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Did The Israelites Really Conquer Canaan?

A couple of weeks ago I was in the middle of a thread on historical problems with the Hebrew Bible, and somehow ancient forgery intervened — as it does, I suppose — and I got sidetracked.  But I have a couple of more posts on the topic, that are complete “stand-alones” (you don’t need to see what I earlier said to make sense of these) (though hey, why not take a glance?).

In this post: after the exodus in the book of, well, Exodus, and the giving of the Law to Moses on Mount Sinai, in Exodus, Leviticus, (Numbers), and Deuteronomy, comes the stories of the Israelites taking over the Promised Land (promised by God to Abraham, the father of the nation), by wiping out all the Canaanites who were already there, as found in the book of Joshua — one of the great books of the Hebrew Bible.

Extermination of indiginous populations is not exactly the political policy most of us advocate these days (well, at least not me), but those were different contexts people had different assumptions about what was right.  In this case, as directed by the divinity himself.

In any event, my question here is not about the morality of it all, but the historicity.  Did it really happen?   E.g., with the conquest of Jericho (and the complete extermination of the entire population, men, women, children, and animals):  Did the walls really come a’tumblin’ down?

Here is what I say about it in my college textbook, The Bible: A Historical and Literary Introduction.

*****************************************************************************

When considering the historicity of the narratives of Joshua, the first thing to re-emphasize is that these are not accounts written by eyewitnesses or by anyone who knew an eyewitness.  They were written some 600 years later, and were based on oral traditions that had been in circulation among people in Israel during all those intervening centuries.  Moreover, they are clearly molded according to theological assumptions and perspectives.  Biblical scholars have long noted that there is almost nothing in the accounts that suggest that the author is trying to be purely descriptive of things that really happened.  He is writing an account that appears to be guided by his religious agenda, not by purely historical interests.  That is why, when read closely, one finds so many problems with…

    Wanna see what these problems are, to decide whether you think they can be solved or not?  Did it all really happen?  You need to keep reading.  But to keep reading you need to belong to the blog.  To belong to the blog you have to pay a small membership fee.  But hey, it all goes to charity.  Do some good for the world.  Do some good for yourself.  Join!

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If the Old Testament is Not Accurate — Where Did Israel Come From?
Did the Exodus Happen?

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Comments

  1. Avatar
    Boltonian  September 30, 2019

    I wrote a piece, in conjunction with a friend who is an archaeologist, on this subject on my blog a few years ago. Her verdict was that apart from some tangential findings (the absence of pig bones at some sites in the area dated 13thC BC) there is no real evidence of intrusion. In other words Israelites and Canaanites were the same people. Would you go along with this hypothesis? Thanks.

    • Bart
      Bart  October 1, 2019

      Yes, I think Israel arose out of Canaan. See today’s post.

  2. Avatar
    nichael  September 30, 2019

    Setting aside the question of historicity for a moment, I have to admit that a major problem/question that I’ve always had about the Exodus story is simply: Why is it there? Or rather why was it needed in the first place?

    That is, if the function of the Exodus story is as an “origins myth” to explain why the nation of Israel came to be in possession of the land of Canaan, well, we already have a perfectly good explanation: I.e. The story of the Patriarchs.

    But as the story stands in its current state, 1] God brings Abra(ha)m to what is effectively Canaan and gives the land to him (and consequently to Isaac and Jacob/Israel); 2] That’s fine, but then The People all move away; and 3] Their descendants all come back and [RE]acquire the land.

    So I guess my question is: Why two etiologies, i.e. both the Patriatchs _and_ the Exodus? Why does the nation of Israel need to be given the land twice?

    • Bart
      Bart  October 1, 2019

      Short story: it’s in order to show that the God of Israel will intervene for his people when they are in desperate need; that he is more powerful than the most powerful nation on earth; and that after he saved them he gave them his Law; and then he gave them their land. It’s the whole sequence that is in view, I think. (He had *promised* the land earlier; but somehow they had to grow large enough to take it, and to take it decisively; then to settle it; etc.)

