Tuesday, February 18, 2014

No evidence of the Exodus from Egypt?

Why historians are terrified to recognize Israel’s past.


All contents copyright © 2014 by M.L. Wilson. All rights reserved. No part of this document or the related files may be reproduced or transmitted in any form, by any means (electronic, photocopying, recording, or otherwise) without the prior written permission of the publisher.

* * *
A while back I was reading an article whereupon some archaeologists were interviewed about a part of their findings in the Sinai desert. They were there to see if they could uncover any shred of evidence to suggest that there had been a mass exodus of Hebrews from Egypt which would have occurred approximately 3500 years ago. The beginning of this exodus is chronicled in Exodus 12:31 after the angel of death had struck down the first born of any who had not had their door frames painted with the blood of a sacrificial lamb. This exodus of the Hebrews from Egypt numbered approximately 2 million people and took forty years. (Numbers 14:33)

So to place this tale in proper context, a little more background as to the circumstances of why the Hebrews were in Egypt to begin with is in order. To do that, we have to go back to the book of Genesis. In Genesis 37, we have a brief family history and an account of where everyone is living. Jacob, Isaac’s son and Abraham’s grandson, is living in the land of Canaan (Modern-day Israel.) along with his two wives, both daughters of a man named Laban. There were twelve sons in all born to Jacob by these two wives, but the account makes it clear Jacob favored his marriage—and the children born to his wife Rachel over that of his wife, Leah.

The oldest of the boys born to Rachel was named Joseph. This account is rather long and is a quite well known story in Judeo-Christianity, so I am going to quickly skim over to the main points. Joseph was a teen at a point in time when his older half-brothers began to feel somewhat cheated. Their father clearly favored the younger boys and when Joseph began to recount dreams whereupon his older brothers would one day worship him, they had heard enough. They took him out with them to tend to their flocks and intended to kill him. In the end, they decided to sell him to some slave traders. They brought back his coat covered in lamb’s blood to convince their father, Jacob that Joseph had been accidentally killed by a wild animal.

With Joseph thought dead by Jacob, there was no one to know where Joseph had gone—not even his brothers. Joseph was subsequently sold to an Egyptian official named Potiphar and went to work for him. This turned out to be rather fortunate for Joseph as Potiphar liked Joseph and moved him into his opulent house with him and his wife.

This living arrangement worked out well enough until Potiphar’s wife decided that she too liked Joseph and wanted to sleep with him. Joseph, remembering the ways of God taught to him by his father (lessons which were evidently lost on the older sons—especially Judah), resisted her charms. Humiliated, Potiphar’s wife accused Joseph of attempted rape. Potiphar immediately had Joseph thrown in prison.

There is no real accounting of the duration of time Joseph spent in prison, but it was years. Soon a situation arose whereupon a cupbearer and a baker wound up in prison with Joseph. Both were troubled by dreams they had had and asked Joseph what they could mean. Joseph accurately interpreted their dreams; good news for the cup bearer, not so good news for the baker. Joseph had asked that the baker remember him when he was once again back in the Pharaoh’s service. Fat chance.

Two years elapsed after this incident when the Pharaoh began to have dreams. Without anyone to answer these confusing dreams, the Pharaoh was becoming disagreeable. Seeing an opportunity to put him in good stead with the Pharaoh, the cup bearer suddenly recalled Joseph in prison and explained to the Pharaoh that he might be of use. The Pharaoh called for Joseph, explained his dreams and Joseph gave him the correct interpretation.

The dreams which so bedeviled the Pharaoh, regarded a coming drought which would affect the entire region—including the land of Canaan. This drought would last for seven years and unless steps were taken, famine would soon grip the land. So impressed was the Pharaoh, he not only freed Joseph, but made him governor of all of Egypt. In essence, Joseph went from convicted felon to the vice president in the blink of an eye. (In modern times, it usually works in reverse.)

Joseph ordered the construction of grain bins and that they be filled while they still had time to do so. (Seven years according to Pharaoh’s dream.) This was done as directed and at the end of seven years, the drought did indeed hit. The outlying lands suffered terribly and food soon became scarce. Without getting into the details, Joseph’s family made their way to Egypt to buy grain, but after a weepy family reunion, were invited to stay. Thus Jacob’s family relocated to Egypt.

Fast forward about three hundred years. The immediate families of Jacob are all dead and the Semitic Pharaoh, most likely from The Hyksos people, who once ruled Egypt is overthrown. He is replaced by a man not of Semitic lineage most likely named Ahmose I. While the historical dates don't exactly line up with the traditional dates of Moses' Exodus from Egypt, the other details in fact do.

