Ancient Israelite History: Slavery and Exodus


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Ancient Israelite History: Slavery and Exodus, by Jacob Gluck

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Ancient Israelite History: Slavery and Exodus

  1. 1. Egyptian Slavery & Exodus Course II in the Ancient Israelite History series, by Jacob Gluck
  2. 2. Biblical Story.• Patriarch Jacob and sons settle in Goshen -- Nile Delta region, due to famine in Canaan.• A new Pharaoh arises who “does not know Joseph”.• Israelites are pressed into corvee service (forced labor) and build Pithom and Raamses.• Midwives are ordered to kill newborn male babies. Abandonment in Nile.• Moses in waterproof basket.• Moses kills and Egyptian who beats a Hebrew. He escapes to Midian.• Burning bush and his commission by God.• Ten plagues; Pharaoh relents.• Israelites travel from Raamses to Sukkoth.• Israelites take roundabout path to Canaan; not Via Maris. Pharaoh: they are “lost”.• Egyptians pursue. Water parts for Israelites. Egyptians are drowned. Song of the Sea.
  3. 3. The Exodus in a Historical Context.• Difficult to fit Exodus narrative into framework of known history.• On the other hand: events of this sort are not likely to have left marks in the archaeological record or in contemporaneous monuments – Baruch Halpern.• Archaeology sometimes contradicts but rarely confirms the Bible.Purpose of Narrative.• Biblical writers are not engaged in historiography. Rather, didactic use for theological purpose.• Focus on literal historicity could obscure intent and message of text.Common Sense Argument.Such an inglorious, disreputable national origin tale must be authenticfoundational narrative. Otherwise, why?
  4. 4. Providing a Context.Mudbricks, NOT stones (=material of choice in Jerusalem) were standardconstruction material in Nile Delta.15th Cent. BCE tomb (tomb of Rekhmire – slide 22) painting shows Semiticslaves making mudbricks at Thebes.A text complains of not enough straw (note: straw was not typically used inCanaan).Papyrus lists 40 female slaves with Semitic names, including Shiphrah (amidwife in Exodus narrative).Geography.The Instruction for Merikare: (c. 2000 BCE) “the east (=Nile delta) aboundswith foreigners”, “the miserable, wretched Asiatic”, “food causes him to roamabout”, “I plundered their inhabitants, having captured their cattle”.Admonition of Ipuwer: Egyptian border defenses designed to repulse theAsiatics, to trample the Bedouin.Papyrus Anastasi 5: Egyptian officer is trying to track down two runawayslaves. A scout has seen them near Migdol.
  5. 5. Beni Hasan painting (silde 23) depicts Asiatic traders in donkey caravan withtheir families and wares. c. 1900 BCE.Louvre Leather Roll reports shortfalls from assigned brick quotas.Also, workers are granted time off for their religious holidays.Why, then, deny it?No Egyptian source even hints at an Israelite presence.1. Hermeneutic of Suspicion. –Jon D. Levenson2. Israel’s own origin tradition is radically irrelevant to writing such a history. – Thomas Thompson3. The writers of the Hebrew Scriptures knew little or nothing about the origin of Israel… The period of the Exodus never existed. – Robert Coote• No synchronism between biblical events and extra-biblical events.• No indications that aforementioned conditions were absent in other periods. Even if so, it does not confirm – only make it more plausible.
  6. 6. Questions of Chronology.1. 4 generations – Gen 15:162. 400 years – Gen 15:133. 430 years – Ex 12:404. 215 years -- Josephus5. 210 years – seder olam6. 1 generation; Machir’s sons participated in Conquest• 1Kings 1:6 provides chronological hook: 480 years from Exodus to Temple• Seems symbolic rather than literal: 12x40• 40 years = 1 generation (judges, Eli, David, Solomon).• A schematized chronology: temple at the center of Biblical history.15th or 13th cent. Exodus is proposed. 13th is more likely.
  7. 7. 15th cent. Exodus• Pharaoh Thutmosis III conducted extensive campaigns in Canaan.• Egypt not even mentioned in Joshua.• Conflicts with archaeological evidence: Israel appears in hill country of Canaan in 12th cent.13th cent. ExodusEgyptian hegemony waning. Close of LBA and beginning of Iron Age: 1200BCE.Landscape of central highlands undergoes major transformation:• Villages on hilltops• Extensive deforestation• Terracing of slopes for cultivation• Digging of cisterns with lime-plastered waterproof lining.
  8. 8. Pharaoh of the Oppression – Rameses IIIsraelites live in the region of Raamses. They also build the city of Raamses.Pharaoh Rameses II (1279-1213 BCE) shifts administrative center to Delta (Pi-Rameses). He is famous for massive construction programs utilizing slavelabor.Pi-Rameses is Tell ed-Daba, formerly Avaris, Hyksos capital.Ramses instructs foreman to distribute rations to Apiru – Leiden Papyrus 348.Apiru is Habiru in cuneiform sources. In the bible Ibri/Ibrim. Regarded as:• Foreign population• Uprooted migrants• Mercenaries• People of low social status• Derogatory term (even in Bible).Conclusion: some Apiru made their way out of Egypt subsequently andHebrew became an ethnic term through those proto-Hebrews.
