Omer Sergi

State Formation, Religion and »Collective Identity« in the Southern Levant

Volume 4 () / Issue 1, pp. 56-77 (22)

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This study examines the role of textual production and scribal schools in the process of state formation, demonstrating that historiographic literature was used in order to constitute a collective identity. I argue that the accounts of David's battles with the Philistines (1 Sam 23:1–5; 2 Sam 5:17–25; 8:1) should be considered as early Judahite historiography, and I compare them with the accounts of Mesha battles with the Omrides (Mesha Inscription, lines 4–21), which may also be considered as an historiographical text related to state formation. I demonstrate that both texts share similar structure, content and narration and consequently both use similar strategies to reconstruct identity in a newly formed political entity. Furthermore, they both reflect the earliest stages of the development of the royal cult in Judah and Moab.

Omer Sergi is Senior Lecturer at the Department of Archaeology and Ancient Near Eastern Cultures, Tel Aviv University.