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Author Topic:   Brian and Buz: The Exodus Debate
Brian
Member (Idle past 3901 days)
Posts: 4659
From: Scotland
Joined: 10-22-2002


Message 1 of 52 (332482)
07-17-2006 9:10 AM


GREAT DEBATE - BRIAN and BUZSAW only


This is the OP for the debate between Buz and myself on the Wyatt/Moller Exodus material. Buz and myself have an understanding that there may be delays in replies to posts made on this thread. I am perfectly happy with this as I know how life can get in the way of EvC forum.

Some of the material has been posted before, but I make no apology for reintroducing this material as most of it contains the most common objections to the accuracy of the face value biblical account of the Exodus.

Okay, first off I’d like to thank Buz for accepting my invitation to discuss the historicity of the Israelite Exodus from Egypt. I am sure that there will still be many unresolved issues by the end of the debate, but I am equally sure that some issues will be resolved and that the debate will be an informative one for both of us and for other readers.

The topic of the debate then is the historical accuracy of the Exodus event as outlined in the Hebrew Bible. For this investigation the historian has three sources to employ. Firstly, there is the Hebrew Bible, secondly archaeological evidence, and finally we have comparative anthropology. I will look at the uses and limitations of these three sources shortly, but before this we need to acknowledge the role of the historian.

To begin with, the historian who is investigating the historicity of the Israelite Exodus has to observe the same rules as all other historians who are researching any other historical event. There are certain basic principles that all historians must adhere to if they wish their work to be taken seriously and if they wish to earn the respect of other colleagues. (Ramsey: 3)

I think we are all aware that there is no such thing as a completely objective historian; everyone has a particular bias to some degree. In an ideal world the historian would be able to look at as much evidence as possible from an objective stance and then come to a conclusion. But historians tend to research a subject that they already have some opinion on and this is fine as long as the historian is aware that they have to examine both positive and negative evidence, because their synopsis is going to be examined by a range of scholars with a broad range of opinions and knowledge. Any historical hypothesis has to address the possible contrary evidence because, when the hypothesis is up for peer review, you can be sure the critics will be aware of most of the available evidence. So, the first basic principle of historical research (IMO) is that the historian needs to provide sound reasoning for accepting evidence ‘X’ over evidence ‘Y’, they cannot just randomly choose which evidence is reliable.

I’d now like to look at something that there are so many misconceptions, namely, what is history. I have spoke to so many people over the years who really do not know what history is, and I am forever correcting people (to differing degrees) in high schools, university seminars, and even the proverbial man in the street as to what ‘history’ actually is. This is something that I have noticed about many websites such as Wyattmuseum, WAR, and others, they do not appear to understand what history is.

So, what is history? Well, initially, history is NOT what happened in the past, the past itself has gone forever and cannot be examined (Knauf:27). History is what has been written about the past, it is the text on the page and not the event(s) itself. Thus, historians can only examine the remains of the past, whether it is an artefact or a text, and these remains do not have a context, they are only given meaning and significance by the historian’s own interpretation of the evidence. Since meaning and significance is not an inherent feature of a text or artefact, this means that all histories are products of the human mind.

Now, this is important, because since all histories are created in the human mind this opens up the possibility that the ‘history’ is partly or completely untrue. For example, an oppressive government can publish histories that portray them in a positive way, thus they do provide a ‘history’ but that history is ultimately false. With this in mind, we can apply it to the Hebrew Bible’s narratives concerning the Exodus and conclude that, although these narratives are ‘history’, they may be partly or entirely false.

The famous historian Edward Carr has some enlightening information.

No document can tell us more than what the author of the document thought, what he thought happened, what he thought ought to happen or would happen, or perhaps only what he wanted others to think he thought, or even only what he himself thought he thought. . (Carr:16)

I dare say the ‘what is history’ question may arise again in this debate, but since this is the OP I don’t want to dwell on it too much at the moment. I would just like to make the point to my opponent that all histories, including the historical narratives of the Hebrew Bible, are constructed by the human mind and as such they are open to the prejudice of their authors.

Finally, I need to repeat something about historical theories that I have mentioned at the forum a few times in the past. People simply must understand that any historical theory is never ever proven. When conducting historical research, the historian is aware that they do not have all the evidence available, they are aware that evidence may be uncovered in the future that could falsify their theory, it is exactly the same with a scientific theory. As with scientific theories, historical theories are merely an explanation for the available evidence, therefore the historian knows that they shouldn’t say something such as “this proves that the Israelites helped to build the city of Rameses”. What a good historian would say is “this suggests that it is possible that the Israelites helped build the city of Rameses”, or “this evidence supports the view that the Israelites helped to build the city of Rameses”.

Now on to the three sources available to the historian on their quest to discover the historicity of the Exodus, namely, the Hebrew Bible, archaeology, and comparative anthropology.

Firstly, we have the Hebrew Bible. Although the Hebrew Bible is not a primary source it is the only source we have that records an Israelite Exodus from Egypt. This means that we have to be extra careful when examining its claims as there is no extant record that directly addresses it.

Since we only have one record of the Exodus, we can only go with that account and then test its veracity.

The initial problem that we have with the biblical account of the Exodus is the date of its writing down. The earliest extant texts we have of the Hebrew Bible are the Dead Sea Scrolls, usually dated from about 200BCE-70CE. This means that the Exodus account we have was not written early in Israel’s history (Coote: 20) and we also have a gap of as much as a thousand years between our primary and secondary sources (Thompson: 1). Now, this doesn’t automatically mean that the Hebrew Bible is worthless as a source for reconstructing an accurate past, but it does mean that we have to be aware that there are possible problems. For example, if the author was not a direct witness, how did he come by his information? Did he have eyewitness accounts, and if so, how reliable were the witnesses? Do we have the autographs of the author, if not, could the ones we do possess have been edited? There are many other questions, but in relation to the proximity of the authors of the Exodus stories to the actual event we have to be aware that it is accepted that many stories, proverbs, and hymns were passed down orally, from one generation to another before they were written down. After they were put into writing, many of the biblical narratives have been altered and edited to suit the particular purpose of different authors.

It is also commonly recognised that changes of various kinds could and often did occur as a tradition was transmitted, additions, deletions, “updating”, combination with other traditions. Modifications could be made at either the oral or the written stage, or both. Each new audience which received a tradition might “hear” in it fresh insights or read into it new applications for its situation, and these insights or meanings were often incorporated into the tradition when it was passed on. (Ramsey: 10)

We can see that the Exodus account as we have it is the work of more than one author, with some blatant signs of editing. An example of this follows.

In Exodus 12:39, we are told that the Israelites left in a bit of a hurry:

With the dough they had brought from Egypt, they baked cakes of unleavened bread. The dough was without yeast because they had been driven out of Egypt and did not have time to prepare food for themselves.

However, in Exodus 11-2 we are told that:

Tell the people that men and women alike are to ask their neighbours for articles of silver and gold."

Apparently they had time to take articles from their neighbours, and they also had time to prepare for battle:

Exodus 13:18

So God led the people around by the desert road toward the Red Sea. The Israelites went up out of Egypt armed for battle.

So, although the huge passage of time between our primary and secondary sources does not mean that the Bible’s version of the Exodus is inaccurate, but it doesn’t mean that we need to be aware that alterations of the text we have may well have taken place, and these alterations would reflect the particular bias of the editor.

The next source available to the historian is archaeological evidence.

IMO Ron Wyatt was completely clueless about what archaeology actually is, he had no idea how to carry out an archaeological survey and he probably caused a great deal of damage to possible beneficial sites.

Even Wyatt’s hangers on have a great deal to learn about what archaeology is and what it can do for biblical studies, so here’s a quick outline of both issues.

Archaeology is essentially the recovery of artefacts, and artefacts are specifically the material remains left by human and/or natural activities (Laughlin: 32).

Now, here we have a similar situation to what the historian has with his textual evidence, the fact of the matter is that all archaeological remains are mute, they do not have any inherent meaning or context. The meaning and context of any artefact is the product of the archaeologist’s/historian’s mind. This is why we have so many disputes over so much of the evidence that has been unearthed in the tells of Palestine. The remains are normally scrutinised through the particular bias of the ‘archaeologist’ who is examining them. Part of the problem for the debate over the origins of ancient Israel is that many of the early ‘archaeologists’ were not trained in archaeology, they were mostly American protestant clergy who simply went out there and everything that was dug up was interpreted through comparison with the Bible! Nothing was examined independent of the biblical texts so obviously a lot was going to be discovered that ‘supported’ the Bible. Things much improved in the 1970’s with the rise of what is known as the ‘New Archaeology’, since the 70’s recovered artefacts were beginning to be examined on their own, but it did take some time before this independent scrutiny took old, even today it goes on, but this extreme form of biased archaeological work usually doesn’t make it into mainstream journals because reviewers point out the errors in this type of approach. This is one reason why Wyatt’s amateur efforts will never have any respect form any mainstream scholars, there are just too many errors in methodology and interpretation of data. Wyatt even ignores much of the biblical text in order to make his alleged ‘finds’ look important.