  9. 9. Around 1200 BCE, XIXth dynasty ends amid anarchy and chaos – suitablebackground to the Exodus.Edom, Moab and Ammon – settled kingdoms did not exist before c. 1200 BCE.Chariots and horses extremely rare in 15th cent.Merneptah Stele – 1207 BCE; determinative sign used indicating Israel is apeople. Could be a different Israel?Other Exodus date: Abraham Malamat (Israeli historian) – a steady flow ofIsraelites from Egypt over hundreds of years. Peaked in 12th cent with collapseof Egyptian and Hittite empires.Exodus is compatible with the multi-source hypothesis of Israelite origin:• Military conquest• Peaceful infiltration• Peasant revolt600,000 men is probably exaggeration. Essential story is true, however.
  10. 10. Another basis for denying historicity of Exodus: late composition (talk aboutJEPD documentary hypothesis). A myth created to provide Israel with a pastthat never occurred. Deniers date the text to Hellenistic period.Response:There may have been sources. Examples of sources:• Chronicles of Kings of Judah• Chronicles of Kings of Israel• Book of Jashar -- Josh 10-12• Book of the Wars of Yahweh -- Num 21Why trust Manetho (third cent. BCE)?• Manetho extracts are found in Josephus’ and Eusebius’ writings.• Inscriptions bearing names of kings Manetho mentions have been found.• We would know almost nothing of the Hyksos if we relied on contemporaneous Egyptian records (hence no mention of the Israelites).
  11. 11. Tracing the Route of the Exodus (slide 24)Israelites avoided the shortest route into Canaan, which was heavily defendedwith Egyptian forts.Reliefs by Thutmosis III on wall of Temple to Amun at Karnak (slide 13) displaya chain of forts, way stations and wells along this route. Confirmed inexcavations (all the way to Gaza).Numbers 33 itinerary: long list of place-names; most cannot be identified.Four of the names in Karnak can be identified in same order and generallocation as Num 33 (slide 23) . What about the others?The Red Sea – from Septuagint “Eryhtra Thalassa”Sometimes Biblical Yam suf refers to the modern Red Sea or one of its twofingers. However, unlikely candidate for the parted Red Sea:• Body of water too large• No reeds
  12. 12. “The road through the Philistinecountry” (Ex 13:17) was specificallynoted as not being the Exodus route.This well-fortified ancient road alongSinai’s northern coast, known as “theWay of Horus” to the Egyptians, wasthe main military road to the east.This highway is depicted in Seti I’srelief on the northern wall of Karnak’sAmon Temple. Seti I (1291–1279 BC)in his chariot is returning to Egypt.Before his chariot are prisonersapproaching a canal separating theSinai from Egypt (below). Egyptiancitizens are depicted facing thevictorious king and giving himhomage. Other parts of the reliefshow four different forts on thecanal’s Sinai side and another on theEgyptian side at the site of a bridgeacross the canal. This canal was animportant feature in defendingEgypt’s eastern border from theMediterranean to Ballah Lake furthersouth.
  13. 13. Yam SufPi-hahiroth, Migdol and Baal-zephon cannot be identified.Suggested sites for the sea crossing:• Lake Bardwill (in the Delta)• Lake Menzaleh• Lake Timsah• The Bitter Lakes• Gulf of Eilat (no papyrus marshes?)• Gulf of Suez (no papyrus marshes?)Bernardo Batto: Yam Suf= sea at the end of the world (i.e. mythological bodyof water associated with primordial chaos). Exodus is “second creation”.
  14. 14. Searching for Mt. Sinai• Traditional Mt. Sinai is Jebel Musa (from 4th cent CE) Slide 25• Other mountains in southern Sinai• A mountain in northwestern Saudi Arabia• A site near Israeli-Egyptian borderSites are often chosen to conform with hypothetical Exodus route.Jebel Musa tradition stems from sense of sanctity of the monastery.Conclusion: some sort of religious experience relating to a mountain (Sinai orHoreb).
  15. 15. Kadesh Barnea.38 year encampment!Associated with Ein el Qudeirat, a tell in Negev, oasis.No excavated remains earlier than 10th cent. BCEDibon-gadConfidently identified as Tell Dhiban.Not in existence in LBA.However, it does occur in Thutmosis III wall painting in Temple to Amun inKarnak.Conclusion: Exodus did exist! No major gaffes in the story; authentic Egyptiancoloration (see next on Moses).
  16. 16. MosesMoses is Egyptian name -- means to give birth (ex. Rameses, Thutmosis,Amenmosis, Phtahmosis). Makes his existence more plausible.Seventh cent. BCE cuneiform text relating to Sargon of Akkad states that hewas placed in reed basket waterproofed with bitumen and set adrift inEuphrates.Hyksos (“rulers of foreign lands”).• A motley population of Asiatics taking control of Lower Egypt (1670-1550); “second intermediate period”.• Capital was Avaris in eastern Delta.• Provides relevant background to Joseph’s rise to power.• However, it could be mere inspiration for the Joseph story; it reads like a novel – historical fiction.
