Rabbi Joseph Reinman has been kind enough to allow us to post selections from his forthcoming book – The Bible Trial. The following is the second in a series of excerpts that we will be posting. Stay posted!
Dexter switched gears. “Let’s move on to Solomon’s construction projects in Megiddo, Hazor and Gezer. You say these projects are dated more than a century after King Solomon. When did King Solomon live?”
“In the late tenth century b.c.e. That is almost 1000 b.c.e.”
“How do you know that?”
“We can date it back from the destruction of the Temple he built. According to the Book of Kings, the Temple stood for four hundred years. Since it was destroyed in 586 b.c.e., it must have been built around 990 b.c.e. Those palaces in Megiddo, Hazor and Gezer were built in the mid-800s b.c.e.”
“I see,” said Dexter. “You are going according to the conventional chronology. But if you follow the Talmudic chronology – that the Temple was destroyed in 420 b.c.e. – everything falls into place neatly, doesn’t it? The exodus and conquest take place exactly when the Bible claims they took place, and Solomon’s construction projects take place exactly when the Bible says they took place. Isn’t that so?”
“What do you want me to say?” said the witness. “I think that chronology is wrong.”
Dexter glanced at the jury and saw he had made his point.
“All right,” he said, “let’s talk about the significant increase in population in Canaan in the thirteenth century. If the Bible is fiction, how did the Bible writers, supposedly writing seven hundred years later, know exactly when to place the Israelite influx into Canaan so that it would coincide with a sudden and rapid growth in population? Were they archaeologists?”
“I have no answer to that question. Perhaps they had a tradition.”
“A tradition,” said Dexter, mimicking the witness. “They remembered nothing factual about their own history, but they knew exactly when they arrived. Tell me, Dr. Potemkin, was there anything unusual about the remains from these thirteenth century Israelite habitations?”
“What do you mean? Their pottery and implements were relatively primitive, as I mentioned before.”
“Was there anything unusual about their eating habits?” Dexter prompted the witness. “You know … about the kind of meat they ate?”
“Oh, yes, of course. No pig bones were found in these settlements.”
“Were pig bones found in the habitations of the Canaanites, the Philistines and the other peoples of the area?”
“Yes, many pig bones.”
“But no pig bones in the Israelite habitations?”
“How do you explain that?” asked Dexter.
“We have no explanation for it,” said the witness. “It’s a mystery.”
“Isn’t it a strange coincidence that the Bible forbids pig meat? Could that have been the reason for the absence of pig bones?”
“It couldn’t have been, because the Bible had not yet been written at the time. Probably, the Israelites decided not to eat pigs, and then they wrote it into the Bible.”
“Indeed? And why would they do such a thing? Pigs are a good source of meat, and they’re easy to maintain, because they’ll eat anything. Why would a people struggling to eke out a livelihood deprive themselves of pig meat? Is there any other instance of a people deciding not to eat pig meat?”
“I know of no other instance,” said the witness, “and I cannot speak for the motivation of the early Israelites. They may have felt that abstaining from pig meat would make them stand out among their neighbors. Who knows? They may have considered abstinence from pig meat a sign of distinction.”
Dexter turned to the judge. “Your honor, I have no patience for all this wiggling and waggling, and I’m sure the jury doesn’t either. I have no more questions for this witness. Instead, I’ll call my rebuttal witness right now.”
Calabrese was on his feet. “Objection, your honor.”
“To what do you object?” said Dexter. “My remarks about your witness? I withdraw them. Enough time has been wasted. Let’s get on to some serious business.”
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Yisroel C. Blumenthal