Sunday, May 06, 2018

Proof of David's biblical kingdom? Not yet.

ARCHAEOLOGY: Does This 3,000-Year-Old House Confirm King David's Lost Biblical Kingdom? (Owen Jarus, Live Science).
Archaeologists have discovered a sprawling, possibly 3,000-year-old house that suggests a biblical kingdom called the United Monarchy, ruled by King David and later Solomon according to the Hebrew Bible, actually existed.

The archaeologists who excavated the house, at a site now called Tel Eton, in Israel, said in an article published online March 13 in the journal Radiocarbon that the date, design and size of the house indicates that a strong organized government existed at Tel Eton around 3,000 years ago. They added that this government may be the United Monarchy. The site is located in the central part of Israel in a region called the Shephalah.

As you might guess, it takes a lot of inference to get us from finding a big, tenth-century BCE(-ish) house to having proof of the United Monarchy. Nevertheless, this is an important discovery, even if its exact date and implications are debatable.

To my mind, the existence of the Davidic dynasty is demonstrated beyond reasonable doubt by the Tel Dan Inscription. But whether a Davidic dynasty adds up to anything like the United Monarchy of the Bible is another matter. So far the archaeological record appears to be inconclusive. I am not an archaeologist, but when I see credible archaeologists on both sides of the debate, that tells me that the evidence is inconclusive.

It would be nice to find some royal inscriptions from David and Solomon. Or any substantial Israelite documents from that period. But even those might not solve the broader question of the historicity of the biblical United Monarchy.

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