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United Monarchy?. Kings David and Solomon. Traditional Chronology: Iron I (1200-1000 BC): The Period of the Conquest and the Judges; Iron IIA (1000-925 BC): The Period of the United Monarchy, that is, the time of David and Solomon;

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united monarchy

United Monarchy?

Kings David and Solomon


Traditional Chronology:

Iron I (1200-1000 BC): The Period of the Conquest and the Judges;

Iron IIA (1000-925 BC): The Period of the United Monarchy, that is, the time of David and Solomon;

Iron IIB (925-720 BC): The Divided Monarchy: Israel in the north with its capital at Samaria; Judah in the south with its capital at Jerusalem;

Iron IIC (720-586 BC): The Northern Kingdom of Israel is no more; the Southern Kingdom of Judah continues until the Babylonians destroy it in 586 BC.


The Biblical Texts (1 Samuel – 1 Kings):

  • (All these texts are part of the Deuteronomistic History.)
  • 1 Samuel:
  • 1 Samuel 16-31: Saul and David (from David’s anointing to Saul’s death):
  • 1 Samuel 16. 1-13: David is anointed;
  • 1 Sam 17.40-51: David and Goliath;
  • 1 Sam 30.1-7: the death of Saul.

2 Samuel:

  • 2 Sam 2.1-4: David consecrated king at Hebron, the most important city in Judah;
  • 2 Sam 2.8-11: Ishbaal king over Israel (over Gilead, the Ashurites, Jezreel, Ephraim, Benjamin) – from Mahanaim in Transjordan;
  • (Heb. “Ish-bosheth”; pious scribes substituted the word “bosheth”, meaning “shame”, for the name of the Canaanite god Baal, which can also mean “lord”.);
  • 2 Sam 2.11: David was king in Hebron over the house of Judah;
  • 2 Sam 2.13-3.1: War between Israel and Judah, that is, between the House of Saul and the House of David;
  • 2 Sam 5.1-5: David is anointed king of Israel;
  • 2 Sam 5.2-12: David captures Jerusalem;
  • 2 Sam 6.1- The Ark of the Covenant in Jerusalem;

1 Kings:

  • - 1 Kings 1.28-40: Solomon is consecrated king at David’s nomination;
  • - 1 Kings 2.1-11: David’s testament and his death;
  • - 1 Kings 3.1-7.51: Solomon marries Pharaoh’s daughter, the building of his palace, the Temple of Yahweh, and the wall surrounding Jerusalem;
  • - 1 Kings 8: The Ark brought to the Temple;
  • 1 Kings 9.15-24: Forced labour for Solomon’s building program: the Temple; his own palace; the Millo; the wall of Jerusalem; Hazor; Megiddo; and Gezer, etc. (see especially 1 Kings 9.15-19).
  • 1 Kings 10.1-13: the Queen of Sheba visits Solomon;
  • 1 Kings 10.26-29: Solomon’s chariots;
  • 1 Kings 11.14-25: Solomon’s foreign enemies;
  • 1 Kings 11.26-40: The revolt of Jeroboam (against Solomon’s son Rehoboam);

1 Kings:

  • - 1 Kings 11.41-43: The end of the reign of Solomon;
  • - 1 Kings 12: Political and Religious Schism: Jeroboam king of Israel and the setting up of the two golden calves at Bethel, just to the north of Jerusalem.
  • Now two kingdoms: Judah in the south with its capital at Jerusalem;
  • Rehoboam, a son of Solomon, is King of Judah.
  • Israel in the north with its capital at Shechem – Israel separated from the House of David; (under the Omrides, the capital will later be transferred to Samaria)
  • Jeroboam, a former servant of Solomon, is King of Israel.

