According to a hypothesis of biblical scholarship, the Davidic-Solomon Empire describes a state in the eastern Mediterranean in the time of the 10th century BC. BC, called United Monarchy in the English-speaking world .
The German Protestant theologians Albrecht Alt (1883–1956) and Martin Noth (1902–1968) and their students found information in the Samuel and King books of the Bible that they considered to be historically reliable, and deduced from it the historical processes. It happened for them that Jerusalem in the 10th century BC. Was the administrative center of a large state as well as a place of cultural bloom. Gerhard von Rad (1901–1971) coined the phrase “Solomonic Enlightenment ” for cultural life at Solomon's court and assumed that parts of the Old Testament were written in this context.
The capture of Jerusalem by King David and the division of the empire after the death of his son and successor Solomon are viewed as key historical data ; both rulers were at the time of Scheschonq's first Palestine campaign in 926 BC. Already deceased. More precise information is not possible, as the reigns of David and Solomon are given in the Bible as 40 years each, a symbolic number (it corresponds to one generation ).
The more recent research considers the existence of a Davidic-Solomonic empire largely to be a literary invention ( fiction ). Biblical archaeologists who continue to adhere to this are called "maximalists". Many newer experts see themselves as "minimalists": From their point of view, David and Solomon were historical persons and rulers, but only had regional significance. Some experts (“nihilists” or “revisionists”) fundamentally doubt whether the Bible contains historically reliable information about the time before the Babylonian exile .
The term Davidic-Solomonic Empire describes a historical image that was obtained from a combination of biblical texts, but does not represent a retelling of the Bible. It was valid in Old Testament science from the mid-20th century until the 1990s, but has since lost its approval. The following reconstruction of Israelite history emerged from it:
Origin of the empire
The allied Israelite tribes became established in the late 11th century BC. Chr. Led by charismatic personalities for short periods of time. That was a politico-military weakness compared to neighboring peoples who had a central kingdom . After a defeat against the militarily superior Philistines , they occupied the country. There was an uprising of the Israelites, in which the charismatic King Saul took advantage of the element of surprise and removed the Philistine occupation. He established a kingdom in northern Israel, but quickly came into conflict with the Israelite tradition and first lost the support of the priesthood before he died in the war against the Philistines.
David, a former follower of Saul and mercenary leader, established a small kingdom for himself in Judah . After Saul's death, he asserted himself militarily against his successor Isch-Boschet and then defeated the Philistines with his personal troops, which he ousted from their supremacy in the region. He used these events as legitimation to rule in personal union over the northern Reich of Israel and the southern Reich of Judah.
His mercenaries, led by Joab , took the Canaanite ( Jebusite ) city of Jerusalem for David . Although it was in the territory of the southern Reich of Judah, it did not become part of it, but the "City of David". The cult center of the city was its temple. David left the high priest Zadok in his office, who later succeeded in ousting the Israelite priest Abiatar . At the temple, the Canaanite cult and the Israelite belief in YHWH combined to form an exciting syncretism .
Walter Dietrich determines the core area of the Davidic and then also Solomonic empire without the subordinate neighboring states as follows:
- North and East: Transjordan, Galilee , upper Jordan Valley to Dan , but without the Phoenician cities;
- West: the whole area up to the Mediterranean Sea, including the Canaanite city-states Taanach , Megiddo and Dor ;
- Southwest: Negev to Beersheba without the Philistine area.
Military expansion under David
In a series of wars of aggression, David subjugated the neighboring peoples in the east ( Moabites , Ammonites , Edomites ) and thus greatly expanded the territory of his empire. He even brought some Aramaic small states, which had allied themselves with the Ammonites and were defeated with them, under his suzerainty. David's governor resided in Damascus . The Canaanite city-states that still existed on the territory of the Israelite tribes were incorporated into David's empire.
David carried his mercenary troops from one success to the next, while the Israelite tribes committed to military service were demoted to auxiliary troops. David's son Absalom sat at the head of the discontented and took military action against his father. In the East Bank there was a decisive battle between the army under Absalom and the mercenary troops under Joab. Absalom fell, the exile was dispersed, the uprising had failed.
Heyday under Solomon and the division of the empire
Solomon emerged as the new king from the court intrigues surrounding the succession to the throne. He took over a great empire from his father, in the words of Gerhard von Rad, “a state of powerful expansionary power, somewhat stable in foreign policy, still full of problems domestically, cultic life tied to a new center and entered new forms, a shining court that in the care of spiritual goods was at the height of its time. "
Herbert Donner characterized the court of Solomon as open-minded, even cosmopolitan, a "foster home for the arts and sciences." Solomon was able to use the income from international trade to carry out his major building projects: temples and palaces in Jerusalem, garrison towns in Hazor , Megiddo, Gezer and Bet-Horon , and also a luxurious royal household. With an effective administration, the population was drawn into levies. The civil service required for this was taught in writing schools. A district list divided the area of the Israelite tribes into administrative units. Parts of the population had to do slave labor .
