Ancient Israel

Ancient Israel
The people in ancient Israel means Jews who established kingdoms in the Iron Age in the Ancient Near East. The history of ancient Israel covers the period from -2000 to -440, Palestine and the Middle East, which corresponds to the stories of books called "historical" in the Hebrew Bible, ranging from the mythical origin of the Israelites with Abraham and installation in the land of Canaan, then the emergence of the Israelite exile in Babylon. In the Bible, these people are called the Children of Israel.

The early kingdoms of Israel and Judah appeared along the east coast of the Mediterranean Sea, between the ancient empires of Egypt to the south, Assyrian, Babylonian and Persian in the East, ancient Greece and the Roman Empire to west.

Judah and Israel emerged from the Canaanite culture at the end of Late Bronze and develop from highlands between the coastal plain and the Jordan Valley. Israel and Judah become important and prosperous kingdoms, vassals of the great empires of the region, before being destroyed in turn. The returning exiles from Babylon then develop a Jewish identity in the Persian province of Yehud, new name of Judah. This province is in turn absorbed by the Hellenistic Ptolemaic and Seleucid kingdoms in the fourth century BC. BC, until a brief period of independence in the second and first century BC. BC led by the Hasmonean rulers. The Hasmonean kingdom was finally incorporated into the Roman Empire.

Geographical setting
Yohanan Aharoni According to, the region where the Israelites change is characterized by three elements: it is small, fragmented and poor in natural resources.

The territory is bounded on the north by Mount Lebanon, south and east by deserts and west by the Mediterranean Sea. Its scope is small, about 120 km to 300 km. Except for the coastal plain, the terrain is quite mountainous valleys and bored. These topographical contrasts lead to quite different climatic zones despite their geographic proximity. Its natural resources are low: Transjordan has some iron mines and copper mines are operated in the Arava, between the Dead Sea and Eilat. Agriculture is based mainly on the use of rainwater and little irrigation, unlike Egypt and Mesopotamia, which benefit from the major rivers that run through them. Rainfall is limited to winter months and the volume varies greatly by area. Drought years when rainfall is inadequate is a common phenomenon.

Despite the weakness of its resources, the region owes its development to its geopolitical situation: it lies between Asia and Africa, between Egypt and Mesopotamia, which have a centralized power from the third millennium BC. AD. Palestine is crossed by lines of communication from north to south:

* Road of the Sea, the Via Maris, which runs along the coast
* King's Highway, which crosses the plateau of Transjordan

These are roads that give importance to the region within the communication network of the ancient Near East.

According to Aharoni, the fragmented nature of land contributes to social fragmentation in different ethnic groups (Canaanites and Philistines in the wound and the coastal valleys, plateaus in Israel, the Edomites, Moabites and Ammonites in Transjordan). From the perspective of the great empire of the Middle East, this territory was part of Syria, however, and this vast territory that the Hebrew Bible also attributed to the Patriarchs (the river of Egypt to the great river, the Euphrates).

History of the Israelites in the Bible
The Hebrew Bible (or Old Testament by Christians) contains a number of stories or legends about the history of the Israelites. These stories are in the books of the Torah (or Pentateuch) for the period from the installation of Abraham in Canaan (about -2100 indications of the text to recreate a traditional chronology approximate) the exodus of Egypt under Moses (c. -1300). The Torah is traditionally attributed to Moses himself.

Follow what are sometimes placed among the historical books (the Book of Joshua, the Book of Judges, the books of Samuel, the two books of Kings, two books of Chronicles, Ezra's book ...) . It is the conquest of Canaan under Joshua, the creation of a large and prosperous kingdom united under David and Solomon, the separation into two kingdoms of Israel and Judah, the conquest and destruction of the First Temple and exile to Babylon and the return from exile.

Dates of writing of the Bible
For specialists in textual criticism, such as Julius Wellhausen biblical scholars, about the documents "J" and "E" and John Van Seters and Thomas Thomson, the story of the Patriarchs was written late in the monarchic period (-1000 to -700) or later (-600 to -500). This would explain the presence of many anachronisms in the story, most notably the camels and the Philistines.