1 and 2 Chronicles:

  • “Chronicles” – a summary of divine history;
  • the Chronicler wrote during the Persian period (539-332 BC);
  • dependence upon the Books of Samuel is clear in the narration of Saul’s demise and David’s reign (1 Chr 10-29);
  • dependence upon the Books of Kings is unmistakable in the narration of Solomon and the Judahite kingdom (2 Chr 1-36);
  • the United Monarchy (1 Chr 10-2 Chr 9);
  • the Chronicler has access to other biblical sources as well as non-biblical ones;
  • the Chronicler’s problem was how to reconcile all these sources..

The Iron IIA Period (1000-925 BC) – Conventional Chronology (see Textbook, p. 122)

  • See Textbook, pp. 101-139.
  • The Age of David and Solomon;
  • The Traditionalists assume the historicity of all, or most, of the biblical accounts relative to David and his son Solomon;
  • Finkelstein and Mazar: much of the narrative regarding David and Solomon can be read as fiction and embellishment by later writers;
  • The Minimalists: David and Solomon purely legendary figures.


  • - A “view from the center”;
  • Accepts the historicity of both David and Solomon;
  • rejects a 10th century United Monarchy;
  • however, he posits a 9th century united monarchy, in the north;
  • a monarchy ruled by the Omrides (Omri and his son Ahab [882-851 BC]) from Samaria (1 Kings16.23-24).


  • The kingdom of David and Solomon – a modest one;
  • Archaeology and Jerusalem – the capital of the supposed United Monarchy;
  • Megiddo (1 Kings 9.15 and 9.19): a Solomonic city – chariots and horses;
  • Dug by the Univ. of Chicago, Y. Yadin (soundings only), and now Finkelstein and Ussishkin;
  • - Its location;
  • Hazor (1 Kings 9.15): Y. Yadin; and now Amnon Ben-Tor;
  • Its location;
  • Gezer: Macallister; Seger; Dever; and Ortiz;
  • Six-chambered gates at Hazor, Megiddo, and Gezer;

Megiddo and Yadin’s interpretation of its buildings during the Iron IIA period:

  • Canaanite Megiddo destroyed by David;
  • its palaces;
  • its stables;
  • Yadin’s opinion on the site became the standard theory on the United Monarchy.

Finkelstein finds fault with the Conventional Theory on Megiddo:

  • The problem relative to the city gate at Megiddo and similar gates at Hazor and Gezer;
  • the problems with Yadin’s interpretation of the stratigraphy, chronology, and biblical passages on Megiddo;
  • And Dever and the dating of the six-chambered gate at Gezer;
  • Material in the Books of Kings not put in writing no earlier than the 7th century BC;
  • See especially Textbook, p. 112 relative to Finkelstein’s problems with the conventional theory on Megiddo.

Finkelstein’s Alternative Theory:

  • The two sites related to the Omride dynasty (9th century) ruling from Samaria, its capital in the highlands:
  • Samaria;
  • Jezreel;
  • Radiocarbon dating relative to the transition from the Iron I to the Iron II period:
  • that transition traditionally dated to ca. 1000-980 BC (conventional dating);
  • new dating to ca. 920-900 BC (low chronology);
  • a difference of ca. 100 years;
  • the case for Tel Rehov;
  • they were probably built by Ahab;
  • Megiddo palaces date to the time of the Omride dynasty;
  • Assyrian inscriptions, Mesha/Moabite Inscription; and inscriptions of Hazael of Damascus attest to the power of Israel in the 9th century;
  • if there was a United Monarchy it was the Omride dynasty ruling from Samaria.

The Tel Dan Inscription:

  • - From the 9th century BC;
  • The mention of “House of David” in the inscription;
  • David and Solomon historical figures;


  • Why project these late-monarchic images back into the early history of Israel?
  • See Textbook, p. 116.


  • The search for David and Solomon;
  • Skepticism!
  • the kingdom not mentioned in any written sources outside the Bible;
  • Jerusalem, its capital, was either unsettled or comprised of a small village in the 10th century;
  • literacy hardly attested;
  • population sparse;
  • no evidence for international trade;
  • biblical texts motivated by theological and ideological concerns intending to glorify a past golden era in the history of Israel;
  • Mazar thinks that the deconstruction has gone too far.