Anyway, the basic rule to keep in mind when examining any artefact is that the artefact is mute, and thus everything that is presented about it is merely constructed in the human mind.

Before I move on from this very brief description, I’d like Buz and everyone else reading this to be aware (if they aren’t already) of just what an archaeological find means. The recovered artefact has to be taken in context, it must be remembered that everything the archaeologists/historian says about an artefact is in addition to what the artefact itself presents. For example, let’s look at the so-called chariot wheel(s) in the Gulf of Aqabah. Now, that there is a chariot wheel in the Gulf of Aqabah only means that at some time in the past a chariot wheel found its way into the Gulf of Aqabah, everything else that you read about this chariot wheel is in addition to what the actual chariot wheel tells us. A chariot wheel in the Gulf of Aqabah does not mean that there were Israelites in Egypt during the second millennium BCE, how could it mean this? A chariot wheel in the Gulf of Aqabah does not mean that Moses was a real person, or that there is a God who has control over nature, or that the angel of death passed over Egypt. All it means is that some time in the past a chariot wheel found its way into Aqabah. So please be aware of the dangers of jumping to conclusions about an artefact. Please be aware that an artefact is only a tiny part of the over all picture and that the artefact has to be consistent with the rest of the evidence.

Finally, regarding the sources available to the historian who is attempting to reconstruct Israel’s past, we come to comparative anthropology.
Comparative anthropology is:

” to compare the observations made in all parts of the world, and from the comparison to deduce theories, more or less provisional, of the origin and growth of beliefs and institutions, always subject to modification and correction by facts which may afterwards be brought to light.”

Comparative anthropology has its limitations, for example it is an extremely subjective discipline. The famous anthropological episode regarding ancient Israel’s origins was undertaken by British anthropologist Edward Evans-Pritchard. Evans-Pritchard lived with the Nuer people, he learned their language, studied their way of life, and became an expert in their rituals and religion. During this ‘participant observation’, which essentially means that the anthropologist is working from first hand experience (Lang: 2), Evans-Pritchard wrote that he felt he was actually ”living in Old Testament times” (Evans-Pritchard: vii). He made many connections between the Nuer religion and that of Judeo-Christian traditions. His work was criticised because many of the ‘parallels’ we strained at best, and critics argued that Evans-Pritchard saw the connections because he expected to see them.

However, comparative anthropology has its uses. In the Exodus debate we can use what we know about modern pastoral nomad groups and compare this information with that of the ancient Israelites to discover how viable many biblical claims are. One useful piece of information is the fact that modern pastoral nomads can only cover a distance of about 6 miles a day, which, as we will see, severely damages Wyatt’s Aqabah crossing.

This is really about it. These are the three sources that scholars use when attempting to reconstruct ancient Israel’s origins. These are very brief outlines and I can expand more if required. But, these descriptions are useful, because we cannot simply make up different rules just because we are talking about ancient Israel. Any investigation into Israel’s past must be conducted in the same manner as any other historical investigation.

To begin the critique of the historicity of the Exodus, I initially wish to limit my objections to three particular points.

1. Evidence of Israelites in Egypt.
2. The numbers involved in the Exodus.
3. The location of the ‘Sea’ crossing.

What I hope to demonstrate is that we have no evidence of Israelite in Egypt during the time that the Bible claims they were there. I then wish to argue that the numbers involved in the Exodus are ridiculously high for the time and area of the event, which means that one of the main arguments of Wyatt was that a large clearing would be required and Aqabah happens to have a large clearing. Finally, I wish to argue that the biblical texts do not make it possible for the sea crossing to be any great distance away from Egypt, and Aqabah is over 100 miles away.

To begin with then, and this will not take very long, if there was an Exodus from Egypt then we need to have a time when there were Israelites in Egypt. Now, the Bible explicitly claims that the Exodus was 480 years before the 4th year of Solomon’s reign, which, when correlated from information in external kings’ lists gives us an Exodus date of 1446 BCE.

So, the first request is for direct evidence of Israelites in Egypt during the 15th century BCE. I wish Buz good luck with this quest because I am supremely confident that I can state categorically that there is no direct non-biblical evidence whatsoever of Israelites in Egypt during the 15th century BCE (Malamat:17).

If no direct evidence is presented, then it weakens the entire case.

Now we move on to the numbers involved in the Exodus.

As we have seen, historical theories have to be presented with rational and reasonable arguments. In regard to the complete absence of any direct evidence for Israelites in Egypt during the 15th century BCE, it may be supposed that it is unreasonable to assume that some 3500 years later that we should expect to find any direct evidence. I would agree but for one thing, the Bible claims that an unbelievably huge number of Israelites left Egypt.

We are told that the Exodus group contained 600 000 men of fighting age (Exod. 12:37), and '' counting women, children and old men there would be 2-3 million Israelites in the Exodus group'' (Bright: 130).

Now, to anyone familiar with the history of the Ancient Near East (ANE), this is an impossibly high figure to take as being historically accurate. Leading scholar George Mendenhall is bemused when he writes:

''Such a number would have, indeed, caused Egypt's Pharaoh consternation, for not only would there have been very little room for them in Egypt, but a group of this size could likely have taken over Egypt with or without weapons they would hardly have to fear Pharaoh’s army, which was probably at most about 20,000 men'' (Mendenhall: 64-65).

The number involved in the Exodus group is even more unbelievable when we have to consider that this huge group all descended from a clan of seventy who entered Egypt just 430 years earlier (some texts, for example the Samaritan Pentateuch and the Septuagint both give the length of stay in Egypt as 215 years. (Hughes:17)

There are more problems with this figure. The growth rate needing to be sustained over a 430 year period is beyond the realms of possibility in the 2nd millenium BCE.

Livi-Bacci tells us that the population growth rate is calculated from the remains of cities, villages, other settlements, and the extension of cultivated land'' (Livi-Bacci: 30)

He continues on page 32:

In the 10,000 years prior to the birth of Christ, during which Neolithic civilisation spread from the Near East and Upper Egypt, the rate increased to 0.4 per 1,000 (which implies a doubling in less than 2,000 years) and population grew from several million to about 0.25 billion. This rate of ncrease, in spite of important cycles of growth and decline, was reinforced during the subsequent 17 and a half centuries. The population tripled to about 0.75 billion on the eve of the industrial revolution (an overall growth rate of 0.6 per 1000).

To give this some perspective, we can look at the research of A. Lucas who used population figures from the Annuaire Statistique 1937-38 and discovered that the average population growth for the years 1907-1937 was just 11.69 per thousand. Even although this is clearly much higher than the growth of 0.4 per thousand that Livi-Bacci mentions, the 11.69 per thousand still casts a large shadow of doubt over the growth rate of the Exodus group. When Lucas applied the 11.69 per 1000 to the 70 of Jacob's clan over a 430 year period he arrived at the number 10, 363, much lower than the 2-3 million that the Bible would have us believe.

The impossibility of the growth rate required over a 430 year period for a group to grow from 70 up to 2-3 million is supported from every source I have looked at, here are another couple to prove the point.

The New Encyclopaedia Britannica: Volume 25, Macropaedia, 1993.

Entry Population

Page 1041
"Before considering modern population trends separately for developing and industrialized countries, it is useful to present an overview of older trends. It is generally agreed that only 5,000,000-10,000,000 humans (i.e., one onethousandth of the present world population) were supportable before the agricultural revolution of about 10,000 years ago.

By the beginning of the Christian era, 8,000 years later, the' human population approximated 300,000,000, and there was apparently little increase in the ensuing millennium up to the year AD 1000. Subsequent population growth was slow and fitful, especially given the plague epidemics and other catastrophes of the Middle Ages.

By 1750, conventionally the beginning of the Industrial Revolution in Britain, world population may have been as high as 800,000,000. This means that in the 750 years from 1000 to 1750, the annual population growth rate averaged only about one-tenth of 1 percent. The reasons for such slow growth are well known. In the absence of what is now considered basic knowledge of sanitation and health (the role of bacteria in disease, for example, was unknown until the 19th century), mortality rates were very high, especially for infants and children. Only about half of newborn babies survived to the age of five years. Fertility was also very high, as it had to be to sustain the existence of any population under such conditions of mortality.

