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Who says you can't teach an old dog new tricks? I take great pride in having lured Eugene H. Merrill from the comfort of the armchair to the rigors of the trenches. It was a distinct pleasure to have him as a staff mem­ber of the Kh. el-Maqatir Excavation Project during the 1997, 1999, and 2000 dig seasons. I am pleased to offer this overview of recent and not-so-recent archaeological discoveries that shed light on a crucial period in Israel's history, in celebration of the distinguished teaching and writing career of friend and colleague Eugene H. Merrill.


Attempts to correlate the findings of archaeology with the biblical record for the period under review have seemingly met with insurmountable ob­stacles. Much of the scholarly community today has despaired of making any valid connections and has dismissed biblical history prior to the king­dom period as nothing more than myth and legend. When one probes these supposed difficulties, however, one finds that the problem lies not with the biblical narrative, but rather with a lack of scientific rigor in ana­lyzing the archaeological data. In all cases, allegations made against the bib­lical text can be attributed to misrepresenting biblical chronology, arguments from silence (nonevidence), misinterpretation and/or lack of in-depth analysis of the archaeological evidence, or just plain bad scholarship. In this brief overview I hope to expose some of these misunderstandings. My methodology is to utilize the biblical model as a framework for understanding the early history of Israel. When the Bible is allowed to speak for itself and the archaeological data are properly understood, the archaeological evidence and the biblical record are in complete agreement.


A King Who Did Not Know Joseph (Exod. 1:8)

There have been a number of suggestions as to the identity of the un­named1 Pharaoh in Exodus 1:8. Recent archaeological work in the eastern Delta of Egypt, I believe, has provided the evidence needed to place the identification on firmer ground. The only time when the Israelites could have worked at Pithom (Exod. 1:11) was during the Hyksos period (see below). Thus, it stands to reason, the new king who did not know Joseph was the first Hyksos king (Maaibre Sheshi?).2 Since he was a foreigner,3 he would have had an incomplete knowledge of Egyptian history and been unaware of Joseph's accomplishments over two hundred years earlier. The narrative of Exodus 1 supports this view.

Exodus 1:8-12 should be assigned to the Hyksos period. As Rea has pointed out, wayyaqom melek-hadas cal-misrayim in Exodus 1:8 is better translated "A new king rose up against Egypt," rather than "Now a new king arose over Egypt" (NASB).4 The Hyksos forcefully took over Egypt in the mid-seventeenth century B.C. and ruled for 108 years according to the Turin king list.5 They feared the Israelites would join forces with the Egyptians ("those who hate us") and "fight against us" (v. 10).6 Thus, the Hyksos placed the Israelites in harsh bondage constructing Pithom and Ramesses, major commercial centers of the Hyksos kingdom.7 The names Pithom and Ramesses are both later names by which these places were known (see below). Since the earlier names were no longer in use, later copyists updated the biblical texts to the names by which the sites were known in that day.8

Under the leadership of Amosis, the Egyptians drove out the Hyksos in the mid-sixteenth century B.C. and reestablished Egyptian control of the Delta. Amosis then founded the mighty Eighteenth Dynasty. Exodus l:13 ff is set in the early Eighteenth Dynasty period following the expulsion of the Hyksos.

Store City of Pithom (Exod. 1:11)

Textual and excavation evidence point to Tell el-Maskhuta in the east­ern end of the Wadi Tumilat, 16 km. west of Ismaliya, as being Pithom of Exodus 1:ll.9 Excavations from 1978 to 1985, under the direction of John S. Holladay Jr., of the University of Toronto, have established the occupa­tional history of the site. Prior to ca. 610 B.C. (Saite period), the only occu­pation was during the Hyksos period. The name Pithom was attached to the Saite town, with the name of the Hyksos settlement being unknown.10 Thus, the only possible time period when the Israelites could have worked there as slaves was during the Hyksos period.

The Hyksos town was ca. 5 acres in size and unfortified. It was occupied for less than a century and then abandoned prior to the expulsion of the Hyksos.11 Approximately 735 m2 of the town and 100 m2 of an adjacent cemetery from the same period were excavated.12 Both public and private buildings made of mud bricks were in evidence, as well as boundary walls and storage silos.13 Quantities of hand-made, flat-bottomed cooking pots common in Canaan were found at the site. Holladay believes these cook pots are evidence of pastoralists who "were recruited by the Asiatics [Hyksos] for building their new settlement."14

Holladay suggests that Tell el-Maskhuta was part of an international trading network operated by the Canaanite Hyksos, with its center at Tell el-Dabca, ancient Avaris, the capital of the Hyksos.15

image.axd100Fig. 12.1. Excavating the Hyksos phase at Tell el-Maskhuta, Egypt, thought to be biblical Pithom, 1983. (Credit: Bryant G. Wood)

City of Ramesses

Twelfth Dynasty (Gen. 47:11, 27)

When Jacob and his family migrated to Egypt, they were settled in "the land of Ramesses" and given their own land (Gen. 47:11, 27). Later, after being pressed into slavery, they were used to construct a store city at Ramesses (Exod. 1:11). When the Israelites left Egypt after 430 years (Exod. 12:40), they departed from Ramesses (Exod. 12:37). From these passages it is clear that the Israelites spent the years of the Sojourn in and around Ramesses. Excavations in 1966-1969 and 1975-present at Tell el-Dabca­Qantir­in the eastern Nile delta, ca. 100 km northeast of Cairo, have demonstrated that this was the location of biblical Ramesses.16 In antiquity, the Pelusiac branch of the Nile flowed past the site, giving access to the Mediterranean. In addition, the town was the starting point for the land route to Canaan, the famous Horus Road. Because it was at the crossroads of international maritime and overland routes, it was an important commercial and military center.

When the Israelites first arrived in the nineteenth century B.C., the name of the town was Rowaty, "the door of the two roads."17 Toward the end of the eighteenth century B.C., the name was changed to Avaris, "the (royal) foundation of the district."18 When the Hyksos established their capital at the site in the seventeenth century B.C., they retained the name Avaris. Amosis established a royal center there after he had driven the Hyksos out (see below). Undoubtedly he gave the town a new name at that time possibly Peru-nefer, "happy journey," although this is not known for certain.19 If Peru-nefer was indeed the name of the early Eighteenth Dynasty town, then the Israelites left from a place called "happy journey"! Later, in the thirteenth century B.C., when Ramesses II built his royal city on the site, he renamed it "Ramesses."20 We now know that when the Israelites were there the names of the town were Rowaty, Avaris and possibly Peru-nefer, not Ramesses, as some have theorized.21

Prior to the arrival of the Canaanite Hyksos, there was a settlement of nomadic pastoral Asiatics at Rowaty in the late Twelfth Dynasty (mid-nineteenth century B.C.) in Area F/I, Str. d/2, and Area A/II, Str. H.22 About 82 acres in size,23 it was unfortified, although there were many enclosure walls, most likely for keeping animals.24 The living quarters consisted of small rectangular buildings built of sand bricks.25 Neutron activation analysis indicates that Palestinian-type pottery from the village originated in south­ern Palestine, and Bietak notes that the presence of handmade cooking pots is evidence of a nomadic pastoral population. He further observes that these "foreigners" could not have settled there without Egyptian consent.26 Since the Bible places the Israelites at Ramesses at this very time, it is plausible that Bietak has discovered the initial Israelite settlement at Ramesses. Perhaps the most compelling connection with the Israelites is a four-room house.27 It was the largest building in the community, 10 x 12 m in size, situated on one side of an enclosure measuring 12 x 19 m. The size and layout corresponds to later Iron Age four-room houses commonly associated with Israelites.28 Moreover, a monumental tomb of an Asiatic dignitary in the village cemetery raises the possibility of a connection with Joseph. In contrast to surrounding tombs, this one had been broken into and the bones removed (cf. Exod. 13:19)!29

Early Eighteenth Dynasty (Exod. 1:13-2:14, 4:29-12:36)

Bietak uncovered an early Eighteenth Dynasty royal citadel at Tell el Dabca most likely constructed by Amosis following the expulsion of the Hyksos.30 It consisted of a fortress and palace, and remained in use until at least the reign of Amenhotep II.31 The fortress was constructed on a 70 x 47 m platform approximately 30 m from the riverbank. A ramp on the eastern side led to a gate in a fortification wall, giving access to the river. South of the fortress was a large palace with thick walls, storage magazines, corridors, and bathrooms. Both structures were within a walled compound that included a temple, workshops and a military camp. Minoan wall paintings lined the rooms of the palace and fortress, and possibly other buildings within the complex. It is quite possible that this royal compound was the scene of events described in Exodus 1:13-2:15 and chapters 5-12.


