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Tim of Aclea
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PostSubject: The earliest extended history in history   The earliest extended history in history EmptyWed 07 Nov 2018, 17:55

The Deuteronomic History

It is, I believe, the earliest extended history to be written, it is also in terms of ancient history books likely to be the one that most people have the easiest access to it; the question is though ‘how historical is it?  I am referring to the set of books from Joshua through to 2 Kings (excluding the book of Ruth) found in the Hebrew Bible and which scholars now refer to as the Deuteronomic History following the recognition that these books all reflect the outlook of the book of Deuteronomy.  The Deuteronomic History covers from the claimed invasion and conquest of the land of Canaan under the leadership of Joshua, normally dated to the 13th C BC through to the destruction of the state of Judah and of the city of Jerusalem by the Babylonians in the 6th C BC.  It does not include the return from exile in 538BC with the last recorded event being the release of the Judean King Jehoiachin from prison by the Babylonians in 562BC.

One problem with looking at the Deuteronomic history is that there are such extreme views as to its reliability: from the conservative evangelical one seeing the entire set of books as being historically correct, even when they contradict themselves, to the ‘minimalist’ viewpoint which views them largely as a Hebrew equivalent of Geoffrey of Monmouth’s history of Britain.  A second problem is the lack of other historical accounts outside the Hebrew Bible for much of the period covered.  It would, for example, be very useful if there were Philistine or Canaanite accounts of the period, but none have survived.  There are some Egyptian, Assyrian and Babylonian records but, for most of the period covered, Canaan is of little interest to them.  

In trying to understand the Deuteronomic History, it is perhaps best first to consider the book of Deuteronomy that is considered to be the inspiration for the history.  Deuteronomy literally means ‘second law’ in Greek and is a reference to what is viewed as a second giving of God’s laws by Moses, most notably the Ten Commandments.  However, Deuteronomy is not so much a rendition of these laws as rather a series of addresses attributed to Moses.  In those addresses he brings in various laws, some from the other books of the law and some new, but he also adds a commentary on the purpose and meaning of those laws.

We in Britain live in a welfare state, to care ‘from the cradle to the grave’ was the original aim.  While not in a position to create a welfare state, the aim of the laws in Deuteronomy is very much the protection of the disadvantaged.  Over and over in Deuteronomy there is the challenge to safeguard ‘widows, orphans, and foreigners’; those people who had no one to protect them.  The demand is that those who prosper have a duty to provide for the defenceless in society.  Farmers are instructed to leave some of their crops so that the poor could glean, could harvest enough for themselves to eat, a sort of ancient ‘workfare’.  There is actually today a ‘Gleaning UK Network’ and a ‘Feeding the 5000’ pledge to get volunteers to go in farmers’ fields, orchards etc to gather fresh fruit and vegetables that would otherwise go to waste.  

In the book, Moses is credited with being concerned that once the Israelites moved into ‘the Promised Land’ that, with their new found prosperity, they would forget their dependence on Yahweh.  Deuteronomy, although not read that much these days, is actually one of the four Old Testament books most quoted in the New Testament – the other three are Genesis, Psalms and Isaiah – and it is cited around eighty times.  It also provides a vital link between the first section of the Old Testament, the law books, of which it is the last, and the next section – the history books.  This was because, when the history of the Israelites ended in disaster with first the destruction of the northern kingdom Israel by the Assyrians and then the southern kingdom of Judah by the Babylonians, unknown historians took inspiration from the book of Deuteronomy when considering what went wrong.  Their description of the conquest under Joshua, the period of the Judges, the united kingdom under David and Solomon, and the divided kingdoms of Israel and Judah were all written through the prism of the demands of Deuteronomy.  It was against the social demands to safeguard ‘widows, orphans and foreigners and to bring about an egalitarian society, as well as failing in their worship of Yahweh, that Israelites were found wanting.  The sequence of history books from Joshua through to the book of Kings were written in the hope that a future Israelite community would learn from the previous mistakes and build a society that this time reflected the demands of Yahweh’s laws.
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Tim of Aclea
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PostSubject: Re: The earliest extended history in history   The earliest extended history in history EmptyThu 08 Nov 2018, 15:59

There is evidence to suggest that the book of Deuteronomy was first written in the northern kingdom of Israel rather than the southern kingdom of Judah.  Firstly in the blessing that Moses is supposed to have given to the tribes before his death, the 2 southern tribes of Judah and Benjamin are referred to very briefly compared to some of the northern tribes, especially that of Joseph.  Secondly it does not mention Jerusalem as the place at which alone Yahweh should be worshiped but instead points towards Shechem in the north.  Thirdly it refers to the mount of the covenant as Horeb rather than Sinai as was the tradition in Judah.  

The hypothesis is then that an early version of Deuteronomy, it was clearly edited later, was written in the northern kingdom of Israel before it fell in 722BC.  Some of the Deuteronomic ‘school’ escaped to Judah following the fall of Israel to Assyria – there is archaeological evidence for a significant increase in the population of Jerusalem at this time.  Deuteronomy then played a significant part in the reforms carried out by King Hezekiah (715 – 687).  The Deuteronomic history is glowing in its account of Hezekiah and so it is suggested that a first edition of the history was written during his reign especially with Judah (just) surviving invasion by Assyria.

Hezekiah’s son Manasseh, however, becomes a vassal of Assyria and the reforms of Hezekiah are reversed.  2 Kings refers to a book of the law miraculously being found in the Temple in 621 during the reign of the Josiah, great-grandson of Hezekiah.  Most scholars consider this book to be an early version of Deuteronomy and the wholesale reforms carried out by Josiah line up strongly with Deuteronomy.  Given the praise lavished on Josiah in the history, it is suggested that a second edition of the history was produced during his reign.

Josiah, though was killed in battle and after him things went downhill leading to the end of the kingdom of Judah and the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple.  A third edition of the history was then written during the exile following the realise of King Jehoiachin but before the fall of Babylon to the Persians and the return from exile.
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PostSubject: Re: The earliest extended history in history   The earliest extended history in history EmptyFri 09 Nov 2018, 12:28

I'd suggest a rather more accurate claim for what is, as you say, an obviously sincere attempt at establishing a chronological history of the Jewish people might be "the oldest extant extended and extensive history in history". When it comes to retrospectively establishing a chronological written history both Bede in England and the Irish Annalists went for a more ambitious history in terms of time covered, and when it comes to attempts at objective chronologies it appears from archaeology that the Sumerians (as usual) had established the template many centuries before the Jews.

