– THE LAND AND ITS PEOPLE
170, 2016 September)
at the eastern end of the Mediterranean, between the coast and the
Jordan River, and occupying much of what was once ancient Canaan, (an
area extending from the Sinai to Syria), lies that region of Western
Asia known as Israel. Part of the larger Levant region, (meaning -
"where the sun rises" or "where the land rises out of the sea"), this
area now includes modern Lebanon, Israel, Palestine, Syria, Jordan and
region has long been historically important as it was one of the major
routes for early hominins migrating out of Africa and, as early as 1.8
million years ago, it was the location of some of the earliest hominine
settlements outside of Africa. Much later it would be the location of
the most profound social change in all history. At that time, nomadic
humans began to abandon their hunting-gathering existence in favour of
a sedentary agrarian lifestyle; in doing so they ushered in the
Neolithic Age and laid the foundations for civilization.
area, between the Levant and Mesopotamia, (Greek for, "between
rivers"), much of which includes the "Fertile Crescent," covers
approximately 980,000 km2 (378,380 square miles), is similar in size to
South Australia. For thousands of years it was the scene of almost
constant conflict as different cultures sought to control the region.
Apart from Egypt, which dominated much of Canaan, from the 22nd century
BCE onwards, the various competing groups included the:
Eblaites (3000-2300 BCE),
Sumerians (2600-1900 BCE),
Akkadians (2334-2154 BCE),
Amorites (2100-1700 BCE),
Hittites (1600-1178 BCE),
Hurrians of which the Mittani (1500-1300 BCE) were the most
Phoenicians (1500-800 BCE),
Assyrians (2500-612 BCE).
only a small part of this region, the current State of Israel is a mere
470 km. (290 miles) in length, north to south, some 135 km. (85 miles)
across at its widest point, and occupies a total land area of only
22,145 km2, (8,630 square miles).
geographic structure of Syria, Lebanon, Israel, Palestine, and Jordan,
is very similar, consisting of, "… a limestone substratum beneath a
thin terra rossa topsoil," (Coogan, 1998, p. 4). Terra rossa (Italian
for “red soil”) is produced when limestone weathers over millions of
years leaving clay and other non-soluble materials behind, producing a
red clay soil which is, "… best suited for olives and grapes and for
sheep and goats." (Coogan, 1998, p. 4) Later, under the Philistines,
the coastal region in particular, with its deep rich soil, would become
renowned for the production of fine wines, wheat and olives.
itself has three distinct agricultural and climatic zones, a
subtropical coastal region, the mountain district and the Jordan Valley.
the Mediterranean coast are the fertile coastal plains, Shefelah and
Sharon; a narrow strip of land, ranging from 40 km. (24 miles), in
width in the south at Gaza, to a mere 5 km. (3 miles), in the north.
According to Coogan (1998), "In antiquity it was wetter than now, even
swampy in places…" (p.4) which made it an ideal location for
to the east of the coastal plain are the hills of the Central
Highlands. They run south-to-north from the Negev to Samaria, before
turning in a north-westerly direction towards the Mediterranean. With
an average height of 610 metres (2001 feet), and with poor quality soil
and largely infertile, this was the area referred to in the Hebrew Old
Testament as, the "hill country" (Genesis 12:8). According to Easton
Deut. 1:7, Josh. 9:1; 10:40; 11:16, it denotes the elevated district of
Judah, Benjamin, and Ephraim, which forms the watershed between the
Mediterranean and the Dead Sea." (Palestine, Easton, 1897)
was, from these Central Highlands, according to Hackett (1998), that
the Israelites emerged in the twelfth and eleventh centuries. (p.132)
third region, the Jordan Valley, is part of the great Syrian-East
Africa Rift, running from near Antakya, (formerly Antioch) in Syria,
through the Red Sea and into East Africa. The valley stretches some 100
km. (62 miles), from the southern outlet of Lake Kinneret (the Sea of
Galilee), to the Dead Sea. Several degrees warmer than surrounding
areas, with good soil and a reliable water supply from the River
Jordan, it has been used for agricultural since circa 10,000 B.P.
of the remaining land is wilderness and desert, suited only for the
most basic subsistence farming. At the southern end of Israel is the
Negev region, (meaning "barren country"), covering some 13,000 km2
(5,020 square miles). It is an area of such poor quality it is suited
only for grazing small cattle.
of the rift valley are large areas of semi-arid desert terrain while to
the south-east lies the vast Arabian Desert, an area of some 2,330,000
km2 (899,000 square miles), stretching from present day Jordan to Yemen
and Oman on the Arabian Sea. A desolate region, with limited rainfall,
it was suited only for nomadic and semi-nomadic groups such as the Arab
tribes, who from the 9th century BCE, (Eph'al, 1984), were constantly
on the move with their herds of goats and sheep seeking fresh pastures.
