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Did Moses Really Exist And Did The Exodus Ever Take Place?

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Author Topic: Did Moses Really Exist And Did The Exodus Ever Take Place?  (Read 2397 times)
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« on: April 25, 2009, 07:52:06 pm »

                                              The Mummy of the 'Pharaoh of Moses'

By Zahi Hawass
April 24, 2009
Al Ahram Weekly


I recently read on the Internet the story of Ramses II's mummy.

We know that during the late 1970s the French president, Giscard d'Estaing, asked President Anwar El-Sadat if the mummy of Ramses II could be sent to Paris for conservation and preservation. Being that this mummy did not require any treatment, the real reason behind their request lay in their search for the Pharaoh of the biblical Exodus whom they believed to be Ramses II, also known as Ramses the Great, third ruler of the New Kingdom's 19th Dynasty. This ulterior motive, however, was never voiced to the authorities.

According to the holy books, the Pharaoh ruling in Moses's time drowned in the Red Sea during an epic chase after the parting of the waters. The French scientists were seeking evidence to prove the occurrence of this miraculous event.

The mummy of Ramses the Great was given a royal welcome at Le Bourget airport. Even the French president attended the glamorous ceremony. The mummy was then transferred to the French archaeological centre for examination.

One of the scientists responsible for the mummy's examination was a very dishonest man. He stole strands of Ramses II's hair and kept them for himself. Later on, his son attempted to sell the strands of hair on the Internet. With the help of our ambassador to France, Nasser Kamel, we were able to put an end to this and return the strands of hair to Cairo.

On the mummy's return to Cairo, reporters interviewed the French scientist about his findings. He stated that, inside the mummy, he had discovered a strange insect. The reporters laughed and called it a French insect. I seriously believe that sending the mummy of Ramses II to France was a big mistake.

Numerous false ideas about the mummy have recently been published. First, it has been said that the hands of the mummy are positioned differently than all other royal mummies, especially the left hand. This is inaccurate. Both Ramses II's arms are laid on his chest, just like all the other royal New Kingdom mummies. It has also been said that when the linen surrounding the mummy was untied the left arm jumped up, leading to the conclusion that the embalmers forced the mummy's arms position. Finally, some have stated that the laboratory results demonstrated the remains of salt inside the body of Ramses II, and that X-rays showed that many of his bones were broken. According to theorists, these results indicate that the Pharaoh drowned in the sea. They claimed that the strange position of his left hand indicated that he was holding the reins of a horse, while swinging a sword in his right. Furthermore, they added that while the Pharaoh was drowning he was attempting to push the water with his left hand, hence the reason for the embalmers having to force the left arm back into the traditional position.

I do not think that any of these ideas is correct. Egyptologists know that salt was used in the mummification process and that a great amount of salt is always found while examining mummies. For example, about 28 large jars full of natron, the type of salt used in mummification, were recently discovered in tomb KV 63 in the Valley of the Kings. Therefore, the fact that salt was found inside the royal mummy of Ramses II does not, by any means, prove that he drowned in the Red Sea. This said, I do not believe that there is any real evidence demonstrating that Pharaoh Ramses II drowned at all.

All these theories posted on the Internet are inaccurate, as the research conducted was not scientific.

It is my opinion that we should conduct further research into the lineage of Ramses II. Now that I have successfully had the mummy believed to be that of Ramses I flown back to Cairo from Atlanta, our scientists can investigate further into the true identity of this mummy. Lastly, with the help of the DNA labs and CT-Scanning machines in Cairo, the Egyptian Mummy Project can begin to determine the true identity of Ramses II's family members. These tests could, perhaps, also help us answer the everlasting question of whether or not Ramses II was truly the Pharaoh of the Exodus. Most importantly, the CT- Scanning machine can take up to 1,700 images which will reveal to be important evidence for our research.

It will be the first time that an Egyptian team has attempted this study.


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« Reply #1 on: April 25, 2009, 07:55:56 pm »

The ancient Exodus from Egypt has been a rich symbol for liberation movements and literature, but those who try to dig up the evidence of the mass migration say the proof is nowhere to find.

For the past several years archaeologists searching for desert routes or evidence of Joshua's conquest of Canaan have encountered a dead end.

