EXECUTIVE SUMMARY: The democratic Jewish state of Israel defies revisionist historicism. It looks Muslim hate in the eye and although stirred, remains unshaken: Israel is here to stay.
In October 1999, intent on “Deconstructing the Walls of Jericho,” archaeologist Ze’ev Herzog declared that, after 70 years of digging across the Land of Israel, his field had developed knowledge enough to conclude that the Israelites were never in Egypt, had not wandered in the desert, and did not conquer the land in a military campaign to pass it on to the 12 tribes of Israel. The “united” monarchy of David and Solomon, described by the Bible as a regional power, was a small tribal kingdom at most. And YHWH, the God of Israel, had Asherah, his very own female consort. The early Israelite religion adopted monotheism not upon receiving it on Mount Sinai, but by adhering to it during the period of decline of the monarchy.
If true, does any of this adversely affect the legitimacy of the democratic Jewish state of Israel? Not in the least.
In May 2015, an independent scholar named Noah Kennedy, in a piece entitled “Ze’ev Herzog and the Historicity of the Bible,” reported that religious Jews’ reactions to Herzog’s piece had not been “bitter”; and that even many intensely engaged nationalist/religious-leaning Jews had been perfectly “civil” in their search for discussion and debate (with a “maybe you just haven’t found the evidence yet” rebuff, at most). The few reactions from devout Muslims might be paraphrased as, “I don’t care if the Bible is historically accurate or not; my beliefs come from the Quran, so they have to be true.” Only one non-believer expressed disappointment that archaeology seemed at times to support the Biblical narrative. The only indignant personal responses reportedly came from American Christians, who sent the archeologist many “angry letters warning him of the divine retribution headed his way.”
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