Jericho (Josh. 2:1-21; 6)

The first city the Israelites conquered in the Promised Land was Jericho (Josh. 2; 6). Ever since the excavations of British archaeologist Kathleen Kenyon in the 1950s, Jericho has been considered by most scholars to be a primary example of the nonagreement between the findings of archaeology and the Bible with regard to the Conquest.32 Based on her interpretation of the evidence, she believed that the city had been destroyed in the middle of the sixteenth century B.C. and that there was no occupation in the fifteenth century B.C., the time of the Exodus and Conquest according to biblical chronology.33 A previous excavator, another British archaeologist, John Garstang, concluded from his work in the 1930s that Jericho had been destroyed at the end of the fifteenth century B.C.34 Garstang based his conclusion on a detailed analysis of the pottery found in the destruction level.35 Kenyon, on the other hand, never published a definitive study of the Jericho pottery. The basis for her dating was articulated in a few brief remarks in various publications.36

An examination of the destruction level pottery makes it clear that the event occurred in the latter part of the fifteenth century B.C., as Garstang maintained, and not in the mid-sixteenth century B.C.37 When the dating is properly assessed, the archaeological findings correlate with the biblical record in a remarkable fashion. According to the biblical narrative, the city was heavily fortified (Josh. 2:5,15; 6:5, 20). Kenyon's meticulous fieldwork revealed the details of the fortification system. The tell was surrounded by a great earthen rampart, or embankment, with a stone retaining wall some 4­.5 m high at its base. On top of the retaining wall was a mud brick wall 2 m thick and ca. 6­.8 m high. At the crest of the embankment was a similar mud brick wall whose base was roughly 14 m above the ground level outside the retaining wall.38 Within the upper wall was an area of ca. 6 acres, with the total area of the upper city and fortification system about 9 acres.

The citizens of Jericho were well prepared for a siege as a copious spring lay inside the city wall and jars full of grain found in their homes indicated the harvest recently had been taken in (Josh. 2:6; 3:16).39 After the Israelites made seven trips around the city on the seventh day, the walls fell (Josh. 6:5, 20).40 Kenyon found evidence that the mud brick city wall had indeed collapsed and was deposited at the base of the tell.41 The jars full of grain testify that the siege was short, very little had been used before the end came, and also that the Israelites did not plunder the city (Josh. 6:17­18). An early German expedition found houses built against a preserved section of the lower city wall on the north side of the tell, reminiscent of Rahab's house (Josh. 2:15).42

After the Israelites went up into the city (surmounting the embankment! Josh. 6:5,20), they set fire to the city (Josh. 6:24). Both Garstang and Kenyon found abundant evidence of a fierce fire.43 Kenyon noted that the walls col­lapsed prior to the burning, the same sequence as recorded in the biblical account.44

Ai (Josh. 7-8)

Following the defeat of Jericho, the Israelites proceeded into the high­lands of Canaan and attacked the small fortress of Ai (Josh. 7­8). Finding the correct location of Ai has been a major difficulty in Old Testament scholarship. The search got off to an unfortunate start at the very begin­ning of biblical research in Palestine. On May 5, 1838, the pioneer of historical geography in the Holy Land, Edward Robinson, made two tragic blunders that are still with us today.

Robinson arrived at the village of Beitin at 7:30 in the morning on that ill-fated day and identified it as biblical Bethel based on two considerations. First, according to Eusebius, Bethel was located approximately 12 Roman miles, equivalent to 11 English miles,45 north of Jerusalem.46 Since it took Robinson 3 3/4 hours to travel from Beitin to Jerusalem by horse, he calcu­lated the distance to be 12 Roman miles47 based on his rule-of-thumb of 3 miles per hour for his horse's rate of travel.48 Secondly, the similarity be­tween the names Beitin in Arabic and Bethel in Hebrew led him to equate the two.49 Since the Bible states that Ai is east of Bethel (Josh. 7:2; 8:9, 12) and in the vicinity of Bethel (Josh. 12:9), finding the correct location of Bethel is crucial for finding Ai.

Looking east of Beitin, the only candidate with remains earlier than the Hellenistic period is et-Tell. In an influential 1924 article William F. Albright lent his support to this site as the location of Ai.50 Later he stated:

Since the writer has scoured the district in question in all directions, hunting for ancient sites, he can attest the fact that there is no other possible site for Ai than et-Tell.51

With such a strong endorsement from Albright, nearly all scholars ac­cepted the et-Tell-Ai identification. This raised a major problem, however, in that there was a long occupational gap at et-Tell from the end of the Early Bronze Age, ca. 2400 B.C., until the beginning of the Iron Age, ca. 1200 B.C.,52 and thus no city for the Israelites to attack. As with Jericho, this led scholars to dismiss the account of Ai as unhistorical.

Livingston has called into question the Beitin-Bethel equation, citing among other evidence the actual distance from Jerusalem to Beitin as 14 Roman miles rather than 12 as Robinson had supposed.53 He provides con­vincing evidence that Bethel should be located at the modern town of El-Bireh, which is 12 Roman miles from Jerusalem.54

Shortly after his arrival at Beitin, Robinson continued on to nearby Kh. el-Maqatir, 1.5 km to the south-southeast, where he made his second major error of the day. Local inhabitants told him this was the location of Ai. After inspecting a Byzantine church on the summit, he concluded, "But there is not the slightest ground for any such hypothesis. There never was any thing here but a church; and Ai must have been further off from Bethel, and certainly not directly in sight of it."55

Had Robinson walked 200 m down the southeast slope of the site he might have changed the course of Palestinian archaeology. There, also missed by Albright, in clear view, is abundant evidence for early occupation, including ancient walls visible on the surface. When Ernest Sellin visited Kh. el-Maqatir in 1899 he also was told it was Ai: "Women of Ramallah, who were searching for snails, called it Khirbet Ai."56 Investigators of the location of Ai have overlooked these notices, as well as the ruins at Kh. el-Maqatir. Excavations at the site since 1995, under the direction of the author, have provided the necessary evidence to identify the site as Joshua's Ai.57

image.axd101Fig. 12.2. The LBI Fortress at KH. El-Maqatir, 2000.

  • Joshua 7 and 8 contain many geographic and archaeological requirements that a candidate for the Ai of Joshua must meet. Kh. el-Maqatir meets these requirements as follows:58
  • Near Beth-aven (Josh. 7:2)­ Kh. el-Maqatir is 1.5 km southeast of Beitin, the most likely candidate for Beth-aven
  • East of Bethel (Josh. 7:2) Kh. el-Maqatir is 3.5 km northeast of El-Bireh, the most likely candidate for Bethel
  • Ambush site between Bethel and Ai (Josh. 8:9)­ between Kh. el-Maqatir and El-Bireh is a very deep valley, the Wadi Sheban, out of sight of both Kh. el-Maqatir and El-Birch, which could easily ac­commodate a large ambush force
  • Hill north of Ai suitable for Joshua's command center (Josh. 8:11) Jebel Abu Ammar 1.5 km north of Kh. el-Maqatir is the highest hill in the region and provides a commanding view of the battle area
  • Shallow valley north of Ai such that the king of Ai could see Joshua and his men (Josh. 8:14)­the Wadi Gayeh between Kh. el- Maqatir and Jebel Abu Ammar is shallow and easily visible from Kh. el-Maqatir
  • Small fortress dating to the time of Joshua (Josh. 7:3, 5; 8:29; 10:2) a fortress about 3 acres in size has been found at Kh. el- Maqatir, with pottery from the fifteenth century B.C.
  • Gate on the north side (Josh. 8:11)­the gate of the fortress at Kh. el-Maqatir is on the north side
  • Destroyed by fire (Josh. 8:28) abundant evidence for a destruction by fire has been found at Kh. el-Maqatir in the form of ash, burned pottery, burned stones, and burned bedrock

