When attempting to glean historical information from the biblical text we should employ the utmost caution. As Kofoed explains,
All sources, primary/secondary and firsthand/secondhand, need to be checked for ideological, propagandistic, religious, or other biases before the encoded historical information can be used for historiographical purposes.
In this post we’ll take a look at how the epigraphical and archaeological evidence related to a couple of tribes can help fill in the picture about just when the Israelites emerged in Canaan.Continue reading
If there’s one archaeological discovery that always comes up in discussions about early Israel it’s the Merneptah Stele. In this post we’re going to take a look at what it is, and what it tells us (and doesn’t tell us) about Israelite origins.Continue reading
In the preceding posts in this series we’ve seen how the scriptures do not speak in one voice when it comes to figuring out exactly where the Israelites came from.
- Instead of there being a single “biblical” date for the conquest we’ve seen that several can be derived from the text.
- Instead of the Israelites running the show in Canaan as we’d expect from the first half of the book of Joshua, we’ve seen that Egypt, for 250-300 years starting from around 1450 BCE, completely dominated the area (and that precisely nothing is said about this in the books of Joshua or Judges).
- And, instead of finding archaeological evidence of sweeping destruction throughout Canaan at a time that lines up with either the Early or Late Date Exodus and Conquest, we find little evidence of systematic destruction, or of cultural change. In some cases we even find that cities said to have been defeated by Joshua didn’t even exist at the time.
It’s felt like a whole load of deconstruction – the rosy picture painted in Sunday School has all but shattered.
From now on in the series we’re going to see what can be salvaged. What can we know about Israelite origins? In this post we’re going to look at the data for the archaeological phenomenon known as the “Israelite Settlement”, but but we’re going to start one stage before that – the Late Bronze Age population decline.Continue reading