Old Testament History and Recent Archeology from the Exile to Malachi -- By: Gleason L. Archer, Jr.

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 127:508 (Oct 1970)
Article: Old Testament History and Recent Archeology from the Exile to Malachi
Author: Gleason L. Archer, Jr.

Old Testament History and Recent Archeology
from the Exile to Malachi

Gleason L. Archer, Jr.

Few major discoveries have been made in recent years which have an important bearing upon the exilic and postexilic periods of Old Testament history. Mention has already been made of the finding of the true site of the schismatic Samaritan temple on Mount Gerizim, commencing with the 1964 Drew-McCormick campaign at Shechem and continuing in subsequent years. The traditional location of this sanctuary, cherished by the modern Samaritan sect, now appears to have been of later origin during the Roman period.1 The original Samaritan temple was of course razed by the Romans and a temple of Hadrian was built upon its ruins. Therefore, the remains from the postexilic and Hellenistic eras are rather meager.

Another new area of excavation is the site of ancient Heshbon, explored in 1968 by an expedition under the direction of Siegfried Horn, of Andrews University. He reports of the strata uncovered from the Arab and Byzantine levels, and then mentions the discovery of an ostracon from Area B containing a text of five lines, written in a script dating to about 500 B.C.2 It is broken, faded, and hardly legible in spots, but it contains a list of names of West Semitic character, along with one Egyptian and one Babylonian. The patronymics are expressed with the Canaanite ben (“son of”) rather than the Aramaic type bar (which one would expect for this period).

From the fourth century B.C.—which is beyond the purview of our present study, and yet has a bearing upon the Samaritan sect—there have come to light some interesting fragments of Aramaic papyri hidden in a cave in the Wadi el-Daliyeh, southeast of Samaria. This cave was explored by Paul Lapp of the American School of Oriental Research after local Bedouin began marketing some of these fragments. They were apparently left there by fugitives from the vengeance of Alexander the Great visited upon Samaria after its abortive revolt against his authority in 331 B.C. During that revolt they had burned his general, Andromachus, alive and thus incurred the great conqueror’s displeasure. With his customary thoroughness Alexander tracked them down to this cave and destroyed them there. But they left behind these interesting documents which are intended for early publication.3

The principal discussion for this period continues to center around the Book of Daniel. One interesting Neo-Babylonian text received more extended analysis.

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