It’s not anything new to say, the historical accuracy of the Bible has long been questioned, however, scientists claim they have proof which directly contradicts the holy book.
Despite enormous portions of the world’s population said to identify with a religious group, we still live in an increasingly secular environment.
This is why it seems to be far more controversial when evidence comes to light, which puts the Bible under increasing scrutiny.
Well, this is what’s happened after a group of geneticists and archaeologists have proven a genocide, described in the Old Testament, never happened.
God is said to have ordered the Israelites to slaughter the apparently sinful Canaanites, saying:
You shall not leave alive anything that breathes. But you shall utterly destroy them.
According to a passage in the Old Testament’s Book of Joshua, they did just that:
Thus Joshua struck all the land, the hill country and the Negev and the lowland and the slopes and all their kings.
He left no survivor, but he utterly destroyed all who breathed, just as the Lord, the God of Israel, had commanded…. He left nothing undone of all that the Lord had commanded Moses. (Joshua. 10:40, 11:15)
And, if scripture is to be believed, destroy them they did.
However, a genetic study, published in the American Journal of Human Genetics, the Canaanites in fact survived this holocaust.
The scientists running the project extracted DNA from remains of five people in the former Canaanite city of Sidon and reproduced their entire DNA sequence.
When they compared this sequence to modern day Lebanese people, they found around 90 per cent of their genetic ancestry came from the Canaanites.
Researchers are now arguing this as evidence the biblical purge did not take place to the extent claimed in scripture.
The researchers wrote:
The Bible reports the destruction of the Canaanite cities and the annihilation of its people.
If true, the Canaanites could not have directly contributed genetically to present-day populations.
It goes on to claim no archaeological evidence has so far been found to support widespread destruction of Canaanite cities between the Bronze and Iron Ages, with cities on the Levant coast such as Sidon and Tyre, showing continuity of occupation right up to the present day.
We show that present-day Lebanese derive most of their ancestry from a Canaanite-related population, which therefore implies substantial genetic continuity in the Levant since at least the Bronze Age.
The extent of genetic likeness is surprising and said to be another area of high interest to researchers.
The area was fought over so much throughout history, far more genetic diversity was expected.
One of the researchers, Dr Marc Haber, of The Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute said:
The present-day Lebanese are likely to be direct descendants of the Canaanites, but they have in addition a small proportion of Eurasian ancestry that may have arrived via conquests by distant populations such as the Assyrians, Persians, or Macedonians.
The Canaanites are condemned in the Old Testament. They were the inhabitants of Sodom and Gomorrah – two cities destroyed with fire and brimstone directly by God, according to the Book of Genesis.
Despite the Bible suggesting they were wiped out by the Israelites – under Joshua in the land of Canaan – passages later on seem to contradict this and state there were survivors.
A number of Biblical scholars have argued the passages describing the Canaanites destruction are hyperbole and inconclusive, and the genetic research would appear to indicate the slaughter was much less extensive than described.
Also known as the Phoenicians, the Canaanites proved to be great seafaring traders and established colonies across the Mediterranean.
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