Cover image for The Land before the Kingdom of Israel: A History of the Southern Levant and the People who Populated It By Brendon C. Benz

The Land before the Kingdom of Israel

A History of the Southern Levant and the People who Populated It

Brendon C. Benz

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$69.50 | Hardcover Edition
ISBN: 978-1-57506-427-7


History, Archaeology, and Culture of the Levant

The Land before the Kingdom of Israel

A History of the Southern Levant and the People who Populated It

Brendon C. Benz

Ancient Israel is widely regarded as having been set apart from the nations, representing a unique sociopolitical entity in the ancient world. United by a common tribal identity and a commitment to worshiping the God who delivered them from Egypt exclusively, the Israelites established an egalitarian community that stood in contrast to the hierarchical polities of their polytheistic.

 

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  • Table of Contents
Ancient Israel is widely regarded as having been set apart from the nations, representing a unique sociopolitical entity in the ancient world. United by a common tribal identity and a commitment to worshiping the God who delivered them from Egypt exclusively, the Israelites established an egalitarian community that stood in contrast to the hierarchical polities of their polytheistic.

In spite of these traditions, modern scholarship for the most part has recognized the points of continuity between Canaanite religion and Israelite religion and concluded that the two religious systems largely developed from the same cultural milieu. However, scholars continue to contend that the Canaanites’ and Israelites’ social and political structures were distinct. Most scholars agree that the Israelites were geographical, economic, and/or political outsiders.

The Land before the Kingdom of Israel responds to this modern perspective by contributing an original reconstruction of the sociopolitical landscape of the Late Bronze Age Levant that exposes points of continuity between the polities and populations that inhabited the land and those that were later identified with Israel. By examining multiple sources, Brendon Benz isolates and accounts for complex social and political realities that have gone unnoticed. In so doing, he sets the stage for viewing premonarchic Israel and the Bible’s depiction of it in a new way. In addition to shedding light on historical memories embedded in the books of Judges and Samuel that do not conform to conventional wisdom regarding Israel’s early history, Benz demonstrates that a contingent of the early Israelites was heir to the social and political structures of their Late Bronze Age Levantine predecessors.

Acknowledgments

Abbreviations

Introduction

Part 1 The Varieties of Sociopolitical Experience in the Late Bronze Age Levant

Setting the Context of the Late Bronze Age Levant: Defining Policies and Perceptions

Cities of the Southern Levant

Lands of the Southern Levant

Other Categories of People in the Land: The Sutû and the ’apîrû

Part 2 Two Case Studies on the Varieties of Sociopolitical Experience in the Late Bronze Age Levant: The Land of Amurru and the Land of Shechem

Tracing the Political Trajectory of the Land of Amurru

The House of Lab’ayu and the Land of Shechem

The Land of Shechem in the longue durée

The Land before the Rise of Israel

Part 3 The Transition from the Late Bronze Age to the Iron I and the Rise of Early Israel

Setting the Context of Premonarchic Israel

Shechem, Israel, and the Historical Memories in Judges 9: The King and the Collective

Shechem, Israel, and the Historical Memories in Judges 9: The Shechemite Identity, the Identity of Shechem, and Identity in Israel

Reflections of the Multipolity Decentralized Nature of Early Israel

Conclusion: From Decentralization to Centralization and Back: Israel’s Return to Its Roots

Bibliography

Indexes

Index of Authors

Index of Scripture

Index of Other Ancient Sources

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