The following four articles were part of the Canaanite "genocide"
debate but are here separated out because the
topic has changed from ethics to history i.e. to whether the
Myth of the Canaanite Holocaust
"Myth" of the Canaanite Holocaust
and the Conquest of Canaan
The Myth of the
(Investigator 135, 2010
article is the final essay in a series of related critiques of
Anonymous' defence of the claim that God kills or orders the killing of
of the debate started with Atheism, Evil & God
(No. 122, pg. 44), which outlined the ethical objections to 1 Samuel
15:2-3. Further moral principles for rejecting the idea were then
outlined in Reply to Anonymous on Biblical Genocide (No. 132,
pg. 17), and theological and philosophical arguments opposing the
concept were delineated in When Human Wickedness is mistaken for
God's Word (No. 133, Pg. 58).
closing essay I shall show that archaeological evidence does
not support the idea that these massacres occurred, and that the
Israelites were in fact an offshoot of Canaanite culture:
archaeologists believe that the Israelites themselves
were, for the most part, originally Canaanites (including Amorites,
Apiru, Shashu, possibly Hyksos, and others) who federated into the
nations of Judah and Israel from the eleventh century B.C.E. onward,
rather than being an ethnically homogeneous group that migrated en
masse from Egypt, as the Bible reports.
Given that the
archaeological evidence requires us to conclude that the
Israelites ancestors were in fact Canaanites, it follows that there was
no invasion of the Promised Land as described in the Bible, and
therefore no wide scale massacre of its indigenous inhabitants by
hoards of rampaging Hebrews:
story of the
Kenites (Judges 1) joining Judah is an example of the
Bible itself confirming the theory that non Israelite people federated
with Israel in Canaan. Moreover, the Perizzites are usually named as a
Canaanite tribe against whom Israel must fight (Gen. 3:8 and 15:19,
etc.), but Numbers 26:20 identifies them as part of the lineage and
tribe of Judah, through his son Perez. The latter reference may reflect
the fact that Perizzites joined Judah in Canaan and were literally
"adopted" into Judah's origin-story.
biblical story of
the conquest of Canaan may represent the memories
of Apiru victories written down several centuries after the fact and
filtered through the religious viewpoint of that later time. According to this and
theories "Israelite" migration from the
south indeed took place, but occurred in phases as various groups moved
north into Canaan. Moreover, some of groups that later identified with
the Israelites had lived in Canaan for centuries. Thus the distinction
between Canaanites and Israelites was once very faint, if it existed at
all. Possibly the earliest distinction was political: the Canaanites
were ruled by the Egyptian-dominated city-states while the
proto-Israelites were Canaanite groups who lived in the countryside
outside of that political orbit — hence, Apiru. Eventually the
Israelites came to see themselves as a people separate from the
Canaanites, largely for religious reasons.
religion itself went through an evolutionary process,
beginning with the fusion of the Canaanite god El with the desert god
Yahweh, and evolving into the assertion that Yahweh/El alone could be
worshiped by the Israelites. The rejection of traditional Canaanite
religion resulted in the development of a religious mythology in which
the Israelites were never a part of Canaanite culture, and the
Canaanite gods were enemies of Yahweh/El, rather than members of the
assembly of the gods with El as their chief.
of Joshua's conquest of Canaan is inconsistent with the
archaeological evidence. Cities supposedly conquered by Joshua in the
14th century BCE were destroyed long before he came on the scene. Some,
such as Ai and Arad, had been ruins for a 1000 years.
many believers refuse to accept the findings of modem
archaeology. Instead, they attempt to make the facts fit preconceived
notions of what they already consider true. This is sometimes the case
with so called Biblical archaeology, which can be more concerned with
apologetics rather than historical facts:
Book of Judges,
which directly contradicts Joshua, and shows the
Israelites settling the land over a prolonged period, is nearer
historical reality; but even it cannot be taken at face value.
is somewhat startling to Bible readers who know the
Canaanites portrayed in the Bible as immoral idolaters: most of the
Israelites were in fact formerly Canaanites. The story of Abraham's
journey from Ur of the Chaldees, the Patriarchs, the Exodus, Sinai, and
the conquest of Canaan, all these were apparently based on legends that
the various elements brought with them from their countries of origin.
The consolidation of the Israelites into a nation was not the result of
wanderings in the desert and divine revelation, but came from the need
to defend themselves against the Philistines, who settled in the
Canaanite coastal plain more or less at the same time the Israelites
were establishing themselves in the hills.
were unwilling - primarily for religious reasons - to abandon
their familiar texts began to shoehorn the archaeological data into the
text-based framework, often with confusing results. A good example is
Joshua's supposed conquest of Canaan in the second millennium BCE: take
any century in that millennium to be the time of the conquest and there
will always be a Canaanite city whose sack is described in the Book of
Judges that turns out not to have been occupied at that time. Choose a
different century and other cities will be found to have been deserted.
