Room 57


Case 8. The Amarna Letters
  • Clay tablets written to two pharaohs (Amenophis III and IV) around 1390 BC when Canaan was part of the Egyptian empire
  • Many of the letters refer to a group called the ‘Hapiru’. The ‘Hapiru’ referred to raiders, mercenaries and labourers who had been in Canaan before the arrival of the Israelites but the name would also have applied to the Israelites
  • The governor of Jerusalem wrote several letters to pharaoh, requesting help to resist the invaders threatening the king’s lands
Quote from one of the letters:
‘The Hapiru plunder all the lands of the king. If archers are here this year then the lands of the king, my lord, will remain. But if the archers are not here, then the lands of the king, my lord, are lost… All the lands of the king, my lord, are going to ruin.’
These letters confirm the political conditions as described in the book of Joshua, even though Israel and Joshua are not mentioned by name.