The Origins of the United Monarchy (George)
mc2499 at mclink.it
Thu Feb 4 10:23:20 EST 1999
George Athas wrote:
>Ian Hutchesson wrote:
>> [...] This of course means that the only testimony to such a beast as
>> monarchy is a collection of texts dated earliest to the DSS period.
>Yes. But unless the DSS are autographs, then the texts go back beyond the
I wouldn't think that any are autographs and, yes, they seem to go back
beyond the *end* of the DSS period -- which I think was 63 BCE, but could
be as late as 68 CE --, but five years, fifty years, five hundred years, or
more? We cannot hope that these documents can be used as primary historical
sources: we cannot establish any pedigree for them beyond that second
century BCE boundary.
>Just how much is conjecture. In any case, the traditions are fairly old.
>> [...] Would that "little" be functionally equivalent to "no"?
>Nope. Little evidence, not "no" evidence.
What is the "little evidence" from the period?
>> [...] George, there is no doubt that there was a city there with a
>> at least from the time of the Amarna letters. There is however no signs of
>> growth of that city when it allegedly became the centre of a large kingdom,
>> much larger than anything seen in the area before or after (until the times
>> of the Hasmoneans). In fact, there are no archaeological signs for the
>> change of control of the city alleged at the time of David.
>Does there need to be a cultural break? I think it's fairly well
>"Israelite" and "Canaanite" culture are so similar as to be virtually
Yes, I think so, given indications that the Hebrews were not native to the
land (remember 400 years in Egypt and arrival in the land from the south
east, thus not having any of the cultural experience in Palestine during
the prior period). If they were native to the land then that writes off a
lot of the biblical textual record, leaving us with the problem that if
that part is to be written off, how do we decide about what needs to be
written off in the part that remains.
>> This is a grave
>> problem: there are clear signs of the arrival of the Philistines in
>> Palestine. Perhaps there was in fact no signs of cultural difference
>> between the Canaanites and the late of Egypt Hebrews.
>May well be!
That would remove the possibility of using certain parts of the OT/HB for
>> [...] This is quite an understatement, "not... a thriving metropolis".
It was in
>> fact tiny and doesn't seem to have gone through any substantial growth
>> until the time of Hezekiah. This is a city whose life didn't seem to change
>> much at all for some centuries after it became the centre of political
>> power in the region.
>No argument there. However, many people seem to overstate the case that
>small, somehow turning it into no town or settlement whatsoever.
When does it start to compare with other important Palestinian cities, ie
when does it actually show signs of being a centre of a kingdom?
>I don't think the
>record allows such an interpretation of evidence, that the evidence we
have is not
>actually there. But it is there!
There is a village there George, there's no doubt about that.
>> [...] I thought this was a bunch of people who were escaped disenfranchized
>> workers in the building industry in Egypt who spent their time upon arrival
>> in Palestine conquering the local inhabitants, before the emergeance of the
>> desire to have a king. At least that's the story. What makes you think they
>> were "a primitive grouping of pastoralists-recently cum-agriculturalists"?
>Well, for one, the laboriously slow development of settlements in southern
>between 1200-900 BCE. It is a little faster in the north. The eventual
>farming technology (viz terrace farming) shows the switch.
>> If you can say that later writers were representing the earlier period with
>> later traditions, what else was contributed by the later writers? Is it not
>> arbitrary to say this or that was from a later period when there are no
>> benchmarks to aid such a conclusion?
>It is a working hypothesis.
It is the *arbitrary nature* of this sort of "working" hypothesis that
makes historians cringe.
>> By this you seem to be putting forward the thesis that the united monarchy
>> should be relegated to the literature that contains it. It doesn't need
>> such evidence because it was only theoretical. I gather that that means
>> "not reflecting anything that existed in the real world".
>Not quite, but in the general direction. A Davidic ideology which owed its
>to an old warlord in the hills and Negev, and his subsequent successors,
does not need
>to leave behind stone or clay artifacts for the archaeologist's trowel to
>advocating that there was a real David with a real ideology behind him
that he was
>somehow the Chosen one of Yahweh, who imposed his rule on a wide area.