Yet Bible scholars and historians continue the quest, amassing what circumstantial evidence they can find, but no real proof....
« Last Edit: April 25, 2009, 07:58:01 pm by Bianca » Report Spam   Logged

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« Reply #2 on: April 25, 2009, 07:57:05 pm »

                                        Did Moses really exist and did the Exodus ever take place?

Let's start with the prequel to the Exodus, the story of Joseph and his family. Excavations in the eastern delta
of the Nile have revealed a gradual increase in Canaanite pottery, architecture, and tombs, beginning about
1800 B.C.

As explained by Donald Redford, professor of Near Eastern studies at the University of Toronto, in his book Egypt, Canaan, and Israel in Ancient Times, these findings are broadly consistent with the tale of Joseph, the visits of his family to Egypt, and their eventual settlement there.[1] Archaeologists have identified the site of Avaris, the Egyptian city of that period that was the capital of a people known as the Hyskos, a name which translates from the Egyptian as "rulers of foreign land." Inscriptions and seals bearing the names of Hyskos kings indicate that they were Canaanites.

Although the Egyptian historian Manetho, writing in about 300 B.C. from an Egyptian perspective, asserts that Egypt was brutally invaded by the Hyskos, archaeologists believe the takeover was peaceful. However, the forceful expulsion of the Hyskos as described by Manetho is supported by other archaeological and historical sources. The most reliable evidence, according to Redford, suggests that Pharaoh Ahmose and his forces attacked and defeated the Hyskos in Avaris, and chased them out of Egypt into southern Canaan in 1570 B.C.[2]

The Roman-Jewish historian, Flavius Josephus, citing Manetho, equates the expulsion of the Hyskos from Egypt with the Exodus. As Abba Eban points out, "this is plainly impossible,"[3] in the context of the Biblical chronology. The Book of Exodus states that Hebrew slaves built the city of Pi Ramses ("House of Ramses"). According to Egyptian sources, the city was built during the reign of Ramses II, who ruled 1279-1213 B.C. In other words, the Biblical Exodus would have had to have taken place 300 years after the expulsion of the Hyskos.

Of course there is also no evidence that the Hyskos were ever enslaved--or even Hebrews. Again quoting Abba Eban, "few modern scholars would go so far as to assert that the Hebrews and the Hyskos were the same people."[4] If the Hyskos were not the Hebrews, what then, is the earliest non-Biblical reference to this people?
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« Reply #3 on: April 25, 2009, 08:01:32 pm »

About a century ago, archaeologists found 350 tablets covered with cuneiform writing in the Akkadian language in the Egyptian village of El Amarna. These
tablets, dating to the 14th century B.C., contain numerous references to a people whose name is Habiru (or alternatively Hapiru or Apiru) in the Akkadian
language. The obvious phonetic similarity to "Hebrew" suggested to early scholars that the Habiru of the Amarna tablets and the Hebrews were the same people.

However, subsequent archaeological findings as described by Niels Lemche, professor of Old Testament studies at the University of Copenhagen, in his book Prelude to Israel's Past, indicated widespread use of this term throughout the near east over many centuries during the mid-second millennium B.C. The context of this usage makes clear that 'Habiru' "should not be understood as an ethnic group, but as some kind of social segment." There is no reference to the religious beliefs of the Habiru. The totality of ancient documents discovered, reviewed in detail by Lemche, suggests 'Habiru' is best translated, depending on the context, as 'bandit,' 'outlaw,' 'highwayman,' 'refugee,' 'fugitive,' or 'immigrant,' without any suggestion of ethnicity.[5] Thus, despite the phonetic similarity, the Habiru of the Amarna tablets are not the Hebrews of ancient Israel.

The earliest known non-Biblical reference to Israel is on the 27th line of inscription on a 7.5 foot high granite slab found in Thebes, Egypt, and dating to 1207 B.C.[6] This commemorative stone monument was commissioned by the son of Ramses II, Pharaoh Merneptah, to commemorate his military victories in Canaan, and is known as the Merneptah Stella. Israel is listed as one of eight "border enemies" vanquished by Egypt. The literal translation of the relevant line of Egyptian hieroglyphics is "Israel is stripped bare, wholly lacking seed."
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« Reply #4 on: April 25, 2009, 08:02:42 pm »