      • Avatar
        nichael  October 1, 2019

        All this makes sense, of course. But I think the important point is still “why _both_”?

        In short, if we agree that the Exodus story accomplishes all this (i.e. offer an explanation for why “The Land of Canaan belongs to The Nation of Israel” –and for much else besides) why was it also necessary to have the story of the Patriarchs offer its own explanation for the same thing?

        • Bart
          Bart  October 2, 2019

          The story of the Patriarchs doesn’t show that God saved the entire nation from slavery and then gave them the law, before allowing them to conquer the Promised Land.

          • Avatar
            nichael  October 2, 2019

            Exactly the point.

            So why also include the story of the Patriarchs (or at least have the story also include the implication that this is why Israel was entitled to Canaan –especially since the Exodus story, as you point out, makes a much more complete case for the entitlement)?

          • Bart
            Bart  October 4, 2019

            To show where the nation originally came from.

      • Avatar
        dankoh  October 3, 2019

        Additional factor: By the time of the kings (especially by the time of Deuteronomy), the Canannites had disappeared. In fact, they had intermarried with the Israelites and gradually been absorbed, but that explanation had theological problems, so Joshua was written to, among other things, “explain” what had happened to them.

        Another interesting aspect of Joshua is chapter 22, where the Israelites are preparing to attack the Transjordan tribes for setting up their own altar in defiance of the rule that sacrifices to God can only be performed at one location. There was no such rule in the time of the Judges, so this is more evidence of a late date for the writing of Joshua and its need to provide retroactive justification for limiting sacrifices to the Temple under the control of the priests. (Note that’s a priest, not a judge or general, who’s in charge of the mission to investigate the Transjordan “sin.”)

  3. Avatar
    flshrP  September 30, 2019

    This is one of the instances when biblical archeology directly contradicts the Hebrew bible as you point out. Another example, of course, is the fantasy of the Exodus (the Israeli archeology establishment looked at the evidence on the ground and concluded that it didn’t happen). Yet in this bible fantasy the Hebrew God commands the Israelites to exterminate the inhabitants of Canaan in the most violent of ways (murder, rape, theft, enslavement, genocide, ethnic cleansing, etc.).

    The evidence shows that more likely some ancient tribes moved from the desert to the fringes of fertile Canaan in a gradual immigration, rather than an invasion, and over a few centuries gradually and peacefully intermarried with the inhabitants. Yet this biblical fantasy of invasion and extermination is still taught to children to this day.

    And this nonsense turns into tragedy when it is utilized by extreme Jewish religionists as an argument for the right of prior ownership of an imagined biblical promised land. At least three major wars have been fought over this religious fantasy in the last 100 years, not to mention the abomination of the Crusades of 1000 years ago.

    Christopher Hitchens is correct: religion poisons everything.

    • Bart
      Bart  October 1, 2019

      Yeah, I love Hitch, but I don’t agree with him on that one. Religion also does an incredible amount of good. The problem isn’t religion, in my opinion. The problem is that religion is peopled with people, and people are the problem….

    • Avatar
      dankoh  October 3, 2019

      Evidence also shows that Joshua uses the same “annihilation” (Herem or ban) language found in Egyptian, Moabite, and other documents of the period, none of which reflect the archeological findings. This was standard over-the-top language common in those days.

  4. Avatar
    fishician  September 30, 2019

    A few years ago I listened to Dr. Amy-Jill Levine’s course on the Old Testament from the Great Courses, and she brought up some subtle references in the OT that suggest the 12 tribes of Israel were really an amalgamation of tribes living in the land, instead of being derived from one family that eventually conquered the land. I have more recently read that some Jewish historians argue that Israel has a right to its land not because it conquered it from others as in the Bible, but because, as Dr. Levine suggested, the people that made up Israel had always lived in the land. But I’m sure to an ancient audience tales of miraculous battles and conquest made for a stronger national identity, (I hope your blog members know that you also have some excellent courses available through The Great Courses.)

    • Bart
      Bart  October 1, 2019

      Yeah, she’s great. And I agree with her on that one. And I hope you’re right about the Great Courses!

