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Biblical Archaeology Review 48:3, Fall 2022

Book Review: Ancient Israel’s Neighbors

By Ann E. Killebrew

During the past 30 years, several multi-author volumes have addressed peoples of the Hebrew Bible (the Christian Old Testament) from the broader ancient Near East.1 Brian Doak’s book is different in that it is authored by a single scholar (hence more cohesive) and focuses on Israel’s immediate neighbors. These include the Canaanites, Arameans, Ammonites, Moabites, Edomites, Philistines, and Phoenicians, presented in separate chapters according to the chronological order in which they appear in the Hebrew Bible.

Chapters begin with an overview of the archaeological and extrabiblical textual evidence. Then follows a discussion of how the group is presented in the Bible, which is compared and contrasted with information from other primary sources. Lastly, the author considers the “fate” of each neighbor and its representation in later New Testament, Christian, and Jewish sources.

Doak considers the Canaanites, who inhabited Canaan before the emergence of the Israelites, to be Israel’s first and most intriguing neighbor, with implications for Israel’s identity and thinking about other neighboring groups. He concludes by addressing the question, “What happened to the Canaanites?” as understood by the New Testament writers and later sources.

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