[b-hebrew] Ark of the Covenant

MarianneLuban at aol.com MarianneLuban at aol.com
Thu Aug 19 14:34:12 EDT 2004

In a message dated 8/18/2004 10:25:50 PM Pacific Daylight Time, 
kwrandolph at email.com writes:
> 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.

Karl, yesterday was a hectic day for me and I was not able to give you a 
response.  But now I can.  Manetho was preserved in recensions, some of them 
differing slightly--with the real differences only occurring in his 18th Dynasty.  
So there he was quite clearly distorted, for reasons I gave previously.  
Regardless, the only real "opponent" Manetho had was Josephus, who attempted to 
debunk him in an unreasonable and ineffective manner.  From Manetho's 
"Aegyptiaca", his history of Egypt, we have his kinglist of 31 dynasties (including the 
Persians) with comments about many of the rulers and occurrences within their 
reigns--one recension being found in as far away as Armenia.  That is hardly 
what one can call a "snippet".  Also, there is a recent work, "Berossos and 
Manetho" that has compiled all references to Manetho from antiquity--and there are 
quite a few.

> 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.

Karl, I think it was you (although I'm not sure) who said I should remain on 
this list so I can learn something here.  And that's right.  I am.  Yet 
perhaps some people here are starting to get the idea that one can't be a "Bible 
scholar" of the parts of the Torah that took place in Egypt without being 
well-grounded in Egyptian history, culture, language and texts.  Because that 
description fits me, I am unable to believe that Moses wrote the Torah.  In Genesis, 
in the story of Joseph, two men are named "Potiphar" (called Petepres in the 
Septuagint).  As it happens, such a name was not used in Egypt until the latter 
part of the Late Period of Egyptian history (1070-378 BCE).  It is no 
different from some Greeks who followed the Egyptian generals "P'di-sm3-t3 and IaHms 
in a war on Nubia, during the time of King Psamtik II (595--589 BCE) writing a 
short account of their intentions on a monument at Elephantine--and writing 
the names of the generals as "Potisimta" and "Amosis".  From the Ptolemaic or 
Classic Period, there are two interesting pseudographic texts known as "The 
Famine Stela" and "The Bekhten Stela" that are tricked-up to appear as though 
they had been written thousands of years earlier.  The first text is written in 
Middle Egyptian and speaks of a famine in the time of King Djoser, one of the 
earliest pharaohs.  Unfortunately, the scribes of Ptolemaic times forgot that 
in Djoser's day, something would have been written in Old Egyptian--not Middle 
Egyptian.  Middle Egyptian is also the language of the "Bekhten Stela", which 
purports to narrate something that happened in the time of Ramesses II.  In 
his time, Middle Egyptian was still used in official texts (Neo-Egyptian for 
everything else) but the Ptolemaic era scribes no longer knew how to write a pure 
Middle Egyptian and gave themselves away by employing certain spellings and 
hieroglyphs that did not exist in earlier times.  By the same token, the Torah 
demonstrates its late composition by its anachronisms.  That is the truth.  
Unless you believe that Moses existed no earlier than around 500 BCE he cannot 
have written the Torah--no more than can any other man who writes of his own 
death and even remarks that no one can recall where he is buried.  That is why I 
like Manetho, a priest of an Egyptian god and a pagan who could have 
dismissed the existence of Joseph and Moses--but did not.  At least he puts them in 
timeframes that are feasible within the framework of ANE chronology--and that of 
the Torah, itself.

> 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.

Josephus maintained that Manetho had written a history of Egypt taken from 
"the sacred tablets".  Some of those "tablets" are still with us 
today--kinglists like the Palermo Stone, the Turin Canon, the kinglist written on a wall of a 
temple at Abydos and the Saqqara list found in the Memphite necropolis.  
Additionally, Manetho must have had other sources because he lists kings that we 
know did exist--but were deliberately omitted from kinglists for reason of 
damnatio memoriae.  An old scholar named Meyer once wrote that he wouldn't be 
surprised if a hieratic papyrus eventually surfaced that Manetho had copied word 
for word in Greek.

> 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.

But not Genesis and Exodus.  Definitely.  Also, even eye witnesses can have 
faulty memories and false interpretations.  Manetho wrote that during a war 
with the Lybians, the moon appeared so strange that the Lybians became terrified 
and fled.  Sound familiar?  Yet such things do happen--with both sides 
becoming equally frightened.  Once, in the early 80's I saw a moon that was so huge, 
so orange and so low on the horizon that it actually stopped traffic on the 
freeway, with people getting out of their cars in order to discuss whether this 
might not be some unnatural phenomenon.  I admit that my then boyfriend and I 
even called the nearby airport to ask the meteorologists there what they 
thought and the weather-watcher on the other end began to sing to me "Shine on, 
shine on Harvest Moon...".  That part was funny but was it awesome and rather 
unsettling to see that moon--the like of which I have never seen again since.


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