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Re: [ANE-2] horned altars

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  • RUSSELLGMIRKIN@aol.com
    The alleged destruction of a cult site at Beersheba, first attributed to Hezekiah’s reforms by Y. Yadin,“Beer-sheba: the High Place Destroyed by King
    Message 1 of 3 , Nov 16, 2009
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      The alleged destruction of a cult site at Beersheba, first attributed to
      Hezekiah’s reforms by Y. Yadin,“Beer-sheba: the High Place Destroyed by
      King Josiah”, BASOR 222 (1970) 1-17, is problematic. Na’aman points out a
      number of destroyed or abandoned cult sites that have not entered the
      discussion due to the impossibility of dating them to the time of Hezekiah or
      Josiah. Cult sites abandoned at various other times are quietly ignored, but
      those with any chance of correlation with the reforms in Kings are
      interpreted as reflecting those historiographical accounts, even though the
      accounts in Kings depict a far more drastic destruction of rival cult sites than
      the carefully dismantled altar seen in excavations. Na’aman concludes that
      current archaeological evidence does not support cultic reforms having
      historically taken place under these kings. See N. Na’aman, “The Debated
      Historicity of Hezekiah’s Reform in the Light of Historical and Archaeological
      Research”, ZAW 107 (1995) 179-95, especially 185-87. Note that as late as
      164 BCE, the altar of burnt offerings at Jerusalem's temple was carefully
      dismantled and reverentially stored away in comparable fashion (1 Macc.
      4.43-45) until a prophet could tell them the proper procedure for handling what
      had once functioned as a legitimate alter to Yahweh. In contrast, pagan
      temples were utterly razed during the Maccabean war (e.g. 1 Macc. 5.43-44).
      This cautions us against interpreting dismantled Iron II altars as
      necessarily non-Yahwistic.

      Best regards,
      Russell Gmirkin
      Portland, OR

      The two incense altars at Arad are in the shape of other horned altars
      without the horns at the corners. A horned altar from Ekron does not have
      horns, but short knobs. The horned altar at Beersheba was dismantled,
      probably during the reforms of Hezekiah (c. 700) as archaeologists found the
      horns and altar stones reused in a later structure.

      David Q. Hall
      Falls Church, VA 22042






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