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History of Israel
Bible Studies
Undergraduate 1

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    • Does interpretation have any role in the study of history? Why or why not?
      • Assigns meaning and importance to facts
      • Determines links between causes and effects
      • Decides which facts are and are not important.
      • All history has been shaped by the author.
    • At the time of its existence, how influential was Biblical Israel? How has its influence grown, and why?
      • It was relatively unimportant at the time of its existence.
      • Under King Solomon, it had a brief moment of prosperity and strength.
      • God usedIsraelto produce a Savior.
      • The Sinai Law is the basis of Western Law and morality.
      • The Diaspora spreadIsrael’s influence throughout the Mediterranean world.
    • What are some special problems we face when studying ancient history?
      • No one source is complete.
      • Often, different sources seem to contradict each other.
      • These sources are ANCIENT, which means that we are greatly removed from the authors’ point of view.
    • How accurate is the Bible on historical details? How complete is it on historical details?
      • It is historically accurate.
      • It is NOT historically complete.
    • How do ancient sources other than the Bible help our understanding of biblical history? What special problems do they present?
      • They often agree with the Bible.
      • They give us a different perspective on the way people lived.
      • They often give us an understanding of how the common people lived.
      • They are rare and the study of them is still an evolving science.
      • Biases are often extreme in extra-biblical literature.
    • Is archaeology an automatic “proof” of the Bible’s reliability? Why or why not?
      • No.
      • It is extremely susceptible to interpretation.
      • It is still an evolving science.
    • How did geography contribute toEgypt’s strength and defensibility?
      • TheNileRiverprovided good agricultural conditions and protected against water invasions.
      • Natural borders, theSaharaDesert, theSinai Peninsula, and the surrounding seas protected from invasion.
    • What aspects of the Middle Kingdom fit with the Biblical account of Joseph?
      • Trading caravans betweenEgyptandCanaan.
      • Joseph as “Vizir.”
      • Drought inEgypt.
    • Who were the Hyksos? How might they have interacted with the Israelites?
      • They were an Asiatic people, possibly distant relatives ofIsraelthrough Noah’s son Shem (Semites).
      • They were allowed to settle inEgypt, but then they overthrew the capital and ruledLower Egyptfrom 1633-1550 BC.
      • The Israelites prospered under their rule, and were probably treated well because of the distant relation.
    • What aspects of the New Kingdom, particularly the 18th dynasty, fit with the Biblical account of Moses?
      • Ahmosis was the Pharaoh who “knew not Joseph.”
      • Hatshepsut tried to usurp the throne, possibly using Moses to do so.
      • Moses might have fled from Thutmoses III, his adopted brother.
      • Amenhotep would have been the Pharaoh of the Exodus.
      • Moses was about 40 when he fledEgypt.
      • Moses spent about 40 years in exile in Midian.
      • Exodus 2 might cover about 80 years.
      • Exodus 1 leaves room for a long time period between Joseph and Moses.
    • What possible dates are given for the Exodus? What is the evidence for and against each view?
      • 1446 BC
        • Taking 1 Kings 6:1 and 480 years at face value.
        • Jephthah’s 300 years in Judges 11:26.
        • BUT…Jephthah is kind of dumb and there is a 13th century date for the construction of Qantir and destruction of Hazor.
      • 1260 BC
        • Accepts 13th century BC date for archaeological sites linked to Exodus.
        • Prefers Ramses II as the Pharaoh of the Exodus.
        • 480 years in 1 Kings 6:1 are symbolic of 12 generations, not literal.
        • BUT…no hint of “12 generations,” not enough time for Jephthah’s 300 years in Judges 11:26, places biblical details in conflict with known Egyptian history, Moses may have been gone an unnecessarily long time, and if the Merneptah Stele is dated correctly, then it is hard to place Israel as leaving Egypt in 1260 BC.
    • What impact did the plagues have onEgypt, in both a cultural and religious sense?
