2M Jews spent 40 years making an 11 day trip and left no evidence

June 18, 2007 at 11:11 am 92 comments

In response to a previous post, Marcel made the following comment:

Children of Isreal in the desertYou know why the Jews spent 40 years in the desert ? Because just like Atheists they refused to have faith. The truths they heard [were] of no value to them because they did not combine it with faith.

In Hebrews 4:2 (New International Version), Paul says “For we also have had the gospel preached to us, just as they did; but the message they heard was of no value to them, because those who heard did not combine it with faith.”

What makes the answer so troubling is the fact that this generation had so much evidence of God’s leading. Go back over the story of the Exodus and of what happened to them in the desert. God performed miracle after miracle, everything from the parting of the Red Sea to the daily provision of the manna. And yet, they still lacked faith!

It is pointless to know the truths of the Bible if you decide to lack faith and refuse to ask for it. Jesus said you can pray for faith.

As usual, DagoodS gave this great response:

marcel: You know why the Jews spent 40 years in the desert ?

Yep. When the Jews created their myths they often used similar numbers. Whether a mnemonic device, or because of religious significance, is a theory that remains up for grabs.

The reason the flood was 40 days, Isaac was 40 when he married Rebekah, Moses was on the mountain for 40 days, they spied the land for 40 days, on two occasions, Judges gave peace for 40 years, and one occasion war for 40 years, (not to mention the Judge who had 40 sons), Eli was priest for 40 years, Saul, David, Solomon, and Joash reigned 40 years each, Elijah was 40 days in the desert, Egypt is prophesied to be barren for 40 years, and Jonah walked Nineveh for 40 days.

marcel: Go back over the story of the Exodus and of what happened to them in the desert.

Thank you, I have. I have studied the archeology, and there is no direct proof of the Ten Plagues, the Exodus or Joshua’s conquest. There is no writing of these events occurring in any other nation. There is no social, economic or political ramifications as demanded by the claims.

I have studied, a little, the development of the Hebrew language which is Phoenician, not Egyptian. How does a slave nation in Egypt develop its own separate language with almost no influence whatsoever from the dominant country, yet direct development from a country that is north of Canaan?

Where are the Egyptian artifact influx from the wandering or the conquest of Canaan from the East? (Hint: we DO see Egyptian artifacts in Canaan from the south during this period along the trade routes. Exactly what we would expect to see if trade was occurring at the border.)

In fact, marcel, Christians are so aware of the difficulties of the Exodus, that they cannot agree as to the millennium within which to place it! I have reached a point I will not debate it, until they agree to the time period plus or minus 100 years, because each proposed date (2500 BCE, 1500 BCE or 1300 BCE) has its own set of unique problems.

I have studied God’s petty anger over the Amalekites. I have studied the possible route. I have studied the various claims surrounding the beginning, the ending and the middle of the Exodus. I have even studied the approximate time it would take to cross the Red Sea. (60 – 90 days, given 2 Million people.)

So…er….what was it you wanted me to study about this myth? Oh, that’s right, their lack of “faith.” You are right, it DOES seem a bit unbelievable. They had witnesses the Ten Plagues, and then spent 60 – 90 days, walking across a sea floor, literally camping next to a wall of water. God then wipes out the entire Egyptian Army. (But curiously avoids the Philistines because they were too war-like, and God didn’t want his nation to encounter battle. Color me confused???) God saves them from the Amalekites with the miracle of Moses’ raised hands.

God provides food and water in a wilderness by miraculous means. Think about human nature—the people are fed, are free from oppression, and are winning battles against enemies. Yet within a little over a month, they become faithless heathens. All while being fed!

Does this read like reality or myth? It wasn’t that they historically lacked faith—it was that the author was making a severe point—follow God and things go well. Don’t and things go bad. The myth fits the point.

marcel: It is pointless to know the truths of the Bible if you decide to lack faith…

And equally, it is pointless to have faith, if it is not based in the truth. I would hope that you would want us to have faith in the truth—not in a lie, correct? As HeIsSailing said in his blog entry, “I want to believe” and a reflection of my own thoughts in this regard: “Belief without evidence is faith. Belief contrary to evidence appears to be delusion.”

Understand I am NOT saying Christians are delusional. What I am saying is that most Christians have not studied the facts that underlie the basis of their belief. If you have studied Exodus, and have come to the conclusion that it was a historical event, I would be curious as to what persuaded you in light of the damning evidence against it.

See, it is not that we lack faith. Or don’t want it. Far, FAR from it! We just want to make sure we are not having faith in the wrong thing.

The Christian Research & Apologetics Ministry (CARM) gave these three reasons on “Why isn’t there any record of millions of Jews wandering in the desert?

First of all, no archaeological find has ever contradicted the Bible.
Second, lack of evidence doesn’t mean there wasn’t an Exodus.
Third, it may be that the traditional site of Mt. Sinai is incorrect.

Here we have 2,000,000 people wandering in the desert for 40 years on a trip that should have literally taken a few days and they left no evidence behind of their trip. Marcel, do you see why it’s so hard for us to find the faith to believe?

- The de-Convert

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Spiritual Depression and Various Offers of a Cure The Journey of a De-converting or Skeptical Christian

92 Comments Add your own

  • 1. mysteryofiniquity  |  June 18, 2007 at 1:40 pm

    Great post. I find it funny that the answer from CARM is contradictory. Don’t the 1st and 3rd points contradict each other? If the original site of Mt. Sinai is different from what the bible says, isn’t the bible contradicted by that evidence? Just wondering.

    As for CARM’s second point, lack of evidence doesn’t mean there weren’t alien landings in Roswell either.

  • 2. Karen  |  June 18, 2007 at 4:34 pm

    Great information, Dagoods. I have read generally that there is no archeological evidence available for most of the OT mythology, but I hadn’t seen this level of detail.

    Are there particular sites or books that you’ve found helpful on this subject? I’d like to bookmark some for future reference.

  • 3. DagoodS  |  June 18, 2007 at 5:00 pm

    Good overview of the debates between 1500 and 1300 dates:

    http://www.biblicalstudies.org.uk/article_canaan_bimson.html

    If you want one for the 2500 date:

    http://biblicalchronologist.org/answers/exodus_egypt.php

    As to the time to cross the sea, and the impact of the Plagues, I worked that out on my own. If you are interested, I’ll include those links. But these have more credentials…

  • 4. Heather  |  June 18, 2007 at 5:46 pm

    I would also find CARM’s first and third point contradictory. Although I imagine that would fall into the category of ‘the Bible is still inerrant, we simply don’t understand it yet.’ Of course, that would lead to how one would know something is inerrant if one doesn’t fully understand?

    I’m also fairly certain that CARM would use the same lack of archelogical evidence to disprove Islam, or another religion.

  • 5. Steelman  |  June 18, 2007 at 6:06 pm

    On the topic of arcaelogical evidence:
    I have The Bible Unearthed on my “I really need to read this someday” list. Has anyone here read it?

  • 6. HeIsSailing  |  June 18, 2007 at 6:40 pm

    CARM sez:
    “ Second, lack of evidence doesn’t mean there wasn’t an Exodus. However, this is a slippery slope since having a lack of evidence for an ice cream factory on Jupiter doesn’t mean that there is one. What we need is evidence and it is fair to say that there should be some evidence for the wanderings of two million people for forty years in a desert”

    This excuse by CARM does not cut it in this day and age. When there are no footprints on a beach, you can confidently state that nobody has walked on that beach since the tide went out. This simple example of lack of evidence testifying to a negative can now be used in archeology. Airborne remote sensing infrared thermography can be used to determine ancient trade routes, cities, migrations, and cultures. How? Archeology is now an interdisciplinary science. This technology is not arcane stuff, rather it is very well known and widely used. If 2 million people camped in a desert wilderness for 40 years some 1500 years ago, I am confident enough that we would have found evidence of it from IR thermography alone. But no such evidence exists – anywhere in the area.

    For the technically minded, here is a good source to check out with multiple examples of what this technology is capable of:

    http://www.ghcc.msfc.nasa.gov/archeology/remote_sensing.html

    Steelman, I have read ‘The Bible Unearthed’. It is excellent, and highly recommend it. It spends most of its pages reconstructing the old testament period of the Kingdoms of Israel and Judah after David and before the Exile. Concerning the topic of the Exodus, Finkelstein and Silberman come to the following conclusion:

    “The conclusion – that the Exodus did not happen at the time and in the manner described in the Bible – seems irrefutable when we examine the evidence at specific sites where the children of Israel were said to have camped for extended period during their wandering in the desert (Numbers 33), and where some archaeological indication – if present – would almost certainly be found”

  • 7. Matt  |  June 18, 2007 at 6:43 pm

    The Exodus story serves as an excellent test. You find someone who believes it, you’ve found someone who has not looked at it with a critical perspective or even casually considered the facts.

  • 8. agnosticatheist  |  June 18, 2007 at 6:54 pm

    Heather,

    I’m also fairly certain that CARM would use the same lack of archelogical evidence to disprove Islam, or another religion.

    Evangelical Christianity uses this to show Mormonism is a cult and that the Book of Mormon is not God inspired. There’s no archaeological evidence to support the Book of Mormon.

    The Bible does have certain historical facts straight and these facts are used to make the case that the unbelievable stories which have no evidence are also true. Not a very solid logical argument.

    aA

  • 9. agnosticatheist  |  June 18, 2007 at 7:02 pm

    Here’s an interesting link from CARM on the book of Mormon:

    http://www.carm.org/lds/bom_problems.htm

    Isn’t it interesting that they do no apply the same logic to the Bible.

    Here’s another interesting link:

    http://www.irr.org/mit/bomarch2.html

    aA

  • 10. Heather  |  June 18, 2007 at 7:21 pm

    It doesn’t surprise me that any religious text would have certain historical facts straight — after all, they’d pull from their surroundings and what they know. That’s what historical fiction does, too.

    But I do find it interesting that CARM uses the archelogical evidence to disprove the Book of Mormon, and yet says that lack of evidence doesn’t mean there wasn’t an Exodus. Which in turn is frustrating, because if they wouldn’t accept that reasoning for any other religion, why should we in turn accept the reasoning in Christianity’s favor?

    Also, I’m vague on the Mormon beliefs, but don’t they hold that due to the Bible being translated and re-written so many times that it became errant, in a way? (Not the original texts, but the constant copies and translations). And the Book of Mormon was to clarify all that? Therefore, what good would it do to show how the two contradict? Couldn’t a Mormon just say that of course they contradict because there were a few mistranslations or bad copies down the line?

  • 11. pbandj  |  June 18, 2007 at 9:02 pm

    this was an interesting post. although i am not sure i agree with all of the content, i do think there is one thing that stuck out to me as important.

    2million people would take 60-90 days to cross the red sea. certainly this could be exaggerated. it could also depend on how wide the gap was, how fast the people ran, which part of the sea they crossed, etc. BUT there is no question that it would take a long time for 2,000,000 people to cross a body of water that size. THUS it does bring into question the accuracy of this specific fact in Exodus.

    i will definitely do some research about it.

    BUT i think that the accuracy of all the facts doesnt necessarily destroy the faith a person may have in God. you see, if one believes that the Scriptures as literature, maybe the author was trying to get across a message and not concerned about the facts. in their culture, it was considered acceptable to embellish a little. who knows. i will definitely look into it though.

    peter

  • 12. mysteryofiniquity  |  June 19, 2007 at 7:31 am

    Peter,
    That’s the first really sane thing I’ve heard any Christian say about the bible. Yes, there are ways of explaining stories as embellished and still see some inspiration in the text! That’s always been my point. It’s when the bible is taken literally as factually correct 100% of the time that the trouble begins.

  • 13. societyvs  |  June 19, 2007 at 10:58 am

    I would like to ask ‘what does the Jewish community say about the Exodux trip?’. I could really care less about what some Evangelical Christian says – it’s not their religious writings to mess with anyways. Also wouldn’t Jewish scholars and historians have a better feel for where this Sinai might be (*this Exodus) – since they would have word of mouth as part of that tradition – which Evangelical faiths would not. I would be interested to know this perspective moreso than the Christian one.

    I actually don’t have a problem with the Exodus account…,maybe the correct path will be found (and evidence will also follow) – as it stands nothing means lack of searching or the possibility of the wrong path altogether. I think if more money is put into the endeavor – and political protection is guaranteed (which might not be the case right now) – something can be found. Again, this path…where is this path…I personally wanna hear the Jewish perspective.