Genesis mentions repeatedly the camels at the time of the Patriarchs, then it is well established that the camel was not domesticated until the late second millennium and was not used as a beast of burden until well after -1000. The caravan of camels carrying Joseph gum tragacanth, balm and laudanum, goods actually characteristics of Arab trade, but to -700, -600 (see below Between war and survival). As for the Philistines, it is firmly established, Ayelet Gilboa, they come only from Canaan -1200. In addition, the city of Gerar, presented as their capital in the story of Isaac, is a tiny village in Iron I, which becomes a city as large as -700 to the Assyrians. The biblical scholar Martin North noted that the activities of Jacob are geographically linked, mainly in the northern part of Canaan, that of Isaac in the south, those of Abraham in Hebron between the two.

The conclusion is that the text "J" and the text "D" on the Patriarchs were both composed in Jerusalem about 700 BC, at a time when the northern kingdom, Israel, was no more, where Judah and dreamed of formulate a pious prehistory of Israel in which Judah plays the central role.

Methodology and History of Archaeology of the biblical period
From 1900, the first archaeologists such as William F. Albright, taking the historical narratives of the Bible literally looked at each discovery an illustration of the biblical text: it is called this way of biblical archeology. It was not until 1970 that the scientific methods of archeology, social science, have gradually imposed. If no archaeologist denies that many legends, characters and pieces of Bible stories very far back in time, it remains that the wording of the Bible was made in the political, social and spiritual a fully formed state, with widespread literacy, at the height of the Kingdom of Judah in the Iron Age recently. Finkelstein such proposed date this writing the time of King Josiah.

In the spirit of biblical archeology, William F. Albright in 1930 and Yigal Yadin discovered around 1950 on the ground the evidence, compelling in their view, the biblical narrative that guided their research, in the brutal destruction of Bethel, Lachish and Hazor particular, they attributed destruction in the general euphoria , the conquests of Joshua.

However, trouble arose with the excavation of Jericho, a modest village with no trace of occupation in the thirteenth century, uninhabited since the fourteenth century, with no walls and no traces of violent destruction. The excavations of Ai, conducted from 1933 to 1935 by Judith Marquet-Krause according to scientific methods of the French School, then confirmed by 1960, led to the same result: the city, imposing the Middle Bronze, Late Bronze was uninhabited. It was the same with Gibeon, kefir, Béérot, Kiryat Jearim, Arad and Heshbon. As for the destruction of Bethel, Lachish and Hazor, indices suggested finally that their destroyers were not necessarily the Israelites.

Guided by reading the Bible, archaeologists from the Biblical Archaeology awarded each Philistine pottery pieces to the valiant exploits of David. Thus, Benjamin Mazar, located in Tel Qasile a Philistine city ignored by the Bible but with traces of destruction by fire, add it without hesitation, but without any evidence, to the list of cities razed by David Philistine. Large buildings found at Megiddo between 1920 and 1930 were immediately attributed to Solomon, among other stables, Solomon necessarily because the Bible spoke of the stables of Solomon. Yigal Yadin excavated at Hazor in a monumental gateway called triple pincers, the same type as that found at Megiddo 20 years earlier, and found that drawings of the excavations at Gezer also contained the same type of doors. Yadin claimed therefore that an architect of Solomon in Jerusalem was the author of this plan, duplicated in the provincial towns. Digging at Megiddo in the east of the door, he discovered in the stables of Solomon an extraordinary stone palace, which was, too, attributed to Solomon and a second palace of the same type found shortly before. The team, obviously later, can no longer be attributed to Solomon Yadin was attributed to Ahab king of Israel.

The Patriarchs
William F. Albright took the Bible literally, in the early twentieth century century and claimed at the time: "across, depicts what Genesis is historical and there is no reason to doubt the overall accuracy of his biographical details.