  • Iron Age Chronology:
  • Conventional and Modified Conventional Chronology (see Textbook, p. 122);
  • Iron IIA (1000-925 BC) – Conventional Chronology:
  • from a material point-of-view:
  • significant change in material culture; expressed particularly in the production of pottery;
  • new style of pottery: new forms and the appearance of red slip and irregular hand-burnished wares;
  • Finkelstein suggests lowing the date of this pottery by 75-100 years (“Low Chronology”);
  • thus, first Israelite state documented in the archaeological record was northern Israel under the Omrides of the 9th century BC;
  • a deconstruction of the traditional view.


  • Why this “Low Chronology”?
  • destruction, probably by Hazael, King of Damascus, of royal enclosure at Jezreel must be dated to the end of the Omride dynasty in ca. 840/830 BC;
  • the pottery from this destruction must be dated to this time;
  • but same type of pottery found in nearby Megiddo in buildings traditionally attributed to Solomon;
  • this is one of Finkelstein’s reasons for lowering the date of the Megiddo buildings to the 9th century BC;
  • Mazar: but similar pottery found at Jezreel in construction fills below the foundations of the royal enclosure;
  • this pottery probably associated with an earlier town or village;
  • such a pre-Omride occupation could date to the 10th or early 9th century BC;
  • suggestion that throughout much of the 10th and 9th centuries the same type of pottery was in use;
  • the buildings at Megiddo could have been built by either Solomon or by Omri or Ahab.


  • The case of Arad in the northern Negev (see Textbook, pp. 120-21);
  • Stratum XII at Arad (earlier than Sheshonq I/Shishak raid in ca. 920 BC;
  • Finkelstein’s “Low Chronology” cannot be accepted since it creates unresolved problems in the study of the Iron Age;
  • on the basis of archaeological research at Hazor, Jezreel, and Tel Rehov, Mazar sees the need to modify the Conventional Chronology;
  • thus, his Modified Conventional Chronology (see Textbook, p. 122);
  • in his view, Iron IIA is dated from 980 to 840/830 BC;
  • the result is that both the United Monarchy and the Omride dynasty are included in the Iron IIA period.


  • - Sheshonq I’s raid and the Inscription telling about it;
  • Raid dated to ca. 920 BC;
  • 1 Kings14.25-28 mentioning this event;
  • the sites mentioned in the inscription;
  • was the Solomonic kingdom the one that Sheshonq raided?
  • if it happened after Solomon’s death, does this indicate that the Egyptian Pharaoh was taking advantage of a weak period in the time of the emerging Israelite state?
  • route of the raid;
  • was there destruction of the sites mentioned in the inscription?
  • sites such as Tell el Hama, Tel Rehov, Megiddo, and Taanach;
  • the date of the raid as an important chronological anchor, one that negates the Low Chronology of Finkelstein.


  • Jerusalem of the Iron I-II Period:
  • D. Ussishkin’s suggestion that Jerusalem not settled in the 10th century;
  • Finkelstein sees Jerusalem as a small village in the 10th century;
  • the location of Jerusalem prior to its expansion in the 8th century BC;
  • the ridge on which it was located;
  • in its entirety it was ca. 12 hectares (=30 acres);
  • but city of David traditionally located on the southern segment of this ridge, occupying ca. 4 hectares (=10 acres);
  • the Stepped Stone Structure – dated on the basis of pottery to no later than the 12th-11th centuries;
  • could it have continued in use during the alleged time of David and Solomon?


