Note: The lecture concerns the historicity of the Bible. In other words, it addresses in what ways the Bible is historically accurate; the extent to which it can it be used as a historic source and what qualifications should be applied. This is intended to represent the academic viewpoint, not a religious one.
In the religious sphere, the Hasmoneans were committed to ridding their territories of all idolatrous practices. Religious purification of the land became a basic policy. Sometimes this meant driving out pagan inhabitants altogether and then purifying the site; at other times, conversion of the populace was required. Entire populations, both urban and rural, were thus brought into the Jewish fold. The two outstanding examples of this policy were the conversion of the Idumeans by John Hyrcanus and the conversion of the Itureans by Aristobulus I.
We may now turn to the city wall of the Persian period restored by the returning exiles. As we have seen, the minimalists (including such eminent archaeologists and scholars as the late Michael Avi-Yonah, Yoram Tsafrir of Hebrew University, Hugh Williamson of Oxford University, Hanan Eshel of Bar-Ilan University and Ephraim Stern of Hebrew University) limit the wall of Persian period Jerusalem to the City of David.
The sabbatical year is mentioned three times in the Torah. The first is in Exodus 23:10–11: “Six years you shall sow your land and gather in its yield; but in the seventh you shall let it rest and lie fallow. Let the needy among your people eat of it.” The emphasis in this passage is on letting the land lie fallow and the social benefits for the poor and impoverished.
The four most popular one-word names are Yahweh (6,800 times); Elohim (2,600 times); Adonai (439 times); and El (238 times).