Friday, July 8, 2011

Goliath's Table: Archaeology of Gath

AP reports about archaeological finds at Gath, Goliath's hometown:
In a square hole, several Philistine jugs nearly 3,000 years old were emerging from the soil. One painted shard just unearthed had a rust-red frame and a black spiral: a decoration common in ancient Greek art and a hint to the Philistines' origins in the Aegean.
The Philistines arrived by sea from the area of modern-day Greece around 1200 B.C. They went on to rule major ports at Ashkelon and Ashdod, now cities in Israel, and at Gaza, now part of the Palestinian territory known as the Gaza Strip.
At Gath, they settled on a site that had been inhabited since prehistoric times. Digs like this one have shown that though they adopted aspects of local culture, they did not forget their roots. Even five centuries after their arrival, for example, they were still worshipping gods with Greek names.
Archaeologists have found that the Philistine diet leaned heavily on grass pea lentils, an Aegean staple. Ancient bones discarded at the site show that they also ate pigs and dogs, unlike the neighboring Israelites, who deemed those animals unclean — restrictions that still exist in Jewish dietary law.
....
One intriguing find at Gath is the remains of a large structure, possibly a temple, with two pillars. Maeir has suggested that this might have been a known design element in Philistine temple architecture when it was written into the Samson story.
Diggers at Gath have also found shards preserving names similar to Goliath — an Indo-European name, not a Semitic one of the kind that would have been used by the local Canaanites or Israelites. These finds show the Philistines indeed used such names and suggest that this detail, too, might be drawn from an accurate picture of their society.
The findings at the site support the idea that the Goliath story faithfully reflects something of the geopolitical reality of the period, Maeir said — the often violent interaction of the powerful Philistines of Gath with the kings of Jerusalem in the frontier zone between them.

Mmm....Lentils.....

One thing omitted in the article is that Goliath of Gath in biblical narrative was not just killed by David (1 Samuel 17), but also in 2 Samuel 21:19, where Goliath is slain by the much lesser known Elhanan.

For the rest of the article, see here.

For a critique of this and other articles concerning this recent archaeological expedition, see here.

5 comments:

hammer63ad said...

Interesting article. You wrote that - One thing omitted in the article is that Goliath of Gath in biblical narrative was not just killed by David (1 Samuel 17), but also in 2 Samuel 21:19, where Goliath is slain by the much lesser known Elhanan.
1 Sam 21:19 actually says that this giant was Goliath's brother. In 1 Chr 20:5 it gives the name of Goliath's brother, Lahmi, who was slain by Elhanan. There were many giants in those days, and many were slain not just by David, but by some of David's mighty men. All the best, blessings.

hammer63ad said...

You wrote that - One thing omitted in the article is that Goliath of Gath in biblical narrative was not just killed by David (1 Samuel 17), but also in 2 Samuel 21:19, where Goliath is slain by the much lesser known Elhanan.
In 2 Sam 21:19 it said that it was Goliath's brother. In 1 Chr 20:5 it said that Goliath's brother (Lahmi) was slain by Elhanan. David slew Goliath, and other giants were slain by David's mighty men. All the best, blessings.

Jared said...

Thanks for your comment. And your reading is a traditional one with which I am familiar, but when considering the development of the different legends surrounding David and his men from the Deuteronomistic Historian's account (1&2 Samuel) to the Chronicler, I a development, a shifting of characters to make the reading more harmonious.

2 Samuel, in fact, does NOT say that it was Goliath's brother. The Chronicler, a later writer, however, harmonized the discrepancy in the Samuel account by doing exactly what you said--and the Chronicler has a tendency to do this with a lot of discrepancies in earlier accounts. My reading of this--which is not original to me--is that the most likely evolution of events it that (1) this very little known guy named Elhanan did something spectacular by killing Goliath of Gath (Gittite just means "from Gath" like Hittite means "from Hatti); (2) David becomes an important figure and through different legendary retellings major things become attracted to major figures (or major figures get credit for major events); so at this point David receives credit and the story--a great story--grows around this retelling with David at the center; (3) we now have two people receiving credit for the same thing; thus (4) a later writer, the Chronicler, tries to reconcile the discrepancy by altering it to the brother.

Kal Verahda said...

Nice to see revisionist historians are still alive and well LOL

Jared said...

@Kal: Indeed it is! :)