Laury Tarver, Azimuth Counseling
I found a few interesting comments when reading about Tyre and the fall of Jerusalem.
Although Tyre is a depressed city in today’s Lebanon, it was thriving with trade in ancient times. The city had an amiable relationship with Israel, particularly in the time of David’s reign. The King of Tyre sent cedar, carpenters and stonemasons to help build David’s palace (2 Samuel 5:11). Tyre was thought to be impregnable as it was located on a fortified island. Ultimately, the city was taken when Alexander the Great built a causeway from Lebanon across the water and took control of the island. In New Testament time, Tyre was visited by Jesus and later, Paul. Today, ruins of the world’s best preserved hippodrome (built for Roman chariot races) are found here.
In 2008, the public television documentary series, NOVA, featured an interview with a biblical archeologist. A portion of the conversation touches on the widespread practice of idolatry among the Israelites (a common theme in our SOLID readings!) that led to the fall of Jerusalem.
The archeologist: “They (the idols) are found in tombs, they are found in households, they are found everywhere. There are thousands of them…We found molds for making Asherah figurines, mass-producing them, in village shrines. So probably almost everybody had one of these figurines…This is awkward for some people, the notion that (the) Israelite religion was not exclusively monotheistic. But we know now that it wasn’t. Monotheism was a late development. Not until the Babylonian Exile and beyond does Israelite and Judean religion—Judaism—become monotheistic.”
The interviewer: “It seems astonishing that after this defeat the Israelites could stay faithful to their god.”
The archeologist: “In every age of disbelief, one is inclined to think that God is dead. And surely those who survived the fall of Jerusalem must have thought so. After all, how could God allow his Temple, his house—the visible sign of his presence amongst his people—to be destroyed? What did we do wrong? It’s out of this that comes the reflection that polytheism was our downfall. There is, after all, only one God. And this radical belief in a single God who governs history becomes the heart of Judaism.”