Hazor (Josh. 11:1-11)

Hazor is called "the head of all these kingdoms" (Josh. 11:10). This description is borne out by archaeology as Hazor has been shown to be the largest city in Canaan, comprising an area of 200 acres.59 In addition, the only ruler to be referred to as "king" in the Amarna Letters (see below) was the king of Hazor, showing his importance relative to the other Canaanite rulers in the mid-fourteenth century B.C.60

As with Jericho and Ai, Hazor was put to the torch (Josh. 11:1). Abundant evidence has been found in the excavation of the fifteenth-century city (Stratum XV in the upper city and Stratum 2 in the lower city) that it was destroyed by fire. In the upper city, the Long Temple in Area A was destroyed and never rebuilt,61 and in Area M evidence was found that Str. XV was brought to an end by a conflagration.62 In the lower city, the Square Temple in Area F went out of use at the end of Str. 2,63 and the Str. 2 Orthostat Temple in Area H was covered by a 15 cm thick layer of ash on the floor64 and a 70 cm thick layer of mud brick debris above that.65 Further evidence for the destruction of Str. 2 was found in Areas C, K and P.66


Amarna Letters

The diplomatic correspondence of the Amarna archive spanned ca. twenty years in the mid-fourteenth century B.C. 106 of the recovered 382 clay tablets are from vassals in Canaan.67 These 106 documents provide unique insight into conditions in Canaan just a few decades after the Conquest. According to the biblical timeline, mid-fourteenth century B.C. was a time early in the Judges period when the tribes were engaged in consolidating their hold on their assigned allotments (Judg. 1). That is precisely He situation reflected in the Amarna tablets.

Native rulers complained bitterly to Pharaoh of incursions by a people called capiru.68 The term capiru is known not only from the Amarna Letters, but also from other ancient Near Eastern texts spanning the period 1750 to 1150 b.c. A detailed study of the texts reveals that the term capiru refers to nomadic peoples. Astour sums up the findings as follows:

[T]hey were...semi-nomads in the process of sedentarization, who came from the semi-desert zone and entered civilized regions as strangers....they were members of tightly knit tribal units whose allegiance was determined by kinship and who had their own system of law.69

One could not ask for a more accurate description of the Israelites shortly after entering the land of Canaan. At this juncture they were tribal entities that had not yet come together as a unified political body. The scribes employed by the highland rulers certainly would have referred to the Israelites as capiru.

The capiru described in the Amarna Letters, "acted in large armed units which were not only engaged in plundering raids but were also seizing for themselves towns and parts of the lands under Egyptian rule."70 Furthermore, "History shows that whenever one finds independent armed bands, these were always ethnically homogeneous."71

The most striking theme of the letters is that the capiru were taking over the highlands of Canaan. The king of Gezer wrote, "So may the king, my lord, save his land from the power of the capiru" (EA271).72 He also referred to the superiority of the capiru forces (EA299, cf. EA305, 306). The king of Jerusalem was particularly distressed. He said, "the war against me is severe . . . capiru has plundered all the lands of the king...if there are no archers, lost are the lands of the king" (EA286), "Milkilu and...the sons of Lab'ayu...have given the land of the king to the capiru" (EA 287), "the land of the king is lost... the capiru have taken the very cities of the king" (EA288), and "the land of the king deserted to the 'apiru' (EA290).

By examining the historical records to see who was in control of the highlands after the mid-fourteenth century B.C., we can confirm the iden­tity of these capiru forces. Although the data are meager, nevertheless sufficient information is available to ascertain that it was the Israelites. In the latter part of the thirteenth century b.c.,73 a coalition of Israelite tribes de­feated Hazor, the largest city-state in Canaan (Judg. 4-5; see below). This feat demonstrated that the Israelite tribes were the dominant military force in the region in the thirteenth century B.C. The Merenptah Stele provides extrabiblical evidence that this was indeed the case (see below).74

Eglon's Palace at Jericho (Judg. 3:12-30)

Eglon, king of Moab built a residence at Jericho, "the city of the palm trees" (Deut. 34:3; 2 Chron. 28:15) and oppressed the Israelite tribes for eighteen years. The time frame for these events was the late fourteenth century b.c.75 During the 1933 season at Jericho, Garstang discovered a large palatial-type structure he identified as the palace of Eglon.76 He called it the "Middle Building," since it was sandwiched between Iron Age structures above and the destroyed Bronze Age city below. In 1954 Kenyon found a floor, oven and portions of walls from the same period just north of Garstang's Middle Building, her Phase 54.77 Garstang,78 Kenyon79 and Bienkowski80 date the Middle Building to the fourteenth, or possibly early thirteenth, century b.c, the biblical time frame for Eglon and his Jericho palace.

Garstang's Middle Building is an impressive structure ca. 14.5 x 12 m, with a large retaining wall on the downhill side. In addition to its size, the abundance of imported pottery found in and around the building, and an inscribed clay tablet found just outside the east wall, attest a well-to-do occupant involved in administrative activities. Yet, the building complex is isolated, with no evidence for a town to rule over. It was occupied for only a short period and then abandoned (Judg. 3:14, 29).81

Considerable detail is provided in Judges 3 concerning Eglon's palace. Based on the biblical text and Near Eastern examples, Halpern reconstructed Eglon's Jericho palace.82 Although apparently unaware of Garstang's dis­covery, Halpern's reconstruction matched the plan of the Middle Building remarkably well.83

Destruction of Hazor by Deborah and Barak (Judg. 4-5)

Joshua and the Israelites burned Hazor in the course of the Conquest (see above). The city quickly recovered, however, as attested by the Amarna Letters, Judges 4-5 and excavations at Hazor. In the time of Deborah, Jabin, called "king of Canaan, who reigned in Hazor" (Judg. 4:2), oppressed the Israelite tribes for twenty years (Judg. 4:3).84 Deborah and her general Barak rallied six of the Israelite tribes and defeated the army of Jabin at the Kishon River (Judg. 4:13-15). The Israelites continued their offensive, "until they had destroyed Jabin the king of Canaan" (Judg. 4:24). The destruction of the king implies the destruction of his city.

The chronology of the book of Judges places the offensive of Deborah and Barak in the late thirteenth century B.C.85 Excavations at Hazor have revealed a massive destruction at about this time, so severe that the city was not rebuilt until the time of Solomon in the tenth century B.C.86 Because of the intentional mutilation of statues of both Egyptian and Canaanite deities and kings, Ben-Tor concludes that the destruction must have been the work of the Israelites.87 Ben-Tor, like Yadin before him, wishes to ascribe the destruction to Joshua, following the thirteenth century B.C. Conquest model. This is not feasible on two counts. First, if the thirteenth century conquest is ascribed to Joshua, there would be no later city for Deborah and Barak to conquer. Secondly, the Joshua scenario presupposes the Isra­elites would have immediately settled on the ruins as part of the Iron Age I settlement process. Recent excavations at Hazor have demonstrated that there was a gap of as much as two hundred years between the destruction of the Late Bronze Age city and the subsequent poor, transient, Iron Age I settlement.88

If one follows the biblical model, the archaeological evidence makes perfect sense. The Israelites under Deborah and Barak destroyed Hazor in order to overthrow Jabin. They had no interest in settling there since they were already well established elsewhere in the land. Later, in the eleventh century, due to changing social-economic factors, the previously seminomadic Israelites were forced to become sedentary. As a result, they were looking for new places to live, such as the uninhabited mound of Hazor.89

Merenptah Stele

The Merenptah, or "Israel," Stele is the most important extrabiblical document relating to Israel's origins. Found in 1896 in Pharaoh Merenptah's mortuary temple at Thebes by Sir Flinders Petrie,90 it records Merenptah's victories in Libya and a campaign to Canaan in which Israel is mentioned. The text is exceptional in that it is the only direct reference to Israel yet found in Egyptian records and the only reference to Israel outside the Bible prior to the divided kingdom. Marginalized, or totally ignored, by many scholars, its significance is far reaching. The section relating to Israel reads as follows:

