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 Jul 19, 2015 8:35 am

Yes, Jeroboam 2nd worshiped golden calves. He worshiped Yahweh, in the image of golden calves. The golden calf was a legitimate representation of Yahweh in Israel. As for temples other than Jerusalem - and that only means Jeroboam 2, like many others, did not believe Yahweh's temple had to be unique. This does not negate an official Yahwist belief system. Not sure what redactions you would expect. We have an Israelite Yahwist tradition that is delegitimized by the Judahite Deuteronomist writers, just as one would expect.

You know what? I have no idea what you mean by 'loyal Yahwist'. It seems to me that you are retro-projecting late views on earlier periods. A person who believed in Yahweh, the storm/war god that came from Seir/Teman, received Israel or Judah as his heritage from El, also believed Chemosh received Moab, Milkom received Ammon, etc as their respective heritage from El, and worshiped Yahweh at his town's local shrine was a loyal Yahwist as he understood the term and would have been either perplexed or upset by you suggesting otherwise.


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

Post by Anat » Wed Jul 22, 2015 2:13 am

Nothing new in this video, and like I said, it presents monotheism as an exilic creation, while even Josiah's Yahwism was a monolatry within a polytheistic context. Also, it only gives a simplified version of the relationship between El, Baal, and Yahweh, without mentioning their respective origins. While it mentions their main thesis has archaeological support they don't show the specific findings.

Some of the history of the Bible as presented in the video is no longer accepted by some European scholars (such as Römer). Specifically the existence of independent written sources J and E before Deuteronomy, or that the stories of the Patriarchs as we know them in Genesis predated the original story of Exodus. Römer accepts that some oral traditions (of a skeleton of Patriarchial stories and a very minimalistic story about an Egyptian origin of the Israelites) existed before the 6th century BCE, but that the first written version with any details about slavery, plagues, and the character of Moses post-dated Necho's public works and the founding of Per-Atum (Pithom). Also, he believes the early Exodus story had Moses unaware of any divine promises to Patriarchs. (Römer rejects a strict JEPD version, instead he finds some 10 layers in the Exodus tradition)

Finkelstein thinks Israel had a written tradition that may have been based either in Samaria or in Bethel as early as the first half of the 8th century (roughly overlapping the time of Jeroboam II). This is also the time that according to Finkelstein there are first signs of a centralized cult in Israel. The texts he attributes to this tradition are: The early version of the Jacob cycle (hinted in Hosea 12:4-5), an early version of the exodus story which included a tradition of wandering in the wilderness (Finkelstein sees the campaign of Sheshonq I as the inspiration for the early version of a tale of salvation from Egypt, and the Israelite growing involvement in trading through the desert as an inspiration for the list of stations), the tales of the northern saviors (ie the book of Judges without the Deuteronomistic moralizing), the positive stories about Saul, and some of the Elijah/Elisha storyline. In Finkelstein's view, these early Israel traditions were brought to Judah by refugees from the north and got incorporated into the Deuteronomistic history, albeit mostly with a more negative view.

While the Deuteronomistic authors expanded the story of the exodus, the Patriarchal stories only got their expansion after the return from exile, overturning the early themes of connection and coexistence with nearby nations with stories of overtaking the land and a theme of conflict.

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

Post by outhouse » Wed Jul 22, 2015 2:50 pm

Anat wrote: (Römer rejects a strict JEPD version, instead he finds some 10 layers in the Exodus tradition)


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P and D are not really up for debate


J and E were collections of collections written and oral over long periods of time, to claim 10 layers would not be easily substantiated on his part as no number could ever be attributed to these highly fragmented text that have been redacted for centuries.

it only gives a simplified version of the relationship between El, Baal, and Yahweh, without mentioning their respective origins. While it mentions their main thesis has archaeological support they don't show the specific findings.

It is impossible to give much for Yahweh because his origins are less known then the rest

The others are all Canaanite in origin, as well as many aspects in Yahweh.

Some of the history of the Bible as presented in the video is no longer accepted by some European scholars (such as Römer).


People throw out great academia and facts all the time going off in their own little world. This website has many posters who refuse academia and embrace rogue work.

(Finkelstein sees the campaign of Sheshonq I as the inspiration for the early version of a tale of salvation from Egypt, and the Israelite growing involvement in trading through the desert as an inspiration for the list of stations), the tales of the northern saviors (ie the book of Judges without the Deuteronomistic moralizing), the positive stories about Saul, and some of the Elijah/Elisha storyline. In Finkelstein's view, these early Israel traditions were brought to Judah by refugees from the north and got incorporated into the Deuteronomistic history, albeit mostly with a more negative view.
And Dever leaves open the possibility for trans Jordan migrants going in and out Egypt during good and bad weather cycles.


