Monday, December 17, 2018

Kiryat Yearim and the Ark of the Covenant

WHILE WE'RE ON PLACES WHERE THE ARK OF THE COVENANT ISN'T: Israeli Excavation Reveals New Findings About the Ark of the Covenant. Excavations at Kiryat Yearim may show the handiwork of King Jeroboam and suggest that the Ark was a symbol of unity between rival kingdoms (Nir Hasson, Haaretz premium). The actual point of this article is that Professor Israel Finkelstein has concluded, on the basis of the excavation of Kiryat Yearim, that any United Kingdom of Israel and Judah was controlled by Israel (the Northern Kingdom) rather than the Judean Kingdom of the line of David:
About two weeks ago, Prof. Israel Finkelstein, an archaeologist from Tel Aviv University and a member of the National Academy of Sciences, presented his findings from the excavations at Kiryat Yearim to a meeting of the national academies of science of Israel and France. Finkelstein is known as the leader of the camp that opposes the biblical approach in archaeology. He vehemently opposes the view that the unified kingdom of David and Solomon existed and controlled extensive parts of the land of Israel.
I don't have any view on this matter, apart from noting that Professor Finkelstein is exceptionally well placed to have an informed opinion. What he thinks should be taken very seriously.

Despite leading the article, the Ark of the Covenant is just a speculative sideline to the story. Unsurprisingly, there aren't any actual "new findings" about it.
The purpose of the Ark of the Covenant story, according to this idea, was intended to give religious legitimacy to Kiryat Yearim. It was told and written in the northern kingdom of Israel, was passed on to Jerusalem through the refugees who arrived there after the destruction of the northern kingdom, and from there it found its way into the Bible. Many other “northern” traditions can be found in the Bible, such as the stories of Jacob, the Exodus and the stories of King Saul.
I was going to ignore this one, but since the Ark has been in the news again lately, here it is.

Many past PaleoJudaica posts on the Ark of the the Covenant are collected here and links (immediately preceding post).

UPDATE: Also, past posts on the excavation at Kiriat Yearim (Kiryat Ye'arim, Kiriath Jearim), inevitably also mentioning the Ark, are here and here.

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