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Text in ContextEssays by Members of the Society for Old Testament

A. D. H. Mayes

Print publication date: 2000

Print ISBN-13: 9780198263913

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: April 2004

DOI: 10.1093/0198263910.001.0001

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The History of Israel: Foundations of Israel

The History of Israel: Foundations of Israel

(p.376) 14 The History of Israel: Foundations of Israel
Text in Context

K. W. Whitelam (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

Abstract and Keywords

This is the fourth of six chapters on the Old Testament and its authors, and addresses the history and foundations of Israel (the next chapter looks at the later history of Israel). It starts by noting the huge change that has taken place in the study of Israelite history so that while at the beginning of the 1990s it was possible to complain of a situation of complacency and sterility, at the end of the 1990s this situation has changed out of all recognition, even though the parameters of the discussion have changed little: the nature and historicity of the Hebrew Bible in comparison with the relevance of archaeological data remain at the fulcrum of the debate. The periods of Israel's emergence and of the Judaean and Israelite monarchies are seen as the foundational periods of Israelite history (rather than the periods of the patriarchs or exodus), and it is around these that the battle lines have been drawn in the historical search for ancient Israel. The different sections of the chapter discuss: the textual and material foundations of Israelite history—the history of the gaps; the emergence of ancient Israel; the Israelite monarchy; and text in context.

Keywords:   ancient Israel, archaeological data, emergence of ancient Israel, foundations of Israel, Hebrew Bible, history of Israel, Israel, Israelite history, Israelite monarchies, Old Testament, text in context

Introduction: Shaking the Foundations

A decade ago it was possible to complain of complacency and sterility in the study of Israelite history compared with the vitality of historical debate in other areas.1 The situation has now changed out of all recognition with the study of Israelite history standing at an interesting, if not critical, juncture at the end of the 1990s. Any complacency has been swept away as the very enterprise, its critical methods, assumptions, results, and the adequacy or appropriateness of basic terminology—‘the history of ancient Israel’, ‘pre‐exilic’, ‘conquest’, ‘United Monarchy’—have been called into question. Such fundamental questioning has elicited an equally vehement response and defence of long‐held positions. The explosion of published material on the problems and prospects of Israelite or Palestinian history has gone some way to fulfilling Miller's appeal for ‘fresh ideas based on solid research’.2 Although biblical studies still lags behind historical studies in many areas, the debate on the very nature of Israelite history, which has engulfed it over the past few decades, bears witness to what Lucien Febvre described as ‘the fight for history’.3 It is difficult to predict the outcome of this conflict with any confidence, although some trends do appear to be emerging from the confusion. The danger of trying to read the runes of contemporary scholarship in such a volatile situation is evident in the review essay of Cazelles only two decades ago:4 his account of the foundations of Israelite history in the pre‐exilic period, based firmly on the biblical texts as the primary source of such a history, displays a confidence in historical research within biblical studies which betrays a lack of awareness of the revolution which was about to shake its very foundations.5

(p.377) The periods of Israel's emergence and the Judaean and Israelite monarchies, as described in the books of Joshua, Judges, Samuel, and Kings, have long been seen as the foundational periods of Israelite history, representing the defining moments in Israelite history for biblical studies:6 it is here, rather than in the so‐called periods of the patriarchs or exodus, that the essential Israel has been located. Thus Dever could state, at the beginning of the 1990s, that ‘there are no more crucial problems in the study of ancient Israelite history and religion than those that pertain to the settlement in Canaan. This is the earliest, most formative horizon that we can recover historically, the one in which the distinctive entity known as “Israel” arose, two centuries before the formation of the Israelite state.’7 Similarly, Knoppers, in a review of the monarchic period, points out that ‘three decades ago scholars viewed the united monarchy as one of the most secure periods for historical reconstruction’.8 Not only was it considered to be one of the most secure periods, but also the defining moment in which Israel emerged as a power on the world stage of antiquity as well as the context for the development of many of the written traditions within the Hebrew Bible. The monarchy, and its supposed documents, represented the basis of sound history as epitomized in Soggin's celebrated statement that the period of David denotes ‘a datum point’ for Israelite history.9 Yet, the vigour and direction of the debate in recent years has threatened these once seemingly secure foundations.

The parameters of the discussion have changed little during this period: the nature and historicity of the Hebrew Bible in comparison with the relevance of archaeological data remain at the fulcrum of the debate. The question of what type of history is possible or desirable underpins the discussions.10 Many of the standard histories of ancient Israel,11 published in the 1980s, were in effect commentaries on the biblical texts rather than histories of ancient Israel per se. This is particularly true for the monarchic period, covered by the books of Samuel and Kings, where the biblical text and philology were of primary concern. They are not problem‐based histories with the primary emphasis on ‘understanding’, but ‘fact‐based’ where the emphasis is on establishing facts as the anchors for chronological‐political histories in which the event, unique individual, and teleology, the direction of history, are dominant.12 They are prime examples of what Davies has referred to as ‘midrashic paraphrase’.

(p.378) The fight for history waged by Febvre, Bloch, and the French Annales school, from the 1920s onwards, and epitomized by Braudel's magisterial study of the Mediterranean,13 has increasingly impinged upon biblical studies over the last two decades. This fight for history, expressed at the surface level of rhetoric with frequent references to ‘minimalists’, ‘maximalists’, ‘nihilists’, and similar pejorative terms, is illustrated by Halpern's complaint about ‘the erasure of history’,14 or Whybray's claim that new approaches which question the centrality of the biblical traditions for understanding the foundational periods of Israelite history threaten ‘to wipe out an entire nation from world history’.15 Southgate's description of the current situation in historical studies in general is an apt reflection of the hostility of debates on the nature of Israelite history: ‘There is little doubt that the vehemence with which the debate between the traditionalists and more theoretically inclined “meta‐historians” is sometimes conducted, indicates some considerable anxiety on the part of its participants. It is as if not only the discipline of history, but the very integrity of the historian is coming under threat.’16 The result is a widely acknowledged crisis in history deriving from the complex of intellectual movements which have increasingly challenged and undermined the authority and the stability of established disciplines and their previously ‘assured results’, including biblical studies.17

The debate about the very nature of the historical task underpinning the search for ancient Israel has seen the battle lines drawn around the two foundational periods of that history as traditionally understood and represented in the standard textbooks of Israelite history and archaeology.

Textual and Material Foundations of Israelite History: The History of the Gaps

The fulcrum of the debate continues to turn on the assessment of the historical veracity of the biblical traditions in relation to the ever increasing body of archaeological data. It is commonplace to attribute negative assessments of the text as historically reliable to the ‘growing enthusiasm for “the Bible as literature” ’.18 This has been compounded by the increasing impact of the social sciences on the study of Israelite history.19 These two (p.379) broad movements have played central roles, as most commentators agree, but they are only the most visible aspects of much wider intellectual currents which have progressively eroded the foundations of Israelite history, as traditionally conceived. Those who try to defend or reassert a traditional conception of Israelite history, in which the biblical text takes priority and is only supplemented by archaeological data or non‐biblical materials, ignore or fail to engage the intellectual climate of the late 1990s. This failure to engage with the central issues, to reappraise the nature of the enterprise and the implications of the various movements—literary, new archaeology, social anthropology—is probably best illustrated in the rearguard actions, retreat, and retrenchment in defence of the so‐called ‘starting point of Israelite history’. The patriarchs, exodus, and conquest of Palestine have over the last thirty years or more been the front‐line of the debate on the historicity of the biblical narratives which, despite the most trenchant of defences, have been removed from most critical histories of ancient Israel. The same situation has been witnessed in the debates over the emergence of Israel in the Late Bronze‐Iron Age transition with the conflict now shifting to the early monarchy and beyond.

