BAR 36:02, Mar/Apr 2010
In Their Own Words
Scholars continue to puzzle over how much of the Biblical account of the United Monarchy of David and Solomon is fact versus fiction. In this excerpt from a recent conference paper on the archaeology of early Israel,1 prominent Hebrew University archaeologist Amihai Mazar argues that when it comes to the historicity of David and Solomon, there is no need to throw the baby out with the bath water.
There is no doubt that many aspects, and even entire stories in the Biblical narrative relating to the United Monarchy are literary constructs created by authors who lived centuries later than the supposed time of events, who were inspired by their own theology and ideology. Nonetheless, a total deconstruction of the United Monarchy as an historical entity is unjustified. The mention of bytdwd as the name of the Judean kingdom in the Tel Dan Aramean stele indicates that approximately a century and a half after his reign, David was recognized throughout the region as the founder of the dynasty that ruled Judah. David’s huge impact on Judean collective memory cannot be explained merely as an invention of later authors.