Thursday, March 31, 2011

The Power and Denial of Biblical Stories

At one point this afternoon we were standing on the top of the hill where Sokoh once stood. Sokoh was a village in the bronze and iron ages, meaning before the arrival of the tribes of Israel, and then into the period of the First Temple. It's main claim to fame is that according to chapter 17 of the First Book of Samuel, in the section of the valley of Ela between Sokoh and Azeka there was once the most famous duel in history, between young David and very large Goliath.

No, not that Valley of Ela. The real one. The thing is, while Sokoh has been identified with certainty, Azekah hasn't; part of the story we heard today was about new archeological findings, some of them very significant, which may indicate that Azekah was on a hill about a mile to the east of where it was thought to have been until recently. So we peered at the various hills, speculated about lines of vision and ancient borders, heard about new evidence which probably bolsters the Biblical tale of King David's reign, and then clambered down to the bus in the parking lot at the bottom of the hill.

A few minutes later I noticed a fellow reading the sports section of today's paper. The title of the story, splashed over half the width of the page, was "The Battle Between David and Goliath!!!".

This immediacy of the Biblical stories, their automatic presence at the heart of Western culture, ensures that the Palestinian efforts to criminalize Israeli archeology won't succeed. Or could they? As Alex Joffe asks in Jewish Ideas Daily,
How long will it be before Israeli archeologists are unable to get off a plane in London lest they be served with a subpoena initiated by a Palestinian NGO?


Silke said...

and on another note Ahava's London Shop won't get its lease prolonged - read the comment of one of the neighbours and shudder

a small and insignificant matter?
I don't think so.

The crowd in favour of re-introducing the pillory is gaining ground on all levels.

And no matter how genuinely Israeli the story of David is, right now Palestinians are the ones who successfully (and outrageously IMHO) style themselves as David.

Y. Ben-David said...

One problem with the David and Goliat story is that there is an unstated assumption by those who are always quoting it that the weaker party is always "right" and the stronger one "wrong". In World War II, the Axis powers (Germany, Italy and Japan) were the underdogs...there is no way they could win a war against the US, USSR and British Empire combined together. They were the weaker party. Did this make them "right"?
Is the fact that Israel is stronger than the Palestinians (thank goodness!) make us automatically in the wrong?

Deane said...

Yes, the impact of the Bible is strong in the West. But even a strong supporter of Israel such as U.S President Ronald Reagan noted that the biblical motif of David and Goliath was being applied in the opposite manner, following the unjust war of 1982.