agriculturally based cultures require a harmonious balance of sunshine
and rainfall, and for Israel these come from what are, in effect, two
distinct seasons, a dry, hot summer, abruptly followed by a cool, wet
the Canaanites and Israelites relied on their "gods" to send the annual
rains, "…he will give the rain in its season, the early rain and the
later rain …" (Deuteronomy 11:14). One of the most important Canaanite
gods was Ha Ba'al, or Hadad, who had dominion over fertility and rain,
(Canaan, EB, 2015). The "divine" deliverance of rain was just as
important for the Israelites; as Jeremiah commented,
there any among the false gods of the nations that can bring rain? Or
can the heavens give showers? Are you not he, O Lord our God? We set
our hope on you, for you do all these things." (Jeremiah, 14:22)
their non-Jewish neighbours, the Israelites believed their prophets
could intervene with god to make it rain. (1 Samuel 12:18).
usually began in late October or early November, these "first rains" "…
loosens the dry earth for plowing," (Jacobs, 1907). Heavier winter
rains follow in mid-December and continue through to January, (see Ezra
10:9 and 13), "... for behold the winter is past the rains is over and
gone". (Song of Solomon 2:11). Follow-up rains come in April-May which
encourage the growth of the grain.
throughout the land varies quite considerably, Weinberger, et al.,
(2012) reported that it varied,
from approximately 1000 mm in the northern mountains (upper Kinneret
and western Galilee), to 500-600 mm in the Yarkon-Taninim basin, the
central mountains and the Coastal basin. In the southern Negev and
Arava regions the annual rainfall is usually below 50 mm." (p. 11)
most of the year the water courses throughout the land are dry
riverbeds, (wadis), however, during the rainy seasons they fill and
burst their banks. Judges 5:19-21 describes how, during a battle at
"Taanach, by the waters of Megiddo," the better-armed, and chariot
equipped Canaanites were defeated by the Israelites after they were
caught by a flash flood in the Wadi Kishon, and, " ... the torrent
Kishon swept them away." (5:21)
70% of all the rainfall is lost to evaporation. With only about 5%
retained as surface water. (Weinberger et al., 2012, p. 11), the
inhabitants early learned to supplement, their water supplies, e.g. "I
made myself pools from which to water the forest of growing trees." (an
orchard — Ecclesiastes 2:6).
remaining 25% of the rainfall finds its way into huge subterranean
aquifers, the source of water for the many wells and springs. Some of
the wells mentioned in the Bible include Jacob's Well, at Sychar in
Samaria, (John 4:5-7), Abraham's well at Beer Sheba, (Genesis
21:25-30), and at Haran (Genesis 24:`16). Some of these wells were
located in the desert, others within villages, and sometimes, as at
Bahurim (2 Samuel 17:18), within the courtyards of homes.
are a number of springs throughout the land; at Nephtoah (Joshua 15:9),
and Ein Gedi, west of the Dead Sea, near Masada and Qumran, and at Ein
Bokek near the Dead Sea, the latter two creating fertile oases. Places
with natural springs, e.g. "… the waters of Jericho" (Joshua 16:1)
attracted early settlers. Jericho, first settled circa 10,000 BCE, had
a number of springs, including one which produced 4,000 litres (1,000
gallons) every minute (Coogan, 1998, p. 12). Similarly, what would
later become the city of Jerusalem, began circa 4,500-3,500 BCE, when
early Canaanites settled on the eastern slopes near the Gihon Springs,
a small tributary of the Brook Kidron. (Arabic — Wady Sitti Miriam).
Running through the Kidron Valley between Jerusalem and the Mount of
Olives, (1 Kings 2:37; Nehemiah 2:15; Jeremiah 31:40), it was diverted
in 712 BCE through a culvert, the Siloam, or Hezekiah's Tunnel, to
carry water into the Pool of Siloam in the city (2 Kings 20:20; 2
Chronicles 32:3-4), to provide Jerusalem with a reliable water supply
during periods of siege.
largest, and only permanently flowing river is the Jordan. Known to the
Arabs as Shari'at al-Kabirah ("the great watering-place") or simply
Al-Shari'ah ("the watering-place", Jacobs, 1907), it was here,
according to the New Testament, that John the Baptist laboured, "… and
they were baptized by him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins."
Jordan has three sources, "… the Leddan, the Banias, and the Hasbany."