Modest population growth might occur for a time in these circumstances, but recurring famines, epidemics, and wars kept long-term growth close to zero. From 1750 onward population growth accelerated. In some measure this was a consequence of rising standards of living, coupled with improved transport and communication, which mitigated the effects of localized crop failures that previously would have resulted in catastrophic mortality. Occasional famines did occur, however, and it was not until the 19th century that a sustained decline in mortality took place, stimulated by the improving economic conditions of the Industrial Revolution and the growing understanding of the need for sanitation and public health measures."

Also:

The World Book Encyclopedia, World Book Inc, Chicago, 1999.

Page 673.

"Causes: For thousands of years, birth rates were high. However, the population increased slowly and sometimes declined because death rates also were high. Then, during the 1700's and 1800's, advances in agriculture, communication, and transportation improved living conditions in parts of the world and reduced the occurrence of many diseases. As a result, the death rate began to drop, and the population grew rapidly."

page 674

"In the industrial countries of Europe and North America, many people flocked to the cities and took jobs in factories. In cities and in many rural areas, it was difficult to support a large family. People began to see reasons for having smaller families. As a result, birth rates in these countries began to fall. In the agricultural countries of Africa, Asia, and Latin America, declines in death rates plunged quickly without corresponding declines in birth rates. As a result, the population of low-income nations and the world increased rapidly."

It is not just the external data that suggests the population of 2-3 million for the Exodus group is ridiculously high, some internal information verges on the laughable.

In the Book of Numbers 3:42-43 we are told:

So Moses counted all the firstborn of the Israelites, as the LORD commanded him. The total number of firstborn males a month old or more, listed by name, was 22,273.

How can we take this seriously when, Gray informs us that:

The unreality of the numbers is independently proved by comparing them with one another. Thus: the number of male firstborn is 22 273, allowing the number of female firstborn to be equal, the total number of firstborn is 44 546, and, therefore, the total number of Israelites being between 2,000,000 and 2,500,000, the average number of children to a family is about 50! Again, if, as is probable, the firstborn of the mother is intended (cp3:12), then, since the number of firstborn and of mothers must have been identical, there were 44,456 mothers: but the number of women being approximately the same as of men, the women over 20 numbered something over 600,000, and therefore only about 1 in 14 or 15 women over twenty were mothers! (page:13)

There’s more internal evidence to suggest that the 2-3 million of the Exodus group is artificial.

Current estimates of the population of Canaan at the time of the Exodus are well below three million. Exod. 23:29 and Deut. 7:7, 17, 22 indicate that the Israelites were far fewer in number than the Canaanite population that they were to conquer (Ashley: 60-61).

Thus, I think Wyatt’s search for an area near the Red Sea large enough to contain a huge 2-3 million people is a Red Sea herring.

But, not only is the search around the Red Sea for an area large enough to contain the 2-3 million not required since the group could not have been as much as 2-3 million, but searching anywhere near the Red Sea is a waste of time because, as has been mentioned many times at the forum, the Bible never claims that the Israelites crossed the Red Sea.

The problem began when the authors of the Septuagint rendered Yam Suph as ‘Red Sea’, and since early English translations were largely dependant on the Septuagint, the error has continued to exist. Many Bibles do indeed to continue to translate Yam Suph as Red Sea. However, the 1962 edition of the Torah published by the Jewish Publication Society of America, corrected the translation of Yam Suph to read ‘Sea of Reeds’

This presents Wyatt’s hangers on with a problem because:

Initially, the Red Sea can be ruled out, both because the Red Sea has no reeds, and because the lengthy route along the Gulf of Suez would have enabled the pursuing Egyptians to overtake the fleeing Hebrews. ( Eakin: 379)

So, if the Red Sea has no reeds, and the Bible insists that the Israelites crossed a sea of reeds, the Aqabah is definitely ruled out on this fact alone. But there is more information from the Bible itself that rules out Aqabah.

Numbers 33:-10; (emphasis mine)

Here are the stages in the journey of the Israelites when they came out of Egypt by divisions under the leadership of Moses and Aaron. At the LORD's command Moses recorded the stages in their journey. This is their journey by stages:

The Israelites set out from Rameses on the fifteenth day of the first month, the day after the Passover. They marched out boldly in full view of all the Egyptians, who were burying all their firstborn, whom the LORD had struck down among them; for the LORD had brought judgment on their gods.

The Israelites left Rameses and camped at Succoth.

They left Succoth and camped at Etham, on the edge of the desert.

They left Etham, turned back to Pi Hahiroth, to the east of Baal Zephon, and camped near Migdol.

They left Pi Hahiroth and passed through the sea into the desert, and when they had traveled for three days in the Desert of Etham, they camped at Marah.

They left Marah and went to Elim, where there were twelve springs and seventy palm trees, and they camped there.

They left Elim and camped by the Red Sea.

There are two seas mentioned in this extract, and only one of them has the Israelites passing through it. They left Pi Hahiroth and passed through the sea into the desert, they then travelled for three days before they camped at Marah, they left Marah and then went to Elim, it is only after they leave Elim that they arrive at the Red Sea, long after they have passed through the sea.

Geographically, the main objection to equating the sea of the Exodus with the Red Sea is that those places named in the Exodus itinerary prior to arrival at the 'yam sup' would appear to be located in the eastern delta region of Egypt (Batto: 28).

Surely this information by itself is enough to falsify the Wyatt proposal?

But, if not, and it is a fair bet that it isn’t enough, we can turn to comparative anthropology to further negate Wyatt’s claims.

We know that modern Bedouins moving from camp to camp can only cover about six miles a day (Beitzel: 91). These groups are nothing near the size of the Exodus group but we can ignore this for the moment.
Let’s go back to the Numbers 33 reference and see how many days passed before the Israelites ’passed through the sea’.

Now Moses was commanded to record all the stages of the Exodus groups and he begins with the first camp at Succoth, so that is one day, day two they move to Etham, day three they camp at Migdol, day four they pass through the sea. Now we only have four days from their leaving Egypt until they cross the sea, a maximum of 24 miles, and that is without taking into consideration that a huge number of 2-3 million people complete with livestock may not have covered that distance, AND not taking into consideration that the Exodus group turned back to Pi Hahiroth:

In Exod. 14:1-2 the Israelites are commanded to turn back and encamp within Egypt, the geographical picture is confirmed by the itinerary in Num. 33:1-49. In verse 6, Israel camped at Etham on the edge of the wilderness only then when Israel crosses the sea does she enter the wilderness (Childs: 409).

Now ‘turned back’ does not need to mean a complete 180 degree about turn, it can mean any turn off their course, but this is academic because even if the Exodus group did march in a straight line towards Aqabah, they would have a way to go because Aqabah is about 120 miles from Egypt as the crow flies (Noth: 108)

So, once again, we have concrete proof that the Aqabah crossing is a ludicrous location for the sea crossing, firstly because it has no reeds, and secondly because it is too far away from Egypt to be harmonized with the biblical record.

Perhaps it could be argued that no time is given between the encampments before the group passed through the sea, but this is negated by verse 8 where we are told that ”They left Pi Hahiroth and passed through the sea into the desert, and when they had travelled for three days in the Desert of Etham, they camped at Marah..

The interesting thing about this reference is that we are told when the Israelites did not camp, the reference clearly states that they travelled for three days before camping at Marah. Moses is told to record all the stages of the journey, he does so and also records when they did not camp, in this case three days. So the claim that there could be any period of time between the first three camps is dismissed.

Further support that the sea crossing has to be fairly near Egypt (or even in Egypt) can be found in Exodus 14:5-9:
When the king of Egypt was told that the people had fled, Pharaoh and his officials changed their minds about them and said, "What have we done? We have let the Israelites go and have lost their services!" So he had his chariot made ready and took his army with him. He took six hundred of the best chariots, along with all the other chariots of Egypt, with officers over all of them. The LORD hardened the heart of Pharaoh king of Egypt, so that he pursued the Israelites, who were marching out boldly. The Egyptians—all Pharaoh's horses and chariots, horsemen and troops pursued the Israelites and overtook them as they camped by the sea near Pi Hahiroth, opposite Baal Zephon.

So, as soon as the Pharaoh had heard that the people had fled he went in pursuit, and apparently caught up with the group quite quickly near Pi Hahiroth, close to Baal Zephon.
Now, although Pi Hahiroth is unknown from other sources and therefore its location is still unknown, we do know for certain where Baal-Zephon is located.

