The Wilderness Tradition and the Origin of Israel

James K. Hoffmeier

in Ancient Israel in Sinai

Published in print May 2005 | ISBN: 9780195155464
Published online July 2005 | e-ISBN: 9780199835652 | DOI:
 The Wilderness Tradition and the Origin of Israel

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The book concludes with discussing some implications of the wilderness tradition for the origins of Israel debate. The indigenous origins of Israel in and from the Canaanites is rejected because of the dominance of the wilderness tradition throughout the Bible, which cannot be simply explained away. Because of central institutions that originate in Sinai such as the tabernacle, pork prohibition, the aniconic nature of Israel’s religion and the name of Yahweh himself. The much-debated scene from the reliefs of Pharoah Merneptah at Karnak temple—believed to show Israelites—is discussed in detail. The theory of Israel’s association with the Shasu-beduoin as a source for the origin of the divined name, YHWH is studied and dismissed. In the end, it is argued that when the wilderness tradition is examined in the light of various ancient Near Eastern and Egyptian materials, a good case can be made for the authenticity of the traditions in the Torah.

Keywords: aniconic; indigenous origins; Merneptah; origin of Israel; Shasu-bedouin; wilderness tradition; Yahweh; YHWH

Chapter.  7134 words. 

Subjects: Biblical Studies

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