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When this provocative text was first published, Lemche presented a new model of how we should understand Israelite society, its history and its religion. Lemche argues first that 'Israel' was the result of a social development among the Canaanite population of Palestine in the second half of the second millennium BCE. This implies that Israelite religion was originally 'Canaanite' and that what we think of as typically 'Jewish' religion did not arise until c. 500 BCE.
Lemche's radical reassessment of Israelite history is based on the conviction that the Old Testament contains hardly any historical sources older than the seventh century BCE. The early history of Israel must therefore be reconstructed from archaeological results and non-biblical evidence, not from the Old Testament. In this new edition Lemche provides an extensive new introduction and bibliography, considering how the field has developed since the work first appeared.