A Hebrew Bible/Old Testament scholar looks at the Bible and culture…

Statehood Dependent on Archaeological Finds?

I’ve read several articles in the past few weeks relating the presence of archaeological finds to the question of statehood.

This one from Ha’aretz explains that the Dutch government hopes to support the cause of Palestinian statehood by financing archaeology at Tell Balata, an ancient site within the city of Nablus:

“The creation of institutions can only be sustainable if it goes hand in hand with the strengthening of the cultural identity of the Palestinian people ahead of a negotiated agreement on statehood,”  [representative to the PA] Twiss said, adding that “sites like Tell Balata are simply too important to be neglected.”

Other articles report new finds that establish the long-standing history of Jews in the land:

  • a city wall in Jerusalem built in the time of Solomon
  • According to a press release from the University of Haifa, “The new identification of Khirbet Qeiyafa in the region of Israel’s Elah Valley as ‘Neta’im’ confirms the supremacy of the Kingdom of Israel in the 10th century BCE, during the times of King David.”  According to Prof. Gershon Galil, it is further proof of a large and powerful kingdom during the days of King David.”

Is counting archaeological sites the best way to determine the boundaries of modern states?


One Response to Statehood Dependent on Archaeological Finds?

  • I think this article has some parallels to the one you authored on minor prophets and the focus on facts about the prophets instead of their meesage. I note that Binyamin Netanyahu defended in front of the US Congress his country’s recent expansion of housing in Jerusalem by citing historical precedents – some dating back 3000 years.

    My observation is the same as with trying to undetand the prophets by uncovering “facts” abotu their lives: it’s a futile approach because the facts are unascertainable and open to constant reinterpretation. I’m reminded of a lawsuit with whch I was familiar whrein a Native American tribe in Upstate NY was suing white landowners because they felt the land in question should be theirs based on the fact that they inhabited it before the whites. (A treaty transfering rights was disputed because they said the NA signers had no authority.) The suit ultimately failed not because the whites won their defense but because another tribe sued the first tribe, saying they were the original inhabitants, not the tribe that intiated the suit. The judge threw out the whole thing sayiing he coudl see no way to convincingly sort out the histories that would resolve the issues.

    As long as politicians rely on historical anecdote – or archeology – to set boundaries, the more unlikely a solution becomes.

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