Archeology is Demolishing the History of the Bible
The following are verbatim excerpts from news articles, which are linked below. This material is readily available to all for verification.
Exodus never happened and the walls of Jericho did not come a-tumbling down. How archaeologists are shaking Israel to its biblical foundations.
Israel Finkelstein, chairman of the Archaeology Department at Tel Aviv University, with archaeology historian Neil Asher Silberman, has just published a book called "The Bible Unearthed: Archaeology's New Vision of Ancient Israel and the Origin of Its Sacred Text."
"The Israelites were never in Egypt, did not wander in the desert, did not conquer the land [of Canaan] in a military campaign and did not pass it on to the twelve tribes of Israel. Perhaps even harder to swallow is the fact that the united kingdom of David and Solomon, described in the Bible as a regional power, was at most a small tribal kingdom."
<< These statements correspond well with what was written by John Rembsburg:
"In the 12th chapter of Joshua is given a list of 31 kingdoms which were conquered by Israel. This was in the fifteenth century B.C. From this time forward they are represented as a mighty nation by Bible historians.
Rameses III overran Canaan and conquered it between 1280 and 1260 B.C. The Egyptian records give a list of all the tribes inhabiting it. The children of Israel-- the Hebrews-- were not there. In the 5th century B.C., when Herodotus, the father of History, was collecting materials for his immortal work, he traversed nearly every portion of Western Asia. He describes all its principal peoples and places; but the Jews and Jerusalem are of too little consequence to merit a line from his pen. Not until 332 B.C. do the Jews appear upon the stage of history, and then only as the submissive vassals of a Grecian king."
John E. Remsburg, The Bible (1901), pg. 263.
Jerusalem was essentially a cow town, not the glorious capital of an empire. These findings have been accepted by the majority of biblical scholars and archaeologists for years and even decades.
The tales of the patriarchs -- Abraham, Isaac and Joseph among others -- were the first to go when biblical scholars found those passages rife with anachronisms and other inconsistencies. The story of Exodus, one of the most powerful epics of enslavement, courage and liberation in human history, also slipped from history to legend when archaeologists could no longer ignore the lack of corroborating contemporary Egyptian accounts and the absence of evidence of large encampments in the Sinai Peninsula ("the wilderness" where Moses brought the Israelites after leading them through the parted Red Sea).
Finkelstein is an iconoclast. He established his reputation in part by developing a theory about the settlement patterns of the nomadic shepherd tribes who would eventually become the Israelites, bolstering the growing consensus that they were originally indistinguishable from the rest of their neighbors, the Canaanites. This overturns a key element in the Bible: The Old Testament depicts the Israelites as superior outsiders -- descended from Abraham, a Mesopotamian immigrant -- entitled by divine order to invade Canaan and exterminate its unworthy, idolatrous inhabitants.
The famous battle of Jericho, with which the Israelites supposedly launched this campaign of conquest after wandering for decades in the desert, has been likewise debunked: The city of Jericho didn't exist at that time and had no walls to come tumbling down. These assertions are all pretty much accepted by mainstream archaeologists.
"Research is research, and strong societies can easily endure discoveries like this." By comparison with today's skeptical turmoil, the early years of the modern Israeli state were a honeymoon period for archaeology and the Bible, in which the science seemed to validate the historical passages of the Old Testament left and right. As Finkelstein and Silberman relate, midcentury archaeologists usually "took the historical narratives of the Bible at face value"; Israel's first archaeologists were often said to approach a dig with a spade in one hand and the Bible in the other. The Old Testament frequently served as the standard against which all other data were measured: If someone found majestic ruins, they dated them to Solomon's time; signs of a battle were quickly attributed to the conquest of Canaan. Eventually, though, as archaeological methods improved and biblical scholars analyzed the text itself for inconsistencies and anachronisms, the amount of the Bible regarded as historically verifiable eroded. The honeymoon was over.
Marcus says that Finkelstein is "difficult to dismiss because he's so much an insider in terms of his credentials and background. He's an archaeologist, not a theologian, and he is an Israeli. It's hard to say that someone who was born in Israel and intends to live the rest of his life there is anti-Israeli."
http://www.mfa.gov.il/mfa/go.asp?MFAH01xv0 (a website in connection with the State of Israel)
The biblical account of the capture of the city is the only one we have, and in the opinion of most modern scholars, the Bible is not an entirely reliable historical document.
The Bible is not - and was never intended to be - a historical document. A work of theology, law, ethics and literature, it does contain historical information; but if we want to evaluate this information we should consider when, how and why the Bible was compiled.
Until comparatively recently, the Bible was accepted as the word of God by most Jews and Christians, and therefore scholarly works dealing with it concentrated on its interpretation. In the 19th century CE, the "Age of Reason," scholars began subjecting the biblical texts to linguistic, textual, and literary analysis, noting inconsistencies and interrupted rhythms, comparing styles, and placing the text within the archaeological, historical and geographical background.
There are still many differing opinions regarding the origin of the Bible, when it was written, and under what conditions; but it is fair to say that, outside fundamentalist circles, modern consensus suggests that the assembling and editing of the documents that were to constitute the Bible began in the seventh century BCE, some three centuries after David's time. (The earliest actual material in our possession, part of the Dead Sea Scrolls, dates to the second century BCE at the earliest).
In particular, the account of Joshua's conquest of Canaan is inconsistent with the archaeological evidence. Cities supposedly conquered by Joshua in the 14th century bce were destroyed long before he came on the scene. Some, such as Ai and Arad, had been ruins for a 1000 years.
The Book of Judges, which directly contradicts Joshua, and shows the Israelites settling the land over a prolonged period, is nearer historical reality; but even it cannot be taken at face value. The archaeological surveys conducted over the past two decades indicate that the origin and development of the Israelite entity was somewhat different from either of the rival accounts in the Bible. The survey was conducted by more than a dozen archaeologists, most of them from Tel Aviv University's Institute of Archaeology.
Around 1200 bce, semi-nomads from the desert fringes to the east and the south, possibly including Egypt, began to settle in the hill country of Canaan. A large proportion - probably a majority of this population - were refugees from the Canaanite city states, destroyed by the Egyptians in one of their periodic invasions. The conclusion is somewhat startling to Bible readers who know the Canaanites portrayed in the Bible as immoral idolaters: most of the Israelites were in fact formerly Canaanites. The story of Abraham's journey from Ur of the Chaldees, the Patriarchs, the Exodus, Sinai, and the conquest of Canaan, all these were apparently based on legends that the various elements brought with them from their countries of origin. The consolidation of the Israelites into a nation was not the result of wanderings in the desert and divine revelation, but came from the need to defend themselves against the Philistines, who settled in the Canaanite coastal plain more or less at the same time the Israelites were establishing themselves in the hills.
Thus the founders of Israel were not Abraham and Moses; but Saul and David. It was apparently Saul who consolidated the hill farmers under his rule and created fighting units capable of confronting the Philistines. It was David who defeated the Philistines and united the hill farmers with the people of the Canaanite plains, thus establishing the Kingdom of Israel and its capital city.