A Look at The Jericho Area

Thankfully, the survey maps of the Jericho area have been published. Let us see what they contain. There are four late 7th C BC settlements mentioned in Joshua 18: 21 Jericho and Beth-hoglah and Emek-keziz, 22 and Beth-arabah. Beth-Hoglah is to be identified with site 23, as that site is only 1.4 km from Deir Hajlah. Beth-Arabah should probably be identified with site 93, a fortress where a 7th C BC rosette impression, paleo-Hebrew inscription, and iron sword has been discovered, as it is mentioned in both Joshua 15‘s Wilderness District (to the South of the oasis of Jericho) and Joshua 15’s border description, where the border is said to go N. of Beth-Arabah. Thus, by process of elimination, Emek-Keziz appears to be identifiable with either the Jericho hippodrome or site 90, more probably the latter. It is curious that in the LB, only Jericho was occupied, while in the Persian era, only Jericho and site 96 (some mikhves) seemed to have been occupied.

“Most Favored Vassal Status” and the Reconstruction of Lachish

While reading TBU for what must be a fourth or fifth time, I found that, curiously enough, apparently sometime after 701 BC (either in the reigns of Esarhaddon or Ashurbanipal), Judah only paid ten minas of silver, while Ammon had to pay two gold minas and Moab had to pay one gold mina. This suggested to Finkelstein and Silberman, that the Assyrians gave Judah “most favored vassal status” for helping the Assyrians out in their war against Egypt. Due to this and my analysis of the rosette impressions, I am fairly confident that the Shephelah was restored to Judah at least by the time that Psamtik I re-conquered Egypt (656 BC).

Part of the Mystery Regarding Royal Shephelah Pottery Solved!

By looking at 1 Chronicles 4:23. The fact the royal potteries mentioned in the text are located just on the edges of the Elah valley (as the Tel Socoh website states regarding the petrographic origin of the lmlk jars!) makes it ever more likely Gederoth (Khirbet Judraya, 31°41’19″N, 34°59’46″E) and Netaim (Khirbet Nuweitih, 31°40’43″N, 34°56’26″E) were the true lmlk (or at least rosette) potteries (although I still suspect the actual lmlk pottery is at Achzib/Tell el-Beidah for the reasons mentioned below). The locating of these royal potteries in the Elah Valley also explains why some Persian tax jars were made in the Shephelah-the royal potters may have re-settled Gederah and Netaim during the First Return. However, placing the lmlk potteries in the Elah Valley poses problems for my locations of the lmlk impressions’ MMST in the Gedor/Halhul district (as the first MMST jars were made near Jerusalem) and the lmlk Socoh in the southern Hill Country. We must remember there are good reasons to thinking that the lmlk Socoh was the southern one. There is only one way to solve this conundrum-survey and/or excavate Tell el-Beida, Khirbet Nuweitih, and Khirbet Judraya!!!

“The Archaeology of the Days of Manasseh” and the Date of the Rosette Jar-Marks

The “Archaeology of the Days of Manasseh” was a concept developed in the late 1980s which, in effect, argues for a revival of Judah in the E. and S. largely due to Manasseh’s integration of Judah into the New Assyrian Order, even though the Shephelah never fully regained its population until the Hasmonean era. Thus, Tel Goren (ancient En Gedi) Str. V, Tel ‘Ira VII, Tel ‘Aroer III, and the Wilderness district sites in Judah (Tabaq, Samrah, Maqari, Feshkha, Qumran, Ghuweir) would all begin in the early to mid-7th C BC, in the days of King Manasseh (697-643 BC). The Arabian trade and Shephelah refugees are important components in this historical reconstruction. The rebuilding of Azekah and Lachish in the Shephelah is also an important part of the “Archaeology of the Days of Manasseh”. My placement of the Rosette jar-marks in the Assyrian, rather than, as Oded Lipschits does, post-Assyrian period, is sufficient, though not necessary, evidence for the acceptance of this Manassite paradigm.

The evidence for the Manassite paradigm from the finds in the Negev is rather clear: while two lmlk handles were found in Stratum VIII of Arad (destroyed in 701 BC), three were found in Stratum VII. Thus, Arad VII was built in the early 7th C BC, when lmlk jars were still in use. Likewise, four late (“Divided Inscription”) lmlk handles were found at Lachish, thus suggesting it was built some years before (though certainly not too long before!) lmlk jar use ended. Lipschits’s suggestion that Josiah built the Ramat Rahel Va citadel/palace is simply bizarre: why build a 70×47 meter citadel two miles (just within viewing distance) outside the capital and use it as a storehouse when your capital is already fortified and has a great royal palace and storehouses already in use? Na’aman’s interpretation of Ramat Rahel Va as an Assyrian Governor’s Residence is far more plausible. In general, the situation with the Rosette marks is much better placed in the Assyrian than Josianic period. Since the Rosette system is inherently connected with the beginning of Ramat Rahel Va (which probably represents a new phase of Assyrian administration in Judah), and it is likely the preceding Ramat Rahel Vb was also an Assyrian residence (if it was built before 701 BC, it would certainly be emptied by the time Sennacherib began his Shephelah operations) we may suppose Ramat Rahel Va, Lachish II, and Iron IIc Azekah were built either in the reign of Esarhaddon or Ashurbanipal. While the latter two may have been built later than the establishment of Ramat Rahel Va and the Rosette system due to the fortification system at Lachish being such an integral part of its administration and the modest amount of Rosette impressions there compared to Jerusalem and Ramat Rahel, a date in the reign of Ashurbanipal or Esarhaddon is still likely, and the fortification system(s?), paralleled by that of Ekron, might have been considered necessary by the Assyrians to defend Palestine against Egypt.

Thus, it seems likely that Judah already revived to almost its Josianic state by the time of Amon.

Rosettes and Judah’s Districts

Remember my oh-so ingenious idea MMST was located in the Gedor/Halhul district? I suspect it has a possible new application, but now as an explanation for the distribution of Rosette stamp impressions. Looking at this paper, I noticed that most Rosette impressions were located at Jerusalem, Ramat Rahel, Lachish, and Azekah. I had already known this, and I suspected these were Assyrian-imposed district capitals. I was, however, surprised to learn that eleven rosette impressions had been discovered at En Gedi. This instantly reminded me of Joshua 15&18’s districts. However, I also noticed that Hebron, Ziph, and sites in the Mareshah district (was the capital of that district Keilah?) were notably lacking in Rosette stamp impressions. The silence at Hebron certainly is startling, considering a number (not a very large one) of lmlk impressions has been found there. The fact 11 Rosette impressions were found at En Gedi and the relative paucity of their numbers at Mizpah and Gibeon compared to the amount of lmlk impressions found at those two sites strongly suggests the Rosette system was a peacetime system. The absence of Hebron and the significant presence of Ramat Rahel in terms of amount of Rosette impressions suggests this system was Assyrian-imposed predecessor to the Perso-Hellenistic yh(w)d system, in which the two administrative centers of Jerusalem and Ramat Rahel received over three quarters of the yh(w)d jars.