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Full Access The Great Wall of Tell en-Nasbeh (Mizpah), The First Fortifications in Judah, and 1 Kings 15:16-22

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The Great Wall of Tell en-Nasbeh (Mizpah), The First Fortifications in Judah, and 1 Kings 15:16-22

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AbstractThe article proposes that the Great Wall at Tell en-Nasbeh was built by King Jehoash in the second half of the 9th century BCE. It then sets this city-wall on the broader background of the construction—at the same time—of the first system of fortifications in Judah, a system that also includes Lachish and Beth-shemesh in the west and Beer-sheba and Arad in the south. Finally, the article suggests a scenario that attempts to clarify the tradition in 1 Kings 15:16-22.

1. FN0*) This article was prepared with the help of the Chaim Katzman Archaeology Fund, Tel Aviv University.
2. FN11) Summary of the identification in J. R. Zorn, Tell en-Nasbeh: A Reevaluation of the Architecture and Stratigraphy of the Early Bronze Age, Iron Age and Later Periods (Ann Arbor, 1994), pp. 34-46. I see no reason to change the identification of Mizpah from Tell en-Nasbeh to en-Nebi Samwil (Y. Magen, “Nebi Samwil, where Samuel Crowned Israel’s First King”, BAR 34/3 [2008], pp. 36-45, 78-79, following W. G. Albright, “The Site of Mizpah in Benjamin”, JPOS 3 [1923], pp. 110-121 [and Robinson before him]).
3. FN22) C. C. McCown, Tell en-Nasbeh I: Archaeological and Historical Results (Berkeley, 1947).
4. FN33) See detailed descriptions in T. L. McClellan, “Town Planning at Tell en-Nasbeh”, ZDPV 100 (1984), pp. 53-69; Zorn, 1994.
5. FN44) See McCown, pp. 190-191; McClellan. The possible existence of an ‘Early Gate’ at Tell en-Nasbeh (McCown, pp. 199-201; J. R. Zorn, “An Inner and Outer Gate Complex at Tell en-Nasbeh”, BASOR 307 [1997], pp. 53-66 with bibliography), its stratigraphic affiliation and possible relation to the Inner Wall, is beyond the scope of this paper.
6. FN55) See, e.g., section in McCown, fig. 55.
7. FN66) McCown, pp. 191-199.
8. FN77) Zorn, 1994, p. 320; see pictures in McCown, Pl. 66: 1-2. Theoretically, if the plaster is original, it would mean that the debris inside the wall is a long-period accumulation rather than a construction fill. But the fragmentary evidence is insufficient for drawing conclusions.
9. FN88) McCown, pp. 191, 193-194, Figs. 45, 59, Pls. 66: 4-5, 67: 1-3; Zorn, 1994, p. 327; D. Oredsson, Moats in Ancient Palestine (Coniectanea Biblica Old Testament Series 48, Stockholm, 2000), pp. 121-123.
10. FN99) J. C. Wampler, “The Stratification of Tell en-Nasbeh”, in C. C. McCown, Tell en-Nasbeh I: Archaeological and Historical Results (Berkeley, 1947), p. 180; McCown, p. 202.
11. FN1010) W. F. Badè, Excavations at Tell en-Nasbeh, 1926 and 1927: A Preliminary Report (Palestine Institute Publications 1, Berkeley, 1928), p. 21; McCown, p. 202; many scholars accepted this identification, e.g., recently A. Mazar, Archaeology of the Land of the Bible 10,000-586 BCE. (The Anchor Bible reference library, New York, 1990), p. 437; G. Barkay, “The Iron Age II-III”, in A. Ben-Tor (ed.), The Archaeology of Ancient Israel (New Haven, 1992), p. 308; Zorn, 1994, pp. 160, 319.
12. FN1111) Ibid.
13. FN1212) H. Katz, “A Note on the Date of the ‘Great Wall’ of Tell en-Nasbeh”, Tel Aviv 25 (1998), pp. 131-133.
14. FN1313) N. Naʾaman, “The ‘Conquest of Canaan’ in the Book of Joshua and in History”, in I. Finkelstein and N. Naaman (eds.), From Nomadism to Monarchy, Archaeological and Historical Aspects of Early Israel ( Jerusalem, 1994), p. 224, n. 13.