From Martin Noth (op. cit. p110: The place which we can locate most certainly is 'Baal-Zephon', by which a sanctuary is clearly meant. This sanctuary of Baal-Zephon, on whose site in the Hellenistic-Roman period a Zues Kasios was worshipped, lay on a low hill in the now uninhabited place 'mahammadije' on the western end of the coastal beach belt which separates the lagoon of what in classical times was called the Sirbonian Sea, the present 'sebhat berdawil', from the Mediterranean Sea. The region concerned is thus near to the Mediterranean coast east of the mouths of the Nile. If then in the closing clause of 14:2, which is obviously rather surprising but not necessarily secondary because of its address in the second person plural, it is expressly stressed that Israel is to camp 'in front of 'Baal-Zephon', the scene is meant to be the neighbourhood of the western shore of the Sirbonian Sea. The further explanation 'between Migdol and the sea' also points to this. Migdol, which occurs as early as the Egyptian sources, lay on the usual route from the delta to Palestine, not far north-east of the Egyptian border fortress 'Tr' and is probably to be located at the present 'tell el-her' whereas in this context the 'sea' must almost certainly be understood to be the Mediterranean Sea,

In the verse following the quote of Exodus 14:5-9, we can see that the crossing of the sea takes place, culminating at Exodus 14:29-30:

But the Israelites went through the sea on dry ground, with a wall of water on their right and on their left. That day the LORD saved Israel from the hands of the Egyptians, and Israel saw the Egyptians lying dead on the shore.

So, the Israelites have crossed the sea, and the Egyptians are dead, and it did not happen 120 miles away from Egypt.

One very interesting piece of ancient evidence that supports the sea crossing being in Egypt can be found in Papyrus Anastasi III, 2, 11-12. This text informs us that ” The papyrus-marshes come to it with papyrus reeds and the Waters of Horus with rushes”[ (Gardiner: 74) This is referring to an area close to the city of Rameses, the exact place where the Israelites were supposed to have helped build in Exodus 1:11. Further support is the possibility that ”etymologically speaking ’suph’ is a loan word from the Egyptian ’twf(y)’ which means ‘papyrus/reeds’ (Ward: 340)
I think the evidence is extremely conclusive. The crossing could not be at Aqabah because it has no reeds, it is too far away from Egypt, and we have the biblical texts themselves that suggest the crossing was near or in Egypt, which is supported by a strong piece of external evidence.

I conclude from the available biblical and non biblical information that the crossing of the sea at Aqabah has nothing to do with the biblical account of the Exodus.

Bibliography:

Ashley, T. R. (1993). The book of Numbers. Grand Rapids, Mich., William B. Eerdmans.

Batto, B. F., The Reed Sea: Requiescat in Pace Journal of Biblical Literature 102.

Beitzel. B J (1985) The Moody Atlas of Bible Lands. Chicago. Moody Press.

Bright, J. (1972). A history of Israel. London, SCM Press.

Carr, E. H. (1961). What is history? : the George Macaulay Trevelyan lectures delivered in the University of Cambridge, January-March 1961. London, Macmillan.

Childs, B. S., A Traditio-Historical Study of the Reed Sea Tradition Vetus Testamentum 20

Coote, R. B. (1990). Early Israel : a new horizon. Minneapolis, Fortress Press.

Eakin, E.F. (1967) The Reed Sea and Baalism JBL 86, 378-384.

Edelman, D. V. (1991). The fabric of history : text, artifact and Israel's past. Sheffield, JSOT Press.

Evans-Pritchard, E. (1956). Nuer religion. Oxford, Clarendon Press : Oxford University Press.

Gardiner, A.H.S. The Geography of the Exodus Paris, E. Champion.

Gray, G. B. (1903) A critical and exegetical commentary on Numbers, Edinburgh : T. & T. Clark

Hughes, J. (1990). Secrets of the times : myth and history in Biblical chronology. Sheffield, JSOT Press.

Knauf , A. (1991) ” From History to Interpretation” in Edelman 26-64.

Lang, B. (1985). Anthropological approaches to the Old Testament. Philadelphia
London, Fortress Press ;
SPCK.

Laughlin, J. C. H. (2000). Archaeology and the Bible. London, Routledge.

Livi-Bacci, M. (1992). A concise history of world population. Cambridge, Mass ; Oxford, Blackwell.

Malamat, A. (1997) ”The Exodus: Egyptian Analogies” in Frerichs, Lesko and Leonard. Exodus: The Egyptian Evidence . Eisenbrauns, Winona Lake.15-26.

Mendenhall, G.E. (1958) ”The Census lists of Numbers 1 and 26 JBL 77, 64-65.

Noth, M. (1962) Exodus, SCM Press London.

Ramsey, G. W. (1982). The quest for the historical Israel : reconstructing Israel's early history. London, SCM Press.

Thompson, T. L. (1999) The Mythic Past: Biblical archaeology and the myth of Israel. London, Basic Books.

GREAT DEBATE - BRIAN and BUZSAW only

Edited by AdminNWR, : add banner to remind readers that this is a great debate


Replies to this message:
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AdminNWR
Inactive Member


Message 2 of 52 (332489)
07-17-2006 9:52 AM


Thread moved here from the Proposed New Topics forum.

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Buzsaw
Inactive Member


Message 3 of 52 (338647)
08-08-2006 9:40 PM
Reply to: Message 1 by Brian
07-17-2006 9:10 AM


Oh, There You Are.
Hi Brian. I've been watching for your opener in forum topics and somehow missed it as I hadn't checked the great debate forum itself. I figured you were busy with other stuff and hadn't got to it yet. Anyhow, my apologies and I'll begin working on a response.

This message is a reply to:
 Message 1 by Brian, posted 07-17-2006 9:10 AM Brian has responded

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Brian
Member (Idle past 3901 days)
Posts: 4659
From: Scotland
Joined: 10-22-2002


Message 4 of 52 (338680)
08-09-2006 8:22 AM
Reply to: Message 3 by Buzsaw
08-08-2006 9:40 PM


Re: Oh, There You Are.
No probs Buz, take your time there is no hurry.

Brian.


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Codegate
Member (Idle past 743 days)
Posts: 84
From: The Great White North
Joined: 03-15-2006


Message 5 of 52 (338702)
08-09-2006 9:49 AM
Reply to: Message 2 by AdminNWR
07-17-2006 9:52 AM


Asking questions of great debaters?
I know that I shouldn't be responding in a great debate thread, but I have a couple of questions that I would like to pose to Brian as a result of his opening post. Is there any way for me to send a pm or something similar?

Thanks!


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Brian
Member (Idle past 3901 days)
Posts: 4659
From: Scotland
Joined: 10-22-2002


Message 6 of 52 (338703)
08-09-2006 9:52 AM
Reply to: Message 5 by Codegate
08-09-2006 9:49 AM


e-mail
Hi,

Feel free to email me at 0205100j at student.gla.ac.uk.

I'll respond as soon as I can.

Brian.


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Buzsaw
Inactive Member


Message 7 of 52 (339117)
08-11-2006 12:07 AM
Reply to: Message 1 by Brian
07-17-2006 9:10 AM


GREAT DEBATE - BRIAN and BUZSAW only

Thanks for being patient, Brian. This has turned out to be a very busy summer for me with my business and a building project at home. I am glad for the opportunity to do this debate with you and agree that it should be a learning event for us both as well as others as we endeavor to sort out the truth about this interesting subject.

Brian writes:

Now, this is important, because since all histories are created in the human mind this opens up the possibility that the ‘history’ is partly or completely untrue. For example, an oppressive government can publish histories that portray them in a positive way, thus they do provide a ‘history’ but that history is ultimately false. With this in mind, we can apply it to the Hebrew Bible’s narratives concerning the Exodus and conclude that, although these narratives are ‘history’, they may be partly or entirely false.

The above statement comes across as implying that some oppressive influence was in play in creating the Biblical account. "We can apply it to the Hebrew Bible's narratives" seems to bear that notion out. If any historical source was influenced by an "oppressive influence" I would finger the Egyptian historical record as the Pharoah of the Exodus was according to the Biblical account oppressive and it is the opinion of many that the Egyptians did indeed cook the books so to speak regarding how they wanted the historical record of their empires to be established for the future so far as dates et al. Not only that, but for their own safety, if the kingdom was indeed as descimated by the plagues and the disaster in the sea as the Biblical history reads, it would be to their advantage to keep the events as secret as possible so as for the Caananites and Philistines, et al not to take advantage of the situation.

