Dating the Pentateuch- Canaan's Conquest Anomalies

Jonathan D. Safren yonsaf at
Fri Jan 28 08:11:42 EST 2000

Niels Peter Lemche wrote:

>         [Niels Peter Lemche]  So what is most important? To keep the
> biblical narrative or the history supposed to lie behind? You cannot have
> both. If you keep the historical part (if any) no biblical story remains any
> more about a great nation leaving Egypt, and of the promise to the patriarch
> that he should go there and become a great people. And if you keep the
> biblical version, no history left, only at the most a vague memory of
> something that might have happened. So no way to exscape the conclusion, you
> cannot have both history and story.

The Exodus narrative as it stands cannot be defended except as theological
But I disagree with you when you say that you cannot have both history and
In my opinion, behind this theological narrative stands an oral tradition of
some ancestors of the Israelites having been slaves in Egypt and escaped, with a
man with an Egyptian name at their head. Mot 2,000,000, to be sure, but perhaps
a few hundred, a clan or two.
Remember 1 Sam 2:27, where the unnamed prophet says to Eli that YHWH revealed
himself to his family when they were still "inEgypt to the House of Pharaoh"?
Perhaps Egyptian priests? Or just simply slaves.
The Egyptian background of the Israelites is just too strong to be disregarded.
Jonathan D. Safren
Dept. of Biblical Studies
Beit Berl College
44905 Beit Berl Post Office

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