The (foreign) chieftains lie prostrate, saying "Peace." Not one lifts his head among the Nine Bows. Libya is captured, while Hatti is pacified. Canaan is plundered, Ashkelon is carried off, and Gezer is captured. Yenoam is made into non-existence; Israel is wasted, its seed is not; and Hurru is become a widow because of Egypt. All lands united themselves in peace. Those who went about are subdued by the king of Upper and Lower Egypt...Merneptah.91

Merenptah's Canaanite campaign can be dated to the first few years of his reign, ca. 1210 B.C.92 The record of the campaign is written in a poetic style and many analysts agree that it has a chiastic format, although there is lack of agreement as to the exact structure.93 Apart from the format, however, there are a number of significant aspects of the poem on which most scholars agree. The word for Israel has the determinative for a people-group, as opposed to the other named nations and city-states that have the deter­minative for a political entity. This indicates that Israel was a tribal com­munity at this time, with no fixed boundaries,94 perfectly in keeping with the biblical depiction of Israel in the Judges period. It must be recognized that the Merenptah Stele is a eulogy and, as such, extols the great accom­plishments of the Pharaoh. The fact that Israel is mentioned at all indicates that, by the end of the thirteenth century B.C., the Israelite tribes had achieved sufficient status to be deemed worthy of being defeated by the king of one of the most powerful nations on earth. Perhaps Deborah and Barak's defeat of Hazor about this time (see above) brought Israel onto the stage of international politics. Israel had progressed from being referred to as generic capiru in the Amarna Letters (see above) in the previous century, to being known by their correct biblical name in Merenptah's day.

Perhaps the most important feature of the stela is that Israel is presented in parallel with Hurru, the Egyptian term for Palestine. The implication is that since Egypt (theoretically) did away with Israel ("its seed is not"), all of Palestine was devastated ("Hurru is become a widow"). This indicates that Israel was the most powerful people group in Canaan at the end of the thirteenth century B.C.,95 which has implications for the integrity of the biblical model. The idea that Israel emerged from the indigenous Canaanite population in the twelfth century B.C. has gained favor in recent years, However, since the Merenptah Stele testifies that Israel was well established and recognized by Egypt by the end of the previous century, such cannot be the case.96

Migration of the Danites (Judg. 17-18)

Judges 18 describes the migration of the tribe of Dan, or a portion of it, from their assigned allotment west of Benjamin to Laish, which they re­named Dan. The time of the migration can be bracketed within a narrow range. In the days of Deborah in the late thirteenth century, the Danites were still living in their coastal allotment as indicated by the reference to Dan staying in ships (Judg. 5:17). Judges 18:31 states that Micah's images were in use at Dan throughout the time the Tabernacle was at Shiloh. Since Shiloh fell to the Philistines ca. 1100 B.C. or a little later (see below), the migration must have taken place between the late thirteenth century and 1100 B.C. The most likely event that would have occasioned the displacement of Danites was the incursion of the Philistines into the southwest coastal plain in the eighth year of Ramesses III, ca. 1177 B.C.97

Laish/Dan has been identified as Tell el-Qadi, now called Tell Dan, at the foot of Mount Hermon, ca. 40 km north of the Sea of Galilee. Excavations since 1966 under the direction of Avraham Biran have revealed a prosperous Late Bronze Age culture, Str. VII, destroyed by fire early in the twelfth century B.C. This appears to be the city burned by the Danites (Judg. 18:27).98 Laish had a connection, perhaps commercial, with the coastal city of Sidon, ca. 45 km to the northwest (Judg. 18:7, 28)99 The most impressive discovery in Str. VII was a tomb containing imported Mycenaean pottery from Greece, including a unique "charioteer vase." Anthropological examination revealed that the individuals buried in the tomb did not belong to the local Canaanite population.100 Moreover, neutron activation testing of plain ware vessels in the tomb indicates they came from the Phoenician coast.101. It is possible that the inhabitants of Str. VII Laish were involved in an import trade business with Sidon.

A nomadic, or seminomadic, culture characterized by pits, some of which were stone-lined, next occupied the site in Str. VI.102 Large pithoi called "collared-rim store jars," well known from the highlands where they are associated with Israelite settlement, were found in the pits.103 Ten of 11 of the pithoi tested by neutron activation analysis were made from clay not native to the Tell Dan area, indicating the new settlers brought them from elsewhere.104 The newcomers soon became urbanized, as Str. V was a dense array of domestic and industrial architecture across the tell.105 This stratum was destroyed in a fierce conflagration in the mid-eleventh century B.C., possibly at the hands of the Philistines at the same time Shiloh was destroyed (Judg. 18:31, see below).106

This evidence once again counters the twelfth century emergence theory. Clearly, the tribe of Dan was a preexisting entity with a prior history when it arrived at Laish early in the twelfth century. It was in existence well be­fore the appearance of the twelfth century Iron I villages that presumably mark the beginning of Israelite culture according to the emergence theory.107

Abimelech at Shechem (Judg. 9)

For some eight hundred years, from the Middle Bronze through the Iron Age I periods, Shechem was an important highland urban center con­trolling the area from Megiddo to Jerusalem.108 It is no surprise, then, that Gideon's son Abimelech went to the leaders of Shechem to gain support for his failed attempt to become king of the Israelite tribes.109 Three ar­chaeological discoveries at Shechem relate to the narrative of Judg. 9.

Temple of Baal-Berith

References to the "house of Baal-berith" (v. 4), "Beth-millo" (vv. 6, 20), "house of their god" (v. 27), "tower of Shechem" (vv. 46, 47, 49), and "temple of El-berith" (v. 46), all appear to be the same structure at Shechem.110 Berit is the Hebrew word for covenant, so the temple was for "Baal of the covenant." A large fortress (or migdal) temple discovered on the acropolis of Shechem has been identified as the temple of Judges 9.111 It was constructed in the seventeenth century B.C. and lasted until the destruction of the city by Abimelech in the twelfth century B.C. (see below). The largest temple yet found in Canaan, it measures 21.2 x 26.3 m, and has foundations 5.1 m thick that supported a multistoried superstructure of mud bricks and timber. On the east, two towers containing stairwells to the upper stories flanked the entrance. Inside, two rows of columns, three in each row, divided the span into a nave and two side aisles (cf.vv. 46-49).112

image.axd102Fig. 12.3. The "Migdol" fortress-temple at Shechem, with a courtyard and sacred stone in front. The largest temple found in Canaan, it was most likely here that Joshua erected a sacred stone as a reminder of the covenant between Yahweh and the people of Israel (Josh. 24:26-7), and Abimelech became the self-appointed king of Israel (Judg. 9:6). (Credit: Bryant G. Wood)

In front of the temple was a courtyard with a large earthen and stone altar, 2.2 x 1.65 m and 35 cm high, 6.5 m from the temple entrance. An enormous limestone stela, or masseba, stood 2 m further to the southeast. It is 1.48 m wide, 42 cm thick, and, although broken, 1.45 m high. Since the temple existed in Joshua's day, it is possible this was the "large stone" which he set up "under the oak that was by the sanctuary of the Lord" at Shechem (Josh. 24:26).113 The stela is undoubtedly the "pillar" where Abimelech was made king (v. 6).114

East Gate

The city gate from the time of Abimelech (vv. 35­40) was excavated on the east side of the site,115 where it faced the agricultural fields of the Plain of Askar. It is a two-entryway gate, with an 8.0 x 6.55 m paved courtyard between the two entryways. On either side of the courtyard are guard­rooms with stairways leading to upper stories. To enter, one approached from the south along a cobbled street, turned left, and passed through the two entryways 3.4 m wide, ca. 6.5 m apart.

