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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 History of Israel According to Genesis and Exodus
Notes taken on January 25, 2015 by Edward Tanguay
Biblical history runs from the Book of Genesis to the Book of Kings
presents Israel as naturally evolving from the family of Abraham to a prodigious nation consisting of twelve tribes
twelve sons of Abraham's grandson Jacob whose name was changed to Israel
but this Biblical description is not historical
at least not in its basic contours
most scholars believe that the 12 tribes were original regions or populations in the Southern Levant
some were related to Abraham but most were not
their ancestors were not all originally sons of Jacob
the way they became affiliated with Israel is a complex history
differs for each tribe
rarely can we reconstruct that history with much detail
Tribe of Gad
7th son of Jacob
from an inscription from the neighboring kingdom of Moab dating to about 840 BCE
tells how the Moabite king Mesha freed himself from the political control of the king of Israel
this Stele's text refers "the men of Gad"
in the Bible
Gad as a place
1 Samuel 13:7
2 Samuel 24:3
refer to "the Gad" as an area across the Jordan known as the Gilead##gilead
Gad as a tribe
other parts of the Bible
a tribe that later settled in the region across the Jordan
Biblical identity construction
Biblical authors take a population that came to be part of Israel through conquest or political negotiations and define them as full genealogical members of Israel claiming that their name goes back to one of Jacob's twelve sons
what the Biblical authors portray as a family history is actually a result of a complex political process by which regions and populations came to be identified as one people
sometimes multiple histories are connected to form a single narrative
older building blocks that the Biblical authors used to create the narratives of Israel's history
1. The Book of Genesis
the Book of Genesis tells a history of Israel that is autochthonous, i.e. of indigenous people
this book is more about the origins of the people that make up Israel
beautiful stories of births, marriages, struggles within the households
has a more mythical quality
long before there were territorial states with social hierarchies
the emphasis is on peaceful coexistence
more peace treaties with neighbors and purchases of land rather than taking lands through conquest
one exception is when Abraham goes to war with the Mesopotamian kings
they attack Sodom and Gomorrah
Abraham protects Sodom and Gomorrah
2. The Book of Exodus
Israel coming from Egypt and entering Canaan under the leadership of Moses and Joshua
books of Exodus to Joshua
the received versions of these books contains a lot of later material
the book of Exodus beginning with chapter 2 with the birth of Moses tells an account of Israel's history
continues to the book of Joshua
the story of how the nation of Israel escapes oppression in Egypt and finds a new home in Canaan, the promised land
this history was originally separate from the account in the preceding book Genesis
it presupposes the existence of the Israeli people as captive and oppressed in Isreal
when they enter Canaan, they are not returning to the land of their ancestors
since the account does not contain an account of the patriarchs and matriarchs listed in Genesis
the history of Israel in Exodus is for the most part the opposite of Genesis
authors are not interested in how Israel became Israel
presuppose its existence as a marginal people in Egypt
they need a land
they voyage to Canaan as a collective people
when they arrive, they do not buy land or make peace with the peoples there
they arm themselves and take the country by force
instead of viewing the inhabitants of this land as their kin, they conquer and slay them
this history presents a much more military model
Israel has nothing in common with its neighbors
the Biblical authors combined the stories as one narrative
Genesis tells the story of their original patriarchs and matriarchs
Exodus tells the story of a return to where they once lived