Type: Review
Pages: 4 | Words: 1008
Reading Time: 5 Minutes

The book Ancient Israel by Harry M. Orlinsky, was initially issued in 1954. Ancient Israel is the primary work of literature in Western Civilization . The book was issued by the Cornell University Press. In this work, Orlinsky follows the evolvement pathway of the Jewish populace from the genesis in Fertile Crescent, throughout Egyptian custody, the era of Judges, the Exodus, the Kingdom, the Babylonian deportation and ultimately to Restoration. This paper offers the book report on Ancient Israel.


The common history of Israel is, by its nature, somewhat extremely difficult to piece together, as the archaeological and written evidence is incomplete. The restricted data, which is accessible, is sourced mainly from religious texts, and the interpretive and metaphorical essence of these writings evolves the difficulties in stating the accuracy of the accounts as the historical fact. The same problems are confronted when researching the military history of ancient Israel. Furthermore, the traditional resources, utilized to corroborate historical interpretations, for instance, archaeology, have not been useful in terms of increasing historians’ awareness of old military history in Israel. In spite of the challenges, which are depicted in the attempt to reconstitute the history, a close inspection of secondary resources exposes the dependable narrative, which assists the contemporary students in learning about the significant role the military played in the initial days of the Israelites.

Once these resources are consulted, a student learns that the weaponry, organization, and strategic aims of the military of old Israel were separated from the same variables among militaries of neighboring states. Concerning Israel, one of the crucial historical facts that stand out is that people of Israel lacked the advanced weaponry and training to utilize arms, as contrasted to the Philistines, who had sophisticated weapons of iron (Orlinsky 63). Actually, iron plays the major role in the military history of the old Near East, and it is this theme that is thoroughly depicted in the book Ancient Israel by H.M Orlinsky.

Throughout a course of history, the lack of the object or source has been frequently seen as much the provocation for clash as the presence of it. In the old Near East, iron plays crucial role in military history, both with esteem to the causes why wars were led and how they were led. In contrast to their neighbors, Israel never enjoyed the types of natural sources, which were in great quantities in the area known today as Palestine (Orlinsky 48-49). Especially, Israel lacked reserves of ores and minerals, and as Orlinsky has asserted, “iron and copper ores that did exist in the south were used by people of Israel just when Edom was under their power” (Orlinsky 48-49). The lack of ores, particularly iron, is crucial as the time period was the Iron Age, and foes of the Israelites had superior weaponry by using natural resources, which were adjustable for this aim (Orlinsky 63). Actually, iron arms existed in Palestine in tiny amounts from at least the period of Pharoah Merneptah. The fact, recognized as Pharoah’s iron sword, was revealed by archaeologists.

Though the arms of the old Israeli military is one of the most unfinished chapters of the human history, as the biblical texts do not depict their weaponry and very little is known concerning equipment of Israeli military, some common conclusions and observations may be made, based on the restricted archaeological discoveries, discussed in this book.

Apart from the military issues, in Ancient Israel, the author traces steps of the Jewish populace from their origins in the Fertile Crescent, through Egyptian custody, the Exodus, the era of the Judges, the Kingdom, and finally to the Babylonian deportation and Restoration. The book is concisely arranged; it is a simply written story of the society, which produced the Bible. As Orlinsky traces the changing destinies of the Israelites and Hebrews during 2000-300 B.C.E., the booklover may observe how Jewish spiritual notions evolved in the context of genuine historical circumstances.


The Ancient Israel is an academic book, with over 190 pages of notes providing numerous citations and textual analysis. It is much more available than the majority of such volumes, nevertheless. Whilst it does presume a common awareness of the Old Testament and the primary history of Israel, no special knowledge is required to read this book. The passages presented are included, so there is no need to consult the Bible all the time. The historical moments are written in detail; and they are very exciting. The outcome is the volume that should attract booklovers from outside academia.

Like many scientists, Dr. Orlinsky dismisses the historical reliability of the supernatural events mentioned in the Bible and doubts the direct, individual contact between God and humans. Even so, he asserts that the Bible is the unusually consistent historical document of antiquity. This little book is simple to read, but it is a comparatively short survey of the Old Testament. The author intertwines the historical account with the prophetic message to form a precise image of the ancient Jewish existence.

Some characteristics of the work’s presentation are aimed especially at non-specialists. There are highlighted parts within the text, which include quotations from old resources to illustrate the points, made in the major narratives. There are also some figures that provide digests of applicable data, such as the summaries of crucial plot fragments in biblical accounts, comparisons among the related biblical passages, parallels among biblical and extra-biblical resources, and outline sequences of events, which are derived from numerous sources. Moreover, there are the connotations of technical terms and a wide bibliography, and the student-friendly characteristics of this book are obvious. Altogether, it is the most useful orientation aid, which performs rather like a map with the pathway marked out on it: a reader may definitely follow the marked route if he or she likes, but there is also adequate data on the map to enable booklover to follow other pathways. Considering that students will finally have to make their own way through the history of ancient Israel, they are provided with a pattern of how it might be done in the advantageous way.

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