LMB's Exodus Proposal

Walter Mattfeld mattfeld at mail.pjsnet.com
Sun Sep 24 06:30:18 EDT 2000

Dear Lloyd,

Please find my replies marked as "WM:" (some quite lengthy) interleaved
below to your most recent clarifications.

All the best,

----- Original Message -----
From: <barre at nethere.com>
To: Walter Mattfeld <mattfeld at mail.pjsnet.com>
Sent: Friday, September 22, 2000 7:37 AM
Subject: re: LMB's Exodus Proposal

> Dear Walter,
> Thank you for your comments.  I will interact below.
> >
> > Dear Lloyd,
> >
> > You stated that the mention of Ramses and Pithom were "acceptable
> > because they appeared "to fit your chronology" which has Moses being
> > Ptah-Mose, son of Seti I.
LBM> The mention of Pithom and Rameses is data that I try to account for in
my construction of a chronology.
WM: It is commendable that you attempt to account for archaeological data on
Ramses and Pithom as it relates to your thesis.
> >
> > You state you don't know how large the group is that fled from Egypt,
> > that in pursuing the fleeing Asiatics, Egyptian barges are sunk at Yam
> > The "Reed Sea."  Where are you locating this "Reed Sea," at Lake
> > Lake Timsah, the Bitter Lakes or the Gulf of Suez ?
LBM> I am not certain.  I know the group was headed for Kadesh Barnea along
the road to Shur.  Lake Timsah seems the most likely.
WM: As you know, the received tradition is that the crossing of the Reed Sea
(Yam Suph) is located at the head of the Gulf of Suez. You are probably also
aware that some scholars have challenged Yam Suph meaning Sea of Reeds (Suph
meaning reeds in Egyptian). They argue there are no reeds in the Red Sea
(Reeds growing in fresh waters or a combination of fresh and salt waters at
the mouths of estuaries). As the Hebrew bible identifies Ezion Geber and
Elath on Yam Suph (the Gulf of Aqabah), some have suggested Suph means sea
of the end, i.e., the sea that marks the ends of the world.
> >
> > Do I understand you correctly that the Egyptians are pursuing the
> > "in barges," which are sunk in a gale ?
LBM> Yes, this evidence is taken from the Song of the Sea.  It states that
the Egptians sank like a stone, like lead.
WM: Some scholars understand it is the heavily armored Egyptians who sink
like lead with their horses and chariots, not barges.
> How did the Israelites cross this
> > sea, by barge, or by some other means ?
LBM> They went around.
>  Surely you must have some idea of
> > the numbers involved in the escape from Egypt if you have Egyptians
> > them "in barges." So, how many are we talking about, 12, 25, 50, 100,
200 or
> > more individuals "fleeing" for Sinai ? How many barges would these
> > slaves require, if they used barges ?
LBM> How can I know how many there were?  How can anyone?
WM: I note further on in your replies that you posit 3000 to 5000 fleeing
Hebrew slaves. Thankyou for the clarification on this.
> >
> > What archaeological or literary (Egyptian) evidence "exists" to suggest
> > you that barges were being used to cross a body of water called the Reed
> > Sea, to get to Sinai from Egypt ?
LBM> The slaves did not use barges.  The Egyptians did, or so I deduce.
>  I seem to recall Herodotus stated that
> > Pharaoh Necho began to build a Canal from Lake Timsah (the east end of
> > Tumilat) to the Gulf of Suez, but abandoned the enterprise upon
> > an oracle. I know that several Persian erected boundary markers were
> > by archaeologists, these markers state that the canal from the Red Sea
> > Egypt was the work of Darius of Persia (after 525 BCE). I think
> > mentioned docks near the head of the Suez gulf supposedly built by
> > But all this is "too late" for your scenario.
LBM> It helps.
WM: I recall some 19th century CE watercolor pictures of local Arabs in a
shallow flat-bottomed boat with poles, who ferried people to and fro from
the Suez shore area to the Sinai shore. Maps of this same century show a
"camel-ford" crossing the water innundated shoals north of Suez. I prefer to
see the crossing at this area, not Lake Timsah, as it best matches for me,
the biblical scenario. Red Sea tides here can get up to 6 feet, over exposed
shoals extending south from Suez to the Sinai shore (I have some 19th
century maps of this area before the Suez canal was made, showing these
exposed shoals and where the high tide water mark was, to the north of
>  There were, however, in New
> > Kingdom times, Egyptian ports on the Red Sea much further south at
> > for trade with Punt (perhaps the Ptolemaic era port of Opone, modern
> > ?) in Somalia, but they are "way too far south" for fleeing Hebrews from
> > Eastern Delta and the land of Goshen.
> >
> > You suggest furthermore that Hebrews reached Massah/Meribah somewhere in
> > Sinai. Have you determined where this place is ?
LBM> I deduce that it lies somewhere along the roads to Kadesh Barnea and
that Mt. Horeb is located nearby.  I do not equate Horeb and Sinai.  There
are two mountains of some elevation along the route I am suggesting.  Their
names escape me.  Perhaps you know.
WM: As you are probably aware, there are several different prosposals for
