History in the Bible

A layman's guide to a 150 years of research in biblical studies and the archaeology of Israel and Judah. All the history, in all the books, in all the bibles. For forthcoming episodes, show notes, maps and charts, visit my site If you are joining the show for the first time, you might want to check out the keynote episodes I list. These provide the background info and concepts used in later episodes. Episodes are released every second Sunday.
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Now displaying: 2016

All the history, in all the books, in all the Bibles.

A podcast exploring the latest critical research into the history in the Bible, the archaeological evidence behind it, and the ancient religion of the Israelites.

For a list of forthcoming episodes, show notes, maps, diagrams, and tables, visit my website at

Dec 18, 2016

Two kings called Jehoram ruled in Israel and Judah at the same time. Many scholars think they were the same person. Their reigns were extinguished by the coup of Jehu, agent of God against the evil house of Omri. One of the few strong women in the Bible, Ahab's widow Jezebel, also meets her end. Athaliah becomes the only woman to rule Judah. Elisha works miracles.

Dec 11, 2016

In this co-released episode, Steve Guerra of the History of the Papacy podcast and I talk about Satan (ha'Satan, the adversary). In the Old Testament he is God's faithful prosecuting attorney. Only in the apocalyptic literature does he transform into the source of all evil. That is the Satan we find in the New Testament.

Dec 4, 2016

The Israelite King Ahab and the Judean King Jehoshaphat join in an ill-fated war against the kingdom of Aram-Damascus. One battle not mentioned is the Battle of Qarqar, which we know from Assyrian records. Ahaziah follows Ahab on the throne. We start the second book of Kings. Elijah dies and passes his legacy to Elisha. I discuss Elijah's importance to Jews and Christians.

Nov 20, 2016

The House of Omri reigned for 140 years with four kings: Omri, Ahab, Ahaziah and Jehoram. They created the first sophisticated Hebrew state, and brought the kingdom of Israel to the height of its power and prosperity. During this period, the first great prophets, Elijah and Elisha, created the religion of Yahwism. We also meet Ahab's wife Jezebel, the painted lady. Assyria makes an unwelcome appearance.

Nov 13, 2016

In this co-released episode, Steve Guerra of the History of the Papacy podcast and I talk about the obscure Jewish movement known as Merkabah mysticism, and the influential and popular Book of Jubilees.

Nov 6, 2016

In the first decades after Solomon's united kingdom split, the two kingdoms spent their time in brush wars. The kingdom of Judah went through three kings: Rehoboam, Abijam (or Abijah), and Asa. In the northern kingdom of Israel, Jeroboam's dynasty came to an end with his son Nadab, overthrown by general Baasha. This was not a happy time.

Oct 30, 2016

In this co-released episode, Steve Guerra of the History of the Papacy podcast and I launch into the earliest apocalypses: 1 Enoch and the Book of Daniel. The Book of 1 Enoch, older than Daniel, hid in plain sight in the Ethiopian Orthodox canon for centuries. Europeans only re-discovered it in the early 19th century.

Oct 23, 2016

The policies of King Solomon's idiot son Rehoboam split the united kingdom in two: Israel and Judah. The fracture was permanent. I introduce the Biblical sources we have for this period, Kings and Chronicles and a few prophets; and the Assyrian and Babylonian records. I also introduce the archaeological evidence we have (such as the Moabite stone, the black obelisk of Shalmaneser III, and the Tel Dan stele), and the very difficult chronological problems. What would we know about the Hebrew kingdoms without the Bible? Not much.

Oct 16, 2016

In this co-released episode, Steve Guerra of the History of the Papacy podcast and I introduce the rich apocalyptic literature that flourished after the canon of the Old testament closed. We get into Gnosticism, evil, and dualism.

Oct 9, 2016

In this ripper episode I tackle the great raging debate in contemporary biblical archaeology. Traditionalist scholars believe that modern archaeological discoveries confirm the Bible's account of David and Solomon. Modernist archaeologists believe the exact opposite. Who has the evidence on their side?

Oct 2, 2016

In this co-released episode, Steve Guerra of the History of the Papacy podcast and I introduce our new series on the apocalypse. We talk about the little-known but rich literature that flourished between the closing of the Old Testament, and the opening of the New Testament; and how it crucially influenced Judaism and Christianity.