15. FN1414) J. R. Zorn, “A Note on the Date of the ‘Great Wall’ of Tell en-Nasbeh: A Rejoinder” Tel Aviv 26 (1999), pp. 146-150.
16. FN1515) A. Mazar, “Giloh: An Early Israelite Settlement Site Near Jerusalem”, IEJ 31 (1981), pp. 1-36.
17. FN1616) For this term and its meaning see I. Finkelstein and E. Piasetzky, “The Iron I-IIA in the Highlands and Beyond: 14C Anchors, Pottery Phases and the Shoshenq I Campaign”, Levant 38 (2006), pp. 45-61.
18. FN1717) I. Finkelstein, “The Last Labayu: King Saul and the Expansion of the First North Israelite Territorial Entity”, in Y. Amit, E. Ben Zvi, I. Finkelstein and O. Lipschits (eds.), Essays on Ancient Israel in its Near Eastern Context, A Tribute to Nadav Naʾaman (Winona Lake, 2006), pp. 171-177.
19. FN1818) I. Finkelstein, The Archaeology of the Israelite Settlement ( Jerusalem, 1988), p. 63.
20. FN1919) I. Finkelstein, “Excavations at Kh. ed-Dawwara: An Iron Age Site Northeast of Jerusalem”, Tel Aviv 17 (1990), pp. 163-208, for the layout; Finkelstein and Piasetzky, 2006 for an update on the chronology.
21. FN2020) In Transjordan somewhat similar fortifications appear slightly earlier: e.g., in late Iron I Khirbet el-Medeineh ʿAliya and Khirbet el-Medeineh el-Muʿarrajeh (B. Routledge, “Seeing through Walls: Interpreting Iron Age I Architecture at Khirbat al-Mudayna al-ʿAliya”, BASOR 319 [2000], pp. 37-70; idem, Moab in the Iron Age: Hegemony, Polity, Archaeology [Philadelphia, 2004], pp. 101-108) in southern Moab, and in middle Iron I Tell el-Umeiri south of Amman (for the latter see I. Finkelstein, “Tell el-Umeiri in the Iron Age I: Facts and Fiction”, in I. Finkelstein and N. Naʾaman [eds.], The Fire Signals of Lachish, Studies on the Archaeology and History of Israel in the Late Bronze Age, Iron Age and Persian Period in Honor of David Ussishkin (Winona Lake, 2011), pp. 113-128, contra an earlier date assigned by the excavators—L. G. Herr and D. R. Clark, “From the Stone Age to the Middle Ages in Jordan: Digging Up Tall al-ʿUmayri”, NEA 72 [2009], pp. 68-97).
22. FN2121) Finkelstein, 1988, pp. 250-254; for the relative date of these sites/strata see Z. Herzog, L. Singer-Avitz, “Redefining the Center: the Emergence of State in Judah”, Tel Aviv 31 (2004), 209-244.
23. FN2222) Zorn, 1994, p. 312 term.
24. FN2323) Contra McClellan.
25. FN2424) Picture in McCown, Pl. 74:4.
26. FN2525) A. G. Vaughn, Theology, History, and Archaeology in the Chronicler’s Account of Hezekiah (Archaeology and biblical studies 4, Atlanta, 1999), p. 190.
27. FN2626) 8th century and beginning of the 7th century BCE—for the latter see O. Lipschits, O. Sergi and I. Koch, “Royal Judahite Jar Handles: Reconsidering the Chronology of the lmlk Stamp Impressions”, Tel Aviv 37 (2010), pp. 3-32.
28. FN2727) McCown, e.g., Tomb 32, Pls. 29-34.
29. FN2828) H. Eshel, “The Late Iron Age Cemetery of Gibeon”, IEJ 37 (1987), pp. 1-17.
30. FN2929) Zorn, 1999.
31. FN3030) Katz.
32. FN3131) Parallels are given only for the territorial kingdoms, not the southern coast city-states or coastal and desert forts.