Brian writes:

Firstly, we have the Hebrew Bible. Although the Hebrew Bible is not a primary source it is the only source we have that records an Israelite Exodus from Egypt. This means that we have to be extra careful when examining its claims as there is no extant record that directly addresses it.

Imo the Hebrew Biblical historical record is both extant as well as the primary source. Wyatt, the pioneer discoverer of the Aqaba route became aware of the possibility via the Biblical record, his primary source. For example Wyatt read in Galations 4:12 that Mt Sinai is in Arabia and he read that Moses's Father in law was a Midianite from Arabia. Moses had been in Arabia for a number of years before the Exodus so he had some knowledge of the region. It would seem likely that Moses would not head
into Egypt proper but head out into familiar territory.

GREAT DEBATE - BRIAN and BUZSAW only

Edited by Buzsaw, : Clarify

Edited by AdminFaith, : To add Great Debate banners


BUZSAW B 4 U 2 C Y BUZ SAW ---- Jesus said, "When these things begin to come to pass, then look up, and lift up your heads, for your redemption draws near." Luke 21:28

This message is a reply to:
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Brian
Member (Idle past 3901 days)
Posts: 4659
From: Scotland
Joined: 10-22-2002


Message 8 of 52 (339542)
08-12-2006 1:03 PM
Reply to: Message 7 by Buzsaw
08-11-2006 12:07 AM


Primary Sources
The above statement comes across as implying that some oppressive influence was in play in creating the Biblical account. "We can apply it to the Hebrew Bible's narratives" seems to bear that notion out.

Maybe I could have worded it better, but I am essentially saying that we have to treat the Hebrew Bible in the same way that we treat any other historical document when using it as a source to try and reconstruct the past. We cannot give the Bible special treatment.

All texts are produced by humans, and all humans have their biases. But, in an attempt to carry out objective research, you cannot give any source special treatment, other scholars would not only tear your thesis apart, your reputation would also suffer.

If any historical source was influenced by an "oppressive influence" I would finger the Egyptian historical record as the Pharoah of the Exodus was according to the Biblical account oppressive and it is the opinion of many that the Egyptians did indeed cook the books so to speak regarding how they wanted the historical record of their empires to be established for the future so far as dates et al.

The example I gave was of an oppressive regime that could produce a history that would portray them in a better light. It was just an example and wasn’t to be taken as being the way that the Bible was written. What it meant is that if an oppressive regime can produce a false history then it is entirely possible that anyone can produce a false history. The biblical authors undoubtedly had their biases, just like you point out that the Egyptians ‘cooked the books’ quite a lot. The most famous example is Rameses II’s ‘rout’ of the Hittites, which clearly contains great exaggerations.

So, think about it, if the Egyptians, and others obviously, can embellish their records, then why can’t the authors of the Bible also add in a little exaggeration here and there? Also, we must remember that we have do not have all of the evidence available for the time period, historians only have bits and pieces of evidence and they have to produce a plausible theory from that evidence.

Not only that, but for their own safety, if the kingdom was indeed as descimated by the plagues and the disaster in the sea as the Biblical history reads, it would be to their advantage to keep the events as secret as possible so as for the Caananites and Philistines, et al not to take advantage of the situation.

To be a little bit pedantic, there weren’t any Philistines in the ANE when the Exodus was supposed to take place, whether we take a mid 15th or 13th century BCE date, but I get your point. There is, however, a huge problem with this hypothesis. As has been mentioned at the forum before, Egypt didn’t exist in a vacuum, their towns cities were places of thriving trade with people from different kingdoms selling their goods. Also, for the period we are looking at, the Bible places the Exodus around 1446 BCE, the pharaoh would be Thutmosis III and he:

was a skilled warrior who brought the Egyptian empire to the zenith of its power by conquering all of Syria, crossing the Euphrates to defeat the Mitannians, and penetrating south along the Nile to Napata in the Sudan. Link)

So, if Egypt was decimated by the plagues it would be impossible to keep it quiet, if the pharaoh’s armies had perished in the Reed Sea then Egypt would have been overrun by its enemies.

Imo the Hebrew Biblical historical record is both extant as well as the primary source.

It cannot be a primary source of the Exodus Buz, the earliest extant texts are the Dead Sea Scrolls, which means there is a period of at least a thousand years between the event and the earliest written source.

A primary source is a record from the actual time of the event, or the original writings of someone who witnessed the event, and example being the memoirs of a politician which describe something that happened during their lifetime.

The Bible is not a primary source, there are no extant original documents from any biblical author.

Of more concern is the fact that the Book of Exodus is not the work of one writer, and it is also rife with anachronisms that prove it wasn’t written by eyewitnesses. For example, the bible claims the Exodus was in 1446 BCE, but there was no pharaoh named Rameses before 1304 BCE, thus no city could have been called Pi-Rameses before this date. Apologists get round this by saying that the city was called Avaris and that the city was named Pi-Rameses at the time the Exodus account was first written down. It sounds unlikely to me but if we take this as being true, it means that the person reporting the building of Pithom and Pi—Rameses (Exod. 1:11) must have lived about 150 years after the Exodus event. This verse (Exod. 1:11) could be even more problematic as there is no evidence that the name Pithom was only used as the name of a city in the Saite period (7th century B.C.E.), although the name was known before the Saite period as the name of temples and temple estates, the name was never had any connection with cities (Lemche, N. P. (1999), The Israelites in History and Tradition. SPCK Westminster John Knox Press London and Louiseville ky.) Thus, the evidence does not support the two cities in Exodus 1:11 as ever being occupied, or even existing, at the same time, with one part of the reference appearing to belong to the 2nd millennium B.C.E. and another one to the 1st Millenium B.C.E. (Miller, J. D. and Hayes, J. H. (1986) A history of Ancient Israel and Judah, SCM Press, London.68).

There are many many more examples that prove that the Exodus account was written down long after the event (if it happened at all), which does not mean these accounts are unreliable, but it does mean that the long period of time between the event and the writing down of it allows for the possibility of errors creeping in, or the particular biases of the communites that added to the text being, as Ramsey said ” additions, deletions, “updating”, combination with other traditions. Modifications could be made at either the oral or the written stage, or both. Each new audience which received a tradition might “hear” in it fresh insights or read into it new applications for its situation, and these insights or meanings were often incorporated into the tradition when it was passed on.

Wyatt, the pioneer discoverer of the Aqaba route became aware of the possibility via the Biblical record, his primary source.

Yes, it was Wyatt’s primary source in the context that it is his principle source, it is a different context from a primary historical source.

For example Wyatt read in Galations 4:12 that Mt Sinai is in Arabia and he read that Moses's Father in law was a Midianite from Arabia. Moses had been in Arabia for a number of years before the Exodus so he had some knowledge of the region. It would seem likely that Moses would not head into Egypt proper but head out into familiar territory.

The location of Mount Sinai still isn’t known, and do you really think that Wyatt was the first person to realise that Galatians said that Mt Sinai was in Arabia?

Anyway, the location of Mt Sinai isn’t really an issue, we can critique the account without it.

Brian.


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Replies to this message:
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Buzsaw
Inactive Member


Message 9 of 52 (339724)
08-12-2006 11:35 PM
Reply to: Message 8 by Brian
08-12-2006 1:03 PM


Re: Primary Sources
Brian writes:

All texts are produced by humans, and all humans have their biases. But, in an attempt to carry out objective research, you cannot give any source special treatment, other scholars would not only tear your thesis apart, your reputation would also suffer.

I don't mean to imply that the Bible warrants special treatment for evaluation. My concern is that it be given fair and balanced treatment as a historical source for evaluation as we pit it against various questionable Egyptian historical sources.

Brian writes:

The biblical authors undoubtedly had their biases, just like you point out that the Egyptians ‘cooked the books’ quite a lot. The most famous example is Rameses II’s ‘rout’ of the Hittites, which clearly contains great exaggerations.

So, think about it, if the Egyptians, and others obviously, can embellish their records, then why can’t the authors of the Bible also add in a little exaggeration here and there? Also, we must remember that we have do not have all of the evidence available for the time period, historians only have bits and pieces of evidence and they have to produce a plausible theory from that evidence.

Yes, bits and pieces is what archeology comes up with whereas the Biblical record is more complete and comprehensive, so it becomes a tedious job, matching up bits and pieces of archeology to the written record so as to either falsify or substantiate, leaving the skeptic of the written substantial leeway for application of assembled evidence.

