According to the Bible, the Promised Land (Hebrew: הארץ המובטחת, translit.: ha'aretz hamuvtakhat; Arabic: أرض الميعاد, translit.: ard al-mi'ad; also known as "The Land of Milk and Honey") is the land which, according to the Tanakh (the Hebrew Bible), was supposed to have been promised and subsequently given by God to Abraham and his descendants.
The Bible does not give any acceptable or justifiable reason for the displacement of the Canaanite people from their land and replacing them with Hebrew i.e. Israelites. The supposed giving of Canaan to the Israelites is an absurd postulation. This supposed promise for the Israelites to usurp any land and claim it for themselves remains a stain on the international conscience of the ancient world, if it really happened according to the Bible.
The promise begins with a man who has not been proven to have existed called Abraham. His fictional story, which is mythological at best, is as follows:
Abraham was born Abram, son of Terah, at the beginning of the second millennium BC in Ur, the capital of Mesopotamia at the height of its splendor as a highly developed ancient world. His family left Ur, in modern day Iraq, to travel northwest along the trade route and the Euphrates River to the city of Haran. Abram settled down in Haran, in present day Turkey, with his family. He married Sarah. At the age of 75, Abram took his wife, his nephew, Lot, and his possessions and moved south into the land of Canaan. He settled temporarily in Shechem and Beth-el. God told Abraham his descendants would inherit the Canaanite land.
Abraham ( -- אַבְרָהָ Ābraham, from Ancient Greek Ἀβραάμ (Abraám), from Hebrew Avraham אַבְרָהָם (aḇrāˈhām, “Abraham and means Father of Multitudes”)
Before presenting information on the Land of Canaan and the invasion and occupation of part of it by the Hebrews, a clear separation between what is popular misconception based on Biblical stories and real history. Real history, in this case, begins with a very well known name, Abraham. Although Abraham is very well known in the Old Testament/ Jewish Bible or Torah and the Muslim Quran, when historic records and archaeology are searched, there is no trace of Abraham. Abraham is often called the father of the faithful and some consider him to have been the first person who believed in one God. Abraham, originally Abram, is the common patriarch of the three Abrahamic religions. In Judaism, he is the founding father of the Covenant, the special relationship between the Jewish people and God; in Christianity, he is the prototype of all believers, Jewish or Gentile; and in Islam إبراهيم he is seen as a link in the chain of prophets that begins with Adam and culminates in Muhammad. In the religious books of the three religions of Jews, Christians and Muslims, Abraham is the forefather after Adam. The Christians guesstimate that he lived between 2166 BC, and died 1991 BC; however the Jews guesstimate that he lived between 1813 BC and died in 1638 BC. Both dates are irrelevant, knowing that there is no scientific or archaeological records that he ever existed but a conjecture based on unproven and unprovable Bible stories. The same applies to the Quran. Abraham is supposed to have spoken Aramaic and/or Canaanite Phoenician, if the story is true of his being promised the land of Canaan to him and to his posterity. What right, justification or valid cause did he and his descendants have in invading and occupying Canaan is no where to be found other than the supposed God's promise?
With the above in mind, his whole story (Genesis 14) of coming from Ur and those of Adam, Eve, Isaac, Zimran, Ishmael, Jacob, Joseph, Lot, Noah and the rest of the figures mentioned in the Bible or Quran are nothing but stories with no basis in history or archaeology. In a science based study of any of these figures, the Bible cannot contain a scientific answer, because religious literature is for the purpose of faith and religion not history. Consequently, the researcher is obligated to look else where to find information about any such figures.
With the story of Abraham standing on very shaky ground and the promise which God was supposed to have given him and his descendents the land of Canaan, the Exodus story cannot be trusted either. However, an historic record was discovered that sheds light on one aspect of post-Exodus stories and the invasion and occupation of a part of Canaan.
