THE CHRONOLOGY OF JUDGES

A PATCHWORK OF EXCERPTS FROM

JOURNEY THROUGH JUDGES

From Win Corduan's Blog

Late 2007--Early 2008 (No Longer Directly Accessible)

Note: This is neither under construction nor a finalized presentation. It is simply a handful of entries touching on a common topic.

In response to a friend's request if I had anything on the chronology of Judges, I looked through the various stubs I have left of my blog of a couple of years ago and, without trying to create a sequence or mount a single argument, scotch-taped together the following pieces. However, I think there may be enough of value here to leave it up for a while.

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Bible Reading: Judges 1:1-3

v. 1:
After the death of Joshua, the Israelites inquired of the LORD, "Who will be the first to fight for us against the Canaanites?"

(HCSB)

Tribal AllocationsDon't be misled by the time indicator, "after the death of Joshua." This phrase indicates that most of what the ensuing narrative will cover is going to be some time after Joshua's death, but it does not imply a tight temporal sequence at first. There will be some information that is also given in the book of Joshua.

The originating setting is that under Joshua the Israelites had taken control of Canaan. They held most of the strategic strongholds in all of the land, but that fact does not mean that there were no pockets of resistance. Each tribe had been allocated their area, but they still had to claim all of the specific localities. The tribes who had wanted to live on the east side of the Jordan (Reuben, Gad, and half of Manasseh) had been obligated to fight alongside the western ones, but by now had been allowed to return to their new areas, where their women, children, and livestock were waiting for them.

Now it was time for some serious work by each of the tribes, and God selected Judah for the leadership role. Since Simeon's territory was right next to Judah's, the Simeonites and Judahites decided to fight alongside each other. In the long run, their proximity would lead to Simeon losing its identity and being absorbed into Judah.

As usual, I'm going to need a number of days to provide background material for the book. Did you know that we know about the situation in Canaan around that time not only from the Old Testament, but also from Canaanite sources themselves? More on that shortly. For now, here is a map that shows the basic distribution of the tribes in the promised land.

James E. Smith, The Books of History (Joplin, MO: College Press, 1995).

 

 

 

 

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Bible Reading: Judges 1

v. 1:
After the death of Joshua, the Israelites inquired of the LORD, "Who will be the first to fight for us against the Canaanites?"

(HCSB)

The Fertile CrossIn order to get the full benefit of understanding the events in Judges, we need to know about its historical setting, and being familiar with the historical setting requires that we have a sense of the time when the events occurred. There continues to be a lot of debate concerning the date of the exodus and the conquest of the Promised Land. A large number of scholars associate the exodus with Pharaoh Ramses II, who ruled in the thirteenth century B.C. We could spend a lot of time and effort going through the arguments, but the bottom line is that, as I keep saying, if we are trying to place biblical data into the context of general history, and if we have to revise biblical data in order to do so, we are not accomplishing anything.

If I may quote from my Chronicles commentary: If we proceed with the date that the Bible helps us establish for the exodus (1 Kings 6:1; Judg. 11:26; Acts 13:20), the Pharaoh during Moses’ life time was Tutmoses III, who ruled for fifty years during the fifteenth century B.C. When he finally died, God told Moses, “Go back to Egypt, for all the men who wanted to kill you are dead” (Ex. 4:19), a statement that definitely included the pharaoh (Ex. 2:15). The new Pharaoh was named Amenhotep II, and he was the Pharaoh of the exodus. 3

This places the exodus around 1456 B.C. Forty years of wandering in the wilderness launches the conquest in 1416 B.C., and so the book of Judges begins in the first half of the fourteenth century.

We must get away from the idea of the "fertile crescent" in order to understand the history of Palestine. The very first civilizations may have arisen in the crescent Egypt-Palestine- Mesopotamia, but at least by the time we get into serious biblical history there are high civilizations to the north (the Hittites) and to the south (Arabian kingdoms, such as the Sabateans--think of the Queen of Sheba) as well. Palestine became the connecting bridge between the various powers. When the other kingdoms were powerful, chances are that whoever lived in Palestine (e.g., the Canaanites or the Hebrews) would be subdued, but when they were weak or preoccupied, Palestine could maintain a certain amount of autonomy, which sometimes led to stability, but sometimes also left it in turmoil.

