09-26-08, 03:36 PM #1
Hapiru: were they the Hebrews?Archaeology has established that the Exodus as presented in the Bible never happened, it is a Myth. Some of cities, towns and hamlets mentioned in the Pentateuchal narratives about the Exodus and Joshua's Conquest of Canaan have been attested as being either abandoned or not existing till much later times. The question remains, if archaeology has demonstrated the biblical account to be fictious, how did the notion arise that the Israelites understood that their Hebrew ancestors had once been slaves in an Egyptian bondage, who fled from their captor with God's help and later conquered Canaan ?
This brief article attempts to answer such a question. My research suggests that the "historical kernel" behind this notion lies in events arising in the transition period from Late Bronze Age to Early Iron Age times in Canaan.
Scholars have long been fascinated with the Tell el-Amarna tablets some which, written by Canaanite Princes to Pharaohs Amenhotep III and Akhenaten (1386-1334 BCE), mention Habiru brigands attacking Pharaoh's lands in Canaan. Some have suggested that the "Habiru" may have been transformed by later storytellers into the "Hebrews" of the Pentateuchal narratives. It is clear from the tablets written in Akkadian (Babylonian) in a Canaanite dialect, that they are not describing the Hebrew conquest of Canaan by Joshua because the names of various Princes of the Canaanite cities do not match the names of the kings appearing in the Book of Joshua.
The Exodus is dated 1446 BCE by some Conservative scholars (cf. 1 Kings 6:1), while Liberal or Humanist scholars prefer 1250 BCE. Neither of these dates falls within the time period of the Amarna letters. Many scholars prefer to see the Early Iron Age (Iron I, 1200-1000 BCE) as being Israelite, noting the appearance of new agarian settlements in the hill country as described in the biblical texts, which in Iron II (1000-587 BCE) become an urban Israel. The study of Early Iron pottery forms in these new settlements revealed that they evolved from Late Bronze Age Canaanite exemplars, not Egyptian types. Archaeological surveys indicated that in the Late Bronze Age the fabric of urban life was severely strained. The high level of urbanization that characterized Canaan in Middle Bronze II B/C did not survive into the following era. The Egyptians are believed to have destroyed the MBIIB/C civilization ca. 1550/1540/1530 BCE after expelling the Hyksos from the Eastern Delta. Thus Canaan became a vassal of Egypt. Annals of various New Kingdom pharaohs mention forays into Canaan to pacify it and collect tribute and slaves to work in Egypt. Archaeological surveys revealed that many Late Bronze Age sites were not fortified, a contrast to the heavily fortified MBIIB/C period. Nor did these sites ever see again the population levels of the earlier period. I suspect that the Egyptian imperial policy was to keep Canaan weak and in servitude by denying her the right to refortify and resist future Egyptian forays for more tribute and slaves. In this same Late Bronze Age period, we learn of the Habiru attacking Egyptian appointed princes of various cities in Canaan. The Habiru would have a definite advantage in attacking the unfortified settlements of this period.
It has been established that the word Habiru denotes a social class, a term for elements within a society that lived beyond the pale of societal control. At times they are portrayed as runaways who flee to regions beyond the control of the city states where they live a life of brigandry.
I suspect that it is with the Habiru that the notion arose that the Hebrews were in bondage to Egypt, fled that bondage, and with their God's help were able to return to their ancestral land and conquer it. Some of the Amarna documents mention Canaanite princes being murdered by their townspeople who are characterized as "Slaves" who then runaway to become "Habiru."
`Abdu-Heba, a prince of Jerusalem writes to Akhenaten-
"...now the Habiru capture the cities of the king...behold Turbazu has been slain in the very gate of Sile...Behold Simreda, the townsmen of Lachish have smitten him, slaves who had become Habiru. Yapti has been slain in the very gate of Sile, yet the king holds his peace." (p.176, Ian Wilson. The Exodus Enigma. London. Weidenfeld and Nicholson. 1985. ISBN 0-297-78749-7)
09-26-08, 03:44 PM #2
I have read that the exodus story started to legitimize the Hebrew's claim to Judea, since in the ancient past, being born somewhere meant nothing, but capturing a place in battle meant that God willed it to happen.
09-26-08, 03:47 PM #3
09-26-08, 03:48 PM #4
09-26-08, 03:53 PM #5
Ah I see, so historical links do not lead to an automatic right to the land?
Here is an interesting link:
It is my understanding that the `Apiru/Habiru are the "historical kernel" underlying the imaginary Gibeon-Joshua narratives, Gibeon NOT existing in the Late Bronze Age, when Joshua allegedly conquered the area ca. 1406 BCE (cf. 1 Kings 6:1). The notion that Israel enters into a Covenant of war and of peace, with her God, who promises to give the Hebrews all the land of Canaan mirrors the reports from mayors loyal to Pharaoh that the `Apiru grand plan is to make all the lands of Canaan to Apiru lands, to the very border of Egypt. The `Apiru leagues or covenants follow the same procedures outlined for Israel by Moses. First, offer peace, if accepted the city must be servants to Israel, if they resist, destroy them in war. I really see no differences between God's Covenant with Israel, promising her victory over her enemies and the `Apiru tactics, both had the same ultimate goal, winning all the land of Canaan for themselves.
09-26-08, 03:54 PM #6
09-26-08, 03:56 PM #7
No its the basis of the Balfour agreement and the establishment of a "homeland" for the Jews. But I'm interested in discussing the hapiru.
09-26-08, 04:25 PM #8
M*W: For a brief moment in time, I will agree with much of what you have stated. My sources that I don't have with me just now refer to the "slaves" in Egypt as shepherds and other workers who were not of the royal classes. That's not to say they were "owned."
