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Ancient Israel’s Exodus from Egypt, rather than being a single, momentous event that can be confirmed through archaeology, should be viewed as a deep-seated cultural memory that allowed disparate groups of highland villagers and escaped Canaanite slaves to coalesce into a single people. How this story arose and why the early Israelites adopted this memory are key questions, which find coherent answers in the relationship between Canaan and the Egyptian empire of the Late Bronze Age. By fusing historical and fictional memories, the story created the necessary social context for the birth of Israel as a people.
External origins and the displacement of nations have been themes exhibited throughout the Bible and studied through biblical archaeology. Dr. Bruce Routledge questions whether the role of Moab as portrayed in the Bible has helped or impeded with the archaeological study of Moab in the Iron Age, the period of the emergence of Israel. Routledge argues that “by not separating the Bible and archaeology in the first instance, we forgo not only the opportunity to understand and access an ancient world...but forgo the opportunity to learn anything new about the Bible itself.” With examples from his own research in south-central Jordan, Routledge supports his argument by examining the connections between the Bible and archaeology with and without the full understanding of either medium.