The date of the Exodus depends in part on the chronology of Israel's taking of territory on both sides of the Jordan River, about forty years after the Exodus according to the Bible. Israel's chronology in taking of this land, however, depends on the theoretical model used to represent this occupation. Three primary models have been proposed: immigration, revolt, and conquest. The last is further analyzed into the double-conquest theories, the early-date theories, and the late-date theory.
The Bible, however, does not present a pure model. For example, the conquests of Jericho and Ai stand in contrast to the settlement reached with the Gibeonites, and both of these leave unexplained how Israel occupied Shechem, where whey renewed covenant with Yahweh. Archaeological results strengthen the supposition that the process of Israel's entrance and occupation of the land was complex. Nevertheless, although most moderns think that the nature and chronology of Israel's entrance into the land does not lie absolutely in one of these three alternatives but in a combination of them, they generally accept one as the more adequate and dominant model. In this essay the writer presents the three models, mentions their leading exponents, analyzes their sources, and critically appraises them by considering their strengths and weaknesses with an aim to establish the chronology of the conquest and so of the Exodus.
II. The Immigration Model
Hermann, and adapted by Kochavi, Finkelstein, et al., based itself originally on extrabiblical texts, especially on the annals of Thutmose III and on the Amarna Letters, and secondarily on archaeology. It reconstructs the development of the biblical narratives to fit the model in keeping with historical criticism. Many of the individual narratives in Joshua 211 are designated as late aetiologies, composed to give historical support to Israel's claims to the possession of the land.
From the list of rebel city-states in the military annals of Thutmose III (1479 BC), Alt discerned a basic difference in the territorial division of the land. The vassal city states, whose territory extended only about five kilometers around the fortified city, lie almost entirely on the coastal plain of Palestine and in the plain of Megiddo. On the other hand, since these tiny city states were not found in the same proportions in the mountainous regions of Palestine, he drew the conclusion that these regions took no part in the great struggle against Thutmose III.
For further clarification of the geopolitical situation in the mountains Alt turned to the archives of Amenophis IV at Tell el-Amarna, which reflected that the center of the revolt in his days was no longer in the plains, as in the century before under Thutmose III, but, with a few limited exceptions, in the mountains, especially those of Judah and Samaria. These documents, however, yielded the same territorial divisions of Palestine, namely, small city states in the plains and larger territorial formations in the mountains with a few exceptions such as Jerusalem and Bethlehem in Judah, Shechem in the central highlands, and Hazor in Galilee. This distinction was further validated by the stele of Sethos I (ca. 1300) erected at Beth Shan, celebrating that Pharaoh's imposed recognition of himself as overlord of cities in the Jordan depression.
Alt now turned to the territorial divisions of Palestine at the beginning of the monarchy. Here he found the geopolitical map radically altered. New states were all named after tribes and peoples who had played no part in the earlier history of the country, namely, Philistines, Israelites, Judeans, Edomites, Moabites, Ammonites, and Arameans. Their territories resemble the larger territorial formations of the earlier period and seem to extend as far as men who belong to the same people or tribe have settled, and even include areas where previously the city-states had prevailed. Alt theorized that the original nucleus of the kingdoms of Israel and Judah lay away from
the city-states, but after the states had consolidated their power they secondarily expanded their territories by conquering resisting city-states; the role of the fortified cities of the plains ceased as independent states and became only administrative units within the structure of the larger kingdoms.
This change, Alt argued, could not have come about merely through the collapse of Egypt as a world power after Rameses III (ca. 1200) for one would have expected the political and territorial patterns that had developed over centuries to persist. Alt is now ready to consider the Israelite settlement.
According to Alt's model, the tribes later known as "Israel" entered the land as nomadic clans or confederacies of clans who were forced by weather conditions to leave their rainy winter and spring pasturage in border territories between the desert and cultivated land and to enter in the drought of summer into the relatively sparsely settled mountain regions and to come to an understanding with the owners of the land for the pasturage of their small cattle. Gradually these nomadic entities settled down in the relatively sparsely settled upland areas and began to farm the land after they turned its woodlands into arable land. The precise form of the settlement varied from area to area. The conquest of city states in the plains and in certain valleys had to wait until the institution of Israelite kingship turned wholeheartedly to a policy of territorial and political expansion.
Alt entertained the notion that the Apiru of the Amarna correspondence might be the Israelites and so their settlement might have occurred during the first half of the fourteenth century, but since the relationship was never convincingly proved, he thought it occurred after this time. His followers flatly rejected the equation. Because the pre-Israelite tribes gradually settled the land, Noth argued, an exact date for the Israelite occupation cannot be given. The Amarna period provides his terminus a quo because at that time Bethlehem was still "a city of the land of Jerusalem" and only later became a center of the tribe of Judah, and because the letters record the destruction of Shunem, producing the necessary gap in the Canaanite system of city-states in the vicinity of the Jezreel plain for Issachar to settle down there. Noth drew the conclusion, "We must therefore place the beginning of the Israelite occupation in the second half of the 14th century BC. The final conclusion of the process will probably have taken place at least a hundred years before the accession of Saul."
The immigration model has much to commend it. First, its understanding of the territorial divisions from the Egyptian sources supports the biblical account: "Judah took possession of the hill country, but they were unable to drive the people from the plains, because they had iron chariots" (Judg 1:19; cf. 1:27, 29, 31, 33, 35). Second, to the troubling question why the Bible does not mention the Egyptians if the conquest occurred during
the period when Egypt ruled Palestine, it answers that the Egyptians never completely subjected the mountains as they did the plains. Third, Alt's study of the period before and after the Israelite settlement provides the student with many valuable insights into the territorial divisions of the land and their history. Fourth, and this is its main evidence, later archaeological researches have shown the sudden emergence of dozens of settlements in forested hilly areas of Galilee and of Judea, and in the Negev (Aharoni, Kochavi, and I. Finkelstein).