The Amarna letters (/əˈmɑːnə/; sometimes referred to as the Amarna correspondence or Amarna tablets written on clay tablets, primarily consisting of diplomatic correspondence between the Egyptian Pharoah (Amenhotep IV) and his representatives in Canaan and Amurru during the New Kingdom, between c. 1360-1332 BC. The letters were found in Upper Egypt at el-Amarna, the modern name for the ancient Egyptian capital of Amenhotep IV. He founded a new monotheistic religion and was later known by pharaoh Akhenaten (1350s – 1330s BC) during the Eighteenth dynasty of Egypt. The Amarna letters are unusual in Egyptological research, because they are mostly written in a script known as Akkadian cuneiform, the writing system of ancient Mesopotamia, rather than that of ancient Egypt, and the language used has sometimes been characterized as a mixed language, Canaanite-Akkadian. The written correspondence spans a period of many years.
The known tablets total 382, 358 of which have been published by the Norwegian Assyriologist Jørgen Alexander Knudtzon's in his work, Die El-Amarna-Tafeln, which came out in two volumes (1907 and 1915) . The texts of the remaining 24 complete or fragmentary tablets excavated since Knudtzon have also been made available.
The Amarna letters are of great significance for Semitic linguistics, since they shed light on the culture and language of the Canaanite people before the invasion and occupation of the Hebrews for part of Canaan. The letters, though written in Akkadian, the language of diplomatic correspondence, are heavily colored by the mother tongue of their writers, who spoke an early form of Canaanite. Further, they demonstrated the primacy of the Canaanite Phoenician King Rib-Addi, King of Byblos who wrote on behalf other kings and princes in the region. At that time, King Abdi-Hepa was Canaanite King of Jerusalem a.k.a. Beit Shulmani (House of Well-Being). He similarly wrote to the Pharoah seeking support.
Conquest and invasion of the “Habiru” or "Apiru” Slaves which reeked havoc in the Eastern Mediterranean
The conquest of the Eastern Mediterranean by the Apiru brought commotion and terror to the Canaanites and other states in the region. This generated a cry to the superpower, the Egyptian Pharaoh for help in restraining them. A cry for help went out to Pharoah Akhenaten complaining of the harassments by the Apiru Slaves (which means marauding outlaws and scholars refer to as Hebrews).
The Conquest of Canaan
began with the supposed siege of Jericho. It was held by the Canaanites in 1900 BC and reached its greatest prominence between 1700 BC and 1550 BC. This was due to the rise of aristocrats that utilized chariots called the Maryannu in the Mitannite state to the north. Their rise caused a greater urbanization in the surrounding area, including Jericho. By this time, there were two walls around the city in a double enclosure made of mud brick. The outside wall rested on top of a stone base. Though they were impressive in size, they were not stable. Bronze Age Jericho fell in the 16th century around 1573 BC when it was violently destroyed by an earthquake. Charred wood found at the site suggests that the remains of the city were burned. Buried food supplies also suggest that it was not captured following a siege.
While archaeology documents the history of Jericho, another unsubstantiated story of its fall comes from else where. The Bible mentions the beginning of the conquest of Canaan in the Book of Joshua. The Battle of Jericho is the first battle that is described. According to Joshua 6:1-27, the walls of Jericho fell after Joshua's Israelite army marched around the city walls blowing their trumpets. However, excavations at Tell es-Sultan, the biblical Jericho, have failed to produce data to substantiate the biblical story, hence this story remains a myth. In other words, the arrival of the invading Israelites found Jericho in ruins after it fell in 1573 BC from the earthquake.
The conflicting story of Jericho from real history and myths of the Bible do not mean that the Israelites did not invade Canaan. The Amarna letters, mentioned earlier, provide historical proof of the harassment and invasion suffered by the Canaanites and their neighbors on the hands of the Apiru/Hebrews or Israelites.
Herewith are the cries for help in the letters of a couple of Canaanite Kings against the invading Israelites
The letters that follow and many others like them were written to Amenhotep IV or Pharaoh Akhenaten between 1350 and 1330 BC. Consequently, they date the Israelite invasion of Canaan. Further, the Israelite invasion and occupation of part of Canaan (completed by 1200 BC) an historically proven event. Yet, the stories and fairy tales from the Bible that surround it nothing but fiction, including the Fall of Jericho and other myths which have no place in this presentation.
||An Amarna Tablet Letter from Canaan
to the Pharaoh of Egypt complaining
of the marauding Hebrew slaves.
