What is the difference in the political climate between Mesopotamia and Egypt at the beginning of the second millennium B.C.?

1) The weekly writing assignment is to be a minimum of five (5) full pages. 2) The format of the weekly assignment is to be as follows: a) double-spaced, Times New Roman 12 pt font b) One inch margins on all sides

Lecture Two – Old Testament Backgrounds: Archeology and Geography
Week Two Highlights:
Purpose of Lecture 2: To continue the studies in Old Testament Backgrounds.
Lecture objectives:
1) The student will learn about the place of archeology in biblical studies;
2) The student will be introduced to the geographical area of the ancient Near East and
Palestine proper.
Along with the lecture your reading assignment includes:
Old Testament Backgrounds (cont.) -Archeology and Geography
Assignment: Bright – Prologue, pp. 23-44
Coogan – Chapter 2
“ What I Did During My Summer Vacation”
Biblical Archeology Video – Howell

Questions that you should consider as part of the weekly written assignment:
1) Know the important developments in the prehistory of
2) What is the difference in the political climate between
Mesopotamia and Egypt at the beginning of the second millennium
3) What is happening in Palestine during this time?
4) Why is it important to have knowledge of the
geography of Palestine proper and the ancient Near East?
I. Archeology
A. Definition
“Is a serious discipline dedicated to the search for truth about
ancient cultures by studying the material remains of those cultures
(Tullock, The Old Testament Story, p.13).
B. Purpose
1. Not to prove – but to learn
2. “Shed light on the Bible by trying to understand its people and
their culture more thoroughly (Tullock, 13).
C. Methods
1. Sites in biblical lands – “tells”
a. Flat-topped artificial hills built up over the centuries
Figure 1 Tel Megiddo
Figure 2 Various layers (strata) of a tell
Figure 3 – stratification of a balk wall in Iron Age II gate chamber. The dark layer is a burn layer denoting a point of
b. Divided into section – 5 meters x 5 meters
Uncovering inches at a time
Figure 4 Preparing to photograph an area before beginning a day of digging. The white sandbags mark the balk wall and
delineate the area of the dig. This is a section of a living quarters of the fortification.
Figure 5 “Digging” their work centimeters at a time
Figure 6 Sifting the dirt to uncover objects from the “square.” That is me in the blue shirt. Figures 3, 4 and 5 are from
the Summer 2011 dig at Mudaybi, an ancient Moabite fortress in the Jordanian desert.
4. Dating
– epigraphic material – writing samples
– such samples provide clues through
1) writing styles
2) information in the writing
Figure 7 Development of the Hebrew alphabet from 1000 B.C. (Gezer Calendar) to A.D. 1000 (square Hebrew letters).
Figure 8 Ostracon (boken potery with writing) from Tel Arad.
– carbon-14 testing – plant material
– Radio chronometry
– all life, esp. plants have carbon
– ½ life of carbon – 5,730 years
– Potassium-Argon (K/Ar)
– Potassium decomposes to Argon
– ½ life of Potassium – 1300 million years
-early hominid fossils – ancestral man
– Themoluminescence
– heated – light emitted according to the amount of
radioactivity exposed to since item was last heated or
exposed to sunlight.
Figure 9 Dr. Mark Green taking a soil sample from underneath a plaster floor for thermoluminescence testing. This soil
was last exposed to light just before the plaster floor was installed ca. 700 B.C.
– Pottery
– an important method of dating is the use of pottery
– dating according to shape, materials, decoration,
color and other factors.
Figure 10 – example of various styles of pottery found in the ancient Near East and time periods associated with the styles.
Figure 11 Pot sherds found while working with the survey crew. The survey crew works outside the dig “surveying” the
area and plotting locations for new sites.
D. Important finds
A. The Rosetta Stone – Understanding of Egyptian manuscripts
B. The Gilgamesh Epic – a flood story that parallels the biblical
C. The Gezer High Place
10 upright stones
A place of worship – making of a covenant
Figure 12 The Rosetta Stone – 3 languages telling the same story.
