By Gary N. Knoppers, Kenneth Ristau
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10). 38. M. book Page 21 Friday, May 1, 2009 9:08 AM Israel and the Nomads of Ancient Palestine 21 At any rate, my basic observation about the Amalekites is this: though they represent the nomadic group whose Lebensart comes closest to the pastoral nomadism that Israel envisioned for its own origins, Amalek is at the same time the nomadic group that Israel most despised. Thus the biblical evidence regarding Amalek does not lend any support to the idea that the Israelites embraced romantic notions of pastoral nomadism.
Israel’s tribal societies were poorly integrated before the monarchy; they could only have sporadically policed the activities of local nomads. As long as this was the case, the nomadic peoples were a serious threat to the security of the Israelite tribes. This would have been particularly true of people who lived along the trade routes in Transjordan, as reﬂected in the conﬂict between Israel and Midian in Judg 6–8. 30 It was only with the rise of the monarchies that the Hebrews could better secure their borders and take advantage of nomadic trade, which they eventually managed to do.
46 This is probably not a reﬂection of Israel’s nomadic ideal; it is more likely a reﬂection of the high regard that Israel had for Qenite technology. For with respect to the Qenite’s nomadic lifestyle, Israel’s sentiments are summed up in the words of Cain: “My punishment it too great to bear” (Gen 4:13). As for the Rechabites, who are supposedly related to the Qenites, the Bible gives us very little to go on. They lived in tents and they practiced neither agriculture nor viticulture (Jer 35:6–7).
Community Identity in Judean Historiography: Biblical and Comparative Perspectives by Gary N. Knoppers, Kenneth Ristau