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The Emergence of Israel

Ryan Bonfiglio
Emory University

Course: Introduction to the Old Testament
Syllabus section / Lecture: "The Emergence of Ancient Israel: Settlement Theories"
Audience: Undergraduate or Master (MDiv, MTS) level

Overview


Assignments (pre-class):

All of the required and recommended readings for this Lesson Plan can be found on OBSO. The required reading includes four brief essays, each from different OBSO resources, which introduce students to foundational questions and perspectives concerning Israel's settlement in Canaan. The recommended / advanced readings are designed to expose students to more extensive research on various historical, archaeological, and interpretive issues related to the emergence of ancient Israel.

Required:

  1. 1. Biblical texts: Joshua
  2. 2. Background essays:

Recommended / Advanced:

  1. 1. Biblical texts: Judges
  2. 2. Background essays:

Objectives / Outcomes:

After successfully completing this lesson, students will have:

  1. 1. achieved a working knowledge of the basic principles and proponents of three main settlement theories.


  2. 2. encountered various evidences supporting each theory and been able to evaluate their strengths and weaknesses.


  3. 3. begun to cultivate the practice of interpretation and critical assessment by articulating their own preliminary interpretive conclusions regarding ancient Israel's emergence in Canaan.


  4. 4. been challenged to synthesize and apply insights gleaned from settlement theories to broader literary, historical, and theological questions.

Lesson Preview:

The following lesson is designed for a 60 to 90 minute class. Though most of the material lends itself to a lecture-style format, interactive exercises are included throughout. These activities play a critical role in prompting discussion as well as engaging critical thinking skills that will challenge students to summarize, synthesize, and evaluate key ideas. In addition to an introduction and conclusion, the lesson is divided into three main parts, each of which includes a brief background section on a settlement theory, a discussion of evidences for that theory, and one or more interactive exercises. Each part can be expanded or contracted to suit the particular needs and interests of individual teachers and their particular learning environments. Wherever possible, links are provided to OBSO resources that can provide guidance for or be incorporated into lecture notes or, if applicable, PowerPoint slides. The lecture concludes with a "take-away" exercise that asks students to synthesize and apply key concepts from the lesson. This assignment can be completed individually or in small groups and may be turned in for evaluation during the next class period or incorporated into reading journals kept throughout the semester.

From Wilderness Wandering to the Promised Land


Background

As the book of Joshua begins, the Israelites, poised to cross the Jordan River, find themselves at a critical point of transition. Behind them was a land, Egypt, from which the Israelites escaped slavery and heavy burdens. Before them was another land, Canaan, into which they longed to enter and occupy. Behind them was a leader, Moses, who taught the Israelites the law during their years of wandering in the wilderness. Before them was another leader, Joshua, who would reiterate the law as they settled in a land promised to flow with milk and honey. Behind us, as readers, is the Pentateuch, five books of law and narrative, creation and covenant, ancestors and origins that frame the story of who Israel has been. Before us are the Former Prophets, four books of history and memory, heroes and victims, war and worship that present the story of who Israel will be. Thus, for both contemporary readers and ancient Israelites, the opening lines of Joshua link past experience with future promise.

Interactive Exercise

Have students read Deuteronomy 7:1–6 in their Bibles or on a PowerPoint slide. The following questions can either be asked rhetorically as part of a lecture presentation or may be presented to the class for discussion.

This passage of scripture presents Moses' instructions to the Israelites about how they are to enter into and occupy in the land of Canaan. The Israelites, as God's "treasured possession," are to settle the land in a way that expresses their single-minded devotion to the Lord. Yet questions remain:

  1. 1. Why and when did Israel "enter and occupy" the land?


  2. 2. By what means did the Israelites "clear away" the many nations before it?


  3. 3. To what extent did Israel "utterly destroy" the indigenous inhabitants of the land (Canaanites)?


  4. 4. Before the settlement took place, what, if any, was the relationship between the Israelites and Canaanites? Did they share in common any aspects of language, culture, socio-economic status, or religious perspective?


  5. 5. Is this passage—or the subsequent description of settlement in Joshua—meant to be read as a straightforward portrayal of the history of Israel's settlement of Canaan?

We will take up these and other related issues in this lecture as we overview three main theories that attempt to clarify the nature and dynamics of Israel's initial settlement in the land of Canaan.