On the other hand, the history of tradition approach to the biblical sources and its results are problematic. First, its unexpressed presuppositions favoring historical criticism directly contradict the biblical view of history. Second, although the facts of Israel's entrance into the land are far more complex than the stylized biblical account, nevertheless this approach's skepticism regarding the historical validity of biblical narratives seems unwarranted in light of their many particular validations from extrabiblical texts and archaeology. As pointed out by Bimson, Alt never demonstrated that the annals of Thutmose III or the archives of Amenophis IV contradict the Bible. Third, the reconstruction of the history of Israel's tradition is arbitrary and subjective. Often internal and external evidence militate against reading a narrative as an aetiology. For example, why does the narrative about Ai mention Israel's failure to conquer the town in its first attempt? Fourth, Yeivin argued that the national tradition of the enforced sojourn in Egypt and the conquest of Palestine is so entrenched in all the later stages of Israel's development, that Israel's existence apart from this history is incomprehensible. Fifth, by denying that the so-called nomadic clans and confederated clans that later came to form Israel after the settlement had commonly experienced the Exodus and conquest, Greenberg objected that this approach does not explain their spiritual and political union. Sixth, Gottwald pointed out that archaeological features at sites such as Tel Masos, its well-developed traditions of building and pottery making, its high incidence of bovine animals, and its indications of extensive trade with the coastal plain and Transjordan, do not square with a broad pastoral nomadic hypothesis. Finally, although the dozens of newly
formed settlements are probably Israelite, the immigration model is nevertheless an unproved induction.
III. The Revolt Model
The revolt model, created by Mendenhall, modified by Norman Gottwald, and elaborated by many moderns (e.g. Engel, Coote and Whitelam), agrees with the immigration model in regarding the biblical narratives as indeterminately reliable sources for Israel's premonarchic history and in viewing Israel as a later creation within the land (sometime between 1250 and 1150). It differs from the immigration model, however, in appealing primarily not to extrabiblical texts, though Mendenhall appealed to Apiru in the Amarna Correspondence, but to historical and comparative studies from the social sciences and interpreting the development of the biblical traditions and of the archaeological evidence in that light.
According to the revolt model as developed by Gottwald, the preIsraelite subgroups were predominantly based in Canaan and were not pastoral nomads, though the biblical "sagas" may represent the history of a fraction who migrated from Egypt to Canaan. These Canaan-based Israelites opposed neither Canaanites in order to claim the land nor each other for ethnic or religious reasons, but rather they were peasants and other kinds of producers and providers of services who revolted against the feudal system established in Palestine at the time of the Hyksos and extended throughout the Egyptian domination of Canaan during the eighteenth and nineteenth dynasties (ca. 15701200); namely, against the forced labor, military service, and tribute imposed on them by the overlords of the city-states. In the course of their revolt they took command of the agrarian means of production, whereby they were forged into a self-conscious social and religious people around Yahweh, the God of one of the subgroup(s) who was celebrated for delivering it/them from sociopolitical bondage and promised continuing deliverance whenever Yahweh's autonomous people were threatened. The revolt of these restive serfs originated in the hill country where the Canaanite overlords in the plains were too weak to contest the revolt effectively, and the "conquest" went forward with measurable success throughout the land.
Gottwald tried to fan some smoke in the biblical sources into a flame to support his theory. For example, he supposed that Num 21:2730 and Deut 3:11 conceal a conversion of Amorites to Yahwism (Num 21:2730); that the detailed lists of Edomite leaders in Israel's tradition (Genesis 36) also supposes their conversion; that the Danites derived from the Sea Peoples known from Greek and Egyptian sources as the Denen or Danuna; that the list of kings in Joshua 12 represents kings overthrown by the revolutionaries; and that the assembly at Shechem (Joshua 24) can be construed as a great act of incorporation of the Canaanite populace who threw off Baal who was associated with their oppressors.
Gottwald confesses that he is uncertain how, and even if, this model can be tested archaeologically. According to him, military conquest could have been the major strategy of the Canaan-based Israelites in order to secure settlement of the land, but it is wrong-headed to attribute these victories to "biblical" Israelites.
In sum, according to the peasant revolt model, the question "Who is the Pharaoh of the Exodus?" is misguided and skews the archaeological evidence. Israel as a religiopolitical force never entered the land.
This model has the advantage of being able to incorporate the conquest material without being embarrassed by archaeological gaps at critical sites, gives a plausible reason why some Canaanite subgroups converted to Yahwism, finds some support in the sociopolitical dimension of the term Apiru in the Amarna letters, proposes a way of accounting for the phenomenal rise of Yahwism according to the dictates of historical criticism, and explains the poorer nature of Iron I Culture.
On the other hand, if the immigration model strains one's credulity in its handling of the biblical text, this model, as Gottwald himself admitted, "positively boggles the mind." It suffers even more acutely from the same objection raised against the immigration model for its cavalier handling of biblical narrative. The only biblical evidences that may be fairly construed as supporting the revolt model are the assembly at Shechem who embraced Yahwism and possibly the reference to the "mixed multitude" that accompanied Israel. Furthermore, Herrmann rightly argued that only a model that has closer connections with the biblical and extrabiblical texts, together with careful consideration of the archaeological results, will survive the test of future scholarship. The only firm data supporting the model, namely, the activity of the Apiru in the Amarna correspondence, cannot be
equated with the biblical Israelites even as Weippert argued and Gottwald recognized. Hauser, moreover, called Mendenhall's definition of the Apiru into question. In sum, the theory is speculative.
IV. The Two Phases Conquest Models
Three major models of conquest have been proposed: two phases, early date, and late date. Although they all envision a conquest model, they differ so radically in their use of historical and biblical criticisms and of archaeology that it seems best to treat then separately.
C. F. Burney theorized that the migration of the patriarchs, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, as recorded in the book of Genesis represents the sequential movements of tribes from east to west under the guise of individuals. The Jacob tribe, for example, having settled in the land for some time later migrated eastward and subsequently returned to Canaan increased by fresh Aramean accessions. Burney equated their movement with the Apiru; at this time the Jacob-tribes seized the district of Shechem (cf. Genesis 34). After the Apiru-invasion, the Joseph tribes broke off and moved into Egypt where they were subsequently oppressed by Rameses II and made their exodus during the reign of Merneptah or immediately after. The tribes of Levi and Simeon, he supposed, merged with proto-Judahite clans and moved northwards with them into the Negev and the hill-country (cf. Judges 1). The Joseph tribes and some Levites split off and traveled round Edom to enter Canaan under Joshua's leadership from Transjordan.
