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The Untold Story of the Kingdom of Judah

(B4) The Untold Story of Shishak’s Campaign and Jerusalem’s Role in It

Prof. Oded Lipschits

The military campaign conducted by Shishak in the Land of Israel is the earliest historical event described in the Hebrew Bible (1 Kings 14: 25-28; 2 Chronicles 12: 2-12), and which is also explicitly mentioned in an extra-biblical source: the list of the places conquered during the campaign was engraved on one of the walls at the entrance to the Temple of Amun-Re in Karnak.
The story in the Book of Kings is short and concise, and the information about the Egyptian campaign includes only its date and the name of the Egyptian king. The only unusual detail in this story, which occupies an extensive space of two and a half verses out of the four verses that describe the military campaign, includes the special and detailed description of the shields (probably signs carried before the kings of Judah): the golden shields made by Solomon and taken by Shishak, and the bronze shields that Rehoboam made in their place.
In light of this, I will argue in this chapter of the podcast that the bronze shields themselves should be seen as the bearers of the memory of Shishak’s campaign. The shields themselves contained the information about the replacement shields made by Rehoboam after Shishak took the gold shields made by Solomon, oral information that was passed down through the centuries from father to son. It was the source of the memory, which was understood by the later historiographers as a punishment from God on Judah for their sins, and thus it was also incorporated into the comprehensive description of the history of Judah. This is also the reason why the historiographers did not know at all that the campaign’s main destination was the Kingdom of Israel and not the Kingdom of Judah, and there was no additional detail or any information about the course of this campaign, its purpose and its results.
This is another example of objects, buildings and places that carried ancient memories and were the source of information about the ancient periods in the history of Jerusalem, about which the Deuteronomistic authors had no other source of information.

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