Many years ago, before our books got misplaced in a move in Korea, we read one of WF Albright’s books. Unfortunately, it has been many years since that time and we cannot remember the title.
But we do remember one very important comment he wrote and I believe it was in the very first chapter on the very first page he made this comment. We will paraphrase here as the exact wording is not remembered either and we are going by memory only.
The gist of his wording went like this–” No ancient nation except for Israel, remembers their roots or where they came from. Not the Indian, the Chinese, the German, or even the Persians, the Greeks, or the Egyptians…”
He may have gone on to list more ancient nations, but we can’t be sure. So many years after reading those words, we bought different books to see if his words were true. Three specific books are 1). The Tribes of Britain, by David Miles; 2). Histories of Nations, edited by Peter Furtado; and 3) A History of India, by Hermann Kulke & Dietmar Rothermund.
We also remember a blurb from the Mayan Popol Vuh and a lot of our other studies have investigated many different sources in an indirect manner. We were hoping to find some scholarship on this issue but the contents of those books and other sources did not go back that far into history.
The Popol Vuh, done from memory as well, only stated that the ancestors of the Mayan came from over the sea. it made no comment on the specific identity of the people who made that journey.
It is sad that the Spanish destroyed so many ancient South American texts or we may have been able to find out more about the Inca, the Aztecs, the Olmecs, and the many smaller tribes of people whose ancestors also made that same journey. There were no indigenous people who evolved in that continent and were not from another place.
For the book Tribes of Britain, the author used an evolutionary time scale and simply called the first population hunter-gathers and similar labels. There was no identification of those groups until many years later when those groups had a British, Welsh, Scottish identity or close to it.
The History of Nations fared no better, with only about one author making even an attempt to try to identify their original settlers. He did not come up with a name for them. The Egyptian author merely followed the party line and started with ‘king’ Menes. It is hard to get objectivity out of Islamic authors.
Finally, The History of India could not identify the original groups that settled in that subcontinent. The authors gave it a good go but they were stuck on the mythical Aryans who may or may not have been a real people.
There is a real debate on that issue, especially if they came as conquerors or in a peaceful manner. If the former then that indicates that there was an unidentified group or groups of people making up the Indian population at its earliest stages.
However, on a side note, those authors may have recorded some more good and solid evidence for Noah’s flood. Right now we just do not have the time to investigate that information.
The same goes for the Mexicans, The Chinese, and other nations we have studied over the years. Not one of these nations knows who or where they came from. One coincidence, all these nations do not follow God nor have his help in finding, writing, and keeping that origin.
They are lost to time forever or unless someone makes a startling discovery. It has been done before. But the nation or people of Israel are different from all the rest of the world’s nations.
They were called out from the world and God recorded their history, telling them the exact person whence they descended from and how it all came to be. The people of Israel exist today because of a promise made by God. That existence and promise should give all true believers hope that their salvation is real and not in vain.
Some of the Muslim nations may be able to pinpoint Abraham as well since they descended from Ismael, another son of Abraham. It is hard to say which ones did as the Muslim religion clouds the past and mixes many different peoples under one identity.
Abraham had many sons besides Isaac and Ishmael. Genesis 25 records those names, or at least the few that came from his second wife:
Now Abraham took another wife, [a]whose name was Keturah. 2 She bore to him Zimran and Jokshan and Medan and Midian and Ishbak and Shuah. 3 Jokshan [b]became the father of Sheba and Dedan. And the sons of Dedan were Asshurim and Letushim and Leummim. 4 The sons of Midian were Ephah and Epher and Hanoch and Abida and Eldaah. All these were the sons of Keturah. 5 Now Abraham gave all that he had to Isaac; 6 but to the sons of [c]his concubines, Abraham gave gifts while he was still living, and sent them away from his son Isaac eastward, to the land of the east.
Whether all of these sons started their own nations is not known from that text. We do know that the Edomites were the descendants of Esau making them related to the people of Israel through Isaac.
As to the concubine children, we do not know exactly where they were sent and any link to Abraham is lost as we do not have their names in the Biblical text.
There are today, as well as throughout recent history, many Bible scholars, religious teachers, and other people, who claim that the OT is full of myths and it does not record true history. If those claims were true, that would make Israel the very first nation to be incapable of recording their past.
Of course, those dissenters do not produce a verifiable, accurate, or even close to true alternative history that can be shown to have interacted with the surrounding nations and accepted by those nations as a viable nation with its own history.
Dr. Finkelstein may claim, as do other archaeologists, that the Israelites sprouted up internally via the Canaanite people. But neither he nor the others can prove that claim and have very little evidence to support their ideas. A population explosion, as stated by Kenneth Kitchen in his book The Reliability of the OT, is not evidence for such thinking.
The Israelites have a verifiable history and it has been shown to be factual through archaeological and historical records. None of the detractors can claim such evidence or support.
But there is one other nation that can pinpoint to a specific ancestor even though this ancestor never had children. The Israelites are not the only fortunate people to know their history and identity.
Christians can point to Christ as their founding ancestor as he did found Christianity and sent his disciples throughout the world to convert the lost. Each believer takes on a new identity as stated in the NT and becomes a member of a new kingdom with its own specific culture.
Like the Israelites, true Christians are called out from the world and be a light unto the nations. They are to show the wisdom, caring, and other factors of the God who has called them to be his children. His rules are not meant for oppression but to show unbelievers how caring he is.
Jesus only asks that we obey him like the Israelites were to obey his Father. While members of other nations could join the Israelites, like Rahab and Ruth, their reach was not that wide. Christians can have a myriad of people joining them and no color, gender, or cultural source is excluded.
Like the people who joined the OT Israelites who had to change loyalties to the Hebrew nation and ways, new believers also have to give up their sin and old loyalties putting Christ first. If they wanted to reap the rewards God has for them.
Christianity isn’t a matter of just being religious, it is a commitment and a very complete change. It means living in this world yet pursuing different goals, objectives, and removing earthly things from their priorities.
Christians have a helping hand as Jesus lived that life before anyone did so when things get tough we have our founder to go to and receive help. The Israelites were not so lucky as Abraham eventually died and his example only lives on through the OT.
In the end, the believer can live with confidence because like the Israelites, they know whence they came and who they are. Plus, they have the instructions they need to lead the Christian life correctly.