T. H. Meek analyzed the Hebrew origins into three broad groups, only two of whom were involved in conquest and settlement. "One," he wrote, "was in the far north: Asher, Dan, Napthali, Issachar, and Zebulun, all of whom were more drawn into the Hebrew confederacy by a common peril, beginning about the time of Deborah." The other two groups he identified with the Apiru, known from the Amarna archives. One of these, "a composite group, perhaps more Aramean than anything else," under the leadership of Joshua "at first were able to conquer only the Jordan valley and the eastern highlands of Ephraim, and only gradually extended their occupation westward." While this group of the Apiru migrants were taking advantage of unsettled conditions in Palestine to carve out for themselves a homeland, the mass of the migrating hordes had to seek pasturage elsewhere, and some of the more venturesome ones, most certainly Levi,
migrated to Egypt, where they experienced the events recorded in the Bible about the Exodus. Under the leadership of Moses, this group "pushed north; from Kadesh to Beersheba, to Hebron, until finally they controlled most of the land south of Jerusalem between the Dead Sea and Philistia." He dated this invasion in the twelfth century, that is about two centuries after Joshua. This southern confederacy included Judah, Levi, Simeon, and others.
Rowley, like Meek, thought that Zebulun and Asher were already in the land in the fourteenth century and, like gurney, associated the Jacob stories with the Amarna age, linking the Apiru with the treacherous incident involving Simeon and Levi (Genesis 34) in an abortive attempt to take Shechem. Shortly after the Amarna age, according to Rowley, Judah and Simeon carried out from the south an incursion into the land, together with certain non-Israelite elements, including Kenites and Calebites, while northern tribes were pressing in, either singly or in small groups, simultaneously with those in the south. When Levi and Simeon were defeated at Shechem, Rowley further supposed, they withdrew from there and eventually made their way into Egypt where they were oppressed by Rameses II and delivered by Moses at the time of Merneptah. They entered the land after only two years in the wilderness under Joshua at ca. 1230.
Rowton supposed that there were two exoduses from Egypt. The first involved the Josephites who reached Palestine early in the thirteenth century and who, once established in Palestine, founded the amphictyony of Israel. The second involved the Levites at ca. 1170, but they did not enter Palestine until a generation later, ca. 1125. Aaron belongs to the first exodus and Moses and Joshua belong to the second.
These theories helpfully remind us that the biblical record may be incomplete by querying how Joshua and his host proceeded directly to Shechem from Ai without encountering any opposition and by supposing that the situation at Shechem may have been altered by the incidents associated with Jacob centuries earlier (cf. Genesis 34).
On the other hand, they have little to commend themselves. First, they too are based on the alien presuppositions of historical criticism and upon questionable biblical criticism. Second, they all so drastically rewrite Is-
real's history that were they true, it would be hard to understand how the biblical account ever came into existence. More specifically, Rowley denied the "tradition" of the wilderness, leaving the reader perplexed how it ever came into existence. Meek so completely reversed the chronology of Moses and Joshua and so completely divorced them that the entrenched biblical "traditions" regarding them are incomprehensible; the same can be said against Rowton's separation of Moses from Aaron. Third, and correlatively, they demonstrate their arbitrary and subjective character by canceling out each other. Fourth, they are guilty of substituting the plain plausible statements of tradition with novel, unnecessary explanations. Rowton, for example, found support for his two-exodus theory in two narratives regarding the circumcision of the Israelites in Egypt and at Gilgal, in two different routes, one by the brook of Zered, the other all the way round Edom, in conflicting accounts of the Egyptian attitudes toward the Israelites, first hostile, then friendly. A plain reading of the biblical text, however, readily accounts for some of these differences, even as Y. Kaufman convincingly harmonized the differences between Joshua and Judges 1. Regarding the alleged contradiction between Numbers 20 and 33, note that Zalmonah lies on Edom's western border and that both accounts mention Oboth and Ije-Abarim, lying on Edom's eastern border. Aharoni and Yeivin locate Punon in the heart of Edom, but Budd says its location is not certainly known, thereby effectively removing the alleged contradiction between Numbers 20 and 33. Fifth, the first three theories are only as good as the questionable theory that links the Apiru with the Israelites.
V. Early Date Conquest Models
Three theories that rightly eschew a biblical criticism that sets a canon above canon but questionably read the biblical chronology as a modern history have emerged. All three assume that Scriptures assert that during the second half of the fifteenth century ("the early date"), in contrast to the second half of the thirteenth century ("the late date"), Israel conquered the land as a unified and complete achievement in two stages: the conquest of Transjordania under the guidance of Moses (Num 20:2122:1) and the conquest of Cisjordan under the leadership of Joshua (Joshua 112), after which the conquering tribes of Israel for several centuries struggled for integration and settlement of the land, as well as for their defense of the newly acquired patrimony against outsiders desirous of subduing them.
They differ, however, in their interpretation of the archaeological data to be correlated with this date.
Early-date advocates commence their reasoning with the only notice bearing directly on the date of the Exodus, 1 Kgs 6:1 (MT, LXX[L]): "In the four hundred and eightieth year after the Israelites had come out of Egypt, in the fourth year of Solomon's reign over Israel, in the month of Ziv, the second month, Solomon began to build the temple of the Lord." If one adopts Thiele's widely accepted conclusion that Solomon's fourth year is 966 BC, a reading of the text according to the dictates of modern historiography yields the date 1446 for the Exodus and, allowing forty years for the wilderness wanderings (Num 32:13), 1406 for the conquest. If one were to follow the revisionist chronology of LXX, which in 1 Kgs 6:1 reads 440 instead of 480, one would arrive at 1366 for the conquest, the time of the Apiru.
Second, Jephthah's statement, made about ll00, that Israel had occupied Transjordan for 300 years fits the higher chronology and, if read as modern history, cannot be squeezed into the 170 years demanded by the lower chronology.
Third, Bimson noted that 1 Chron 6:3337 presents eighteen generations between Korah, who presumably lived at the time of the Exodus, and Heman, the singer in David's time. If one calculates twenty-five years per generation, and adds the generation between David and Solomon, one would arrive at a date close to 480 years between Solomon and the Exodus.
Fourth, although the chronological notices in the book of Judges must be compressed according to either the higher or lower chronology, they better suit the higher chronology than the lower. In fact, they fit so much better that some think that the reference to 300 years in Judg 11:26 was secondarily fabricated and interpolated into the text to match the other chronological notices.