      • Culturally, this was a yearlong judgment which impacted every aspect of Egyptian life.
      • Spiritually/religiously, YHWH demonstrated His superiority over every major Egyptian god.
    • What are some possible locations of the Red Sea crossing andMt.Sinai?
      • Northern Route– From Egypt towardLakeMenzaleh, along the narrow spit of land encompassingLakeSirbonis, then to Kadesh-barnea. In this case,Mount Sinaicould be one of the northern mountains around Kadesh-barnea. They Israelites also would have stayed along the coast in this case.
      • Central Route – FromEgypttoward the center of the Arabian peninsula, suggesting a central Arabian location forMount Sinai.
      • Southern Route – From Egypt toward the southern end of the Arabian Peninsula, suggesting an extreme southern location for Mount Sinai.
    • How long wasIsraelencamped at Sinai?
      • About a year – almost 15 months.
    • Why was this necessary, and what did it accomplish?
      • The time at Sinai shaped the people ofIsraelinto a nation.
      • It showedIsraelthat they were utterly dependent on God for survival.
      • It gave them the Law and the covenant between them and God.
    • What immediate purposes did the Law fulfill forIsrael?
      • Gave the Israelites a sense of their heritage.
      • Established a Socio-economic system.
      • Established a Judicial-political system.
      • Established a religious system.
    • How did the covenant, with its conditions and promises, foreshadow the history ofIsrael?


      • It showed them that if they obeyed God, it would go well for them.
      • If they disobeyed, they would be destroyed.
    • What were some of the gods and features of Canaanite worship? What instructions did God give the people regarding the Canaanites and their religion?
      • El – Creator god, father of all other gods.
      • Ba’al – The head god, fertility god.
      • Asherah – mother or consort of Ba’al, fertility goddess, shrines to her consisted of wooden poles on mountaintops.
      • Dagon – famous for getting his head and hands knocked off, father of Ba’al in some contexts, adopted by Philistines.
      • Canaanite worship
        • Self-mutilation
        • Ritual prostitution
        • Infant sacrifice
      • God told the Israelites to:
        • Destroy them/drive them out.
        • Smash their altars and idols.
        • Make no covenant with them.
        • Do not intermarry with them.
    • What didIsraeldo to prepare spiritually before entering theHoly Land? Why were these actions important?
      • Built a memorial altar
      • Renewal of circumcision
      • Celebrated Passover for the first time since the original event.
      • This was important because it brought them back to a focus on God and showed them that they would not take the Promised Land by their own strength.
    • What significant events took place during Joshua’s campaigns to claim theHoly Land?
      • Jericho– Christophany, everything was herem, VERY unconventional military strategy.
      • Shechem – Covenant renewed at the place where YHWH had promised the land to Abraham.
      • Treaty with the Gibeonites.
      • Northern Alliancedefeated, Hazor burned
    • Describe some of the more notable land allocations made to the tribes ofIsrael.
      • Transjordan tribes – Reuben, Gad, and half of the tribe of Manasseh asked for inheritance on the east side of theJordan.
      • Simeon and Judah – Received huge allotments of land that was hard to work but easy to defend.
      • Asher, Zebulun, Issachar, and Dan – Easy territory to farm, but hard territory to defend.
    • What major failures were made during the Conquest period? How did these failures lead to future trouble?
      • The eastern tribes set up a monument whose purpose was not immediately apparent.
      • The tribes did not drive out all of the Canaanites.
      • These failures led to an increase in idolatry because of intermarriage and apostasy among the tribes ofIsrael.
    • Describe the “cycle” in the book of Judges.
      • Idolatry – Abandonment of YHWH and syncretism.
      • Oppression – A foreign nation would come and dominateIsraelfor a time.
      • Cry out to YHWH – Not just to gods in general, but the people recognized that YHWH was God.
      • Deliverance – God would raise up a savior for the nation.
      • Peace – The judge would rule for a time, giving his/her territory a period of peace.