Destruction Level

Abimelech "razed the city and sowed it with salt" (v. 45). Abundant evidence was found throughout the site that a violent destruction had oc­curred at the time of Abimelech.116 Lawrence Toombs, one of the excavators of Shechem, described the devastation as follows:

The Iron I city underwent violent destruction, which obliterated its buildings and left the site a wilderness of ruins. At the time of its destruction, the culture of the city was fully-developed Iron I. The end of the Iron I city is almost certainly to be attributed to its cap­ture by Abimelek (Judges 9).117

The excavators date the destruction to ca. 1125 B.C.,118 in excellent agree­ment with Merrill's approximation of ca. 1117 B.C. based on biblical data.119

Fall of Shiloh (l Sam. 1-4)

Significant architecture from the Iron Age I, the time of Eli, has been excavated at Khirbet Seilun, ancient Shiloh, 17 km south of Shechem. All traces of Iron Age and earlier occupation on the summit of the site unfortunately were removed by later building activity. On the slopes, however, enough material from the Iron Age I period has been found to determine that the settlement at that time was 2 1/2 to 3 acres in size.120

The best-preserved remains from the time of Eli are on the west slope of the site. There, a three-room structure 27 x 11 m, containing a rich assem­blage of pottery, was uncovered. Over 20 pithoi in the complex suggests it functioned as a storage facility. Sophisticated building techniques were employed, such as slope terracing to provide two levels, well-made floors, stone-drum columns, and a rock-cut plastered cistern.121 Israel Finkelstein, the excavator, concluded, "In their plan, constructional method and adap­tation to the slope these structures represent the peak of early Israelite ar­chitecture."122 Because of the advanced technology, Finkelstein believes the structure could not have been built prior to the mid-twelfth century B.C.,123 approximately the beginning of Eli's judgeship.124 He theorizes it was an auxiliary building for the Tabernacle that originally stood on the summit.I25

Psalm 78:60 and Jeremiah 7:12-14; 26:6, 9 indicate that Shiloh was destroyed and abandoned as a result of God's judgment. The archaeological findings dramatically demonstrate that Iron Age I Shiloh was terminated in a fiery destruction:

These buildings were destroyed in a fierce conflagration. Burnt floors were found all over. Collapsed burnt bricks accumulated on these floors to a height of more than three feet. Some of the bricks had been baked by the blaze that had raged here. Roof collapse was discernible in many places. All this dramatic evidence of fire must be associated with the destruction of Shiloh by the Philistines after they defeated the Israelites near Ebenezer in the mid-eleventh century B.C.126

The published date for the destruction, ca. 1050 B.C., is based on pottery chronology, which is very imprecise, particularly for the Iron Age I period. A date anywhere from ca. 1104 B.C., Merrill's estimated date for the battle of Ebenezer,127 to ca. 1050 B.C. would accommodate the pottery types found in the destruction level.


Scholars many times raise the issue of the lack of extra biblical literary evidence to support this or that person or event in Israel's early history. Complete verification of every biblical text will never be achieved. Documentary evidence relating to early Israel is rare, so the expectation of finding epigraphic evidence to substantiate the activities of specific individuals, families, or tribes prior to the monarchy is unrealistic.128 However, when we examine the archaeological evidence that we do have that bears on events in the early history of Israel, and utilize the internally self-consistent chronology of the Old Testament, the findings of archaeology and the biblical record harmonize extremely well.

Editorial Note: This article was originally published in the book: Giving the Sense: Understanding and Using Old Testament Historical Texts. Posted with permission.

