“The Cities Are Great and Walled Up to Heaven”: Canaanite Fortifications in the Late Bronze I Period -- By: David G. Hansen

Journal: Faith and Mission
Volume: FM 18:1 (Fall 2000)
Article: “The Cities Are Great and Walled Up to Heaven”: Canaanite Fortifications in the Late Bronze I Period
Author: David G. Hansen

“The Cities Are Great and Walled Up to Heaven”:
Canaanite Fortifications in the Late Bronze I Period

David G. Hansen

Colonel, U. S. Army (Retired)
President, Board of Directors
Associates for Biblical Research
1313 Orchard Way
Frederick, Maryland 21703

A Paper Delivered to the Near East Archaeological Society
at the 52d Annual Meeting of the Evangelical Theological Society
Nashville, Tennessee, November 16, 2000


One of the most vociferously attacked historical accounts in the Bible is the Old Testament description of the Israelite conquest of Canaan as recorded in the Book of Joshua. According to many critics, the archaeological evidence does not support either the Biblical version or date of the Conquest events. In a recent analysis of the status of archaeology in contemporary Israel, the Israeli archaeologist Ze’ev Herzog said:

This is what archaeologists have learned from their excavations in the Land of Israel: the Israelites were never in Egypt, did not wander in the desert, did not conquer the land in a military campaign and did not pass it on to the 12 tribes of Israel (Watzman 2000).

Christian evangelical scholars seem to agree and many have conceded that the Biblical account of the Conquest is less than accurate. As a result they are reinterpreting events so that they come into agreement with the supposed “assured” results of archaeological research. One notable example of this trend is an article authored by Daniel C. Browning, Jr. (Ph.D. in Biblical Backgrounds and Archaeology, Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary), in the conservative theological journal, Southwestern Journal of Theology (Browning 1998). Browning’s article, “The Hill Country is Not Enough For Us: Recent Archaeology and the Book of Joshua,” was reviewed by Dr. Bryant Wood (1999a, 1) who quoted the following from Browning’s article:

In order to defend-in a credible way-a military invasion [of Canaan], the conservative interpreter must be willing to concede that the Book of Joshua is a glorified account of relatively small military encounters with an occasional victory. The interpreter must further accept the possibility of etiological elements and editorial expansion of the story and the likelihood that some elements which composed Israel had their origin with the land itself.

Dr. Wood rhetorically asks, “Is the problem with Scripture, or is it with scholars’ interpretations of archaeological science?” This intriguing question prompted the development of this paper which is intended to examine one of the problems confronting scholars as they tr...

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