After Solomon's death, his son Rehoboam succeeded the throne. This was accepted in the city-state of Jerusalem and the southern Reich of Judah , as dynastic succession was common in Canaanite city-states. Not so in the north: the newly enthroned king had to go to Shechem to negotiate with the representatives of the tribes of Israel. They pushed for a curtailment of royal power and a return to the traditional role of charismatic leader. When Rehoboam was unwilling to do so, the northern kingdom of Israel refused to recognize him ; he himself narrowly escaped an assassination attempt. "With that, the great state built by David had come to an end."
Davidic people's kingship
The presentation Hermann Guthes in his history of Israel (1914) shows an example of how the era of David and Solomon before the development of the great empire hypothesis was characterized by Albrecht Alt in research. Guthe calls the epoch the “Davidic people's kingship” as opposed to the “double kingship of Israel and Judah” after Solomon's death or the division of the empire.
He reads the biblical accounts of David's wars against neighboring peoples critically. Although David, like Saul, may have occasionally achieved successes against the Arameans, Guthe does not believe that they had to pay tribute to him and has "strong reservations" about the historical accuracy of the biblical representation that David was able to make the Aramaic region a province of his kingdom and its governor resided in Damascus. With these restrictions, however, the following applies: "An empire of such importance was a completely new event for southern Syria"; it could "fill the hearts of the Israelites with pride".
Guthe said that Jerusalem as the capital would be conveniently located in terms of traffic (Alt and Noth knew from their own stays there that this was not the case) and that it was neutral ground “against the jealousy of the tribes”. "But it did not have an Israelite prerogative of age or origin, so there was all the more reason to distinguish it with a fresh shine." The result of the building work under David was "compared to the poor environment ... certainly a palace". The marriage of Solomon with a pharaoh's daughter and the transfer of the city of Gesar are only conceivable for Guthe within the framework of a vassal relationship into which Solomon had entered Egypt. He wonders what kind of consideration Solomon had to give for this. He probably protected Egyptian trade routes, possibly hired mercenaries. The expansion of the garrison towns, which Guthe knows from the biblical mention and not from the later excavations, is explained by the securing of important roads. "Maybe Hazor and Megiddo were one of them, but the text gives cause for doubt."
Solomon's construction work in Jerusalem placed a heavy burden on the population who had to do labor. The trade cooperation with Tire brought luxury goods to Jerusalem. "Even though Solomon may have been a rich prince in the later years of his reign - in the first few years he was not - the splendor of his court was not able to make us forget the wounds he inflicted on the people." This resulted a violent "aversion to a kingdom that embellished its capital with the wealth of the tribes". When Rehoboam was rejected by the tribes of Israel in Shechem, the aversion - so Guthe - was not directed towards kingship per se, but towards the Davidic dynasty.
Davidic-Solomon Empire - United Monarchy
If a grander picture of the David and Solomon's era could establish itself in Old Testament science as the twentieth century progressed, then Biblical Archeology did its part. The excavations of the Oriental Institute of the University of Chicago on Tell el-Mutesellim (Megiddo), published in 1931, were welcomed by Martin Noth in his history of Israel as “the most important archaeological remnant of the rich Solomonic building in the country”: the “remains of a great one Complex of horse stables, which undoubtedly go back to Solomon "are an" impressive illustration "of the biblical note about building measures of Solomon. The Geser mass plane is probably also the remainder of a Solomonic stables. The fact that the so-called horse stables of Solomon were later dated to the late royal era by Israeli archaeologists did not invalidate the hypothesis of the Great Empire, because at the same time newly found gates and palaces were classified in the Solomon's era.
Albrecht Alt and his school
In the history of Israel, the old school makes a fundamental distinction between periods for which source texts are available and periods for which this is not the case. Where there are no up-to-date sources, she draws on related sciences, ethnological parallels, the topography of Palestine and older traditions that are identified in the Bible and questioned about their historical core. The conquest of the Israelites is therefore not understood as a war of conquest under Joshua, as in the Bible, but as a largely peaceful infiltration of nomads into the cultivated land. Alts academic student Martin Noth interpreted the subsequent pre-state period as a sacred tribal alliance ( amphictyony ), and for this too he can only cite a few Old Testament texts: “Precisely because the constitution of the amphictyonic twelve-tribes association was so essential for Israel that it was one right up until the beginning of the formation of the state permanent and therefore self-evident institution, so little is reported about it in the OT. ”With the person of David, the representation of the history of Israel according to this model enters a new period, because through his active historical action David creates the prerequisites for the beginnings of historiography .
The term Davidic-Solomonic Empire contains components that are missing from the English equivalent United Monarchy and are characteristic of Alt's approach:
- The Levant is in the 10th century BC. A world of territorial states and city-states. Due to the different natural conditions, they have their own profile and, above all - quite modern - their own constitution. A large empire that unites several of these states must create legal structures for this in order to achieve the acceptance of the population.
- History is shaped by great individuals (David, Solomon) and their inexplicable talents and personal deficits. Alt focused on David's “political genius”. Step by step, taking advantage of the hour, David built a state. Rudolf Smend commented that it was difficult to imagine that Alt did not have the work of Bismarck in mind. Everything that became of the geostrategically and infrastructurally insignificant place Jerusalem over the centuries and until today, owed to David's idea to make Jerusalem his capital.
