Lecture 7 – (5.1) Hezekiah’s Jerusalem

In this lecture we discussed the Jerusalem that started at the end of the era of David/Solomon and continued through the reign of Hezekiah (hence Hezekiah’s Jerusalem). We addressed the issue of what makes a Golden Age in the context of the rule of David and Solomon. We then continued with Jerusalem’s division into “Israel” (North) and “Judah” (South), discussing the rulers themselves as well as the build-up of alternative shrines in both regions. We then discussed the various skirmishes involving Israel and Judah, including the Egyptian campaign against Israel (925) as well as the Israel-Judah infighting (fighting among themselves), which all show how Israel and Judah were not only vulnerable, but were constantly calling upon larger nations/empires for help to fight their battles. The Assyrian empire grew to new heights in the 8th century BCE (800 BCE), including expansion into areas that were of prime importance to Jerusalem, such as Shalmaneser V (727-722 BCE) conquering and exiling the people of Samaria (Israel/North) in 721 BCE.  Dr. Cargill then highlighted the Assyrians brutal war tactics, where they would walk into their next conquest with the previously conquered enemies’ heads on sticks. The lecture then took a turn and we began to look into how Jerusalem grew during the 8th century (after it had previously been divided in 925 BCE). Topographically Jerusalem saw an expansion into the Western Hill and the city itself saw a huge growth in urbanization. A global economy developed thanks to Aramaic writing. The olive industry and administrative sites bloomed as it seemed Hezekiah was preparing for something. Many believe the growth of Jerusalem and the various preparations made by Jerusalem indicated Hezekiah was set to engage with Assyria soon.

The first important question of the lecture was: What was it that made David/Solomon’s rule of the 10th century BCE (1000 BCE) a Golden Age? First, we learned an age becomes golden upon a person’s DEATH. Only when David/Solomon were gone did people look back and memorialize the time of their rule. They ruled over a “united kingdom” (not split). Great palaces and a temple remained symbols of their great reigns, and the building of the temple is founded, remembered, and chronicled…constant reminders given for the greatness that was the time of David In Solomon.

Unfortunately, all good things must come to an end. David and Solomon and their Golden Age came to an end in ~925 BCE when the kingdom of Jerusalem became divided into Judah (South, Jerusalem) and Israel (North, Samaria) (1 Kings 12). I honestly never knew the terms Israel and Jerusalem ever existed separately so I found this enlightening. 1 Kings 12:1-14  showed us how Rehoboam (king of Judah) had to decide between submitting to please the people (in light of being asked to lower taxes) or asserting his authority. This brought up the interesting vulgar suggestion of his comrades, who tell him to respond to Israel in the North with something like: “My little finger is better than my father’s loins”. A way of saying I am big daddy! haha. This passage also revealed the southern Bias of the bible, with north depicted as evil, and not simply as a people rebelling against monarch/potential-tyranny in the south, which may have been more of the truth.

It is said that in 925 BCE Egypt (led by Pharaoh Shoshenq; Shishak in Bible)  invades Jerusalem, and “carried off the treasures of the temple of the LORD” (1 Kings 14:25-26). However, there is evidence outside the bible that suggests there may have been a bribe and invitation to Shoshenq to restore order. Here again we see the southern bias of the bible, which seems to ignore the this possible pact that may have been made and instead depicts Shoshenq’s visit as a “raid”.

The division into two states in  925 BCE also catalyzed the movement to build alternative shrines. Jeroboam, King of Israel, built up the alternative shines of Bethel and Tel Dan in the North.  What I found curious was that this was not a one sided issue. It made sense for the north to build up shrines, as they had, in a sense, “lost” Jerusalem. However, what we see is building of shrines (Beer-Sheva and Tel Arad) in the smaller Judah as well, even with Jerusalem. It seemed that these shrines (which resemble comparative models to those given in literary texts of Solomon’s temple) began to pop up everywhere as people realized they could not be in Jerusalem but wanted there own place to worship, the increasing populations in Jerusalem and in surrounding areas might have forced this anyways and might not be as much a reflection of the division of the state.

