Natives, immigrants and the biblical perception of origins in historical times

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Biblical traditions are well aware of the relative youth of Israel and other newly-formed ethnic and political societies emerging during the transition period at the end of the second millennium BCE: Edomites, Moabites and Ammonites in Transjordan, Philistines in Cisjordan and Arameans in Syria. The Bible connects those peoples, and them only, to Israel by describing them as immigrant nations. Like Israel they are depicted as originating outside their designated territories, 'outsiders' rather than 'insiders'. In past research, traditions of exogenous origins have often been taken to reflect real historical events. However, the historical kernel theory is no longer satisfactory in the light of recent research. This paper suggests that the conception of exogenous origins is an authentic trait of the self cast identity of these peoples, reflecting a perception of origin in historical times rather than in mythical times. The points of contact and the combination of the Israelite past with that of its neighbours testify to the sense of shared status born from realization of emergence under similar circumstances, and a recognition of their unique standing vis-à-vis former peoples or contemporaries with older, mythic histories.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)220-244
Number of pages25
JournalTel Aviv
Issue number2
StatePublished - Sep 2005


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