We’re rapidly approaching the one-year anniversary of one of the biggest fake-news hoaxes of all time.
It began when some genetic scientists published one of those “infallible” peer-reviewed studies that claimed to prove the Bible is wrong about the fate of the Canaanites.
The news media in the U.S. and Britain had a field day with the headlines:
- “Bronze Age DNA disproves the Bible’s claim that the Canaanites were wiped out: Study says their genes live on in modern-day Lebanese people,” explained the exceedingly long headline of the London Daily Mail, one that goes uncorrected to this day.
- “Bible says Canaanites were wiped out by Israelites but scientists just found their descendants living in Lebanon,” blared the headline in the UK Independent.
- “Canaanites weren’t annihilated like the Bible says – their descendants are the Lebanese,” claimed the Independent Business Times.
- “DNA vs the Bible: Israelites did not wipe out the Canaanites,” reported Cosmos Magazine.
- “Bible says Canaanites were wiped out by Israelites but scientists just found their descendants living in Lebanon,” chimed in ArabAmerica.com
- “The Bible got it wrong: Ancient Canaanites survived and their DNA lives in modern-day Lebanese,” dutifully exclaimed PulseHeadlines.com.
- “Bible says Canaanites were wiped out by Israelites but scientists just found their descendants living in Lebanon,” announced the London Telegraph, which later was forced to correct not only its headline but the premise of the original story. It was the only fake news report I could find that actually did so – even a year later.
And these phony reports about a fake narrative of a fraudulent scientific report hardly ended there. Only slightly more understated in their claims and misrepresentations were reports in the New York Times and Washington Post.
The New York Times reporting began with only one facet of what it characterized as “a story in the Hebrew Bible that tells of God’s call for the annihilation of the Canaanites,” never mentioning that the Bible explains over and over again that it was never carried out.
The Washington Post reported that the fate of the Canaanites was “a puzzle. The Hebrew text offers one explanation for the destiny of the Canaanites: annihilation. The Israelites, per Deuteronomy 20:16-18, were commanded to “utterly destroy” the cities of various tribes including the Canaanites. Those who survived fled or became servants.”
In fact, the Bible leaves absolutely no doubt about what happened to the Canaanites. They survived. They flourished. It even explains where they lived before the children of Israel arrived in their land – from Sidon to Gaza. Sidon is a city in Lebanon. Take special note of the city. It will become important. According to the whole of the Hebrew Scriptures, the Canaanites, far from disappearing, continued to play a significant role in Israel’s history. So, to make a long story short, the study didn’t refute the biblical account, it confirmed it. BIG TIME!
“The study sequenced genomes from bones taken from 4,000-year-old Canaanite skeletons found in Sidon, a coastal city in Lebanon,” wrote the authors of this much-publicized study. “The results were compared to samples from 99 modern-day Lebanese. The results of the study, published last week (July 2017) in American Journal of Human Genetics, revealed that 93 percent of the ancestry of modern Lebanese comes from the ancient Canaanites.”
So far so good. Those facts would not be a surprise to any student of the Bible. But here’s where the report turned reality on its head to claims that the Bible says the opposite of what it says: “The Bible reports the destruction of the Canaanite cities and the annihilation of its people,” the study states. “If true, the Canaanites could not have directly contributed genetically to present-day populations. However, no archaeological evidence has so far been found to support widespread destruction of Canaanite cities between the Bronze and Iron Ages: cities on the Levant coast such as Sidon and Tyre (a sister city in Lebanon) show continuity of occupation until the present day.”
Now let’s bust this in-artfully crafted hoax wide open.
Enjoying this column? Be sure to check out Joseph Farah’s latest books, “The Restitution of All Things: Israel, Christians and the End of the Age,” and his latest in pre-release e-book form, “The Gospel in Every Book of the Old Testament” – currently available as a No. 1 new release at Amazon and at the WND Superstore.
The Book of Joshua, in excruciatingly vivid detail, explains how the Israelis did not kill or drive out all the Canaanites.
- Joshua 16:10: “And they drave not out the Canaanites that dwelt in Gezer: but the Canaanites dwell among the Ephraimites unto this day, and serve under tribute.”
- Joshua 17:12: “Yet the children of Manasseh could not drive out the inhabitants of those cities; but the Canaanites would dwell in that land.”
- Joshua 17:13: “Yet it came to pass, when the children of Israel were waxen strong, that they put the Canaanites to tribute, but did not utterly drive them out.”
Besides Joshua, who is perhaps the most famous character in the book that bears his name? Rahab. And who is Rahab? A Canaanite who assisted the Israelis with their conquest of Jericho, and eventually found herself in the familial line of King David and King Jesus. (Matthew 1) Rahab married Salmon of the tribe of Judah and was the mother of Boaz, who married the famous Ruth, a Moabite, who was the grandmother of David.
And that leads me to another faulty assumption often made by those who hate the Bible – that God’s intention was to kill all the Canaanites. Clearly, reading the Bible in context, the plan, from the beginning, was to drive them out of Canaan to male way for those God had chosen to live there – the descendants of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.
Let’s go back to to Exodus to see what God told Moses about His plan in Exodus 23:27-33: “I will send my fear before thee, and will destroy all the people to whom thou shalt come, and I will make all thine enemies turn their backs unto thee. And I will send hornets before thee, which shall drive out the Hivite, the Canaanite, and the Hittite, from before thee. I will not drive them out from before thee in one year; lest the land become desolate, and the beast of the field multiply against thee. By little and little I will drive them out from before thee, until thou be increased, and inherit the land. And I will set thy bounds from the Red Sea even unto the sea of the Philistines, and from the desert unto the river: for I will deliver the inhabitants of the land into your hand; and thou shalt drive them out before thee. Thou shalt make no covenant with them, nor with their gods. They shall not dwell in thy land, lest they make thee sin against me: for if thou serve their gods, it will surely be a snare unto thee.”
