Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Biblical Egyptology

Biblical Egyptology
Colin Burgess

The Book of Exodus is crucial to Jewish and Christian self-understanding. It narrates the two primary acts or plans of salvation.: the exodus from Egypt and the revelation at Sinai. These events echo throughout the Hebrew Scriptures and stand at the center of OT faith. For Christians, they find their climax in the person and work of Jesus Christ. Exodus is alluded to within the OT more than any other book, and in the NT, only Psalms and Isaiah are cited more frequently. 

Exodus has been skillfully crafted and offers rich material for theological reflection through its powerful and memorable narratives. For example, Exodus 34:6-7 contains the most sublime revelation of God’s character in the OT. In the aftermath of Israel’s rebellious and idolatrous worship of the Golden Calf, God reveals himself as merciful and gracious. 

As part of the Scriptures that Christians hold as authoritative, Exodus must not only entertain and capture our imagination, but also shape our understanding of God, humanity, and the world around us. Given its canonical importance, it is not surprising that Exodus continues to be the subject of scholarly research. This essay will review five recent works that will prove useful for pastors and teachers. 

Historicity of the Exodus Account
It is the unanimous testimony of the OT that God delivered Israel from Egyptian bondage. This begs the question: Did the Exodus actually occur? 
Two recent studies will help students understand the issues that shape the current debate over the historicity of Exodus. First, E. Frerichs and L. Lesko have edited Exodus: The Egyptian Evidence (Eisenbrauns, 1997). This work consists of the following papers originally presented at Brown University in 1992: “The Exodus: Egyptian Analogies” by A. Malamat, “Merneptah’s Canaanite Campaign and Israel’s Origins” by F.J. Yurco, “Observations on the Sojourn of the Bene-Israel” by D.B. Redford, “Is There Any Archaeological Evidence for the Exodus?” by W.G. Dever, “Exodus and Archaeological Reality” by J. Weinstein, and “Summary and Conclusion” by W.A. Ward. 

Malamat and Yurco are sympathetic to the possibility of an exodus though not on the scale portrayed in Exodus. Malamat discusses “indirect” sources for the Exodus. Several documents shed light on the milieu in which an exodus could have occurred. For example, one extant Egyptian papyri describes the tight control that Egypt maintained over its eastern border during the late 13th century and observes that people could only leave if they possessed a special permit. Another describes the escape of two slaves and provides parallels to the Exodus story: (1) the slaves escape at night from the city of Ramesses, (2) the Egyptian military pursues, and (3) the escape route is into the Sinai wilderness. None of this proves that Israel experienced an exodus from Egypt, but the analogies add credibility to the biblical account. Malamat suggests that migrations from Egypt probably spanned centuries. The peak period under Moses should be located during the collapse of the Egyptians and Hittites in the late 13th and early 12th centuries BCE. Yurco provides a good discussion of the Merneptah stele (ca. 1207 BCE) which contains the earliest extra-biblical citation of Israel and provides the latest possible date for the settlement of Israel in Canaan. 

Redford, Dever, Weinstein, and Ward are more skeptical. Redford studies the interaction between Egypt and its neighbors and concludes that during the New Kingdom period there is no evidence of any substantial resident Syrian-Palestinian population in Egypt. Dever discusses the implications of the lack of archaeological evidence for the Exodus, wilderness wanderings, and conquest. Dever concludes that it is more plausible to read Genesis-Joshua as folktale and to explain Israel as a natural indigenous population shift within Canaan. Weinstein further highlights the lack of archaeological support for the biblical narrative and states that “were it not for the Bible, anyone looking at the Palestinian archaeological record data would conclude that whatever the origins of the Israelites, it was not Egypt” (98). Ward provides a conclusion that reiterates the tensions between the archaeological record and the Bible. 

The skepticism present in the latter essays marks a distinct change in the scholarly consensus. As recently as 1981, J. Bright wrote, “There can really be little doubt that ancestors of Israel had been slaves in Egypt and had escaped in some marvelous way. Almost no one today would question it…Although there is no direct witness in Egyptian records to Israel’s presence in Egypt, the Biblical tradition a priori demands belief: it is not the sort of tradition any people would invent!” (A History of Israel [3d ed.; Westminster, 1981] 120-21).
In Israel in Egypt: The Evidence for the Authenticity of the Exodus Tradition (Oxford University Press, 1996), J.K. Hoffmeier provides a thorough evangelical assessment of the biblical, philological, and archaeological evidence regarding the Israelite sojourn in Egypt from the time of Joseph until the Exodus (Genesis 39—Exodus 15). He demonstrates the plausibility of the biblical record over against the skepticism of much recent scholarship. The first two chapters provide an overview of the current debate concerning the early history of Israel. He traces the discussion from the demise of the biblical depiction of a unified conquest of Canaan under Joshua to the current sociological and anthropological models that understand the rise of Israel as the culmination of a process indigenous to Canaan. Hoffmeier demonstrates that the issue turns on the scholar’s use of the biblical materials and aptly points out the shortcomings of much of current scholarship’s extreme skepticism. For example, given that the Bible contains many historical allusions regarding foreign cities and rulers that are reliable, are we really to imagine that Israelite writers knew more about other nations than they did about themselves? If the Exodus-Conquest model is a fiction, why is the biblical tradition so steadfast in its confession? Skepticism regarding Joshua’s portrayal of a conquest is also unwarranted. First, the lack of archaeological evidence of destruction may be mute because Joshua states that only three cities were destroyed. Second, scholars are often guilty of reading texts too literally rather than understanding the conquest narrative in the background of other Ancient Near Eastern military documents. Third, the issue of an essential continuity between the material culture of Israelite and Canaanite sites is related to point one—Israel moved into the cities of the defeated Canaanites (Deut 6:10-11). 
In the remainder of the work, Hoffmeier demonstrates that the narratives in Genesis 39—Exodus 15 are compatible with what scholars know from Egyptian history. Included are chapters on “Semites in Egypt,” “Joseph in Egypt,” “Israelites in Egypt.” “Moses and the Exodus,” “The Eastern Frontier Canal,” and “The Geography and Toponymy of the Exodus.” Hoffmeier’s method does not rely upon a source-critical reading of the text. Instead, he uses a comparative method that focuses not on a hypothetical reconstruction of the development of the Pentateuch, but on the texts themselves as they compare with Ancient Near Eastern texts. 

This book is important. It lays a solid historical foundation upon which to read the narratives of the Book of Exodus. It brings the student up to speed on current issues in Israelite historiography and, with clear argumentation built upon a wide range of evidence, it supports the reliability of the core Israelite confession, “I am the Lord your God who brought you out of Egypt” (Exod 20:1). 
Interpretation of the Text
Three outstanding commentaries have been published since 1987 that provide profound insights into the theological interpretation of Exodus. John I. Durham’s Exodus (Word, 1987) is avowedly evangelical. Following the standard Word commentary format, he offers a translation with notes, a discussion of critical issues, and commentary on each unit of Exodus. Durham’s over-arching concern is the explication of the central theological message of the book—“the fundamental biblical declaration that whatever else he may be, God is first of all a God at hand, a God with his people, a God who rescues, protects, guides, provides for, forgives, and disciplines the people who call him their God and who call themselves his people” (xxiii).
Durham offers helpful reviews of the historical-critical issues that have shaped the discussion of each passage, but he never allows this to blur the meaning of the final text. He is open to understanding Exodus as a composite work, but argues that it is a theological unity that has been carefully shaped by its editors.
Durham provides a superb translation of the text that closely follows the Hebrew and highlights the exegetical work upon which it is based. Updated bibliographies are included for each passage and more importantly Durham dialogues extensively with this literature in the body of his work. This provides the student with a guide to the vast secondary literature on Exodus. Some will be disappointed that Durham spends little time on issues of historicity. Without argumentation, he affirms a 13th century date for the Exodus. Also, given the current lack of consensus on the formation of the Pentateuch, it would have been helpful if Durham had related the results of his study to the debate on the overall compilation of the Pentateuch. 