Fifth, the chronological notices in the book of Judges must be adjusted to absolute dates by means of archaeology. Bimson noted that the Philistines do not appear as major contenders for the land in the book until the time of Samson, toward the end of the period of the Judges. If the main wave of Philistines entered Canaan around 1200 one would have expected, according to the lower chronology, the earlier narratives in Judges to have mentioned numerous clashes between Israel and the Philistines throughout much of the period of the judges. Whereas this silence in Judges 112, apart from the curious, laconic reference in Judg 3:31 and the reference in 10:7 accords badly with the late-date theory, it matches well the higher chronology. Bimson's argument, however, is weakened by the reference to the Philistines in Judg 3:31.
Advocates of the early date differ, however, in their interpretation of the archaeological evidence and can be classified into three groups: the traditional, Courville, and Bimson.
1. The Traditional View
Traditionalists, represented by J. Jack, J. Garstang, M. Unger, G. Archer, L. Wood, S. Horn, W. Shea, and this writer, concur with the generally accepted chronology of Palestine, namely, Late Bronze (LB) I = 15701400 and LB II = 14001300. Accordingly, they date the conquest between LB I and LB II and identify the Pharaoh of the Exodus with Thutmose III or with Amenhotep II. Advocates of the early date restrict their attention for destruction layers to three cities mentioned in the Bible as having been burned; namely, Jericho, Ai, and Hazor.
Regarding Jericho. The first major excavation at Jericho was conducted by an Austro-German expedition under the direction of E. Sellin and C. Watzinger from 1907 to 1909 and again in 1911. Watzinger concluded that Jericho was unoccupied during LB. Garstang, a British archaeologist, questioned these results and mounted his own expedition from 1930 to 1936. He argued convincingly, despite disclaimers, that Jericho fell to Joshua before the reign of Akhenaten (ca. 1375) because: (1) not one of the distinctive, plentiful, and well-established archaeological criteria characteristic of Akhenaten's reign has been found; (2) there is no reference to Jericho in the Amarna letters; and (3) no scarab after Amenhotep III (14121375 BC) has been found there, though there survived an abundant and continuous series of scarabs of the Egyptian kings from MBA right on down through the reign of Amenhotep III. He also identified a collapsed wall with LB, ascribing the destruction to invading Israelites.
Garstang asked his student K. Kenyon to review and update his findings. Kenyon came to Watzinger's conclusion: Jericho was unoccupied in LB. She headed up her own campaign from 1952 to 1958 and found the city wall Garstang associated with the Israelite invasion collapsed in fact 1000 years earlier! Also, on the basis of the absence of pottery imported from Cyprus and common to the LB I period she concluded that the city was destroyed at the end of MB (c. 1550 BC) and was unoccupied during the LB age.
B. Wood, an archaeologist at the University of Toronto, re-investigated her final reports published after her death in 1978. He confirmed her dating of the wall in question but rejected her method of dating the final destruction phase by the absence of distinctive, imported ware to the neglect of domestic ware. His study of the ceramic remnants, royal scarabs, carbon-14 dating, seismic activity in the region, the abundance of grain within the city at the time of its fall, destruction by fire, and even ruins of toppled walls produced what is being called impressive evidence that the fortified city was destroyed about 1400 BC. Wood draws the conclusion: "When we compare the archaeological evidence at Jericho with the biblical narrative describing the Israelite destruction of Jericho, we find a quite remarkable agreement." If his interpretation survives critical appraisal, Wood has provided very strong evidence for the traditional model, even though there is no archaeological proof that the Israelites caused the city's final destruction.
Regarding Hazor. Yadin associated the complete and final destruction of the Canaanite city, Stratum la (terminated ca. 1230) with the Israelite conquest. The reference in Judg 4:2, however, to Hazor as a Canaanite city in the opposition to Israel in the time of Barak, at least three or four generations after Joshua, precludes the late date and demands that one associate Joshua's conquest with one of the earlier destruction levels of that city. The only way around this argument is to suppose either that the biblical narrative at Judges 4 is flawed or that the archaeological evidence is incomplete.
Can an earlier destruction level be identified with Joshua? This writer attempted to identify it with the end of Stratum 2 by means of a burnt gate in Area K of the Lower City, but Bimson showed that his argument was fallacious and that the gate must be dismissed from the discussion. Stratum 2 (= LB I) emerged as one of great prosperity and culture, and according to Yadin "this is no doubt the Hazor of the Thutmosis III period." This stratum was completely destroyed before Stratum 1b (= LB II). Stratum 2 could fit Joshua's attack, but the excavators are vague about both the time and the nature of its destruction. Evidently there is no evidence of burning (contra Joshua 11), a lack that argues against the traditional early date but does not decisively refute it.
Stratum la (= LB III), this writer contended, should not be associated with Joshua but with Barak. Kitchen noted that Jabin II's main strength is "curiously" not in Hazor but with Sisera in Harosheth. The apparent weakness of Hazor at the time of Barak finds archaeological support in Stratum la for at that time the Lower City ceased to be fortified and its
temples were abandoned and apparently plundered, being rebuilt afterwards in a very poor and temporary form. According to Aharoni the last town was concentrated mainly on the Upper City. Yadin, however, explained that its meager remains may be due to erosion.
Regarding Ai. Judith (Marquet-)Krause uncovered at Et Tell a large settlement gap between Early Bronze (EB) III and Iron I, without a trace of the Late Bronze Age town presupposed in the Bible (cf. Joshua 7). This gap embarrasses the traditionalists, Bimson, and advocates of the late date.
D. P. Livingston argued convincingly in 1970 and in 1971 in this journal that Beitin is not biblical Ai. Later he identified Bethel with Bireh and biblical Ai with Khirbet Nisya. After six seasons or excavations at Kh. Nisya, however, Livingston failed to validate archaeologically his thesis. Although he turned up some Canaanite pottery sherds, giving Kh. Nisya some advantage over Et Tell, he found no architecture from the Canaanite era. The writer, having served as an external examiner in June 1989 of Livingston's Ph.D. dissertation at Andrews University, on the basis of the archaeological evidence essentially corroborates A. F. Rainey that Nisya cannot be equated with biblical Ai. Livingston, though describing the site as "a small, isolated, highland agricultural settlement," nevertheless, argues that the Canaanite walls and buildings were robbed out.
