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MOSES OUR TEACHER

&1"9 %:/

by

Robert F. Smith
2010
version 4

Was There an Exodus?


. . . there is no evidence, archaeological or literary, of
any great movement of Semites from Egypt later than
1
the expulsion of the Hyksos, . . .
2

A number of scholars (and even some rabbis ) have raised


serious doubts about whether there was in fact an Exodus, even if
the literal interpretation of the biblical Exodus is reduced in terms to
a considerably smaller episode of a group of Canaanites leaving
Egypt something which happened to very small groups on a
regular basis as they moved back and forth across the Sinai for the
3
purpose of trade or to escape the occasional Canaanite famine.
If
we are to be dependent upon typical, regular movements of small
groups of semi-nomads or pastoralists for an explanation of the
Exodus, then, logically, there may as well have been no Exodus at
all! Other scholars have defended the traditional date and mode of
4
the large-scale biblical Exodus, or some variation of it, all to no
avail.
Of course, there was a very large exodus of Canaanites from
the Delta of Egypt several centuries prior to the one described so

E. C. B. McLaurin, Journal of Near Eastern Studies, 27/2 (Apr 1968), 95.

Hershel Shanks, Did the Exodus Really Happen? Moment, 26/5 (Oct 2001), 62-65,102; Rabbi
David Wolpe, We Were Slaves to Pharaoh in Egypt, Moment, 26/6 (Dec 2001), 67-69; Shanks, For
Wolpe, the Exodus is Metaphor, Moment, 26/6 (Dec 2001), 67-69; Wolpe and others comment in the
PBS-TV Kingdom of David, available on DVD (PBS Paramount, 2003), which is #9 in the PBS
Empires Series.
3

See PBS-TVs The Bibles Buried Secrets, Nova (Boston: WGBH, 2008), in which Bill
Dever refers to these proto-Israelites or Shasu refugees from Egypt as a motley crew.
4

J. de Moor, Egypt, Ugarit, and Exodus, in N. Wyatt, et al., eds., Ugarit, Religion and Culture
(Mnster, 1996), 213-247; Abraham Malamat, The Exodus: Egyptian Analogies, in Frerichs & Lesko,
eds., Exodus: The Egyptian Evidence (Eisenbrauns, 1997), 15-26.

specifically in the biblical book of Exodus. Josephus describes this


5
earlier event as he read of it in Manetho, and Egyptology fills in
6
the blanks, courtesy of Hans Goedicke, Sturt Manning, and others :
Circa 1540 B.C. a native Egyptian Pharaoh from the south
(Thebes) named Ah. mose laid siege to Avaris (Tell el-Dab)a) in
northern Egypt. Avaris was the great and prosperous 250 hectare
th
th
capital city of the Canaanites/Hyksos of the 14 & 15 Dynasties
(no city in Egypt, Palestine, or the Aegean was larger). Unable to
penetrate the 8.5 m thick walls of the city, King Ah. mose made a
deal with the Hyksos, allowing them to leave Egypt and return to
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Canaan with which they had maintained close ties in any case.
So the Hyksos (Egyptian h. q1w h. 1wt rulers of foreign lands) left en
masse and returned to Canaan.
King Ah. mose I then destroyed the empty city and attempted to
blot out any memory of the Hyksos rule, and he and several of his
th
successors of the 18 Dynasty even conducted revenge military
8
campaigns in southern Palestine, destroying the major Hyksos city of
Sharuhen (Tell el-)Ajjul). Until recently the first report of a people
in Palestine called Israel came from about 1207 B.C., during the
th
reign of King Merneptah (son of Ramesses II) of the 19 Dynasty

Josephus, Contra Apionem, I, 14 (88-89), cited by Manning, A Test of Time, 84 n. 375, who
discusses the entire episode.
6

Hans Goedicke, Egypt and the Early History of Israel (Baltimore, 1981); cf. the video by Simcha
Jacobovici, The Exodus Decoded (History Channel/Discovery Channel Canada, 2005), online at
http://www.hulu.com/watch/740807 , and http://www.theexodusdecoded.com .
7

Manning, A Test of Time, 67-68,77-107,405-410; 87, Palestine . . . was intimately linked with
the Hyksos. These assertions are based on Josephus, but are supported by archaeological evidence
(Bietak, Tell el-Daba, in Bard, ed., Encyclopedia of the Archaeology of Ancient Egypt, 781).
8

Manning, A Test of Time, 5 (n. 263), 92, including Amenhotep I, Thutmosis I, and Thutmosis
III, all of whom campaigned in Syro-Palestine, citing Breasted, ARE, II:73,81,85,125.

and that is over 300 years later!! However, we now have a likely
report of Israel already ca. 1400 B.C., which is about 200 years
9
earlier, making an early exodus quite likely, and making any later
Exodus seem absurd. We also have the legend of Apophis and
10
Seqenenre, which uses the names of two of the primary opposing
th
th
kings of the Hyksos and Theban dynasties (15 and 17 Dynasties,
respectively).
As it happens, Avaris (Tell el-Dab)a) has been subject to
systematic archaeological excavation by an Austrian team for many
11
years now, and the results (as described by director Manfred
th
Bietak) have been quite instructive: During the 12 Dynasty, shortly
after it was first established in the FIP (First Intermediate Period),
the village of Avaris became a primarily Canaanite settlement, and
remained so until its end ca. 1540 B.C. (Exodus 12:40-41 and
Galatians 3:17 suggest that Jacob and his sons went down into
Egypt and stayed there for 430 years, which by this measure would
place the beginning of their stay at circa 1970 B.C.).
Indeed, the fresco fragments found at Avaris are all of a late
Middle Kingdom or Second Intermediate Period (SIP) type, employing
a style and themes which Manning describes as hybrid Egyptian12
Aegean (or Levantine in view of Tel Kabri, Alalakh and Tell el9

P. van der Veen, C. Theis, and M. Grg, Israel in Canaan (Long) Before Pharaoh Merneptah?
A Fresh Look at Berlin Statue Pedestal Relief 21687, Journal of Ancient Egyptian Interconnections, 2/4
(2010), 15-25; H. Shanks, When did Ancient Israel Begin? BAR, 38/1 (Jan-Feb 2012), 59-62,67.
10

Redford, Textual Sources for the Hyksos Period, in Oren, ed., The Hyksos: New Historical
and Archaeological Perspectives (Phila.: Univ. of Penn., 1997), 17-18, cited by Manning, A Test of Time,
90 n. 397.
11

Manfred Bietak, Tell el-Daba, Second Intermediate Period, in K. Bard, ed., Encyclopedia of
the Archaeology of Ancient Egypt (Routledge, 1999), 778-782.
12

See now on Tel Kabri, Remains of Minoan-Style Painting Discovered During Excavations of
Canaanite Palace, ScienceDaily, Nov 9, 2009, online at www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/11/

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13

Dab)a examples) themes and representation modes developed


especially during the special period of west Asian-Egyptian fusion
14
during the SIP [Second Intermediate Period].
Bietak found the
15
Minoan style wall paintings at Avaris a major surprise.
There is, however, a total absence of LMIA finds in Egypt
outside the Canaanite-Hyksos capital in the Delta, i.e., Upper Egypt
th
th
(and the 16 and 17 Dynasties of Thebes) was in effect . . . cut
16
off from the Mediterranean world.
Of course, this was not true in
the preceding period, and some Egyptian items with Aegean
th
th
17
iconography were found in 13 and 17 Dynasty contexts.
There is some suggestion that the close of the Hyksos period
was not abrupt, but was merely the culmination of a long process
of deterioration (of which Ahmose took advantage) which may even
have involved pressure on Canaan from the Hurrians and the state
of Mitanni to the north. Whatever the case, a number of Middle
Bronze Age sites in Syro-Palestine come to an end then, and there
is an overall drop in number of occupied sites in the southern

091109121119.htm .
13

See examples displayed online at http://www.auaris.at/html/ez_helmi_en.html .

14

Manning, A Test of Time, 54 (n. 242),56-58 (figs. 18-20), 80-81,106-107.

15

Bietak, Tell el-Daba, in Bard, ed., Encyclopedia of the Archaeology of Ancient Egypt, 781;
see examples at http://www.wall-paintings-ted.de/ .
16

Manning, A Test of Time, 110, citing Ryholt, The Political Situation in Egypt during the
Second Intermediate Period c. 1800-1550 B.C. (1997), and Redford, Egypt, Canaan, and Israel in
Ancient Times (Princeton Univ. Press, 1992), 112-115,118-121.
17

Manning, A Test of Time, 78-79 (Lisht dolphin vase, which is a Syro-Palestinian import, citing
Bourriau, Beyond Avaris, in Oren, ed., The Hyksos [1997],165-166),112, and for example, fig. 26,
from Morgan, The Miniature Wall Paintings of Thera (1988), plate 63, the Axe of Ahmose (with Aegean
griffin) from the Tomb of Ahhotep.

