[b-hebrew] Evidence for the Exodus

Stephen Segall segall at umich.edu
Mon Aug 2 14:31:25 EDT 2004


The eruption of Mt. Sinai, the burning bush and the backup of the Jordan
River were rare and localized phenomena. The drowning of Pharoah's army
was also dependent on highly localized conditions. A red Nile effect
sufficiently great to kill all the fish and have a resulting proliferation
of frogs was also probably quite rare.

The existence of manna in the desert, the location of rest stops along
bird migration routes and the ability to obtain water trapped in rock
layers by breaking the outer layer may not be unknown to people with
desert survival skills, but probably were not known to later storytellers
and scribes responsible for transmitting the story of the Exodus.

The point is that the people transmitting and ultimately writing down the
story of the Exodus would not have had the knowledge required
to invent these phenomena. The fact that they were considered
miracles tends to indicate that they had not been witnessed by later
generations of storytellers and scribes. The degree to which the phenomena
have been accurately described is therefore one measure of the credibility
of the story.

Confirming that there was an Exodus can be bolstered by descriptions of
natural phenomena.Pinning down the date of the Exodus by dating the
natural phenomena is more difficult. Unlike astronomical observations
that can be tied to a particular date, earthquakes and volcanic activity
cannot be as precisely dated. Uncertainties on the order of a century are
about the best that can be done. Archeological data and comparison with
other ancient documents might help to narrow down the date. This is done
in "Understanding the Exodus".

On Mon, 2 Aug 2004 MarianneLuban at aol.com wrote:

> In a message dated 8/2/2004 8:36:38 AM Pacific Daylight Time,
> segall at umich.edu writes:
>
>
> > The
> > accuracy with which the phenomena are described can give some indication
> > of the accuracy of the rest of the story. In the case of the Exodus, the
> > phenomena described are sufficiently rare and localized that there is
> > virtually no possibility they would have been included in the story if the
> > Exodus did not occur.
> >
>
> Not exactly.  Only the "soot" and the "days of darkness" were rare.  The
> "Green Nile" and the "Red Nile" always occurred at the time of Inundation.  These
> are easily explained.  Pests and pestilences were never rare in Egypt at all.
> Also, in the New Kingdom, nearly every "first born son" of pharaoh died
> before he could succeed to the throne, many as children.  This is documented.
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