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Archaeology

What Was Life like in Biblical Times?

The Bible focuses on questions of religion and politics, overwhelmingly emphasizing city life at the expense of rural life. Archaeology, in contrast, can help us to better understand the life of most Israelites, who did not live in cities, and supplies a better understanding of such mundane questions as what they did for a living and what they ate.

Prof.

Oded Borowski

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The Place(s) that YHWH will Choose: Ebal, Shiloh, and Jerusalem

Jews have long understood “the place that YHWH will chose” to mean Mount Zion in Jerusalem, while Samaritans have interpreted it as Mount Gerizim near Shechem. Archaeology and redaction criticism converge on a compromise solution: it refers to a series of places, one place at a time.

Zvi Koenigsberg

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Assyrian Deportation and Resettlement: The Story of Samaria

In 722 B.C.E., Assyria conquered the kingdom of Israel, and deported many of the residents of Samaria and its surroundings to other Assyrian provinces, and brought deportees from other conquered territories to Samaria to take their place. Excavations at Tel Hadid, near Lod in Israel, have unearthed material remains that contribute to our understanding of these transformative years.

Dr.

Ido Koch

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Reconstructing the Features of Solomon’s Temple

A small shrine model, found in an archaeological excavation of the 10th century B.C.E. city at Khirbet Qeiyafa, together with a 9th century B.C.E. Temple excavated at Motza, help us better understand the Temple of Solomon, known only from the biblical text.

Dr.

Madeleine Mumcuoglu

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Prof.

Yosef Garfinkel

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The Daughters of Zelophehad: A Historical-Geographical Approach

The Samaria ostraca and a close look at biblical verses and helps us locate Mahlah, Noa, Hoglah, Milkah, and Tirzah, in the territory of Manasseh.

Prof.

Aaron Demsky

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Fire Pans in the Bible and Archaeology

Fire pans (maḥtot) are listed as part of the Tabernacle’s accessories for the menorah and the altar. They also play an important role in the stories of Korah’s rebellion and the death of Nadav and Avihu as incense censors. Archaeological excavations have uncovered what these items were and how they functioned.

Dr.

Raz Kletter

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What Kinds of Fish Were Eaten in Ancient Jerusalem?

Fishbone remains discovered in eight different excavations in Jerusalem, from the Iron age to the early Islamic period, give us a sense of what fish the locals ate, and from where they were imported.

Prof.

Omri Lernau, M.D.

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Joshua’s Altar on Mount Ebal: Israel’s Holy Site Before Shiloh

In the eighties, archaeologist Adam Zertal excavated the site of El-Burnat on Mt. Ebal, and uncovered an enormous ancient altar from the early twelfth-century B.C.E. This archaeological find sheds light on the account of Joshua’s altar at Mt. Ebal as well as the famous story of Jacob crossing his arms to bless Ephraim over Manasseh with the birthright.

Zvi Koenigsberg

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What Are Clay Female Figurines Doing in Judah during the Biblical Period?

A look at the archaeological and biblical context for the hundreds of Judean Pillar Figurines found ubiquitously throughout Judahite homes in the Iron Age II.

Dr.

Aaron Greener

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Was There Ever an Ir Hannidahat (Subverted City)?

The rabbis claim that a “subverted” or “apostate” city, which Deuteronomy (13:13-18) condemns to destruction, “never was and never will be” (t. San. 14:1). Yet the account in Judges 19-21 of the destruction or ḥerem of Gibeah, its inhabitants, animals, and property, suggests that such “internal ḥerem” was an Israelite practice, and that Gibeah is being presented as a subverted city.

Prof.

Aaron Demsky

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How Silver Was Used for Payment

Abraham purchases the cave of Machpelah for 400 silver shekels. Biblical phrases, archaeological finds, and chemical analysis come together to paint a portrait of how early trade using silver functioned before the invention of coins.[1]

Tzilla Eshel

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When Did "Fire Go Forth from Heshbon"?

