Much of the information of the time period, region and people in question comes from written dialogue between Canaanite rulers and Amenhotep III and Akhenaten, called the Amarna Letters. Among other things, the letters mention Canaanite rulers having issues with the “Habiru”, commonly known as the Hebrews; a term at that time that denoted class (as in displaced persons), not tribe/nation status.
What should be noted is that the region called at the time the “land of Canaan” was populated by city-states, each independent of the other and ruled by a single king/ruler. So to “occupy” the land one would have to conquer each city-state. The letters speak of a campaign of conquest of the region by a military leader of these people named Joshua, and speak of his occupation of Canaan (1456 B.C.) as a matter of past events. This is natural, since the letters are dated after the death of Joshua, subsequently changing the complexion of the conquest effort.
Our focus, relative to the issue at hand, is the people that occupied that region that were driven out as a result of the Joshua campaign. The Saqqara tomb of Horemheb (1334 B.C.) displays a relief showing Canaanite refugees attempting to enter Egypt; the relief also indicating that their “lands and towns” were destroyed. Archaeology supports 56% of the cities listed in the Bible that were conquered by Joshua, yet it does not support the existence of Moab during that time, saying that that names of Moabite, Edomite and Ammonite kings had parts of the names of their national gods embedded within and that none of these names have been found by them before 1100 B.C. While the Bible does not give the names of any of the kings of these three nations during the period of the Exodus, it does give a list of Edomite kings pre-nationhood Israel (Gen 36:31-39), and some of these kings were associated with cities, while others are associated with a tribal people or region. None were recorded as being succeeded by a son. This is evidence to the fact that these nations remained semi-nomadic and tribal, with the death of the strongest chief/king meaning the end of the prominence of that said tribe. As a matter of history, Edomites and Midianites occupied Moab lands and had conflicts; the head chief of one tribe gaining influence over the others on the same land caused recorded history to lean in the favor of the “nationality” of the reigning chief. Sometimes the losers moved away, sometimes they fought, lost and became absorbed, and sometimes the prevailed. This demonstrates that the fact that archaeologists not finding evidence of a settled Moabite presence does not prove they did not exist. A late 13th Century papyrus mentions Edomites and Moabites trying to enter Egypt because of a famine. This informs us that both Edom and Moab existed as a people before 1100 B.C., regardless of the lack of evidence of their own city-state. At the very least, if it took 200-300 years for them to develop into a larger political community, this would push their origin back to 1400-1500 B.C….well within the time period of the Joshua campaign.
The teaching of Prophet Drew Ali and the Moorish Science Temple of America on the subject reads thus:
“The industrious acts of the Moslems of northwest and southwest Africa. These are the Moabites, Hamathites, Canaanites, who were driven out of the land of Canaan by Joshua, and received permission from the Pharoahs of Egypt to settle in that portion of Egypt. In later years they formed themselves kingdoms. These kingdoms are called this day Morocco, Algiers, Tunis, Tripoli, etc.”
Steibing, William A “Out of the Desert?” Prometheus Books; Buffalo NY 1989
Finkelstein, Israel /Silberman, Neil “The Bible Unearthed” The Free Press; New York NY 2001
Holy Koran of the Moorish Science Temple of America, prepared by Noble Drew Ali, Chicago IL 1927