In an amazing display of wasted ink, the media has been breathlessly reporting that new DNA evidence disproves the Bible. Perhaps you’ve seen the headlines the last couple days –
“Canaanites Survived Biblical ‘Slaughter’, Ancient DNA Shows”
“Canaanites Survived Israelites’ Biblical Wipeout, DNA Shows”
“Fate of Ancient Canaanites Seen In DNA Analysis: They Survived”
All of them spinning a DNA study out of Lebanon as some earth-shattering news, disproving the Bible. Someone needs to get these journalists a Bible and a world history book. The only thing this study accomplished was to PROVE the accuracy of the Bible once again.
Here’s the background of this DNA study. In modern Lebanon, the ruins of the ancient city of Sidon still exist. Sidon was part of ancient Canaan that roughly encompassed modern Israel and Lebanon. In Sidon, scientists found the graves and human remains of multiple people from 1900 BC to 1550 BC. They were able to extract DNA from several bones and discovered that it was extremely close to the DNA of modern inhabitants of Lebanon. Now history-illiterate journalists are trumpeting this as evidence against the Bible. Supposed proof that Israel didn’t kill the Canaanites.
But this isn’t news. The Bible specifically says Israel didn’t kill all the Canaanites, despite being commanded by God. Furthermore, the Bible specifically says the region of Sidon being studied by these scientists was never conquered or ruled by Israel anyway.
JD Rucker had a good article about how this study is being used by anti-Christians in the media. Misleading headlines aim to confuse the public and sow doubts in people’s minds about the veracity of the Bible. I want to go into a little more depth though in this article about why these headlines are wrong and why this study actually proves the Bible’s historical accuracy. I hope I don’t confuse anyone, since I get into some depth here, but I think it’s important to lay out how in sync history and the Bible are.
There is a story in the Hebrew Bible that tells of God’s call for the annihilation of the Canaanites, a people who lived in what are now Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, Israel and the Palestinian territories thousands of years ago.
“You shall not leave alive anything that breathes,” God said in the passage. “But you shall utterly destroy them.”
But a genetic analysis published on Thursday has found that the ancient population survived that divine call for their extinction, and their descendants live in modern Lebanon.
The Leftist implication is clear. And having one of my degrees in ancient history, this much stupid is painful to read.
In the interest of keeping this article shorter than a novel, I’m only going to list a few of the many reasons the Leftist interpretation is wrong and the Bible is right:
1.) As has already been mentioned, Israel never wiped out the Canaanites. The Bible says so. Despite God’s command to eliminate them, the Israelites got complacent and quit part-way through the job. Just read the Book of Judges. Specifically, Judges 1: 27-36. The Bible mentions this failure MULTIPLE times, and God rebukes them for it. And this failure haunts ancient Israel for centuries after they enter the Land around roughly 1200 BC. These Canaanites pester Israel and lead them astray into pagan idolatry. Where do you think all the Baal worship and Asherah poles came from that are mentioned in the Old Testament? They came from the Canaanites left alive.
2.) Canaan was not one small location. It was a series of independent city-states and loose confederacies that ran several hundred miles north to south. Israel killing a large number of Canaanites in the south doesn’t mean there weren’t still lots of Canaanites in the north. There was not a single central location to go kill them all. That’s why there is a long series of battles and campaigns throughout the Books of Joshua and Judges and 1 & 2 Samuel. Israel mostly took the hill country and left Canaanites on the coast of the Mediterranean untouched, where Sidon was. See Point 1 above.
3.) The biggest problem with these false attacks by journalists is Sidon was never a part of Israel. (This is important since the bones in the DNA study come from Sidon.) Even though Sidon was a part of Canaan, Israel quit expanding their boundaries before reaching them. See Problem 1 above again. None of the Twelve Tribes went that far north. Sidon was a part of Phoenicia, which made the famous first alphabet. Even at the height of Israel’s power under Kings David and Solomon, the city of Sidon and the land of Phoenicia in general didn’t fall under Israelite control. So how were the Israelites supposed to have wiped them out if they never reached them? Did no one writing these “news” articles this week ever pick up a history book?
4.) Sidon is referenced and mentioned throughout the Bible long after the conquest of Canaan. It is mentioned throughout the Biblical history books of 2 Samuel, 1 & 2 Kings, 1 & 2 Chronicles, and Ezra. The prophets also prophesy against Sidon and Phoenicia, including Isaiah, Ezekiel, Joel, and Zechariah centuries later. Christ Himself even visits the area of Sidon when Rome controlled it. Why would anyone think Sidon was obliterated?! The Bible keeps talking about it. It clearly survived!
Here’s a map of Ancient Israel at the height of its territorial expansion under David and Solomon. I circled Sidon in red and its nation of Phoenicia in green. Notice Sidon is not a part of Israel, even at the height of Israel’s glory.
Ancient Phoenicia and modern Lebanon have similar national boundaries. Take a look at this modern map of Lebanon from Lonely Planet. Notice some of the same cities as on the ancient Phoenician map – Tyre, Sidon, and Byblos.
So the ancient people, who once lived in what is now Lebanon, were never destroyed, as the Bible already pointed out over 3,000 years ago. Thus, it stands to reason that the ancient Phoenicians living there had lots of kids who also had lots of kids, and eventually, those kids became the inhabitants there today. So how is this DNA study news? The only surprise would be if the DNA was different.
If anything, these articles should be titled “Biblical History Proved Correct – Residents of Sidon Never Touched By Israelites”. This is just further evidence that science ends up proving Biblical accuracy, even if it didn’t want it to.