Traditionalists attribute the archaeological evidence for the late date of the conquest to later Israelite and Philistine conquests and settlement during the period of the Judges. Courville and Bimson, however, think that the archaeological evidence, especially the lack of walls and configuration at Jericho and of conflagration at Hazor between LB I and II, demand a more or less radical revision of Palestinian archaeology.
2. Courville's Theory
D. Courville forced the extrabiblical texts and archaeological data to fit the 1406 date. With regard to the former he found amenable to his reconstruction Velikovsky's radical revision of Egyptian chronology, most notably his associating the plagues inflicted by Moses upon the Egyptians with a similar account in the Ipuwer Papyrus, dated about the twelfth dynasty, and his dating the Hyksos' takeover of Egypt after their expulsion by the Israelites at ca. 1400. Having moved the late twelfth and the following dynasties to a date later than 1400, Courville is free to pull the end of EB
down 600 years, from about 2000 to 1400; to explain the Egyptian character of the Middle Bronze (MB) to the fact that Israel recently emerged from Egypt; and to attribute the brilliant culture of MB and LB not to the Canaanites but to the Hebrews. Above all, he can now identify the fallen and/or breached walls and configurations at EB Jericho and Ai with the Israelite conquest. His tour de force of the data even allowed him to pin point the Pharaoh of the Exodus as Choncharis, known from the Sothic list of Egyptian kings and validated by Josephus. Courville's method allowed him to fit his interpretation of the archaeological evidence quite nicely with biblical evidence, but he did not play fair with the extrabiblical evidence, and in spite of his high-handed tactics not all the data fit.
Virtually all qualified Egyptologists reject Velikovsky's reconstruction of Egyptian history. It is not the purpose of this paper to pass judgment on the other radical realignments of ancient Near Eastern synchronisms. W. H. Stiebing, Jr, objected to Velikovsky and Courville on the following grounds. (1) The Amarna Letters are now dated to the mid-ninth century, but the names of persons and places and Egyptian-Palestine relationships one gets from them is far different from the names and picture one gets from the Bible during the Israelite monarchy. (2) According to this theory the Pharaohs of the eighteenth and nineteenth dynasties belong to the Israelite Iron Age, but objects bearing the names of these Pharaohs have been found with Late Bronze artifacts so that these Pharaohs must have lived before the Iron Age. (3) If Jericho fell to Joshua in connection with the end of EB, its MB occupation and walls do not match the biblical claim that Jericho lay in ruins for centuries after Joshua. (4) According to Courville's dating of the various archaeological periods, Samaria would have served as the capital of Israel during LB. But no LB remains were uncovered during the excavations of Samaria. In addition to these arguments, W. Shea called attention to a letter from Aphek apparently to be dated to the time of Rameses II. Since it belongs to the LB II period of Palestine, it offers strong evidence for the traditional chronology linking the nineteenth dynasty with the Late Bronze era.
3. Bimson's Theory
Bimson's theory consists of two parts: a trial hypothesis that radically reconstructed the linkage between the stratigraphy of Palestine and the chronology of Egypt and his main theory that redates the MB and LB ages of Palestine. W. Stiebing, Jr., soundly refuted Bimson's hypothesis
reconstructing Palestine stratigraphy from LB downward and informed his readers that Bimson himself has rejected his own published ideas on "a revised chronology for Egypt and its consequences for Palestinian stratigraphy," though Bimson does hold that the end of LB I may be dated at around 1360 or even later. Stiebing, however, did not refute Bimson's main thesis that MB IIC should be redated from the first half of the sixteenth century to the second half of the fourteenth century. Here Bimson is on firmer ground. Instead of assuming with most scholars that the numerous destructions of MB sites in Palestine occurred as the Egyptian army campaigned into Canaan in retaliation against the Hyksos, Bimson associated them with the Israelite conquest. He argued that there is no historical evidence either for an Egyptian retaliation against the Hyksos beyond their invasion of Sharuhen on the coastal plain or for equating the MB defenses at such sites as Jericho and Hazor with the Hyksos. With the Egyptian retaliation eliminated, the Israelites offered Bimson a most favorable alternative explanation for the MB IIC destructions. Moreover, according to him, the bichrome ware that characterizes LB I can just as well be dated after the Israelite invasion as before it. His scheme demanded a drastically reduced LB I period, but he noted that Kenyon and others had already anticipated reducing the period by as much as over a hundred years.
Bimson's new identification of the destruction levels that terminated MB IIC with the Israelite invasion nicely fits the evidence from Jericho and Hazor, which attest extensive conflagrations at this time, but Ai still remains a problem. In addition, his interpretation better suits the evidence of Hebron, Hormah, Arad, Gibeon, Dan, and other sites destroyed at the end of the MBA than "the traditional view" because they exhibit little evidence of occupation during the LBA. In sum, as Ramsey wrote, Bimson "has given a reasonable archaeological context" for the conquest.
Bimson's thesis for redating and reinterpreting MB IIC has been criticized as follows. (1) Among other objections, Callaway alleged that Bimson's list of cities on p. 230 which favor his view over against the late-date theory is "self-serving" and "deceptive" because the conclusion would have been different had Bimson included sites which were not destroyed in MB IIC (e.g. Heshbon, Edom, Moab, and Arad). To be fair, however, Bimson had earlier considered Arad. (2) Callaway also objected that Bimson accepted numbers that supported his redating scheme, while those which resist fitting into the scheme may be "artificial." In fact, however, Bimson
did not take the 480 years at face value and regard it as an embodiment of 12 x 40. So also he did not take the numbers 40 and 80 in the book of Judges at face value.
(3) A. Rainey criticized Bimson for accepting Livingston's identification of Bethel with el-Bira instead of with Beitin. In fact, however, the identification of Bethel and Ai constitutes a problem for all views of the conquest. (4) He also criticized him for accepting the identification of Debir with Tell Beit Mirsim, when Khirbet Rabud "was not in existence during the Middle Bronze period." (5) Finally, Rainey chided Bimson for not properly taking into account the "society and political situation in the el-Amarna tablets" which "leave no room for the Israelites as we know them from the Book of Judges."
(6) G. Ramsey, who was otherwise quite favorable to Bimson's thesis, noted that Bimson offered no archaeological reasons for lowering the date of MB IIC. (7) Ramsey also noted that because the scheme in the book of Judges is artificial, it is useless for the calculation of dates.
