What were the ethnic origins of earliest Israel?
Like all the aspects of human beings existence, whether in social identities and religious develop and live within particular historical setting circumstances. It is common knowledge that on-going debate regarding the ancient Israel’s religious and social identity is relatively tied to academic discussions about the history of Israel. A million dollar question that still lingers in many times is, how did Israel come to be?
According does not believe that the Bible documents the history of early Israel exhaustively hence further research necessitated the modern day scholars to go deep in the annals of history to try and unravel the truth. The Bible, in the Genesis gives the history of early Israel which to academicians is another document of modern history as the primary author was an historian. He was more concerned about theological and legend stories and consequently the story of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and Joseph emerge as founding fathers of this ancient tribe.
In addition to that in the book of Exodus tries to narrate the long suffering and enslavement of Israelites in land of Egypt .It goes to account the early migration of the Israelites from Egypt to Palestine ,however here comes the trouble. Historically speaking Egyptians are unaware of these great historical events where thousands of Israelites slaves were released by God using Moses from Egypt. This mass exodus was preceded by supernatural events like the death of Egyptians first born sons and animals.
However in the book of Joshua there are disturbing chorological of events where Israelites are believed to have spent over 40 years in the wilderness. Now a question that pop up in our minds ,did the Israelites’ spend several years in in desert? Did their invade Palestine’s and conquer some cities? Many scholars do believe that there is insurmountable archaeological evidence of Israelites’ conquering the Palestine and destroying their ancestral settlements. This kind of evidence to some extend support the Bible in Joshua where the story of Hazer conquering Israelite being a very good example. Albright archaeological evidence in most times is accepted in academia circles with a pinch of salt where is model of Israelites conquering has been subject to question.
In contrast to that, Israel origins can be dated back to 1550-1200 BC from the Merneptah region in Palestine. Ancient Egyptian texts shows that it was this period when Asiatic groups that were believed to have ruled Egypt during second intermediate period from 1650-1550 and were pushed out by Egypt native dynasties. The Egyptians’ referred them as the Hyksos and contains historical significance especially to book of Joshua in the Bible. Here now we find a relationship between Hyksos and exodus in the book which becomes difficult to distinguish.
Finally at this point in time it becomes a bit tricky for scholars and students to point out clearly the Israel’s origins. However many scholars tend to agree to some extend the Canaanite hypothesis but also the nomadic origin is gaining ground in the recent past. Therefore it indeed remains to be seen in future whether a consensus will be reached on this question of Israel’s origins and if so will stand the test of time. For this new consensus should also address one issue which is certain ,how the Israelites’ came to view themselves when their invaded the Yahwistic pastoralists were the enemies of Canaanites.