Terrence Fretheim’s Exodus (John Knox, 1994) is a strong contribution to the Interpretation series. Though avoiding historical questions, Fretheim offers the reader a thorough theological interpretation of the book’s contents. He shows an appreciation for the overall literary context of the book in the exposition of individual passages and sensitivity to the interplay of story, liturgy, and law within Exodus. Throughout the work, Fretheim deals with such leading theological issues as images for God, knowledge of God, divine sovereignty and human freedom, liberation and Exodus, worship, and law and covenant. An outstanding excursus grapples with the issue of the hardening of Pharaoh’s heart. 

Fretheim’s lasting contribution may be his emphasis on the presence of Creation theology within Exodus. Previous scholars have noted parallels between Genesis 1-9 and the Tabernacle unit (Exodus 25-40) in terms of creation—fall—recreation, but Fretheim demonstrates cogently that creation themes run throughout the book. An allusion to creation is found in Exodus 1:7 where the narrator reports that in fulfillment of God’s imperative (Gen 1:28) the Israelites were “fruitful and multiplied.” Pharaoh’s genocidal intentions are not merely against Israel, but against God’s purposes for creation. God’s redemptive activity is thus cast as a response to Pharaoh’s anti-creational activities against Israel. This backdrop of creation theology serves to elevate God’s particular activity on behalf of Israel to an action with implications for all creation.
The final work for our consideration is W. Propp’s Exodus: A New Translation and Commentary (Anchor Bible; Doubleday, 1999). This first of a two-volume set covers Exodus 1-18. The massive scope of the Anchor Bible series allows for comprehensive treatment of issues related to the interpretation of Exodus. Propp provides a gold mine of information written in a clear style that makes the fruits of critical study available to his reader. Propp’s introduction explains the scope and purpose of his commentary and will be supplemented in the second volume by five appendices that will address larger historical-critical issues such as the validity of the Documentary Hypothesis and the emergence of Israel in light of contemporary archaeology. An exhaustive bibliography is provided for further study. 

The body of the commentary is devoted to discussions of the translation, text, source analysis, redaction analysis, and interpretive notes and comments for each passage. Propp’s gift is his ability to navigate through the depths of an enormous amount of secondary literature and an array of interpretive problems to focus on explaining the text itself. In the Notes sections, Propp carries on a lively debate with both ancient and modern interpreters. He considers alternate interpretations so the reader benefits from understanding other interpretations alongside Propp’s own. However, Propp does occasionally find ambiguity in the text and refuses to choose between alternatives. This commentary is not as overtly theological as the others, but it is the most comprehensive and up-to-date.
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Friday, August 12, 2011

Biblical Egyptology

                                          Doctor of Biblical Egyptology
                                                         Final Essay
Certainly the course proved to be informative and interesting. As a final essay I have endeavoured  to incorporate the general base of the course and that of research ,fact, thinking and my own views.

It is interesting to look at the times  to which this course relates, namely that of  1600-1200BC. At this period of time a tribal form of peoples existed.  Many were shepherds or nomads. It is interesting to consider  the events of the times.  This was the Bronze Age and the beginning of the Protodynastic period.Camels which we associate with Egypt, were not introduced into Egypt in quantity until 500BC. Horses which were much prized, brought in by the Hyksos during the Middle Kingdom.

In order to record commerce and administration, Egypt became the first to introduce books. The recording of all in hieroglyphs or cuneiform(wedge shaped). Hierogyphics gradually fading from use about 350 AD and cuneiform at the time of Christ. Much of our knowledge has come from archaeological finds or ancient writings.  With the writings and ancient scrolls we must of course  consider that much was written  in contex of the times. Some as fact, some as stories and some with a political agenda.
With the Holy Bible, we are looking at a very ancient work. In part holy for the Jews, wholly for Christians and an important text for the followers of Islam. Originally written in Hebrew. The first five called the Torah. The key books of Jewish biblical interpretation, called Midrashin, are sacred in Judaism almost as  sacred as the Torah. Interpretation has been an ongoing labour for many years and claims that the Bible is interpreted literally by some and others suggest it speaks in metaphors which allows some flexibility in doctrine.
There are writers of which we have learned much.Josephus,  born 37/38AD was a Greek historian and Jewish priest, also a defender of the Jewish religion and culture. We can  also remember the great contribution by Herodotus 5BC, thought of as the father of history. An important historian to those researching Ancient Egypt was Manetho circa 3rd. cent BC. Manetho, was a priest living in the early Ptolemaic period, his works include Aegyptiaca (A History of Egypt.)
An interesting point to mention is that the Egyptians were accomplished artists and builders. It is also interesting that they  either shunned perspective or simply did not understand it. It may be that it was to show greater detail in their artwork as can be seen in tableware seemingly to hover above tables etc.  Over the years there has been greater accuracy in dating artefacts found on sites being excavated. Of these radio carbon methods and isotope analysis have been used. MRI scanning of course has limited uses as hydrogen is required in the object being scanned.

Egyptian deities played a large part in the spread to other cultures in the region. The Egyptian worship of animals much to the distain of the  Graeco/Romans. However, the Egyptians turned animal worship into a symbol of national identity.

Late period religion to be assimilated into the Graeco/Roman world were deities such as Isis and Serapis, although other deities became well known   outside of Egypt. Among the others were Apis, Horus and Anubis.  It is known that various Egyptian cultures and deities were spread by Egyptian immigrants and others who had lived in Egypt.
A most popular divinity during the late period was Isis. It is thought that Isis was connected to the Royal throne and mistress of the house of life.  With all of the Egyptian deities there is an interrelationship, Isis with Horus, again an important god. An early royal god, Apis the sacred bull and various others, all of which are indicated in Egyptian hieroglyphics.

The Egyptian culture was in in contex of the times, quite advanced in relation to the Greek and Roman cultures. During the later era the practice of medicine was thought to be mainly of incantations to the gods and what would be  considered today as witchcraft and temple medicine. Evidence has indicated a knowledge of chemical medicine, probably not always effective.

Disease was a concern in Ancient times, certainly tuberculosis,  leprosy and malaria.

From earliest times survival has been to the forefront of mans thinking, Whether physical survival or that of the soul and eternal life. This is shown  In Egyptian culture.  Survival, whether of a society or that of the individual  must have been to the forefront of Moses mind  leading to the Exodus.

Moses is significant in various religions including Christianity and Islam. Moses is an Egyptian name (meaning One Who Is Born.) Certainly there are many questions to be answered and with each story of the Exodus

there is usually a scientific fact or reason. For instance in parting of the Red Sea (Ex. 14;21), The Ten Plagues and The Pillars of Cloud and  Fire (Ex.13;21). In respect of my own thinking and research reading, there are indications that Moses did exist and there was an Exodus but very much more is needed to tip the scales.

