A Firestorm in the Desert

Paul was a tentmaker as well as a Rabbi both before and after his Christian conversion. These tents, most likely, were Jewish pilgrimage tents that Grecian and other Diaspora 1st century Jews used to “appear before the Lord” at one of the three yearly feasts at Jerusalem. Jerusalem’s population would swell during these festivals and yet little or no evidence remains today of these festival visits. Ample literary evidence refers to these gatherings yet hardly any physical remains document this fact.

Israel’s wanderings after the Egyptian Captivity and subsequent settlements were somewhat mobile even after entrance into the Land of Israel. This was probably largely because a significant portion of the population were herders who were dependent on finding adequate grazing which relied on rainfall. We know rainfall in The Levant is spotty with areas receiving variable amounts, hence the need for herders to be on the move and living in tents. Though farming of crops also existed, mobile herders still existed during ancient times, and, even today.

Here is an article discussing an overlooked aspect when engaging in archaeological research:

A Firestorm in the Desert – Associates for Biblical Research

Summary Conclusion

The pioneering work of Levy, Ben-Yosef and their teams at Faynan and Timna have conclusively demonstrated that a nomadic society can be large, powerful, and centrally organized yet leave no archaeological trace. The implications for the historicity of the Exodus, Conquest and United Kingdom are obvious: Israel, as a nomadic nation, would have left little archaeological evidence despite its size and power.

Archaeology is a powerful tool but has significant limitations. Its use by biblical skeptics to undermine biblical historicity based on a lack of evidence is a gross misuse of archaeology. As Matti Friedman said in his Smithsonian article on Timna, the primary lesson of the mines is the need for archaeological humility. (Friedman 2021)

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