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By Redford, Donald B. & Collins, John J. & Dever, William G. & McCarter Jr., P. Kyle

ISBN-10: 1935335839

ISBN-13: 9781935335832

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Yet the impact of the material known so far is revolutionary for our understanding of ancient Israelite religion. , is a large rectangular fort with double walls, corner towers and a central open courtyard—similar to other known Iron Age fortresses in the Negev. The entrance area, however, is unique. It is approached through a white plaster esplanade, which leads into a passageway flanked by two plastered side rooms with low benches, behind which are cupboard-like chambers. These chambers are clearly favissae, storage areas for discarded votives and cult offerings, many examples of which have been found at Bronze Age and Iron Age sanctuaries.

Both scrolls are inscribed with passages found in the priestly blessing of Numbers 6:24–26. , making them by far our oldest surviving source of a biblical text—at least four centuries older than any of the Dead Sea Scrolls. This bit of Scripture, however, was used not for edification but for “magic,” which was strictly forbidden in orthodox Israelite religion. 10 And there are many more archaeological examples of such magical or superstitious practices, from both Israel and Judah, some of them invoking foreign deities, such as the Egyptian gods Bes and Osiris.

But whether or not Josiah’s reform succeeded, the description of practices posing the need for such reform may have been based on the actual religious situation. It appears that it was; indeed, every single religious object or practice proscribed in 2 Kings 23 (for example, images of Asherah and offerings made on high places) can readily be illustrated by archaeological discoveries. 25 Archaeology, supplemented by the biblical text, provides a highly accurate picture of popular religion. (1) It is noninstitutional, lying outside priestly control or state sponsorship.

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Aspects of Monotheism by Redford, Donald B. & Collins, John J. & Dever, William G. & McCarter Jr., P. Kyle

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