(Leeper, 1990, p. 327) The Leddan, the largest spring in Syria, is
located near the base of a hill which was once the location of the city
of Dan. The Banias emerges from a limestone cliff near ancient Banias,
(Caesarea Philippi), and joins the Leddan some 8 km. (5 miles), south
of Dan, while the Hasbany, which rises from a valley at the western
base of Mount Hermon, joins the stream some 1.6 km. (1 mile), below the
junction of the Leddan and Banias.
through the Great Rift Valley the Jordan enters Lake Kinneret, then,
continuing out the other side, flows through the Jordan Valley, (an
area known as the Ghor, Arabic Al Ghawr), for some 100 km. (62 miles),
before entering the Dead Sea. Although only 200 km. (124 miles), from
its source to the Dead Sea, because of its meandering course, the
Jordan is actually some 360 km. (223 miles), in length, (Jordan River,
has a relatively harsh climate. For most of the year, a fierce
unrelenting sun assails the land; even worse, the land is frequently
battered by fierce winds and sand storms. The worst of these is the
ruaḥ qadīm, (the biblical "east wind"), a destructive wind, (Psalms
48:7), which withers the crops, (Ezekiel 17:10). Called by the Arabs
khamsin, (Arabic for "fifty"), because they say the wind blows for
fifty days at a time, it is a hot wind, which can increase temperatures
as much as 20 degrees over several hours. Often reaching speeds of 140
k.p.h., (86 m.p.h. +) as it tears across the sandy wastes of the great
Wilderness, it lifts tonnes of sand and dust into the air, sweeping it
across the settled areas where the ferocious, hot stinging clouds of
sand bring agony to everyone in its path. Even in large cities like
Jerusalem, there is little relief from its fierce attack, the choking
dust invading most homes.
history the land has been known by a variety of names.
the period of the Egyptian Old Kingdom (2649-2150 BCE) it was known as
Haria-sha, ("the land of the sand-dwellers," Aharoni, 1978, p. 65).
According to Breasted (2001), "The Egyptians called the entire west of
Syria-Palestine Canaan" (p. 46), and reference to the "Canaanites"
first appears in a letter dated to the 18th century BCE, (Aharoni,
1978,p. 67). As Zobel (1995) noted in the Amarna tablets, the country
was referred to as "... Ki-na-aɧ-ɧi, ki-na-aɧ-ni or ki-na-aɧ-na," (p.
212). It was also called, Kananu, or Kn'n, (Astour, 1965), and, it
appears, it was from this source that the name Canaan, "... the native
name for Phoenicia" (Astour, 1965, p. 346), was derived.
is some uncertainty as to the actual meaning of "Canaan". As Zobel
(1995) observed, past researchers thought it meant "lowland," however
Astour (1965) discounts this etymology. Zobel (1995) mentioned other
possible meanings including, "... Occident, the Land of the Sunset or
Westland" (p. 214). Another idea was that since Phoenicia was called
"the land of purple" the name might mean "purple." (p. 214). This
related to the purple dye obtained from the snail, Bolinus brandaris,
which came from this area, and was a major item of trade.
(1965) claimed Canaan was, "... a Hurrian appellative of Phoenicia as
the country of purple dye." (p. 346), and it was by this name that it
is referred to in the Hebrew Old Testament,
the territory of the Canaanites extended from Sidon in the direction of
Gerar as far as Gaza, and in the direction of Sodom, Gomorrah, Admah
and Zeboiim, as far as Lasha." (Genesis 10:19)
as Noll (2001) pointed out, 'Canaan' referred not only to the area of
what is now, "… roughly modern Lebanon and Israel." (p. 15), but also
to the various groups that inhabited the area. In addition to the
Canaanites there were also the, "…Amorites, Hittites, Hivites,
Girgashites, Jebusites and Perizzites." (Noll, p. 15; see Joshua 12:8)
As McNutt (1999) observed, despite their separate names,
is no clear nonbiblical evidence of ethnic distinctions among these
groups or of being culturally different from other occupants of
Palestine." (p. 35).
around the 16th century BCE much of the coastal area of what is now
Lebanon, Palestine, Israel and Syria came to be known as Phoenicia.
