Prize of War takes place mainly in Debir, which before Othniel’s conquest had been called Kiriath-Sepher. There are a few cities that Joshua conquered but were re-inhabited a little later, and then had to be re-conquered by the various tribes. Debir was one of those.
Where exactly that is in Israel now is a matter of some debate. I have chosen to follow the identification of William F Albright, who excavated Tell Beit Mirsim in the 1920s and found the ruins of no less than ten Canaanite and Israelite civilizations from the Middle Bronze to the late Iron Age (listed below).If the foundations be destroyed, what can the righteous do? Click To Tweet
I’ve written about this before, but I find this just beyond fascinating. The stratum Albright identified as the Israelite layer he stated was far inferior to those that came before it in every way: defensively, artistically, constructively.
It makes sense. This generation had come from the wilderness. They had never built houses, so they made use of what the Canaanites left behind. All the skilled workers had died. Their one purpose was to feed themselves and keep themselves set apart, not make great art or build incredible cities.
Tell Beit Mirsim has been variously identified as Debir, Eglon and Asha, Albright identified it as Debir in 1926, Elliger identified as Eglon in 1934, and in 1979 Aharoni claimed it was Ashan. Currently, most scholars believe Khirbet Rabad is the site of Debir.
Since most modern scholars doubt the historicity of the Bible, I tend to go with the older archaeologists. Albright had a massive load of evidence, all cataloged in Excavating Kiriath-Sepher’s Ten Cities, which I obviously found quite convincing.
Melvin Grove Kyle, who compiled the results of the excavation on the above book, states in the last chapter, he is often asked, “What do all these things contribute to spiritual life?” or, “What does your work do for piety?”
He said he always replies, “If the foundations be destroyed, what can the righteous do?”
I love that.
Kiriath-Sepher’s Ten Cities
- Early Bronze Age (3300-2100 BC) Three cities
The first city had no houses and no wall, only tents. Two other cities were destroyed by fire due to civil strife, as the civilization did not change.
- Middle Bronze Age (2100 – 1550 BC) Four cities
The first organized settlement started at about 2000 BC (Middle Bronze period) but was a small Canaanite city. After a comparatively brief time, the city was destroyed by fire.
The Canaanite city was soon rebuilt, but this time (~17th Century BC) the second city was fortified with very high walls (23 feet high), dry moat (10 feet deep) and a glacis. These formidable fortifications indicate this was a royal Canaanite city with great importance.
- Late Bronze Age (1550 – 1200 BC ) One city
The city was partially destroyed in the 16th Century. From that period, during the years ~1500 to 1200, the city grew bigger and seem to have flourished. It was dominated by Egypt, as attested by Egyptian findings. At the end of this layer is the greatest burning of all the layers.
- Israelite period, Iron Age I (1200BC-1000B C) One city
The construction and pottery completely change from this level on. This is the estimated time of the conquest of Joshua. The newly constructed city was built with inferior fortifications – a 6 to 7-foot-wide wall and smaller glacis.
- The Israelite Kingdom – Iron Age II – (1000 – 586 BC) One city
Between the 10th and 9th Century, the city was once again partially destroyed, although it sustained less damage than in the previous conquest. The eastern gate was breached, but then it was repaired with a higher new wall around it. The western gate was destroyed and set on fire. The excavators relate this destruction to the intrusions of Shishak, king of Egypt (2 Chronicles 32.1). The Israelite city was never built again after 701 BC.
Prize of War will be available on Amazon in Kindle and paperback on October 20.
Join us for a Facebook launch party that night. We’ll have prizes, copies of Prize (paperback and e-book) as well as all my other books, some jewelry, and I’m not sure what else yet!