The Conquest Model


Background

Until the last half of the twentieth century, theories about Israel's emergence in Canaan closely followed the biblical narrative found in the book of Joshua. This theory, known as the conquest model, views the first half of the book of Joshua as a more or less straightforward depiction of how Israel came to settle the land of Canaan. That is, sometime in the thirteenth century BCE, the Israelites escaped from slavery in Egypt, journeyed through the Sinai and Transjordan regions, entered into Canaan and subsequently conquered the land and its people through a quick (less than one generation) and decisive military campaign. The conquest entailed not only defeating the kings of many Canaanite cities but also destroying much of the indigenous population. According to Joshua 1–11, the conquest took place through three major campaigns, each in different geographical parts of Canaan: the central (6–8), southern (10), and northern regions (11). After summarizing the totality of the conquest (Josh 11:23) and recounting all the defeated lands and kings (Josh 12), the remaining chapters in Joshua describe the allotment of the land to various tribes (Josh 13–22) and culminates in several final exhortations and a covenant renewal ceremony (Josh 23–24). While the conquest model allows for the possibility that non-Israelites were incorporated along the way (see the reference to the "mixed multitude" who joined the Israelites as they left Egypt in Exod 12:38), those settling the land primarily are seen as a culturally and religiously united group of outsiders—the very same people, although a generation removed, whom Moses led out of Egypt.

Although the conquest model is principally rooted in the biblical witness, in the first half of the twentieth century a group of American scholars, influenced by the pioneering work of William F. Albright, proposed a biblical and archaeological synthesis that tried to affirm the historicity of the Israelite conquest (among other things) through archaeological findings. Initially, these efforts appeared to offer supporting evidence for a military conquest of Canaan sometime around the end of the Late Bronze Age. The influence of the "Albright School" was extensive, with some of its leading scholars producing widely influential work in the areas of biblical history and archaeology, such as G. Ernest Wright's Biblical Archaeology (1957, 1962) and John Bright's A History of Israel(1960).

Interactive Exercise

This exercise is designed to help students begin to think critically about the issue of evidences for or against various settlement theories. Ask students to get in groups of three of four to discuss the following question:

"Imagine for a moment that you are archaeologists who are excavating the land that ancient Israel settled long ago. Knowing what you know about the conquest model and the story found in the book of Joshua, what would you expect to find in the dirt that would confirm this theory? That is, what types of material remains would support the notion that a group of outsiders came into Canaan and decisively defeated the indigenous population?"

Give students 3–4 minutes to brainstorm. Bringing the class back together, ask for volunteers to share their ideas and explain why such findings would support the conquest model. Some possibilities include: destruction layers at urban sites that date to the time of the conquest (thirteenth century) and correspond to those cities said to have been destroyed by the Israelites (see Josh 12); evidence of many new villages or towns to accommodate the influx of Israelite settlers; sudden appearance of a material culture (pots, jars, tools, etc.) that is distinct from what is found prior to the thirteenth century; and evidence of an Israelite presence in and along the route of invasion (the Transjordan).

Evaluation of Evidence

The types of evidence you came up with in this exercise should give you a good idea of what biblical archaeologists were looking for to support the conquest model. The question is: does the archaeological evidence support the theory?

First, consider the presence of destruction layers in cities mentioned in the book of Joshua. Of the 31 cities mentioned as defeated or destroyed, 20 have been identified and excavated. Only two of these, Bethel and Hazor, show convincing evidence of destruction at the time of the conquest (see the following chart for a summary of archaeological evidence). This means that, among other things, the ruined walls of Jericho, which the Israelites were said to have knocked down in Josh 6:1–21, were not found! This example, in fact, illustrates the types of controversies and confusions that arose in archaeological circles surrounding the question of the emergence of Israel in Canaan. While early work seemed to suggest the presence of a destroyed wall around Jericho, prominent British archaeologist Kathleen Kenyon, using improved dating techniques, demonstrated that these ruins dated to a time period well before the Israelites would have entered Canaan. In other words, if, as an old spiritual reminds us, "the walls came a-tumbling down," it happened long before the Israelites set foot in Canaan.

Second, is there any evidence that a distinct material culture appeared in Canaan around, during, and after the thirteenth century? While the evidence is somewhat mixed, on the whole the material remains of new twelfth and eleventh century settlements do not drastically differ from older, Canaanite settlements. For instance, while some features of the material culture such as collared-rim jars, pillared houses, and a relative dearth of pig bones may be indicative of an Israelite settlement, Canaanite rural settlements often exhibited similar characteristics. As a result, from the perspective of material cultural alone, the new settlers were barely distinguishable from their indigenous Canaanite predecessors.