Although this claim is obviously an exaggeration, it is evidence that a group of people named Israel was living in Canaan during the reigns of Merneptah and presumably his father, Ramses II. What is most important, though, is the point emphasized by Israel Finkelstein, director of the Institute of Archaeology
at Tel Aviv University, and his colleague Neal Silberman, in their book The Bible Unearthed: "We have no clue, not even a single word, about early Israelites in Egypt: Neither in monumental inscriptions on walls of temples, nor in tomb inscriptions, nor in papyri."[7]

Similarly, William Dever, professor of Near Eastern archaeology and anthropology at the University of Arizona, states in Who Were the Early Israelites and Where Did They Come From?: "no Egyptian text ever found contains a single reference to 'Hebrews' or 'Israelites' in Egypt, much less to an 'Exodus.'"[8] The ancient Egyptians were such compulsive chroniclers, albeit biased, that it is inconceivable that they would not record any version of an event as momentous as the Biblical Exodus. We should at least expect some self-serving or biased accounts of this extraordinary event, but there is absolutely no reference to any exodus of Hebrew slaves in the voluminous Egyptian writings.

In addition, archaeological excavations do not support the Biblical Exodus story. Modern archaeological techniques are able to detect evidence of not only permanent settlements, but also of habitations of hunter-gatherers and pastoral nomads all over the world as far back as the third millennium B.C.

However, there are no finds of a unique religious community living in a distinct area of the eastern delta of the Nile River ("Land of Goshen") as described in Genesis. In addition, repeated excavations of areas corresponding to Kadesh-Barnea, where the Biblical Israelites lived for thirty-eight of their forty-eight years of wanderings, have revealed no evidence of any encampments. Finkelstein and Silberman point out that, although the sites mentioned in the Exodus storyare real, archaeological excavations indicate that they were unoccupied when the Biblical Exodus would have taken place. For example, the Bible refers to messengers sent by Moses from Kadesh-Barnea to the king of Edom asking him to allow the Hebrews to pass through his land.

However, the nation of Edom did not come into existence until the 7th century B.C.[9] Melvin Konner, anthropologist and teacher of Jewish studies at Emory University, sums it up this way in his recent book Unsettled, An Anthropology of the Jews: "Except for the Torah text, there is no decisive proof that the Hebrews were slaves in Egypt, that they rebelled and walked away from the place, or that a leader such as Moses arose and took that people into the desert."[10] Futhermore, what evidence we do have, as discussed above, contradicts the Biblical account.

How, then, did this fable come to be written?
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« Reply #5 on: April 25, 2009, 08:04:17 pm »

Finkelstein and Silberman present the plausible thesis that the Deuteronomistic version of the Exodus, which brings together and embellishesthe chronicles in the first four books of the Torah, was written during the 7th century B.C. The intent of the story was to rally the inhabitants of Judah against Egypt, which had become its most powerful enemy as Assyrian hegemony waned.

Finkelstein and Silberman believe that the evil pharaoh in the Exodus story was actually modeled after the domineering Psamethicus I, who reigned from 664 to 610 B.C., approximately during the time that the Deuteronomistic version was written. This account was "powerful propaganda" that created "an epic saga to express the power and passion of a resurgent Judah's dreams" in order "to gird the nation for the great national struggle that lay ahead." In fact, the Egypt described in the Deuteronomistic account is "uncannily similar in its geographical details to that of Psamethicus."[11]

According to Redford, the memories of the Canaanite Hyskos ruling Egypt and subsequently being driven out (though not enslaved and not Hebrew) most likely formed the basis for the Exodus story.[12] The sequence of plagues in the Exodus may be related to the ancient Egyptian belief that the inability to worship multiple gods causes illness.

The Amarna tablets indicate that Akhnaten imposed monotheism on polytheistic Egypt during his reign between 1372 and 1354 B.C., allegedly causing the populace to suffer a variety of maladies, which abated with the restoration of polytheism by Akhnaten's successor.[13, 14]

Jonathan Kirsh notes that the basket-in-the-bullrushes infant-Moses story is clearly a "cut-and-paste" plagiarism copied almost verbatim from a Mesopotamian text.[15] In the words of Daniel Lazare, the stories of infant Moses, the plagues, and final exodus are "unconnected folktales," linked together "like pearls on a string."[16] What we have, according to David Denby, is a "self-confirming, self-glorifying myth of origins," with Moses as "the hero of the greatest campfire story ever told."[17]
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« Reply #6 on: April 25, 2009, 08:05:28 pm »


[1] Redford, D.B. 1992. Egypt, Canaan, and Israel in Ancient Times. Princeton, New Jersey: Princeton University Press, 412.

