Exodus Inside Canaan

Exodus Inside Canaan

H. Abdul Al-Dahir

One of the many biblical puzzles are the presence of the pharaohs Rameses II (reigned 1279–1213 BC) and Shoshenq I (reigned c. 943–922 BCE) in biblical texts. According to Biblical texts, Shoshenq I (Shishaq in the Bible) invaded Israel and sacked Jerusalem carrying of the temple treasures of gold and other precious items. Shoshenq I did invade Canaan circa 925 BCE but did not enter the territory of Judah or Jerusalem, largely because the area was inhabited by nomadic tribes who had not acquired wealth or developed a prominent urban center. This date makes Solomon of Israel (whose reign is estimated at circa 970 to 931 BCE), a contemporary of Shoshenq I.

The Book of Genesis claims that Rameses (II?) was the pharaoh of the exodus. Rameses reigned 300 years before the establishment of the kingdom of Israel, which makes him a perfect candidate as the pharaoh of the exodus if one blames the sacking of Jerusalem on Shoshenq I, who reigned 300 years after Rameses. The only problem with this scenario is that Shoshenq did invade Canaan but he never entered Judah or sacked Jerusalem. It was Rameses II’s son, Amun-her-khepeshef , who invaded the areas to the south of Judah and chased warriors of the Šhasu (Bedouin) tribes (north) across the Negev as far as the Dead Sea, capturing Edom-Seir. He then marched on to capture Moab. The other force, led by Ramesses II, attacked Jerusalem and Jericho. He, too, then entered Moab, where he rejoined his son. The reunited army then marched on Hesbon, Damascus, on to Kumidi, and finally, recaptured Upi (the land around Damascus), reestablishing Egypt’s former sphere of influence. So there is the problem. If Rameses II sacked Jerusalem, that would mean that this event took place before the establishment of the biblically claimed united Kingdom of Israel which was not established until 300 years after Rameses invasion. This historical fact means that the biblically acclaimed monarchy of David and Solomon, who the bible insists established the united Kingdom of Israel and Judah, never existed. So, what really happened?

Rameses II’s forces chased the Shasu warriors (tribesmen) from Edom, Moab and the Negev into the northern areas. The Shasu, according to Bedouin tribal custom, formed tribal confederations with other tribes in the area. This means that the Edomites, Moabites and the Bedouin in the Negev were tribally linked to one another. These tribal links were established during and after the Egyptian occupation of the area which lasted from the 14th to the 12th centuries BCE. The main reasons for the Egyptian occupation of Edom, Moab and the Negev was primarily for the exploitation of the copper mines and also the protection of the trade routes by land and sea that proceeded from this area into Egypt and other kingdoms with whom the Egyptians were trading partners.

The Egyptians needed slaves to do the mining and smelting, so their workforce would have been drawn from locals who were not rebelling against the Egyptian occupation. The Egyptians would have exiled these rebel warriors or taken them as captives, if they could catch them. One can be assured that these exiled warriors or Shasu, who were able to escape but were unable to return to their homelands, formed a confederation powerful enough to overcome the Jebusites who occupied the area the Bible identifies as Judah. This confederation of Moabite, Edomite and Negev Bedouin warriors formed a tribal confederation which they named after their god Yhw which eventually became the name Judah. This tribal confederation morphed as internal rivalries for power in the area caused rifts between the various Edomite, Moabite and Negev rebels. Eventually, a Moabite rebel, Dwd (David), arose in prominence after he challenged and defeated the original tribal head, Saul Ben Qysh, an Edomite (Qysh is the Hebrew version of Qws, the god of Edom (Seir) who is identified with Yhwh).