      • Avatar
        Euler  October 1, 2019

        Two of the blog members definitely know. The Great Courses live up to the name.

        • fefferdan
          fefferdan  October 2, 2019

          I had a home bible study group for about 15 years. [it moved to church now… more people but less time] We nearly always started our NT studies with 20-30 minutes from one of Bart’s Great Courses lectures, and the OT studies with the same from Amy-Jill. Some others teachers too, but you guys definitely have some disciples here in Maryland.

      • Avatar
        Lebo55  November 5, 2019

        I bought her “the Jewish annotated new testament” have you checked it out, also I went on a study Bible kick and bought the archeological study Bible, the cultural backgrounds study Bible and Kent dobsons NIV first century study Bible where you can “explore scripture in its Jewish and early Christian context”

  5. Avatar
    JAF  September 30, 2019

    “When considering the historicity of the narratives of Joshua, the first thing to re-emphasize is that these are not accounts written by eyewitnesses or by anyone who knew an eyewitness. They were written some 600 years later, and were based on oral traditions that had been in circulation among people in Israel during all those intervening centuries.” And this is just one example, supposedly, of the arguments made for the authenticity of “Islam” by its followers. They have been taught that all of what is in the “books” has been changed (possibly several times) by man whereas there is only ONE Koran, dictated to the Prohphet Muhammed directly by God. If you ever get tired of the OT & NT Bart, perhaps you can challenge yourself in a new direction and enlighten us (and the world) on the Koran!

    • Bart
      Bart  October 1, 2019

      Ah, it would take 20 years of rigorous study and preparation. And alas, I”m not immortal…..

  6. Avatar
    qditt  September 30, 2019

    Dr. Ehrman,

    This is a great post (especially for history lovers). If you have time, my question for you is this:

    In your experience, how do most Christians argue that the god of the OT was/is Jesus (or his Father depending on the sect)? They just seem SO different to me. I believe I understand WHY they would try to argue they were the same being, but HOW, other than just needing to trace Christianity as far back as possible?

    No matter how much I try, I just cannot believe in their perspective lifetimes that Isaiah or Moses or Abraham were preaching about the son of Mary and Joseph.

    Thank you in advance for your two cents! (Your thoughts are probably worth more than that, but I digress).

    • Bart
      Bart  October 1, 2019

      I don’t know why Chrisatians would argue that Jesus is Yahweh, the OT God; it’s actually hard for me to believe some do, though I know some do. Clearly in the Bible Jesus is hte *Son* of that God, not that God himself…. But it’s another way of exalting Jesus as high as he can go, even though this view was declared a heresy in early Christianity

      • Avatar
        Duke12  October 1, 2019

        Did the identification of Christ with Yahweh start with Justin Martyr? For instance, in Chapter 62 of the 1st Apology he writes “In the land of Arabia, our Christ conversed with him [Moses] under the appearance of fire from a bush …”

        • Bart
          Bart  October 2, 2019

          No, definitely not. He is referring to The Angel of the Lord speaking from the bush.

          • Avatar
            Duke12  October 3, 2019

            Just making sure I have this right: So you’re saying that Justin is identifying Christ with the Angel of the Lord who is doing the actual speaking, but not really with Yahweh (because it’s not really Yahweh speaking from the bush but rather his representative). Is the Hebrew/Septuagint for Exodus clear on this, because it seems like the English translation of Exodus doesn’t distinguish much between “God” and “Angel of the Lord” at least in this particular instance; Such as: Exodus 3:14 (NIV) God said to Moses, “I am who I am. This is what you are to say to the Israelites: ‘I am has sent me to you.’” Would that nuance have been obvious to Justin? (as opposed to a modern person raised as an Evangelical). I’m not challenging, just curious and wanting to learn more.

          • Bart
            Bart  October 4, 2019

            Yes, that’s what I’m saying. And no, the passage itself is deliciously ambiguous, because the speaker is identified clearly as the Angel but then is called the LORD, and usually that’s taken to mean that since he was the LORD’s spokesperson he was speaking as the LORD (i.e. with his authority). But he wasn’t the LORD himself.

