Sunday, November 05, 2006

The Exodus

(1) Calculations in Antiquity

"This is Manetho's account. And evident it is from the number of years by him set down belonging to this interval, if they be summed up together, that these shepherds, as they are here called, who were no other than our forefathers, were delivered out of Egypt, and came thence, and inhabited this country, three hundred and ninety-three years before Danaus came to Argos; although the Argives look upon him (12) as their most ancient king Manetho, therefore, hears this testimony to two points of the greatest consequence to our purpose, and those from the Egyptian records themselves. In the first place, that we came out of another country into Egypt; and that withal our deliverance out of it was so ancient in time as to have preceded the siege of Troy almost a thousand years; but then, as to those things which Manetho adds, not from the Egyptian records, but, as he confesses himself, from some stories of an uncertain original, I will disprove them hereafter particularly, and shall demonstrate that they are no better than incredible fables."
- Josephus Flavius, Against Apion Book 1:16 (quoting the Egyptian priest Manetho who lived in the 3rd Century B.C.E.)

The generally accepted date for the siege of Troy is circa 1280 B.C.E.. If the Exodus took place a thousand years earlier, the flight of the Israelites would have occurred when the Canaanite empire was in decline, just prior to the disintegration of the Old Kingdom of Egypt through invasion by Libyans and Bedouins from the east.
It is very difficult, however, to relate the names of the Egyptian pharaohs Manetho lists after the Hyksos invasion (Against Apion Book 1:15 ) to those used by Egyptologists. Also, adding together the length of time that each pharaoh reigned acccording to the list gives a total of 302 years and 3 months to Ramesses II, while the conventional timeline yields a total of 263 years.

"And if Ctesias says that the Assyrian power is many years older than the Greek, the exodus of Moses from Egypt will appear to have taken place in the forty-second year of the Assyrian empire, in the thirty-second year of the reign of Belochus, in the time of Amosis the Egyptian, and of Inachus the Argive."
- - Clement of Alexandria, Stomta

The Old Assyrian empire can be dated from 2000-1450 B.C.E. which would place the Exodus near the beginning of the second millenium B.C.E.

"Now this Ptolemy was a priest; and setting forth the deeds of the Egyptian kings in three entire books, he says, that the exodus of the Jews from Egypt, under the conduct of Moses, took place while Amosis was king of Egypt."
- Clement of Alexandria, Stomta

Ahmose was the first Egyptian pharaoh after the Hyksos invasion and founded the 18th dynasty. There appears to be some confusion between the Exodus of the Israelites and the departure of the Hyksos.

"They [the Hyksos] were all to evacuate Egypt and go whither they would unmolested. Upon these terms no fewer than 240,000 entire households with their possessions, left Egypt and traversed the desert to Syria.
"Then terrified by the might of the Assyrians, who at that time were masters of Asia, they built a city in the country now called Judaea, capable of accommodating their vast company, and gave it the name of Jerusalem."
- Josephus, Against Apion Book 1:14

(2) The Conventional Chronology

"Both the Bible and an Egyptian papyrus refer to 'Hapiru' employed as laborers in Ramses II's building projects."
- Bible Lands

"But the Israelites were fruitful and multiplied greatly and became exceedingly numerous, so that the land was filled with them. Then a new king, who did not know about Joseph, came to power in Egypt.
'Look,' he said to his people, 'the Israelites have become much too numerous for us. Come, we must deal shrewdly with them or they will become even more numerous and, if war breaks out, will join our enemies, fight against us and leave the country.' So they put slave masters over them to oppress them with forced labor, and they built Pithom and Rameses as store cities for Pharaoh."
- Exodus 1:7-11

"But Genesis 47:11 clearly states that when Joseph had become vizier of Egypt he 'settled his father (Jacob) and brothers, giving them land holdings in Egypt, in the best part of the country - the region of Ramesses - as Pharaoh had ordered'. So the Israelites settled in the 'region of Ramesses' centuries before the first king called Ramesses ascended the throne in Egypt!"
"There is no compelling evidence to demonstrate that Ramesses II was either the biblical Pharaoh of the Oppression or Exodus. The mention of the store-city of Raamses, upon which these identifications are based, may simply be anachronistic."
"The Israelites may have built a city at the location of Pi-Ramesse [see below] but they had not necessarily built the capital and residence of Ramesses II. In fact, the biblical date for the Exodus (1447 BC below) was entirely at odds with the dates for the 19th Dynasty (1295-1186 BC). The link between Ramesses II and the Israelite bondage was an illusion without any real archaeological foundation."
- David M. Rohl, A Test of Time: The Bible from Myth to History (1995), p. 115, 138

(3) Astronomical Retrocalculation and 1 Kings

"And it came to pass in the four hundred and eightieth year after the children of Israel were come out of the land of Egypt, in the fourth year of Solomon's reign over Israel, in the month Zif, which is the second month, that he began to build the house of the Lord."
- I Kings 6:1

