“When a famine spread over the land of Canaan, they went down to Egypt. They lived there as long as they had food. They became so great a multitude that their race could not be counted. So the king of Egypt became hostile to them. He exploited them. He forced them to make bricks. They cried out to their God. Their God afflicted the whole land of Egypt with incurable plagues. So the Egyptians drove them out of their sight. Then God dried up the Red Sea before them. He led them by the way of Sinai and Kadesh-barnea. They drove out all the people of the wilderness. They took up residence in the land of the Amorites. By their might they destroyed all the inhabitants of Heshbon. Then they crossed over the Jordan and took possession of all the hill country. They drove out before them the Canaanites, the Perizzites, the Jebusites, the Shechemites, and all the Gergesites. They have lived there a long time.”
Achior tells the story of how these Israelites went to Egypt and came back. Once again, there is no mention of a specific leader like Joseph, Moses, or Joshua. The Israelites were in a famine and went to Egypt, where they became a great race. However, the king of Egypt turned on them and forced them to make bricks. In their struggle, they cried out to their God, who then inflicted the Egyptians with plagues. Then the Egyptians drove them out as their God dried up the Red Sea. They even drove out the people in the wilderness. They took the land of the Amorites around Heshbon. Then they crossed the Jordan and defeated the traditional enemies, the Canaanites, the Perizzites, the Jebusites, the Shechemites, and all the Gergesites. This is the Exodus story with an emphasis on how they got to Egypt and who they wiped out along the way. Apparently, they had lived in Canaan a long time.
“You are Yahweh,
The God who chose Abram,
You brought him out of Ur of the Chaldeans.
You gave him the name Abraham.
You found his heart faithful before you.
You made with him a covenant,
To give to his descendants
The land of the Canaanite, the Hittite, the Amorite,
The Perizzite, the Jebusite, and the Girgashite.
You have fulfilled your promise.
You are righteous.”
Besides creation, Yahweh gave us Abraham, who accepted his call from Ur. He had a faithful heart so that the covenant of the land for his descendents was made. They were to inherit the land of Canaanites, the Hittites, the Amorites, the Perizzites, the Jebusites, and the Girgashites. These are the classic land battle enemies of Israel. Now the promise was fulfilled because Yahweh is righteous as was outlined in Genesis, chapters 12-25.
“After these things had been done, the officials approached me and said. ‘The people of Israel, the priests, and the Levites have not separated themselves from the peoples of the lands with their abominations. They were intermingling with the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Perizzites, the Jebusites, the Ammonites, the Moabites, the Egyptians, and the Amorites. They have taken some of their daughters as wives for themselves and for their sons. Thus the holy seed has mixed itself with the peoples of the lands. In this faithlessness the officials and leaders have led the way.’ When I heard this, I tore my garments and my mantle. I pulled hair from my head and beard. I sat appalled. Then all who trembled at the words of the God of Israel, because of the faithlessness of the returned exiles, gathered round me while I sat appalled until the evening sacrifice.”
Once they were settled, a new problem arose. The returning Jews from the exile were marrying the locals who had stayed behind, the hated “people of the land.” Not only the Jews in general but also the priests, the Levites, the officials, and the leaders were involved in marriages with non-Jewish people. Some of them were not Jews but the hated list of the usual suspects, the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Perizzites, the Jebusites, the Ammonites, the Moabites, the Egyptians, and the Amorites. Now this had not been a problem for Moses or King Solomon since they married non-Jewish wives. The fear as usual was that the female wives would want to worship their gods rather than Yahweh. Thus these wily females would lead astray the poor weak Jewish men into false worship. This had been a problem in the northern area of Israel before the captivity. The new post-exilic group wanted a pure race of Jewish people. They did not want the holy seed mixed with “the people of the land.” When Ezra found out about this, he was really upset. He tore his clothes and pulled his hair out. As he said in the first person singular, “I was appalled.”
“All the people who were left of the Amorites, the Hittites, the Perizzites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites, were not of the people of Israel. Their descendants were still left in the land, since the Israelites had not destroyed them. These, Solomon conscripted for forced labor, as it is still the case today. But of the people of Israel, King Solomon made no slaves for his work. They were soldiers, and his officers, the commanders of his chariots and cavalry. These were the chief officers of King Solomon, two hundred and fifty of them, who exercised authority over the people.”
Once again, this is based on 1 Kings, chapter 9, with a few minor exceptions. Notice that the newly conscripted peoples the Hittites, the Amorites, the Perizzites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites, are the old list of enemies from the time of Abraham. In fact, this biblical author points out that they are still slaves in forced labor even today. Thus the prejudice against the lowly slaves was justified by calling them the enemies of 800 to 1,000 years earlier. Notice the slight nuance change here from 1 Kings. Here it is the people not destroyed, while in 1 Kings, these people were not able to be destroyed. None of the Israelites became slaves. However, in 1 Kings, chapter 5, there is a statement that 30,000 people from all of Israel were conscripted to work. 10,000 of them worked a month in Lebanon and then they had 2 months off. That text seems to indicate that they were Israelites. Here it seems to indicate that the Israelites were the soldiers, officials, commanders, and captains of his chariots and cavalry. That may be so. However, there seems to be only 250 Israelite officials for all this slave labor which is a lot less than the 3,600 mentioned earlier in chapter 2 of this book.
“Now these are the nations that Yahweh left, to test all those in Israel who had no experience of any war in Canaan. It was only that successive generations of Israelites might know war, to teach those who had no experience of it before. The five lords of the Philistines, all the Canaanites, and the Sidonians, and the Hivites who lived on Mount Lebanon, from Mount Baal-hermon as far as the Lebo-hamath. They were for the testing of Israel, to know whether Israel would obey the commandments of Yahweh, which he commanded their ancestors by Moses. So the Israelites lived among the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Amorites, the Perizzites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites. They took their daughters as wives for themselves, and their own daughters they gave to their sons. They worshipped their gods.”
Once again we have the traditional enemies that came be found as far back as Genesis, the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Amorites, the Perizzites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites. The Israelites needed to learn about war and so they were tested. Yahweh let these 6 groups remain. However, 2 new groups were added, the Philistines and the Sidonians. The Israelites were not following Yahweh’s law because they intermarried with these other groups and worshipped their gods, a very serious transgression.
“Now when all the kings who were beyond the Jordan in the hill country and in the lowland all along the coast of the Great Sea toward Lebanon, the Hittites, the Amorites, the Canaanites, the Perizzites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites, heard of this, they gathered together with one accord to fight Joshua and Israel.”
This is the classic list of usual suspect enemies that goes back to Genesis. These six groups seem to be the mortal enemies of Israel. The Hittites were the descendants of Heth, a Canaanite tribe near Hebron. The Amorites were the mountain dwellers in Canaan as opposed to the Canaanites, who were the low land inhabitants. The Perizzites were the village dwellers in Canaan on both sides of the Jordan. The Hivites were the descendants of Ham and lived in western Canaan. The Jebusites were the descendants of Jebus and lived around the area of Jerusalem.