|[Jacques Briend, Catholic University of
Paris] On the basis of these geographical sites [Samaria,
Jerusalem, Hebron, & Beersheba] it is understandable that an
attempt was made to link them to each other. As history
developed, an understanding was sought of how these groups of
humans related to each other. This led to a sort of Patriarchal
genealogy with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.
[Thomas Romer, University of Lausanne] It was
quite obvious that there were originally three quite separate
traditions. The patriarchs were, in fact, not related. In
the North, the story of Jacob was told. In Hebron, the story of
Abraham, and in Beersheba, the story of Isaac. The idea that
these three Patriarchs were from one and the same family was, in
fact, an invention after the fact by those who wrote the Bible.
They wanted to show that there was a link between these three
Patriarchs, whereas in fact there was none.
[Israel Finkelstein, Tel Aviv University] So
there are three different traditions set in the background of
three different geographical zones. And the question is, "Why
Abraham at the center?" Why Abraham is put first? The answer is
clear. We are in Jerusalem, and Judah in the 7th century, in the
period of the Judaic kingdom. So regardless of whether the
Patriarchs are historical or mythical, the most important fact
is the background of the story shows us that we are in the 7th
century, in Judah, in Jerusalem. The people who wrote this
decided to put Abraham first, as the founder of the family, as
the center of the story, and by that also, Judah as the center
of the universe.
[Narrator] The Bible contains many long
genealogies, lists of generations and family alliances that
define territories and structure time.
[Thomas Romer, University of Lausanne] The
history of the Patriarchs in the Bible is also a family history.
Abraham was not only Isaac's father, he was also Ishmael's
father, who is the origin of all Arab tribes. And Isaac is not
only Jacob's father, he's also Esau's father. And then Abraham
is also Lot's uncle. This means that all the different peoples,
clans, and tribes that live in Canaan, and in Cis in
trans-Jordan, are linked by being descendants of Abraham. So all
these people are presented as being part of one great family,
with the problems faced by all families, but also the idea of a
profound link between all these different peoples.
[Neil Asher Silberman, Center for
Archaeological Research -- ENAME Belgium] What we see in the
figure of Abraham is a symbolic representation of
the birth of the nation.
Because at the time of the writing of the Bible, the history
of the people of Israel was not considered to be history in the
sense that we understand it: of years, of periods, of particular
historical events. It was seen more as the history of the
family, and of course, the father of the family, the founder of
the family, is a person of great significance. And throughout
all the stories of Abraham, we see symbolic representations of
the places of importance in Judah, of the kinds of relationships
with other people that made Judean history.
[Narrator] The story of the Patriarchs is the
first pillar of what would later become Judaism, and that is
common roots. According to Jewish tradition, the group known as
the people of Israel is made up of the descendants of Abraham,
Isaac, and Jacob. In their eyes, belonging to a people and to a
religion is one and the same thing.
[Israel Finkelstein] The first
verses of the Book of Joshua say the following: "After the death
of Moses, the servant of the Lord, the Lord said to Joshua, the
son of Nun, Moses' minister, 'Moses my servant is dead; now
therefore arise, go over this Jordan, you, and all this people,
unto the land which I am giving to them, to the people of
Israel, every place that the sole of your foot will tread upon I
have given to you as I promised to Moses.'"
This is the beginning of the
great saga, the great epic, of the conquest of Canaan in the
Book of Joshua. And the Bible tells the story, step-by-step:
from here to Jericho, from Jericho to Ai, from Ai to the war
with the kings of the south, and then to Hazor and the kings of
the north. And it's a wonderful story, a great saga of war and
conquest and bravery.
[Thomas Romer] The Biblical
version presents this conquest as a sort of blitzkrieg. In all,
it took two weeks, and practically the whole of the population
was exterminated. No mercy was shown for the people of
Canaan. But we're not told why. We're not told that it was
because they worshipped false gods, or because they were
particularly evil. On the contrary, no reasons are given.
What is important is that they were all devoted to
destruction according to the Biblical text. The word used is
"Hem," which means that everything must be destroyed in order to
be given back to Yahweh.
