Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Another wacko Arab theory about ancient Israel

Al-Quds (Arabic) has a lengthy report on Kamal Salibi, a Lebanese professor who has been pushing a theory for decades now that Biblical stories all took place in Arabia, not Israel. Even the Jordan River, he argues, was really the Sarawat Mountains (since he says the word "river" is never used in the Bible) and all Biblical placenames are really names in Arabia, including Jerusalem - in 'Asir, southern Arabia. According to this theory, those crafty Jews renamed Palestinian cities after the Biblical cities during the time of the Hasmonean Kingdom, in the second century BCE, but there were no Jews in Israel beforehand.

The Arabs would use this, of course, to delegitimize any Jewish claim on Israel.

Debunking this is easy, if only from a single archaeological find that was announced yesterday:
The Israel Antiquities Authority on Monday announced the discovery of a large building dating to the time of the First and Second Temples during an excavation in the village of Umm Tuba in southern Jerusalem.

The excavation was conducted by Zubair Adawi on behalf of the antiquities authority, prior to the start of construction there by a private contractor.

The archaeological remains include several rooms arranged around a courtyard, in which researchers found a potter's kiln and pottery vessels. The pottery remains seem to date from the eighth century B.C.E. (First Temple period).

The excavators also found royal seal impressions on some of the pottery fragments that date to the era of Hezekiah, King of Judah (end of the eighth century B.C.E.).

Four "LMLK" impressions (which indicate the items belonged to the king) were discovered on handles of large jars used to store wine and oil. Seals of two high-ranking officials named Ahimelekh ben Amadyahu and Yehokhil ben Shahar, who served in the government, were also found.

The Yehokhil seal was stamped on one of the LMLK impressions before the jar was fired in a kiln and this is a rare example of two such impressions appearing together on a single handle.
Biblical characters from the First Temple period hanging around in Jerusalem in the 8th century BCE writing in Hebrew sort of demolishes Kamal Salibi's theory.