Norman Gottwald is most well-known for his peasant revolt theory that he advocated in his 1979 monograph The Tribes of Yahweh. Gottwald, similar to Mendenhall, looked to sociological models to describe the rise of early Israel. Mendenhall had earlier posited that a group of escaped slaves from Egypt who possessed a radical liberation theology had entered Palestine and wreaked havoc between Canaanite overlords and their oppressed peasants. Gottwald's peasant revolt theory, highlights technology and economy as important driving forces that pushed peasants to leave oppressive Canaanite overlords and settle in the hill country. These dissident peasants, the ḫapiru, of the Amarna letters formed a more egalitarian society and overthrew the Canaanite city states. In essence, it was struggle of the haves and have nots, and the means and modes of production. Although Gottwald's theory has drawn criticsm for its distinctive Marxist flavor, it does find some support in archaeological and inscriptional evidence.


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