When did belief in an exodus from Egypt emerge?

Discussion about the Hebrew Bible, Septuagint, pseudepigrapha, Philo, Josephus, Talmud, Dead Sea Scrolls, archaeology, etc.
Anat
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Re: When did belief in an exodus from Egypt emerge?

Post by Anat » Sun May 31, 2015 9:12 am

After 3 more hours of Thomas Römer's talks, here is some of what he says about the call of Moses (Exodus 3:1 - 4:17):

The structure of the call is a much expanded version of the call of Jeremiah (Jeremiah 1:4-10) with a call, refusal and encouragement. The version we have now has Moses refusing his call or objecting to it 5 times. At the very least the last 2 refusals are a Priestly addition, intended to introduce Aaron and his role. But even without those parts, the story we have is multi-layered and includes additions and insertions to the original. For instance, verse 6: 'I am the God of thy father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.' - father in singular was original, the mention of the Patriarchs is an insertion. Römer believes the first author believed the call of Moses was the first time Yahweh made a promise of giving the land to his chosen people and was unaware of the Patriarchal story cycles (verses 15-16 contain another such insertion). The revelation of Yahweh's name as אֶהְיֶה appears already in verse 12 (''Certainly I will be with thee' כִּי-אֶהְיֶה עִמָּךְ ) - and has a parallel (or anti-parallel?) in Hosea 1:9 (כִּי אַתֶּם לֹא עַמִּי, וְאָנֹכִי לֹא-אֶהְיֶה לָכֶם). Exodus 3:21-22 are an insertion intended to explain where the Israelites had gold to make the golden calf and the golden items for the sanctuary.

In chapter 4 Moses is given 3 signs to perform - the first and the last are a foreshadowing of the plagues. But the second sign Römer considers an insertion intended as a response to a claim by Manetho about a rebellion of lepers against Egypt.

In summary, the parallel with Jeremiah places the original call of Moses no earlier than Jeremiah's time, more likely somewhat later.

The tale of the attack on Moses (Exodus 4:24-25) parallels Genesis 32:25-30 - both are attacks by divine beings of a person about to meet his brother. Römer considers in a late insertion (as he considers both Aaron's presence in the narrative and Genesis later than the original Moses narrative), perhaps intended to legitimize foreign-born women, or the version of circumcision performed in the diaspora, or perhaps it was a story about the transformation of circumcision from a rite of puberty (or a pre-marital rite) to one performed on infants.

Römer notes that the location of the call at Mt Horeb doesn't signify a specific place, Horeb meaning a dry, desolate place, not a place name. However the name of the bush (הַסְּנֶה) can be a pun on Sinai. On the other hand a branching thing with flames might bring to mind the Menorah, considering that Moses was standing on sacred ground. Also note parallel to Joshua 5:16 (though I don't know when Römer thinks Joshua was composed.

Anat
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Re: When did belief in an exodus from Egypt emerge?

Post by Anat » Sat Jun 06, 2015 10:09 pm

OK, I'm getting some interesting info from Römer. He says there are hints that before the first written version (which he places in the 6th century BCE, by authors of Deuteronomistic views) there were older traditions about an exodus, and the earliest of these traditions may have not included Moses' character at all, but instead Israel was saved from Egyptian oppression by Yahweh himself directly.

First, in Exodus 5:6-19 there is a story about Pharaoh interacting with the task-masters and the officers of the children of Israel with no involvement of Moses (or Aaron). Then in Exodus 14:24-25 Yahweh takes the wheels off the Egyptian chariots and causing confusion among the Egyptian army, and in Exodus 15 Yahweh is praised for tossing the horses and their riders into the sea - (as opposed to the later versions where the Egyptians chase Israel into the parted sea and drown when the sea returns to its former state).

We can see more versions of this presumed older story in retelling of the exodus in other books. Deuteronomy 26:5-9 for instance has a simplified version - Israel goes to Egypt, becomes numerous there, is oppressed into hard labor, calls out to Yahweh who brings them out with signs and wonders - no mention of a human intermediary. A more interesting version is in Numbers 20:14-16 where Yahweh sends an angel to bring Israel out of Egypt - there is an intermediary, but he is divine, not human. (Contrast that with 1 Samuel 12:8, where Moses and Aaron are credited with bringing the people out of Egypt.)

Hosea 12:13-14 shows a later development, where Israel is led out of Egypt by an unnamed prophet.

Römer considers Psalms 136 another instance of a telling of the exodus story with no mention of Moses. However, it uses language that resembles the first creation account, which is much later than the presumed old exodus account.

