Sunday, April 22, 2007

Bible & Spade v20n1--Photos, Phooey, & PHUA

Two interesting articles appear in the latest issue of Bible & Spade magazine, published by the Associates for Biblical Research. The photos in this issue surpass the quality of anything I've ever seen in Biblical Archaeology Review (BAR)!

The first is "Gibeon: Its Archaeological, Geographical & Contextual Significance" by David G. Hansen with supplemental photos by James C. Martin. The excellent main photo spans 1 & 1/2 pages showing the modern city on the north side of the hill in contrast to the ancient remains on the south side, plus the valley surrounding the hill where 5 Amorite kings camped their forces, plus the distant hills where Joshua confronted them & began routing them during the famous long miracle-day.

Martin gives a general overview of the entire history of the site, & briefly mentions the 31 GBON jar handles & 63 wine cellars, but not the LMLKs.

What I liked about the article was the author's insightful Christian analogy of the original Gibeonites, who heard that they had been condemned to die, but were saved through a covenant with Joshua. That's good stuff you won't find in BAR or any peer-reviewed journal. Yet another miraculous demonstration of the interwoven nature of the Old & New Testaments of the Holy Bible.

The second article is "Archaeology, Assyrian Reliefs & the Psalms of the Sons of Korah" by Gordon Franz. The first significant thing that jumped out at me was the clarity of Michael Luddeni's photo of Sennacherib in the Lachish relief. In this shot you can clearly see the restoration work done by the British Museum over Sennacherib's wrists, which obliterated the obliteration of the Rosette symbols that he probably wore on each one.

Franz asserts that King Hezekiah began to reign in 727 BC, & in his 14th year (713/12 BC), "events began to sour." Personally, I believe Franz's interpretation begins to sour because he assigns the tribute recorded in 2Kings 18:14-6 as being paid to Sargon rather than Sennacherib (as clearly stated in 2Kings 18:13). According to Franz, Hezekiah had joined Merocach-Baladan in a failed revolt, & then in 701--not having learned his lesson--revolts a 2nd time.

The Bible & the archaeology of Lachish tend to disagree with Franz, but I know the 2-campaign theory is enticing (& I don't necessarily disbelieve it; just not this rendition). Franz fails logically because on the one hand he states that King Hezekiah paid the tribute to Sargon, then says Sennacherib lists it on his prism (as if no Assyrian would know it had been paid a dozen years earlier to Sennacherib's predecessor). If you'd like to pursue this study further, he provides a very helpful footnote (#2), which says: "For a discussion of the chronology of the reign of King Hezekiah, see Franz 1987." Then in the bibliography we find that this citation is: "Unpublished MA thesis."

Another problem with this interpretation is that it puts Manasseh's reign only about 3 years away from the miraculous defeat of Sennacherib, & asks us to picture King Manasseh as an Assyrian vassal to Sennacherib (Franz mentions this predicament without admitting its predicamentalness near the end of his article). All the more reason why my "LMLK--A Mystery Belonging to the King vol. 2" needs to be written & published. We don't need Bible scholars who write with the random logic of an evolutionist! (See my "Evolution Science" for details.)

This controversial (& in my opinion, faulty) interpretation parallels the main point of his article, which is when/why Psalms 42-9, 84-5, 87-8 were written. On the one hand, Franz says the sons of Korah were among those carried into captivity by the Assyrians, yet Jerusalem was not conquered; so did these psalmists live in the Shephelah?

Franz suggests the possibility that one of the reliefs from Nineveh (not part of the Lachish series) with 3 harpists being followed by an Assyrian officer, might actually depict 3 Korahites being led into captivity. He also cites an inscribed bowl from Arad that mentions "sons of Korah", & a harp-playing figurine from Beth Shemesh.

It is in this context that he posits Psalms 42-3 being written to recount the 2nd/redundant Shephelah captivity of 701 BC. While that may seem plausible, Franz takes way too much logic-liberty in assigning Psalm 44 to the same event. Verse 7 should not be read out-of-context from verses 1-3, which laud God for deeds done "in days of old", which would seem to me to be Joshua's conquest (which would've made a nice tie-in from David Hansen's article on Gibeon).

