This question is solely about the peoples in the document sets, not archaeological claims. Apologies if this is a bad fit: I checked the site tour; this seems to be an exegesis request in relation to a constricted text set; and, my approach is documentary (even if textually “larger” than obvious excellent questions here).

Who were the Israelites by the end of the narratives that end Judges?

From the top of my head I can recall the existence of:

  • the twelve tribes and their immediate patriarchal family controlled converted slaves and servants
  • the multitude, a non tribal body not descended from Israel, but out of Egypt
  • locals who became servants in common and converts through the tribal division and invasion
  • independent converts not associated with a tribal patriarchal family group

Have I made false inclusions or failed to include any relevant groups from the texts?


1 Answer 1


I think your list is a very reasonable list. The Gibeonites remained distinct for a few hundred years up to the time of Saul at least (2 Sam 21). The Gittites were also mixed with the Israelites (Josh 13:3, 1 Sam 5:10, 2 Sam 15:18) and even formed a division of David's army.

Further, there are numerous cases of intermarriage with non-Israelites such as:

  • Salmon who married Rahab the prostitute from the city of Jericho (Matt 1:5)
  • Boaz who married Ruth from Moab (1 Sam 4:10)
  • Bathsheba had married Uriah the Hittite (2 Sam 11:3)
  • A little later, Solomon married an Egyptian and numerous other foreign wives

I am certain that there were many more unrecorded such unions. This might have been greater than we often think as Israel was to treat foreigners equally under the law and even offer asylum to strangers (Deut 10:18, Ps 146:9, Jer 7:6, Jer 22:3, Zech 7:10, Mal 3:5). This is tempered by the requirement to obey the law of the land.

Thus, the "Israelites" probably had all sorts of others in their midst and often married them and became quite an eclectic group.

  • Joseph married outside of the Hebrews, so did Abraham (Hagar and Keturah), so did Moses (Jethro's daughter and the Ethiopian woman).
    – Nigel J
    Commented Oct 28, 2018 at 15:28
  • Quite true although Hagar and Keturah did not produce children that contributed to the Israelites but Joseph's Egyptian wife certainly did and also Jethro's daughter.
    – user25930
    Commented Oct 28, 2018 at 20:06

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