‘David’ Found at Dan,BAR 20:02; Yosef Garfinkel, “The Birth & Death of Biblical Minimalism,BAR 37:03.



While Finkelstein acknowledges that Hazor, a major site in his analysis of the Iron Age northern kingdom, was “probably the most important city-state in the north” (p. 21), neither its Late Bronze Age nor Iron I phases are discussed, presumably because it would complicate the highland-centered interpretive framework he offers. The weakness of this analysis is the mistaken assumption that chapter one establishes a Braudelian longue durée perspective (as explicitly stated but only in the concluding chapter), when in fact this analysis does not meet those criteria.


For example, at the start of one particular paragraph we are told that the transition from Iron I to Iron IIA “should probably be fixed … in the beginning of the second half of the tenth” century (i.e., 950 B.C.E.; p. 63). This is, however, substantially later than Finkelstein’s low chronology start date of 920 B.C.E. by 30 years, or it is half the distance between the start date for Iron IIA in the so-called Low Chronology date (920 B.C.E.) and that of the Modified Conventional Chronology (980 B.C.E.). (Keep in mind that such seemingly small decadal shifts in the chronology is what we are fundamentally talking about, whether in connection with the shortening of David and Solomon’s reigns as raised by the Biblical tradition—to less than the 40 years each assigned to them—or in the shifting of the start dates of Iron IIA later.) However, at the end of the same paragraph we are asked to accept that Finkelstein would place the transition between 940/930 B.C.E. (a figure seemingly grabbed out of thin air), conceding 10 to 20 years on the 920 date for no explicitly stated reason (p. 94). Attentive readers will wonder what they are missing, given that three different dates are suggested for the start of the Iron IIA (i.e., 950, 940/930 and 920). The answer would be a litany of relevant publications that are not discussed.