I agree that what most distinguishes Deuteronomy as a valid stab at history writing is its obviously intentional desire to avoid overly moralistic or spiritual interpretation of the events it records (given its temporal and scriptural context), though it does of course use the assembled data quite intentionally as a form of instruction for then contemporary readers couched in unmistakably religious form. In this respect of unexpected objectivity in ancient chronologies it matches also the Irish annals - written much later but compiled and transmitted verbally over many centuries so in the process tended to have dropped "easy" moralising related to specific events, especially those events that covered the thousand years between the absolute "origin myth" stuff and contemporary politics. Whereas Bede's history, also written later, tends to read sometimes like a litany of heroes and villains, the protagonists in the Irish annals' chronologies are listed primarily because their actions had historical effects with little or no attempt to paint them as good or bad in the process. The fragments of Sumerian written chronologies suggest also even more dry reporting, though the limitations of cuneiform script may account for some of that too. So in the context of these comparable attempts at establishing a written chronology of events it must be acknowledged that Deuteronomy does indeed represent our most complete example from so early a time, and one that does not suffer for its scriptural context in being legible as a history either, which in itself marks it out as an amazing document in our global human heritage.

Having said all that it's worth noting that for all its impressive detail Deuteronomy, like other biblical sources related to Jewish social history, has so far been badly served by archaeology - and this despite concerted state funding since the foundation of modern Israel to ensure that archaeology might confirm these sources as a reasonably valid secular political and social history of the Jews in that geopolitical theatre. For all the odium in which so-called "biblical archaeologists" of the Christian hue might be held by all right-thinking people who place a value on veracity and honesty, it is nothing compared to that in which they are held by their Jewish equivalents working in the same areas (and often exactly the same sites, though having a secular rather than religious agenda tend to draw quite different conclusions regarding what they've actually found). No amount of "Noah's Arks" unearthed by American "biblical archaeologists" would equal just one archaeological shred of evidence for David and Solomon's "united monarchy", for example, which is an important secular claim regarding Jewish political and cultural history within Deuteronomy. This is not to say that Deuteronomy's authors proposed a falsehood as fact, but it does place Deuteronomy firmly in the family of "histories" that were sincerely posited by others in other cultures in which, for example, a Trojan War refugee founded the settlement of London and the entire population of Ireland acquired magical powers and retreated underground following a one-day battle against "humans". Both accounts go on to establish other claims of less fanciful historical character that - to varying degrees - have since benefited from archaeological corroboration. However some of the critical claims in Deuteronomy still await that level of corroboration, an important caveat when making any claim on its behalf to be an accurate history - however extant, extended and extensive it may indeed also be.
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Tim of Aclea
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PostSubject: Re: The earliest extended history in history   The earliest extended history in history EmptyMon 12 Nov 2018, 17:43

Thank you for your response Nordmann.  As you say, Bede and the Irish Annalists are somewhat later - Bede is around midway between us and the likely earliest Deuteronomist.  The Sumerians are obviously somewhat earlier and I make no claim to have read any Sumerian histories.  However, Coogan and Chapman in their book on The OT (4th Ed 2018) published by OUP write 'the Deuteronomistic History is the earliest extended historical narrative known from antiquity'.  I presume that they would be familiar with Sumerian histories and do not consider they qualify in the same way.  I might add that Coogan and Chapman are not biblical fundamentalists and readily acknowledge the differences between the archaeological record and the Deuteronomic history and also the contradictions within the history itself.  

Colin Wells 'A Brief History of History' starts somewhat later with Herodotus as he considers that 'we write in the tradition of Herodotus' when we write history.  

It is my intention to post on what the Deuteronomic history actually says about the history of the land of Israel and how that compares with both other written sources and the archaeological record.  I would note though that when it comes to the archaeology of the 'Holy Land' there seem to be few neutral observers on either side of the argument and rarely much agreement.

rgds Tim
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PostSubject: Re: The earliest extended history in history   The earliest extended history in history EmptyMon 12 Nov 2018, 21:27

@Tim of Aclea wrote:


It is my intention to post on what the Deuteronomic history actually says about the history of the land of Israel and how that compares with both other written sources and the archaeological record. 

rgds Tim

Then by all means do so. I'm looking forward to it.
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PostSubject: Re: The earliest extended history in history   The earliest extended history in history EmptyFri 16 Nov 2018, 19:23

The Deuteronomic History starts with the book of Joshua and the opening section of it is: 

1 After the death of Moses the servant of the Lord, the Lord said to Joshua son of Nun, Moses’ aide: 2 “Moses my servant is dead. Now then, you and all these people, get ready to cross the Jordan River into the land I am about to give to them—to the Israelites. 3 I will give you every place where you set your foot, as I promised Moses. 4 Your territory will extend from the desert to Lebanon, and from the great river, the Euphrates—all the Hittite country—to the Mediterranean Sea in the west. 5 No one will be able to stand against you all the days of your life. As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will never leave you nor forsake you. 6 Be strong and courageous, because you will lead these people to inherit the land I swore to their ancestors to give them.
7 “Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the law my servant Moses gave you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, that you may be successful wherever you go. 8 Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful. 9 Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”

I have never quite understood Christians who like this book as apart from the commands to be ‘Be strong and very courageous’, it includes a lot of tedious boundary lists plus a series of genocidal passages.  Then there is the enormous historical problems that the book poses, not to mention that it contradicts itself.  However, before looking at the ‘history’ of Joshua, perhaps one better first consider the ‘history’ of Moses; who is after all the inspiration for Deuteronomy and the Deuteronomic history.

Rational explanations have been proposed for the plagues of Egypt, even the killing of the first born – it has been claimed that in ancient societies they would kill their firstborn in times of calamity to appease the gods but that the Hebrews would not because of God’s instructions to Abraham.  Similar explanations have been proposed for the numbers claimed for the Exodus – an Israelite fighting force twice the size of the Roman Imperial Army at the time of Jesus.  However, there is neither any archaeological nor contemporary documentary evidence to support an exodus of the Israelites as described in the book of Exodus.  As a result, many scholars dismiss the account as lacking any historical basis.  

According to Prof Carol Redmont though, the majority of OT scholars consider that ‘a historical core [of the Exodus] is mandated by that major tenet of faith that permeates the Bible: God acts in history.’ I might add that it could be argued that the majority of such scholars come to this conclusion because they are either Christians or practicing Jews.  

Coogan points out that, unlike Joshua and David in the book of Chronicles, is a rounded character and that there are aspects of him that he considers do not fit with an entirely fictional character.  These include his name being Egyptian, marrying a non-Israelite wife, the possibility of him not being circumcised at birth, his leadership constantly being challenged, his frequent anger and Yahweh’s anger towards him.