This essay was an attempt to give an overview and insight into the Ancient Egyptian era and that of Moses and Exodus. The development From the Predynastic period rising to a cultured society. Much of the culture passing on to Greek and Roman societies.

E.John Tucker       2011 

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Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Biblical Egyptology

Dr. of Biblical Egyptology
New Discoveries Lead to New Theories
Rev. Margie B

This essay is devoted to Sir Laurence Gardner (17 May 1943 – 12 August 2010)
My final essay will further explore lesson 16 in staying current with new discoveries.

My approach to writing an essay about this course will be a little different than most students. I believe that truth is stranger than fiction; and religious history, for me, is best approached like putting the pieces of a puzzle back together - the pieces being fragments of knowledge lost and found. These pieces are a mixture of conjecture and truth. To put the puzzle back together is to find a picture that shows that there is truth in myth, and unexpected wisdom in what is often viewed as mere quaint Biblical stories.

Adam's apple is so named because a piece of the biblical forbidden fruit is supposed to have stuck in his throat… Perhaps this is why the Forbidden Truth so often appears 'chewed up', transformed into metaphor, humour, satire, slang (or dream and myth, of course). -- Thomas Szasz

Staying current with new discoveries and theories requires me to view the story of the Exodus and other related texts in abstract fragments that correspond to certain historical events and scientific phenomena. The purpose of this essay is not to prove any holy book OR academic volume as "wrong," but to explore the provocative possibilities of how Moses can be placed into context of both conventional knowledge of history and unconventional theory. Within this essay is contained both independent scholarship and theory based upon it; which should not be confused with undeniable fact or even religious "truth."

This is also how I approach comparing religions of closely related cultures searching for deeper spiritual concepts - notably for this essay, the ancient near east Hurrians, the Mediterranean Cretans, and the north African Egyptians and how they relate to who the ancient Hebrews might have been.

Triangulating the Origins of the Hebrews

The Bible, and the culture of the ancient Hebrews, appears to be influenced from several major near East cultures of the time. One can cross reference several stories from the Old Testament with Mesopotamian, Egyptian, and even ancient Greek beliefs. How did the Bible come to contain several different stories obviously influenced from several different cultures? I think the answer is in the Hyksos - an ethnic group that has a long history of getting around the world of the ancient near east.

I believe that before the Bible was written, the Hebrews were a part of the Hyksos, a widespread and loosely related ethnic culture; often at odds not only with the larger cultures they dwelt among but also at odds with their kin as well. It's my opinion that to view any ancient ethnic group as a static, cohesive whole with no miscommunication or disagreement among the people is a naive and simplistic way to stereotype cultures we don't understand. Especially ethnic cultures like the Hebrews who were nomadic, loosely related groups that are influenced by the larger cultures around them. I believe that the battles written about in the Bible are cultural wars meant to bring the variances of their people together under one way of life and one religion.

The Hyksos are known in Egypt as the "foreign rulers;" appeared in the Eleventh dynasty of Egypt, were called the "Shepherd Kings" and were of non-Egyptian origin. There are many theories about their ethnic identity, the most convincing to me is that they were the ancient Levantines who would eventually come to be known in history as the Hebrews. The Hyksos had Canaanite names, as seen in those which contain the names of Semitic deities such as Anath or Ba'al. They introduced new tools of warfare into Egypt, most notably the composite bow and the horse-drawn chariot. The people are shown wearing the cloaks of many colors associated with the mercenary Mitanni bowmen and cavalry (ha ibrw) of Northern Canaan, Aram, Kadesh, Sidon and Tyre. The Hyksos Fifteenth Dynasty rulers established their capital and seat of government at Memphis and their summer residence at Avaris. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/hyksos)

The Hyksos, even after being expelled by Ahmose I, continued to play a strong role in Egypt long after their departure. This is evidenced by Ramesses I having hereditary states in the vicinity of Avaris; as well as Ramesses II who during his reign wholly lacked the anti-Hyksos invectives. Other notable evidence includes moving his capital city back to Avaris and re-named it after himself as Pi Ramesses; promotion of Asiatics to positions of prominence within the civil administration; celebrated the 400th anniversary of the worship of Sutekh (Set, the patron god of the Hyksos) in honor of his father Seti I; and even adopting a Semitic name for one of his favorite daughters Bintanath (meaning daughter of the goddess Anath).

Jacobivici suggests that the Hebrews and the Hyksos were one and the same, a thesis he supports with Egyptian style signet rings uncovered in the Hyksos capital of Avaris that read "Yakov/Yakub" similar to the Hebrew name of the Biblical patriarch Jacob (Ya'acov). -- Exodus Decoded

The Greeks would eventually identify the Hyksos within their own mythology of the expulsion of Belus (Baal, the major Cannanite god) and the daughters of Danaus (or Tribe of Danaus - or Biblically, the Tribe of Dan). This is only the beginning of the Hyksos connection with ancient Greeks. Danaus (represented as Hyksos) had a twin brother named Aegyptus (represented as Egypt); and when Aegyptus demanded that his sons marry Danaus' fifty daughters, Danaus built the first ship that ever was and fled to Argos. Danaus is descended from Io, who was turned into a heifer and pursued by Hera until she found asylum in Egypt.

Argos was ruled by King Pelasgus, which is an eponym for the indigenous inhabitants of Greece (perhaps Eteocretans?). Through careful reading we find that this is a political story that suggests that the Pelasgian kingship in Argos was overcome by seafarers out of Egypt whose leaders then intermarried with the local dynasty. We can compare this with the enigmatic Sea Peoples who brought about the collapse of several empires - the Hittite, Mitanni, and the Myceneans.

I feel that the ship Argo is connected to this story, even though the legend of Jason and the Argonauts says the ship was named after it's maker, Argus. Jason and the Argonauts also sailed to Minoan Crete, where the ship was attacked by Talon - a giant bronze golem-like entity (robot? More on ancient technology later) that could only be taken down by pulling a pin out of his leg and draining the oil. This is only one of many examples of technology the Minoans had, especially in context that the tale of Atlantis applies to Minoan Crete; and relates to popular theories that the eruption at Santorini could explain not only the story of Atlantis, but the story of the Exodus as well.

There is no mistake that there is a strong connection between Minoan Crete, Egypt, and the Hyksos. The Phaistos Disk bears strong resemblance to the Egyptian game Mehen, these games were a symbolic journey through the underworld. Cretan hieroglyphics can be compared to Egyptian religious symbolism. Minoan bull leaping paintings have been found in Avaris, the Hyksos capital during their occupation of Egypt. Phillip Coopens (http://www.philipcoppens.com/crete_dead.html) proposes that Minoan Crete was the Egyptian Island of the Dead.

Phillip Coppens contributes;

"In Knossos, an alabaster lid with the name of the Hyksos king Khyan has been found." And "During the Middle Kingdom (1500 BC), the dead in Egypt were buried in valleys – the same practice was adhered to in Crete, with one of the more famous Valley of the Dead behind the Palace of Kato Zakros. Namewise, Zakros is similar to Saqqara and Sokar, an important necropolis and god of the dead in ancient Egypt. Interestingly, the ancient Egyptians argued that the dead went to live on an island in the West. Crete is an island in the west. Furthermore, the concentration of Minoan civilisation is in Eastern Crete – the part closest to Egypt."

