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Ancient Israel's Neighbors

Brian R. Doak

Publication Date - 03 August 2020

ISBN: 9780190690601

224 pages
5 1/2 x 8 1/4 inches


Whether on a national or a personal level, everyone has a complex relationship with their closest neighbors. Where are the borders? How much interaction should there be? How are conflicts solved? Ancient Israel was one of several small nations clustered in the eastern Mediterranean region between the large empires of Egypt and Mesopotamia in antiquity. Frequently mentioned in the Bible, these other small nations are seldom the focus of the narrative unless they interact with Israel. The ancient Israelites who produced the Hebrew Bible lived within a rich context of multiple neighbors, and this context profoundly shaped Israel. Indeed, it was through the influence of the neighboring people that Israel defined its own identity-in terms of geography, language, politics, religion, and culture.

Ancient Israel's Neighbors explores both the biblical portrayal of the neighboring groups directly surrounding Israel-the Canaanites, Philistines, Phoenicians, Edomites, Moabites, Ammonites, and Arameans-and examines what we can know about these groups through their own literature, archaeology, and other sources. Through its analysis of these surrounding groups, this book will demonstrate in a direct and accessible manner the extent to which ancient Israelite identity was forged both within and against the identities of its close neighbors. Animated by the latest and best research, yet written for students, this book will invite readers into journey of scholarly discovery to explore the world of Israel's identity within its most immediate ancient Near Eastern context.


  • Features an introduction assisting students thinking about the concept of history
  • Emphasizes the sometimes conflicting evidence within the Hebrew Bible about the identity of neighbors
  • Includes an accessible review of archaeology, writing evidence, and art for each of Israel's neighbors

About the Author(s)

Brian R. Doak is Associate Professor of Biblical Studies and Faculty Fellow in the William Penn Honors Program at George Fox University, just outside Portland, OR. He is the author of four other books, including Heroic Bodies in Ancient Israel and Consider Leviathan: Narratives of Nature and the Self in Job, and the co-editor (with Carolina López-Ruiz) of The Oxford Handbook of the Phoenician and Punic Mediterranean.


"Readers of BAR will doubtlessly enjoy this engaging, accessible, andaffordable introduction to ancient Israelâs closest neighbors." -- Ann E. Killebrew, BIBLICAL ARCHAEOLOGY SOCIETY

"I highly recommend Doak's book to students looking for an outline of ancient Israel from ancient Near Eastern texts and archaeology that takes into consideration its neighbors." -- Ronaldo da Silva, Berrien Springs, Michigan , Andrews University Seminary Studies

"This is a study that many lecturers will want to include in their recommended texts." -- Lester L. Grabbe, Journal for the Study of the Old Testament

Table of Contents

    List of Figures

    Chapter One: Israel's Neighbors and the Problem of the Past

    Chapter Two: The Canaanites

    Chapter Three: The Arameans

    Chapter Four: The Ammonites

    Chapter Five: The Moabites

    Chapter Six: The Edomites

    Chapter Seven: The Philistines

    Chapter Eight: The Phoenicians


    Sources and Research Tools