mc2499 at mclink.it
Tue Jan 12 00:29:56 EST 1999
Thanks for your post.
I do have problems with your basic approach of what seems to be arguing for
the veracity of something by simply suggesting possibilities.
I have called into doubt the maintenance of written records by nomadic
>>>If an Israelite called Moses
>>>was indeed brought up at the Egyptian court, he would very likely have
>>>learned to write on papyrus.
>>What evidence have you got to support such a conjecture?
Perhaps the question was not clear enough: the conjecture that "an
Israelite called Moses was indeed brought up at the Egyptian court" was
what I was asking about. Perhaps you take it for granted.
>From "New Bible Dictionary" article "Moses" by KA Kitchen: "In due
>course princes were given a tutor, usually a high official at court or
>a retired military officer close to the king (H. Brunner,
>Altagyptische Erziehung, 1957, pp.32,33); Moses doubtless fared
While we are here, this sort of uncritical acceptance of non-contemporary
documents by Kitchen is the sort of thing that makes his comments in this
area of little value. "Doubtless", indeed!
>Egyptian education included reading and writing of the
>hieroglyphic and hieratic scripts..., the copying of texts (especially
>classical literature), instruction in letter-writing and other
>administrative accomplishments... On Egyptian education, see the work
>of Brunner mentioned above for full sources."
>Moses' Semitic background was no bar to his progress, for (from the
>same article) "Semites and other Asiatics could be found at every level
>of Egyptian society in the New Kingdom... some reached positions of
>high influence and responsibility in the state and its
>administration... Under the Ramesside kings Asiatics were still more
>prominent. Thus one of King Merenptah's trusted cupbearers was the
>Syrian Ben-'Ozen of Sur-Bashan..."
>Kitchen concludes: "once the veracity of Ex. ii. 10a,11 is granted,
Is there any reason to grant the veracity?
The mechanism to get Moses into the royal household, his being drawn out of
the river, is at least a millennium older than the reputed times of the
exodus, having been applied to the background of Sargon of Akkad.
The exodus flies in the face of history: there is no evidence from Egypt of
such a sojourn after the time of the Hyksos expulsion. The Egyptians
maintained a policy that prevented such agglomeration of power to happen
again. While there were numerous slaves in Egypt from the time of Tuthmosis
III, there is no sign -- to my knowledge -- of abatement in the numbers of
those slaves at any time through to Ramses III.
It is very difficult to see that the Egyptian sojourn is anything other
than a refurbished Hyksos stay in Hebrew clothing. The wanderings go from
one non-existent place to another, the only exception being Kadesh Barnea.
We don't know where Mount Sinai is. Thre has never been found traces of any
of these mass movements, the many thousands left no camps, no masses of
It would seem that speculation on Moses is superfluous until the more
substantial and substantiable aspects of the exodus are cleared up.
>that Moses did have a court upbringing (which the Egyptian background
>makes natural and typical), then the assumption becomes obligatory that
>Moses was subjected to the kind of intellectual training referred to
>above in Egyptian scripts, literature, and administrative methods..."
>Thus Kitchen argues that the premise "Moses was brought up at the
>Egyptian court" implies the conclusion "Moses was literate". I know
>you don't accept the premise, so why do you try to fault the
Kitchen does not give any support for his intial premise. It makes his
>By the way, why should any Pharaoh's body be missing? I guess you
>think that Exodus claims that he was drowned in the Red Sea, but the
>text certainly does not say that unambiguously, only that the army
>which he sent to follow the Israelites perished. I would guess
>(without consulting commentaries) that "Pharaoh" in 14:10 is a figure
>of speech for "Pharaoh's army" and that the actual king (in the
>scenario envisaged by the author of Exodus), after mustering his
>troops (14:6,7), stayed safely in his capital city, mourning for his
This is a convenient metaphorisation: when Exodus mentions pharaoh earlier,
it meant "pharaoh", but pharaoh mentioned here means "pharaoh's army", an
interesting piece of arbitrariness. Arbitrariness eems to be the key means
of argument to even allow the possibility of the exodus events.
>Ian also wrote:
>>There is nothing to suggest the means of maintaining records in pre-exilic
>Well, if you don't accept even as suggestive evidence the physical
>survival on papyrus (which you did not dispute) of one of those
>records (see my separate posting),
One cannot use such a text written in Phoenician script listing some names
and preserved as a palimpsest at Murabba'at as representative of the means
of maintaining records in a Palestinian context. Remember that, when
Lachish was under siege by the Assyrians, communications were passed on
using messages written in ink on pottery, suggesting that pottery sherds
were the more likely means of preserving texts.
"Suggestive evidence" is quite an interesting term. What place does it have
in a court of law where one is trying to establish facts?
>what evidence would you accept?
How about some epigraphic or archaeological support of the regular use of
Papyrus? You know that papyrus is not mentioned in the OT/HB. It is
exceptionally hopeful to use a single document that was written in
Phoenician script and dated to the eighth century BCE, but found in a 2nd
century CE context, to say much about anything.
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