Tuesday, May 5, 2020

Joshua's Conquest Of Canaan And Evidence

“(1) Usually less than about 5 or 10 percent of any given mound is ever dug down to Late Bronze (or any other) levels; hence between 85 to 95 percent of our potential source of evidence is never seen.(2)The principal Hebrew policy under Joshua was to kill leaders and inhabitants, not to destroy the cities, but eventually to occupy them (cf. Deut 6:10-11), destroying only the alien cult places (Deut 12:2-3). (3) Conquests, even historically well-known examples, often do not leave behind the sorts of traces that modern scholars overconfidently expect...” (p. 189-190)

“See B.S. J. Isserlin…quoting the Norman Conquest, the Anglo-Saxon settlement in England, and the Muslim Arab invasion of Syria-Palestine. One may also cite the innumerable campaigns of Egyptian, Hittite, Assyrian, and Neo-Babylonian armies in the Levant, of whose encampments and battlefields almost no traces are ever found...” (p. 545, note 84)

“No total conquest and occupation. The book of Joshua does not describe a total Hebrew conquest and occupation of Canaan, real or imaginary. Read straight, its narratives describe an entry (from over the Jordan), full destruction of two minor centers (Jericho, Ai; burned), then defeat of local kings and raids through south Canaan. Towns are attacked, taken, and damaged (“destroyed”), kings and subjects killed and then left behind, not held on to. The same in north Canaan; strategic Hazor is fully destroyed (burned), but no others. The rest are treated like the southern towns, and again left, not held...” (p. 234-235)

“...external data for Joshua and Numbers. We have no direct exter nal textual references to the Israelite entry or raids or initial settlement from Gilgal to Shechem. In the later thirteenth century, Mesopotamia - in the guise of Assyria - never penetrated beyond the Euphrates into Syria proper; Hittite power at Carchemish stood against them. So no data can come on south Palestinian events (especially in the inner highlands) from that quarter. Egypt officially was overlord of Canaan, but her main interest was in the productive coastal plains, lowland hills, and Jezreel, not in the economically poorer highland, and in keeping hold on the main routes north into Phoenicia (to Tyre, Sidon, Babylos, &c) and to Damascus in Upe...” (p. 235)

Excerpts taken from K.A. Kitchen, On the Reliability of the Old Testament

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