      • Avatar
        Damian King  October 4, 2019

        Bart I am a bit confused by this. You do agree that in the Gospel of John, which you date to late 1st century, Jesus is identified as Yahweh himself. Why would you then go on to say that this was not a doctrine believed by early Christians? Isn’t late 1st century “early Christianity”?

        • Bart
          Bart  October 6, 2019

          No, I’d say precisely not. Yahweh is the Father; Christ is the Son. They are not the same. If they were the same, then when Jesus prays in John 17 he would be talking to himself.

          • Avatar
            Damian King  October 6, 2019

            Bart, we can’t have it both ways. When Jesus says, “I Am” (John 8:58), he is saying that he is Yahweh. “I AM, is the name of Yahweh.” You have agreed with this previously, are you walking back? Because, there are lectures where you openly explain that the Gospel of John, in this passage, identifies Jesus as “I Am” from Exodus, i.e Yahweh, and not only that, you state that John shows that even Jews understood what he was claiming. Unless I am missing something?

          • Bart
            Bart  October 7, 2019

            OK, you’re welcome to see it that way. But no, he is clearly not claiming to be Yahweh. He is claiming the name of Yahweh. In the world at the time, when a messenger is sent from the king (say, to a local village), he speaks “in the name” of the king, and the way he, and his message, are received is to be the way the king is received. He is the local embodiment of the king, with the king’s message, authority, and stature. That’s what is going on in John. Jesus simply can NOT be his own father, and John never identifies him that way.

      • Avatar
        Damian King  October 7, 2019

        Bart, I must admit I feel unsatisfied with the answer you gave me down below, that in the Gospel of John, John does not believe that Jesus is Yahweh Himself.
        It is one thing to believe that this is not what the historical Jesus said, but it is whole another thing to say that John did not think this way.

        Let’s go to John 1:1-2
        When John says: “In the beginning was the word and the word was WITH GOD”… which God does he mean? Does he mean anything other than Yahweh? Because if he means Yahweh, which, I think naturally follows, then in the very next sentence he says that the word was itself God, literally Yahweh. What else could John say that could make you convinced that he (and his community, presumably) thinks that Jesus is Yahweh? If he literally says that the word that became flesh (Jesus), was not only WITH Yahweh, but was itself Yahweh… Like, what else could he say that would convince you that this is exactly what he has in mind?

        Unless you are arguing that when John said that “word was with God”, he had another God in mind, other than Yahweh, which would make him a polytheist? Is that what you argue for? Because you personally date John to AD 90, which is decidedly “Early Christianity.”

        Thanks in advance

        • Bart
          Bart  October 8, 2019

          That’s right — he was *with* Yahweh, and he was *also* God. I.e, a divine being other than Yahweh. Otherwise he could not be *with* him.

  7. Avatar
    alanpaul71  September 30, 2019

    They were probably there all along – they were themselves Canaanites?

  8. Avatar
    darren  September 30, 2019

    I’m excited about this thread! The Canaanites play such an important role but we never hear much about them historically. I’m curious about their connection with Egypt, and why they collapsed as a civilization (if that’s what happened.)

    • Bart
      Bart  October 1, 2019

      Ah, huge scholarship on all that. But I’m not an expert. They were *not*, though, particularly connected with Egypt.

    • Avatar
      Lebo55  November 3, 2019

      This is in connection with a question I asked but wasn’t clear, their callapse may have been a result of the invasion of the sea peoples, most scholars don’t know where this group came from Sicily probably or Minoans whatever their origin they played a part in the callapse of the bronze age. The philistines mentioned in the OT are the sea peoples

      https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sea_Peoples

  9. Avatar
    brenmcg  September 30, 2019

    Maybe just a small warrior class coming in from egypt and taking control? Then later legends trying to claim the total population living in israel/canaan was descended from these conquerors?