Thus once the Hyksos king was defeated and Egypt returned to rule under the Egyptians, there was very little love shown towards their former Hyksos captors who were a Semitic people just as were the Hebrews who had come from the land of Canaan at Joseph's behest. Jacob’s family had multiplied to such an extent over the years in Egypt, this new Pharaoh was concerned he could face an insurrection along similar to what had occurred earlier. The Hebrews were then stripped of their rights, regarded first as second class citizens and then eventually regarded as little more than slaves. This condition lasted a little over one hundred years. It was during this period that Moses was born.

Moses, as is well known in Judeo-Christianity, was hidden in some reeds along the river after a decree went out from this new Pharaoh to kill all the male babies born to the Hebrew women. While Moses was set adrift in the river to hide him from the Pharaoh’s guards, he was found by the Pharaoh’s daughter. The girl decided to raise the baby as her own and asked Moses sister to find a suitable wet-nurse. Moses’ sister naturally called upon their mother. Thus, Moses was raised in Pharaoh’s household, given all of the rights and privileges accorded such a position while still being raised by his own mother. Moses grew up being schooled not in Hebrew culture, but rather Egyptian. Consider at this point that most all Moses’ family were just as immersed in Egyptian culture as well.

As a point of reference, I ask the reader to regard their own genealogies. Where was your family line four hundred years ago? I have spent approximately twenty years working on my family genealogy. On my name sake side, Wilson, I have traced us back to Scotland circa 1700. On my Paternal grandmother’s side, I’ve traced my lineage back to 1000 AD in Well, England. This would have been roughly the time of William the Conqueror.

On my maternal Grandmother’s side, I’ve traced back as far as the late 18th Century in Dublin, Ireland. In none of the above examples would I be familiar with the customs of my forebears. It is a given I could not speak the language. Even English in 1000 AD would be nearly incomprehensible to us today; I do not know one word of Gallic. I would be regarded in every respect as little more than a stranger to those who lived there. While I have found relatives still residing in Ireland and In Well, England, we do not know a thing about each other. I would remain a stranger until I got to know them.

Consider this is the situation that Moses and the Hebrews faced when they began the exodus. We tend to think these were people all well acquainted with Hebrew customs and beliefs, but these were people who had been raised as Egyptians. They knew very little—if anything at all—about their origins; they regarded themselves as Egyptian. It was for this very reason that Moses had to learn about his people from Jethro of Midian after he fled into the desert. (Exodus 2:21) Had Moses been raised as a Hebrew and knew of their customs, there would have been little need to learn anything from Jethro.

It is interesting that we have movements in the world today which deny the German Holocaust happened, yet my 90 year old father was over in Germany shortly after Liberation and saw the devastation Adolf Hitler brought to not only the Jews, but to the German people. Despite the amount of eye-witness testimony, paper evidence in the form of records, journals, etc., photographic evidence, and a wealth of forensic evidence, there is a huge movement to assert the position the Holocaust never appended. This would be news to my father who still talks about the “walking skeletons” he met over in Germany. I’ll hasten to add that World War II ended just sixty-nine years ago.

Despite this recent historical event, how many children in school today learn the details of this war? The answer is very few. It is regarded as ancient history in our schools and thus, is essentially given “lip service” with no real information having been imparted.

The same people who would assert that World War II is too far in our past to be necessary to be taught to our children in school, are the exact same people who insist the Hebrews should have retained all their forebears had told them four hundred years earlier. My question: Do we regard the ancient Hebrews as more intelligent and responsible that we should be today? The logic applied by these critics would certainly lean in that direction.

Ask a typical person off the street what was going on in the United States four hundred years ago. Ask them what was the culture, what language was spoken and who was the world power in the year 1614. Very, very few can answer those questions. Sadly many would not even know the United States didn’t yet exist. But we expect a tribal people who had been living away from their ancestral land to not only retain all knowledge of that former time, but to have also retained all of the culture, language and rituals.

Consider the plight of the native American people. On my father’s side, my great-great grandmother was full Mohegan Indian. The culture, language, and knowledge of her family is lost to history. I know; I have looked. She was “bound out” as a child and wound up working for my great-great grandfather in 1854. She tended to his wife and family as Yellow Fever swept through and wound up killing all by my Great-great grandfather and his eldest daughter from that first marriage. He then took his servant girl, the Mohegan Indian, as his bride and they had seven children together. My father remembers this woman just barely as she didn’t pass on until 1928 when my father would have been barely 5 years old. Regardless, nothing was passed down and I know very little about her people outside of what is printed about the Mohegan’s in general. To me, this is a waste and personally, I would very much like to explore this part of my family tree.