The bull is a sacred animal in both Minoan Crete and Egypt. There may even be evidence in the Bible of references to bull leaping: (http://www.lectio.unibe.ch/04_2/PDF/guillaume_blockman.pdf).

"By my God, I bull leap (Psalm 18:30 // 2 Samuel 22:30).

In comparison to the Stiersprungszenen of the √Ągais, Syria, Anatolia and Egypt the word rw * would have to be translated in the psalm 18.30 as well as in 2Samuel 20.30 not with "wall" simply separate with "bull". This also counts to all the other passages in the Bible in which the word rw * seems like in genesis 49:22; psalm 92:12. Psalm 18 should be counted unambiguously to the Stiersprungszenen.

Psalm 18:30 and its parallel in 2 Samuel 22:30 are considered obscure and exegetes have performed acrobatics over them. The general trend is to put the two parts of the verse in synonymous parallel and change dwdg into rwdg "wall" in light of rw# "wall" at the end of the verse."

Also in the Bible are strong parallels between the god of Abraham and Zeus. Not only did the ancient Levantines worship a god named Baal, Baal was also represented as a bull. The Greeks used Baal and Bel as interchangeable (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bel_%28mythology%29), and referred to Zeus as Zeus Belos, or Jupiter Belus (Latinized). The connection becomes clearer when Eusebius of Caesarea (Praeparatio Evangelica 9.18) cites Artabanus as stating in his Jewish History that Artabanus found in anonymous works that giants who had been dwelling in Babylonia were destroyed by the gods for impiety (reference to the Flood of Noah), but one of them named Belus escaped and settled in Babylon and lived in the tower which he built and named the Tower of Belus (reference to the Tower of Babel).

Greek Zeus was born on Crete, and was fed milk and honey by Melissa. This could very well be the origin of the reference to the promised land "flowing with milk and honey." The god of Abraham punished the world with a flood for the sin of cannibalism, assumed to have happened after angels lay with human women and created giants who resorted to eating humans after the food supply ran out. Zeus becomes very angry with men and decides to destroy them as revenge for their impieties (Tripp 608). His intention is to destroy all of mankind. However, Prometheus, who tells his son, Deucalion, to build an ark so Deucalion and his wife could escape Zeus wrath, thwarts Zeus attempt. Zeus also shares some parallels with Jesus and Moses, as he was hidden away soon after he was born to escape certain death. The Bible relates a story of how a woman brings death into the world, likewise the Greeks related the story of Pandora, who was also tempted to open the box where from all ills of the world escaped except hope. Even the creation myths of the Bible and the Greeks begin with a void.

And lastly, there's the ancient relic of the Ark of the Covenant that resembles the Minoan Tripartate Shrines.

Ancient Technology

The subject of ancient technology alone is controversial; add a well known and well liked religious figure like Moses and the complications only multiply. When most people think of ancient technology; they think of the wheel, plough, or the sword. These are fine examples of how humanity has developed the ability to make tools; however, the examples I think of are a lot more sophisticated and contain greater possibility to reconsider our knowledge of the quality of life in the ancient world. Such inventions like the Anikythera mechanism, used for astrological purposes; and the Baghdad Battery, used for electroplating are hard evidence that ancient people were not without the ability and capability to create the technology we have today.

There are other examples of technology, however, they rely on myth, religious testament, and speculation rather than hard evidence. Such examples include Vimana flying machines, the Dendera light bulbs, and the ancient accounts of disaster that resemble nuclear fallout.

The Bible contains possible examples of ancient technology and possibly even unidentified flying objects. The one form of technology that the Egyptian and the Hebrews had in common was known as "What is it?" in both cultures.

It is explained by Flavius Josephus in his 1st-century Antiquities of the Jews that the term 'manna' was actually a question, meaning, What is it? - and the book of Exodus confirms this, stating: "They called it manna because they knew not what it was". Laurence Gardner (http://graal.co.uk/whitepowdergold.html)

The Biblical description (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Manna#Biblical_description) of manna is that it appeared like dew in the morning six days out of the week. The sixth day the Hebrews were to gather enough to observe the Sabbath. Exodus adds that manna was comparable to hoarfrost in size, similarly had to be collected before it was melted by the heat of the sun, and was white like coriander seed in color. Numbers describes it as having the appearance of bdellium, adding that the Israelites ground it and pounded it into cakes, which were then baked, resulting in something that tasted like cakes baked with oil. Exodus states that raw manna tasted like wafers that had been made with honey.

The etymology of manna could be as simple as meaning food, or even plant lice - the honeydew harvested by aphids that evaporates quickly into a sticky solid that is a good source of carbohydrates.

Manna could even be something as simple as algae. George Sassoon, in the book "The Manna Machine," presents Othiq Yomin in the Zohar not merely as a visage of the god of Abraham known as the Ancient of Days, but as a machine that produced algae the Hebrews could have survived on while wandering in the wilderness. Algae may seem like a primitive solution to a fulfill base necessity of food, but scientists today are rediscovering it as an integral part of sustainable environmental technology. Trapping carbon dioxide and using it to grow algae not only helps the atmosphere, but can be refined to make biodegradable plastic, ethanol fuel for cars, and feed for farm animals.

But the question remains - "What is it?" And it is this question that places it in both Egypt and Moses. Is there a simple explanation or is manna something more? A part of technology that we haven't been able to unlock until the twenty first century?

David Hudson (http://www.asc-alchemy.com/hudson.html), while doing an analysis of natural resources in the area where he was farming, would come to be known as the re-discoverer of white powder gold, known to the Mesopotamians as 'shem-an-na' (highward fire-stone), the Egyptians as Mfkzt and shewbread, the Hebrews as Manna, and the alchemists as the Philosopher's stone.

"I am purified of all imperfections. What is it? I ascend like the golden hawk of Horus. What is it? I pass by the immortals without dying. What is it? I come before my father in Heaven. What is it?" - Papyrus of Ani


"Our Stone is nothing but gold digested to the highest degree of purity and subtle fixation. It is called a stone by virtue of its fixed nature; it resists the action of fire as successfully as any stone. In species it is gold, more pure than the purest; it is fixed and incombustible like a stone, but its appearance is that of a very fine powder". - Eirenaeus Philalethes, Secrets Revealed

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The uses of ORMEs (orbitally re-arranged mono-atomic elements) reported is varied and miraculous. When it is heated it has anti-gravity affects and appears to disappear and reappear when cooled. When it disappeared, you can try to stir it with a spoon but when it reappears it's like the spoon never touched it. Which means, it went somewhere while it was being heated. The Egyptians believed that the pharaohs, after death, moved on to the Field of Mfkzt, the realm of the blessed. Could this be where the gold "went" to when heated? Is it only a coincidence that the phrase "What is it" also meant "where is it?" in Egyptian hieroglyphs?

The substance was also found to be a natural superconductor with no magnetic field, repelling both magnetic poles, while having the ability to levitate and store any amount of light and energy within itself. Because gravity determines space and time, it was concluded by Hal Puthoff that any substance that any material that were capable of bending space and time be classified as "exotic matter." Miguel Alcubierre Moya confirms this exotic matter could be used to travel beyond the speed of light, and outside of time and space as we know it.