Faust has his own ideas, but his bias dictates to much of his findings.

Personally, I look at Dever and Finkelstein as both contributing to the unknown areas with excellent academic work. Romer is out in left field IMHO .
the Patriarchal stories only got their expansion after the return from exile, overturning the early themes of connection and coexistence with nearby nations with stories of overtaking the land and a theme of conflict.
You seem well versed.

I find it much simpler to state you had multiple Israelite cultures that centered around Northern and Southern traditions that were forced to be unified by their Babylonians captors.


With all of the Mesopotamian influence, our best bet despite Romers opinion, is to better understand these regional differences under the premise of E and J. I also view these as a literary battle between El and Yahwehs traditions compiled into one.


While very old work, it stands today as a excellent foundation to many modern scholars work here. http://www.sacred-texts.com/bib/log/log02.htm

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

Post by Anat » Wed Jul 22, 2015 6:10 pm

I don't think there is a strict parallel between old-time J and E and what contemporary European and Israeli scholars identify as northern and southern. From what I see, the Jacob cycle is considered entirely of northern origin whereas the Abraham cycle southern, in contrast with Friedman who claimed (IIRC) J and E fragments in both. Friedman attributes Genesis 22 mostly to E, whereas Römer places this story in the Persian period, based on its themes.

Finkelstein's method is geographical - archaeological: Based on which place names are mentioned and which aren't he dates the text. So for instance the old core of the Jacob cycle is dated based on the fact that while Bethel and Shechem play an important role, there is no mention of Shiloh. Also, there is a whole list of places in Transjordan, along the Jabbok river, where the border between Israel and Aram is defined. Also, there is no mention of outlying territories that became part of Israel in the 9th century. Between all these he concludes the origin of the cycle was in the 10th century BCE - after the destruction of Shiloh but before the expansion under the Omrides. However the earliest that this oral tradition could have been written down was with the appearance of scribal centers in the early 8th century. How well can an oral tradition be preserved over 2 centuries? Not very.

Römer works mainly by comparing Biblical texts to specific Mesopotamian, Levantine, and Egyptian documents, linguistic comparisons, removing inserted phrases and verses that break the flow of the story. But he also relies on themes and literary structure.

As for the origins of Yahweh - the Bible tells us - he came from Seir/Edom (Judges 5:4, Deuteronomy 33:2) - and one of the offspring of Esau was Midian - where Moses had his theophany, and from where came Jethro, the first person since Noah to make an animal sacrifice to Yahweh. This was also the location of the people that the Egyptian described as the Shasu (wanderers) of Yahu, who apparently called themselves Am Yahu - the people/clan of Yahu.

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

Post by semiopen » Thu Jul 23, 2015 4:36 am

I had to admire the boldness of בֵּית כִּסֵא (bet kisai) challenging someone with the name of an Ugaritic goddess on this subject.

I'm reducing the size of my library and was considering getting rid of Mark S. Smith's - The Early History of God: Yahweh and the Other Deities in Ancient Israel and Zoiny Zevit's - The Religions of Ancient Israel: A Synthesis of Parallactic Approaches but this interesting discussion made me decide to keep them.

There is clear evidence of YHVH and some iteration of Baal being worshiped at the same time in first temple times - Jezebel and Ahab is an example.

http://www.newworldencyclopedia.org/ent ... _Jerusalem
Modern scholars, however, tend to believe that this Jerusalem-centered "Yahweh-only" principle did not come to the fore until the seventh century B.C.E., contemporary with the writing of Deuteronomy. Early Israelite religion may have affirmed Yahweh (also call "El" in the Bible) as the chief deity, while also recognizing the existence of lesser deities such as Asherah (El's consort) and even Baal. Parts of the Bible clearly acknowledge the real existence of the non-Israelite deities, forbidding their worship to Israelites but not to gentiles. Accordingly, only gradually did the idea of "one God alone" emerge and prevail.
I interpret this as meaning that the seventh century BCE is the earliest this could have happened. Things don't seem that clear until after the return from the exile.

We have had some discussions on here about Jacob Milgrom's work, where he contends that the Israelites deliberately made their religion different from the Canaanites. It seems that this requires a more or less completed Leviticus in first temple times and that's not that easy to defend.

