The Exodus And The Conquest Of The Negeb -- By: Harold M. Wiener

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 076:304 (Oct 1919)
Article: The Exodus And The Conquest Of The Negeb
Author: Harold M. Wiener


The Exodus And The Conquest Of The Negeb

Harold M. Wiener

London, England

In approaching this subject it is necessary once more to lay stress on two outstanding points. No nation would invent to its own disadvantage a story, that, on attempting an invasion, it had been defeated so crushingly, and with such heavy casualties, as to be compelled to wander in a wilderness for thirty-eight years before embarking on any further undertaking. Once this is realized we are compelled, on any critical view, to accept the defeat recorded in Deut. 1:43 ff., 2:14, as absolutely historical. It must be realized as the dominating and all-important fact in the early military history of the people, and it fully explains the retirement from the Negeb after the earlier victory (Num. 21:1–3).

Secondly, emphasis must be placed on the close parallelism between the Hebrew and Egyptian accounts. According to the Pentateuch, Israel built Pithom and Raamses as store cities for the Pharaoh in one reign of long duration. In the opening years of the next they were decisively defeated with heavy casualties in the south of Canaan by vassals of Egypt. As a result the country enjoyed a lasting peace from the Israelite menace. According to Egyptology, Pithom and Raamses were built as store cities for the Pharaoh in the reign of Rameses II., which lasted for 66 or 67 years. In the opening years of his successor, Merneptah, the people of Israel was decisively defeated with heavy casualties in or near Canaan, and a triumphal hymn celebrates the lasting peace that this and other events have given the country under Egyptian suzerainty. These two records are much more alike than the accounts given of the same event by warring nations nowadays, and we need have no hesitation in recognizing their correspondence. There cannot have been two peoples of Israel trapesing about, both defeated in Canaan with heavy casualties in Merneptah’s opening years in such a way as to

give the country durable peace. The details have been worked out in “The Date of the Exodus.” 1 Here it is sufficient to recall these salient points.2

When we pass to the narratives of the conquest, we find ourselves confronted with three questions which are closely related. What happened? How was it narrated? How did that narrative reach its present form? Generally the answer to any one of these questions helps us to find the replies to the others.

Even a cur...

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