D. The Dead Sea Scrolls
1. Most important archeological find of the 20th century
2. Shepherd by found in the western side Cave region of
the Dead Sea known as Qumran
Figure 13 Cave at Qumran
Figure 14 Copy of Psalm 21 from Qumran
3. Both biblical and non-biblical text
4. At least fragments found of every OT book except:
Esther (West) two (Tullock)
5. Some date 1000 years before the latest manuscripts
6. Invaluable for textual study
D. Limitations and Contributions of archeology
1. Limitations
a. Does not and cannot prove the Bible to be accurate
1) Too imprecise a science
2) Findings subject to change with new findings
b. Data is partial and changing
c. Need for inscriptions
1) epigraphic dating
2) Without inscriptions must interpret the data by
2. Contribution
a. We know more about the lives and the people of the
biblical times
b. Relationship between archeology and biblical studies –
1) Archeology makes the findings
2) Biblical Studies are given the task of applying
the findings
3) Findings in surrounding cultures can even aid in
interpreting biblical culture.
II. Geography
A. The geographical and historical setting for the Old Testament prior to 1200 B.C.
1. Bright: We tend to underestimate the achievements of the 2nd millennium B.C.
a. See Patriarchs as primitive nomads
b. However the earliest decipherable inscriptions date to the 3rd
c. Evidence of cultures date from the 4th through the 7th millennia
2. Various eras (Bright)
 Early Paleolithic (Old Stone Age) – up to 200,000 years ago
 Middle Paleolithic – skeletal remains in Palestine
 Late Paleolithic – cave dwelling phase
 End of last Ice Age – 9
th millennium B.C.
– grass cultivation and animal herding
 Mesolithic Age (before 8000 B.C.)
– life associated with Jericho
– hunters
– evidence of harvesting grains
 Neolithic Age – 7
th and 6th millennia
– move from cave to sedentary life
– from food gathering to food producing
– permanent villages
– Neolithic Jericho (5000 year before Abraham)
 Chalcolithic Age (copper/stone)
– rise of Mesopotamian cultures
– settlement along waterways
 Proto-Literate Period (3200-2800 B.C.)
– The invention of writing
– Cuneiform
– With the ability to communicate comes the development
of civilizations
Figure 15 Example of cuneiform writing from Mesopotamia
Figure 16 Example of cuneiform writing from Mesopotamia
I. The Geographical and Historical setting for the Old Testament prior to 1200 B.C.E.
A. To look at it, one first notices the barren dryness of the area.
1. The Arabian desert to the east
2. The desert of the Sinai Peninsula to the South
3. The Sahara Desert on North Africa
Figure 17 Map of the ancient Near East – the Fertile Crescent is marked in dark pink.
B. In the midst of this barrenness is the Fertile Crescent
1. A crescent shaped area (see map of the ancient Near East)
2. Beginning east of the Persian Gulf, it stretches north westward through the
valleys of the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers.
A. Mesopotamia – in the midst of (or between) two rivers
B. Civilizations associated with this area
1) Sumerians (3150-2350, 2060-1950 B.C.E.)
a) Major area Sumer – start of civilization
b) Ur – major ancient city
c) Earliest known form of writing (cuneiform)
d) Counting by sixties – (minutes and hours)
2) Akkadians (2350-2060 B.C.E.)
a) Semites – predecessors of the Israelites
B) Akkadian language dominated the language of their
heirs including the Babylonians and Assyrians.
3) Amorites (Arameans)
b) Also Semitic people – invasion of the Fertile Crescent
was at about the same time as the Patriarchs
c) Westerners – semi-nomadic tribesmen from Arabia
d) 2000 B.C.E. – 1800 B.C.E. appeared all over the Fertile
e) Settles in Palestine and Mesopotamia
e) Two strong states in Mesopotamia
1) Mari
A) Northwest
B) Mari tablets – clarify many patriarchal
2) Babylonia
a) South-central
c) Hammurabi – legal codes (ca. 1950 BC)
Figure 18 Babylonia Empire ca. 1950 B.C.
Figure 19 Code of Hammurabi
Figure 20 Image of Hammurabi receiving the law from the sun god.
4) Hurrians
A) Horites (OT)
B) Absorbed the Amorite culture
C) Clay tablets of Nuzi – information on the patriarchs

