Who Led The Israelites?

Osmoses

I could probably add some sort of semi-serious text here to try to turn the above into a mere hook or jumping off point for engaging some topic related to Moses, the Exodus, historical and archaeological investigation, or something else. But I won’t. I could, however, imagine that the above would be useful in the context of science classes for elementary school children. The long-term result, however, would probably be that English speakers would end up spelling osmosis differently in the future. Sort of the reverse of what has happened in the case of Pontius Pilot…

What are some of your favorite puns related to the Bible or science – or best of all, both simultaneously?

"What? Center for Inquiry fired him?"

Written Thoughts on the Ehrman-Price Debate
"Price actually can't find a job. He's been ostracized for his mythicist posititon."

Written Thoughts on the Ehrman-Price Debate
"I think for once, we actually agree. Overall, I think Price is a nice, likeable ..."

Written Thoughts on the Ehrman-Price Debate
"Glad it spoke to you!Postmodernism of the sort Derrida envisioned is often maligned for promoting ..."

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  • John MacDonald

    At what time of day was Adam created?
    A little before Eve.

    • TheMountainHumanist

      And eve said I’ll raise Cain when I’m Abel.

  • What was the best chippy in the Bible?
    – Judas’s Carry-Out.

  • Phil Ledgerwood

    Did you know cars were mentioned in the Bible?
    The disciples were in one Accord.

    • TheMountainHumanist

      The Wise Men were firefighters…they came from a-Far.

      A mom asked her kid, what did you do in church? Kid says – we sang about a bear named Gladly! Mom says What? Kid: Yeah….he had crossed eyes too.

      She snatched up the bulletin and found they sang Hymn #348 “Gladly the Cross I’d Bear.”

  • arcseconds

    What’s purple and commutes?

    An abelian grape.

  • TheMountainHumanist

    From what I can see from my studies…the Exodus was probably a fable..meant to teach some lessons but not historical.

    • arcseconds

      I’ve got an interesting line on this, but how about you tell me your reasoning first? 🙂

      • TheMountainHumanist

        There are several aspects of the research that seem to indicate it’s probably (notice I do not say definitively) a fictional account.

        This article best captures my position so I hope you do not mind me reproducing it. And, not that this refutes the story but the genre of a god rescuing his chosen people was already an established motif across the world in various cultures.

        “There is no indication that the Israelites ever lived in Ancient Egypt, the Sinai Peninsula shows almost no sign of any occupation for the entire 2nd millennium BCE, and even Kadesh-Barnea, where the Israelites are said to have spent 38 years, was uninhabited prior to the establishment of the Israelite monarchy. Such elements as could be fitted into the 2nd millennium could equally belong to the 1st, and are consistent with a 1st millennium BCE writer trying to set an old story in Egypt.”

        “A century of research by archaeologists and Egyptologists has found no evidence which can be directly related to the Exodus captivity and the escape and travels through the wilderness, and archaeologists generally agree that the Israelites had Canaanite origins. The culture of the earliest Israelite settlements is Canaanite, their cult objects are those of the Canaanite god El, the pottery remains are in the Canaanite tradition, and the alphabet used is early Canaanite.

        • arcseconds

          OK, so my take is based on a point that McGrath and others have made — it seems weird for Israelites to make up a story about being lead by an Egyptian prince (Moses – egyptian name, and portrayed as an egyptian prince).

          I have read Genesis (Bereishit) and Exodus (Shemot) somewhat recently after I came to know more about biblical studies, and it struck me that there are actually two origin stories here. One is told in Genesis (except for the very end), where the Israelites are pretty much native Canaanites. That is where they live, that is where their ancestors are buried. The story of Judah in Genesis 38 seems to know nothing of an emigration to Egypt – Judah seems to have settled down and has adult sons.

          The other story is the Exodus.

          The migration myths I know about (e.g. Polynesian migration myths, Vodou, Mandeans, Parsis) usually reflect historical reality. The tendency seems to be to not make up such stories, but rather to eventually replace ‘we came from somewhere else’ with ‘we were always here’.

          (There are exceptions, like the British Israelite’s story, but here we have a clear reason for the myth to be invented: they wish to connect their origins with another story which is very important to them. It is hard to see how such logic applies to Exodus. )

          The easiest way to explain the dual origin stories, and being led by an Egyptian prince, seems to me to say that both happened. We know there were semites living in Egypt, and IIRC we also have other accounts of escapes to Sinai, so there doesn’t seem to be any great impossibility here.

          Of course, it seems pretty doubtful that whatever depature from Egypt there was was as large or dramatic or as long as depicted in Genesis…

          • Gary

            A joke, two tents.
            And two primary sources, Levi; and all the rest.

            https://youtu.be/H-YlzpUhnxQ

          • TheMountainHumanist

            1. “OK, so my take is based on a point that McGrath and others have made — it seems weird for Israelites to make up a story about being lead by an Egyptian prince (Moses – egyptian name, and portrayed as an egyptian prince).”

