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Canaan in the Time of the Patriarchs

    Egyptologists have discovered perhaps the first "mass" produced novel in world history. It is the story of Sinuhe, a noble in the court of Sestrosis I (c. 2000 BC). In it, he becomes involved in political intrigue and is forced to flee to the land of Canaan for safety. While fleeing, he runs into a camp of Bedouins who befriend him and take him as their own.
    The story is not only interesting, but it also confirms that several places and people exsisted at least by about 2000 BC. These include the "Prince's Wall" which was built to keep out the Asiatics and the "Bitter Lakes" which are still named as such today.  Also, the city of Byblos is also specifically mentioned.
    The story also tells us how life was like in both Egypt and Canaan about 2000 BC. Canaan is discribed as being a good land with wheat and barley, vines and fig trees. There was honey and oil and lots of bread to fill the people's diet. This description mirrors that of the Bible, confirming what historians had thought was a simple fable in the Bible.
    Sinuhe's life among the Bedouin is also evidenced in the Bible. He lives in a tent, surrounded by his herds, and has to deal with other Bedouin who raid his flocks and drive him from his wells. He lived by the rule of the First Born....the first born son gets possession of all the family goods. Isaac and Abraham did all these things as well according to the Bible.
    Finally, the story also illustrates what the Biblical Joseph and Jacob found out, the Egyptians held the Bedouin in contempt and saw them as being a half step above walking wild animals. When Sinuhe comes back to the court of Pharoah wearing the clothes and hair style of the Asiatic, Pharoah's wife shrieks and his children scream in fear.

    Another discovery in Eygpt confirmed the exsistance of the place names of the patriarchs of the Bible. Shards of broken pots and statuettes were found along and in the Nile.  It was not the shards themselves that were so good but what was written on them in hasty inscriptions. These were curses and wishes of ill-will on numerous people and places around the region including Eygpt and Canaan in the 1900's BC since this is when the shards have been dated. This is an old practice in Egypt where you write curses to your enemies and then the breaking of the vessels symbolized the breaking of that person's or that place's power.
    The places included in the curses are a virtual list of all the places named already in the Bible in the time of the Patriarchs. Cities like: Jerusalem, Askelon, Tyre, Hazor, Bethshemesh, Aphek, Achshaph, and Sichem (Shechem).
    Many of these and other cities of the time of the Patriarchs have been already discovered by archaeologists. These include Bethel, Shechem, Mizpah, Gerar, Lachish, Gezer, Gath, Askelon, and Jericho. These towns all had thick walls and strong towers to defend against the desert raiders and enemy cities. However these cities were not like todays, holding thousands of people. Rather, the largest of these covered a mere 12 - 15 acres. What is considered by the contemporaries as being one of the strongest of these cities, Jericho, covered only 5 acres. Inside these cities, the elite and powerful lived, while sprawled out around the city in delapidated mud buildings lived the common man and his family. When the sand raiders or enemy armies came to attack, these people would run into the city for protection and defense. After the threat was past, the people would return to the town outside the walls.  This technique was copied almost exactly in the fuedal Middle Ages with the castles of the nobles and the lowly serfs.

    The first place Abraham stops at in the land of Canaan was Shechem. Here, two roads split giving two routes going southward. One road went through the lush Jezreel Valley and along the coast of the Judean coast. The other road went up along the jarring and isolated mountains of southern Judah. The first route would take you to the largest cities and strongest fortresses of the Canaanites and the most number of people. The second route would take you to the sparsely populated hills and only a few of the cities like Hebron, Jerusalem, and Bethel. Plus the thick tree cover of the hills would allow anyone to stay hidden from those in the cities and give the best defensive position. It was this second route that Abraham took on his first trip into Canaan. He wanted to avoid the strong cities since his slings and bows were no match for the metal swords and spears of those in the cities.

As time goes on, the life and times of Patriarchial Canaan is coming to light and the more we find of this time through archaeology, the more and more the Bible proves as being an accurate picture of this era.

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