where Mt.Sinai/Horeb lay. Jebel Katharina, Jebel Musa, Gebal Serbal, or
el-Lawz in Saudi Arabia, and others. There also exists different ideas as to
whether Horeb and Sinai are the same place. The texts do suggest for some
scholars that it was only 3days march from Goshen and Zoan (Exodus 5:3,
Psalm 78:12,43).
> If you have, is there
> > "pottery debris" to substantiate that this place is "properly
> > per your scenario ?
LBM> I doubt it.  There were not long there.  There were simply crossing the
Penninsula.  Their "
> "wanderings" (I don't think they wandered) did not start until they were
defeated in their attempt to take land.  Hebron seems to have been their
> According to archaeological surveys conducted by Israeli
> > 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.
> >
LBM> By now you should see that this comes as no surprise to me.  As I
imagine, it we might have had 3000-5000 people making a trek to Kadesh.  But
I am guessing.  I have no data on this.
> > LMB:
> > "I place the Exodus under Rameses mostly because the mention
> > of the store cities of Pithom and Rameses, said to be built with slave
> > labor.  Also, it fits my overall chronology from Abram to Abimelech.
> > You know it until Joshua."
> >
> > LMB:
> > "I do not posit some mass exodus.  I don't know how large the group was.
> > one does.  Also, I do not posit a long history of slave life.  The 400
> > of Gen 15 is obviously both symbolic (10x40) and exaggerating a time of
> > four generations from Abraham.  So the slavery was perhaps only one or
> > two generations long.
> >
> > LMB:
> > "In my new book this is my main point
> > about Moses.  I extend the reconstruction only slightly to say that he
> > the son of Seti I,
> > brother of Rameses II, a Levite or "convert" to the Hebrew cause, and
> > he negotiated the
> > release of the slaves, possibly after Rameses' son was assassinated.  I
> > think that the
> > Egyptian pursuers were sunk in their barges at the Sea of Reed by a
> > that the Levites
> > were made priests at Meribah/Massah, and that the Ten Words were given
> > (Horeb is
> > located near Massah in E).  I also think that he married Zipporah at
> > Hazaroth, named a
> > Cushanite (not Cushite) woman.  So with Moses and the Exodus we are
> > with massive
> > legends superimposed upon a real individual."
> >
> > LMB:
> > "My work on chronology
> > has led me closer to the traditional low dating of Moses. I put Abram's
> > generation at c. 1440, Isaac's at c. 1400, Jacob's and Joseph's (!) at
> > and Moses' at 1320 and Joshua's at 1280."
> >
> > Without archaeological underpinnings, I don't see how your proposals can
> > seriously regarded.
LBM> As I see it, we are attempting to coordinate all relevant data under a
hypothesis.  I am exploiting the literary data, which is very complex.  I
also welcome other types of data such as archaelogical but I do not
subordinate data to data.  It must all be made to fit together.  So I do not
agree on methodological grounds that archaeological data 'underpins" other
WM: I have to disagree with your premise, archaeological data is very
important in rebuilding or proposing historical scenarios. If the data
doesn't support the new hypothesis, then I regard that hypothesis as flawed.
As much as is humanly possible, a scholar has to try to account for all the
anomalies and recognize them and state them along with the new proposal.
>  You have to show hard archaeological evidence of a
> > presence in the Sinai, which has eluded modern Israeli archaeologists.
LBM> I do not.  What I have to do is bring all relevant data under my
>  To
> > date, the only evidence from the dynasty that you suggest the Exodus
> > in, appears only along the Via Maris, the biblical Way of the
Philistines. A
> > well-traveled route, fortified and garrisoned under the 18th-20th
> > Pharaohs who used it constantly to subdue Canaan following the Hyksos
> > expulsion of ca. 1540 BCE.
LBM> I do not follow.
WM: The only hard evidence of a presence of Egyptians or people from Egypt
in New Kingdom times, is the Northern Sinai, not the southern Sinai (not a
problem if you don't see Gebel Musa as Horeb/Sinai).
> >
> > You have dismissed my arguments about Zoan as an anachronism, of no
> > consequence to your theory.
LBM> I did not dismiss it.  I argued that Zoan was known as the capital of
Egyptian to the Psalmist at a later time.  Why is this not possible, even
WM: It's possible, of course.
> Perhaps Rameses is an anachronism as well ?
> What would suggest that to you?
>  It
> > certainly wasn't built by Ramses II in 1450 BCE when the Exodus occured
> > according to 1 Kings.
> 1 Kings' chronology is constructed on two round numbers.  We have reason
not to take it literarly.
WM: I agree, it doesn't reflect the true period of time elapsing from the
Exodus to Solomon's days.
>  Perhaps the Hebrews were not aware Rameses was a
> > capital, but only a treasure city, thus they made Zoan the capital in
> > ? All that is proved by the presence of a city called Rameses in the
