MembersMinimalist vs Maximalist Biblical Archaeology

Researching and uncovering Israel’s past can’t help but be influenced by Israel’s present

By Tsvi Sadan | | Topics: archaeology
Prof. Yossi Garfinkel with one of two small containers unearthed at Khirbet Qeiyafa near Beit Shemesh. Photo: Uri Lenz/Flash90

On April 30, the Schechter Institute of Jewish Studies in Jerusalem hosted the first in a series of lectures by archaeologist Yosef Garfinkel under the title “Revisiting the Bible.” It came shortly after Garfinkel’s discovery of a fortified wall at Tel Lachish that was dated to the 10th century BC. 

The date of the wall, determined by olive pits found at its base, was pinpointed to 920 BC, the time when Rehoboam ruled the Kingdom of Judah. According to Garfinkel, this new finding confirms 2 Chronicles 11:5-12, stating that Rehoboam “built cities for defense in Judah… Adoraim, Lachish, Azekah…and made them very strong.”

Garfinkel, who serves as Head of the Institute of Archaeology at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, earned international recognition following his 2007-2012 excavations of Khirbet Qeiyafa. He identified the site as a Judean city, most likely Sha’arayim mentioned in 2 Samuel 17:52. The findings, including an inscription with the name Ishbaal son of Beda, indicated that Judah was an established kingdom, which contradicts the Minimalist notion of nomads living in tents.

Garfinkel’s findings ignited a...

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