"Thiele's chronology of the Israelite kings [The Mysterious Numbers of the Hebrew Kings (1983)...places Solomon's coronation in circa 931 BC. Thus the temple was founded in 928 and Moses brought the Israelites out of Egypt four hundred and eighty years earlier in circa 1447 BC. This date for Exodus is supported by Judges 11:26 where it states that around three hundred years had elapsed from the Conquest of the Promised Land to the judgeship of Jephthah (c. 1110 BC."
- David M. Rohl, A Test of Time: The Bible from Myth to History (1995), p. 249

"For three hundred years Israel occupied Heshbon, Aroer, the surrounding settlements and all the towns along the Arnon."
- Judges 11:26a

"According to astronomical retrocalculation [of Babylonian observations of the planet Venus] the clear choice for Year 1 of Ammisaduga of the 1st Dynasty of Babylon is 1419 BC. This is one hundred and sixty-three years lower than the 'Low Chronology' date of 1382 BC currently being advocated by some Levantine archaeologists and two hundred and twenty-seven years lower than the 'Middle Chronology' date of 1646 BC."
- David M. Rohl, A Test of Time: The Bible from Myth to History (1995), p. 245

This would place Hammurabi's reign circa 1565-1522 BC. One of his contemporaries, Yantin Ammu of Byblos is mentioned on a slab of limestone excavated at Byblos, along with a broken hieroglyph which most likely is the name of the twenty-first ruler of the 13th Dynasty in Egypt - Khasekhemre Neferhotep I.

"Pharaoh Neferhotep I of the 13th Dynasty reigned during the second half of the sixteenth century BC, rather than at the beginning of the seventeenth century as in the conventional chronology."
- David M. Rohl, A Test of Time: The Bible from Myth to History (1995), p. 249

"The early Christian historian Eusebius in his work Evangelicae Preparationis' quotes from a book Peri Ioudaion (Concerning the Jews) by the Jewish historian Artapanus [written in in the late 3rd century B.C.E.] This work of Artapanus has not survived down to the present but is also quoted in Clement's Stromata."
- John Fulton, "A New Chronology - Synopsis of David Rohl's book 'A Test of Time'"

Artapanus "probably had access to ancient records which were housed in the great Egyptian temples and perhaps in the famous library at Alexandria founded by Ptolemy I."
- David M. Rohl, A Test of Time: The Bible from Myth to History (1995), p. 252

"Artapanus writes that a pharaoh named Palmanothes was persecuting the Israelites. His daughter Merris adopted a Hebrew child who grew up to be called prince Mousos. Merris married a pharaoh Khenephrês. Prince Mousos grew up to administer the land on behalf of this pharaoh. He led a military campaign against the Ethiopians who were invading Egypt; however, upon his return, Khenephrês grew jealous of his popularity. Mousos then fled to Arabia to return when Khenephrês died and lead the Israelites to freedom."
- John Fulton, "A New Chronology - Synopsis of David Rohl's book 'A Test of Time'"

"...Artapanus' Greek name 'Khenephrês' represents the Egyptian royal name 'Khaneferre' meaning 'the perfection of Re shines in the horizon'."
"...Only one pharaoh in the whole of Egyptian history is known to have taken this name. Following the death of Neferhotep I and his short reigned son, Sihathor, a younger brother of the former took the throne as the twenty-third ruler of the 13th Dynasty. At birth he was given the name Sobekhotep ('Sobek is content') but he took at his coronation the prenomen 'Khaneferre'. The great American Egyptologist, James Henry Breasted, assessing the political situation during the SIP [Second Intermediary Period], was of the opinion that this Sobekhotep was the greatest king of the era. So the birth of Moses coincided with the coming to the throne of a new, powerful pharaoh named Khaneferre Sobekhotep IV and it was in his reign that Moses was raised as a prince of Egypt."
- David M. Rohl, A Test of Time: The Bible from Myth to History (1995), p. 255

"Josephus in his Antiquities of the Jews, with access to very old manuscripts and writing in AD 93, also mentioned Moses' Ethiopian or Kushite war. Here, Moses led an Egyptian army down the Nile valley, past the Third Cataract, deep into Kush (modern Ethiopia). In the British Museum is a stela which tells of a 13th Dynasty pharaoh undertaking a campaign south into the region of Kush. That pharaoh is none other than Khaneferre, the step-father of Moses according to Artapanus. He is the only 13th Dynasty pharaoh who is recorded as having campaigned into Upper Nubia or Ethiopia. At Kerma on the Nile an official Egyptian building was found, outside of which was discovered a statue of Khaneferre, so dating this building to the 13th Dynasty. This is many hundreds of kilometres south of the known boundaries of 13th Dynasty Egypt and may have been a governor's residence. It would have been built to secure Egyptian interests in the area after the military victory of the Egyptians led by Moses, as this was the only Kushite war at that time with Egypt. As Moses was a prince of Egypt and was 40 years old according to the Bible when he fled to Arabia, he could certainly have led this military operation - an Israelite leading an Egyptian army to war! If this part of Josephus' account is true then it adds weight to the rest of his account of the life of Moses and also gives us some firmer evidence of the existence of this charismatic leader!"
- John Fulton, "A New Chronology - Synopsis of David Rohl's book 'A Test of Time'"

For more on David Rohl's timeline, see:
A New Chronology.