> > text, is that the text cannot be any earlier than the period of Ramses
> > It doesn't prove the event occured during his reign or shortly
> > as you and many others seem to assume.
LBM> We are simply assessing the claim of tradition that the Hebrews built
it and trying to coordinate this with many other factors that must be taken
under consideration in a historical reconstruction.
WM: Agreed, but all the anomalies must also be accounted for in your new
proposal, and I am about pointing these anomalies, as I understand them, out
to you.
>  You claim Pithom fits your
> > chronology. My understanding is that scholars are divided about which
> > is Pithom. Herodotus' mention of Necho's canal has it passing the
> > of Patumus, which some take to be Pithom. If this is so, it lies
> > within Wadi Tumilat. Some have suggest Tell el Maskhutah at the east end
> > the wadi. But this site was unoccupied from just before the Hyksos
> > until Necho founded a fort there to protect the new canal he was
building to
> > the Red Sea. Although statues from Ramses II era were found there, no
> > pottery debris exists of that era, the debris is either Hyksos or Saite
> > (Necho and Persian) as well as Ptolemaic, causing the excavators to
> > Necho probably brought the Ramesside statuary to the site. Tell Retabah
> > been suggested as an alternate site for Pithom, it has statues of Ramses
> > but I am not aware of the pottery debris situation. If it is like
> > Maskhutah's, then Pithom didn't exist in 19th-20th Dynasty times. To
> > things even more confusing, a pilgrim visiting Egypt ca. 5th century CE,
> > told by guides that Ramses was only 15 roman miles west of Heroopolis
> > (Maskhutah ?), suggesting Ramses was understood to be in Wadi Tumilat,
> > not the capital of Pi-Ramses in the Delta !
> >
> > If tell el Maskhutah is Pithom (or Succoth according to others), the
> > debris, being Hyksos and Saite/Persian suggests the Pentateuchal
> > is a late creation after Necho's reign, because the site was abandoned
> > 1450, 1280, 1250 BCE during the various posited Exoduses. If 600,000
> > Isrealite warriors with families briefly camped there, they left no
> > debris, something which I regard as highly unlikely.
LBM> We can dispense with the 600,000 men (not to mention women and
children).  It is an exageration of tradition.  I am no maximalist and
certainly no inerrantist.
WM: Agreed, the text has greatly exagerated the numbers. But it wishes to
show that a nation is ready "TO FILL THE LAND" from Dan to Beersheba, not a
paltry 3000 to 5000, who would fill only one Canaanite city (considering the
numbers of peoples enumerated in these cities in the texts, cf. Ai's being a
small city of only 12,000 ! Joshua 8:25).
> >
> > Redford has noted that the Pentateuchal texts suggest Israel "dwells
> > from the Egyptians" somewhere in the Eastern Delta. His study of
> > texts and inscriptions and led him to assert that at no time was there a
> > sizeable community of Asiatics living apart from the Egyptians during
> > Kingdom times.
LBM> What would "sizable" be?
WM: Your posited 3000 to 5000 Hebrew slaves will do just fine.
>  Such slaves as existed in Egypt were widely scattered across
> > the length and breadth of Egypt, in service to Nobles, Temple estates,
> > victorious soldiers. So, a sizable body of Asiatics in the eastern delta
> > New Kingdom times living apart as portrayed in the Pentateuchal texts is
> > pure fiction.
LBM> I would say an exaggeration.  As I said, my reconstruction has the
slaves in bondage for one or perhaps two generations.
WM: The Hyksos ruled for roughly 100 years in Egypt. Perhaps this is what is
being remembered in the 4 generations of Israel in Egypt ?
>  The only time these conditions were met was under the Hyksos
> > who controlled the eastern Delta until their expulsion ca. 1540 BCE. For
> > the "historical kernel" behind the Pentateuch's "fictious Exodus" is the
> > Hyksos expulsion.
> >
> > Redford also noted that under the New Kingdom pharaohs, the eastern
> > was heavily fortified to prevent another invasion from Canaan. Even Wadi
> > Tumilat is believed to have been fortified. "Fat Chance" of any slaves
> > escaping through this heavily guarded frontier in New KIngdom times !
> >
> > I am not convinced, for the above reasons, by your arguments that "any
> > of an Exodus occured" in the days of Seti I, no matter what the numbers
> > were, 12 or 200 individuals. If any Egyptian religious ideas penetrated
> > Hebrew mindset, it would most likely have occured when Egypt ruled over
> > Canaan in New Kingdom times, or perhaps under Necho who controlled
> > Judah.
LBM> Well, then, what kind of history can you put together for early Israel?
WM: This would require a new thread and some time to put together my ideas.
> >
> > All the best,
> >
> > Walter
> >
> > Walter Reinhold Warttig Mattfeld
> > Walldorf by Heidelberg
> > Baden-Wurttemburg
> > Germany
> >
> >
> >
> >
> >
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> >** --------- End Original Message ----------- **
> >
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