[b-hebrew] Re: Exodus & Hyksos

Joe Baker joebaker at cygnus.uwa.edu.au
Fri May 28 10:03:04 EDT 2004

Hi All

Apologies for interrupting this thread and moving into the historical rather
than the language side of the text.

I too use Judges 11:26 to date the Exodus, but in a completely different
way. The important thing for me is to find an historical basis for
determining when this letter was written, who really wrote it and too whom
was it really written.

The contents of the letter suggests that the first words ("this says
Jephthah") and the last words ("and between the Beni-Ammon") are highly
suspect. For after first giving the history of why Israel was justified in
claiming control of the lands between the Jabbok and Areor (Judges
11:15-22), the remainder of the letter (Judges 11:23-27) surely concerns a
Moabite (not Ammonite) conquest of this region.

The most likely time such a letter would be written was about 851 BC. Mesha
the Moabite king had rebelled against Israel and within two years had almost
doubled the size of his kingdom by annexing the Israelite Gadite territory
to the north of the Aroer. (And note that Mesha's own inscription seems to
imply that the Gadites were indigenous to the region). The contents of this
letter could have been written by Jehoram the new Israelite king just prior
to his attack on Moab (from the south since Mesha's control of the
tablelands made it too difficult to attack from the north).

If so the 300 years would be the earliest attested evidence for the
Israelites own reckoning of a date for the Exodus. Although the numbers 300
and 40 are obviously rounded, they do provide an Exodus date of around
(851+300+40 =) 1191 BC.
(Regarding the "exodus", IMO most national origin legends tend to focus and
amplify just one small part of their collective origin - in the case of
Israel it was the exploits of a small group of Israelites who returned from
Egypt to join their fellow indigenous Israelites in the highlands. The
chronological data in Judges 11:26 could suggest that they formed part of
the Asiatics expelled by Setnakht around 1197 BC - the only Egyptian king
whose inscription refers to expulsions of Asiatics. The inscription of
Ahmose's time only implies an expulsion of the Hyksos).

Also the use of the "JE history" in this letter provides evidence that this
book was completed in 852 BC and that it was published with the royal
consent of both Israel and Judah (IMO JE is the work of a single author who
brought together the legends of both states. I do not see a separate J and
E). I say completed in 852 BC because other evidence points to thois work
being completed in or after 853 BC. This date derives from the prominence
given to the (otherwise lesser known) northern Canaanite cities of Arqa,
Sin, Arwad an S.emar in the surviving JE parts of the "Table of Nations" at
Genesis 10:17-18. Their coupling with Hamath, suggests a connection with
their participation in the Hamathite lead coalition that in 853 BC, at
Qarqar, defeated Shalmaneser 3, king of Assyria. Their participation in this
coalition would have raised their awareness in the eyes of the Israelites.
The Assyrian inscription naming this coalition is a provincial product and
contains many scribal errors and mistakes. It lists Irqanata (a mistake for
Irqa[ta]/Arqa), Shiana, Arwad and Mus.ra (a mistake for S.imyra=S.umur by
reversal of the first two syllables).

Are people on this list aware of Professor Manfred Görg's article "Israel in
Hieroglyphen" in Biblischen Notizen 106 (2001) 21-27? I have not seen it but
it concerns an inscription (Berlin block CG 34035 = JE 31408) which
preserves a fragment of a damaged geographic list containing the names
Ashkelon, j3-s^3-j-r, and Pa-Canaan (=Gaza). The stela is said to be from
the time of Ramesses 2 but it is noted that the list may have been copied
from an inscription written during the mid 18th dynasty (c. time of
Amenhotep 2), with the writing of the name Israel following the Middle
Kingdom use of 3 for r. That is, the inscription may mention Israel some 150
years before the inscription of Merenptah.

Joe Baker ===========\
Perth                |
Western Australia ===/

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