Yesterday I argued that the Old Testament account found of the “Conquest of Canaan,” as found in the book of Joshua, cannot be historically accurate.  This is one of those matters that matter.   As we all know full well, the dispute over the land has been going on for millennia, and continues to create trauma and disaster, war and suffering, all the time — no matter which side you stand on.  And please, in your comments, do not make polemical political remarks that are hostile to those who disagree with your position; there are huge problems everywhere you look….

Our question here, for the purposes of this blog, right now, is not about legitimacy — who should own what, and on what grounds? — but history.  If Israel was not in fact a pre-existing entity that emerged out of Egypt at the Exodus and then entered the land God had promised the ancestors, wiping out the native population to take over what by divine right was theirs — then where then did Israel come from?   Historically?   At one time there was no nation in that part of the world; at a later time there was.  So where did it come from?

This question has intrigued and even plagued critical scholars for a very long time.  Here I explain some of the leading options commonly propose over fairly recent decades, taken from my textbook on the Bible.


Explanations for the Beginnings of Israel in the Land

Modern scholars have come up with a number of explanations for how the nation of Israel emerged within the land known as Canaan. The following are the four most popular.

This is a post that might actually matter for something other than antiquarian interests.  Even if you’re not an ancient history buff — well, you may want to know all this.  And if you do have antiquarian proclivities, you’re in the right place.  To read what historians have said, you gotta join the blog.  And why not?.  It won’t cost much and all your fee goes straight to charity.