The protracted discussions within biblical studies represent a failure to address the implications of the structural weaknesses of Israelite history, as traditionally conceived, which is most evident at the points of intersection between the biblical text and archaeology. The reaction in defence of standard positions is reminiscent of the theology of the gaps of the nineteenth century when religion faced an ever increasing challenge from the growing body of scientific discoveries. It was only in retrospect that many theologians were able to adapt to the new knowledge in redefining the theological task. In the same way, standard defences of ‘the starting point’ of Israelite history have been forced to retreat from the patriarchal period through the exodus and conquest, as the defences have been breached, to a point where the battle lines are now drawn around the monarchic period as the defining moment in Israelite history. Rather than recognizing the implications of the growing body of evidence in trying to redefine these periods in the history of ancient Palestine, attempts have been made to defend text‐based reconstructions on the basis that there must be ‘a limit to scepticism’.20

It is at this juncture that the fight for history, over what Le Goff21 terms the ‘reactionary modes of history—narrative, the history of events, biography, and political history’, is most fully engaged. Whybray, in ruling out archaeology and comparative anthropology as adequate for writing what he considers a continuous history of ancient Israel, argues that ‘if none of these methods can provide an adequate basis for the writing of a (p.380) history of Israel, it would seem that if such a history is to be written the biblical text, however liable to correction, must be taken as a foundation’.22 In all such cases, with the proviso of varying degrees of critical acknowledgment of difficulties inherent in the text, what is produced is the most skeletal of histories focused upon the history of events, biography, and political history. Provan, who places great emphasis on the integrity of the text, complains that revisionists disregard what he calls ‘the plain sense of the text’.23 Yet the practical implications of this are not explored beyond the reiteration of the call that historians should use all available sources. It is not explained what the plain sense of the narrative of Joshua's capture of Jericho is in light of archaeological evidence that the site was not occupied in the Late Bronze Age. Appeals to ‘the traditional middle ground of scholarship’ are vacuous in the absence of practical examples of how particular texts or parts of texts are to be utilized to write a history of Israel for the Late Bronze and early Iron Ages. He asks, for example, ‘why not assume the historicity of the Canaan/Israel polarity, for example, even though it is biblically based and unverified by extrabiblical evidence, unless and until it is shown to be unhistorical?’24 Yet it is this biblically‐based assumption of a polarity which has skewed the interpretation of archaeological data for the Late Bronze–Iron Age transition. It has slowly emerged over the last few decades that the material culture of the area does not confirm such a polarity but illustrates instead the continuity of culture, including religious culture, throughout the region.

Davies argues that it is not possible to take the biblical story as a ‘first draft’:

To assign non‐biblical data the role of ‘elucidating’, ‘confirming’, (or equally, of ‘denying’) the biblical narrative (or ‘biblical record’) will mean that the many remaining gaps in our knowledge are occupied by biblical data. More importantly, because less often debated, major biblical categories, like ‘pre‐exilic’, ‘United Monarchy’, ‘Canaanite’, ‘Israelite’, remain in place though historically unclear, inaccurate, or inappropriate. If the fate of the non‐biblical data is to be made to fit into the remnants of a framework which they themselves have not sponsored, then they are not being properly utilized. The capacity to generate different frameworks, categories and interpretations is hamstrung.25

The rear‐guard action in defence of ‘the starting point’ of Israelite history which has been witnessed throughout the century bears testimony to the methodological confusion. Febvre, long ago sounded the warning to ‘ . . . be careful not to underestimate the persistence of that old taboo which says, “You can only do history from texts” ’.26

(p.381) The central point at issue here is how the traditions are to be read and understood and what they reveal about the perceptions of the past of the writers of these narratives. Paul Veyne notes that history is ‘a struggle against the perspective imposed by the sources’.27 The problem for the historian of ancient Israel or Palestine in utilizing the biblical traditions is the lack of an agreed sociology of canon: the social production of the literature which comprises the canon of the Hebrew Bible is a matter of considerable conjecture and debate. The increasingly late dating of much of this literature and the artistic integrity of the narratives has undermined attempts to mine the texts for some fabled historical kernel. Yet, despite the growing consensus on the late dating of biblical texts, the study of their social production and reception in the Persian and Hellenistic periods is at a preliminary stage. It is the very conditions of production and the structures of power in which the biblical texts derive their meaning, particularly in their representation of Israel's past, that are so problematic for the historian.

Barstad notes that ‘this theological story does not tell us what Israel's history really looked like in ancient times’ nor does it allow the systematic study of the history of ancient society in all its ‘complexity and multifaceted reality’.28 The construction of the past and its retelling, in oral or written form, is the way in which particular groups define identity and their relationship to the present.29 Carroll compares the creation of the third‐century Celtic poet Ossian in the eighteenth century with the problems of assessing the historicity of the narratives about Balaam, Omri, and Baruch in light of extra‐biblical materials. He adopts the terms ‘bogus tales’ or ‘bogus history’ to refer to the creation of such traditions which are then represented as historical accounts within biblical studies:

Bogus also qualifies all those scholarly antics whereby fragmented texts are restored to read whatever will make the artefacts conform to an imagined narrative constructed from the biblical text—where blanks are filled in from artefacts discovered from outside the Bible, but where in the absence of such artefacts the biblical text is deemed to be reliable.30

This is the history of the gaps which has comprised, and continues to comprise for many, the study of Israelite history.

The reluctance to pursue alternative forms of history has been brought about by the privileging of the memory of particular social groups who produced the biblical traditions—the literate élite, whose reading of the Israelite past excluded those groups who were peripheral to the power structures they sought to control. The alternative is to examine the ‘zones of silence’, to adapt Michel de Certeau's phrase.31 The injunction to use all (p.382) available evidence, which has become a rallying cry in the reassertion of the primacy of Hebrew Bible in the construction of the history of Israel in the early Iron Age, also requires the questioning of the ‘historical documentation itself concerning its lacunae, and to ask ourselves about the holes and blank spots in history, the things it has forgotten. We have to inventory the archives of silence, and write history on the basis of documents and the absence of documents.’32 It is the attempts to inventory the archives of silence which represent the most significant advances in the study of the history of the region and a radical reappraisal of the foundations of Israelite history.

