Monday, July 5, 2010

Did King David Really Exist?

People are regularly shocked when I say that there is no archeological evidence that David or Solomon ever existed. The stories about them and the other kings, queens, prophets, heroes of ancient Israel are the stuff of ripping yarns. They're embedded in our European derived culture and also in Islamic culture too. The Old Testament stories, narratives are certainly history-like and draw on aspects of ancient Middle Eastern history. And for the greater part of the last, say, 200 years the dominant way of reading and interpreting the biblical texts is by doing some kind of history, history of ancient Israel.

For me too, questions of history are important. I enjoy history generally and since my childhood I've been fascinated by the history of the ancient Middle East, Egypt in particular. As far as the biblical texts are concerned, I like to have some idea of the world these texts came from and refer to. And so I've been catching up on the state of play re archeology and ancient Israel/Palestine/Canaan. Mostly I just want an overview of what the archeology is telling us so I can have some sort of framework for a timeline or a storyline.

So I've been reading two books by a couple of Israeli archeologists, Israel Finkelstein and Neil Asher Silberman. One book, The Bible Unearthed, gives a panoramic sweep of what archeology tells about Palestinian history in the Bronze Age, Iron Age, Persian/Hellenistic periods. The link is to an excellent detailed summary on Wikipedia. In large part the book held no surprises for me. I knew that there was no evidence of an invasion of Palestine let alone of an exodus from Egypt. I knew that Israelites had once been Canaanites and that the oldest mention of Israel as an entity is Pharoah Merneptah's stele from around 1230BCE recounting a series of victories in Palestine. The mention of Israel is as follows, "Israel is laid waste, its seed is not", clearly a vainglorious boast, as the 'seed' of Israel remained and several centuries later emerged into a major Iron Age state in the region of the northern West Bank/Samaria around modern day Nablus.

I also knew that there was little evidence of a united monarchical state centred on Jerusalem and ruling all of Palestine in the 10th century BCE when David and Solomon are supposed to have lived. But I wasn't really up to date on the archeology of the Iron Age kingdoms of Israel and Judah. This book certainly is useful for that. However the authors are advancing the thesis that the Torah and 'historical' books were mostly written in the monarchical period, primarily in Judah after the fall of Israel to Assyria. Re David and Solomon and a united Israelite state the authors point out that not only is there no evidence of a grand Davidic or Solomonic 'empire' but that Judah in the 10th century when these two kings were supposed to have lived would have had no more than 5000 people living there; Jerusalem could have been no more than a village. The region of Judah lacked the resources of water and good farmland that are found in the north and account for the fact that it was the kingdom of Israel that would emerge first in the 9th century under Omri and then his son Ahab and rule a state stretching from Moab in the south to Damascus in the north. The authors note that the biblical picture of David and Solomon's empire might actually be based on the real history of the Omride dynasty in the north, and idea that was advanced by Giovanni Garbini roughly a couple of decades ago. Certainly the importance of Omri and Ahab was such that the kingdom of Israel was referred to subsequently in Assyrian records as the House of Omri.

But because Bible Unearthed explores the monarchical period as a setting for the writing of the Torah I thought I would turn to their other more recent book, David and Solomon: In search of the Bible's Sacred Kings and the Roots of the Western Tradition. Now this book does give a good account of the archeology of the kingdoms of Israel and Judah but the authors are arguing for the composition of the books of Samuel and Kings in large part in the reign of King Josiah just before the fall of Judah to Babylon. Quite interestingly too the authors are arguing that there probably was a person called David and speculate about what can be hypothesised about him. Why a David? Well, because of the Tel Dan stele which celebrates the defeat of the kings of Israel and Judah by the king of Damascus. In the Tel Dan stele the king of Judah, Ahaziah, is referred to as son of Jehoram king of "the House of David" resembling those Assyrian references to Israel as the House of Omri. I remember in the 90s, when the stele was discovered, there was considerable debate about how to interpret the byt dwd reference with 'minimalist' scholars saying that it would be wrong to read it as evidence for an actual David. I'm not particularly bothered either way, maybe there was or maybe there wasn't. Interestingly by celebrating the deaths of the vanquished Ahaziah of Judah and Joram of Isreal by Hazael of Damascus the stele conflicts with the biblical account of the deaths of these kings. In 2 Kings, these two monarchs are killed by Jehu who succeeded to the throne of Israel by way of a coup that ended the Omride dynasty altogether.