But Psalm 45 is where I become very interested in this subject. According to Franz, "the king is not an earthly king, but rather, the Lord Himself. The book of Hebrews identifies the king as the Lord Jesus." Next he discusses ivory palaces, some found at Ramat Rachel, "probably the administrative palace built by Hezekiah called 'MMST' in stamps on jar handles." Here he cites Gabriel Barkay's 2006 article in BAR, which I thoroughly refuted herein.

Franz doesn't discuss Psalm 47, so this is a good opportunity for me to emphasize portions of it:

For the LORD Most High is awesome; He is a great King over all the Earth. ... Sing praises unto our King, sing praises. For God is the King of all the Earth: sing ye praises with understanding. God reigneth over the heathen [i.e., evolution scientists]; God sitteth upon the throne of His holiness.

One really good point I can agree with Franz about when he discusses Psalm 48 (verse 2) is that "[t]he term 'great king' is also a title that the Assyrian kings used for themselves."

Speaking of Ramat Rahel, while performing Google searches on LMLK research, I noticed a fantastic new site published by Tel Aviv University. It mentions 200 Yehud seals from earlier excavations, & this surprised me--thinking they might have mistakenly been referring to the 164+ LMLK handles found there--until I reviewed Yohanan Aharoni's dig report & recalled that there were at least 8 types of these Persian seals:

69 YE
49 YED
28 YEUD1
05 YEUD2

A single specimen of another type was found at Jericho: YEUD AURYU

That's a total of 166, but I'm sure others have been found since the 1962 excavations. Complete details with drawings will be included in LMLK vol. 2. An interesting footnote on the YEUD PHUA types is that the phrase "PHT YEUDE" appears in Haggai 1:1, 1:14, 2:2, 2:21 ("Governor of Judah"; Strong's 6346+3063). And yes, there's an explanation for the surprisingly different spelling...

Song of the week: "Face in the Photograph" by Yanni (click the song title to visit Amazon; click here for a 28-second sample; 360kb).
G.M. Grena

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Death for Sale

On March 8th, Tzvi Ben Gedalyahu & Ezra HaLevi reported in Arutz Sheva that a gang of Arab teenagers attacked an ambulance south of Hebron on its way back from a medical mission. Local residents said the same gang had taken part in attacks near the Zif junction in the southern Hebron Hills almost every day for most of the previous month.

Here in Los Angeles county, we have our own share of crime to contend with. Last Sunday (April Fool's Day), 2 African-American Muslims were arrested for selling luxury condominiums in Redondo Beach to a group of Mexican immigrants. Here in Redondo we don't tolerate non-Caucasians doing business in our community, & to make matters even more despicable, the immigrants were Catholics! The 2 black men, who had become millionaires through legitimate transactions over the past decade in segregated sections of Los Angeles overrun by street gangs, became greedy & took one chance too many. Even though they obtained their real estate licenses legally to do business in Redondo Beach, they now face the death penalty if convicted for selling property to non-whites. We've worked hard all these years to keep them driven out of our town, & we want everyone to know we mean business!

Back to reality, this year marks the 40th anniversary of Jews returning to Hebron following the Six-Day War in 1967. On March 19th, residents of Hebron's Jewish community moved into a recently purchased building located above the main road leading from Kiryat Arba to Hebron. The building was purchased from its previous owner via an office in Jordan for approximately $700,000. Rabbi Dov Lior, Chief Rabbi of Hebron-Kiryat Arba arrived the same day to view the building, named Beit HaShalom ("House of Peace"), & give his blessings to the venture.

On March 30th, Alex Traiman with Israel National News reported that 2 Arabs involved in the sale of the building to the Jewish community have been placed under arrest, one by the Palestinian Authority (PA), the other by Jordan. The Arabs under arrest now face capital punishment, as PA law dictates the death sentence for anyone found guilty of selling property to a Jew.

Unlike my absurd/fictitious Redondo satire above in italics, this ain't no joke.

A year ago Muhammad Abu al-Hawa of Jericho was promptly killed in horrific fashion for this crime. Khaled Abu Toameh, reporting for The Jerusalem Post on April 13th last year, wrote that in 1995 the Palestinian Legislative council voted unanimously in favor of the death sentence for brokers who sell land to Jews. Former PA justice minister, Freih Abu Medein, announced that the death sentence would be applied to land sellers based on the Jordanian law that was authorized as PA law. The PA mufti of Jerusalem, Sheikh Ikremah Sabri, announced a fatwa in the same year authorizing the killing of any Arab who sells property to Jews.