Although Tristram, (1884), claimed this was Greek for, "the land of
palm-trees", (p. 207), as previously mentioned, more recent sources,
such as Astour (1965), suggested it more likely meant, "the country of
purple dye." Later, (circa 5th century BCE), the inland area, including
the mountain district and rift valley, rather than the coastal area,
would come to be referred to by the Greeks as Palestine, a name derived
from Pelishtim, in Hebrew Pelesheth, or pelestim, the ancient name for
the land of the Philistines, and rendered as Philistia in Judges 10:6;
Psalms 83:7; 87:4.
name was revived by the Romans in the 2nd century AD in "Syria
Palaestina," designating the southern portion of the province of Syria,
and made its way thence into Arabic, where it has been used to describe
the region at least since the early Islamic era. (Palestine, EB, 2015)"
name "Israel" per se, originates from the story told in Genesis
32:28-29; 35:10; there Jacob, (the grandson of Abraham and one of those
whom god made a covenant with), had his name changed to Israel,
(meaning "wrestle with god"). His twelve sons are said to have been the
ancestors of the Israelites, the "Children of Israel." In ancient
times, this was the name used to refer to the Kingdom of Israel and to
the Jewish nation.
first known reference to the name "Israel" comes from the Merneptah
stele, (circa 1209 BCE). Containing 28 lines of text celebrating the
victories of the Pharaoh Merneptah (1213-1203 BCE), the last three
lines refer to Canaan and Israel, "Canaan has been plundered … Israel
is laid waste and his seed is not."
independence in 1948, the name, the "State of Israel," was officially
adopted over Zion and Judah, other suggested names for this nation.
in Investigator 171)
to the Hebrew Old Testament the Israelite settlement of Canaan began
with the descendants of Abraham and the "Out of Egypt" scenario. This
evolved from the biblical claim that seventy members of the household
of Jacob, (Genesis 46:27), had settled in Egypt and, over time, their
numbers had greatly increased. Three conflicting time-frames are given
for the increase in their numbers: -
Ten generations, (430 years), [Exodus 12:40];
Four hundred years, [Genesis 15:13]; or,
Four generations, [Genesis 15:16).
(1963) suggests that, within this "period" their population had grown
to a figure of "almost 3,000,000"
(p. 388) which suggests this would
have been the number of Israelites who participated in the Exodus.
Although this entire Exodus saga is most likely entirely fictional,
there is some rather dubious information within the Hebrew Old
Testament supporting the claim that a very large Israelite population
was present in Egypt at that time of the claimed "exodus."
12:37 claims there were, "... about
600,000 men on foot besides women
and children." (Numbers 1:44 puts the figure at 603,550).
suggests these were only the young and fit portion of the male
population, "From twenty years old
and upward, all in Israel who are
able to go to war," — a claim repeated in Numbers 26:2.
one bases calculations on this figure, and, ignoring the very young and
elderly males, this suggests at least 600,000 men of marriageable age.
In turn, if we allow for a similar number of wives, we obtain a figure
of roughly 1,200,000 adult individuals.
ancient times, families tended to have many children, however, if we
conservatively allow for only three children per family, this would
provide a figure of some 1,800,000 children. If this figure is added to
the adult total, (ignoring any young girls and older males and
females), this suggests that at least 3,000,000 Israelites participated
in the exodus. However, it was not only the Israelites who are said to
have left Egypt, for it is claimed that others, "A mixed multitude also
went up with them." (Exodus 12:38). The absurdity of such a
number of individuals leaving Egypt is highlighted by the fact that, as
Butzer (1999) indicated, at the time of the so-called exodus. the
entire population of Egypt was estimated to only be around 3,000,000 –
3,500,000, (p. 297).
researchers now consider the entire Exodus saga to be completely
fictional and, as such, historically worthless. Many researchers,
including Moore and Kelle (2011), cite the fact that, "…no clear
extrabiblical evidence exists for any aspect of the Egyptian sojourn,
exodus or wilderness wanderings." (p. 81) As Meyers (2005)
ISRAEL – THE LAND AND
171, 2016 November
more than a century of research and the massive efforts of generations
of archaeologists and Egyptologists, nothing has been recovered that
relates directly to the account in Exodus of an Egyptian sojourn and
escape of a large-scale migration through Sinai. (p. 5)
from the complete lack of any evidence for the Exodus, many of the
incidents within the narrative are so utterly fantastic they can only
be fable. Thus, it would appear the entire saga of the exodus is simply
a collection of ancient myths and folklore, and that this oral material
was brought together, and written down, possibly for the very first
time, during the Babylonian exile, (6th century BCE), by Jewish
scholars who, in their naivety, recorded the miraculous claims without
questioning their reliability.
fact is, we do not know when, or where, the proto-Israelites came from.