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18

Levant.
Perhaps this was merely the result of the vengeful efforts
by King Ah. mose and his successors.
It is also worthy of note that the monotheism of Akhenaten at
Amarna soon follows. What sort of cultural memory was left in its
wake? Manning believes the great religious revolution of Akhenaten
to be the basis in human memory of the figure of Moses in the
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Bible.
And there are other potential Mosaic parallels:
The cataclysmic eruption of Thera (Santorini) in the Aegean in
1628 B.C. may have been remembered in Egypt, and in the Exodus
story as the Ninth Plague, via the palpable darkening of the sky
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and sun (Amun-Re)), leading to famine (Joseph in Genesis 41), and
stories of pestilence, storms, pillar of cloud/fire and parting of the
21
sea (Exodus 8-9,13-14) ; does Exodus 7:20-24 allude to or quote
from the late Middle Egyptian "Admonitions of Ipuwer" (Papyrus
Leiden 344), recto, 2:10, "Lo, the Nile is blood, As one drinks of it
22
one shrinks from people and thirsts for water"? etc. Moreover,
does the Seventh Plague (Exodus 9:22-24) follow the typical Egyptian
23
disaster topos as in the Ahmose stele (cf. Artapanus account of

18

Manning, A Test of Time, 62, citing Kempinski (1997), 329, and Ryholt (1997), 307.

19

Manning, A Test of Time, 146 n. 711, citing Assman, Moses the Egyptian: The Memory of
Egypt in Western Monotheism (Harvard Univ. Press, 1997).
20

Manning, A Test of Time, 197, 201 (and nn. 938, 951).

21

Including Hesiods Theogony Manning, A Test of Time, 202, sources in n. 952 (esp. M. T.
Greene, Natural Knowledge [1992], 46-63).
22

19th Dynasty copy, translated by Miriam Lichtheim, Ancient Egyptian Literature, I, The Old
and Middle Kingdoms (1975), 151; Loprieno, Ancient Egyptian, 123. Cf. also Ipuwer, recto, 4:3-4 on
children and infant deaths.
23

Manning, A Test of Time, 197, citing the Ahmose Tempest Stele from Karnak (Thebes).

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24

Moses versus the Egyptian King)?


John Currid discusses other
25
such literary topoi applicable to Moses time.
Being unaware of the presence of volcanic ash in the
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northeastern Delta of Egypt (at Tell el-Daba and Tell Hebwa),
Ziony Zevit has attempted to argue that Theran ash never reached
Egypt and could not, therefore, be part of the series of legendary
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plagues recounted in the book of Exodus.
Moreover, Max Bichler
28
said the ash could not have been windborne, thus ignoring the
possibility of tsunamis the Thera eruption clearly resulted in
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tsunamis at Crete at least 60 feet high as it hit the coast!! thus
ending Minoan civilization, any survivors being finished off thereafter

24

Artapanus quoted in Eusebius, Praeparatio Evangelica, 9.27.33, cited in Mannning, A Test of


Time, 197 n. 934. See generally, James Hoffmeier, Egypt, Plagues in, in Freedman, ed., Anchor Bible
Dictionary, II:374-378.
25

Currid, Ancient Egypt and the Old Testament (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1997), 92-93, and passim.

26

And at Tell el-Ajjul in Palestine; D. Stanley and H. Sheng, Volcanic Shards from Santorini
(Upper Minoan Ash) in the Nile Delta, Egypt, Nature, 320/6064 (1986), 733-735; J.-D. Stanley in BAR,
31/1 (Jan-Feb 2005), 63; Katarina Kratovac (AP), Scholars Abuzz Over Pumice in Egypt, Daily
Breeze, April 3, 2007, A7.
27

Zevit, review of Moses and the Exodus, a BBC-TV documentary (Jeremy Bowen, host), in
BAR, 30/5 (Sept-Oct 2004), 60-62, and Zevits rejoinder to J.-D. Stanley in BAR, 31/1 (Jan-Feb 2005),
63.
28

According to Manfred Bietak in BAR, 32/6 (Nov-Dec 2006), 63,65, citing the Atomic Institute
of the Austrian Universities, and the special research program SCIEM2000 (Synchronisation of
Civilizations in the Eastern Mediterranean in the Second Millennium B.C.) of the Austrian Academy of
Sciences.
29

Sinking Atlantis, episode of Secrets of the Dead (Quickfire Media, 2008), broadcast on PBSTV, May 14, 2008 (available on DVD at 800/336-1917), noting that Minoan use of Linear A was also
snuffed out with the explosion of Thera-Santorini; Evan Hadingham, Did a Tsunami Wipe Out a Cradle
of Western Civilization? Discover, Jan 4, 2008, online at http://discovermagazine.com/ 2008/jan/did-atsunami-wipe-out-a-cradle-of-western-civilization/article_view?b_start:int=2&-C= .

by Myceneans. Sturt Mannings calling the Stanley and Sheng


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tephra into question is thus beside the point.
Reconciliation
How do we reconcile these various approaches and
interpretations of text and archeology? S. D. Sperling has
maintained that the biblical tradition of Hebrew slavery in Egypt
stems from the political submission of Canaan to Egyptian suzerainty
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during the Amarna period.
However, it seems far likelier that real
slavery of West Asiatic Semites in Egypt during the Hyksos and/or
post-Hyksos period is the source of such a tradition telescoped
though it may be as though, indeed, a southern Pharaoh arose
who didnt know Joseph (Exodus 1:8). Even where anachronistic
references in an early text seem to invalidate an early date of
composition, it is as likely that late scribal transmission and editing
32
Of course,
may account for the oddity via telescoping of sources.
Redford and Assmann have each concluded the obvious, i.e., the
story of Joseph and his brothers down to the time of Moses
Exodus may have originated with the entry into Egypt of the Hyksos
33
For archeologist Bryant Wood the
and their eventual expulsion.
solution is equally simple: abandon the standard biblical dating and

30

Manning, Test of Time, 11 n. 61.

31

Zevit, The Religions of Ancient Israel, 61-62, citing S. D. Sperling, Original Torah (1998), 41-

58.
32

Zevit, The Religions of Ancient Israel, 7, and n. 88, re the Persian name Parnoch/ Farnaka at
Numbers 34:25.
33

Redford, Egypt, Canaan, and Israel (1992), 408-422, and Assmann, Moses the Egyptian
(1997), 28-43, both cited in Manning, A Test of Time, 197 n. 939. Cf. H. Shanks, The Exodus and the
Crossing of the Red Sea According to Hans Goedicke, BAR, 7/5 (1981), 42-50..

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push the date of the Exodus back two centuries!


Apparently
unaware of this alternative, Bill Dever makes the consensus assertion
that some such accommodation is required by the incompatibility of
a late Exodus with archeological reality:
The Biblical narratives about Abraham, Moses, Joshua and
Solomon probably do reflect some historical memories of actual
people and places, but the larger-than-life portraits of the
Bible are unrealistic and are, in fact, contradicted by the
archaeological evidence. Some of Israels ancestors probably
did come out of Egyptian slavery, but there was no military
conquest of Canaan, and most early Israelites were displaced
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Canaanites.

Jo Ann Hackett likewise states what seems to her the obvious here,
while adhering to that same consensus position:
. . . the number of years given in the book for the period
of the Judges is over four hundred, much too long a span
considering the dating of the Exodus accepted by the majority
36
of scholars, . . .

Where does she get that 400+ period for the Judges? (see
immediately below) She herself rejects the notion that the

34

Bryant G. Wood, The Rise and Fall of the 13th Century Exodus-Conquest Theory, Journal of
the Evangelical Theological Society, 48/3 (Sept 2005), 475-489; Wood, From Ramesses to Shiloh:
Archaeological Discoveries Bearing on the Exodus-Judges Period, in D. M. Howard, Jr., and M. A.
Grisanti, eds., Giving the Sense: Understanding and Using Old Testament Historical Texts (Grand
Rapids: Kregel, 2003), 256-282; cf. Paul J. Ray, Jr., Another Look at the Period of the Judges, in G. A.
Carnagey, Sr., ed., Beyond the Jordan (Eugene: Wipf & Stock, 2005), 93-104.
35

William Dever, The Western Cultural Tradition Is at Risk, Biblical Archaeology Review,
32/2 (Mar-Apr 2006), 76; cf. Dever, Is There Any Archaeological Evidence for the Exodus? in
Frerichs & Lesko, eds., Exodus: The Egyptian Evidence, 67-86.
36

Hackett in M. Coogan, ed., The Oxford History of the Biblical World (Oxford Univ. Press,
1998), 185.

apparently sequential list of judges in that book is either realistic or


chronologically sequential. For one thing, the fact that the major
judges are listed along with numbers in multiples of 20 is
suspicious. In addition, where the locality of each judge can be
established, there is a clear-cut geographical sequence from south to
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north, then east.
Thus, simple addition of each successive judges
term or after-term leading to 336+ years cannot be taken seriously.
The overall period is indeterminate on that basis alone. The book
of Judges is not a set of annals. Moreover, the book of Judges
doesnt even bother to mention the major attack by Pharaoh
38
Merneptah!!
However, the Bible does claim a period of 300 years from
Joshua to Jephthah (Judges 11:25-26), 480 years from the beginning
th
of the Exodus till Solomons 4 year (I Kings 6:1), and about 450
years of judges until Samuel the Prophet (Acts 13:20; cf. I Sam
25:1). Since we know that Solomon died after 40 years reign in
924 B.C. (I Kings 11:42), and that King Shishak I of Egypt invaded
Israel in 920 B.C. (I Kings 14:25), we can work backward chronoth
logically from these relatively secure dates: Solomons 4 year was
around 966 B.C., while David began his reign in about 1004 B.C.
(II Samuel 2:4), shortly after Samuel died. That the earlier dates can
39
only be approximated by this means should be abundantly clear:
966 + 480 (12 x 40) = 1446 B.C. for the Exodus (- 340 years !
40
Jephthah in 1100 B.C.)