            Actually it seems pretty normal….many conquered people rewrite a glorious origin story and given that the Canaanites/Hebrews were probably under Egyptian rule at the time..it makes even more sense.

            “I have read Genesis (Bereishit) and Exodus (Shemot) somewhat recently after I came to know more about biblical studies, and it struck me that there are actually two origin stories here. One is told in Genesis (except for the very end), where the Israelites are pretty much native Canaanites. That is where they live, that is where their ancestors are buried. The story of Judah in Genesis 38 seems to know nothing of an emigration to Egypt – Judah seems to have settled down and has adult sons.”

            Yep…it all seems close to other such “divine beginnings” stories from cultures all across the world.

            The other story is the Exodus.

            “The migration myths I know about (e.g. Polynesian migration myths, Vodou, Mandeans, Parsis) usually reflect historical reality. The tendency seems to be to not make up such stories, but rather to eventually replace ‘we came from somewhere else’ with ‘we were always here’.”

            Sure…any good story must have historical context to make it relevant.

            “The easiest way to explain the dual origin stories, and being led by an Egyptian prince, seems to me to say that both happened. We know there were semites living in Egypt, and IIRC we also have other accounts of escapes to Sinai, so there doesn’t seem to be any great impossibility here.”

            Except the evidence (to me) points more towards an origin myth..especially given the lack of any archaelogical evidence.

            Like most ancient tales….probably some grain of history and a lot of allegory.

            I think the Hebrew’s religion and mythology was largely based on geography.

            Think about it…every empire had to go over Judea in order to conquer other parts….it stands to reason the people there had to come up with a glorious history origin story to cope with the constant conquering of their land (Egypt, Persian, Greek, Babylonian, Akkadian, Assyrian). Unfortunately, Judea/Sinai was the neglected, abused step-child of every empire.

          • arcseconds

            Sorry, I don’t find it likely that conquered peoples invent leaders from their conquerors.

            This might seem likely from Hollywood, where we see legendary white people leading indigeneous people all the time, but these are tales told by the conquerors who have learned some sympathy for the conquered. Not from the conquered.

            If we consider the attitude of the Irish to the English, or Palestinians to Israelis, or Arabs to Americans, it seems very unlikely that they would create an English, Israeli, or American hero to lead them. In Bollywood movies, the Englishman is normally the enemy, and India probably has one of the more positive views of its one-time conqueror.

            The lack of archaelogical evidence is only a problem if the exodus was as large and lasted as long as stated in Exodus. (If it is even a problem then). If we think of an Egyptian nobleman escaping with a handful of Caannites (possibly because he murdered someone), there is no reason to expect any evidence.

            Israel and Judah were not much different from any other small state in the area. Judah at least seemed to have done reasonably well in dealing with the large empires.

            Telling a story about being slaves under a hated foreign power is not really a glorious history origin story, and is very unusual.

          • TheMountainHumanist

            “Sorry, I don’t find it likely that conquered peoples invent leaders from their conquerors.”

            And yet..ancient legends abound with examples.

            The lack of archaelogical evidence is only a problem if the exodus was as large and lasted as long as stated in Exodus.”

            Indeed….if Exodus is literally historical as depicted in the Bible..that’s one thing. I suspect that many numbers mentioned in the OT are more about symbolism or numerology.

            “Judah at least seemed to have done reasonably well in dealing with the large empires.”
            Indeed….some empires gave the conquered peoples of the Levant a lot of leeway in governing….we see that with the Persians and the satrap syste,

            “Telling a story about being slaves under a hated foreign power is not really a glorious history origin story, and is very unusual.”

            I dunno…everyone loves a great underdog story. Many cultures have such tales…Native cultures, etc.

          • arcseconds

            And yet..ancient legends abound with examples.

            Well, maybe I’m wrong about this. Can you give me some examples?

            Many cultures have such tales…Native cultures, etc.

            OK. What are they?

            Regarding archaeological evidence: even if there were hundreds of thousands of people (it seems impossible that that many would be able to survive in the desert, but nevermind), would we really expect to see archaelogical evidence? It was only 40 years, a long time for a human being to live in the desert, but a short time in terms of archaeology. They were nomadic and lived in tents – their material culture seems likely to simply disintegrate.

            Consider a refugee camp today. Some of them have been around for decades and have thousands of people living in them, in one place, what’s more. Will their be archeological evidence of a particular camp in 3000 years time? My guess is not.

  • arcseconds

    There’s always Ehrman’s favourite:

    Did Jesus really claim he was devine?

    Yes, of course, John 15:5:— “I am de-vine, and you are de branches”!