However, rather than the Exodus account of a "huge" number of them
"invading" Canaan, it is more likely that, the Israelites evolved from
amongst various nomadic groups who were already living in, and around
Canaan, and, at some point in time, by banding together, they became
powerful enough to forcibly establish themselves as an independent
nation within Canaan.
from Africa, the Levant was one of the earliest inhabited areas in the
world. As early as 1.8 million years B.P. hominins, (Homo erectus and
Homo heidelbergensis), began migrating northwards out of Africa,
probably following the coastal plains, (later referred to as the Way of
the Philistines, or, the Via Maris, the "way of the sea").
found at Tel Ubeidiya, (3 km.
south of Lake Kinneret), and dated circa
1.5 million years B.P., suggest some of these early hominins settled in
this land. Later, others, genetically closer to Homo sapiens also
settled in this area; their remains found at Qafzeh in Lower Galilee,
(Trinkaus, 1993) and at Mount Carmel, date from around 130,000-120,000
years B.P. However, since no genetic traces of these very early
inhabitants has ever been found amongst more modern races in the area,
it appears they either died out, or else, abandoned the region.
current "out of Africa" theory suggests the Homo sapiens ancestors of
modern humans left Africa circa 60,000-75,000 years B.P. It is believed
some travelled via the Levant while others crossed the Bab-el-Mandeb
Strait into Yemen and Arabia, at a time when sea-levels were much lower
than at present. Some of these settled in Arabia and the Levant, while
others travelled west into Asia Minor and Europe while others moved
eastward into Asia, India, Indonesia, and Australia.
there could have been as few as a thousand individuals, (Stix, 2008),
over the next 60,000 or so years, as they spread across the world,
their numbers greatly increased and they formed many separate cultural
identities. As Brace (2006) noted, by the time of the Neolithic, (circa
14,000 B.P.), there was already a diverse range of populations living
within the Fertile Crescent.
to Mann (2011), by about 13,000 BCE, when the climate was still warm
and wet, there were already villages with several hundred inhabitants
in parts of the Levant. It appears that up to, and including the early
part of the Neolithic Era, many of these villagers combined a sedentary
farming lifestyle with hunting. In Ain Mallaha, an early Natufian
settlement, 25 km. (15.5 miles), north of the Sea of Galilee, in
addition to gathering food, they continued to hunt gazelle, fallow
deer, red deer, roe deer, wild boar, hare, tortoise, reptiles, and
fish. However, as weather patterns changed and periods of cold weather
produced widespread drought, they, and many others, were forced to make
dramatic changes to their lifestyle.
12,500 BCE a period of cold, dry weather lasting between 100-300 years
was followed by a twelve-hundred year mini Ice-Age circa 10,800 BCE The
temperature dropped some 11oC greatly reducing rainfall and the ensuing
drought-like conditions depleted crops and reduced the grasslands so
that herd numbers greatly decreased. This produced an enormous degree
of social instability. Many abandoned village life, returning to a
nomadic foraging lifestyle while those who remained in their villages
were forced to become more defensive, to protect their crops, their
limited food supplies and their villages, against wandering marauders.
forced them to look for better ways to exploit their cereal crops. One
of their principal cereals, a species of wild einkorn wheat, had a
major problem; when its grains ripened they would spontaneously break
away from the plant to be scattered by the wind. This meant the grains
had to be picked off the ground individually so that its collection was
difficult and time consuming. Fortunately, at around this same time a
mutant form of wheat appeared. A mutation in a single gene of this
wheat produced a strain that retained its grains on the stalk when it
ripened. This made collection by hand much easier and even more
advantageous, early farmers appear to have realised that, by using
cutting tools such as sickles, they could quickly and easily collect
large amounts of this grain.
the first to harvest this new species were the Natufians who
established settlements in what are present day Palestine and the Golan
Heights near Lake Kinneret. While we do not know exactly when the
mutation occurred, the existence of sickles in the early part of the
Natufian culture, (12,500-11,000 BCE) strongly supports the existence
of this new species of wheat. Furthermore, since this new type of wheat
required human intervention to spread its seeds, its sudden, widespread
distribution, suggests the Natufians were responsible.
major lifestyle changes came with the domestication of animals. This
freed humans from the time-consuming need to hunt, and, in addition to
a more regular supply of meat, humans now had access to additional
protein and nutrients in the dairy products these animals supplied.