The Emergence of Ancient Israel

A New Horizon

Attempts to explore the lacunae and silences of the biblical texts for understanding the emergence of ancient Israel in Palestine have resulted in an explosion of new material and intensity of debate which have led, in little more than a decade, to astonishing shifts in basic perceptions about one of the foundational periods of Israelite history. The works of Lemche,33 Ahlström,34 Coote and Whitelam,35 and Finkelstein36 signalled the beginnings of a revolution in understanding whose implications are only now becoming fully apparent. Coote37 was able to refer to a ‘new horizon’ in the understanding of ancient Israel in the Late Bronze–Iron Age transition by emphasizing important shared assumptions within these works. The most important points of consensus are the recognition of considerable cultural continuity between the Late Bronze and early Iron Ages and the largely indigenous nature of settlement shifts in the highlands and margins. The rhetoric of recent exchanges has tended to obscure this staggering change in perception across the many different wings of scholarship. The almost nonchalant way in which scholars now accept that the settlement shifts in the highlands and margins of Palestine during the Late Bronze–Iron Age transition are the result of largely indigenous processes stands in stark contrast to the catalogue of complaints which accompanied the first attempts by Mendenhall,38 Gottwald39 and Chaney40 to challenge the prevailing assumption that socio‐political changes in the region were the result of external invasion or infiltration. The sheer speed with which previous models collapsed and understandings shifted was impossible to predict at the time because of the complex interaction of a variety of factors: fundamental shifts in attitude to reading the Hebrew Bible, the quantity and quality of emerging archaeological data, and the context of wider intellectual, social, and political movements affecting (p.383) Western scholarship. Lemche,41 Coote,42 Thompson,43 and Davies44 confirmed the rapid and radical nature of the shift.45 In addition, a whole series of important works have presented and analysed the archaeological data, such as Mazar,46 Ben‐Tor,47 Finkelstein and Na'aman,48 and Levy.49 A number of the individual essays in these major collections, particularly in Finkelstein and Na'aman, and Levy, adopt a Braudellian perspective in analysing the results of surveys and excavations in the context of long‐term settlement and demographic trends in the region, emphasizing the way in which ‘the fight for history’ has had subtle and lasting effects on the investigation of Israelite history. They also confirm the most important and central feature of a growing consensus, which tends to become submerged in the rhetoric of debate, namely, the striking continuities in material culture of settlements from the Late Bronze through the early Iron Age.

It is important not to lose site of this basic agreement across a range of scholars, biblical specialists and archaeologists, who are often presented as being in the diametrically opposed camps of minimalism and maximalism. It is perhaps the most important feature in the development of a new horizon in understanding the history of ancient Palestine from the Late Bronze through the Iron Age. It is ironic that the search for ancient Israel which inspired and motivated the regional surveys and much archaeological excavation has failed to find the object of its quest. Dever50 refers to this growing consensus and its importance for understanding the history of the region, providing a convenient outline of many of its most important features: mostly small, unwalled villages, with small‐scale terrace farming and some herding. Strikingly, he notes that the pottery ‘is solidly in the LB IIB Canaanite tradition; nearly all forms exhibit only the expected, normal development from the thirteenth into the twelfth (and even eleventh) centuries B.C.’ before adding that ‘it must be stressed in the light of archaeology today, it is the Late Bronze–Iron I continuity in material culture—not the discontinuity—that is striking, the more so as research progresses’.51 Many of these characteristics are now found throughout the region, including Transjordan, suggesting that these are general features, especially in rural and highland areas.52 Finkelstein,53 in (p.384) particular, has analysed the results of excavations and survey data, focusing on the long‐term socio‐economic and environmental aspects of settlement shift. He presents a picture which is remarkably similar in terms of the basic understanding of the material culture and economy of the transformation of highland and marginal settlement in the Late Bronze–Iron Age transition.

The new horizon which has emerged offers a greater understanding of the multifarious aspects of the history of ancient Palestine in this period, the lacunae and zones of silence, which were lacking in standard biblical histories concerned solely with the event or personality. An increasing body of literature has addressed the regional aspects of ancient Palestinian society and economy focusing upon the processes involved in socio‐political change.54 Bunimovitz,55 for example, provides an excellent study of the socio‐political transformations in the region, particularly the central hill country, in the Late Bronze–Iron Age transition from the perspective of la longue durée in order to understand, as he terms it, the “ ‘silent majority”—the rural backbone of all past societies’.56 He utilizes survey data to characterize the hill country as a frontier zone in which crises in occupation are felt more acutely than in the lowlands.

It is this revolution in understanding and approach which has laid the basis for alternative conceptions of the history of the region allowing for the investigation of long‐term trends in Palestinian history, the recurrent and regular, and the processes which shape such trends. It represents a continuing struggle to break free from the power of the Hebrew Bible to organize memory and shape the history of the region. Historians and archaeologists have increasingly focused on the processes which led to settlement shifts—continuities and discontinuities—and their implications for understanding later periods. Nevertheless, there remain numerous disagreements on the interpretation of the data, particularly concerning the factors and processes which contributed to the transformation and realignment of Palestinian society in the Late Bronze–Iron Age transition: the nature and importance of regional and interregional economic decline and stagnation,57 climatic features,58 and the socio‐economic background and location of the inhabitants of the highland sites, whether pastoral nomads in the process of sedentarization or displaced groups from the urban centres and lowlands in the wake of political and economic disruption, or other external elements.59 The appearance and use of pillared buildings, silos, cisterns, terracing, and utilitarian pottery forms, as (p.385) revealed in excavations at Khirbet et‐Tell, Khirbet Raddana, Giloh, Izbet Sartah, Khirbet ed Dawwara, Shiloh, Tell el‐Umeiri, Sahab, and the numerous surveys of the hill country and margins, are explicable in terms of the topographical and environmental conditions facing the inhabitants of highland and marginal sites in the context of the disruption of lowland and regional economies.60

The accumulating evidence has revealed a number of interesting features concerning the direction of settlement expansion which remain the subject of debate. Finkelstein has argued that settlement was established in eastern margins first before expanding in a westward direction, while settlement density gradually decreased from north to south. Yet, the significance of such patterns is difficult to determine. Ofer, for example, points out that the north–south distinction was the result of differences in settlement potential and says nothing about the direction from which the settlers came.61 Similarly, as Finkelstein notes,62 settlement in the eastern flanks can be explained by the fact that these are the most convenient for cultivation, requiring a minimum of preparation, and were invariably preferred over more marginal areas. Thus there were ecological and socioeconomic reasons for ‘opting for areas which were topographically moderate, ecologically convenient and agriculturally promising (the desert fringe, the intermontane valleys and flat areas of the central range)’.63 Again such evidence is consistent with groups moving away from disruptions in the lowlands and coastal plain as a result of the reverberations following the collapse or severe decline of eastern Mediterranean urban economies. The burgeoning body of data allows for debate and disagreement on the relative weight of the various factors involved in such settlement shift in a way that was not possible a decade ago. It is this which offers a new horizon in the investigation of the history of ancient Palestine. At the same time, it raises important questions about the understandings of this period as foundational for Israelite history.

These fundamental, underlying trends in the study of the history of the region for this period have been obscured by the rhetoric and continuing power of the discourse which is concerned principally with the search for ancient Israel.64 It is, as Finkelstein noted concerning the dating of Philistine settlements, ‘ . . . a rewarding case study for the tyranny of a historical paradigm over archaeological finds’.65 It is a discourse which is dominated by the search for ancient Israel in defence of one of the foundational periods for Israelite history in the face of ever mounting evidence. The issue which has provided the focal point for this dispute, (p.386) whose rhetoric has detracted from the growing consensus on other important aspects of the region, has been the vexed question of the ethnic identity of the inhabitants of the highland and marginal sites in the Late Bronze–Iron Age transition.