In the Land of Goshen

(1) Archaeological Evidence

"Heliopolis is the Egyptian city of On (Egy. Iunu) where the sun cult of Egypt had its principal temple. The building works undertaken by the Israelite slaves in these two locations correspond with the locations of the cities Raamses (Pi-Ramesse, the Estate of Ramesses, situated in Goshen) and Pithom (Pi-Atum, the Estate of the sun god Atum, sometimes identified with On/Heliopolis)."
- David M. Rohl, A Test of Time: The Bible from Myth to History (1995), p. 253

"Excavations have been continuing for over 30 years near the Egyptian village of Tell ed-Daba. Here in the Nile Delta region, a large Middle Bronze Age settlement has been uncovered. This is the region of Goshen and the excavation is at the location of the biblical city of Raamses or Pi-Ramesse, the city of Ramesses II (Exodus 1:11). Settlement here spans a period from the 12th to the 20th Dynasties of Egypt. The ancient city at its peak covered an area of ten square kilometres, making it one of the largest cities of the ancient world. It existed for 800 years before being abandoned, when its stones was used to build Tanis."
- John Fulton, "A New Chronology - Synopsis of David Rohl's book 'A Test of Time'"

"No Israelite settlement has ever been found in the 19th Dynasty occupational levels where the orthodox chronology predicted is stratigraphical locus. Within the stata of New Kingdom Pi-Ramesse (biblical Raamses) so far no evidence has been unearthed to support the conventional hypothesis that a large Asiatic population resided there."
"The only period in Egyptian history with incontrovertible archaeological evidence for a large Asiatic population in the eastern delta (i.e. Goshen/Kessan) is the Second Intermediate Period..."
"The Israelite Sojourn in Egypt began in the late 12th Dynasty and continued throughout most of the 13th Dynasty. It is represented in Egypt's archaeological record by the Asiatic culture known as Middle Bronze IIA. The main settlement of the Israelites in Egypt was located at the city of Avaris in the region of Goshen. Their archaeological remains are represented by the dwellings and tombs of Tell ed-Daba stata H to G/1."

"...An analysis of the graves at Tell ed-Daba has shown that there were more females than males in the burial population of Avaris."
In addition, "sixty-five per cent of all the burials were those of children under the age of eighteen months. Based on modern statistical evidence obtained from pre-modern societies we would expect the infant mortality rate to be around twenty to thirty percent."
- David M. Rohl, A Test of Time: The Bible from Myth to History (1995), p. 273, 277, 271

(2) Documentary Evidence

"But the Israelites were fruitful and multiplied greatly and became exceedingly numerous, so that the land was filled with them."
- Exodus 1:8-14

"Before Moses, the Bible records that the Israelites were enslaved by their Egyptian hosts (Exodus 1:8-14). In the Brooklyn Museum resides a papyrus scroll numbered Brooklyn 35:1446 which was acquired in the late 19th century by Charles Wilbour. This dates to the reign of Sobekhotep III, the predecessor of Neferhotep I and so the pharaoh who reigned one generation before Moses. This papyrus is a decree by the pharaoh for a transfer of slaves. Of the 95 names of slaves mentioned in the letter, 50% are Semitic in origin. What is more, it lists the names of these slaves in the original Semitic language and then adds the Egyptian name that each had been assigned, which is something the Bible records the Egyptians as doing, cf. Joseph's name given to him by pharaoh (Genesis 41:45). Some of the Semitic names are biblical and include:

    ·Menahem - a Menahem is recorded as the 16th king of Israel in 743-738 BC
    ·Issachar and Asher - both Patriachs of Israel and sons of Jacob.
    ·Shiprah - the name carried by one of the Israelite midwives who were instructed in Exodus 1:15-21 to kill Israelite newborn males."
    - John Fulton, "A New Chronology - Synopsis of David Rohl's book 'A Test of Time'"

Regarding Papyrus Brooklyn 35.1446:
"...One wonders by what means such quantities of Asiatic serving people found their way into Egypt at this time and how they chanced to be available as domestic servants for private citizens...The ratio of women to men, which is here about thee to one..."
- W. C. Hayes A Papyrus of the Late Middle Kingdom in the Brooklyn Museum (1952), p. 92

"But the Israelites were fruitful and multiplied greatly and became exceedingly numerous, so that the land was filled with them."
- Exodus 1:7

"The reduction in the male Asiatic population is not due to a series of (unattested) wars in the north but rather as a result of a deliberate policy on the part of the Egyptian state to reduce the perceived Israelite threat by means of male infanticide."
- David M. Rohl, A Test of Time: The Bible from Myth to History (1995), p. 278

"The king of Egypt said to the Hebrew midwives, whose names were Shiphrah and Puah,'When you help the Hebrew women in childbirth and observe them on the delivery stool, if it is a boy, kill him; but if it is a girl, let her live.'
Then Pharaoh gave this order to all his people: 'Every boy that is born [Masoretic Text; Samaritan Pentateuch, Septuagint and Targums 'born to the Hebrews'] you must throw into the Nile, but let every girl live.'"
- Exodus 1:15-16, 22

