Throughout the Hebrew Bible, strangers are indispensable to the formation of a collective Israelite identity. Encounters between the Israelites and their neighbors are among the most urgent matters explored in biblical narratives, yet relatively little scholarly attention has been paid to them. This book corrects that imbalance by carrying out close readings of the accounts of Israel’s myriad interactions with the surrounding nations.
The book follows the people of Israel after they leave Egypt, as they wander in the wilderness, cross over into the land, become a unified people Israel and face explusion from that land. The introduction lays the groundwork for a literary reading. Each chapter that follows highlights a distinct people and the issues that they create. For example, Jethro, father-in-law of Moses and a Midian priest, provides a model of collaboration, while Samson’s behavior triggers a cycle of violent retribution. These engaging stories illustrate the perceived dangers of idolatry and military oppression, but also convey lessons in governance, cultural innovation and the building of alliances.
This book is vital reading for Biblical scholars and interested readers who want to deepen their understanding of the Israelites’ relationship with neighboring peoples. It will also be of keen interest to academics who work in ancient history and culture.
Part 1: The Wilderness Journey and its End
2 Inside Out: Jethro and the Midianites
3 Crossing Over and Settling the Land
Part 2: Living in the Land
4 Enemies in the Borderlands
5 Warriors and Kings
6 Solomon and his neighbors
Part 3: Unsettled in the Land
7 ‘My father was a fugitive Aramaean’
8 Strangers at the Gate