El Amarna Tablets
Could these tablets contain records of Joshua and the Hebrews conquering the land of Canaan?
Tel el Amarna was in ancient Egypt near the Nile River about halfway between Memphis and Thebes. In 1988 there were about 400 cuneiform tablets discovered at this site which were part of the royal archives of Amenhotep III and Amenhotep IV (Akhenaten) who reigned about 1400 BC. Among them were letters written in Babylonian cuneiform script to these Pharaohs of Egypt by various kings dwelling in the land of Canaan and Syria, they were written during the time of Moses. They provide the first evidence of the Hebrew tribes entering into the land of Canaan in ancient times.
Some of the tablets were anxious letters written from Jerusalem (Urusalim), warning the pharaoh an invasion by the 'Habiru [Khabiru]', who were approaching from Trans-Jordan.
It is interesting that Akhenaten's new capital, Akhetaton, which he built with his queen Nefertiti was at the same place as modern Amarna (Tell el Amarna).
The Amarna Letters discovery is highly important in the study of Biblical Archaeology because they refer to events in the middle east in the 15th and 14th centuries BC. They refer to the Hebrews, they give evidence of the trustworthiness of the book of Judges. They mention a lot about Canaan, the half of Israel to the west of the Jordan. This name "Canaan" has been found in Egyptian inscriptions of the New Kingdom. The king of Babylon used the word Canaan to designate the entire Egyptian province of Canaan when he wrote to Pharaoh: "Canaan is thy land and its kings are thy servants" (El-Amarna 8, 25)
The Tablets are from 3 inches wide and anywhere from 3 to 9 inches in length, and they are inscribed on both sides. The letters were written in Akkadian, which had been the language of international relations for some time. Today the Tell el Amarna Tablets are mainly in the British, Berlin and Cairo museums.
The original name of Jerusalem was Babylonian, Uru-Salim, "the city of Salim," shortened into Salem in Gen 14:18 and in the inscriptions of the Egyptian kings Ramses II and Ramses III. In the Tell el-Amarna Letters (1400 BC) Jerusalem is still known as Uru-Salim, and its king bears a Hittite name, implying that it was at the time in the possession of the Hittites. His enemies, however, were closing around him, and one of the tablets shows that the city was eventually captured and its king slain. These enemies would seem to have been the Jebusites, since it is after this period that the name "Jebus" makes its appearance for the first time in the Old Testament (Judges 19:10,11).
"But the man would not tarry that night, but he rose up and departed, and came over against Jebus, which is Jerusalem; and there were with him two asses saddled, his concubine also was with him. And when they were by Jebus, the day was far spent; and the servant said unto his master, Come, I pray thee, and let us turn in into this city of the Jebusites, and lodge in it." Judges 19:10-11
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