Khirbet ed-Dawwara–Israelite, Philistine or Judean?

The theory of Yosef Garfinkel that his excavation at Khirbet Qeiyafa (KQ) points to state formation in Judah under David may also revise other theories about state formation in early Israel.

Previously the site called Khirbet ed-Dawwara (KD) played an important role in theories of state formation.  This site is located on a ridge overlooking the Jordan Valley and on the edge of the desert in the territory of Benjamin, NE of Jerusalem. The site is odd because it seems to come from the early Iron Age, but does not match the usual agricultural sites–hill country villages and farmsteads.  It is enclosed by a wall and  does not have silos or sickle blades that would point to an agricultural settlement.

Israel Finkelstein excavated the site in the 1980s and has fitted it into his theory that the first Israelite state formed in Benjamin.  So this would have been a fortress of King Saul.

Avraham Faust has also discussed the site in Israel’s Ethnogenesis (pp. 129-130).  He narrows the dates down to a time of disruption in the rural villages.  He sees state formation in early Israel, exemplified by fortress building, as a response to the Philistine threat.

The most intriguing theory is offered by Nadav Na’aman who thinks KD was a Philistine outpost and relates it to the Battle of Michmash (1 Samuel 13:16 ff.). Finkelstein had rejected the idea that it was a Philistine site.  Casement walls are not found in Philistine Gaza.  There is no evidence of pigs or dogs in the diet at KD. Philistine pottery also does not appear.

However, Na’aman says that the site may not have been occupied by Philistines but by another people working for the Philistines.  Particularly, he suggests that apiru mercenaries under Philistine command built and occupied the site.

Many have noticed the peculiar use of the word “Hebrew” in 1 Samuel 13-14 (13:3,7 and 14:11).  In these verses “Hebrews” means something different from Israelites. Na’aman suggests that the mercenaries stationed at KD switched sides (14:11) when they saw the Philistines were losing.

This is in his article “Khirbet ed-Dawwara – A Philistine Stronghold on the Benjamin Desert Fringe”. See here.

However, Na’aman is having his cake and eating it too.  On the one hand, he repeatedly reminds us that the text of 1 Samuel is late and unreliable.  On the other hand, he uses chosen nuances in that text to support his theory.  The best thing supporting his case is the geographical proximity of KD to Michmash.

But now, with the finds at KQ, there is another possible way to understand KD.

“The excavations at Khirbet ed-Dawwara made it possible to clearly date the fortified settlement at the site, which covered an area of 0.5 ha. The 3 excavation seasons at the site uncovered a single phase of settlement with “four-room houses” and fortified by a double wall (Finkelstein 1990); however, the excavators misdated the site and suggested that it existed for several hundred years. But now, the excavations at Khirbet Qeiyafa, and the appearance of similar pottery vessels at both sites, reveal that the 2 sites plainly existed in tandem. Significantly, both were built on bedrock, and not over the ruins of a Canaanite city. Both mark the beginning of a new period in the history of the Land of Israel: the appearance of the Kingdom of Judah. The location of the 2 sites seems significant: Khirbet ed-Dawwara is about half a day’s walk from Jerusalem to the northeast, and Khirbet Qeiyafa is about a day’s walk to the southwest. These 2 sites might mark the boundaries of the Kingdom of Judah: Khirbet Qeiyafa in the west and Khirbet ed-Dawwara to the northeast.” (STATE FORMATION IN JUDAH: BIBLICAL TRADITION, MODERN HISTORICAL THEORIES, AND RADIOMETRIC DATES AT KHIRBET QEIYAFA

Yosef Garfinkel • Katharina Streit • Saar Ganor • Michael G Hasel p138).  Online here.


About theoutwardquest

I have many interests, but will blog mostly about what I read in the fields of Bible and religion.
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