. The Akra was identified as the City of David (always identified as being to the south of the Temple Mount) in 1 Maccabees 1:33. Josephus implies, when he states that the Hasmoneans joined the third hill with the Akra when they wished to connect the city with the Temple, that the third hill was the city and the Akra connected in some way to the Temple. It then seems logical to seek the Akra in the area Leen Ritmeyer would place it-in the area part of the Herodian but not Hasmonean Temple Mount (Al-Aqsa mosque/Solomon’s Stables area). The Selucid Akra probably did not include the entire City of David because the entire city could not possibly have been a garrison(!)

The History of the Identification of Hezekiah’s Pool, the City of David, Gihon, and Akra

It came upon me today to discover the history of this mystery: how was the location of the City of David and its corresponding features moved?

Hezekiah’s Pool was originally identified with what was identified since 70 AD as the Pool of Siloam. Even in 1684, and 1797, this simple fact was still remembered, largely due to the influence of the Peshitta and the Rabbis. However, in the early 19th century, things began to change for error. This error was the Byzantine placing of Zion, that is, the City of David, not, as in fact, in the now-called City of David, but somewhere on the southwestern hill. This led to the misidentification of David’s Palace (now transferred to Herod’s palace) and, correspondingly, the transfer of Gihon to the cisterns of Sultan and Mamilla as, correspondingly, the Lower and Upper pools of Gihon (cf. 2 Chron 32:30). Correspondingly, Akra (placed by Josephus on the hill between the City of David and the Temple Mount) was identified with the eastern end of the hill of the Christian Quarter. The Virgin’s Fountain (the true Gihon, see Jerusalem page for more info) was identified with En Rogel, and correspondingly, the Valley of Kidron with the Valley of Hinnom (although, due to the plain statements of scripture, it was still common to identify the Hinnom with the valley to the south and west of Jerusalem). The Pool of Hezekiah was misidentified with the Towers Pool (Pool of the Holy Sepulchre, see Jerusalem Page of this blog), even though there was no below-ground conduit leading from the Birket Mamilla to the pool. The minority view the then-thought Siloam pool was that of Hezekiah was still preserved. The “western” theory persisted mostly uncriticized until the 1870s, and only really began to take off after June 1880, when the so-called “Siloam Inscription” was discovered. While this inscription added to the credibility of the Virgin’s Fountain as Gihon, some proclaimed that, since Isaiah 8:6 refers to Siloam as a symbol of the waters of Jerusalem before Hezekiah, the “western” interpretation should still be upheld. Others, while accepting the identity of the Virgin’s Fount with Gihon, also accepted its identity with En Rogel (an identification which was later discarded in favor of Bir ‘Ayyub). However, the Isaiah 8:6 objection was answered when Channel 2, of Middle Bronze Date, was found leading from the Virgin’s Well to the pool of Birket el-Hamra, the actual Pool of Siloam, in 1901. The latest (Herodian) masonry of this pool was only exposed in 2004. Due to the fine arguments from the fact En Rogel (“the foot treader’s [fuller’s] spring”) was at the south border of Benjamin, and the fact the root word behind “Gihon” strongly implied the Gihon was not Isaiah’s Shiloah, but a spring, eventually, after plenty of convincing throughout the 1890s and 1900s, the present interpretation was accepted as fact.

Ron Wyatt: Junk About the Blood of Jesus

For background, read this post. There are a number of problems wrong with this video:

1. The blood sample looks like a solid piece of chalk, brick, or tile.

2. Mary Nell isn’t even attempting to prevent contamination of the blood sample with her own DNA.

3. Richard Rives believes in 714-X quackery.

4. For explanation of the phenomenon observed, see this video.

5. There is no independent confirmation of where Ron recovered this sample.

As for the chromosome claims:

1. The laboratory (in Jerusalem, according to Wyatt, in Tennessee, according to Gray) which did the chromosome count has never revealed itself or been revealed. Therefore, there is no independent confirmation of the Wyatt chromosome claim. None whatsoever. No excuse is good enough for failing to provide independent confirmation of the true nature of blood (not necessarily Jesus’s) placed upon the Ark of the Covenant, which Ron certainly did not find anyway.

2. A 24-chromosome person is a scientific impossibility. According to the Standishes, Holy Relics or Revelation, pg. 53, the absence of a single non-sex chromosome (autosome) is totally incompatible with life.

3. The idea the blood was alive, and, therefore, could be used for a chromosome count, is suspect. Jonathan Gray’s account says the substance Ron found was black, and, therefore, dead. Dead blood cannot revive. The Wyatt museum’s sample, is, however, reddish.

The Location of Shinar

A certain paper by Answers in Genesis supports the idea biblical Shinar and Amarna and Egyptian Sangar were not in Southern Mesopotamia, but in the area of modern Sinjar. The advantage in this solution is that its identification of Gen 10:10’s Calneh with Washshukanni, which, however, was destroyed long before Carchemish (Isaiah 10:9). Velikovsky’s solution is, as well confirmed in some of my other posts, nothing but pure, solid, bullshit. The disadvantage? Its transfer of several important places in Gen 10:9, such as Babel, Uruk and Akkad, is quite impossible. The identification of Southern Mesopotamia with Shinar is proven beyond doubt here.

A History of the Wyatt Archeological Research Site

This being fair close to the weekend, I’ve decided to take a little look-see in the grand history of WAR. In the earliest capture, I found this gem of a page, which confirms WAR president Richard Rives once believed in 714-X quackery. Also found was this never-after seen panorama of Jebel al-Lawz (alright, it can be found at Panoramio, but otherwise, my point stays), part of which was cropped to make the commonly seen image of the “burnt” (varnished) peak, which as the photo (taken within a few yards of 28°35’1″N  35°23’8″E) tells us, was located precisely at 28°35’9″N,  35°21’33″E. Indeed, it was not even a peak; the “peak” effect is simply an optical illusion caused by the fact this part of the actual peak is closer to the photographer. A photo of the stone rings is also available (see here for a newer picture of the same rings).

The Sodom and Gomorrah page was never finished since 2000.

The Ark of the Covenant page has changed quite significantly. It used to be multi-paged and had plenty of stuff about the blood, including pictures of those fictional “Somatids” and the microscope used to detect them.

On Feb 7, 2007, WAR concluded that it was best to remove all materials relating to the Ark of the Covenant due to the embarrassing results of the 2005 excavation. They put up, instead, the results of the excavation. Curiously, the original high quality images of February 07 were made into what they are now by May. Why? No one knows. Also, the warning was discontinued in 2009, to be replaced with the current page.