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

Post by outhouse » Thu Jul 23, 2015 1:25 pm

semiopen wrote:Things don't seem that clear until after the return from the exile.


.
That is because there is no debate that is when monotheism emerged as a national tradition. Despite that it was not fully accepted means little and that from there on, monotheism was pushed on the people enough so that within 400 years monotheism was fully accepted.

Things don't seem that clear until after the return from the exile.
Yes because the 600 years of polytheism of Israelites was redacted into loyalty to one god.

You also had multiple cultures of Semitic peoples beat down who were destroyed and rebuilt multiple times. Its not as if one cultured struggled through war and religion that emerged into monotheism.


There is clear evidence of YHVH and some iteration of Baal being worshiped at the same time in first temple times - Jezebel and Ahab is an example.


There are many lines of evidence that support each despite redactions.
I interpret this as meaning that the seventh century BCE is the earliest this could have happened.
Yes but.

It is incomplete and based on very old work. With new modern archeology that has filled in a more compete picture, this should not be used for anything. But correct in the whole 7th century redactions of P and D


Jacob Milgrom's work,

I admire his work on Leviticus, and he may have a point but can it be substantiated as to "why" is another question.

Israelites deliberately made their religion different from the Canaanites
Sure.

But you have to remember were talking about salt of the earth people who no longer had to follow the Canaanite governments religious practices, and were able to cherry pick it for what was valuable to the new cultures emerging in the highlands.

We see multiple traditions developing and divided geographically between northern and southern ish areas. There is no reason or evidence to follow one tradition covered all geographic areas.

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

Post by John Kesler » Tue Sep 29, 2015 6:06 am

Anat, I find persuasive the thesis of Richard Elliott Friedman et al. that the Exodus from Egypt involved only the Levites, and that when they came to Canaan and joined the resident Canaanites/Israelites, eventually the Exodus story became all of Israel's "history." Friedman, piggybacking the work of his mentor, Frank Moore Cross, dates the Song of the Sea and the Song of Deborah (Judges 5) to be the two oldest texts in the Bible. (I have to defer to the expertise of the late Dr. Cross and Friedman when they say that the language of SOTS and SOD indicate antiquity.) Friedman points out that the Song of the Sea, set in Egypt, doesn't mention all of Israel, while the Song of Deborah, set in Israel, doesn't mention the Levites. Combine this with the fact that many Levites--Moses, Phinehas, Hur, etc.--have Egyptian names, and things start falling into place. Only when P, who was at best the fourth-oldest source for the Exodus, starts writing do we see the large numbers and specific length of sojourn. It appears that I'm not allowed to post URLs, so PM me if you want the links to Friedman's video lecture and written argument.

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

Post by outhouse » Tue Sep 29, 2015 6:06 pm

John Kesler wrote:Anat, I find persuasive the thesis of Richard Elliott Friedman et al.,.

He has no credibility on the topic at all, and his guesses have never had any traction in credible circles what so ever.

that the Exodus from Egypt involved only the Levites
There is no evidence of this, only its impossibility.


There was no exodus of any kind, there were never Israelites in Egypt.


While they mythology may have distant roots in refracted memory, it has nothing to do with any part of the ethnogenesis of Israelite cultures.


The Israelites did evolved from displaced Canaanites after 1200 BC, its not even up for debate. The ONLY thing up for debate, is how many other cultures joined in minority with these displaced Canaanites after the bronze age collapse.

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

Post by semiopen » Thu Oct 01, 2015 7:18 am

Richard Elliot Friedman had an important impact on me with Who Wrote the Bible?

When I first read John's post, I wondered if this was "Reform Theology." My Rabbi, after all, knows exactly when the Song of the Sea was written.

I've touched on Reform Theology before; my impression, as a layman, is that there is little academic interest in this subject - maybe because non-reform Jews tend to view Reform Rabbis as shmucky. Shmucky the Clown - http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.p ... +the+Clown
A Derogatory name for a person or persons who, though at times may be amusing, are really just a useless flap of skin that nobody really wants to deal with and is generally good for nothing.
My experience with Reform Theology was onboard a cruise ship during Hanukkah where the Rabbi mentioned that Maccabees II was Pharisaic. This view has no academic merit, so far as I know, but rather than tell the obvious lie about the miracle oil, he takes a highly dubious biblical studies position. Of course, Reform Jews want Christians to think that they are totally normal, and you can't really tell people that you are celebrating and exchanging gifts to commemorate the killing of Jews by Jews so that they can pretend that this is just a Jewish Christmas.. seriously, why not just celebrate Xmas like the Japanese?

