[b-hebrew] Re: g(r Psa. 106:9

Vadim Cherny vadim_lv at center-tv.net
Sat Dec 18 03:21:03 EST 2004

> The chariots got stuck, we will no doubt be told, because it was a miracle
> that what was dry ground for the israelites became mud for the
> egyptians.  Even though, of course, the egyptians were right on the heels
> of the israelites.  The various and sundry "naturalistic" explanations, as
> I have called them, all falter on the simple logic of the text- which
> again, cannot be "proven".  Either you have to accept that the text is
> recording straightforward history- and that a divine miracle- or you have
> to wriggle around hoping that there is some analogous explanation.  Or,
> can accept the story as "theological historiography" - that is the option
> think most useful.

The contrast is not between Israelites and Egyptians, but between foot and
People crossed the shallow swamp, but chariots got stuck. The pharaoh lost
not his foot soldiers in the pursuit, but chariots, the cream of his army.
Chariots have very thin wheels, and the ground pressure is very high.
Chariots cannot cross the swamp.
The foot people crossed the swamp in line by narrow ford. Unlike in rivers,
swamp fords are usually very narrow. Charioteers could not make a line but
entered the swamp at wide front. Without using the ford, they stuck.
It is a position of Talmudic rabbis that God avoids miracles.

The common translation of 600 thousand people must be changed to 600 clans,
to make the episode sensible.
But even 600 clans is too much. The likely explanation is that the clans
were very small, the size of immediate family. This could happen if the
people participating in Exodus were relocated recently, their old ties
broken, and new large clans not formed yet. This corresponds both to the
biblical account of "labor camps," and to the tradition that many other
people joined Israelites during Exodus.

The episode also suggests that the charioteers did not know the basic facts
about swamps. Possibly, they were from the other part of the country. This
recalls ousting of Akhenaton.

Vadim Cherny

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