This shoehorning is a desperate attempt to force the evidence into a
preconceived structure, the reverse of how real archaeology works and
much more like the behaviour of Cinderella's ugly sisters when
confronted with a glass slipper that was patently not theirs.
In the light of
the archaeological evidence the Biblical accounts of
the massacres are most probably a fiction. However, let us suppose that
the Canaanites were as evil as the Bible alleges. Indeed, let us assume
they were as evil as the Nazi regime, whose atrocities have been
established beyond any reasonable doubt:
number of people killed by the Nazi regime will never be
known, but scholars, using a variety of methods of determining the
death toll, have generally agreed upon common range of the number of
victims. Recently declassified British and Soviet documents have
indicated the total may be somewhat higher than previously believed.
However, the following estimates are considered to be highly reliable.
- 5.1 - 6.0
Jews, including 3.0-3.5 million
- 1.8 - 1.9
Gentile Poles (includes all those
killed in executions or those that died in prisons, labour, and
concentration camps, as well as civilians killed in the 1939 invasion
and the 1944 Warsaw Uprising)
- 200,000 -
Roma & Sinti
- 200,000 -
people with disabilities
- 10,000 -
atrocities were terrible indeed, and Hitler certainly had to
be stopped. But would any humane person demand that every German child
be killed because of the crimes committed by adults?
evidence I have presented it can be clearly seen that
Anonymous' position is untenable: His justifications for the atrocity
of the mass murder of children has been refuted on ethical grounds, on
theological and philosophical grounds and, finally, is not supported by
archaeological evidence relating to the Canaanites.
have done my best to conduct myself with civility when
discussing this issue with an individual who attempts to justify child
murder. However, I now feel I have reached the limits of my capacity to
remain courteous. Anonymous will probably disagree with my conclusions,
which is fair enough. But I will make no further reply on this subject
due to the aforementioned reason.
The "Myth" of the
(Investigator 136, 2011
past issues Kirk Straughen has argued that the Canaanite
invasion was immoral. However, in Investigator
#135 Kirk is now arguing
that the Canaanite invasion did not in fact occur. This is supposedly
Kirk's last contribution on the Canaanite issue. However, he has
introduced entirely new material that is of a different nature. This is
actually a huge topic over which there is considerable disagreement.
This is like an aircraft popping up over the horizon, firing a missile
and then running away before it gets shot down.
had much time to do research, but I will make some brief
comments. Kirk's article mainly consisted of several quotations that
were copied off of the web. The first article argued that Israel was an
offshoot of Canaanite culture, rather than coming out of Egypt.
article states, "The story of the Kenites (Judges 1) joining Judah
is an example of the Bible itself confirming the theory that
non-Israelite people federated with Israel in Canaan."
reference is, "The descendants of Moses' father-in-law, the
Kenite, went up from the City of Palms with the men of Judah to live
among the people of the Desert of Judah in the Negev near Arad." (Judge
1:16) The claim is partly true. The Bible stipulates principles whereby
aliens could join in with the Israelite community. Other examples are
Ruth, the Moabitess and Rahab the harlot. However, this does not in
itself provide evidence that mainstream Jews were derived from
claim is, "Moreover, the Perizzites are usually named as a
Canaanite tribe against whom Israel must fight (Gen. 3:8 and 15:19,
etc.), but Numbers 26:20 identifies them as part of the lineage and
tribe of Judah, through his son Perez." However, Numbers 26:20 actually
says, "The descendants of Judah by their clans were: through Shelah,
the Shelanite clan; through Perez, the Perezite clan; through Zerah,
the Zerahite clan." The descendants of Perez were called "Perezites",
not "Perizzites". The names are similar, but they are not the same. For
example, I play racquetball with Jan and Jane. Their names are similar
but they certainly are not the same woman. The Perizzites were a
Canaanite race but the Perezites were a clan within the tribe of Judah.
They were not the same group of people. This is not just an error; it
is an obvious error. This illustrates a couple of things:
After the time of
King Saul (from David onwards), there is increasing
confirmation of the general historicity of the Biblical record (i.e.,
the kings of Israel and Judah) from external sources. Prior to David
there is very little. This is natural and what we should expect.
However, it is this era, where external evidence is not available, that
comes under historical attack from sceptical circles.