The Problem of Ethnicity

The revolutionary understanding of these settlements as largely indigenous has seriously undermined the common assumption, from the time of Albright and Alt, that the settlements and their material culture provide the physical manifestation of ancient Israel. The implications of the failure to distinguish an ‘Israelite’ material culture from an indigenous material culture in terms of the archaeological data have been difficult to disentangle from the dominant discourse concerned with the search for ancient Israel. Whitelam66 has analysed some of the confusions in work from the mid‐1980s onwards, particularly among scholars who discount the evidence of the biblical traditions for this period on methodological grounds. Thompson, among others, realized the irony that the increase in archaeological data undermined attempts to locate and describe Israel during the Late Bronze–Iron Age transition: ‘It has become exceedingly misleading to speak of the term “Israelite” in an archaeological context of Iron I Palestine.’67 However, the preoccupation with the search for ancient Israel has continued to dominate and confuse the analysis of the archaeological data.

The continuing struggle to break free from the perspective imposed by the biblical traditions and the continuing power of its ability to shape the discourse is evident in the series of important studies which have presented the results of survey and excavation in the region. Finkelstein has revised his understanding of the problem of the identification of the inhabitants considerably since the publication of his seminal study on ‘Israelite Settlement’.68 More recently, he has claimed that ‘the material culture of the Iron I sites in the hill country should not be viewed in ethnic perspective’.69 This view is reinforced with the statement that

the name ‘Israelites’ for all inhabitants of the hill country can hardly reflect the complex ethnic, social and cultural reality of the area in Iron Age I. Since there is no clear difference in material culture between the various groups that settled in the highlands in Iron I, any effort to distinguish between ‘Israelite’ and ‘non‐Israelite’ hill country sites during the twelfth‐eleventh centuries BCE according to their finds is doomed to failure.70

Such a view clearly undermines the very foundations on which this period has been viewed as the bulwark against the progressive removal of (p.387) starting points for the history of Israel. He goes on to add that the material culture reflects the ecological background, subsistence economy, and social frameworks of the highland settlements rather than any precise ethnic identity.71 Yet the biblical perspective reasserts itself when Finkelstein and Na'aman use ‘Israelite’, with quotation marks, to describe the hill‐country areas that were included later within the territory of the early Israelite monarchy.72 The power of the history of the gaps is evident in his conclusion that ‘the truly exceptional event’ in the highlands in the late second millennium BCE was not ‘Israelite Settlement’ but ‘the emergence of the United Monarchy—the unification of the entire central hill country and most of the lowlands under one rule’.73 It is the later Israelite monarchy, or at least the biblical presentation of this monarchy, which becomes the defining moment which is used to interpret the archaeological data and thereby to retain the foundational position of this period for Israelite history.74

The paradox is that the analysis of the archaeological data, often from a Braudellian perspective, has opened up a new horizon for understanding the history of the region while at the same time continuing to force that data into a historical framework derived from the biblical traditions. The failure to resolve the paradox is evident in a number of other key works. The assumption in the title From Nomadism to Monarchy75 colours the whole volume. It is the ‘United Monarchy’ of David, considered to be the pinnacle of political achievement in the region, which ultimately determines the interpretation of archaeological data. For instance, Mazar accepts that ‘research has failed to develop tools which enable one to differentiate between the material culture of Israelites and that of other ethnic groups in the hill country during the period under discussion’.76 The archaeological data are ambiguous and allow for different interpretations so that the hope that it would ‘serve as a conclusive source for defining the early Israelite material culture has proven somewhat exaggerated, as the ethnic, historical and cultural developments during Iron Age I were extremely complex’. However, he then goes on to claim that Giloh and other sites reflect the formation of a material culture different from the Late Bronze Age allowing it to be related to the emergence of Israel. The determining factor is again the Israelite monarchy.77 One further illustrative example of the tyranny of a historical paradigm over the data will suffice. Herzog illustrates the problems of ethnic identification in (p.388) discussing data from the Beersheba valley. He is particularly aware of the flexibility and adaptability of the notion of ethnicity as opposed to a determined and permanent list of traits, such as common language, territorial continuity, and shared biological ties of origin concluding that it is impossible ‘to speculate on their exact ethnic identity’.78 However, he then goes on to add that ‘if we choose to identify the groups who settled in the Iron Age I in the Beer‐Sheba valley not on the basis of their material culture but according to later developments in the region, they may be considered Israelites’.79 The ethnicity of the settlements is defined in reference to the Israelite monarchy even though it is recognized that there is nothing inherent in the data themselves which allows for such an interpretation.

The most vehement defence of this period as foundational for Israelite history has been mounted by Dever in a long series of articles which address the question of the ethnic identity.80 Dever insists that these highland sites represent a new and distinctive entity which can be identified as Israel or, at the very least, ‘Proto‐Israel’ in contrast to ‘Philistine’, ‘Canaanite’ or ‘Egyptian’ sites.81 His initial argument is that the series of traits which characterize highland settlement in the Late Bronze–Iron Age transition illustrate that they represent a new and distinctive group: 1) small, rural villages in the agricultural hinterland linked together in small‐scale, self‐contained economic networks; 2) no temples, palaces, or monumental architecture; 3) stereotyped courtyard farmhouses clustered together in close knit kin‐based, unstratified society; 4) a simple technology and subsistence system.82 Yet none of the items listed are sufficient in themselves to determine the question of ethnicity since they all relate to the socio‐economic and environmental conditions facing the inhabitants.83 Dever, although well aware of the manifold problems in discussing ethnicity in antiquity, is insistent that a label must be attached to the sites, ‘if only for our own conscience in the classification of cultures and cultural change’. He rejects broad terms such as ‘hill country settlers’ or ‘Iron I people’ insisting on ‘properly archaeological and socio‐anthropological terminology’.84 However, his use of the term ‘Proto‐Israelite’ can hardly be said to fulfil this requirement and, more importantly, illustrates the inherent weaknesses in the analysis since he has to appeal to biblical and extra‐biblical sources in order to decide which label to apply despite his (p.389) insistence that the archaeological data themselves should determine this.85 His only justification for equating this new and distinctive group with the Israel mentioned in the Merneptah stele is the ‘simple logic’ that if this is not Merneptah's Israel, then the question of their identity and location remains unresolved.86 However, his most important argument is an appeal to the material continuity from the twelfth to the sixth centuries BCE which shows a ‘national Israelite material culture’ deriving from the monarchic period.87 It is evident that the archaeological data are insufficient in themselves to determine the question of ethnic identity and resolve the search for ancient Israel in the Late Bronze–Iron Age transition. Their identification with ‘Proto‐Israel’ is based on disputed readings and relationships with the Merneptah stele and the biblical traditions about the Israelite monarchy. As in other important analyses of survey and excavation data, the foundational nature of this period for Israelite history is particularly dependent on the construction and interpretation of the Israelite monarchy in the Iron Age.