[2] Ibid, 129.

[3] Eban, A. 1984. Heritage: Civilization and the Jews. New York: Summit Books, 20.

[4] Ibid, 20.

[5] Lemche, N.P. 1998. Prelude to Israel's Past. Peabody, Massachusetts: Hendrickson Publishers, Inc., 139-141.

[6] Shanks, H. 2001. "A Centrist the Center of Controversy," Biblical Archaeology Review, December, 41.

[7] Finkelstein, I. and Silberman, N.A. 2001. The Bible Unearthed: Archaeology's New Vision of Ancient Israel and the Origin of its Sacred Texts. New York: Simon and Schuster, 60.

[8] Dever, W.G. 2003. Who Were the Early Israelites and Where Did They Come From? Grand Rapids, Michigan: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 12-13.

[9] Finkelstein and Silberman, 2001, 68.

[10] Konner, M. 2003. Unsettled: An Anthropology of the Jews. New York: Viking Penguin, 3.

[11] Finkelstein and Silberman, 2001, 283.

[12] Redford, 1992, 412-413.

[13] Kirsch, J. 1998. Moses, A Life. New York: Ballantine, 179.

[14] Denby, D. 1998. "No Exodus." The New Yorker, December 7 & 14, 185.

[15] Kirsch, 1998, 47.

[16] Lazare, D. 2002. "False Testament: Archaeology Refutes the Bible's Claim to History," Harper's, March, 41.

[17] Denby, 1998, 186.

[18] Quoted by Konner, 2003, 197. ---
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« Reply #7 on: May 23, 2009, 09:38:00 pm »

                                            Akhenaten and Hebrew Monotheism

In today's world, the pre-eminent issue surrounding Akhenaten is whether or not his reli-
gion did—or even could have!—influenced the development of Hebrew monotheism, a theo-
logy which the historical data suggest evolved several centuries later. The answer to that
question depends on several factors. For instance, how alike are Hebrew and Egyptian
monotheism? And is there any way in which the Hebrews could realistically have had signifi-
cant contact with atenism, enough to borrow elements from it or, if not, even just have
been influenced by it?

To answer the first, Hebrew monotheism differs in several significant ways from Akhenaten's
religion. While the aten is an omnipotent divinity, it's also present specifically in the light of
the sun-disk and the pharaoh's family, so its divinity is limited in a way the Hebrew deity's is

The God of Israel acts through all sorts of different media: angels, rainbows, floodwaters and,
as biblical Egyptians ought to know perfectly well, frogs. Nor was there any real attempt by
Egyptian monotheists to extend the Aten's power beyond Egypt, the way God's power is seen
by later Hebrew prophets to embrace all creation. So, while Akhenaten claims the Aten is uni-
versal, he speaks of it more like it's a pharaoh at the center of some cosmic court full of fawn-
ing minions—that is, like him.

Still, both cultures share the central notion, if not the details, of monotheism.

Could the Hebrews have picked that up from the Egyptians somehow? Such a notion presumes,
of course, that Hebrews existed in some form during Akhenaten's reign—the eradication by later pharaohs of all records of Akhenaten's religion and regime makes later cultural borrowing highly
unlikely—and besides, many scholars would flatly say there weren't any Hebrews at all during
that time, at least not Hebrews as such.

Israel was definitely not an organized nation in the fourteenth century BCE, but then theologi-
cal notions do not require a political state for their existence. Wandering patriarchs, as attest-
ed in the Bible during this age, could easily have borrowed the concept of monotheism from

But there's no evidence Egyptian monotheism spread beyond the borders of its native land so,
if Hebrews borrowed the notion, they would have to have been living in Egypt around the time
of Akhenaten's reign.

That seems unlikely, except that biblical sources say they were.
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« Reply #8 on: May 23, 2009, 09:39:51 pm »

In the so-called Egyptian Captivity which the Bible claims lasted several centuries, Hebrews
did, in fact, live in Egypt, enslaved by powerful New Kingdom pharaohs until the Exodus in
which Moses led them to freedom in the Holy Lands.