This time was an era when none of the potentially strong empires had their act together completely, and Canaan was in total confusion. More on this next time.

Journey through Judges

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Bible Reading: Judges 1

v. 8-11:
The men of Judah fought against Jerusalem and captured it. They put the city to the sword and set it on fire. Afterwards, the men of Judah marched down to fight against the Canaanites who were living in the hill country, the Negev, and the Judean foothills. Judah also marched against the Canaanites who were living in Hebron. . . . They struck down Sheshai, Ahiman, and Talmai. From there they marched against the residents of Debir . . .

(HCSB)

A tablet found at Amarna (public domain 

picture)

Okay, we're in fourteenth-century Canaan. Nominally, the Pharaoh of Egypt was in charge of this region, but subsequent to the trashing of the army of Amenhotep II, Amenhotep III was not in a position to fling his power far and wide. He also was having a personal feud with the king of Babylon over a marriage alliance having gone sour. The king of Babylon, Kadashman Enlil, had given his sister as wife to the Pharaoh, and rumors were in the air that the girl had died. When KE sent an emissary to Egypt to check on the situation, a woman who was supposed to be the bride was paraded before him, heavily attired and without speaking, thereby strengthening the king's suspicions. Furthermore, KE was pretty ticked that A3 had not sent him his daughter in return nor, for that matter, had given his representative a lot of gold as a present. So, the air was tense between Egypt and Babylon, and A3 was not about to send an army into Canaan, lest KE consider it a provocation.

In the meantime, there was a group of invading nomads wreaking havoc in Canaan. They were widely known as the Habiru or 'Apiru, and the various kinglets were blaming each other and calling on the Pharaoh to rescue them from both the Habiru and their untrustworthy neighbors.

One of A3's successors was Akh-en-Aton, who tried to change Egypt's religion from the customary polytheism to the exclusive worship of the disk of the sun. Needless to say, this innovation was thoroughly unacceptable to the professional priesthood, and their anger was exacerbated by the fact that AeA moved his capital from Memphis (not the one in Tennessee) to a new city, called Amarna. As soon as AeA traded in his throne for a sarcophagus, Amarna was shut down, and everything was brought back to the status quo ante, just as the priests desired it. In the process of destroying the city, an archive of letters on clay tablets became covered up and went undiscovered (or at least unrecognized for what they were) until 1887. The content of these "Amarna tablets" gives us a lot of insight into the state of affairs in Canaan in the early fourteenth century B.C.

Among these letters we find an appeal from Shuwardata, prince of the greater Hebron metropolitan area to AeA, appealing for military help against the Habiru. He claimed to have "smitten" the Habiru's leader, but this seems to have been a fairly dubious victory since he lost territory to the Habiru in the proces and the threat persisted. Here is a part of this letter. 1

Let the king, my lord, learn that the chief of the 'Apiru has risen (in arms) against the lands which the god of the king, my lord, gave me; but I have smitten him. Also let the king, my lord, know that all my brethren have abandoned me, and it is I and 'Abdu-Heba (who) fight against the chief of the 'Apiru. And Zurata, prince of Accho, and Indaruta, prince of Achshaph, it was they (who) hastened with fifty chariots—for I had been robbed ( by the 'Apiru)—to my help; but behold, they are fighting against me, so let it be agreeable to the king, my lord, and let him send [the Egyptian viceroy] Yanhamu, and let us make war in earnest, and let the lands of the king, my lord, be restored to their (former) limits!

'Abdu-Heba, the king of Jerusalem, was making similar appeals to the Pharaoh. 2

Let the king turn his attention to the archers, and let the king, my lord, send out troops of archers, (for) the king has no lands (left)! The 'Apiru plunder all the lands of the king. If there are archers (here) in this year, the lands of the king, my lord, will remain (intact); but if there are no archers (here) the lands of the king, my lord, will be lost!
To the scribe of the king, my lord: Thus `Abdu-Heba, thy servant. Present eloquent words to the king, my lord.—All the lands of the king, my lord, are lost!

