The people of the Old Testament Bible who founded the state of Israel in the former Egyptian province of Canaan. They are later known as the Hebrews (Habiru). Their origins are obscure, but modern archaeologists believe that they were the original inhabitants of the hill country in Canaan joined perhaps by other elements. According to Isrealite legend, they immigrated to Egypt and then escaped in the Exodus. They conquered most of Canaan apart from the coastal fringe held by the Philistines. This must have occurred after the withdrawal of the Egyptians in late Dynasty 20. The only reference to the Israelites in an Egyptian text is the inscription of Merenptah of Dynasty 19, where they are mentioned as a defeated tribe not yet a state.
   The extant and importance of the state of Israel is much debated by many scholars regarding the Biblical account as unsupportable by archaeological discoveries. The area was eventually divided into two states, Judah in the north and Israel in the south. The former was conqured by the Assryrians. According to the Bible, the forces of Nekau II defeated those of Josiah, king of Israel, when he invaded the area in support of Assyria. The state of Israel was later annexed by the Babylonians.
   See also Joseph.
Historical Dictionary Of Ancient Egypt by Morris L. Bierbrier

Ancient Egypt. A Reference Guide. . 2011.

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