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Forty-four pure gold coins were recently found hidden in a wall during excavations at the Banias archaeological site.” The coins were minted in the reigns of the last two Byzantine emperors before the Muslim conquest in AD 635.

Mahmoud Hawari has a brief report on the Khirbat al-Mafjar Archaeological Project at Jericho.

As a follow-up to his previous post about a 1st-century synagogue at Chorazin, Carl Rasmussen shares some photos taken earlier this week on the current restoration project.

Leen Ritmeyer shares a number of reconstruction drawings from the Double Gate in Jerusalem, which he identifies with the Beautiful Gate of Acts 3.

The Museum of the Bible and DIVE (Digital Interactive Virtual Experiences) are hosting a virtual tour of the Kidron and Hinnom Valleys on November 9. The cost is $20.

Ferrell Jenkins provides some history and photos of Tirzah, the second capital of the northern kingdom of Israel.

Zoom lecture on Oct 26: “One Site, Two Peoples: Phoenicians and Jews at Kedesh of the Upper Galilee,” by Andrea Berlin

Bryan Windle has written another well-illustrated archaeological biography, this one on Hazael, the Aramean king who boasted of defeating Israel and the “house of David” in the famous Tel Dan Inscription.

New release: Encyclopedia of Material Culture in the Biblical World. A New Biblisches Reallexikon, edited by Angelika Berlejung with P.M. Michèle Daviau, Jens Kamlah, and Gunnar Lehmann (Mohr Siebeck, $223).

Eretz Magazine has created a new travel guide to the Herodium, lavishly illustrated with photos, maps, and reconstructions.

New subscribers to Approaching Jerusalem (Chandler Collins) receive a free e-booklet, “Golden Heights: Five Accessible Panoramas of Jerusalem.”

HT: Agade, Arne Halbakken, Alexander Schick, Ted Weis, Explorator, Paleojudaica

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The second of my three articles published recently belongs to an issue (pdf) in The Master’s Seminary Journal devoted to the Messiah in the Old Testament. My article is entitled “The Messiah in Isaiah 7:14: The Virgin Birth” (on Academia, or direct link here).

Some may roll their eyes at the idea that there is anything left to be said on a subject debated for a couple of thousand years now. I have, however, endeavored to break new ground, particularly in my first section. There I argue that the greater context (Isaiah 1-12) is all about the coming of God to be with his people after judgment. I don’t recall this argument being clearly articulated before with respect to the interpretation of Isaiah 7:14. My logic is that if Isaiah consistently presents Israel’s hope as lying beyond the exile, then it is most natural to expect that a “God-with-us” child was never intended to give hope to a wicked Ahaz but was for a future generation. If a woman gave birth in a dramatic sign in Isaiah’s own day, it would contradict Isaiah’s message in chapters 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 8, 9, 10, and 11.

In the second section, I try to show why hermeneutical efforts to see two fulfillments are textually illegitimate. Here I cite a number of conservative Christian writers who believe the text demands an 8th-century fulfillment, but who are compelled by Christian confession to affirm that Jesus was somehow also related to the passage. In my opinion, the only valid hermeneutical options are (1) the Jewish view, in which the prophecy was fulfilled in Ahaz’s day, or (2) the traditional Christian view, in which the prophecy was fulfilled only in the birth of Jesus.

In the third section, I make the case that the details of Isaiah 7 decisively preclude the birth of the child in the 8th century. If one accepts that almah means virgin, then the case is closed. (This, of course, is why some conservatives have labored so strenuously to insist that almah can signify a non-virgin.) But even were I to be wrong on that matter, an 8th-century fulfillment is impossible. Here’s how I summarized this argument in the article’s abstract.

Analysis of Isaiah 7:14–17 reveals that an 8th-century fulfillment is impossible given the nature of the sign, the meaning of almah, the syntax of the announcement, as well as the child’s name, role, diet, and character. A closer look at the timeline in Isaiah 7:16–17 shows that Immanuel could only be born after the land of Judah was laid waste, a reality that did not occur in the 8th century.

In other words, the greater context of Isaiah aligns with the particular details of the Immanuel prophecy. Those who wish to identify the Immanuel child with Maher-shalal-hash-baz necessarily ignore many details in the text, including the child eating curds and honey in a time of exile.

Here is the concluding paragraph of the article:

The best understanding of Isaiah 7:14 agrees with the interpretation of Matthew and the view of the church for most of its history. Because of Ahaz’s refusal to trust the Lord, Isaiah prophesied judgment against him and his kingdom. Like most other prophecies against Israel, this one had a silver lining. A special child would be born during the time of exile and would be called “Immanuel.” This prophecy could not have been fulfilled in the time of Isaiah because the conditions did not match the prophecy, and it was fulfilled once and only once in the person of Jesus the Messiah. The historical-grammatical interpretation of Isaiah 7 eliminates the need for hermeneutical liberties, fits the greater context of Isaiah, and corresponds with the fulfillment recorded in the Gospel of Matthew. The prophecy of the virgin birth heralded the earth-shaking tidings of the coming of God to live with his people as a man, making him qualified to atone for their sins and rule over God’s kingdom in righteousness.

My desire is that this article will help students of the Word to think more clearly about this most debated passage. If you know someone interested in the subject, please pass the article on them.

In fact, I recommend the entire issue and believe it will be quite valuable in strengthening the church’s understanding and appreciation of the unity of God’s Word, the divine origin of Scripture, and the need for hermeneutical integrity.

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“The discovery of hidden hieroglyphics within Tutankhamun’s tomb lends weight to a theory that the fabled Egyptian queen Nefertiti lies in a hidden chamber adjacent to her stepson’s burial chamber.”