  10. Avatar
    brenmcg  September 30, 2019

    off topic q: 1 John 5:7,8 (without the comma johanneum) is usually translated something like “… the Spirit and the water and the blood, and these three agree”
    Isn’t though the correct translation “… these are three in one”?

    • Bart
      Bart  October 1, 2019

      Yes, these three “are one”. I’m not sure I’ve seen the other translation. A bit odd….

  11. Avatar
    roy  September 30, 2019

    absolutely amazing that facts and logic matter not in the least, you just have to believe in blind faith. I wonder how well todays Christians would like an updated story. let’s say god comes down to earth and tells the Mexican people you are now my chosen people since they are primarily good catholics, and i’m going to give you the means and ability to take over the promised land(being America) kill all the people, the children and babies and be sure and kill all their livestock and puppies, kittens, so forth and take their lands. what a wonderful story for them. is that a vastly different situation from the exodus story? and where did all those mighty Hebrew warriors get their weapons anyway? did the Egyptians graciously provide them to them as they left? or did they setup forges in the desert and mine metals? at least they had plenty of time(40 yr) what was the signifigance of 40 over and over??

    • Avatar
      Kirktrumb59  October 1, 2019

      Significance: Muddy Waters would make a great song out of it.

  12. Avatar
    Apocryphile  October 1, 2019

    Of course, when the purported conquest of Canaan supposedly took place, the “Israelites” were already there – they *were* the Canaanites.

  13. Avatar
    Steefen  October 1, 2019

    Bart:
    There should be archaeological evidence that the cities and towns mentioned actually were destroyed AT THE TIME, but it appears there is no archaeological evidence.

    Steefen:
    There is archeological evidence of Jericho’s destruction. Hopefully, you will be able to edit your textbook to prevent teaching students inaccuracies. The archaeologists have been to Jericho, Bart. Your claim is false. Aren’t there ethics against willfully misleading students? You say there is no archeological evidence for the destruction of Jericho. That is an error.

    Jericho was excavated by Sellin and Watzinger 1907-1909 and later by Dame Kathleen Kenyon.
    Ai (Khirbet el-Makatir) was excavated by Bryant Wood.

    In between the upper and lower walls of the citadel of Jericho, there were houses representing one of the poor districts of the town, built onto the sloping rampart with narrow stepped streets. Some of these dwellings were not only between the walls but also built into the lower wall so that the fortress wall actually formed the outer, northernmost wall of the houses. This is just as is described in the Book of Joshua where Rahab the prostitute’s house was located “within the wall” of Jericho.
    = = =
    I have named some of the archaeologists showing you are wrong to say there is no verification. Now, to go beyond, explaining why there is no verification at the time many expect the conquest to have followed upon the Wilderness Tradition which followed upon the Exodus. The Exodus was not from Ramesses the Great at Pi-Ramesses. The exodus was from an earlier incarnation of Pi-Ramesses: Avaris.
    = = =
    Do you want to discuss this matter with the archaeologist David Rohl with the intent to provide students using the college textbook, The Bible: A Historical and Literary Introduction?

    • Bart
      Bart  October 2, 2019

      Sorry, that’s not right. Archaeologists have definitively shown that Jericho was not a major walled city at the time described in the book of Joshua. Kenyon simply got it wrong. There are massive publications on this and it is not a disputed point among professional archaeologists who have no horse in the race.

      • Avatar
        Steefen  October 2, 2019

        The description of the citadel is spot on.

        Second, sure there are massive publications that mistakenly assign the fall of Jericho after Ramesses the Great because the Bible explicitly says the Israelites were building a store house for Ramesses the Great, Pi-Ramesses. Your massive publications and any conclusions drawn from those publications are erroneous because Israelites did not have a big show down with Ramesses the Great. Third, there is a better candidate for the historical Moses than the one you and massive publications are using and this moves the chronology back to 1455 BCE with the fall of Jericho happening at approximately 1415 BCE. No, Kenyon is not wrong. What is wrong is to insist the Bible is accurate about Ramesses the Great is the Pharaoh of the Oppression. // Pi-Ramesses is a later incarnation of Avaris and the writers of the first chapter of Exodus were not specific about using the geographical name at the time when a Semitic quarter of Avaris abandoned their homes after a plague and left in exodus.