- The quoted
is not reliable, and
- Kirk did
leave aside discussion of the miraculous elements, the remaining
outline of the period from Moses to Saul seems quite credible. There is
a general continuity with those elements that can be verified. There is
also a tremendous amount of detail about some items, eg the tabernacle.
Why record such enormous detail for something that never existed? The
record is also not very complimentary of the nation and most of the
main characters. This is not history written by victors.
As I said,
this is a big topic and a contentious one, so readers should
not draw conclusions without giving the subject a more thorough
Archaeology and the
Conquest of Canaan
(Investigator 137, 2011
Although I have
no desire to restart the debate on this subject I am
taking into consideration Kevin Rogers' comments in No. 136, page 47
when he says that when considering this issue "readers should not draw
conclusions without giving the subject a more thorough treatment."
in mind I have done some additional research using the web
pages below which deal with the above topic, and present them here for
those seeking additional information which hopefully will assist them
in deciding the issue for themselves.
When discussing with
Anonymous the ethics of slaughtering children, I
chose to debate on his home ground — which is the assumption that the
Bible is literally true (an assumption that I don't share). Most of my
criticisms of religion are aimed at the fundamentalist position, and
this is why I adopted this particular line of argument.
Archaeology of the Book of Joshua and the Conquest/Settlement Period,
Joel F. Drinkard, Jr.
introduced archaeological evidence in my final reply as I thought it
relevant to the discussion — primarily to reassure Christians of a
non¬fundamentalist stance that the Blitzkrieg style invasion of
Canaan as portrayed in the Bible wasn't supported by historical
evidence, and that those commands attributed to God to kill children
were most likely a fiction. In hindsight perhaps I should have made
this clear in order to avoid confusion. I'll leave it for others to
decide if my digression into archaeology was appropriate or not.
acknowledge I made some mistakes in my article. Having said this,
further reflection on the matter as well as research I have undertaken
(reading the above webpages) has not refuted my conclusions, at least
not from an ethical perspective.
As far as
the archaeological evidence is concerned: it is clear that
there is disagreement concerning the emergence of Israel as a nation.
However, from the additional research I have undertaken it appears that
most experts in this field have abandoned the naive idea that the
Bible's portrayal of the Israelite occupation of Canaan is historically
CANAAN'S APOCALYPSE HAPPENED
(Investigator 136, 2011,
Straughen (#135) changed our discussion about the ethics of the
Canaanite Apocalypse to claiming that Israelites were Canaanites, and
that there was no Israeli Exodus from Egypt or invasion of Canaan. He
quoted websites that echo archaeologists who hold such views.
Thompson of the "Copenhagen School" (which takes a
"Minimalist" position that virtually the entire Bible is wrong)
authored The Bible in History: How Writers Create a Past (1999)
Mythic Past: Biblical Archaeology and the Myth of Israel (2000).
Finkelstein, a Tel Aviv University professor, is of the "new
Jewish archaeologists" who question the biblical stories. A report in
2000 quotes him: "The ancient Israelites evolved from the local late
Bronze Age Canaanite civilization. There was no brutal military
invasion. And if the united kingdom of David and Solomon ever existed,
they were small tribal affairs. As for Solomon's Temple, there is no
hard archaeological evidence for it."
experts, however, support the Bible. James K. Hoffmeier authored Israel
in Egypt (1996) and Ancient Israel in Sinai
(2005). He and
like-minded scholar Kenneth Kitchen are Egyptologists with backgrounds
in biblical studies and Syro-Palestinian archaeology. A summary of
these scholars' arguments appeared in "Did the Exodus Never Happen?" by
Kevin D. Miller (Christianity Today, September 7, 1998).
rulers sometimes had history destroyed:
(Sudan) conquest of Egypt was forgotten until recently
although the Bible records the Cushites as a "mighty people". (See #124)
Thutmose III (1479-1447 BC) ordered the removal of every
reference to the female pharaoh Hatshepsut who preceded him: "almost
all the images of her as king were systematically chiseled off temples,
monuments, and obelisks." (Brown 2009)
pharaoh, Akhenaten, we read: "Under Akhenaten…the names and
images of many gods…were destroyed." (Schultz & Seidel 1998)
with the "Hyksos": These were Asians who seized power in
north Egypt, and produced the 15th dynasty which (using Encyclopaedia
Britannica dates) ruled 1630-1521 BC. Egyptian history of that
murky because after the Hyksos defeat "all traces of their occupation
to the Bible Israel's ancestors moved into Egypt (Genesis 46)
during a famine and stayed 215 years at which time Moses became
Israel's leader and the "ten plagues" occurred. These events including
the "new king" (Exodus 1:8) who ordered Israel's baby boys killed
overlap with Hyksos rule. But details are obscure because Hyksos
history was "erased" and because Egyptian chronology is still debated.
use the Egyptian "king list" to correlate the reigns of
various pharaohs with pottery styles and cultural changes identified in
archaeological layers around the Mediterranean. By this dating method
the ash layers from the Santorini volcano eruption (near Crete) were
dated 1500 BC.