Letter of King Abdi-Hepa of Jerusalem to Pharaoh Akhenaten
"At the feet of the King I have fallen seven and seven times. Here is the deed that Milkily and Shuwardatu have done against the land—they have led the troops of Gezer ... against the law of the King ... The land of the King has gone over to the Habiru [marauding outlaws]. And now a town belonging to Jerusalem has gone over to the men of Qiltu. May the King listen to Abdi-Hepa your servant and send archers."
Letters of King Rib-Addi of Byblos who at the time was old and ill to Pharaoh Akhenaten on behalf of himself and other kings of the region
Rib-Addi spoke to his lord, the King of Lands:
May the Mistress of Gubla grant power to my lord. At the feet of my lord, my sun, I fall down seven times and seven times. Let the king, my lord, know that Gubla, your handmaid from ancient times, is well.
However, the war of the 'Apiru against me is severe. (Our) sons (and) daughters are gone, (as well as) the furnishings of the houses, because they have been sold in Yarimuta* to keep us alive. My field is "a wife without a husband," lacking in cultivation. I have repeatedly written to the palace regarding the distress afflicting me, . . but no one has paid attention to the words that keep arriving. Let the king heed the words of his servant... They... all the lands of the king, my lord. Aduna, the king of Irqata, mercenaries have killed, and there is no one who has said anything to Abdi-Ashirta, although you knew about it. Miya, the ruler of Arashni, has taken Ardata; and behold now the people of Ammiya have killed their lord; so I am frightened.
Let the king, my lord, know that the king of Hatti has overcome all the lands that belonged to the king of Mittani or the king of Nahma the land of the great kings.
Abdi-Ashirta, the slave, the dog, has gone with him. Send archers. The hostility toward me is great. ... and send a man to the city of ... I will ... his words.
* Yarimuta was recently discovered under seawater near Sidon.
Rib-Addi says to his lord, the King of Lands, the Great King, the King of Battle:
May the Lady of Gubla grant power to the king, my lord. At the feet of my lord, my Sun, I fall down seven times and seven times. Be informed that since Amanappa's arrival to me, all the 'Apiru have turned their face against me at the instigation of Abdi-Ashirta. Let my lord listen to the words of his servant, and let him send me a garrison to defend the city of the king, until the archers come out. And if there are no archers, then all the lands will unite with the 'Apiru. Listen, since the conquest of Bit-Arha in accordance with the demand of Abdi-Ashirta, they seek in the same way to unite Gubla and Batruna; and thus all lands would be united with the 'Apiru. Two cities remain with me, and they are also attempting to take them from the king's hand. Let my lord send a garrison to his two cities until the arrival of the archers, and give me something to feed them. I have nothing.
Like a bird that lies in a net, a kilubi/cage, so I am in Gubla. Furthermore, if the king is not able to rescue me from the hand of his enemy, then all lands will unite with Abdi-Ashirta. What is he, the dog, that he takes the king's lands for himself?
The conspiracy organized by Rib-Addi's brother in favor of Aziru of Amurru, son of his old enemy Abdi-Ashirta, drove him to seek refuge with Hammuniri . From there he sent his son to the Pharaoh bearing a request for aid.
Rib-Addi [speaks] to the king, his Lord, [the sun of all countries];
[I have prostrated myself] seven times and seven times at the feet of the king, my Lord. I have written repeatedly in order (to obtain) [ troops ], but have not received them, [ and ] the king, my Lord, has not listened to the words of his servant. I have sent my messenger to the palace, and [he has returned] (with) empty (hands): there were troops for him. When the people of my house saw that no money had been given, they reproached me, the governors, my brothers, and they despised me. On the other hand, I set out for Hammuniri and in the meantime a brother of mine, younger than me, conspired against me at Gubla [Canaan] to deliver the city to the sons of Abdi-Ashirta. When my brother saw that my messenger had returned empty(handed) and that there were no occupation troops with him, he despised me and thus he committed a crime, and he expelled me from the city. May the king, my Lord, not hold back (before) the actions of this dog.