        The archaeological description of Jericho verifies the bible as stated:

        In between the upper and lower walls of the citadel of Jericho, there were houses representing one of the poor districts of the town, built onto the sloping rampart with narrow stepped streets. Some of these dwellings were not only between the walls but also built into the lower wall so that the fortress wall actually formed the outer, northernmost wall of the houses. This is just as is described in the Book of Joshua where Rahab the prostitute’s house was located “within the wall” of Jericho.

        After a prestigious reign of 67 years, Ramesses II dies at the exceptional age of 92. So, can you reply after checking with the British Museum, the Met Museum, or any other museum, that you have support for insisting that Ramesses II was the Pharaoh of the Oppression who drowned chasing the Israelites because Exodus says the Israelites were building his storehouses?

      • Avatar
        Steefen  October 4, 2019

        John Noble Wilford’s Feb. 22, 1990 article in the New York Times

        https://www.nytimes.com/1990/02/22/world/believers-score-in-battle-over-the-battle-of-jericho.html

        ”When we compare the archeological evidence at Jericho with the biblical narrative describing the Israelite destruction of Jericho, we find a quite remarkable agreement,” Dr. Bryant G. Wood, an archeologist at the University of Toronto, wrote in the March-April issue of Biblical Archeology Review.

        The article goes on to speak about how the traditional and mistaken expectation that Joshua’s invasion happened after Ramesses the Great/Pi-Ramesses, but Ms. Kenyon could not find any pottery attributed to that period. “This led to her conclusion that the city had fallen and been abandoned from 1600 to 1550 BC. [The archaeologist, Rohl, dates it at 1515 BC.]

        Stepping away from Rohl for a moment, I share that Dr. Bryant Wood, an archaeologist at the Univ. of Toronto concluded the pottery was missed by Kenyon. Other lines of evidence converged to support his conclusion that there is verification, evidence of the biblical account of Jericho. There was a mud brick wall. It was incorrect to say there was no walled city.

        Can you provide refutation against the Univ. of Toronto archaeologist 1990 interpretation shown above? If not, will you qualify your statement or make a correction?

        • Avatar
          Steefen  October 6, 2019

          David Rohl’s reply about the NYT’s article:

          98% of the graves at Jericho are dated to the MB I (over 300 years), while at very most 2% date to the Late Bronze I (over 150 years). The conclusion must therefore be obvious that THERE WAS NO CITY AT JERICHO IN THE LATE BRONZE I because the population was less than 100 (represented by a maximum of 20 burials over 150 years).

          The mudbrick wall is dated by everyone except Wood to the MB IIB.

          The 2% of pottery dated to the LB I burials represents the residence of Eglon of Moab (Judges).

          Bryant Wood and his followers are COMPLETELY WRONG … as every archaeologist familiar with the issue will tell you.

          Consult the papers and research of all the top archaeologists – scholars such as Piotr Bienkowski who is the leading expert on LB Jericho.

        • Bart
          Bart  October 6, 2019

          You’ll note this article was written 30 years ago in a *newspaper*. You don’t want to turn to a newspaper to learn scholarship! Even so, I’m tellin’ you: archaeologists are unified that there was no major walled city of Jericho to be destroyed in the days of Joshua. If you want some authoritative accounts, well, they are easily accessed and widespread. Maybe start with the writings of William Dever or Unearthing the Bible by Siverman and Finkelstein.

          • Avatar
            Steefen  October 6, 2019

            Bart:
            The article was written 30 years ago in a “newspaper.”
            Steefen
            And?
            A newspaper reports the work and interpretation of an archaeologist associated with a university. It holds up until directly refuted.
            Bart:
            The article was written 30 years ago in a “newspaper.”
            Steefen
            That goes for “Biblical Archeology Review” also?
            = = =
            Bart::
            A) Archaeological evidence that the cities and towns mentioned actually were destroyed
            and B)
            at the time Jericho
            Steefen:
            We have A.
            We have B when there is evidence that the destruction occurred at the time the archaeologists and Egyptologists say it happened, not when the Bible says it happened.