5) Arameans and Habiru (1500-1000 B.C.E.)
A) Seminomads from Arabia (again)
B) Who are the Habiru (Apiru)?
1) Mercenaries, outlaws, slaves
2) seminomadic wanderers
3) Hebrews? – No
A) ref. throughout the Fertile Class
B) Habiru broader range of people
C) Hebrews belong to the same class
Hebrews were Habiru
Not all Habiru were Hebrews
3. The Fertile Crescent moved through Asia Minor
A. The Hittites – outside the bounds of the Fertile Crescent in Asia Minor
B. Hittite Empire – important through the NT time
C. Moved into Syria and Lebanon and threat to Egypt
4. The southern tip of the Fertile Crescent ends in Egypt in the Nile River valley
A. 3000-2000 B.C.E.
1) Nile Delta – rich fertile area
2) Prized land
3) Distance and isolation allowed it to develop into a great
4) Time of the great pyramids
B. 2000-1000 B.C.E.
1) Hyksos (foreigners) rulers at the time of the Patriarchs (1720-
1570 B.C.E.)
a) Chariots and cavalry
b) Protected cities (walls – glacis -steep walls)
c) Ruled both Egypt and Palestine
d) Thus, explained Patriarchs migration to Egypt during
difficult times
2) Overthrown by the 18th Egyptian dynasty
a) Did not know Joseph
b) Rulers at the time of the Exodus
Figure 21 Pyramids at Gaza
C. Syria-Phoenicia
Syria (3000-2000 B.C.E.)
A. Narrow strip of the Fertile Crescent between the Mediterranean Sea
and the Arabian Desert.
B. Land bridge connected Mesopotamia , Asia Minor and Egypt
C. Population changed with migration and conquest
D. Ebla – important archeological to understand ancient Syria
Phoenicia (2000-1000 B.C.E.)
A. SW Syrian coastal area
B. Biblical Canaanites
C. Fine Harbors and timber land
D. Poor agricultural land
E. Thus, developed a merchant fleet Ugarit (North) (1400 B.C.E.)
a. Center of Canaanite culture and Learning
b. Ras Shamra texts – help to understand the culture
a. Most famous of the Syrian cities
b. Crossroads of major trade routes
Figure 22 Syria-Phoenicia
D. Palestine Proper
Figure 23 Palestine Proper
1. Four Divisions
a. Coastal Plains
1) Wider in the south – narrows in the north
2) South – Plain of Philistia North – Mt.
3) Philistines
4) Five major cities:
Gaza, Ashdod, Ashkelon, Ekron, and Gath
5) Brought under Israelite control during the
reign of David.
6) Few natural seaports
b. Central Highlands (Hills) (Mountain Range)
1) Hill country to the east of the costal
2) Country of Ephraim – North
3) County of Judah – South
c. Jordan Valley (Rift) (Jordan River – “Down-rusher”
1) Mt. Herman to East Africa
2) Palestine – Jordan River
a) Sea of Galilee
b) Dead Sea – no outlet
3) Jordan River
a) Created by an earthquake
b) Soil not suitable for agriculture
c) Floods at the wrong time – would ruin crops
d. Transjordanian Highlands (plateau) – fertile area
1) Bashan – fine cattle
2) Land of Gilead
2) Moab and Edom
3. Because of its location in the middle, control of Syria-Palestine became very
a. Prized by the world powers at that time
b. Thus, the conflicts we see going on now are not
recent history but have been going on for thousands of
c. Two major roads
1) The Way of the Sea (of the Philistines)
a) Roman – Via Maris
b) From Egypt, followed the Sea coast
c) Northward through Gaza and Ashdod
d) At the Yarkon River went east toward
e) Along the Sea of Galilee (North) to
Damascus then to Mesopotamia
2) The King’s Highway
– East of the Jordan River
a) Egypt to Edom (trans-Sinai)
b) North to Damascus
Figure 24 two major North-South Highways


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