If that really happened, they must have been in Egypt when Akhenaten had his brief day in
the blazing sun. But because a majority of scholars downplay the historicity of the Exodus—

there is certainly no corroborating evidence massive numbers of Hebrews fled Egypt at any

point in ancient history

—again this seems unlikely. Still, it doesn't take huge crowds of Hebrews in Egypt to introduce
the idea of monotheism into Israelite thinking. One "Joseph" is certainly enough.

So, it's possible to weave together from the historical data a scenario in which the idea of mono-
theism threaded its way somehow out of Egyptian theology and into Israelite culture. But when
one looks closely, it's not a very tightly woven tapestry, especially in light of where biblical
scripture says the Hebrews were in Egypt.

The city of Goshen in which the Bible says they lived as captives is probably synonymous with
the Egyptian settlement called Pi-Ramesse ("City of Ramses") in the delta. If so, it's many miles
from Akhetaten, and there's very little evidence to be found in Egyptian art or history that
Akhenaten's revolutionary theology filtered that far north.

Nor is it likely it would have fared well in this part of Egypt, a stronghold of Ramses' family. The Ramessids were staunchly opposed to atenistic thinking and later attempted to eradicate all
traces it had ever existed. So, how is it even possible Ramses' construction slaves heard about
a far-off, out-of-date religious tradition strongly proscribed by their tyrannical overseers?

All in all, the evidence seems to weigh heavily against the argument that the Hebrews caught
the monotheism bug from contact with the Aten, or even just the simple conception there's
only one god.

With no obvious channels of communication on either side, it's improbable Akhenaten's revo-
lution could in any way have influenced or even inspired Hebrew thought.

Furthermore, how many of the world's great inventions have cropped up independently in diffe-
rent places? Writing and literature, for instance, arose in both the West and the East with no
apparent connection between them, as did agriculture, drama and ship-building.
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« Reply #9 on: May 23, 2009, 09:50:51 pm »

And then you open the Bible to Psalm 104,

the great manifesto of God's all-encompassing power,

and read how He created grass for cattle to eat, and trees for birds to nest in, and the sea
for ships to sail and fish to swim in:

Bless the Lord . . . you who coverest thyself with light as with a garment . . .

Who layeth the beams of his chambers in the waters; . . .

He causeth the grass to grow for the cattle, and . . . the trees

Where the birds make their nests; as for the stork, the fir trees are her house.

The high hills are a refuge for the wild goats; . . .

(As) the sun ariseth, (the beasts) gather themselves together . . .

There go the ships: there is that leviathan (whale), whom thou hast made to play therein.

And then among the remains of Amarna culture you read the Hymn to the Aten,

purportedly written by Akhenaten himself, which says:

When the land grows bright and you are risen from the Akhet (horizon)
and shining in the sun-disk by day, . . .

All flocks (are) at rest on their grasses, trees and grasses flourishing;

Birds flown from their nest, their wings in adoration of your life-force;

All flocks prancing on foot, all that fly and alight living as you rise for them;

Ships going downstream and upstream too, every road open at your appearance;

Fish on the river leaping to your face, your rays even inside the sea.

(trans. James P. Allen)
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« Reply #10 on: May 23, 2009, 09:52:28 pm »

The similarity is simply astounding.

Comparing these passages, who could argue against some form of cultural exchange moving
from Egypt to Israel—and, given the chronology, we must suppose the sharing took place in
that direction—how can we avoid the conclusion that the ancient Hebrew who wrote Psalm
104 has somehow borrowed from Akhenaten's Hymn to the Aten?

With that, the realization begins to dawn that answers to the great question about the origins
of Hebrew monotheism are not going to come swiftly or easily.

How did a Hebrew psalmist's eyes—or ears?—ever pass near a banned Egyptian hymn?

While the psalm is hardly a verbatim copy of its atenistic model, the likeness of these songs,
especially in their imagery and the order in which the images come, argues forcefully for some
sort of Egypt-to-Palestine contact, however indirect.

And if there is contact there, why not elsewhere? If that's the case, there clearly was some
channel of intercultural communication, some literary turnpike now invisible. But if we imagine
a road of some sort running between Akhetaten and ancient Jerusalem, what are we really

                                             a history or a novel?

And by doing so, are we not at risk of saying more about ourselves than the odd, beguiling
world Akhenaten built, whose slanted light still shines from beneath sand and walls and script

History, you'll remember, means "question," and that is exactly where the history of Akhen-
aten leaves us.
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