I know I haven't covered much here but gotta hit hay for now and will cover more when I find time to return.


BUZSAW B 4 U 2 C Y BUZ SAW ---- Jesus said, "When these things begin to come to pass, then look up, and lift up your heads, for your redemption draws near." Luke 21:28

This message is a reply to:
 Message 8 by Brian, posted 08-12-2006 1:03 PM Brian has not yet responded

  
Buzsaw
Inactive Member


Message 10 of 52 (340117)
08-14-2006 11:20 PM
Reply to: Message 8 by Brian
08-12-2006 1:03 PM


Re: Primary Sources
Brian writes:

To be a little bit pedantic, there weren’t any Philistines in the ANE when the Exodus was supposed to take place, whether we take a mid 15th or 13th century BCE date, but I get your point.

My understanding is that the Philistines were in Gaza, closer to Egypt than Caanan.

Brian writes:

So, if Egypt was decimated by the plagues it would be impossible to keep it quiet, if the pharaoh’s armies had perished in the Reed Sea then Egypt would have been overrun by its enemies.

Nevertheless, there was the Sinai desert to the north and east and seas to the west and east leaving Egypt with the likely ability to shut off the trade routes as they would have in place border garisons at all times. I understand that even near Nuweiba beach there was a security post.

Brian writes:

It cannot be a primary source of the Exodus Buz, the earliest extant texts are the Dead Sea Scrolls, which means there is a period of at least a thousand years between the event and the earliest written source.

Maybe not if you take the minority liberal view that Moses didn't write Exodus, but my understanding is that the majority view has always been that he did write it. If he did write it, it would certainly be both primary and extant since it would be an eye witness account.

Maybe we have different views as to the definition of extant and primary.

Brian writes:

The Bible is not a primary source, there are no extant original documents from any biblical author.

The manuscripts we do have as well as the Dead Sea Scrolls, imo, still make it the most extant and most primary source for the account there is. From the information afforded by this primary and extant source Wyatt set out to verify the information given in it concerning the Exodus route. He didn't simply set out on a "fishing" expedition taking wildcat guesses as to where to begin to search for a different route than the traditional one. Having set out on the path he saw in the scriptures he struck gold in that he found both the chariot debris in the only shallow crossing site existing and corroborating stuff on the other side of the crossing which subsequently has been further substantiated by others like Moeller and others.

I'm afraid that's all I have time for tonight. I'll peck away at this when I can. My business and other responsibilities have kept me hopping this summer and I'm still quite backlogged in them.


BUZSAW B 4 U 2 C Y BUZ SAW ---- Jesus said, "When these things begin to come to pass, then look up, and lift up your heads, for your redemption draws near." Luke 21:28

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Buzsaw
Inactive Member


Message 11 of 52 (340412)
08-15-2006 10:47 PM
Reply to: Message 8 by Brian
08-12-2006 1:03 PM


Re: Primary Sources
Brian writes:

Of more concern is the fact that the Book of Exodus is not the work of one writer, and it is also rife with anachronisms that prove it wasn’t written by eyewitnesses. For example, the bible claims the Exodus was in 1446 BCE, but there was no pharaoh named Rameses before 1304 BCE, thus no city could have been called Pi-Rameses before this date. Apologists get round this by saying that the city was called Avaris and that the city was named Pi-Rameses at the time the Exodus account was first written down. It sounds unlikely to me but if we take this as being true, it means that the person reporting the building of Pithom and Pi—Rameses (Exod. 1:11) must have lived about 150 years after the Exodus event. This verse (Exod. 1:11) could be even more problematic as there is no evidence that the name Pithom was only used as the name of a city in the Saite period (7th century B.C.E.), although the name was known before the Saite period as the name of temples and temple estates, the name was never had any connection with cities (Lemche, N. P. (1999), The Israelites in History and Tradition. SPCK Westminster John Knox Press London and Louiseville ky.) Thus, the evidence does not support the two cities in Exodus 1:11 as ever being occupied, or even existing, at the same time, with one part of the reference appearing to belong to the 2nd millennium B.C.E. and another one to the 1st Millenium B.C.E. (Miller, J. D. and Hayes, J. H. (1986) A history of Ancient Israel and Judah, SCM Press, London.68).

Below is a list of scriptural references implying that Moses wrote the Pentateuch as well as some notable historians and theologians, including Josephus.p.

link writes:

What does the Bible itself say about authorship of the Pentateuch?
There are about two dozen verses in the Hebrew Scriptures and one dozen in the Christian Scriptures which state or strongly imply that Moses was the author. Consider the following passages from the New Living Translation (NLT):

Passages in the Pentateuch itself: Exodus 17:14 "Then the Lord instructed Moses, 'Write this down as a permanent record...'"
Exodus 24:4 "Then Moses carefully wrote down all the Lord's instructions."
Exodus 34:27 "And the Lord said to Moses, 'Write down all these instructions, for they represents the terms of my covenant with you and with Israel.'"
Leviticus 1:1 "The Lord called to Moses from the Tabernacle and said to him, 'Give the following instructions to the Israelites...'"
Leviticus 6:8 "Then the Lord said to Moses, 'Give Aaron and his sons the following instructions...'"
Deuteronomy 31:9 "So Moses wrote down this law and gave it to the priests."
Deuteronomy 31:24-26 "When Moses had finished writing down this entire body of law in a book..."

Passages elsewhere in the Hebrew Scriptures: Joshua 1:7-8 "...Obey all the laws Moses gave you."
Joshua 8:31-34 "He followed the instructions that Moses the Lord's servant had written in the Book of the Law..."
Joshua 22:5 "...obey all the commands and the laws that Moses gave to you."
2 Chronicles 34:14 "...Hilkiah the high priest...found the book of the Law of the Lord as it had been given through Moses."

Passages in the Gospels which show that Jesus and John the Baptizer believed Moses to be the author: Matthew 19:7-8 "...why did Moses say a man could merely write an official letter of divorce and send her away?", they asked. Jesus replied, 'Moses permitted divorce...'"
Matthew 22:24 "Moses said, 'If a man dies without children...'"
Mark 7:10 "For instance, Moses gave you this law from God..."
Mark 12:24 "...haven't you ever read about this in the writings of Moses, in the story of the burning bush..."
Luke 24:44 "...I told you that everything written about me by Moses and the prophets and in the Psalms must all come true."
John 1:17 "For the law was given through Moses..."
John 5:46 "But if you had believed Moses, you would have believed me because he wrote about me. And since you don't believe what he wrote, how will you believe what I say?"
John 7:23 "...do it, so as not to break the law of Moses..."

Passages elsewhere in the Christian Scriptures: Acts 26:22 "...I teach nothing except what the prophets and Moses said would happen..."
Romans 10:5 "For Moses wrote..."

Beliefs of conservative theologians:
Ancient Jewish and Christian writers, such as Ecclesiasticus, Josephus, Philo, and Origen were essentially in full agreement that the Pentateuch was written solely by Moses. The Mishnah and the Talmud also confirm this. Tradition during the first millennium of Christian history agrees with this belief. 4What does the Bible itself say about authorship of the Pentateuch?

www.religioustolerance.org/chr_tora.htm

Brain writes:

Yes, it was Wyatt’s primary source in the context that it is his principle source, it is a different context from a primary historical source.

Why? After all, it would not exist in anyone's historical knowledge without the Biblical source. Some discoveries such as the quantity of chariot debris in Aqaba would make no sense without this primary source to begin from. Nor would the other corroborating evidence. Some also believe certain aspects of Egyptology are explained by the Exodus.

Brian writes:

The location of Mount Sinai still isn’t known, and do you really think that Wyatt was the first person to realise that Galatians said that Mt Sinai was in Arabia?

1. Looking at it another way, the chariot wheels, the rock/water site, the inscriptions of a bull, the pillar columns, the sandbar, the location of Moses's father in law and the NT references corroborate that the burnt looking black topped mountain is the real Sinai.

2. No, of course not, but Wyatt was the first to act upon the information and do some homework on a likely route to discover the burnt looking black topped mountain fitting the NT claim.

3. So you have both the OT and the NT leading Wyatt to this route to find what was discovered. ...... Pretty convincing looking stuff so far as I can assertain.

Brian writes:

Anyway, the location of Mt Sinai isn’t really an issue, we can critique the account without it.

This is why you miss the big picture, imo. You want to hone in on the debatable and controversial dates, et al all the while pshawing the visible evidence which seems to match up with the Biblical record, imo the primary source of information from which to work on and from.

I see the dating as the lesser source since there could be errors both in the Biblical calculations and in the Egyptian dating.