33. FN3232) A. Biran, Biblical Dan ( Jerusalem, 1994), p. 237.
34. FN3333) E. Arie, “Reconstructing the Iron Age II Strata at Tel Dan: Archaeological and Historical Implications”, Tel Aviv 35 (2008), pp. 6-64.
35. FN3434) Y. Yadin, Hazor (The Schweich lectures of the British Academy, London, 1972), p. 165.
36. FN3535) I. Finkelstein, “Hazor and the North in the Iron Age: A Low Chronology Perspective”, BASOR 314 (1999), pp. 55-70.
37. FN3636) R. Arav, “Bethsaida (et-Tell)”, The New Encyclopedia of Archaeological Excavations in the Holy Land 5 (2008), pp. 1611-1616.
38. FN3737) E. Stern, “Hazor, Dor and Megiddo in the Time of Ahab and the Assyrian Period”, Eretz-Israel 20 (Yigael Yadin Volume, 1989), pp. 233-248.
39. FN3838) I. Finkelstein, “Penelope’s Shroud Unravelled: Iron II Date of Gezer’s Outer Wall Established”, Tel Aviv 21 (1994), pp. 276-282; contra W. G. Dever, “Further Evidence on the Date of the Outer Wall at Gezer”, BASOR 289 (1993), pp. 33-54.
40. FN3939) H. Geva (ed.), Jewish Quarter Excavations in the Old City of Jerusalem Conducted by Nahman Avigad, 1969-1982, Vol. II: The Finds from Areas A, W and X-2: Final Report ( Jerusalem, 2003), pp. 510-513.
41. FN4040) Y. Shiloh, Excavations at the City of David I, 1978-1982, Interim Report of the First Five Seasons (Qedem 19, Jerusalem, 1984).
42. FN4141) Herzog and Singer-Avitz.
43. FN4242) S. Bunimovitz and Z. Lederman, “The Iron Age Fortifications of Tel Beth Shemesh: A 1990-2000 Perspective”, IEJ 51 (2001), pp. 121-147.
44. FN4343) I. Finkelstein, “Chronology Rejoinders”, PEQ 134 (2002), pp. 118-129; contra Bunimovitz and Lederman.
45. FN4444) Y. Aharoni, Beer-Sheba I (Tel Aviv, 1971), p. 9; Herzog and Singer Avitz.
46. FN4545) Z. Herzog, “The Fortress Mound at Tel Arad: An Interim Report”, Tel Aviv 29 (2002), pp. 3-109; L. Singer-Avitz, “Arad: The Iron Age Pottery Assemblages”, Tel Aviv 29 (2002), pp. 110-214; for a somewhat similar fortification at Kadesh-barnea, which also dates to the Iron IIB, see R. Cohen and H. Bernick-Greenberg, Excavations at Kadesh Barnea (Tell el-Qudeirat) 1976-1982 (IAA Reports 34, Jerusalem, 2007).
47. FN4646) A. Fantalkin and O. Tal, “Rediscovering the Iron Age Fortress at Tell Qudadi in the Context of New Assyrian Imperialistic Policies”, PEQ 141 (2009), p. 194 and n. 19.
48. FN4747) J.-B. Humbert and M. Sadeq, “Fouilles de Blakhiyah—Anthédon”, in J.-B. Humbert, Gaza Méditerranéenne histoire et archéologie en Palestine (Paris, 2000), pp. 106, 113.
49. FN4848) R. Reich, “The identification of the ‘Sealed karu of Egypt’ ”, IEJ 34 (1984), p. 34.
50. FN4949) Cohen and Bernick-Greenberg, p. 10, Plan 1.2 on p. 11, 123 Fig. 9.7, 325 Section 27-27.
51. FN5050) G. D. Pratico, Nelson Glueck’s 1938-1940 Excavations at Tell el-Kheleifeh: A Reappraisal (ASOR archaeological reports 3, Atlanta, 1993).