Anyway, Finkelstein and Silberman take the stele as evidence for a historical David, founder of the dynasty that ruled Judah. What intrigued me was that they then proceeded to argue that maybe some of the stories of David might actually be memories of the historical figure. In particular they argue that the biblical portrait of the social world of David as bandit leader and Philistine mercenary sort of corresponds with the archeological picture of rural Judah, the wilder country of Judah where David was based. My problem though is with the notion that because some of the stories of David have a certain verisimilitude then they should be taken as records of actual events. The problem is that the rest of the story of David can't be supported by the archeology, why then should these be accorded historicity. After all, if the portrait of the kingdom of David and Solomon is a retrojected borrowing from the reality of the Omride kingdom several generations later what's to say that David the bandit leader isn't a borrowing from other bandit figures of popular legend. Can these stories be any more 'really historical' than the stories of Robin Hood, say, or William Tell? And given that the greater part of the story of David is clearly fictional does it really help us to identify some possible history in the bandit stories? Aren't Finkelstein and Silberman simply attempting to hold on to the biblical story of David as in some sense 'real' when it actually isn't. Are they trying to defend the authority of Samuel as a biblical text through a claim to some historical veracity?

They then turn to Saul and make a further audacious move. It would seem that the biblical narratives about Saul likewise have a certain amount of verisimilitude. Saul is from the tribe of Benjamin and in Samuel, Saul's 'base' or heartland is portrayed in the plateau of Benjamin, unsurprisingly, which lies to the north of Jerusalem, around modern day Ramallah. Unlike David we have no ancient inscriptions with the name of Saul; there are no references to a House of Saul in any Iron Age text. But it seems that the biblical portrait or geography of Saul's heartland does get an independent Iron Age attestation but from a surprising source, the record of the Pharoah Sheshonq inscribed in the temple at Karnak celebrating his military campaign in Canaan.

Sheshonq is the biblical Pharoah Shishak who, in the 5th year of king Rehoboam, Solomon's son and successor, attacks Jerusalem and carries off the treasure of both the Temple and the palace. Roughly 930BCE. In Sheshonq's account of the campaign, however, there's no mention of an attack on Jerusalem, let alone plundering its temple or even of any forays into Judah. That's consistent with the archeology which shows that there was not much in Judah at the time that would warrant the attention of a Pharoah intent on booty. But it seems that it was a different matter for the plateau of Benjamin and according to Sheshonq's account he campaigned there perhaps as far as the Transjordan. Furthermore the places he mentions can be connected to places in the biblical narrative associated with Saul's heartland in Benjamin. Finkelstein and Silberman wont say that this was an Iron Age kingdom, they term it a polity, instead possibly under the rule of some bandit leader like David is supposed to have been, but not David here but Saul. They further speculate that behind the stories of David's struggle with Saul and further the stories of David serving as a mercenary for the Philistines might be a historical memory of a struggle between the warlords of Judah and Benjamin, with Judah on the side of Egypt serving with its agents, the Philistines. That the biblical narrative doesn't involve Egypt in the struggle between David, Saul and the Philistines is the effect of it being written at a later time when the power of Egypt had faded from Palestine after the reign of Sheshonq.

Finkelstein and Silberman want to locate the composition of these biblical accounts of the united monarchy in Judah in the time of the Assyrian hegemony in Palestine after the fall of Israel. It seems the archeological evidence supports a large influx of refugees into Jerusalem from the north after Israel's fall and it appears that for a time too especially in the days of Josiah in the 7th century BCE Judah ruled over the region of Benjamin. Finkelstein and Silberman speculate that the older stories of David were changed for propaganda purposes, so that he is shown striving to at all times remain loyal to Saul and furthermore is kept innocent of any involvement in the fall of the house of Saul.

