[b-hebrew] 1450 BCE Exodus

Yigal Levin leviny1 at mail.biu.ac.il
Sun Jul 25 01:43:09 EDT 2004

Dear Marianne (is that your name? - you did not sign your post),

The reality of Semitic tribes entering the Nile Delta, of the Egyptians
enslaving some of them, of some of THEM "escaping" and others being "thrown
out" is well documented, for several hundred years of Egyptian history. All
this "proves", is that the biblical authors knew something about Egyptian
history and fit his history of Israel into that picture. That's ALL any
historian can say.
On the other hand, the Exodus is the single most important event in biblical
thought, mentioned in ALL traditions and strata and sources of the Bible. As
you mentioned, most of the biblical festivals, including the Sabbath, refer
to the Exodus. So I have no doubt that the Iron-Age Israelites believed that
there had been an Exodus. And probably, that tradition was based on actual
events. But to think that, with our present lack of knowledge, we can
reconstruct those events with any degree of certainty is irrational (and, as
I have written, I don't think that the Bible wants us to). Postulating
multiple exoduses (exodeis? exodies? exodii?) in order to accommodate all of
the archaeological data gets us nowhere.

Your reconstruction, of some Semites being taken to Egypt as captives, of
them aiding the 18th Dynasty kings in taking over Canaan and then rebelling
against them and of the period of the Judges covering the LB (in part) has
NOTHING to do with the biblical narratives. So what do you gain? Why assume
that any of the people that you're talking about have anything to do with
the people that the Bible calls "Israel"?


----- Original Message -----
From: <MarianneLuban at aol.com>
To: <b-hebrew at lists.ibiblio.org>
Sent: Sunday, July 25, 2004 12:04 AM
Subject: Re: [b-hebrew] 1450 BCE Exodus ? 'Apiru = Hebrews ?

> In a message dated 7/24/2004 2:18:06 PM Pacific Daylight Time,
> leviny1 at mail.biu.ac.il writes:
> > Since there is NO direct Egyptian evidence of the Exodus (or even of the
> > Israelites' sojourn in Egypt!) and NO biblical clues that would help us
> > in" to known Egyptian history (such as the actual name of a Pharaoh -
> > the city of Rameses could well be an anachronism), and since I suspect
> > numbers like that in ! kings 6:1 are typological, I have no way of
> > the Exodus. As a historian, all I can hope for is to date the
> > appearance (by whatever means) in Canaan. All of the evidence for that
> > to point at about 1200: the Merneptah inscription, the destruction of
> > Canaanite cities (though admittedly not all of those mentioned in Josh.
> > 1-12), the arrival of the Philistines and other "sea peoples", the many
> > small settlements that dot the hill country etc. Moreover, the stories
> > the Judges seem to fit Iron I Israel, NOT late Bronze Canaan. Even if we
> > accept some connection between Apiru and "Hebrew", it is semantic and
> > etymological, NOT genetic or ethnic. During the 14th and 13th centuries,
> > Canaan was ruled by Egypt - the Israelite "conquest" simply has no
> If you accept that there was only one exodus.    Egyptian historians of
> Classic Period "do" name pharaohs under which there were expulsions.  This
> all set forth in detail in my book.  Manetho seems to have written that
> people in the area of Avaris left by treaty with a pharaoh called
> though he knew full well that other Asiatics had been routed by Ahmose
> Hyksos.  So there being an Egyptian Empire during the 18th Dynasty does
> preclude an exodus from Egypt, in my opinion.  My speculation is that
> people did not fight Egyptians but actually aided them in defeating the
peoples of
> the Levant--in exchange for being able to settle there and stay loyal to
> pharaoh.  But, by the time of Akhenaten any such treaty would not have
been in
> force at all.  Joshua and Judges encompasses both the Bronze and Iron
> in my opinion.  People say--where are the traces of any large number of
> leaving Egypt?  But I ask--where are the traces of them coming in?  I have
> already given you an example of how many Levantines one pharaoh took back
> Egypt to enslave on a single campaign.  Even if some died on the way, that
> have been a very large influx, indeed!
> > And since I do not think that the Israelites wandered the desert for 240
> > years, Amenhotep III would not work. Assuming that they did enter the
> > during the very last decades of the 13th century, a mid-13 century
> > seems to fit the bill. That's Rameses II. However, as I said, there is
> > evidence outside the Bible that the Exodus ever really happened.
> >
> However, there is scarcely a whisper from antiquity of Ramesses II being
> involved in an exodus.  Since he was a very famous king, surely something
of this
> occurring in his reign would have survived in the folklore about him.
> And yet there has never been a single commemorated event in Jewish history
> that did not have some basis in fact.  That's not the way the Jewish
> calendar works--commemorating some thing that is only a myth--even though
some of
> the older feasts may have taken on some mythological qualities (such as
> Hanukkah and Purim).  There is only one Tisha B'Av, even though the
> Temple was destroyed twice.  In the Twentieth Century, we have added two
more days
> to our calendar of days of commemoration, one lamenting the Holocaust
> certainly did not occur in a single year or on any given day) and the
> celebrating the establishment of the State of Israel, which one might say
> happened the day the votes came in.  Josephus claims the Jews of
Alexandria even had
> a feast commemorating the time when Ptolemy Physcon tried to wipe them out
> using drunken elephants--and failed to do so.  But, as the Alexandrian
> community was later wiped out by the Romans, nothing of this feast
survives at
> all.
> >
> > Thus far as a historian. As someone who gets up every morning and
> > God for having taken ME out of Egypt, just before reciting the Song of
> > Sea, I must say that this does not disturb me in the least. I believe
> > there is a reason that the Torah does not give us any more specific
> > information, such as naming the said Pharaohs, is because, more than any
> > other event, the Exodus and subsequent Sinai episode are events that
> > outside the framework of human historical experience. They are unique.
> > are "outside" of ANE chronology. And they certainly don't need me to
> > or "disprove" them.
> >
> >
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