Alt said in 1950 that it was a fact that David's empire in a short period of time "not only in terms of area, but also in terms of its inner nature had grown surprisingly quickly and far beyond the borders of his Israelite nation-state and had assumed the shape of a large empire." also contributed individual interpretations that were adopted by his group of students, for example that David had ruled over the kingdoms of Israel and Judah in " personal union" or that Jerusalem, as David's personal prey, was a third political factor alongside Judah in the south and Israel in the north . Up until the mid-1980s, hardly anything changed in this image of the era of David and Solomon as the history of a great empire in the German-speaking area; it was incorporated into standard works and textbooks of Old Testament science. Donner's history of the people of Israel and its neighbors in outline was published in 2007 in its fourth edition.
William F. Albright and his school
The American Old Testament scholars of the generation Martin Noth sought a different approach to the early history of Israel and relied more on archeology. Here the work of William F. Albright was fundamental. This additional information should support the biblical account and refute the old school, which was perceived as too progressive. (The old school was by no means opposed to archeology, but had no opportunity to carry out excavations in Israel itself.)
John Bright, a student of Albright, wrote a history of Israel that can be considered a classic draft in the Anglo-Saxon-speaking world. In its various editions since 1959, Bright adapted its history of Israel to the state of archeology.
Bright received the work of Alt and Noth, but did not embrace the idea of a peaceful land grab. “There is no reason to doubt that this was a bloody and brutal business as described in the Bible. It was Yahweh's holy war with which he gave his people the land of promise. ”For the pre-state era, Bright Noth would like to retain a modified form of the thesis of the twelve-tribes league. The representation of the establishment of a state, which comes from a clearly different picture of the early period, converges more and more in the following to the great empire hypothesis of the old school. As a first step, David completed the military conquest of Canaan and rounded off the territory of Israel. But Bright doubts whether David built up his empire according to plan during the following campaigns against neighboring states or whether he rather “stumbled forward”. Even in the edition of 2000 (edited by William P. Brown) there are no concerns about classifying the kingdom of David as an equal among the great powers, and typical features of the Alt's hypothesis are received with the keyword personal union and Jerusalem as the city of David. Under the keyword “cultural bloom” it is asserted, for example, that the ability to write was widespread at the time of Solomon, that there was a history of writing and a flourishing musical life (psalms) at court and that the oral traditions from Israel's early days were also written down here (Yahwist).
Niels Peter Lemche ruled in 2008 that Bright's History of Israel, still a textbook at many American universities, was in many respects more traditional than Martin Noth's account. Conservative biblical studies have a far stronger position in North America than in Germany. The younger generation of American Old Testament scholars have now joined the Old School.
Maximalists, minimalists, nihilists
The discussion, which became virulent in the mid-1980s, had been preparing for some time in Israel's archeology .
Yigael Yadin had worked as an archaeologist in order to find models in the past for the Israel of the present. He staged his excavation finds as nationally significant stories ( Masada , Cave of Letters ). He managed to “nationalize, politicize and popularize archeology” in the 1950s and 1960s. Under the influence of Yohanan Aharoni (Archaeological Institute of Tel Aviv University ), many Israeli archaeologists turned small, not in the sources, in the years that followed testified to local locations, which the public was less interested in. Their finds were unspectacular, but gradually came together to form a picture that Israel Finkelstein later publicly represented.
In Israel, for example, there were excavations of the “advocates of the empire” who identified the Iron Age IIA with the time of David and Solomon in a tried and tested manner , and archaeologists were active alongside them using new anthropological and demographic approaches. An exchange between these two competing directions was difficult.
According to Gary N. Knoppers, the spectrum of positions represented today can be divided into three groups: maximalists, minimalists and nihilists, whereby nihilists are representatives of the thesis that David and Solomon are no more historical figures than King Arthur . In the polemics of the maximalists, minimalists and nihilists are combined, but this does not correspond to their self-image.
- Maximalists: Great empire under David and Solomon, from Egypt to Lebanon, with the East Bank and Aramaic regions (William G. Dever, Gösta W. Ahlström, Avraham Malamat , Kenneth A. Kitchen , Alan J. Millard, John S. Holladay Jr., Baruch Halpern, Amnon Ben-Tor, Doron Ben-Ami).
- Minimalists: Local rule in the Jerusalem area, control of the northern Reich of Israel is a literary fiction (J. Maxwell Miller, John H. Hayes, Giovanni Garbini, David W. Jamieson-Drake, Philipp R. Davies, Niels Peter Lemche, Israel Finkelstein , Amichai Mazar , David Ussishkin , Nadav Na'aman , Ernst Axel Knauf , Margaret Steiner).
- Nihilists, revisionists : the history of Israel before exile is, overall, a literary fiction (Margaret M. Gelinas, Thomas L. Thompson, Keith W. Whitelam). This position is difficult to justify after the Tel Dan inscription was found.
Since it was in the 10th century BC BC there were no coins , archeology has to come to a date based on the pottery used . Albright had already regarded a certain type of ceramic as a hallmark of the Solomon era, a characteristic red-coated, hand-polished household ceramic. Since this represents a technological advance, it was placed in the presumed historical context of the formation of the great empire. However, according to Amichai Mazar, pottery of this type was used for an extended period from the late 11th century to at least the early 9th century. It is therefore ruled out for the exact dating of finds to the time of David and Solomon.