  • 14. agnosticatheist  |  June 19, 2007 at 11:04 am

    Professor Yechezkel Kaufman, in A History of the Jewish Faith (Hebrew) writes: “Biblical criticism finds itself today in a unique situation. There is a dominant theory, yet no one knows why it dominates. In the history of ideas, theories or concepts based on certain accepted principles often enjoy a disembodied existence long after those principles have been discredited. This is exactly what happened to the scientific study of the Bible in our times … [In the nineteenth century,] Wellhausen … based his theories on an interlocking system of proofs that seemed to complement each other, forming layers of solid intellectual foundations upon which he erected the definitive edifice of his ideas. In the meantime, however, these foundations disintegrated one by one. These proofs were refuted outright or at least seriously questioned. The scholars of the Wellhausen school were forced to admit that most of the proofs do not hold up under scrutiny. Nonetheless, they did not abandon the conclusions.”

    From http://www.simpletoremember.com

  • 15. DagoodS  |  June 19, 2007 at 2:18 pm

    societyvs,

    There is no ”the” as in “the Jewish Community.”

    Like Christianity, there are numerous factions (Conservative, Liberal, Reformed, Orthodox, Hassidic, to name a few) and factions within those factions. Some hold to a literal Exodus, some to a kernel of history with myth, and some to myth. Much for the same reasons as Christians do.

    I am uncertain as to how more money will resolve the current situation. As HeIsSailing has pointed out, this is far beyond a few hundred people using picks and shovels. And look at the various steps.

    We have the beginning—the Ten Plagues. Nothing in Egyptian history, or the neighboring country’s history. No writings, no evidence, no mass tombs—nothing. Events that would have dramatic archeological significance and we don’t have even a hiccup of a possibility of evidence from a variety of sources. What we DO have is a civilization that traipses along without even a trace of these plagues. (One might use the 2500 BCE date to substantiate the Plagues, but as far as I know, this is a Christian anomaly—not a Jewish one.)

    Not to mention no impact of the Egyptians on the Jewish society, nor the Jews on the Egyptian society. Nor the influx of goods as given to the Jews when they left. Many problems with this beginning.

    We have the ending—Joshua’s Genocide. Again, no archeological evidence of destruction, even though we have plenty of evidence both before and after. No evidence of Egyptian goods entering from the East. No evidence of an invading army with new customs, gods, traits, etc.

    Everything we expect to find if the Biblical account had even a smidgen of truth—and nothing.

    And finally we have the middle—the Exodus itself. We have archeological evidence of Bedouin camps at or during this time—yet nothing of any 2 Million people. (And their sheep, cattle, horses, carts, waste, discarded items, broken pots, etc. Not even a potshard.) Again, no history from neighboring countries. Nothing within the wilderness itself.

    societyvs, we have nothing at the beginning, nothing in the middle and nothing at the end. What is more money going to do?

    It was interesting that you mentioned “political protection.” Christians sometimes forget that as much stake they have in the Tanakh being historical—the Jews have more. Exodus is their license for ownership to that land. Without its history, Exodus becomes another human justification by claiming God gave a mandate to allow them to live there. And kill those who did or are living there. If there is no history in Exodus, for all its beautiful story-telling, and wonderful illustrations, the Torah becomes nothing more than the dog next door to Son of Sam, telling him he had a God-Given right to kill. A fantasy and excuse.

    The Jewish society has far, FAR more to lose by Exodus being myth than Christians do. Christians have poured money into proving it. Jews have poured money into proving it.

    And not a single chipped section of a broken pot.

    When the minimalist view was first proposed in Israel, it was almost declared illegal! It was censored and restricted, due to the political ramifications. Many Jews remain as uninformed as many Christians as to the complete lack of evidence.

    Lack at the beginning, the middle and the end.

    I am unaware of any “oral” tradition in the Jewish community that is more informative than the Torah itself. We both have the same source. Nothing more.

  • 16. cragar  |  June 19, 2007 at 2:24 pm

    When I was younger and first doubting the Bible, my first initial doubts were caused by Noah, Jonah and the Whale, and the Genesis creation story. And it always bothered me that the Bible claimed that people lived to be hundreds of years old when there is no evidence that anyone did or could have lived that long.

    As I got older and studied it a bit more, the exodus is really one of the bigger problems in the OT. Two million people, not accounted for in Egyptian texts, wandering for 40 years. The timeline which you didn’t get into where the Bible says the Isrealite slaves built Pithom and Raamses, yet Raamses didn’t reign until a hundred years (conservative) or more after they were gone.

  • 17. PB and J  |  June 19, 2007 at 9:14 pm

    mystoiniq

    i am glad to hear that i was able to be somewhat sensible.

    its funny, because i grew up in a fundie environment, but i asked a lotta Qs. and i think that is key to keeping a healthy perspective about things. its a hard thing today when churchianity tries to polarize life, when sometimes its in the middle

    peter

  • 18. Mike C  |  June 19, 2007 at 9:49 pm

    I have my own theory of how the Exodus happened – however it requires giving up both extreme literalism and extreme skepticism and perhaps looking at some possible answers that neither side had really been willing to consider before because of their entrenched dogmatisms.

    As it turns out, there was a mass migration of Semitic peoples out of Egypt right around 1500 BC for which there is plenty of proof and that all scholars agree actually happened. They were called the Hyksos and they left Egypt suddenly, following great oppression, to great natural calamities and they eventually settled in Canaan. I see no reason to doubt that this was the seed of the Exodus story.

  • 19. societyvs  |  June 19, 2007 at 9:52 pm

    “And not a single chipped section of a broken pot.” (Dagoods)

    I don’t think this is exactly true – there seems to be some evidence that does lean in this direction – giving some validity to the Exodus event

    http://www.bibleandscience.com/archaeology/exodus.htm

    http://www.dwij.org/forum/amarna/1_exodus.html

    http://faculty.gordon.edu/hu/bi/Ted_Hildebrandt/OTeSources/02-Exodus/Text/Articles/Dyer-DateExodus-BSac.htm

    http://www.geocities.com/Athens/Aegean/8830/exodus.html

    http://www.dovidgottlieb.com/comments/Exodus.htm

    Comment: “Other scholars have suggested a process of differentiation in which some Canaanites began to see themselves as a separate people, and created an identity and a sacred history from whole cloth, thus inventing the Exodus and conquest narratives. But who would invent a history of slavery and disgrace?” (Schiffman)

    “We may not possess, at least at present, conclusive proof that the Israelites left Egypt en masse as the Bible describes. What we do have, though, are several indications of the Exodus’ historicity, and ample evidence that the biblical account is entirely plausible.” (Schiffman)

    I think there are question about the whole validity of the Exodus event but to say nothing exists does not seem accurate – people have found information and pieces of history that seem to show something happened – as to when – well that seems to be the key in all of the studies – the claim seems to be archaeologists are not checking back far enough. And as for the whole area being already looked over with a fine microscope – that is just not true at all (one claim is about 2% of total area has been excavated thoroughly). I have claimed this needs to be more looked into before one can even get close to the claim ‘this did not happen’ – wouldn’t be logical.

    As for the Jewish perspective (or one of them) I have written a rabbi on the whole evidence for the event and he/they will get back to me in a week or so…and it’s an opinion that needs to be heard as for it is their history (and we are making calls upon it).

    Not saying Dagoods hasn’t done some good work – he has – but at the same time it takes two eyes to see clearly.

  • 20. Heather  |  June 19, 2007 at 10:11 pm

    ** I see no reason to doubt that this was the seed of the Exodus story.** That’s how I tend to view most of the OT — not something that literally happened word for word, but stories that were produced from ‘seeds,’ such as what Mike alludes to here.

  • 21. DagoodS  |  June 20, 2007 at 9:56 am

    societyvs,

    At what point does your crap-meter start to tingle and you say, “Wait a minute. Something is not right here”? At what point do you start raising red flags as to claims? When does the skepticism kick in?

    For example, you state, “one claim is that only 2% of the total area has been excavated thoroughly.” What is “the total area”—Egypt? Israel? Sinai? All three? And what does it mean to be “excavated thoroughly”? See, this is a load of Christian apologetic codswallop fed to the average parishioner in the pew to salve their worries over the complete lack of evidence for these events. To allow them to relax, assured that somewhere in that other “98%” we will find proof of the complete destruction and annihilation of Egypt (the Ten Plagues), we will find 2 Million people “hiding” amongst the total population of 100,000 that we did find, (Exodus) and that we will find a conquest of Canaan which happens to completely miss the vast predominance of the fortified cities, yet take the country (Joshua’s genocide.)

    Doesn’t this raise warning bells with you? Doesn’t it give you pause to think that Christians and Jews are spending millions in archeology each year, in which millions could be returned by discovery confirming Exodus, yet they are neglecting to look in 98% of the total area?

    Look, I will be the first to agree that if a person is pre-disposed to the events as recorded in Exodus as being history, that there are historical items that can be bent, smashed and manipulated into implying that some of the events have a partial basis of truth. That, as Mike C and heather aptly put it, there is are “seeds of truth.”

    Is that the best Christianity can do? Manipulate the evidence, make speculation, and hope that no one notices that it only creates the possibility of some element of history somewhere within the tales?

    Quite honestly, the fact that Christians have to stretch these items so far, and literally take them out of context speaks volumes as to the lack of evidence. More than I ever could. Why would they have to reach so far, and make so much speculation, if this was history?

    Now let’s look at the evidence. But remember—we must keep our eye on the ball. The most common tactic I see is to break up the beginning (Ten Plagues), the middle (Exodus) and the end (Conquest.) Then the apologist gives us proof as to each separately withholding the fact that taken together the years are so far off that it raises great questions.

    (And I looked at your websites. Thank you. Any sites from authors that were NOT pre-disposed to proving an Exodus happened, but were convinced by the evidence? One?)

    Merneptah Stele

    A monument, dated to approx 1210 BCE, in which the pharaoh brags that he plundered Canaan and laid waste to Israel (a people) to the point “his seed is not.” What does this point to? All it really says is that Pharaoh was bragging about attacking some people. Obviously the claim that all of Israel was wiped out is unsupported.

    Does this say anything whatsoever about Hebrews being held captive in Egypt? No. Or how they escaped? No. Or their wandering in the desert? No. Or how they obtained Canaan? No. At best, this gives us a date by which another country (Egypt) can recognize a group of other people (Israel). It tells us nothing of location (although I would agree it implies north of Canaanites), tells us nothing of size. Was it 50? 500? 500,000?

    We use this date to claim that Exodus could not have happened before, but as to evidence to it happening at all…well…that is complete devoid.

    (And, a side note, neither Joshua nor Judges records this attack by the Egyptians. How this becomes evidence for Biblical Historicity is beyond me.)

    Ipuwer Papyrus

    We see the claim that the Ipuwer Papyrus is a record of the Ten Plagues. (I note that the first website you list mentions it but is quite, quite gray as to dating it. I will show why.)

    A good example of how Christian apologists manipulate the data to demonstrate what they want it to. (For following a God of truth, this is surprising.)

    Christian Apologist: Ipuwer says, “…all animals, their hearts weep; cattle moan…”demonstrating the plague of Livestock.
    Ipuwer: Indeed, all animals, their hearts weep; cattle moan because of the state of the land.

    Christian Apologist: Ipuwer says, “…blood is everywhere …”demonstrating the plague of Water to Blood.
    Ipuwer: Indeed, [hearts] are violent, pestilence is throughout the land, blood is everywhere, death is not lacking, and the mummy-cloth speaks even before one comes near it.

    I could go on and on. I recommend actually reading the Papyrus, rather than reading the carefully crafted excerpts which are used. Frankly, this troubles me that apologists and writers would be so brazen about taking words completely out of context to support their position.

    Further, the Ipuwer Papyrus is a copy of an Old Kingdom document. Dated, conservatively at 1800 BCE, and possibly as late as 2500 BCE.

    Even if Ipuwer gives one the Ten Plagues (beginning), we lose the Exodus (middle) and Conquest (ending) due to the complete lack of evidence.

    Hyksos

    A group of people that attacked and controlled the northern portion of Egypt for 100 years, approx. 1750-1650 BCE. In 1650 BCE, pharaoh was able to expel them out of the country, although it would seem (due to the lack of burn and destruction) this was done through parley or peaceable means.

    Well, we have a group of people, exiting Egypt, within 100 years or so where we want them—why not make the Hyksos the Israelites? This is not a new idea; Josephus proposed it in First Century CE.

