Opinion

Does This New Scientific Discovery Disprove the Historical Record of the Bible?

Update: The Telegraph has made a correction to its original article: “The Bible claims elsewhere that the purge was not successful, an account backed up now by a scientific study.”

The Telegraph, a United Kingdom publication, published an article with the following title: “Study disproves the Bible’s suggestion that the ancient Canaanites were wiped out.” The story and its fake headline have gone viral.

It doesn’t take a Bible scholar to know that the claim is false. What we see here is the perpetuation of fake history as news. Anyone only reading the titles of the above articles (as most people will do) will come away believing a lie and repeating that lie to others. How do we know it’s a lie? Because, contrary to what the article states, the Bible does not say the Canaanites were wiped out.

The following is from the original Telegraph article:

The ancient Canaanites were not wiped out, as the Bible suggests, but went on to become modern-day Lebanese, a study has found.

The Bible does not “suggest” the Canaanites were wiped out which means the DNA evidence supporting the fact that there are descendants of Canaanites today supports the Bible.

The Telegraph article continues:

Living between 3,000 and 4,000 years ago, the holy text suggests things did not end well for the people living in the Middle East. According to a passage in Deuteronomy [20:17], God had ordered the Israelites to exterminate the Canaanites. “You shall not leave alive anything that breathes. But you shall utterly destroy them … so that they may not teach you to do according to all their detestable things which they have done for their gods.”1

The command to wipe out the Canaanites is true, but what’s false is that the Canaanites were wiped out, an article from The Independent Online states, “While the Bible says they were wiped out by the Israelites under Joshua in the land of Canaan, later passages suggest there were at least a few survivors.”2 There were more than a few. All it would have taken for the above articles to get their facts straight was to read the Bible. But they didn’t even have to do that. They could have done a Google search. In truth, the original article should have read, “Ancient DNA Confirms Biblical Account.” (Evolution News) But that would not have served the paper’s purpose – to denigrate the historical record of the Bible.

The Canaanites were still in the land during the historical periods described in the biblical books Joshua and Judges:

But they did not drive out the Canaanites who lived in Gezer, so the Canaanites live in the midst of Ephraim to this day, and they became forced laborers” (Josh. 16:10; also 17:12-13, 16; Judges 1:29-30).

There it is! Not only weren’t the Canaanites wiped out or completely driven out but “the sons of Israel lived among the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Amorites, the Perizzites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites” (Judges 3:5). Some of the Israelites even married some of the Canaanites (3:6). This means there could be Canaanite DNA among today’s Jews. It’s even possible that among Solomon’s “seven hundred wives, princesses, and three hundred concubines” (1 Kings 11:3) there was a Canaanite or two or three.

A woman in need of healing is called a “Canaanite” in Matthew’s gospel (15:22) and a “Greek, of the Syrophoenician race” in Luke’s gospel (7:26)3:

The two expressions are identical, for the land of Canaan, literally, the low lands or netherlands, at first applicable to the whole of Palestine, was confined in later times to the maritime plain of Phœnicia. In Joshua 5:12 “the land of Canaan” appears in the LXX. version as the “land of the Phœnicians.” The important point is that this woman was a foreigner and a heathen — a descendant of the worshippers of Baal. She may have heard and seen Jesus in earlier days. Cp. Mark 3:8, “they about Tyre and Sidon … came unto him.”

The conversion of this woman could have been the beginning of the Christian conversion of today’s Lebanese Christians:

Christianity in Lebanon has a long and continuous history. Biblical Scriptures purport that Peter and Paul evangelized to the Phoenicians, whom they affiliated to the ancient patriarchate of Antioch. The spread of Christianity in Mount Lebanon was very slow where paganism persisted in mountaintop strongholds. A 2015 study estimates some 2,500 Lebanese Christians have Muslim ancestry, whereas the majority of Lebanese Christians are direct descendants of the original early Christians.

Proportionally, Lebanon has the highest rate of Christians in the Middle East, where the percentage ranges between 39% and 40.5%, followed directly by Egypt and Syria were most likely Christians account for about 10 percent.

The Telegraph article deliberately told a lie, and the other papers and websites that picked up the story also told a lie. Is it any wonder that the media has lost our trust?

Let’s see them tell a similar lie or even the truth about Muhammad and Islam. Don’t hold your breath.

  1. For a study of the wiping out of the Canaanites, see Clay Jones, “Killing the Canaanites: A Response to the New Atheism’s ‘Divine Genocide’ Claims,” Chrisitan Research Journal, 33:4 (2010). []
  2. The odd thing is, the painting accompanying the article depicts the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, an event that happened in the book of Genesis. []
  3. Otto Scott was struck by the authenticity of the gospel accounts of Jesus’ life because they didn’t agree on every point. Scott recounts how he became a Christian after reading the gospels. “Well, my wife was Christian and took our daughter to church all the time. I would attend out of courtesy. One night I was reading late and my little girl came out of the bedroom and wanted to know about this business of turning the other cheek. I had no idea where that idea came from but I thought it might be the Bible. I had a Bible in the house, of course, and I picked it up and read the Gospels—all four in one swoop. It was the [differences] in the testimony of these four different men that convinced me. As a reporter, I had interviewed a lot of men, and I was on the crime beat at one point. I knew that if you get four men who tell you the same story they probably are colluding because no four men see the same thing the same resemblance in the reporting of certain incidents in the Gospels, they were not identical. I was instantly convinced. I don’t think a person could have convinced me, but those varying contemporary histories did.” Quoted in James P. Lucier, “Otto Scott Steers by the Compass,” Insight (1999). []
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