However, one of the most intriguing recent features of the discussion has been the exploration of the potential for ‘foodways’ to indicate ethnic identity by exploring diet on the basis of animal bone assemblages from various sites. Finkelstein88 argues that in the Bronze Age pig husbandry was present in the lowlands and highlands with greater numbers in the Shephelah and southern coastal plain (Tel Miqne, Tel Batash, and Ashkelon) indicating a taboo on pigs in the hill country in the Iron I. This he believes offers the most important avenue for exploring ethnic boundaries in the period. However, such analyses are in their infancy and there is a complex range of factors which need to be considered in determining the reasons behind the presence or absence of particular animals.89 Hesse's study of the variety of factors which affect pig husbandry provides an important basis for discussion,90 while Hesse and Wapnish have sounded an important warning against the rush to conclude that the absence of pig bones can at last resolve the search for ancient Israel: ‘If the absence of pig bones in an Iron Age archaeological site is taken as diagnostic for the presence of ethnic Israelites, there are a lot more Israelites in the ancient world (p.390) than we ever expected.’91 They produce a detailed analysis of ‘the un‐critical interpretation’ of archaeologists and biblical specialists in dealing with this issue. There are numerous factors which need to be considered, not least socio‐environmental conditions, before firm conclusions can be drawn. Furthermore, such analyses are hindered by the lack of published data, particularly from sites in Jordan, or problems in the collection and publication of data from earlier excavations. The discussion raises important questions about the economy of Iron Age sites which have not been explored in the past. But the danger at present is that hasty conclusions about the absence of pig bones at a site repeat the same mistakes which accompanied the discovery of particular features of the material culture—collared‐rim ware and pillared houses—and the conclusion that these were ethnic markers, and in particular Israelite innovations. Hesse and Wapnish point to a host of issues that need to be addressed before confident predictions that the presence or absence of pig bones can be used to determine ethnic identity in this period will be borne out.92

The increasing volume of archaeological data from the region has helped to undermine the traditional understanding of the Late Bronze–Iron Age transition as one of the foundational periods of Israelite history. The search for ancient Israel in this period has foundered on the problem of material continuity with the Late Bronze Age and the relevance of the biblical traditions for constructing this period. The result is that it is possible to say very little about the nature, location, or identity of ancient Israel. The volumes which have made such a conclusion possible provide very little in terms of positive historical reconstruction: the vast amount of space is devoted to debates on the inadequacies of the text, the relevance of anthropological parallels, and the problems and possibilities in the interpretation of the archaeological data. It is the power of the dominant discourse of biblical studies, its search for ancient Israel, which continues to determine the interpretation of much archaeological evidence. The inventory of the silences, which archaeology has pursued, has brought forth invaluable information on the demography, settlement patterns, and economy of this period. Yet at the same time the failure to discover ancient Israel in any significant sense has undermined its foundational position in the study of the history of ancient Israel as traditionally conceived. This is not to deny the existence of ancient Israel in the region or that, presumably, it formed some part of the transformation and realignment of Late Bronze–Early Iron Age society in ancient Palestine. Yet, it is possible to say very little more than this on the basis of current evidence. Attempts to retain this as a foundational period for Israelite history are dependent even more on assumptions about the nature of the Israelite monarchy as the defining moment in the history of the region.

(p.391) The Israelite Monarchy

The Break Up of the Old Paradigm: Shaking the Foundations

The centrality of the monarchic period for the study of Israelite history is illustrated in Lemaire's description of the ‘United Monarchy’ as ‘the moment of Israel's glory on the international scene—a moment to be remembered and recalled for millennia’.93 As already noted, more recent revisionist treatments of Israel's ‘emergence’ in the Late Bronze–Iron Age transition also appeal to the monarchy as the anchor and defining moment of this history.94 Similarly, in the work of Dever, the Israelite monarchy becomes the defining moment which allows the identification of ‘Israelite’ or ‘Proto‐Israelite’ settlement in earlier periods.95 It has been the rock on which traditional conceptions of the study of Israelite history have been constructed. However, these seemingly secure foundations have been increasingly eroded to such an extent that it is doubtful if it can retain its centrality as the defining moment in the history of the region.

The power of the old discourse is illustrated at its most forceful in the way in which the seemingly irreconcilable differences between the followers of Alt and Albright on earlier periods disappeared in their constructions of the Israelite monarchy. The power of the discourse also needs to be understood in the context of the development of Western biblical scholarship and the central role of the model of the nation state.96 Thus, the assumption was that history begins with texts and that the monarchy was the locus for the development of biblical historiography. In this context, archaeological evidence, as it became available, was used to close the gaps within the biblical framework. In particular, the description of Solomon's building programme in 1 Kings 9 provided the controlling influence in the dating and interpretation of monumental architecture at Hazor, Megiddo, and Gezer. The existence of ‘Solomonic’ gates at these sites was used to confirm the biblical picture of Solomon's power and magnificence. The discovery of Iron Age fortresses, particularly in the Negev,97 added further weight to the conviction of centralization under the burgeoning state. Similarly, destruction layers at various sites were interpreted as confirmation of an Egyptian campaign under Shishak described in 1 Kgs. 14: 25–26 and thereby dated to the end of the tenth century BCE.

Knoppers' detailed review of the Davidic‐Solomonic period illustrates just how dramatically the earlier consensus has collapsed in the face of increased questioning: ‘Virtually all modern historians wrote histories of ancient Israel that included, if not commenced with, the monarchy of (p.392) David and Solomon. This is no longer the case.’98 He concludes that ‘one dominant discourse about the tenth century has been replaced by a variety of competing discourses. The only present certainty is that the age of consensus is past’.99 The key elements in the earlier consensus on the Davidic and later monarchic periods are no longer viewed by many scholars with the same confidence. The rereading of the biblical traditions, particularly under the influence of the literary movement100 has resulted in claims that it is not possible to pursue the historical David101 and helped to open up new perspectives on the archaeological data.

The idea of a major state, let alone an empire, centred on Jerusalem in the tenth century BCE has been increasingly disputed in recent years as each element of this once interlocking network has been re‐examined. A few individuals, such as Garbini, Thompson, Lemche, Davies, Wightman, and others, have long held that the picture that has been presented in our histories does not stand on solid ground and that the interpretation of archaeological results has been influenced by presuppositions drawn from the biblical traditions. They have been joined more recently by a growing number of scholars, biblical specialists and archaeologists. The dating and interpretation of the so‐called ‘Solomonic’ gates at Megiddo, Hazor, and Gezer has become perhaps the most spectacular area of disagreement between archaeologists over the identification and understanding of tenth‐century remains.102 The search for the tenth century is now one of the most critical areas of debate among archaeologists. The Negev sites, previously thought to represent part of a network of royal fortifications, have been reinterpreted by Finkelstein and Perevolotsky as resulting from the ‘sedentarization’ of nomads during a period of economic prosperity.103 The interpretation of Shishak's campaign, central to the tenth‐century dating of destruction layers, has also been challenged by Thompson,104 Davies,105 and Gelinas.106 The extent of the switch is illustrated by Barkay's recent survey of the archaeology of Iron II in which he concludes that ‘the precise dating of the settlement strata and find assemblages of the tenth and ninth centuries is fraught with difficulties’,107 noting that it has not been proven that any sites were destroyed by (p.393) Shishak in 925 BCE and that ‘the attribution of destruction levels to the end of the tenth century at many sites is mere conjecture’.108 In highlighting the differences in the construction of the gates at Hazor, Megiddo, Gezer, inconsistencies in the size, construction, and the type of wall to which they are bonded, he denies that they were ‘built according to a single blueprint designed by a central authority’. He is forced to conclude that the ‘glorified picture’ emerging from the biblical traditions does not correspond to ‘the reality reflected in the archaeological findings’.109

