Saturday, October 16, 2010

Empire and Psalms

There's an idea growing on Israel's far left that the history of Jerusalem wasn't. Kind David wasn't, Solomon wasn't, lots of the Bible wasn't, and of course the purpose of all this is to undermine any Jewish claim to the land and especially the city of Jerusalem. The central figure of all this seems to be the Tel Aviv archeologist Israel Finkelstein, but it has branched out. Shlomo Sand, of course, eagerly lapped up their theories without offering any space to the colleagues who disagree.

Without getting into the details (which are actually interesting), it has always seemed to me the discussion is a bit pointless. There's no doubt the House of David existed and its capital was Jerusalem; most of the argument seems to be about how large and important the Kingdom of Judea was. And if it was small and of no particular regional geo-political significance, as the revisionists say, what of it? The significance of Kind David wasn't that he was a major war-lord (we're talking about Jews, not Vikings or Mongolians) but that he wrote some of the Psalms.

How significant is that, you ask? This significant:

Or, if you prefer King James: In his hand are the deep places of the earth: the strength of the hills is his also.


NormanF said...

King David was a man of G-d.

I might add those who dismiss him as Israel's most beloved king are the ones who have turned their backs on Hashem.

Barry Meislin said...

Indeed, but if they can't and don't and won't want to agree that he was a MOG, then couldn't they at least, sort of, kind of, begrudgingly, heh, heh, wink, wink, admit that he had the hots for Bat-sheva.

(Who by all accounts---true or not--- was one really hot chick.)

AKA someone to die for---or kill for.... (Paging, paging Camille Paglia?).

Lachlan said...

I agree. And this looks to me like yet another instance of double standards. Let's say that for some reason we wanted to establish the "legitimacy" of the idea of a homeland for Finnish people, from first principles. Would not the existence of an ancient mythology, set in Finland and recorded in Finnish language, be counted as powerful evidence for the idea of a Finnish homeland? Of course we would not say "the goddess Mielikki didn't really exist, so this rich mythology is irrelevant."

So, even if very significant aspects of Jewish scripture are purely mythological (which I believe to be the case), it still stands as powerful evidence for the idea of a Jewish homeland in Israel. I think Israel may actually have better "documentation" than most modern states, although I'm by no means an expert.

Gentile Zionist said...

"There's an idea growing on Israel's far left that the history of Jerusalem wasn't."

Jews have always been afflicted bu the Jew Flu, an inexplicable self-destructive tendency including
- self-hatred
- defense of their enemies
- aid to anti-Semites.

The existence the ancient Jewish nation is amply proved by any or all of:
- Mesha stele
- Mernepteh stele
- Shishak relief
- Black obekisk of Shalmaneser
- Tel Dan insrciption
- Siloam inscription
- Taylor prism

"even if very significant aspects of Jewish scripture are purely mythological"

On the other hand, the archaeology does in fact confirm the major "story lines" of the Old Testament, including the presence of the Habiru in Egypt (Sishak relief), the existence of a Jewish nation in the Mideast (Mernepteh stele and others above), etc.

The Old Testament may not be true in every detail, but it certainly qualifies as a theologically-embellished national history.

Anonymous said...

as to the term "mythological"

Robert Graves has convinced me in his two volume Greek myths that there are true myths i.e. tales which are a kind of early history and those which are of an educational bend i.e. like some of the originals of Grimm's fairy tales. It's a long time but I remember that one indicator for history is if there is a recurring physical attribute like the pierced heels of Oedipus. Narziss he considers to be "educational"

Graves has, together with Raphael Patel, written a book on Hebrew Myths also which is similarly structured. The way I "know" Graves he should have interesting things in support of history to say (for some reason I stopped about a 100 pages in ages ago, maybe I had to buy a bible first and then forgot about it)