I just read through an interesting article by Avraham Faust. In it, he highlights how non-Judah or Israelite Iron Age II sites and Late Bronze age sites consistently have some sort of cult building. Judah and Israelite sites, though, do not. Based off of this, and other reasoning he makes the following argument: ”
However the Israelites practiced their religion, the archaeological evidence sug-gests that it generally was not performed in temples or other cultic buildings erected for this purpose. The realization that temples and shrines were rare in the kingdoms of Israel and Judah is an important step in understanding Israelite religious practices and should encourage scholars to reframe their understanding of Israelite religion.
I find this argument particularly interesting because, within texts like Kings, Samuel, Deuteronomy, and many other books of the Hebrew Bible, there is much mention of creating small altars to Yahweh. In 1 Kings 14:23, we read: “They also set up for themselves high places, sacred stones and Asherah poles on every high hill and under every spreading tree” (NIV). In other words, religious expression was note accomplished through construction of temples; rather, it was expressed through (seemingly) makeshift sites.
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