Recommended Resources for Further Study

Arch and the old test







1. Biblical references to the king of Egypt follow Egyptian scribal practice. Prior to the tenth century B.C. the title "Pharaoh" was used alone without a proper name. After the tenth century B.C. "Pharaoh" plus a proper name became common usage. K. A. Kitchen, "Pharaoh," in ISBE, 3:821.
2. James M. Weinstein, "Hyksos," in OEANE, 3:133.
3. Neutron activation analyses of pottery from Tell el-Dabca (= Avaris, the Hyksos capital) indi­cate that the Hyksos came from southern Palestine. Patrick E. McGovern, The Foreign Relations of the "Hyksos": A Neutron Activation Study of Middle Bronze Age Pottery from the Eastern Mediterra­nean (Oxford, England: Archaeopress, 2000).
4. John Rea, "The Time of the Oppression and the Exodus," Grace Journal 2 (1961): 7-8. All biblical quotations in this chapter are from the NASB.
5. Weinstein, "Hyksos," 3:133.
6. The use of the title "Pharaoh" for a Hyksos king (Exod. 1:11) is perfectly in keeping with the Hyksos practice of adopting Egyptian royal titularies (Weinstein, "Hyksos," 3:133).
7. John S. Holladay Jr., "The Eastern Nile Delta During the Hyksos and Pre-Hyksos Periods: Toward a Systemic/Socioeconomic Understanding," in The Hyksos: New Historical and Archaeo­logical Perspectives, ed. Eliezer Oren (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania, 1997), 198-209.
8. This was a known practice, as can be observed with such names as Bethel (named by Jacob in Gen. 28:19, but used retrospectively in Gen. 12:8 and 13:3), Dan (named by the Danites in Judg. 18:29, but used retrospectively in Gen. 14:14), and Samaria (named by Omri in 1 Kings 16:24, but used retrospectively in 1 Kings 13:32).
9. John Van Seters, "The Geography of the Exodus," in The Land That I Will Show You: Essays on the History and Archaeology of the Ancient Near East in Honour of J. Maxwell Miller, ed. David J. A. Clines and Philip R. Davies (Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press, 2001), 256-64; John S. Holladay Jr., "Maskhuta, Tell el-," in ABD, 4:588; idem, "Maskhuta, Tell el-," in OEANE, 3:432; Donald B. Redford, "Exodus I 11," VT 13 (1963): 403-8; idem, "Pithom," in Lexikon derAgyptologie, ed. Wolfgang Helck and Eberhard Otto (Wiesbaden: Otto Harrassowitz, 1982), 4:1054-58; and idem, Egypt, Canaan, and Israel in Ancient Times (Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1992), 451 n. 92. Hans Goedicke ("Papyrus Anastasi VI 51-61," Studien ztn Altagyptischen Kultur 14 [1987]: 93), and James Hoffmeier (Israel in Egypt [New York: Oxford University Press, 1997], 119-21), however, prefer Tell el-Retabeh (14 km. west of Tell el-Maskhuta) as Pithom.
10. See Holladay, "Maskhuta, Tell el-," and Redford, "Exodus I 11," in previous note.
11. John S. Holladay Jr., "Pithom," in OEAE, 3:50.
12. John S. Holladay Jr., Cities of the Delta, Part III: Tell el-Maskhuta, American Research Center in Egypt Reports (Malibu, Calif: Undena, 1982), 44-47; Patricia Paice, John S. Holladay Jr., and Edwin C. Brock, "The Middle Bronze Age/Second Intermediate Period Houses at Tell el-Maskhuta," in Hous und Palast im Alton Agypten, ed. Manfred Bietak (Vienna: Osterreichischen Akademie der Wissenschaften, 1996), 159-73; and Holladay, "Eastern Nile Delta," 188-94. For summary reports, see Holladay, "Pithom," in ABD, 4:588-92; and idem, "Pithom," in OEANE, 3:432-37.
13. The author was a staff member of the Tell el-Maskhuta excavation during the 1979, 1981, and 1983 seasons. During the 1983 season he supervised the excavation of the major portion of a large 11 x 13.6 m Hyksos workshop in Square R7 in which industrial activities involving high-temperature hearths and grinding stones were carried out.
14. Holladay, "Eastern Nile Delta," 190.
15. Holladay, "Eastern Nile Delta," 209; and idem, "Pithom," in OEAE, 51.
16. Van Seters, "Geography of the Exodus," 264-67; and Manfred Bietak, Avaris and Piramesse Archaeological Exploration in the Eastern Nile Delta (London: British Academy, 1986), 278-83.
17. Manfred Bietak, Avaris, the Capital of the Hyksos: Recent Excavations at Tell el-Dabca (London British Museum, 1996) 9, 19.
18. Ibid., 40.
19. Ibid., 82.
20. Edgar B. Pusch, "Piramesse," in OEAE, 3:48-50.
21. Eugene H. Merrill, Kingdom of Priests: A History of Old Testament Israel (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1987), 70-71.
22. Bietak, Avaris and Piramesse, 237-38; idem, "Egypt and Canaan During the Middle Bronze Age," BASOR 281 (1991): 27-72; idem, Avaris, the Capital, 10-21; idem, "The Center of Hyksos Rule: Avaris (Tell el-Dabca)," in The Hyksos: New Historical and Archaeological Perspectives, 97-100; and idem, "Dabca, Tell el-," in OEANE, 1:351. The absolute dates of the Tell el-Dabca phases are somewhat controversial since Bietak has adopted an ultralow Egyptian chronology that is being challenged by a number of scholars. See James M. Weinstein, "Reflections on the Chronology of Tell el-Dabca," in Egypt, the Aegean and the Levant, ed. W. V. Davies and L. Schofield (London: British Museum Press, 1995), 84-90.
23. Bietak, "Center of Hyksos Rule," 97.
24. Bietak, "Egypt and Canaan During the Middle Bronze Age," 32.
25. Bietak, Avaris and Piramesse, 237; and idem, "Egypt and Canaan During the Middle Bronze Age," 32.
26. Bietak, "Center of Hyksos Rule," 98-99.
27. Bryant G. Wood, "The Sons of Jacob: New Evidence for the Presence of the Israelites in Egypt," Bible and Spade 10 (1997): 55-56.
28. John S. Holladay Jr., "House, Israelite," in ABD, 3:308-18.
29. Wood, "Sons of Jacob," 56-58. David Rohl was the first to make this association in his book Pharaohs and Kings: A Biblical Quest (New York: Crown, 1995), 360-67. Although I do not agree with his revised Egyptian chronology (see my "David Rohl's Revised Egyptian Chronology: A View from Palestine," NEASB 45 [2000]: 41-47), his arguments relating the tomb to Joseph have merit.
30. Bietak, Avaris, the Capital, 67-83; idem, "Center of Hyksos Rule," 115-24; idem, OKAE 1:353; Manfred Bietak, Josef Dorner, and Peter Janosi, "Ausgrabungen in dem Palastbezirk von Avaris. Vorbericht Tell el-Dabca/cEzbet Helmi 1993-2000," Egypt and the Levant 11 (2001): 36-101; and Josef Dorner, "A Late Hyksos Water-Supply System at Ezbet Hilme," Egyptian Archaeology 16 (2000): 12-13.
31. Bietak, Avaris, the Capital, 72; idem, "Center of Hyksos Rule," 124; idem, OEAE, 1: 353; and Bietak, Dorner, and Janosi, "Ausgrabungen," 38.
32. Kathleen M. Kenyon, Digging Up Jericho (London: Ernest Benn, 1957), 261-62; and Thomas A. Holland, "Jericho," in OEANE, 3:223.
33. Kenyon, Digging Up Jericho, 262; idem, "Jericho," in Archaeology and Old Testament Study, ed. D. Winton Thomas (Oxford: Clarendon, 1967) 265-67; idem, "Jericho: Tell es-Sultan," in NEAEHL, 2:680; idem, The Bible in Recent Archaeology (Atlanta: John Knox, 1978) 33-37; and idem, Archaeology in the Holy Land, 4th ed. (London: Ernest Benn, 1979) 182.
34. John Garstang, "Jericho and the Biblical Story," in Wonders of the Past, ed. J. A. Hammerton (New York: Wise, 1937), 1222.
35. John Garstang, "Jericho: City and Necropolis, Fourth Report," Liverpool Annals of Archaeology and Anthropology 21 (1934): 118-30, plates 13-44.
36. Bryant G. Wood, "Did the Israelites Conquer Jericho? A New Look at the Archaeological Evidence," BAR 16, No. 2 (1990): 50.
37. Ibid., 51-52.
38. Kenyon, Archaeology and Old Testament Study, 162-64; and Ernst Sellin and Carl Watzinger, Jericho: Die Ergebnisse der Ausgrabungen (Leipzig, Germany: J. C. Hinrichs, 1913; reprint, Osnabruck, Germany: Otto Zeller, 1973), 58.
39. John Garstang, "The Walls of Jericho: The Marston-Melchett Expedition of 1931," PEFQS 63 (1931): 193-94; idem, "Fourth Report," 123, 128, 129; idem, "The Fall of Bronze Age Jericho."' PEFQS 67 (1935): 61-68; idem, "Jericho and the Biblical Story," 1218; Kenyon, Archaeology and Old Testament Study, 171; idem, Excavations at Jericho, vol. 3, The Architecture and Stratigraphy of the-Tell (London: British School of Archaeology, 1981), 369-70; and idem, Digging Up Jericho, 230.
40. The word describing how the city wall fell, tahtêh in Joshua 6:5, 20, is more accurately trans­lated "beneath itself" rather than "flat."
41. Kenyon, Excavations at Jericho, 3:110.
42. Sellin and Watzinger, Jericho, Blatt 13, Tafel III; the situation of Rahab's house, beqir hahômâ in Joshua 2:15 is better translated "against the vertical surface of the (city) wall," rather than the variety of renderings found in modern translations.
43. Garstang, "Walls of Jericho," 192; idem, "Fourth Report," 122-23; idem, "Fall of Bronze Age Jericho," 68; idem "Jericho and the Biblical Story," 1218; Kenyon, Excavations at Jericho, 3:369-70; idem, Archaeology and Old Testament Study, 171.
44. Kenyon, Excavations at Jericho, 3:370.
45. John Wilkinson, Jerusalem Pilgrims Before the Crusades (Warminster, England: Aris & Phillips, 1977), table: Units of Measurement, v.
46. G.S.P. Freeman-Grenville, Palestine in the Fourth Century a.d.: The Onomasticon by Eusebius of Caesarea (Winona Lake, Ind.: Eisenbrauns, 2003) 4:27.
47. Edward Robinson, Biblical Researches in Palestine and the Adjacent Regions: A Journal of Travels in the Years 1838 and 1852, 3d ed. (London: John Murray, 1867; reprint, Jerusalem: Universitas Book­sellers, 1970), 1:449.
48. Edward Robinson, Later Biblical Researches in Palestine, and in the Adjacent Regions: A Journal of Travels in the Year 1852 (Boston: Crocker and Brewster, 1856), 635.
49. Robinson, Biblical Researches in Palestine and the Adjacent Regions, 449.
50. W. F. Albright, "Ai and Beth-Aven," in Excavations and Results at Tell el-Ful (Gibeah of Saul), AASOR 4, ed. Benjamin W. Bacon (New Haven, Conn.: American Schools of Oriental Re­search, 1924), 141-49.
51. W. F. Albright, The Biblical Period from Abraham to Ezra (New York: Harper & Row, 1963), 29.
52. Robert E. Cooley, "Ai," in OEANE, 1:32-33.
53. David P. Livingston, "Further Considerations on the Location of Bethel at El-Bireh," PEQ 126 (1994): 154-59, and further references there.
54. Beitin is more likely Beth Aven. See Bryant G. Wood, "Beth Aven: A Scholarly Conundrum." Bible and Spade 12 (1999): 101-8.
55. Robinson, Biblical Researches in Palestine and the Adjacent Regions, 448.
56. E. Sellin, "Mittheilungen von meiner Palastinareise 1899," Mittheilungen und Nachrichtai des Deutschen Palaestina-Vereins 6 (1900): 1.
57. The large Early Bronze Age ruin at et-Tell, on the other hand, should be identified as the landmark site of Ai in Abraham's day (Gen. 12:8). It is east of El-Bireh (Bethel) and the modern Arabic name "et-Tell" means "the ruin," as does the Hebrew rendering of the name, h cay, which always includes the definite article. The name could have later migrated to Kh. el-Maqatir only 1 km to the west and then, following the destruction by the Israelites, been changed to Kh. el-Maqatir which means "the ruin of the place of the rising of sacrificial smoke." The rising of the smoke from the signal fire set by the ambush force was the signal for Joshua to begin the h ram: the offering up of the people of Ai as a sacrifice to Yahweh (Josh. 8:21-26). After Ai was plundered, there was further sacrificial smoke when Joshua set fire to the fortress (Josh. 8: 27 28).

58. For further details, see Bryant G. Wood, "The Search for Joshua's Ai: Excavations at Kh. el-Maqatir," Bible and Spade 12 (1999): 21-30; idem, "Kh. el-Maqatir 1999 Dig Report," Bible and Spade 12 (1999): 109-14; idem, "Khirbet el-Maqatir, 1995-1998," IEJ 50 (2000): 123-30; idem, "Khirbet el-Maqatir, 1999," IEJ 50 (2000): 249-54; idem, "Kh. el-Maqatir 2000 Dig Report," Bible and Spade 13 (2000): 67-72; and idem, "Khirbet el-Maqatir, 2000," IEJ 51 (2001): 246-52.

