[b-hebrew] Ark of the Covenant

Karl Randolph kwrandolph at email.com
Thu Aug 19 01:25:25 EDT 2004

----- Original Message -----
From: MarianneLuban at aol.com

> In a message dated 8/17/2004 3:19:08 PM Pacific Daylight Time, 
> kwrandolph at email.com writes:
> > > …  And, hearken Rohlites---the chronology of ancient Egypt is scarcely 
> > > off by more than a few years --because Manetho, considered by the ancients 
> > to be 
> > > a great authority, said so.  
> > 
> > Talk about “fundamentalism” … lol!
> Whoah there, Nellie!  What do you really know about Manetho?


I have studied Biblical Hebrew, not ancient Egyptian history. As a result, I know almost nothing about Manetho.

It was your assertion that Manetho is correct, because Manetho said so, that contrasts vividly with your denigration of “fundamentalists” who believe the Bible is correct, because the Bible says so. It was that assertion that raised a chuckle.

> …  The man was 
> widely quoted and was said to "have reached the pinnacle of erudition".  Being an 
> expert on him, I have come to believe that this is so.  This historian had 
> many things going for him, some of which I will list:
> 1.  He knew the Egyptian language (as well as Greek) and could read it.
> 2.  He was into science (as it was then) and wrote works on that as well as a 
> history of Egypt up to his time.
> 3.  He evidently had sources that are unknown to us.  When Manetho compiled 
> his kinglist, he included rulers that are omitted from earlier kinglists that 
> have survived for various reasons.  But we know these people existed, anyway, 
> from their monuments--and so did Manetho.  He was a completely honest scholar 
> and had no axe to grind whatsoever, unlike Apion, for example.
> 4.  Although there is nothing from him showing anti-Semitism, Manetho, the 
> pagan, had no reason to be a Biblical apologist like subsequent Jewish and 
> Christian chronographers.  That is a very good thing, because Manetho then was free 
> to tell what he knew without having to make it conform to the HB.  For me, 
> the greatest loss to Egyptology is that no original copy of Manetho's history in 
> three books survives.  All we get are copies of his kinglist, redacted by 
> those with a Biblical agenda and theories about the exodus.  In fact, it was the 
> strong belief in an exodus that motivated these people to mess up Manetho in 
> order to fit a given theory.  This is only too obvious.  Josephus, as much as 
> he tries to debunk Manetho, still gives us more of his writing than anyone 
> else--and doesn't manage to debunk him at all.  Contrarywise, Josephus 
> demonstrates that Manetho was a much more honest scholar than himself--the 
> fundamentalist.  Read my book and I guarantee you you'll quit laughing.

Apparently, in spite of his erudation, he was not important enough for later people to preserve his writings. All we have are snippets preserved by opponants, who may have distorted his writings in order to push their alternate theories. We don’t know if his opponants distorted his records or not, because his writings were not preserved.

Elsewhere you mention that Joseph served a Hyksos pharaoh according to Manetho. That contradicts the picture given in Genesis that indicates that Joseph served a native Egyptian pharaoh. Clues in other parts of Genesis indicate that when Moses wrote Genesis, he was using written records written centuries prior to the Exodus, so there is reason to expect that it is possible that a record of Joseph was written by his sons or other relatives and Moses saw it.

Even though Manetho may have been more accurate than his contemporaries, he could be no more accurate than the sources available to him. If his sources were wrong, then Manetho was equally wrong, and we can’t rule that out. We don’t know who or what were his sources. Therefore, to claim that he is right because he said so stretches credulity.

Contrast that with the Hebrew Bible, where, except for some sections including Samuel, Kings and Chronicles (the authors of which recorded their sources), the record indicates that most of it was written by either people who were participants or knew participants in the actions, rarely third hand. Yet some modern people claim that these witnesses were wrong, because they a priori decided certain actions were impossible. That is not a linguistic or historical argument, but a philosophic one and therefore cannot be resolved on this mailing list. Therefore, I will stop and not discuss the issue of credulity further.

Karl W. Randolph.
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