1365 Joshua sacked Jericho.
© Charles Chandler
There was an earthquake that leveled fortifications at Ugarit and at Jericho.1:129 162,2 Joshua was a Bedouin chieftain who took Jericho and possibly other towns in the northeast.3,4,5:197,6:22~24 Of all of the "conquests" of Canaan that were conflated in the Tanakh, including the campaigns of Seti I and Merneptah, Joshua's was by far the slightest. But it was the most significant action by somebody other than an Egyptian pharaoh. So the Hebrews credited one of their own with all of the military actions, and made no mention of Egyptian troops in Canaan, despite the substantial secular evidence of their sustained presence throughout this period.
We should note that the sack of Jericho pre-dated Akhenaten's ascendancy in , so Joshua was a pre-Atenist Habiru.
Thereafter, there were numerous mentions in the Amarna letters of Habiru raids on the West Bank, though Amenhotep III neglected to send troops/supplies in support of the vulnerable city-states. Why? Perhaps the pharaoh was an accomplice. In the Torah, Joshua had insisted that the people be circumcised,7 which was an act of allegiance to Egypt. They gave the loot from Jericho to the house of the Lord,8 which might mean that they gave the pharaoh his share. Then they were permitted to keep the loot from the sack of Ai for themselves.9 This doesn't sound like neglect on the part of the pharaoh — it sounds like conspiracy. We can also note that the "commander of the army of the Lord" confronted Joshua before Jericho was taken, whereupon Joshua swore his allegiance to the Lord.10 If this was the commander of the pharaoh's troops in Canaan, Joshua swore his allegiance to the pharaoh, and then started raiding on the West Bank with the explicit approval of the pharaoh's representative.
And who was that representative? If the earlier bit about Abraham commanding the superior military force in the region is accurate,11 and this being just 7 years after that conflict, that commander might have been Abraham. If so, he was a witting accomplice, and his share of the "covenant" was being financed by Habiru piracy. This would have made him rather unpopular among the Canaanites, precluding the possibility of developing any sort of following, which would have been the pharaoh's intent. Meanwhile, the pharaoh was blaming the plague on Abraham & Sarah, further discrediting them. And this could have been the policy all along, starting with the expulsion of Abraham & Sarah in , since that seems to be precisely when Joshua began organizing the Habirus.12 We can only conclude that Abraham & Sarah must have been dangerously popular, to have been the target of such conniving, and not simply murdered.
And, of course, it would make sense that such detail was omitted from the Torah — when the timeline was rearranged, to put Joshua after Moses, himself coming at least one generation after Joseph, they couldn't have Joshua & Abraham meeting face-to-face.


1. Schaeffer, C. (1956): Stratigraphie comparée et chronologie de l'Asie occidentale.

2. Migowski, C. et al. (2004): Recurrence pattern of Holocene earthquakes along the Dead Sea transform revealed by varve-counting and radiocarbon dating of lacustrine sediments. Earth and Planetary Science Letters, 222 (1): 301-314

3. Moran, W. L. (2000): The Amarna Letters. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press

4. Joshua 6:20 (DH)

5. Olmstead, A. T. (1931): History of Palestine and Syria to the Macedonian Conquest. Baker Book House

6. Chandler, T. (1976): Godly Kings and Early Ethics. Exposition Press

7. Joshua 5:3 (DH)

8. Joshua 6:24 (DH)

9. Joshua 8:2 (DH)

10. Joshua 5 (The New Generation Circumcised)

11. Genesis 14:14 (J)

12. Judges 11:26 (DH)

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