Archaeology News And Notes -- By: Anonymous
BSP 5:3 (Summer 1992) p. 101
Archaeology News And Notes
Who Were The Israelites?
Most readers would ask, “What kind of a question is that?” But many serious Bible scholars — critics of the Bible, that is — have a great problem with the origin of the Israelites. Since they do not accept the Biblical explanation of the origin and history of Israel, they have been bantering about several theories of their own.
Neil Asher Silberman reviewed their theories in the March/April (1992) issue of Archaeology magazine. Silberman acknowledges the problem: “At issue are the Book’s (Joshua) first 12 chapters.” Readers of A&BR would do well to know these theories since they are becoming so widespread and are being taught to our youth, even in church-related schools. ABR does not accept any of these theories, although some helpful research material related to the Bible can be found in them.
Silberman summarizes the situation at the beginning of the article, “(They) conclude that the ancient Israelite confederacy did not arise in a divinely directed military conquest from the desert but through a remarkable socio-economic change in the lives of a few thousand herders, farmers, and villagers in Canaan itself” (p. 22). In other words, the Israelites, instead of being Abraham’s descendents, were originally Canaanites!
How did the situation become so confused in trying to settle this question? Silberman points out on page 24 that two sites, among others, are primary troublemakers. “At Jericho, for instance, repeated, intensive excavations uncovered no trace of a city wall or destruction level at the supposed date of the arrival of the Israelites. At Yarmuth, Arad, and Ai (cities all specifically mentioned as being conquered [but not necessarily destroyed]), surveys and excavations found no trace of a thirteenth-century BC occupation” (our emphasis).
We emphasize these two troublesome sites, Jericho and Ai, because our ABR staff have been doing research on them: on Ai since 1966, and on Jericho since 1980. And we have discovered in both cases that they were occupied in ca 1400 BC, precisely the Biblical date of their destruction. Dr. Byant Wood has even discovered clear and striking evidence of the Israelite destruction of Jericho.
Near the close of the article Silberman laid out in no uncertain language the critical view prevailing among most scholars and educational institutions, “What seems almost certain, however, is that the story of the bloody conquest of the Land of Canaan as a unified military campaign led by a single, divinely directed leader was woven together centuries later — an anachronistic saga of triumph on the battlefied, crafted and compiled by loyal court poets anxious to flat...
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