High Chronology and Low Chronology
According to the High Chronology (also Conventional Chronology ) represented by Yigael Yadin, the reigns of David and Solomon, given by the Bible to be around 40 years each, are identical to the Iron IIA period in the archaeological evidence. In Israel / Palestine, this was associated with a revival of the urban way of life ( reurbanization ). Ruth Amiran and Yohanan Aharoni developed Yadin's approach further. Based on comparisons of ceramics, they came to the thesis that the beginning of the Iron Age IIA roughly with the conquest of Jerusalem by David, around the year 1000 BC. BC, coincide. Archaeologists used this memorable date as a working basis, textbooks adopted it. A weak point of High Chronology , however, is that according to this model for the 9th century BC. Opens a gap in the archaeological evidence.
In contrast to the High Chronology, Israel Finkelstein developed another ceramic typology, according to which the beginning of the Iron IIA period was around 100 years into the 9th century BC. Chr. Shifts. According to Finkelstein's Low Chronology , David and Solomon still lived in the Iron Age IB. Archaeological explorations in the mountains of Judah (in the center of the hypothetical Davidic-Solomonic Empire) showed, however, that the region was stony and covered by scrub and forest during the Iron IB period and represented a rather isolated and marginal geographical area overall. The number of villages gradually increased during this archaeological phase, but the inhabitants found their livelihood as shepherds rather than as arable farmers. According to Christian Frevel , these results archaeologically pull the ground away from the idea of a "flourishing empire under David and Solomon."
Further chronological approaches
In the meantime, various intermediate positions have been worked out which, in addition to the ceramic typology, also use the carbon method. The Modified Conventional Chronology (Amichai Mazar) dates the Iron Age IIA somewhat down from 1000/980 to 840/830 BC. BC, which keeps the possibility open that David and Solomon participated in the reurbanization. Mazar's chronology has found relatively broad approval, but it also means that it simply remains in the balance whether an event can be assigned to the 10th or 9th century.
In addition, it was suggested in the discussion to separate the chronology of the north from that of the south and the phase for the north to the 10th and 9th centuries BC. B.C., for the south, however, the beginning only in the 2nd half of the 10th century BC. BC, the end possibly in the early 8th century BC. To let begin.
(The reigns of David and Solomon were taken from the chronology of Gershon Galil for this overview.)
In 2018, a four-year project began in which the dating of archaeological findings from Jerusalem is generally to be checked using the radiocarbon method. It is funded by the Israel Science Foundation . The project is led by archaeologists Yuval Gadot (Tel Aviv University), Elisabetta Boaretto (Weizmann Institute, Rehovot) and two archaeologists from the Israel Antiquities Authority (Doron Ben-Ami and Joe Uziel).
In the chronology debate, there is a kind of stalemate in which High Chronology and Low Chronology are still represented, as well as intermediate positions. This leads to the fact that the assignment of archaeological findings to the era of David and Solomon is questioned by proponents of a different chronology. But there is a second. The excavations in Jerusalem (City of David) in particular did not produce the material remains that one would expect from a large empire. There are mostly rather unspectacular findings such as the Ophel pithos inscription as the oldest known written monument from Jerusalem. Since other historical periods are well documented, these relatively sparse, relatively modest finds from the early Iron Age are striking.
"The absence of (archaeological) evidence is no evidence that something did not exist" ("The absence of evidence does not constitute the evidence of absence") is a standard argument of the supporters of the Great Empire, but it is no longer shared by many experts . For them, the lack of evidence of a cultural heyday, particularly in Jerusalem, suggests that it wasn't a particularly great heyday. Since the critics of the Greater Reich Hypothesis pursue different approaches, a consensual reassessment of the epoch is not in sight. In 1997 Gary N. Knoppers wrote:
“A dominant discourse about the 10th century has been replaced by a variety of competing discourses. The only certainty today is that the era of scientific consensus is over. "
If the Davidic-Solomon Empire hypothesis is no longer convincing, an alternative hypothesis is sought that brings two elements together:
- The literarily attested rulers David and Solomon were so important as historical actors that a dynasty was named after David (see Tel-Dan inscription) and the temple in Jerusalem was attributed to Solomon instead of a later king ascribing the building to himself.
- The mountains of Judah were less populated and therefore economically weaker than the Schefela .
The terms Chiefdom or Early State are proposed for the organizational form of the kingdom of David and Solomon .
Gunnar Lehmann thinks it is realistic that David and Solomon were able to bring the further developed lowlands under their control for a certain period of time in an " ad-hoc reign" from the Judean mountains . There are comparable cases in history in which a warlord from an underdeveloped region received tribute and loyalty even from large cities, either through blackmail or through promises of protection. With this type of rule, however, an administration is not built up.
