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OLD TESTAMENT ARCHEOLOGY: Timely Truths for the Modern World

The Invention of the Jewish People

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The Invention of the Jewish People (Hebrew: מתי ואיך הומצא העם היהודי?‎‎, Matai ve’ech humtza ha’am hayehudi?, literally When and How Was the Jewish People Invented?) is a study of the historiography of the Jewish people by Shlomo Sand, Professor of History at Tel Aviv University. It has generated a heated controversy. The book was in the best-seller list in Israel for nineteen weeks. It was reprinted three times when published in French (Comment le peuple juif fut inventé, Fayard, Paris, 2008). In France, it received the "Prix Aujourd'hui", a journalists' award given to a non-fiction political or historical work.

An English translation of the book was published by Verso Books in October 2009. The book has also been translated into German, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, Arabic, and Russian, and as of late 2009 further translations were underway. The Invention of the Jewish People has now been translated into more languages than any other Israeli history book.

What is says:

Jewish origins
Sand argues that it is likely that the ancestry of most contemporary Jews stems mainly from outside the Land of Israel and that a "nation-race" of Jews with a common origin never existed, and that just as most Christians and Muslims are the progeny of converted people, not of the first Christians and Muslims, Jews are also descended from converts. According to Sand, Judaism was originally, like its two cousins, a proselytising religion, and mass conversions to Judaism occurred among the Khazars in the Caucasus, Berber tribes in North Africa, and in the Himyarite Kingdom of the Arabian Peninsula.

According to Sand, the original Jews living in Israel, contrary to popular belief, were not exiled by the Romans following the Bar Kokhba revolt. The Romans permitted most Jews to remain in the country. Rather, the story of the exile was a myth promoted by early Christians to recruit Jews to the new faith. They portrayed that event as a divine punishment imposed on the Jews for having rejected the Christian gospel. Sand writes that "Christians wanted later generations of Jews to believe that their ancestors had been exiled as a punishment from God." Following the Arab conquest of Palestine in the 7th century, many local Jews converted to Islam and were assimilated among the Arab conquerors. Sand concludes that these converts are the ancestors of the contemporary Palestinians.

Jewish peoplehood
Sand's explanation of the birth of the "myth" of a Jewish people as a group with a common, ethnic origin has been summarized as follows: "[a]t a certain stage in the 19th century intellectuals of Jewish origin in Germany, influenced by the folk character of German nationalism, took upon themselves the task of inventing a people "retrospectively," out of a thirst to create a modern Jewish people. From historian Heinrich Graetz on, Jewish historians began to draw the history of Judaism as the history of a nation that had been a kingdom, became a wandering people and ultimately turned around and went back to its birthplace."

In this, Sand writes, they were similar to other nationalist movements in Europe at the time that sought the reassurance of a Golden Age in their past to prove they have existed as a separate people since the beginnings of history. Jewish people found theirs in what he calls "the mythical Kingdom of David". Before this invention, he says, Jews thought of themselves as Jews because they shared a common religion, not a common ethnic background.

Overall intent of the book
Sand explained during a newspaper interview his reasons for writing the book: "I wrote the book for a double purpose. First, as an Israeli, to democratise the state; to make it a real republic. Second, I wrote the book against Jewish essentialism."

Sand explained in the same interview that what he means by 'Jewish essentialism' is, in the words of the interviewer, "the tendency in modern Judaism to make shared ethnicity the basis for faith." "That is dangerous and it nourishes antisemitism. I am trying to normalise the Jewish presence in history and contemporary life," Sand said.

Reception: As a work of history
Writing in The Financial Times, British historian Tony Judt commented, "Shlomo Sand has written a remarkable book. In cool, scholarly prose he has, quite simply, normalized Jewish history." He states that he is untroubled by the book's historical perspective, and that "Sand – for example in his emphasis upon the conversions and ethnic mixing that characterise the Jews in earlier times – is telling us nothing we do not already know." British historian Eric Hobsbawm selected Sand's book as one of his "Books of the Year" for 2009: "Shlomo Sand's The Invention of the Jewish People (Verso) is both a welcome and, in the case of Israel, much needed exercise in the dismantling of nationalist historical myth and a plea for an Israel that belongs equally to all its inhabitants."


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The Jews: Sacred History

But we have a story, a tale of tribal fidelity – with frequent, and instructive, lapses – to a protector god Yahweh, who had chosen this ‘people’ as his very own. For them, he has a divine purpose. In particular, their migration into Canaan is given an heroic re-interpretation. No longer do we have piecemeal migration over centuries but a single glorious conquest by a cohesive people. The ‘idolatrous’ city dwellers (of ‘Jericho’, etc.) get their comeuppance and the whole land is promised to the Jews in perpetuity. They have, it would seem, arrived as a single group from Egypt, released from slavery by divine intervention.

The extraordinary thing about this ‘history’ - complete with verbatim dialogue between man and god - is that it was not written until more than a thousand years after the supposed events.

Records one historian,

"The first millennium of Jewish history as presented in the Bible has no empirical foundation whatsoever."
– Cantor, The Sacred Chain, p 51.​

The impressive race history, tracing the Jews (the people of Judah), back through Hebrews in Canaan and Israelites in Egypt, to a noble ancestor called Abraham (father, it seems, of all the races, including Greeks and Arabs!), and the whole melodramatic story of the Exodus, was concocted at a much later date, after the tribal leadership of these Judaean tribesmen had been taken into exile and had learned the rudiments of civilization from their Babylonian captors. This was not at the dawn of time but in the seventh century BC, when Greece was already a civilization and Carthage had a maritime empire.

The original Hebrew/Canaanite occupants of Palestine did pass into history. Many, including the so-called ‘lost tribes’ of Israel (those living in northern Palestine) were assimilated by Assyrian conquerors during the eighth century.

But the ‘victors,’ a Persian-sponsored priesthood who settled in Judaea in the 6th century BC, wrote a sacred history, known to the Jews as the Torah (or Pentateuch ) and to the Christians as the first 'five books' of the Old Testament. Together with the 'Prophets' and 'Wisdom' literature, this voluminous text purports to be an account of the trials and tribulations of the Jews through the previous two millennia. Rather oddly, its detail and obvious accuracy peters out the closer it approaches the time when it was actually written. Joshua, supposedly on the rampage in the thirteenth century BC, gets vast reportage, whereas several 7th century kings known to history are omitted.

