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Old 07-25-2001, 08:13 AM   #1
uncle_onion
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Post The isrealites in Egypt?

Hi

I am new here.

My story: I am an Ex Jehovahs witness and am now looking at EVERYTHING that I once thought was rock solid for the last 27 years!

I am examining the accuracy of the Bible.

On friday night I watched a programme on the history channel called "Moses who was he?" I expected to watch a programme that would be putting forth the idea that Moses did not exist. But it did the complete opposite. I have listed the things that I found interesting and would like answers to and hope that ones here can help:
1. Historians say that the city on Rameses which the Bible says that the isrealites built, was built AFTER the jews were meant to have left Egypt and so therefore the Bible must be false. However Some historians now say that a Nile tributary, that has since dried up, had a city on its banks called "Rameses" and when the tributary dried up, the city was transfered to the city of Tanis and renamed Rameses?

2. Semetic grafitti has ben found in mines that were mined by Egptian slaves?

YOUR COMMENTS PLEASE

uo
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Old 07-25-2001, 10:52 AM   #2
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I saw that show to, they were all over the map with their dates, pulling events from over 800 years (1200 to 2000 BCE) When does the Bible say the Exodus occured, 400 years before Solomon? that would be 1300 BCE, before Ramses the Great was Pharoh, Keep in mind Ramses the Great lived to a ripe old age and had 100 children and a very succesful career as Pharoh. The slaves the Egyptians had were captured soldiers who were put to work in mines, there is no account of a large amount of Hebrew slaves ever being in Egypt.
As for the city of Ramses existing, sure, he had many building projects, put his face on everything, his carcass in on display at the museum in Cairo.
there are two events that parallel the Exodus, one is when Thutmosis tossed out the foreigners that ruled Egypt around 1400 BCE, the other is when the pharoh Achenatun (a radical monotheist, King Tuts dad) was booted out along with his followers around 1300 BCE.
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Old 07-25-2001, 11:43 AM   #3
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I a m fairly new here, too. Welcome!

I am no expert on biblical archaeology, but I have studied the subject some on the way earning my bachelor's, master of divinity and doctor of ministry degrees. My studies led me out of Christianity and forced me to quit my job as a Bible professor. I am now studying for a Ph.D. in American History.

I did not see the show in question, but I have very low confidence in the History Channel as an authoritative source for anything. Their main goal is to make money. One way to do so is to interview people and publicize findings that cast the best possible light on their viewership's favorite religion: Christianity.

Although I have not yet read it, I think a much better source might be the new book, The Bible Unearthed. You can see it here:
http://www.secweb.org/bookstore/book...asp?BookID=651

Always ask: What is the reliability of this source? What biases may be affecting the conclusions?

Keep searching! The truth shall set you free!
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Old 07-25-2001, 01:05 PM   #4
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Hi there, marduck - nice to see you on an Egypt question again!

uncle_onion, let me see if I can help with this at all.
1300 BC, according to the latest chronology of Egypt, would see the pharaoh Horemheb ruling; he ruled from 1323 to 1295 BC. That would tend to fall in with what marduck said about him in his post.

Hoemheb was the pharaoh who ended the 18th Dynasty, and he did a lot of work in regaining the land that was lost under Akhenaten's reign (1352 - 1336 BC) - that's the monotheist that marduck referred to. He wasn't so much kicked out of Egypt as just left the country and set up a city of his own (Akhetaten - now called Armarna) and allowed Egypt to run amok in his absence. We don't know exactly how his reign came to an end, just that the city was abandoned and the old gods reinstated under Tutankhamen (1336-1327 BC) and subsequent pharaohs. Just a small point, marduck, but we aren't actually quite sure whether Akenaten was Tut's father.

Rameses II also seems to be a candidate for the pharaoh that threw out the Israelites - he ruled from 1279 - 1213 BC, which still fits fairly well with the time period that marduck suggested.
The pharaoh that used to be thought to be mentioned in the bible was Sheshonq, who ruled from 945-924 BC, which seems to be a little too late.