In another letter, in which 'Abdu-Heba complained about being let down by his neighbors, he mentioned the town of Bethlehem: 3

But now even a town of the land of Jerusalem, Bit- Lahmi by name, a town belonging to the king, has gone over to the side of the people of Keilah. Let my king hearken to 'Abdu-Heba, thy servant, and let him send archers to recover the royal land for the king! But if there are no archers, the land of the king will pass over to the 'Apiru people. . . . So let my king take care of [his] land!

Now, I need to clarify that the term "Habiru" initially covered unwanted nomadic people of various ethnic backgrounds, not just the Israelites. However, it seems to me pretty clear that the term became increasingly associated with those, whose name has come down to us as "the Hebrews." Thus, a part of what we are seeing in these tablets is the conquest, as recorded in Joshua and Judges, from the point of view of some of the Canaanites. Incredible? Taking out of context the words of Mut-ba'lu, prince of Pella, in a letter to viceroy Yanhamu: 4

Indeed, ask Ben-ilima, ask Taduwa, ask Yashuya!

Next time: So, who conquered Jerusalem, and when did he do it?

1James B. Pritchard, The Ancient Near East: An Anthology of Texts and Pictures (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1958), p. 269. This invaluable book provides ancient texts that correlate with events or texts from the Bible.

2 Ibid, p. 270.

3Ibid, p. 274.

1Ibid, p. 267.

Journey through Judges

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Bible Reading: Judges 1

v. 8:
8 The men of Judah fought against Jerusalem and captured it.

(HCSB)

 

Amorite JerusalemAs promised, a few words about the puzzle of the conquest of Jerusalem. On the one hand, we have verses such as the one above that claim that Jerusalem had been captured. Already in Joshua 10 we read that the king of Jerusalem had made an alliance with the king of Hebron and three others, all of whom were defeated by Joshua. But according to chapter 15:63,

The descendants of Judah could not drive out the Jebusites who lived in Jerusalem. So the Jebusites live in Jerusalem among the descendants of Judah to this day.

Even our chapter here in Judges states the same thing in v. 21; only it substitutes the "Benjamites" for the "descendants of Judah."

It's not until the time of David's kingship that Jerusalem is captured definitively:

David and all Israel marched to Jerusalem (that is, Jebus); the Jebusites who inhabited the land were there. The inhabitants of Jebus said to David, “You will never get in here.” Yet David did capture the stronghold of Zion (that is, the city of David). 1 Chron. 11:4-5.

As long as one assumes that the biblical historians had even a grain of sense and neither wrote, let alone pasted together, totally contradictory statements, there has to be a straight- forward resolution for this ambiguity. As a matter of fact, it is not unusual for an ancient town to consist of two parts: the area where the general population lived, and a special fortification. In the case of Jerusalem, the larger part of the city was occupied by Amorites (Canaanites), and it was defeated, destroyed, and occupied by Judahites and Benjamites. This locality was at the foot of the hill; I'm guessing it may have been on the site of today's Palestinian town of Silvan. On top of the hill was the citadel, in which the Jebusites lived for several centuries until they were finally conquered by David and his general, Joab.

 

 

Journey through Judges

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Bible Reading: Judges 1

v. 26:
15 "Be extremely careful for your own good—because you did not see any form on the day the LORD spoke to you at Horeb out of the fire.

(HCSB)

A sidelight: Here's what I love about liberal scholarship. As I mentioned on Friday, if you accept the years mentioned in the Bible itself, there is no question that the exodus took place in the fifteenth century. I also told you that "Habiru" of the fourteenth -century Amarna tablets, who were wreaking havoc throughout Canaan, can thereby easily thought to include the Hebrews. Here's what we read in the Archaeological Encyclopedia of the Holy Land: "On the strength of the similarity between the terms Habiru and Hebrews, many scholars have suggested identifying the Habiru of the 16th-15th centuries BC with the Hebrew conquerors of the 13th century, but this connection has not yet been satisfactorily proved." 1 Maybe that's because they weren't the conquerors of the thirteenth century, but of the fifteenth and fourteenth?

