Aug 31 2011

Episode 89: Genocide (part 2)

For the second part of RD’s Summer Genocide Series the doubtcasters turn to recent findings in archeology which indicate that the genocides in the book of Joshua probably never took place. But if the conquest of Canaan is just legend, what was the real reason for the fall of Canaanite civilization? Where did the ancient Israelites originate and how did the come to occupy that region? And why would the Bible’s writers invent the conquest narratives if these events never really happened? Also on this episode: Michele Bachmann provides the doubtcasters with a “target rich environment”, plus new “God Thinks Like You” and Pollyatheism segments.

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  1. 1

    The Israelites invented the Canaanite massacres to look good. Back then, slaughtering the enemy and putting their just-orphaned daughters to work on your cock was the equivalent to modern lawn up-keep and a really big fucking truck in the drive-way.

  2. 2
    RW Ahrens

    Fascinating look into “biblical” history, guys! Nice to know that there’s even more not supported by archeology!

  3. 3

    Pollyatheism – I don’t believe in parrots?

  4. 4

    At one point, in the discussion of early marriage and divorce, one Doubtcaster mentioned a wedding in which the couple had dated 10 months and never kissed. I got that beat.

    I am from Kentucky. My mother hired a young man who called a girl for a date. Her father said he had to marry his daughter before he could date his daughter. So, he did. After my mother died, the young man lived in my mother’s house. A few years later, they divorced.

  5. 5

    This NOVA program proposes that Canaanite civilization collapsed due economic problems and internal rebellion. The “Israelites” were the Canaanites fleeing this collapse. The entire “Books of Moses” are fiction.


  6. 6
    Justin Schieber


    From what I understand, that is something of a majority view as to the collapse of the Canaanite city-states. However, I am sympathetic to looking at the issue from a larger Mediterranean perspective as well. The collapse was probably brought on by many factors and I find the ancient references to ‘sea peoples’ very interesting.

    I would of course agree that the Israelites were mostly Canaanites and I also think the documentary painted with a broad brush for times sake. I do not remember the program highlighting the striking similarities between modern pastoral nomadic encampments and ancient early-Israelite settlements. I think this is a significant hurdle to claiming they were all dispersed from earlier city-states.

    I think a hearty mix of dispersed peoples from the city-states and of pastoral nomads settling down does a better job explaining what we have found.

  7. 7
    Airplane Butcher

    When the devil was going around the world putting dinosaur bones in the ground, he removed all of the archeological evidence of the events from the old testament.

  8. 8

    @Justin Schieber

    Yes, the program points out that the Egyptian and Hittite Kingdoms both were in decline at that time. It does mention a new type of dwelling that it called “Israelite” appears at this time but the pottery was similar to Canaanite. Due to the power vacuum you would expect other cultures and civilization to move in to the area but I am given to understand that the pros and academics frown on “Murder on the Orient Express” type solutions.(?)

    Interestingly, the two co-directors of the dig at Hazor disagree on who destroyed it. One claims the Israelites and the other claims an internal rebellion. (?)

  9. 9

    Thanks for the episode and the introduction to the archaeology.

    But I have to quibble: In your slam of the genuinely scare Bachmann, you made an error. “American Woman” was performed by The Guess Who, Randy Bachmann’s earlier band.

    Keep on rockin’ in the free world, with best wishes from United States of Canadia.

  10. 10
    Pierce R. Butler

    Personally, I have an allergy to audio/video presentations.

    Can anyone recommend books covering this area of history from a secular standpoint?

    Fwiw, I highly recommend two books by two archaeologists working in the present Israel/Palestine area: The Bible Unearthed: Archaeology’s New Vision of Ancient Israel and the Origin of Its Sacred Texts and David and Solomon: In Search of the Bible’s Sacred Kings and the Roots of the Western Tradition, by Israel Finkelstein and Neil Asher Silberman.

    Richard Elliott Friedman’s Who Wrote the Bible? also goes a long way towards answering (some of) the questions above.

  11. 11
    Nik K

    Did anyone ever read Freud’s “Moses and Monotheism”? I read it a couple years ago and I thought his hypothesis that Moses was a native Egyptian from the sun god cult was pretty interesting. Does anyone know if that possibility is taken seriously at all by modern biblical historians? Another great book about the subject of Canaanite/Israeli history (although fictionalized) was Michener’s The Source, he really did his homework and the way he organized the unfolding narrative of the history of that area really brings it to life.
    Also, it seems clear from my cursory understanding of a few Hebrew words that “Elohim” is plural, I have heard it said that it translates as “All of the Gods”, wouldn’t it be interesting if King James had gone with that translation?

  12. 12
    Bob Seidensticker

    I’m fascinated by the idea that Christians worsen their divorce rate as they try to improve marriage.

    Kinda like how they worsen abortion rates as they try to preach abstinence.

    These are bizarre (and perhaps deserved) unexpected consequences. (Or maybe expected if you use reason instead of faith.)

  13. 13

    National Geographic took a look at this recently.
    This article mentions some of the other archaeological players.

    I like the conclusion that Finkelstein comes to in the end, “If you want me to say it simplistically, I’m proud that this nobody from nowhere became the center of Western tradition.” In other words, it was the little guy who threw off the yoke of the empire that won in the long run, and lying about being a conqueror only hurt his reputation.

  14. 14
    Larry Procknow

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  15. 15

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