37

Hackett in M. Coogan, ed., The Oxford History of the Biblical World, 183-187.

38

See the Merneptah Stele (Israel Stele) in J. Pritchard, ed., ANET, 3rd ed., 378.

39

John Davis, Biblical Numerology (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1968), 66 n. 55.

40

966 + 553 = 1519 B.C., if we follow K. Kitchen, The Exodus, in D. Freedman, ed., Anchor
Bible Dictionary, II:702; cf. R. N. Holzapfel, D. M. Pike, and D. R. Seely, Jehovah and the World of the
Old Testament (SLC: Deseret Book, 2009), 95.

10
1004 + 450 + 80 = 1534+ B.C. for the Exodus (- 340 years !
Jephthah in 1194 B.C.)

Likewise clear should be the fact that, by any means, the date of
th
the Exodus cannot be placed as usually assumed in the mid-13
century B.C. Neither archeology nor biblical chronology support such
a low date. Why then is it the consensus position? Certainly
because of the mention of Ramesses as the place from which the
Exodus began, causing Kitchen to place the Exodus in the mid-13th
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century B.C.
I cover such toponyms below, even though they are
likely late glosses in Exodus.
Whatever date is applied to the Exodus, the Patriarchs Jacob
& Joseph came down to Egypt around 430 years earlier than the
Exodus (Ex 12:40-41), which might place that earlier event within the
th
th
mid-20 to early 19 centuries B.C. Kitchen prefers a later date of
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1690-1680 B.C., which is just before the entry of the Hyksos.
But
that is unnecessary.
Textual Indicators of the Exodus
How did the Exodus come about? We may find a hint in the
Dynasty 19 Papyrus Harris 1, in which there is a Syro-Palestinian
()1mw) usurpation of Egypt under a leader called Irsu, possibly
connected to the Asiatic incident depicted in the Elephantine Stele
discussed below, in the next paragraph. Irsu (Egyptian "He-whomade-himself; Self-made-man") was equated by Gardiner, ern, and
others, with an important Egyptian official with a Semitic name,
Beya, who was active during the reigns of Kings Sety II, Siptah,
and Queen Tausert. An Akkadian letter from Beya to the last ruler
41

Kenneth Kitchen, The Exodus, in D. Freedman, ed., Anchor Bible Dictionary, II:702-703.

42

Kitchen, The Exodus, in Freedman, ed., Anchor Bible Dictionary, II:705.

11

of Ugarit would thus date a late Asiatic usurpation to about 119543


1190 B.C., and some scholars understandably equate Irsu / Beya
44
with Moses.
Again, an interesting, but unnecessary correlation.
th

Another Asiatic incident is described in the 20 Dynasty


Elephantine Stele of Pharaoh Sethnakht about a gold, silver, and
copper bribe paid to the Asiatics (sttw) to overthrow Pharaoh
Sethnakht, but which resulted in the Asiatics being expelled from
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Egypt.
Similarly, British Museum papyri 10053 and 10054 have 3
and 4 gold qedet bribes being paid to officials during the reign of
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Ramesses II.
On the Exodus booty and bribes being paid
elsewhere in the Bible and in the Mormon Canon, see especially
Exodus 3:21-22, 11:2, 12:35-36; Psalm 105:37 (booty), and Alma
47
11:22 (Zeezrom's 6-onti bribe offer).
The forgoing are merely indicators, certainly not proof, but while
it is quite true that there is no direct, explicit archeological evidence
for the traditional Exodus, there are many collateral matters to be
considered including intriguing parallels with the modern Bedouin
43

Malamat in Frerichs & Lesko, Exodus, 24-25, citing C. Maderna-Sieben, "Der historische
Abschnitt des Papyrus Harris I," Gttinger Miszellen, 123 [1991], 57-90, and M. Yon, In the Crisis
Years: The 12th Century B.C.E., ed. W. A. Ward, and M. Sharp Joukowsky (Dubuque, 1992), 119-120.
44

E. A. Knauf, Midian (Wiesbaden, 1988), 135ff.; J. C. de Moor, The Rise of Yahwism (Leuven,
1990), 136-151.
45

D. Bidoli, MDAIK, 28 (1972), 195-200, pl. 49; Rosemarie Drenkhahn, Die Elephantine-Stele
des Sethnacht (Wiesbsden, 1980); Friedrich Junge in Elephantine 11 (1988), 55-58.
46

47

B. Kemp, Ancient Egypt: Anatomy of a Civilization (Routledge, 1992), 244.

For general Exodus parallels, see I Nephi 2 - 3, 16 - 18; Abraham Malamat, "The Exodus:
Egyptian Analogies," in E. Frerichs & L. Lesko, Exodus: The Egyptian Evidence (Eisenbrauns, 1997),
22-24; Terrence L. Szink, "Nephi and the Exodus," in Sorenson & Thorne, eds., Rediscovering the Book
of Mormon (FARMS & Deseret, 1991), 38-51; Monford Harris, Exodus and Exile: The Structure of the
Jewish Holidays (Fortress, 1992); Bruce J. Boehm, "Wanderers in the Promised Land: A Study of the
Exodus Motif in the Book of Mormon and Holy Bible," Journal of Book of Mormon Studies, 3/1 (Spring
1994), 187-203.

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48

tribes of the Sinai, and including other indirect ways of establishing


the backround of the biblical texts, e.g., covenant/treaty language,
onomastica, cross-cultural comparisons, etc.
The Sinai Covenant
Within limits, for example, texts can be dated: The Sinai
Covenant of Exodus 20 (and the traditions associated with it)
resembles nothing so much as a Late Bronze Age suzerainty treaty,
with Yahweh as king and Israel as vassal, although the text was
49
subject to later editors or redactors.
The later Deuteronomic
materials merely reflect the earlier Late Bronze Age forms, and could
not have been based on contemporary (late Iron Age) Assyrian
50
loyalty oaths.
As Richard Friedman has noted, the similarity of the
structure and legal terminology of biblical covenant to the earlier
legal contracts and international treaties is very important as a
51
diagnostic tool in the dating of texts, although Kitchen rules out
any date earlier than 1380 B.C. on the grounds that the applicable
48

Zeev Meshel, Wilderness Wanderings: Ethnographic Lessons from Modern Bedouin,


Biblical Archaeology Review, 34/4 (July-Aug 2008), 32-39, citing especially B. Mazar, The Exodus and
Conquest of Israel, Canaan and Israel (Israel Exploration Society, 1974), 100 (Hebrew).
49

G. Mendenhall and G. Herion, Covenant, in Anchor Bible Dictionary, I:1183-1188, citing


esp. H. Huffmon, CBQ, 27 (1965), 101-113.
50

G. Mendenhall, Covenant Forms in Israelite Tradition, Biblical Archeologist, 17 (1954), 5076; Mendenhall and Herion in Anchor Bible Dictionary, I:1184, re Deut 6 and 28; arguing to the contrary
are R. Frankena, The Vassal-Treaties of Esarhaddon and the Dating of Deuteronomy,
Oudtestamentische Studien, 14 (1965), 122-154; M. Weinfeld, The Loyalty Oath in the Ancient Near
East, Ugarit-Forschungen, 8 (1976), 392-393; discussed in W. Schniedewind, How the Bible Became a
Book: The Textualization of Ancient Israel (Cambridge Univ. Press, 2004), 135,230-231. In any case, P
is localized to the Late Bronze Age and includes strong Hurrian influence (Pekka Pitknen, Joshua [IVP,
2010]; Yitzhaq Feder, Blood Expiation in Hittite and Biblical Ritual: Origins, Context, and Meaning
[Atlanta: SBL, 2011]).
51

R. Friedman in part one of Kingdom of David: Saga of the Israelites, PBS-TV Empires
Series, #9 (PBS/Paramount, 2003). However, Friedman failed in the application of this tool to the case
he commented on.

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52

covenant-format had not been invented until then!


