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Posts Tagged ‘King David

Y Garfinkel—Latest Biblicist Scholar “Proves” King David

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The idea that a single, spectacular finding can reverse the course of modern research and save the literal reading of the biblical text regarding the history of ancient Israel from critical scholarship is an old one. Its roots can be found in W F Albright’s assault on the Wellhausen School in the early 20th century, an assault that biased archaeological, biblical and historical research for decades. This trend—in different guises—has resurfaced sporadically in recent years, with archaeology serving as a weapon to quell progress in critical scholarship. Khirbet Qeiyafa is the latest case in this genre of craving a cataclysmic defeat of critical modern scholarship by a miraculous archaeological discovery.

I Finkelstein and A Fantalkin

Khirbet Qeiyafa

During recent archaeological excavations at Khirbet Qeiyafa, a fortified city in Judah adjacent to the Valley of Elah, professor Yosef Garfinkel, the Yigal Yadin Professor of Archaeology at the Institute of Archaeology at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, and colleagues, uncovered assemblages of pottery, stone and metal tools, and many art and cult objects. Three large rooms were revealed that Garfinkel says were cultic shrines corresponding in their architecture and finds to the time of King David. He adds that this discovery is extraordinary for it is the first time that shrines from the time of the first biblical kings—Saul, David and Solomon—have been uncovered, and shed light on how a cult was organized in Judah at the time of King David. These shrines pre-date the construction of Solomon’s temple in Jerusalem by 30 to 40 years.

The discovery is indeed extraordinary, about as extraordinary as finding the Bat Cave of Batman and Robin under the streets of New York City, which was, of course, called Gotham City in those days, as everyone knows from the popular myth! Saul, Solomon and Solomon’s famous temple are all myths with not a single piece of material evidence for any of them, and king David, the father of the mythical Solomon, has the equivocal testimony of an highly contentious piece of a broken inscription. So all three of the earliest kings of Judah are as real as king Arthur, Dr Faustus and William Tell… they are not!

The expedition to Khirbet Qeiyafa has excavated the site for six weeks each summer since 2007, with co-director Saar Ganor of the Israel Antiquities Authority. Located approximately 30km southwest of Jerusalem in the valley of Elah, Khirbet Qeiyafa was a border city of the Kingdom of Judah opposite the Philistine city of Gath. The city, which was dated by 10 radiometric measurements (14C) done at Oxford University on burned olive pits, existed for a short period of time between ca. 1020 to 980 BCE, and was violently destroyed. The revolutionary results of five years of work are presented in a new book, Footsteps of King David in the Valley of Elah, published by Yedioth Ahronoth.

The architecture found at Khirbet Qeiyafa at this date is quite refined, and is interpreted by Garfinkel as evidence of royal activities, and therefore of state formation. An elite social level and urbanism existed in the region eleventh century Judah. Garfinckel seems convinced that it strengthens the historicity of the Jewish scriptures, and that their description of the architecture of the palace and Temple of Solomon is authentic:

This is the first time that archaeologists uncovered a fortified city in Judah from the time of King David. Even in Jerusalem we do not have a clear fortified city from his period. Thus, various suggestions that completely deny the biblical tradition regarding King David and argue that he was a mythological figure, or just a leader of a small tribe, are now shown to be wrong.

The Jewish bible relates how the people of Israel had a cult different from all other nations of the ancient Near East, being monotheistic and aniconic—free of human and animal figures—and having an aversion to pork. Garfinkel continued;

Over the years, thousands of animal bones were found, including sheep, goats and cattle, but no pigs. Now we uncovered three cultic rooms, with various cultic paraphernalia, but not even one human or animal figurine was found.

No human or animal figurines were found, suggesting the people of Khirbet Qeiyafa observed the biblical ban on graven images.

It suggests that the population of Khirbet Qeiyafa observed two biblical bans—on pork and on graven images—and thus practiced a different cult from that of the Canaanites or the Philistines.

However, the Hebrew Univerity press release is clear that no one is sure when these aniconic and monotheistic practices began, during the Israelite and Judahite monarchies (10-6th centuries BC), or only later, in the Persian or Hellenistic eras. The claim that images of humans or animals were absent in the three shrines is, on the face of it, evidence that worshipers here differed from the Canaanites and the Philistines, who made images of their gods.

The three rooms, part of larger building complexes, are supposed to have been separate shrines. In this respect they are different from Canaanite or Philistine cults, which were practiced in temples—separate buildings dedicated only to rituals. Garfinkel supposes that because the bible speaks of the portable ark being stored in private houses (2 Samuel 6) that it was worshiped in private houses. Yet there was only one such ark at a time, so it could hardly have been worshiped in three separate rooms. Indeed, three separate shrines in one larger building suggests polytheism, the different rooms being devoted to different objects of worship. Indeed cult objects found include five standing stones (Masseboth), two basalt altars, two pottery libation vessels and two portable shrines. Canaanites commonly worshiped masseboth, stones, and even the bible suggests the Judahites and Israelites did, though they were not supposed to according to Moses. It is deeply entrenched. Jews today still worship stones!