  • Eilat Mazar’s excavations to the west and close to the Stepped Stone Structure:
  • revealed a monumental building;
  • was this building supported by the Stepped Stone Structure?
  • Eilat Mazar suggests the identification of this building with that of the palace of David of 2 Sam 5.11;
  • another possibility for its identification is “the fortress of Zion” mentioned in David’s conquest of the city (2 Sam 5.7, 9) – an hypothesis only;


  • The location of the temple and palace that Solomon supposedly built?
  • under the present Temple Mount and Dome of the Rock?
  • Solomon’s Jerusalem would have been ca. 12 hectares in size with monumental buildings and a temple;
  • if Solomon is removed from history, who would have built the Jerusalem Temple;
  • it existed prior to the Babylonian conquest of 586/87;
  • there is no textual hint of an alternative to Solomon for its building;
  • the plan of that Temple is well known from tripartite buildings of the region from the 2nd millennium to the 8th century BC;
  • parallels from Tell Tayinat and `Ain Dara of northern Syria;
  • Solomon’s palace similar to others in the region from the period in question;


- See Textbook, p. 129, for Mazar’s summary relative to Jerusalem of the time of Solomon.



  • Yadin’s Position on Megiddo, Hazor, and Gezer;
  • Megiddo: stables built by Solomon (1 Kings 9.19);
  • Megiddo as an unfortified city with two palaces;
  • Megiddo’s six-chambered gate;
  • Yadin and Solomonic architecture (see 1 Kings 9.15);
  • the case of Hazor;
  • Finkelstein: “palaces city” built by Ahab while the “stable city” built by Manasseh in the 8th century BC;
  • Mazar: 10th century date is the correct one for the “palaces city”;
  • it ought to have had a monumental gate;
  • the “stable city” would fit the time of Ahab;
  • in summary, Yadin’s position concerning Solomonic architecture at Megiddo, Hazor, and Gezer might be correct.

Mazar and Demography and Literacy:

  • - Arguments against the United Monarchy
  • Low settlement density and lack of ubanization in the 10th century BC;
  • a gradual increase in settlement from the Iron I to the 8th century;
  • 20,000 people in Judah in the 10th century;
  • population in the Israelite territories between 50 and 70 thousand;
  • sufficient for an Israelite state in the 10th century.
  • Literacy:
  • dearth of inscriptions dating to the 10th century;
  • does this mean a lack of literacy and the unlikelihood of a central administration and thus no state?
  • but the Kingdom of Israel in the north of the country in the 9th century and very few inscriptions;
  • perhaps perishable materials used for writing?


  • Israel’s Neighbours in the 10th century;
  • The Philistines:
  • Philistia not conquered by David;
  • according to recent archaeological research at such sites as Ashdod, Ashkelon, Ekron (Tel Miqne), and Gath (Tell es-Safi) were Philistine ones in the 10th century;
  • Edomites:
  • Lots of discussion as to when an Edomite state emerged;
  • most would say in the 8th-7th centuries at the time when the Assyrians were in control of Transjordan;
  • some evidence for early copper mining at Feinan in western Edom;
  • no support for David conquest of the Edomites.
  • Moabites and Ammonites:
  • little evidence of states of Moab and Ammon in the 10th century, that is, early Iron II period.


  • Tyre and the Phoenicians:
  • Bible mentions relations between Solomon and Hiram, King of Tyre;
  • the land of the Phoenicians – actually formerly called Canaanites;
  • evidence for international trade and the Phoenicians were the merchants of the Mediterranean;
  • Phoenician pottery found at Israel sites from the Iron Age – however, mostly from the north of the country or in what will become Israel;
  • little evidence of trade with Judean sites.


  • Arameans/Neo-Hittites:
  • no archaeological support for the Bible’s assertions of David’s wars in Syria;
  • some archaeological support for the small Aramean kingdom of Geshur located to the NE and E of the Sea of Galilee;
  • the sites of Tel Hadar – dated to the 11th or early 10th century BC - and Bethsaida – fortified in the 10th century – have been excavated in the area.


- Conclusions (Textbook, pp. 138-39).