52. FN5151) I. Finkelstein, “Tell el-Ful: An Assyrian and Hellenistic Watch Tower (with a New Identification)” (in press in PEQ).
53. FN5252) Since there is no construction of a podium at Tell en-Nasbeh, the need to support the wall from the outside must have become essential only with the thickening of debris inside the fortification; this debris seems to have accumulated gradually during generations of habitation at the site.
54. FN5353) E.g., McCown, Pl. 66:2.
55. FN5454) McCown, p. 217, Figs. 56, 59; Zorn, 1994, pp. 284-285.
56. FN5555) For the former see J. C. Wampler, “Some Cisterns and Silos”, in C. C. McCown, Tell en- Nasbeh I: Archaeological and Historical Results (Berkeley, 1947), p. 141; for the latter see Vessels 1005, 1050, 1284, 1425, 1432, 1436, 1564 and 1565 and their descriptions in J. C. Wampler, Tell en-Nasbeh II: The Pottery (Berkeley, 1947).
57. FN5656) Zorn, 1994, pp. 459, 800.
58. FN5757) A casemate wall which probably dates to the late Iron I has recently been uncovered at Khirbet Qeiyafa in the Valley of Elah in the Shephelah (for the wall, see Y. Garfinkel and S. Ganor, Khirbet Qeiyafa Vol. 1, Excavation Report 2007-2008 [Jerusalem, 2009]); for the relative date, see L. Singer-Avitz, “Relative Chronology of Khirbet Qeiyafa”, Tel Aviv 37 [2010], pp. 79-83). But the territorial affiliation of the site—to Philistine Gath, Judah or another highlands polity—is not clear.
59. FN5858) Arie.
60. FN5959) Vaughn, p. 190; Lipschits et al.
61. FN6060) N. Naʾaman, “The Kindgom of Judah under Josiah”, Tel Aviv 18 (1991), pp. 3-71; for the archaeological evidence see also J. M. Cahill, “Rosette seal stamp impressions from ancient Judah”, IEJ 45 (1995), pp. 230-252; R. Kletter, “Pots and Polities: Material Remains of Late Iron Age Judah in Relation to its Political Borders”, BASOR 314 (1999), pp. 19-54; I. Yezerski, “Burial Cave Distribution and the Borders of the Kingdom of Judah toward the End of the Iron Age”, Tel Aviv 26 (1999), pp. 253-270.
62. FN6161) I. Finkelstein, “Saul, Benjamin and the Emergence of Biblical Israel: An Alternative View” (In press in ZAW), contra N. Naʾaman, “Saul, Benjamin and the Emergence of ‘Biblical Israel’ ”, ZAW 121 (2009). pp. 211-224, 335-349.
63. FN6262) I. Finkelstein and E. Piasetzky, “Radiocarbon-dated Destruction Layers: a Skeleton for Iron Age Chronology in the Levant”, OJA 28 (2009), pp. 255-274; I. Finkelstein and E. Piasetzky, “Radiocarbon Dating the Iron Age in the Levant: A Bayesian Model for Six Ceramic Phases and Six Transitions”, Antiquity 84 (2010), pp. 374-385; see also E. Boaretto, I. Finkelstein and R. Shahack-Gross, “Radiocarbon Results from the Iron IIA Site of Atar Haroa in the Negev Highlands and their Archaeological and Historical Implications”, Radiocarbon 52 (2010), pp. 1-12.
64. FN6363) I. Finkelstein, “Omride Architecture”, ZDPV 116 (2000), pp. 114-138; I. Finkelstein and O. Lipschits, “Omride Architecture in Moab: Jahaz and Ataroth”, ZDPV 126 (2010), pp. 29-42.
