By Allan A. MacRae
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In its simplest form, a four-room house consisted of a long, narrow room (1, at bottom of plan), with three rooms (2, 3, 4), separated by pillars, jutting from it. In practice, however, the rooms in houses such as this were often subdivided, with additional rooms built along the periphery. The middle of the three rooms (3) was probably not roofed over but was left open to serve as a courtyard; this area probably contained an oven. The inhabitants most likely lived in and slept on a second-floor level, with the first floor holding animals.
As background to the archaeological presentation, however, let me reiterate that the traditional notion of Moses receiving the Law at Sinai is not a story that we can comment on archaeologically. I do think—as Baruch Halpern brilliantly suggests—that behind the literary tradition there must indeed be some sort of genuine historical memory; but it is unfortunately not accessible either to the text scholar or to the archaeologist. If we consider the biblical description of the Tabernacle in the wilderness, for instance, we can say nothing about its historicity.
First published by the Biblical Archaeology Society, 1992. ISBN: 978-1-935335-81-8 First edition: 1992 ON THE COVER: Bronze bull figurine. E. Found at the summit of a high ridge near biblical Dothan, in the Samaria hills north of Mt. Ebal, the bull may have been an offering or it may have been worshiped as a deity. El, the chief Canaanite god, was often depicted as a bull. E. contains a figurine almost identical to earlier depictions of the Canaanite deity El. Zev Radovan Contents Defining the Problems: Where We Are in the Debate How to Tell a Canaanite from an Israelite The Exodus from Egypt: Myth or Reality?