A HISTORICAL SURVEY OF THE JORDAN VALLEY IN THE LATE BRONZE AGE

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Assumptions in placing the Biblical narratives within the Late Bronze Age

This research is focused on the Late Bronze Age. Once the decision to examine the Hebrew Bible for political, cultural and economic elements was made, a further decision on which parts of the Biblical storyline to consider relevant to a Late Bronze Age context had to follow. Chapter 3 handles the Hebrew Bible as a literary record telling the history of the Hebrew people. The Exodus, conquest, tribal allotments of the land and period of the judges are all tightly linked forming a running narrative across the individual books. But any evidence for specific dating of these events remains inconclusive. Even amongst the scholars that hold to the historicity of the Joshua/Judges account, there is disagreement on dates to place the events of the narrative. The different schools fall within two broad categories: the early school which dates the conquest beginning in the last half of the 15th century BC (Keil & Delitzsch 1970; Bimson 1981; Waltke 19905) and the late school which holds to a 13th century BC date, no later than Pharaoh Merneptah’s reign of 1213-1203 BC.
5 Other scholars who ascribe to this position are: J. Jack, J. Garstang, M. Unger, G. Archer, L. Wood, S. Horn and W. Shea.
Representatives of a ‘Late conquest’ school are W. F. Albright, Ernst Wright, John Bright, Paul Lapp, H. Kitchen and Y. Yadin amongst others.Both schools base their dating on I Kings 6:1, ‘In the four hundred and eightieth year after the Israelites had come out of Egypt, in the fourth year of Solomon’s reign over Israel, in the month of Ziv, the second month, he began to build the temple of the LORD’ and Judges 11:26, ‘For three hundred years Israel occupied Heshbon, Aroer, the surrounding settlements and all the towns along the Arnon. Why didn’t you retake them during that time?’ The early school takes the year references in these two verses literally. The late school generally takes the number of years in I Kings symbolically in various forms, and the years listed in Judges 11:26 as an exaggeration in negotiation, while emphasizing the problematic references to the storage cities of Pithom and Ramesses in Exodus 1:11 to arrive at the second half of the 13th century date (Block 1999:25-26; Howard 1993:63-64).

DEFINITION OF THE LATE BRONZE AGE

The Late Bronze Age was chosen because there is a clear break in the historical and archaeological records between the Middle Bronze and Late Bronze Ages. This break provides a new starting point before the emerging kingdoms of the Iron Age to the modern states begin a long record of political powers vying to utilize the Jordan Valley and connected regions for their own policies. The transition period between the Late Bronze Age and the Iron Age is filled with evidence relating to the emergence of new people groups and the Biblical narratives of Joshua and Judges. Historically, Egypt provides a number of records for most of the 14th and 13th centuries before falling silent for a period. Archaeologically, most Late Bronze Age sites of the Levant were destroyed at the beginning of the 12th century BC (Muhly 1992). This study seeks to provide a picture of the Jordan Valley immediately prior to the fuller and longer-running records of subsequent periods (Iron Age, Assyrian, Babylonian, Persian, Greek and Roman periods) whose political and economic goals may have forced various changes to the Jordan Valley acting as an integrated unit and how it interacted with the east-west highlands. Determining if the Jordan Valley functioned as a single unity and to what extent it interacted with the surrounding regions before the rise of these powers, is a foundation point for understanding the interest and actions of these later powers that involved the geography of and around the Jordan Valley. The findings of this research therefore provide direct foundation stones for the studies of these later periods.
The Late Bronze Age is defined many ways. The transitions between Middle Bronze Age and Iron Age I as well as the subdivisions are open to debate according to the criteria being observed. Predominantly, the Late Bronze Age is divided up into three main sections correlating with the reigns of Egypt’s 18th and 19th dynasty Pharaohs.

The Jezreel Valley and Harod Valley

The Harod Valley provides a strategic pass between the Jordan and Jezreel Valleys. The Harod is only 2-3 kilometers (1.2-1.8 miles) wide and 11 kilometers (6.8 miles) long. The Harod stream flowing towards the Jordan River created marshes and swamps down the center of this pass until modern water management practices contained them (Karmon 1971:192). The Jezreel Valley, with its chalk mountain passes though the Carmel Range and creates a wide gentle slope to the Jordan Valley via the Harod/Beth-shan Valley. This is the central gravitation point for political and economic control of the southern Levant. Control of these passes regulates all traffic along the coastal highway north-south between Egypt and the northern empires as well as west-east traffic between the coast and eastern desert. The northwest passes at Jokneam open routes towards Phoenicia and the port of Akko. The northeast routes up the Nazareth ridge head towards Hazor. The southwest passes through the Carmel ridge connect the valley with the Coastal Plain and Egypt. The southeast pass through the Harod/Beth-shan Valley connects to Gilead, Arabia, Bashan and Damascus Plateau. The Jezreel Valley divides the western highlands from the Galilee. The Jezreel divides into three natural bays with rich agricultural lands. These are: the Tabor plain in the northeast just below Mount Tabor, the Gilboa plain in the southeast and the Jokneam/Shimron plain in the northwest. The center of th Jezreel was swampy in ancient times and must have kept transportation routes along the higher grounds on the peripheral of the valley floor.8 The break between the heights of the western highlands and Upper Galilee made by the Jezreel/Harod valleys and Lower Galilee, allows rain laden clouds to continue east and to bring rain to the northern part of the Jordan Valley. The rich agriculture soil supported development of several big cities.

CHAPTER 1: INTRODUCTION
1.1 HISTORY OF THE PROJECT
1.2 AIM AND OBJECTIVES OF THE THESIS
1.3 METHODOLOGY
1.4 THE STRUCTURE OF THE THESIS
1.5 LITERARY REVIEW
1.6 NOMENCLATURE
CHAPTER 2: GEOGRAPHY OF THE JORDAN VALLEY 
2.1 INTRODUCTION
2.2 PHYSICAL GEOGRAPHY
2.3 HUMAN GEOGRAPHY
2.4 SUMMARY
CHAPTER 3: A HISTORICAL SURVEY OF THE JORDAN VALLEY IN THE LATE BRONZE AGE
3.1 INTRODUCTION
3.2 EGYPTIAN SOURCES
3.3 BIBLICAL RECORD
3.4 A PALESTINIAN INSCRIPTION: THE TELL DAYR ‘ALLA SCRIPT
3.5 SUMMARY
CHAPTER 4: ARCHAEOLOGY OF THE JORDAN VALLEY
4.1 INTRODUCTION
4.2 REVIEW OF EXCAVATION REPORTS
4.3 SUMMARY
CHAPTER 5: CONCLUSION
5.1 INTRODUCTION

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A HISTORICAL, GEOGRAPHICAL AND ARCHAEOLOGICAL SURVEY OF THE JORDAN VALLEY IN THE LATE BRONZE AGE

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