Dedicated to the writings of Saint Luke.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Archaeology of Shechem and Samaria

In 1983 archaeological excavations were begun on Mount Gerizim which continued uninterrupted for twenty-two years. Yitzhak Magen, according to the preliminary report of these excavations, dates the first temple to the middle of the 5th century BCE. Magen’s excavation also led to the discovery of three Proto-Ionic capitals, “of this type, date to the Iron age and generally appear in temples.” Thus, Mount Gerizim was a cultic center beginning from the Iron age.

Magen’s findings are consistent with the Biblical account that Omri of Israel built the city of Samaria (2 Kings 16:24; Mesha Stele; around 885 BCE). According to Norma Franklin, Omri selected this site for the newly established capital of the northern Kingdom of Israel because “it served as the hub of a highly specialized and lucrative oil and wine industry that flourished throughout southern Samaria.” More likely Omri wanted the capital to be close to the existing cultic center on Mount Gerizim because this was “the place that the Lord has chosen.” 

In fact as established by Stefan Schorch, the original text of the MT was changed. “Thus, the textual change from ‘he has chosen’ (Heb) to ‘he will chose’ (Heb) seems to have taken place in the period between 4QMMT and the Temple Scroll, i.e. around the middle of the 2nd century B.C.E.”

“The readings found today in the Samaritan Pentateuch (i.e. ‘Mount Gerizim’ in Deut 27:4 and ‘he has chosen’ in the centralization formula) were part of the original text” accepted by both the Jerusalem Temple and the Mount Gerizim sanctuary communities.

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