(From the Study Guide)
Before Viewing the Show
Examine map 1 in the Study Guide for a view of the ancient Near East, especially the three civilizations of Egypt, Canaan, and Mesopotamia (between the Tigris and Euphrates rivers).
Check map 2 for an outline of David and Solomon's kingdom in the area that was formerly Canaan.
Watch for . . . and Think About
Note the glories of Mesopotamian, Egyptian, and Canaanite cultures. These were the civilizations from which the ancient Israelites emerged. What ideas did they take from these peoples and what did they discard?
Observe the geography of Egypt, the Sinai desert, and Canaan. How did the Bible describe the Israelites' Exodus from Egypt and entry into Canaan?
Note the Philistine artifacts. Why were the Philistines formidable enemies of the Israelites?
Look for the archaeological remains of David's and Solomon's reigns. What do they tell of the kings' political power and religious commitments?
The program shows much footage of Assyrian and Babylonian ruins and artifacts. Why couldn't the Israelites withstand their attacks?
While Reading the Study Guide and Source Reader
Look for the following:
After Viewing and Reading
- The differences between history and protohistory and how that affects our understanding of ancient Israel.
- The Bible's attempt to explain the origins of humanity. The similarities and differences in the many extant myths of the flood story.
- The parallels that exist between the biblical stories told of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob and the realities of Near Eastern culture.
- How the scriptural account of Joseph accords well with known Egyptian documents.
- The biblical narratives of the Israelite Exodus from Egypt, the journey through the desert and the arrival at Mount Sinai. What do historians use today to buttress the scriptural narratives? Is the attempt successful?
- The problems faced by the Israelites as they entered Canaan and attempted to establish their rule. Identify Joshua and the judges.
- The introduction of kingship into Israel. Who demanded it? Identify Saul, David, and Solomon.
- The accomplishments of King Solomon. Why was he so successful?
- The rise and fall of the two kingdoms, Israel, and Judah. Why did the Israelites have two kingdoms? How did they eventually fall?
- The term "prophets." How did their messages spiritually and morally elevate the people in Israel and Judah? Did their beliefs provide comfort to the Israelites who were forced into exile?
- How did the Mesopotamian and Egyptian cultures contribute to the history of the ancient Israelites?
- Do the biblical accounts and archaeological evidence merge to give a coherent account of the Israelites' conquest of Canaan?
- Why were the judges unable to defend the Israelites against the Philistines?
- Did David and Solomon's kingdom contain the seeds of its eventual decline?
- Compare Assyria's and Babylonia's rises to power and describe how their military exploits affected the Israelite kingdoms.
- Identify three Israelite prophets. Did they preach the identical message? Were there differences in their styles and behavior?
Roland de Vaux, The Early History of Israel, trans. by David Smith (Westminster Press, 1978)
Tomoo Ishida, ed., Studies in the Period of David and Solomon and Other Essays (Yamakawa-Shuppansha, 1982)
Morris Silver, Prophets and Markets: The Political Economy of Ancient Israel (Kluwer-Nijhoff Publishing, 1983)
E.A. Speiser, ed., At the Dawn of Civilization ("The World History of the Jewish People," ed. by Benjamin Mazar, Vol. 1) (Rutgers University Press, 1964)
Robert R. Wilson, Prophecy and Society in Ancient Israel (Fortress Press, 1980)