            In 2014 lectures on DVD by the Egyptologist David Rohl, he has proven your suggested authors wrong: William Dever (author of What Did the Biblical Writers Know and When Did They Know It, 2001), Silverman, and Finkelstein (authors of The Bible Unearthed,, 2001).

            https://www.amazon.com/DAVID-ROHL-LECTURES-DVD-set/dp/B0167EV9XO/ref=sr_1_1?keywords=The+David+Rohl+Lectures&qid=1570412006&sr=8-1

            The description of Jericho is verified by archaeological descriptions matching biblical descriptions. That is where your claim needs to be corrected. This physical evidence will not change. How you, Dever, Silverman, and Finkelstein interpret the timing is too weak to uphold your claim: Yes, the physical evidence verifies the Bible but it is not on the Bible’s timeline.

            The Bible’s timeline is not an acceptable standard.

            The verified Jericho description happened before the Bible’s timeline for it to happen. We cannot say Jericho did not catch on fire as the Bible says because that is verified by archaeological evidence.

            When Dever, Silverman, and Finkelstein say Jericho is not on the Biblical timeline where the Bible says it supposed to be, that does not mean the Jericho account is without merit, it means the Bible timeline is wrong.

            When the Bible has taken a verified place and event and conflated it with either fiction/exaggeration or an earlier historical event, the burning of Jericho is not a fiction/exaggeration, it is simply an earlier historical event.

            Similarly, given the question, Did the guest eat dinner, eating at 7pm or 6pm does not change the fact that the guest ate dinner.. Yes?

      • Avatar
        R0bby  October 6, 2019

        Hi Bart,

        Egyptian chronology has been challenged by Egyptologist David Rohl. Like you, he’s an agnostic who is mainly concerned with proper rendering of his discipline. His work precedes him and his lectures are absolutely encouraging and convincing. It is highly likely that Israel embellished their story on all fronts; however, there existence is historical and found in the archaeological record, if, the Egyptian chronological record is adjusted and corrected as show by Dr. Rohl. Bart, I think you will enjoy his lecture on this located here: https://youtu.be/QEm-ovpMM5c

        Let me know what you think? Take care my friend!

  14. Avatar
    Hon Wai  October 1, 2019

    Have you come across the book “The miracles of Exodus (2003)” by Colin J Humphreys (en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Colin_Humphreys), originally published by Continuum – a respectable academic press? The book has endorsements by a Regius Professor of Hebrew and a Professor of Egyptology at Cambridge. He is not a biblical scholar but is a distinguished Cambridge physicist, knighted for his scientific work, received CBE and is a Fellow of the Royal Society. He is also a devout Christian, an evangelical of some sort, judging from his affiliation with a number of broadly evangelical organisations promoting a positive dialogue between science and religion. Like many high calibre Christian scientists, he fully accepts Darwinian evolution and views the Genesis creation accounts as symbolic with deep theological meaning. However, he comes to the conclusion that the Exodus story is accurate history, and the associated miracle stories (10 plagues, parting of Red Sea, the burning bush etc.) did happen, albeit naturalistically, the miracles being “miracles of extraordinary coincidence” (e.g. God timed everything so that when the Israelites were about to cross the Red Sea, there were some rare sea & wind conditions). He concludes: “I am well aware that most scholars believe the book of Exodus is riddled with errors and inconsistencies. I’ve subjected the biblical text to a real grilling in this book, and I can only stand back in amazement at its accuracy and consistency, down to points of tiny detail … The Exodus story revealed in this book is truly astonishing, amazing and inspirational.” He thinks the sun “standing still” should be translated as the sun “falling silent” i.e. it stopped doing what it normally does – namely it stopped shining, that it, the text describes a solar eclipse. He even worked out a probable date for the solar eclipse around time of Joshua! (https://www.premierchristianradio.com/Shows/Saturday/The-Profile/Episodes/Sir-Colin-Humphreys-The-Cambridge-scientist-making-sense-of-Old-Testament-miracles; listen to interview at the 37minutes mark; https://www.latimes.com/archives/la-xpm-2003-apr-12-me-religsinai12-story.html)
    I would side with the received view in critical scholarship that much of Exodus and the deuteronomistic accounts are legendary, though maybe Humphrey’s novel explanations are worth a hearing. What do you make of all this?