A recent thorough review of the main planks in the argument by Finkelstein represents a significant departure in the debate.110 His redating of Philistine pottery,111 removes many of the most important structures, such as the gate complexes at Megiddo, Hazor, and Gezer, from the time of David and Solomon.112 What is significant about his analysis, however, is that he illustrates the circular reasoning, based on assumptions drawn from the biblical texts, which removes any firm archaeological anchors in this period. This means that what has conventionally been represented as the pinnacle of political evolution in the region, the nation‐state of David, virtually disappears. The biblically‐based accounts appear as little more than a mirage, suffering a similar fate to that of Noth's amphictyonic hypothesis which had seemed so assured, but which collapsed so suddenly. It is strange, however, that Finkelstein claims that his analysis, which removes crucial structures from the tenth century has ‘nothing to do with the historicity of the United Monarchy’.113 He claims that the kingdoms of David and Solomon could have been chiefdoms or early states in the process of territorial expansion, lacking monumental architecture or a developed bureaucracy. Yet this is a significant departure from the consensus position which challenges the picture drawn from the biblical traditions and raises serious questions about the historicity of the so‐called ‘United Monarchy’.114 It is illustrative of the continuing fight for an alternative understanding of history, focusing on long‐term trends in a wider regional history and the ways in which ancient Palestinian society responded to the complex factors which it faced. The search for a tenth‐century state which dominated the region, the ‘United Monarchy’, has failed to deliver the object of its search in the same way that the search for ancient Israel in the Late Bronze–Iron Age transition has remained unfulfilled.

(p.394) In Defence of Tradition

Yet once again, the challenge to the consensus on the monarchy has brought forward equally trenchant attempts to defend the status quo, or, as noted above, at least some modified form of it, thereby reflecting the upheavals which have engulfed the study of the ‘emergence of Israel’ from the mid‐to late‐1980s.115 In particular, Holladay's analysis of the period of the Judaean and Israelite monarchies attempts to build on the older consensus, with the notable exception that he explicitly eschews appeal to the biblical traditions in analysing the archaeological data.116 He raises important questions about how to account for the similarities between the material culture at various sites, such as Hazor, Megiddo, Lachish, and Gezer, the construction of fortifications and public buildings, and their importance for trade, arguing that developments at strategic sites point to centralization and co‐ordination. He presents the case for the existence of a territorial state in the tenth century echoing a similar view to that espoused by Dever: ‘For ancient Israel, the archaeological evidence for the rise of statehood is clearest in the trends towards urbanization, centralization, and ethnic consciousness, as reflected in material culture.’117 However, despite the proviso, it is the biblical representation of the past which provides Holladay's interpretative framework in which the terms ‘David’ and ‘Solomon’ are used to periodize the discussion ‘in view of the familiarity of the sources, the numerous, quite exceptional, synchronisms with externally documented foreign rulers, and the relative certainty of the dynastic succession(s)’. Furthermore, he assumes that the settlement shift which took place in the Late Bronze–Iron Age transition is to be associated with ‘Israel’.118 Thus, he attributes the change to fortified sites at Hazor, Megiddo, and Gezer to ‘early Israelites’ on the grounds that it is ‘abundantly clear from the material culture complex, which, however much it differs from the early restricted categories of the central highlands and the Galilee . . . , clearly forms a continuum with the later material culture complex of both Israelite and Judaean sites, including the later highland sites of the ninth and eighth centuries’.119 Holladay makes the same assumption as many other recent scholars that the history of the region is determined by an understanding of the later Israelite monarchy which, despite the caveat, is dependent upon an understanding of the biblical traditions. Furthermore, he takes the campaign of Shishak as the archaeological benchmark for understanding destruction levels at many sites throughout the region.120 (p.395) It is the concerns and categories of the Hebrew Bible which determine the study of the history of the region and allow the period to retain its foundational position for Israelite history.121

This has become most evident in the combative exchanges which have accompanied the discovery of fragments of the Tel Dan stele polarizing the debate even further.122 Halpern,123 for instance, claims that the Tel Dan inscription has caused extraordinary contortions among revisionist scholars who question the Hebrew Bible's history of the early Israelite monarchy, going so far as to assert that it is no longer necessary to debate the existence of ‘a David’ since the stele confirms that ‘the house of David’ was the dynastic name of the Judaean monarchy in the ninth century.124 Similarly, Knoppers makes the surprising claim that although the inscription cannot prove the existence of the united monarchy or Solomon, ‘it does point to David as a historical figure’.125 Yet such conclusions go way beyond the evidence. The stele confirms the existence of a monarchy in the ninth or eighth centuries which understands its founder to be David. However, this cannot be used to confirm the historicity of David, and particularly not the biblical David as presented in Samuel. It is well known that traditions which appear or claim to be old are often quite recent and in many cases ‘invented’.126 It was common in the medieval West, for instance, for royal families or other nobles to trace their origins back to mythical ancestors and legendary founding heroes thereby legitimizing royal power by attachment to imaginary genealogies.127 The Tel Dan stele, despite its importance as a written source, cannot bear many of the interpretations placed upon it: it does not confirm the existence of the ‘biblical David’, nor the existence of a significant state in the tenth century which controlled much of the region. In this respect it is very similar to the Merneptah stele which offers important but tantalizing information on the existence of Israel in the Late Bronze–early Iron Age: it does not, however, confirm the biblical Israel of the books of Joshua and Judges. Such claims are further examples of the construction of a history of the gaps in which extra‐biblical evidence is determined by the biblical framework and used to plug the lacunae in that framework.

A new point of consensus, among minimalists and maximalists, does however appear to be emerging in which the eighth century is becoming the pinnacle of state development and, for some scholars, beginning to represent a new starting point for Israelite history. The eighth century is seen to be the focal point of a number of convergences of data from excavation and survey, increasing numbers of inscriptions, and readings (p.396) of the biblical traditions.128 Whybray signals just how far opinion has moved in recent years with his view that it is difficult to reconstruct the early monarchic period, including David and Solomon, since the biblical traditions contain legendary or heroic material. However, he claims that the accounts of the divided monarchy, from 1 Kings 12 onwards, signal a change in style and content which reveal an ‘organized systematic history of the kingdoms of Israel and Judah’.129 Yet this is the very same kind of argument that underpinned the earlier consensus on the Davidic period: the assumption that the monarchy is the locus for historiography and history. Furthermore, the shift towards the later monarchic period, particularly the eighth century, has not been subjected to the same kind of critical scrutiny which has been imposed on earlier periods. The divided monarchy is rapidly assuming the crucial defining role for Israelite and Palestinian history which had earlier been accorded the ‘United Monarchy’ of David and Solomon. The study of Iron Age Palestine, particularly Iron II, needs to be viewed in long‐term perspective in order to overcome the frequent assumption that the Israelite monarchy represents a unique, self‐contained episode in the settlement and political history of the region. The continuation of this process of debate and retrenchment only serves to continue the history of the gaps and delay setting the study of the history of the region on firmer foundations. The reason for this dogged rearguard action in defending an outmoded concept of Israelite history and unwillingness to revise the conception of the history of the region, including the history of Israel and Judah, is explicable in terms of the social location of biblical scholarship.