Two portable shrines or “shrine models” were found, one made of pottery, c 20cm high, and the other, 35 cm high, of stone. These are boxes shaped like miniature temples, which could be closed. The stone shrine is made of soft limestone and painted red. Its façade is decorated by two elements—seven groups of roof beams, three planks in each. This architectural element, the “triglyph”, is known in Greek classical temples, like the Parthenon in Athens. Its appearance at Khirbet Qeiyafa is the earliest known example carved in stone. The second decorative element is the recessed door. This type of door or window is known in the architecture of temples, palaces and royal graves in the ancient Near East. It was a typical symbol of divinity and royalty at the time.

Similar triglyphs and recessed doors can be found in the description of Solomon’s temple (1 Kings 6:5;31-33) and in the description of a temple in Ezekiel 41:6. These biblical texts are replete with obscure technical terms that have lost their original meaning over the millennia.

For the first time in history we have actual objects from the time of David, which can be related to monuments described in the Bible.

Now, the stone model helps us to understand these obscure technical terms in the description of Solomon’s palace as described in 1 Kings 7:1-6. The text uses the term “Slaoth”, which were mistakenly understood as pillars and can now be understood as triglyphs. The text also uses the term “Sequfim”, which was usually understood as nine windows in the palace, and can now be understood as triple recessed doorway.

Qeiyafa archaeological site, disorganized and overpopulated!

Most of these injudicious claims of Garfunkel’s have been severely criticized as biblicist nonsense, even by biblicists! I Finkelstein and A Fantalkin have slated the interpretations and the amateurish methodology of the excavation. Thomas Verenna commented on this reporting of Garfinkel’s excesses:

“Will these finds settle the debate over the historical David? Garfinkel would like to think so. ‘Various suggestions that completely deny the biblical tradition regarding King David and argue that he was a mythological figure, or just a leader of a small tribe, are now shown to be wrong’.”

MSNBC coverage on Qeiyafa

Really? Because you found a couple of regional house shrines in a fortified city? Because you have an ostracon with some writing on it? What hubris this is, when someone can so blatantly claim that certain scholars are wrong because you’ve found common ancient Near Eastern artifacts (which have been misidentified) at a dig in the Near East. if anything this only shows the lengths that certain individuals will go to try to prove their presuppositions. They are willing to fabricate whole cultural contexts that never existed so long as in the end they can say they’ve found the facts behind their biblical truth. It is both tragic and disgusting: tragic because most people will never question the validity of the article or the claims therein, and disgusting because it is permitted to happen.

He has a fuller piece on this nonsense here. And even biblicist, George Athas, is skeptical.

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Oldest Text in Jerusalem Assures Zionists, Christians, and Neoconservatives

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Oldest written document ever found in Jerusalem discovered by Hebrew University

This little pot proves Jews lived in Jerusalem in 1400 BC, don't you know? Credit: Hebrew University photo by Sasson Tiram

PhysOrg.com—A press release from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem announces that a tiny clay fragment, dating from the 14th century BC, found in excavations outside Jerusalem’s Old City walls is inscribed with the oldest text ever found in Jerusalem. Said to be part of a tablet from a royal archive, the press release cites researchers as saying:

It further testifies to the importance of Jerusalem as a major city in the Late Bronze Age, long before its conquest by King David.

One wonders immediately what sort of researchers these “researchers” were. They relate the supposed date of the find to the supposed time when the mythical king David mythically conquered Jerusalem, a tale which appears in the Jewish scriptures and nowhere else. These researchers are writers of fiction, citing fiction as evidence! And their fiction does not stop.

Details of the discovery appear in the current issue of the Israel Exploration Journal. The clay fragment was uncovered recently during sifting of fill excavated from beneath a 10th century BC tower dating—apparently by pottery sherds—from the period of King Solomon in the Ophel area, located between the southern wall of the Old City of Jerusalem and the City of David to its south.

Having used the mythical David, they now refer to his mythical son, Solomon, speaking of the “period of King Solomon” as if they had certain sure evidence that king Solomon existed in some period that they have now allegedly found a tower in. There is not an iota of evidence that Solomon ever existed even has a “kernel of truth”, a phrase these professional biblical myth defenders often use to defend shabby evidence and argument. It is like speaking of Hadrian’s Wall as being of the time of king Arthur.

The chief propagator of this pathetic excuse for scholarship is one Dr Eilat Mazar of the Hebrew University Institute of Archaeology. She has conducted the excavations in the Ophel with funds provided by Daniel Mintz and Meredith Berkman of New York, who also have provided funds for completion of the excavations and opening of the site to the public by the Israel Antiquities Authority, in cooperation with the Israel Nature and Parks Authority and the Company for the Development of East Jerusalem. The sifting work was led by Dr Gabriel Barkay and Zachi Zweig at the Emek Zurim wet sieving facility site.