"The bonded Asiatic servants recorded in various documents of the 13th Dynasty (especially Papyrus Brooklyn 35.1446) are to be identified with the 'mixed multitude' of Asiatics who eventually left Egypt under the leadership of Moses [Exodus 12:38]. The Israelite population, descended from Jacob, formed the major part of this group and a number of Hebrew/Israelite names can be recognized within the documents of the period."
- David M. Rohl, A Test of Time: The Bible from Myth to History (1995), p. 278

The Tenth Plague

For remarkable parallels to the biblical plagues in Egyptian chronicles, see
The Plagues of Egypt

"At the end of stratum G/1 at Tell ed-Daba, which is roughly dated to the middle of the 13th Dynasty, Bietak and his archaeological team began to uncover a gruesome scene. All over the city of Avaris they found shallow burial pits into which the victims of some terrible disaster had been hurriedly cast. There were no careful interments of the deceased. The bodies were not arranged in the proper burial fashion but rather thrown into the mass graves, one on top of the other. There were no grave goods placed with the corpses as was usually the custom."
"...Analysis of the site archaeology suggests that a large part of the remaining population of the town abandoned their homes and departed from Avaris en masse. The site was then reoccupied after an interval of unknown duration by Asiatics who were not 'Egyptianised' like the previous population of stratum G."
- David M. Rohl, A Test of Time: The Bible from Myth to History (1995), p. 279

Rohl asserts that these next Asiatic occupants were the Hyksos, who invaded Egypt at the end of the Middle Kingdom and ruled the country for more than two centuries.

"Old Midrash sources narrate that the walls of Pithom and Raamses fell and were partly swallowed by the earth, and that many Israelites perished on that occasion."
- velikov.htmlImmanuel Velikovsky, Ages in Chaos

"Tutimaos [the pharaoh Dudimose, one of the later rulers of the 13th Dynasty]. In his reign, for what cause I know not, a blast of God smote us; and unexpectedly, from the regions of the East, invaders of obscure race marched in confidence of victory against our land. By main force they easily seized it without striking a blow; and having overpowered the rulers of the land, they then burned our cities ruthless, razed to the ground the temples of the gods, and treated all the natives with a cruel hostility, massacring some and leading into slavery the wives and children of others. Finally, they appointed as king one of their number who name was Salitis..."
- Josephus, quoting Manetho in Against Apion, Book 1:14

Using the Royal Canon of Turin and dating backwards from Khaneferre Sobekhotep IV (circa 1529-1510 in Rohl's new chronology) through twelve kings in the 13th Dynasty to Dudimose "gives an approximate date range for the accession of Dudimose of 1457 to 1444 BC. The biblical date for the Exodus is 1447 BC and so Dudimose was in all likelihood the Pharaoh of the Exodus."
"...Biblical tradition gives a birth-date for Moses of 1527 BC. He would then have been between seventy-two and eighty-five years old at the accession of Dudimose....The Old Testament informs us that Moses was eighty years old at the time of Exodus..."
- David M. Rohl, A Test of Time: The Bible from Myth to History (1995), p. 282

"But as the king still persisted in his folly, Moses caused hail and earthquakes by night, so that those who fled from the earthquakes were killed by the hail, and those who sought shelter form the hail were destroyed by the earthquakes. And at that time all the houses fell in and most of the temples."
- Artapanus, Peri Ioudaion

"Forsooth, the land turns round as does a potter's wheel. The towns are destroyed. Upper Egypt has become dry (wastes?).
"All is ruin."
"The residence is overturned in a minute."
"Oh, that the earth would cease from noise, and tumult (uproar) be no more."
- Papyrus of Ipuwer 2:8, 2:11, 3:13, 7:4

"In Hebrew the word raash signifies 'noise', 'commotions', as well as 'earthquake'. Earthquakes are often accompanied by loud sounds, subterranean rumbling and roaring, and this acoustic phenomenon gives the name to the upheaval itself."
- Immanuel Velikovsky, Ages in Chaos

"And it came to pass, that at midnight the Lord smote all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, from the firstborn of Pharaoh that sat on his throne unto the firstborn of the captive that was in the dungeon."
- Exodus 12:29

"The Hebrew word for 'first born' is bekore whilst the Hebrew for 'chosen' is bakhur (with the meaning of 'choice youth'). Both words appear to stem from bakhar meaning 'prime root'. There is a clear connection in the Bible between these two words. When God refers to 'Israel, my chosen' the phrase in Hebrew is either Israel bechiri or Israel bechori; when God refers to 'Israel, my first-born' the Hebrew is Israel bekhori. We may therefore understand the passage concerning the death of the Egyptian first-born as a literary device which should better be understood as 'the chosen of Egypt' or, in modern parlance, 'the flower of Egypt'. Egypt's future was cut short by Yahweh's punishment, perhaps personified in the death of the crown prince, the first-born son of Pharaoh Dudimose."
- David M. Rohl, A Test of Time: The Bible from Myth to History (1995), p. 284

