Reading through the Bible: day 35

Gustave Doré, Moses striking the rock in Horeb

Exodus 17 – 19

As we can see Exodus is full of all that stuff people hear in Sunday school, well at least the beginning is, later we get the building of the Sanctuary which gets a bit much, but for now we get Moses getting water from a stone. There is an issue made by some critics over this, but I’ll address it when we arrive at Numbers 20, since that is where the alleged contradiction occurs, but if you want to take a sneak peak, go ahead. I’m not at all concerned since I don’t see a problem, perhaps you can see why.

The Amalekites

A strange people we know nothing about. Recently Young Earthers have proposed a new historical timeline. The Exodus occurring at the time the Bible gives puts it during the reign of Tutmose III, but there are problems here. Firstly the lack of building this war monger did, and secondly what we know historically about the previous Pharoah, Hatshepsut. Hatshepsut was a woman, so that’s problematic, she wasn’t much of a tyrant and was more into beautifying the kingdom she had rather than building new cities, so it seems unlikely that she was the Pharaoh from whom Moses fled.

A way of getting around this is to treat the periods in the book of the Judges as symbolic of an ideal generation of forty years and leave very little time for that period. The Exodus is then said to have occurred in the time of Rameses II, who was notoriously good at loosing wars and claiming greatness. This also presents problems, but at least he was building and so was his predecessor.

A key problem with both of these Pharaohs is that if we follow the Biblical timeline and accept Genesis as Historically accurate, then we have Pharaohs who ruled during the flood, which is absurd.

One of the Major pieces of historical evidence used in near Eastern dating is Manetho’s set of Kings lists, which were preserved in fragments by later historians. Manetho himself lived during the Greek occupation of Egypt and was thus a witness to none of the events being spoken of. Since we know that Egypt often had two rulers and the lists seem to show some duplications, Young Earthers don’t arrange them all consecutively. Arranging some the lists into two groups (one for upper, and the other for lower Egypt) means that some will run concurrently. I have a whole book on this, and won’t go into too much detail, but one of the guiding factors is names found on more than one list, apparently showing that the Pharaoh in question ruled both upper and lower Egypt. They put Neferhotep (for whom no tomb has ever been found) as the Pharoah of the Exodus. The Exodus then corresponds to the Hyksos invasion (which sort of makes sense since Egypt had no armies to defend themselves and were weakened by the plagues). The revised timeline also puts Saul’s wars against the Amalekites around the same time as the collapse of the Hyksos, thus fitting nicely into the Biblical narrative.

So the only thing I can say is that if the revised timeline actually is true, then the Amalekites and the Hyksos were the same people.

Judges

Jethro’s suggestion of appointing judges was taken up by Moses, and it is these people who ruled/guided Israel in that terrible period between Joshua and King Saul.

What is interesting are the criteria given by Jethro, that they should be God fearing and hate covetousness. We’ll do the Ten Commandments tomorrow and look at why covetousness is seen as such a bad thing (as opposed to rape which isn’t in the Ten Commandments).

But if you have some time, here’s some reading which I found disturbing, but amusing at the same time. You’ll find it by clicking here. The problem with voting for professed Christians as rulers is that they may just be professing Christians and really be in it for the Christian voters. We also have a long history of bad stuff being done by alleged Christian states and mixing religion and politics seems like a bad idea for anyone who studies history.

In the wilderness at Sinai, the Israelites were living in pretty close proximity and dirty laundry was probably difficult to hide. Moses dealt directly with the elders and probably had a good idea of who he could and couldn’t trust to make good/fair decisions for the people. Obviously as Christians, we generally believe that he’d have prayed about it and received guidance from God.

One final point on this: this wasn’t democracy as some have proposed and had no part in helping to form the American constitution. The Republic by Plato and the pseudo-democracies of Greece and Rome were probably far more influential in that than the Bible was.

What are your thoughts?


Please give the reading through the Bible page a look if you haven’t already, there are some background posts and the index to this reading plan. Share it with others who you think can benefit from Reading the Bible.

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