    O.K., the Hyksos give us the Middle (Exodus). What about the beginning (Ten Plagues)? We lose the slavery of the Jews (the Hyksos were the dominant), there are no Ten Plagues (it was peaceable), no hardening of Pharaoh’s heart. No crossing of the Reed Sea. We lose the 430 years spent in Egypt, (Ex. 12:41) as being accurate, not to mention the 480 years of 1 Kings 6:1.

    What about the end (Conquest)? Well, we do have Jericho destroyed in 1550 B.C. (‘bout 100 years of wandering rather than 40, but close enough, maybe? Unfortunately, there STILL is no evidence of even the Hyksos wandering in Sinai) Then nothing else. No infiltration of a new society. No influx of Egyptian goods. They apparently lie in wait for 300 years (again, no archeological support for this, either) and then commence conquesting again in a sporadic manner.

    (By the way, whenever a Christian apologist tells me that the reason the Egyptians did not record the loss of their entire army was that they never recorded losses, I ask how we know about the Hyksos, then?)

    I hope you are starting to see, societyvs, the problem with the evidence. Ipuwer gives us beginning, but no middle or end. The Hyksos theory gives us middle, but no beginning and no end. For those that prefer the 1300 BCE dating of the Exodus, this is because of the destruction seen—giving us the end, but no middle and no beginning.

    What I see is that people want to use the Ipuwer to prove the Ten Plagues happened in 1780 BCE, then the Hyksos to prove the Hebrews left in 1650 BCE., then the destruction of cities in Canaan to prove the conquest of Joshua in 1250 BCE. (All dates approximate.)

    First this is attempting to smash the evidence to fit a foregone conclusion; second, the dates are all wrong.

    (I am ignoring Wyatt’s “Iron wheel.” Egyptians did not use solid iron wheels. And it is a steamship valve.)

    There are other items that people speculate upon. The similarity to names, or the fact that buildings were made with bricks with straw in the beginning and no straw at the end. Again, none of this demonstrates any historicity. Only speculation.

    I agree that we need to look at this with two eyes. I hope you do so.

    As to why I use the (dogmatic) term of “no evidence for Exodus” please see my next comment.

  • 22. DagoodS  |  June 20, 2007 at 9:57 am

    Seeds of Truth

    A very common response to the problems presented is that the Torah account of Exodus is exaggerated. It did not happen exactly as recorded, and perhaps there are some elements underneath that are based upon factual events. In fact, even the literalists I have debated tend (within the Plagues) to back off from an exact literal description, due to the complete severity involved.

    There are whole worlds of theories in this regard, from volcanic explosions to tsunamis to escaped slaves.

    Which raises two very fascinating questions for me:

    1) Why does the inspired word of a god bend to the secularly recorded history?

    Take the two extremes for a moment: 2 Million people on one hand and absolutely zero on the other. Now, as to archeological evidence, we have zero. As to the Biblical account, we have 2 Million. Which one “trumps” the other? What I see is that people are more convinced by the archeological evidence. That they reduce the god-inspired “2 Million” based upon the human exploration efforts.

    The Ten plagues become less and less. What God inspired must and does give way to what we discover.

    Why then, would one hold the Bible as divine in any way? How can a God be worse at recording history than a human?

    Further, does one stay consistent in this method? When we come to the New Testament (a god we like much more than the one of the Tanakh) do we equally bend to the secularly recorded history? Why is it that the god we like, we hold the Bible as “more” inspired as compared to the god we don’t?

    2) What is “enough” of a seed?

    Say two slaves escaped in a particularly harsh spring, and were chased by a soldier on foot, who stumbled in a stream. Is that enough of a seed?

    Or 10 slaves escaped during an eclipse, and a soldier in a chariot got stuck in the mud of a creek? Or 100 slaves, and a detachment of soldiers got lost, never to return after a bought of bovine sickness?

    My problem was, in reviewing the evidence, I could find no safe harbor between literalism and complete myth by which I could say, “I have developed a methodology to determine myth from history and this—THIS is the minimum seed required for it to still have some historical basis.”

    I am not trying to be facetious with the two slave, 10 slave thing. I simply cannot find a place where there is “enough” to be history, yet not “enough” to register on the archeological data, and have any real meaning.

    There is no reason whatsoever that the whole thing is not a myth. None. It can be completely made up. If that is the safest harbor (for me) why should I move from it? Oh, I can certainly understand that this may be a modification of a Hyksos expulsion. Or a tale that grew over the years from a small set of escaped slaves.

    But there is no reason that it must be, nor is there any proof that it is.

    Until someone can provide a methodology by which we can determine what is true and what is myth within this account, I fear it is our bias that leads us to venture out and claim there is “some” truth, without really knowing what it is.

    (And, as a final note, recognizing my own bias, I tend to lean toward there was some truth at its root. Just like I think there was some personage around which the Robin Hood myth and King Arthur myth and King David myth developed.)

  • 23. Karen  |  June 20, 2007 at 11:52 am

    Interesting discussion! Thanks all.

    (And, as a final note, recognizing my own bias, I tend to lean toward there was some truth at its root. Just like I think there was some personage around which the Robin Hood myth and King Arthur myth and King David myth developed.)

    This is pretty much where I am with the “Jesus myth,” actually. Where some people question whether there was an historical Jesus at all, I think there was a personage around which the “son of god” myth later developed.

    I haven’t seen any evidentiary trump card one way or the other on the argument, but this conclusion seems the most reasonable given what I’ve researched on both sides. And it seems historically accurate as well.

  • 24. societyvs  |  June 20, 2007 at 12:33 pm

    “At what point does your crap-meter start to tingle and you say, “Wait a minute. Something is not right here”? At what point do you start raising red flags as to claims? When does the skepticism kick in?” (Dagoods)

    Oh that meter – that kicked in when you made a bold claim this event was mythological. I have to look at it all and then make a decision (which is still in the process of excavacation). I want to be absolutely ‘dead sure’ this event did not happen before I make that call (of myth) about someone else’s cluture that does not neccesarily make that claim. Not saying I will know when the evidence is enough or not enough – it’s a process – and archaeology happens as it goes (but I have kept my ears open).

    “yet they are neglecting to look in 98% of the total area?” (Dagoods)

    I didn;t say they were neglecting the area or what a thorough excavation meant – but it’s quite clear that the date (early date) for this event has lead to most of the excavation work on the level of soil. Top that of with figuring out the exact Exodus path from Egypt to Sinai to Canaan – well one can see we have a vast are to cover (uncover), And you mean to tell me you have this case solved enough to readily admit this event did not happen? What if 2% is accurate – is that enough coverage to ensure the story did not exist? I have very little choice but to leave the case ‘open’ until ample evidence can close it.

    Also what if any of your interpretations of the evidences that have been found is ‘off’? Why should I more believe your take on the situation (which is a good one) as opposed to another’s who claims those evidences are just that – proof? Historians and archaelogists cannot fully agree on the minor details here in this desert country and we are supposed to have made sense of the befuddled mess they hand down to us also? Who the hell is telling the truth? Any of them? Is this so much guesswork that neither side can come to a complete concensus? Is archaeology and history that tough for these people to ‘crack’ that we have several stories for each time period about this ‘Exodus’? I think this issue is very deep and one could read many authors on this history and find no outcome…but to call it – well that takes some elaborate ‘insight’. I am just not willing to toss my hand in yet – it’s not ‘all in’ time as of yet (based on the what historians and archaeologists will readily admit).

    “How can a God be worse at recording history than a human?” (Dagoods)

    Humans wrote the book first off, no one disputes that.

    “do we equally bend to the secularly recorded history?” (Dagoods)

    I don;’t think we have to bend to anything as for as history and archaeology is concerned – again I say these things will be debated for a long time – the answers just aren;t there yet (and I know we wish they were – on either side).

    “I could find no safe harbor between literalism and complete myth” (Dagoods)

    Okay. But first off it’s Jewish cultural heritage complete with their literary devices and nuances – I would say ask their leading schools for deeper information on this issue to literal – myth. I know that’s what I am going to do…since I want to make sense of a culture that is not mine – and who better to ask – but someone in that cultural heritage.

    “Until someone can provide a methodology…” (Dagoods)

    I wish I had some answers for this problem – but I don’t. I wonder about the historicity of the events myself but I accept them as is – since this is the Jewish heritage/writings – and this is my respect to them as a people group.

    One question though…which is more dangerous – believing this story is true or believing it never happened?

  • 25. DagoodS  |  June 20, 2007 at 10:41 pm

    societyvs: Oh that meter – that kicked in when you made a bold claim this event was mythological.

    Bwahahahaha! Thank you for that. I laughed out loud. I set you up nicely, and you knocked it out of the park. Good to have a chuckle at myself.
    But seriously—have you never heard the Exodus (and the Ten Plagues and the Conquest) is a myth? If you never have, it seems premature to dismiss it so readily. Especially considering…er…the lack of any evidence presented so far in this entry that these events happened.

    More: …but it’s quite clear that the date (early date) for this event has lead to most of the excavation work on the level of soil.
    ??? To what century have they dug, societyvs? Do you know? And to what century do you propose they dig to? Do you know? And what of the satellite imagery as referred to by HeIsSailing? This seems to be an extremely unfounded statement—I am unclear from where you obtained it. You DO know they have levels as far back as at least 2500 BCE, right? What are you saying—Exodus occurred before that?

    More: …well one can see we have a vast are to cover (uncover).

    Do you know how large of an area the Sinai peninsula is? Do you know the consistency of the topsoil. You migh look these things up. See how “vast” this area is. Figure out the area 2 Million plus herds, plus belongings would cover.

    More: What if 2% is accurate…

    *shrug* It’s not.

    Basically what you are left with, societyvs, is the same thing every person who wants to believe Exodus is left with—no proof whatsoever, but a hope that someday something will appear out of the blue.

    Again there is no ”the” Jewish heritage nor ”the” people group of Judaism. I can tell you now what you will find—some Jews hold to it being a myth, some hold to it being historical. For the exact same reasons that Christians do—those that hold to myth due to lack of evidence, and those that hold to literalism due to faith in a future find.

    More: …which is more dangerous – believing this story is true or believing it never happened?
    I guess that depends on what a person considers dangerous—doesn’t it? That is different for each of us. At least for me, the fact that this is not true, but is being taught as true, and believed as true is dangerous. Simply by virtue that I hold truth as very important indeed. Another person may be more concerned with comfort over truth, and not believing the story is too uncomfortable for them, regardless of whether it is true or not.
    I can see where another person would find believing it never happened is more “dangerous” for them. For all I know, they hinge their afterlife on this belief! For them it would be very dangerous, indeed.

    Is this, now, how we determine what happened in history? “What is more dangerous to believe?” Curious.

  • 26. Mike C  |  June 20, 2007 at 11:36 pm

    Something about your tone DagoodS is failing to convince me of your academic objectivity on this matter. Perhaps I’m reading you seem just as invested in proving the Exodus to be primarily mythological and the Bible unreliable, as others are in proving that it happened exactly the way the Bible describes.
    Your misrepresentation of the history of Hyksos doesn’t inspire confidence in me either. For instance, you misdate them by about 100 years. They were expelled from Egypt by Pharaoh Ahmose I around 1550-1525, not 1650. (I know that there is some dispute about the chronology of the Egyptian dynasties, but 100 years would be quite a large discrepancy.)

    Also, there is no evidence that the Hyksos attacked northern Egypt. They seem to have just moved in and taken over from a politically weak Theban dynasty (which has interesting parallels with the Joseph story).

    And there actually is record of natural cataclysms (i.e. “plagues”) occuring around the same time as the Hyksos expulsion – cf. Ahmose’s Tempest Stele.

    As for the slavery, the Egyptian records describe a gradual reconquest of northern Egypt from the Hyksos over several decades until finally the last of them were besieged in their capital at Avaris. What do you suppose the Egyptians would have done to the average Hyksos peasant living in the reconquered areas? Oh yeah… enslaved them.

    As for the numbers, I’m not sure where you’re getting 2 million from. Our English translations of the Bible say there were 600 “thousand” men in the Exodus. However, the Hebrew word for “thousand” can also mean “families” or “military units”. If we translate it either of those ways, then we’re talking about a signficantly smaller migration – somewhere between 10-60,000.

    As for the Conquest of Canaan, even the Bible tells us that it was a gradual thing – that it took hundreds of years. There is no reason to assume from scripture that the Israelites moved in and completely wiped out the Canaanite culture all at once. In both the Bible and the archaeology we find a record of a gradual transition between Canaanite and Israelite cultures. Oh, and what do you know, there actually are ancient records of two new people groups bearing striking similarities to the Israelites that arrive on the Canaanite scene right around the time of the Hyksos expulsion: the Habiru and the Shasu.