Contrary to the biblical account of the Israelite conquest and burning of Heshbon in Numbers 21, the archaeological remains of Tell Hesban (biblical Heshbon) demonstrate that it was not settled until centuries after the conquest and settlement period and not burned until over half a millennium later!

Dr.

Elizabeth Bloch-Smith

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The Ancient City of Hebron

Hebron plays a central role in many biblical stories. It was the prominent city in the Judean highlands, with large fortifications in the Early Bronze, Middle Bronze, and Iron Ages. During the Second Temple period, Hebron was occupied by the Idumeans. Recent archaeological excavations have uncovered large mikvaot (ritual baths), indicating that the inhabitants embraced Judaism.

Prof.

David Ben-Shlomo

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North Israelite Memories of the Transjordan and the Mesha Inscription

The Mesha Inscription describes Omri’s conquest of the mishor in the Transjordan, and Moab’s subsequent (re)taking of it, in the 9th century B.C.E. Reading Numbers 21 in conversation with archaeological findings confirms much of this and offers us a glimpse at the history of this region before the Omride conquest.

Prof.

Israel Finkelstein

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Prof.

Thomas Römer

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The Zer

What exactly is the זֵר (zer), mentioned ten times in the furnishing of the Mishkan: A test case for the importance of archaeology[1] 

Dr.

Raanan Eichler

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Dancing Erotically with the Golden Calf

And Moses’ Decision to Break the Tablets

Dr.

David Ben-Gad HaCohen

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Balaam the Seer: From the Bible to the Deir ʿAlla Inscription

What we know about where he lived, the language he spoke, and the gods he worshiped.

Prof.

Carl S. Ehrlich

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Edom's Copper Mines in Timna: Their Significance in the 10th Century

Copper has been mined in the Timna Valley since the 5th millennium B.C.E. Recent excavations reveal that the height of activity in the region dates to the 10th century B.C.E. and thus domination of this remote region during this period would have meant control of the lucrative copper industry. Could this be the unwritten backdrop to the Bible’s account of David’s conquest of Edom and Solomon’s great wealth?

Prof.

Erez Ben-Yosef

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Dr.

Aaron Greener

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Jezreel: A Military City and the Location of Jehu’s Coup

Biblical, geographical, and archaeological data coalesce to clarify the military importance of this city to Iron Age Israel and the possible meaning of the term “Ahab’s hêḵal.

Dr.

Norma Franklin

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The Torah's Exodus

Weighing the historicity of the exodus story entails more than addressing the lack of archaeological evidence.

Dr. Rabbi

Zev Farber

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The Jubilee Real Estate Law

Cities vs. Villages or Houses vs. Farmsteads? A New Insight based on Archaeology  

Prof.

Avraham (Avi) Faust

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On the Origins of Tevilah (Ritual Immersion)

When and why washing became immersion: between traditional-rabbinic and scientific-critical approaches to the origin of immersion and the mikveh.[1]

Dr.

Yonatan Adler

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Judean Life in Babylonia

Upon the conquest of Judah, Nebuchadnezzar deported many Judeans to Babylonia. What was their life like there? Were they assimilated, or did they stand out? What language(s) did they speak and what religious practices did they maintain? What was their social and economic standing? Babylonian records allow us glimpses into the lives of some of the deportees.

Dr.

Laurie Pearce

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What Was the Tachash Covering in the Tabernacle?

Animal, vegetable or mineral? Assyriology and archaeology provide an answer to an ancient question.

Dr. Rabbi

Norman Solomon

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The Story of Naboth’s Vineyard and the Ancient Winery in Jezreel

What light can archaeology shed on the significance and location of the vineyard?

Dr.

Norma Franklin

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The Philistines: Ancient Records, Archaeological Remains, and Biblical Traditions

The current scholarship about the identity of the Philistines, who they were, when they came to the Levant, and why.

Dr.

Shirly Ben-Dor Evian

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