Early Israel and the Surrounding Nations eBook

Archibald Sayce
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 247 pages of information about Early Israel and the Surrounding Nations.

Such then were the races who lived in Canaan, and with whom the invading Israelites had to contend.  There was firstly the primitive population of the country, whose rude rock-sculptures may still be seen in the Wadi el-Qana near Tyre.  Then there were the intrusive Amorites and Canaanites, the Amorites with their fair skins and blue eyes who made themselves a home in the mountains, and the Semitic Canaanites who settled on the coast and in the plains.  The Amorite migration went back to an epoch long before that of the first Babylonian conquests in the West; the Canaanitish migration may have been coeval with the latter event.  Next came the Hittites, to whom the Jebusites of Jerusalem may have belonged; then the Philistines, who seized the southern coast but a few years previously to the Israelitish invasion.  Canaan was a land of many races and many peoples, who had taken shelter in its highlands, or had found their further progress barred by the sea.  Small as it was, it was the link between Asia and Africa, the battle-ground of the great kingdoms which arose on the Euphrates and the Nile.  It formed, in fact, the centre of the ancient civilised world, and the mixture of races within it was due in great measure to its central position.  The culture of Babylonia and Egypt met there and coalesced.

[Footnote 2:  Numb. xiii. 29.]

[Footnote 3:  1 Chr. ii. 55; Jer. xxxv. 3-10.]

[Footnote 4:  1 Sam. xxx. 14.]

[Footnote 5:  Deut. xxiii 8.]



Israel was cut in two by the Jordan.  The districts east of the Jordan were those that had first been conquered; it was from thence that the followers of Joshua had gone forth to possess themselves of Canaan.  But this division of the territory was a source of weakness.  The interests of the tribes on the two sides of the river were never quite the same; at times indeed they were violently antagonistic.  When the disruption of the monarchy came after the death of Solomon, Judah was the stronger for the fact that the eastern tribes followed those of the north.  The eastern tribes were the first to lose their independence; they were carried into Assyrian captivity twelve years before the fall of Samaria itself.

The eastern side of Jordan, in fact, belonged of right to the kinsfolk of the Israelites, the children of Lot.  Ammon and Moab derived their origin from the nephew of Abraham, not from the patriarch himself, the ancestor of Ammon being Ben-Ammi, “the Son of Ammi,” the national god of the race.  It was said that the two peoples were the offspring of incest, and the cave was pointed out where they had been born.  Ammon occupied the country to the north which in earlier days had been the home of the aboriginal Zuzini or Zamzummim.  But they had been treated as the Canaanites were treated by the Israelites in later days; their cities were captured by the invading Ammonites, and they themselves massacred or absorbed into the conquerors.

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Early Israel and the Surrounding Nations from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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