Indeed, the four hundred years between the last book of the Old Testament (the 5th century Malachi) and the first book of the New Testament echo in a biblical silence.

No biblical text gives the conquest of Palestine by Alexander the Great (in 323 BC) a mention. Ptolemaic Egypt’s loss of her Palestinian provinces to Syria in 198 BC is unrecorded. 'Minor' personages like Julius Caesar and Pompey the Great are overlooked. And the books of Maccabees – which should tell us the ‘recent’ story of the successful Jewish rebellion against Greek rule in the second century BC – are so blatantly filled with error and incoherence that even biblical editors shunted them into the ‘Apocrypha’ or omitted them entirely.

But of course we are not speaking of history, but rather of sacred testimony designed to control, justify, and inspire.

Anyone can be factual. In the Bible we have a book with a purpose.

But credits to the growing size of Israelis, foremost of them Herzog, who realize the need for Israel to establish a factual nation not based on myths and fiction, and start a revolution of new thinking and perhaps a chance for the whole people of Palestine to finally live and tolerate each other. And if this kind of thinking is happening in the heart of Christianity and Judaism, more so the rest of the world who are long into believing the fiction and myths in their lives.



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Egypt and the Jewish Patriarchs: Palpable Nonsense

The two primary books of the Old Testament – Genesis and Exodus – refer to 'Pharaoh' 155 times. Curiously, not once in either book is Pharaoh identified by name – and yet, in fact, the references are to many different pharaohs, across many centuries. The anomaly is all the more telling in that the holy books are not lacking in naming numerous sundry and incidental characters. For example, the grandmother, of the grandmother, of King Asa of Judah was Abishalom, should you be interested! (1 Kings 15.10). But this style of literature should be familiar to us all: "Once upon a time, in a land far away, was a bad king. And in the forest, David played...."

It's called a Fairy Tale.

Out of Egypt
Let's remind ourselves of Israel's supposed early encounters with the diverse kings of Egypt. In the sacred history of the Jews, the ‘father of the races’ Abraham is placed in Babylonia, anachronistically relabelled Chaldea, a term more appropriate to the empire of Nebuchadnezzar in the 600s BC. The character of Abraham alternates between bedouin pastoralist and landed grandee. Neither has the slightest claim to historical veracity.

The nonsense begins

Abraham – and Unnamed Pharaoh No. 1

To identify this pharaoh choose any date between 2300 BC - 1400 BC. Abraham's supposed existence hinges exclusively on biblical sources and working backwards from the supposed existence of Solomon, several centuries later.

The Good Book informs us that there is a 10-year age gap between Abraham and his wife/half-sister Sarah (Genesis 17.17). Thus when the Patriarch gets God's call to leave Haran, Sarah is already a pensioner (he is 75, so she is 65) (Genesis 12.4.) After wandering in Canaan, a spate of altar building and camping in the mountains, famine drives the old fellow and his missus down into Egypt (Genesis 12.12).

Abraham fears his wife's "great beauty" will get him killed so they concoct the ruse that "she's my sister." Sure enough, Sarah gets fast-tracked into the harem of 'Pharaoh' – but the duped king gets a nasty case of plague. Though the trick is unmasked, Abraham is allowed to leave – with Sarah and, it seems, with all his ill-gotten gains.


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Judaism's Strange Gods
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Author: Michael Hoffman

In Judaism's Strange Gods: Revised and Expanded Christian scholar Michael Hoffman documents his provocative thesis that Judaism is not the religion of the Old Testament, but the newly formalized belief system of the Pharisees, which arose in Babylon with the commitment of the formally oral traditions of the elders to writing, in the wake of the crucifixion of Israels Messiah and the destruction of the Temple.
Basing his findings on authoritative Judaic sources, Hoffman demonstrates that Judaism is a man-made religion of tradition and superstition, which represents the institutionalized nullification of Biblical law and doctrine.

Liberating the reader from the accumulated shackles of decades of misinformation, this book that shows that Judaism's god is not the God of Israel, but the strange gods of Talmud and Kabbalah, and the racial self-worship they inculcate.

Christian bookstores are packed with tomes purporting to unmask the religion of Islam, but not one slim volume will be found delving into the depravities of Orthodox Judaism.Judaism's Strange Gods: Revised and Expanded: corrects that imbalance with its fidelity to Biblical truth and the historic witness of the Church.

Here is the best book on Judaism for educating people about the hidden side of this much glorified, but soul-destroying religion of warfare and deception. Hoffman deconstructs the facade of Judaism in clear and understandable writing, and does so charitably and without vitriol.


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The Nonsense Begins.... (continued from here)

The Patriarch, his Wives, his Egyptian Slave, and King Abimelech

Tired of waiting for her god-promised pregnancy (she's now 75), Sarah encourages Abraham to impregnate his compliant slave Hagar (Gen. 16). The result is Ishmael (he who will father 12 'Arab' princes).

Thirteen years' pass in the town of Hebron, during which time Abraham heads up a military force to rescue his nephew Lot, captured by four raiding kings (Gen. 14). The invaders are "utterly routed" near Damascus (and Abraham gets blessed by the mysterious priest-king Melchizedek).

In contrast, when Abraham takes a "sojourn" in Gerar, the remarkable warrior/sage again fears Sarah's "great beauty" will get him killed. For a second time they employ the "she's my sister" ruse. King Abimelech takes Sarah into his harem and Abraham collects another bounty (Gen.20.1,18). Luckily the Philistine king gets a private message from God and sends the happy couple on their way.

The 90-year-old Sarah now gives birth to Isaac, gets Hagar and Ishmael thrown out the tent, and lives to the ripe old age of 127 (Genesis 23.2).

Abraham, 137 at the time of Sarah's death, is still in the prime of life and takes Keturah as his new wife. She produces for him not one but six more children. The old goat does not himself check out until he is 175 years old.* Hmm.