    So where were Hyksos/Israelites for 300 years? They were the circumcised, forelocked, tasseled, nomadic worshippers of Yhw that the Egyptians describe in 15th century records, and then whenever they got aggressive and started conquering Canaanite towns, they were labeled Habiru (i.e. bandits) by the Egyptians, also in 15th century records that warn of them throwing the whole land of Canaan into turmoil.

    Anyway that’s just my theory, but to me at least it seems like a pretty sizable “seed”.

  • 27. DagoodS  |  June 21, 2007 at 10:47 am

    Mike C,

    You are absolutely correct—the Hyksos were expelled in approx 1550 BCE by Ahmose. (I was reading a Christian apologetic site about Jericho’s destruction being at the time of the Exodus at that moment, and knowing that the Hyksos left 100 years before the traditional date of Exodus, I inadvertently added 100 years to Jericho’s Destruction (1560 BCE) putting it to 1650 BCE. My bad.)

    Believe it or not, I was trying to get Jericho’s destruction to fit the Hyksos. However, in your first post you put the date of “1500 BCE” (which would not fit) and now you indicate “1550-1525 BCE” (which would not fit.) If the Hyksos are “the seed” we have no seed for the Beginning (Ten Plagues) nor the ending (Conquest.) (More on those in a minute.)

    Am I objective? Probably not. I have debated this so many times, and every time it comes down to the Christian saying, “I’m going to believe it anyways, despite the extremely flimsy evidence, figuring someday something will turn up to support this claim.” Or they explain that it is partly mythological, but never have any method to determine how much is history and how much is myth.

    This may have jaded me, causing my pendulum to swing too far the other way. I will have to think about that… (And, as I said, I do believe there is <i>something</i> there at the basis of this tale. When I try to nail it down, though, it slithers away as the elusive shadow. Whenever I think I have something, there always seems to be a problem with it.)

    However, since we are here anyway…to address some of your concerns.

    My Tone

    I envision a Christian apologist—Andrew. Andrew knows the Bible is true. He is as convinced of that as the concept of gravity. It has been considered true for 1000’s of years, even without archeological support. If the Bible says Moses left Egypt at 3:17 p.m. on March 14, 1441 BCE, with a broken strap on his left sandal, then you can be more assured of that truth than the claim that George Washington was the first President of the United States under our current Constitution.

    Andrew wants to write a book. Frankly, in Andrew’s mind, it is not necessary to write anything more than “Exodus. It is true.” but Andrew has some things he would like to expound upon. Some things he has been thinking about. So Andrew is going to write a book. Now as Andrew writes this book, he comes across some interesting historical facts. He learns of the Tempest Stele. It talks of a natural calamity.

    Andrew knows the Ten Plagues happens. Andrew thinks that “natural calamity” is a pretty good description. So Andrew mentions in his book that “Such events may be referred to in Egyptian records like the Tempest Stele.” Now, Andrew is NOT lying. He is not even being untruthful. Andrew didn’t need the Tempest Stele to prove Exodus. If tomorrow the Tempest Stele turned out to be a complete forgery, Andrew would still believe in Exodus. He figures this is a nice touch to his book and lends it some authority. Besides, he writes it “gray” enough that plausibly he could deny it later. He did say “may be.”

    Pastor Bob reads Apologist Andrew’s book. Pastor Bob is giving a sermon on Exodus, so to wow the crowd, demonstrates his depth of knowledge by informing the congregation that the Plagues were mentioned in Egyptian records, like the Tempest Stele. Again, Bob is not lying. Bob is not being untruthful. Bob knows Exodus happened. Bob is relying upon Andrew (who is a Christian, and Christians are truthful, right?) for having done the research and coming up with the right answers.

    Now we have Christian Charley sitting in the pew. Charley hears that the Tempest Stele specifically refers to the Plagues. Charley questions this, so he reads an apologetic book written by…Andrew! What do ya know! It seems to confirm what Charley thought.

    We have the Christians—Charley, Christie and Carrie, listening to their Pastors—Bob, Brian and Bill, who are ALL confirming what is being said by reading the Apologists Andrew, Anthony and Aaron. Anthony and Aaron having carefully quoted and cited Andrew.

    Mike C, it has become a grand conspiracy. No, NOT a conspiracy of criminal intent of suppressing the truth—rather a conspiracy of refusal to perform any critical thinking out of an intense desire to hold on to a truth. It is not as if anyone purposely lied here, yet this is being claimed over and over, people begin to believe it because they think “everyone” knows it.

    Along comes a skeptic. Let’s call him…Dags. He questions the evidence for Ten Plagues. And is confidently assured by Charley (relying on Bob and Andrew) of this thing called the Tempest Stele that is proof indeed of the Plagues. And when Dags questions it, the truth is so firmly cemented within, that even <i>questioning</I> that fact is seen as a subjective tone attempting to undercut the Bible in some way.

    My tone is that of frustration. I am informed that the Tempest Stele tells us of the plagues, yet no one seems to want to actually <b>read</b> the thing and give argumentation as to why it does so.

    Let’s actually read it, shall we? (The words in parenthesis are missing in the original rock. If one thinks that there is some hidden motive by inserting these words, please read it as if they were not there) :

    (7) … the gods expressed
    (8) their discontent … The gods (made?) the sky come with a tempest of (rain?); it caused darkness in the Western region; the sky was
    (9) unleashed, without … … more than the roar of the crowd; … was powerful… on the mountains more than the turbulence of the
    (10) cataract which is at Elephantine. Each house, … each shelter (or each covered place) that they reached…
    (11) … were floating in the water like the barks of papyrus (on the outside?) of the royal residence for … day(s),
    (12) with no one able to light the torch anywhere. Then His Majesty said ‘How these (events) surpass the power of the great god and the wills of the divinities!’ And His Majesty descended
    (13) in his boat, his council following him. The (people were?) at the east and the west, silent, for they had no more clothes (?) on them
    (14) after the power of the god was manifested. Then His Majesty arrived in Thebes … this statue; it received what it had desired.
    (15) His Majesty set about to strengthen the two lands, to cause the water to evacuate without (the aid of) his (men?), to provide them with silver,
    (16) with gold, with copper, with oil, with clothing, with all the products they desired; after which His Majesty rested in the palace – life, health, strength.
    (17) It was then that His Majesty was informed that the funerary concessions had been invaded (by the water), that the sepulchral chambers had been damaged, that the structures of funerary enclosures had been undermined, that the pyramids had collapsed?
    (18) all that existed had been annihilated. His Majesty then ordered the repair of the chapels which had fallen in ruins in all the country, restoration of the
    (19) monuments of the gods, the re-erection of their precincts, the replacement of the sacred objects in the room of appearances, the re-closing of the secret place, the re-introduction
    (20) into their naoi of the statues which were lying on the ground, the re-erection of the fire altars, the replacement of the offering tables back on their feet, to assure them the provision of offerings,
    (21) the augmentation of the revenues of the personnel, the restoration of the country to its former state. They carried out everything, as the king had ordered it.

    From here

    What a wonderful description of the Plague of…Rain? What plague of Rain? The closest apologists can come to is the Plague of Hail. Exodus 9:13-33 I would challenge any person to show these two passages and ask a neutral person whether they are describing the same thing. One discusses thunder, hail, and fire from the sky. (In fact, Exodus says the rain did NOT pour.) We can reasonably infer rain, but it was the hail that was the killer.

    Note also that the rain of hail in Exodus destroyed OUTSIDE creatures, but specifically didn’t do INTERIOR damage. This is discussing both.

    See, this is where my “tone” comes from. Some Apologist Andrew sees the Tempest Stele and says, “See? See? It refers to the darkness because it says, ‘…no one was able to light a torch…’” but when we read it in context it is obvious that no one was able to light a torch because it was too wet.

    I don’t blame you, Mike C. I am not calling you the “apologist” in my little tale. I am saying you have received incorrect information, jaded toward a certain proposition.

    I read your cite in your previous comment. I see you rely upon “Exodus Decoded” by Jacobovici of now (in)famous “Jesus Tomb” fame. Is that the source of your information?

    Oh, and Ahmose’s reign was succeeded by his son. There is no record of the calamities within this time as described within Exodus. No complete destruction of cattle. No complete destruction of crops. No complete destruction of all food. No large-scale death, and complete destruction of its military.

    Again—how much has to be true to qualify as a “seed”?

    With the Hyksos, we have no beginning.

  • 28. DagoodS  |  June 21, 2007 at 10:48 am

    Conquest

    You said this was hundreds of years. Nope. Notice all the cities conquered in Joshua 19 – 21. At the very end, Joshua 21:43-45 it states the Lord gave them all the land. They possessed the land. At the Beginning of Chapter 23, it states “after a long time” of peace, following this possession, Joshua became sick and died at the age of 110. (Joshua 24:29)

    From this we can calculate the amount of time required for the conquest. Joshua was one of the spies. After spying the Hebrews wandered the wilderness for 40 years. Then we have the period of conquest. After the conquest, a “long time” of peace, and Joshua dying at 110. The only two variables are the age of Joshua at the time of spying and the “long time” of rest.

    Presume (at the VERY outside) that Joshua was 13 years old as a spy. Add 40 years of wandering, he enters Israel at 53 years of age. Let’s say there were only 5 years being a “long time” (which is a huge stretch, frankly, since “five” is easy to count.) This would mean the conquest ended for Joshua at age 105. 105 minus 53 gives us 52 years of conquest. And that is your BEST estimate. If Joshua was the more realistic 20 as the age of a spy (for example) and there were 10 years of peace, this would reduce the number to 30 years of conquest.

    Read all of the “fortified” cities that were captured. Yet we only have sporadic cities destroyed during this period? (and not Jericho.)

    No, I am not saying Canaanite culture would be “wiped out.” (Although Joshua records killing everything on a number of occasions.) But wouldn’t we see some pattern of destruction during this extremely short period of time? Say 1510-1470 BCE? Further, wouldn’t we see the use of Egyptian material, especially after the Hyksos have been there for 100 years? Or did they leave that all behind and pick up Canaanite weapons on the way?

    How many cities need be taken to qualify as a seed?

    With the Hyksos, we have no ending.

    Habiru

    The Habiru was a social class or name for ruffians. They were throughout the fertile crescent during this period. Were they in Canaan? Certainly. Along with everywhere else, apparently.

    Here is a site that gives a brief overview.

    Could these have been the Hebrews? Sure. But their existence and being in Israel bears NO resemblance to the events recorded in Exodus.

    Look, we all agree that a group of people who self-identified themselves as Hebrews and YHWH worshippers came into being. That they existed perhaps as early as 1210 BCE. Their existence is not really the question. That they came from some Canaanite group (possibly some Hyksos, possibly some Habiru, possibly Ammorites, Amalekites, Jebusites or numerous other –ites) is also not in question. They were there.

    The question is whether they were separate from the Canaanites, and given a land-mandate by a God as described in Exodus.

  • 29. DagoodS  |  June 21, 2007 at 10:50 am

    Two Million

    “Eleph.” (“Thousand” in Hebrew.) Yes, I know the argument that this word was also used as a military unit. A military unit of…how many?

    There are two interesting aspects of this reduction of the word “thousand” to “military unit.”

    First—how bad are the translators of the Bible? More and more, as I have these discussions, people tell me that my English translation of the Hebrew is wrong. That those translators, who know Hebrew and Hebrew Grammar, and studied, and joined committees and debated over particular words, nuances and meanings, while carefully using Jewish culture as a background are…well…incompetent, I guess. Why? Because I am told that a Hebrew dictionary (9 times out of ten, Good ol’ Strongs) has a different meaning.

    A meaning that is more convenient to the person’s argument. I am wondering why I should trust your translation over theirs?

    Second—thank you. By attempting to reduce the number from what the inspired Bible says, or modifying what the inspired Bible says, you are making my point for me. If we had the evidence of these people, we wouldn’t need to make these radical changes.

    Before the 20th Century, people read Ex. 12:37 as “600,000.” “600,000.” “600,000.” Along comes archeology, and people said, “Uh-oh. Not turning out as planned. Let’s modify what the verse means. Best reduce that number drastically.”

    Kinda kills the claim that archeology always supports the Bible, if we have to keep modifying the Bible to have it be supported, eh?

