Exodus, was [b-hebrew] Re: PS /g/

MarianneLuban at aol.com MarianneLuban at aol.com
Thu Nov 18 15:36:10 EST 2004

In a message dated 11/18/2004 11:03:15 AM Pacific Standard Time, 
kwrandolph at email.com writes:

> Why would Israel seek shelter within Aravis when the whole point was to flee 
> the oppression brought on them by the Hyksos? If I were oppressed, and then 
> my oppressor was distracted by an attack by another enemy, that would be a 
> prime time to get the ... out of there, not hide myself among my oppressors. It 
> doesn't make sense.

You are assuming an oppression--but there is no basis for it.  The 15th 
Dynasty Hyksos arrived in Egypt and conquered the north.  If Manetho is correct, it 
was at this time that Joseph and his tribe entered into Egypt.  They were 
given pasture lands in the eastern Delta because they were feeders of small 
cattle.  Possibly, the Sons of Jacob became the 16th Dynasty shepherds, who were 
not actually pharaohs, but ruled themselves, probably co-existing peacefully 
with the 15th Dynasty.  But Ahmose made war on the north.  It was a prolonged 
war, already waged by two predecessors, Kamose and Seqenenre.  From all 
indications, there was a hiatus between Kamose and Ahmose and their relationship is not 
so clear.  Kamose claims he vanquished Avaris--but obviously Ahmose needed to 
do it all over again.  In times of imminent war, people did not just sit 
around and wait for the enemy to attack them.  This is well-illustrated in the 
narrative of the Siege of Megiddo from the annals of Thutmose III.  The princes 
who rebelled against the pharaoh and the Egyptian empire decided to gather 
inside the walls of Megiddo, which was then besieged by the Egyptians for seven 
months--until the princes admitted defeat and swore their allegiance to the 
Egyptian king.  That was the whole point of fortified cities like Avaris and 
Megiddo and Samaria--to serve as places of protection from attackers, who either 
succeeded in their sieges, or not.  The warfare was the same as in the Middle 
Ages.  Manetho, for his part, says this:  Avaris was besieged by a king named 
"Tethmosis".  The siege was growing too long and the pharaoh made a compact with 
the inhabitants to leave Egypt--without bloodshed.  This they did and 
ultimately founded Jerusalem.  But Manetho does not mention anybody called Moses 
until the time of a pharaoh named "Amenophis".  By the time of this ruler, Avaris 
was already in ruins.  But there was a great revolt against the King of Egypt 
within his own land and Canaanites took advantage of it, arriving to join in 
the revolt and loot Egypt.  Sorry, but I cannot take too much stock in the BOE 
as being an accurate history.  For me, it is too much like a typical Egyptian 
novel, complete with hero, pharaoh, and magicians, elements pretty much 
indispensible to Egyptian tales.
The conquest of Canaan and the events taking place there must have undergone 
various stages.  Otherwise, why would it indicate in Judges that the 
Israelites had already been in Canaan for some 300 years?  All that time the Hebrews 
were fighting with various elements for territories but nobody could become 
master of Canaan until Egypt became too weak to hold onto her position there.  
Historically, at the point when Saul arose, Egypt was at a very low point [the 
end of the 20th Dynasty] and the time for the kingdom of Israel to come into 
being was finally right.  By the time of Solomon, Egypt was united no more under 
one pharaoh and the Third Intermediate Period had begun.  
> However, the picture given in Exodus shows no signs of coming war, so I 
> suspect that when the Hyksos lost a pharaoh and an army chasing their wayward 
> ex-slaves, that this was the signal for Ahmose to launch his campaign before the 
> Hyksos had a chance to recover. But the part about Ahmose is speculation on 
> my part

That is the whole problem--assuming only a single exodus or expulsion.  Once 
again, most of the ancient authors believed the time of Ahmose saw an 
expulsion.  It was not because Ahmose was mentioned in the Pentateuch.  Obviously, he 
isn't.  But because of a counting backward of years and the knowledge that 
this pharaoh had succeeded [for a time] in the ethnic cleansing of the north.  
But does the BOE necessarily describe this period?  I say no--because nothing in 
it fits the events of the time, insofar as we know them from the Egyptian 
archaeological record.  Now Manetho, as a pagan, had no reason to be a Biblical 
apologist.  Nor is there anything in his extant writings to show that he was an 
anti-Semite, either, unlike some Egyptian chronographers.  He could have 
easily denied the existence of Moses or that anyone like him had ever caused 
problems for a pharaoh.  But he didn't.  In the BOE, Moses is a proper, 
well-intentioned prince, just the instrument of the Almighty.
He indicates to Pharaoh that he and his people are reluctant to offer 
sacrifices to his God because the sacrifices are beasts deemed either unclean or 
sacred by the Egyptians--and the Hebrews might be stoned on account of it.  Also, 
the Hebrews manage to "persuade" the Egyptians to give them their silver and 
gold.  However, in Manetho's version, the people led by Moses take over by 
force, loot the temples and roast the sacred animals right in their holy 
places--and toss out the priests.  They sack Egypt and behave in a manner worse than 
the Hyksos who came before them.
You see, there can be no history devoid of viewpoint.  How one side would 
like the events to be perceived will not tally with the opposing perception.  To 
say "Let my people go" is a polite stance, one that serves the great 
reputation of Moses as a man directed by God and dependant upon His miracles.  But was 
Moses really so polite and non-violent?  Probably, the truth is somewhere in 
between how the BOE views Moses and how Manetho implicates him in a revolt.   

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