Coogan’s proposal for the origin of the Exodus myth, and that the reason Israel became convinced that Yahweh acts in history, is that Moses led an escape by a few hundred Hebrew slaves (note Hebrew here denotes more a class of people rather than an ethic group).  They headed for wetlands (Sea of Reeds) where pursuing Egyptian chariots became bogged down.  This was of only a minor consequence to the Egyptians, but to those who escaped it was a miracle.
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PostSubject: Re: The earliest extended history in history   The earliest extended history in history EmptyFri 23 Nov 2018, 16:26

Canaan and Israel

The biblical account of the conquest of Canaan by the Israelites is set out in the books of Joshua and Judges and it does not actually say that many presume it does.  The account is considered by most scholars to be set during the 13th century BC and there is unfortunately very little documentary evidence from outside the Bible for Canaan at that time.
  
By far the most important is an Egyptian Stela from the middle of the reign of the Pharaoh Merneptah (1213-1203BC).  This has a long account of his defeat of the Libyans and the ‘Sea Peoples’ (which does not on this occasion include the Philistines).  Appended to this is a short poem celebrating a victorious campaign in Canaan and further north:

The princes are prostrate saying “Shalom”!
Not one is raising his head among the Nine Bows
Now that Libya [Tehenu] has come to ruin,
Hatti is pacified, [in Anatolia]
The Canaan has been plundered into every sort of woe:
Ashkelon has been overcome; [coastal city north of Gaza]
Gezer has been captured [inland city to the north of Ashkelon]
Yanoam is made non-existent; [near Lake Galilee]
Israel is laid waste and his seed is not;
Hurru has become a widow because of Egypt. [Northern Canaan and Syria]

This is the first reference to Israel outside the Bible.  In Egyptian the names of foreign countries, provinces and cities are treated as feminine, but ‘Israel’ is treated as masculine and is deemed to indicate a people.  The view of the majority of scholars then is that there was a people identified as ‘Israel’ present within Canaan in 1209BC and that the Egyptians viewed them as being comparable in importance as the city states of Ashkelon, Gezer and Yanoam.  What the stela does not say is as to how Israel got there.

There are far more extensive references concerning Canaan in the 14th C BC in the Amarna letters which were part of the archive of the Pharaoh Akhenaten (1352 – 1336) found at his capital city in Egypt.  These include a number of letters between various Canaanite rulers, who are vassals of Egypt, and Akhenaten.  In these letters the rulers tend to protest their loyalty but claim that other rulers are conspiring against Egypt.  They also complain bitterly concerning the ‘Apiru’.  These appear to be a class [lower] of people who have renounced their allegiance to any of the states and fled into the country side and operated as bandits.  There is no mention of Israel in any of them.

Also providing a background on the religion of Israel and Canaan are the Ugarit texts from Syria which were written in the 12th and 13th C BC.  They include tales concerning the god Baal who was worshipped in Canaan and was to be the subject of much hostility from the Israelite prophets in the Bible as the rival of Yahweh.  The texts also cast light on the use of El or Elohim in the Bible for God rather than Yahweh.  El was used widely in the Semitic world, including by the Israelites but Yahweh appears to be almost exclusive to them.
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PostSubject: Re: The earliest extended history in history   The earliest extended history in history EmptyThu 29 Nov 2018, 16:57

The Conquest according to Joshua and Judges

The book of Joshua opens with Moses dead and Joshua as the new leader of the Israelites.  Chapters 1 to 5v12 tell how Joshua spies out the land, all 12 tribes of the Israelites cross into Canaan over the River Jordan, set up camp at Gilgal including setting up some stones in memorial of the crossing, undergo circumcision for a second time! And the Passover is celebrated.  All this is a clear parallel to Moses, especially with the crossing of the River Jordan having to be at a time of year such that miraculous intervention is required.  When I was in Israel, physically crossing the Jordan would not have been much of a problem.  The location of Gilgal has not been firmly identified.

5v13 to 6v27 describe the taking of Jericho which is probably the best known part of the book of Joshua.  So far though the famed walls of Jericho have proved elusive.  There was at best very limited occupation at the time.

During an RE lesson the teacher asks one of the children. “Who knocked down the walls of Jericho?” “It wasn’t me!” the child replies.  At a parents evening the teacher expressed her concern at the child’s response.  The mother replied“My son’s a good boy and doesn’t tell lies. If he said he didn’t do it, I believe him.”  The teacher turns to the father who hastily added “Look how much will it cost to fix these walls?”

7 to 8v29 tell of the capture and destruction of Ai.  Ai had not been inhabited for 1,000 before the time of Joshua and the very name means ‘ruin’.  

This is followed by a pause in the conflict involving a Covenant ceremony at Mt Ebal near Shechem and then the Gibeonites.  

Chapter 10 tells in much less detail a conflict with a number of southern cities.  There is though no occupation of the land, as there was not of the area around Jericho and Ai.  It is stated in Joshua both that the Israelites set out from their camp at Gilgal and ‘Joshua returned with all Israel to the camp at Gilgal.’

Chapter 11 tells, again briefly, of conflict with a number of northern cities led by ruler of Hazor.  The Canaanites are defeated, however, ‘Israel did not burn any of the cities built on their mounds—except Hazor, which Joshua burned.’  Interestingly enough Hazor was destroyed about this time and the Israelites are the only ones, that we are aware of, to have claimed to have destroyed it.  

At the end of chapter 11 the following statement is made ‘So Joshua took the entire land, just as the Lord had directed Moses, and he gave it as an inheritance to Israel according to their tribal divisions. Then the land had rest from war.’  However, this is contradicted by the statement in chapter 13 that “You [Joshua] are now very old, and there are still very large areas of land to be taken over.”

There is a quite different account of piecemeal conquest by individual tribes or two tribes acting together in chapter 1 of Judges.  For example: ‘The men of Judah then said to the Simeonites their fellow Israelites, “Come up with us into the territory allotted to us, to fight against the Canaanites. We in turn will go with you into yours.” So the Simeonites went with them.’ And ‘Now the tribes of Joseph [Ephraim and Manasseh] attacked Bethel, and the Lord was with them.’  