      • Idolatry – The people would once again turn away from YHWH.
      • Then the cycle would repeat itself.
    • Describe the work and characteristics of a judge.
      • Usually military leaders, but not always.
      • Administrative leaders after military victories.
      • Regional, not national.
      • Some were supernaturally enabled by the Spirit of God. NOT universal.
      • FLAWED!!!
    • What shortcomings (real or perceived) were evident in the lives of the judges we mentioned?
      • Barak was afraid.
      • Gideon was also afraid.
      • Jephthah vowed to sacrifice the first thing that came out of his tent, which ended up being his daughter.
      • Samson was just messed up – he married a foreigner, he broke all conditions of being a Nazarite, he was a one-man wrecking crew
    • What successes did they have? (Judges)
      • They were generally successful in bringing peace, at least temporarily, to the land in which they lived.
oHow should we explain God’s role in this? (judges)
      • He was the one who enabled the judges to be successful.
    • What are some possible explanations for Jephthah’s “rash vow” regarding his daughter?
      • He may, indeed, have sacrificed his daughter.
      • He may have dedicated her to God’s exclusive service.
    • What do the accounts of the judges’ work tell us about the condition ofIsraelas a nation during the period of the Judges?
      • It was not unified.
      • It was almost spiritually dead.
      • However, there were still some people trying to follow the Law.
    • What do the “case studies” at the end of Judges and in Ruth tell us aboutIsrael’s spiritual and moral condition during the period of the Judges?
      • Spiritual pollution had badly infected the people.
      • Increasing moral depravity which severely affected the people.
      • There were still some people trying to get it right.
    • What different roles did Samuel perform forIsrael?
      • Prophet
      • Judge
      • Priest
    • What was the condition of the priesthood during Samuel’s childhood?
      • Eli had not controlled his sons, so the entire priesthood was corrupt.
      • Samuel spent several years in the house of the Lord, yet he did not know the Word of the Lord.
      • The people hated Eli’s sons.
    • Why did the people demand a king? Why was this problematic? What was Samuel’s response to their request?
      • They wanted to be like the other nations.
        • Samuel was too old
        • Samuel’s children were scoundrels.
        • They needed protection.
      • This was a rejection of God as their king.
      • Samuel first believed that they were rejecting him as their leader, but God assured him that the people rejected God, not Samuel.
      • Here’s the deal: you can have a king, but…
        • He will conscript your sons and daughters for his services.
        • He will take your possessions.
        • He will conscript you as his servants.
    • How does Saul symbolize the difference between the people’s idea of what a king should be and God’s idea of what a king should be?
      • Saul LOOKED like a king! He was good looking and much taller than everyone else.
      • However, Saul failed morally and made excuses about it.
      • David failed morally as well, but he at least admitted it and faced his sin.
    • In what ways did Saul fall short? What do his failures say about his character and his leadership?
      • He offered the sacrifice for the army instead of waiting for Samuel as he should have done.
      • He vowed that no one would eat until HE had avenged HIMSELF on HIS enemies and enforced the vow even more rashly.
      • Saul only partially obeys God in the Amalekite incident and makes excuses for his disobedience.
      • Instead of Saul going out as the champion for the army, it took a shepherd boy with a sling and stones.
      • This shows that Saul is not willing to suffer the negative consequences of his actions.
      • Saul was also afraid of putting himself at risk for the sake of his nation.
  • Describe David’s relationship with and attitude towards Saul
      • David was beloved by Saul at first, even becoming the official armor bearer, the court musician, and eventually the general.
      • However, Saul became jealous and afraid of David, so he tried to kill David.
      • David ran away, but refused to kill Saul when he had the chance.
    • During his exile, how did David demonstrate his faith and character? What did he do that might seem troubling?
      • David did not kill Saul when he had the chance, since he trusted that God would deliver the throne ofIsraelto him.
      • Troubling? Lots of thing, I guess…
        • Promised not to kill Saul’s family, which would have been the typical practice in the ancient Near East.
