Influences from Book of Judges, Abimelech



Salting the Earth

The Book of Judges (9:45) says that Abimelech, the judge of the Israelites, sowed his own capital, Shechem, with salt, c. 1050 BC, after quelling a revolt against him. This may have been part of a ḥērem ritual[2] (compare with “salt in the Bible“).

Starting in the 19th century,[7] various texts claim that the Roman general Scipio Aemilianus Africanus plowed over and sowed the city of Carthage with salt after defeating it in the Third Punic War (146 BC), sacking it, and forcing the survivors into slavery. However, no ancient sources exist documenting the salting itself. The Carthage story is a later invention, probably modeled on the story of Shechem.[8] The ritual of symbolically drawing a plow over the site of a city is, however, mentioned in ancient sources, though not in reference to Carthage specifically.[9]


Killed by a Stone

Compare Judges 9:

50 Next Abimelech went to Thebez and besieged it and captured it. 51 Inside the city, however, was a strong tower, to which all the men and women—all the people of the city—had fled. They had locked themselves in and climbed up on the tower roof. 52 Abimelech went to the tower and attacked it. But as he approached the entrance to the tower to set it on fire, 53 a woman dropped an upper millstone on his head and cracked his skull.


The death of Pyrrhus by a tile flung down by a woman as he rode into the town of Argos is an historic parallel (Pausan. 1:13). The ringleader of an attack on the Jews, who had taken refuge in York Castle in 1190, was similarly killed.


And v. 54:  
Hurriedly [Abimelech] called to his armor-bearer, “Draw your sword and kill me, so that they can’t say, ‘A woman killed him.’” So his servant ran him through, and he died. ….
Whether [Pyrrhus] was alive or not after the blow is dubious, but his death was assured when a Macedonian soldier named Zopyrus, though frightened by the look on the face of the unconscious king, hesitantly and ineptly beheaded his motionless body.


Video: Har Karkom–Archaeological Discoveries on a Holy Mountain in the Desert of Exodus

Emmanuel Anati discusses the possible location of Mt. Sinai

Where is Mt. Sinai? The investigation and study of Har Karkom has been the life work of Emmanuel Anati, an 83-year-old Italian archaeologist who has been documenting finds at the site for more than 30 years, as reported in the March/April 2014 issue of BAR.

Anati delivered the lecture “Har Karkom–Archaeological Discoveries on a Holy Mountain in the Desert of Exodus” at the recent Out of Egypt: Israel’s Exodus Between Text and Memory, History and Imagination conference hosted by Calit2’s Qualcomm Institute at UC San Diego. Watch the full lecture video below or click here for more information on the conference, including dozens of additional video lectures.

Lecture video courtesy of conference host Thomas E. Levy, distinguished professor and Norma Kershaw Chair in the Archaeology of Ancient Israel and Neighboring Lands at UCSD. All videos originally published on the Out of Egypt: Israel’s Exodus Between Text and Memory, History and Imagination website, which features additional Exodus research and more information on the UCSD conference.