It would seem that the Deuteronomic historian was aware of multiple traditions concerning the conquest, but was not certain which were correct and so included them all without attempting to rationalise them.  A good example of this is concerning the capture of Jerusalem.  The king of Jerusalem is amongst the list of kings defeated by Joshua and Jerusalem is listed as a city of the tribe of Benjamin.  According to the book of Judges the tribe of Judah took Jerusalem and destroyed it.  Also according to Judges the tribe of Benjamin was unable to drive the Jebusites from Jerusalem.  In the book of Samuel David is said to have captured Jerusalem from the Jebusites.
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Tim of Aclea
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PostSubject: Re: The earliest extended history in history   The earliest extended history in history EmptyFri 21 Dec 2018, 08:06

This is a comment following on from my one on the thread on 'King Arthur's' Britain.  Like for that period in British/English history; the most extensive source document, the relevant parts of the Hebrew bible, is readily available while other sources, for example. the Egyptian Stela referred to above, are easily assessible through modern books covering the period of the Deuteronomic History.  This is of course a reflection of the importance of the Jewish faith, through Christianity and Islam, to the world's history.

Tim
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PostSubject: Re: The earliest extended history in history   The earliest extended history in history EmptyWed 26 Dec 2018, 09:51

Attending the Christmas service of nine lessons and carols, I was pondering that two of the readings were from Isaiah, who is referred to on twelve occasions in the Deuteronomic history.  How incredible that the words of this 8th century BC official at the court of the tiny kingdom of Judah should still be being read all around the world.

Tim
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PostSubject: Re: The earliest extended history in history   The earliest extended history in history EmptyFri 04 Jan 2019, 15:30

Highland Population Explosion

One aspect of the archaeology of Canaan/Israel that is not disputed is a dramatic increase in the number of settlements in the highland areas during Iron Age I (1200 - 1025) compared to the Late Bronze Age (1550 – 1200BC).  For example in the area of the tribe of Ephraim only 4 Late Bronze Settlements have been identified and 102 Iron Age I.  Similarly in Manasseh there were 32 in the LBA and 147 during IAI.  This is in the context of the first external reference to Israel being c1200BC.

There have been a number of suggestions to explain for this population explosion, none of which have been universally accepted because it is claimed none of them is fully supported by the archaeology:
1. Conquest hypothesis – basically accepting (more or less) the biblical narrative while noting that, when stripped of the gloss) the Deuteronomic History does not actually claim a wholesale conquest of Canaan.
2. The Pastoral Nomad Hypothesis that Israel evolved out of pastoral nomads with their sheep and goats moving into and settling down in the largely empty highland areas. 
3. The Peasant Revolt Hypothesis that the Canaanite peasants of the cities got fed up with their masters, upped sticks’ left the cities and their surrounding areas and moved into the highlands.
4. The Ruralisation Hypothesis that the decline of the Canaanite city states and Egyptian imperial control lead to sheep/goat pastoralists shifting more towards a subsistence type economy.

Linked to the above is the relationship between Israel and Midian.  Midian was situated on the other side of the Gulf of Aqaba from the Sinai Peninsula.  Whereas the stories of the Midianites and Gideon in the book of Judges are hostiles, the early association between Moses and Midian is positive.  This has lead to the suggestion that the worship of Yahweh originated with a Midianite group referred to the Kenites.  Moses, leading a group of slaves who escaped from Egypt, identified Yahweh as being responsible for their ‘miraculous’ escape and was joined by some nomadic groups as adherents to Yahwism.  They moved into the largely unoccupied highlands with one of the earliest groups to join this grouping being the trans Jordanian tribe of Reuben which, as a result, became credited in the stories of the patriarchs with being the firstborn of Jacob/Israel.
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PostSubject: Re: The earliest extended history in history   The earliest extended history in history EmptyFri 04 Jan 2019, 22:02

@Tim of Aclea wrote:
Highland Population Explosion

One aspect of the archaeology of Canaan/Israel that is not disputed is a dramatic increase in the number of settlements in the highland areas during Iron Age I (1200 - 1025) compared to the Late Bronze Age (1550 – 1200BC).  For example in the area of the tribe of Ephraim only 4 Late Bronze Settlements have been identified and 102 Iron Age I.  Similarly in Manasseh there were 32 in the LBA and 147 during IAI.  This is in the context of the first external reference to Israel being c1200BC.

There have been a number of suggestions to explain for this population explosion, none of which have been universally accepted because it is claimed none of them is fully supported by the archaeology:
1. Conquest hypothesis – basically accepting (more or less) the biblical narrative while noting that, when stripped of the gloss) the Deuteronomic History does not actually claim a wholesale conquest of Canaan.
2. The Pastoral Nomad Hypothesis that Israel evolved out of pastoral nomads with their sheep and goats moving into and settling down in the largely empty highland areas. 
3. The Peasant Revolt Hypothesis that the Canaanite peasants of the cities got fed up with their masters, upped sticks’ left the cities and their surrounding areas and moved into the highlands.
4. The Ruralisation Hypothesis that the decline of the Canaanite city states and Egyptian imperial control lead to sheep/goat pastoralists shifting more towards a subsistence type economy.

Linked to the above is the relationship between Israel and Midian.  Midian was situated on the other side of the Gulf of Aqaba from the Sinai Peninsula.  Whereas the stories of the Midianites and Gideon in the book of Judges are hostiles, the early association between Moses and Midian is positive.  This has lead to the suggestion that the worship of Yahweh originated with a Midianite group referred to the Kenites.  Moses, leading a group of slaves who escaped from Egypt, identified Yahweh as being responsible for their ‘miraculous’ escape and was joined by some nomadic groups as adherents to Yahwism.  They moved into the largely unoccupied highlands with one of the earliest groups to join this grouping being the trans Jordanian tribe of Reuben which, as a result, became credited in the stories of the patriarchs with being the firstborn of Jacob/Israel.

Tim,

thank you for this survey of Iron I.

did some research and found this from the university of Boston.
https://www.bu.edu/anep/Ir.html

As I see it there is still a lot to research and not that much known...and still discussions among archaeologists as a Liebermann and another lady, whose name I don't recall, as about a wall in Jerusalem...of the temple of David? (10th century?)...have to recheck it all...
I read in many discussions as about who the sea people were and where they came from, that it is still unanswered...is there now already some preference study?...there are hints in the Boston uni article...

Kind regards from Paul.
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PostSubject: Re: The earliest extended history in history   The earliest extended history in history EmptyMon 14 Jan 2019, 22:32

@Tim of Aclea wrote:
The Deuteronomic History

It is, I believe, the earliest extended history to be written, it is also in terms of ancient history books likely to be the one that most people have the easiest access to it; the question is though ‘how historical is it?  I am referring to the set of books from Joshua through to 2 Kings (excluding the book of Ruth) found in the Hebrew Bible and which scholars now refer to as the Deuteronomic History following the recognition that these books all reflect the outlook of the book of Deuteronomy.  The Deuteronomic History covers from the claimed invasion and conquest of the land of Canaan under the leadership of Joshua, normally dated to the 13th C BC through to the destruction of the state of Judah and of the city of Jerusalem by the Babylonians in the 6th C BC.  It does not include the return from exile in 538BC with the last recorded event being the release of the Judean King Jehoiachin from prison by the Babylonians in 562BC.