59. Amnon Ben-Tor, "Hazor," in NEAEHL, 2:595.
60. William L. Moran, The Amarna Letters (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1992), 2.35, 289.
61. Yigael Yadin, "The Fifth Season of Excavations at Hazor, 1968-1969," BA 32 (1969): 52; idem, Hazor the Head of All Those Kingdoms, Schweich Lectures of the British Academy 1970 (London: Oxford University Press, 1972), 103, 125; idem, Hazor: The Rediscovery of a Great Citadel of the Bible (New York: Random House, 1975), 260, 261; Ben-Tor, "Hazor," in NEAEHL, 2:604; and Amnon Ben-Tor et al., Hazor V: An Account of the Fifth Season of Excavation, 1968, James A. de Rothschild Expedition at Hazor (Jerusalem: Israel Exploration Society, 1997), 102.
62. Amnon Ben-Tor, "Tel Hazor, 2001," IEJ 51 (2001): 235-8, esp. 238.
63. Yadin, Hazor the Head of All Those Kingdoms 45. 100-1.
64. Yigael Yadin et al., Hazor III-IV: An Account of the Third and Fourth Seasons of Excavation, 1951-1958, Text, James A. de Rothschild Expedition at Hazor (Jerusalem: Israel Exploration Society, 1989) 228.
65. Yadin, Hazor the Head of All Those Kingdoms, 80; and Yadin et al., Hazor III-IV, 227.
66. Concerning Area C, see Yigael Yadin et al., Hazor I: An Account of the First Season of Excavations, 1955, James A. de Rothschild Expedition at Hazor. (Jerusalem: Magnes, 1958), 73; and idem, Hazor II: An Account of the Second Season of Excavations, 1956, James A. de Rothschild Expedition at Hazor (Jerusalem: Magnes, 1960), 92. Concerning Area K, see Yadin et al., Hazor III-IV, 287. Concerning Area P, see Ben-Tor et al., Hazor V, 382.
67. For an introduction to the Amarna Letters, see William L. Moran, The Amarna Letters, xiii-xxxix; and Nadav Na'aman, "Amarna Letters," in ABD, 1:174-81.
68. The letters are from cities the Israelites could not capture during the Conquest: Megiddo (Josh. 17:11-12; Judg. 1:27), Gezer (Josh. 16:10; Judg. 1:29), and Jerusalem (Josh. 15:63; Judg. 1:21).
69. Michael C. Astour, "The Hapiru in the Amarna Texts: Basic Points of Controversy," UF 31 (1999): 41.
70. Ibid., 31.
71. Ibid., 40.
72. The letters are referred to by the notation EA, for el-Amarna, followed by a number. Quota­tions are from Moran, The Amarna Letters.
73. Merrill, Kingdom of Priests, 164.
74. For additional correlations between the Amarna Letters and the biblical record, see S. Douglas Waterhouse, "Who Were the Habiru of the Amarna Letters?"Journal of the Adventist Theological Society 12 (2001): 31-42.
75. Leon Wood, Distressing Days of the Judges (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1975), 410; John H.Walton, Chronological and Background Charts of the Old Testament (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1978), 48; cf. Merrill, Kingdom of Priests, 163.
76. Garstang, "Jericho: City and Necropolis," 106-10; idem, "The Story of Jericho: Further Light on the Biblical Narrative," AJSL 58 (1941): 368-72; idem, "The Story of Jericho: Further Light on the Biblical Narrative," PEQ 73 (1941): 168-71; and John Garstang and J. B. E. Garstang, The Story of Jericho, rev. ed. (London: Marshall, Morgan & Scott, 1948), 177-80.
77. Kenyon, Digging Up Jericho, 261-63; idem, Archaeology and Old Testament Study, 272-3; idem, The Bible and Recent Archaeology, 38-40; idem, Archaeology in the Holy Land, 208; idem, Excava­tions at Jericho, 3:371; idem, "Jericho," in ISBE, 2:993-94; and idem, "Jericho: Tell es-Sultan," in NEAEHL, 2:680.
78. Garstang, "Story of Jericho," AJSL, 371-72; idem, "Story of Jericho," PEQ, 73, 171; and Garstang and Garstang, The Story of Jericho, 180.
79. Kenyon, Digging Up Jericho, 261; idem, Archaeology and Old Testament Study, 273; idem, The Bible and Recent Archaeology, 39; idem, Archaeology in the Holy Land, 208; idem, Excavations at Jericho, 3:371; idem, "Jericho," in ISBE, 2:994; idem, "Jericho: Tell es-Sultan," in NEAEHL, 2:680.
80. Piotr Bienkowski, Jericho in the Late Bronze Age (Warminster, Wiltshire, England: Aris & Phillips, 1986), 120.
81. Ibid., 118.
82. Baruch Halpern, The First Historians: The Hebrew Bible and History (San Francisco: Harper & Row, 1998), 39-75; and idem, "The Assassination of Eglon," BRev 4, no. 6 (1998): 33-41, 44.
83. Garstang, "Jericho: City and Necropolis," pi. XIV; Halpern, First Historians, 53; and idem, "The Assassination of Eglon," 37.
84. Jabin was also the name of the king of Hazor in the time of Joshua (Josh. 11:1). Texts from Hazor, Mari, and Egypt attest that Jabin was a dynastic name at Hazor during the Middle and Late Bronze Ages. See Bryant G. Wood, "Jabin, King of Hazor," Bible and Spade 8 (1995): 83-85.
85. Merrill, Kingdom of Priests, 164.
86. Amnon Ben-Tor, "The Fall of Canaanite Hazor­The 'Who' and 'When' Questions," in Medi­terranean Peoples in Transition, Thirteenth to Early Tenth Centuries B.C.E., ed. Semour Gitin, Amihai Mazar, and Ephraim Stern (Jerusalem: Israel Exploration Society, 1998), 456­67; Amnon Ben-Tor and Maria Teresa Rubiato, "Excavating Hazor Part II: Did the Israelites Destroy the Canaanite City?" BAR 25, no. 3 (1999): 22-39.
87. Ben-Tor, "The Fall of Canaanite Hazor," 456, 465; Ben-Tor and Rubiato, "Excavating Hazor Part II," 38-39.
88. Doron Ben-Ami, "The Iron Age I at Tel Hazor in light of the Renewed Excavations," IEJ 51 (2001): 148-70.
89. Interestingly, the new occupants did not settle in the area of the Canaanite palace. Ben-Ami suggests this may have been the result of a "stigma" being attached to the structure that did not allow the new occupants to settle there (ibid., 167-68).
90. W. M. Flinders Petrie, Six Temples at Thebes in 1896 (London: Quaritch, 1897), 13; pls. 13,14.
91. James K. Hoffmeier, trans., "The (Israel) Stela of Merneptah (2.6)," in COS, 2:41.
92. Ibid.
93. Ibid.
94. K. A. Kitchen, "The Physical Text of Merenptah's Victory Hymn (The 'Israel Stela')," JSSEA 24 (1994): 74-75. In more recent Egyptological studies, the more commonly known name, "Merneptah," is being replaced by "Merenptah."
95. William F. Albright, "The Israelite Conquest of Canaan in the Light of Archaeology," BASOR 74 (1939): 22; Ronald J. Williams, "The Israel Stele of Merneptah," Documents of Old Testament Times, ed. D. W. Thomas (New York: Harper & Row, Publishers, 1958), 140-41; Lawrence E. Stager, "Merneptah, Israel and the Sea Peoples: New Light on an Old Relief," Erlsr 18 (1985): 61; John J. Bimson, "Merneptah's Israel and Recent Theories of Israelite Origins, "JSOT 49 (1991): 22-24; Michael G. Hasel, "Israel in the Merneptah Stela," BASOR 296 (1994): 54, 56 n. 12; Hoffmeier, "The (Israel) Stela of Merneptah (2.6)," COS, 2:41; and Waterhouse, "Who Were the Habiru," 35.