Needless to say Zionist blogs, Christian blogs and Neoconservative blogs all over the internet have been citing this as “proof” that Jerusalem always belonged to “the Jews”. Even a tyro scholar as opposed to a Hebrew University “scholar” knows there were no Jews until the Persians set up the satrapy of Abarnahara, and colonized Jerusalem with people from elsewhere who were thereafter called Jews or Yehudim. The people who lived in the area of Jerusalem in the 14th century were either Egyptians or were Canaanite puppet Lords, as the press release admits a few paragraphs later.

The fragment that has been found is only 2 x 2.8 x 1 centimeters in dimensions. Dated to the 14th century BC, it appears to have been part of a tablet and contains cuneiform symbols in ancient Akkadian, an eastern Semitic dialect, described as the lingua franca of that time, presumably because it was the language of the around 380 El Amarna tablets found in Egypt in the 19th century. It is believed to be contemporary with these tablets which were the archives of Pharaoh Amenhote IV—Akhenaten—who lived in the 14th century BC.

The El Amarna archives include tablets sent to Akhenaten by the kings who were subservient to him in Canaan and Syria and include details about the complex relationships between them, covering many facets of governance and society. Among these tablets are six that are addressed from Abdi-Heba, the Canaanite ruler of Jerusalem. Note, not a Jew! Not an Israelite either, if we use the source favored by these scholars, the Jewish scriptures. The Israelites came later, around the twelfth century as far as can be made out from the bible. The tablet fragment in Jerusalem is most likely part of a message that would have been sent from the king of Jerusalem, possibly Abdi-Heba, back to Egypt, said Mazar. Effectively, she is admitting that the Israelites were Canaanites, not Jews, and Canaanites were polytheistic, not monotheistic worshipers of the Yehouah allegedly introduced by Moses.

Tablets with diplomatic messages were routinely exchanged between kings in the ancient Near East, Prof Wayne Horowitz, a scholar of Assyriology at the Hebrew University Institute of Archaeology, said, and it is likely, because of its fine script and the fact it was discovered adjacent to in the acropolis area of the ancient city, that the fragment was part of such a royal missive. Horowitz has interpreted the symbols on the fragment to include the words “you”, “you were”, “later”, “to do”, and “them”. The words the symbols form are not significant in themselves, but what is significant is that the script is of a high level, testifying to the fact that it was written by a skilled scribe who probably worked for the royal household of the time, said Horowitz. He and his former graduate student Dr Takayoshi Oshima, now of the University of Leipzig, Germany, deciphered the script.

In the mixed and confusing messages these mythologizers are putting over, we are now being assured that Jerusalem had Jewish kings before there were Jews or even Israelites around. The kings were vassals of the Egyptian king. Palestine was an Egyptian colony. They were not David or Solomon, or even Saul, who has not so far been mentioned, perhaps because he was a failure, and got kicked out by God who preferred David in the biblical myth. Zionists are not fond of Jews who failed, even mythical ones.

Examination of the material of the fragment by Prof Yuval Goren of Tel Aviv University, shows that it is from the soil of the Jerusalem area and not similar to materials from other areas, further testifying to the likelihood that it was part of a tablet from a royal archive in Jerusalem containing copies of tablets sent by the king of Jerusalem to Pharaoh Akhenaten in Egypt.

It must have been a primitive carbon copy then! Maybe the original will turn up at El Amarna?

[Added note: 8 August 2010. Yuval Goren of Tel Aviv university has developed a portable x-ray fluorescence spectrometer with which he can obtain the composition of a pot and so have a good idea of the origin of its clay. Referring to some clay tablet found in the Ophel—sounding like the one discussed here—he explains that it is indeed a local copy of an Amarna tablet, possibly sent by Abdi-Heba!!]

Portable X-ray spectrophotometer

Yuval Goren demonstrates the X-ray fluorescence spectrophotometer

Mazar says this new discovery, providing solid evidence of the importance of Jerusalem during the Late Bronze Age—the second half of the second century BC—acts as a counterpoint to some who have used the lack of substantial archeological findings from that period until now to argue that Jerusalem was not a major center during that period. It also lends weight to the importance that accrued to the city in later times, leading up to its conquest by King David in the 10th century BC.

Ho hum, tiddly dabe! All mimsy were the borogoves, and the mome raths outgrabe. Here we are back at king David again. What is major to a Zionist Israeli—many of whom now are Slavs—is not major to most other people. They accept from the El Amarna tablets that there was a Jerusalem (almost!) and some minor local lord administered it for the pharaoh. He might have raised sheep or slaves for the mother country along the Nile, so it was important to him, and of some importance to the Pharaoh. It has as much bearing on modern day Jews or even Israelis as the discoveries in Boghazkoy have for modern Turks. None! By force of arms, they now merely live where the discoveries were made. Mainly, they are different people.