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Notes from Philip R. Davies: In Search of 'Ancient Israel', 1992 --

How Israel became a Kingdom

We rely on models from widespread studies of how societies and states form to understand how these settlements gradually integrated and finally became a state or kingdom. These studies alert us to central role of kinship in the way such young societies are organized and grow.

Family and village property is protected by families and villages forming alliances through marriage. Pecking orders of power emerge as part of this process, and these are also preserved by marriage alliances. Thus out of what were originally diverse ethnic groups of settlers and scattered villages there emerges a new single ethnic group as a result of these criss-crossing alliances by marriage.

Family trees, genealogies, are important to these societies because they are used to point to political and power relations of kinship groups. Such lists are also always subject to revision and are a mix of truth and fiction for propaganda purposes.

In such societies one family or ruling caste first becomes dominant, then a chieftain, and later a king. The chief or king will have an army, a capital village or city, and will raise taxes. This evolution from kinship societies to states is a natural regular process. There is no need for an external threat or cause.

According to our independent (non-biblical) evidence this is how the state that became known to others as Israel was born. The society that emerged, like most societies, had no fixed borders, but varied over time as a result of travel linked with trade, intermarriage and war; the state that emerged also changed its borders over time as a result of diplomacy and war. And like most states, it consisted of various mixes of ethnic groups and religions. Only in the literary world of the Bible does a state equate with a single ethnic group and with a single religion.

Historical Israel is best defined as a state or kingdom because that is how others at the time thought of it in their inscriptions, at least when they mentioned it at all.

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