[b-hebrew] Akhenaten and the Hebrew Religion

Walter R. Mattfeld mattfeld12 at charter.net
Thu Jul 22 02:10:41 EDT 2004

Dear Brian,

The Bible does tell us that Israel dwelt in Goshen and that when she left
Egypt it was from a place called Rameses. The book of Exodus does NOT
identify the capital of Egypt as being Rameses. It is only stated that
Israel "built" Rameses as a "store-city" and departed from it. The ONLY
verse in the Bible that I am aware of that suggests a "possible" location of
a Pharaonic residence is Psalm 78:12, 43 where it is stated that Moses
withstood Pharaoh "in the fields of Zoan." _For me_, the Bible suggests that
Pharaoh's residence is "near the fields of Zoan," a location far away enough
from Rameses and Goshen that the plagues befalling the Egyptians would NOT
affect the Israelites who dwelt in a _different_  but "nearby" location.

If one looks at a map of the eastern Delta, Zoan, identified today with San
el-Hagar, lies approximately 22 kilometers  or 12 miles WNW of Rameses
(Qantir), which in turn is about 8 kilometers or 5 miles ENE of Faqus.
Plagues befalling the Egyptians at San el Hagar, which lies on a "different
branch of the Nile," would make sense while Qantir on the Pelusiac branch of
the Nile "might be" envisioned by the narrator as free of any harm.

The distance between Zoan and Qantir is "not that great" that Moses would
have had a problem going to the location to confront Pharaoh and then return
to Rameses and Goshen on a _daily_ basis.

The problem ? The archaeological data does NOT support the above scenario.
San el-Hagar first became a Pharaonic residence -based on surviving ancient
Egyptian records- ONLY under the 21st Dynasty established by Pharaoh Smendes
I and was the capital ca. 1081 to 711 BCE, NOT 1446 BCE when most
Conservative scholars understand that the Exodus to have occurred on the
basis of 1st Kings 6:1.  In 1446 BCE the capital was at Memphis, which would
have been several days journey, disqualifying it in the Exodus narratives in
my humble opinion.

Under Akhenaten, Memphis was abandoned as a capital and a new site was
chosen called Akhet-Aten "Horizon of the Aten," modern day Tell el-Amarna,
_further south_ of Memphis, again, as noted by Karl, too faraway to be the
Pharaonic residence Moses would confront the Pharaonic court at from Rameses
(Qantir) in Goshen (Faqus ?).

The Jewish historian Flavius Josephus argued that the Hyksos expulsion (ca
1530 BCE) under Ahmose I was the biblical Exodus. The problem ? Ahmose's
capital was Thebes, again too far south of Qantir/Rameses and Goshen, for
daily confrontations with Pharaoh and his court and no where near "the
fields of Zoan" (Psalm 78:12,43).

The "bottom-line" ? No matter "what date" one wants to posit for the Exodus,
be it Josephus' Hyksos, Brians' Akhetaten or Manetho's Ramesside expulsion,
the archaeological data REFUSES to support "in toto" the scenario being
proposed (various other sites mentioned in the Exodus narratives NOT being
in existence in the same time frame or abandoned).

For a map of Zoan (San el Hagar) and Rameses (Qantir) cf. the following url

For Goshen cf:

For problems (Archaeological) with Josephus' Exodus being the Hyksos
expulsion from Manetho's Avaris (Tell el-Daba adjacent to Qantir/Rameses)
cf. the following url:

Regards, Walter
Walter Reinhold Warttig Mattfeld y de la Torre, M.A. Ed.
mattfeld12 at charter.net

----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Brian Roberts" <formoria at carolina.rr.com>
To: "Karl Randolph" <kwrandolph at email.com>
Cc: "Hebrew" <b-hebrew at lists.ibiblio.org>
Sent: Wednesday, July 21, 2004 9:33 PM
Subject: Re: [b-hebrew] Akhenaten and Hebrew religion

> Karl,
> Ex. 1:11 says the new Pharaoh set up treasure cities at Pithom and
> Raamses.
> The land of Goshen is mentioned in Ex. 8:22 as being the place where the
> Hebrews were quartered. This is in way connected to the palace of
> Pharaoh. Again in Ex. 9:26 the Hebrews are located in Goshen, which was
> said to be immune to the plagues. Were the Pharaoh's palace and main
> army there, they would have fallen under that immunity, according to the
> rules of the story.
> Besides, the first-born son of Amenhotep III and Queen Tiye - Tuthmosis
> did die before he could reach the throne. I can see how this story could
> have been the impetus for the death of the first-born plague in Exodus.
> On Wednesday, July 21, 2004, at 05:01  PM, Karl Randolph wrote:
> >
> > ----- Original Message -----
> > From: Brian Roberts <formoria at carolina.rr.com>
> >
> >> What if an exodus event took place at the end of Akhenaten's father's
> >> life?
> >>
> >> Akhenaten had broken away by then. at least religiously, his
> >> henotheistic views being well-documented before his father's death.
> >> What
> >> if Psalm 104 carries echoes of the Hymn to the Aten because the
> >> departing Hebrews took it with them?
> >>
> >> R. Brian Roberts
> >
> > Unlikely, as the picture given in Exodus is that the pharaoh had his
> > capital and main army near the land of Goshen (eastern Nile delta), not
> > way up in Memphis or Thebes. This situation existed (as far as I know)
> > only during the Hyksos period and Ramses II and his dynasty. Other
> > factors make me doubt Ramses II, leaving me, by default, with the
> > Hyksos.
> >
> > Why not consider the Hymn to the Aten an echo of Psalm 104?
> >
> > Karl W. Randolph.
> > --
> > ___________________________________________________________

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