        • Almost killed a farmer/rancher because he refused provisions to David.
        • Married many women.
        • Could not control his own family, even when they commit treason.
    • Describe the process by which David became king over all ofIsrael.
      • King inHebronoverJudahfor 7 years.
      • Civil war – Battle of Gibeon, which David’s men win decisively.
      • Abner defected to David from Ish-Bosheth, but Joab killed him.
      • David had to reconcile himself to the northern tribes.
      • Two of Ish-Bosheth’s generals kill him and expect thanks from David, who kills them.
      • All ofIsraelaccepts David as king.
      • David selectsJerusalemas the capital, which had no former tribal affiliations.
      • He finally manages to unite the entire kingdom.
    • How wasIsraelstronger and more stable under David than under Saul? What steps did David take to make this possible?
      • David defeated many of the enemies ofIsraeland set up a strong central government.
      • He reorganized the religious system.
    • What factors may have contributed to David’s personal and political troubles late in life?

      • Before his major sins, things in his reign went quite well.
      • After he sinned, almost nothing went right.
      • Also, David could be extremely ruthless when he wanted to be, but he could never control his own family.
    • In light of his failures, how can it be said that David was “a man after God’s own heart?”
      • David repented of his sin and owned up to it.
      • His moral purity definitely did not set him apart, since he did worse things than Saul did.
      • The only thing that could possibly have been different between him and Saul is his repentance.
    • What circumstances caused the beginning of Solomon’s reign to be so bloody?
      • There was some unfinished business with Adonijah, Joab, and Shimei.
      • Each of them was given conditions, they broke the conditions, and they were executed.
  • Describe the extent of Israel’s wealth and power under Solomon
      • Israelimported incredible amounts of wealth from many different places, which probably resulted in severe inflation.
      • Israelhad control of its largest territorial area under Solomon and instituted a well-financed, well-thought out defensive plan.
    • What building programs did Solomon undertake, and what purposes did these building programs serve?
      • TheTemple– Served to giveIsraela central place of worship that would not move from place to place. This was the crowning achievement for Solomon’s reign in terms of construction.
      • The Palace – This was an ENORMOUS building that served as a treasury, armory, courthouse, and royal residence.
    • What purposes did Solomon’s wisdom literature serve? How are the books similar? How are they different?
      • Proverbs – A collection of wise sayings, ranging from instructions from a father to a son to individual, general instructions to appendices from foreign authors.
      • Ecclesiastes – Gives the sense of an old man with regrets, passing on lessons learned from his mistakes to a young man. The conclusions are that life is meaningless without God and that a man should remember God when he is young, so he can live without regrets when he is old.
      • Song of Solomon – This stuff is a part of life, and it is a part of life best understood with a Godly attitude. It is praise for true love and everything that comes with it.
      • They are similar in that they are all ancient wisdom literature.
      • They are different in the position from which they come – Proverbs is fairly optimistic about life, Ecclesiastes is much darker, and Song of Solomon…is what it is.
    • How did Solomon’s failures as king contribute toIsrael’s struggles after his death?
      • He was religiously and spiritually careless, so the people were inclined to turn away from YHWH.
      • He was economically reckless in that he spent more money than the nation had.

He was politically reckless in that he showed favor to Judah and conscripted laborers into service

    • Describe the events that led the North to break away from the Kingdom.
      • When Rehoboam was crowned king, the north requested tax relief through Jeroboam.
      • Rehoboam’s elder advisors advised him to back off and please the people.
      • Rehoboam’s younger advisors told him to come down even harder on the people.
      • The ten northern tribes decided that they wanted no part in the house of David and return to their own homes.
      • Rehoboam tried to bring back the tribes by force, but his general Adoram was murdered.
      • Rehoboam considered a military solution, but was warned by God’s prophet not to do so.
      • Jeroboam was crowned king in the north, while Rehoboam continued as king in the south.
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