On the topic of semitic slaves...
The Egyptians didn't go in for slavery as much as most people think. However, there were slaves in Egypt.
The Egyptian word "aamu" is usually translated as "asiatics", and there are reports of asiatic workers, not slaves, working in Egypt. We also know that Egypt received spasmodic immigration from the areas around it, including Palestine, and the remains of various different immigrants have been found at a city called Avaris. It is therefore quite possible that there was a group of Israelites working in Egypt at some time.
Egyptian mines were terrible places to be sent, with low life expectancy, and it was usually condemned criminals or prisoners of war that would end up in them. I suppose that if the Exodus account is roughly reliable, it is possible that some of the enslaved Israelites could have ended up in mines, but semitic graffiti doesn't necessarily point to the biblical childen of Israel pictured in Exodus - remember that Egypt received immigration at many different points in time.
(Graffiti is hadly unusual, in case you were wondering - it also occurs on some of the blocks used to build monuments, usually just saying who chisseled the rock or heaved it into position.)

There is another word that crops up on one monument (I think it's from the time of Rameses II, but I'm not sure offhand), which mentions a people known as the "apiru". It has been suggested by some that this is where the word "Hebrew" comes from. The people depicted under this name are said to bear stereotypical Jewish hallmarks, such as hooked noses.

However, we have not come anywhere near finding that Moses was a historical figure, or any direct evidence for the exodus. On the subject of the 10 plagues of Egypt, we do not have any Egyptian sources that even talk about them. What we have is a smattering of references to "asiatic workers", a possible sighting of some genuine Israelites on a monument wall, and a city that seems to have been home to many different immigrants over a long period of time. An historical Moses - not just yet!
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Old 07-25-2001, 01:12 PM   #5
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There is hardly a shred of evidence for the Israelites in Egypt. The bible would put the exodus 480 years before Solomon's temple, which is smack in the middle of the 15th century BCE. Yet most Egyptologists find it extremely unlikely that a successful slave revolt of even a modest size could have occurred at this time - at the height of the New Kingdom under the rule of strong Pharaohs such as Thotmose III and Amenhotep II.

Some rather credulous scholars adduce the Hyksos period in support of the biblical account, but this is extremely problematic as it results in a lacuna of four centuries until the period of the "judges".

Most would assume that Ramses II was the Pharaoh of the oppression. There's really no material evidence for this either, but the chronology is a bit more plausible.

While I think one must be honest in admitting that the extrabiblical evidence for the exodus is thin to nonexistent, I find Baruch Halpern's suggestion of two proto-Israelite groups - one from Egypt and one an autochthonous Palestinian group - to be intriguing. It is striking that many of the names of the Levites given in the Hebrew Bible are Egyptian in origin (e.g. Moshe, Pinchas, Hophni, Miriam, Merare). The fact that the Levites are singled out among the tribes as having no ancestral lands is noteworthy in this context. Could a native Egyptian group have been introduced into the emerging Iron I highland population? It's an interesting speculation.

I liked Finkelstein and Silbermann's book quite a bit. Even better is the book edited by Finkelstein entitled "From Nomadism to Monarchy" (it is less slanted toward a popular audience, though). The essays on the Late Bronze and Iron I periods in the collection edited by Thomas Levy ("Archaeology of Society in the Holy Land") also are quite good - Finkelstein himself has a nice article there.

Although Dever has recently demonstrated the propensity to fly off the handle (see e.g. his unfortunate review of Finkelstein and Silbermann in BAR), his most recent book "What the the Biblical Writers Know and When did they Know it?" is really very good indeed. I think Dever provides some very strong evidence that the sitz im leben of the Deuteronomistic History lies in the Iron Age, even if much of it underwent a postexilic redaction. (Can I shamelessly promote my review of it on the amazon.com web site?)

Many scholars have basically given up on the notion of a historical Moses. He is as historical a figure as Odysseus. Not to say that he did not exist or was not based on one or more historical figures, but only that in default of relevant extrabiblical evidence it is simply beyond knowing.

[ July 25, 2001: Message edited by: Apikorus ]

[ July 25, 2001: Message edited by: Apikorus ]
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Old 07-25-2001, 07:01 PM   #6
rodahi
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ex-preacher: I did not see the show in question, but I have very low confidence in the History Channel as an authoritative source for anything. Their main goal is to make money. One way to do so is to interview people and publicize findings that cast the best possible light on their viewership's favorite religion: Christianity.