    • Bart
      Bart  October 2, 2019

      Yeah, the naturalistic explanations have been around for a very long time. They have repeatedly been shown not to work. My view is that physicists writing about the Bible are usually just about as persuasive as biblical scholars writing about physics….

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    Hon Wai  October 1, 2019

    Some patristic writers have noticed some of the discrepancies in the gospels, and sought to harmonise them. In the case of the accounts in Joshua and the deuteronistic texts, had any patristic writers picked up on the discrepancies?

    • Bart
      Bart  October 2, 2019

      I don’t know. I imagine Origen did, but I’ve never looked into it.

  16. fefferdan
    fefferdan  October 2, 2019

    About the Canaanite connection with Egypt, one interesting point comes from the Amarna Letters, in which Canaanite city-kings write to their Egyptian overlords begging for protection from the Habiru/Apiru nomads who harassed them and threated even to conquer some towns. I agree with those scholars who see this as the historical kernel of truth behind the Joshua myth. Finkelstein for example opines that King David [whom he sees as an historical figure, if exaggerated in stature] was probably the last and greatest of the Apiru warrior chiefs. Not much is known about the Apiru religion but it’s not inconceivable that they worshiped a desert god who favored herders over farmers [and thus Abel over Cain]. In this scenario, eventually, the primitive Apiru religion is gradually adopted by the various Canaanite towns and evolves into the Israelite myth of the twelve tribes. Maybe some escaped slaves from Egypt add their stories to the mix. Once the Yahweh-only priesthood comes along, we also get a revelation from God that earlier Canaanite religions need to be wiped out.

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    dannawid  October 5, 2019

    In his book the Bible came from Arabia, dr. Kamal Salibi argues that the Israelites oreginated in south west Arabia in and around the province of Asir where there is a tribe known as El-Cannaan as well as a village bearing that name. The people who lived in rhe mountains of Asir where isolated from the rest of the world till they were discovered in the 1930s. they spoke a dialect between arabic and hebrew and their songs and poetry could have been taken from the psalms. as islam never reached them, they knew nothing about it. later on wahabi missionaries went up and introduce it to them. there are many biblical names to be found in western Arabia such as Ma’areb dam in Yeman of queen Shiba, Midian in northern Arabia, Adam, Mount Mousa, (Moses) and many others. May be Mrs. Finkelsein and Silberman are not looking in the right places to uncover the OT.

    • Bart
      Bart  October 6, 2019

      As you can imagine, tribes from the 1930s are not usually seen as the best sources of information for what happened over 3000 years earlier. (Of course every group of people claim can claim that they have traditoins that go back thousands of years. But how do you *verify* it? There are lots of ways to *disverify* it)

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    Lebo55  November 1, 2019

    I watched a lecture by Eric Cline about the callapse of the bronze age and the sea peoples, the OT does mention the philistines who I guess are one of the sea peoples with that the fact that Egypt ruled over Canaan, is it possible with Egypt being one of the last empires to fall to the sea peoples that the kingdom of Israel arose out of the callapse?

    • Bart
      Bart  November 1, 2019

      Not sure what you’re askig. Egypt, of course, didn’t fall — it has had a very long continous existence. Did you mean the Canaanites? There never was a kingdom of Canaan (as there was of Egypt), and the Canaanite people were still in the land when Israel began to arise.

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    Lebo55  November 1, 2019

    Right, let me ask it another way did Egypt rule over the land of Canaan and if so with the bronze age callapse have led the canaanites to break away from the Egyptian empire?

    • Bart
      Bart  November 3, 2019

      On and off over the centuries, but not during the period we’re talking about, 13th c BCE or so.

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