The Israelites

The Israelites

The Israelites

The Israelites

Synopsis

Covering the period of the thirteenth century B.C.E. to the fall of Jerusalem in 586 B.C.E., Isserling, a senior scholar, synthesizes the social, historical, geographical, and archaeological materials relevant to studying ancient Israel in its ancient Near Eastern context. Isserlin has an accessible style and brings the latest in biblical research to students and general readers. The stunning array of 85 photographs-plus maps, line drawings, and charts-make this a rich resource for scholars as well.

Excerpt

This book attempts to present a picture of ancient Israel 'in the round'. The subject has not been comprehensively covered before, though W.G. Dever's Recent Archaeological Discoveries and Biblical Research (1990) and R.L. Harris's Exploring the World of the Bible Lands (1995) are among works offering surveys of value. There is, however, a model: Donald Hardcn's The Phoenicians (1962), which the present volume closely follows, down to the chapter divisions, and the author of this work also finds himself echoing Harden's comments on the apparently unending time needed for the book; and his thanks to the publishers for what appeared to be inexhaustible patience and helpfulness and to the everpresent encouragement and sympathy of his wife.

In some respects, the approach followed in this book is a little unusual: it deals essentially with ancient Israel only, with reference to neighbouring countries or the Levant as a whole being reduced to a minimum. This is against the present tendency not to treat Palestinian archaeology on its own; but one may recall that V.G. Childe, whom no one can accuse of parochialism, also wrote The Prehistory of Scotland (1935). On the other hand, as far as information permits, and as far as seems apposite, the subject is treated in the same way one might approach a topic in (e.g.) European history or archaeology, though with due regard to Near Eastern features. This, in a way, is applying the angle of vision acquired by the writer when he took a degree in History with Archaeology in Edinburgh, to the field of Oriental Languages in which he took another degree in Oxford. He is very much aware of the debt he owes to his teachers in both, especially, in Edinburgh to V.N. Galbraith (History), V.G. Childe (Archaeology) and N.W. Porteous (Hebrew), and in Oxford to H. Danby and G.R. Driver (Hebrew) and H.A.R. Gibb and A.F.L. Beeston (Arabic), besides C. Rabin (Semitic languages). It is hoped the result will be found acceptable, especially to readers of the three great monotheistic religions for whom ancient Israel and her religion are of special interest. All readers will have to accept frequent references to uncertainty: documentation is strikingly patchy compared with that available to historians of Europe.

I am grateful to my late parents and elder sister for stressing the necessity of backing hypotheses by facts, and the need to consider individual humanity in a world overmuch taken up by social or economic 'laws'.This book is dedicated to the memory of my wife Hilda, whose very sudden death deprived her of the chance to see this book completed. She had offered valuable suggestions and encouragement and support over many years, putting up with the stresses and strains it caused. We, and the readers of this book, are much in her debt.

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