Isaac doesn't get to meet a pharaoh. Perhaps the trauma of ritual abuse when he was a boy made him a bit of a stay-at-home. His dad sends a servant out to get him a wife and when Isaac gets to the 'famine strikes Canaan' bit his fidelity to Yahweh causes him NOT to go down into Egypt—the exact opposite of his dad's behaviour. Believe it or not, Isaac and his wife Rebekah use the "she's my sister" trick on the hapless King Abimelech—in Genesis 26.1,14!

Jacob, trickster son of Isaac, is the guy who fathers the ancestors of all 12 tribes. Amazingly, he also gets to wrestle with God himself! (Genesis 32.24)—hence his new name 'Isra'EL' ('El has conquered'). Jacob gets to Egypt as an old man. He meets a pharaoh—after his favourite son Joseph has made the big time. It seems unnamed Pharaoh No. 2 asks Jacob his age (a sprightly 130—and he lives a further 17 years in 'Goshen'!) and receives a blessing in return.

Joseph and Unnamed Pharaoh No. 2: the "Sojourn"

Choose any date between 1900 BC - 1500 BC for this pharaoh—there's no evidence that Joseph ever existed either.

Abraham got to meet the great king of Egypt by having a real babe as a wife; Joseph (his great grandson) got to meet Pharaoh by being a real babe himself.

It seems that the wife of Potiphar, captain of the imperial guard (who had bought Joseph), got the hots for the young man—but he was having none of it. Thrown into prison on a false charge (Genesis 39) he made a name for himself by "dream interpretation." This, it seems, is enough to get him catapulted before the god/king himself.

Once again, an Egyptian monarch is shown to be amazingly credulous. On the strength of a 14-year forecast of 'good' and 'bad' harvests the inexperienced, foreign pastoralist is made Grand Vizier and given command of the world's most important agricultural economy. Fat chance.

But this—would you believe—is the foundation stone of the Hebrew presence in Egypt. Joseph's reorganized agronomy, saves Egypt, and a grateful Pharaoh sends carts to bring Joseph's clan to Egypt:

"All the souls of the house of Jacob, which came into Egypt, were three score and ten." – Genesis 45.27.​

A handful of Hebrews take up residence in Egypt, multiply prodigiously, and—in the familiar story—are first enslaved then set free. Seventy persons arrive and multiply with a phenomenal, rabbit-like fecundity to reach 3 million in 215 years—an average of 66 children per female! (430 years is often quoted but in the original version of the story—as reiterated in the Septuagint and by Josephus—half of that time was spent in Canaan.)


As nomads, the migratory pattern of the Hebrews might take them into the Nile Delta. Egyptian forces repeatedly passed through Palestine to fight wars further north. Any culture the Jews did not copy from the Babylonians they took instead from the Egyptians. Tellingly, the huge corpus of Egyptian records contains no reference at all to Israelites, the Oppression, the Exodus or Moses.

The hapiru were, after all, merely bandits on the Canaanite frontier.

The closest we get to ‘Israelites in bondage’ is some evidence for Canaanite cities in the Nile Delta. These almost certainly were established by that alliance of tribes known as the ‘Sea People’ that attempted an invasion of Egypt in the 13th and 12th century BC. In effect, the Jews, bit-players in a history over many centuries, ‘talked up’ their own ancestral origins by associating themselves with the major empires and events around them. Probably their fanciful tale of the fall of Jericho and other Canaanite cities is a recasting of the invasion of the coastal plain from the north by the Philistines (unlike themselves, users of iron weapons).


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Fictional Old Testament

King David the Boy Wonder

Ideal man? The Rabbis would not have approved.

Naked and uncircumcised...?

The ancient Jewish hero David, "son of Jesse the Bethlehemite," is a "curiously elusive figure" (Oxford Companion to the Bible). In turns shepherd, giant killer, court musician, poet, warlord and king, nothing and no one outside the Bible notes his existence.

If a historical 'Dawid' inspired tales of a legendary king, the original was an inconsequential bandit chieftain in the Judaean hills, nothing more. Possibly the only element of truth in the biblical story is the episode of David as renegade and outlaw leader, living from theft.

David and the Kingdom of Damascus
The city of Damascus is at least 4000 years old. It is recorded as being conquered by Pharaoh Tutmosis in the 15th century BC and it became the capital of an Aramean kingdom from the 11th century BC. The Kingdom of Aram-Damascus resisted the Assyrians until late in the 9th century BC, and even came up against Pharaoh Shoshenk in the Jezreel Valley, conquering Israelite Dan along the way. Israelite refugees, displaced by the Arameans, resettled in the hill-country.

In contrast to its heroics and intrigues of "King David", the Bible avoids mentioning Aram's 9th century conquest of much of Israel. Dan, Hazor, Jezreel and Megiddo were among the cities destroyed.
"Around 835 and 800 BC the kingdom of Aram-Damascus controlled the upper Jordan valley and significant areas in northeastern Israel – and devastated major Israelite administrative centres in the fertile Jezreel valley as well."

– Finkelstein, Silberman,The Bible Unearthed, p. 202.

Curiously, King Hazael of Aram-Damascus (844-803) enjoyed a 40-year reign—just like that ascribed to the biblical 'David' (and, for that matter, also to his son 'Solomon'!). The existence of Hazael is not in doubt, whereas outside of the biblical texts, there is as yet NO historical proof of a Hebrew king named David ruling an 'empire'. Much has been made of the so-called Tel Dan Inscription recovered in 1993 (see below), but the "Davidic empire" remains a pious invention, inspired by an Arab kingdom of the same place and time.

Where did the idea of King David's life come from?
David: Based on the King of Damascus


Arab Kingdom of Hazael

"Damascus reached its zenith during the reign of Hazael ... Transjordanian regions were overrun ... Hazael was able to cross Israelite territory to progress down the coastal plain to take Gath in Philistia ...

In fact, Hazael appears to have established an empire or sphere of influence not unlike that ascribed to David."

– B.S.J. Isserlin, The Israelites, p. 86.

Not David, But Hazael

The city of Methegammah (Tell es-Safi/ Gath)—hometown of Goliath!—was destroyed in the 9th century BC, not the 10th, and apparently after a siege.

