Kings’ Things

David and Solomon: In Search of the Bible’s Sacred Kings and the Roots of the Western Tradition, by Israel Finkelstein and Neil Asher Silberman – This book combines archaeology and historical study to try to separate fact from fiction in the stories of the two legendary Jewish kings, and explain how the narratives came to take form. The authors concluded that the archaeological record doesn’t really support the picture of the wealthy kingdom of Israel that the Bible describes as existing in the era of David and (especially) Solomon, with its courtly life and profitable international trade. Instead, it’s likely that these descriptions better matched conditions in the time when the Deuteronomist History (i.e., the books of Joshua, Judges, Samuel, and Kings) was written and compiled, probably mostly in the reigns of Hezekiah and Josiah of Judah. Goliath, for instance, was described as wearing the garb of the Greek mercenaries who were well known in the later Kingdom of Judah. As such, it kind of reminds me of King Arthur lore, as Arthur was supposed to have lived in the sixth century, but is described as having more of a thirteenth century (or thereabouts) court. Also described is how David and Solomon changed from ideal representations of the monarchy to symbols of the Jewish religion in general, and later of Jesus and Christianity as well.

This entry was posted in Book Reviews, Christianity, Historical Personages, History, Judaism, Religion and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Kings’ Things

  1. vilajunkie says:

    Have you ever read “The Cartoon History of the Universe” by Larry Gonick? He did cartoon histories for physics, genetics, American history, sex, and maybe another one as well. Anyway, in the first volume, he really breaks down how human and sometimes inhumane ancient leaders could be, including David and Solomon, and he even deconstructs the famous parable of Solomon and dividing up the baby. It turns out the parable was political propaganda by Solomon himself to justify why he took over the kingdom from the rightful heir, his half-brother.

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