Archaeological data dating patriarchs
William Dever, Professor Emeritus at the University of Arizona, has investigated the archeology of the ancient Near East for more than 30 years and authored almost as many books on the subject.
In the following interview, Dever describes some of the most significant archeological finds related to the Hebrew Bible, including his own hot-button discovery that the Israelites' God was linked to a female goddess called Asherah.
So gradually the old conquest model [based on the accounts of Joshua's conquests in the Bible] began to lose favor amongst scholars.
Many scholars now think that most of the early Israelites were originally Canaanites, displaced Canaanites, displaced from the lowlands, from the river valleys, displaced geographically and then displaced ideologically.
These are farming villages in which every household is independent.
I think there is a kind of primitive democracy in early Israel, which is enshrined in the vision of the good life in the Hebrew Bible. These settlements are very different from the urban centers of the earlier 13th century.
When you think of how little we knew about the biblical world even 100 years ago and what we know today, it's astonishing.
I think there were social and economic compulsions, but I would be the first to say I think it was probably also a new religious vision.According to the biblical scheme of events, there was a United Monarchy for about a hundred years in the reigns of Saul, David, and Solomon.Then a civil war brought about the division of the country into Israel, the northern kingdom, and Judah, the southern kingdom.So what we are dealing with is a movement of peoples but not an invasion of an armed corps from the outside.A social and economic revolution, if you will, rather than a military revolution.