That is likely
an attribution to the evidence a chronological precision it does not
have.
Culture
Ziony Zevit has commented on Baruch Halperns approach to
the question of the authenticity of a Late Bronze Age Exodus as
follows:
B. Halpern argues that the story of the enslavement and
exodus and the poem in Exodus 15 was told within a milieu
aware of some Late Bronze socio-political realities in Egypt:
building activities of Raameses, the rise in use of forced
labor, the drafting of immigrants into the Nile Delta for such
work, the presence of Sea Peoples settled in Philistia.
Assuming that Halpern is correct and that such realities were
not also characteristic of Iron Age Egypt, the question remains
whether or not such awareness indicates a kernel of historical
53
memory and hence, perhaps, a remembered event.

Again, possibly a matter of later glossing from a known period, but


unrelated to the the original event, as follows:
Names & Places
Edmund S. Meltzer (Egyptologist formerly of the Claremont
Colleges, but now residing in Stevens Point, Wisconsin, in retirement)
has noted that the personal names of Kings Merneptah and

52

53

Kitchen, The Exodus, in Freedman, ed., Anchor Bible Dictionary, II:703.

Zevit, The Religions of Ancient Israel (Continuum, 2001), 687, n. 134, citing Halpern, The
Exodus and the Israelite Historians, Eretz Israel, 24 (1993), 92-93.

14
54

Ramesses are used as place-names in the Hebrew Bible.


Together with other toponyms connected to the Exodus story, such
factors dovetail with what is known of actual toponyms and events
of the period. I add here to Meltzers notes by referring to
additional information culled from the Anchor Bible Dictionary:
Ramesses = 22/39 the city and land in Gen 47:11, Ex 1:11,
12:37, Num 33:3,5, and Judith 1:9 = Pharaonic residence PiRameses located in the northeast Egyptian Delta at Khatana
55
Qantir, to which West Asiatic )Apiru (Hebrews) hauled huge
56
stones for the main temple (Papyrus Leiden 348, 6:6), just as
foreign slaves (Canaanite-Syrian & Nubian) are depicted on the
th
walls the 15 century Tomb of Rekhmire making mud bricks
57
for a storehouse of the Temple of Amun at Karnak.
Egyptian texts from the Ramesside period speak both of the
lack of straw essential to brick-making, as well as brick-making
58
quotas which sometimes could not be met, both of which are
directly reminiscent of biblical texts in Exodus. Moreover,
Manfred Bietak thinks that he can distinguish proto-Israelite
th
dwellings in Egypt in the late 12 century B.C. (Dyn XX): fourroom houses or huts (with typical pillar separation of the center
54

Meltzer letter in Bible Review, XVIII/6 (Dec 2002), 12.

55

Labib Habachi, Tell el-Dab)a I: Tell el-Dab)a and Qantir the Site and Its Connection with
Avaris and Piramesse (Vienna: sterreichischen Akademie der Wissenschaften, 2001).
56

A. Malamat in Frerichs & Lesko, eds., Exodus: The Egyptian Evidence (Eisenbrauns, 1997),
18; J. Hoffmeier, Out of Egypt: The Archaeological Context of the Exodus, Biblical Archaeology
Review, 33/1 (Jan-Feb 2007), 35, citing his Israel in Egypt, 114, and adding that )Apiru also appear in the
19th Dynasty Tomb of Intef; see the examples and discussion by James E. Hoch, Semitic Words in the
Egyptian Texts of the New Kingdom and Third Intermediate Period (Princeton Univ. Press, 1994), 60-63.
57

58

Shown in J. Hoffmeier, Out of Egypt, BAR, 33/1 (Jan-Feb 2007), 32.

Hoffmeier, Out of Egypt, BAR, 33/1 (Jan-Feb 2007), 34-35 and nn. 12-15, citing especially
R. A. Caminos, Late-Egyptian Miscellanies (Oxford Univ. Press, 1954), 106,188; and K. Kitchen, From
the Brickfields of Egypt, Tyndale Bulletin, 27 (1976), 141-144.

15

room/ courtyard from one side room, but in this case with
entry from the broad room, rather than the courtyard/middle
long room) excavated by the Univ. of Chicago at Medinet Habu
opposite Luxor. Those living there were probably slaves
descended from prisoners of war from Palestine or the desert
59
of Seirperhaps early or proto-Israelites.
These are quite late,
however.
Merneptah = (&;51 */ (Me-Nephtoach) Joshua 15:9 (BHS n), 18:15
(Well of Merneptah), a place-name also mentioned in Papyrus
3
Anastasi III (ANET 258 wells of Merneptah). Merneptah, son
of Rameses II, lived at Pi-Rameses for a time. Mention of a
people known as Israel somewhere in Canaan (most likely
Transjordan) in the 1208 B.C. Merneptah Stele from Western
60
Thebes.
Pi-Atum = Pithom .;5 Ex 1:11 (cf. Coptic Bohairic Gen 46:28), Tell
el-Retabeh = Ancient Egyptian Pr-&Itm, or Pi-Atum Temple of
Atum. During the reign of Merneptah, some Edomite tribesmen
were allowed to pass the fortress Merneptah-hetep-hir-maat
which is in Tjeku (Succoth) to gain access to the pools of
61
Pi-Atum, as described in Papyrus Anastasi VI.
Succoth = Sukkot ;&,2 Ex 12:37, Num 33:5 (Tell el-Maskhuta) =
3
Egyptian Tkw, Tkw, mentioned in Papyrus Anastasi V (ANET
259) and VI (see above).

59

Bietak, Manfred, Israelites Found in Egypt, BAR, 29/5 (Sept-Oct 2003), 40-47,49,82-83.

60

A. Malamat in Frerichs & Lesko, eds., Exodus: The Egyptian Evidence, 18-19; F. Yurco in
Frerichs & Lesko, eds., Exodus: The Egyptian Evidence, 27-55.
61

Hoffmeier, Out of Egypt, BAR, 33/1 (Jan-Feb 2007), 34, citing A. Gardiner, Late-Egyptian
Miscellanies (Brussells, 1937), 77; cf. Tom Wei, Pithom, in D. Freedman, Anchor Bible Dictionary,
V:376-377.

16

Red Sea = Sea of Reeds Yam-Suf 4&2 .* Ex 14:21, 23:31 (LXX


DL2DH 2"8VFF0H Red Sea) = Ancient Egyptian p1 twf(y) the
Marsh, Wetlands; Reeds = Tjaru / Sile (on the eastern border,
at the northernmost point of the El-Ballah Lakes) in the
62
Ramesside Onomastica of Amenemopet.
Thus, as Abraham Malamat and others have argued, the
Israelites appear to be part of a larger group of H
. abiru / )Apiru /
.*9"3 Hebrews (a widespread class of people), who are mentioned
in the Amarna Letters, for example, as a Late Bronze Age seminomadic people in Palestine, some of whom were in fact enslaved
63
in Egypt, and (if the biblical account is to be taken seriously) a
small number of whom presumably escaped and found refuge in the
64
Land of Midian (east of Aqaba and perhaps near Wadi Rumm in
present-day southern Jordan and northwestern Saudia the northern
Hijaz), where they remained for an extended period (40 years in the
wilderness is probably symbolic), later crossing over the Jordan River
and inhabiting the central hill country of Palestine near the large
population of already-present, urban Canaanites, i.e., it is very difficult
to differentiate the material culture of either group at that early
62

Hoffmeier, Out of Egypt, BAR, 33/1 (Jan-Feb 2007), 40-41, citing A. Gardiner, Ancient
Egyptian Onomastica (1947), II:122-202; Manfred Bietak, Tell el-Dab)a (Vienna, 1975), II:136-137; and
William Ward, The Biconsonantal Root Sp and the Common Origin of Egyptian Cwf and the Hebrew
Sup: Marsh (-Plant), Vetus Testamentum, 24 (1974), 339-349. Cf. Aramaic: yamma immoqa !/*
!8&/: (cf. Heb 8/2 red), Red Sea, referring to the Indian Ocean and Persian Gulf, as noted by
Joseph A. Fitzmyer in his The Genesis Apocryphon of Qumran Cave I: A Commentary (Rome 1966 /2nd
ed., 1971), re 1QapGn 21:17-18 (= Erythrean Sea/ z... , citing Josephus, Antiquities,
I,1,3 39; Herodotus 1:180, 2:11,158, 4:42; Pliny Hist. Nat. 6:28; Jubilees 8:21, 9:2, I Enoch 32:2, 77:79; 4QEnc frag 2:20; Berossus; Xenophon; cf. J. T. Milik, RB, 65 [1958], 71).
63

Malamat in Frerichs & Lesko, eds., Exodus: The Egyptian Evidence, 18; cf. A. Mazar,
Archaeology of the Land of the Bible, 237,241,355 (n. 55, In one Egyptian document the land of Shasu
is called Yahu, possibly a distortion of the name of the God of Israel.); Lawrence Stager in M Coogan,
ed., Oxford History of the Biblical World, 138; cf. Nadav Na'aman, "H
abiru and Hebrews: The Transfer
of a Social Term to the Literary Sphere," JNES, 45 (1986), 271-288.
64

Also known as Cushan (Hab 3:7); cf. Ex 2:21, Num 10:29, 12:1.