According to archaeologists of Bar-Ilan University, the conqueror was none other than Hazael, King of Aram-Damascus !


Philistine Pottery from Gath


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The Fabulous Empire-building of the Biblical King David

"The biblical story of David is indeed mythic in nature.... He spent most of his career as a brigand-king, and, where he ruled, he did so by employing murder and mayhem.. "

– Baruch Halpern, David's Secret Demons, p. 479/80.

The fable of King David's "empire building" actually gets scant coverage in the Holy Book.In the biblical narrative, almost the sole strategy of the Israelite war bands is "surprise." Though inferior in numbers and weaponry, with "surprise attacks" they repeatedly panic vast armies into a disorderly rout.

Episode 1 – Civil War!

Having killed a giant and married into the royal family with a gift of foreskins, David falls foul of his father-in-law Saul and becomes a mercenary for the hated Philistines. They give him the town of Ziklag (from where he massacres Amalekite nomads of Sinai). But when Saul & Co get trashed by Philistines at Mount Gilboa, Saul's son Ish-Baal (inauspicious name, that!) is proclaimed king, somewhere east of the river Jordan.

David, now resident at Hebron, is also proclaimed king. Hostile co-existence, laced with a variety of arbitrary murders, ensues for over 2 years, at which point the assassination of Ish-Baal leaves the field free for David to rule "all Israel" (most of which, of course, is still in the hands of the Philistines).

Episode 2 – The Capture of Jerusalem!
Our hero decides he needs a new residence in the hills – the town of Jebus. Oddly enough, this 'Jebusite'(Canaanite? Philistine?) enclave, in the heart of 'Hebrew territory', had never succumbed to Israelite conquest. Yet David has no problem taking the 'citadel' (how could he, with the LORD behind his every move). The blind and lame get short shrift from our conquering hero:

"And the king and his men went to Jerusalem unto the Jebusites ... which spake unto David, saying ... thou shalt not come in hither ... Nevertheless David took the stronghold of Zion ... And David said ... Whosoever getteth up to the gutter, and smiteth the Jebusites, and the lame and the blind that are hated of David's soul, he shall be chief and captain. Wherefore they said, The blind and the lame shall not come into the house. So David dwelt in the fort, and called it the city of David.

– 1 Samuel 5.6,9.

Episode 3 – Conquering everywhere else – just like that!

The brevity (and brutality) with which the Holy Book records the conquest of the whole of Syrio/Palestine is breathtaking:

What a Guy! David buys a Wife with Foreskins ...


"Wherefore David arose and went, he and his men, and slew of the Philistines two hundred men; and David brought their foreskins, and they gave them in full tale to the king, that he might be the king's son in law.

And Saul gave him Michal his daughter to wife."

– 1 Samuel 18.27.

Defeat of the Philistines:
"And after this it came to pass that David smote the Philistines, and subdued them: and David took Methegammah out of the hand of the Philistines." – 2 Samuel 8.1.

Conquest of the North:
"David smote also Hadadezer, the son of Rehob, king of Zobah, as he went to recover his border at the river Euphrates ... David slew of the Syrians two and twenty thousand men. David put garrisons in Syria of Damascus: and the Syrians became servants to David." – 2 Samuel 8.3,6.

Genocide and conquest of the South:
"For it came to pass, when David was in Edom, and Joab the captain of the host was gone up to bury the slain, after he had smitten every male in Edom." – 2 Kings 11.15.

Mass Slaughter in the Transjordan:
"And he smote Moab, and measured them with a line, casting them down to the ground; even with two lines measured he to put to death, and with one full line to keep alive. And so the Moabites became David's servants, and brought "–2 Samuel 8.2.

"And it came to pass, after the year was expired, at the time when kings go forth to battle, that David sent Joab, and his servants with him, and all Israel; and they destroyed the children of Ammon, and besieged Rabbah." – 2 Samuel 11.1.

Not exactly Julius Caesar's The Gallic Wars!

As archaeology unequivocally testifies, in the 10th century BC in the valleys of Palestine Canaanite culture continued uninterrupted. Thankfully most of the biblical carnage that is the motif of "David's Empire Building" is a fanatic's fantasy.


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Old Testament Fiction



Supposedly, an Israelite empire flourished in the 10th century BC, during a time of temporary weakness of both Assyria and Egypt. Yet the fabled empire of David and Solomon remains just that: a fable, unsupported by any evidence—and empires normally leave a great deal of evidence. Archaeology is unequivocal:
there was never the wealth, population, political cohesiveness, or literacy in the tiny settlement around Jerusalem to have ever dominated its more developed northern neighbors.

Imperial Israel?

The so-called 'United Monarchy' is found only in the Bible. The 'empire' has no monuments, no inscriptions and no artifacts. Neither David nor Solomon is as much as mentioned in the huge corpus of state records of either Egypt or Assyria. Concedes a 'pro-imperial Israel' historian:

"Solomon ... in the eyes of Israelite historians, marked the apex of Israelite achievement. Curiously, no reference to him or his father David, or their empire in a non-Israelite source is known ... "

– Isserlin, The Israelites, p. 72.

But of course there is nothing "curious" about a nonexistent "empire" (stretching 'from the Euphrates to Egypt') leaving no evidence of its nonexistence. Modern Israel is peppered with "Solomon's monuments"—but not one of them has any genuine claim to the appellation.

Legendary kings David and Solomon supposedly had an imperial capital in Jerusalem. Yet extensive archaeology in the city reveals Jerusalem was a village in the 10th century BC. In contrast, Megiddo, "part of the empire," far to the north, had a palace!


In reality, separate and distinctive chiefdoms developed in Samaria and Judah in the 9th century. They were never a "united monarchy." The north was larger, richer and more developed—and soon succumbed to the Assyrians.

Judah, in reaction, produced its pious, biblical fraud, castigating the apostate kings of the 8th - 9th century northern kingdom of "Israel" and elevated its own importance in an earlier, fantasized empire—ruled from an imperial capital of Jerusalem.

"... in Jerusalem nothing has as yet been brought to light which can be ascribed to Solomon with certainty."

– Isserlin, p. 81.

Where did they get their ideas from?

