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:
04 YEUD YEUOZR PHUA
04 YEUD PHUA
05 LAHYU PHUA
02 YEUD HNNE
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…