And according to Stan Goodenough of Jerusalem Newswire, Israel's defense minister, Amir Peretz, has vowed additional justice by a forced expulsion of the Jews for this hideous act of purchasing property & living in it peacefully. God forbid some perverted, racist, bigoted, bloodthirsty, Arab animal should be offended...

Now there's something you won't see reported by Tom Fitt (editor) or Kevin Cody (publisher) in The Easy Reader. There's something you won't see reported by Brian Arthurs (editor) or Richard Frank (publisher) in The Beach Reporter. Something you won't see in any American news media--no matter how liberal they strive to be. I'm used to the lies they're telling me, but it's cause to be alarmed...

...but there's hope! Today's A7 reported that the Deputy Mayor of Beth Shemesh, Shalom Lerner, visited the new building on Friday & promised support for the residents against Defense Minister Peretz's stated intention to throw them out. Meeting with those currently living in the building, Lerner said, "The residents of Beit Shemesh encourage & strengthen you in your efforts to fortify the Jewish presence in Hevron, & they will stand with you here & struggle against any attempt to evict you. Attempts to throw you out stand in opposition to natural justice & the position of most Israeli citizens. I will call upon the residents of Beit Shemesh to join the struggle for this building, so that Peretz - who failed in protecting our security - won't fail in Hevron as well."

Song of the week: "Driven Out" by The Fixx (click the song title to visit Amazon; click here for a 31-second sample; 393kb).
G.M. Grena

Sunday, April 01, 2007

Religion 103

On the 1st page of the 1st chapter in my 1st book, "LMLK--A Mystery Belonging to the King vol. 1", published 3 years ago today, I mentioned taking a class at West Virginia University on the "History of the Old Testament, Part 2". The course enrollment ID was Religion 103.02, taught by Dr. Alan Jenks (author of "The Elohist & North Israelite Traditions").

While rummaging through my personal archives a week ago (during an interlude as I was transitioning from one job to another), I found some of the quizzes & exams from that class. I learned a great deal of material during the first few years after graduating from school, but it amuses me even more looking back now, 2 decades hence. Take for example this multiple-choice quiz:

Ten questions, of which I guessed correctly on 6, but was not so lucky on 4 others. A score of 60 equates to a grade of D-, a heartbeat away from an F, which is what I really deserved. The exceptionally funny one deals with my current area of expertise related to the LMLK jar handles manufactured under the auspices of King Hezekiah. As I've said elsewhere, we can safely assign them to his timeframe thanks to the heathen Assyrian king, Sennacherib, who led a campaign to Judah during Hezekiah's reign.

The quiz asked me to name the "Assyrian ruler who succeeded his murdered father, Sennacherib."

My answer? "Hezekiah"

One would think that it doesn't get any worse or more embarrassing than that! And no, this isn't an April Fool's joke--that's why I just had to scan the actual quiz & post it here for proof. But wait--it actually gets even better/funnier!

Some readers may think I'm joking when I say I guessed on the multiple-choice quiz, but here's an even more outrageous illustration of how little I knew about Biblical archeology in 1984: On a mid-term essay exam, I was asked about events during the reign of Hezekiah's father, Ahaz, & my lengthy response included this gem:

"...Ahaz wanted to pay tribute to the Assyrians & eventually did so despite Isaiah's advice not to. King Ahaz even had a temple built in Jerusalem (the capital of Judah) exactly like one in Assyria. ..."

Dr. Jenks wrote "altar" in red ink over my word "temple", & also drew some red lines around my subsequent statements about Sennacherib leading a campaign to Judah at this time. On the opposite page of the exam book, he gave me this advice/words-of-wisdom:

"don't get into this, which is 35 years later!"

Well, as my book testifies against me, I eventually did "get into" it. Some students just never learn...

Song of the week: "Delivering the Goods" by Judas Priest (click the song title to visit Amazon; click here for a 14-second sample; 197kb).
G.M. Grena