In 1995, the magazine Scientific American published a story called "Electric Genes" reporting that single ruthenium atoms are placed at each end of a short strand of DNA, the strand becomes 10,000 times more conductive; therefore making it a superconductor. Application of platinum metal compounds to DNA relaxes the strands and they correct themselves. Not by killing any cells, but by rebuilding them correctly.

The magical powder of projection was manufactured by the priestly Master Craftsmen of the temples (the Guardians of the House of Gold) for the express purpose of deifying the kings - and it re-emerges today as the primary new substance in fields ranging from cancer treatment to stealth aircraft. It will also provide the essential 'exotic matter' required for warp drive space travel in hitherto insurmountable dimensions of space-time. - Laurence Gardner

How this relates to certain myths like the Golden Fleece, and religious leaders like Moses is ground breaking to better understanding the technological feats of the ancient world. This reinterprets why Moses fed the golden calf to the Hebrews - obviously you cannot "burn" gold, but you can break it down to monoatomic form and consume it in water just like Exodus describes. He didn't force them to drink out of punishment, he was showing them that gold has a much more divine use than to form and worship idols with it! He was giving them the gift of health and longevity; as well as feeding their "light bodies" like Egyptians did.

Hebrews 9:4 states that the ark of the covenant contained "the golden pot that had manna" and Aaron's rod that had budded with power. If the Ark of the Covenant had a technological use, the most logical would be that it was an electrical conductor. Could Aaron's "rod" be a nuclear fuel rod? Could this explain why the Philistines returned the ark after only seven months, because they became overcome with skin tumors and boils? Could Manetho's account of Osarseph, who changed his name to Moses; and his followers being "lepers" be explained skin lesions from radiation poisoning?

Posted Image

Moses depicted above, and in various illustrations, show him with horns. This characteristic is associated with radiation exposure. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cutaneous_horn)

But where did it come from? Egypt? The Levant? The Bible isn't the only place we can find stories that seem to describe ancient atomic radiation. There are stories and examples that can be found around the world relating to ancient atomic capabilities. (http://www.s8int.com/atomic1.html)


As we move forward into a more advanced, brighter future I feel that new discoveries in science and technology in conjunction with archeology will give us a broader and deeper perspective about Moses. Staying current with new discoveries, both scientific and archaeological will give the lifelong student of Biblical Egyptology the tools they need to form independent new theories about the nature of the cultures that eventually penned their sacred books.

I feel that the study of ancient technology will open a new door of wonder and respect for our collective ancestors. They may not have been the backward thinking primitives many modern people assume them to be. Having faith may not be a great obstacle to scientific and technological advancements after all. Perhaps, faith in the divine is the catalyst of human creation that drives us to become better than we are. And that's the ultimate message of all holy books that exist today.


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Friday, July 1, 2011

Biblical Egyptology

This course is a rigorous introduction to the field of Biblical Egyptology and explores in some detail questions concerning the historicity of Moses and the Exodus of the Israelites from Egypt. It provides the student with an overview of Egyptian history beginning with the Predynastic period which began about 4000 BCE and ending with the Graeco-Roman period. It discusses difficulties and controversies concerning dating and transparently explores the opinions of various scholars and schools of thought. It goes beyond merely regurgitating information to explore the sources of information such as the various king’s lists and the problems with those sources. It also provides a brief overview of the gods of Egypt and theories concerning the origin of the Egyptian hieroglyphics. 

A major portion of the course is concerned with the evidence concerning Moses and the historicity of the exodus of the Israelites from Egypt as described in the Bible. Various theories are mentioned including Graham Phillips’s belief that Thutmose IV was Moses or rather, one of two “Moses” personalities. 

One of the more interesting theories is that Moses was originally a priest at Heliopolis named Osarseph who changed his name to Moses when he joined with his own people according to Manetho who was the Egyptian High Priest of the Sun God. This is particularly interesting because of the name change under Akhneton which would have caused Osarseph to become Ramoses – which the author points out would have been represented in hieratic as simply ms. I find this theory particularly intriguing since we read about Joseph marrying the daughter of the high priest of On (Heliopolis) where the sun god, Ra, was worshiped.

Then there are also the ideas that Senmut, vizier to Hatshepsut or Thutmoses III, was the historical Moses. (Although some have proposed him as Solomon but the dates do not work out right.) And the idea that Sinhue may have been Moses is supported by the parallels between the story of the two men. According to Berkeley, Sinhue was Ra-hotep which would have been the equivalent of Moses. And then there is the amazing analysis and commentary of the Star Priest statue with the conjecture that it might actually represent Moses.

I find all of this information fascinating. The course opens the door to a number of fascinating questions and issues including the nature and origin of writing, the relationship of the Egyptians and Hebrews with other ancient people, questions of Egyptian history, and questions of Biblical history. He also provides the student with an impressive bibliography for further research. This course is well worth the tuition and effort for anyone who is seriously interested in ancient Egypt or the early Biblical period.

It does raise for me three specific questions or areas of inquiry. These concern the language of the Egyptians and Hebrews, the identity of the Hebrews and the role of Mesopotamia, and the question of the relevance of this information theologically.

As for language, the author mentioned two points that I found particularly interesting. He mentions that Moses may have written the Pentateuch in cuneiform and he notes the absence of any bilingual dictionaries. 

The idea that Moses may have written the Pentateuch in cuneiform is fascinating because it points again to the importance of Mesopotamia in the origin and development of the Biblical teachings. But it also points to a greater role of Mesopotamian culture in Egypt than is usually given by most authors who tend to treat Egypt as a totally separate culture that arose without the influence of other societies. Of course we know from archaeology that there were cities and significant cultural development in southwest Asia that preceded the Predynastic period of Egypt. The archaeological evidence from Jericho in Palestine and Catal Huyuk in what is now Turkey shows cities with domesticated animals, grain storage, and religious shrines many thousands of years prior to Predynastic Egypt. Similarly, the Sumerian civilization (which itself was lost to memory until modern times) has revealed through the libraries of cuneiform tablets found in the late nineteenth century that it had a sophisticated system of schools, economics, justice, and writing prior to the rise of the Egyptian civilization. It seems likely that these ancient cultures played some role in the development of Egypt and it is clear that Mesopotamian culture played a role in the development of the Hebrew culture and religion. This is evident in such parallels as the story of Utnapishtim with that of Noah. 

The Mesopotamian evidence on the Hebrew culture and religion is also explicit in the Biblical text where we find that the patriarchs of the Hebrew people – Abraham and Eber – came from Mesopotamia. Abram came from the Mesopotamian city – Ur of the Chaldees and it seems that his ancestors were resident there or in other Mesopotamian cities. One of his ancestors, Eber, was apparently recognized as the ancestor of the Hebrew people – some of them preceded Abraham to the Levant where he would become known as a Hebrew. It would be several more generations before a portion of his descendants would become known as Israelites.

In any case it seems likely that the writing method of Mesopotamia – cuneiform would have been a likely method for the original writing of the Hebrew scriptures. The Aramaic alphabet which would later become the source of most of the world’s alphabets including those of the Greeks, Phoenicians, Hebrews, Arabs, and later even the Romans and the Copts. But prior to the rise and spread of Aramaic (which did not occur until the late Babylonian and early Persian period) cuneiform was used to produce libraries of clay tablets that included business records, religious texts, medical references, material medica, literature, legal texts, and a large number of divinatory texts. Given that the Sumerian developed the oldest form of writing so-far discovered and that it was influential to the Indus River and even in China, it seems likely that it was influential on the development of the sacred writing of the Egyptians and among the literate classes who conducted business and diplomatic relations with the cultures of Anatolia and Mesopotamia.