I have also always found shifts in wars very interesting. Like any normal human being, I think war is pointless and a disgusting display of irrationality, but when referring to it in history, I think it is interesting to look for the patterns for who sided with who. This “psychological view of war” gives interesting perspective. With Israel and Judah, what we see is a lot of fighting between the two, yet not by the two. It seems they were both smart enough to recruit their more powerful neighbors and pit them against each other. For example, when Baasha (King of Israel) invades Judah (875 BCE), Asa (King of Judah) teams with Ben-Harad of Syria (1 Kings 15:16-20). We see the opposite later where Jehu (king of Israel) become vassal (person under protection of/interior to) Assyria (under Shalmaneser III) in ~841 BCE.

Then we talked about the Rise of Assyria. The “Assyrian Menace” only grew stronger from 745 BCE through the reigns of Tiglath-Pileser III, Shalmaneser V (727-722BCE) who conquers and exiles Samaria in 721 BCE, Sargon II (who continues policy of deportation), Sennacherib (Conquers Philistia, Judah), Esarhaddon (takes Egypt, all until it fell (to the Babylonians) in 609 BCE. The 721 BCE takeover of Jerusalem by Shal. V led to installation of Israelite king, but under strict authority (like modern day american in Iraq). The Bible portrays this fall of Israel in the noth as “punishment” for leaving Jerusalem…The coolest part of talking about the Assyrians was their military tactics. I thought it reflected the brutality of war as Dr. Cargill described how they would march into their next conquest with the heads of the previous one on sticks that they carried. Talk about intimidation! I thought it was amazing how much the Assyrians catalogued not only their events, but the brutality of them, it seems obvious they were proud of their work. We saw various images on the “Palace Reliefs” in assyria, where carvings of various brutal public displays of impaled and beheaded rebels against the empire. Dr. Cargill emphasized a curious difference between wars of this time and today: while Assyrian military tactics involved bragging and attempting to stir fear into opposition, today we see that when a member of one nation attacks and harms/kills a person from another, the leader of the harm-causing nation apologizes to the other. It’s curious how times change. I find it more interesting how the reactions to violence has changed more than the violence itself. Perhaps its because this latter components really hasn’t changed much.

Funny how things change.

We then finished up by talking about the Growth and Urbanization of Jerusalem, in the 8th century BCE during the reign of Hezekiah (715-689 BCE). Here we saw the massive changes that led from the “town” that was Jerusalem to the expansive city much like the one we see today. Just as the Assyrian empire moved to walled cities and rural villages began to disappear as industry developed, we began to see similar urbanization in Jerusalem, which expanded onto the Western Hill and its many industries blossomed. In Assyria too, we see other attempts to expand into a new age with the move to a more universal language, Aramaic. They moved from Acaidic –> Aramaic, which is a syllabic rather than symbolic language, making it much easier to learn and therefore more widely accessible to all. This led to Assyria’s growth of a more “global” economy in which everyone had a part. You see the birth of literacy as well, first only in merchant-items/crafts such as economic seals, recepits (ostraca), and “signature” literacy, but eventually more literary work grew out of it. Going back to Jerusalem, many agriculture industries (such as the Olive Industry and Wine Industry) blossomed in the late 8th and 7th centuries. Suburbs grew outside Jerusalem. What become clear, however, is that some form of administration needed to appear. Someone needed to collect taxes. Therefore, what we also saw was the growth (as evidenced by archaeological findings) of a New Royal Administrative Site. This evidence included LMLK (“Belonging to the king”) seal impressions found in pottery at the Ramat Rahel site (2k south of Jerusalem). Looked clear that Jerusalem was stockpiling resources (grain, etc.) for an encounter with Assyria. Besides a huge growth in population and topographical size of the city, there were some anthropological changes in the attributes of the people living there as well. There was social dislocation due to the size, changing family structure, new relgious movement, and more urabn centers. There was also a centralization of power and social justice issues became more real as specialization developed and certain people inevitably started to earn more than others -a gap between the people (rich and poor) developed.

Lastly, we finished up with Hezekiah’s Preparations, which included his fortifying of Jerusalem (“Broad Wall” (Isaiah 22:9-11)), building of a tunnel (Hezekiah’s Tunnel) connecting the Gihon to the more interior Siloam Pool, allowin access to water from within the city, and finally the administrative increases, evidenced by the LMLK seal impression found (described above) and evidence of other administrative centers. I found it interesting to see how Jerusalem actually was thought to have been preparing to fight, which makes more sense to me now in light of the Assyrian failure that is to come upon attacking the city.


~ by Andru on February 1, 2011.

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