Zeder (2008), suggests that circa 9,000-8,500 BCE, (or possibly
earlier), humans began to domesticate sheep and goats in south-eastern
Anatolia, and the practice appears to have spread quickly throughout
the Levant and Arabia, environments which, as previously mentioned,
were ideal for grazing these types of animals. (Coogan, 1998, p. 4)
herds of sheep and goats generally require more grazing land than is
normally available around a fixed village location, and, as much of the
land provided only poor grazing, some groups, including the
proto-Israelites, adopted a nomadic pastoral lifestyle. The text,
"'Your servants have been keepers of
livestock from our youth even
until now, both we and our fathers." (Genesis, 46:34), may
distant memory of this semi-nomadic lifestyle. Hieroglyphs on the
Merneptah stele certainly support this possibility. Redmount (1998)
hieroglyphs with which Israel was written include instead the
determinative sign usually reserved for foreign peoples: a throw stick
plus a man and a woman over the three vertical plural lines. This sign
is typically used by the Egyptians to signify nomadic groups or peoples
without a fixed city-state home, thus implying a semi nomadic or rural
status for "Israel" at that time." (p. 72)
observation is supported by Stager (1998) who noted that, "… Israel is
correctly distinguished as a rural or tribal entity by the
determinative for "people." (Stager, 1998, p. 91)
ancient times there were a number of these nomadic herding clans
located throughout the Levant, Mesopotamia and Arabia. Known by various
names, Ahlamu, Aramu, Amurru, Shasu, from the 9th century BCE, the
Assyrians began to refer to them as "Arabs" (Ephál, 1984). From
time-to-time some of them would resort to banditry, creating civil
unrest. During the reign of Seti I, (circa. 1294-1279), Shasu Bedouin,
began attacking caravans "…along the
Ways of Horus, which connected
Egypt and Gaza." and became the subject of a campaign by Seti.
(Redmount, 1998, p. 84) As Breasted (2001) noted, in an account of this
campaign, it is claimed that Set I pursued them as far as a fortified
town called pe-Kanan, ("the Canaan," p. 46).
like the Shasu, (1306 – 1292 BCE), became dominant enough to be able
to occupy much of the Levant area. (Miller, 2005, p. 95) The Amurru
clans, (Amorites), became so powerful that, by the 14th century BCE,
they had successfully invaded southern Mesopotamia, overthrown the
Third Dynasty of Ur, occupied parts of Canaan and founded ancient
Babylon. It was in the midst of this ongoing turmoil that the
proto-Israelites appear to have emerged.
to Redmount (1998),
Apiru, the Shasu are often invoked in discussions of Israelite origins,
and a number of scholars think that elements of the Shasu were among
the proto-Israelites who formed the core of the settlers of the hill
country of Canaan during the late thirteenth and early twelfth
centuries." (p. 84)
group in particular, the Habiru, (also known as, Hapiru, Abiru or
Apiru), are claimed to have actually been the proto-Israelites.
Mentioned in the Amarna tablets, (circa 14th century BCE), Barabas,
(1963), claims, "The fundamental
meaning of Habiru seems to be
wanderers." (p. 327), although Thomson, (2011), suggested that, "In
Sumerian cuneiform the word Habiru means 'the dusty-footed ones.'"(p.
throughout the Fertile Crescent, the Habiru appear to have been, "…a
troublesome group of people … outlaws, mercenaries, and slaves."
(Redmount, 1998, p. 72) Marginal outcasts, with no common language or
ethnic backgrounds they existed on the fringe of Syrian and Palestinian
urban society. Wolfe (2009) claims they "…preyed upon such states."
although Thomson (2011), described them more as a, "… travelling
mercantile class" (p. xi) who bartered goods with the
and were a integral part of the ancient trade system.
identification of the Habiru as the proto-Israelites is dubious. It is
based primarily upon the similarity of the name "Habiru" to "Hebrew",
some authors even claiming, "Habiru
is identical with the word for
Hebrew" (North, 1967, p. 22). Rainey (1995) however, suggests
nothing more than wishful thinking, (p. 483).
common misconception arose, in part, from difficulties in translating
"consonants" in the Accadian cuneiform, (the language in which the
Amarna tablets were written). As Wolfe (2009) points out, "Hebrew" is
not the Hebrew word for "Hebrew."
The word is 'Ivri'." Whether or not
the Habiru were actually the Apiru, a term now preferred by many
scholars, or, if they were actually the ancestors of the Israelites,
we cannot be certain as to whom the proto-Israelites really were,
evidence suggests they were definitely one of several cultural groups
that evolved in the Middle East, possibly in the northern part of the
is likely they began as a small group, and, as was common when family
numbers increased, they divided into individual clans. Eventually they
became so numerous that, as a united force, they were powerful enough
to either take over the country where they lived, or else, to
successfully invade Canaan, "…probably
about 1250 BC … settling at
first in the hill country and in the south." (Canaan, EB, 2015).
