More notes at http://tanguay.info/learntracker
C O U R S E 
The Bible's Prehistory, Purpose, and Political Future
Dr. Jacob L. Wright, Emory University
C O U R S E   L E C T U R E 
The Three Centers of Early Jewish History
Notes taken on July 30, 2014 by Edward Tanguay
Egyptian interest in the Levant can be traced back very early in Egypt's history
back to Stone Age (3.4 million years to 3100 BC)
civilization had developed in two epicenters:
1. Mesopotamia
2. Nile Delta
rivers in these areas were the main reason for the civilizational competition in the Ancient Near East between these two areas
this duality will continue to determine Israeli and Judahite states
will decide events in the time of the writing of the Bible and thereafter
these two centers of civilization were joined geographically by the Levant
forms a land bridge between Mesopotamia in the East and Egypt in the West
because the vast desert between these two areas was very difficult to traverse
when one traveled from Mesopotamia to Egypt, one went up through Syria and around back down through Lebanon, Israel, through another desert and then into Egypt
Israel's history can be viewed as its geographic location on this land bridge
the Bible was shaped in large part by the fact that Israel was located in this land bridge area
the two centers also became two diaspora communities
the Babylonian Golah
the Egyptian Golah
so Mesopotamia, Egypt and Isreal in the middle are the three centers of early Jewish history
during the second and third dynasties, i.e. during the late 4th millenium (4000 BC - 3000 BC)
influx of foreign laborers into Egypt
Egypt offered cultural goods for the elites
in times of hardship and famine, it offered food and water
in Genesis, Abraham comes from the Eastern culture center of Mesopotamia to come to promised land
as soon as he arrives in the promised land, he experiences a famine
he headed for Egypt where the Nile offered a continuing food source
a treacherous trek but one can reach it better than going back to Mesopotamia
Egypt in all periods acted like a magnet on its neighbors
uncertainty of harvest and everpresent prospect of starvation
super-abundance of grain production
richness of stock of fish, fowl and wild game
better to live a well-fed factor in Egypt than die a starving free man on the steppes of Asia
Egypt actively bought and took slaves from other countries
Canaan had been in Egypt's sights far back into history
but in New Kingdom Period (1550-1077), Egypt established an enduring imperial presence in Canaan
this New Kingdom period is key to understanding Israel's fate among the time of waning and waxing imperial powers in the ancient Near East