The sharp contrasts between its compulsory religious observances and those of the rest of the world prevented such an absorption of the Jewish people into the Roman Empire as had caused the disappearance of the ten tribes of Israel by their merging with the Assyrians.
Several motives have influenced its growth,' and the kernel - the revelation of Yahweh to Moses - has been developed until all the tribes of Israel are included and their history as a people now begins.
The close relation between Jacob and Aramaeans confirms the view that some of the tribes of Israel were partly of Aramaean origin; his entrance into Palestine from beyond the Jordan is parallel to Joshua's invasion at the head of the Israelites; and his previous journey from the south finds independent support in traditions of another distinct movement from this quarter.
The history of the Levite and the Benjamites is of quite another character, and presupposes a degree of unity of feeling and action among the tribes of Israel which it is not easy to reconcile with the rest of the book.
It would be reasonable to assume that Moab, Ammon, Edom and kindred tribes of Israel in the 15th and preceding centuries were included in the generic term Habiri (or Hebrews) mentioned in the Tell el-Amarna inscriptions as forming predatory bands that disturbed the security of the Canaanite dwellers west of the Jordan.
On the one hand, a sweeping invasion of all the tribes of Israel moved by a common zeal may, like the conquests of Islam, have produced permanent results.
Quite another body of tradition associates it with the invasion of all the tribes of Israel from beyond the Jordan (see ARK).