Out of Egypt

Polycarp66 at aol.com Polycarp66 at aol.com
Mon Mar 26 02:08:12 EST 2001


Some among us hold to a very literal understanding of the BH (and the NT) 
while others, including myself, do not.  I do not write this to attack the 
views of those who hold the historicity of these accounts as fundamental to 
their faith.  I am simply pointing out for the sake of understanding what I 
am proposing that I do not agree with their position.  Nevertheless, the 
accounts do not seem to be simply made up out of whole cloth.  Beneath them 
there usually seems to lie a kernal of fact which has been transmogrified 
into its present form.  It was customary for kings to give grandiose 
descriptions of their reigns and accomplishments -- are the accounts of David 
and Solomon perhaps no different in this respect?  But the accounts of David 
and Solomon are not my concern here.   It has been fairly well established 
that Israel grew out of a people indiginous to Palestine.  Why then do we 
have an account of the entrance of the patriarchs into Egypt and the 
subsequent exodus many years later under Moses?

I have been reading Redford's _Egypt, Canaan, and Israel in Ancient Times.  
While I do not hold to the view presented in the Torah of the patriarchs 
going to Egypt with the subsequent exodus therefrom under Moses as literal 
history, something struck me regarding what Redford says.  

1) Redford speaks of certain cultural factors which seems to have been 
acquired by Egypt from mesopotamia.  He maintains that this must have been 
transmitted by actual persons rather than simply through cultural borrowing.  
He also posits a northern route for this cultural infusion (by sea).  

2) The Egyptian god Seth is presented as a boar who slays Osirius.  Osirus' 
consort Isis flees to the marshes to seek safety.  Her child (Horus -- the 
falcon) is there hidden in a nest (she is portrayed as a kite).  

3) Redford also speaks of a "Seth: Peribsen" who (like Akhenaten?) who may 
have been a "heretic king" who replaced the the Horus symbol with that of 
Seth.  His name is attested in contemporary inscriptions but is left out of 
the king list.  His successor Kha'sekhem changed his name to Kha'sekhemwy 
Nebwy-hotpimef.  Redford explains this as "The Two Powerful Ones have arisen, 
the Two Lords (i.e. Horus and Seth) are at peace in him."  Perhaps this 
symbolizes some rapprochement between the two factions.

In view of the well-known proscription of pork among Jews, the nest (ark?) in 

which the child is hidden. and Redford's surmise that mesopotamian culture 
was transmitted to Egypt by PEOPLE, is it possible that this is the basis for 
the exodus myth?  Might the Israelites be the descendents of some who fled 
the "heretic king" who attempted to establis the worship of Seth?  Might the 
aversion to pork be explained as a result of their aversion to this god who 
was represented by the boar?  The eagle and kite were also prohibited.  Cf. 
Lev. 11.13-18

13The following you shall abominate among the birds—they shall not be eaten, 
they are an abomination: the eagle, the vulture, and the black vulture; 14the 
kite, falcons of every variety; 15all varieties of raven; 16the ostrich, the 
nighthawk, the sea gull; hawks of every variety; 17the little owl, the 
cormorant, and the great owl; 18the white owl, the pelican, and the bustard; 
19the stork; herons of every variety; the hoopoe, and the bat. (TaNaK, Jewish 
Publication Society, 1985)

Might the prohibition of eating the eagle, kite, etc. also be explained by 
this originally being the representation of their own God?  Cf.  Deut. 32. 
7-12

 7Remember the days of old,
Consider the years of ages past;
Ask your father, he will inform you,
Your elders, they will tell you:
8When the Most High gave nations their homes
And set the divisions of man,
He fixed the boundaries of peoples
In relation to Israel’s numbers.
9For the Lord‘s portion is His people,
Jacob His own allotment.
 10He found him in a desert region,
In an empty howling waste.
He engirded him, watched over him,
Guarded him as the pupil of His eye.
11Like an eagle who rouses his nestlings,
Gliding down to his young,
So did He spread His wings and take him,
Bear him along on His pinions;
12The Lord alone did guide him,
No alien god at His side.  (TaNaK, Jewish Publication Society, 1985)

After considerable time these fugitives would have become acculturated to 
their Palestinian home so that in many respects the would seem to be 
indigenous.  During this time the mythology could have developed to the 
accounts we now possess.

Perhaps this would be better submitted to the ANE list, but I was interested 
in comments from those interested specifically in the HB.  BTW:  Don't be 
confused by my use of the TaNaK -- I am a Christian)

gfsomsel
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