Reinhard Gregor Kratz sums up the early state hypothesis as follows:
“In Jerusalem, the center of the Judean tribal kingship, under David and his successor Solomon (again) approaches to urban culture and administration as they had existed in the Bronze Age seem to have been established, only somewhat more modestly. [...] In fact, the 'Davidic-Solomonic Empire' was only realized under the Hasmoneans in Hellenistic times. "
Based on the High Chronology in 1988, Helga Weippert came to the conclusion that the new urban culture of the Iron IIA era had produced standardized-looking city walls, gates, palaces and houses, which she related to the planned development of the country under Solomon.
Residence city of Jerusalem
Kathleen Kenyon and Yigal Shiloh found architectural fragments that may have belonged to the palace complexes of the kings of Judah, but not in situ , which is why their dating is uncertain. These are two fragments of a volute capital and ashlar stones. This group of finds may also include a volute capital that John W. Crowfoot and Gerald M. Fitzgerald discovered in Byzantine rubble on Jerusalem's southeast hill in 1929 , if it was built there as a spoil .
Hillside paving (stepped stone structure)
“The lower town was 400 by 90 meters, the upper town with the temple and palace 300 by 250 meters. In the time of Solomon there lived here at most 1500-2000 inhabitants! In the lower town, archaeologists found a few isolated shards, a few remains of a retaining wall. "
As the residence of a large empire, this city is far too small. But the stepped stone structure on the slope of the south-east hill, the chronological classification of which is the subject of the discussion, shows that Jerusalem had an urban character. Yigal Shiloh , whose team dug in the City of David from 1978 to 1985, suggested three interpretations for this structure, declaring the first unlikely:
- Substructure of a large building on the Acropolis
- Part of the acropolis fortification
- Separation between Wohnstadt and Ophel
An overview of Shiloh's excavation results was presented by Jane M. Cahill and David Tarler in 1994, whereby they assess the stepped stone structure differently than the excavation director, namely as a uniform late Bronze Age structure without additions from the 10th century. "In addition, it should be noted that at the same time, indirectly, the remains that can be assigned to the tenth century are considerably reduced," summarized Uta Zwingenberger. Cahill and Tarler also assigned only small building remains and ceramics (including two goblets and a fragment of a cult stand) to the time of David and Solomon.
Palaces of David
Eilat Mazar said in 2017 that he had found the “new” David's palace (large stone structure) on the approximately 200 m² platform secured by the stepped stone structure . In the Iron Age, palaces were often built on podiums so that they towered over the residential areas, which is what Mazar bases her argument on. Critics, including Israel Finkelstein, see the remains of several buildings in the large stone structure , the oldest components of which date back to the 9th century BC. Go back.
Dealing with Mazar's excavations in the City of David is made difficult by their biblical arguments. As early as 1997 she announced the discovery of the “old” David Palace; this was outside and "above" the Jebusite citadel. The rationale for this interpretation was 2 Sam 5,17 EU : David went from his palace to the citadel down . In their opinion, the ashlar stones found by previous excavators and a volute capital belonged to this building. Such an exposed place for an Iron Age palace would be very unusual.
For the temple construction see: First (or Solomonic) temple
Temples and palace buildings together formed the acropolis of Iron Age Jerusalem. The palace buildings of the kings of Judah were located south of the temple, also on the area of today's Temple Mount. The assessment of these major construction projects can only be based on written (biblical) sources. Their edification is described in 1 Kings 7 EU and traced back to the reign of Solomon. This building ensemble included:
- the so-called Lebanon Forest House ( Hebrew בֵּית יַעַר הַלְּבָנוֹן bet ya'ar hallevanon ),
- a portico,
- a throne hall,
- the residential palace of Solomon,
- the "house of the pharaoh's daughter".
Only the Lebanon forest house is also mentioned at a later time. Eckart Otto therefore does not consider it a literary fiction, but rather a representative building that was built in Jerusalem on the 9th-8th centuries. Century existed. He describes the type of building as "quite unmistakable" and therefore cannot be dated based on the building description.
The Lebanon forest house is said to have been 50 m long, 25 m wide and 15 m high. According to the source, the building material consisted of stone blocks for the massive outer walls and Lebanon cedars for the beams, ceilings and three or four rows of 15 columns each, which supported an upper floor. The many pillars made the interior look like a forest, which explains the name. Various functions have been proposed for this building, from audience hall to horse stable. Weippert compares columned halls from the Urartean palace architecture ( Altıntepe , Arin-Berd , more recent Iron II period).
In the case of the pillared hall and the throne hall, it is not clear from the text whether these are additions to the Lebanon Forest House or independent buildings. Weippert suggests an architecture similar to the Arabic Liwan .
Garrison cities Hazor, Megiddo and Geser
The notes in 1 Kings 9:15, 17 EU mention Solomon's building activity in Hazor , Megiddo and Geser as well as in Baala ( el-Muğār or Tulul el-medbaḥˀ ), Tamar (ˤĒn Ḥaṣeva) and Bet-Horon (Bēt ˀŪr et-taḥta) . Solomon's construction work may have left archaeological traces in the first three places mentioned, which is controversial. If one would like to assume that Solomon ruled a great empire from Jerusalem, although Jerusalem was not noticeably expanded, then it must be inferred that Solomon occupied these three strategically important places, especially Megiddo, and used them for his administration of the country.