    As to where we get 2 million—we extrapolate that using 600,000 men as the base. Assuming every man was married and had two children, this would mean 2.4 Million. However, not every man would be married (less), but there would be unmarried females (more) and some men married to more than one woman (more.) Obviously not everyone would have two children (less) but due to the multiple wives and lack of birth control, many would have more than two (lots more.)

    Doubling 600,000 seems too light, quadrupling it seems a bit heavy, so we opt in-between at trebling it. If you prefer we say “1.8 Million” rather than “2 Million” that is fine by me.

    Not sure that it matters, since you think that we are talking seeds rather than actual. Whether 10,000 is a seed to 60,000 or 600,000 or 2 Million—does it make a difference?

  • 30. cragar  |  June 21, 2007 at 11:08 am

    Mike C–I like the way you present your arguments and you bring up some good points, and I went to your site and read your exodus theory.

    I am not nearly as knowledgeable in the Bible as yourself or the contributors of this site. I read the Bible a lot in my teens, and then again about 10 years ago when I met my wife.

    When I began doubting the Bible I was a freshman in HS. Coincidently I was taking an Ancient History class. It was an advanced class–I was a freshman and it was for upperclassman but I was a straight A student. I had already been reading the Bible a lot and already had problems with the creation story and Noah. But the Exodus was something I hadn’t looked at until this class. If we only had the internet in 1983 it would have made it much easier, but through research at libraries I learned that there was no real evidence of the exodus, as DagoodS has pointed out.

    Now, from what I understand, as you say the Hebrew word eleph can mean thousands or a clan (family). In the OT eleph almost always meant thousands in the 500 or so times it was used, so while it could mean clan in this instance, it is unlikely. But even if that is true, the Bible puts some dates in, by calculating Solomon’s reign you can say that the exodus happened at or around 1447 BCE. Yet the slaves supposed built Raamses, which wasn’t built until after 1300 BCE.

    It seems to me, and correct me if I am wrong, that you are willing to accept that the Bible has some mistakes-or better wording may be that the human writers made mistakes, and I was never willing to accept that. To me, it is either the word of God or it isn’t. And the fact that we can prove that this part of the Bible contradicts itself and cannot be true means it can’t be the word of God.

    I fully believe that at one time there were some Hebrew slaves in Egypt. Perhaps it was the Hyksos, as you said. I think it was a story handed down from generation to generation until it was written down, many years after the fact and adding a few embelishments, thus the discrepencies. Which makes it the word of man, not God.

  • 31. societyvs  |  June 21, 2007 at 11:38 am

    Well I just got a Jewish perspective back on the whole thing – and they quite parallel to MIke C’s explanation of the ‘seed’ of which he does not doubt (ie: choice being yours to do so). I’ll put a small excerpt on here:

    “We appear to be at a standstill. The only options are to relegate the Exodus to the status of myth, or to conclude that there is something seriously wrong with the generally accepted dates for Egyptian history.” – myth and literal dating of Exodus events – from JewishAnswers.com – they sent me an e-mail back on this thing (wow).

    But Dagoods – I will e-mail there response to this debate – it’s quite long and would take too much space here. Most of it is not something you haven;t heard.

    “Especially considering…er…the lack of any evidence presented so far in this entry that these events happened.” (Dagoods)

    Your one of the only one’s who claims no evidence whatsoever – the fact is – within the science community (archeaology and history) – this is not even fully decided upon and there are a variety of interpretations about this Exodus event – some say this evidence speaks a ‘yes’ while others say it speaks a ‘no’ – again who is right (apparently the choice is yours)? I am not willing to throw out something that both the Jewish culture defend as true (weird history to brag about a slavery history – quite uncommon in the ancient circles) and what has not been decided by a full amount of evidence yet. But if your willing to make that claim – so be it.

    “You DO know they have levels as far back as at least 2500 BCE, right? What are you saying—Exodus occurred before that?” (Dagoods)

    Again…I said how can they (un) cover the whole region? I am guessing they haven’t and there is likely plenty of work to do (archaeological-wise) – what’s wrong with saying the obvious about this situation? I am not willing to toss my hat in so soon – it seems the bits and pieces they have found do add up to this story having a ‘seed’ of credibility (see Mike C’s answer).

    “Do you know the consistency of the topsoil. You migh look these things up. See how “vast” this area is.” (Dagoods)

    Well then, archaeologists have quite a lot of area to cover until they can fully have a 100% decision on this case as to no Exodus – or yay Exodus. But the fact still remians while we wait – the Jewish nation wrote of it and some historical Egyptian pieces of history do also.

    “Is this, now, how we determine what happened in history? “What is more dangerous to believe?” Curious.” (Dagoods)

    Well that’s what makes me curious also. I have explained that archaeology and historians have not written this event off (Exodus) as of yet – some have – some haven’t – you have – I haven’t. Now your evidence is ‘good’ but again this evidence is all interpretable (one’s belief about an event) apparently – so one could make either an event occur or not occur with these historical tidbits.

    I don’t find a danger in any of this – I am ready for whatever finds may reveal about this area – whether for the validity or non-validity – and I have no judgement to cast upon that. But I am aware this is not where we are at – not at this point – to make a call of ‘myth’ – or ‘did not happen’ – not everything is in.

    So I am stuck with believing or not believing – simply. I choose to believe the Exodus may have happened – and you choose to believe it did not. This based on the evidence.

  • 32. agnosticatheist  |  June 21, 2007 at 11:42 am

    svs,

    Feel free to post it. This is already a very long set of comments. A bit more won’t hurt. :)

    Maybe break it up into smaller chunks.

    aA

  • 33. societyvs  |  June 21, 2007 at 11:42 am

    Hey dagoods – I was going to e-mail you this stuff I was sent by the Jewish rabbi’s but I can’t find your e-mail anywhere..how do I contact you on this?

  • 34. societyvs  |  June 21, 2007 at 11:42 am

    Actually I’ll post it on my blog

  • 35. HeIsSailing  |  June 21, 2007 at 2:44 pm

    SocietyVs –

    I have been keeping up with this discussion with great interest. I read most of your Jewish Action article. I will have to finish it later when I have the time. I am not very knowledgeable about ancient Egypt, but I am fairly certain about this part:

    “In 1952, Immanuel Velikovsky published Ages in Chaos, the first of a series of books in which he proposed a radical redating of Egyptian history in order to bring the histories of Egypt and Israel into synchronization. Velikovsky’s work sparked a wave of new research into ancient history. And while the bulk of Velikovsky’s conclusions have not been borne out by this research, his main the-sis has.”

    I have never read Velikovsky’s “Ages in Chaos”, but I have read his earlier book, “Worlds in Collision”. I have to tell you, he is viewed in the scientific community as more imaginative and intriguing than Erich Von Daniken, but about as credible – or *un* credible, I should say. If you are unfamiliar with either Velikovsky or Von Daniken, trust me, they have no credibility. I hate to go into detail here and derail this topic, but no thesis of Velikovsky, that I am aware of, has ever borne true.

    Maybe there is more to the article towards the end, but when you see one bad source in the article if sort of spoils the whole thing. If the Jewish Action article has to resort to a theory proposed by Immanuel Velikovsky, of all people, I am certain that theory is bunk.

  • 36. DagoodS  |  June 21, 2007 at 4:13 pm

    Sigh. I have a rule. I have a rule! And I didn’t follow it. Don’t ya hate when you do that? I say, “Make sure you get a date from ‘em. If they want an Exodus, give ‘em a range, but get a date!” Yep, that’s what I say.

    And when I don’t—I regret it. We end up jumping all over the chronological map, pulling in evidence for this Exodus and that Exodus, never realizing that they contradict!

    I have a rule…

    societyvs: I choose to believe the Exodus may have happened … This based on the evidence.

    What. Evidence.

    You don’t even have to give me the source or a place to look it up; I’ll have a pretty good idea already. Just list, as long or as short as you want, what the evidence you have is.

    I’ll even start it for you:

    1) Torah
    2) …

    HOWEVER—I am leaving you with this 2200 BCE date. If that is the date you want, then that is what your evidence must point toward. Those previous links you gave? Worthless (‘cept for the Ipuwer Papyrus, but even they date it differently than your cite.) The reason all that evidence is worthless is that it points to the wrong millennium! Who cares about the Hyksos? They couldn’t be the Hebrews. The Hebrews were already in Canaan for 700 years!

    By the way, I hope you realize that the “e-mail” you received is an article on-line, right? You could have linked to it from here.

    Your link refers to two Midrashic books– Sefer HaYashar and The Prayer of Asenath. I’ve read the Book of Jasher. I do not recall the citation of a Pharaoh who obtained the throne at age 6 until the age of 100. I won’t bother reading through it again on-line. Can you give me the citation from the book, please, as to where this comes from (If you are basing this on evidence and all)?

    here is a Copy for you on-line.

    As to the Prayer of Asenath (Joseph’s wife. The one who got the Hebrews into Egypt) I am uncertain as to why it would record who the Pharaoh was 400 years after the events recorded. Again—a cite or reference?

    Oh, you might also inquire as to when, exactly, these Midrashic Jewish Apocryphal books were written.

    Now, as to the article’s handling of the Ipuwer Papyrus, they did EXACTLY what I stated they would do—quote it out of context in order to mash it into what they want it to say. O.K. You asked for it, you got it. The Ipuwer Papyrus Please read it, in context, and see if you are getting the plagues out of it. Or is someone picking and choosing?

    To HeIsSailing,

    I have Velikovsky on one side and Jacobovici on the other. I didn’t bother mentioning their lack of credibility, but I agree whole-heartedly with you. Unfortunately, most Christians do not realize they are reduced to relying upon what are considered fringe theories (at best). Something they would never accept in anyone else.

  • 37. agnosticatheist  |  June 21, 2007 at 4:52 pm

    For continuity of dicussion, I’m going to copy SocietyVS’s post here (in 2 sections):

    Source: http://societyvs.blogspot.com/2007/06/exodus-jewish-viewpointproof.html

    This article was published in the Spring 1995 issue of Jewish Action (e-mail from rabbi’s at http://www.JewishAnswers.org )

    The Exodus and Ancient Egyptian Records

    “And Moses said unto the people: Do not fear! Stand and see the deliverance of Hashem which he shall do for you this day. For as you have seen Egypt this day, never will you see it again.” (Exodus 14:13)

    When was the Exodus?

    The Exodus from Egypt was not only the seminal event in the history of the Jewish People, but was an unprecedented and unequaled catastrophe for Egypt. In the course of Pharaoh’s stubborn refusal to let us leave and the resultant plagues sent by Hashem, Egypt was devastated. Hail, disease and infestations obliterated Egypt’s produce and livestock, while the plague of the first born stripped the land of its elite, leaving inexperienced second sons to cope with the economic disaster. The drowning of the Egyptian armed forces in the Red Sea left Egypt open and vulnerable to foreign invasions.

    From the days of Flavius Josephus (c.70 CE) until the present, historians have tried to find some trace of this event in the ancient records of Egypt. They have had little luck.According to biblical chronology, the Exodus took place in the 890th year before the destruction of the Temple by the Babylonians in 421 BCE (g.a.d. 587 BCE) [1]. This was 1310 BCE (g.a.d. 1476 BCE). In this year, the greatest warlord Egypt ever knew, Thutmose III, deposed his aunt Hatshepsut and embarked on a series of conquests, extending the Egyptian sphere of influence and tribute over Israel and Syria and crossing the Euphrates into Mesopotamia itself. While it is interesting that this date actually saw the death of an Egyptian ruler – and there have been those who tried to identify Queen Hatshepsut as the Pharaoh of the Exodus – the power and prosperity of Egypt at this time is hard to square with the biblical account of the Exodus.

    Some historians have been attracted by the name of the store-city Raamses built by the Israelites before the Exodus. They have drawn connections to the best known Pharaoh of that name, Ramses II, or Ramses the Great, and set the Exodus around his time, roughly 1134 BCE (g.a.d. 1300 BCE [2]). In order to do this, they had to reduce the time between the Exodus and the destruction of the Temple by 180 years, which they did by reinterpreting the 480 years between the Exodus and the building of the Temple (I Kings 6:1) as 12 generations of 40 years. By “correcting” the Bible and setting a generation equal to 25 years, these imaginary 12 generations become 300 years.

    Aside from the fact that such “adjustments” of the biblical text imply that the Bible cannot be trusted, in which case there is no reason to accept that there ever was an Exodus, Ramses II was a conqueror second only to Thutmose III. And as in the case of Thutmose III, the Egyptian records make it clear that nothing even remotely resembling the Exodus happened anywhere near his time of history.

