Is Nephtoah Lifta?

Genesis places Rachel’s Tomb on the road to Bethlehem Ephrath in Judah (Gen 35:19, 48:7) from Bethel in the N. However, it implies that the tomb was also near Jerusalem (Migdol Eder, Micah 4:8) in Gen 35:21. The present location has had a consistent tradition attached to it since the Byzantine period. Samuel places it at the border of Benjamin. The first place outside the vicinity of Jerusalem the Joshua account of the Judah-Benjamin border is the spring of the waters of Nephtoah (possibly reminiscent of Merenptah). This is often identified with ‘Ain Lifta, something like two miles to the NW of Jerusalem, largely due to etymology and rough location. However, this would contradict the traditional location and place the tomb just SE of Jerusalem. In short, to identify Lifta with Nephtoah is to contradict tradition, and visa versa.


Ahiram’s Tomb, Again

Ahiram’s tomb is, as you all know, paleographically dated to the 10th century BC by the inscription and having Cypriot pottery in its tomb shaft’s upper portion from either from the early Iron IIB or Assyrian period (it is hard to tell from the sources*) and Ramesside and Mycenaean pottery inside the tomb chamber. The paleographic dating comes from several secure tenents: statues from the Egyptian kings Osorkon I and Shoshenq I (Shishak) in more advanced Phoenician script. However, some might object that the inscription is 9th, not 10th century, since the inscriptions could have been made long after the making of the statues, however, when comparing the Ahiram tomb inscription with other 9th century inscriptions (Dan and Mesha come to mind), that of Ithobaal on Ahiram’s tomb is clearly earlier (so, unless the already radiocarbon/reality denying Velikovskyans want to deny Mesha and Hazael, they should shut up about the tomb being 7th century). In any case, the pottery is later than the tomb. It seems, therefore, that Wallenfels’s Hypothesis 1 regarding how the Cypriot pottery in the fill of the upper tomb shaft got in (that the tomb robbers “penetrated to the level of the intermediate floor and, deterred by the curse, refilled the shaft with local soil”) is, even though its implausibility, correct. The looters who were clearly there probably came into the tomb through another passageway and may not have been the same as those who tried to enter into the tomb in the 8th century. They were responsible for the loose broken Ramesside fragments, which probably came from another, nearby, tomb.

*According to Wallenfels’s 1983 article, this pottery is dated c. 850 (therefore, to be downdated to c. 780 due to Jezreel and other sites which prove those destructions which were formerly ascribed to Shishak must be ascribed to Hazael) to c. 700 BC, while earlier this pottery was dated to the 7th century BC. This may have come from the Albrightian belief the Lachish stratum destroyed by Sennacherib (Level III) was actually destroyed by the Babylonians in 597 BC, an error which was only corrected in the 60s and early 70s.