The Bible actually admits to borrowing from Assyria in 2 Kings 16:

"And king Ahaz went to Damascus to meet Tiglathpileser king of Assyria, and saw an altar that was at Damascus: and king Ahaz sent to Urijah the priest the fashion of the altar, and the pattern of it, according to all the workmanship thereof.

And Urijah the priest built an altar according to all that king Ahaz had sent from Damascus: so Urijah the priest made it against king Ahaz came from Damascus."
– 2 Kings 16.10,11.

Assyria's Legacy

"Solomon ... began to build the house of the LORD ... And the whole house he overlaid with gold ... And within the oracle he made two cherubims of olive tree, each ten cubits high ... And he overlaid the cherubims with gold ... And he carved all the walls of the house round about with carved figures of cherubims and palm trees and open flowers."

– 1 Kings 6.


A: 10 cubit winged cherub—from Assyria!
B: Palm and floral motif—from Assyrian temple!

Solomon, the Emperor with No Clothes...

"But he has nothing on!" a little child cried out at last."

– Hans Christian Andersen, The Emperor’s New Clothes

Solomon didn't need to conquer anything—the Empire was his inheritance from his father David. Solomon merely ruled in magnificence, effortlessly receiving and spending an imperial fortune, collecting girlfriends and dispensing wisdom.

Really odd that no one seemed to have noticed. Could it all be a pious fraud, perhaps?


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age of empires: dateline assyria

Unlike Biblical Israel, Assur really existed—and its reality influenced the Jewish fable. There was no
ancient "Jewish Empire," but the Jewish priests drew their inspiration from the empire of the Assyrians.


Beginning in the Early Bronze Age (circa 3500 BC) pastoral nomads – indigenous to the region – periodically settled the Canaanite highlands. Settlement was a response to grain shortage induced by disruption of lowland agriculture. But then drought forced these marginal farmers back into nomadism again. A second phase of settlement occurred during the Middle Bronze Age (from around 2000 BC) and a third, and final, period of highland settlement occurred after 1200 BC.

The catalyst for this final phase of migration to subsistence farming was the collapse of the cities of Canaan, overwhelmed by an invasion by the Sea Peoples. One consequence was that fringe subsistence farmers in the hills became the original 'Israelites' – most settling in the central highlands of Samaria, rather fewer further south in Judaea. But to the north and east of the sparse, tribal enclaves of the 'Israelites', expansive city-based empires were emerging that would overshadow their entire world. Foremost among them was Assyria, a terror and an inspiration to the Jews.


Sargon of Akkad was the first king to assert control outside of his city-state as early as 2371 BC. In 1813 BC Shamshi-Adad united the cities of Ashur, Nineveh, Arbel and Nimrud into a cohesive unit – Assyria. Several Assyrian empires rose and fell over the following 1200 years. The last period of imperial conquest began with Shalmaneser III in the 9th century BC. Assyria's main rival, of course, was Egypt.


Shalmaneser and Nimrud (Kalah)

The Assyrian king Shalmaneser III (858-824) ruled his empire from the mighty city of Nimrud on the Tigris. The 37 metre thick walls, 8 km in length, enclosed 3.6 sq km. (900 acres) of palaces, temples and parks and dwellings for an estimated 63,000 inhabitants. The city was quadrilateral in shape, with a Ziggurat in the south-west and “Fort Shalmaneser” in the southeast.

After the Assyrian intrusion into Syria/Palestine of 841 BC, King Jehu of Israel was forced to pay tribute. The Aramean Kingdom of Damascus under King Hazael maintained a protracted resistance.


Four warrior kings in particular built the Assyrian Empire:

Shalmaneser III (859-824), Tiglath Pilesar III (743-726), Esarhaddon (680-669) and Assurbanipal (668-627).

The secret of their success appears to have been iron-working, the war chariot, and an efficient civil service collecting tax.

Hebrew settlements to the southwest of Damascus (the tiny 'Kingdoms of Judah and Israel') were vassals of the Damascenes, who, for a time, held the Assyrians at bay.

Some Semites escaped. Trading fleets out of Tyre established a sea route to the western Mediterranean for the Phoenicians (the foundation for the future 'Carthaginian' maritime empire).

But all the small kingdoms of Palestine were conquered by Assyria about 725 BC and Egypt itself a century later.


Reconstruction of Khorsabad
The city Khorsabad flourished after Sargon's death in 705 BC,
though his son Sennacherib (705-681 BC) moved the capital to Nineveh.


Evidence of Khorsabad


Extant Ruins, Khorsabad


So again, while immediate neighbors were busy building empires, did Israel have one of its own? And it brings us back to this truth:
"This is what archaeologists have learned from their excavations in the Land of Israel ... the united monarchy of David and Solomon, which is described by the Bible as a regional power, was at most a small tribal kingdom."

– Ha'aretz Magazine
October 1999.​

Meanwhile, in the Mountains...

In the clash of the Egyptian empire to the south west and the Assyrian/ Babylonian empires to the northeast, the Israelites were at best mercenaries and conscripts. The intrusion of Shalmaneser III in 841 BC – recorded on Assyrian monuments – is not mentioned in the sacred texts, but the subsequent fall of the northern kingdom of Israel in 722 BC (to Sargon II, though erroneously credited to Shalmaneser [V] in 2 Kings 17.6) is noted. Supposedly ‘10 tribes of the Jewish race’ were lost through conquest.
"Therefore the LORD was very angry with Israel, and removed them out of his sight: there was none left but the tribe of Judah only." – 2 Kings 17.18.

The traumatic loss of most of the Israelite 'nation' was to be the catalyst for a profound religious revolution: Yahweh priests, fleeing south to the tiny enclave of Judah, stiffened Jewish resistance by dreaming up the notion of a former 'great empire' which, under priestly direction, would rise again.

In 701 BC the Assyrians returned, devastated Judah and occupied the province. The Jewish king Hezekiah (715 - 687 BC) was besieged in Jerusalem but plague compelled the Assyrians to move on. Judah – reduced to little more than the environs of Jerusalem – maintained a precarious existence for another century by costly tributes to the Assyrian king.