    We appear to be at a standstill. The only options are to relegate the Exodus to the status of myth, or to conclude that there is something seriously wrong with the generally accepted dates for Egyptian history.

    In 1952, Immanuel Velikovsky published Ages in Chaos, the first of a series of books in which he proposed a radical redating of Egyptian history in order to bring the histories of Egypt and Israel into synchronization. Velikovsky’s work sparked a wave of new research into ancient history. And while the bulk of Velikovsky’s conclusions have not been borne out by this research, his main the-sis has. This is that the apparent conflict between ancient records and the Bible is due to a misdating of those ancient records, and that when these records are dated correctly, all such “conflicts” disappear.

    Both Thutmose III and Ramses II date to a period called the Late Bronze Age, which ended with the onset of the Iron Age. Since the Iron Age has been thought to be the time when Israel first arrived in Canaan, the Late Bronze Age has been called “The Canaanite Period,” and historians have limited their search for the Exodus to this time. When we break free of this artificial restraint, the picture changes drastically.

    According to the midrash [3], the Pharaoh of the Exodus was named Adikam. He had a short reign of 4 years before drowning in the Red Sea. The Pharaoh who preceded him, whose death prompted Moses’s return to Egypt (Exodus 2:23, 4:19), was named Malul. Malul, we are told, reigned from the age of 6 to the age of 100. Such a long reign – 94 years! – sounds fantastic, and many people would hesitate to take this midrash literally. As it happens, though, Egyptian records mention a Pharaoh who reigned for 94 years. And not only 94 years, but from the age of 6 to the age of 100! This Pharaoh was known in inscriptions as Pepi (or Phiops) II [4]. The information regarding his reign is known both from the Egyptian historian-priest Manetho, writing in the 3rd century BCE, and from an ancient Egyptian papyrus called the Turin Royal Canon, which was only discovered in the last century.

    Egyptologists, unaware of the midrash, have wrestled with the historicity of Pepi II’s long reign. One historian wrote: [5]Pepi II…appears to have had the longest reign in Egyptian history and perhaps in all history. The Turin Royal Canon credits him with upwards of 90 years. One version of the Epitome of Manetho indicates that he “began to rule at the age of 6 and continued to a 100.” Although modern scholars have questioned this, it remains to be disproved.

    While the existence of a 2 kings who reigned a) 94 years, b) in Egypt, and c) from the age of 6, is hard enough to swallow as a coincidence, that is not all. Like Malul, Pepi II was the second to last king of his dynasty. Like Malul, his successor had a short reign of 3-4 four years, after which Egypt fell apart. Pepi II’s dynasty was called the 6th Dynasty, and was the last dynasty of the Old Kingdom in Egypt. Following his successor’s death, Egypt collapsed, both economically and under foreign invasion. Egypt, which had been so powerful and wealthy only decades before, suddenly could not defend itself against tribes of invading bedouin. No one knows what happened. Some historians have suggested that the long reign of Pepi II resulted in stagnation, and that when he died, it was like pulling the support out from under a rickety building. But there is no evidence to support such a theory.

    A papyrus dating from the end of the Old Kingdom was found in the early 19th century in Egypt [6]. It seems to be an eyewitness account of the events preceding the dissolution of the Old Kingdom. Its author, an Egyptian named Ipuwer, writes:
    *Plague is throughout the land. Blood is everywhere.
    *The river is blood.
    *That is our water! That is our happiness! What shall we do in respect thereof? All is ruin!
    *Trees are destroyed.
    *No fruit or herbs are found…
    *Forsooth, gates, columns and walls are consumed by fire.
    *Forsooth, grain has perished on every side.
    * The land is not light [dark].

    Velikovsky recognized this as an eyewitness account of the 10 plagues. Since modern men are not supposed to believe in such things, it has been interpreted figuratively by most historians. The destruction of crops and livestock means an economic depression. The river being blood indicates a breakdown of law an order and a proliferation of violent crime. The lack of light stands for the lack of enlightened leadership. Of course, that’s not what it says, but it is more palatable than the alternative, which is that the phenomena described by Ipuwer were literally true.

    When the Bible tells us that Egypt would never be the same after the Exodus, it was no exaggeration. With invasions from all directions, virtually all subsequent kings of Egypt were of Ethiopian, Libyan or Asiatic descent. When Chazal tell us that King Solomon was able to marry Pharaoh’s daughter despite the ban on marrying Egyptian converts until they have been Jewish for 3 generations because she was not of the original Egyptian nation, there is no reason to be surprised.

  • 38. agnosticatheist  |  June 21, 2007 at 4:53 pm

    [continued]

    Source: http://societyvs.blogspot.com/2007/06/exodus-jewish-viewpointproof.html

    In the Wake of the Exodus:

    It was not only Egypt which felt the birth pangs of the Jewish People. The end of the Old Kingdom in Egypt preceded only slightly the end of the Early Bronze age in the Land of Israel. The end of this period, dated by archeologists to c.2200 BCE (in order to conform to the Egyptian chronology), has long puzzled archeologists. The people living in the Land of Israel during Early Bronze were the first urban dwellers there. They were, by all available evidence, primitive, illiterate and brutal. They built large but crude fortress cities and were constantly at war. At the end of the Early Bronze Age, they were obliterated.

    Who destroyed Early Bronze Age Canaan? Some early archeologists, before the vast amount of information we have today had been more than hinted at, suggested that they were Amorites. The time, they thought, was more or less right for Abraham. So why not postulate a great disaster in Mesopotamia, which resulted in people migrated from there to Canaan? Abraham would have been thus one in a great crowd of immigrants (scholars of the late 19th and early 20th centuries often felt compelled to debunk the idea of divine commands).

    Today, the picture is different. The invaders of the Early Bronze/Middle Bronze Interchange seem to have appeared out of nowhere in the Sinai and the Negev. Initially, they moved up into the transjordan, and then crossed over north of the Dead Sea, conquering Canaan and wiping out the inhabitants. Of course, since we are dealing with cultural remnants and not written records, we don’t know that the previous inhabitants were all killed. Some of them may have remained, but if so, they adopted enough of the newcomers’ culture to “disappear” from the archeological record.

    2 archeologists have already gone on record identifying the invaders as the Israelites. In an article published in Biblical Archeology Review [7], Israeli archeologist Rudolph Cohen demonstrated that the two invasions match in every detail. Faced with the problem that the 2 are separated in time by some 8 centuries, Cohen backed down a bit: “I do not necessarily mean to equate the MBI people with the Israelites, although an ethnic identification should not be automatically ruled out. But I am suggesting that at the very least the traditions incorporated into the Exodus account may have a very ancient inspiration reaching back to the MBI period.”

    The Italian archeologist Immanuel Anati has come to similar conclusions [8]. He added other pieces of evidence, such as the fact that Ai, Arad and other cities destroyed by Israel in the invasion of Canaan were destroyed at the end of the Early Bronze Age, but remained uninhabited until the Iron Age. Since the Iron Age is when Israel supposedly invaded Canaan, we have been in the embarrassing position of having the Bible describe the destructions of these cities at the very time that they were being resettled for the first time in almost a millennium. When the conquest is redated to the end of the Early Bronze, history (the Bible) and physical evidence (archeology) are in harmony. Anati goes further than Cohen in that he claims the invaders really were the Israelites. How does he get around the 800 year gap? By inventing a “missing book of the Bible” between Joshua and Judges that originally covered this period.

    Both Cohen and Anati are in the unenviable position of having discovered truths which conflict with the accepted wisdom. Their “tricks” to avoid the problem are lame, but the only alternative would be to suggest a radical redating of the archeology of the Land of Israel. And there is good reason to do this. It is not only the period of the Exodus and Conquest which suddenly match the evidence of ancient records and archeology when the dates of the archeological periods are brought down:

    1. The Middle Bronze Age invaders, after some centuries of rural settlement, expanded almost overnight into an empire, stretching from the Nile to the Euphrates. This empire has been termed the “Hyksos Empire,” after a group of nomads that invaded Egypt, despite the fact that there is no historical evidence for such an identification. History knows of one such empire. Archeology knows of one such empire. The same adjustment which restores the Exodus and Conquest to history does the same to the United Kingdom of David and Solomon.

    2. The Empire fell, bringing the Middle Bronze Age to an end. Archeologists and Egyptologists are currently involved in a great debate over whether it was civil war or Egyptian invasions which destroyed the “Hyksos” empire. The biblical accounts of the revolt of the ten northern tribes and the invasion of Shishak king of Egypt make the debate irrelevant.

    3. The period following the end of the Empire was one of much unrest, but saw tremendous literary achievements. Since this period, the Late Bronze Age, was the last period before the Iron Age, and since the Iron Age was believed to have been the Israelite Period, the Late Bronze Age was called the Canaanite Period. Strangely, these Canaanites spoke and wrote in beautiful Biblical Hebrew. Semitic Canaanites? Did the Bible get it wrong again? But then, coming after the time of David and Solomon, they weren’t really Canaanites. The speakers and writers of Biblical Hebrew were, as might have been guessed – Biblical Hebrews.

    4. Finally we get to the Iron Age. This is when Israel supposedly arrived in Canaan. But it has been obvious to archeologists for over a century that the archeology of the Iron Age bears little resemblance to the biblical account of the conquest of Canaan. There were invasions, but they were from the north, from Syria and Mesopotamia, and they came in several waves, unlike the lightning conquest under Joshua. The people who settled the land after the invasions also came from the north, though there is much evidence to suggest that they weren’t the invaders, and merely settled an empty land after it had been destroyed by others. The south remained in the hands of the Bronze Age inhabitants, albeit on a lower material level.

    The conclusions drawn from this evidence have been devastating. The people in the south, who constituted the kingdom of Judah, from whence came the Jews, has been determined to be of Canaanite descent! If not biologically, then culturally. And the people in the north, the other 10 tribes of Israel, have been determined to have been no relation to the tribes of the south. The idea of 12 tribes descended from the sons of Jacob has been removed from the history books and recatalogued under “Mythology, Jewish.”

    What is most strange is that multiple waves of invasion followed by northern tribes settling in the north of Israel is not an event which has gone unmentioned in the Bible. The invaders were the Assyrians. The settlers were the northern tribes who eventually became the Samaritans. And if the people in the south were descended from the Late Bronze Age inhabitants of the land, why, that merely means that the kingdom of Judah was a continuation of the kingdom of Judah. The only historical claims which are contradicted by the archeological record are those of the Samaritans, who claim to have been the descendants of the 10 tribes of Israel.

    A simple redating of the archeological periods in the Land of Israel brings the entire scope of biblical history into synchronization with the ancient historical record. Only time will tell whether more archeologists will follow Cohen and Anati in their slowly dawning recognition of the historicity of the Bible.

    Notes
    [1] Contrary to the Jewish historical tradition, the generally accepted date (g.a.d.) is 166 years earlier, or 587 BCE (see “Fixing the History Books – Dr. Chaim Heifetz’s Revision of Persian History,” in the Spring 1991 issue of Jewish Action). This difference applies to all Mesopotamian and Egyptian history prior to the Persian period. The dates for Egyptian history given in the history books are therefore off by this amount. For our purposes, we will use the corrected date followed by the g.a.d. in parentheses. return to text
    [2] Some people have been excited about the generally accepted date for Ramses II coming so close to the traditional date for the Exodus. This is a mistake, as Egyptian and Mesopotamian histories are linked. If Ramses II lived c. 1300 BCE, then the destruction of the Temple was in 587 BCE, and the Exodus was in 1476 BCE. return to text
    [3] Sefer HaYashar and The Prayer of Asenath (an ancient pseudepigraphical work) contain this information, though Sefer HaYashar only gives the 94 year reign length without Malul’s age. return to text
    [4] Egyptian kings had a vast titulary. They generally had at least five official throne names, not to mention their personal name or names, and whatever nicknames their subjects gave them. return to text
    [5] William Kelly Simpson in The Ancient Near East: A History, Harcourt Brace Jovanovich 1971. return to text
    [6] A.H. Gardiner, Admonitions of an Egyptian Sage from a hieratic papyrus in Leiden (1909). Historians are almost unanimous in dating this papyrus to the very beginning of the Middle Kingdom. The events it describes, consequently, deal with the end of the Old Kingdom. return to text
    [7] Rudolph Cohen, “The Mysterious MB I People – Does the Exodus Tradition in the Bible Preserve the Memory of Their Entry into Canaan?” in Biblical Archeology Review IX:4 (1983), pp.16ff. return to text[8] Immanuel Anati, The Mountain of God, Rizzoli International Publications, New York 1986. return to text

  • 39. Satan: The Greatest Bible Myth « de-conversion  |  April 3, 2008 at 11:23 pm

    […] the creation story, the tower of Babel, and the origins of languages. I wrote an entry on the Exodus. However, I believe one of the greatest myths of the Bible is the existence of the creature we call […]

  • 40. KC  |  April 25, 2008 at 12:22 am

    I applaud everyone’s wrestling with the legitimacy of the bible. It is with the same tenacity one should approach any faith based system and that includes atheism. Atheism is the belief that there is no God. Well, if i’m considering Atheism, then I would have to face very basic, yet very profound questions of where did our universe come from? Where did the human race come from? Even science doesn’t provide great answers. With regards to the beginning of the universe, are we to believe in the “Big Bang Theory?” With regards to the creation of human race, are we to say we evolved? Even evolution is a theory. Theories are not fact…but yet many people “believe” in these theories. This belief is indeed faith.

