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Philo of Alexandria and the Conquest of Canaan

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image of Journal for the Study of Judaism

According to the Torah, the Hebrews were commanded either to expel or to exterminate the Canaanites who were living in Canaan at the time of the conquest. Philo seems to feel rather ill-at-ease about the literal meaning of these biblical passages. Besides allegory, he uses four hermeneutical strategies: 1) to pass over the problematic texts in silence; 2) to play with the meaning of certain Greek words; 3) to justify the destruction of the Canaanites from a moral point of view; 4) to rewrite the biblical account.


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