17

stage. The assumption has been that this is true linguistically and
65
ethnically as well.
However, it is not in fact proven that highland
agriculture, religion, and language is continuous with the Canaanite
culture of the western coastal plains a notion which Anson Rainey
called a pipe dream, loosely based on a continuity in the ceramic
repertoire of the Early Iron Age settlements (1200-1000 B.C.E.). In
fact, Rainey pointed out that the same continuity can be found
between the Late Bronze Age pottery from Jordan, east of the
66
river.
Such broadly based continuity in ceramics masks any nonmaterial distinctions which may have been present. At the same
time, Rainey rejected any linguistic or ethnic connection of the early
67
Israelites/ Hebrews with the H
. abiru / )Apiru.
Rainey argued that Israel in the Merneptah Stele is an
ethnicon referring to a people then in Transjordan, not in the central
hill country of Palestine. He notes that, like all other Egyptian
kings, Merneptah lists his victories in geographical order. In this
case, Ashkelon, Gezer, and Yano)am are known city-states, the last
of which is in Transjordan. Since Israel is next in order, the
conclusion is obvious. Moreover, Rainey recalled for us that it was

65

A. Mazar, Archaeology of the Land of the Bible, 366-367 (n. 55), 554; cf. Ann E. Killebrew,
Biblical Peoples and Ethnicity: An Archaeological Study of Egyptians, Canaanites, Philistines and Early
Israel (Atlanta: Society of Biblical Literature, 2005).
66

Anson Rainey letter in Biblical Archaeology Review, 33/3 (May-June 2007), 78, replying to
William Devers remarks in the Jan-Feb 2007 BAR. Cf. Rainey. Whence Came the Israelites and Their
Language? Israel Exploration Journal, 57 (2007), 41-64; Rainey, Inside, Outside: Where Did the Early
Israelites Come From? BAR, 34/6 (Nov-Dec 2008), 45-50,84.
67

Anson Rainey, review in JAOS, 107 (1987), 539-541, of O. Loretz, Habiru-Hebrer: Eine
sozio-linguistische Studie ber die Herkunft des Gentiliziums )ibri zum Appellativum H
. abiru, BZAW 160
(Berlin: de Gruyter, 1984); Rainey, Shasu or Habiru: Who Were the Early Israelites? BAR, 34/6 (NovDec 2008), 51-55; cf. Moshe Greenberg, The Hab/piru (New Haven: AOS, 1955).

18

precisely in Transjordan that the Patriarch Jacob was renamed Israel


68
(Gen 32:28).
This is a very strong, well-established tradition.
Surveys show that, in the nine key areas known to have been
occupied by Israel by Iron I, "eighty-eight Late Bronze Age sites"
occupied "a built-up area of more than 200 hectares (500 acres), for
an estimated total population of about 50,000." The same surveys
show that by Iron I, there were 678 settlements, each a hectare or
less, "for a total of about 600 hectares (nearly 1,500 acres), with
an estimated 150,000 inhabitants" most such sites on new
foundations. This increase cannot be explained by a natural birthrate, but only by "a major influx of people into the highlands in the
twelfth and eleventh centuries" B.C. "Settlement is especially dense
in the territories of Manasseh and Ephraim in the west and in
Gilead and Moab in the east," both of which were only lightly
69
populated in the L.B.
Midian
If we backtrack just a bit, we will at the outset have to
contend with the biblical claim that Moses first fled to Midian, made
his home there, raised a family there, and much later returned there
from Egypt with the refugee Israelites. His own father-in-law, the
Priest of Midian, advised him both on the route to follow in
escaping from Egypt (Numbers 10:29-32) and on how to administer
justice within his newly formed tribal league or amphictyony (Exodus

68

Rainey letter in BAR, 33/3 (May-June 2007), 78; cf. Y. Aharoni, The Land of the Bible: A
Historical Geography, rev. ed., trans. A. Rainey (Phila.: Westminster, 1979), in which such geographical
sequencing is systematically employed.
69

Lawrence E. Stager, "Forging an Identity: The Emergence of Ancient Israel," in M. D. Coogan,


ed., The Oxford History of the Biblical World (N.Y./Oxford: Oxford Univ. Press, 1998), 134-135.

19
70

18:13-27).
Was the Israelite destination indeed Midian in the
northern Hijaz? Can we deny the obvious?
Midian was, of course, the eponymous son of Abraham and
Keturah (Gen 25:2), his descendants being a complex culture of
tribal chiefs and camel caravaneers associated with the highly
developed tribes of Moab and Sinai, both in South Transjordan, as
well as with the Ishmaelites (Gen 36:35, 37:25-36, 39:1, Num 22:4,7,
Judges 8:24, Isaiah 10:26 = II Nephi 20:26). Hebrew 0*$/ / 0$/
Midyan / Medan (Gen 25:2) both appear as towns east of Aqaba in
71
Hellenistic sources, leading Frank Moore Cross, Jr., P. Kyle
McCarter, Jr., and Lawrence E. Stager to posit that the Midian
known to Moses and to the Israelite refugees was in that very area
not in the Sinai. This is actually a revival of the Old Midianite
Hypothesis, suggesting that the Israelite Exodus came across south72
73
central Sinai, the Arabah (camping on a kewir mud flat), and
Aqaba (with a detour through Kadesh Barnea), into the Hijaz of
southern Transjordan and northwestern Sa#udia where the highest
mountain is Jebel el-Lawz, at 8,465 feet (22,856 m), although Sinai
/ Horeb could be anywhere in Midian (which included later south

70

The concept of amphictyony has gone out of fashion, but, as A. Gunneweg has observed,
something very much like it is needed to explain the nature of the early Israelite tribal confederation
(Gunneweg, Understanding the Old Testament (London: SCM/ Phila.: Westminster, 1978], 100-104,
cited in John Goldingay, Approaches to Old Testament Interpretation, rev. ed. [InterVarsity Press, 1990],
45).
71

G. E. Mendenhall in Anchor Bible Dictionary, IV:815,817, citing E. Knauf in ZDMG, 135


(1985), 16-21, and Knauf, Midian, ADPV (1988).
72

John D. Currid, Ancient Egypt and the Old Testament, 136-137, citing I. Beit-Arieh, The
Route through Sinai: Why the Israelites Fleeing Egypt Went South, BAR, 14/3 (1988), 28-37.
73

K. Kitchen, The Exodus, in Anchor Bible Dictionary, II:706(4), citing Lucas, Route of the
Exodus (London, 1938), 58-63,81, and Beit-Arieh (above). However, he seems unaware of the Midianite
Hypothesis.

20
74

Edom).
The traditional Mount Sinai in the Sinai peninsula is just
not a realistic option, as even St. Paul recognized (Galatians 4:25).
M. Macdonald has said that [f]rom the late second
millennium, parts of the Hejaz and Tabuk region in the north were
75
intensively settled.
George Mendenhall has said that Midianites
th
were obviously present in that area from at least the 13 century
B.C., with numerous town and village sites . . . from the end of
the LB into the early Iron ages. He states that they had walled
cities, sophisticated irrigation installations, and engaged in mining
76
and smelting operations, . . .
Below, I discuss the very
significant archeological work of Thomas Levy and Mohammad Najjar
at nearby Edomite Khirbet el-Nahas, and the similar conclusions
77
which can be drawn from it.
74

F. M. Cross, interviewed by H. Shanks in Bible Review, August 1992; F. M. Cross, From Epic
to Canon (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins Univ., 1998), 63-68; L. Stager, "Forging an Identity: The
Emergence of Ancient Israel," in M. D. Coogan, ed., The Oxford History of the Biblical World
(N.Y./Oxford: Oxford Univ. Press, 1998), 122-175, citing especially Peter Parr, "Qurayya," in Freedman,
ed., Anchor Bible Dictionary, V:594-596; Thomas Levy, King Solomons Mines and the Archaeology
of the Edom Lowlands: Recent Excavations in Southern Jordan, delivered at Bible & Archaeology Fest
X, Part 3:Beyond the Bible: Exploring Relevant Sites and Texts, available on DVD in BAS Lecture Series
(BAS item 9HLX3); Joseph Blenkinsopp, The Midianite-Kenite Hypothesis Revisited and the Origins
of Judah, JSOT, 33 (2008), 131-153; Mark S. Smith, God in Israels Bible: Divinity between the World
and Israel, between the Old and the New, Aug 2011 Catholic Biblical Association Presidential Address,
online at http://prophetess.lstc.edu/~rklein/Doc13/Ccbqsmith.doc ; Justin Kelley, "Toward a New
Synthesis of the God of Edom and Yahweh," Antiguo Oriente, 7 (2009): 255-280, online at
http://www.academia.edu/211171/_Toward_a_New_Synthesis_of_the_God_of_Edom_and_Yahweh_Ant
iguo_Oriente_7_2009_255-280 ; cf. Howard Blum, The Gold of Exodus: The Discovery of the True
Mount Sinai (N.Y.: Simon & Schuster, 1998), reviewed in BAR, 25/4 (Jul-Aug 1999), 54,56.
75