One problem with looking at the Deuteronomic history is that there are such extreme views as to its reliability: from the conservative evangelical one seeing the entire set of books as being historically correct, even when they contradict themselves, to the ‘minimalist’ viewpoint which views them largely as a Hebrew equivalent of Geoffrey of Monmouth’s history of Britain.  A second problem is the lack of other historical accounts outside the Hebrew Bible for much of the period covered.  It would, for example, be very useful if there were Philistine or Canaanite accounts of the period, but none have survived.  There are some Egyptian, Assyrian and Babylonian records but, for most of the period covered, Canaan is of little interest to them.  

In trying to understand the Deuteronomic History, it is perhaps best first to consider the book of Deuteronomy that is considered to be the inspiration for the history.  Deuteronomy literally means ‘second law’ in Greek and is a reference to what is viewed as a second giving of God’s laws by Moses, most notably the Ten Commandments.  However, Deuteronomy is not so much a rendition of these laws as rather a series of addresses attributed to Moses.  In those addresses he brings in various laws, some from the other books of the law and some new, but he also adds a commentary on the purpose and meaning of those laws.

We in Britain live in a welfare state, to care ‘from the cradle to the grave’ was the original aim.  While not in a position to create a welfare state, the aim of the laws in Deuteronomy is very much the protection of the disadvantaged.  Over and over in Deuteronomy there is the challenge to safeguard ‘widows, orphans, and foreigners’; those people who had no one to protect them.  The demand is that those who prosper have a duty to provide for the defenceless in society.  Farmers are instructed to leave some of their crops so that the poor could glean, could harvest enough for themselves to eat, a sort of ancient ‘workfare’.  There is actually today a ‘Gleaning UK Network’ and a ‘Feeding the 5000’ pledge to get volunteers to go in farmers’ fields, orchards etc to gather fresh fruit and vegetables that would otherwise go to waste.  

In the book, Moses is credited with being concerned that once the Israelites moved into ‘the Promised Land’ that, with their new found prosperity, they would forget their dependence on Yahweh.  Deuteronomy, although not read that much these days, is actually one of the four Old Testament books most quoted in the New Testament – the other three are Genesis, Psalms and Isaiah – and it is cited around eighty times.  It also provides a vital link between the first section of the Old Testament, the law books, of which it is the last, and the next section – the history books.  This was because, when the history of the Israelites ended in disaster with first the destruction of the northern kingdom Israel by the Assyrians and then the southern kingdom of Judah by the Babylonians, unknown historians took inspiration from the book of Deuteronomy when considering what went wrong.  Their description of the conquest under Joshua, the period of the Judges, the united kingdom under David and Solomon, and the divided kingdoms of Israel and Judah were all written through the prism of the demands of Deuteronomy.  It was against the social demands to safeguard ‘widows, orphans and foreigners and to bring about an egalitarian society, as well as failing in their worship of Yahweh, that Israelites were found wanting.  The sequence of history books from Joshua through to the book of Kings were written in the hope that a future Israelite community would learn from the previous mistakes and build a society that this time reflected the demands of Yahweh’s laws.


Tim,

"It is, I believe, the earliest extended history to be written, it is also in terms of ancient history books likely to be the one that most people have the easiest access to it; the question is though ‘how historical is it?  I am referring to the set of books from Joshua through to 2 Kings (excluding the book of Ruth) found in the Hebrew Bible and which scholars now refer to as the Deuteronomic History following the recognition that these books all reflect the outlook of the book of Deuteronomy.  The Deuteronomic History covers from the claimed invasion and conquest of the land of Canaan under the leadership of Joshua, normally dated to the 13th C BC through to the destruction of the state of Judah and of the city of Jerusalem by the Babylonians in the 6th C BC.  It does not include the return from exile in 538BC with the last recorded event being the release of the Judean King Jehoiachin from prison by the Babylonians in 562BC."

"the question is though ‘how historical is it?"
It seems as you said not easy to find something "historical". Especially on the internet. When I started with the " history timeline of deuteronomy" I came really to nothing, except "biblical sites" starting with Adam and Eva in 4000 BC
https://biblehub.com/timeline/old.htm
And they add: all dates are approximate
And there they speak about 1406 or was it 1408...
With "history "real timeline" of deuteronomy" I came nothing further...
I found even links from the Israeli embassies from all over the world...

In desperation I went to wiki to find at least something independent to start with:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Book_of_Deuteronomy

And the history of ancient Israel and Judah
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_ancient_Israel_and_Judah
And the first historical mention is from this  style and as we discussed it in the time, even there is a lot of controversy about the word "israel".
That's in 1209 BC
The earliest extended history in history Merenptah_Israel_Stele_Cairo
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Merneptah_Stele
And then the Moabite stone from 840 BC
The earliest extended history in history 200px-P1120870_Louvre_st%C3%A8le_de_M%C3%A9sha_AO5066_rwk



https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mesha_Stele

From then on there seems more and more written sources adding information when compared to each other...

Kind regards from Paul.
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PostSubject: Re: The earliest extended history in history   The earliest extended history in history EmptyThu 24 Jan 2019, 17:44

Hi Paul

thank you for your response.  When you say that there is a lot of controversy about what is meant by 'Israel', I would agree. However, there is a lot of controversy in various aspects of history, for example as discussed on this site and the BBC site at great length - who killed the princes in the tower?  Because of the religious ramifications there is unfortunately even more controversy than usual when it comes to the history of Israel.

regards

Tim
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PostSubject: Re: The earliest extended history in history   The earliest extended history in history EmptyThu 24 Jan 2019, 17:49

The Period of the ‘Judges’
As far as I am aware there is no external written reference to ‘Israel’ after the Egyptian Stela from the middle of the reign of the Pharaoh Merneptah (1213-1203BC).  There are Egyptian references to the Philistines which I will look at separately.  For Israel during the time of the Judges though one is reliant on the Deuteronomic history (Judges and the early part of 1 Samuel) and on archaeology.

The book of Judges can be divided up into the following sections:
1. Ch 1 to 2 v5 which is an account of the conquest that is very different from that in the book of Joshua.
2. Ch 2 v 6 to 12 which can be considered to be the main part dealing with the activity of the various Judges.
3. Ch 13 to 16 which tells the story of Samson. 
4. Ch 17 to 18 Appendix 1 which tells of the migration of the tribe of Dan from the coast to the north.
5. Ch 19 to 21 Appendix 2 which tells of a war between the tribe of Benjamin and the other Israelite tribes.