Though you are advocating it, you are doing nothing about realising your
advocacy. You are merely stating a reduced version of the biblical account
without giving any explanation as to why you are advocating it.
>Now, his power
>over these areas was more de jure than de facto. His de facto power lay in
>to boss around small pockets of the local population, not to spread abroad
>system of which he held the reign, as well as the ability to build up a
>Like I said, though, this is a working hypothesis.
>> >> >A bit like a five year old being
>> >> >forced to wear a men's extra large jacket. You say, "We have only
>> >> children's clothes
>> >> >here - no evidence of adulthood."
>> >> The analogy of course is not good. You have the knowledge from
>> >> that children grow up to adulthood. There is nothing equivalent in
>> >> are applying your analogy to.
>> >I'm not sure I follow you. We know that Judah did eventually develop into
>> >a fully fledged state in its own right. That is the equivalent: Judah
>> >Israel) did eventually grow up into well developed states.
>> The realm of a united monarchy is the still missing adult.
>Oh, you've misunderstood me. Sorry, my fault. The adult is the fully
fledged State of
>Judah, verifiable by Assyrian and Babylonian records and archaeological
>The adult is the eventual state that Judah inevitably grew up into,
wearing the jacket
>of well developed statehood. The child in the analogy is Judah and Israel
in the 10th
>century - certainly not grown up into a well developed, mature State. The
>Monarchy is the jacket which the Child was forced to wear - it was bound
to be thrown
>off as premature.
OK. I understand the analogy now, I think. However, it seems to be based on
stuff you can't sustain: you are only repeating the secondary source on the
united monarchy -- a secondar source whose aim was not history, though too
often people try to read it as such.
>> No. I mean that "loosely connected tribes" is merely conjecture. There may
>> have been tribes, but "loosely connected"?
>Well, what I meant was not some kind of amphictiony (is that how you spell
(I live in a country where spelling is easy: given the rules of
transcription, you write it as you say it. My English spelling has gone to
>I meant a number of tribes which eventually interracted and came to have
>and perhaps interdependence with. I'm making the "connection" with
>geographical glue, not theological glue.
I took it with a political sense. When you start talking about "loosely
connected tribes" you are hinting at a nascent political situation, leading
to what seems to be your underlying assumption of the basic historical
correctness of the biblical accounts, which I consider unjustifiable.
>> Accounts that are admitted by you as not reflecting the real situation in
>> Jerusalem of the era and having documentary support from texts datable to
>> the second century BCE, would be like attempting to apply the Epic of
>> Gilgamesh to a hypothetical reality, or Le Morte d'Arthur, or the Ramayana.
>> One might attempt to find the speck of truth in those texts, but I doubt if
>> any historian would go out on a limb and attempt to use them as history.
>Like I said, Ian, it's just a hypothesis - not Law.
This is the hypothesis you are supporting. If it's "just a hypothesis", why
do you support it?
>> >> >That of course, is if the United Monarchy existed. The problem is
>> >> >evidence is silent. But silence of evidence does not mean evidence of
>> >> It does give scope for contemplating other alternatives, for there is no
>> >> evidentially favoured position.
>> >Of course. I'm just putting forward one of the alternatives.
>> The "alternative" you are putting forward has archaeological problems and
>> though it's been around for millennia, it has only lost appeal to
>> historians, whereas active hypotheses usually generate positive research to
>> sustain them or fall into inactivity and loss of appeal. The appeal of the
>> one you are putting forward doesn't seem to have anything to do with facts
>> stimulated by the hypothesis. I think it's time for serious consideration
>> of other hypotheses, given the lack of success over the millennia of the
>> currently dominant one.
>I don't think the archaeological record contradicts a Davidic ideology de
It does show nothing substantial in Jerusalem before the time of say
Hezekiah, though we have an extended Davidic kingdom followed by the
magniloquent Solomonic reign which supposedly attracted a marriage with the
daughter of the pharaoh, which would be an unthinkable slight to the
pharaoh, especially sending his daughter to the miserable little place on
the slopes of Ophel.
