There was a spate of headlines last week claiming that new scientific discoveries disproved the historical narrative of the Bible. Headlines included, “DNA vs the Bible: Israelites did not wipe out the Canaanites” and “Study disproves the Bible’s suggestion that the ancient Canaanites were wiped out.” Actually, the reverse is true: The discoveries confirm just what the Scriptures state.
DNA Test Reveals the Canaanites Weren’t Wiped Out
These headlines didn’t come from obscure, Bible-bashing websites. Instead, they came from Cosmos Magazine, Yahoo.com, New Scientist (claiming that the discovery helped unravel the “true fate” of the Canaanites), and others. As stated in the New York Times:
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 problem, again, is the word “But.” There is no contradiction between this genetic discovery and the Old Testament accounts. A more accurate statement would have been, “But the Hebrew Bible tells us explicitly that Israel failed to complete this mission of extermination, and a genetic analysis published on Thursday lends confirmation to this account, finding that the ancient population survived that divine call for their extinction, and their descendants live in modern Lebanon.”
As for the study itself,
Dr. Tyler-Smith and an international team of geneticists and archaeologists recovered ancient DNA from bones belonging to five Canaanites retrieved from an excavation site in Sidon, Lebanon, that were 3,650 to 3,750 years old. The team then compared the ancient DNA with the genomes of 99 living people from Lebanon that the group had sequenced. It found that the modern Lebanese people shared about 93 percent of their ancestry with the Bronze Age Sidon samples.
What did the team conclude? According to Iosif Lazaridis, a Harvard geneticist who was not involved in the study, “it turns out that people who lived in Lebanon almost 4,000 years ago were quite similar to people who lived there today, to the modern Lebanese.”
The Old Testament Book of Joshua Confirms This
But why should this surprise us? Or why should this discovery, assuming it’s accurate, be taken to contradict the Bible?
You don’t need to be a Bible scholar to figure this out. You don’t even need to read the Hebrew language. Any English Bible will do. The story is forthright and clear.
Read more at The Stream.