These guys write well and it's all very compelling, almost as compelling as the biblical narratives themselves. However, apart from these narratives what is their reconstruction based upon? One, maybe two, Iron Age references to Judah as House of David, analogous to Israel as House of Omri. And a 10th century Pharaoh's account of his campaign in Canaan, an account which has no mention of David or Jerusalem let alone of Saul. And according to the biblical account this campaign takes place in the days of David's grandson, and maybe 70 years after the death of Saul. It shows how easy it is to fill a vacuum. The only contemporary text is Sheshonq's account. Unsurprisingly it tells us very little as its main purpose is to give glory to Sheshonq and his god. So Finkelstein and Silberman can fill this vacuum with their own historicising midrash on the David-Saul story. This midrash also serves to save the credibility of the book(s) of Samuel and keep Saul and David within an orbit of the historical. It's compelling but in the end it doesn't work partly because it actually dissolves the narrative completely so as to keep the biblical Saul and David as "real" people. But they only really exist as part of the narrative in the first place. At the same time they can't save Solomon. He can't exist, there's no place for him; there's no move they can make to sustain some sort of historical Solomon.

As I said earlier, that there is some verisimilitude, that there seems to be fragments of historical memory in the book Samuel (or any of the other historical books) is no guarantee of the historicity of the narrative and its characters. It's clear that the authors of the biblical worked with sources, that they are re-working or re-telling older stories and legends. The Tel Dan stele shows that even if we find contemporary texts verifying the existence of characters in the biblical narrative, that it's a matter of the names only haven't been changed just the details of how they lived and/or died. If there was a David and there are stories about him that have a certain verisimilitude there's no guarantee that these were originally stories about him. They may well have been stories about other heroic figures we know nothing about which have had their original protagonists replaced by David and Saul and others. After all, who killed Goliath, David or Elhanan?

But then Finkelstein and Silberman are not only trying to flesh out a history of 10th century Palestine but also a history of the later kingdom of Judah and even of the biblical texts themselves. According to Finkelstein and Silberman the biblical texts are the product of processes within a newly resurgent kingdom of Judah first under Hezekiah and then more importantly in the reign of his great grandson Josiah who ruled an expanded Judah after the fall of Assyria and the end of Assyrian hegemony in Palestine. Certainly both Hezekiah and Josiah are treated as heroes who reformed and purified the religion of Judah in the book(s) of Kings; Hezekiah is also a key figure in the narrative sections of Isaiah, which serve to historically ground the book. But while we know that these kings lived, without the biblical material we don't have a lot to flesh out their reigns without. There's no archeological evidence of the cultic reforms attributed to Hezekiah. He does seem to have, probably stupidly, challenged Assyrian dominance following the fall of Israel and to have paid a comparatively mild price (defeated and Judah pillaged, he was allowed to remain alive and on his throne). His son, Manasseh, who in the biblical history is regarded as a most wicked king, apparently accepted Assyrian hegemony and the archeological record shows that his reign was a flourishing and prosperous time for Judah. Then, following the 2 year reign of Amon, comes Josiah.

