The Rescue of Jerusalem: The Alliance Between Hebrews and Africans in 701 BC. By Henry T. Aubin. New York: Soho Press, 2002. ISBN 1-56947-275-0. Maps. Notes. Index. Pp. xxiii, 421. $30.00.
This book tackles a somewhat obscure topic in a very scholarly manner. The author proposes that the siege of Jerusalem in 701 BCE ended with the Assyrian forces withdrawing under pressure from an army of Kushites under the direction of the Pharaoh of Egypt. He further proposes that this is a seminal event in the history of mankind, leading directly to the completion of the development of Judaism, further resulting in Christianity and Islam. The first portion of the hypothesis is contrary to the prevailing opinions of most scholars in the field, making it worth consideration as a dissenting view. The later portion of this theory is not new, having been put forth by a number of current scholars.
The topic is extremely well researched and the book well documented, perhaps overly documented. The book contains 283 pages of text and 112 pages of endnotes. There is a lot of information in the endnotes, much of which could have been in the body of the text. This would have reduced confusion and the need to flip back and forth between the text and the notes. Additionally, the author provides an index of well over one hundred other writers whose works are cited but there is no actual bibliography. This does make following up on the research a little more difficult. Finally, the author uses eight different translations of the Bible, apparently choosing the translation that best fits the point he is trying to make at any given time.
The book is divided into three parts. Part I is an extensive discussion of background material and the current opinions of the mainstream scholars. It clearly sets forth how and why the mainstream believes what it does. Part II contains the evidence used to support the author's hypothesis. Organized by specific points, it develops a solid argument. Finally, Part III is a discussion of how the current mainstream theories came to be and how earlier scholars who espoused the author's theory were relegated to a dusty shelf. [End Page 217]
The primary focus of the work, that the Kushites saved Jerusalem from the
Assyrians, is presented in an interesting and often thought-provoking
manner. It is easy to see how the hypothesis developed and it makes
sense. Unfortunately, the supporting evidence is mostly a reinterpretation
of existing material. The author asks readers to accept his interpretation
of the limited source material rather than previous interpretations, while
offering no compelling reasons to make the switch. Can his interpretation
be correct? Certainly, but more evidence is required if it is to supplant
previous interpretations. Still, the book is worth reading and debating.
Central Connecticut State University
New Britain, Connecticut