Illustrated (March/April 2008), however, reported
twigs discovered in a pumice layer in 2006 were carbon dated to
1627-1600 BC, and that ice-core-dating of a Greenland ice core showed
an "acidity spike" (due to volcanic eruption) in 1643-1637 BC. It
follows that Santorini erupted over 100 years before 1500 BC.
Egypt's king list wrong, or is its match-up with archaeology
wrong? Either way, much 2nd millennium BC Mediterranean history
(including Palestine) is out by over a century. Furthermore, if
pharaohs could make previous pharaohs non-existent, and delete Hyksos
rule and the Cush Empire from history, then they could also delete
Moses, the Exodus, and Israel's invasion of Canaan!
description of an Egyptian military campaign in Cush, led by
Moses when he was Prince of Egypt (Antiquities Book II Chapter X),
therefore deserves more credence!
and history can also go wrong when ancient towns were:
Destroyed and rebuilt many times;
Abandoned and a town of same name built nearby;
Looted for stones re-used elsewhere;
Completely cleared away and another town founded on
the same site.
Testament mentions bees in Canaan (Deuteronomy 1:44; Judges
14:8; Psalm 118:12); and "honey" about 60 times. But archaeologists
never found any beehives in Canaan! This changed in 2005 when Amihai
Mazar of Hebrew University (Jerusalem) excavated 30 hives in the form
of clay cylinders at Tel Rehov and found remains of bees.
were a subspecies from Turkey less aggressive than Syrian bees
and producing up to eight times as much honey. (New Scientist, June 12,
2008, p. 16) This explains the phrase "land flowing with milk and
honey" (which the Old Testament uses 20 times).
propaganda denies ancient Jewish links to Palestine and the
Temple Mount. In 2000 Sheikh Salah stated, "The constant excavations
carried out by Israeli archeologists under the mosque … have found
nothing that belongs to the Jewish people." Hamed Salem, a university
lecturer in Ramallah, declared: "Even the term Judaism is not very old.
There is no record of Judaism before Jesus." Archeologist Dr. Adel
Yahya claimed: "Palestinians are the descendants of the ancient
Canaanites themselves, who were present in the land before the
Israelites arrived." Others claimed that Palestinians descend from the
Philistines who settled the coast of Canaan in the 12th century BC.
historical facts, however, are that Palestinians are unrelated to
Philistines and descend from immigrants entering Palestine since Roman
times. The ancient existence of Israelites in contrast is documented in
countless archaeological finds from the Merneptah Stele (a 2-metre high
black granite stone) of 1200 BC to the Arch of Titus erected in Rome to
commemorate the destruction of the Temple, as well as ancient documents
such as the Dead Sea Scrolls.
have genetics. New Scientist reports: "Most Jews in
parts of the world … share genetic traces of an ancient Middle Eastern
ancestry, two large genetic studies conclude." The exceptions were the
Jews in Ethiopia and India.
A team led
by Karl Skorecki of the Israel Institute of Technology
analysed genetic markers from the genomes of 121 Jews from 14 locations
and compared them with 1166 non-Jews from 69 locations. 90% of the Jews
had DNA originating from populations living in Lebanon, Syria, the
Palestinian territories and Cyprus over 2000 years ago. (12 June, 2010,
records that Abraham's descendants included nations other
than Israel. There was intermarriage between Abraham's descendants and
Canaanite women, and further mixing with countless invaders and
immigrants over many centuries. The ancestry of Jesus included a
Moabite woman named Ruth!
mixing, however, does not disprove Israel's existence as a
people just as the mixing of a 150 nationalities in Australia does not
disprove the existence of "Australians" or Australia.
In 2010 a
"Stunning Discovery" was reported. A pottery shard with
Hebrew writing eight centuries older than the Dead Sea Scrolls was
found in 2008 at Khirbet Qeiyafa, 18 miles west of Jerusalem. The ink
inscription (6-inches square) was carbon-dated to the 10th century BC,
and translator Gershon Galil of the University of Haifa called it the
earliest known Hebrew writing.
inscription expresses social concerns for weaker members of society
similar to Exodus 23:3, Isaiah 1:17 and Psalm 72:3. This suggests parts
of the Bible are centuries older than critics postulated, and Israel
existed in the 10th century BC.
increasing evidence, therefore, confirms the Bible as reliable and
its critics wrong.