M. C. A. MacDonald, Along the Red Sea, in Jack Sasson, et al., eds., Civilizations of the
Ancient Near East, 4 vols. (N.Y.: Scribners Sons, 1995), 2:1350.
76

Mendenhall in Anchor Bible Dictionary, IV:817, citing P. Paar, et al., Bulletin of the Institute
of Archaeology, 8-9 (1970), 193-242; and M. Ingraham, et al., Atlal, 5 (1981), 59-84. See also H. St.
John Philby, The Land of Midian (London: Ernst Benn, 1957).
77

Thomas E. Levy & Mohammad Najjar, Edom & Copper: The Emergence of Ancient Israels
Rival, Biblical Archaeology Review, 32/4 (July-Aug 2006), 24-35,70; cf. John N. Wilford, In a Ruined
Copper Works, Evidence That Bolsters a Doubted Biblical Tale, New York Times, June 13, 2006, online

21

The advantage of this Arabian Hijaz area is that it provides


the mountain caves, food, abundant water, and advanced culture
78
lacking at the traditional Sinai desert site.
Moreover, the
Midianites, like the Edomites and Nabataeans after them, were very
much involved in the incense trade from South Arabia. It has been
suggested that interference with that Midianite trade led to the battle
79
in Judges 5.
This also ties in particularly well with the Qenite
(Kenite) tendencies evident in Lehi's much later clan activities early
in the Book of Mormon, with his naming his son Lemuel (localized
80
to the nearby area of Massa ), with his close kinship with Ishmael,
and in his other archaizing tendencies as well. Note, for example,
Lehi's willingness to sacrifice where and when he pleases (I Nephi
2:7, 5:9, 7:22), in violation of Deuteronomy 12:13-14, but in line with
81
earlier Exodus 20:21-24 following the practice of the Patriarchs.
at www.nytimes.com .
78

M. C. A. MacDonald, Along the Red Sea, in Jack Sasson, et al., eds., Civilizations of the
Ancient Near East (N.Y.: Scribners Sons, 1995), 2:1350, claims that [f]rom the late second millennium,
parts of the Hejaz and Tabuk region in the north were intensively settled.
79

J. David Schloen, "Caravans, Kenites, and Casus Belli: Enmity and Alliance in the Song of
Deborah," Catholic Biblical Quarterly, 55 (1993), 18-38, cited by Stager.
80

Lemuel is biblical King of Massa (Proverbs 31:1,4; cf. 30:1-4), a city in northwest Arabia,
probably near Tayma, and mentioned in eighth and seventh century Assyrian Annals. Massa is also the
name of a son of biblical Ishmael (Gen 25:14, I Chron 1:30). W. F. Albright, Yahweh and the Gods of
Canaan, 253 n. 133, maintaining an archaic Aramaic and Canaanite background for Lemuel, Agur, and
Balaam, and citing his The Biblical Tribe of Massa and Some Cogeners, in Studi orientalistici in
onore di Giorgio Levi della Vida (Rome, 1957). That Lehi takes both Lemuel and Ishmael into the
wilderness with him is remarkable only in the absence of such information..
81

Bernard Levinson, Deuteronomy and the Hermeneutics of Legal Innovation (N.Y.: Oxford
Univ. Press, 1997); cf. S. Kent Brown, From Jerusalem to Zarahemla (Provo: BYU Religious Studies
Center, 1998), 1-8, and Brown in Parry, Peterson, and Welch, eds., Echoes and Evidences of the Book of
Mormon (Provo: FARMS, 2002), 63, citing Psalm 107:4-6,19-30, Job 1:5, and Lev 1 and 3 la Jacob
Milgrom, Leviticus 1 - 16, Anchor Bible 3 (N.Y.: Doubleday, 1991), 175-177, 218-219, 267-268; 858;
David R. Seely, Lehis Altar and Sacrifice in the Wilderness, Journal of Bok of Mormon Studies, 10/1
(2001), 62-69; Michael L. Ingraham, et al., Saudi Arabian Comprehensive Survey Program: C.
Preliminary Report on a Reconnaissance Survey of the Northwestern Province (with a Note on a Brief
Survey of the Northern Province), Atlal: The Journal of Saudi Arabian Archaeology, 5 (1981/1401

22

This also has implications for our understanding of Yahwe /


Jehovah, KJV LORD, since (according to F. M. Cross) Pre-Mosaic
Yahweh "He who creates" (= the tetragram YHWH), must originally
be read as verbally descriptive of "El as patron deity of the
Midianite League in the south, . . ." As a name by itself, YHWH
first appears in 14th & 13th century B.C. lists of Edomite toponyms
82
in Egyptian as yhw3, to be read as ya-h-wi, or the like (cf.
83
YHWH in the Mesha Stele, line 18, in Moabite ). South Canaanite
Yahwe S. ebaot means "He creates the (divine) Hosts" (Yahwe lohe
84
S. ebaot is thus secondary) ; cf. also Judges 5:20, I Sam 17:45, I
Ki 22:19, Isa 6:1-5, Amos 4:13.
That half-Manasseh later settles in the well-forested Transjordanian hills and plateau of Gilead and in the Succoth Valley
enroute into the Promised Land does conform to the biblical sources
about Ammon and to the archeological evidence of that period in
85
Transjordan.
Moreover, a painted pottery unique to Midian is also

A.H.), 59-84. See generally H. St. John Philby, The Land of Midian (London: Ernst Benn, 1957); Beno
Rothenberg and Jonathan Glass, The Midianite Pottery, in J. F. A. Sawyer and D. J. A. Clines, eds.,
Midian, Moab and Edom: The History and Archaeology of Late Bronze and Iron Age Jordan and NorthWest Arabia, JSOT Supplement 24 (Sheffield: JSOT Press, 1983), 65-124.
82

Cross, Canaanite Myth and Hebrew Epic, 60-75; cf. Cross, From Epic to Canon, 67 n. 51; A.
Mazar, Archaeology of the Land of the Bible, 355 n. 55, on Yahu for Shasu; note that in both his Yahweh
and the Gods of Canaan: A Historical Analysis of Two Contrasting Faiths (London, 1968), 147-149, nn.
44-52; and his From the Stone Age to Christianity (1957), 15-16, William F. Albright reasoned from the
Hebrew-Aramaic root hwy fall; become, come into existence, through to its late 3MS qal-causativeindicative form Yahwe (jussive Yahu), He-(Who)-Causes-to-Come-Into-Existence; It-Is-He-WhoCreates (Ex 3:14), which is very similar to use of the ancient Egyptian verb h.pr become, come into
existence; occur, happen, come to pass, in its 3MS causative form sh.pr.f, which is commonly used in
personal names. Both verbs also appear in the consecutive narrative use It came to pass, it happened.
83

G. Reynolds, Book of Abraham (1879), 47; Andr Lemaire, "'House of David' Restored in
Moabite Inscription," BAR, 20:3 (May-June 1994), 30-37.
84

F. M. Cross, Canaanite Myth and Hebrew Epic, 65, 69.

85

A. Mazar, Archaeology of the Land of the Bible, 359.

23
86

found at this time in the Jordan valley and Palestine proper.


Both!! This and other evidence certainly suggests that the Israelite
settlement could have, and probably did take place as described,
87
from east to west across the Jordan River.
As Aren M. Maeir
observes,
. . . while the internal sources of early Israel should clearly
be stressed, as the authors do, one cannot deny some role,
and perhaps even a substantial one, for groups who entered
into Canaan at this time and most probably contributed as
well to what eventually became early Israel. Even if only
partially accepting the claims of studies such as by van der
Steen, Rainey, Zertal, Chavalas, Bietak, and the like, there
seems to be sufficient evidence of clear foreign facets in the
early Israelite culture that point to nonlocal influences and,
most likely, population groups that existed in Canaan at the
88
time and also contributed to the crystallization of early Israel.
Jo Ann Hackett notices another significant indicator: In the

earliest biblical accounts (mostly the early poetry in Deuteronomy


33:2-3, Judges 5:4-5, Habakkuk 3:1-6, Psalm 68:7-18, etc.), she finds
that Yahweh the Warrior typically begins his battles by marching out

86

Mendenhall in Anchor Bible Dictionary, IV:817, citing P. Paar, in A. Hadidi, ed., Studies in the
History and Archaeology of Jordan (Amman, 1982), 127-133; B. Isserlin, The Israelites, 171, 187 fig.
46; Beno Rothenberg and Jonathan Glass, The Midianite Pottery, in J. F. A. Sawyer and D. J. A.
Clines, eds., Midian, Moab and Edom: The History and Archaeology of Late Bronze and Iron Age
Jordan and North-West Arabia, JSOT Supplement 24 (Sheffield: JSOT Press, 1983), 65-124.
87

Anson Rainey, Inside, Outside: Where Did the Early Israelites Come From? BAR, 34/6
(Nov-Dec 2008), 45-50,84.
88

Maeir, RBL, June 2012, review of the now badly outdated Robert F. Coote and Keith
Whitelam. The Emergence of Early Israel in Historical Perspective (1987/ reprint Sheffield: Sheffield
Phoenix, 2010).