In the biblical account Josiah is the great king who restores the true religion to Judah, purifying the Temple, re-establishing the Mosaic law and the Torah feasts and rituals. King when Assyria falls, he expands Judahite rule into the north, taking control over the old centre of Bethel with its ancient shrine. In fulfilment of an ancient prophecy he destroys the shrine there. Finkelstein and Silbeman point out that there's, as yet, no clear archeological evidence for the destruction of this shrine by Josiah. Judahite artefacts, pottery etc, from the period have been found in the area of Bethel. However Finkelstein and Silberman are wanting to show that the texts we call the Deuteronomistic History (Joshua, Judges, Samuel, Kings) are not only written during but are programmatic for Josiah's reign. Thus they see the account of Josiah's conquest of Bethel as proof that Josiah himself was determined to show himself as fulfilling a Davidic legacy. So the only monument that Josiah is said not to destroy is the tomb of the prophet who in the biblical narrative predicted Josiah's destruction of the shrine (c.f. 1 Kings 13.2). But outside of the text, there is no evidence of this prophet, let alone of his tomb. Finkelstein and Silberman are reading the accounts of David and Solomon beside the account of Josiah to flesh out the archeological data for Josiah's reign with a narrative/history, a circular process which they also use to date these texts and the development of both biblical religion and Davidic messianism to the reign of Josiah.

The only problem is that the is nothing to clearly peg these stories to the reign of Josiah. He's clearly a hero in the story but he's not the end of the story. Finkelstein and Silbeman argue that Josiah's unexpected death at the hands of Pharaoh Neccho threw a major spanner in the works of the whole Josianic religious project giving rise to a theology of deferred messianism. But then the only evidence we have is the text and the text itself is clearly completed sometime after the fall of Judah to Babylon and the destruction of the Temple. I'm also of the view that these texts of the Deuteronomistic History - Joshua, Judges, Samuel, Kings - in Judaism known as the Former Prophets, are meant to function in some way together with those texts Judaism calls the Latter Prophets - Jeremiah, Ezekiel, The Twelve and Isaiah, especially so for the books of Samuel and Kings. In which case the package is clearly a product of a much later time than the reign of Josiah.

That Finkelstein and Silbeman can read both the narratives of David and Solomon together with the narrative of Josiah to make a history is due to the fact that there are no (non-biblical) texts from Josiah's reign. The only details we have are in Kings (and Chronicles). But if these texts have created a whole world of fiction that is the united David-Solomon kingdom and even have a fictional account of the deaths of Joram and Ahaziah what guarantee do we have that the story of Josiah isn't likewise largely a fiction.

For me the final key bit of archeology that throws the whole scenario in doubt is the fact, reported by Finkelstein and Silberman, that archeology shows that the Samaritan Temple at Mt Gerizim was (re)built at the same time as the building of the 2nd Temple in Jerusalem giving the lie to Josephus claim that the Temple was built after Alexander the Great. It seems that the Samaritan Temple was built, as Finkelstein and Silbeman put it, to worship the God of Israel too. In other words, Jerusalem and Ha Gerizim together shared the same cult which would seem strange if a full blown Deuteronomistic History traducing the religion of the north was already in existence and set the norm in Jerusalem and amongst 'Jews' generally. Certainly the 5th century BCE Jews of Elephantine in southern Egypt seemed to regard both north and south as authoritative in religious and cultic matters.

If anything the Deuteronomistic History, repeats the pattern of fall from grace we find in the Torah itself, starting in Eden. The Israelites can just never live up to the amazing opportunities they have been given. Even with the kings. Saul is given a chance but he can't cut it. David the great king, beloved by all including the LORD, is nevertheless himself a flawed figure as is his son, Solomon, the wise, the builder of THE Temple. After these two it just goes downhill with short respites provided in the persons of Hezekiah and then Josiah. But by that stage things had gotten so bad that even a king of the ilk of Josiah could not save things. In the end kings, prophets, judges all failed, leaving the Israelites subject to foreign rule and dispersed among the nations. But there is still the Temple, the House of the LORD.

