Where Did the Israelites Originate?

So much of the Hebrew Bible is myth that it is difficult to separate the fiction from fact or, actually, the historicity from the mythology. The books of Joshua and Judges, for example present the tribe of the Israelites as a powerful military force which successfully fought battle after battle with their enemies to conquer the lands of Canaan. Naturally, God/Yahweh both advised and helped the Israelites through these magnificent conquests. 

Today, these passages in the Hebrew Texts are upheld by the modern state of Israel as proof that it deserves the land ‘promised’ to them by God/YHWH. Sadly, it is all bunk. Modern archaeology has proven both books to be mythology. Jewish archaeologist Israel Finkelstein’s book, The Bible Unearthed, presents a strong case for this. Not only does this science disregard much of Joshua and Kings, but it also deflates the principle that the Israelites were a ‘chosen race.’

Finkelstein And several otherarchaeologists and historians of the ancient Near East hold the idea that the ancient Israelites were merely Canaanites who eventually formed a separate culture and their own ethnic identity. Rather than ancient Israel being its own ethnic group, these scholars claim that Israelites and Canaanites shared the same ancestry, somewhere around 1200 BC or later, after the collapse of several Canaanite city-states, certain Canaanites split off to form the Israelite group. This theory of shared ethnicity is based upon archaeological evidence which shows similarity in language and material culture, pottery, architecture and tools, plus a common region ofsettlement. 

Beyond Finkelstein, Aharon Kempinski, “How Profoundly Canaanized Were the Early Israelites?” and William Dever, “Who Were the Early Israelites and Where Did They Come From?” present similar evidence and draw the same conclusion about the origin of the tribe of Israel. Further, none of them certify the Exodus from Egypt.

As a result, what are we to conclude about the authorship of the Hebrew texts? Were they really “inspired by God/YHWH? Or are they merely the musings of writers who wish that the history of their people had been much more grand?


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