As for the absence of dictionaries I have no clear answers but I do have some thoughts. It is not surprising to me that there would be no bilingual Greek-Egyptian dictionaries. The Greeks in their arrogance never at any time expressed any interest in the languages of non-Greeks. They never acknowledged their debts to other cultures including the Sumerians and Persians, even when those borrowings were significant as with the teachings and practices at the temple of Asclepius. In fact, it would be surprising to find any evidence of Greek interest in the languages of the rest of the world. 

It is interesting however that there are no bilingual dictionaries with Egyptian and languages recorded in cuneiform. We know that the Egyptians used cuneiform in their diplomacy and trade. I think there might be several possible explanations for the absence of dictionaries. First, the sacred writing of the Egyptians was just that – sacred and it probably never occurred to them to translate these writings into a secular form. What would be the point? Secondly, there is the reality that only a minority of the Egyptians would have been literate and most of those would have been priests with no interest in translation or writing in other tongues. Those literate in cuneiform would have comprised an even smaller number and they probably learned cuneiform from Mesopotamian clerks who even at that early date were members of guilds who learned writing in a very formalized manner in schools. This same approach would have been used to teach their Egyptian students and consisted of learning the cuneiform syllabary by rote on some sort of erasable tablet. In other words, the Egyptian users of cuneiform may have not felt the need for dictionaries. After all, dictionaries are not commonly found among any ancient cultures.

On the other hand it is a little surprising that there are not some sort of dictionaries or word lists found among the libraries of ancient Mesopotamia. And, there may be some sort of dictionaries to compare the multiple languages of southwest Asia which included Akkadian, Hittite, Mitanni, Elamite, and Old Persian. The problem here is that the impressive libraries of that area have only recently been rediscovered and there were undoubtedly many which remain lost. We know that Alexander the Great (or the Accursed if you were one of the victimized cultures) destroyed over 10,000 volumes of sacred writings at Persepolis. We also know that the Persians from Cyrus the Great until after the rise of Islam had schools and teaching hospitals and they made great efforts to collect and translate the writings of other cultures. Their libraries held millions of volumes in Samarqand, Bokhara, Baghdad, Tabriz, and elsewhere. Unfortunately many of these books were lost in the destructives wars of the Mongols, Timurlane, and the Arabs. A similar loss of culture can be seen in Egypt where the production of hieroglyphs and the practice of the ancient religion quickly declined under the rules of the Greeks and Romans. In fact, we can see from Coptic writings that Greek culture largely replaced that of Egypt in that the greatest portion of Coptic writings now known are either versions of the Illiad or commentaries on the Illiad.

Even at that I have to hope that there still lie more under the sands of the desert which like the Coptic writings at Nag Hammadi, the Dead Sea Scrolls, and the Persian writings of the Gobi desert will shed still more light on our understanding of ancient history.

It is clear that the ancient Hebrews and other Semites lived in a world that was much more complex and sophisticated than is sometimes supposed. The eastern end of the Mediterranean was connected by trade and conflict with Egypt, Anatolia, and Mesopotamia. The author mentions how Jerusalem was a vassal state of Egypt by the mid-1330s BCE. The Bible mentions how the Israelites were conquered by the Babylonians and later ruled by the more benign Persians. Each of these great civilizations influenced the Hebrews and Israelites and each of them also interacted with each other as allies, enemies and partners in trade. But the identity of these various groups of people is not always clear from the historical record.
The author mentions the Saka were called by the Babylonians Gimirri and by the Assyrians Khumri and speculates that they may have been the Lost Ten Tribes. The speculation then leads to the Welsh Celtic Kumery since the Welsh were Khumru or Cymry which may in turn may be connected to Kimmeroi or Cimmerian. Certainly there seems to be some connection between the Welsh and the Iranian people known as Cimmerian especially when we remember that Saka was the most common term for those Iranian nomads who would become known as Scythians in Europe. A Celtic-Iranian Scythian connection has been shown by archaeology as well as by linguistics, legend, and history. But what does this have to do with the Lost Ten Tribes?

The truth is that we do not know for certain how the various ethnic groups and nations of the ancient world developed. We know that they spoke different languages. The Hittites, Mitanni, Medes, Persians and other Iranian people spoke Indo-European languages akin to modern Persian. The Babylonians, Arameans, Arabs, and Hebrews spoke Semitic languages similar to those of modern Arabic, Aramaic, Hebrew, and Amharic. We know there were cultural differences in clothing and customs but there was also extensive interaction between cultures especially during the rule of the Persians. In at least one case we know of a sophisticated urbanite, Abram, who took his family to live a pastoral existence. The opposite probably occurred many times as well just as we know that Hittites lived in Egypt and Israel, Israelites and Greeks in Persia, and merchants connected everyone from Egypt to India.

The development of the Semites who in turn gave rise to the Hebrews who in turn gave rise to the 12 tribes of Israel and the 12 tribes of Ishmael left little if any record. The relationship of these ancient peoples with others is scarcely mentioned in any record. We can of course explore the records including those of Egypt and attempt to understand the history and development of these people – including the story of Moses and the Exodus but at this point it is like a giant complex jig saw puzzle which is missing many parts. I think it is a fascinating realm of inquiry that is well worth pursuing although perhaps not possible without much more information than we now have available.

Finally I have to ask, Does it really matter? Do we need to know the identity of Moses from historic records? Do we need to know the details of the formation of the Hebrews and Israelites? I think we as humans need to ask and need to search for answers and that is just part of being human. But it is important theologically? Do we need to prove the historic validity of the Biblical record as ministers? I don’t think so. The historical truth of the Bible does not have any bearing for me on the importance or meaning of the teachings of the Bible. The historicity of Moses or Noah has no bearing on the wisdom of their respective covenants or laws. In fact, while I think it is an important and valid intellectual pursuit to explore theses questions of history, sociology, and anthropology, I can see that when taken to the extreme they distract from the core issues of Biblical teachings. Far too many people treat the Bible as a history or science text and focus far too much energy on “proving” the Bible by fighting evolution, archaeology, and other scholarship rather than adding wisdom to wisdom. They are focused on what is truly trivial when compared with the profound teachings of justice, compassion, grace, sacrifice, and wisdom that form the core of the Biblical teachings. I don’t think this course has taken this lesser road however and recommend it to anyone who wants to learn more about the background of the Holy Scriptures.

Rev Robert Nelson


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Saturday, June 18, 2011

Biblical Egyptology

            The question about the existence of evidence supporting the Biblical Exodus was dealt with exhaustively contained in this learning experience.  When I underwent theological training thirty many years ago, I was taught that there was absolutely no empirical proof outside in the Bible supporting the Exodus.  That was the prevailing view among intellectuals in the time of day, but Dr. Federspiel has done a excellent job of updating my understanding on a subject, as well as I would’ve to agree with him that there is certainly indeed substantial empirical proof supporting aspects of the Biblical version.  She did not give absolute proof in the Exodus, but there may be certainly a preponderance of empirical proof that a thing approximating the Biblical story happened nearly three thousand five hundred decades ago.

