Once upon a time, in a faraway place, Israel Finkelstein could say: “Khirbet ed-Dawwara provides the only solid evidence for public building activity in the early monarchic period” (1990:197).1 No longer.
A comparison of the finds from late Iron I/ very early Iron IIA Khirbet Qeiyafa (=KQ) with those of late Iron I/ early Iron IIA Kh. ed-Dawwara (=KD) is instructive. KD’s fortifications are “the earliest example of a developed Iron Age defense system in the hill country, and therefore the earliest full-scale Israelite fortification” (Finkelstein 1990:196-97). But the public architecture of KD is rudimentary and primitive compared to that of KQ. As Volkmar Fritz noted (1994:235), “[KD’s] enclosures were by no means city walls: although built for protection they lack the strength of a real fortification.” Furthermore, KD is by all accounts a component of the Saulide entity, which neither the Bible nor the Bible’s modern interpreters credit with control of territory beyond the southern limits of Benjamin and Ephraim (Finkelstein 2006:178-179). It is not credible to think of KD as the epicenter of the polity to which KQ belonged.2
But for Finkelstein to relate KQ to Jerusalem, he would have to round-file his earlier and oft-defended reconstruction of Iron Age I-IIA Judah. I quote from the last iteration thereof I have read (2006:175):
[N]ew analyses of the archaeological data from Jerusalem have shown that the settlement of the 10th century B.C.E. was no more than a small, poor highland village without monumental construction (Finkelstein 2001; Ussishkin 2003). Furthermore, archaeological surveys have revealed that at that time the hill country of Judah to the south of Jerusalem was sparsely inhabited by a few relatively small settlements, with no larger, fortified towns (Ofer 1994). No less important, apparently the expansion of Judah to include the territories of the Shephelah and Beer-sheba Valley did not take place before the 9th century B.C.E. (Finkelstein 2001).
KQ lays to rest Finkelstein’s reading of the settlement history of Judah and calls into question his assumption that the kingdom of David known to us from the Deuteronomistic History is a cunning invention of late monarchic authors. This is of a piece with finds from Khirbat en-Nahas (KEN) in the northern part of biblical Edom: as Thomas Levy and colleagues have shown (2008), Finkelstein’s revisionist reconstruction of the settlement history of Edom is similarly flawed.
It now seems childish not to allow for the possibility that the Jerusalem-based polity David is reported to have headed became, as David’s reign wore on, (1) a state-in-formation, and (2) an empire-in-formation. KQ lends credence to (1) and is consistent with (2). KQ considered geopolitically reopens the possibility of taking Psalm 60 as a precise expression of David’s accomplishments and aspirations (compare Aharoni 1972; Rainey 2006:161).
I might as well spit it out: there are no good reasons for doubting that Psalm 60 is what its superscript says it is: (the text of) an inscription (cf. LXX and Targum’s rendering of the operative word) pertaining to David. The script of said inscription would have been “proto-Phoenician,” not Old Hebrew, which had not yet been invented.
To be continued.
1 Apart from Kh. Qeiyafa, Kh. ed-Dawwara remains unique among putatively Israelite sites with respect to the confidence with which one can attribute fortifications and other public building activity to the late Iron I-early Iron IIA chronological horizon. But, by the same token, it cannot be affirmed with confidence that finds from Tell el-Ful and Tell en-Nasbeh (= Mizpah) attributable to the same horizon are not to be understood as examples of defensive structures of a territorial nature. On the contrary. But the socio- and geopolitical divide separating the house of Saul from the house of David as they fought tooth and nail into the reign of Solomon can now be seen to have been decisive.
2 KD and KQ are coeval single-layer sites ideally suited to contrastive analysis. It seems likely that KD’s abandonment slightly post-dates that of KQ.
Yohanan Aharoni, “The Conquests of David According to Psalms 60 and 108,” in Bible and Jewish History: Studies in Bible and Jewish History Dedicated to the Memory of Jacob Liver (Binyamin Uffenheimer, ed.; Tel Aviv: Tel Aviv University Press, 1972) 11-17; Israel Finkelstein, “Excavations at Kh. ed-Dawwara: An Iron Age Site Northeast of Jerusalem,” Tel Aviv 17 (1990) 163-208; idem, “The Rise of Jerusalem and Judah: The Missing Link,” Levant 33 (2001) 105-15; idem, “The Last Labayu: King Saul and the Expansion of the First North Israelite Territorial Entity,” in Essays on Ancient Israel in its Near Eastern Context, A Tribute to Nadav Na’aman (Yairah Amit, Ehud Ben Zvi, Israel Finkelstein, and Oded Lipschits, eds.; Winona Lake: Eisenbrauns, 2006) 171-177; Volkmar Fritz, “The Character of the Urbanisation in Palestine at the Beginning of the Iron Age,” in Nuove fondazioni nel Vicino Oriente antico: realtà e ideologia (Stefania Mazzoni, ed.; Atti del colloquio 4-6 dicembre 1991, Dipartimento di Scienze storiche del mondo antico, Sezione di egittologia e scienze storiche del Vicino Oriente, Università degli studi di Pisa; Pisa: Giardini, 1995) 231-252; Thomas E. Levy et al, “High-precision radiocarbon dating and historical biblical archaeology in southern Jordan,” PNAS 105 (2008) 16460–16465; Avi Ofer, “‘All the Hill Country of Judah’: From a Settlement Fringe to a Prosperous Monarchy,” in From Nomadism to Monarchy: Archaeological and Historical Aspects of Early Israel (Israel Finkelstein and Nadav Na’aman, eds.; Jerusalem: Israel Exploration Society, 2004) 92-121; Anson F. Rainey, “Survival and Renewal: Eleventh Century BCE” and “Territorial States: Tenth Century BCE” in The Sacred Bridge: Carta’s Atlas of the Biblical World (Anson F. Rainey and R. Steven Notley; Shmuel Ahituv, ed.; Jerusalem: Carta, 2006) 131-156; 157-189; David Ussishkin, “Solomon’s Jerusalem: The Text and the Facts on the Ground,” in Jerusalem in Bible and Archaeology: The First Temple Period (Andrew G. Vaughn and Ann E. Killebrew, eds.; SBL Symposium Series 18; Leiden: Brill, 2003) 103-115