So did King David exist. Probably not. Finkelstein and Silbeman say as much. Was there a David? Possibly. Possibly, a brigand or bandit and maybe eventually a warlord with some authority in Judah possibly in the 9th century, from whom a subsequent dynasty in Jerusalem claimed descent. Of the origins of that dynasty and of its early kings we know little or nothing. Solomon? Rehoboam? Nothing. What of the northern kings? What do we know of Omri? Are the stories about David, really stories of Omri transplanted? Are David and Omri both mythical heroes from whom later Palestinian monarchs claimed descent, just as the Caesars claimed descent from Venus? Was there a Saul? Perhaps there could have been a warlord of that name in the Benjaminite region in the 10th or 11th centuries BCE. There seems to have been some kind of polity there so maybe there was a Saul. But if so we know nothing about him. If there was a real Saul he might not even have been a contemporary of the real David if he existed. For all we know these might have originally been stories of other heroes whose names are now lost to us. The stories about David and Saul are not about the history of Iron Age Palestine but address other questions. What about Michal and Bathsheba and Samuel and Nathan and Uriah and Absalom and Tamar? All characters in a wonderful narrative, creations of the storytellers art, but not history. If any of them are based on real people we can't know and we can't know those real people any more than we can know a real David if he did exist. The same applies to Jonathan. I'd like to think that if there was a real David that then he had a real Jonathan in his life. After all, in the biblical account, Jonathan's is the pivotal, the central, the most important, maybe the only, real (human) love in David's life. David and Jonathan belong together like Gilgamesh and Enkidu, Achilles and Patrocles, Heracles and Iolaus, Alexander and Hephaestion, Hadrian and Antinous, Jesus and John. And if there was a real David and a real Jonathan, I hope theirs was a happier story than the biblical one.


9 comments:

  1. So, as a practicing homosexual and a self confessed "fringe" Catholic, is it possible that you are bent on denial of the historical accounts of the bible as a means of excusing your own sinful activity? Your implication is of course that you do not believe that David was a King of ancient Israel, so of course if that is not correct, probably neither are the other precepts of the Bible, which of course are very clear at condemning homosexuality. If you deny these and other parts of the Bible, why even suggest that you are a Christian at all?

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    1. This is the most ignorant and arrogant remark I have seen in a while. There is a difference between believing something and believing something because there is evidence.

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  2. I'm not bent on anything, Anonymous. I'm reflecting on what we know about the archaeology of ancient Palestine. I'd be only too happy for David to have existed, not least for the sake of Jonathan, as I say at the end of this piece. But the fact is these texts aren't transparent portals taking us into a real Iron Age past. The texts themselves are clearly a package coming from a much later time so they aren't contemporary with the events they describe. I don't need to 'deny the historical accounts of the bible to excuse' homosexuality, which is what I presume you mean by my 'sinful activity' Even using the much larger canons of Roman Catholic and Orthodox Christianity there's scant mention of anything relating to homosexuality in the scriptures. There's a couple of clauses in Leviticus which probably refer to male-male anal sex and which seem to have been derived from equivalent passages in the Persian scripture, the Zend Avesta, and then there is a passing negative reference to male homoeroticism at the end of Romans 1. And that's pretty much it. On the other hand we have the two extraordinary love stories of Jonathan for David and Ruth for Naomi. There's not much in the way of love stories in the scriptures so the fact that there's not one but two stories of same sex love and both of them are quite central to the overall narrative counts for something in my opinion and clearly outweighs the other, especially if we add the love of Jesus and the Beloved Disciple to the mix. I think there's quite a bit there to build a theology of same sex love upon.