According to Finkelstein, his opponents succumbed to a circular argument : they dated the ceramics and artefacts to the 10th century because they had the right Bible verse about Solomon's building work to hand; Exegetes considered the great Davidic-Solomonic empire to be a historical reality because they saw the impressive buildings in Geser, Hazor and Megiddo, which archeology had dated to the 10th century. The affiliation of Hazor, Megiddo and Gesar to the realm of Solomon is unproven. "Minimalists" deny it.
William G. Dever, who had been involved in the excavations in Geser, confirmed in 2017 that construction work in Hazor, Megiddo and Geser could be traced back to Solomon with sufficient probability ("proven, beyond reasonable doubt"); He protested against Finkelstein's thesis that the six-chamber gate in Geser was dated to the time of Solomon on the basis of a biblical argument, and emphasized the technically correct working method of the archaeologists. Conversely, he accused Finkelstein of dubious arguments.
Yigael Yadin uncovered an Iron Age city gate during the Hazor excavation in the 1950s. He realized that city gates of the same type (he named the six-chamber gate) had been described by earlier excavators in Megiddo and Geser. Yadin assumed that Solomon's architect had designed a blueprint for six-chamber gates in Jerusalem, which was implemented on site. The similarity of the gate systems is striking:
|length||20.3 m||20.3 m||19.0 m|
|width||18.2 m||17.5 m||16.2 m|
|Width of the gate passage||4.2 m||4.2 m||4.1 m|
|Width between the towers||6.1 m||6.5 m||5.5 m|
However, the Megiddo gate is not from the same period as the Geser and Hazor gates. It was built later. There are similar gates from the post-Solomonic era in the Philistine city of Ashdod , in Lachisch and other places.
The archaeologist Simon Halama is convinced that from the 10th century BC onwards "Monumental buildings in Palestine were structurally characterized by the use of limestone blocks for the foundations and lower wall sections as well as by volute capitals - probably in the door jambs and on pillars in the entrance". In the 1960s, Yadin's team found the remains of a palace in Megiddo. This representative building with a floor area of 28 m × 21 m (Palace 6000) was identified by the excavators as the seat of Solomon's governor. David Ussishkin argued that the biblical description of the royal palace in Jerusalem fit this type of palace. The identification of these buildings as Bit Hilani , a north Syrian palace type, is questionable due to a lack of architectural similarities. The more far-reaching thesis of the excavators that the architectural influence of Solomon's trading partner Hiram von Tire is shown here fails because the Syrian palaces were built in the 9th century at the earliest. Finkelstein asks polemically: "How could Solomon's architects have adopted an architectural style that didn't even exist?"
The Great Empire Hypothesis from an Egyptological Perspective
As a neighboring science, Egyptology is particularly relevant, because Palestine was in the 10th century BC. In the radiation field of the Egyptian high culture. The old school was located at the University of Leipzig in the 1950s , where the Egyptology department was represented by Siegfried Morenz . Herbert Donner attended lectures with Morenz (he also did his doctorate in ancient oriental studies), Siegfried Herrmann was Morenz's doctoral student. In their opinion, the simultaneous periods of weakness in Egypt and Assyria made it possible for a new great power to emerge in the Levant. Herrmann also referred to Wenamun's travelogue . The great empire hypothesis was shared by Morenz:
"When neither Egypt nor a Near Eastern potency was effective in this area, David and Solomon for their part created an absolutely ruled empire that pushed beyond national borders."
Bernd U. Schipper draws attention to a strange finding for the further development in Egyptology : Kenneth A. Kitchen , a prominent "maximalist" on the question of the great empire, wrote the standard work The Third Intermediate Period in 1971 as an Egyptologist , in which he deals with the Egypt of des 10th century BC Concerned. Kitchen rejects historical and critical research into the Bible and combines his expertise in the history of Egypt with a biblical view of the Israel of David and Solomon. In Schipper's view, Kitchen is not alone in this in Egyptology. The theses on the source value of Old Testament books, represented in recent biblical exegesis, have hardly been received in Egyptology.
Solomon's marriage to a pharaoh's daughter
In the case of a large empire, contacts with neighboring large empires are to be expected; In this context, the historical value of Solomon's marriage to a pharaoh's daughter should be questioned ( 1 Kings 3.1 EU ; 1 Kings 7.8 EU ; 1 Kings 9.16–24 EU ). It is consistently viewed as historical in the older Bible exegesis. The Egyptologist Wolfgang Helck also wrote in 1968: " It was probably Siamun who married his daughter to Solomon of Israel and gave the newly conquered Gezer as a dowry."
From a more recent Egyptological point of view, however, this connection is improbable; there is no known marriage of an Egyptian princess to a foreign king. This did not correspond to the marriage policy of the rulers of Egypt. According to Schipper, the 21st dynasty was no exception. Since the mention of the Pharaoh's daughter is narrative interwoven with the description of building work by Solomon, Schipper considers that there could have been an Egyptian-style building in Jerusalem, which was popularly called "House of the Pharaoh's Daughter".
