LMB's Exodus Proposal

Walter Mattfeld mattfeld at mail.pjsnet.com
Thu Sep 21 14:30:47 EDT 2000

Dear Dave,

Nice to hear from you. Ashes are in fact preserved for thousands of years.
Many ancient cities that fell to invaders have ashes everywhere. Charred
wood and true ash, not to mention heat scored and cracked rocks and baked
earthen bricks. Granted campfires are not cities, but these fires would have
used stones in some cases. There should be considerable ash deposits and
charred rocks, as well as pottery debris, after all, one has to prepare food
and drink, and accidents do happen, especially when we are talking about
600,000 warriors and their families camped at Mt. Sinai for several weeks.

As to burial customs, the Pentateuch itself tells us that the dead are to be
buried. Even Israel's enemies were given burial (the King of Ai taken down
and buried). So why not burials for the thousands of worshippers of the
golden calf ? The fastest and easiest type of grave is the one used by
nomads to this day, a pit or shaft in which the body is placed then stones
heaped up over the site to prevent scavanging animals from digging up the
carcass and consuming it. These grave sites are quite easily recognized by
the rock heaps over them (remember the rock heap over Achan's grave near
Jericho ?). There should be thousands of them about Mt. Sinai, but the only
ones I know of are of the local bedouins. As I said earlier, the Early
Bronze Age peoples buried their dead in stone tombs which the bedouin call
Nawamis, and they survived, why no Israelite grave sites ?

Explorers of the Sinai could tell you Dave, from first hand experience that
there isn't enough water at any Sinai well to sustain 2 million people and
their animals. Neither are there enough Tamarisk trees in Sinai to sustain
the millions of insects required to secrete Manna to feed 2 million people
for 40 years of wandering in the wilderness. Supposedly the Israelites had
flocks and herds when they left Egypt. Such animals are usually placed in
temporary stone corrals, at least overnight. There should be thousands of
these all about Mt. Sinai, but there aren't.

Mt. Sinai was suppossed to have erupted in  fire and smoke that ascended to
heaven when the Lord came down upon in all his majesty in Fire. Show me the
scorched rocks on Mt. Sinai Dave, there aren't any because it didn't happen.
Even if we allowed for weathering and the natural forces of wind and rain
and heat, the scorched rock debris would be in the mountain's cracks,
fissures and at the foot of the mountain's slopes- but they aren't there,
cause it didn't happen. Dave I could show you Celtic hill forts in Scotland
and Germany that have been exposed to the open elements for nearly 2000
years, and show you the "scorched rocks" when the Romans destroyed them by
setting the logs which retained the rocks on fire (Europe's weathering
forces being much more severe than the dry climate of the Sinai).

While you're at it Dave, here's an easy one for you- show me the evidence of
Noah's "world-wide" flood that covered the mountain tops to a depth of 15
cubits in the 3rd nillenium BCE according the Hebrew Texts. According to
archaeologists, we have cities that go back to the 7th millenium BCE or
earlier like Jericho, and no one has ever found "the suppossed Flood" layer
there. Cities of the Near East have been excavated to bedrock and some date
well before the 3rd millenium BCE, and not one has a "saltwater" laid flood
layer. Want to explain this anomaly to me Dave ? I look forward to your
reply on this one !

All the best,


Walter Reinhold Warttig Mattfeld
Walldorf by Heidelberg

----- Original Message -----
From: Dave Washburn <dwashbur at nyx.net>
To: Biblical Hebrew <b-hebrew at franklin.oit.unc.edu>
Sent: Thursday, September 21, 2000 7:10 AM
Subject: Re: LMB's Exodus Proposal

> Walter wrote in part:
> > You suggest furthermore that Hebrews reached Massah/Meribah somewhere in
> > Sinai. Have you determined where this place is ? If you have, is there
> > "pottery debris" to substantiate that this place is "properly
> > per your scenario ? According to archaeological surveys conducted by
> > archaeologists of the Sinai, after "the Six Days War," no trace was
found of
> > an Exodus, no campfires, no pottery debris, and no graves (600,000 armed
> > Hebrew warriors according to the Hebrew Bible would have made campfires,
> > while thousands were killed for worshipping the golden calf at Mt.
> > and their customs would have forbidden them not to make graves, but
> > have been found in Sinai of the Early Bronze Age called Nawamis). So, I
> > keenly interested in the "hard archaeological evidence" for your
scenario in
> > Sinai.
> This is a common straw man in dealing with the exodus.  We know
> there have been nomadic tribes in the Sinai for ages; what kind of
> "hard archaeological evidence" is there for their passing?  Do you
> honestly expect to find the ashes of camp fires from 3500 years
> ago?  I'm not sure what your point is about the graves (what does
> "forbidden not to make graves" mean, and how can you be so sure
> about their customs?) but considering what these people were
> reportedly killed for, there's no good reason to believe that custom
> would have honored them with a dug grave.  I find this kind of
> constant appeal to archaeology, or more properly the absence
> thereof in an instance like this, somewhat overstated.  For one
> thing, archaeology is subject to the whims of chance preservation.
> For another, in the case of a people on the move as described in
> Exodus, there would be no localized spot to look for "pottery
> debris," so this is a straw man.  Of course there isn't "hard
> archaeological evidence" in the Sinai; if we look at what is said to
> have been going on, it's unreasonable to expect it.  This is one of
> those places where the maxim really applies that "absence of
> evidence does not constitute evidence of absence."
> Please note that this does not in any way constitute any kind of
> agreement with LMB's rather imaginative reconstruction of the
> events and people surrounding the figure of Moses.
> Dave Washburn
> http://www.nyx.net/~dwashbur
> "Éist le glór Dé."
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