Third, there is little to no evidence of any occupation, let alone an Israelite occupation, of Heshbon, Sihon, Medeba, Dibon, or any other Transjordan site said to have been conquered by the Israelites just prior to their arrival in Canaan (see Num 21:21–31).

Finally, it is important to note that it is not the archaeological record alone that provides difficulties for the conquest model. The book of Judges offers a substantially different picture of how the settlement process took place. In fact, Judges suggests that if a conquest occurred, it was anything but quick or decisive—Canaanites remained in the land, victories were only partial, and local struggles for control continued for many generations after Joshua died. At the very least, reading Judges alongside of Joshua suggests that the latter does not provide a straightforward historical account of the emergence of Israel in Canaan.

What can we make of this data? Both biblical and non-biblical evidence suggest that the conquest model is not likely a viable theory for explaining Israelite settlement of Canaan. At the very least, the account given in Joshua should be understood as an exaggerated, highly stylized literary retelling of Israel's arrival in Canaan, which should be held in tension with the alternative picture provided by the book of Judges. At the most, the paucity of archaeological support prompts us to think critically about the biblical text as well as alternative theories that might better account for Israel's settlement of Canaan.

The Peaceful Migration Model


Background

In response to growing skepticism regarding the historicity of Joshua's account of the conquest, alternative settlement theories began to emerge. One such theory, known as the peaceful migration or pastoral nomad model, was put forth in 1925 by the German scholar Albrecht Alt. Along with the supporters of the conquest model, Alt agreed that the earliest Israelites were non-indigenous people who entered Canaan around the thirteenth century. Where Alt's model drastically diverges from the conquest model is in terms of the motivation and mechanism of settlement. Alt proposed that the earliest Israelites were pastoral nomads who tended sheep and goats in the semi-arid desert fringes east of Canaan. During the rainy winter months, these nomads and their flocks could comfortably survive on the land. But during the dry summer months, conditions made it necessary form them to migrate west towards the more verdant central hill country of Canaan where there was more rain and vegetation for their flocks. Over time, these nomads recognized that the agriculturally fertile hill country of Canaan could sustain small-scale farming and thus would enable them to give up their annual migrations for a life of settled subsistence farming. What motivated the Israelites to settle Canaan, quite literally, was that the grass was greener on the other side of the Jordan River! Since the central hill country was sparsely populated and far removed from powerful Canaanite cities, the migration of these outsiders was met with little resistance. Thus, to claim that the mechanism of migration was "peaceful" says less about the state of Canaanite-Israelite diplomacy than it does about the topological features and population distribution characteristic of ancient Canaan.

In the pastoral nomad model, the earliest Israelites came from outside the land of Canaan, but not necessarily directly from the land of Egypt. Some scholars have connected these nomads to a group of wandering sheep and goat herders called the Shasu. The Shasu are mentioned in Egyptian texts and are often associated with southern Edom and Midian. Whatever the identity of these pastoral nomads might have been, their migration into Canaan was reflective of ecological and agricultural factors. While no explicit biblical evidence is found for this view, the gradual nature of the settlement seems to more closely correspond to the account provided by the book of Judges.

Evaluation of Evidence

That this theory was widely supported in Germany into the second half of the twentieth century is nowhere more evident than in Martin Noth's influential work, The History of Israel (1960). One of the strongest pieces of evidence in support of this theory comes from the fact that archaeologists have discovered the proliferation of hundreds of small, unwalled villages in the central hill country of Canaan from the thirteenth through the eleventh centuries. This rapid increase of new settlements is far greater than what could be accounted for by natural population growth of indigenous peoples. In fact, the time, place, and nature of these new settlements, along with the corresponding lack of wide-scale destruction of urban sites, largely corresponds to what we would expect if outsiders gradually and peacefully migrated, perhaps for agricultural reasons, into the central hill country of Canaan. Also to its merit is the fact that the pastoral nomad theory takes seriously the role of the environment—topology, ecology, and agriculture—as an important factor in the life and development of ancient Israel. This concern for environmental factors neither denies nor diminishes the role played by religious experience in the emergence of Israel; rather, it reminds us that the emergence of Israel, however construed, was a complex process that most certainly reflects the interaction of multiple aspects of life, from ecology to politics to religious conviction.