The main part which deals with the Judges is extremely formulistic with a repeated pattern in which (1) the Israelites are disobedient to God and there is apostacy (2) God punishes them by sending an oppressor (3) the Israelites repent (4) God sends a deliverer – one of the judges (5) there is then a period of peace which is given in round figures, typically 40 years.  The judges can be divided into what are considered to be ‘major judges’, about which there is a significant amount written; and minor judges, who only have a brief mention and whose rule is given as a precise number of years.  A typical entry for a minor judge is: ‘10 After the time of Abimelek, a man of Issachar named Tola son of Puah, the son of Dodo, rose to save Israel. He lived in Shamir, in the hill country of Ephraim. 2 He led[a] Israel twenty-three years; then he died, and was buried in Shamir.

Also notable concerning the judges is their geographic and tribal spread.  The major judges are: Othniel (Judah) Ehud (Benjamin) Deborah (Ephraim) Gideon (Manasseh) Jephthah (Gilead) and Samson (Dan).  The term ‘judge’ is well attested throughout the ancient Semitic world from the 2nd millennium BC onwards.  It is used in Mari and in Phoenicia as well as in Carthage. 
 
In terms of historicity, probably the most important part of the book is the ‘song of Deborah’ which the vast majority of biblical scholars consider to date from the time of the Judges.  It tells of a victory by the Israelites over the Canaanites at the time when Deborah was judge over Israel, although she did not command the army.  It is thought that the Israelite army, which was only made up of infantry, was able to win because the Canaanite chariots became bogged down in mud caused by heavy rainfall.  It is notable that the Deuteronomic history makes no comment about Israel being led by a woman, but just accepts it.  

Part of the Song of Deborah
13 “The remnant of the nobles came down;
    the people of the Lord came down to me against the mighty.
14 Some came from Ephraim, whose roots were in Amalek;
    Benjamin was with the people who followed you.
From Makir captains came down, [assumed to refer to Manasseh]
    from Zebulun those who bear a commander’s staff.
15 The princes of Issachar were with Deborah;
    yes, Issachar was with Barak,
    sent under his command into the valley.
In the districts of Reuben
    there was much searching of heart.
16 Why did you stay among the sheep pens
    to hear the whistling for the flocks?
In the districts of Reuben
    there was much searching of heart.
17 Gilead stayed beyond the Jordan. [assumed to refer to Gad]
    And Dan, why did he linger by the ships?
Asher remained on the coast
    and stayed in his coves.
18 The people of Zebulun risked their very lives;
    so did Naphtali on the terraced fields.

The song would seem to point towards a tribal confederation but only ten tribes are mentioned of which only six took part in the battle.  This though was more than in any of the other conflicts covered in the book of Judges.  Notable by their absence are both the tribes of Judah and Simeon.  In fact both tribes are largely absent from most of the book of Judges, the one part were Judah is mentioned a lot is in the first chapter which relates of its conquest, assisted by Simeon (who was later to disappear as a tribe) of territory in the south of Canaan.
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PostSubject: Re: The earliest extended history in history   The earliest extended history in history EmptyThu 24 Jan 2019, 22:15

Tim,


thank you for your comments. Again I did some research on the internet.

Didn't find anything valuable about the war between the Israelites and Canaanites. when I put judges or Deborah or the war and "historical timeline" into the net it was all pages long about biblical stuff, nothing really historical...
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Deborah

The Song of Deborah is found in Judges 5:2–31 and is a victory hymn, sung by Deborah and Barak, about the defeat of Canaanite adversaries by some of the tribes of Israel. Biblical scholars have generally identified the Song as one of the oldest parts of the Bible, dating somewhere in the 12th century BC, based on its grammar and context.[5] However, some scholars have recently argued that the song's language and content indicate that it was written no earlier than the 7th century BC.[6] The song itself differs slightly from the events described in Judges 4. The song mentions six participating tribes (Ephraim, Benjamin, Machir, Zebulun, Issachar, and Naphtali) as opposed to the two tribes in Judges 4:6 (Naphtali and Zebulun) and does not mention the role of Jabin.[7]
Though it is not uncommon to read a victory hymn in the Hebrew Bible, the Song of Deborah stands out as unique in that it is a hymn that celebrates a military victory helped by two women: Deborah and Jael. Michael Coogan writes that Jael being a woman "is a further sign that Yahweh ultimately is responsible for the victory: The mighty Canaanite general Sisera will be 'sold' by the Lord 'into the hand of a woman'" (Judges 4:9).[5]
From further research I found this, more about the real history or from what is known from a multidisciplinary approach...
https://www.amazon.com/Were-Early-Israelites-Where-They/dp/0802844162


And then I remembered Israel Finkelstein from the debate of the palace wall controversy about the 10th century from a youtube with the female archaeologist I don't remember her name...
And here I found coincidentally this jewel, including the Canaanites-Israelites war and also the Jerusalem wall controversy
And yes that Finkelstein guy is my favourite, even only for his kind of humour in the interview...
http://www.cs.umd.edu/~mvz/bible/center-all.pdf


Kind regards from Paul.
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PostSubject: Re: The earliest extended history in history   The earliest extended history in history EmptyMon 04 Feb 2019, 12:03

Thanks Paul

regarding Wikipedia, I tend to use for with great caution in any area where it comes down to opinion rather than undisputed facts.

I have a number of books on the Old testament period but the ones that I have found most useful are 'The Old Testament' by Coogan and Chapman published in 2018, was very up to date, and 'The Oxford History of the Biblical World' which was edited by Coogan but includes a number of author.  I do also have a copy of 'On the Reliability of the OT' by K.A.Kitcen which is useful for information on non-biblical information concerning Israel.  However, while not a fundamentalist, he is conservative evangelical and so his interpretations are always pro not anti the reliability of the OT.

regards

Tim
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PostSubject: Re: The earliest extended history in history   The earliest extended history in history EmptyMon 04 Feb 2019, 21:03

@Tim of Aclea wrote:
Thanks Paul

regarding Wikipedia, I tend to use for with great caution in any area where it comes down to opinion rather than undisputed facts.

I have a number of books on the Old testament period but the ones that I have found most useful are 'The Old Testament' by Coogan and Chapman published in 2018, was very up to date, and 'The Oxford History of the Biblical World' which was edited by Coogan but includes a number of author.  I do also have a copy of 'On the Reliability of the OT' by K.A.Kitcen which is useful for information on non-biblical information concerning Israel.  However, while not a fundamentalist, he is conservative evangelical and so his interpretations are always pro not anti the reliability of the OT.

regards

Tim


Thank you Tim for your reply.

