Fwd: [b-hebrew] Re: g(r Psa. 106:9 - exorcism? (B. M. Rocine)

Peter Kirk peterkirk at qaya.org
Fri Dec 17 06:08:07 EST 2004

On 16/12/2004 23:25, Jim West wrote:

> At 05:56 PM 12/16/2004, you wrote:
>> The bottom of Chesapeake Bay was mud, at the point described. But if 
>> the bottom of the Yam Suph was rock, or gravel, or coral reef, or 
>> even firm sand, your objection fails. Don't argue from an incidental 
>> point in an imperfect analogy.
> The difficulty in your explanation is the fact that the  "if" 
> demonstrate the unlikelihood that it can be the best solution. ...

On the contrary. If the bottom was mud, it would indeed have been hard 
to walk across, but by your argument that "if" demonstrates that the 
unlikelihood of your objection being important. Or to put it another 
way, some parts of the sea bed are firm and other parts are soft, and 
the Exodus story as narrated clearly refers to the crossing of a firm 
part. In the probable candidate places for the Yam Suph a firm bottom is 
in fact most likely, because soft mud is usually found only close to 
river mouths (like the Chesapeake), and there are no rivers feeding into 
the arms of the Red Sea - which is why they have such excellent coral reefs.

>   Further, it wasn't my analogy and the point is not incidental to the 
> main- which is that there is a possible "naturalistic" explanation to 
> the event.
This is indeed the more important issue. You seem to object to 
naturalistic explanations, but why? Well, maybe you should not answer 
that one here. But I would be interested in an off-list answer.

>> In fact Exodus makes it very clear that the surface that the 
>> Israelites walked on was the bottom of the Yam Suph, laid bare and 
>> dry by a strong wind. The timing was miraculous, of course, and 
>> perhaps the wind strength was as well. But there is no indication 
>> that there was anything miraculous about the surface, or that it was 
>> any drier than would be expected from the sea water receding from it.
> Whether it was miraculous or not cannot be determined either 
> historically or linquistically.
Historically, perhaps not. But linguistically, yes. Whatever the actual 
historical events lying behind the Exodus and Psalm 106 narratives, 
these narratives describe (linguistically) a world (which may be partly 
fictional) in which the heroes were rescued from destruction by 
something unusual happening at just the right time. This is not just 
part of biblical narrative, it is the stuff of Hollywood, where heroes 
are regularly saved (sometimes several times a second, e.g. in battle 
and car chase scenes) by the timing of unrelated events. These unrelated 
events are not usually supernatural, or even particularly rare in 
themselves, it is their often split-second timing which saves the 
heroes. And within the Exodus and Psalm 106 narratives there is no 
indication that the drying up of the Yam Suph was anything more than one 
of these happy coincidences, except that the timing is explicitly 
ascribed to God, rather than, as sometimes in the Hollywood equivalents, 
some kind of protecting fate.

Peter Kirk
peter at qaya.org (personal)
peterkirk at qaya.org (work)

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