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Josiah's Reform as Reported in Kings (I): Bethel and/or Jerusalem?

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Chapter Summary

2 Kgs. 23:15-18 give the impression that the tombs at Bethel ransacked by Josiah's agents were close to the sanctuary with the altar upon which their osteal contents were burned. No IA tombs have been found at Bethel (mod. Beitin), but "numerous" rock-cut tombs, "mostly" of Hellenistic-Roman date, were found in the valley south and southwest of the site. Virtually nothing is known about the Bethel sanctuary, including its location. A very different situation obtains with the representation of the Jerusalem cemeteries. The Wadi Kidron plays a prominent role in the reform report as the place where the cultic paraphernalia removed from the Temple complex were destroyed. The archaeological record reveals that ancient Jerusalem was encircled by burial grounds. 2 Kgs. 23: 15-20 reports that Josiah's reform included an attack on "Samaria", the territory of the defunct northern kingdom. 1 Kgs. 13:11-32 is a sophisticated piece of didactic fiction.

Keywords: archaeological record; Bethel sanctuary; Jerusalem; Josiah's reform; rock-cut tombs; Samaria



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