[b-hebrew] Evidence for the Exodus

Jonathan D. Safren yonsaf at beitberl.ac.il
Fri Aug 6 04:39:18 EDT 2004

Brian Roberts has presented sme cogent evidence for discounting anything
Josephus has to say in the matter of the Cushite wife.
The fact remains: Numbers 12:1 mentions an apparent attack on Moses by
Miriam and Aaron because of his Cushite wife, and this is not related to any
of the major themes of the Torah or any of its supposed "sources". It
appears, as it were, "extraneous". This alone, in my opinion, is sufficient
cause to give weight to its authenticity.
As I wrote in my previous posting, "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."
Another such passage is the "Song of the Ark" in Num. 10:35-36 (with the
inverted nuns), but the Sitz im Leben of this passage (actually, two
passages), it would appear, has nothing to do with the Exodus or the Desert
Wanderings but with the use of the Ark in Conquest traditions.
Still another such passage is the description of the conquest of the Plains
of Moab from the first Moabite king by Sihon the Amorite. As Menahem Haran
(then Diman) wrote back in 1947, this appears to be an authentic
pre-Israelite tradition. If we could only date it, we would be able to
pinpoint the fdate of the Israelite victory over Sihon.
Jonathan D. Safren, Editor
Mo'ed - Annual for Jewish Studies
Center for Jewish Culture
Beit Berl College
Beit Berl Post Office
44905 Israel
Tel. 972-9-7476396
Fax 972-9-7475397
e-mail: moed at beitberl.ac.il
Website: www.beitberl.ac.il/moed

----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Brian Roberts" <formoria at carolina.rr.com>
To: <MarianneLuban at aol.com>
Cc: <b-hebrew at lists.ibiblio.org>
Sent: Thursday, August 05, 2004 10:08 PM
Subject: Re: [b-hebrew] Evidence for the Exodus

> Marianne,
> My responses to your posts are below:
> On Thursday, August 5, 2004, at 02:21  PM, MarianneLuban at aol.com wrote:
> > 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.
> Ancient tradition documented first by whom?  Would you be referring to
> one of the many Books of Jasher, or by Josephus? (Book II, Chapter 10,
> Antiquities)
> > 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.
> You do realize that there was no ancient city named Saba in Ethiopia in
> the time of Moses? The earliest coastal civilization settled in
> Ethiopian was the Dia'amat polity, whose mukarribs date back to the late
> 8th century BCE based in Yeha, but who migrated from and still
> communicated with Saba (through its capital Ma'rib) in SW Arabia.
> Josephus is confusing Meroe and Saba here. There was no "Ethiopia" at
> the time of Josephus. The civilization there was known as the Aksumites
> (Axoumitoi in Greek), and it flourished from the first century CE to the
> 7th century. Josephus is using that inaccurate system inherited from the
> Greeks that began to conflate the Nubians, Cushites, and "Ethiopians".
> The King of the Ethiopians mentioned in Josephus was likely a Meroitic
> king. In Moses' time there wasn't a Meroitic king, but very likely a
> Kushite king. "Aethopian" and "Nubian" were mostly terms the Greeks used
> to describe any African who was more or less dark-skinned.
> > 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.
> You're assigning far too much credibility on these matters to Josephus.
> There is far more evidence linking the land of the Queen of Sheba with
> Saba in present Yemen. Come over to the good side, Marianne. :)
> Best Salaams,
> >
> Brian
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