"According to the Haggadic tradition, not only the firstborn but the majority of the population in Egypt was killed during the tenth plague."
- Immanuel Velikovsky, Ages in Chaos

"...There was not a house where there was not one dead."
- Exodus 12:30

According to biblical dating, the Exodus may have occurred during a great cataclysm:
The Eruption of Thera

Into the Sinai

(1) The Excavation of Egypt

"If we approach the Old Testament account of the Exodus from the standpoint of comparative mythology it is evident that it contains more than a trace of mythical elements which, were it not that these particular traditions are so dear to us, we would otherwise recognize as being typical of cosmogonic myth. It is well-known, for example, that numerous peoples traced their origins to a great god/hero who personally led them upon an extended migration to their ultimate homeland. Thus the earliest settlers of Italy were said to have been led there by Mars; the Norse remembered a similar migration led by Odin; while the ancient Aztecs were said to have followed Huitzilopochtli to Mexico City. While it was commonplace in the last century to interpret such accounts in a Euhemerist fashion - e.g., as actual migrations led by men of flesh and blood - to do so today seems hopelessly naive."
- Efemeral Research Foundation, "Exploring the Saturn Myth"

"The Israelites' story was that Yahweh had delivered them from slavery in Egypt and that their leader, Moses, and others had met him and heard from him on Sinai, his home mountain. The stories of this meeting are told in Exodus 19-34, chapters which combine several different sources, laws and notions of God's encounters with his people. They are a wonderful jungle, parts of which are now dated, convincingly, by scholarly argument to the seventh and sixth centuries BC. They contain the famous Ten Commandments, but, typically, 'none of the traditional attempts to divide the text in its existing form into Ten Commandments is wholly above criticism' [E. Neilson, The Ten Commandments in New Perspective]. There are not ten, and they are patently not original commands which were given to Moses by the mountain god of Sinai. Conservative guesses have recently put their origins in the northern kingdom of Israel during the tenth century BC..."
- Robin Lane Fox, The Unauthorized Version

"The Israelites journeyed from Rameses to Succoth, about six hundred thousand men on foot, besides children. A mixed crowd also went up with them, and livestock in great numbers, both flocks and herds."
- Exodus 12:37-38

"Such a large number, however, could not have traveled undetected and it would have been impossible for all of them to survive in the desert. The figure probably represents a national census of the population of Israel at the time of David (tenth century BC [when Judges was compiled]), which was projected back to the time of the Exodus."
- Great Events of Bible Times

"Six hundred thousand males of military age would have meant a total figure of between two and three million people, including women and children: it has been pointed out that such a multitude, even if they marched in close order, which they certainly did not, would have extended from Egypt to Sinai and back (whichever of the proposed sites for Sinai we accept). According to modern scholars, a more realistic figure for those involved in the exodus would be between two and six thousand."
- David Daiches, Moses - Man in the Wilderness

Compare also with Josephus' account of the Hyksos leaving Egypt under agreement.

For the crossing of the "Red Sea" in Egyptian legends and chronicles see:
Crossing the Sea of Reeds

(2) Semitic Mining in the Sinai

The most likely route the fleeing Israelites would have taken would have been south along the desert wadi beds of western Sinai to Gebel Mousa.

"During the times of the Early Kingdom of Egypt, in the third millennium BC, Sinai was densely inhabited by Semitic copper-smelting and turquoise-mining tribes, who resisted the penetration of Pharaonic expeditions into their territory. We could establish the existence of a fairly large industrial metallurgical enterprise...There are copper mines, miners' camps and copper smelting installations, spread from the western parts of southern Sinai to as far east as Elat at the head of the Gulf of Aqaba."
- Beno Rothenberg, Sinai Explorations 1967-1972

"Archaeological discoveries, as well as depictions by the first Pharaohs of defeated and captured 'Asiatic Nomads' convince scholars that at first the Egyptians only raided mines developed earlier by Semitic tribesmen. Indeed, the Egyptian name for turquoise, mafka-t (after which they called the Sinai the 'Land of Mafkat'), stems form the Semitic verb meaning 'to mine, to extract by cutting'. These mining areas were in the domain of the goddess Hathor, who was known both as 'Lady of Sinai' and 'Lady of Mafkat'."
- Zecharia Sitchin, The Stairway to Heaven

"Aaron answered them, 'Take off the gold earrings that your wives, your sons and your daughters are wearing, and bring them to me.'
So all the people took off their earrings and brought them to Aaron. He took what they handed him and made it into an idol cast in the shape of a calf, fashioning it with a tool. Then they said, 'These are your gods, O Israel, who brought you up out of Egypt.'
When Aaron saw this, he built an altar in front of the calf and announced, 'Tomorrow there will be a festival to the LORD.'"
- Exodus 32:2-5

"...The Egyptian Hathor, who was equated with the town-goddess of Byblos (at some moment which at first was very difficult to determine), is called in Egyptian mortuary literature 'Hathor, Lady of Byblos' [who] acquired a significance for every Egyptian mortal....She was thought as 'steering the ship [of the dead]'."
- Siegfried Morenz, Egyptian Religion

Hathor, the goddess of love, beauty and joy and the wife of the god Osiris, she was often worshipped in the shape of a cow. Celebrated as a mother and death goddess, her main temple was at Denderah.

