Albrecht Alt (1883–1956), a German biblical scholar, proposed that the ancient Israelites, rather than conquering Canaan militarily, peacefully infiltrated the hill country of Canaan; the Israelites later came into conflict with the Canaanites in the more fertile, and hence more desirable, valleys and plains.

Recent archaeological surveys—the practice of examining the surface of wide areas, in contrast to the intensive excavation of a single site—reveal that the central hill country of Canaan was sparsely populated during the Late Bronze Age (1550–1200 B.C.E.); by Iron Age I (1200–1000 B.C.E.), the time most commonly accepted be scholars for the emergence of Israel, however, more than 200 new sites had sprung up. Proponents of the infiltration model conclude that a new people—the Israelites—entered the hill country about 1200 B.C.E.