"Minimalist" school treats every biblical point not proved by
archaeology as dubious or false. That's the starting point, the working
similar to declaring a man guilty of every unsolved crime for
which he can't supply proof of innocence. For the man so accused to
prove his innocence by solving every unsolved crime is impossible.
Potentially, however, he could use "inductive reasoning". He might
investigate some accusations and prove his innocence whenever testable
evidence is available, and establish a body of data that can be
generalized. He would then argue:
assumption of guilty-of-every-unsolved-crime, the
method of establishing a body of data and then generalizing is the best
- I'm proved
in every crime investigated so far, forty crimes;
- I lack the
logistics to investigate a million other crimes;
- Therefore I
generalize the testable results, i.e. the 40
confirmations of innocence, and predict the trend of being proved
innocent would continue if investigation continues and more evidence is
what I do with the Bible. I investigate it point by point as
time permits, every testable statement, and generalize the finding.
Generalizing or extrapolating from a trend is called "induction" or
is what everyone does when they plan for tomorrow — they
remember that countless "tomorrows" have already occurred and therefore
predict more will come. Induction is also why people jump to avoid an
oncoming speeding car — they're generalizing from similar occurrences
in the past and anticipate pain or death if they don't step aside.
induction all science becomes useless. It's no good knowing
about the force of gravity, for example, unless we predict that gravity
will operate today, tonight and indefinitely. Without this
extrapolation or prediction we'll happily walk off high cliffs without
1970 I learned from the Bible that cobras hear the snake
charmer's music, but convinced no one because everyone believed snakes
are deaf. In the 1990s, however, I got the Encyclopedia Britannica
entry on "Cobra" revised (#94). Nowadays, texts on the sensory systems
of snakes concede that snakes hear with an "inner ear".
the 1970s I convinced hardly anyone that the Bible's counsel
against sexual promiscuity is medically sound. Nowadays with evidence
of 200 million promiscuity-related deaths in the 20th century, the
emergence of "superbugs" and AIDs, and recent links of promiscuity with
cancer the Bible is vindicated.
examples of biblical accuracy (and many others) could not be
confirmed until science uncovered the facts. If we acknowledge this
trend then we already know that many current criticisms of the Bible
will ultimately fail.
previously that the some Canaanite nations had to perish to
prevent Canaanite standards such as idol-worship, sexual abuse, and
religious prostitution becoming the worldwide norm, and instead to let
Abraham's descendants bring "blessing to all the nations of the earth".
(Genesis 22:18) Straughen's comment "God...orders the killing of
children" misrepresents this theology as surely as the occasional death
from compulsory vaccination is misrepresented if we argue "Western
Governments ordered the killing of children."
comments now about religious prostitution:
prostitution was an outcome of the beliefs, common to almost
every ancient race, that sexual intercourse with a god, or with anyone
intimately associated or connected with a god, was beneficial to the
human participator… (Scott 1996)
Through the mediation of
Christian ethics temple prostitution declined
in the late Roman Empire, subsequently in Europe, and after that in
India and around the world. In Britain child prostitution, the sale of
children, and the trade in virgins (for deflowering) was common until
the 1880s when made illegal. (Barber 1975)
many lands females
commenced adulthood as temporary temple
prostitutes — in Babylon, Greece, Rome, etc. Regarding India Scott
until recently, were openly attached to so many
temples in India were prostitutes who had intercourse when required
with the priests and other temple officials, and with visitors for
payment. For generations it was the custom in many parts of India for
every first-born female child to be dedicated to the tribal god, to
whom she was supposed to be married, and made to serve as a temple
prostitute… Under British rule efforts were made to stamp out temple
prostitution… (p. 49)
"blessing to all nations" occurs through monotheism and biblical
values and through what these led to i.e. science, technology,
improvements to modern law, and thousands of charitable ministries. The
future will even see an end to war (Isaiah 2), pain and death.
(Revelation 21:4) All such good could not have occurred in an
idol-worshipping world of religious prostitution, child abuse, and
human sacrifice. The progress achieved came slowly because most people
opposed it, and can yet be reversed if today's Bible-misrepresenting
Barber, L. 1975 The
Penthouse Sex Index — Temple Prostitution,
Brown, C. National
Geographic, April 2009, 88-111.
Schultz, R. & Seidel,
M. 1998 Egypt The World of the Pharoahs,
Scott, G. R. 1996 The
History of Prostitution.
The Bible examined by
debate and science on