On the flat top of "Serabit-el-Khadem which stands in the austere and barren highlands of southern-central Sinai [barely fifty miles from Mount Sinai]....were the ruins of the settlement in which Moses was thought to have lived - ruins dominated by the obelisks, altars and graceful columns of what must one have been an extensive Egyptian temple [of the goddess Hathor]."
In 1904-5 the great British archaeologist Sir William Finders Petrie "unearthed fragments of several stone tablets there. These tablets were inscribed with writing in a strange pictographic alphabet that, much later, was proved to have belonged to a Semitic-Canaanite language related to ancient Hebrew."
"...The settlement at Serabit-el-Khadem had been an important center for the mining and manufacture of copper and turquoise from roughly 1990 BC until 1190 BC. These dates meant that there was no anachronism in the assumption that Moses might have sojourned here in the thirteenth century BC, just prior to the Exodus."
- Graham Hancock, The Sign and the Seal

For the traditon of oracle stones in the ancient world see:
The Tablets of Stone

The Covenant with God

(1) Moses on the Mountain

"The latest of the four underlying sources [to the Pentateuch, the five books from Genesis to the end of Numbers] is the priestly author (P)....He wrote a text of his own, no earlier than c. 540 BC and probably when the Exile in Babylon had just ended (c. 530-500)....After the Exodus and the Wandering what concerned P at Sinai was not a covenant but the bringing of the people under God's domination and the building of a tent-like tabernacle with its own priesthood. This tabernacle and priesthood looked forward to the eventual Temple and priesthood in the promised land: for, a true priest, they were Sinai's great events."
- Robin Lane Fox, The Unauthorized Version

"Moses went up unto God, and the Lord called unto him out of the mountain."
"Thou shalt set bounds unto the people round about, saying, Take heed to ourselves that he go not up into the mount, or touch the border of it: Whoever touches the mountain will be put to death...he must be stoned or shot down by arrow...he must not remain alive."
- Exodus 19:3, 12-13

Regarding Mount Sinai, whether located at Jebel Musa, Jebel Serbal or Serabit: "Could it not be that his [Moses's] true purpose all along had been to build the Ark of the Covenant and to place inside it some great energy source, the raw substance of which he had known that he would find on this particular mountain top?"
- Graham Hancock, The Sign and the Seal

"On the morning of the third day there was thunder and lightning, with a thick cloud over the mountain, and a very loud trumpet blast. Everyone in the camp trembled. Then Moses led the people out of the camp to meet with God, and they stood at the foot of the mountain. Mount Sinai was covered with smoke, because the LORD descended on it in fire. The smoke billowed up from it like smoke from a furnace, the whole mountain [most Hebrew manuscripts; a few Hebrew manuscripts and Septuagint 'all the people'] trembled violently, and the sound of the trumpet grew louder and louder. Then Moses spoke and the voice of God answered him [or 'and God answered him with thunder']."
- Exodus 19:16-19

"The descent of the god of fire, needed for the authority of Moses, was arranged by the Kenites [the smiths referred to in Numbers 10:31] for a fixed day. On this day no one was allowed to go unto the Mountain. They kindled one or more big fires, causing much smoke. They hammered on metal plates, moved torches in the smoke, and gave the signal to bring the people to the nether part of the Mount by blowing a trumpet (shfar) repeatedly, louder and louder. As Moses spoke, he was answered by sound of gongs. The purpose was to hold the people in awe."
- B.D. Eerdmans

"The wonders which Moses narrates as having taken place upon the Mountain of Sinai, are in part, a veiled account of the Egyptian initiation which [Moses] transmitted to his people when he established a branch of the Egyptian Brotherhood in his country..."
- Egyptian High Priest Manetho (3rd Century BC)

"Every attempt to penetrate to some factual process which is concealed behind the awe-inspiring picture is quite in vain."
- Martin Buber, The Kingship of God

"Moses went up into the mount, and a cloud covered the mount. And the glory of Yahweh settled upon mount Sinai; for six days the cloud covered it, and on the seventh day Yahweh called to Moses from inside the cloud. To the eyes of the sons of Israel the glory of Yahweh seemed like a devouring fire on the mountain top. Moses went right into the cloud. He went up the mountain and stayed there for forty days and forty nights."
- Exodus 24:15-18

"Jewish legends relate that Abraham recognized Mount Moriah [the most sacred mount of Jerusalem] from a distance, for he saw upon it 'a pillar of fire reaching from the earth to heaven, and a heavy cloud in which the Glory of God was seen'. This language is almost identical with the biblical description of the descent of the Lord upon Mount Sinai."
- Zecharia Sitchin, The Stairway to Heaven

Moses returned and broke the tablets when he found the perfidious Israelites worshipping a golden calf (a statue of Hathor?).

