This is an assessment of the origin of the Israelites and the salient characteristics of their community life in the time of the judges, starting from the 13th century B.C.E. until the period right before the emergence of the Jewish monarchy in 1000 B.C.E. Entering the Canaanite region from diverse areas such as Upper Mesopotamia, Syria, and Egypt, the first ancestors of the Israel were composed of mixed tribes that are not directly related in terms of blood or ethnicity. Nevertheless, their shared common experiences of being outlaws(Apiru) who left their hometowns for a living and became low-paid workers, contract slaves, or hired soldiers in the systems of the Canaanite city-states and Egyptian empire, brought them to form a group identity and to be united under the name of ‘the Hebrew.’ With an interest in social dynamics and the strategic powers of religious discourses that the internationally wandering hybrid immigrants had generated, this study concerns our contemporary phenomenon of global immigrant workers, who are uprooted from their homelands and also alienated in their residential countries. Distinct from the current imperialistic and exclusivist behavior of the modern nation-state Israel, this article examines the possibility that the religious-societal imagination of the Israelites offers a powerful discourse to create a new sense of group identity while transcending ethnicity and national boundaries. Recognizing the internationally mixed immigrant workers as one of the increasing groups in this 21st-century global world, this work requests an urgent task of creating ethical and legal discourses that would bring legitimacy and new identity for the uprooted people who now share the common residential spaces and experiences of living in unfamiliar lands.


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pp. 73-99
Launched on MUSE
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