As much as the peaceful migration model offers a provocative explanation for some aspects of biblical and archaeological data, it fails to explain others. First, this theory is premised on an outdated anthropological assumption that civilizations evolve from desert nomadism to village farming to urban settlements. Even in the ancient Mesopotamian word, settled farmers on the plains later become pastoral nomads in the desert (Luke, 1965). It is likely more appropriate to speak of a bi-directional movement between and mutual interdependence among pastoral nomads and village farmers. Second, the peaceful migration model must look beyond ancient Israel to other invaders to account for the few destruction layers present in several Late Bronze Age Canaanite cities. Finally, despite sharing with the book of Judges a sense that the settlement was gradual, this theory offers only tenuous links to the biblical witness. Even if these former nomads joined forces with a small group of ex-slaves from Egypt, one might wonder when and why they became united and how the nomads came to worship Yahweh. How was it that this large group of new settled farmers came to accept as their own the religious beliefs and cultural history of escaped slaves from Egypt?

Interactive Exercise

In this "paired sharing" exercise, students will be given 3 minutes to write down their own brief thoughts in response to the following question prompt. After 3 minutes, students will be asked to share with one other student what they wrote. According to the teacher's discretion, time can be allotted for further discussion in either pairs or as a whole class.

"For many contemporary readers, the violence and warfare found in the pages of the Old Testament are uncomfortable to encounter, difficult to understand, and ethically problematic. Warfare and violence are especially prominent in the book of Joshua (see for instance Josh 11:21). However, the peaceful migration theory paints a far different, and more much peaceful, picture of how the Israelites actually came to settle in Canaan. If this theory is correct, then a sharp tension exists between the literary narrative of Joshua and the historical circumstances underlying the text. In your opinion, would the violence depicted in the book of Joshua be more or less problematic from an ethical perspective if it proved to be a later literary creation rather than a historical reality of Israel's emergence in Canaan? Why?"

The Peasant Revolt Model


Background

The third major settlement theory regarding the emergence of Israel in Canaan is called the peasant revolt model. Unlike the first two theories discussed, this theory proposes that the earliest Israelites were not outsiders who entered Canaan to settle the land; rather, they were actually Canaanite peasants who revolted against an oppressive aristocratic regime. With economic wealth and socio-political power concentrated in Canaanite city-states, those removed from the cities, such as lower-class peasant farmers, became marginalized members of Canaanite society. Facing heavy taxation and little to no access to either property or power, the Canaanite peasants grew increasingly dissatisfied with what they saw as oppressive conditions. Eventually, these individuals came together and violently revolted against the city-state system. These dissidents were later joined by a small group of Transjordan slaves who recently had escaped from their own slavery in Egypt. As these various oppressed people converged in their interests and combined in their efforts, a wide-scale revolt began that sought to establish an egalitarian socio-political order in direct opposition to the power structure of the city-states and their rulers. Therefore, urban centers were the primary target of the dissidents. Though beginning primarily as a socio-political uprising, this movement was subsequently galvanized by a growing devotion to Yahweh, a God worshipped by the small group of ex-slaves who had earlier joined the cause of the Canaanite peasants.

The Peasant Revolt model was first pioneered by George E. Mendenhall ("The Hebrew Conquest of Palestine," 1962) and was later advanced by Norman Gottwald (The Tribes of Yahweh, 1979). For both Mendenhall and Gottwald, this settlement theory drew heavily upon social-scientific criticism, an approach to biblical studies that emerged in the 1960s and looks to insights from anthropology, sociology, enthography, and political theory to help reconstruct the social world that lies behind the biblical witness. As a result, this theory is strongly influenced by theories that understand material and social conditions of life as decisive factors in the development and disintegration of societies throughout history. In this view, religion, like most other aspects of life, is seen to be deeply imbedded in and strongly reflective of social, economic, and political realities. For instance, Mendenhall understood the worship of Yahweh as the religious dimension of a larger socio-political context. For the dissident members of Canaanite society, the god Yahweh, who was worshiped by the ex-Egyptian slaves who joined their cause, reflected a new type of ruler, or overlord, who validated the rights to freedom and the end of oppression that they so vigorously sought. As such, in the Peasant Revolt model, commitment to Yahweh reflects, at least in part, a hope for a realignment of power dynamics in Canaanite society. Therefore, the Israelites were originally a diverse group of people whose common pursuit of overthrowing an oppressive socio-political regime was galvanized by an emerging commitment to Yahweh, God of the oppressed.

