[b-hebrew] Evidence for the Exodus

MarianneLuban at aol.com MarianneLuban at aol.com
Thu Aug 5 14:21:03 EDT 2004

In a message dated 8/5/2004 10:25:07 AM Pacific Daylight Time, 
yonsaf at beitberl.ac.il writes:

> Sometimes the authentic info may contained in slips of the pen or "between
> the lines" or in cryptic passages or passages that seem out of place.
> Take for example Num. 12:1, where both Miriam and Aaron seem to be angry
> with Moses over his  Cushite wife, "for he took a Cushite wife". What has
> this to do with the berit, the Exodus, the desert wanderigs (unless yu want
> to claim that these particular Cushites were a Sinai sesert tribe) or the
> consquest of Canaan?

There is an ancient tradition that Moses was a "king of Cush" (or Kush) and 
that he had led the Egyptians to attack a "royal city of Ethiopia" named Saba 
hemmed in by three rivers, the Nile, the Astapus and the Astaboras.  Josephus 
said that this same placed later came to be known as "Meroe", which we all know 
had a considerable civilization with pyramidal structures and beautiful 
jewelry that was Egyptian-like but different.  I have little doubt that this was 
the home of the Queen of Sheba. There he married a king's daughter called 
"Tharbis", which seems to me just a version of an Egyptian word for "princess"--tA 
rpyt.  Otherwise, she is called "Ra'osa", which I think is "rsyt" or "woman of 
the south".  Her father is called "Zoros", which is the same as  Zerah the 
Ethiopian conquered by King Asa in Chronicles.  Perhaps this was thought a good 
name for an Ethiopian king--or perhaps there is some truth behind it.  
Regardless, there was a New Kingdom title, "King's Son of Kush", which did not 
necessarily mean a son of the pharaoh but meant the Viceroy of Kush when it was a 
conquered territory.  According to Josephus, Moses married the Kushite princess 
by way of a political move.  If one can accept the truth of this and that Moses 
also married Zipporah, a daughter of a chief of Midian, one has to 
wonder--just where was Midian?  There were some desert dweller of Ethiopia called 
"Medjai" by the Egyptians.  These were a hardly people and made up a goodly portion 
of the pharaohs' armies and also their police force.  There was also a land 
called "Mitanni" by them--but that seemed to lie to the east and was once quite 
a powerful nation.  Maybe Midian was the Egypt "mDA"--the grapheme /D/ often 
being interchangeable with just plain /d/ and /A/ very often being pronounced 
"ee"-- or "an" in final place. (The grapheme /A/ is one of the most complex 
things in all of Egyptian philology).  If Moses had to leave Saba, as Josephus 
claims, when one of the sons of his wife rebelled and was made king--but feared 
to go back to Egypt for some reason, then to dwell among the Medjai would have 
been a logical move.  Nowadays the Ethiopians speak Amharic, a Semitic tongue 
written with a syllabary.  Just what these Medjai spoke or where they came 
from (being nomads) is unknown.  If Miriam and Aaron were disgruntled about the 
Cushite wife of Moses (for which they were punished by God) it makes little 
sense they would be unless she was right there in the midst of the populace.  
But where was Zipporah?  Perhaps "she" was the Cushite wife, after all.  It also 
doesn't make sense that the princess of Saba would have gone into exile with 
Moses once her son forced Egypt's viceroy to leave.  This is all speculation, 
but probably there is something  to this "Cushite wife" business.

> To me this appears to be an authentic piece of information about Moses the
> Egyptian who, while still in Egypt, married a woman from Nubia or Ehtiopia,
> which wouldn't be very out of the way if you were an Egyptian or even a
> Hebrew living in Egypt.
> Or take 1 Sam. 2:17, in which the anonymous "man of God" begins his reproof
> of Elis and his sons with the cryptic "Did I not reveal myself to your
> family (lit. 'father's house') when they were in Egypt belonging to/working
> for Pharaoh?"
> This appears to me to be an authentic notive of the presence of an Israelite
> priestly family in Egypt, where they may even have been Egyptian priests
> (the names Hofni, Phineas??)
> These examples are not hard historical evidence in the strict sense of the
> word (after all, they're in the Bible and not on some tablet or papyrus),
> but strong indications that there may be something behind the Exodus
> traditions after all.
Why not?

Marianne Luban


More information about the b-hebrew mailing list