(8) T. L. Thompson noted that many sites having been abandoned in MB II were not resettled until the Iron Age.
(9) M. Bietak on the basis of his excavations at Tell el-Daba'a in the Eastern Nile Delta says MB IIC cannot be dated later than between 1530 and 1515 BC.
VI. The Late Date Conquest Model
Until recently most American and Israeli archaeologists, notably W. F. Albright and Y. Yadin respectively, accepted the conquest model but dated it in the second half of the thirteenth century. Although they believed that the biblical sources were developed and written down from a period of time quite early in Israel's history (e.g., Exodus 15, Judges 5, Genesis 49, Deuteronomy 33, and Numbers 2324) and at a much later period (especially the narratives of Joshua and of Judges) and that over the years they were modified and adapted to suit contemporary interests and to serve contemporary purposes, they nevertheless believed on the basis of extrabiblical written documents and above all the results of the Palestinian excavations that they contain a solid core of valid information and should be accepted as substantially true.
Adherents of this model assert that the archaeological evidence, on the one hand, validates the biblical presentation in Joshua 112 that Israel
conquered Palestine, and, on the other hand, exposes that the biblical chronology cannot be accepted at face value. Instead, they redate the conquest to about 1230 and identify Rameses II as the Pharaoh of the oppression. According to most the 480 years in I Kgs 6:1 is a combination of the schematic numbers, 12 and 40, referring to the number of generations and the artificially reckoned years of a generation respectively. In absolute terms, however, a generation is somewhere between 20 and 25 years so that the time between the conquest and Solomon's building of the temple may be well under 300 years. The mention of Israel on the Merneptah stele at about 1220 establishes their terminus ad quem for the conquest.
The sudden emergence of hundreds of new sites by pastoral nomads in Iron I contrasts sharply with the reduced number of sites in LB in comparison with MB. Kochavi wrote: "During the Late Bronze Age, and especially towards its end, new small unfortified settlements are known. However, with the beginning of the Iron Age, they suddenly appear by the hundreds." I. Finkelstein elaborates:
In addition, numerous, widespread, and catastrophic destructions separate the markedly different and more sophisticated "Canaanite" Late Bronze Age, and the cruder "Israelite" Iron Age. Moving from north to south these cities are, Hazor (Tell el-Qedah), Megiddo (Tell el-Mutesellim), Succoth (Tell Deir Alla), Bethel (Beitin), Beth Shemesh (Tell er-Remeileh), Ashdod (Esdud), Lachish (Tell ed-Duweir), Eglon (Tell el-esi), and Debir or Kiriath-Sepher (Tell Beit Mirsim or Khirbet Rabud). Of these cities, four are specifically said to have been destroyed by Joshua: Hazor (Josh 11:1011), Lachish (Josh 10:3133), Eglon (Josh 10:3435), and Debir (Josh 10:3839); Bethel is said to have been taken by the house of Joseph (Judg 1 :2226).
The force of this argument is further enhanced by certain negative evidence. Some cities which the biblical sources exclude from the conquests have on excavation shown no signs of destruction in the thirteenth century.
These include Gibeon (el-Jib) (Joshua 9), Taanach (Tell Taaannak) (Judg 1:27), Shechem (Tell Balatah) (Josh 24), Jerusalem (el-Quds) (Josh 15:63; 2 Sam 5:69), Beth-shean (Tell el-un) (Judg 1:2728), and Gezer (Tell Jezer) (Josh 10:33). Following the destructions at Hazor, Succoth, Bethel, and Debir (possibly also Gezer and Ashdod), unfortified and architectually simple, even crude, settlements appear.
The evidence from Transjordan is also used to corroborate the late-date theory. According to Glueck there was no sedentary occupation in the regions east of the Jordan from 1990 until 1300. Although Clueck later revised certain features of his original synthesis, as Sauer noted, Glueck and his fellow advocates maintain the overall principle. For example, Campbell and Wright interpreted the Late Bronze "Amman Airport Temple" as a semi-nomadic shrine for a twelve-tribe league. Advocates of a late-date conquest argue that Israel's encounter with Edom (Num 20:17) and Moab (22:6) on its way to the sworn land must have occurred after 1300.
But the theory has problems. First, negative archaeological results from Jericho, Ai, Heshbon, Arad, and Makkedah argue that these towns were not in existence at the alleged time of the conquest. Other sites, such as Dan/Laish and Jarmuth, mentioned as destroyed by the Israelites, have such meager LBA remains that one may assume they had been merely small hamlets or only burial grounds at that time. Without the advantage of B. Wood's study, Albright drew the conclusion that although Jericho was in existence in the fourteenth century, the Tell is so badly eroded that remains of this occupation have disappeared. Yadin, on the other hand, thought that the LB settlement at Jericho reused the city wall from the MB Age. Regarding the gap at Ai, Albright theorized that tradition transferred the conquest of Beitin to Ai (i.e. "the ruin") because Ai looked like a ruin. Callaway suggested that there were two cities at Ai. The first, he suggested, was a Hivite city and this is the settlement that the Israelites conquered. Yadin argued that his argument is untenable. Livingston vainly identified it with Khirbet Nisya, and others think the site has yet to be identified. The same may be true of Heshbon and Arad as well.
Second, Franken denied the identification of the cruder Iron Age settlements with Israelite culture. Weippert urged caution, while Kenyon depreciated the strength of the evidence. I. Finkelstein thinks "the vast
majority of the people who settled in the hill country and in Transjordan during the Iron Age I period, must have been indigenous," but not according to the peasant revolt model. While it is true that the Sea Peoples, or other invaders of the land, or internecine warfare between the Canaanite city, and/or fire from natural causes may account for the destruction levels, it seems more probable to identify most of them with Israel.
Third, although adherents of the late date sometimes present the numerous destruction levels at this time as due to a monolithic invasion, in fact, they are sometimes separated by centuries. For example, Kochavi contended that Hazor met its final fate around 1275, while Lachish was destroyed about one hundred years later around 1160 according to D. Ussishkin. Judg 1:23 associates the destruction of Bethel, Albright's principal exhibit for dating the conquest to the thirteenth century not with Joshua but with the later expansion of the House of Joseph.