Putting a brave face on events, Hezekiah's priests heralded the reprieve of Jerusalem as a victory for Yahweh!

Isaiah would have us believe that overnight the 'angel of the LORD' smote the Assyrians, leaving 185,000 to "arise early in the morning, and behold, they were all dead corpses." (Isaiah, 37.36). (To give a comparison, Hadrian's legions wiped Judaea off the map early in the 2nd century AD with about 40,000 troops.)

Over the next half century "Judaism" emerged – a religious response to the Assyrian assault and the total loss of the northern kingdom.


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Canaanites in Babylon:
Forging the Nationhood of Israel and Judaism Priesthood


The major players of the ancient Middle East, century after century, arose in the fertile river valleys and flood plains, primarily of Egypt and Mesopotamia. First one region, then another, produced a dominant city-based culture which had the wealth and resources to conquer an empire. The corridor through Palestine, aside from the coastal strip, was too harsh and inhospitable to engender a similar development. Hilly and remote from trade routes, with few settlements and a backward nomadic population, the land was loosely organized into minor "kingdoms" by rival clans. Rather like the Celts at similar stage of nation building, magistrates took on powers of governance in the period that the Jewish sacred history calls "Judges." In the biblical mythology, it is Judge Samuel who appoints (“anoints”) both the first and the second "kings of Israel." But this minor principality would not survive long.

To Babylon and Back
Whatever might have been happening on a few hilltops in Judaea, on the wider canvass, Assyria—based on the cities of Assur and Nineveh—was conquering an empire. At its height this included both Egypt and the whole of Mesopotamia. In the 8th century BC, the Assyrians were expanding into northern Palestine, putting an end to any "kingdom of Israel." The first Jewish monarchs that secular history actually records anything at all about are kings Omri and his son Ahab, who held the Assyrians at bay for a few years. As an "idolatrous" minor king Omri's victory goes unnoted in the sacred texts but the murderous end of the dynasty is celebrated in 2 Kings.

Assyrian conquest was followed, in the 7th century, by the rise of a new imperial power—Babylon. Under its king, Nebuchadnezzar, the conquest of Palestine extended further south to include the "kingdom of Judah," effectively ending the existence of any separate Jewish state. The tribal leadership of Judah was resettled in Babylon, under the eye of their Babylonian conquerors. Such forced migrations were not untypical of the period – removing the elite was a way to head off organized resistance in a new colony. But unlike earlier displacements, the Hebrews were resettled as a single group and remained free to meet, trade and own land.

"The exiles were settled in some of the most attractive and important districts in and around Babylon."
– Karen Armstrong, A History of Jerusalem, p 80.


The Jews had much to learn from the rich, cosmopolitan culture of Mesopotamia. Here they witnessed trade, commerce and religion on an imperial scale. In Babylon the Great, walled "City of Wisdom," there were numerous gods and no fewer than fifty five temples. Here was to be found a vast literature of religious texts, in particular the great epic of creation, the story of Gilgamesh. Here too were legends of the origin of kingship and moralistic fables.

In Babylon, the Jews learned of prayer, dream interpretation, astrology, almanacs, and omens. For the first time, they encountered the notion of a personal "immortality" and the fantasy of "resurrecting" the dead. Impressed by the high culture of their hosts, the Jews adopted the lunar calendar of the Babylonians, and, like them, began their year in the spring. In the Babylonian setting the Jews met in "gatherings" ("synagogues" in Greek) for the first time. Leadership of these assemblies assumed a "priestly" character. One such leader, Ezekiel, kept the clan together by stressing the role in the community of this Yahweh priesthood and how the "glory" of their god, even without an Ark or temple, was there with them in Babylon. Thus Yahweh floated free of confinement to "sacred space."

The chief god of Babylon was called Marduk, not Yahweh, but for Jews from the bleak land of Judaea the experience of his worship was a revelation. As émigrés whose uniqueness could only be preserved by a dogged devotion to a particular deity (reinforced by some self-imposed dietary laws and circumcision) they would have been particularly impressed by the lifestyle enjoyed by the professional temple priesthood. In Babylon, full-time priests monopolized interaction with the supernatural and in consequence, enjoyed immense wealth, prestige and power.

In contrast, in pagan Rome, priests were part-time, co-opted to the honorary role and had other civic or military duties.





Theocracy Established:

"And ye shall be unto me a kingdom of priests, and an holy nation." – Exodus 19.6.

Though the so-called "Exile" lasted barely half a century—from the capture of Jerusalem in 597 BC to the rise of a new dynasty in 539 BC—during this period the Jews borrowed extensively from their host culture. Notably, certain priests (so-called "prophets") wrote texts which explained the tribal misfortune of the Jews in terms of neglect of a particular deity and of the desirability of priestly rule. The book of Eli’jah (literally, "God is Jehovah") is a story set three centuries earlier. In this tale, the prophet denounces King Ahab and his wife Jezebel for that most dastardly of crimes, having a barbecue for the wrong god. Just in case indignant words are not enough, the hero personally slays several hundred rival priests of Baal.

But if fidelity to the correct god is the only way of keeping your skin, why does the "righteous" man suffer? The Babylonians had a poem which addressed the very issue from at least 2000 BC. A righteous man, Tabu-utel-bel, suffered unjustly at the hands of the gods and was stricken by a terrible disease. The reflective story is rehashed by the exiled Jews as the book of Job.

Of particular significance, in view of the subsequent appearance of the book of Genesis, were Babylonian stories of a Great Flood (complete with a hero, an ark and animals); an Assyrian tale of a "tower of Babel"; the early life of King Sargon of Sumaria (who as an infant was floated down the Tigris in a reed boat and subsequently brought up by a princess); and a tale of the giving of the law to King Hammurabi of Babylon by the sun god Shamash – 3,654 lines of text inscribed on an eight-foot high block of black diorite.