Please allow me dwell on the Amarna tablets just a little longer. One obvious fact is that the names of the Canaanite kings mentioned in the Bible do not coincide with the names on the tablets. For example, the kings of Hebron and Jerusalem are called Shuwardata and 'Abdu-Heba in the tablets and Hoham and Adoni-zedek in Joshua 10 respectively. However, this is no problem insofar 1) the kings of the Amarna tablets may be a generation later than Joshua, and 2) these kings went by different names, depending on the language context anyway. In the Amarna tables we find Akkadian, Egyptian, and even IndoEuropean mixtures of names, and so it is not surprising that the Hebrew author (perhaps Samuel in the eleventh century) should use Hebrew names or even titles. Adoni-zedek, means "Lord of Righteousness," which may have been a routine title for the king of Jerusalem.

There is no reason to assume that Adoni-bezek and Adoni- zedek are the same person. Adoni-bezek is the "Lord of Bezek." Bezek is a little town not too far away from Jerusalem. I don't think that God's commandment to the Hebrews to expunge the Canaanite population necessarily entailed having kinglets die of exsanguination by having their thumbs and toes cut off, but it appears that A-B had been asking for it. The fact that he had seventy thumb-and-toe-less "kings" crawl under his table for crumbs shows both his cruelty and the little value that the term "king" had in that culture. But then, human life had as little value as human dignity.

We will find a great amount of inhumanity in Old Testament history. That does not mean that God approved of it, but God did intend for the Israelites to eradicate the Canaanite population. We may run across some reasons as we move along.

1 A. Negev, The Archaeological Encyclopedia of the Holy Land (3rd ed.; New York: Prentice Hall Press, 1990, 1996). Back to text.

 

 

Cows in the snow  

 

Journey through Judges
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Bible Reading: Judges 16:1-3

v. 1:
Samson went to Gaza . . .

(HCSB)

What We're Not Reading in Judges

I've mentioned before how difficult it is to reconstruct a coherent chronology of Judges. We have roughly 350 years into which to fit the various accounts from the beginning of the conquest (ca. 1400) to the coronation of Saul (ca. 1050). If we went with the date of the exodus and conquest provided by the theory that does not accept the biblical numbers, we would have to fit it all together in about 200 years, moving from difficulty to virtual impossibility. But then, most people who take the late date wind up committing the usual silliness of revising the data of the Bible in order to accommodate their model, in which case one hasn't pinpointed the biblical event, but an event of their own imagination, in history. The latter is considerably easier, but accomplishes nothing particularly worthwhile.

The following table is loosely based on J. E. Smith, The Books of History (Joplin, MO: College Press, 1995). It assumes that the 300 years mentioned by Jephthah (Judges 11:26) and the 480 years from the conquest to Solomon's temple are at least close approximations.

1446 Exodus
1400 Conquest
1359Othniel
1301 Ehud
1261 Deborah
1214 Gideon
1171 Tolah
1148 Jair
1108 Jephthah
1105 Ibzan
1097 Elon
1089 Abdon
1067 Samson
1051 Saul
1009 David
969 Solomon
966 Temple
  
  
  
1279Invasion by Ramses II
1229Invasion by Meneptah
1190Ramses III defeats Philistines
   
   
1116Samuel born
1100Judgeship of Samuel
  
  
  
  
1020Death of Samuel
  
  

The table on the right shows some of the important items that are not mentioned in Judges. We find that two important matters are left out. One is the ministry of Samuel. He was still a young child when Jephthah was judge, and he worked concurrently with Samson. Even though they were contemporaries and were both heavily involved in the fight against the Philistines, Samuel worked up north in the region of Ephraim, whereas--as we're seeing in these chapters--Samson was way down south virtually in the Philistines' area. It is very likely that Samuel wrote Judges, and so it makes a certain amount of sense that he might have left himself out of the story.

The other omission is the various invasions by Egyptian pharaohs. In fact, advocates of the late (non-biblical) date of the exodus like to ask rhetorically why--if the Israelites were alredy in the land since about 1400 B.C., why the book of Judges does not mention the massive invasion in 1279 by Ramses II (the purported pharaoh associated with the late date).

But this argument for the late date loses all force when you realize that there were subsequent "visits" by other pharaohs, specifically Meneptah in 1229 and Ramses III around 1200.