Fourth, as noted above, by dating the end of Hazor with the Israelite conquest, no place is left for Israel's later conquest there as recorded in Judges 4. B. Mazar solved the problem by concluding that the chronological order of events in Joshua and Judges must be reversed, that is, that the battle of Deborah (in Judges) in fact preceded the destruction of Hazor (described in Joshua 11). Yadin drew the conclusion that the reference to "Jabin the king of Hazor" in Judges 4 is a later editorial gloss. His Suggestion finds support in the fact that the poetic account of this battle makes no mention of Hazor or Jabin. This writer rejects both solutions.
Fifth, Bimson documented that the ceramic evidence at these sites was handled somewhat subjectively to fit the theory.
Regarding the alleged gap in Transjordan, Bimson noted that Edom and Moab as characterized in Numbers could have been nomadic or seminomadic at the time Israel encountered them, and so left behind them little archaeological remains. Mattingly and Sauer have shown that recent archaeological evidence from Transjordan is more and more undermining this buttress for the late date.
Seventh, Bimson attributed the silence in the book of Judges about the military campaigns of Seti I and Rameses III to the theological intention of the book. He supported his argument by noting the book's silence about the military campaigns by Merneptah and Rameses III after the time Israel was in the land according to the late-date theorists.
The immigration, revolt, and two-phase conquest models should be rejected because they depart too radically from the Bible, the primary source recounting Israel's taking of the sworn-land. These new models betray their arbitrary and subjective nature by their radical differences. They also exhibit the danger of reconstructing the text according to the latest piece of archaeological evidence.
This evidence, however, does not support conclusively either the early-date or the late-date models of the conquest. Courville's model must be rejected because it creates archaeologically and historically insurmountable problems. Ai presents a problem for the other three models of the conquest. The main archaeological support for the traditional early date comes from Jericho, but the archaeology of both Transjordan and of Cisjordan do not otherwise commend it. Hazor and the heavily walled cities that characterize the MBA provide the chief claim for Bimson's model, but no other established archaeologist accedes to his late dating of MB IIC. Otherwise, the archaeological horizon favors the late date, especially the hundreds of new settlements by pastoral nomads that spring up in Israel at about 1200 BC in contrast to their absence in LB; nevertheless, Hazor remains an intractable problem.
On the other hand, one cannot assume that the Bible is representing absolute, elapsed time. K. Kitchen, followed by E. Yamauchi, suggests that the total number of years given in the Bible represent sums which involved concurrent years, as in the case of some Egyptian records, and even Bimson thinks the 480 years is a stylized figure.
In sum, the verdict non liquet must be accepted until more data puts the date of the conquest beyond reasonable doubt. If that be true, either date is an acceptable working hypothesis, and neither date should be held dogmatically.
 Albrecht Alt, "Die Landnahme der Israeliten in Palästina" (1925); "Erwägungen über die Landnahme der Israeliten in Palästina" (1939); both reprinted in Kleine Schriften zur Geschichte des Volkes Israel (München: Beck, 1953-1968) 1.89-175.
 M. Noth, Das System der zwölf Stämme Israels (repr. Darmstadt: Wissenschaftliche Buchgesellschaft, 1966).
 Manfred Weippert, The Settlement of the Israelite Tribes in Palestine: A Critical Survey of Recent Scholar by Debate (SBT 2/21; Napierville, IL: A. R. Allenson, 1971).
 G. Fohrer, Geschichte Israels. Von den Anfangen bis zur Gegenwart (Heidelberg: (Quelle und Meyer, 1977).
 S. Hermann, "Basic Factors of Israelite Settlement in Cannan," in Biblical Archaeology Today: Proceedings of the International Congress on Biblical Archaeology, Jerusalem, April 1984 (Jerusalem: Israel Exploration Society, 1985) 47-53.
 M. Kochavi, "The Israelite Settlement in Canaan in the light of Archaeological Surveys," Biblical Archaeology Today (Jerusalem: Israel Exploration Society, 1985) 54-60.
 L. Finkelstein, The Archaeology of the Israelite Settlement (Jerusalem: Israel Exploration Society 1988).
 Albrecht Alt, "The Settlement of the Israelite Tribes in Palestine," 61 Essays on Old Testament History and Religion (Oxford: Blackwell, 1966) 150.
 M. Noth, The History of Israel (2d ed.; New York: Harper, 1960) 81.
 Y. Aharoni, "Nothing Early and Nothing Late," BA 39 (1976) 55-76.
 Kochavi, "The Israelite Settlement."
 I. Finkelstein, The Archaeology of the Israelite Settlement, which is reviewed by A. J. Frendu, Orientalia 57 (1988) 410-12.
 J. J. Bimson, "Can There Be a Revised Chronology Without a Revised Stratigraphy?" in Ages in Chaos? (Cleveland, England: Society for Interdisciplinary Studies, 1982).
 S. Yeivin, The Israelite Conquest of Canaan (Istanbul: Historisch-Archaeologisch Institut in het Nabije Oosten, 1971) 235.
 M. Greenberg, "Response to Roland de Vaux's 'Method in the Study of Early Hebrew History'" in The Bible in Modern Scholarship (ed. J. R. Hyatt; Nashville: Abingdon Press, 1965) 37-43.
 G. E. Mendenhall, The Tenth Generation: The Origin of the Biblical Tradition (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1973).
 Gottwald, "The Israelite Settlement," 45 n. 1.
 H. Engel, "Abschied von den frühisrealitischen Nomaden und der Jahweamphiktyonie. Bericht über den Zusammenbruch eines wisserlschaftlichen Konsensus," in Anfänge Israels (Stuttgart: Katholischen Bibelwerk, 1983) 43-46.
 R. B. Coote and K. Whitelam, The Emergence of Early Israel in Historical Perspective (The Social World of Biblical Antiquity Series 5; Sheffield: Almond, 1987).
 Gottwald, "The Israelite Settlement," 36.
 N. K. Gottwald, The Tribes of Yahweh: A Sociology of the Religion of Liberated Israel, 1250-1050 BCE. (MaryKnoll, NY: Orbis Books, 1979) 215.
 Gottwald, "The Israelite Settlement," 44.
 N. K. Gottwald, The Hebrew Bible: A Socio-Literary Introduction (Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1985) 40.
