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Larry Saltzman: The Bible Unearthed

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    The Bible Unearthed by Larry Saltzman - The Palestine Chronicle PalestineChronicle.com: A revolution is happening in Biblical Archaeology. Biblical Archaeology
    Message 1 of 1 , Dec 6, 2004
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      The Bible Unearthed

      by Larry Saltzman - The Palestine Chronicle


      A revolution is happening in Biblical Archaeology. Biblical
      Archaeology is critically examining the Bible against the
      archaeological record and is turning everything we thought we knew
      upside down. It may disturb many that hold strong political or
      highly conservative religious beliefs. This will be true of
      Christians, Muslims and Jews who interpret the Bible literally.

      It will disturb many secular Zionists who justify modern Israel's
      existence and the proposed annexation of "Judah and Samaria" based
      on the Biblical Texts. You can choose to believe this research or
      not. But it has profound implications for the Israeli Palestinian
      conflict. This article will review the theories of one of the
      foremost of these revolutionary Biblical archaeologists - Israel

      Professor Finkelstein is an Israeli and has received a lot of
      criticism in Israel for his work from conservative elements in the
      society that are aware of what it means for the Biblical
      underpinnings of Zionism. To read more about the research that lies
      behind this summary, I refer you to the writings of Israel
      Finkelstein. The most accessible book is The Bible Unearthed:
      Archaeology's New Vision of Ancient Israel and the Origin of Its
      Sacred Texts, written with Neil Asher Silberman and published by The
      Free Press in 2001. Finkelstein is one of a group of radical
      archaeologists that is turning the field of biblical archaeology on
      its head.

      Archaeologists live in a world of tells, strata, Carbon 14 dating,
      Jericho IV, The Early, Middle and Late Bronze Age, Iron Age I and
      Iron Age II and of course pottery shards and architectural styles.
      Slowly but surely as they excavate and date the significant
      Archaeological sites located in modern Israel and parts of Occupied
      Palestine the history of the region as recorded in the Bible is
      being re-written from what the Bible has told us. What follows is a
      very brief summary of that research and an analysis of its

      Professor Finkelstein has not attempted himself to interpret his
      research in the context of the contemporary political and diplomatic
      complexities of the Middle East. He has simply presented the facts
      that the archaeological record has revealed. Some archaeologists
      still disagree, but his is a mainstream scientific view and not the
      work of a fringe writer with a political or conspiracy axe to grind.
      And more and more prominent scholars in the field are moving to
      something like his viewpoint, even though they may disagree on the

      Israel, Judah and Samaria were simply Canaanite States that arose
      out of indigenous Canaanite culture and not from the invasion of a
      mythical people called the Hebrews. Israel was a small Canaanite
      State that briefly achieved a golden age, reaching its' height of
      power and glory in the reign of King Ahab and Queen Jezebel. The
      House of David never ruled in Israel, it ruled over the Canaanite
      State of Judah.

      Finkelstein is convinced that the House of David did exist. David
      and Solomon were probably tribal chiefs in the hill country that
      became the Kingdom of Judah. Jerusalem was the Capital of Judah not
      of Israel. In the time of David and Solomon, Jerusalem was an
      unimportant very small town with no great Temple. The major cult
      centres were farther to the north in the cities of Israel. In fact
      the great cities of Canaan that were previously attributed to the
      Solomon were built by Israeli Kings like Ahab.

      It was under King Josiah that the Bible was finally written and
      something resembling modern Judaism begins to take shape in the 7th
      and 8th centuries BC. It is a political document that is designed to
      glorify the Josiah and to connect him falsely with the golden era
      when the state of Israel briefly rose up as a powerful and advanced
      civilized centre. The Bible is essentially a work of propaganda,
      weaving historical fragments and myths of various Canaanite peoples
      into a powerful justification for Josiah's rule and expansionist

      I personally draw a positive conclusion from this research. As an
      American-Jew, I have long struggled with the contradictions and
      problems of Zionism and the unjust policies of the State of Israel
      towards Palestinians. For those brave enough to seize this research
      in the right spirit, there is a solution in it for the problems of
      the Middle East. Simply stated, European Jews, Middle Eastern Jews,
      and Palestinians are brothers and sisters and share a common
      Canaanite ancestry. There were a small number of voices amongst the
      early Zionists who were against the creation of a separate Jewish
      state in the region. They lost out to the bigger faction lead by
      David Ben-Gurion, who suffered from the disease of European
      colonialism. Ben-Gurion and those in his camp saw the natives of the
      region as an obstacle to be eliminated. I believe Jews around the
      world need to take pride not in Israel as a modern colonialist State
      but in the entire region of Palestine as the homeland of Canaanite
      and Israelite culture that we are descended from. European Jews are
      simply Europeanized Canaanites; Palestinians, whether Muslim,
      Christian or Jewish were simply Arabised Canaanites. Even modern
      genetic research is proving that we come from the same ancestry.

      Think of Irish-Americans or Italian-Americans returning to their
      ancestral homelands to experience the culture and the people. They
      do not think they have the right to conquer the land and dispossess
      those who stayed behind. Rather they go back to re-connect with
      their cultural roots from those who are part of the living culture.
      Because of Zionism, Jews lost the chance to return to Palestine and
      re-connect with the Palestinians who are the people that have
      carried forward the culture of ancient Canaan. Viewed in that light,
      I see the fight against Zionism as being as much my fight as the
      Palestinians fight. It is the Zionists who created a rift between
      family, where there should have been friendship and cooperation. It
      is modern Zionism that disconnected me from my roots not connected
      me. It is that movement that even stole the spiritual base of
      Judaism and associated it for the first time in two thousand years
      with aggression and oppression of others. Whatever flaws my European
      ancestors had, they were not the ones starting wars and building
      colonial empires, as was the Christian majority in Europe.

      It is the Zionists who through their acts of ethnic cleansing and on-
      going violence have made enemies out of people who share a common
      ancestry with me. The disease of European Colonialist thinking
      prevented them from seeing how much the Palestinians had to share
      with us of the ancient cultures and common heritage. Those who came
      from Europe may have had the advantage of European technology, but
      the Palestinians had something far more valuable that the Zionists
      treated with contempt and discarded.

      My hope though, is that a new vision of the common ancestry of Jews
      and Palestinians can be shared and spread and used to defeat the
      discredited legacy of Zionism. The ancient Canaanites had a great
      culture. From their culture springs Judaism, Christianity and Islam.
      Their culture as expressed by the Canaanite civilizations of Judah
      and Israel exerts more influence on great portions of humanity than
      does that of far greater military powers and empires of the ancient
      world. Where the myths and religions of other ancient civilizations
      of the Middle East are no longer believed or practiced by many
      people, The religious heritage of Judah is practiced in the form of
      Christianity, Islam and Judaism by something approaching two billion
      people on every inhabited continent. When we can recognize and
      accept our profound common heritage, perhaps we can begin to
      overcome the suffering and warfare of the twentieth century and move
      towards lasting peace and justice in the Middle East.

      Larry Saltzman is an American Jew who believes that the meaning of
      the Holocaust is that "never again" means that no people on the
      planet should be persecuted. He is deeply involved in organic
      gardening and has an orchard of some 60 fruit trees. He had been
      opposed to the Israeli occupation for some time, but when he learned
      of the wanton destruction of orchards and farmland by Israeli troops
      in the Palestinian Territories this past year, he decided to become
      active. He has a B.A. in Anthropology from UCLA but works as a
      computer programmer.

      Extracted 09/03/02 from The Palestine Chronicle

      E-mail your comments to amirali@...

      ===== John Kameel Farah http://www.johnfarah.com



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