24

to war, usually from the region to the south or southeast of biblical


89
Israel, i.e., Midian.
Egypticity
If the Exodus is to be given any credence at all, however,
why is there not strong evidence of Egyptian material culture or
the remnants of it among the Israelite refugees who inhabit the
central hill country of Palestine at the beginning of the Iron Age?
One answer is that centuries had already gone by from the time of
the actual Exodus and entry into Canaan. The other answer is that
there are indeed many examples of Egypticity in certain key aspects
of early Israelite culture: linguistic and architectural.
Thus, whether we are considering the numerous technical terms
for religious paraphernalia which the Israelites had borrowed from
90
ancient Egypt, including the actual Egyptian structure and method of
91
transport (#ag~l) of the Israelite tabernacle (tent) in the wilderness
92
(similar to one used at Midianite Timna), and the highly Egyptian
89

J. Hackett in M Coogan, ed., Oxford History of the Biblical World (Oxford Univ. Press, 1998),
212-215; quote from 212.
90

John A. Tvedtnes, Egyptian Etymologies for Biblical Cultic Paraphernalia, in S. IsraelitGroll, ed., Scripta Hierosolymitana, 28 (Jerusalem: Magnes Press, 1982), 215-221 (Tvedtnes expanded
on this in his November 1997 SBL San Francisco presentation); Shmuel Yeivin, Canaanite Ritual
Vessels in Egyptian Cultic Practice, JEA, 62 (1976), 110-114 (with illus.); Abraham S. Yahuda, The
Language of the Pentateuch (Oxford, 1933), translation of his Die Sprache des Pentateuch in ihren
Beziehungen zum Aegyptischen, I (Berlin/Leipzig, 1929).
91

Kenneth A. Kitchen, The Exodus, in Anchor Bible Encyclopedia, II:706(5.c). Hebrew


#agl = Egyptian #grt wagon, cart (Demotic #klt = Coptic aolte, akolte).
92

Kitchen, "The TabernacleA Bronze Age Artifact," Eretz-Israel, 24 (1993), 119-129; Michael
M. Homan, The Divine Warrior in His Tent: A Military Model for Yahwehs Tabernacle,Bible Review,
16/6 (Dec 2000), 22-33,35; Kenneth A. Kitchen, The Desert Tabernacle: Pure Fiction or Plausible
Account? Bible Review, 16/6 (Dec 2000), 14-21; Peter Cooper, Of Badger Skins and Dugong Hides: A
Translators Guide to Tabernacle Covers, Bible Review, 16/6 (Dec 2000), 30-31 (sidebar); Frank Moore
Cross, Jr., The Priestly Tabernacle, Biblical Archeologist Reader, I (1961), 201-228; Cross, The

25
93

features of the Ark of the Covenant and the Brazen Serpent, the
94
long silver trumpets, the two-fold division of the priesthood into
ordinary w#b-priests and high priests, and the more general linguistic
95
patterns taken over from Egyptian literary and poetic practice, we
are left to explain how these archaic features could have embedded
themselves at such an early horizon among a people who do not
show many other easily recoverable Egyptian aspects of material
culture once they have entered Canaan.
Nor are we concerned with the tremendously strong cultural ties
between Israel and Egypt in later centuries. These have been well
96
covered in a variety of detailed works.

Priestly Tabernacle in the Light of Recent Research, in T. Madsen, ed., The Temple in Antiquity:
Ancient Records and Modern Perspectives, BYU Religious Studies Center Monograph Series, 9 (SLC:
Bookcraft, 1984), 91-105; previously published in A. Biran, ed., Temples and High Places in Biblical
Times (Jerusalem: Hebrew Union College, 1981), 169-180; Richard Elliott Friedman, The Tabernacle in
the Temple, Biblical Archeologist, 43 (1980), 241-248; Friedman, Tabernacle, in D. N. Freedman,
ed., Anchor Bible Dictionary, 6 vols. (Doubleday, 1992), VI:292-300.
93

John Currid, Ancient Egypt and the Old Testament, 146-149; Kitchen in ABD, II:706-707(5.c).

94

Kitchen in ABD, II:706-707(5.c).

95

P. C. Craige, An Egyptian Expression in the Song of the Sea (Ex XV:4)," VT, XX/1 (Jan
1970), 83-86; A. S. Yahuda, The Language of the Pentateuch (1933); O. Goelet, Moses Egyptian
Name, Bible Review, 19/3 (June 2003), 12-17,50-51; J. G. Griffiths, The Egyptian Derivation of the
Name Moses, Journal of Near Eastern Studies, 12 (1953), 225-231.
96

Bernd Ulrich Schipper, Israel und gypten in der Knigszeit: Die kulturellen Kontakte von
Salomo bis zum Fall Jerusalems, OBO 170 (Freiburg/Gttingen, 1999); Gregory Mumford,
"International Relations Between Egypt, Sinai, and Syria-Palestine in the LB Age to Early Persian Period
(Dynasties 18-26; cf. 1950-525 B.C.): A Spatial and Temporal Analysis of the Distribution and
Proportions of Egyptian(izing) Artefacts and Pottery in Sinai and Selected Sites in Syria-Palestine," 4
vols., doctoral dissertation (University of Toronto, 1998); Donald B. Redford, Egypt, Canaan, and Israel
in Ancient Times (Princeton, 1992); Yoshiyuki Muchiki, Egyptian Proper Names and Loanwords in
North-West Semitic, SBL Dissertation Series 173 (Atlanta: Scholars Press, 1999); O. Goldwasser, An
Egyptian Scribe from Lachish and the Hieratic Tradition of the Hebrew Kingdoms, Tel Aviv, 18 (1991),
248-253.

26

Did Joshua Fit the Battle of Jericho?


Joshua 6 recounts the extraordinary destruction of the walls of
Jericho (Tell es-Sultan) during the early Israelite assault. Yet
evidence of such a breach in the walls there has yet to be
discovered, and this has led to unnecessary consternation in some
quarters. Following the biblical chronology, however, John Bimson
th
and Bryant Wood have responded by suggesting a mid-15 century
97
B.C. date for the Exodus, and by identifying a Late Bronze I
98
destruction level at Jericho, which Amihai Mazar off-handedly
99
regards as naive and irrelevant.
In fact, the first excavator there,
John Garstang, dated the destruction level at Jericho to ca. 1400
100
B.C. based on careful and accurate ceramic analysis.
Wood goes on to recount other instances in which an unseemly rush to debunk the Bible has been based quite literally on
bunk! The early Israelite shrine at Shiloh was supposed by the
Bible to have been destroyed and abandoned around the middle of
101
th
Archeology
the 11 century B.C., and excavations confirm this.
shows that the sophisticated city of Dan-Laish, stratum VII (with its

97

J. J. Bimson, Redating the Exodus and Conquest (Sheffield, 1981).

98

Bryant G. Wood, Did the Israelites Conquer Jericho? A New Look at the Archaeological
Evidence, Biblical Archaeological Review, 16/2 (Mar-Apr 1990), 44-58; Wood, The Rise and Fall of
the 13th Century Exodus-Conquest Theory, Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society, 48/3 (Sept
2005), 475-489; Michael Coogan, Question Authority! BAR, 32/3 (May-June 2006), 24.
99

A. Mazar, Archaeology of the Land of the Bible, 10,000-586 B.C.E. (Doubleday, 1990/1992),

553-554.
100

Wood, BAR, 33/2 (Mar-April 2007), 78, citing his article in BAR, 16/2 (Mar-Apr 1990), 4458, and B. Halpern, The Assassination of Eglon, Bible Review, 4/6 (Nov-Dec 1998), 33-41,44, re
Judges 3.
101

Wood, BAR, 33/2 (Mar-Apr 2007), 26, citing his pieces in D. Howard & M. Grisanti, eds.,
Giving the Sense (2003), 256-282, and JETS, 48 (2005), 475-489, as well as Paul Ray in G. Carnagey,
ed., Beyond the Jordan (2005), 93-104.

27
th

Mycenaean and Sidonian ceramics), was destroyed in the 12


century B.C. (Judges 18), and the population then replaced by
squatters who used collared-rim store jars, typically associated with
102
Israelite settlement, made from clay foreign to the Tel Dan area.
Wood goes on to cite his excavations at Khirbet el-Maqatir (less
than a mile from et-Tell) as indicative of identification with the
ancient )Ai of Joshua it had a small border fortress dating to the
th
103
15 century B.C. that had been destroyed by fire.
Heretofore, )Ai
(Joshua 7 - 8) = Hai (Gen 12:8, 13:3) has been considered a
major stumbling block to any sort of verification of a biblical
104
Conquest theory
as had long been the case for Jericho.
Shechem (Tell Balatah)
Shechem was already an important site in Late Bronze Age
Canaanite times (Gen 34:11-26, I Ki 12), and the Temple of Baal /
El-Berith (Judges 9:4), and the Oak of Moreh just outside of town
(Gen 12:6, 35:4) continued to be important sanctuaries or cult
105
centers into Israelite times.
Lawrence Stagers excavation found
th
the gate, temple, and city destruction as described for the mid-12
106
century B.C. Shechem in Judges 9.
The Israelites again.