Another interesting bit: The belief in an exodus first spread in the northern kingdom of Israel, and was made into the basis of the official state religion with the establishment of the temples of the golden calf in Bethel and Dan by Jeroboam son of Nebat as described in 1 Kings 12:28-29. The problem though is that Dan only came under Israeli control in the 8th century. So Römer dates the official exodus-commemorating religion to this time, possibly to Jeroboam II (son of Jehoash). He thinks the deuteronomistic historians moved these events back in time to make the worship at the northern temples the foundational sins of the northern kingdom. This fits in with the obviously made up story about a prediction of the destruction of the Bethel temple by Josiah.

Dave O
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Re: When did belief in an exodus from Egypt emerge?

Post by Dave O » Wed Jul 08, 2015 6:18 am

The Exodus story had its origins in the flash flood mentioned in the Song of the Sea and that can be dated to the drought caused Yahwist revolution which occurred between 850 and 840 BCE. That can now be stated because we finally have good translations of the earliest alphabetic texts from that time which have been found on stone inscriptions and various pottery shards. These mention various early grammatical variants of the word "Yahweh," one of which is Yah in the Ephraim (Jehoash) inscription which is also the variant mentioned in the Song of the Sea.

Five of these stone steles mention this drought and subsequent rebellion which has been confirmed by sediment samples from the Sea of Galilee. In the Hebrew Scriptures this is the time of Elijah and Jezebel and the regicide of both royal houses (Judah and Israel) by Jehu. What is really surprising is that these texts are in a form of alphabetic Akkadian instead of some early form of Hebrew like everyone assumed. During this revolution literacy was destroyed in Israel along with all remnants of the old order. When literacy appeared once again nearly 100 years later the writing was in Hebrew.

semiopen
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Re: When did belief in an exodus from Egypt emerge?

Post by semiopen » Wed Jul 08, 2015 7:37 am

I like that theory. I see it on your blog but didn't notice any discussion in other places.

It's interesting that if someone would propose [wiki]Santorini#Speculation_on_an_Exodus_connection[/wiki] (for example), that would be sort of a crackpot thing to engage in, whereas this seems much more plausible because it is from a later era and there are fewer technical issues with the language, elapsed time, etc.

My personal view is that if an experience is not written down, people will forget it in a few years. Even recorded stuff loses it's appeal after a relatively short time - how long did it take for Jews to be OK with buying Ford, VW, Mercedes and BMW?

Anat
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Re: When did belief in an exodus from Egypt emerge?

Post by Anat » Wed Jul 08, 2015 8:10 am

Regarding Ford - there is this story - may have had a role in improving relationship between Ford and Jews, at least in Israel. Not sure when VW became popular in Israel (definitely by the 1970s), but Wagner's music still isn't, TMK. Of course, a classical composer is easier to boycott than a well-made car.

Anat
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Re: When did belief in an exodus from Egypt emerge?

Post by Anat » Wed Jul 08, 2015 9:49 am

Dave, I'm looking at your page of the five stone steles. I'm not sure why you think the top one is Akkadian - I can easily make out many Hebrew words. To interpret it the way you do one must ignore the dots that mark word ends.

Line 1 starts with the name חזיהו
(which could be אחזיהו if the first letter is on the previous line)
Line 2 has the words ' כאשר נמלאה' followed by מ or נ, then a missing letter, probably continuing to the בת on line 3
Starting from line 3 I can read ' לבאש בארץ ובמדבר ובכל ערי יהודה לתת כסף הקדשם לרב לקנת אבן מחצב וברשמ ונחשת אדם לעשת במלאכה באמנה ואעשאת בדק הבית והקרתסבב ואת היצע והשבכמ והלולם והגרעת והדלתת והיה הים הזה לעדת כי תצלח המלאכה יצו יהוה את עמו בברכה '

Which is of course the 'traditional' reading, the reason the stele was thought to be a forgery - it matches too closely with 2Kings 12. The only difference with the consensus reading is that the scholars split up the first word. Since there are two more places where the dots that separate words are missing, there might have been a third one.

How do you justify ignoring the separation dots altogether?

Anat
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Re: When did belief in an exodus from Egypt emerge?

Post by Anat » Wed Jul 08, 2015 9:59 am

Also, I don't believe it is justified to call the transition to belief in Yahweh as a revolution. There was a transition from one Baal-type god to another. Yahweh was represented in Israel first as a bull or other horned being, later as a winged humanoid stick figure. In Judah Yahweh was first a subordinary to Shamash, the sun god, then he acquired the role of the sun deity and was represented as the scarab beetle. It was much later that Yahweh became worshiped as a monotheistic deity with no physical representation.

outhouse
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Re: When did belief in an exodus from Egypt emerge?

Post by outhouse » Fri Jul 17, 2015 4:37 pm

Anat wrote:Also, I don't believe it is justified to call the transition to belief in Yahweh as a revolution..
Then you ignore what is known without question. Monotheistic reforms while in and after exile are not really up for debate, as to "if" only more details can be added.
There was a transition from one Baal-type god to another.
No. That is far from accurate.