  17. 17. 400 year stele.In bible: Israelites will be enslaved 400 years – Gen 15:13Interpolation In the spy scout story: Hebron was founded 7 years before Zoanof Egypt.Rameses II erected stele in Pi-Rameses “inaugurating the cult of the deity ofSeth 400 years earlier”.Seth is equated with Hyksos God. Scene carved on stele portrays Seth asAsiatic.In 11th cent. Stele moved with the capital to Tanis (Hebrew Zoan, EgyptianDjanet, Greek Tanis)Biblical author (J) thought that stele marked anniversary of founding of Tanis.Author thought that Rameses built Tanis as well, using Asiatic slave labor.“Joseph story is a reinterpretation of the Hyksos period from an Israeliteperspective” – Baruch Halpern.
  18. 18. Baruch HalpernFrom Wikipedia, the free encyclopediaBaruch Halpern is the Chaiken Family Chairin Jewish Studies at Pennsylvania StateUniversity. He has been a leader of thearchaeological digs at Tel Megiddo since1992.[1] As an undergraduate at Harvard in1972, he wrote a political analysis ofthe Bible, which subsequently influencedresearch into its authorship. [2]Major publications include:Davids Secret Demons:Messiah, Murderer, Traitor, King (2003)The Rise of Ancient Israel: Symposium at theSmithsonian Institution (1991, with HershelShanks, William Dever, and P. Kyle McCarterThe Emergence of Israel in Canaan (1983)The Constitution of the Monarchy inIsrael (1981)The First Historians: The Hebrew Bible andHistory (1980)
  19. 19. Abraham Malamat (1922–2010)April 16, 2010Abraham Malamat, professor emeritus of Jewish history at the Hebrew Universityof Jerusalem, passed away on January 21, 2010, just a few days before his 88thbirthday.Malamat made important contributions to the study of the Hebrew Bible and theancient Near East—particularly in our understanding of the emergence of Israel, thecollapse of the kingdom of Judah, and the relationship of Mari and the HebrewBible. He wrote several articles for BAR on these topics.aAccording to Professor Shmuel Ahituv, one of Malamat’s former students, Malamatwas “a gifted lecturer and a charismatic teacher. His lectures—whether before aclassroom of students or before the general public—were a masterpiece ofrhetoric...students used to crowd in, sitting on the steps and window sills [of thelecture hall].”Malamat was born in 1922 in Vienna. In 1935, in the face of growing anti-Semitism,his family immigrated to Palestine and settled in Tel Aviv. He earned his M.A. andPh.D. from the Hebrew University and also studied at the École Biblique etArchéologique Française in Jerusalem and later at the University of Chicago’sOriental Institute. He began lecturing at the Hebrew University in 1954.Malamat’s publications, written in Hebrew, English, German and French, numberedmore than 300. He served as editor of the Israel Exploration Society’s Hebrewbulletin Yediot from 1956 to 1967 and was on the editorial boards of the IsraelExploration Journal and the Zeitschrift für Alttestamentliche Wissenschaft.He was a member of countless international societies and academies, and wasinvited to many universities abroad as visiting professor and guest lecturer. Hisstudents and colleagues published a festschrift in honor of his 70th birthday, Eretz-Israel 24: The Abraham Malamat Volume.—D.D.R
  20. 20. Tomb of Rekhmire (Asiatics maing mudbricks)
  21. 21. Beni Hasan Painting
  22. 22. • Thutmose III (ca. 1504–1450 BC), who according • - -- - - -- - to biblical chronology reigned just before the Exodus and 40 years of wilderness wandering and -- - - -- - suggested by some to be a Pharaoh of the - oppression or Pharaoh of the Exodus, had a - - topographical relief constructed on the sixth and - seventh pylons that listed cities in the Levant that he conquered. Many of these cities are also - - - -- recorded in the Old Testament, and in the proper - - - order, including a set from Numbers 33:45-50. - Inscribed on the wall are locations as part of a topographical list containing 119 place-names in Canaan, Transjordan, Lebanon and Syria. The Egyptian route from the Arabah to the Plains of - - Moab lists four locations: Iyyin, Dibon, Abel, and the Jordan River. Numbers 33 lists six locations they camp at: Iyyim, Dibon-gad, Almon- diblathaim, Mt. Nebo, Abel-shittim, and the Jordan River. By comparing the two lists, one can see the route taken by the Israelites through - - Transjordan matches correctly with the Egyptian - -- - topographical list. Thus, the travel account in - Numbers 33 is not only accurate, but in • -- - accordance with data from around 1450 BC, just over 40 years before the Israelites made the journey on this route.
  23. 23. Route of Exodus
  24. 24. St. Catherine Monastery and Jebel Musa
  25. 25. Burning Bush?
  26. 26. Me and Friends On Jebel Musa
  27. 27. Donald Redford being interviewed by Neil Asher Silbberman