102

Wood, BAR, 33/2 (Mar-Apr 2007), 26.

103

Wood, BAR, 33/2 (Mar-Apr 2007), 78, citing his The Search for Joshuas Ai, in R. Hess, G.
Klingbeil, and P. Ray, eds., Critical Issues in the Early History of Israel (Eisenbrauns, 2008), and Joseph
Callaway, Was My Excavation of Ai Worthwhile? BAR, 11/2 (Mar-Apr 1985), 68, and Z. Zevit, The
Problem of Ai, BAR, 11/2 (Mar-Apr 1985), 58-69.
104

Joseph Callaway, Ai, in D. Freedman, ed., Anchor Bible Dictionary, I:125-130.

105

Miller & Hayes, History of Ancient Israel and Judah, 262-263, 277-278, citing esp. I.
Finkelstein & N. Naaman, Shechem of the Amarna Period and the Rise of the Northern Kingdom of
Israel, IEJ, 55 (2005), 172-193.
106

L. Stager, The Shechem Temple Where Abimelech Massacred a Thousand, BAR, 29/4
(July-Aug 2003), 26-31, 33-35, 66, 68-69, cited by B. Wood, BAR, 33/2 (Mar-Apr 2007), 26.

28

Was King David a Real King?


Though the issue remains controversial, the late Yigal Shiloh
found a very large Proto-Aeolic capital (typical of Israelite palace
construction) near the monumental stepped stone structure (a
107
revetment?) of the City of David,
and recent excavations there by
th
Eilat Mazar have disclosed a huge 10 century B.C. public structure,
just south of the Temple Mount / Haram el-Sharif. She interprets it
th
th
as Davids Palace, underneath which she has found 11 & 12
th
th
century B.C. Canaanite pottery. She has also found 9 & 10
th
century pottery in the rooms of the supposed Palace, and a late 7
century bulla of Yehucal son of Shelemiah son of Shevi (Jer 37:3,
108
38:1) from later levels.
Larry Stager points to Hazaels Stele found at Dan mentioning
a Bet David House of David. That is indicative of something more
109
than the dimorphic chiefdom claimed by Israel Finkelstein.
Indeed, how could such a poor Judah have been able to pay a tax
to Rehoboam? Or to King Shishak? Perhaps Judah was not so
poor. In fact, the archival list of government officials in I Kings 4
suggests a patrimonial state as defined by Max Weber. Thus, a
th
tribal confederation had become a tribal kingdom by the 10 century
B.C. The Moabites and Arameans certainly viewed Israel-Judah as
th
a full-fledged state long before the 8 century. According to Stager,

107

A. Mazar, Archaeology of the Land of the Bible, 427; cf. 474, citing Y. Shiloh, The Proto
Aeolic Capital and Israelite Ashlar Masonry, Qedem 11 (Jerusalem, 1979).
108

Eilat Mazar, Did I Find King Davids Palace? BAR, 32/1 (Jan-Feb 2006), 16-27,70; Etgar
Lefkovitz, Eilat Mazar: Uncovering King Davids Palace, Moment, 31/2 (April 2006), 39-40; cf.
Michael D. Coogan in BAR, 32/4 (July-Aug 2006), 59-60.
109

According to Stager, the evolutionary schema of clan, tribe, chiefdom, and state is too
simplistic and linear. Is David a big chief, or a little king?

29

Finkelstein creates a house of delusion in his flawed theory of the


110
development of the Israelite State.
Stager has gone on to note, moreover, that there was
th
111
meaningful scribal activity at Jerusalem in the 10 century
which
th
can be gauged by 10 century style Egyptian hieratic numerals being
th
used by Jewish scribes in the 8 century when the Egyptians no
longer used that style of numeral (and neighboring states did not
use that style either). The implication is clear: Egyptian scribal
schools strongly influenced Jewish scribes at the courts of David &
Solomon, even if they recorded things mostly on perishable materials
(Papyrus plants flourished in the Huleh Valley marshes and lakes,
112
and vellum was always an option).
From the recently published results of the Oriental Institute
(Univ. of Chicago) excavations at Megiddo of the 1920s and 1930s,
we can now say that the Stratum VI destruction is probably due to
113
Israelite expansion under King David,
not to mention Amnon Ben
Tors conclusion that the 6-chambered gates at Gezer, Megiddo, and
Hazor are clearly Solomonic (I Kings 9:15-17). Taken together with
th
epigraphic evidence, such as the 9 century B.C. Mesha Inscription

110

Stager made these observations during his four-hour formal debate with Israel Finkelstein at
UCLA, May 30, 2003, based on my notes taken at the time.
111

Cf. R. N. Whybray, Wisdom in Proverbs (London: SCM, 1965), 71; Nili Shupak, Revue
Biblique, 94 (1987), 98.
112

It is sometimes suggested that it is likely that David inherited the Jebusite/Amorite


bureaucracy following his conquest of Jerusalem. These comments follow additional notes from the
above Stager-Finkelstein 2003 debate at UCLA.
113

Timothy P. Harrison, Megiddo 3 (Chicago: Oriental Institute, 2004). This book was selected
as the 2005 Best Scholarly Book on Archaeology by the Biblical Archaeology Society, and was declared
a model for doing biblical archaeology, even though it was published over half-a-century late!!

30
114

from Moab,
and the nearly contemporary House of David
115
inscription (Hazael Stele) from Tel Dan,
it appears that King David
and his dynasty was far more formidable than the minimalists, such
as Israel Finkelstein, are willing to credit.
Early biblical accounts of Edom and the Edomites (Gen 36:31)
likewise appear now to be very credible, based on the recent
archaeological work of Thomas Levy and Mohammad Najjar at
116
Khirbet el-Nahas Ruins of Copper.
That is, the Edomite lowlands
were already occupied in the early Iron Age, and Edom was then
at least a super chiefdom, if not an archaic state, engaged in
large-scale and complex copper mining and metallurgy. Radiocarbon
dating of workshop and slag mounds (12th-11th centuries B.C.), and
th
the gatehouse (late 11th-early 10 centuries B.C.), makes that
abundantly clear. Highland sites were occupied only later (8th-6th
centuries B.C.). In other words, the early dates are in line with
the dating by Nelson Glueck over half-a-century ago.
Israel Finkelstein and Neil Silberman have called these
excavation results into question, and have attributed any mining or
th
building activity in Khirbet el-Nahas to the 8 century B.C., when
114

Andrew Dearman, ed., Studies in the Mesha Inscription and Moab (Atlanta: Scholars Press,
1989); P. M. Michle Daviau & Paul-Eugne Dion, Moab Comes to Life, Biblical Archaeology
Review, 28/1 (Jan-Feb 2002),
.
115

Avraham Biran & Joseph Naveh, An Aramaic Stele Fragment from Tel Dan, Israel
Exploration Journal, 43 (1993), 81-98; David Found at Dan, Biblical Archaeology Review, 20/2
(Mar-Apr 1994); Avraham Biran and Rachel Ben-Dor, Dan II: A Chronicle of the Excavations and the
Late Bronze Age Mycenaean Tomb (Jerusalem: Hebrew Union College, Nelson Glueck School of
Biblical Archaeology, 2002); James D. Muhly, Mycenaeans Were There Before the Israelites:
Excavating the Dan Tomb, BAR,31/5 (Sept-Oct 2005), 44,48; Hershel Shanks, Happy Accident: David
Inscription, BAR, 31/5 (Sept-Oct 2005), 46,48.
116

Thomas E. Levy & Mohammad Najjar, Edom & Copper: The Emergence of Ancient Israels
Rival, Biblical Archaeology Review, 32/4 (July-Aug 2006), 24-35,70; John N. Wilford, In a Ruined
Copper Works, Evidence That Bolsters a Doubted Biblical Tale, New York Times, June 13, 2006, online
at www.nytimes.com .

31

(they say) fictional tales about the legendary King David were being
composed in order to add glory to the legacy of the tribe of Judah.
However, the problem with that is the absence of copper production
th
th
in the 8 century B.C., as well as lack of any 8 century B.C.
pottery or carbon dates at Khirbet el-Nahas, along with the presence
of about 3,500 Early Iron Age burials in an Edomite cemetery in
117
nearby Wadi Fidan.
All the more reason to credit the Old
Midianite Hypothesis!

117

Hershel Shanks, Could the Edomites Have Wielded an Army to Fight David? BAR, 33/1
(Jan-Feb 2007), 67, citing Finkelstein & Silberman, David and Solomon (2006), which was thoroughly
reviewed by M. D. Coogan in BAR, 32/4 (July-Aug 2006), 56-60.

32
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