From what I have seen of the History Channel, I agree.

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Old 07-26-2001, 01:03 AM   #7
uncle_onion
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I have the book "unearthed" and am working through it. But what I have read, it seems that a lot of scholars do not agree with the findings?Is there a web site or forum that deals with the book and its contents?

Also has anyone read "who wrote the Bible"?Any comments on this book?

UO
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Old 07-26-2001, 07:02 AM   #8
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Yes it is true that Finkelstein is somewhat of an iconoclast for his downdating of Hazor, Gezer, and Megiddo. Each site features famous early Iron II city remains with remarkably similar six-chambered gates. Yadin assigned these ruins a Solomonic provenance, but Finkelstein believes they are Omride, and he is rather alone in this assertion. Still, as Dever emphasizes, the difference is only about 50 to 100 years. Finkelstein certainly is skeptical about the United Monarchy, but that these ruins are Israelite and date to the early Iron II period (10th or 9th century BCE) is not contested.

"Who Wrote the Bible?" by Richard Elliott Friedman, is a popular introduction to source-critical analysis of the Hebrew Bible. Friedman discusses the classic "Documentary Hypothesis" which crystallized under Wellhausen in the late 19th century (i.e. the Pentateuch is a redacted composite consisting of four principal authorial strands, written between ca. 900 BCE and ca. 400 BCE). By and large Friedman's book recapitulates standard scholarship with two notable exceptions: (1) Friedman assigns the P strand a preexilic provenance (hence a J,E,P,D chronology). This is a minority view (originally due to Yehezkel Kaufmann), but not an idiosyncratic one. (2) Friedman posits that the mishkan (i.e. the "tabernacle") actually fit inside the kodesh kadoshim (the "holy of holies" or adytum) of the Solomonic Temple. This is a wild assertion, and Friedman engages in some flights of fancy in order to justify it (chapter 10).

But overall, I would stress that "Who Wrote the Bible?" is an outstanding book. It conveys many key concepts of modern bible scholarship in a tremendously exciting way. In fact, it reads like a good mystery in many parts.

Friedman's most recent offering, "The Hidden Book in the Bible" is also quite interesting. Therein he claims that the J strand forms a rather complete narrative from creation to the accession of Solomon.

Another very good book which deals with the Documentary Hypothesis is Alexander Rofe's "Introduction to the Composition of the Pentateuch". See my review of this on the Amazon.com web site.

[ July 26, 2001: Message edited by: Apikorus ]

[ July 26, 2001: Message edited by: Apikorus ]
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Old 07-26-2001, 07:27 AM   #9
sighhswolf
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Quote:
Originally posted by marduck:
<STRONG>I saw that show to, they were all over the map with their dates, pulling events from over 800 years (1200 to 2000 BCE) When does the Bible say the Exodus occured, 400 years before Solomon? that would be 1300 BCE, before Ramses the Great was Pharoh, Keep in mind Ramses the Great lived to a ripe old age and had 100 children and a very succesful career as Pharoh. The slaves the Egyptians had were captured soldiers who were put to work in mines, there is no account of a large amount of Hebrew slaves ever being in Egypt.
As for the city of Ramses existing, sure, he had many building projects, put his face on everything, his carcass in on display at the museum in Cairo.
there are two events that parallel the Exodus, one is when Thutmosis tossed out the foreigners that ruled Egypt around 1400 BCE, the other is when the pharoh Achenatun (a radical monotheist, King Tuts dad) was booted out along with his followers around 1300 BCE.</STRONG>
Yea, and there are those who say that Moses
WAS Achenatun.

There is also the back and forth movement of the canaanites during periods of famine.
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Old 07-26-2001, 07:38 AM   #10
Apikorus
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The expulsion of the Hyksos took place under Kamose or Ahmose, not Thutmose III.

Identification of Moses with Akhenaten or with a prince of Akhenaten is amusing but impossibly speculative. Still, Atenism had a demonstrable influence on the Hebrew Bible. Many scholars have pointed out the parallels between Psalm 104 and the Hymn to the Aten (presumably composed by Akhenaten himself). But literary borrowing of course does not establish that Moses was an Atenist priest, or that the Israelites were ever in Egypt, for that matter.
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