Sep 25, 2016

Solomon, it is said, wrote books of Wisdom, Psalms, Odes, and a Testament. I discuss these, and then begin my survey of what modern scholarship has to say about the united kingdom. I start with Saul, and wonder why he is treated so differently in the books of Samuel and Chronicles.


Sep 11, 2016

Solomon spends big time on his Temple and Palace. Hiram of Tyre bankrolls him. Solomon dies on the verge of a major rebellion led by his own slave-master, Jeroboam. I also discuss the two most important books attributed to Solomon: Proverbs, and the Song of Songs.

Aug 28, 2016

David's son Solomon is the first Hebrew king we can assign reliable dates to. Or maybe not. Solomon is a dazzling glitter-ball on the international stage; the richest, wisest, and most awesome king in the entire Middle East. He marries an Egyptian princess. I go through the legends of Solomon and the Queen of Sheba, and investigate the role of Solomon's benefactor, King Hiram of the Phoenician city of Tyre.

Aug 26, 2016

My special guest is Dan Libenson of the Judaism Unbound podcast. We talk about Israeli author Yochi Brandes' novel The Secret Book of Kings, set in the period of Saul, David, Solomon, and then the divided monarchy. It has been recently translated into English from the Hebrew. The novel was a smash hit in Israel. We discuss the novel and its impact in israel, and how it bears on Dan's quest to forge the next Jewish future.

Aug 14, 2016

I finish my survey of the Book of Psalms. The psalms are replete with references to God as but one member of the pantheon of the ancient Canaanite religion, a god fighting the ancient sea monsters of the Canaanites: Rehab, Leviathan, and Behemoth. Boney M. sings psalm 137.

Jul 31, 2016

God commands David to conduct a census. God then punishes David for conducting a census. Like the rest of us, the Chronicler was mystified by this, and rewrote the story to introduce Satan. Modern archaeologists disgree with the numbers. Bathsheba, mother to Solomon, conducts a palace coup to put her son on the throne, allied with the prophet Nathan, the priest Zadok, and David's mercenary praetorian guard. David charges Solomon to dispatch David's most loyal servants, Joab and Abiathar. I also introduce the Book of Psalms.

Jul 17, 2016

The final portion of David's story is told in the court narrative or succession history. Who will follow David as king? In this story of intrigue, David's woes start with his murder of Uriah, followed by familial violence, rape, and the terrible deaths of two of his sons, Amnon and Absalom. The Book of Chronicles mentions none of that.

Jul 3, 2016

David and his field marshal Joab defeats Saul's son Ishbosheth and his general Abner. David retrieves the ark from the Philistines, to the displeasure of his wife Michal. God forges his fourth and final contract with humanity, promising David and David's city of Jerusalem eternal divine protection. Scholars call this the Royal Zion theology. I also discuss David's special protection squad, and the sudden appearance of a new high priest, Zadok.

Jun 19, 2016

With the support of the Philistines, David turns his bandit gang into a disciplined mercenary force. After Saul's death fighting David's patrons in battle at Mt Gilboa, David is made king of the southern tribes, but not the northern.

Jun 5, 2016

Samuel manufactures reasons to condemn King Saul, and supplant him with David. Our two great sources, the Septuagint and the Masoretic text, have very different versions of David's complicated rise.

May 30, 2016

For new listeners, and those who just drop in sometimes, I list the six keynote episodes that will help you follow the others, and explain all the goodies on my website,

May 22, 2016

King Saul becomes king of the Israelites, in four different ways. Samuel moves from being the last judge to the first prophet. I take the opportunity to introduce the Hebrew prophets, showing they were not fortune-tellers and sooth-sayers. They responded to political crises, and spoke about the here and now.


May 8, 2016

The priest Eli, guardian of the sacred Ark, sees his sacred charge captured by the Philistines. The Israelites are at their lowest point. Now arises Samuel to lift them from their moral depravity. In spite of his misgivings, God instructs Samuel to give the people a king: Saul. I alo discuss the many textual problems in the books of Samuel, comparing the Septuagint to the Massoretic text.

Apr 24, 2016

I set the stage upon which the Hebrew united kingdom of Saul, David, and Solomon was created. I explain the geopolitical situation, and the Biblical sources we have: the books of Samuel, Kings, and Chronicles.

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