            Although I was told there was no extra Biblical evidence supporting the Exodus, I accepted its existence as both a normal matter of faith as well as with the understanding that the Bible was not written like a fictional story but was attempting to be factual along with was taken extremely seriously by Jews, Muslims, along with Christians.  Though I acquired been taught the initially eleven chapters of Genesis had been essentially tribal myth along with not to have gotten taken literally, from Abraham on, there was extra Biblical support and archeology has supported the facts quite well.  The numbers may well have been exaggerated or numerological schemes, but there was support to the existence of your men and women along with places discussed inside the text.  Because the Exodus was included within the part in the Bible dealing together with history as well as was taken by the Hebrew folks as factual, We have at all times accepted the simple facts of the story.  That does not mean that I accepted each of the events as literally true, as they ended up recollections of people carried through the centuries, of a heroic history.  We existing in the modern world often exaggerate the exploits of our ancestors, so I had expected no less of the Children of Israel, however from the simple facts, I at all times had thought there has got to be a general truth, which would include their appearance in Egypt several hundred years before the Exodus, and also the leadership of the particular person by the name of Moses to lead a group of Semitic people out of that land.  It did not have to be like the Hollywood version with the story to seem generally true genuine.  There might have been a relatively small number of Jews going out of Egypt and settling contained in Palestine to the story to be heart-felt in my brain.  Dr. Federspiel has convinced me that my assumption was indeed correct and something indeed happened.  Furthermore, although it gives the appearance that a great deal of Egyptian history was lost to internal squabbling, fighting, wars, along with normal disasters, adequate circumstantial evidence exists to support the quiet presence of quite a large number of Semites contained in Egypt who showed up in Jerusalem.

            I was interested to find out that a staff was found inside the crypt of Jordan of Tuthmoses IV –Moses II inscribed with Egyptian hieroglyphic symbols and Graham Phillips guess that it belonged to Moses.   Though it is not proof, it's an interesting theory that I feel needs further study.  Most certainly it proves that Egyptian along with Semitic individuals had contact with each other from the region of modern day Israel . 

            1 point that seems certain is that Moses had been a authentic person.  He was referenced by both Manetho as well as Artapanus.  Manetho says that the Egyptians "troubled by calamities, contained in order the divine wrath might be averted, expelled the foreigners…their leader explained to have been Moses."  If a pagan Egyptian priest living three hundred years before the Common Era has a record of the person by the name of Moses who was kicked out of Egypt to appease the gods, Moses probably existed.   Moses is actually a popular Egyptian name, not a Hebrew one.  It truly is unlikely the Hebrew writers of the story would have made up the name from thin air.  Just the fact that they ended up in a position to occur up together with an Egyptian name for their hero suggests some knowledge of Egypt .  To have an Egyptian pagan priest confirm the simple facts of that story is extra than an interesting coincidence.  It suggests the simple events with the story actually took place and acquired a significant impact on Egypt. 

     Don't forget that Manetho was remembering an event that occurred far more than a thousand many years before her time.  We don't recall trivial events that prolonged.  One thing significant must have taken place.  Like a normal matter of fact, aided by the evidence of an Egyptian priest, I am convinced that the Exodus was extra significant an event than I had originally thought.  My expectations for that Exodus were small.  I figured a small number of folks left Egypt as well as settled contained in Palestine .  I really downplayed the plagues in my head, growing as the receiver of your liberal theological education.  After looking with the proof submitted by Dr. Federspiel, I am forced to accept the possibility that even the plagues along with miracles may perhaps have some validity.   That the plagues were recorded and remembered because a thousand many years in Egypt, they must have happened and Moses was credit because those things. 

     Furthermore, it seems quite likely that the military defeat in the " Reed Sea " may perhaps have happened far too, as that will be significant reason the bear in mind Moses.

            It is much too bad that a fire destroyed the Alexandria Library and anti pagan fervor during the Christian era, lead to the destruction of so much material contained in Egypt.   It's also far too bad that early European Archeologists collecting samples from ancient Egypt have been so sloppy that they destroyed priceless papyri codices as well as fragments.  Because so much material has been permanently lost, we will never have the total picture of Moses along with the Exodus, however to say there is no empirical proof that survives today may be to be far through the truth.  We have a very great deal of circumstantial evidence preserved by Josephus and Eusebius.  Furthermore, there may be possible archeological evidence growing as unearthed today, though our comprehension of your hieroglyphs will make it heart-renderingly solid to interpret.  With time to go along with further work on interpreting of Egyptian Hieroglyphs, it seems certain the existence of Moses is going to be proven beyond a reasonable doubt.



The Universal Life Church is a comprehensive online seminary where we have classes in Christianity two courses in , Wicca, several in  Paganism, two courses in Metaphysics and much more. I have been a proud member of the ULC for many years and the Seminary since its inception.
The Universal Life Church offers handfasting ceremonies, funeral ceremonies and free minister training.
As a long time member of ULC, Rev. Long created the seminary site to help train our ministers. We also have a huge selection of Universal Life Church  minister supplies. Since being ordained with the Universal Life Church for so many years and it's Seminary since the beginning, I've watch the huge change and growth that has continued to happen.
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Friday, April 1, 2011

Biblical Egyptology

By: John Francis Cavener
Doctor of Biblical Egyptology Course

I have greatly enjoyed the challenges presented in this course. There are many questions and fascinating discoveries surrounding the events depicted in the Bible. I am most intrigued by the "Exodus" of the Israelites out of Egypt. Among Egyptologists there is much controversy over the alleged great Biblical Exodus of Israelites out of Egypt under the leadership of Moses. Some Egyptologists point to the critical lack of evidence that the event ever occurred and speculate that what may have happened, was that there possibly could have been a relatively small migration of Israelites who fled Egypt during a period of depression. The difficult times of drought or famine quite possibly may have been a result of a series of unfortunate natural disasters, such as the Santorini volcanic eruption; thus leading to assigning of blame for the events to the Israelites. The events, some believe, were then greatly embellished in later generations to add far more drama and luster to the story.

One of the more curious details about the whole Exodus story is one rarely mentioned or discussed, but may in fact be the one detail that hints at what may have actually ignited the rapid rush out of Egypt and the subsequent pursuit of the Pharaoh after the Israelites.

The book of Exodus chapter 12 verses 35 and 36 states:

"And the children of Israel did according to the word of Moses; and they borrowed of the Egyptians jewels of silver and jewels of gold, and raiment (Holy Bible, Exodus 12:35):"

"And the LORD gave the people favor in the sight of the Egyptians, so that they lent unto them such things as they required. And they spoiled the Egyptians (Exodus 12:36)."

This tells us that this was done in obedience to earlier instructions from Moses as supposedly predicted by God:
"And I will stretch out my hand, and smite Egypt with all my wonders which I will do in the midst thereof: and after that he will let you go (Exodus 3:20)."

"And I will give this people favor in the sight of the Egyptians: and it shall come to pass, that, when ye go, ye shall not go empty (Exodus 3:21):"

"But every woman shall borrow of her neighbor, and of her that sojourneth in her house, jewels of silver, and jewels of gold, and raiment: and ye shall put them upon your sons, and upon your daughters; and ye shall spoil the Egyptians (Exodus 3:22)."

