The Bible Unearthed-An Extended Review, Part 5

Chapter 3

This chapter deals with the Conquest. Its description of the Bronze Age Collapse is accurate, except the beginning (Crete was not a part of the 13th century BC world,there were no mines in the Negev). Also, on the Page 84 map, Abu Simbel is much too far North. The description of LB II Canaan is also mostly accurate, except for the date of the Merenptah Stele (1209/8, not 1207 BC), and the unfounded assumption an Egyptian statue found at a site is indicative of Egyptian rule (such a statue, if found in situ, might serve as a dating criterion).

Then, the debatable (not by me) stuff follows. F&S decide to commence the critique with Albright’s excavations of Tell Beit Mirsim (a little mound just NW of Bayt Mirsim on Google Maps, at the edge of the W. Bank) in the Shephelah, wrongly identified by him as Debir in the hill country, which was later found (not definitively) at the fortified Late Bronze site of Khirbet Rabud (modern Rabud, on the Hebron-Beersheba road, just S. of the Israeli settlement of Otni’el). They seemed to show a destruction at the end of LB II. However, Jericho was only destroyed at the end of MB IIC, as confirmed by radiocarbon dating. Ai is, however, contra Finkelstein, possibly not et-Tell, but likely Khirbet Maqatir. In any case, et-Tell’s population would be 5, not 12, thousand people (thousand can mean “group of six to ten”, too!). Also, Joshua was only said to have destroyed three sites: Jericho, Ai, and Hazor. While some Joshua stories could be etiological tales, this can only be confirmed by looking at the occupation records of each site the book mentions.  The others were simply pillaged. Note, too, the book probably contains plenty of memories from the Shilohite priesthood that formed the Deuteronomistic school. There is also no contradiction between Josh and Judg.-one deals with raiding, the other deals with occupying. Since all the conclusively identified sites mentioned in the town lists of Joshua were not inhabited until the 7th century BC, this is the only period we can be sure when the book was put into its final edition.

Author: pithom

An atheist with an interest in the history of the ancient Near East. Author of the Against Jebel al-Lawz Wordpress blog.

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