Is that clear enough? What was God’s plan for the Canaanites? To drive them out to make way for the Israelis. Note that He would do it with fear. Rahab confirmed to the Israeli spies in Jericho that her people feared the coming of the children of Israel because they had heard of God’s miracles and His conquests through the years following the Exodus from Egypt. In Joshua 2:9-13, she tells the spies: “I know that the Lord hath given you the land, and that your terror is fallen upon us, and that all the inhabitants of the land faint because of you. For we have heard how the Lord dried up the water of the Red Sea for you, when ye came out of Egypt; and what ye did unto the two kings of the Amorites, that were on the other side Jordan, Sihon and Og, whom ye utterly destroyed. And as soon as we had heard these things, our hearts did melt, neither did there remain any more courage in any man, because of you: for the Lord your God, he is God in heaven above, and in earth beneath. Now therefore, I pray you, swear unto me by the Lord, since I have shewed you kindness, that ye will also shew kindness unto my father’s house, and give me a true token: And that ye will save alive my father, and my mother, and my brethren, and my sisters, and all that they have, and deliver our lives from death.”
What Rahab did that night was repent and accept the God of Israel as her own. She was thus welcomed into the congregation of Israel and became part of its history – even to the point of being adopted into the tribe of Judah and becoming part of the lineage to David and Jesus. (Matthew 1) It wasn’t so much a ban on marrying foreign women that God had in mind. It was a prohibition on marrying those who worshipped false gods.
So, who were these Canaanites? They were the children of Canaan, grandson of Noah. Canaan’s firstborn was, interestingly, named “Sidon.” The Canaanites lived, we’re told in Genesis 10:19 “from Sidon, as thou comest to Gerar, unto Gaza; as thou goest, unto Sodom, and Gomorrah, and Admah, and Zeboim, even unto Lasha.” In other words, they always lived in Sidon, the very place where this scientific team discovered the ancient skeleton. Why would that be a surprise to find genetic links to Canaanites in the very city that bore the name of Canaan’s firstborn? It was explained in Genesis. It’s absolute confirmation not only of the ill-conceived premise of the study, but what the Bible said happened after the Great Flood. Therefore, in a roundabout way, the fact that the genetic heirs of Canaan were confirmed to be living in Lebanon today is also evidence for the Flood story!
And what was the great sin of the Canaanites? They sacrificed their children on the fiery altar of Baal, as did their kin, the Amorites. In Genesis 15:16, God explained to Abraham that His seed would inherit the land of Canaan, where the Kenites, Kenizzites, Kadmonites, Hittites, Perizzites, Rephaims, Girgashites, Amorites and Canaanites all lived. But it would take four generations, God explained, because “the iniquity of the Amorites is not yet full.” God is patient. God is longsuffering. God gives people lots of time to repent, not wishing that any would perish. (2 Peter 3:9)
Yet a press release touting this concocted pseudo-scientific genetic study of modern residents of Lebanon had this to say: “[T]he Bible reports the destruction of the Canaanite cities and the annihilation of its people; if true, the Canaanites could not have directly contributed genetically to present-day populations.”
While it’s true that the Bible reports the destruction of some Canaanite cities, it also reports that they were not all destroyed – not in Israel and certainly not in Sidon. The Canaanites continued to live in Lebanon after the Israelis took over much of their land. They also continued to live in Israel, as we see in Judges 1:27-33 and Judges 2:1-3. There again, God warns the children of Israel that He will not drive the Canaanites out of their land but instead make them a snare.
That’s exactly what happened in the books of 1 Kings and 2 Kings – leading ultimately to the fall of the Northern Kingdom of Israel.
Everyone has heard of Ahab and Jezebel, right?
King Ahab married Jezebel. Who was she and where was she from? 1 Kings 16:31 explains that Ahab “took to wife Jezebel the daughter of Ethbaal king of the Zidonians (those would be the people of Sidon), and went and served Baal, and worshipped him.” Jezebel was from Sidon, where the genetic heirs of the Canaanites still live 4,000 years later. What a shock! Baal was the false god of the Canaanites. Jezebel seduced Ahab to worship Baal and murdered the Hebrew prophets. (1 Kings 18:4) Ultimately, the northern kingdom of Israel was judged by God just as He judged the Amorites and the Canaanites. God used the Israelis to judge the Canaanites. He used the Assyrians to judge the northern kingdom of Israel. But only when their inquity was complete.
All I can say is you have to miss a whole lot of Bible to come to the conclusion that a genetic study in 2017 refutes the Bible when, instead, unwittingly, it affirms so much of it.
I guess the lesson is if you want lots of publicity for your fake, phony, fraudulent pseudo-scientific study, don’t say it confirms the Bible, say it refutes it. And that’s just how this hoax got started.
And the fake news machine was only too eager to play along – mostly without correction and certainly not with repentance.
Did you enjoy this column? Be sure to check out Joseph Farah’s latest book, “The Restitution of All Things: Israel, Christians and the End of the Age,” and his latest in pre-release e-book form, “The Gospel in Every Book of the Old Testament” – currently available as a No. 1 new release at Amazon and at the WND Superstore.