Text in Context

The study of the social and political setting of biblical scholarship and archaeology and the ways in which it has influenced the search for ancient Israel or the construction of a ‘United Monarchy’ is becoming increasingly influential and important. The intellectual and political milieu in which Western scholars understood and appropriated the ancient past, the ways in which knowledge was constructed and represented has become of increasing scholarly interest in recent years.130 Sasson illustrated many years ago that because biblical scholarship is pursued internationally, the dominant models in reconstructing Israelite history often differ markedly:131 he traced the different models and political settings which influenced German and American scholarship throughout this century. The rise of the nation state, national consciousness, state archives, and specialists (p.397) were of central concern in German and Western scholarship as it searched for its own roots in the past, including the Israelite past.132 Silberman133 has produced a series of important studies which illustrate how historical research on ancient Israel has been influenced by ‘the modern western attitude to the Bible, great power competition, and the development of modern nationalism in the Middle East’.134 The reason for the dramatic shifts in understandings of the foundational periods of Israelite history is intimately linked to radical changes in understanding key concepts—nation, nation‐state, race, progress—which informed the models of historical scholarship. Silberman demonstrates how various theories which underlie the work of Petrie, Schumacher and Gellin, and Macalister influenced their archaeological work and conclusions: ‘The archaeological interpretations of these scholars in the era of high imperialism can still be clearly seen as metaphorical validations of the contemporary European penetration of the Middle East.’135 Whitelam traces how similar ideas informed biblical scholars and archaeologists in their constructions of the ancient Israelite past in dialogue with their own present.136 As historical perspectives have changed, so key ideas and concepts have become outdated and lost their explanatory power. It is not coincidental that the focal point of discussions on the foundational periods of Israelite history has switched from the search for the nation‐state to the question of ethnicity and social identity, particularly in the USA and Israel in the context of multi‐cultural societies. The combative debates and polarization of biblical scholarship only serve to illustrate that history writing ‘participates . . . in the political management of reality’. Thus by the very act of writing, historians inevitably express some ideological commitment; for they have to stand somewhere in relation to their material, and that place (as well as that material) has been chosen by themselves'.137 The characterization of postmodernity by Keith and Pile is an apt description of the current situation in the study of Israelite history: ‘No one is quite sure of the ground on which they stand, which direction they are facing, or where they are going.’138 The history of recent scholarship tends to suggest that attempts to defend the foundational nature of Israel's ‘emergence’ or ‘United Monarchy’ will suffer the same fate as attempts to retain the Patriarchs and Exodus for history. As Thompson notes: ‘There is no putting the old paradigm back together again, no matter how comfortable we may have been with it.’139 The convergence of various social, political, and intellectual movements in the 1990s and their effects upon contemporary biblical scholarship have led to a situation in which competing claims and uncertainty are the dominant characteristics. Yet it is also characterized by (p.398) vitality and opportunity as older models and paradigms are overturned allowing for new possibilities and prospects in the study of ancient Israel within the history of ancient Palestine.


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(1) Whitelam (1986), 45.

(2) (1985), 23.

(3) (1953).

(4) (1979).

(5) Any consideration of Cazelles' analysis as representative of the state of the discipline at the time has to be tempered by the fact that Anderson admits in the preface to the volume to protracted delays in publication, with most of the chapters having been completed before the end of (1974). The footnotes to Cazelles' review suggest that it was finished well before the publication of the works of Thompson (1974) and van Seters (1975) which undermined attempts to preserve the Patriarchal period as historical.

(6) Whitelam (1996), 71.

(7) Dever (1990), 39.

(8) Knoppers (1997), 19.

(9) (1977), 332.

(10) Whitelam (1986); Dever (1997).

(11) Bright (1981); Noth (1983); Jagersma (1982); Soggin (1984).

(12) See Whitelam (1996) for the view that the privileging of standard types of history within biblical studies, and cognate areas, has been heavily influenced by religious and political presuppositions. The standard positions maintain the modernist assumption that history has direction, purposeful movement—from emergence to monarchy—while newer perspectives suggest that regional responses to climatic, social and political factors are not evidence of purposeful, unilinear movement but part of recurrent regional patterns in response to socio‐environmental conditions.

(13) (1972).

(14) Halpern (1995).

(15) Whybray (1996), 71.

(16) Southgate (1996), 3.

(17) Barstad (1997), 39 (see also Carroll (1997), 878), with excellent bibliography, is one of the few biblical scholars to address the importance of the effects of postmodernist debates on understanding this crisis in historical studies and its effects upon Israelite history. As he emphasizes (1997), 46–7, paraphrases of the biblical text as the basis for Israelite history ignore the (postmodernist) debates on the nature of texts, reading, and objectivity while continuing ‘apparently unaware of the fact that there has been a veritable upheaval in the theoretical discussion about the nature of history and the possibilities of history writing in general’.

(18) Provan (1995), 585.

(19) See Brettler (1995) for an insightful analysis of these trends with bibliography. He also offers a series of interesting readings of biblical narratives as explanations of the past which reflected the time and ideological concerns of their authors.

(20) The phrase is taken from Hallo (1990) and is echoed in a number of recent studies. Halpern (1997), 314 n. 9, claims that ‘the creeping critical rejection of biblical accounts has reached its natural limits’.

(21) (1992), x.

(22) Whybray (1996), 72; see also Yamauchi (1994), 5.

(23) Provan (1995), 596.

(24) Ibid., 603, n. 76.

(25) Davies (1997), 107–8.

(26) Febvre (1973), 35.

(27) (1971), 265, cited in Le Goff (1992), 182.

(28) (1997), 57.

(29) Plumb (1969); Hobsbawm and Ranger (1983); Le Goff (1992); Whitelam (1991).

(30) Carroll (1997), 93.

(31) Cited in Le Goff (1992), 27.

(32) Le Goff (1992), 182.

(33) (1985).

(34) (1986).

(35) (1987).

(36) (1988).

(37) (1990), viii.

(38) (1962).

(39) (1979).

(40) (1983).

(41) (1988); (1991).

(42) (1990).

(43) (1992a).

(44) (1992).

(45) Thompson (1992b), 4, refers to ‘a new historiographical paradigm’. Barstad (1997), 50–1, however, argues that this is not an adequate description of the situation since Lemche and Thompson, and many others, still work within the parameters of historical critical research, assuming that history is a science dealing with ‘hard’ facts. He describes them as the ‘first of the last modernists’.