Now I cannot enter the land of Mitsru [Egypt]; I am old and I (suffer of) a serious disease in my own flesh. May the king, my Lord, know, that the Gods of Gubla are angered and the disease has become chronic, although I have confessed my sin to the Gods. Therefore I have not appeared before the king, my Lord. Now then, I have sent my son, servant of the king, my Lord, to the king, my Lord. May the king, my Lord, listen to the words of his servant and may the king, my Lord, give troops of archers to conquer the city of Gubla in order that enemy troops not enter her, nor the sons of A[bdi-A]shirta, and it become necessary that the troops of archers of the king, my Lord, reconquer it. See, (there are) many men who love me in the city and few are my enemies. When the troops of archers will be leaving and the day of their arrival be known, the city will return to the king, my Lord. And may my Lord know (that) I am willing to die for him.
When I was in the city, I made an effort to keep it for my Lord and my heart was firm (in the support of) the king, my Lord. It would not have delivered the city to the sons of Abdi-Ashirta. Therefore my brother has caused enmity between me and the city, to deliver it to the sons of Abdi-Ashirta. May the king, my Lord, hold back with respect to the city. Certainly there is inside her (walls) much gold and silver, and in her temples there is much of everything. If they conquer her, may the king, my Lord, do with his servant as he wants, but may he give me the city of Buruzilim as residence.
Now I am with Hammuniri, since Buruzilim has made the (other) cities hostile (to me) . They have become enemies for fear of the sons of Abdi-Ashirta. When I came to Hammuniri because of the sons of Abdi-Ashirta, when they were stronger than I and there was no encouragement for me from the mouth of the king, I said to the king, my Lord: See, the city of Gubla (is) his. In her (there are) many things of the king, the possessions of our ancestors. If the king holds back, he will not have left any city of Kinahnu [Canaan]. May the king not hold back his action. Now I have sent to the king, my Lord, your servant, my son. May the king send him quickly with troops to take the city. If the king, my Lord, feels compassion for me and returns me to the city, then I will keep it for the king, my Lord, like previously. If the king, my Lord, [ does not return to me ] to her [... ] the city of Buruzilim [... will do] as she sees fit to his servant (?) ... Hammulniri [ I remain with him (?)].
May [the king, my Lord], listen to [the words] of his servant and send immediately troops to take the city. May the king, my Lord, not hold back with regard to this evil deed, that was committed against the countries of the king, [my Lord], and may the king, my Lord, quickly send troops of archers to take the city immediately. When they say in front of the king about the city: "the city is strong", it is not strong before the troops of the king, my Lord.
No help came from Egypt and Rib-Addi disappeared from history. Aziru after several years in Egypt returned to Amurru allying himself to the Hittites.
- For those who interpret the stories of the Bible didactically, the conquest cannot be justified or believed. This puts a question mark on the validity of the specific story of God giving Canaan to the Hebrews. The most probable interpretation is that the scribes and priests invented the fiction to take Canaan and probably the whole area between Mesopotamia and the Nile. This confirms the erroneous belief that the Bible is to be literally interpreted.
- For those who believe in literal interpretation of the Bible, the conquest, invasion, and occupation of Canaan are justified because God is supposed to have given the Hebrews the right so to do. However, such people have a lot of explaining and supportive reasoning to impute this action to God's will.
- For those who believe in reason and justice, the conquest is an act of war and an unjustifiable aggression which is rejected emphatically.
- The lesson of the story is: force should not be the solution of problems and, in the author's view, the Israelites went through vast areas of land, on their supposed exodus out of Egypt. They could have taken peacefully any of the vast empty areas as their homeland outside of Canaan.
Sources and Bibliography