This allegedly fulfills an earlier prophecy found in the book of Genesis chapter 15:13-14 that reads:

"And he said unto Abram, Know of a surety that thy seed shall be a stranger in a land that is not theirs, and shall serve them; and they shall afflict them  four hundred years (Genesis 15:13);"

"And also that nation, whom they shall serve, will I judge: and afterward shall they come out with great substance (Genesis 15:14)."  

The great marauding and plundering that supposedly takes place on the last night, the eve of the Exodus, was also the night all of Egypt's first born children are killed by God during the first Passover. The story goes on to tell us that Pharaoh was so upset and distraught, he commanded the Israelites to leave Egypt because it appeared as if their presence seemed to have brought a terrible curse upon Egypt.

What happens next is somewhat peculiar; consider the following events.

Exodus 14:5 indicates that word reached Pharaoh that the Israelites had fled the land which, if we recall, was ordered by the same Pharaoh. Here he seems stunned that they actually left and it is even more surprising when you consider the large number of Israelites that left Egypt according to the Bible. If Exodus 14 is to be believed, it's as if the Pharaoh was completely oblivious to this.

As a result, we are told that Pharaoh has "a change of heart" and amasses an army to go after the Israelites to bring them back into slavery. That Pharaoh having a change of heart is puzzling considering he gave the order for them to leave Egypt in the first place. Considering that in a superstitious world, it would be very easy to believe that as long as the Israelites remained in the land, Egypt would continue to suffer from one disaster after another while the Israelite groups in the Goshen area of Egypt were unaffected by the plagues. Why would Pharaoh want to bring them back knowing the disaster their presence brought?

What some scholars have suggested is, the 'mixed multitude' of Israelites actually marauded and plundered as opposed to borrowing Egyptian items on their migration out of Egypt as indicated in Exodus 12: 35-36. The theory is that Pharaoh was actually pursuing the Israelites to take back and return what was stolen from and rightfully belonged to the Egyptian people. The rest of the Exodus story, they posit, is highly propagandized and/or embellished to sanitize it in favor of the Israelites while simultaneously demonizing the Egyptians and Pharaoh.  It leaves me asking the question as to why would the Egyptians and Pharaoh have been so sympathetic toward the Israelites and in such a giving and generous mood when it was quite evident the Israelites were responsible for all the ills and despair Egypt had suffered compounded by the deaths of all their firstborn.

The much, so much more to explore and learn about humanity's past. How we evolved and developed through the ages. How we humans learned and explored our environment and our inner being guided by a spark of curiosity, awe, faith, and mystery. How we learned to socialize, grow and develop fantastic civilizations and beliefs as we continue to occupy this planet. We all still have much to learn as we continue our quest to learn who we are. Thank you for a great course.

Work(s) Cited

The Holy Bible. Authorized King James Version. Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 

Best Wishes,
John Francis Cavener


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Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Biblical Egyptology Course

Final Essay for Biblical Egyptology

The Biblical Egyptology course presents and discusses many pieces of evidence to support the Biblical Exodus of the Jews from Egypt and the existence of the man Moses. The primary textbook for the course is “A History of Ancient Egypt” by Nicolas Grimal. It is interesting that this text states on page 258 that there are no surviving Egyptian sources, which describe the Exodus. Yet the course provides Egyptian evidence such as steles, papyrus, and documents of painted stone.
The window of time in which the Exodus likely occurred is from the 12th to the 19thth Egyptian dynasty. Sources put the 12th dynasty at approximately 1985 – 1795 B.C.E. The Exodus likely occurred between the 16th dynasty and the rule of one of the first four pharaohs of the 19th dynasty, which would be approximately 1600 - 1200 B.C.E. Egyptian dynasties. Many scholars believe the time of Biblical Joseph, the famine, and the Jews migrating to Egypt was the 12
Mention is made of a documentary created by Simcha Jacobovici called “Exodus Decoded”. This documentary can be seen on TV or possibly rented from a library. Much compelling evidence of the Exodus is presented and the likely year is identified. Of course, this information is quite compelling due to the dramatic television style of presentation. Still it was quite interesting and worth viewing.
Let us turn to some of the specific evidence presented in the course. On the Merneptah Stele there is reference to Merneptah’s victory over the Israelites in Palestine. The Stele indicates the Israelites had already left Egypt by the time of Merneptah’s reign. Merneptah was the son of Ramses II and the fourth pharaoh of the 19th dynasty. Though this might not indicate a mass Exodus, it does indicate that there were hostilities between the Jews and Egyptians at this time and that the Jews were no longer in Egypt.
Some accept the Quran as corroborating evidence of the Exodus, since it tells of the Exodus story. But, it is questionable as evidence because it was written much later than the Old Testament and even the New Testament. The source of the information it contains about the Exodus could have come from the Old Testament.
One of the most intriguing pieces of supporting evidence of the Exodus is “Hecataeus, His Work, and the Jewish Excursus”. This is transcribed literature from c.400 B.C.E. This document says the “aliens (believed to be the Jews) were driven from the country (Egypt)”. It says most were driven into Judea and were headed by a man called Moses. This document could be a re-telling of the Exodus story from the Old Testament. However, it does include much other information not found in the Old Testament. For example it states that some of the aliens driven from the country were “cast ashore in Greece and certain other regions”. This is a topic investigated more thoroughly in the “Exodus Decoded” documentary.
Another piece of supporting evidence is the writings of Artapanus. He was a Jewish historian. His writings were transcribed by Eusebius, who had influence in the Council of Nicea, around 300 A.D. These writings contain the Exodus story.
This course presents many tangible items of evidence for the Biblical account of Moses and Exodus. They support Moses and Exodus, but do not provide dates or name the pharaohs of the Exodus time period clearly enough to be certain of which pharaoh it was and thus provide us with an approximate date based on the dynasty. There is a document available known as a “king’s list”, which list the order of pharaohs and the dynasty in which they reigned. Various Egyptologists have created different versions and provided the years of reign for each pharaoh along with the dynasty.
The literary accounts of Manetho and Josephus provide the more credible accounts that confirm the Exodus. Josephus lived from 37 A.D. to 100 A.D. (approximately) and became known as Titus Flavius Josephus. He was a Jewish historian who recorded the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 A.D. He has many writings which are available today in book form. He transcribed the writings of Artapanus and Manetho.

Manetho was an Egyptian priest and lived from 305 B.C. to 285 B.C. He interpreted ancient Egyptian records and kings lists. No complete versions of his writings are available today. But, Josephus preserved extracts of his writings. Josephus identifies the Israelite Exodus with the first Exodus mentioned by Manetho.

Much account is given in this course of the Hyksos, which are likely a Semitic culture, possibly the Jews who left Egypt in the Exodus event. Evidence of two Exodus like events is presented. Enough evidence is presented supporting the Biblical Exodus to cause one to believe it did indeed happen.

Rev. Tyler

The Universal Life Church is a comprehensive online seminary where we have classes in Christianity two courses in , Wicca, several in  Paganism, two courses in Metaphysics and much more. I have been a proud member of the ULC for many years and the Seminary since its inception.
The Universal Life Church offers handfasting ceremonies, funeral ceremonies and free minister training.
As a long time member of ULC, Rev. Long created the seminary site to help train our ministers. We also have a huge selection of Universal Life Church  minister supplies. Since being ordained with the Universal Life Church for so many years and it's Seminary since the beginning, I've watch the huge change and growth that has continued to happen.
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