Iron Age ruins at Megiddo, in northern Israel, fortified by both Solomon and Ahab (Gary A. Rendsburg)
Two centuries of archaeological excavation and exploration in the Holy Land and its environs have revealed more than we ever knew about the people, culture, society, and religion of ancient Israel. Religious artifacts and writings dating back to ancient Egypt, Canaan, and Mesopotamia have uncovered information about historical events as well as religious beliefs and practices not mentioned in the Bible. What is emerging is an ever-clearer picture and a fuller understanding of the people of ancient Israel and the society that produced the Bible.
In this illustrated all-day program, biblical scholar Gary Rendsburg presents an overview of new findings about the world of ancient Israel.
9:30–10:45 a.m. Searching for Ancient Israel: The Earliest Traces
From what is believed to be the earliest reference to Israel found inscribed on ancient Egypt’s Merneptah Stele to findings relating to the Exodus and Canaan’s conquest, learn how archaeologists are reconstructing the emergence of Israel in the land of Canaan.
11 a.m.–12:15 p.m. In Search of David and Solomon
The city of Jerusalem, established by David as the capital of Israel, and where Solomon built the Temple to God. Other sites in the land of Israel, including the cities Hazor and Megiddo. The earliest written remains in the Hebrew language, several of which were discovered only in the last decade.
12:15–1:30 p.m. Lunch (participants provide their own)
1:30–2:45 p.m. In Search of Israel and Judah
The death of Solomon resulted in the establishment of two smaller kingdoms, Israel in the north and Judah in the south. Both entities and many of the numerous kings who ruled over them are mentioned in contemporary documents from Aram, Moab, Assyria, and Babylonia. Two texts refer to Judah as “the House of David.”
3–4:15 p.m. In Search of God
In thinking about religion in ancient Israel, where does God come from? Did all Israelites worship the one God? Or did some element of the population worship other gods? When does pure monotheism arise?
Rendsburg is the Blanche and Irving Laurie Professor of Jewish History at Rutgers University.
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