Biblical Archaeology Review 8:2, March/April 1982
Israel Comes to Canaan

Is the Biblical Account of the Israelite Conquest of Canaan Historically Reliable?

By Yigael Yadin

There are essentially two views of the Israelite occupation of Canaan. The first conforms in its main outlines to the Biblical view; that is, the Israelite occupation was initiated by several lightning military attacks on major Canaanite cities and was followed after some time by Israelite occupation of adjacent areas thus subdued. (The Bible also recognizes that certain Canaanite enclaves like Jerusalem held out much longer, even to David’s time.)

The other view is that the occupation was initiated by peaceful Israelite infiltration of largely unoccupied hill country. Then increasing Israelite pressure led to the collapse of the main Canaanite cities.

The first view is associated especially with the great American archaeologist, William Foxwell Albright, who pioneered in the use of archaeological materials to elucidate the Bible. The second view is associated with scholars of the so-called German school: Albrecht Alt and his follower Martin Noth, who based their views principally on a study of the literary traditions contained in the Bible, and, more recently, Manfred Weippert who attempts to conform archaeological evidence to this interpretation of the literary traditions.

Since I disagree with the Alt school, I shall let Professor Weippert summarize its views. In a recent book entitled The Settlement of the Israelite Tribes in Palestine, Weippert states:

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