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This book is an overview of attempts to place the events described in the biblical Exodus and Conquest narratives in the archaeological record. Arguments for and against both the traditional 15th century dating and the newer 13th century dating are given. Some of the wilder theories are also discussed, from Velikovsky's catastrophism to attempts to date the Conquest to the end of the Early Bronze I period (c. 2300 BC). The final conclusion is that the bulk of the Exodus and Conquest narratives can not be historical. As a readable introduction to the history and archaeology of Israelite origins, with a lot of background information on Egypt and Palestine in the second half of the 2nd millenium BC, this work is recommended to anyone interested in near-Eastern ancient history or Old Testament biblical studies.
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This is a great book that I highly recommend to anyone interested in ancient history and the Bible. Stiebing tries to give a balanced look at all the possible time periods for the Exodus, and presents archaeological finds from a very wide area. Arguments for and against the Bible are well presented and easy to understand. Several helpful tables are included where the evidence is visually summarized. Readers can even draw their own conclusions of the evidence and check off each item that matches or does not match the Bible. The only weakness in Stiebing's book appears when he covers the possibility of a 15th century BCE Exodus. Rather than have most of the arguments and evidence in one chapter or area, they appear in different sections throughout his book. This makes it difficult for the reader to decide whether the Exodus was possible during this period. While Stiebing is of the opinion that there was no Exodus, a careful study of the archaeology he presents shows otherwise...
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In my opinion, this is the finest book ever written, covering ALL the archaeological "problems" to be encountered in attempting to _set a date_ for the Exodus/Conquest narratives.
Professor Stiebing notes the archaeological "anomalies" which have arisen for ALL attempts to establish a sitz-im-leben or "archaeologically attested historical context" for the Exodus and Conquest narratives appearing in the Bible. He covers the whole gamut of various proposals by informed amateurs as well as professional scholars from the end of Early Bronze Age to Iron Age I times. He has succinctly summarized his investigations:
"Almost all of the sites mentioned in the biblical Conquest stories were settled in the Iron Age, while many were often not occupied in earlier periods. What might this mean ? Perhaps the biblical accounts say more about when the stories began to take shape than they do about the Conquest itself. There does not seem to be a point in the archaeological sequence in Palestine where the physical evidence revealed by the spade closely matches the biblical Exodus and Conquest narratives. Whether the Exodus and Conquest are placed at the end of Early Bronze III or Middle Bronze II, or in the Iron Age I, there are still serious discrepancies, just as there are with the more common Late Bronze Age placements for these events." (pp.146/148)
The author, despite the failure of archaeology to substantiate the Exodus account (no Israelite encampments ever being found in the Sinai, Negev, Arabah and Transjordan), nevertheless avers that "most likely" there was indeed a movement of peoples (Israel) from Egypt to Canaan, but probably on a much smaller scale than that suggested in the Bible in the 13th century BC (the Ramesside Era). In this era over 600 Iron Age I settlements of stone suddenly appear from nowhere from the Galilee to the Negev and on both sides of the Jordan River.