My point in explaining all of this is simple. For some mysterious reason, archaeologists hold ancient people to a much higher standard than they do to contemporary people. If we can decimate a people so thoroughly that though barely one hundred years hence, there is nothing known, how is it we have any realistic expectation a tribe enslaved under the aforementioned conditions should retain knowledge of their forebears? It simply is not reasonable.

With the passing of elder Native Americans of various tribes, the language they spoke is going with them. So much of what a people is resides in their language. How they speak, what they speak of, their thoughts as constructed orally; all are subtle nuances which do not translate easily outside of the language. Moses spoke Egyptian as did the other Hebrews. It is quite possible—probable, in fact—that they were bi-lingual to a degree, but growing up in Pharaoh’s household as he did, Moses native tongue had become Egyptian.

Moses also wrote in Egyptian. In the year 1450 BC. This is from Colleen Manassa, curator of “Echoes of Egypt: Conjuring the Land of the Pharaohs” and Associate Professor of Egyptology at Yale University:

For day-to-day documents, ancient Egyptian scribes wrote in a cursive, abbreviated form of hieroglyphs called “hieratic,” the script used in this short letter. A small rectangular piece of papyrus cut from a longer scroll, this letter consists of a list of festival offerings that a woman, Hetep, gave to a man, Penre, apparently to settle a previous debt. The recto consists primarily of a list of loaves of bread, cuts of meat, and assorted vegetables, while the verso includes an unusual curse formula and oath: “No male robber (of the necropolis) shall violate it; no female robbers of the necropolis shall violate it. As Re endures, as Re endures, they will reach Paenre, consisting of what Hetep gives to you because she has given it to you before Re.” After being written, the letter was folded (the horizontal creases are still visible in the thin lines of missing fibers), and the address was written, which is why the name of the addressee is upside down relative to the text on the verso.

The above references some hieratic writing on a scrap of papyrus dated to 1450 BC. This would make such writing contemporary to the time of Moses and the Exodus. It would also have been the type of writing he and the Egyptian Hebrews would have been most familiar with—providing those Egyptians Hebrews were literate. Most were not as most had no formal teaching nor the benefit of education as had Moses. Thus when the exodus began, whatever pottery, writing or other signs of life in the Southern Sinai which may have been found would be easily mistaken for Egyptian, rather than the Canaanite artifacts they have so far expected to find.

So what is the evidence to back up my claims? Surprisingly, there is much evidence all about us, but it is misunderstood and mislabeled. I will endeavor to expound upon the claims I’ve thus far made to engage the reader to consider what has been either mistakenly over-looked, or deliberately concealed by historians and archaeologists. The troubling aspect of this conclusion is that neither is acceptable. We expect that those who call themselves historians to be absent a particular ideological agenda, but that is sadly not the case. I will delve more into that later.

First it is important to understand just what Biblical Archaeology is. As far as a “science” or practice, it is relatively young; about 150 years old. The “father” of Biblical Archaeology is William Foxwell Albright (1891 – 1971). Albright first came to prominence as one of the scholars who authenticated the Dead Sea Scrolls in 1948. This provided a base upon which he began his true life’s work which was to prove the events of the Bible pointed to archaeological evidence we can see today. This is what became known as Biblical Archaeology.

To be certain, this is a hot topic issue with a host of differing opinions. Many of younger archaeologists who were influenced by Albright’s teachings have since concluded he is mostly in error with his findings. They have approached the subject as secular archaeologists and thus believe their findings are unbiased and are the only true accounting of the facts. To this I ask the following questions:

  1.         Why is it reasonable to presume that a people separated by time and space would retain the exact same characteristics of one another? The Hebrews inhabited the land of Canaan (Abraham was buried in Machpelah in modern-day Hebron, Israel) in the time of Abraham who had originally come there from the land of Ur (Modern-day Southern Iraq.) Those who went to Egypt were limited to Jacob’s family. The whole of the people of the land of Canaan remained in Canaan.
  2.     Approximately 470 years passed between Jacob’s arrival in Egypt and Joshua’s return to the land of Canaan. As has already been pointed out, Joshua and his people were more Egyptian than they were Canaanite in the vein and culture of Abraham. Why are archaeologists looking for Canaanite pottery and other like evidence in the Southern Sinai Peninsula rather than evidence of habitation of any kind?
  3.     Why are archaeologists insistent they should be able to locate evidence of a language of these people not in existence at the time of the exodus? Again, the earliest evidence of the Hebrew language dates to 1000 AD, 400 years after the exodus occurred.
Unless and until modern archaeology puts aside the secular agenda and answers these questions fairly, their findings are as biased and “colored” as they accuse Albright’s of being. Despite this, I can find volumes of information in books and on the Internet which assert there is absolutely NO evidence of the Biblical exodus. However I can still find assertions that the Jewish King David is a work of fiction despite verified archaeological evidence to the contrary.

