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Peter Kirk

Surely there is another reconstruction which makes sense without any anachronism or textual emendation:

1) During the period of the Judges Sha`arayim is in Israelite territory, but not an important place.

2) Before or during the reign of Saul it is overrun by the Philistines, who advance to the east of it.

3) During the reign of Saul the young David kills Goliath and the Philistines are defeated, initially fleeing westwards to Sha`arayim and later being driven further west so that Sha`arayim reverts to the Israelites.

4) Perhaps during the reign of David Sha`arayim is fortified on a massive scale.

Since as yet only a small part of the site has been excavated, there is surely a good chance that there was a small Philistine fortification here which was replaced by the larger Israelite one.

John Hobbins

Peter,

It is clear from the archaeological record that Khirbet Qeiyafa was not occupied during the time of the Judges. It was founded and then occupied for a brief period during the early Iron IIA. If it had been founded before that, we would have at least some shards datable to Iron I.

Thus point (1)in your reconstruction does not stand up to scrutiny. You can hope that future discoveries will prove the excavators wrong about their understanding of the site's settlement history. For the moment, your reconstruction is contradicted by the evidence in hand.

Point (2) is counter-intuitive given that the Israelites face off against the Philisitines from the same side of the valley as that on which Khirbet Qeiyafa=Shaaraim is located.

Point (3) sounds reasonable enough until one reads the 2 Sam passage. A historian cannot ignore it but rather will give it a certain priority over 1 Sam 17 for a variety of reasons (see Naaman's article in the online JHS).

I concur with point (4) but would note that according to the excavators, the site was founded and fortified at one and the same time.

Peter Kirk

Well, John, perhaps it would be more accurate to say that my reconstruction is not confirmed because of the absence of evidence of earlier occupation. In archaeology especially, absence of evidence is not evidence of absence. This is a huge site only partly excavated, so there is plenty of room for a small early settlement to have not yet been discovered.

Owen

Thanks for the link John. It would have been nice to bump into you at ASOR, oh well. A few points; as I wrote on Todd Bolen's blog the pottery excavated indicates that the site was definitively Judahite and not Philistine.

Couldn't the site have just been so impressive (because of its stature looking over the Elah Valley) that long after David or Solomon (possibly) built it and it fell into disuse the route past it was known by the author of 1 Samuel 17?

Also I don't agree with your north/south idea for two reasons (one previously mentioned) the idea of the Chalk Moat being a east/west divider and so the Israelites being on the edge of the Judean Hill Country and the Philistines being on the slope below Socoh,and the other reason being the Philistines flee to Gath and Ekron which means they would have gone south and north out of the valley having to go directly passed and around Azekah.

Oh and one more point, Garfinkel indicated that the site is also unique because over 40% is exposed already. Now this doesn't preclude other levels being located, but definitely not another (Philistine) fort phase. And like I wrote above not a single Philistine bichrome or Mycenaean import sherd has been found on the site.

JohnFH

Owen,

I'm sorry I missed you in Boston as well.

Your point about the pottery is an excellent one. The assemblage does make it difficult to claim that the settlement was inhabited by Philistines or lay within that cultural orbit.

As far as 1 Sam 17 is concerned, it's possible its author was depending on his own knowledge of the geography of the region, but it seems more likely that the text is a composition based on earlier sources, oral and/or written, and that the geographical details contained in the sources were repeated by the developing tradition, as is the case for the Iliad and the Odyssey, not to mention the Gospels, without the tradents necessarily being able to fathom every place name, or thinking they should.

I agree with you that the Philistines who massed at Socoh and fought in the valley below it would have fled - passing Khirbet Qeiyafa=Shaaraim on the way - out the valley and then north and south to Gath and Ekron. No word that the Israelites had a contingent of fighting men at Shaaraim or Azekah to cut them off at the pass. It was hot pursuit from behind.

If I understand you correctly, you are suggesting that the Israelites drew their battle line on higher ground to the east of the Chalk Moat, a bit north of Adullam, due east, more or less from Socoh, opposite it just the same, with the valley (1 Sam 17:3) in between.

I'm slow, Owen, but you are convincing me. In that case, the Gob of 2 Sam 21:19 might be on a hill overlooking the Elah valley from the east. Ephes-Dammin between Azekah and Socoh (1 Sam 17:1) might have been more or less where Khirbet Jennabet et-Gharbiyeh is. The Philistines would have encamped there, closer to their home bases in Gath and Ekron, massed at Socoh to the east, and fought in the valley below, still further east.

I agree that the Chalk Moat is a natural "red line" but think that the fact that the Philistines massed at Socoh means they had penetrated the valley on its southern flanks, not necessarily on its northern flanks.

Alternatively, however, and perhaps more simply, the Philistines may at this point have overrun all of the Judean Shephelah up to the chalk moat.

In that case, Shaaraim may actually have been destroyed by the Philistines not long before the battle in which Goliath was struck down and the Philistine forces routed. Their flight would have been along "the road to Shaaraim" even if Shaaraim had recently been destroyed.

On that reconstruction, the battle in question is to be dated to a time in the middle, more or less, of David's reign, compatible with 2 Sam 21:19. This jibes well enough with the archaeological data in hand.

Owen

John, I agree completely with your reconstruction above. I think this makes the most sense out of what we know from the archaeology and the text. Oh and I'm glad you're coming around to my chalk moat perspective on the battle location.

G.M. Grena

Just a quick "thank you" to John, Peter, & Owen for this interesting discussion!

Cristian

Thanks for the links that defend the high chrononlogy. I listened to the SBL presentation of Finkelstein (strongly defending the low chronology) - and there was NOBODY there to really challenge him...I have not followed the debate recently, so (after Finkelstein's presentation) I began to think that the high chronology looks increasingly improbable. I will make sure that I follow the links you gave for the alternate view!

John Hobbins

George,

Thank you for your generous spirit.

Cristian,

It's also good to see that some of the best German history-of-traditions research on David and Solomon has now appeared in English, by Walter Dietrich. It is carefully argued historical critical stuff. The results are not compatible with Finkelstein's conclusions. Not by a long shot.

If I hadn't been so busy schmoozing at SBL Boston, I would have gone to F's lecture and asked some sharp questions. The rascal in me would have enjoyed the experience to no end.

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