Yes I agree with you that wiki is to be taken with great caution, as nearly everything on the internet. Many times even academic sources have sometimes a hidden agenda as for instance "Aristote au Mont Saint Michel"

There aren't that much English language references about the Gouguenheim Affair, or it are "right-wing" American ones, which have mostly also a hidden agenda or even an overtly Wink one.
I put the debate on Historum and had a bit of response, while the Muslim/ European controversy is still actuality even with honest history writing as victim and it is perhaps also a reminder of what happened in the Thirties and in WWII as we are discussing in the "Last survivors" thread
https://historum.com/threads/no-renaissance-without-islam.131305/page-3


But back to Deuteronium and the Judges...
Thank you for the titles that you mentioned:
"'The Old Testament' by Coogan and Chapman published in 2018, was very up to date, and 'The Oxford History of the Biblical World' which was edited by Coogan but includes a number of author."
I will try to find something about these two books.

On the first sight I find the book that I mentioned in my message before also promising:
https://www.amazon.com/Were-Early-Israelites-Where-They/dp/0802844162
"This book addresses one of the most timely and urgent topics in archaeology and biblical studies -- the origins of early Israel. For centuries the Western tradition has traced its beginnings back to ancient Israel, but recently some historians and archaeologists have questioned the reality of Israel as it is described in biblical literature. In Who Were the Early Israelites and Where Did They Come From? William Dever explores the continuing controversies regarding the true nature of ancient Israel and presents the archaeological evidence for assessing the accuracy of the well-known Bible stories.

Confronting the range of current scholarly interpretations seriously and dispassionately, Dever rejects both the revisionists who characterize biblical literature as "pious propaganda" and the conservatives who are afraid to even question its factuality. Attempting to break through this impasse, Dever draws on thirty years of archaeological fieldwork in the Near East, amassing a wide range of hard evidence for his own compelling view of the development of Israelite history.

In his search for the actual circumstances of Israel's emergence in Canaan, Dever reevaluates the Exodus-Conquest traditions in the books of Exodus, Numbers, Joshua, Judges, and 1 & 2 Samuel in the light of well-documented archaeological evidence from the late Bronze Age and early Iron Age. Among this important evidence are some 300 small agricultural villages recently discovered in the heartland of what would later become the biblical nation of Israel. According to Dever, the authentic ancestors of the "Israelite peoples" were most likely Canaanites -- together with some pastoral nomads and small groups of Semitic slaves escaping from Egypt -- who, through the long cultural and socioeconomic struggles recounted in the book of Judges, managed to forge a new agrarian, communitarian, and monotheistic society.

Written in an engaging, accessible style and featuring fifty photographs that help bring the archaeological record to life, this book provides an authoritative statement on the origins of ancient Israel and promises to reinvigorate discussion about the historicity of the biblical tradition."

Kind regards from Paul.
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PostSubject: Re: The earliest extended history in history   The earliest extended history in history EmptySun 10 Feb 2019, 11:55

Hi Paul

with regard to the William Dever book, my conclusion from what I have read is that there is just no concensus on the origins of the Israelites.  I intend to post next on the Philistines who, as I mentioned earlier, have left behind no surviving written records at all; a people whom it must be said, like several others, who be nothing more than a footnote in history if it weren't for the Bible.

regards

Tim
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PostSubject: Re: The earliest extended history in history   The earliest extended history in history EmptyTue 12 Feb 2019, 19:33

Thank you Tim for the answer and your comments on the William Dever book. I see that it is already from 2006.Are there up to your knowledge perhaps done archaeological research or new documents revealed that brings new light on the question?

Kind regards from Paul.
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PostSubject: Re: The earliest extended history in history   The earliest extended history in history EmptyTue 19 Mar 2019, 13:29

‘Philistine: a person who is hostile towards culture, the arts etc; a smug, boorish person’.  The Philistines were a people who settled in the south west of Canaan in the 12th C BC and whom we mainly know through the bible.  There is actually nothing to suggest that they were ‘philistines’ in the derogatory sense of the word, but one other legacy of them is the name Palestine.  When the Romans crushed the second Jewish revolt in the second century AD, they drove the Jews out of Jerusalem and the land of Judah and renamed it Palestine after the biblical enemies of the Israelites.

The Philistines are thought to be one of the ‘Sea Peoples’ who repeatedly attacked the Egyptian Empire in the twelfth century BC, destroying coastal cities, and were finally defeated by Ramses III (1188 – 1152).  Although Ramses was victorious it was at a heavy cost greatly weakening the strength of the Egyptian Empire and he was forced to allow the Philistines to settle in Canaan on the coast.  He also appears to have used them as mercenaries to garrison other parts of the empire.  The Egyptian empire was later to collapse into weakness from which it was not to emerge until the late 10th century BC.

The Philistines are thought, along with the other Sea Peoples, to have come from the Aegean and archaeology has shown strong links with the Mycenae civilisation in Greece.  There are references in the bible to them having originated from Caphtor (Crete or Cyprus) and arriving in Canaan at about the same time as the Israelites.  They occupied five cities on the coast Gaza, Ashkelon, Ashdod, Ekron and Gath.  Each city was ruled by a Seren, the only Philistine word to be known for certain.  They seem to have adopted Canaanite culture and the gods they worshipped are part of the Canaanite pantheon of gods.  The Philistines appear to have had an advantage in military technology over the Israelites in the use of chariots and having iron rather than bronze weapons.  The Philistines are only known through archaeology and the writings of others, none of their own records have survived.

The Philistines are mentioned many times in the bible in particular in the books of Judges and Samuel.  The stories concerning Samson are set against a background of conflict between the Philistines and the Israelite tribal confederation.  In the eleventh century BC the Philistines are characterised as becoming a major threat to the confederation with the Israelite foot soldiers no match for the Philistine chariots and only able to fight them in the hill country.  According to the bible, around 1050 BC the Israelite confederation suffered a catastrophic defeat after which the Philistines occupied and destroyed Shiloh, which was the site of the Ark of the Covenant and the centre of the Israelite worship of Yahweh.  Archaeological investigation of the site has confirmed the presence of a layer of destruction at around this period.  The archaeology of the expansion of the Philistine controlled area also appears to match the biblical account.

