[b-hebrew] Oxen & Oxcarts in the Exodus

Peter Kirk peter at qaya.org
Fri Dec 30 22:04:38 EST 2005

On 31/12/2005 01:54, tladatsi at charter.net wrote:

>I am confused by your response.  You seem to be suggesting 
>that you are disagreeing with me that the Exodus was a 
>series of miracles.  Your explanations for the appearance 
>of oxen and carts seems to me to suggest that divine agency 
>is not at work in the story of the Exodus.  The text of 
>Genesis (and Numbers) make it quite clear that the author 
>intended for the reader to understand the events to be 
>miracles, i.e. events impossible to explain except by the 
>direct intervention of Yahweh.  As such, things that would 
>not normally occur, do.  Oxen in the desert would be a 
>miracle but that would not really be out of place in the 
>story of Exodus.
>So, are you sayig that the story as told in Exodus was not 
>miraculous or did I mis-understand your posting.
I am not saying that the story was not miraculous. There are certainly 
miraculous elements in the story. However, I suppose I believe in a 
certain economy of miracles. God certainly could have made it 
miraculously possible for oxcarts to cross the Red Sea. But the text 
does not say that he did, and there is an alternative non-miraculous 
explanation for the presence of oxcarts at Mount Sinai. Therefore, 
rather than postulate that a miracle took place for which there is no 
biblical record, I tend to prefer the simpler suggestion that the 
Israelites made or bought the carts in Sinai.

I suppose my explanation makes more sense if you believe as I do that 
this is a factual account and that the miracles recorded in the Bible 
really did happen. Of course some people might hold that in fact this is 
an account of goings-on in a fantasy world in which miracles happen, 
whereas for these people they don't happen in the real world. But even 
fantasy worlds are usually governed by regular physical laws most of the 
time, and so the principle of economy of miracles still makes sense.

Peter Kirk
peter at qaya.org (personal)
peterkirk at qaya.org (work)

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