Interactive Exercise

Use OBSO to display the map "The Land of Canaan: Abraham to Moses." Ask students to examine the map, paying close attention to the difference between the central hill country region (shaded in brown and marked "Hill Country of Judah") and the plains region immediately to its west (shaded in tan and marked "The Shephelah"). Then, ask students to discuss the following question:

"The central hill country of Canaan plays an important role in the peaceful migration model because, ecologically speaking, its soil and weather conditions made small-scale farming possible for former nomads. This same central hill country region also plays a critical role in the peasant revolt model. By examining the map, why do you think this region might have been important in a peasant revolt against city-states?"

Norman Gottwald contended that the central hill country represented "a hinterland for political asylum" for the revolting Canaanites by virtue of being far removed from the city-states, which were mostly found in the western plains ("Were the Israelites Pastoral Nomads?" p. 241). Thus, the more secluded central hill country served as an area of relative safety and freedom from the city-state control.

Examination of Evidence

While the peasant revolt model offers a provocative way of understanding the emergence of Israel in terms of a Canaanite peasant uprising, evidence for this theory is mixed. On one hand, the biblical record only offers minimal support. Even though the reference to a "mixed multitude" of people going up with the former Israelite slaves to Canaan (Exod 12:38) gives a sense that some diversity existed among the earliest settlers, the Bible offers nothing to support the notion that the Israelites were once oppressed Canaanite peasants. In fact, whenever Canaanites and Israelites cooperate with one another in the books of Joshua and Judges, it is clear that the Canaanites are joining the cause of the Israelite settlers, not the other way around (for instance, see the story of Rahab [Josh 2; 6:22–25]). These few exceptions notwithstanding, non-Israelites are almost always characterized as the dangerous "other," a foreign enemy whose power, morals, and religion pose a great threat to the emergence of Israel as an independent people in the land God promised them.

The peasant revolt model garners modest support from non-biblical data. For example, this theory provides one way of explaining the proliferation of new settlements in the central hill country after the thirteenth century. In fact, scholar William Dever has referred to these settlements as "proto-Israelite" (Dever 2003). Likewise, instances of continuity in material cultural between Late Bronze Age and Early Iron Age settlements can also be explained by a theory that appeals to indigenous development. Second, the Amarna letters, fourteenth century correspondence between Egyptian Pharaohs and their vassal kings in Canaan and Syria, make reference to a troublesome group of marginalized social dissidents called the Habiru/Hapiru or 'Abiru/'Apiru. Early researchers attempted to equate these people with the biblical Hebrews ('ibri), thus affirming the notion that the original Israelites were lower-class social dissidents. However, it is more likely that the Habiru of the Amarna letters were ubiquitous in the Mesopotamian world, having no specific national, cultural, or geographical connection to Canaan. Nevertheless, the presence of lower-class social dissidents in Canaan a century before the emergence of Israel might well suggest the type of socio-political climate postulated by the peasant revolt theory.

Yet, problems remain with regards to the viability of the peasant revolt model. This theory is often dismissed because its model of history and social change appears anachronistic, projecting nineteenth century CE Marxist theory onto thirteenth century BCE Canaanite society. Even if such criticism is valid, the peasant revolt model offers a helpful contribution to the study of early Israel by emphasizing the important connection between religious experience and social, economic, and political realities. Second, even if this is theory can account for some of the destruction found in Canaanite cities, it is in doubt whether a peasant uprising and subsequent movement to the central hill country can adequately account for the number of new settlements that emerged between the thirteenth and eleventh centuries. Finally, since this theory proposes that Canaanite peasants took up the religious beliefs and practices of a small group of Yahweh worshipers who joined their socio-political cause, one might wonder how and why these religious beliefs took such strong hold among the dissidents. What was it about this small group of ex-slaves that enabled their religion, their history, and their culture to have such influence among the Canaanite peasants?

Interactive Exercise:

Ask students to get in groups of three or four with those sitting around them and give them 3 minutes to discuss the following question:

"Suppose for a moment that the peasant revolt model is proven to be true. If the original Israelites were actually Canaanite peasants who overthrew an oppressive socio-political regime, what motivations do you think the author(s) of Joshua might have had for consistently drawing such a sharp line of distinction between Israelites and Canaanites in this book? If Israelites were once Canaanites, what's at stake in portraying the Canaanites as the dangerous and reviled "other" who must be defeated and destroyed? As you discuss this question, keep in mind that the final version of the book of Joshua most likely was written during the Israelites' exile in Babylon, some 600 years after the events it describes."

Conclusion

In light of the three settlement theories discussed in this lecture, what conclusions can be drawn about the emergence of Israel in Canaan?

