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The Untold Story of the Kingdom of Judah

(E3) The Untold Story about the Magnificent Structures Near Jerusalem

Prof. Oded Lipschits

In the century in which Judah was under Assyrian rule (from 732 to slightly after 630 BCE) it is possible to notice a considerable increase in the importance of the areas surrounding Jerusalem to the north, west and south, which became more central to the administration and economy of the kingdom. On the ridge south of Jerusalem between Armon Hanatziv and Ramat Raḥel, economic, administrative and political processes took place that did not coincide with what was happening within the city itself, and perhaps even, in many respects, were disconnected from what was happening in the capital of the kingdom.
It can be assumed that the processes in these areas around Jerusalem enabled the continuation of life in the capital of the kingdom under the rule of the Assyrian Empire: the continuation of the rule of the House of David, the existence of the temple and cult in it, and the continuation of the Jerusalem elite. There is no evidence in the biblical descriptions of this development in an area so close to Jerusalem, a few minutes' walk to the south, west, and north, which possess the view that Jerusalem continued to be the undisputed center of the nation’s life, the seat of the kings from the House of David and the location of the Temple. The historiography is entirely focused on this point of view on Jerusalem and from within Jerusalem, with no mention of the tremendous developments that took place in the entire immediate area around the city, of the magnificent buildings that were seen from Jerusalem and had a view of the city themselves.
This is an omission that cannot be understood except as an omission that acts as the message itself. Anyone who has lived in Jerusalem or visited it, has seen the magnificent building on Ramat Raḥel towering over the entire area around Jerusalem, the magnificent gardens that surrounded it and the magnificent architecture that characterized it. The evidence found at the site of a magnificent feast indicates that the Judean elite were invited to the place and witnessed this splendor up close.
The magnificent structure recently discovered in Mordot Arnona and the villa in Armon Hanatziv were also known, and the deletion of all of this from the biblical historiography shows how biased it was and was intended to serve the ideology of the royal house and the priesthood in Jerusalem, without anything else being able to endanger it.
The omission, then, is the message.
The untold story is the story.

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