The "Canaanites and other "pre-Israelite" peoples in story and history (Part II)

Christoph Uehlinger
The «Canaanites» and other peoples scenario, since Israel fails to keep apart and thus proves unable to keep the promise at work. Clearly, the biblical anti-stereotype of the «Canaanites» serves to remove and disconnect Israel from the other inhabitants of the land as far as possible. Israel's identity is shaped by the negation and repression of anything «Canaanite».3 The Story underlines Israel's essential (if not real) otherness, denying as it does any common root. The rhetorical violence and
more » ... the imagined violence of repression should make it obvious that we cannot rely on biblical descriptions of anything «Canaanite» when inquiring into the real history of the region at the turn from the Und to the 1st millennium BCE. However, having read the Story, we may have recognked here and there bits and pieces of the scholarly hypotheses on culture, society and religion as summarized above (Part I, sect. II). If we aim at a really historical understanding of these latter issues, and not just a new paraphrase or re-telling of the Story, we have to consider the proper historical sources. IV. The History: primary sources on Canaan, Canaanites and other inhabitants ofBronze and Iron age Palestine We shall now consider what we may reasonably know today about «Canaan» and «Canaanites» from extra-biblical sources.4 It goes without saying that the following section is not the place for a detailed source analysis but only allows for a very short synopsis.5 Since we address our 3 E. BEN Zvi, Inclusion in and Exclusion from Israel as Conveyed by the Use of the Term in Post-Monarchic Biblical Texts, in: S.W. HOLLOWAY/L.K. HANDY (eds.), The Pitcher is Broken. Memorial Essays for G.W. Ahlström (JSOT. S 190), Sheffield 1995, 95-149. 4 For an earlier treatment of the terms «Canaan» and «Canaanites», I may refer to O. KEEL/M. KÜCHLER/CH. UEHLINGER, Orte und Landschaften der Bibel. Bd. 1: Geographisch-geschichdiche Landeskunde, Zürich-Göttingen 1984, 239-253. 5 N.P. LEMCHE, The Canaanites and Their Land. The Tradition of the Canaanites (JSOT. S 110), Sheffield 1991, is directly relevant to our subject. Informed readers will recognize that the following remarks agree on many issues with Lemche and have certainly learnt from his study. However, I would express some reservation, particularly regarding his treatment of Ilnd-millennium sources. According to Lemche, these sources do not display a coherent notion of «Canaan» and the «Canaanites», and his discussion consequently leaves the reader with a quite incoherent mass of uncertainties. The confusion, however, is less due to the sources than to Lemche's approach; more often than not, one has the impression that he is not really interested in making sense of his sources. For critical reviews of Lemche's approach, see N. NA'AMAN, UF 26 (1994, publ. 1995) 397-418 ( response by Lemche in UF 28 [1996] 767-774); R. ALBERTZ, BZ 39 (1995) 109-112; and A.F. RAINEY, Who is a Canaanite? A Review of and does not make the extension of the territorial concept «Canaan» explicit. Similarly, EA 9 which refers to a planned revolt of «all the Canaanites» at the time of king Kurigalzu (ca. 1380 BCE) remains somewhat ambiguous. 7 Similarly, the way from Gaza to Egypt could be called «the end of the land of Canaan» (ANET 478b). 8 It is for this very reason that different uses of the territorial concept «Canaan» in the sources should not be taken to prove that the concept itself was imprecise for the scribes who used it (pace Lemche who claims that «evidently the inhabitants of the supposed Canaanite territory in Western Asia had no clear idea of the actual size of Canaan, nor did they know exactly where Canaan was situated» [op. cit. ( n. 5), 39, cf. 51 etc.]).
doi:10.5169/seals-761077 fatcat:7gyp2ls3y5bi3crtsuxtnfucu4