For reasons not clear to us, the author of the book of Judges did not care to mention the Egyptian factor. A part of the reason may be that the pharaohs did not come specifically to bother Israel, except for Meneptah, and a larger part may be that their invasions were not tied to the spiritual cycles of apostasy followed by bondage, the cry to God for help, and a judge to liberate the people.

Nevertheless, it is important to know that, while Samson, for example, was carrying out his work, God was simultaneously using other persons and events for the sake of his people as well. As a matter of fact, let me clarify that point a little more the next time I write about Judges.

 

Chart from Exodus to Temple

******

Exodus to Solomon

*****

I don't have enough time or energy left tonight to do a full entry, but I do want to get a quick editorial comment off my chest.  

As I'm looking up various factoids having to do with this ad hoc series on Israel, I am running across some truly weird debates concerning biblical archaeology.  I'm discovering that there actually are any number of archaeologists these days who use the Graf-Wellhausen (J, E, D, P) documentary hypothesis as a primary source for establishing dates, apparently preferring it over such unreliable methods as Carbon-14 or pottery.  The GW hypothesis is strictly based on (untenable) literary criteria.  One of its several problems is that it comes devoid of any physical or archaeological evidence, and yet I'm seeing that some archaeologists seem to be using it as axiomatic.  E.g., there's an article in the May 2006 issue of the Smithsonian, in which a fellow dismisses a priori correlating any archaeological finds with the book of Joshua because, after all, Joshua was not written until the seventh century B.C.  If there is an artifact that seems to fit in with Joshua, but an archaeologist refuses to recognize it because he already knows that Joshua is not historical, and the basis for his knowledge is the Graf-Wellhausen theory, he's got some serious professional problems. Of course, he will also get his share of acclaim from at least a few of his peers. But really, that strikes me as absurd as it would be if, say, President Obama were awarded the Nobel Peace Price the moment he stepped into office before he even had a chance to do anything yet.--O wait! That happened.--Looks like we're going to have to do without an analogy or a classification.  Some things are too bizarre by themselves that one can find a category for them, let alone parody them. It certainly bears out what I was saying the other day concerning the power of presuppositions in scholarship.

Once again, I'm getting an attack of CAES (Christian Apologist's Embarrassment Syndrome) because I fear that people will think I'm making this up, just so that I can hold it up for ridicule. I wonder what some of the so-called "minimalists," who are denying that Jerusalem was inhabited before the eighth century B.C., do with the Amarna tablets.---Wait! No, I don't.  I take that back.  It have a feeling that it would only worsen my CAES.

Anyway, what really amuses me is the ever-increasing consensus that the Bible is wrong with regard to the exodus and conquest because archaeologists just can't find any evidence for it in the thirteenth century.  The various sites give evidence that the crucial towns already were destroyed before that time.  Could it be that this lack of confirmation is due to the fact that the time frame, as provided by the Bible, puts the exodus and conquest clearly into the late fifteenth century?  One makes a false assumption concerning the Bible (or, actually, parrots the same misinformation that's been around for well over a century now), disproves the assumption, and then claims triumphantly to have refuted the Bible.  It doesn't work that way logically.  If you show that an assumption leads to a contradiction, you have refuted the assumption, not the system in which you made the assumption.  In some ways CAES is worse than PD; they're both incurable, I'm afraid.  Still, at least I can take my L-Dopa pills to ameliorate the Parkinson's, but there's no medication for CAES.  

 

 

Journey through Judges

 
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Bible Reading: Judges 11:12-28

v. 12:
Jephthah sent messengers to the king of the Ammonites, saying, "What do you have against me that you have come to fight against me in my land?"

(HCSB)

Jephthah--Robin Hood turned Lionheart 

Robin Hood has just been asked to replace Richard the Lionheart. Never mind the fact that he is at least half Saxon in a country that has lately been ruled by Normans. All the available soldiers are at his disposal. Even the Sherif of Nottingham has pledged his support. It's time to get into the saddle and ride against the enemy.

Such was approximately the situation for Jephthah. The outcast had suddenly been made plenipotentiary to lead the Israelites against the Ammonites. After years of practicing warfare on a small scale for lesser purposes, he now gets to put it to use in the cause of saving his country. It's time to gather the army and start marching.