Certainly, as McNutt, (1999) observed, by the end of the Iron Age I,
(circa 1,200 BCE), there is definite evidence of a people who, "… began
to identify itself as Israelite" (p. 35).
they had been already living in Canaan it is possible that many of the
so-called "invasion tales" are merely highly embellished memories of
their struggles as they sought to take control of the land. Indeed,
Stager (1998) mentions there was an old belief that, as a race, the
Israelites were indigenous to the region and that, like other
semi-nomadic groups, some of them had, "…settled down in agricultural
villages about 1200 BCE." (p. 92). Finkelstein and Silberman
further and suggest that, not only had the Israelites always lived in
Canaan, but they were actually Canaanites who had evolved into a
separate culture. (p. 118)
possibility is supported by Stager (1998) who noted that, "In the
Merneptah reliefs, the Israelites … wear the same clothing and have the
same hairstyles as the Canaanites," (p. 92). Furthermore, as
mentioned, McNutt (1999), had observed that, despite their separate
names, there is no independent evidence of ethnic or cultural
differences between many of the occupants of Palestine. (p. 35)
seems to be little doubt the proto-Israelites originated somewhere in,
or near, the Fertile Crescent. Various researchers, such as
Santachiara-Benerecetti, et al.
(1993) Hammer et al. (2000) ,
al. (2001) and Atzmon et al. (2010), all agree that the Jewish race
originated from paternal ancestors within, "…a common Middle Eastern
ancestral population," (Hammer, et al. 2000, p. 6769).
et al. (2000) noted there is definite genetic evidence that as various
groups spread throughout the Levant, there was a mixing of genes. When
the genetic background of a group of 143 paternally unrelated Israeli
and Palestinian Arabs, was compared with Ashkenazi, Sephardic, and
North Welsh Jews, the results revealed that 70% of the Jews and 82% of
the Palestinian Arab males were descended from the same paternal
study by Nebel et al. (2001) of 526 subjects in which the Y chromosomes
(transmitted from father to son) of six Middle Eastern populations
(Ashkenazi, Sephardic, and Kurdish Jews from Israel; Muslim Kurds;
Muslim Arabs from Israel and the Palestinian Authority Area; and
Bedouin from the Negev) were compared, revealed little difference
between Kurdish Jews and Muslim Kurds. In general, the Jews were found
to be genetically closer to the Kurds, Turks, and Armenians, (groups
found predominantly in northern parts of the Fertile Crescent), than to
their Arab neighbours.
Y. (1979). The Land of the Bible: A
Historical Geography. Philadelphia,
Pennsylvania: The Westminster Press.
M.C. (1965). The origins of the Terms "Canaan," "Phoenician," and
"Purple" Journal of Near Eastern
Studies, Vol. 24, No. 4, Erich F.
Schmidt Memorial Issue. Part Two (October), pp. 346-350.
G., Hao, L., Pe'er, I., Velez, C., Pearlman, A., Palamara, P.F.,
Morrow, B., Friedman, E. Oddoux, C., Burns, E. and Ostrer, H. (2010).
Abraham's Children in the Genome Era: Major Jewish Diaspora Populations
Comprise Distinct Genetic Clusters with Shared Middle Eastern Ancestry.
American Journal of Human Genetics, June 11, 86(6), 850-859.
S. (1963). "Habiru." In, Merrill C. Tenney, editor, Zondervan Pictorial
Bible Dictionary. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan Publishing
C.L.; Seguchi, N; Quintyn, CB; Fox, SC; Nelson, AR; Manolis, SK;
Qifeng, P (2006). "The questionable contribution of the Neolithic and
the Bronze Age to European craniofacial form." Proceedings of the
National Academy of Sciences USA January, 103 (1): 242–247.
J.H. (2001). Ancient Records of
Egypt, The Nineteenth Dynasty. volume 3
Urbana: University of Illinois Press.
Karl W. (1999). "Demographics". In Bard, Kathryn A.; Shubert, Steven.
Encyclopedia Of the archaeology of ancient Egypt. London: Routledge
(2015). Encyclopædia Britannica.
Ultimate Reference Suite. Chicago: Encyclopædia
M.D. (1998). "In the Beginning: The Earliest History." In Coogan,
Michael D. The Oxford History of the
Biblical World, Oxford University
Press. pp. 3-24.
M.G. (1897). Illustrated Bible
Dictionary. London: T. Nelson and Sons,
I (1984). The Ancient Arabs.
Jerusalem: The Magnes Press, The Hebrew
I. and Silberman, N.A. (2001). The
Bible Unearthed: Archaeology's New
Vision of Ancient Israel and the Origin of Its Sacred Texts. New
J.A. (1998). "There Was No King in Israel: the Era of the Judges". In
Coogan, Michael D. The Oxford
History of the Biblical World, Oxford
University Press. pp. 132-164.
