Biblical Archaeology Review 39:6, November/December 2013

An Ending and a Beginning

Why we’re leaving Qeiyafa and going to Lachish

By Yosef GarfinkelMichael HaselMartin G. Klingbeil

The current heated debate on the relationship between history, the Bible and archaeology focuses on the tenth century B.C.E., the time of David and Solomon. In the early years of research, the Biblical narratives of David, Solomon and his son Rehoboam were considered an accurate historical account. Since the 1980s, however, serious doubts have been raised about this tradition. The Bible is merely a literary compilation dating from centuries later, it has been argued. According to this approach, these kings were legendary figures. Although the inscription from Tel Dan recovered in 1993 clearly indicates that David was indeed a historical figure,a it was nevertheless unclear whether he was the ruler of a large empire or only a local chieftain governing a small territory. As one critic argued, David’s kingdom was simply “500 people with sticks in their hands shouting and cursing and spitting.”1

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