by Rich Deem
The dating of events in Hebrew Old Testament is often assumed to be incorrect by many secular scholars. Much of the scholarship related to the dating of these sites is based upon pottery and other items that are associated with certain civilizations and times. However, the discovery of pottery assemblages with biblical data relating to the monarchies of David and Solomon in the destruction layer of Jezreel, a royal citadel of the Omride Dynasty, which ruled over the northern Kingdom of Israel from 885 to 843 B.C., suggested that the older dates for key sites in Israel (e.g., Hazor, Megiddo, and Gezer) might be much later than the time of King Solomon (second half of the 10th century B.C.). The implication was that archaeological layers traditionally associated with the monarchies of David and Solomon were too young to fit the biblical claims.
A team of archeologists from Netherlands and Israel, Drs. Bruins, van der Plicht, and Mazar examined the site of Tel Rehov, in the Beth-Shean/Jordan Valley, 4 miles west of the River Jordan.1 14C radiocarbon dating placed the destruction of Tel Rehov at 940-900 B.C., instead of the later date suggested by the associated pottery.
Biblical and extra-biblical evidence
The place name Rehov occurs on the list of cities conquered by Pharaoh Shoshenq I, known as Shishak in the Bible.2 His Asian campaign was recorded on the southern wall of the temple of Amun at Karnak in Upper Egypt, where Rehov appears after the term “The Valley” (probably referring to the Beth-Shean/Jordan Valley) and before the city name Beth Shean. The Bible says that King Shishak invaded Israel in the fifth year of the reign of Solomon’s son, Rehoboam.3 The biblical timeframe would place Solomon’s death at 930 B.C., putting Shishak’s invasion at 925 B.C., exactly within the range of radiocarbon dates (940-900 B.C.) for the destruction of Tel Rehov.
High-precision radiocarbon dating of Tel Rehov establishes a date earlier than that suggested by previous studies utilizing pottery finds. The accuracy of 14C dating calls into question previous studies based solely upon pottery evidence. The current dating of Tel Rehov confirms the biblical date for Shishak’s invasion of Israel.
- Hendrik J. Bruins, Johannes van der Plicht, and Amihai Mazar. 2003. 14C Dates from Tel Rehov: Iron-Age Chronology, Pharaohs, and Hebrew Kings. Science 300: 315-318.
- Solomon sought therefore to put Jeroboam to death; but Jeroboam arose and fled to Egypt to Shishak king of Egypt, and he was in Egypt until the death of Solomon. (1 Kings 11:40)
- Now it happened in the fifth year of King Rehoboam, that Shishak the king of Egypt came up against Jerusalem. He took away the treasures of the house of the LORD and the treasures of the king’s house, and he took everything, even taking all the shields of gold which Solomon had made. (1 Kings 14:25-26)