    I encourage everyone to wrestle with their belief systems with the same rigor, passion and open mindedness that DaGoodS takes in trying to expose the bible. You’ll never know what you may find!

  • 41. ulzii  |  June 13, 2008 at 12:25 pm

    hey i’m from Mongolia. and mongolians are nomads. Nomads do not leave much evidence. people are moving all the time. They do not use more than they need. Nomads are still leaving today. If you go to a place where they stayer one year later, you will not find know that there were family. they use mostly organic items that will decompose, and disappear. Come to mongolia and see what it is like. you will see some similaritie. Mongolia conquered half of the world only 800 years ago. Our old capital doesn’t have single building remained from empire. There are 2.5 million people in Mongolia at the moment.

  • 42. Joe Sperling  |  June 13, 2008 at 3:33 pm

    Troy existed for a very long period, but until Heinrich Schliemann discovered it you would have thoght the whole thing was a myth. And in fact, many people did think Troy was mythical. The same thing happened with the discovery of the Hittites—-many believed the Bible was greatly in error by mentioning them—they were a fantasy—unitl it was discovered early this century.

    No evidence for the 40 years in the desert. Give it a little time. :>)

    –Joe

  • 43. Joe Sperling  |  June 13, 2008 at 3:37 pm

    Correction: The Hittite civilization was not discovered early this century—but early in the 20th century (appx. 1906).

  • 44. DagoodS  |  June 13, 2008 at 4:09 pm

    Joe Sperling: The same thing happened with the discovery of the Hittites—-many believed the Bible was greatly in error by mentioning them—they were a fantasy—unitl it was discovered early this century.

    Nope. Urban legend. This is within the top three most-often used defenses when it comes to archaeology. “Skeptics once said the Hittites didn’t exist, and it turns out they did.” The idea being, since they were wrong about the Hittites, then they could be wrong about Exodus. (Note: there are two groups of people called the Hittites, by the way. Both are referred to in the Tanakh.)

    Here’s the thing—no one can ever find where any skeptic denied the existence of the Hittites! None! So that phrase “many believed the Bible was greatly in error by mentioning them” is incorrect. Can you find a citation in which a skeptic (or anyone, for that matter) says, “The Hittites didn’t exist”?

    In fact, to help you on your way, Peter Kirby did a great article on this topic. Notice the first instance he could find was a Christian apologist claiming “some skeptics question the extent of the Hittite nation as claimed in the Bible.” (No skeptic is mentioned, and the claim is not even they didn’t exist, but rather they didn’t exist to the extent claimed.)

    Do you believe the Mormons are correct and “someday” we will find evidence of roads, coins, and industrialization in Mesoamerica? ‘Cause they rely upon the same method—“some day it is possible some one could maybe find something that might support what we are trying to claim.”

    If you don’t accept it in the Mormon claim—why should we accept it in the Christian claim?

  • 45. Joe Sperling  |  June 13, 2008 at 4:17 pm

    Dagoods—-

    Good point. I should have been more specific. I should have said that without the discovery in 1906 of the Hittite nation no one could really be “sure” the Bible was stating fact or fiction. Since the civilization was discovered though, we know the Bible was correct in stating that such a civilization existed. I was being “tongue in cheek” about the Israelites though—-I think there is about as much chance of that as finding Noah’s Ark.

    But there is a lot of desert out there—who knows. With the Mormons, one would think with all of the Industry, and building, and farms, etc.–someone would have found an artifact from the Nephites by now. But the Bible has proven to be very true in regards to civilizations, cities and chronology.

    –Joe

  • 46. DagoodS  |  June 13, 2008 at 4:53 pm

    Yep, the Bible has been proven to be true regarding civilizations, cities and chronology. Pilate was the Roman in charge at the same time Caiaphas was High Priest. Egypt did exist.

    The Bible has also been equally proven to be false regarding things like the great deluge, the age of humans, ten plagues, Exodus, Joshua’s genocide, Jesus’ date of birth, Acts chronology compared to Paul’s writing, etc.

    ‘Bout like most human works—sometimes correct; sometimes not. Why would I think a book that is only sometimes correct has divine influence? Why is that any more than human?

  • 47. Quester  |  June 13, 2008 at 6:56 pm

    When I look at the contradictory stories about the birth of Jesus (as presented in the Gospels according to Matthew and Luke), I’m not sure what standards you use to say the Bible has proved to be “very true” as to chronology, Joe, but leaving that aside, does the discovery of Troy provide evidence for the existence of Poseidon, or any member of the ancient Greek pantheon?

  • […] proof.  For example, there is no a shred of proof, not a pot shard, not a bone, nothing that 2 million Jews wandered around in the desert, or that Jews were slaves who built the […]

  • 49. BW  |  October 31, 2008 at 12:09 pm

    It has been an interesting comversation to follow.As far as Daggods comments ,when you have to put down your opponent you have lost your argument. The scholastic realm which has hardly been touched here there is alot of external evidence which points to the reliability of the Bible. Lack of evidence does not mean something did not happen or does not exist. Simply when there is enough accumulative evidence that verifies the internal statements of the Bible you have a higher respect for the validity of the text. To say there is no shred of proof lacks authority in light of all the other discoveries that are being brought to light in recent years.

  • 50. Josh  |  October 31, 2008 at 1:51 pm

    I have to say that this discussion rings a bell for me. This last semester I was at Moody Bible Institute taking a class on Genesis. My final paper was on “Historical evidence for the Israelite occupation in Eqypt (or the Exodus)” At this time I was really beginning to have serious doubts about the Pentateuch and was excited to see what good evidence their was for the Hebrew wanderings.

    My teaching recommended a “good” book on the subject. Imagine my surprise when in the beginning the teacher admits that no solid evidence has ever turned up for any of the events. He then spends a solid 250-300 pages speculating about Egyptian texts and a dig that revealed a Hebrew-styled burial site etc etc. I was shocked. The evidence was so bad. It was just a massive overload of information that carefully removed the other possibilities and tainted it all so that it looked like evidence.

    What makes it even weirder for me is this: the OT account probably only represents a tiny percentage of all the things that were occurring between 2500-1000 B.C.E. Then when a Biblical archaeologist finds anything that could be interpreted as “evidence”, they immediately jump to the conclusion that because it *could* be evidence for the Bible, it can be proclaimed as such (as long as little disclaimer is added of course). After all, if God is in the business of preserving the truthfulness of His Word, it is probably safer to conclude that God’s providence allowed the researcher to discover the evidence (among the thousands or millions of other possibilities) that backs up the Bible. It is so absurd. So someone finds something that looks like a chariot wheel in the Red Sea and obviously this is evidence the Exodus occurred! Never mind that 5500 years is a really long time in which all sorts of wheels were invented, all sorts of carts tipped over into the sea, all sorts of ships were sunk, etc. etc. and this wheel could be evidence of any of those. Nevermind that.

  • 51. Josh  |  October 31, 2008 at 2:00 pm

    BW –

    [Note, not sure wh
    “The scholastic realm which has hardly been touched here there is alot of external evidence which points to the reliability of the Bible.”

    But this is something we should all expect. The Bible should contain some truth, simply because it would be rejected if it contained all lies. What we find is exactly what we would expect if the Bible was purely man-made: a bunch of mistaken perceptions, old fables, true historical facts in the midst of false ones, and all this coupled with a healthy dose of superstition and religion ripe for the picking. Given the pattern matching capabilities of the human mind, we most definitely could find “evidence” that confirms the Bible’s testimony. This does not mean the Bible is true, that it is God’s Word, that it is inerrant, or that it is even accurate. It just means it contains history that agrees with some evidence we have found.

    I did a bunch of research on aliens and ufos once and one of the things that struck me is how much “historical” evidence is presented by these wackos that aliens have been visiting earth for millenia. They look to ancient texts like the Bible to back up their claims (Ezekiel’s visions, the “Nephilim”, Catholic paintings, etc.)

    How is the “belief” in the Biblical accounts any different?

    “Lack of evidence does not mean something did not happen or does not exist.”

    In this case, the evidence for the Bible is equally as valid as evidence for evolution, evidence for aliens, evidence for unicorns, evidence for a base on the dark side of the moon, or evidence for tooth fairies.

  • 52. Josh  |  October 31, 2008 at 2:01 pm

    Oops, ignore that first line :)

  • 53. Noop  |  February 24, 2009 at 2:24 am

    There is proof of the wilderness wanderings. Petrogliphs of sandled feet, Imex and other egyptiian type god engravings. The rock that was split and water came out, and the site of the golden calf altar, and how about the charred peak of Mt. Sinai in Saudi Arabia that the govt has fenced off so no one can get near it anymore. The cave of Elijah was also found. Don’t be so uninformed about what’s going on in biblical archaeology. They also found chariot wheels strewn across the bed of the “Red Sea”
    Check out splitrockresearch.org, anchorstone.org and wyattmuseum.com
    The Truth will set you free!

  • 54. LeoPardus  |  February 24, 2009 at 11:31 am

    Bet Noop knows all the conspiracy stories. Sheesh. How would one even begin to try to repair such a bent mind?

  • 55. Josh (guitarstrummr)  |  February 24, 2009 at 1:22 pm

    Noop,

    Ironically, one of the last papers I did at Moody Bible Institute was on evidence for Hebrew occupation of Egypt.

    My teacher handed me one of the “best” books on the subject. As I began to read, I discovered all evidence was subjective at best. The author himself even admitted as much in the early pages of the book saying there was no conclusive evidence at all.

    But obviously for Christians absence of evidence is not evidence of absence. Just as the absence of evidence for the existence of golden tablets all over the world does not phase Mormons. At all.

  • 56. Neil  |  March 28, 2009 at 8:15 pm

    Thank you, the more you bash the Bible , the sooner your’e going to find out it’s all true, In the last days they will be fools with there knowledge. Bash on girls and boys.

  • 57. Quester  |  March 28, 2009 at 8:46 pm

    Well, now I’m convinced.

  • 58. bjm  |  October 23, 2009 at 8:27 pm

    Faith does not contradict reason, but faith is reasonable. The human heart is created to believe in the words of another. This is what every relationship is based upon and this is what allows us to enter into a relationship. There is a huge difference between doctor looking into your eyes and your spouse looking into your eyes. Scriputre is a love story not a scientific explanation of how God exactly did what he did. Trying scientifically explaining the creation of matter. Try scientifically explaining how God became man. Try scientifically explaining why the human heart seek unconditional love. It is only through faith that we encounter God who is love. It is through faith that we touch God.

    http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/john_paul_ii/encyclicals/documents/hf_jp-ii_enc_15101998_fides-et-ratio_en.html

  • 59. LeoPardus  |  October 23, 2009 at 8:42 pm

    What is it that makes people think that just driving by here and tossing off a bunch of thoughtless, religious assertions is going to do any good at all? I’d really like to know. But sadly bjm is out of range by now I’m sure.

  • 60. Zoe  |  October 24, 2009 at 10:32 am

    Long gone, or, sitting there waiting to see if the seeds germinate. *sigh*

  • 61. bjm  |  October 24, 2009 at 11:12 am

    For the ancients, the study of the natural sciences coincided in large part with philosophical learning. Having affirmed that with their intelligence human beings can “know the structure of the world and the activity of the elements… the cycles of the year and the constellations of the stars, the natures of animals and the tempers of wild beasts” (Wis 7:17, 19-20)—in a word, that he can philosophize—the sacred text (scripture) takes a significant step forward. Making his own the thought of Greek philosophy, to which he seems to refer in the context, the author affirms that, in reasoning about nature, the human being can rise to God: “From the greatness and beauty of created things comes a corresponding perception of their Creator” (Wis 13:5).