The evidence of King David is found in the Tel Dan Inscription. This from Wikipedia:

The Tel Dan Stele is a broken stele (inscribed stone) discovered in 1993-94 during excavations at Tel Dan in northern Israel. It consists of several fragments making up part of a triumphal inscription in Aramaic, left most probably by Hazael of Aram-Damascus, an important regional figure in the late 9th-century BCE. Hazael (or more accurately, the unnamed king) boasts of his victories over the king of Israel and his ally the king of the "House of David" (bytdwd), the first time the name David had been found outside of the Bible.[1]
The Tel Dan inscription generated considerable debate and a flurry of articles, debating its age, authorship, and even some accusations of forgery, "but it is now widely regarded (a) as genuine and (b) as referring to the Davidic dynasty and the Aramaic kingdom of Damascus."[2]It is currently on display in the Israel Museum in Jerusalem.[3]
The secular archaeological agenda does no favors to any true student of history. It is better to state that one has found no definitive evidence thus far than to state with certainty no such evidence exists because the story is a fabrication. Such is a position of supreme arrogance not worthy of one calling themselves scholars.

However I am not so naive as to believe there are not egos warring in our hallowed halls of higher learning. My mathematics teacher in college once told me that in higher institutions, one either is published, or one is irrelevant. That is a shame because it goads otherwise good people into producing ANYTHING in order to get noticed and facts be damned.

While I may sound like someone with an axe to grind, I assure you that such not entirely the case. The only “axe” I desire to grind to a razor sharp edge is that which will be used to cut through the lies of ideology. The simple fact is that we don’t know all the truth of the past, but when we allow our preconceived notions of what we believe the past to have been to then lead us to false conclusions, we are primarily lying to ourselves first and foremost. Those who are familiar with my commentaries are also familiar with the fact that I do not hold to traditional Christian orthodoxy “just because that’s what I was taught.” No, quite the contrary; I desire to learn truth, not dogma. I have taken that same sharpened aforementioned axe to my own long held beliefs and cut them down like over-ripened stalks of wheat. Where there is error, no truth exists regardless the ideological desire.

As I have come to understand it, two major errors have occurred on both sides of the ideological aisle: Traditionalist of the Judeo-Christian belief regard the book of Genesis as the inerrant Word of God and believe that as they comprehend it, it can be used as a scientific treatise on the origin of the universe. The second error I have found is that secularists hold to the belief that the book of Genesis is the inerrant Word of God and believe that as they comprehend it, it can be used as a scientific treatise on the origin of the universe. Because of these errors, both sides expend tremendous amounts of effort and rhetoric to disprove one another rather than simply letting the evidence speak for itself, be it pro or con to their agenda.

I know of a woman who attained a Decorate in Theology, though she claims to be an atheist. Her whole point was to evidently prove that God does not exist, thus she wrote her dissertation on how Christianity is little more than a cult. Such a paper should have been summarily dismissed, but it was vetted by a group of her peers who hold similar beliefs, to wit: God is dead and any who believe otherwise are crazy. Again such an arrogant position has no place in academia, but such is the nature of rabid ideology.

I raise this anecdote for one reason only: These are the same minds we trust to provide us an unbiased, legitimate conclusion as to the archeological truth of our origins. I can only imagine the response this woman’s dissertation would have received had it been peer reviewed by those who held no such bias against people of faith. Perhaps such a work would have even been seen as intolerant and racist. Perhaps.

I have struggled to find papers listing the artifacts uncovered in the Southern Sinai Peninsula which date to the Eighteenth Dynasty under the rule of Thutmose III (1479 – 1425 BC) attributed to the Egyptian Hebrews and the exodus. Thutmose III’s reign would have coincided with Moses and the exodus. Thutmose and his army traveled widely as a result of various military campaigns against the Phoenicians in Syria and the Kadesh on the Orontes River which flows through Turkey, Lebanon and Syria. My guess is that I will never find such papers written on these discoveries, for no archeologist is looking for them. Their presumption is that the Hebrews in Egyptian captivity remained fully Hebrew and/or Canaanite in culture, appearance and bearing. I cannot underscore enough how incongruent this belief is with human nature. People adapt to their surroundings and we have an overwhelming wealth of information to bear that fact out.

My call to archeologists who may be reading this missive is to reassess your position; begin to look in areas with fresh eyes and without an agenda. I am certain you’ll make astounding discoveries once you let go of all agendas besides the truth.








No comments:

Post a Comment