  1. 1. None of the theories on its own can fully account for the biblical and archaeological data. As a result, it is likely the case that multiple theories—or at least modifications of the ones discussed today—must be considered in order to gain a more comprehensive picture of how the emergence of ancient Israel.


  2. 2. In light of both archaeological and biblical-critical findings, one should be cautioned against reading the book of Joshua as a straightforward historical account. Even if one ascribes to a form of the conquest model, the account given in Joshua must be held in tension with the different picture provided by the book of Judges. Far from undermining the value and significance of these biblical texts, insights from archaeology, as well as those gleaned from literary, historical, and social-scientific approaches to the Bible, can shed new light on the complex life settings and theological impulses that gave shape to the biblical witness.


  3. 3. The emergence of ancient Israel, however construed, cannot be fully understood in an ideological vacuum. While religious experience and practice all certainly played a role in the history of Israel, so too did other factors such as ecological, economic, social, and political circumstances, to name just a few. By attending to these various influences and how they might have affected the emergence of Israel, we can better situate certain interpretive questions about the lived realities of past communities.


  4. 4. The existence of various settlement theories—and the questions that remain about each—raise important interpretive issues concerning the books of Joshua and Judges. Realizing that these books do not present straightforward historical accounts about the emergence of Israel can help draw attention to the various literary, rhetorical, and theological impulses that gave rise to the final form of these texts.

Interactive exercise:

Teachers may conclude the lecture with a "take-away" assignment designed to encourage students to continue to synthesize and evaluate the lecture material. Ask each student to write a brief (2 page) essay on the following question. Written material can either be turned at the beginning of the next class period or can be incorporated into a reading journal kept throughout the semester.

"Imagine a roundtable discussion on the settlement of Canaan involving three prominent scholars: William. F. Albright, Albrecht Alt, and Norman Gottwald. First, identify which theory these thinkers are connected to and present the basic data and rationale of their theory about the settlement of Canaan. Then put each of these scholars in conversation with one another. How would they respond to each other's positions? What is at least one point of agreement and one point of critique that each scholar would bring up with each of his colleagues? How might each scholar defend his own theory in light of questions or objections from the others? Finally, imagine you are the moderator of this roundtable discussion and it is your job to offer some summarizing remarks for the audience (be sure to specify who you imagine your audience to be—Jewish, Christian, academic, church-based, etc.). How would you synthesize the discussion? Be sure to include your own interpretive opinion on which theory you find most compelling and why (or why not) you think this debate is significant for the audience you specified. If you are addressing an audience, be it Jewish or Christian, who looks to the Bible as the Word of God, be sure to comment on why or how you think this debate comes to bear on their understanding of Joshua as the Word of God."

Further Reading

  • Aharoni, Yohanan. The Land of the Bible: A Historical Geography. Translated and edited by Anson F. Rainey. 2d ed. Philadelphia: Westminster, 1979.
  • Bright, John. A History of Israel, 4th ed. Louisville, Ky.: Westminster John Knox, 2000.
  • Brueggemann, Walter. "Trajectories in Old Testament Literature and the Sociology of Ancient Israel." Journal of Biblical Literature (1979): 161–185.
  • Dever, William G. Who Were the Early Israelites, and Where Did They Come From?. Grand Rapids, Mich.: Eerdmans, 2003.
  • Finkelstein, Israel. The Archaeology of the Israelite Settlement. Jerusalem: Israel Exploration Society, 1988.
  • Gottwald, Norman. K. The Tribes of Yahweh: A Sociology of the Religion of Liberated Israel, 1250–1050 BCE. Maryknoll, N.Y.: Orbis, 1979.
  • Kenyon, Kathleen. Archaeology in the Holy Land, 5th ed. Nashville, Tenn.: Nelson, 1985.
  • Luke, J. T. "Pastoralism and Politics in the Mari Period." Ph.D. diss., University of Michigan. 1965.
  • Mazar, Amihay. Archaeology of the Land of the Bible 10,000–586 BCE. New York: Doubleday, 1990.
  • Mendenhall, George E. "The Hebrew Conquest of Palestine." Biblical Archaeology (1962): 66–87.
  • Noth, Martin. The History of Israel. 2d ed. New York: Harper and Row, 1960.
  • Thompson, T. L. The Early History of the Israelite People: from the Written and Archaeological Sources. Leiden: Brill, 1992.
  • Wright, G. Ernest. Biblical Archaeology. New and rev. ed. Philadelphia: Westminster, 1962.

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