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Historical Roots of the Old Testament (1200–63 BCE)

Historical Roots of the Old Testament (1200–63 BCE)

Richard D. Nelson
  • Book Info
    Historical Roots of the Old Testament (1200–63 BCE)
    Book Description:

    A thorough overview of the history of ancient Israel for research and classroom use

    Richard D. Nelson charts the beginning of the Iron Age and the emergence of Israel and its literature, including the kingdoms of Israel and Judah, the downfall of Israel, Judah in the Assyrian and Babylonian periods, Yehud and Persia, and the Hellenistic period. Each chapter provides a summary of the period under consideration, a historical reconstruction of the period, based on biblical and extrabiblical evidence; a critical study of the biblical literature deriving from or associated with the period, and theological conclusions that readers may draw from the relevant biblical texts.


    Balanced coverage of controversial topicsExtensive bibliographies at the beginning of each chapterLists of rulers and key dates for reference and classroom use

    eISBN: 978-1-62837-006-5
    Subjects: Religion

Table of Contents

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  1. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  2. 1. The Emergence of Israel (CA. 1200–CA. 1000 BCE)
    (pp. 1-42)

    The start of the Iron Age in Palestine is conventionally dated to 1200 BCE. During the thirteenth century, the international system of large states and urban centers that had characterized the Late Bronze Age began to break down. A period of chaos, economic decline, and population displacement ensued. Although its origins are unclear, Israel was already a people established in Palestine by the late thirteenth century. A newly established array of small, unwalled settlements in the central highlands appeared in the late thirteenth and early twelfth centuries. These are almost certainly to be associated with Israel’s beginnings. These settlements appeared...

  3. 2. State Formation (TO CA. 930)
    (pp. 43-80)

    After the end of Egyptian hegemony in Palestine about 1140, the power of the lowland city-states faded. In their place arose kingdoms with ethnic foundations. By about 930 these included the separate kingdoms of Israel, with its capital at Shechem, and Judah in union with the formerly independent city-state Jerusalem. The process of state formation that led to this situation began with the figures of Saul and David, both of whom should probably be considered to have been actual historical individuals. Saul and David were understood by their contemporaries, and certainly by later writers, to be kings. However, in comparison...

  4. 3. The Kingdoms of Israel and Judah (CA. 930–720)
    (pp. 81-140)

    Beginning about 930, two monarchic polities developed out of whatever arrangements had earlier governed the peoples of Palestine. The dominant ethnicity was now the people of Yahweh. These were clans and tribes associated with each other through cultural and linguistic similarities, political interactions involving Saul, David, and Solomon, and the worship of a common national god. Judah consisted of tribal Judah (incorporating subsidiary kinship groups such as Simeon and Caleb) in an affiliation of some sort with the ancient city of Jerusalem along with its surrounding economic zone. The kingdom of Judah also included elements of Benjamin. The core of...

  5. 4. Judah in the Assyrian and Babylonian Periods (720–539)
    (pp. 141-182)

    The submission of Ahaz to Tiglath-pileser inaugurated a long period of deference to Assyria that lasted up to the end of the Assyrian Empire. Although the first half of Hezekiah’s reign was characterized by an emerging policy of resistance, this was brought decisively to an end by the campaign of Sennacherib in 701. Sennacherib’s ensuing punitive measures included a significant loss of Judahite territory in the Shephelah. Hezekiah’s successor Manasseh followed a deferential compliance policy that made possible a period of political stability and prosperity. Even though Judah’s territory had been reduced by Sennacherib, the size of Jerusalem increased. Immigrants...

  6. 5. Yehud and Persia (539–330)
    (pp. 183-222)

    In contrast to the Assyrian and Neo-Babylonian period, there is a shortage of historical records from the Persian period. The sources we do have tend to be Greek (Herodotus; Xenophon,Anabasis; Ctesias,Persica) and thus weighted toward Western events and influenced by xenophobic Greek attitudes toward their long-standing enemy. The Bible basically ignores the two periods between the completion of the temple and the careers of Ezra and Nehemiah (515–458) and between the conclusion of Nehemiah’s second term as governor and the successors of Alexander (ca. 430 and 330).

    When Cyrus established the Persian Empire, he joined together the...

  7. 6. The Hellenistic Period (330–63)
    (pp. 223-264)

    Alexander conquered the venerable Persian Empire in a series of successful battles. After the death of Darius III, he continued his advance eastward to the verge of India, before returning west. After his premature death, his generals divided the territory under Macedonian control. The bulk of the Asian portion fell under the jurisdiction of the founder of the Seleucid Empire. Egypt and Palestine were ruled by the Ptolemaic line. Control of Palestine shifted from Egypt to Seleucid Syria after the victory of Antiochus III at the battle of Panias about 200. The expansionist ambitions of the Seleucid king Antiochus IV...

  8. Ancient Sources Index
    (pp. 265-283)
  9. Modern Authors Index
    (pp. 284-285)
  10. Subject Index
    (pp. 286-304)