Place on the eastern bank of the Nile near the village of Haggi Qandil, south of Cairo. For a time it was the capital of Egypt, and in 1887 a cache of inscribed tablets in Akkadian, the language of international communication at the time, was discovered which proved to be correspondence between Ikhnaton, the monotheist Pharaoh of Egypt (d. 1347 bce), and rulers of neighbouring countries including six letters from the king of Jerusalem; there are details of marriage negotiations and the organization of the province of Canaan and its network of city states, and of their civilization. They refer to the incursion of Canaan by the Habiru and several archaeologists argued attractively that these people were the Hebrews led by Joshua of the biblical narratives. However, there are major problems which tell against any such identification. While some details in the letters fit OT descriptions, others (e.g. the insignificance of Hebron does not accord with its importance in Joshua) do not, suggesting that the accounts in Joshua and Judges derive from a later period. The Habiru of the letters may have been marauding brigands who were a menace to the established inhabitants, and were not the invading Israelites of the exodus narratives.
Subjects: Biblical Studies — Ancient History (Non-Classical, to 500 CE).