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The myth of Joshua; ethnic purification

"And from Lachish Joshua passed unto Eglon, and all Israel with him...And they took it on that day, and smote it with the edge of the sword, and all the souls that were therein he utterly destroyed that day...And Joshua went up from Eglon, and all Israel with him, unto Hebron." (Book of Joshua X,34) An Integrist interpretation of political Zionism. On April 9th 1948, Menahem Beghin and his Irgun troops massacred the 254 inhabitants of the village of Deir Yassin, men, women and children.

We are studying this passage of fossilization of the myth into history and the claims of that "historical touch-up job" to justify a policy, in just one specific case : that of the instrumentalization of the Biblical tales. They have never ceased to play a determinant role in the fate of the West, insofar as they covered its most bloody deeds, from the persecution of the Jews by the Romans, then by the Christians, until the Crusades, the lnquisition, the Holy Alliance, the colonial dominations exerted by the "chosen people",until the exactions of the state of Israel, not only through its policy of expansion in the Middle East, but also through the pressures of its lobbies, the most powerful of which is the American one, that plays a major role in the American policy of world domination and military aggression. This is the reason for our choice : the exploitation of a mythical past is influencing the future towards what might prove to be world suicide.

The Bible contains some of the most outstanding images of the divine presence in history, from that first and grandiose explosion beyond our petty morals and logic, of the transcendent sacrifice of Abraham, to the eternal symbol of mankind's flight from servitude in the epic of Exodus, along with the great prophecies of Amos and Ezekiel, of Isaiah and Job, all the way to the announcement of a new alliance with David.

This "new alliance" (or "New Testament") heralds the greatest mutation in the history of men and gods with the advent of Jesus, whom, as the Fathers of the Eastern Church put it : « God became man so that man could become God. » Then, with Saint Paul,returned the traditional vision of a sovereign, all-powerful God who directs the life of men and communities from above and from without, not through the Jewish "law" any more but through a Christian "grace" which similarly destroys man's responsibility.

"It is through grace that you are saved. You have nothing to do with it. It is the gift of God." (Ephesians. II. 10) We will not deal with the Bible in general, but only with that part of it which is claimed to inspire the theocratic lsraeli regime of today and the Zionist movement : the Torah (which the Christians call the Pentateuch, in other words the five first books : Genesis, Exodus, Levitique, Numbers and Deuteronomy) and its so-called "historical" annexes, the books of Joshua, Judges, Kings and Samuel; it does include the "prophetic" portions of the Torah, which constantly recall that "God's alliance with men" is unconditional and universal, bound to the observance of the divine law and open to all nations and all mankind.

The Torah (the Pentateuch) and the "historical" books (as has been proved for more than a century by the exegetes) are a compilation of oral traditions, set in writing by the scribes of Solomon in the IXth century B.C. Their chief preoccupation was to legitimize (by amplifying them) the conquests of David and his empire; these are in any case impossible to verify through other historical documents or archeological traces. There are no other sources than the Bible, except for the story of Solomon. of which we find some evidence in the Assyrian archives. Before then,no sources, outside the Biblical tales, can confirm or infirm the historical veracity of the Torah. For example, the archeological vestiges of Ur in Irak give us no more information on Abraham than the excavation of the ruins of Troy have given us on Hector or Priam.

In the Book of Numbers (XXXI, 7-18) we are told of the exploits of the "sons of Israel" who, when they vanquished the Madianites, "killed all the men as the Lord had ordered Moses to do", "took all the women into bondage", "burned all the cities." When they returned to Moses, "Moses was wrathful. What ! he told them, you have suffered all the women to live...! Now, go forth and slay all youths, and slay all the women who have known a man in wedlock... But all the virgins...keep them for yourselves." (14-18).

During the conquest of Canaan, the successor of Moses, Joshua, carried on with this systematic policy of "ethnic purification" dictated by the God of the armies.

"On that day, Joshua seized Maqqeda and slew them all, including the king with the edge of his sword, and all the souls that were therein; he let none remain in it; but did unto the king thereof as he did unto the king of Jericho And Joshua passed from the Libnah and all Israel with him, onto Lachish into the hand of Israel which took it on the second day and smote it with the edge of the sword, and all the souls that were therein, according to all that he had done to Libnah.

Then Horam, king of Gezer, came up to help Lachish ; and Joshua smote him and his people, until he had left him none remaining. And from Lachish Joshua passed on to Eglon and all Israel with him; and they encamped against it and fought against it : and they took it on that day, and smote it with the edge of the sword, and all souls that were therein he utterly destroyed that day according to all that he had done to Lachish. And Joshua went up from Eglon, and all Israel with him, unto Hebron; and they fought against it."

Source : The book of Joshua. X, 34 , X 36. And thelitany continues, enumerating the "sacred exterminations" perpetrated in Cisjordania. We must, before such tales, raise two fundamental questions :

1 - That of their historical truth ;

2 - That of the consequences of a literal imitation of this exaltation of a policy of extermination. a - Regarding the first point :

Here, we come into conflict with archeology. Excavations have apparently revealed that the Israelites arriving at the end of the XIIIth century B.C. could not have taken Jericho because the city was already deserted. The mid-Bronze Age city was destroyed towards 1550 B.C. and subsequently abandoned. It was sparsely resettled in the XIVth century B.C. : pottery dating from this period has been found in Mid-Bronze Age tombs that were re-utilized, and a house containing a small pitcher dating from the mid-XIVth century B.C. Nothing can be attributed to the XIIIth century. There are no traces of New Bronze Age fortifications. The conclusion of Miss K.M. Kenyon is that it is impossible to associate a destruction of Jericho with an entrance of the Israelites at the end of the XIIIth century B.C.

Source : Cf. K.M. Kenyon, "Digging up Jericho", London 1957, pp. 256-265; "Jericho", in "Archeology and Old Testament Study", D.Winton, Oxford, 1967, spec. pp. 272-274 ; H.J. Franken, "Tell es-Sultan and Old Testament Jericho", in OTS, 14 (1965), pp. 189-200. M.Weippert, "Die Landnahme der isrealitischen Stamme, pp.54-55.

The same holds true of the "taking of Ay".

"Of all the tales of conquest, this one is the most detailed : it contains no miraculous element and appears to be the most likely. Unfortunately, archeology gives it the lie.

"The site was searched by two different expeditions. The results tally : at the time of the Early Bronze Age, Et-Tell was a large city whose name is unknown to us, and which was destroyed during the Early Bronze Age, around 2,400 B.C. It remained deserted until after 1,200 B.C., when a poor, unfortified village grew up upon a portion of the ruins. This village subsisted only until the beginning of the Xth century B.C. at the latest; after which the site was definitively abandoned. At the time of the arrival of the Israelites, there was no city of Ay, there was no king of Ay, there was nothing but a 1,200 year-old ruin."

Source : Père de Vaux (O.P.) : "Histoire ancienne d'Israel". Ed. Lecoffre et Gabalda. Paris 1971 TI, p.565. See : in 1933-35 by Judith Marquet-Krause, "Les fouilles de 'Ay (etTell), Paris 1949, then by J.A. Callawy from 1964, Cf. J.A. Callaway, Basor 178 (after 1965), pp. 13-40 ; RB, 72 (1965), pp. 409 415 ; K. Schoonover, RB 75 (1968) pp. 243-247 ; 76 (1969), pp. 423-426 ; J.A. Callaway, Basor, 196 (Dec. 1969), pp. 2 -16.

Adopted from the book: "The Founding Myths of Israeli Politics" by: "Roger Garaudy"

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