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

George F Somsel gfsomsel at juno.com
Sat Dec 18 05:15:47 EST 2004

On Sat, 18 Dec 2004 10:21:03 +0200 "Vadim Cherny"
<vadim_lv at center-tv.net> writes:
> > 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,
> you
> > can accept the story as "theological historiography" - that is the 
> option
> I
> > think most useful.
> The contrast is not between Israelites and Egyptians, but between 
> foot and
> mounted.
> 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
> eople 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
> _______________________________________________

While Ps 106.11 states that none of the Egyptians were left (unspecified 
whole), Ex 14 does indicate that it was the chariots which had difficulty
in the sea.  Nevertheless, it says nothing regarding the foot soldiers. 
To say, "The pharaoh lost not his foot soldiers in the pursuit, but
chariots, the cream of his army" is unwarranted.  The whole tone of the
passage is that the entire army was lost.  To speculate that "The episode
also suggests that the charioteers did not know the basic facts about
swamps" seems to be but another attempt at a naturalistic explanation of
the account.  It does not pretend to be based upon natural phenomena but
upon the act of God, and any attempt to explain it as such is a
distortion.  Now, if God is  truly God, he can do  whatever he jolly well
pleases; but this is not the way in which we  perceive his action
throughout history -- only in the Heilsgeschichte.  I have no reason to
suppose that he acts differently now than he has ever acted so I take
this as a mythological explanation of the founding of the people of
Israel.  Since it is mythology all Israel -- even those of a later time
-- are considered to be present.


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