This is not static, it was not one people. There were many different diverse groups and despite the reforms, many were not on board with the changes.

Karen Armstrong goes into detail about the popularity of each in the different time periods, as well there was not a type so to speak. We are talking about a small amount of deities that were all family to one another. El and Yahweh were the primary deities, with Baal and Asherah. All Els attributes were given to Yahweh much earlier then the monotheistic reforms by some groups but not all and not the majority.

Yahweh was represented in Israel first as a bull or other horned being, later as a winged humanoid stick figure.

False.

I would ask for sources but I don't want to laugh that much. Sorry but you seem to be way off base here.

Little is known about Yahweh's origins but a humanoid warrior figure is first and foremost, we have drawings of Yahweh which are the oldest and are roughly 800BC with no wings and quite human in appearance. We also have a storm god as another possible origin. If your really interested in this CONCEPT you need to study the evolution of the concept starting with what little we know and can be implied by looking at Canaanite mythology and their family of deities. The problem here is Yahweh is only in later mythology and assumptions are made but some are quite reasonable.

In Judah Yahweh was first a subordinary to Shamash, the sun god, then he acquired the role of the sun deity and was represented as the scarab beetle
False.

The sun god concept and Shamash was a minor concept in a small minority and has no bearing on Yahweh. The concept was probably picked up/influenced while in exile, if not what existed in many different cultures located in that geographic region.

Yahweh was Els son, the father god.



It was much later that Yahweh became worshiped as a monotheistic deity with no physical representation

Before the exile there were loyal Yahwist who were monotheistic to this warrior deity.

It was not made a national religion until the exile, and you have no credible sources that at that time he had no physical representation.






.

Anat
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Re: When did belief in an exodus from Egypt emerge?

Post by Anat » Sat Jul 18, 2015 3:26 pm

My source is from Thomas Römer's lecture series on Yahweh and his representation. See The God Yhwh: origins, cults, transformation into the only God.

There he shows the images of Yahweh from various inscriptions from both kingdoms.

The transfer of traits from El to his local son happened in parallel both in the Israelite version of the Yahweh cult and in the local Baal cult, hence the emergence of the בעל שמים variant - ie the fertility deity also becomes the lord of heavens.

Before the exile the belief in Yahweh was not monotheistic. It was a monolatry, or henotheistic at most - ie Yahweh became at some point the only deity that it was acceptable to worship, but it was recognized that Milkom, Chemosh, Hadad, etc were just as real gods, with the difference that they were other people's gods. That is different from monotheism where it is believed that only one god is real. In Isaiah 48, when Deutero-Isaiah speaks of the falseness of idols and declares that Yahweh is the creator god this is presented as an innovation, different from what was previously believed (where Yahweh was one of all of El's sons), as is preserved in texts such as the LXX version of Deuteronomy 32 8-9.

As for the role of Shamash and Yahweh becoming a sun god in Judah - this is again from Römer. Among other things, he bases the early version, of Yahweh as subordinate to Shamash on an alternate version (Qumran?) of 1 Kings 8:12. As Yahweh became identified as a sun god we get seals with names such as אוריה, or זרחיה, accompanied by a proliferation of images of scarabs.

As for Yahweism being a national religion - Römer proposes that in Israel it may have been so in the says of Jeroboam the 2nd (a more likely candidate for founding a temple in Dan than the first Jeroboam).

outhouse
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Re: When did belief in an exodus from Egypt emerge?

Post by outhouse » Sat Jul 18, 2015 7:28 pm

Anat wrote: As for Yahweism being a national religion - Römer proposes that in Israel it may have been so in the says of Jeroboam the 2nd

.

Had this been the case, we would have seen earlier redactions to the older text. Instead we see clearly this taking place in exile along with the Babylonian powers that be that probably demanded unity.


Remember early groups viewed Yahweh differently, and in times of war people tended to become more loyal to warrior gods. That is not the case here, we have a time of prosperity and Jeroboam the 2nd was also known to have cult centers in Dan and Bethel, that opposed the temple in Jerusalem. He also worshipped HaShem through a golden calf and was mocked by prophets.

The transfer of traits from El to his local son happened in parallel both in the Israelite version of the Yahweh cult and in the local Baal cult, hence the emergence of the בעל שמים variant - ie the fertility deity also becomes the lord of heavens
Unsubstantiated. You would need to explain which groups adopted this if any and exactly when, because as a whole the culture's "plural" did not.

. It was a monolatry, or henotheistic at most
Possible but your certainty is to strong on that point. Loyal Yahwist existed prior to King Josiahs monotheistic reforms

As for the role of Shamash and Yahweh becoming a sun god in Judah - this is again from Römer



I will watch the vids at home and then comment, but it is unsubstantiated

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