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MERENPTAH’S “ISRAEL,” THE BIBLE’S, AND OURS






Article from Exploring the Longue Duree: Essays in Honor of Lawrence E. Stager (Eisenbrauns, 2009)



By William Dever
Professor Emeritus, Judaic Studies
University of Arizona
May 2010

This article is presented in PDF format, click Here for the article.




Comments (5)


A nit-picky point perhaps, but don't determinatives in Egyptian hieroglyphics come at the end of a word and not "precede" the word as Dever indicates? The word does read from right to left and so the determinative IS on the left, but this is not really preceding the word.
#1 - Bill Loughner - 05/11/2010 - 00:25



How old is this paper? It contains all the old misunderstandings and misrepresentations without any new ones. He should take a break from writing and try reading instead. And find some real opponents if he must rather than make them up. I certainly don't recognize what he seems to be attacking.

There is just one interesting question about this: whether or not Merneptah is referring to the territory of Judah as well. It is still an issue whether that territory was settled by a population that regarded itself (or would have been regarded) as 'Israel'.

Dever will never be a historian. Doesn't have mastery of the sources and can't think beyond the old boundaries of 'biblical archaeology'.
#2 - philip davies - 05/11/2010 - 03:28



Dever's reference to 1 Samuel 13:34 on page 92 is actually to 1 Samuel 13:19. There are only 23 verses in chapter 13.
#3 - Dave Corder - 05/11/2010 - 13:14



The Stela seems to indicate that some people who lived in Palestine but not, or to no great extent, in the named cities were called 'Israel', some 'Hurrians'. It does not prove that there was no overlap between these groups, certainly not that they were clearly distinct ethnicities and that they rarely intermarried. The Israelites of later times, monarchs included, seem not to have been totally endogamous. It would be interesting to know if in these early days they had rather different religious ideas.
Maybe they were bigger groups with several religious or political centres.
It also seems (Stager himself seems to make this point in his article in the Oxford History of the Biblical World) that these groups were, or at least were presented to the Egyptian public by Merneptah as, quite similar, even if not identical, in culture and more or less on the same side against the evil empire.
This is not quite the Bible's Israel, is it?
And we should never forget that apart from trivial matters of appearances there is no scientific test for alleged racial differences and therefore no objective existence of different races. The ideas of race and nation are very important in imagination and poetry, but it is those who treat these poetic constructions as objective realities who are creating a postmodern merger between imagination and truth.
#4 - Martin Hughes - 05/14/2010 - 16:32



I find it difficult to recognize myself in this paper. I would ask those interested to read the article
of I. Hjelm and myself which Dever refers to: I. Hjelm and T. L. Thompson, The Victory Song of Merenptah: Israel and the People of Palestine" JSOT 27 (2002)3-18, where we in fact do draw parallels between Merenptah's and the Bible's Israel.
#5 - Thomas L. Thompson - 01/17/2014 - 05:40






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