According to Lipschits,
“Between 700 BCE to about 70 CE, Jerusalem was home to various Judean cults and at times a center for religious fanaticism. The Assyrians understood that they could gain better control of their vassal kingdom - and continue collecting taxes - by maintaining a safe distance.”
In evaluating how the Assyrians used this administrative center, Lipschits said:
“The Assyrians built their economic hub for the region two miles south of Jerusalem at Ramat Rachel. They created elaborate gardens, stocked their cellars with the wine and olive oil they collected in taxes, and quietly but carefully monitored Jerusalem.”
“You can see Jerusalem from Ramat Rachel, but when you’re inside Jerusalem’s City of David, you can’t see Ramat Rachel at all,” says Lipschits. “The Assyrians kept a watchful eye, but didn’t let the locals feel a dominant foreign presence.”
“It was smart for the Assyrian managers to take a few steps back, and not appear to be interfering with the city’s religious center and local culture. Businesses today could be advised to adopt similar strategies with their branch offices in foreign locations,” he surmises.
If Lipschits’s evaluation of the site at Ramat Rachel is correct, then the site will make an important contribution to the proper understanding of the situation in Jerusalem during the time Judah served as a vassal of Assyria. Let us hope that ongoing excavation at the site will produce additional information on the Assyrian presence at Ramat Rachel.
Professor of Old Testament
Northern Baptist Seminary
Tags: Archaeology, Oded Lipschits, Ramat Rachel