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  3. Interesting comments. Of course the broken tablet found at the Tel Dan site in 1993 clearly refers to the "House of David", as the lineage of the Kings which the writer had destroyed. This is very clear non-biblical evidence that at least two centuries after David came to power in that area, the writer confirms his existence, and the existence of his progeny, by clearly referring to the "house of David", a term well understood by biblical scholars, as it is used in the bible regularly. It is quite likely, but not yet demonstrated, that most of the archaeological evidence of David, Solomon, and the early Kings of Israel are probably hidden under present day Jerusalem, and because of the politics of that region, it is doubtful that real estate is going to be destroyed so that we can dig into the past. Your suggestion that the texts describing the life and times of David are from a much later time, is partially correct, however this fact does not decrease their veracity. As evidence of that, we only need look at the virtually complete book of Isaiah recovered from what we have come to call the "Dead Sea Scrolls". This is significant to me because of the direct prophecy of the ministry of Jesus Christ written many years before he actually was born. In addition of course most of all the books of the old testament are in evidence, one exception is Ruth, which is interesting, since of course the story you relate of an alleged homosexual relationship between Ruth and Naomi is found in that book. It was clearly evident that even though the sources for the then current biblical copy of Isaiah and the source of the DS scrolls were separated by many centuries, the two copies were virtually identical. This can only be explained by God's hand being directly on those who patiently and throughly copied these manuscripts by hand. It is also evidence that even though the sources for the our present books of the old testament are centuries apart, they are still correct.
    Your suggestion that Jonathan and David were involved in a homosexual relationship of course is total conjecture on your part, likely stemming from your own immersion in the homosexual subculture. Ruth and Naomi's relationship can hardly be referred to as a homosexual love relationship, and can likely only be understood by those who have experienced the type of love one can feel for one's family, whether genetic linked or by marriage. In addition, the confusion you seem to have between agapi and eros love in describing the relationship between Christ and the disciples, I do find interesting, but only mainly from clinical point of view. I disagree that those relationships were in any way sexual, and of course your point is total conjecture, and only serves to denigrate the relationship between Christ and his disciples.
    It is clearly evident that homosexual behavior, and other sexual perversions were not tolerated by the society who we call ancient israel, along with other sexual perversions. While I agree there are not constant reminders of that precept in the scriptures, in the new and old testament, there is ample evidence to demonstrate that it was not an accepted behavior, in fact they were taken from the towns and stoned to death. I am very glad we do not currently practice that type of capital punishment for homosexual behavior, anymore than I would want extra-marital or pre-marital sex should be punished in the same way, as was the stipulation at that time. I am glad God has not felt that should be my responsibility, and has offered all of those who sin, myself included, a means of forgiveness, through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. Have a good Sabbath day.

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  4. I've been having some problems with Blogger trying to post a reply but I'm hoping this prove to be a case of third time lucky. But it didn't so I'm going to do it in two parts and see what happens.

    First off, Anonymous, in this post I'm actually critiquing Finkelstein and Silberman's own 'historical' reconstruction of Saul and David, which I think is compelling reading but highly speculative nonetheless. At the same time they wouldn't accept the historicity of the story of Saul and David in Samuel and Kings (not to mention Chronicles). If you do then I guess you wouldn't accept their reconstruction either. As far as the Tel Dan stele is concerned, it's really drawing a long bow to take that as evidence of the historicity of Samuel; not least because, as I pointed out, the Tel Dan stele
    contradicts the biblical account of the death of the kings Ahaziah and Joram.

    I don't quite get your point about the Great Isaiah Scroll and the veracity or period of composition of the biblical texts. The fact is that the Qumran scrolls are the oldest copies of any biblical texts in existence anywhere in any language. The picture they give us of the Jewish scriptures 2000 years is both exciting and complex but tells us
    nothing about the veracity or dates of composition of these texts let alone any "sources" as you term them. The Great Isaiah Scroll is a marvellous piece and I believe that our bibles should include a translation of the scroll beside the standard translations of Isaiah. The fact is that there are variations between the text in that scroll and the standard Hebrew and Greek versions of Isaiah (although Qumran
    Isaiah is suggestive for the some of the forms found in the Greek version). It's also a fact that the Qumran scrolls show a remarkable diversity in the biblical texts 2000 years ago. For the Torah itself the scrolls preserve not only an edition that prefigures the standard Hebrew (Masoretic) version but also editions that parallel the Greek Septuagint version and the Samaritan version plus another two unknown
    versions/editions of the Torah. There's a Psalms scroll that includes not only Hebrew versions of psalms 151, 154 and 155 but also several never before known psalms attributed to David and a variety of other psalms too. There's also a Hebrew edition of Jeremiah that accords with the Greek version. There was also a scroll of Samuel containing
    additional verses not found in any version we had prior to the Qumran discoveries. All of these Qumran biblical scrolls are the oldest known Hebrew versions of these texts, indeed in any language (there were
    also some Greek and Aramaic texts there too). Outside of Qumran the oldest Hebrew texts are a thousand years more recent although the
    oldest complete Greek texts are much older, from about 3-400 years after the Qumran scrolls. There are also passages in ancient Christian authors that cite scripture verses that we can't find in any version of the scriptures extant today. In other words 2000 years ago, the Jewish scriptures existed in multiple editions and versions, some of
    which became canonical in Christianity and others became canonical in Judaism while others were lost or discarded

