21/04/09 10:33 AMThe Bible And Christianity -- The Historical OriginsPage 3 of 28http://www.bidstrup.com/bible.htm
Get it here!
A History of God:The 4,000 Year Quest of Judaism,Christianity andIslamby KarenArmstrong,published 1994.
The Problem of the Exodus Story and the First Great Revision of Judaism
about 1200 B.C.E.
The fact is that with all that is known of Egyptian history from this time (since scholars cannow read the records the ancient Egyptians with the ease of a modern newspaper), and thefact that the history of Egypt in this period is well documented, there is no evidence from therecords of Egypt itself that the events of Exodus ever occured, either archaeologically or documentarily in the manner in which the Bible describes the events. The reality is that if aseries of plagues had been visited upon Egypt, thousands of slaves escaped in a massrunaway, and the army of the Pharaoh were swallowed up by the Red Sea, such eventswould
have made it into the Egyptian documentary record. But the reality is thatthere isn't a single word describing any such events.Instead, what we do have from Egyptian sources is a remarkably different story of theExodus. From about the beginning of the second millenium B.C.E., through about 1200B.C.E., Egypt ruled the region known today as Palestine. How do we know this? We know itnot only from Egyptian records themselves, which talk about tribute taken from the varioustowns and cities in Canaan, but from archaeological evidence within the region itself, which shows a number of settlements which were clearly Egyptian military outposts.During this time, the region which was to become the land of Israel, occupying the northern highlands between thecoastal plain and the valley of the Jordan river, was sparsely populated and densly forested with stands of oak andterebinth trees. This land was populated by one of two groups (we're not sure which), either the Apiru or Shoshupeoples. The former were known to have originated as intinerant nomads, largely on the fringes of lowland society,who may have taken refuge in the highlands, or the Shosu, a more cohesive, well-defined group. The linguisticassociation of Apiru (sometimes Habiru) with the word, "Hebrew" had long, in the minds of scholars, beenconsidered good evidence that this was the group that gave rise to the Hebrews, but we now know that theassociation wasn't quite that simple. The name may have been from that source, but the people probably weren't.In any event, the highlands of northern Palestine which was home to the Kingdom of Israel has a highly variableclimate. Agricultural productivity, and the ability of people to sustain trade with the lowlands, was subject to varyingclimatic conditions, meaning that famine was a frequent occurence. When crops failed and trade could not besustained, it was not uncommon for people to flee the region and head for refuge where crops were dependable.The nearest such place was the Nile delta in Egypt.So many of the "Hebrews" (culturally indistinct from the Canaanites at this time), who were citizens of Egypt, fled tothe Nile delta. Time and again. Every time there was a famine in Judah, Israel or Canaan, refugees headed for Egypt. The event was so common, and the refugees so numerous, that they eventually became a substantialminority group, influential in Egypt, where they were known as the Hyksos, as is now very clear from thearchaeological record.The story of the expulsion of the Hyksos is easily the closest parallel we have from either the Egyptian record or thearchaeological record to the story of the Exodus as recorded in the Bible. There are problems, though. Besides theExodus story line, the biggest problem is the dates: the Bible places the Exodus at about 1200 B.C.E., yet the storyof the Hyksos culminates in 1570 B.C.E. It is quite likely that the story of the Hyksos is the story that eventually,through generations of revisionistic retelling, became the myth of the Exodus -- another example of history beingrewritten to flatter the storytellers rather than to record the unvarnished truth.Anyway, the Hyksos grew in influence until they eventually took control of Egypt, which they ruled, withconsiderable cruelty and tyrrany during the Fifteenth Dynasty, beginning in 1670 B.C.E. The Egyptians had finallyhad enough, though, and rebelled against the rule of the Hyksos and drove them out a century later in 1570 B.C.E.They weren't just driven out, either; the Egyptians pushed them back into Canaan with considerable force, drivingthem all the way to the Syrian frontier, sacking and burning Canaanite cities along the way. Sometime later, theHyksos capital in Egypt, Avaris, in the eastern Nile delta, was razed to the ground by the Pharoah Ahmose, whochased the last remnants of the Hyksos back into Canaan and even laid siege to Sharuhen, the main Canaanitecitadel, destroying it and ending Canaanite influence there. At least one historian claims (a millenium after the fact)that the Hyksos refugees settled in Jerusalem and built a temple there, but the archaeological record does notsupport the claim of either a temple or large numbers of refugees in Jerusalem from this period.It is quite clear from the archaeological record, as well, that there never was a "wandering in the desert for 40