“Silphion cured diseases and made food tasty, but Emperor Nero allegedly consumed the last stalk. Now, a Turkish researcher thinks he’s found a botanical survivor” (subscription).

Sam Mirelman describes the Babylonian Akītu Festival and the Ritual Humiliation of the King.

Owen Jarus gives a lengthy survey of the history of Babylon.

The Peabody Museum of Archaeology at Harvard University is hosting an event on International Archaeology Day on Oct 15.

Phillip J. Long has written a new book, The Book of Enoch for Beginners: A Guide to Expand Your Understanding of the Biblical World.

Dan Reynolds will be speaking at the PEF on Oct 13 on “The Inheritance of Christ: Christian Pilgrimage in the Holy Land Before the Crusades, c. 800 – c. 1099.”

“September 2022 proved to be a banner month for discoveries in the world of biblical archaeology.” Bryan Windle reviews the top three.

HT: Agade, Keith Keyser, Arne Halbakken

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Geomagnetic surface surveys at Khirbet al-Minya on the northwestern shore of the Sea of Galilee have revealed an earlier Jewish or Christian settlement.

A new study of the Solomonic-era copper mines at Timna reveals that the enterprise came to a sudden halt around 850 BC because the miners overexploited the sparse desert acacia and white broom trees used to fuel their furnaces (Haaretz subscription).

Carl Rasmussen links to a video that shows evidence for a first-century synagogue at Chorazin. He also shares a photo of the synagogue in 1967 before reconstruction began.

Here is a video of the 7th-8th century AD shipwreck recently discovered off the coast of Israel.

“Hundreds of ancient decorated toga pins, earrings, rings and figurines of animals and idols were found in the home of a man who used to be an antiquities dealer in northern Israel.”

Albright Institute lecture on Oct 27: “The Austrian Expedition to Tel Lachish (2017-2022),” by Katharina Streit & Felix Höflmayer. Register to join by Zoom here.

Marc Zvi Brettler explains the Hakhel Ceremony, in which the assembly gathers together every seven years to read the Torah. This event will be celebrated at the Western Wall on October 11.

Ferrell Jenkins shares a photo of sheep grazing near Tirzah, the second capital of the northern kingdom.

HT: Agade, Keith Keyser, Arne Halbakken

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I mentioned in a recent roundup the strange quirk of publication timing that saw three of my articles published in one week. None of the three are about biblical archaeology or geography, but all are subjects I’ve been studying for some years, and all are very important to me. (Might that go without saying?) I’ll introduce the first one today, and save the second and third for the coming weeks.

My article on “The Date of the Davidic Covenant” was published in the Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society (65.1). In this article, I argue that the Davidic Covenant was made with David early in his reign. This may sound obvious to one reading the narratives of 2 Samuel (where it occurs two chapters after his coronation in Jerusalem) or 1 Chronicles (also early in the narrative), but I haven’t been able to find one scholar in the last thirty years who has defended that view.

The chronology of David’s life was flipped in a proposal made by Eugene Merrill in the 1980s. He argued that since the rule of Hiram king of Tyre only overlapped with the final years of David’s life, he must have built David’s palace in those final years (2 Sam 5). Since the palace was built before the ark was transferred to Jerusalem (2 Sam 6), and the ark was transferred before the eternal covenant was made with David (2 Sam 7), all of these events occurred within a few years prior to David’s death. This quickly became the consensus view among conservative historians and commentators.

My article challenges this view by showing two things. First, the biblical text demands that the palace-ark-covenant events occurred early in David’s reign. It is not just one or two indicators, but multiple indicators that all consistently place these events soon after David conquered Jerusalem.

Second, I explain that the only evidence that provides the dates for Hiram’s reign is found in Josephus, a historian who lived 1,000 years later. I try to show why this data is insufficient to overturn the testimony of the biblical text.

I will be interested to see if my argument is deemed persuasive by the experts in the field. In circulating an earlier draft, I received positive feedback from Eugene Merrill and several other scholars.

Why does this matter? And why am I so passionate about it, particularly when teaching a course on the Psalms? The first thing is that I want to interpret the biblical text accurately. Second, I believe that it affects how you read David’s writings. If David received God’s promise to raise up a son to reign on his throne near the end of his days, he had relatively little time to reflect on that covenant. But if he was promised an eternal dynasty early on, it is most reasonable to expect that he wrote songs about his coming son and for his coming son. This chronology is an important basis for seeing a significant messianic component in many Davidic psalms, including Psalms 2, 16, 17, 18, 20, 21, 22, 24, 26, 69, 101, 109, 110, 144, and others.

Members of ETS can view the entire issue online here, and others can view my article via my Academia page (or with this direct link).

Comments are appreciated, either here or by direct correspondence.

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“Archaeologists have uncovered the granite sarcophagus of a high-ranking official from the reign of Ramesses II at Saqqara.”

“Archaeologists in Egypt have uncovered a nearly 1,000-year-old cache of gold and silver coins behind a temple in Esna, a city located along the Nile River.”

Egyptian authorities are struggling with looting taking place in the area of ancient Memphis.

Writing for Archaeology magazine, Jason Urbanus explains how King Tutankhamun’s family forever changed the land of the Nile.

Newest episode on This Week in the Ancient Near East: “Sticky Fingers in the Valley of the Kings, or Howard Carter and the Case of King Tut’s Tomb.”

Michael Homan died last week.

Sarah C. Schaefer reflects on why Gustave Doré’s biblical illustrations are well-known but his name is not.

A new exhibit, High Tech Romans, is running at the Landesmuseum in Mainz, Germany, through January 15.

All 44 presentations from this year’s IBC Conference on “John: His Life, Legacy & Last Words” is now available as a digital download for $99.

HT: Agade, Joseph Lauer, Arne Halbakken, Keith Keyser

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