"He then disposed of the golden calf, had about three thousand of the worst idolaters executed, and restored order." Moses returned to the mountain top and received two new tablets after an additional forty days and nights. On the second occasion 'the skin of his face shone'."
- Exodus 34:29

"The early Semitic god Hadan - god of mountain and storm and, by extension of fertility - was represented on Syrian reliefs as standing on a bull; his cult was widespread in Canaan. The bull was the god's seat, not an image of the god himself. When Aaron gave he in to the people's demands, he did not regard himself as forsaking Yahweh. When he saw the people hailing the golden calf, 'he build an altar before it; and Aaron made proclamation, and said, Tomorrow is a feast to Yahweh.' In other words, Aaron is represented as giving in to the people's demand for a symbolic visual representation of Yahweh. It was not the command to 'have no other gods before me' that proved too difficult; it was the next commandment, that 'thou shalt not make unto thee a graven image'."
- David Daiches, Moses - Man in the Wilderness

In reference to two calves King Jeroboam made of gold, he says:

"It is too much for you to go up to Jerusalem: behold thy gods, O Israel, which brought thee up out of the land of Egypt."
- Kings 27-8

"This shows that a tradition that God could be worshipped in the form of a calf (or small bull) was known in Israel in the later part of the tenth century BC and that is was associated with the story of the defection before Mount Sinai."
- David Daiches, Moses - Man in the Wilderness

"One of the purposes of the story of the golden calf was probably to give an account of the consecration of the tribe of Levi to the priesthood, for their fidelity to Yahweh and Moses. Another aim of the story, which was probably set down during the period of the division of the kingdom, was to condemn implicitly the practice of the bull cult in the northern kingdom of Israel."
- Great Events of Bible Times

For more information about the God of the Convenant, see:
Yahweh, the God of Israel.

(2) The Book of the Covenant

"And he [Moses] took the Book of the Covenant , and read in the audience of the people: and they said, All that Yahweh hath said we will do, and be obedient."
- Exodus 24:7

"The covenant between God and the tribes of Israel described in Exodus 24 has been compared to suzerainty treaties (between the Great King and his vassals) of the Hittite empire and to the covenant made by Urukagina, prince of Lagash (2400 BC) with his god Ningirsu in connection with his legislative reforms. But the covenant of Exodus is unique; it is between a group of wandering tribes who, by entering into the covenant, become a people, and the God both of nature and of history, who becomes their Baal, the Lord and master, for Baal had connotations of duality and mating and was associated with sexual fertility cults, but their melech, their king, reigning absolutely alone, thus eliminating the need of any earthly ruler and requiring only a mediator to interpret the divine king's will."

"This [covenant] contains a variety of legislation concerning the status and rights of individuals, capital offenses, bodily injuries, theft and burglary, seduction, idolatrous customs, ritual prescriptions, the importance of equal justice for all men, and finally a cultic calendar dealing with the sabbatical year, the Sabbath and the three annual festivals. The mixture of legal, moral and cultic prescriptions is characteristic not only of other lists of regulations found in the Mosaic books (the so-called 'Holiness Code' of Leviticus 17 and the laws in Deuteronomy 12 and 26) but also of other ancient Near Eastern codes. Many parallels have been fond between the Book of the Covenant and earlier collections of cuneiform laws, such as the Sumerian law code promulgated by Lipit-Ishtar of Isin (c. 1870 BC), the Akkadian code from the kingdom of Eshunna (of uncertain date but roughly the same period), and the famous code of Hammurabi of Babylon (early seventeenth century BC), also written in Akkadian.
"Many of the laws in the Book of the Covenant are of the form known as 'casuistic', with the basic formula, common to all ancient Near Eastern lawcodes, of 'if...then' ('if a man steal an ox...he shall restore five oxen for an ox'). This is quite different from the 'apodictic' form of the Decalogue which give direct commands addressed to the listener in the second person singular ['thou shalt...]."
- Robin Lane Fox, The Unauthorized Version

The Ten Commandments also mirror five of the negative confessions in the Egyptian Book of the Dead.

"The Book of the Covenant bears clear traces of an ancient origin. The casuistic formula itself is ancient; the vocabulary is old; there is no suggestion of a monarchy, but the background is a society organized tribally with the family as an essential unit; there are no laws about commerce or about class distinctions and professions; there is no suggestion of any central law-enforcing authority, but laws punishing non-ritual offenses are addressed to the injured party or his next of kin. We have noted parallels with other ancient near Eastern codes. A startlingly specific parallel is found between Exodus 21:4 (the case of a slave to whom his master has given a wife who has borne him children) and a Nuzi document giving the case of a Habiru slave given a wife by his master; the procedure required of the slave when he wished to renounce his proffered freedom can also be paralleled in a Nuzi document. All this suggests an early origin, certainly before the establishment of the Israelite monarchy about 1,000 BC. At the same time much of it presupposes a settled agricultural rather than a nomadic way of life. It looks like, in Bright's words, 'a description of normative Israelite judicial procedure in the days of the Judges' (c. 1200-1020 BC), when they were settled in Palestine [A History of Israel]'."
- David Daiches, Moses - Man in the Wilderness