Siamun's conquest of Geser
1 Kings 9 : 16–24 EU is interpreted by Kitchen and others in such a way that Siamun undertook a campaign to Palestine, destroyed the (Philistine) city of Gesar and gave it to his son-in-law Solomon on the occasion of his marriage. In addition to a horizon of destruction in the Philistine region, a relief fragment from Tanis bearsthe burden of proof for this thesis. The fragment shows Siamun killing a pair of enemies. One of the enemies holds an object in his hand that is interpreted as a double ax of the Aegean-Anatolian type and is said to identify him as a Philistine. Schipper rejects this line of argument for two reasons: First, it is about the fixed iconographic type of “ slaying the enemy ”, which was part of the royal ideology and did not represent any military activities of the ruler concerned. Second, if you look closely, the object is not a double ax, but rather the edge of a shield.
Commercial relations and economic ventures of Solomon
The discussion about the existence of a great Davidic-Solomonic empire also revolves around the biblical reports on trade and economic relations of King Solomon.
According to the biblical account, Hiram of Tire supplied the luxury item cedar wood for Solomon's residence Jerusalem (temple and palace). Solomon not only paid him for it in kind, but also ceded an area in Galilee to him ( 1 Kings 9 : 11-13 EU ). This information is often considered historical, according to Donner, Solomon was dependent on Hiram. Hiram was superior to him: "Tire supplies handicraft products, precious metals and technology, Solomon only has agricultural products and land to offer." Ultimately, however, it is doubtful that Galilee was even part of the rulership of historical Solomon.
According to 1 Kings 9.26–28 EU there was cooperation between Tire and Jerusalem in long-distance trade. Solomon owned a merchant fleet in Ezion-Geber . With Tyrian manned sailors, these ships are as far as Ophir down and returned laden with gold. Ezjon-Geber is identified by Wolfgang Zwickel and others with Ğezīret Firāˁūn . This place was founded in the 8th century BC. Expanded, so clearly after the time of Solomon. But regardless of the location of this port, according to Bernd Schipper, it is unlikely that the Phoenicians should have participated in a ship expedition on the Red Sea in the 10th century ; they opened up this trading area only in the 8th century BC. Chr.
The biblical report 1 Kings 10 : 28-29 EU can be interpreted in such a way that Solomon controlled the horse trade with Egypt and Koë ( Cilicia ) as a quasi-monopoly. According to Schipper, however, conditions from the 8th century are projected back into an earlier time. Because only because Tiglat-Pileser III. When Cilicia made tribute payments, the trade in horses from Koë began, from which the Assyrians profited.
The story of the visit of the Queen of Sheba to Solomon's court evidently has fairytale features and is not considered for an assessment of Solomon's commercial policy.
Administration of the land
Government of David
Herbert Donner assumed that David not only created a state, "the first large empire on the soil of Palestine and part of Syria that we know," but also set up an efficient administration with the following characteristics:
- "Clever internal political organization"
- "Institutional consolidation"
- "Administrative form"
He had recruited suitable persons for this civil service from the nobility of the disempowered Canaanite city-states. According to Herrmann, Jerusalem became an administrative center, from which two lists of “departmental officials” with military, civil and religious tasks have been handed down. After analyzing this material ( 2 Sam 8 EU / 1 Chr 18 EU , 2 Sam 20 EU ) Hermann Michael Niemann comes to the conclusion that these people all worked in David's environment. Accordingly, David had no functionaries to administer the vast territory of his empire. Niemann believed that David was able to cover up this weakness of the internal structure through constant military aggression.
The excavations in Khirbet Qeiyafa (since 2008) provided, from a maximalist point of view, indications of a functioning administration at the time of David. The Catholic Old Testament scholar Christian Frevel thinks, however, that the finding is "highly controversial" and is not sufficient as evidence "of an extended reign of King David and a fully developed state".
For the Solomon's era, too, Niemann noted an internal structural and organizational weakness and then analyzed 1 Kings 4, 7–19 EU , a text source that Albrecht Alt used as a “Gaulist” as evidence of an effective administration of the supposed Solomonic empire. It is a list of twelve governors, officials or provincial governors - depending on how you speak Hebrew נִצָּבִים nitsavim translated. But the scope of their respective areas of responsibility remains vague. According to Niemann, this is no coincidence: Solomon assigned loyal people of the local elite to regions according to their importance. The empire was not divided into provinces / districts, for which top officials would have been appointed. The twelve nitsavim , according to Niemann, represented the king locally and strengthened his support in the country. The rotation system for supplying the yard described in the “Gauliste” proves to be a “desk product” that could never have worked like this. It takes neither the agricultural year nor the different economic strength of the individual regions into account.
Dietrich objects to Niemann that this biblical source has such a high degree of plausibility and historical contingency that it should not be treated with "excessive skepticism". He sees the list as a well-considered system with which a balance has been created between Canaanite-urban and Israelite-rural sections of the population.
Gerhard von Rad coined the term "Solomonic Enlightenment". He used it to characterize life at the Jerusalem court, where the sciences and arts were cultivated. Von Rad thus provided the cultural and historical background for the creation of literary works that have entered the Hebrew Bible . Donner can well imagine the origin at the court of Solomon, but considers it to be unproven. Restraint is advisable, the term Enlightenment should be used in relation to the 10th century BC. Be avoided.