M.F., Redd, A.J., Wood, E.T., Bonner, M.R., Jarjanazi, H., Karafet, T.,
Santachiara-Benerecetti A.S., Oppenheimil, A., Jobling, M.A., Jenkins,
T., Ostrer, H. and Bonné-Tamir, B. (2000). "Jewish and Middle
Eastern non-Jewish populations share a common pool of Y-chromosome
biallelic haplotypes." Proceedings
of the National Academy of Sciences
of the United States of America, June, 2000, 97: 12, 6769–6774.
J., Benzinger, I. and Eisenstein, J.D. (1907). "Palestine." In,
Encyclopedia Judaica, 1907,
River. (2015). Encyclopædia Britannica. Encyclopædia
Britannica Ultimate Reference Suite. Chicago: Encyclopædia
J.L. The Sources of the Jordan River. In, The Biblical World, volume
16, no. 5, November 1900, University of Chicago Press, 326-336.
C.C. (2011). "The Birth of Religion." National
Geographic, June, 219;
P.M. (1999). Reconstructing the
Society of Ancient Israel. Louisville,
Kentucky: Westminster John Knox Press.
C. (2005). Exodus. New York:
Cambridge University Press.
R.D. (2005). Chieftains of the
Highland Clans: A History of Israel in
the 12th and 11th Centuries B. C. Grand Rapids, Michigan:
Eerdmans Publishing Company.
M.B. and Kelle, B.E. (2011). Biblical
History and Israel's Past. Grand
Rapids, Michigan: Eerdmans.
A, Filon D, Weiss D.A., Weale M., Faerman M., Oppenheim A. and Thomas
M. (2000). "High-resolution Y chromosome haplotypes of Israeli and
Palestinian Arabs reveal geographic substructure and substantial
overlap with haplotypes of Jews". Human
Genetics; December, 107 (6):
A., Filon, D., Brinkman, B., Majunder, P.P., Faerman, M., Oppenheim, A.
(2001). „The Y Chromosome Pool of Jews as Part of the Genetic Landscape
of the Middle East." American
Journal of Human Genetics, (November)
R. (1967). Archeo-Biblical Egypt,
K.L. (2001). Canaan and Israel in
Antiquity. An Introduction.
Sheffield, UK: Sheffield Academic Press.
Encyclopædia Britannica 2015
Ultimate Reference Suite. Chicago: Encyclopædia
J.B. (1963). "Israel." In, Merrill C. Tenney, editor, Zondervan
Pictorial Bible Dictionary. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan
Publishing House, 388-395.
A.F. (1995). "Unruly Elements in Late Bronze Age Canaanite Society."
In, Pomegranates and Golden Bells.
Editors, Wright, D.P., Freedman,
D.N. and Hurvitz, A. Winona Lake, Indiana, Eisenbrauns, pp. 481-496.
C. A (1998). "Bitter lives: Israel in and out of Egypt". In Coogan,
Michael D. The Oxford History of the
Biblical World, Oxford University
Press. pp. 58–89.
A.S., Semino O, Passarino G, Torroni, A., Brdicka, R. Fellous, M. And
Modiano, G. (1993). "The common, Near-Eastern origin of Ashkenazi and
Sephardi Jews supported by Y-chromosome similarity". Annals of Human
Genetics, January 1993, 57 (1): 55–64.
Lawrence E. (1998). "Forging an Identity: the Emergence of Ancient
Israel." In, Coogan, Michael D. The
Oxford History of the Biblical
World, Oxford University Press. pp. 90-131.
Gary (2008). The Migration History of Humans: DNA Study Traces Human
Origins Across the Continents. Scientific
American, July 1. p. 11.
G.A. (2011). Habiru: The Rise of
Earliest Israel. Bloomington, Indiana:
E. (1993). "Femoral neck-shaft angles of the Qafzeh-Skull early modern
humans and activity levels among immature near eastern Middle
Paleolithic hominids." Journal of
Human Evolution. 25: 393-416.
H.B. (1884). Bible Places: The
Topography of the Holy Land. London: The
G., Livshitz, Y., Givati, A. Zilberbrand, M. Tal, A. Weiss, M. and
Zurieli, A. (2012).The Natural Water
Resources Between the
Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River. Israel Hydrological
R. (2009). From Habiru to Hebrew: The
Roots of the Jewish Tradition.
New English Review October.
M.A. (2008). Domestication and early agriculture in the Mediterranean
Basin: Origins, diffusion, and impact. Washington D.C. Proceedings of
the National Academy of Science, 105:33, 11597-11604.
H.J. (1995). k'naán, in, Theological
Dictionary of the Old
Testament. Editors, Botterweck, G.J., Ringgren, H. and Fabry,
volume 7, translated by D.E. Green. Grand Rapids, Michigan: William B.
Eerdmans Publishing Company: pp. 211-228.