Just to summarize the history of the spot on which I sleep: skipping the Stone Age / Paleolithic Period 1.5 million – 11,500 years ago, Neolithic Period 11,500–6,500 years ago and Chalcolithic Period 6,500–5,500 years ago, let’s get to the Early Bronze Age, 3500–2300 BCE when the first planned cities were built, rapidly developing into the first city-states. Urban culture flourished for more than 1,000 years, until various factors, such as climate change, led to the cities’ collapse. For some 300 years, the people returned to rural and semi-nomadic ways of life.
At the beginning of the 2nd millennium BCE, a rich urban civilization reappeared, and fortified city-states once again dotted the country. The land is called Canaan for the first time. Egypt ’s influence over Canaan began in the second half of the 16th century BCE, and direct Egyptian rule commenced in the early 15th century BCE. Despite this, the Canaanites retained their cultural and spiritual independence. Egypt weakened around 1200 BCE and its rule over Canaan began to draw to a close.
This period saw the emergence of the Israelites lasting over 600 years, until the destruction of Jerusalem by the Babylonians in 586 BCE. The Israelites began as a loosely organized, rural society. Not long after establishing a kingdom, struggles for succession divided it into two: Israel in the north and Judah in the south. The Assyrians destroyed Israel in 722 BCE. About 130 years later, Nebuchadnezzar, King of Babylonia, sent his army to Judah to subdue a rebellious Jerusalem. The city was destroyed, and the Temple put to the torch. The Babylonians sent a significant part of the population into exile. Babylonia fell to Cyrus, King of Persia, in 539 BCE. Shortly thereafter, the new ruler allowed exiles to return and rebuild their Temple. Judah became a Persian province, until conquered by Alexander the Great in 332 BCE and in the 3rd–2nd century BCE, ruled by Alexander’s successors. In the mid-2nd century BCE, the Hasmoneans (Maccabees) rebelled and established an independent Jewish kingdom. Political independence lasted 80 years, until the Romans conquered the region in the mid-1st century BCE and placed Herod the Great (37–4 BCE) on the throne.
Ultimately, the longing for freedom from the yoke of Rome led to the outbreak of the Great Revolt, culminating in the destruction of Jerusalem and its Temple in 70 CE. The Roman Period lasted about 400 years. The Tenth Roman Legion was permanently stationed in Judea, and its camp was built over the ruins of Jerusalem. Two generations later, the Jews once again rebelled against the Romans. The revolt was a complete failure.
During all this time the descendants of the Canaanites, Philistines, Edomites and Moabites, other semitic tribes and clans were in the land. Israel dwelled among many peoples. There are archeological artefacts for all these periods, none that prove the existence of Abraham, Jacob, Moses, David or Solomon. For that matter you will not find artefacts that prove the existence of Jesus, his family or the disciples. All that remains is tradition, scripture and the narrative that was passed from generation to generation. All we have that speaks to the reality of Jesus the Christ is the person to person acting out of faith, that honours the memory, but more importantly lives out the call, the baptism of Christ, who said that it is not about words, but action. Following 81 generations, it is our action and our call that lives the story.
Luke 12.42 ‘But woe to you Pharisees! For you tithe mint and rue and herbs of all kinds, and neglect justice and the love of God; it is these you ought to have practised, without neglecting the others.