But what did Jephthah do? He negotiated.

Jephthah could be impulsive, even tragically so. But he started out trying to avoid military action. He sent a messenger to the King of Ammon and asked him to specify his reason for invading Israel.

The Ammonite king obviously had not expected to come up with a rational reason. He was here; Israel was there; he was stronger than Israel; therefore, he should invade Israel. What other reason should he have? Under the pressure of the situation he came up with an absurd story. He was paying Israel back for stealing his territory when they had come up from Egypt.

Jephthah immediately pointed out to the king that his story was bogus. Of course, we run across spurious claims of this nature all of the time: China wants Formosa, Argentina thinks it owns the Falklands, Saddam decides he is entitled to Kuwait, Arabs want "back" Israeli territory that they never owned.

Jephthah took the time and trouble to attempt to educate the Ammonite king; I don't know if he expected it to accomplish anything, but he made sure that the record was straight. Jephthah proved himself to be a genius with precise knowledge of the history of Israel, as recorded by Moses, and withimpressive oratory skills. He pointed out to the Ammonite king that the territory in question had never been Ammonite, not even close. It had bordered on the land of Moab, but Moses literally went far out of his way not to trespass through Moab when he was refused permission. The area that the king mentioned had belonged to the Amorites, a subgroup of the Canaanites, not the Ammonites. Jephthah acknowledged that the Israelites had conquered that territory, but it had nothing to do with the Ammonites.

Furthermore, Jephthah clarified that Israel had been in possession of that area for 300 years now. Even if it had belonged to Ammon (which it had not), why fight for it now after all of this time? The answer to the rhetorical question is that Ammon never had a genuine claim on the land. (By the way, this statement is one of the several biblical passages that provide data for the "early," viz. 15th century, date of the Exodus. Kenneth Kitchen, such a rigorous scholar except when it comes to this issue, declaims, "For blustering Jephthah's propagandistic 300 years . . . it is fatuous to use this as a serious chronological datum." (On the Reliability of the Old Testament, p. 308) Yikes! Jephthah is neither blustering nor propagandistic here, though he shows himself as a master rhetorician; his whole point is to straighten out the inaccuracy perpetrated by the Ammonite. As I keep saying, if you have to rewrite the biblical text to find its setting in general history, you're no longer finding the setting for the biblical text.)

Another argument that Jephthah used was to appeal to their respective gods. The Ammonites got to own whatever the god Chemosh had given them, while the Israelites were allowed to keep the gifts from Yahweh. Don't think for a moment that Jephthah is actually endorsing the henotheism prevalent at the time, according to which each nation worshiped its own gods while acknowledging that all the nations' gods were real. Jephthah's statement was pure irony. Chemosh was not the god of the Ammonites; he was the god of the Moabites. Jephthah was implying by this statement that the Ammonites were not only stealing land, they were also stealing gods. Finally, he called on Yahweh to settle the matter between them.

Needless to say, the Ammonite king dismissed Jephthah's arguments. He wasn't interested in historical accuracy; he wanted stuff. Jephthah was going to have to go to war, but he would do so only by reliance on God. Is it possible to go wrong in expressing your trust in God? Jephthah found a way.

From the original manuscript of my Holman Bible Commentary: 1 and 2 Chronicles.

A. Who Was Shishak? (12:2)

     Prior to the appearance of Shishak, the kingdom of Egypt does not seem to have been a factor in the history of Israel, once they were settled in Palestine.  Even though a number of pharaoh’s waged extensive campaigns in Syria, and subdued Israel along the way, the book of Judges does not mention these occasions, and they did not seem to have any long-term effects on Israel’s governance. This silence on Egyptian invasions during this time period could not have been due to the fact that the exodus actually occurred at a later time, during the reign of Ramses II, as some scholars argue, because Judges does not mention the Palestinian military excursions that occurred after Ramses’ time either.

     Let me mention as an aside here that, if we proceed with the date that the Bible helps us establish for the exodus (1 Kings 6:1; Judg. 11:26; Acts 13:20), the pharaoh during Moses’ life time was Tutmoses III, who ruled for fifty years during the fifteenth century B.C.  When he finally died, God told Moses, “Go back to Egypt, for all the men who wanted to kill you are dead” (Ex. 4:19), a statement that definitely included the pharaoh (Ex. 2:15). The new pharaoh was named Amenhotep II, and he was the pharaoh of the exodus (Archer, 1982, p. 198). 