[Narrator] The archaeologist,
Kathleen Kenyon, was the first to conclude that at the time
suggested by the Bible, there were no walls in Jericho that
needed tumbling down. At the time of the conquest of Canaan,
Jericho was unoccupied.
[Israel Finkelstein, Tel Aviv
University] So this is not history in the simple sense in the
case of Jericho. It applies also for other places mentioned in
the tradition of the conquest in the book of Joshua. Many of the
cities mentioned were not inhabited at all in the late Bronze
Age. There was nothing there. So the Book of Joshua is not
history. It's a mythical description. And like the case of
the Patriarchs, and the case of Exodus, it tells the story of
the formative stage in the life of the nation. And as such, it
is full of divine interventions, bravery and miracles.
[Thomas Romer, University of
Lausanne] The Joshua epic is the start of a great story that
ends up in a story of kingship. The Book of Joshua is in fact
the Bible's first installment of a story that would ultimately
show why Israel chose a king in the same way that other peoples
had done. But it didn't happen overnight. Joshua already
prefigures in the Bible as being slightly royal as he is treated
somewhat like a king. But after the story of Joshua, we find a
book called The Book of Judges. They were charismatic leaders
who arose during a period that was chaotic and anarchical, a
period in which nothing was determined. There was no central
power, and "every man did that which was right in his own
eyes," according to the formula used in the book. So the
book of Judges is used to show it is not possible to organize a
nation in the absence of a king or a central power.
The Book of Judges ends on that final note. It is followed by
the story of Samuel, which is the introduction to the history of
kingship. Samuel will be the one to choose first Saul and then
David as the king of Israel.
[Narrator] What about David's
[Ronny Reich, University of
Haifa] In the late Bronze Age and in the early Iron Age,
there is human activity here; there's human occupation here, on
a very small scale.
[Israel Finkelstein] The way I see it, there was a village here
in the 10th century, but it was a small one, mainly on this part
of the ridge of the city of David, not all along the ridge, and
with a very limited population, not fortified and with no
[Ronny Reich, University of
Haifa] Well, I agree that it was a very small place. Iron Age
Jerusalem was a very small place. And this does not agree --
archaeology and text describe two different natures of
sites. Not the existence, but the natures of sites.
[Narrator] Unlike the great city
of the 7th Century, David's Jerusalem was a simple mountain
village covering 3-4 hectares. We can agree that David did not
build a prestigious capital. In the Bible, he's above-all
described as a conqueror. But what about his son -- the
illustrious Solomon -- whom the Bible tells us is a great
[Thomas Romer, University of
Lausanne] The Biblical story of Solomon reads a bit like a story
from the Arabian Nights. Solomon is the wise king par
excellence. He of the famous judgment of Solomon. But he
is also someone who is so famous that even the Queen of Sheba
came to visit him, to meet with the man whose wisdom was talked
about even in far-flung Africa. Solomon's empire was said to
have been so enormous that no other empire could compete! And
Solomon was also the builder of the temple which allowed the God
of Israel to find a resting place within Israel.
[Narrator] Like David's
Jerusalem, Solomon's capital was an insignificant village.
[Israel Finkelstein] There's no
evidence for a great Solomonic capital, ruling over a great
state, rich state and so on. And here at Megiddo, the buildings,
the monumental buildings which had been described as the symbol
of Solomonic greatness, in fact date a bit later. They don't
date to the time of Solomon. They don't date to the 10th
century. So we are in a situation of complete negative picture,
negative evidence from coast to coast.
[Israel Finkelstein] If these
people came from pastoral background, of course the pastoral
people do not have pigs, and this could have been one of the
reasons. But I think that there is a stronger reason to
the fact that there are no bones of pigs in the highlands and
that is at the same time exactly, you have the sites of the
Philistines in the lowlands, and in general the sites in the
lowlands -- Canaanites, Philistines and others -- they eat a lot
of pork. So the distinction between the people of the lowlands
and the people of the highlands could have been A SITUATION
OF WE AND THEY: "THEY EAT PORK; WE DON'T."