(46) (1990).

(47) (1992).

(48) (1994).

(49) (1995). See also now many of the essays in Silberman and Small (1997). Lemche (1996), 74–150 provides a programmatic statement for the integration of archaeological and textual data in the construction of the history of the period.

(50) (1990), 78–9.

(51) Ibid., 79; cf. (1995), 204.

(52) The essays in Finkelstein and Na'aman (1994), Ben‐Tor (1992), and Levy (1995) provided a wealth of detail drawn from survey and excavation. For Transjordan, see the essays in Bienkowski (1992).

(53) (1998); (1994); (1995a); (1995b).

(54) Coote and Whitelam (1987); Weippert (1988); Dothan (1989); Thompson (1992a); Finkelstein (1994); (1995b).

(55) (1994); (1995).

(56) Bunimovitz (1994), 179.

(57) Coote and Whitelam (1987); Whitelam (1994); Finkelstein (1995).

(58) Thompson (1992a).

(59) Finkelstein (1988); (1995a); (1995b); Dever (1994); (1995).

(60) Whitelam (1994); Finkelstein (1994); (1995b); see also Dever (1991), 83–4.

(61) Ofer (1994), 107 and 108. Bienkowski (1992), 6, 8, 99–112, notes that settlement in Jordan begins in the western fringes where the best agricultural land is found and decreases from north to south.

(62) (1995b), 357.

(63) Ibid.

(64) Whitelam (1994); (1996).

(65) Finkelstein (1995c), 213.

(66) (1994); (1996), 176–222.

(67) Thompson (1992a), 310.

(68) Finkelstein (1988).

(69) Finkelstein (1994), 169.

(70) Finkelstein and Na'aman (1994), 17.

(71) Finkelstein (1994), 169.

(72) Finkelstein and Na'aman (1994), 17.

(73) Finkelstein (1994), 178; see also (1995b).

(74) Thompson (1992a), 311, rightly asked ‘if the distinction between Canaanite and Israelite cannot be made when we speak of the variant cultural tradititions of Iron I, have we really sufficient grounds for seeing this period as uniquely the period of emergent Israel?’

(75) Finkelstein and Na'aman (1994).

(76) Mazar (1994), 91.

(77) Mazar (1994), 91; (1992), 295–6.

(78) Herzog (1994), 147 and 148.

(79) Herzog (1994), 148.

(80) Dever (1992); (1993); (1995a); (1995b).

(81) Bunimovitz (1990) illustrates how difficult it is to identify Philistine material culture and some of the circular reasoning which has been used. See also Singer (1994), 300, on the problems in trying to define the nature of Philistine culture. However, Bunimovitz and Yasur‐Landau (1996) have recently argued for the possibility of ethnic identification through pottery by trying to identify cognitive and ideological elements encapsulated in pottery assemblages.

(82) Dever (1996), 16.

(83) See Thompson (1997) and Finkelstein (1995); (1996); (1997) for a critique of Dever's arguments.

(84) Dever (1992), 72.

(85) Dever (1995a), 204.

(86) For problems in interpreting the Merneptah stele in relation to the highland settlements see Whitelam (1994); Na'aman (1994), 247–9; Edelman (1996), 358; Finkelstein (1997), 222; and Thompson (1997), 173–4.

(87) Dever (1995b), 72.

(88) (1996), 206.

(89) Baruch Rosen (1994), 342, in a detailed study on the subsistence economy of Iron Age I, notes that the Iron Age I settlers neglected the horse (which was already present in the region), and made little or no use of the camel, the pig and the chicken: their utilization of animal resources was characterized by extreme conservatism. It is difficult to decide if this is an economic, social or cultural avoidance. See also Edelman (1996), 47–9 for some of the problems in the interpretation of the absence of pig bones at many Iron I sites. One of the major problems, of course, is the vexed question of the dating of the biblical dietary laws (see Hesse and Wapnish (1997); Edelman (1996)).

(90) (1990).

(91) Hesse and Wapnish (1997), 238.

(92) Hesse and Wapnish (1997); see also Edelman (1996).

(93) Lemaire (1988), 85.

(94) Finkelstein (1994), 178; (1995b), 362.

(95) Dever (1996).

(96) Sasson (1981); Whitelam (1996).

(97) Mazar (1982); Cohen (1980).

(98) Knoppers (1997), 19. Knoppers's comprehensive review of the crucial debates means that many of the points do not need to be repeated here.

(99) Ibid., 44.

(100) Gunn (1978); (1980); Alter (1982).

(101) Brueggemann (1985), 13.

(102) See Ussishkin (1980) and Mazar (1990), 382, 399–400 n. 15, and Knoppers (1997), 27–9. Knoppers concludes that ‘hence, the early Iron II date for all relevant levels of fortifications at Gezer, Hazor, and Megiddo can no longer be assumed to be secure’.

(103) Finkelstein and Perevolotsky (1980).

(104) (1992), 306–7.

(105) (1992), 42–73.

(106) (1995), 230–33. Knoppers (1997), 33, believes that the Shishak material remains crucial for the construction of the history of this period, although it is interpreted completely differently by opposing sides.

(107) Barkay (1992), 306.

(108) Barkay (1992), 307.

(109) Ibid.

(110) (1996a).

(111) Finkelstein (1995c).

(112) Mazar (1997) has challenged Finkelstein's analysis, although he admits that there are few, ‘if any’, chronological anchors for this period.

(113) Finkelstein (1996a), 185.

(114) Mazar (1997), 163–5, disputes Finkelstein's claim and suggests that his view has profound implications for the historicity of the ‘United Monarchy’. He states that Finkelstein's analysis will ‘encourage historians who tend to the minimalistic or even the nihilistic approach in evaluating this period’ (1997), 164.

(115) See Whitelam (1994); (1996). Knoppers's (1997), 33–44, reassessment of the revisionist challenge is an attempt to salvage the united monarchy, albeit in a reduced form.

(116) Holladay (1995), 368.

(117) (1995c), 418.

(118) Holladay (1995), 370.

(119) Ibid., 372.

(120) However, he notes (1995), 394, n. 9, that Shishak's poorly preserved campaign list mentions only Megiddo by name.

(121) See also Barkay (1992), 302.

(122) See Knoppers (1997), 36–43 for a discussion and bibliography. In particular, Cryer (forthcoming) gathers together a series of studies which have addressed some of the central issues in the interpretation of this important find.

(123) (1995), 27.

(124) Halpern (1997), 314.

(125) (1997), 39.

(126) Hobsbawm and Ranger (1983).

(127) Le Goff (1992), 134–42.

(128) Thompson (1992); Jamieson‐Drake (1991); Niemann (1993); Barkay (1995), 349; Finkelstein (1996a).

(129) Whybray (1996), 72.

(130) Kucklick (1996).

(131) (1981), 8.

(132) See Whitelam (1996).

(133) (1982); (1989); (1991); (1995); (1997).

(134) Silberman (1995).

(135) Ibid., 15.

(136) Whitelam (1996).

(137) Southgate (1996), 75.

(138) (1993), 3.

(139) (1995), 697.