BUZSAW B 4 U 2 C Y BUZ SAW ---- Jesus said, "When these things begin to come to pass, then look up, and lift up your heads, for your redemption draws near." Luke 21:28

This message is a reply to:
 Message 8 by Brian, posted 08-12-2006 1:03 PM Brian has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 12 by Brian, posted 08-17-2006 11:37 AM Buzsaw has responded

  
Brian
Member (Idle past 3901 days)
Posts: 4659
From: Scotland
Joined: 10-22-2002


Message 12 of 52 (340798)
08-17-2006 11:37 AM
Reply to: Message 11 by Buzsaw
08-15-2006 10:47 PM


Re: Primary Sources
I don't mean to imply that the Bible warrants special treatment for evaluation. My concern is that it be given fair and balanced treatment as a historical source for evaluation

That’s exactly what I am saying Buz. ALL sources HAVE to be subjected to the same approach or the research is almost worthless.
So, if I appear to be treating the biblical texts any differently that I treat other sources just let me know, and I’ll do the same with you.

as we pit it against various questionable Egyptian historical sources.

And in the spirit of balanced historical debate, we will give Egyptian sources fair and balanced treatment when we balance them against various questionable biblical passages.

Yes, bits and pieces is what archeology comes up with whereas the Biblical record is more complete and comprehensive,

I disagree with your opinion that the Bible is more comprehensive and complete. The Bible only gives us one version of events (well there are possibly two merged accounts) and this account carries the bias of the various different communities that produced, edited, and reproduced biblical texts.

Archaeology however, gives us a whole range of information from a huge variety of sources. Although some of the information in recovered texts and inscriptions may well be fictional, exaggerated, or propagandist, the ‘mute’ artefacts have helped archaeologists and historians to build up quite a detailed background of the history of the ancient near east.

If we look at the Exodus account in the Bible, the narratives are far from being complete and comprehensive, there is just so much information that it does not provide. For example, for an alleged ‘historical’ account to leave out the name of one of the main characters, namely the pharaoh, is absolutely criminal.

so it becomes a tedious job, matching up bits and pieces of archeology to the written record so as to either falsify or substantiate, leaving the skeptic of the written substantial leeway for application of assembled evidence.

Part of the problem Buz is that much of the biblical account smacks of mythology, propaganda, and outright impossibilities. Many scholars have tried to rationally explain everything in the Exodus account, but it just isn’t possible, there are far too many claims that do not look plausible. For instance, what kind of plague can go around selecting its victims only if they are the first-born child?

My understanding is that the Philistines were in Gaza, closer to Egypt than Caanan.

My point is that there were no Philistines in the ancient near east at the time the Bible claims the Exodus was, if we take 1 Kings 6:1 literally of course. I am guessing that Wyatt places the Exodus around 1446 BCE as this is the most popular date for the literalist.
The favoured date nowadays is the mid 13th century BCE. However, there is no evidence of Philistines in the ANE until the 12th century BCE, where they are first mentioned during Rameses III's reign with their appearance being dated to about 1180 BCE.

The claim that the Israelites went by the way of the Philistines is a very popular anachronism, have a wee scan round the Net.

Nevertheless, there was the Sinai desert to the north and east and seas to the west and east leaving Egypt with the likely ability to shut off the trade routes as they would have in place border garisons at all times.

But the Egyptian Empire of Thutmosis III, who was pharaoh in 1446, stretched north wards to the Euphrates, to the mouth of the Orontes, and southward to the Fourth Cataract of the Nile in Nubia (Bright: 107).

Another problem with your scenario is that all of Pahraoh's army died at the sea, so who was available to shut off the trade routes? What about the traders already in Egypt, wouldn't they notice the upheaval? No, I'm afraid something as huge as this would not have escaped the notice of other cultures.

An Empire so vast keeping such a defeat quiet is impossible.

I understand that even near Nuweiba beach there was a security post.

Anything is possible, but it depends which site you are talking about, we can deal with this at a more appropriate time.

Maybe not if you take the minority liberal view that Moses didn't write Exodus, but my understanding is that the majority view has always been that he did write it.

Not at all. That Moses wrote the Exodus account is a very fringe stance in the modern day debate, almost all scholars accept that Moses didn’t write it. How could Moses record his own death? How could Moses have written about Philistines? How could he have written about Pi-Rameses or Pithom?

If he did write it, it would certainly be both primary and extant since it would be an eye witness account.

Buz, you have a real problem understanding what primary and extant mean in an historical research context.

A primary source would be the actual document that Moses had written, any copy of that is NOT a primary source. The reason for this is we do not have an original text therefore we do not have anything to compare the copies with. How do we know that what we have today, set apart by more than a thousand years from when Moses was said to have lived, is an exact copy of what Moses wrote?

What weakens the case for a Mosaic authorship OF WHAT WE HAVE even more is that there are many things in the Pentateuch that could not have been written during Moses’ lifetime.

Some more examples:

Deuteronomy 34:10

Since then, no prophet has risen in Israel like Moses, whom the LORD knew face to face,

Since when? This text can hardly have been written by Moses, it has to have been written long after his death because it would be a silly boast if there weren’t prophets after his death with which to compare.

Genesis 14:14

When Abram heard that his relative had been taken captive, he called out the 318 trained men born in his household and went in pursuit as far as Dan.

The Dan anachronism is also a very famous one. If we read Judges 18:29, we find that Dan was called Laish and was only renamed Dan during the period of the Judges, long after Moses’ death.

They named it Dan after their forefather Dan, who was born to Israel—though the city used to be called Laish.

There’s a great many arguments against Mosaic authorship, but the point is made, there are many things that Moses could not have written, therefore the case for the stance that the Bible has been edited is proven.

So, we do not have a primary source because we do not have the original text, BTW this applies to every single book of the Bible.
Also, because we do not have any of the original documents then we have no extant original docs.

Maybe we have different views as to the definition of extant and primary.

Yes we do, but we can explain to each other what we think these terms mean.

The manuscripts we do have as well as the Dead Sea Scrolls, imo, still make it the most extant and most primary source for the account there is.

I don’t know what you mean by ‘most extant’, to me either something exists or it doesn’t. But the DSS are not primary sources of the Exodus. There are primary sources there relating to the Essenes, as in having original documents, but the documents are not primary sources to what they describe. The scrolls, the Hebrew Bible ones that we are interested in, were not written by eyewitnesses and were obviously not written at the time of the Exodus, thus they are not a primary source.

Below is a list of scriptural references implying that Moses wrote the Pentateuch as well as some notable historians and theologians, including Josephus.p.

I don’t think that any of these scriptural sources claim that Moses wrote the Pentateuch at all.

The people you mention all lived a very long time ago, long before the rise of textual criticism so their opinion isn’t really relevant. Also, Their opinion is just that, an opinion or belief, that these people believed Moses wrote the Pentateuch doesn’t mean he did, it just means that they could be repeating a traditional view.

You also have to keep in mind that even if it was shown that Moses did write the Pentateuch we still have to subject the text to academic scrutiny. The fantastical claims made in the Pentateuch do not become any more real just because Moses wrote them.

There is no direct claim of Mosaic authorship in any of the five books, and the references you provide only suggest that Moses wrote parts of the Pentateuch.

The interesting thing about the passages you cite is that Moses is always referred to in the third person, have a look:

Exodus 17:14 "Then the Lord instructed Moses, 'Write this down as a permanent record...'"
Exodus 24:4 "Then Moses carefully wrote down all the Lord's instructions."
Exodus 34:27 "And the Lord said to Moses, 'Write down all these instructions, for they represents the terms of my covenant with you and with Israel.'"
Leviticus 1:1 "The Lord called to Moses from the Tabernacle and said to him, 'Give the following instructions to the Israelites...'"
Leviticus 6:8 "Then the Lord said to Moses, 'Give Aaron and his sons the following instructions...'"
Deuteronomy 31:9 "So Moses wrote down this law and gave it to the priests."
Deuteronomy 31:24-26 "When Moses had finished writing down this entire body of law in a book..."

If Moses had written these verses why doesn’t he say ” Then the Lord instructed me to write this down as a permanent record” or
“Then I carefully wrote down all of the Lord’s instructions.”?

These read more like someone is writing down something at least second hand, it doesn’t resemble a first hand account.

Using New Testament citations as ‘proof’ that something in the Old Testament is true, is simply circular reasoning. You cannot use parts of a book as evidence that other parts of the same book are true. Again, though, these can just be records of what individual believed, or the repetition of a tradition.