Anyway, I was thinking of doing some research on Reform Theology, but maybe it's just too depressing.

An issue with John's post was that a source wasn't given. It's probably this -

The Exodus Is Not Fiction
An interview with Richard Elliott Friedman
- http://www.reformjudaism.org/exodus-not ... 1DDSf.dpuf

This isn't as ridiculous as Outhouse suggests, more like highly unlikely. It certainly comes close to impossible.

It is based on a rather strict interpretation of the documentary hypothesis.
Three of the four texts—E, P, and D—are traced to authors who were Levite priests, and these three are the only ones telling the story of Moses, Pharaoh, and the plagues. The fourth main source, called J, the one that shows no signs of having been written by a Levite priest, makes no mention of the plagues. It just jumps from Moses’ saying “Let my people go” to the story of the event at the sea.
I don't understand this, unless Dr Friedman is a Yahwist Plague denier -

Yahwist and Priestly Versions of the Plagues: 7 vs. 10 - http://www.clt.astate.edu/wnarey/Religi ... lagues.htm
Is there any other evidence that the Levites left Egypt at the time of the Exodus?

Yes, and it comes from one of the earliest writings in the Bible, the Song of Deborah, composed in Israel in the 12th or 11th century B.C.E. After the Canaanites suffer a major defeat, Deborah summons the victorious tribes of Israel. In uniting the tribes, which constitutes the founding event of Israel’s history as a nation in its land, 10 of the tribes are summoned—but noticeably absent is Levi. Their absence is perfectly consistent with all of the other facts we have observed. The Levites weren’t there in Israel yet; they were in Egypt. Think of this: The two oldest texts in the Bible are the Song of Deborah and the Song of Miriam. The Song of Deborah, in Israel, doesn’t mention Levi. The Song of Miriam, in Egypt, doesn’t mention Israel!
It is not easy to assign dates before the 8th century BCE. However, I did see a favorable review of a guy who assigned a date of 1150 BCE to Song of the Sea.

Brian D. Russell, The Song of the Sea: The Date of Composition and Influence of Exodus 15:1-21 (Studies in Biblical Literature 101; New York: Peter Lang, 2007). Pp. xii + 215. Cloth US$68.95. ISBN 978-0-8204-8809-7.

http://www.jhsonline.org/reviews/review ... iew316.htm
This monograph is a revision of Russell's doctoral thesis conducted at Union Theological Seminary under S. Dean McBride, Jr. By considering a wide range of possibilities and methods, Russell argues that Exod 15:1-21, which he designates as the Song of the Sea, is a unified early (1150 BCE) poem.
Not being an expert, I think there is an academic consensus that the Song of the Sea and Song of Deborah were known before the bible was written, but what that means for actual dates is not clear. I would have thought that 1150 BCE is way too early to assign any biblical stuff, and this is a shaky table for Dr. Friedman's assertions to rest on. Anat addresses this subject and the importance of the 8th century above. It is also not clear that the setting of the song of the sea is Egypt.
There is no archaeological evidence against the historicity of an exodus if it was a smaller group who left Egypt. Indeed, significantly, the first biblical mention of the Exodus, the Song of Miriam, which is the oldest text in the Bible, never mentions how many people were involved in the Exodus, and it never speaks of the whole nation of Israel. It just refers to a people, an am, leaving Egypt.

It wasn’t until a much later source of the Exodus—the so-called priestly source, some 400 years later—that the number 603,550 males was added to the story.
Placing the Priestly source only 400 years after the Exodus is getting to be anachronistic in this day and age.

I think the best we can say about this idea is that it is vaguely possible.

Once you get past the fact that the Torah wasn't written by Moses, why would you want to latch onto beliefs that aren't much more likely than the one that was rejected?

One of the weird things about Reform (and I guess other forms of Judaism also) is that they seem to actually think that there are some kind of life lessons the bible teaches us... Dr Friedman addresses that partly -
My rabbi used to tell me as a child that even if we could prove that biblical events were not true, the Bible still contained great lessons.

Over time, though, I’ve come to the opposite conclusion. History matters.
Actually, I think the opposite conclusion is that it doesn't contain great lessons. Why not simply follow the commandment for Torah_study, that doesn't mention silly beliefs being a requirement.

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