Literature at the court of Solomon
Von Rad dated three literary works to the reign of Solomon:
- the ascension story of David (1 Sam 16:14 - 2 Sam 5:12)
- the story of the succession to the throne of David (2 Sam 6,12.20ff. - 1 Kings 2)
- the history of the Yahwist
They are characterized by similarities which, in von Rad's opinion, make a comparison with the European Enlightenment seem useful. The respective author was able to grasp historical processes in larger contexts. The prerequisite for this is a "humanistic level of education" that enables the author to step into an inner distance from his subject. In the literary works mentioned, which have entered the Old Testament, “the characters move in a completely demythed profanity.” Von Rad suspected that the bearers of this high narrative art were among the court officials of Solomon.
The combined story of ascension and succession to the throne is considered a literary masterpiece: But "does it want to tell how it was, or does it revolve around a problem of anthropology , the question of the internal control of people?" Asks the theologian Udo Rüterswörden. Martin Noth saw the history of the succession to the throne as the first historical work of mankind - long before Herodotus and Thucydides . Donner also estimates the source value of the history of the succession to the throne, which could be contemporary in the basic stock, very high. "In the given situation, without the possibility of control through additional literary sources, the historian can do nothing else than retell the historical work cautiously and critically."
According to Werner H. Schmidt , the Yahwist source script adopted by the newer document hypothesis also fits very well into the era of David and Solomon. On the one hand, the Yahwist deals with peoples who were forcibly incorporated into the Davidic-Solomonic empire (Canaanites, Philistines, Arameans, Ammonites, Moabites, Edomites). On the other hand, the story contained therein of the winegrower Noah ( Gen 9,18-25 EU ) reflects the political situation created by David: the Canaanites (= Ham ) were subjugated by Israel (= Shem ), while Israel and the Philistines ( = Jafet ) can live peacefully side by side. However, it is problematic to date the Yahwist to the 10th century, even if one agrees with the scenario of a Davidic-Solomonic empire. The Yahwist source writing is a complex text that must have had a long history. If it was written down at the court of Solomon, this prehistory would have to fall into the pre-state period.
In general, there are arguments that make the classification of the three writings in the reign of Solomon improbable: If they had actually been written in this epoch, the literacy formation in Israel would have taken place in a very atypical manner. At the beginning of writing and literature there are usually small texts ( annals , inventory lists ). This makes the assumption of Rads, but also Donners, that at the court of Solomon suddenly the ability to write extensive historical works appeared out of nowhere, improbable. Martin Witte therefore suggests a different scenario following Joachim Latacz : In the 7th century BC. The inhabitants of Israel and Judah were in close contact with the Neo-Assyrian and Egyptian empires, which broadened their understanding of space. After the fall of the northern Reich of Israel, people, goods and foreign traditions had to be integrated into Judah. Under King Hezekiah , this went hand in hand with an expansion of Jerusalem and an economic boom; the emergence of (pre-exilic) Israelite literature should be located in this context.
The Gezer calendar is considered to be the oldest written monument in Hebrew. Since it comes from an early excavation in Geser and the archaeological context has not been documented, it is palaeographically dating back to the late 10th century BC. Dated. Minimalists, however, doubt whether the city of Gesar belongs to the domain of David and Solomon.
10th century inscriptions from Judah and Jerusalem are very rare. There are two ostraca as surface finds (only a few letters), which previously v the 11th century. Due to the similar letter forms after the discovery and 14 C-dating of an ostracon in Khirbet Qeiyafa but up to 1000 BC. Can be down-dated. The Ophel pithos inscription published in 2013 was therefore a unique find. The excavator Eilat Mazar dated it to the beginning of the Iron Age IIA. There was no consensus among research about the reading of this oldest Jerusalem inscription in 2015. This is also because the letters are awkward and unprofessional.
Literary reception by Stefan Heym
Stefan Heym's novel The King David Report , published in 1972, deals with the emergence of literature at Solomon's court. The main character, the historian Ethan is, on the one hand commissioned to investigate the report of David's rise, on the other hand, a witness of the court intrigues after David's death (see. The succession narrative ). Heym's novel is mostly interpreted as a parable on the situation of the writer in the totalitarian state, especially in Stalinism.
Heym used the text Bible of Emil Kautzsch and in addition was inspired by the Orientalist and theologian Walter Beltz advice. The Davidic-Solomonic empire stands in the novel for the totalitarian state; and individual features of the hypothesis are also included in the presentation. An example is Benaja's version of the address David gave to his people before the capture of Jerusalem. “Why does David want this Jerusholayim as his city? It's just a pile of stones, hot in summer, cold in winter, and generally unpleasant. "David justifies this with the thesis of Albrecht Alt, dressed in a divine revelation:" David, you are king of all the children of Israel; Therefore your city shall not be in Judah, nor in Benjamin, nor in Manasseh, and not in any of the tribes at all, but it shall be your own, David's city, and be located in the middle; and I, the LORD your God, will come personally and dwell in Jerusholayim for the great benefit of its citizens and of all the people of Israel. "
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