96. Bimson, "Merneptah's Israel."
97. Bryant G. Wood, "The Philistines Enter Canaan," BAR 17, no. 6 (November-December 1991): 44-52, 89-92; and Paul W. Ferris Jr., "Sorek, Valley of," in ABD, 6:159.
98. Avraham Biran, Biblical Dan (Jerusalem: Israel Exploration Society/Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion, 1994), 126.
99. Avraham Malamat, "'... After the Manner of the Sidonians...and How They Were far from the Sidonians...' (Judges 18:7)," Erlsr 23 (1992): 194-95 (Hebrew), English summary 153.
100. Biran, Biblical Dan, 114; and Avraham Biran and Rachel Ben-Dov, Dan II: A Chronicle of the Excavations and the Late Bronze Age "Mycenaean" Tomb (Jerusalem: Nelson Glueck School of Biblical Archaeology/Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion, n.d.), 228.
101. J. Gunneweg et al., "On the Origin of a Mycenaean IIIA Chariot Krater and Other Related Mycenaean Pottery from Tomb 387 at Laish/Dan (By Neutron Analysis)," Erlsr 23 (1992): 59-62; and Biran, Biblical Dan, 116.
102. Biran, Biblical Dan, 126-35; A. Biran, "Tel Dan: Biblical Texts and Archaeological Data," in Scripture and Other Artifacts, ed. Michael D. Coogan, J. Cheryl Exum, and Lawrence E. Stagei (Louisville: Westminster/John Knox, 1994), 4-5.
103. A. Biran, "The Collared-rim Jars and the Settlement of the Tribe of Dan," in Recent Excavation in Israel: Studies in Iron Age Archaeology, ed. Seymour Gitin and William G. Dever (Winona Lake. Ind.: Eisenbrauns, 1989), 71-96.
104. Joseph Yellin and Jan Gunneweg, "Instrumental Neutron Activation Analysis and the Origin of the Iron Age I Collared-rim Jars and Pithoi from Tel Dan," in Recent Excavations in Israel Studies in Iron Age Archaeology, 133-41.
105. Biran, Biblical Dan, 135-42; and David Ilan, "Dan," in OEANE, 2:109.
106. Biran, Biblical Dan, 138; and idem, "Tel Dan," 6.
107. Bimson, "Merneptah's Israel," 3-13.
108. For the significance of Shechem at the time of the Conquest, see Bryant G. Wood, "The Role of Shechem in the Conquest of Canaan," in To Understand the Scriptures: Essays in Honor of Will­iam H. Shea, ed. David Merling (Berrien Springs, Mich.: Institute of Archaeology/Siegfried H. Horn Archaeological Museum, 1997), 245-56.
109. The word used in Judges 9 for the rulers of Shechem, ba'al, is also found in the Amarna Letters. See Moran, The Amarna Letters, 175 n. 5.
110. Edward F. Campbell Jr., "Judges 9 and Biblical Archaeology," in The Word of the Lord Shall Go Forth: Essays in Honor of David Noel Freedman in Celebration of His Sixtieth Birthday, ed. Carol L. Meyers and M. O'Connor (Winona Lake, Ind.: Eisenbrauns, 1983), 269; Lawrence E. Toombs, "Shechem (Place)," in ABD, 5:1184; Lawrence E. Stager, "The Fortress-Temple at Shechem and the 'House of El, Lord of the Covenant,'" in Realia Dei: Essays in Archaeology and Biblical Interpretation in Honor of Edward F. Campbell Jr., at His Retirement, ed. Prescott H. Williams and Theodore Hiebert (Atlanta: Scholars Press, 1999), 242, 245; idem, "The Shechem Temple Where Abimelech Massacred a Thousand," BAR 29, no. 4 (2003): 26-35, 66, 68-69; and Edward F. Campbell Jr. and James F. Ross, "The Excavation of Shechem and the Biblical Tra­dition," BA 26(1963): 16.
111. Stager, "Fortress-Temple at Shechem"; idem, "The Shechem Temple."
112. Stager, "Fortress-Temple at Shechem," 229, 243-45; idem, "The Shechem Temple," 29-31.
113. Stager, "Fortress-Temple at Shechem," 242; and Campbell and Ross, "The Excavation of Shechem," 11.
114. Stager, "Fortress-Temple at Shechem," 242; idem, "The Shechem Temple," 31, 33; and Campbell and Ross, "The Excavation of Shechem," 11.
115. G. Ernest Wright, Shechem: The Biography of a Biblical City (London: Gerald Duckworth, 1965), 71-76; Robert G. Boling, Judges, AB (Garden City, N.Y.: 1975), 179; Campbell, "Judges 9," 265-8; Toombs, "Shechem (Place)," 5:1183-84; Joe Seger, "Shechem," in OEANE, 5:22; and Campbell and Ross, "The Excavation of Shechem," 16.
116. Wright, Shechem: Biography, 101-2; idem, "Shechem," in Archaeology and Old Testament Study, ed. D. Winton Thomas (Oxford, England: Clarendon, 1967), 364; Lawrence E. Toombs, "The Stratigraphy of Tell Balatah (Ancient Shechem)," ADAJ 17 (1972): 106; idem, "The Stratifica­tion of Tell Balatah (Shechem)," BASOR 223 (1976): 58, 59; idem, "Shechem: Problems of the Early Israelite Era," in Symposia: Celebrating the Seventy-Fifth Anniversary of the Founding of the American Schools of Oriental Research (1900-1975), ed. Frank Moore Cross (Cambridge, Mass.: American Schools of Oriental Research, 1979), 70-73, 78; idem, "Shechem (Place)," in ABD, 5:1178, 1184; idem, "Shechem: Tell Balatah," in NEAEHL, 4:1347, 1352; and Seger, "Shechem," in OEANE, 5:22.
117. Toombs, "Shechem: Problems," 73.
118. Seger, "Shechem," in OEANE, 5:22.
119. Merrill, Kingdom of Priests, 170.
120. Israel Finkelstein, ed., "Excavation at Shiloh 1981-1984," Tel Aviv 12 (1985): 168; idem, "Shiloh Yields Some, but Not All, of Its Secrets," BAR 12, no. 1 (January-February 1986): 40; idem. "Seilun, Khirbet," in ABD, 5:1072; idem, "Shiloh: Renewed Excavations," in NEAEHL 4:1369; Israel Finkelstein, Shlomo Bunimovitz, and Zvi Lederman, Shiloh: The Archaeology of a Biblical Site, Tel Aviv University Sonia and Marco Nadler Institute of Archaeology Monograph Series 10 (Tel Aviv: Institute of Archaeology of Tel Aviv University, 1993), 384.
121. Finkelstein, "Excavation at Shiloh," 131-38; idem, "Shiloh Yields Some...of Its Secrets," 37-39; Finkelstein, Bunimovitz, and Lederman, Shiloh: The Archaeology of a Biblical Site, 20- 31.
122. Finkelstein, "Excavation at Shiloh 1981-1984," 169; cf. Finkelstein, Bunimovitz, and Lederman. Shiloh: The Archaeology of a Biblical Site, 385.
123. Finkelstein, "Excavation at Shiloh," 168; cf. Finkelstein, Bunimovitz, and Lederman, Shiloh: The Archaeology of a Biblical Site, 383.
124. Merrill estimates the battle of Ebenezer and the death of Eli took place ca. 1104 B.C. (Kingdom of Priests, 176). Since Eli judged Israel forty years (1 Sam. 4:18), he began his judgeship ca. 1144 B.C.
125. Finkelstein, "Excavation at Shiloh," 169; idem, "Shiloh Yields Some...of Its Secrets," 41; idem, "Seilun, Khirbet," in ABD, 5:1072; cf. Finkelstein, Bunimovitz, and Lederman, Shiloh: The Archaeology of a Biblical Site, 384-85.
126. Finkelstein "Shiloh Yields Some…of Its Secrets," 39; and idem, "Shiloh: Renewed Excavations," in NEAEHL, 4:1368.
127. Cf. Merrill, Kingdom of Priests, 176 n. 83.
128. K. A. Kitchen, "The Patriarchs Revisited: A Reply to Dr. Ronald S. Hendel," NEASB 43 (1998): 55-56.


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