You are correct that there is no evidence to claim the Exodus happened. It is beyond me how and why the Pentateuch claimed that the Exodus occurred.
09-26-08, 05:09 PM #9
Originally Posted by MW
Why would a people enshrine a myth, or give authority to a "legendary past", you suppose?
It might be because there's an elite who want to keep their elitist social positions? Or it might be because stories and myths establish a history (true or partly true) which gives a tribe their identity?
Remember, the Torah kept the Hebrews together for ~1200 years, and particularly following their conquest of the Canaanites.
Why, for example, were the conquests of Jerusalem and Jericho depicted as assaults on walled cities in the OT? There is zero archeological evidence of any walled cities in the region during King David's supposed reign. That's one example, and there are plenty of others. The exodus is thought to have been several waves of migration, over decades. Moses was probably several different people; why, in the myth, was he not 'permitted' to enter the promised land, for instance?
09-26-08, 06:33 PM #10
when the old lies cant grasp, invent a new lie. it happens all the time.
09-26-08, 08:53 PM #11
I love it; archaeology presented as definitive knowledge...
Since when can something be definitive...when the art is finding things from thousands of years ago. No one found it for 2000 years...so what's to say no one will find it for 2005? That's not a big different.
I am saying they found no evidence. They need to stop speculating, and just putting forth the evidence they do have.
And I will never understand why they use "Names" as valid lines of connection...
09-26-08, 09:14 PM #12
Archeology isn't definitive? They need to stop speculating?
I'll never understand your reference to "lines of connection"? Can't you be just a little more vague about whatever it is you're being vague about?
If you can, I'll probably be able to see how vague it really all is.
09-26-08, 10:42 PM #13
There was an Egyptologist on the History channel a while back. He was speaking a bit about the Exodus and I wish I had the time to look up the info but in a nut shell. It was pretty common for people from around modern day Israel to migrate into Egypt during times of drought and feminine. In general they were tolerated and integrated into Egyptian society. During one such period so many had been allowed to settle that they were becoming the majority of the people living in Northern Egypt. Finally they took control by force. They ruled northern Egypt for about 5 years until finally the Egyptians in southern Egypt gathered a large enough force to force them out. And then they did they forced them completely out of Egypt and back into the area of present day Israel.
So from the Egyptians point of view they let these people into Egypt during a drought and how were they repaid - the jerks bit the hand that helped them!
Anyway, so these guys made up the exodus story after they were forced out.
As if they built the pyramids! Haaa!! Too much. Isn't it funny like that? To take credit for something they had little to nothing to do with. Reminds me of some other people.
09-27-08, 03:14 AM #14
Names can't be valid connecting points in history; different cultures had different names for the same person. If you recognize that they didn't necessarily have the medium to communicate long distances. A person would be often defined by his role to people far from him...while those near would know his actual name.
Be kinder Vkothii, it won't kill you.
09-27-08, 04:25 AM #15
Archaeological dating techniques are fairly reliable. It's about re-constructing history, rather than inventing it.
What does: "refrain from making rash statements" mean? Can you demonstrate that archaeologists make rash statements, or rough estimations?
Or are you referring to just the Levant, and Israeli/Middle Eastern archeology; it's a special case, or something?
P.S. what's your definition of "definitive"?
09-27-08, 04:37 AM #16
Since documents exist for some time periods, especially in the middle east, they should be taken into account. Currently Greek and Egyptian histories weigh in more than Jewish or Persian histories. Other oral traditions are not weighed at all.
Let me give example in this specific case, the entire argument is founded on this statement...
Archaeology has established that the Exodus as presented in the Bible never happened, it is a Myth. Some of cities, towns and hamlets mentioned in the Pentateuchal narratives about the Exodus and Joshua's Conquest of Canaan have been attested as being either abandoned or not existing till much later times.
Regarding other civilizations; I believe without a doubt the histories and characteristics applied to nearly all cultures existing pre-History are completely based on bias by cultures living "post"-History mixed with some kind of Romanticism.
09-27-08, 05:59 AM #17
I don't get it; archaeology says that there is no evidence for a lot of history recorded in 'writings'. This indicates that a lot of it was constructed, for various reasons.
What do you mean with: "there is no way to prove" cities didn't exist? There should be evidence (you know, ruins, evidence of longterm use of fire, detritus in middens, evidence of all sorts of stuff. How unreliable do you believe archaeological methods are these days?
09-27-08, 11:55 AM #18
M*W: "...enshrine a myth...", that's a question I have, but your answer sounds logical.
"...walled cities...". I've also read that there is no evidence for the walls to come tumbling down.
"...waves of migration, over decades...". This is probably true. That would explain why there were no golden chariots found at the bottom of the Red Sea.
"...Moses...". Moses could have been, and actually was, several different people. Also, the Moses of biblical myth had several different titles and given names so as to confuse readers. Moses's ancestors were the Tuthmosis pharaohs I, II, III and IV (which may have been Moses, himself). If Moses was an actual human that was born of a pharoah and his mother (or sister), the very name 'Moses' means "taken from the water." Whoever gave birth to him (if anyone did), they gave him the name "Aminadab." The other titles Moses has been called by are:
(I'm listing these titles from memory, since I don't have my references with me).
The Habiru was shepherds. They were called "Jewish slaves," because of the bias you mentioned. Shepherds were of a lower class than the royal pharaohnic class. They were nomads, so they traveled by night and slept in the daytime. Because of that, they created myths from the night skies, ergo, man-made religion.
I think Moses was not allowed to enter the "promised land," because there was no Moses who led his people (sun worshippers) there, and there was no true promised land but only what was created by the writers of the Torah.
Thank you for your post.
09-27-08, 03:43 PM #19
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