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Jewry: Fake and truth in the Old Testament (OT) according to documents and excavations

New identity by new Jewish history by help of chronology and archaeological research

15. Helpless occupation theories from the 1920s to the 1970s

von Michael Palomino (2006 / 2010)



from: Israel Finkelstein / Neil A. Silberman: The Bible unearthed. Archeology's New Vision of Ancient Israel and the Origin of Its Sacred Texts; The Free Press, a division of Simon & Schuster, Inc., 2001; German edition has got the title "No trombones before Jericho" (orig. German: "Keine Posaunen vor Jericho"): edition C.H.Beck oHG, Munich 2002;

Here in this analysis is used the German version "Keine Posaunen vor Jericho" of DTV, Munich 2004, second edition of 2005. All page indications refer to the German version. I hope the page numbers are not very different.

The different conquest theories, and nothing helps with it

Since the 1920s up to 1967 war actions in Israel Palestine are blocking any excavation activity in the West Bank [these are wars on the base of the book "The Jewish State" of Herzl with the hope for a big Jewish Empire from Nile to Euphrates according to 1st Moses book 15,18].

By this block archeology is looking for the origin of Israeli identity on the wrong spots for decades (p.121).

Occupation theory of Albrecht Alt: "Peaceful infiltration" has not stayed peaceful

In the 1920s Albrecht Alt is giving the theory that the occupation had been of Bedouin's migration from the Arab desert, and the Israelites had been one of many groups (p.116). Until the 1970s traditional "science" is believing the theory of a "peaceful infiltration" of Albrecht Alt. But:

-- but the reasons for this infiltration are not clear
-- Alt states that the Jews had also cleared land (eliminated forests) and begun with agriculture
-- Alt states that Jews had settled down by the time and had constructed villages
-- by growing infiltration there had been fights with the Canaanites how they are described in the book of Judges (p.117).

[Conclusion: According to Albrecht Alt the book of Joshua is not right, but the book of Judged with it's wars and mass murders shall be right].

The occupation theory in combination with Egypt sources: the societies of Apiru and Shasu

Egypt sources state that there were two outsider groups of Canaanite society, the Apiru and the Shasu (p.117).

Apiru (also Hapiru, or Habiru)

The Apiru are presented in a very negative sense in Egypt sources (Amarna letters etc.). They are expelled people driven to the margin of the society, parts of the population which are expelled by war, hunger or heavy taxes or by another reason, and they are defamed in the Egypt sources or are presented as thieves or  soldiers for hire, or also as foreign workers (p.117).

When there is an alliance with the Apiru, so this is the most negative alliance according to Egypt sources (p.118).

Scholars make a connection between the Apiru and the name "Ibri" or "Hebrew". The scholars are stating for some time that Apiru would be the oldest Israelites (p.118).

But new source research in other regions gives another state of facts: The term "Apiru" was known in all Middle and Mid East for centuries and probably was a sociological name for a social class or profession sector. The derivation from Apiru to Hebrew remains nothing more than a hypothesis and is very unlikely (p.118),

[and could be possible only when the Jews had been scattered in whole Mid and Middle East].

Shasu in Egypt sources

Shasu are mentioned in a papyrus report in the time of Ramses III. The report says that Shasu Bedouins are robbed a total tent camp with all cattle and possessions. So, Shasu are probably nomads with sheep and goats in the frontier region between Canaan and East Bank in the desert and in the highlands. Shasu also had the custom migrating down to eastern Nile delta crossing the Egypt fortress lines (p.118).

[But Moses never had been possible because with 600,000 Jews under suspicion of conspiracy Egypt never had let them go].

The new conquest theory in the 1970s by George Mendenhall and Norman Gottwald

There had been no wars between shepherds and farmers - thesis of an exodus from the cities to the forests because of high taxes

The contradictions in the theory of Albrecht Alt with its thesis of infiltration by Israelis and the following wars with Canaanites only get a new scientific answer in the 1970s. Archaeologists find out that wars between foreign Israeli shepherds and native Canaanite farmers are not believable. Science states that both groups knew each other and accepted each other (p.119).

Bible researcher George Mendenhall and later Bible historian and sociologist Norman Gottwald are stating according to Egypt documents (above all in reference to the Amarna texts):

-- that the Israelites were the rebels who had to take their flight from the Canaanite towns to the empty highlands
-- that in the late Bronze Age tensions and inequality grew in Canaan
-- that the elite in the towns controlled the country, wealth and commerce
-- that the farmers had no rights and had to pay more and more taxes
-- that many farmers had gone to exile, eventually some had converted into Apiru, other had migrated to the forests in the uncontrollable highlands
-- that there had been a great solidarity between the discriminated who had taken their flight, and they had formed a new social class, the "Israelites" (p.119)

-- Norman Gottwald means that the core of the ideology would have been brought from the Echnaton revolution in Egypt to Canaan, brought by a little revolutionary group  from Egypt having formed bigger groups in Canaan

-- by this social revolution had begun and would have been the origin of an Israelite identity (p.120).

[This would be very good when Israelites had worked out their national consciousness by a social revolution and would live with this philosophy].

But: For Gottwald's thesis is missing any archaeological finding. And the findings of the reconstructed towns after the big fires are contradicting Gottwald's thesis that people had taken their flight from the towns into the forests. There had to be more similarities in respect of the construction style and architecture (p.120).

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