The Philistine threat was said to be the reason to drive the Israelites towards the adoption of a monarchical rather than tribal form of government.  In the tenth century BC David is said to have at one time been a mercenary captain for the Philistines but later after he seized control of first Judah and then Israel, defeated them.  However, Philistia is not included amongst the list of territories that David was said to have controlled.  What is clear though is that the Philistines ceased to be a major threat.  From numerous references to them in the books of Judges and Samuel, there are hardly any in the book of Kings and in the various prophetic books.

The Philistines were to be conquered by the Assyrians in the late eighth century BC although, based on references in later prophets such as Jeremiah, they were still to be considered as a separate and distinctive people.
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PostSubject: Re: The earliest extended history in history   The earliest extended history in history EmptyWed 20 Mar 2019, 23:10

Thank you Tim for this interesting explanation about the Philistines. I have in the time done research on the Sea peoples to understand some discussions and in my remembering there was not that much known about them and from where they came. Will seek on the internet if there is now more known about them. Have you apart from the Bible some contemporaneous! sources about them or archaeological evidence? As there were written Babylonian, Assirian and Egyptian sources?

Kind regards, Paul.
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PostSubject: Re: The earliest extended history in history   The earliest extended history in history EmptyTue 09 Apr 2019, 18:02

Hi Paul

as far as I am aware, there are early Egyptian references to the Philistines in the period leading to them settling in Canaan.  I presume that there are later references in Assyrian records to them from the period when Assyria was dominant.  

regards

Tim
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PostSubject: Re: The earliest extended history in history   The earliest extended history in history EmptyTue 23 Apr 2019, 08:34

Hi Paul

if I may add a correction, there are also references to the 'Sea Peoples' which includes the Philistines in Akkadian and Ugaritic texts.  They also appear on Egyptian wall reliefs.

An interesting tie up between the biblical tradition, the Philistines and archaeology is concerning the Israelite tribe of Dan.  From the book of Judges

18 In those days Israel had no king.
And in those days the tribe of the Danites was seeking a place of their own where they might settle, because they had not yet come into an inheritance among the tribes of Israel. 2 So the Danites sent five of their leading men from Zorah and Eshtaol to spy out the land and explore it. These men represented all the Danites. They told them, “Go, explore the land.”

and

27 Then they took what Micah had made, and his priest, and went on to Laish, against a people at peace and secure. They attacked them with the sword and burned down their city. 28 There was no one to rescue them because they lived a long way from Sidon and had no relationship with anyone else. The city was in a valley near Beth Rehob.
The Danites rebuilt the city and settled there. 29 They named it Dan after their ancestor Dan, who was born to Israel—though the city used to be called Laish.'

Excavations at Tel Dan (located in the north of modern Israel) are said to have found that 'Over the ruins of a prosperous Late Bronze Age city. a rather impoverished and rustic settlement was discovered.' According to 'Joshua' the tribe of Dan was allocated territory in the coastal region of Canaan.  The suggestion is that they were driven out by the Philistines and migrated northwards taking Laish. 

regards

Tim
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PostSubject: Re: The earliest extended history in history   The earliest extended history in history EmptyWed 08 May 2019, 00:13

Tim, thank you for the mentioning of the Dan excavation. I will do nearer research about it.

Sparked by the question of Dirk, I did some research about the Torah and when it was written. After more than an hour search, wading through hundreds of entries, mostly  related to "faith" I learned that there was an "oral Torah" and a "written Torah". And it was the written Torah that I was interested in, as it was on "paper" and the archaeological ones couldn't alternated anymore through "analists".
At the end I found this entry, which seemed coherent to me at the first sight:
https://www.ancient.eu/Torah/
Tim, the most coherent one D from around the Babylonian captivity? (Babylonische gevangenschap)?
From the article:
"D, or the Deuteronomist, is most likely a school of scribal reformers from around the time of Josiah, c. 621 BCE, a king of the Kingdom of Judah. D is responsible for the book of Deuteronomy and little else in the Torah"

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PostSubject: Re: The earliest extended history in history   The earliest extended history in history EmptyWed 08 May 2019, 23:36

Tim,

as just said lost again my message...

I did more than two hours search on the internet with google on two questions:
When were the oldest texts in written Hebrew found? and
At what time were the excavated fragments of the Bible texts dated?

I didn't find that much in academic terms in the first time while the first hundreds of entries by biblical scholars and other biblical related ones, especially American ones (because perhaps of the English search combination) and so by their quantity pushed by the algorithms (as nordmann said) the more academic ones to the umptheenth page. Even by narrower word combinations it didn't help.

About the second question I found at the end this
https://bigthink.com/paul-ratner/how-old-is-the-bible
And from the site:

New high-tech research used ground-breaking technology of “virtual unwrapping” to read a highly-damaged ancient scroll, finding it to contain the Old Testament Book of Leviticus and dating it to 300 A.D. The so-called “En-Gedi” scroll thus became one of the oldest Biblical texts in existence. But not the oldest.
That honor would belong to the Silver Scrolls, found at Ketef Hinnom in Israel, which contain texts from the Hebrew Bible that date to about 700-650 BCE.

The famous Dead Sea Scrolls, which contain most of the books of the Hebrew Bible, date to 408 BC to 300 A.D. 
So the oldest Biblical text we found is about 2700 years old. Of course, this is just what we’ve been able to locate and date

And I was in Israel end of the Seventies and saw the atom resistant bunker containing the Dead Sea Scrolls, the Qumran scrolls. In the form of a stamp if I recall it well.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carbon_dating_the_Dead_Sea_Scrolls

And about the endless discussion of how old Hebrew writing is and in what alphabet it is written...I can understand as most academics say that the Phoenician is the oldest alphabet and as the Hebrew alphabet is the same, some biblical academics can claim that Hebrew has the oldest alphabet
About all the academic difficulties read the following article:
https://sites.google.com/site/collesseum/alphabetevolution?tmpl=%2Fsystem%2Fapp%2Ftemplates%2Fprint%2F&showPrintDialog=1

Kind regards from Paul.
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PostSubject: Re: The earliest extended history in history   The earliest extended history in history EmptyThu 23 May 2019, 19:53

Hi Paul

as I also posted earlier

'There is evidence to suggest that the book of Deuteronomy was first written in the northern kingdom of Israel rather than the southern kingdom of Judah.  Firstly in the blessing that Moses is supposed to have given to the tribes before his death, the 2 southern tribes of Judah and Benjamin are referred to very briefly compared to some of the northern tribes, especially that of Joseph.  Secondly it does not mention Jerusalem as the place at which alone Yahweh should be worshiped but instead points towards Shechem in the north.  Thirdly it refers to the mount of the covenant as Horeb rather than Sinai as was the tradition in Judah.'

regards

Tim
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