     On the whole, during much of early Old Testament times, Egypt had its own problems. Ramses II, despite his great achievements, took a major defeat from the Hittites. From time to time, an Egyptian army would sweep up north in order to establish temporary control, but Egypt was not able to go much beyond the role of occasional bully in its relationship to Israel. The times of Egyptian invasions were not times of long-term affliction that merited serious reporting in Judges. Solomon, as we saw, even married the daughter of a weak and struggling pharaoh, Siamun of Tanis (Hoffmeier, p. 289).

     Shishak, however, left a definite mark on biblical history.  Known as Sheshonk I in Egyptian histories, he finally was able to bring some unity of structure and purpose to the Egyptian nation.  This feat was somewhat paradoxical in two respects.  First, Shishak himself was Libyan, not a native Egyptian, though this standing undoubtedly helped him create his multinational army.  Second, as Wilcock (1994, p. 407) points out, Shishak was able to bring off the project of unifying his country at just about the same time as Rehoboam allowed his to split apart. 

     As we saw, Shishak took a part in Israel’s history in several ways.  He offered asylum to Jeroboam while he was biding his time waiting for Solomon’s death.  Then later he carried out his campaign to subjugate the lands along the Mediterranean.  His need to establish his empire even outstripped whatever positive feelings he may have had towards his ward, Jeroboam, because his troops carried out devastation in the northern kingdom as well.  We know this because Shishak himself provided us with an inventory of all of the towns that he conquered during this operation (Pritchard, 187).

     In the inscription in which Shishak tells the world about his accomplishments in this Palestinian campaign lists 150 cities that he crushed.  Remember that in the biblical account, even though he forced the king to pay tribute--in fact, he marched off with the royal treasury--he did not actually besiege and destroy Jerusalem.  And this account is also corroborated by Shishak’s own record. When scholars studied the list of towns in Shishak’s inventory, they soon realized that one city stuck out as missing, namely Jerusalem. 

     In the larger picture, Shishak’s adventure did not contribute to the permanent greatness of Egypt.  Even though Egypt would be a player in world events again, it would be a long time before it would achieve true dominance once more, and even then that position did not last long. 

 

B. The Kings of Israel (11:14)

     The chronicler brings up the kings of Israel only as they directly impinge on the story he is developing concerning the kings of Judah.  There are enough allusions to northern kings, however, that it will be helpful to have a chart that lines up the monarchs of the two kingdoms side by side.  We will use the table of the kings of Judah, and show approximately where the kings of Israel overlap with them.  Remember again that there were co-regencies, particularly among the kings of Judah, so that some of the numbers overlap or do not add up evenly. 

KING OF JUDAH

DATES

(B.C.)

KING OF ISRAEL

DATES

B.C.

 

Rehoboam

931-913

Jeroboam

 

922-901

 

 

 

Abijah

913-911

 

Asa

911-870

 

Nadab

901-900

 

Baasha

900-877

 

Elah

877-876

 

Zimri

876

 

Omri

876-869

 

 

Jehoshaphat

873-848

 

 

 

 

Ahab

869-850

 

Ahaziah

850-849

 

Jehoram

849-842

 

 

Jehoram

848-841

 

Jehu

842-815

 

Ahaziah

841

 

 

 

Athaliah

841-835

 

Joash

835-796

 

Jehoahaz

815-801

 

Joash

801-786

 

Amaziah

796-767

 

 

Jeroboam II

786-746

 

Uzziah

792-740

 

Jotham

750-731

 

 

Zechariah

746-745

 

Shallum

745

 

Menahem

745-738

 

Pekahiah

738-737

 

Pekah

737-732

 

 

Ahaz

735-715

 

 

 

Hoshea

732-722

 

 

 

Hezekiah

729-686

 

Manasseh

696-642

 

Ammon

642-640

 

Josiah

640-609

 

Jehoahaz

609

 

Jehoiakim

608-598

 

Jehoiachin

598

 

Zedekiah

598-587