Friday afternoon I went with two of my former students, friends, and fellow-preachers to visit the Semitic Museum at Harvard. Tim Reeves preaches in Providence, RI. He offered to take Leon Mauldin and me to our hotel in Boston. I suggested going by the Museum before going to the hotel so Tim could visit also. I have been at the Museum before, but not since the new exhibit has been on view.
The Houses of Ancient Israel: Domestic, Royal, Divine is the featured exhibit at the Semitic Museum now. This exhibit traces the development and importance of the house in ancient Israel, from the family dwelling to the house of the king, and the house of the Lord (the temple). Here is a photo of the typical pillared “four-room” Israelite house that was common during the periods of the United and Divided Kingdoms.
It would take several pages of writing to explain all of the items on display in the house. Their use could be illustrated with a variety of Bible verses. The research back of this house has been presented by Phillip J. King and Lawrence E. Stager in Life in Biblical Israel (Knox/Westminster, 2001). I highly recommend this book to all Bible teachers.
This is the only Museum I know about with displays of tablets from ancient Nuzi. About 4000 tablets in the Hurrian language were discovered by archaeologists in the early part of the twentieth century. Ancient Nuzi was not an important urban center, but these tablets reveal much about economic and domestic life from a period beginning about 2400 B.C. and continuing several centuries. It has been pointed out that several events associated with the biblical patriarchs, mentioned in the Book of Genesis, can better be illustrated through an understanding of these documents.
For more information about the Semitic Museum at Harvard University check the web page here.