 Gottwald, The Tribes of Yahweh, 211.
 Hermann, "Basic Factors," 47.
 Weippert, The Settlement of the Israelite Tribes, 63-102.
 A. J. Hauser, "Israel's Conquest of Palestine: A Peasants Rebellion?" JSOT 7 (1978) 13.
 C. F. Burney, Israel's Settlement in Canaan: The Biblical Tradition and its Historical Background (London: Published for the British Academy by H. Milford, 1921).
 T. J. Meek, Hebrew Origins (New York: Harper & Brothers, 1936).
 Ibid., 39-40.
 Ibid., 25.
 Ibid., 21f.
 Ibid., 30.
 H. H. Rowley, From Joseph to Joshua (London: Published for the British Academy by Oxford University Press, 1950).
 M. B. Rowton, "The Problem of the Exodus," PEQ 85 (1953) 46-60.
 Y. Aharoni, The Settlement of the Israelite Tribes in Upper Galilee (in Hebrew; Jerusalem: Hebrew University, 1957) 142.
 S. Yeivin, The Israelite Conquest of Canaan, 76f.
 Y. Aharoni and M. Avi-yonah, The Macmillan Bible Atlas (New York: Macmillan, 1968), map 52.
 Rowton, "The Problem of the Exodus," 50.
 Y. Kaufman, The Biblical Account of the Conquest of Palestine (Jerusalem: Magnes Press, 1953).
 Philip J. Budd, "Numbers" (WBC 5; Waco, TX: Word Books, 1984) 355.
 B. K. Waltke, "Palestinian Artifactual Evidence Supporting the Early Date of the Exodus," BSac 129 (1972) 36.
 The writer depends heavily in this history of the excavations at Jericho on B. Wood, "Did the Israelites Conquer Jericho?" BAR 16/2 (March-April, 1990) 44-59.
 Ernst Sellin and Carl Watzinger, Jericho: Die Ergebnisse der Ausgrabungen (Jericho) (Leipzig J. C. Hinrichs, 1913).
 C. Watzinger, "Zur Chronologie der Schichten von Jericho," ZDMG 80 (1926) 131-36.
 J. and J. B. E. Garstang, The Story of Jericho (London: Hodder & Stoughton, 1940).
 K. Kenyon, "Some Notes on the History of Jericho in the Second Millennium se," PEQ 83 (1951) 101-38.
 K. Kenyon, Digging up Jericho (London: Ernest Benn, 1957) 262; id., The Bible in Recent Archaeology (Atlanta: John Knox, 1978) 33-37.
 Wood, "Did the Israelites Conquer Jericho". Cf. the reports in The New York Times International (Thursday, February 22, 1990) A8 and in Time (March 5, 1990) 61.
 J. Bimson, Redating the Exodus and Conquest (JSOTSup 5; 2d ed.; Sheffield: Almond, 1981).
 Y. Yadin, Hazor: With a Chapter on Israelite Megiddo (London: Published for the British Academy by Oxford University Press, 1972) 32.
 K. A. Kitchen, Ancient Orient and the Old Testament (Chicago: Inter-Varsity Press, 1966) 68.
 Yadin, Hazor, 37.
 D. Livingston, "The Location of Biblical Bethel and Ai Reconsidered," WTJ 33 (1970-71) 2044; id., "Traditional Site of Bethel Questioned," WTJ 34 (197-172) 39-50.
 For a convenient summary of the issues and evidence see W H. Stiebing, Jr., "New Archaeological Dates for the Israelite Conquest: Part II: Proposals for an MB II C Conquest," Catastrophism and Ancient History 10/2 (1988) 61-71.
 A. F. Rainey, "Letter to the editor: Rainey on the Location of Bethel and Ai," BAR 14/5 (Sept.-Oct. 1988) 67-68.
 W. H. Stiebing, Jr. "Should the Exodus and the Israelite Settlement be Redated?" B.4R 11/4 (July-Aug. 1985) 58-69.
 W. H. Shea, "Some New Factors Bearing upon the Date of the Exodus," in Catastrophism and Ancient History 8 (1986) 30f.
 Stiebing, "Should the Exodus," 69 n. 26.
 Ibid., 67.
 J. J Bimson, "A Reply to Baruch Halperns Radical Exodus Dating Fatally Flawed," in BAR November/December 1987, BAR 15/4 ( July-Aug. 1988) 52-55.
 G. Ramsey, The Quest for the Historical Israel (Atlanta, GA: John Knox, 1981) 77.
 J. Callaway, review of J. J. Bimson, Redating the Exodus and Conquests, BA 44 (1981) 252.
 Bimson, "A reply," 204.
 A. F. Rainey, review of J. J. Bimson, Redating the Exodus und Conquests, IEJ 30 (1980) 250.
 Ramsey, The Quest, 75.
 T. L. Thompson, The Origin Tradition of Ancient Israel (Sheffield: JSOT 1987) 67.
 M. Bietak, "Contra Bimson," BAR 14/4 (July-Aug. 1988) 54.
 Against this view see the writers essay "Oral Tradition," in Inerrancy and Hermeneutic (ed. by H. M. Conn; Grand Rapids: Baker, 1988) 117-136.
 Kochavi, "The Israelite Settlement", 55.
 Finkelstein, The Archaeology, 39.
 J. A. Sauer, "Transjordan in the Bronze and Iron Ages: A Critique of Gluecks Synthesis," BASOR 263 (1986) 3.
 Kochavi, "The Israelite Settlement," 55.
 Yadin, Hazor.
 J. Callaway, "Evidence on the Conquest of Ai," JBL 87 (1968) 315-20.
 H. J. Franken, "Palestine in the Time of the Nineteenth Dynasty, (b) Archaeological Evidence," CAH 2 (1968) 5.
 Weippert, The Settlement, 133.
 Finkelstein, The Archaeology, 45.
 D. Ussishkin, "Lachish-Key to the Israelite Conquest of Canaan," BAR 13/1 (1987) 18-39.
 Yadin, Hazor, 23.
 Bimson, Redating, 55-67.
 J. A. Sauer, "Transjordan in the Bronze and Iron Ages: A Critique of Gluecks Synthesis," BASOR 263 (1986) 1-26.
 Kitchen, Ancient Orient, 72-26.
 E. Yamauchi, The Stones and the Scriptures (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1981) 50.