    Seen in this light, the power of reason is valued without being overvalued. The results of reasoning may in fact be true, but these results acquire their true meaning only if they are set within the larger horizon of faith: “All man’s steps are ordered by the Lord: how then can man understand his own ways?” (Prov 20:24).

    For the Old Testament, then, faith liberates reason in so far as it allows reason to attain correctly what it seeks to know and to place it within the ultimate order of things, in which everything acquires true meaning. In brief, human beings attain truth by way of reason because, enlightened by faith, they discover the deeper meaning of all things and most especially of their own existence. Rightly, therefore, the sacred author identifies the fear of God as the beginning of true knowledge: “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge” (Prov 1:7; cf. Sir 1:14).

    For the Old Testament, knowledge is not simply a matter of careful observation of the human being, of the world and of history, but supposes as well an indispensable link with faith and with what has been revealed. These are the challenges which the Chosen People had to confront and to which they had to respond. Pondering this as his situation, biblical man discovered that he could understand himself only as “being in relation”—with himself, with people, with the world and with God. For the sacred author, the task of searching for the truth was not without the strain which comes once the limits of reason are reached.

    Faith and reason are like two wings on which the human spirit rises to the contemplation of truth; and God has placed in the human heart a desire to know the truth—in a word, to know himself—so that, by knowing and loving God, men and women may also come to the fullness of truth about themselves (cf. Ex 33:18; Ps 27:8-9; 63:2-3; Jn 14:8; 1 Jn 3:2).

  • 62. HeIsSailing  |  October 24, 2009 at 11:39 am

    LeoPardus ponders:
    What is it that makes people think that just driving by here and tossing off a bunch of thoughtless, religious assertions is going to do any good at all?

    Is a homily copied and pasted from the Vatican website having any effect on you?

  • 63. bjm  |  October 24, 2009 at 12:02 pm

    These words obviously created a response in your heart, otherwise you would not have posted a response. The point of this site is to communicate so that? Man discovers that he can understand himself only as a being in relation with himself, with people, with the world and with God. We are seeking to understand the point of life, of human existence. Animals are not blogging, but we can! Awesome! You and I know that we are seeking! Otherwise, we would not be communicating. This is what’s so great about being human. We are created to converse in order to seek after the truth. May God bless us as we continue to experince the profound spiritual capacity that we have to seek, pursue, and know the truth. Personally, this is what I love about being human. We are such awesome creatures that are free to contemplate and reflect on the experiences that we have of life. Keep reflecting and seeking. As Augustine says, “Our Hearts are restless until they rest in thee O God.” Enjoy your day!

  • 64. HeIsSailing  |  October 24, 2009 at 12:14 pm

    bjm claims:
    These words obviously created a response in your heart, otherwise you would not have posted a response….

    Wrong – I did not even read it. I just know copy and paste jobs when I see them, and I have a strong aversion to it, especially when it is not cited as such.

  • 65. The myth of the virgin birth of Jesus « de-conversion  |  November 1, 2009 at 1:01 pm

    […] the tower of Babel, the origins of languages, and the Crucifixion story. I compiled an entry on the Exodus and wrote a short blog on the myth of the devil.  Richard most recently wrote on the […]

  • 66. Curious  |  March 4, 2010 at 2:25 am

    CARM said more than only “no archaeological find has ever contradicted the Bible.” The Christian apologetic ministry went further and added, ” Archaeology has only confirmed what the Bible says.”

    CARM hides the fact that in the highly praised book, The Bible Unearthed, archaeology proves that dozens of the Bible’s stories are wrong. CARM denies that archaeology is destroying the Bible’s myths, but archaeology is doing just that.

  • 67. Curious  |  March 4, 2010 at 2:38 am

    Regarding women and Christianity, it seems unreasonable that women should follow a faith that makes them second-class. If they cannot become priests (Catholic and Mormon), and their testimony equals 1/2 of a man’s testimony in court (Muslim), and they are less important than their husbands (Christian), then their continued devotion to those faiths is not logical.

    They may say that they get an amazing amount of good from their faith, but I think they create that good for themselves, the same way they would if they belonged to a non-religious social service organization.

    In fact, if the women who support these male-dominated clubs with volunteer altar duty, obedience, hard work, and sacrifice simply refused to partake until their churches recognized them as equals, those churches would fail.

  • 68. Joe  |  March 4, 2010 at 1:21 pm

    Curious (#66)—

    I’d be interested in seeing what archaeological finds “prove dozens of the Bible’s stories are wrong”. Is the “Bible Unearthed”
    praised by archaeologists themselves? Can you list some references or quotes? I have actually been hearing quite the opposite. They recently found an artifact that referenced “Goliath” on a piece of pottery—saw it on CNN.

    Just curious where you get the info that “dozens” of stories are wrong? Just haven’t heard that.

  • 69. CheezChoc  |  March 4, 2010 at 3:41 pm

    Old joke time:

    Q. Why did the Jews wander in the desert for 40 years?

    A. Because somebody dropped a quarter.
    :)

  • 70. DSimon  |  March 8, 2010 at 3:42 pm

    Joe, if people in a thousand years find a jar I made out of clay that has a picture of a unicorn on it, is that evidence for the existence of unicorns?

  • 71. 4riozs  |  March 9, 2010 at 6:27 pm

    Curious,
    I’m a women and honostly the problems in the church against women depend by denomination. I do agree that overall the Bible is pretty “sexist”, but while in the church I didn’t experience many problems due to my gender. The only denomination that really annoyed me was when I was visiting a Pentecostal Holiness church. It’s no wonder that most of the women were so over weight, it’s as if they have no reason to look or feel good, except to go to another church meeting and to keep trying to feel happy all the time- that not just women but the men too. But the rules were crzy, no pants, no make up, no hair cutting.

  • 72. 4riozs  |  March 9, 2010 at 6:41 pm

    Curios,
    I’m with Joe on this one. I left the faith for other reasons, but I would like some references also. I have been hearing the opposite on CNN and the history channel. My problem is with the doctrine, but their has been evidence of many Biblical things. They even contend that their is evidence for the red sea parting.- CNN

  • 73. 4riozs  |  March 9, 2010 at 7:19 pm

    * I meant to say on the History channel in relation to the red sea!

  • 74. Phillip Maine  |  October 6, 2010 at 2:51 pm

    I think you have missed the whole picture. You are looking in the wrong places. You need to look in South Centeral Saudi Arabia for the evidence. It is all over the place there. This includes the split rock with water coming out of the top of a mountain, a dry lake bed, remains of houses and corals, remains of alters, pillers put up by King Soloman commerating the crossing of the read sea, our gulf of Aquba, remains of charots and human skulls under the crossing place, and evidence of their existance in the area. If you use Google Earth you can even view the piller that was repositioned by Irael and the one by Saudi Arabia that held the inscriptions and dedications of King Soloman at the point of the crossing. If you email me at ooldhill@gmail.com I will give you a power point presentation of it all.

  • 75. ed  |  October 24, 2012 at 2:23 am

    mount sinai is in arabia,in old midian,as for the plagues,its all embellishment from moses,true there was an exodus,but it was already a known route to moses,but he made the events look like wonders,so ho could be revered

  • 76. Believer  |  March 9, 2013 at 5:33 am

    History remains true regardless if what is written in the news today about something that happened yesterday gets twisted up in 24 hours. Imagine how much can be twisted up in 200 years or two thousand years. Feel good do good get rewarded after life.

  • 77. cag  |  March 9, 2013 at 2:40 pm

    Believer #76, fiction remains fiction regardless of when it was written. Absurd, easily refuted fiction, such as the bible, should never be looked upon as having any truth. A book that claims that a being capable of creating the universe (less the earth) in one day requires fallible humans to do its bidding goes way past the point of believeability. The contradictions in the bible serve to punctuate the absurdity of both the book and belief in the book.

    Get over the idea that there is anything waiting for you after death. Just because you were lied to does not mean that you should not think past the lies of those whose livelihood depends on convincing the masses to accept the lie.

  • 78. Mike  |  June 15, 2014 at 1:52 am

    I read about an old christian group called the cathars. They were a group wiped out during the crusades in Europe by the Catholics.. They believed that Jesus came to do away with the “law” 10 commandments because Satan was the god from the Old Testament. Jesus is quoted saying in the Nag Hammadi scriptures, Satan was an arrogant god because he said, “I am god and there is no other god but me.” Jesus is also quoted saying that satan telling Adam not to eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil (aka- any religion) caused condemnation or conflicting thoughts to stir up in adams mind thus death began. Also, I read that occultist satan worshippers or any occult that practice animal sacrifices do it cause they know that demons are drawn to pure blood and that you will ALWAYs conjur up an evil spirit when you do it. If god of the Old Testament was god, why did he require animal sacrifices like the occultist? And if the Ten Commandments were a reflection of gods character, why did Jesus come to do away with the law??

    It sounds like to me when “they” put the bible together all they did was make jesus sound like the god from the Old Testament so the devil could still be part of the show..

    Do your research people and don’t let the religious sect lie to you. ( re- means to anew; lig – means to lie; religion- to renew a lie)

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  • 90. Anonymous  |  November 17, 2014 at 3:15 pm

    With out faith you have no understanding of our Lord. Man always has to feel, see ,touch ,hear the ways of the world. With God you let it be his world and love living in peace and harmony. Very easy to say when the world is raining down on your parade, but a bad day with Jeaus, is better then any good day with out him. So have faith my dear friends, cause the Lord is coming. Amen

  • 91. Caleb  |  November 26, 2014 at 1:22 am

    Look at the beginning of Israel, it was not a country ever and when you look at the history of Israel and Jerusalem you find that through archaeological evidence the land the Jews came to call home was fertile and well protected. How then can you explain their coming to call it home. Sure its difficult to believe the Exodus occurred just as it is difficult to understand how they came about in getting the land. Point of fact is they came about rather quickly as the Evidence reveals. What some people are quick to do is look at the impossibility of occurrence in light of the reality of the impossible history. Israel still exists and by all accounts it shouldn’t. You don’t have to have all the evidence in place with a green light from God through blind eyes to see the reality of Jesus existence and who he is. There’s a reason God says the way is narrow. Part of that reason is because some of us just don’t want to change, forgive or let go of fear. So we hold on to our ideas in exchange for true beauty, glory and Majesty. The sad thing to me is that God knows your heart and your thoughts as you read this and he so desires you talk to him. He so desires you question him and seek him because he knows exactly how to reach you and meet you where you are. You don’t need to search for him in rocks or history books. He is already seeking you out and if you seek first his Kingdom Jesus is going to meet you where you are. Why I love the bible so much is because it explains me and why I think and do the things I do. We question everything and some religions tell us that’s wrong. God doesn’t he tells us to seek him out. Why? Because he is the only God that answers, everything else is ash and stone. On the day you breath your last breath, which will happen, you will have no excuse when Jesus looks you in the eyes and says now do you believe. I’m not down playing the importance of the Exodus and the questions that are raised. But those questions are answered. The people clothes did not weather away for 40 years. Joshua and Caleb never aged. These are far more important questions requiring faith. Because the Gods than can do that could also protect the land from being weathered and worn. Also it never says they walked for 40 years, they camped and stayed in some locations for a while.
    I was a skeptic but now know without a shadow of a doubt the reality of God and his holiness. Even though I don’t understand his holiness and reasons for doing things, the blatant reality of God far out ways any other option.
    I hope this answers some questions. If you are seeking truth know that it never needs be defended. It is truth and pain for all to see. If you really are seeking truth I urge you to ask Jesus yourself. Ask Jesus into your heart, tell him your doubts and frustrations or angers. And ask him that if he is real to open your eyes and help you to see him. He claims to be unconditionally loving, so why would he not give you eyes to see and ears to hear.
    We are sinners in need of a savior and that is true no matter how much you tell yourself otherwise.

    Jesus will forgive you if you ask and he will save you, if you ask him to.

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Attention Christian Readers

Just in case you were wondering who we are and why we de-converted.

de-conversion wager

Whether or not you believe in God, you should live your life with love, kindness, compassion, mercy and tolerance while trying to make the world a better place. If there is no God, you have lost nothing and will have made a positive impact on those around you. If there is a benevolent God reviewing your life, you will be judged on your actions and not just on your ability to blindly believe in creeds- when there is a significant lack of evidence on how to define God or if he/she even exists.

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