65. FN6464) E.g., A. Lemaire, “Hazaël de Damas, roi d’Aram”, in D. Charpin and F. Joannès (eds.), Marchands, diplomates et empereurs (Paris, 1991), pp. 91-108; idem, “Joas de Samarie, Barhadad de Damas, Zakkur de Hamat. La Syrie-Palestine vers 800 av. J.-C.”, Eretz-Israel 24 (1993), pp. 148*-157*; N. Naʾaman, “Historical and Literary Notes on the Excavations of Tel Jezreel”, Tel Aviv 24 (1997), pp. 122-128; P.-E. Dion, Les Araméens à l’âge du Fer: Histoire politique et structures sociales (Paris, 1997), pp. 191-209; E. Lipinski, The Aramaeans: Their Ancient History, Culture, Religion (Orientalia Lovaniensia analecta 100, Leuven, 2000), pp. 376-404.
66. FN6565) The similarity between the fortifications of Tel Dan, probably built by Hazael in the late 9th century BCE (Arie), and Tell en-Nasbeh and the difference in the layout of the gate in these two sites compared to the gates built in the cities of Level IV at Lachish and Stratum V at Beer-sheba V may hint that the construction of the fortification at Tell en-Nasbeh was carried out under Aramean influence.
67. FN6666) A. M. Maeir, “The Historical Background and Dating of Amos VI 2: An Archaeological Perspective from Tell es-Safi/Gath”, VT 54 (2004), pp. 319-334.
68. FN6767) Herzog and Singer-Avitz.
69. FN6868) E. A. Knauf, “Edom: The Social and Economic History”, in D. V. Edelman (ed.), You Shall Not Abhor an Edomite for He Is Your Brother: Edom and Seir in History and Tradition (Archaeology and Biblical Studies 3, Atlanta, 1995), pp. 112−113; I. Finkelstein and E. Piasetzky, “Radio¬carbon and the History of Copper Production at Khirbet en-Nahas”, Tel Aviv 35 (2008), pp. 82-95.
70. FN6969) E.g., J. M. Miller and J. H. Hayes, A History of Ancient Israel and Judah (London, 1986), pp. 289-302; Lemaire, 1993.
71. FN7070) For instance, W. Brueggemann, 1 & 2 Kings (Macon, 2000), pp. 191-192; M. Cogan, 1 Kings: A New Translation with Introduction and Commentary (New York, 2001), 399-403; F. Fritz, 1 & 2 Kings: A Continental Commentary (Minneapolis, 2003), 167); J. M. Miller and J. H. Hayes, A History of Ancient Israel and Judah (Second Edition, Louisville, 2006), pp. 280-282.
72. FN7171) I am not speaking here about basic information, e.g., king lists and length of reign of the different monarchs—see, e.g., N. Naʾaman, “The Sources Available for the Author of the Book of Kings”, in M. Liverani (ed.), Recenti tendenze nella ricostruzione della storia antica d’Israele (Rome, 2005), pp. 99-114; L.L. Grabbe, “Mighty Oaks from (Genetically Manipulated?) Acorns Grow: The Chronicle of the Kings of Judah as a Source of the Deuteronomistic History”, in R. Rezetko, T. H. Lim and W. B. Aucker (eds.), Reflection and Refraction: Studies in Biblical Historiography in Honour of A. Graeme Auld (Leiden, 2007), pp. 155-173.
73. FN7272) The Hebrew says bwr—‘cistern’, ‘pit’. One could wonder if this etiological story is not related to the moat that surrounded the site (McCown, pp. 191, 193-194, Figs. 45, 59, Pls. 66:4, 5, 67: 1-3; Zorn, 1994, p. 327). The problem is that in Hebrew and other Semitic dialects bwr (‘cistern’ or ‘pit’) is carefully distinguished from ‘trench’ or ‘ditch’—hrws, hrys (I am grateful to Ran Zadok for his help on this matter). It is still possible that in ca. 600 BCE, over two centuries after the construction of the Tell en-Nasbeh fortification, much of the moat had already been filled with debris, while in one place it looked like a big depression—bwr.
74. FN7373) See I. Finkelstein and N. A. Silberman, “Temple and Dynasty: Hezekiah, the Remaking of Judah and the Rise of the Pan-Israelite Ideology”, JSOT 30 (2006), pp. 259-285.

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