As is indicated by his name, Dwd, was a worshiper of Yhw in the form of Wadd, an alternate name for Yhw. His son Yediyedyah (beloved of Wadd who is Yah) was later given the throne name Shulman based upon the name of the great Assyrian monarchial conquerors, the Shulman Asaridu Dynasty. The name Shulman was morphed into the word Shlomo (Solomon is the Greek rendering of this name) by later writers. With Dwd and then his successor in control, Judah established an urban society based upon that of the previous occupants of the area, the Jebusites who were Canaanites. The Bedouin conquerors became cultural Canaanites as they became urbanites and lost their Bedouin identity. When Assyria conquered Israel, these Judeans invented a history of convenience which involved a united monarchy which united Israel and Judah (historically deadly rivals) in order to establish civil order in a Judah that was over-run with Israelites fleeing the Assyrians.

Dwd and Yediyedyah (Jedidiah or Solomon) lived near or just after the reign of Rameses II. What they didn’t do is establish a fabulous kingdom which stretched from the Mediterranean to the Euphrates and was adorned with a fabulous golden temple. These were Shasu chiefs who were aggrandized by Judean authors to impress the Israelites who were overwhelming Judah in their flight from the Assyrians. These Israelites were Canaanites who did establish a fairly impressive kingdom and formed some impressive political alliances as well. The Judeans did not achieve that level of urbanization and political power until after Israel fell to the Neo-Assyrian Empire circa 722 BCE. Judah absorbed these sophisticated Canaanites who influenced the culture and architecture of the kingdom of Judah. However, the Judeans felt compelled to exert their own authority over their sophisticated guests by spinning an historical myth in which their kingdom was even greater than that of Israel. And, to top it all off, they claimed that it was the Judeans who founded the kingdom of Israel and that the kings of Israel were a bad lot who deserved what they got from the Assyrians. The exiled denizens of Israel could not protest. They needed a place to live and a life of slavery in Assyria or deportation to parts unknown was not an option. To the victor belongs the spoils and the Judean authors took every advantage of their Israelite emigrants to put forth a propaganda that glorified Judah and stomped on the frayed dignity of those who sought refuge with them.

And the biblical story of Judah proceeds from there to depict Judah in the 7th Century BCE as a vassal state of Assyria who exploited Judah’s lucrative olive oil industry. The Neo-Assyrian Empire fell to the Neo-Babylonian Empire which invaded and destroyed the kingdom of Judah. The Babylonians were defeated by the Persians who encouraged the re-establishment of Judah under their control. The Greeks conquered Persia and Judah was occupied by the Greeks until the Romans invaded circa 60 BCE and the area was dubbed Palestine, a name that was retained by the Arabs who peacefully entered the area in 633 CE.

In any case, the Egyptian connection to this area through the conquest of Rameses II, the subsequent revolt by the Shasu which forced their exodus from areas south (Edom, Moab and the Negev) to the north of Canaan, the unification of the Edomite, Moabite and Negev rebels and their conquest of Jebusite Jerusalem, explains why the biblical writers insist that Edom (Esau) was a twin of Israel (Jacob) as well as why the Moabites were considered to be blood cousins. It also explains their ancestry, which they traced to Cain (Qyn) aka Cainan (Qynn-Gen 5:9). Qynn was the god of smiths and ‘qyn’ (Cain in English) means smith.

The Judean authors of the biblical texts later cast out their ancestor, Cain, as a fratricidal murderer, who fled to Nod, the country of miners, i.e., Edom and the Negev. Edom and Negev are exactly where were found many inscriptions referring to Yah, Wadd and El. Along with the inscriptions in the Old Negev language were depictions of the menorah, a tribal symbol which identifies the Judeans who were worshipers of Yh/Yhh/Yhw/Yhwh. Edom was the location of the Timna copper mines and Moab was the location of the Punon copper mines. So, the Judean ancestry can be traced to the Shasu of Yhw who rebelled against the Egyptians and fled their homeland to establish a kingdom of their own in Jebusite territory which they conquered and renamed Judah. This is the actual history of Judah. The united monarchy is a fictional kingdom the Judean authors invented to include the Israelites, who were fleeing the Assyrians and flooding into Judah, as a part of their historical narrative. It was a way to avoid civil unrest between the Israelites and the Judeans as well as establish the ascendancy of Judah over its formal rival, Israel, a Canaanite kingdom.

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