A calculation based on the Bible led to the departure place to -2100 of Abraham, a native of Ur in southern Mesopotamia to Canaan, where he led a pastoral life, grazing their flocks in Shechem sites , Bethel, Beersheba and Hebron. Albright is a merchant Amorite Abraham came from the north, in Canaan, when migrating Amorite. Albright suppose this sudden and massive migration, urbanization destroying Canaanite period that characterizes the early Bronze Age. However, it is now established that in the middle Bronze period (-2100 to -1800), the collapse of urban Canaanite was not abrupt but gradual, the majority of the population does not become nomadic but still settled in permanent villages. In addition, sites of Shechem, Beersheba and Hebron do not contain any dating Bronze intermediary.

Given these contradictions, further attempts later put the Patriarchs, the Middle Bronze Age, but then it becomes incomprehensible that the Bible does not mention the powerful city-states that have become Hazor and Megiddo, with their palaces and temples, nor fortified towns of Bethel, Jerusalem and Shechem (the latter is mentioned as a site, but not as strong city).

The site of Beersheba is also unoccupied for the duration of the Bronze Age. Abraham is frequently linked with Beer Sheva, the stories about him necessarily date to the Iron Age.

If the patriarchs are not historical figures, one wonders if the Exodus as described in the Bible is a historical event.

Throughout ancient times, people leave Canaan to settle in the Nile Delta. As in the biblical narrative, climatic hazards periodically cause famine in Canaan when compared, Egypt is a country rich (due to the fertile Nile) and organized (grain storage). Some hire themselves as laborers, others are traders, some become VIPs (soldiers, priests), some are prisoners of war (not free).

From -1670 to -1570, the Hyksos ("foreign kings"), from Palestine, took control of northern Egypt, founding a dynasty of pharaohs. They were finally expelled in Canaan where they régugient including Sharouhen. Several similarities were noted between the adventure of the Hyksos and the Hebrews of the biblical story of Exodus (population came from Canaan, which becomes very powerful in Egypt, where she successfully opposed to soldiers Pharaoh and eventually returned to Canaan). But it is not possible to see the Jews in the population of the Hyksos and not one hint that might relate to Jews or Israel appears in numerous documents concerning the Hyksos, as in Egypt in Canaan.

There is no epigraphic reference to the Hebrews or Israel in the Amarna Letters (fourteenth century), yet extremely detailed populations present in Canaan. The first mention of Israel is in the Merneptah stele (fourteenth century), designating a group of people in Canaan, and it is the only mention of Israel or the Hebrews in Egyptian literature of all kinds confused literature.

The stele of Merneptah, the reference in the Bible of the city of Ramses, the reference in Ex 14.2 Migdol name (the New Kingdom forts guarding the route between Egypt and Canaan) and several other indications lead to special attention at the time of Ramses II.

Gold "no trace camping, no signs of occupation dating from Ramses II or his predecessors or his immediate successors, have been found nowhere in the Sinai. And not for lack of having sought ... It is not the slightest evidence of such activity at the time attributed to the Exodus, that is to say in the thirteenth century BC. AD ... On the long list of camps in the desert, and Kadesh-Barnea Éçyon-Geber are the only ones that can be identified with certainty. We find no trace of the Israelites on."

The Negev is also unoccupied at the Late Bronze. So there is no king of Arad to obstruct Israel.

According to Donald B. Redford, details the most evocative of the Exodus are connected in the seventh century (Pithom, for example, identified Per-Atum, was built by Necho II to -600), suggesting that the story was written at this time. To -700 and -600, Kadesh Barnea, was inhabited and had a fortress, and Etzion-Geber (between Eilat and Aqaba) was a flourishing port. At that time, finally, the kingdom of Judah saw Egypt with a mixture of respect, fear and aversion as a potential ally in case of Assyrian invasion from the north, a rival in its sights on Israel. Necho II is fighting that Josiah was killed.

See also Kingdom of Judah


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