The New Yorker published an extensive piece (well, most of their pieces are extensive! that’s the format! their info delivery format is the opposite of memes and soundbytes) about the ongoing feud between the Maximalists and Minimalists in Biblical Archaeology. The Maximalists believe that the stories told in the Torah are literally true. The Minimalists… not so much. Minimalists like Israel Finkelstein at Tel Aviv University has looked at the archaeological finds or scientific records thereof as the basis of his evaluation of the historical veracity of the Torah’s accounts and decided that that science does not support the tales told. Actual artifacts and stratigraphy would indicate that, for instance, King David, was likely a small time chieftain controlling one mountain top stronghold used as the base for launching raiding parties against prosperous Philistine cities or trade caravans. He theorizes that the glorified accounts of his reign were generated during the time of King Josiah – a legitimately powerful regional ruler – looking to give a little added heft to his predecessors’ reputations. The article begins:
“Jerusalem, in the tenth century B.C., is an inhospitable place for farmers but a strategic location for men on the run. Human settlement in the Judean highlands is sparse: five thousand people, spread out in hamlets of about fifty families each. The landscape is rugged, veined with ravines and thicketed with oaks. Rain is unpredictable. To the east lies the desert, hushed and empty. To the west—teasingly close—are the lush lowlands of the Philistine city-states, with their seaside trade routes and their princely homes. Cut off from these coastal plains, life in the hill country is severe. Homes are made of unworked stone; sheep and goats are quartered indoors. There are no public buildings, no ornate furnishings in the shrines. Bands of fugitives, landless laborers, and tax evaders rove the Judean wilderness. These rebel gangs—viewed by the neighboring Egyptians as both a nuisance and a threat—maraud the nearby villages. They collect protection money and pillage the locals, making off with their women and their cattle. They terrorize the Philistines, and then, in a sudden turnaround, offer their services to a Philistine king in exchange for shelter.
Why should you care? Well, a lot of modern ceremonial magick tech either uses or developed from formulae using Hebrew God names, invoking Archangels, in some cases assuming the authority of a figure like Moses so understanding the reality, and also how people of the time perceived that reality gives us a better handle on where the roots of our tech came from, how it worked originally, etc. Which is not to say we need to use it the exact same way. But if you came upon a piece of flint and of iron you either would overlook them, or think they were mere trinkets, or something to use to bash in a nail in a pinch — you might not realize that these are fire starting tools unless you knew the history of early hunter gatherer civilisations. For instance.