This was the Palestine to which Abraham migrated, but it was a Palestine which his migration was destined eventually to change. Before many generations had passed Moab and Ammon, the children of his nephew, took the place of the older population of the eastern table-land, while Edom settled in Mount Seir. A few generations more, and Israel too entered into its inheritance in Canaan itself. The Amorites were extirpated or became tributary, and the valleys of the Jordan and Kishon were seized by the invading tribes. The cities of the extreme south had already become Philistine, and the strangers from Caphtor had supplanted in them the Avim of an earlier epoch.
Meanwhile the waves of foreign conquest had spread more than once across the country. Canaan had been made subject to Babylonia, and had received in exchange for its independence the gift of Babylonian culture. Next it was Egypt which entered upon its career of Asiatic conquest, and Canaan for a while was an Egyptian province. But the Egyptian dominion in its turn passed away, and Palestine was left the prey of other assailants, of the Hittites and the Beduin, of the people of Aram Naharaim and the northern hordes. Egyptians and Babylonians, Hittites and Mesopotamians mingled with the earlier races of the country and obliterated the older landmarks. Before the Patriarchal Age came to an end, the ethnographical map of Canaan had undergone a profound change.
THE BABYLONIANS IN CANAAN AND THE EGYPTIAN CONQUEST
It is in the cuneiform records of Babylonia that we catch the first glimpse of the early history of Canaan. Babylonia was not yet united under a single head. From time to time some prince arose whose conquests allowed him to claim the imperial title of “king of Sumer and Akkad,” of Southern and Northern Babylonia, but the claim was never of long duration, and often it signified no more than a supremacy over the other rulers of the country.
It was while Babylonia was thus divided into more than one kingdom, that the first Chaldaean empire of which we know was formed by the military skill of Sargon of Akkad. Sargon was of Semitic origin, but his birth seems to have been obscure. His father, Itti-Bel, is not given the title of king, and the later legends which gathered around his name declared that his mother was of low degree, that his father he knew not, and that his father’s brother lived in the mountain-land. Born in secrecy in the city of Azu-pirani, “whence the elephants issue forth,” he was launched by his mother on the waters of the Euphrates in an ark of bulrushes daubed with pitch. The river carried the child to Akki the irrigator, who had compassion upon it, and brought it up as his own son. So Sargon became an agriculturist and gardener like his adopted father, till the goddess Istar beheld and loved him, and eventually gave him his kingdom and crown.