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image of Vetus Testamentum

According to Jer. xxxiv 7, the Babylonian army, while advancing towards Jerusalem ca. 589 B.C.E., conquered all Judean fortresses except for Azekah and Lachish. On the other hand, the contemporary Lachish letter 4 was interpreted as signifying that Azekah had fallen into the hands of the Babylonians before the letter had been sent to Lachish from a nearby fortress. A fourth century B.C.E. ostracon indicates that that fortress could be Maresha. Since there is no line of vision between Maresha and Azekah, the dramatic interpretation of the Lachish letter 4 should be rejected and thus the letter does not contradict Jer. xxxiv 7. A new interpretation to the Lachish letter 4 is proposed, from which the main conclusion is that the defenders of Maresha, being unable to see Azekah, looked out southwards for the signals from Lachish in order to afford themselves an early warning of an attack from the north.

Affiliations: 1: Jerusalem, Israel


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