Biblical Peoples—The World of Ancient Israel

Who were ancient Israel’s enemies, neighbors, and allies? What do archaeology and ancient texts reveal about these lost biblical peoples?

This free eBook is your expert guide to the biblical peoples that were part of ancient Israel’s world, from the Egyptians and the Assyrians to the Canaanites and the Philistines.

Bring the world of ancient Israel to life with this invaluable collection of articles from Biblical Archaeology Review and Archaeology Odyssey.

Ancient Israel’s history, culture, and writings were shaped by its contacts with the many peoples and cultures of the ancient world. In BAS’s latest eBook, Biblical Peoples—The World of Ancient Israel, prominent biblical scholars and archaeologists introduce you to the biblical peoples and powers that dominated the ancient Near East and interacted socially, politically, and militarily with ancient Israel.

Situated at the heart of the eastern Mediterranean world, ancient Israel shared borders with many different biblical peoples, kingdoms, and empires. Through trade, politics, and military campaigns, Israel was connected with peoples both near and far. Through the millennia, these biblical peoples included the Egyptians, Hittites, Assyrians, Babylonians, Persians, Canaanites, Philistines, Phoenicians, Ammonites, Moabites, and Edomites. Although the Hebrew Bible portrays them mostly as villains, these peoples, and the nature of their contact with ancient Israel, were much more complex and nuanced.

Chapter by chapter, explore the biblical and archaeological evidence for each of these biblical peoples and learn how they interacted with the ancient Israelites. In your free eBook, Biblical Peoples—The World of Ancient Israel, carefully assembled from articles published in Biblical Archaeology Review and Archaeology Odyssey magazines, you will discover the history and archaeology behind many of the Hebrew Bible’s most infamous peoples, including:

  • The Egyptians, who ruled over the southern Levant just before Israel’s emergence in Canaan. In the Hebrew Bible, Egypt played an important role in the patriarchal narratives, the Exodus, and receiving the Ten Commandments.
  • The Assyrians, who overthrew the northern kingdom of Israel and shattered Judah. Assyria represented a terrifying military power for most of the ninth and eighth centuries B.C.E. but it also generated astounding architecture and literature that inspired biblical authors.
  • The Canaanites, who inhabited the southern Levant before Israel entered the land. Israel’s primordial adversaries, the Canaanites left deep imprints on Israelite religion, language, and culture. The Hebrew Bible shows strong connections to Canaanite literature and, in many ways, Israelite life evolved from the religious and cultural world of the Bronze Age Canaanites.
  • The Philistines, who inhabited five cities along the southern coastal plain, were Israel’s archenemies through much of the Iron Age. Represented by such villains as Goliath and Delilah, the Philistines were long considered an uncultured people, but archaeology has revealed a rich and sophisticated culture with deep roots in the ancient Aegean.
  • The Edomites, a tribal people who inhabited the region of southern Transjordan prior to Israel’s arrival from Egypt. King David conquered Edom, and later kings battled the Edomites, despite biblical traditions that associated Israel’s God Yahweh with the lands of Edom.

Enjoy discovering how deeply these various biblical peoples influenced the history and culture of ancient Israel and Judah. It will leave you with a deeper appreciation for the Bible and the cultural and historical setting in which it was written.


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