Wonder of wonders, on this ancient tablet of stone, carved six hundred years before "Moses," are "some fifty articles of the so-called Mosaic laws, the identity of which is practically verbatim." (Bratton, p37)

Not only that, the Canaanites also seemed to have grown quite fond and saw some use in the Persian host’s Garden of Eden mythology:

"Said to be somewhere along the river Euphrates, the Garden of Dilmun was where Babylonians believed that mankind was created. The similarities between the Dilmun epic and the Garden of Eden story found in the Book of Genesis are too similar to be ignored."
– G. Phillips (The Moses Legacy, p5/6)​


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archaeology vs. the bible video resources



Cyrus the Great, the Fire-Worshipping Hero of the Jewish Priests

The Canaanites found a great and mighty sponsor for the establishment of their religion in the person of no other than Cyrus the Great, the founder of the Babylonian Empire himself. In return, the heathen king gets endorsement of "Jealous" Yahweh, an amazing turn of events in the folklore of the captives.

"Thus saith the LORD to his anointed, to Cyrus, whose right hand I have holden, to subdue nations before him; and I will loose the loins of kings, to open before him the two leaved gates; and the gates shall not be shut." – Isaiah, 45.1.

With the rise of Cyrus, and the Persian conquest of Babylonia, an undreamt of opportunity was presented to the pious ‘elders’ of the Jews. Cyrus was a self-styled ‘Great King’, anxious to have all gods on his side for the conquest of empire. This included a Yahweh cult in the satrap of Judaea. Accordingly, many of the Jews (mostly descendants of the original exiles) were returned to the old homeland. A figure of 42,360 ‘together with their servants and two hundred singers’ is quoted, several times the reported number taken into exile.

Temple City

These descendants were sent back under Prince Sheshbazzar to set up a temple to help the Persian war effort. Its design – a succession of courtyards set high on a hill, at its heart enclosing a ‘holy of holies’ – was inspired by the multi-level temple ziggurats (which ‘reached up to heaven’) that the Jews had seen in Mesopotamia. Under the patronage of Cyrus, and despite the local opposition of Jews who had never left, the ‘children of Judah’, established a theocratic colony on the Persian model under an appointed Persian governor. Persian rule of Judah would last two centuries.

Before the exile, Jewish religion – such as it was – had Man facing an anthropomorphic, capricious tribal God, who looked for obedience rather than worship to assuage his anger. It was, apparently, Abraham's unswerving obedience when asked by Yahweh to sacrifice his son that validated his choice as ‘Patriarch.’ But at least obedience was within the wit of man himself. Pre-Babylon, only the ‘tribe’ of Levi could be priests and they performed the role of itinerant shamans. Post-Babylon, the Levite priests were downgraded to menial temple workers and the Sadducee clan took over the high priesthood. By taking for themselves the right to intercede with God, to placate his anger and honour his glory, the earthly power of the high priests of the temple was assured.

Fictional Temple

"We have not a stone of Solomon's temple…. We have no evidence at all for Solomon and his kingdom.

We have no contemporary textural sources which mention Solomon, and, as far as I am aware, he is not referred to in any other outside contemporary texts."

– Jonathan Tubb (Curator of Syria and Palestine, British Museum)


The theology changed to reflect the new organisation. Yahweh was elevated to sole god and was deemed to require endless sacrifice to placate his wrath. Thus all Jews acquired a duty to bring offerings to the priests (who were thereby freed of more mundane tasks). Not only did this give the priesthood their daily provisions and a major slice of the butchery business but also control over the lucrative leather trades. In time, tribute to the priesthood was extended to include tithes, dispensation fees and commission on money changing (only the ‘clean’ shekel could be offered at the temple; no other coinage was acceptable).

Taking their cue from Zoroastrianism, the dominant religion of Persia, the returnees brought with them not only priestly monopoly and control over worship (and in a theocracy that implied control over law and social behaviour as well) but also the notion of an evil god (Satan) as a counterpoise to good god (Yahweh). Similarly, for the first time Judaism acquired angels and demons. At this point appears the curious tale of an idyllic garden (shades of Babylon), a satanic snake and a disobedient female – which nicely explained why life was full of wickedness, why women should be subjugated and why there was death itself.

The Persians made no images of their dual gods, but for them fire represented purity and was an incarnation of the light god Mazda.. On the other hand matter (including the human body) was created by the dark god Angra Mainyu. In stark contrast, therefore, to the earlier influence of fertility rites of the Canaanite and Phoenician cities - the celebration of life - the Yahweh cult now became at heart hostile to the body. Human sexuality was to cause the priests more distress than any amount of bloodshed.

And bloodshed there was, as the colonisers (the ‘Golan’) drove out (and de-Judaised!) the original inhabitants (the Am Ha-Aretz or ‘people of the land’), whom they were forbidden to marry. The arrival of an organized priesthood acted as a brake on secular development which might otherwise have produced a local monarch, albeit one under Persian dominance. Both Nehemiah, ‘cup-bearer’ to the Persian king, and Ezra, his ‘minister of Jewish affairs’, introduced interpretations and refinements of ‘the Law’ which kept Jewish piety compatible with the interests and security of the empire. With a brutal ruthlessness, for example, Ezra commanded Jews to ‘send away’ their foreign wives and children. ‘Membership of Israel was now confined to the descendants of those who had been exiled in Babylon.’ (Armstrong, p102).

Without a Trace

Though much honoured in legend (and Hollywood) the simple truth is that no evidence has ever been found of David, Solomon or his ‘empire.’ Neither secular history, nor archaeology, provides a shred of confirmation for the highly detailed and colourful biblical stories. Not a single stone or artifact from what was supposedly the world’s most fabulous temple has ever been identified. The extraordinary magnificence of the Jewish Empire is matched only by the total void when we seek confirmation from any other source.

For example, the Asiatic Greek Herodotus – writing one of the world’s first histories in the 5th century BC – wrote of peoples and places throughout the Persian empire and beyond. Herodotus knew of lake-dwellers in far away Europe and of barbarous tribes along the north African coast. He was familiar with the painted warriors of the Sudan and with the nomads of southern Russia.

Yet in all his work, Herodotus makes no single mention of Jews or Hebrews, Judah or Israel. He speaks of the coastal cities of Sidon and Tyre but never of Jerusalem. He records the great temple of Aphrodite Urania at Ascalon but fails to mention any temple of Solomon.