>Our differences, Ian, I think lie in methodology. You take the one footing
>that the material is so late it couldn't shed anything meaningful on the
>question, and this is borne out by the archaeological record which
Let me put it this way: I take the position that whether the OT/HB
literature does or does not reflect the period in any sense, it is
inadmissable evidence as we have no way of testing its validity for the
period. In fact, the archaeological record conflicts with that literature
when that literature is read literally. If you start not to read it
literally, then you are open to applying it to different eras.
>I'm taking the footing that perhaps the literary material can be
>discarded, by the archaeological material.
Actually I agree with this. I don't see any reason to discard the literary
material, but I tink we need to justify the context in which we read it. I
don't think you have. It seems to me that you are taking a fundamentally
literalist approach to the basic contents. Do you also do so with the
literal contents of the book of Daniel, or do you accept its
recontextualisation in the hellenistic era?
>I wish we would be around in another 1000 years, Ian, to see how much more
>archaeologists could assist in framing the picture. There's still a lot of
>be done. That's the big question mark which hangs over all our heads.
Archaeology can only get better. I've just been reading about the mess that
Garstang made at Jericho: a real man without a method. Kenyon seems to have
been such an important model in comparison.
>> You wrote in another post about my showing how archaeology and epigraphy
>> have unveiled kingdoms (eg Ebla, Hatti) we otherwise would never have known
>> anything about:
>> >But Ian, these societies were already well developed at the time, with an
>> >existent infrastructure and political system which had been place for a
>> long time.
>> >In 1000 BCE, Israel and Judah didn't have a well developed political
>> Then why do you support such a hypothesis as the united monarchy at all? We
>> are at best in the realms of conjecture.
>No - what I'm suggesting is that with Ebla and co, there appears to have
>pristine state formation - that is, the natural socio-economic forces
>themselves into statehood. What I'm suggesting is that the United Monarchy
>have such a pristine state formation. Rather, state formation was forced,
>by ideological factors than socio-economic factors.
This is pure literalist reading of the secondary source material, George.
Unjustiable, totally unjustifiable. If we look at more historically
oriented secondary material of the Roman period, one always sides with the
epigraphic and numismatic evidence against the literary fonts. This
suggests that it is unsafe to trust the literary fonts per se. We have
historiographers like Polybius and (even) Josephus criticising the
histories written before their times as being flawed in approach.
We have contemporary epigraphic records in Egypt that must be taken with a
grain of salt, although contrained by their contemporary nature to reflect
some element of reality -- otherwise the people of the time would have
known that it was a pure con. The biblical accounts we have simply aren't
contemporary sources, so if they are in any way related to the times the
talk about, they will have the inherent spin of the epoch with layer upon
layer of later spin...
>As such, the United Monarchy did
>not have the socio-economic stability to continue, which is why it failed,
>Israel and Judah took another century or two to form stable states.
...you are thus getting here on a wing and a prayer.
>> I am intrigued by some of the names of kings in the early period that
>> suggest a lack of historicity. Beside names such as David ("beloved" or
>> "general"?) and Solomon ("peace"), we come across names such as "Rehoboam"
>> (related to the sea as in Rahab of Ps89 & Is51) and his son, Abijam ("my
>> father is the sea"); what about the similarly structure name to Rehoboam,
>> ie Jeroboam (regarding "contention" -- mere coincidence?), or Baasha
>> ("stinky")? Do any of these reflect real people or are they simply names
>> generated from Hebrew traditions?
>Good question. The fact that there is a Jeroboam from the early 8th
century in Israel
>suggests that it was not a made up name, a perjorative title, or even a
>Progress type characterisation.
Saying twice doesn't make it any more historical!
>Secondly, the connection between Rehoboam and Rahab
>the Sea Monster is erroneous. Rehoboam is spelled with a heth, Rahab with
Either I've got crap software (quite possible), or you're mistaken. It
indicates that both are based on rachab (wide).
>there's no problem on that front. Besides, even if it was there, what
>connote? We have the similar name of Jeroboam in the north (two of them!),
so such a
>name would not be abnormal. Can't find anything of Baasha - nevertheless,
>know what he was like as a kid! :)
You gotta be kiddin' me, man!
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