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So who are we really?!

In response to one of the commenters of the article "We are aliens to Israel" (June 2006), who was interested in knowing the origins of several peoples who lived here in the region, the following is in brief.

Dr. Yehiam Sorek

The cover of the book The Beginning of Israel by Israel Finkelstein and Neil Asher Silverman
The cover of the book The Beginning of Israel by Israel Finkelstein and Neil Asher Silverman

In response to one of the commenters of the article "We are aliens to Israel" (June 2006), who was interested in knowing the origins of several peoples who lived here in the region, the following is in brief.

The beginnings of the history of the people of Israel have always intrigued senior historians both for intellectual reasons, for religious reasons (the beginning of Christianity), for colonialist motives, and even purely out of curiosity to try and crack the riddles of the Bible.

A well-known American researcher named Albright, known as the "Father of Biblical Archaeology" held the claim that the Bible is also sacred for purely historical reasons, and should be treated as "the living words of God", and he even considered the period of the patriarchs (the well-known Abraham, Isaac and Jacob) as a kind of foundation Al-Kadmon, whose successors, and even tangibly and pictorially, are the Bedouins, the tent-dwellers, shepherds and wanderers, of his day.

This researcher developed the idea, the one drawn, of course, from the stories of the Bible, that the stories of the ancestors correspond to a migration of population groups from Mesopotamia (between the rivers) to the west and southwest towards Canaan, and called it (that migration) the "Amorite migration" of the end of the third millennium B.C. "S.

This theory fueled the creation of a whole and wide school, which clung, almost with curved claws, to the flesh of the Bible and refused to let go of it. And this, until the archaeological discoveries that disproved this theory regarding the "Amorite migration".

And then the good old research of the German scholar Julius Wallhausen was revealed to be reliable, thorough and serious. This researcher claimed that the stories of the ancestors were formulated very late, many hundreds of years after the "period of the ancestors", and the reference is to the end of the Israeli/Samaritan and Jewish era, to serve different purposes - royal/state.

The interesting connection between Wallhausen's research and the archaeological data threw the foundation under the granting of credibility to the ancient biblical writings (in the purely historical aspect), and various historians, from the second half of the XNUMXth century, began to stick to the archaeological data that was revealed, which is unmatched to confirm new theories.

Two renowned researchers, Israel Finkelstein the archaeologist and Neil Asher Silverman the historian, developed a few years ago the archaeological-historical infrastructure based on the archaeological data and the later historical studies, on which the modern historical approach relating to the biblical period is built. To them (refer to the book of the two - "Rashit Israel" published by Tel Aviv University, 2003) the whole issue of the Exodus from Egypt, and at least in the aspect of the chronological ruler - the middle of the 13th century - was neither created nor created, but rather his own and a collected, late statement. Even the stories of Joshua's conquest and settlement are nothing but a late version, from the seventh century BC, the fruit of the initiative of the Jewish royal house - King Josiah (and I am ready to lay both my hands and swear that "Joshua" and "Josiah" are one and the same), which was intended to perpetuate state enterprises of a renewed takeover of the regions of "Judah" and "Israel".

We are thus left "stuck" between the folds of the question: Who is Israel? What is its origin?

According to the Finkelsteinian theory, which is now accepted by modern researchers, one must go back to the famous inscription, the estele (victory tablet) of the Pharaoh of Renphet (1211-1223 BC), which dates back to 1207 BC. In this inscription, the pharaoh proudly commemorates his war campaign in the land of Canaan, in order to preserve the Egyptian control of the region, which had weakened during the days of his father Ramses II, and this is how he describes it: "The governors bowed to the ground saying peace. There is no one who will raise his head between the nine bows (foreign lands). His station was calmed, he was quiet, and Canaan was despised in all evil. Ashkelon was taken, Gezer was captured, Yanoam was a prisoner and was not, Israel was placed, he has no seed...". This is the first time that the name/phrase/term "Israel" is mentioned in an archaeological inscription and in a tragic way - total annihilation, or symbolic - the absorption of a heavy military and economic blow. In any case, in light of the obvious analogy, we are talking about a limited geographical area, say Yanoam, Gezer and Ashkelon, in terms of an ancient city, which expressed opposition to Egyptian rule and perhaps even showed signs of rebellion. Her beating, as mentioned, was hard and painful.

Two other ethnic groups are mentioned in ancient Egyptian documents. One, immortalized in the Al-Amarna letters from the 14th century BC, called "Afiru" ("Khabiro"/"Khafiru") that harassed both the Canaanites and the Egyptians. Some once claimed, for no linguistic proximity, that these were the ancient "Hebrews" ("Afiru"-"Hebrews"). This group was characterized as troublesome, belligerent and even robbers.

The second group, dating from the 12th century BC - the days of King Ramses III, was called in Egyptian sources by the name "Shasu" (the שין is dotted with a door and the הוו is dotted with a whistle). These were shepherds-nomads, who operated in the book regions of Canaan and were severely beaten by the Egyptians.

Some thought that these groups, and especially the shepherds, wandered and deepened their penetration into Canaan, and if so, the thought that they praised, they are the ancient Israelites, the archaic Hebrew people.

However, archaeological surveys conducted in the heart of the Israeli settlement (the territories of the estates of Judah, Benjamin, Ephraim and Manasseh) discovered remains of a rural system in the central mountainous region of Canaan dating to the 12th century BC. The findings showed no signs of violent intrusion, forceful or other invasion of a different ethnic group, "foreign", "Israeli"-"Hebrew" (according to the stories of the Bible) to the mountainous area in question.

Finkelstein and Silverman see this as a kind of revolution in the urban Canaanite way of life, when about 250 small and poor settlements "suddenly" sprung up in the mountain area. These, in their opinion, were the people of the ancient Israeli "Mayflower". Here the seed of Israeli settlement was planted. It is about a tiny society that made a living from grain crops, plantations and pastures and whose life needs were simple. The settlements in question were fortified (unfortified) and no weapons stockpiles were discovered there. The inhabitants, perhaps the first Israelites, were therefore, according to modern research, shepherds and farmers in the mountain. The time of their appearance in the region was around 1200 BC and up to the tenth century BC this number was only about 45 thousand souls.

These Israelites, the Israelites in general, did not come from Egypt, did not go down to Egypt and return from it, did not come from overseas, but grew out of the Canaanite population itself.

This revolutionary assumption, confirmed primarily by archaeological sources, is, in my humble opinion, supported by biblical sources. First, in the same classical promise, given to Abram/Abraham: "I have given you and your seed after you the land where you live, the whole land of Canaan for an everlasting possession..." (Genesis 8:2). There is here, beyond a simplistic allusion, an identity between "the land of your residence" and "the whole land of Canaan". Hebron, the city of the ancestors, is specifically mentioned in the Bible "in the land of Canaan" (Genesis 19:XNUMX; XNUMX). The box "Land of Canaan", in different contexts, appears in the Bible too many times to ignore it and try to skip over it in the discussed, archaeological contextual sense above. Judah, one of the sons of Jacob, married a Canaanite woman, and she conceived him and gave birth to his sons Ar and Onan and another son named after her.

The name "Canaan", or "Land of Canaan" and all its derivatives of the phrase "Canaanite" are especially prevalent in the first books of the Torah, those attributed to being ancient, which may show that the Canaanite origin was prominent in the first generations, but over time it was erased and assimilated into a new identity worn by Jewish society , like "Israel" or "Judah".

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