Pagan Yahwism: The Folk Religion of Ancient Israel

The Bible imagines the religion of ancient Israel as purely monotheistic. And doubtless there were Israelites, particularly those associated with the Jerusalem Temple, who were strict monotheists. But the archaeological evidence (and the Bible, too, if you read it closely enough) suggests that the monotheism of many Israelites was far from pure. For them, […]

Sacred Stones in the Desert

Take even a one- or two-day trip through the Sinai or Negev deserts and you’ll come across scores of them—standing stones erected in a variety of combinations. These stone installations may help us understand the very origins of Israelite religion. They dot the landscape of the Bible’s desert lands. The Hebrew Bible calls them […]

When Palestine Meant Israel

Most people assume that the name Palestine derives from “Land of the Philistines” (Peleshetin the Hebrew Bible; see Psalms 60:10; Isaiah 14:29, 31), via the Greek Palaistinêand the Latin Palaestina. But there is evidence, both philological and geographical, that questions this traditional attribution. The name Palestine, surprisingly, may have originated as a Greek pun […]

The New Struggle for the Scrolls: Will They Go to the Palestinians?

Will the Dead Sea Scrolls and the ruins of Qumran, adjacent to the caves where the scrolls were found, be given to the Palestinians? As the Israelis and Palestinians struggle slowly and painfully toward some kind of accommodation that eventually will almost certainly involve the creation of a Palestinian state, the future of the […]

Where Was Abraham’s Ur? The Case for the Babylonian City

Hershel Shanks has reopened the debate raised long ago by Cyrus Gordon, about which Ur was Abraham’s.a Was the patriarch born in some northern Mesopotamian Ur rather than in Babylonia? I believe the case for identifying the Ur (of the Chaldees) in Genesis 11:28, 31 (compare with Nehemiah 9:7) with Ur, now Tell el-Muqayyar, […]


First Person: Changes at the Top
Ephraim Stern named Chairman of Archaeological Council By Steven Feldman
Carthage, Tunisia