He does, however, know of circumcision and says this:

"The Colchians, the Egyptians, and the Ethiopians are the only races which from ancient times have practiced circumcision. The Phoenicians and the Syrians of Palestine themselves admit that they adopted the practice from Egypt…No other nations use circumcision, and all of these are without doubt following the Egyptian lead."

– Herodotus, The Histories, Book 2,104; Penguin, p167.

Herodotus gathered much of his information first-hand from priests and holy men. His travels took him to the frontier of Upper Egypt and to Babylon itself. He also recorded popular beliefs and legends. Speaking of the inhabitants at the eastern end of the Mediterranean he says:

'The Phoenicians, with the Syrians of Palestine…have a tradition that in ancient times they lived on the Persian Gulf, but migrated to the Syrian coast, where they are found today. This part of Syria, together with the country which extends southward to Egypt, is all known as Palestine.'
– Herodotus, The Histories, Book 7,89; Penguin, p472.

For Herodotus, this land is the home of ‘Syrians known as Palestinians’. If tribesmen in the interior escaped his attention they assuredly were not the authors of a great empire which supposedly had existed a few hundred years before his own time. More than two thousand years later nothing has emerged to change our understanding:

"This is what archaeologists have learned from their excavations in the Land of Israel: the Israelites were never in Egypt, did not wander in the desert, did not conquer the land in a military campaign and did not pass it on to the 12 tribes of Israel.

Perhaps even harder to swallow is that the united monarchy of David and Solomon, which is described by the Bible as a regional power, was at most a small tribal kingdom."

– Ha'aretz Magazine, October 1999.

All that we do have is some evidence of minor regional war lords or ‘city bosses’ (‘kings’) who, in the centuries before first Assyria, and then Babylon, overran Palestine. Yet more tellingly in the Jewish ‘nationalistic’ saga, we have the rationale for a theocratic state and a religious caste system. The priests are born to rule both because it is Yahweh’s design and because secular kings (even magnificent ones) transgress and run amok.

Yet kings are not excluded out of hand. The priesthood loathed the diminution of their power and the intrusion of secular laws but were delighted by the enlargement of the territory of the theocratic state, such as might be achieved by a warrior king (and as idealised in the ‘empire’ conjectured for Solomon). The duality of power, the conflict between king and priest, runs as a theme through subsequent Jewish history and was never resolved.

Above all, from the ‘Davidic’ legend we get the supposed primacy of the ‘House of David’ and the awful conviction that, when the hour is right, a warrior/priest (or a warrior and a priest – keeping him on the straight and narrow!) will appear to lead the nation of Israel against the forces of darkness – a Messiah (or Messiahs)!

It is worth noting that 'Davidic descent' as some sort of exclusive cachet – supposedly one of the marks of Jesus – would have been patently absurd in first century Palestine. If that fabled polygamous king and his prodigiously promiscuous son Solomon – he of 'seven hundred wives and three hundred concubines'! – had actually existed, the passage of a thousand years (or twenty eight generations according to Matthew, forty three generations according to Luke) would have assured that each and every Jew – all seven million of them – could have made the same 'Davidic' claim!

Invention of 12 Tribes

"The twelve tribe system could not have originated in the age of the ancestors ... and probably not even in the early period of the Israelite settlement in Canaan ...

The tribal names were originally geographic names of parts of Palestine, but in Genesis they become the names of persons ...

The names of the tribal ancestors are all given popular etymologies, which in no way correspond to historical reality."

– J.R. Porter (The Illustrated Guide to the Bible, p47)​

History ends with Theocracy

"In the Old Testament, history ended with the return to Jerusalem under Persian patronage after the Babylonian Exile."

– Magnus Magnusson (The Archaeology of the Bible Lands - BC, p213)​

J.A. de Gobineau, The World of the Persians (Minerva, 1971)
Paul Johnson, A History of the Jews (Phoenix Grant, 1987)
Dan Cohn-Sherbok, The Crucified Jew (Harper Collins,1992)
Henry Hart Milman, The History of the Jews (Everyman, 1939)
Josephus, The Jewish War (Penguin, 1959)
Leslie Houlden (Ed.), Judaism & Christianity (Routledge, 1988)
Karen Armstrong, A History of Jerusalem (Harper Collins, 1999)
Herodotus, The Histories, (Penguin, 1954)
Nicholas De Lange (Ed.) The Illustrated History of the Jewish People (Aurum, 1997)


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Quick digs for now....

VIDEO: Archaeology and the Bible,presented by Israel Finkelstein (Hebrew: ישראל פינקלשטיין‎‎, Israel Finkelstein (March 29, 1949) one of Israel's foremost archaeologists and academic. He is the Jacob M. Alkow Professor of the Archaeology of Israel in the Bronze and Iron Ages at Tel Aviv University Finkelstein is widely regarded as a leading scholar in the archaeology of the Levant and a foremost applicant of archaeological data in reconstructing biblical history.[1] He is also known for applying the exact and life sciences in archaeological and historical reconstruction. Finkelstein is the excavator of Megiddo – a key site for the study of the Bronze and Iron Ages in the Levant.

How is it that Israel's own foremost archaeological authorities are now abandoning any idea of historical value of the Old Testament while the rest of the world are largely ignorant of it? Find out in the following videos and succeeding ones later....


Away from the academic high-brow presentation and in an interview format, here's the same award-winning archaeologist explaining in more accessible language what he discussed in the previous video...


The lack of objective proof for Abraham and other mythical claims of the bible
says a lot about the foundation of Israel and the historical value of the biblical texts...

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nice thread bro! medyo alanganin ako eh, kasi sa daniel, at isiah si cyrus sinugo nya tulad ng sinabi mo inendurso ni cyrus si yhwh sa Judea na pagdating nila dun is babylonian Empire. maaring hindi na nila kilala ang kanilang Diyos dahil sa Babylonians tradition kasi bago sila dumating kingdom of Judah ito parang abrahamic traditions, ng dumating si cyrus dun nya pinakilala muli kasi sa Isiah annointed sya. at naging persian Empire ito dahil sa kanya bago pa dumating ang mga griego sila alexander the Great kaya nauso ang Greek sa Judea pero karamihan armaic daw mga tao noon dyan. tingin mo bro posible kaya?
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