Bildarchiv preussisher kulturbesitz/Art Resource, NY

THE AMARNA LETTERS, a collection of more than 300 Late Bronze Age cuneiform tablets discovered at el-Amarna in Egypt, record the royal correspondence of mid-14th-century pharaohs Amenophis III and his son, Akhenaten, with local rulers of various Canaanite city-states. The letters frequently mention “the land of Shechem” and a character named Labayu, who led an insurgency against Egypt. Israel Finkelstein believes that Labayu ruled Shechem and its territory, which was a powerful polity of the northern highlands long before the southern kingdom of Judah existed. Reviewer Aaron Burke points out that the Amarna letters never explicitly identify Labayu as the ruler of Shechem. Thus this “central tenet” of Finkelstein’s argument collapses.