"Then the Lord spake unto Moses, saying, Speak unto the children of Israel that they receive an offering for me: of every man, whose heart giveth it freely, ye shall take the offering for me. And this is the offering which ye shall take of them, gold and silver, and brass, and blue silk, and purple, and scarlet, and fine linen and goats hair. And rams skins colored red, and the skins of badgers, and the wood Shittim, oil for the light, spices for anointing oil, and for the perfume of sweet favor, onyx stones, and stones to be set in the Ephod, and in the breastplate. Also they shall make me a sanctuary, that I may dwell among them. According to all that I showed thee, even so shall ye make the form of the Tabernacle, and the fashion of all the instruments thereof."
- Exodus 25:1-9

"The tabernacle...is called in Hebrew the ohel mo'ed, the Tent of Meeting, or the mishkan, the Dwelling or Abode. The latter term seems originally to have been used for the temporary dwelling of the nomad - namely a tent."
- Great Events of Bible Times

(3) The Rite of Circumcision

While wandering in the wilderness for "forty years" (a period in Middle Eastern convention used to designate "a long time"), the Israelites were said to have subsisted on "bread from heaven" or manna.

During this time, the Israelites "successfully subdued the fierce tribes of the Sinai peninsula, conquered Transjordania, spoiled the Midianites, and generally laid waste to all those who opposed them. Finally, toward the end of their four decades of wandering, they 'pitched their camp in the plains of Moab...opposite Jericho'." Joshua, the son of Nun was invested by Moses as his successor and initiated into the mysteries of the Ark of the Covenant.
- Graham Hancock, The Sign and the Seal [Quoting from Ginzburg, Legends of the Jews]

"When ye see the Ark of the Covenant of the Lord your god, and the priests the Levites bearing it, then ye shall remove from your place and go after it. Yet there shall be a space between you and it, about two thousand cubits by measure: come not near unto it..."
- Joshua 3:3-4

"The priests, or Levites, were a hereditary caste, the male descendants of Aaron. They were not permitted to follow any trade or occupation, but were force to live on the sacrifices offered by the people, devoting themselves to full time religious observance.."
- George Sassoon and Rodney Dale, The Manna Machine

"The Levite tribes leaving Egypt (in an exile, rather than an exodus proper) could not take settling lands alone. They had to align themselves with another group of nomads, the Jahvists. The Jahvists had their own priesthood from Zadok, and so a competition between the priests of Levi and the priests of Zadok began. Adonai and Yahweh became competing names for the One God. With King David and his priest Zadok, Yahweh became the ascendant name."
- Paul Trejo (pet@netcom.com)

"In Egypt the religious aspect of the rite [of circumcision] was very clearly outlined in the fact that Horus, son of Osiris and Isis, died and was resurrected as a part of the Mystery of Amenta, and was shown then in his statues and paintings as circumcised."
- Brad Steiger, Kahuna Magic

"...Israel was only one among very many nations who practiced it [circumcision], and from an early period it was regarded in Israelite tradition as the sign of a covenant between God on the one hand and Abraham and his descendants on the other (see Genesis 18:11-12). But it is worth noting that the biblical prescription of circumcision is at odds with the whole tenor of biblical repudiation of ritual practices common among the pagan neighbors of the Israelites and the fierce prohibition of any kind of bodily mutilation, whether ritual or not (even tattooing and scarification were forbidden on these grounds.). The prohibition even extended to animals. The origins of the practice of circumcision, and it adoption in Israelite tradition, remain mysterious."
"...Circumcision came to the foreground only after the settled Israelites came into conflict with the Philistines, one of the few peoples of the ancient Near East who did not practice it."
- David Daiches, Moses - Man in the Wilderness

"Before the Exodus, the Hebrews were circumcised haphazardly, or not at all, through their contact with the Egyptians. At the time of the ''golden calf' episode, the adults who entered the desert were circumcised, but afterwards, Moses banned the practice because of its connections with that affair. For this reason, none of the babies born in the desert underwent the operation."
- George Sassoon and Rodney Dale, The Manna Machine

"And Joshua made him sharp knives, and circumcised the children of Israel at the hill of the foreskins. And this is the cause why Joshua did circumcise: Al the people that came out of Egypt, that were males, even all the men of war, died in the wilderness by the way, after they came out of Egypt. Now all the people that came out were circumcised: but all the people that were born in the wilderness by the was as they came forth out of Egypt, them they had not circumcised..."
- Joshua 5:3ff

"This circumcising was a strange thing for Joshua, a keen military commander to do. He was incapacitating his whole fighting force, an absolutely unmilitary act. It is silly to march your men right into the teeth of the enemy and then disable them. Joshua did it, nevertheless, because God told him to."
- Francis Schaeffer, Joshua and the Flow of Biblical History

"...Recent archaeological exploration [in what was once Canaan] has uncovered evidence of a large number of destroyed towns and cities indicating a late middle Bronze Age timing for the Exodus. Such a dating would put the Exodus somewhere in the hundred years between the Hyksos expulsion and the mid-fifteenth century BC."
- Christopher Knight & Robert Lomas, The Hiram Key: Pharaohs, Freemasons and the Discovery of the Secret Scrolls of Jesus

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