After all, it would not exist in anyone's historical knowledge without the Biblical source.

But is it historical knowledge, this is what the whole debate is about, the Exodus from Egypt MAY be entirely fictional.

Literalist scholars may simply be trying to find evidence to support a foundation myth.

discoveries such as the quantity of chariot debris in Aqaba would make no sense without this primary source to begin from.

It isn’t a primary source Buz, it is the ‘primary’ source using the definition of ‘primary’ as being ‘principle’.

If you substituted the word ‘principle’ instead of ‘primary’ and read it you will see that this is a different usage of the term ‘primary’ than the one historians use. The Bible was Wyatt’s principle or most important source. However, the Bible is not a primary source because no original documents exist. A copy of an original document is not a primary source. And certainly something written over a thousand years after the events it describes is in no way primary source.

Does the explanation of ‘primary source’ make sense Buz?

Also, we have yet to discover if the chariot wheels at Aqaba do make sense in light of the biblical material. My whole argument is that the Wyatt material is contradicted by the Bible.

Nor would the other corroborating evidence. Some also believe certain aspects of Egyptology are explained by the Exodus.

Hopefully we can explore these topics as the debate unfolds.

This is why you miss the big picture, imo. You want to hone in on the debatable and controversial dates, et al all the while pshawing the visible evidence which seems to match up with the Biblical record, imo the primary source of information from which to work on and from.

The reason I said we don’t even need to critique the Mount Sinai location is that I believe Wyatt’s complete case will be well buried before we get anywhere near discussing the location of Sinai.

Anyway, since we agree, I hope, that all sources are going to receive the same respect and be subjected to the same rules of research, then perhaps the way to move forward is to deal with the events sequentially, one at a time until the individual point has either reached an agreed conclusion or has come to a dead end.

With this in mind, I think the first thing we should look at is the obvious:

Is there any direct evidence of Hebrews in Egypt during the time Wyatt claims that the Exodus occurred?

Brian.

Edited by Brian, : formatting errors


This message is a reply to:
 Message 11 by Buzsaw, posted 08-15-2006 10:47 PM Buzsaw has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 13 by Buzsaw, posted 08-18-2006 12:16 AM Brian has not yet responded
 Message 15 by Buzsaw, posted 09-04-2006 12:10 AM Brian has responded

  
Buzsaw
Inactive Member


Message 13 of 52 (340972)
08-18-2006 12:16 AM
Reply to: Message 12 by Brian
08-17-2006 11:37 AM


Re: Primary Sources
Brian writes:

That’s exactly what I am saying Buz. ALL sources HAVE to be subjected to the same approach or the research is almost worthless.
So, if I appear to be treating the biblical texts any differently that I treat other sources just let me know, and I’ll do the same with you...........................

.............And in the spirit of balanced historical debate, we will give Egyptian sources fair and balanced treatment when we balance them against various questionable biblical passages.

Fair enough and by all means, except that likely you're gona suspect the Biblical record as biased and I'm gona suspect the Egyptian record as taylor fitted to suit the Pharoah's future esteem in the historical record as well as skewed for the welfare of the kingdom at large both for the present and the future.

Brian writes:

I disagree with your opinion that the Bible is more comprehensive and complete. The Bible only gives us one version of events (well there are possibly two merged accounts) and this account carries the bias of the various different communities that produced, edited, and reproduced biblical texts.

Nevertheless, the earliest and most comprehensive written version.

Brian writes:

Archaeology however, gives us a whole range of information from a huge variety of sources. Although some of the information in recovered texts and inscriptions may well be fictional, exaggerated, or propagandist, the ‘mute’ artefacts have helped archaeologists and historians to build up quite a detailed background of the history of the ancient near east.

.......Yes, as I said, maybe somewhat oversimplified, but essentially, bits and pieces which like in a picture puzzle, the historian becomes hard pressed sometimes as to where the pieces go to complete the big picture.

Brian writes:

If we look at the Exodus account in the Bible, the narratives are far from being complete and comprehensive, there is just so much information that it does not provide. For example, for an alleged ‘historical’ account to leave out the name of one of the main characters, namely the pharaoh, is absolutely criminal.

But nevertheless, more complete and comprehensive than the archeological record. So given the exaggerations and dating, et al, adjustments some believe were made by the Pharoahs, this leaves the historian quite hard pressed to assertain whether the Egyptological (buzword) evidence can be scientifically effective in determination as to whether the Biblical account is accurate. Maybe.......just maybe we need more data, such as observable coral encased chariot debris in the sea where coral was not want to be, burnt mountain top by large plain suitable for encampment of many, large beach surrounded by mountains so as to entrap/corner/enclose/destroy/capture the Israelites, waterstream rock, remains of twelve memorial pillars, bull inscriptions, Moses's dad in law & wife/family in Arabia, et al.

This's it for now. I appreciate the intelligent manner in which you debate and the time you put into research. Admittedly, you're far more apprised on Egyptology than I, so I hope you understand why I must resort to a different debate strategy than you likely want to use. Hopefully we can work with these different approaches to come up with a lively and interesting debate to the ultimate end of arriving at truth. Thanks for taking it slow so as for both of us to research and learn as we go. This, of course is not a race to the finish line. :cool:


BUZSAW B 4 U 2 C Y BUZ SAW ---- Jesus said, "When these things begin to come to pass, then look up, and lift up your heads, for your redemption draws near." Luke 21:28

This message is a reply to:
 Message 12 by Brian, posted 08-17-2006 11:37 AM Brian has not yet responded

  
Buzsaw
Inactive Member


Message 14 of 52 (346100)
09-02-2006 5:37 PM
Reply to: Message 1 by Brian
07-17-2006 9:10 AM


History Relative To The Past
Brian writes:

So, what is history? Well, initially, history is NOT what happened in the past,......... History is what has been written about the past, .........historians can only examine the remains of the past,.......all histories are products of the human mind.

1. What has been written about the past should be relative to what happened in the past/determine what happened in the past, so as to asertain what happened in the past, should it not?

2. Products of the human mind is a phrase relative to one's preconceived notions about the past as per one's personal knowledge/appriasal of the past.

3. The purpose of this thread is, hopefully to determine whether what has been written about the past in the Biblical scriptures pertaining to the Exodus, being the oldest history of the Exodus, is viable.

Can you agree (abe: to the above)?

Edited by Buzsaw, : No reason given.


BUZSAW B 4 U 2 C Y BUZ SAW ---- Jesus said, "When these things begin to come to pass, then look up, and lift up your heads, for your redemption draws near." Luke 21:28

This message is a reply to:
 Message 1 by Brian, posted 07-17-2006 9:10 AM Brian has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 16 by Brian, posted 09-05-2006 10:20 AM Buzsaw has responded

  
Buzsaw
Inactive Member


Message 15 of 52 (346322)
09-04-2006 12:10 AM
Reply to: Message 12 by Brian
08-17-2006 11:37 AM


Re: Mythology Or Existing Higher Dimensional Existence?
Brian writes:

Part of the problem Buz is that much of the biblical account smacks of mythology, propaganda, and outright impossibilities. Many scholars have tried to rationally explain everything in the Exodus account, but it just isn’t possible, there are far too many claims that do not look plausible. For instance, what kind of plague can go around selecting its victims only if they are the first-born child?

1. Of course to one who denies the existence of a higher dimension of existence than what we observe normally on our plane of existence, the whole story of the Exodus as well as much of the other Biblical stuff would be considered impossible. That's essentially what this debate and the term EvC, for that matter is about. The big debate is whether our dimension of existence is it or whether there's more than what we observe on this tiny speck of a planet in the universe. If there's a supreme being and other entities of a higher power than us, then the account is very plausible. If not, then it's not. I guess my job here is to show that it is plausible and certainly not impossible. I expect to accomplish that by God's help as we delve into the evidence here. If we both seek for the truth, hopefully it will prevail, whatever it may be.

2. What kind of a plague selects it's victims? The answer is obvious. The plague which is sent and directed by a higher power than you are willing to acknowledge thus far. Hopefully by the time we're finished here, you will begin to see the evidence of that power, i.e. the one believed by many of us who have observed and experienced evidence, to be the designer and majesty of the universe. :cool:


BUZSAW B 4 U 2 C Y BUZ SAW ---- Jesus said, "When these things begin to come to pass, then look up, and lift up your heads, for your redemption draws near." Luke 21:28

This message is a reply to:
 Message 12 by Brian, posted 08-17-2006 11:37 AM Brian has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 17 by Brian, posted 09-05-2006 10:43 AM Buzsaw has responded

  
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