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  5. Yay! it works so here is part 2:


    I didn't say that David and Jonathan were involved in a homosexual relationship, even if the Hebrew is oddly suggestive here and there, I said they were an example of same sex love, also Ruth and Naomi and Jesus and (traditionally) John. Given the dearth of any sort of love stories in either Christian or Jewish scriptures, I think that counts for something. I think we do have to develop a theology of same sex love and relationships, both erotic and otherwise. I think it's an urgent necessity as I think the time for Christianity to be wedded to patriarchal and heteronormative social and relational and erotic structures must come to an end, not least to put an end to misogyny and homophobia.

    I don't think it is clear that ancient Israel and its successor societies were averse to homosexual behavior. There is clearly an
    aversion to anal sex between men, an aversion shared throughout most of the cultures of the ancient Middle East because of the need to
    maintain masculine authority (the aversion probably didn't extend to sex with eunuchs or slaves however). As for other forms of homo-erotic behavior there's no evidence either way until we get to Greco-Roman times. There we find the continuing condemnation of anal sex between me and also in Jewish texts from the time, condemnation of sex with boys. There's minimal reference to other forms of male homoeroticism and pretty much nothing about female homoeroticism.

    There's a whole suite of what we term now term perversions that get no mention whatsoever in the biblical texts, sado-masochism is the most obvious example, as well as a whole suite of sexual behaviour such as oral sex and anal sex between men and women. As time went on Christians condemned anal sex between husband and wife but Jews didn't and it remained permissible in Judaism; but there's no mention of it
    in any scripture. You seem to have a fairly morbid imagination but there's no scriptural references to homicidal poofterbashing,either although there may well have been such incidences. We have one scriptural reference to such violence against women, the gospel story the woman Jesus saves from stoning. We see such violence in our world today too
    and I'm sure it happened back then; life could well be grim for women in a strongly patriarchal society. So I don't think the sexual codes or prejudices of an ancient
    patriarchal society, Iron Age or later, should be the model of how we structure our affectional and erotic lives today. I don't think anyone, especially women, today would want to live in Iron Age Palestine, or the Palestine of the Persian or Hellenistic or even Roman eras, let alone follow their cultural norms. We don't even know the full story of those cultural norms and how they worked anyway. If the Jewish and Christian scriptures are anything to go by, homoeroticism was not a major concern, barely rating even a prejudicial mention. There's so much else in those texts that we don't make normative for our lives today, I don't see why we should when it comes to sexuality either.

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  6. There are some historical details contained in the Torah but on the whole the Torah is a myth. People living to 700 years old being your first clue.

    Can we take anyone seriously who claims that finding the insciption "byt dwd" proves the whole "David" myth?

    Of course we can not.

    The bigger story is that the Israeli government has spent millions trying to prove the Torah is not a myth based on archeology.

    I would trust the word of Chinese or Indian archeologists working in the area much more than Israelis who have a religion and ideology to try and justify.

    Even at that, the Israeli government has accidentally proven that the Torah is a pure myth.

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  7. Can you explain how the Israeli government has accidentally proven that the Torah is a pure myth?

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  8. names like David,Saul, Esau, Israel etc were recorded as Canaanite gods 1,000 years before the bible was written The flood story, Garden of Eden, Adam & Eve, creation all recorded on ancient Sumerian tiles 3,000 years prior to the bible and probably taken from much older records.

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