Friday, February 3, 2012
National Geographic article on King David
“How fortuitous!” I thought as I stumbled upon an article on King David in December’s National Geographic magazine. The article covers the ongoing argument between archeologists on both sides of the fence; those who believe in the great majesty of the Biblical King and those who see him as a common shepherd leader, or even a legend who never actually existed in the flesh.
The debate is understandably a hot one, running deep and wide. David, believed the greatest leader of the Israel nation, descendent of Abraham and ancestor of Jesus, is the underpinning of the Christian and Jewish religions, not to mention a prominent figure in Israeli history and the man whom millions claim as their ancestor. To prove that he never existed threatens to collapse the validity of these ancient world-wide faiths and discredit a nation’s history.
The article goes on to explain that up until 1993 there was no physical evidence to support David’s existence. Then a stone slab was unearthed with the inscription “House of David”, convincing most archeologists of his actuality. The debate continues to broil over how his life played out. Archaeologist, Eilat Mazar, believes she has uncovered David’s palace in Jerusalem. She has her supporters but she also faces criticism from other equally gifted and accomplished researchers, such as Israel Finkelstein, contrarian-in-residence for Tel Aviv University. He claims Jerusalem was little more than a small village during David’s rule and no construction techniques could have been advanced enough to support the Bible’s claims of impressive palaces. Covering the entire land area that was once the reach of David and Solomon’s kingdom, researchers work to prove or dis-prove the likelihood that any kingdoms of that era could have achieved the technical metal-refining skill to realize those beautiful, impressive buildings. The excavation of a huge copper-smelting operation 30 miles south of the Dead Sea seems to confirm just such a possibility.
From a political point of view, all this poking and digging may undermine land claims of today’s Palestinians who have lived in Jerusalem for decades. These residents stoically carry on daily life among the bustle of the archaeologists, fully aware of the possibility one day they may be forced to move if the discoveries of science someday be used for political gain. Not the intent of the archaeologists, never-the-less history shows this to be the case repeatedly in other parts of the world.
The point is made that some modern scientists hope they can use the Bible as another encyclopedia. It’s not that easy, however. In the heat of their arguing, the scientists are forgetting God. The reason for writing the Bible is to preserve and express the glory and purposes of God. The stories may be narratives long ago repeated around campfires, but it is still the Living Word inspired by the Almighty. The Bible doesn’t necessarily follow linear history. Some books are placed out of order. It is truly a handbook of faith.
If I, with a story based on the Original Telling, can unearth my readers’ curiosity, drawing them to that Word to excavate their own treasures, brush off and polish their souls until they shine, I will have accomplished much.