When did belief in an exodus from Egypt emerge?

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

Post by John Kesler » Fri Oct 02, 2015 11:00 am

semiopen wrote:An issue with John's post was that a source wasn't given. It's probably this -
If you read my last sentence, you'll see the reason for this "issue": I was not allowed to post URLS, but I offered the option to PM me for my sources. The source you came across contains some of the same information as those I used, but here are mine: thetorah dot com/the-historical-exodus/ and youtube dot com/watch?v=H-YlzpUhnxQ.
semiopen wrote:I don't understand this, unless Dr Friedman is a Yahwist Plague denier
The Priestly source is relatively easy to identify, but discerning J from E is known to be a knotty problem. It may be better to simply speak of P and non-P sources in the plagues narrative. William Propp, Friedman's former colleague at UCSD (Friedman now teaches at the University of Georgia), like Friedman assigns the non-P plagues material to E. In The Bible With Sources Revealed, Friedman states that since E is responsible for the burning-bush pericope, he sees no reason to assign the plagues narrative that follows to J.
semiopen wrote:Placing the Priestly source only 400 years after the Exodus is getting to be anachronistic in this day and age.
What Dr. Friedman said is: "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." Note that he dates P 400 years after the Song of Miriam/Song of the Sea, not the actual Exodus. It's true that Friedman dates P before D, to a time not long after J and E were combined, and he claims that linguistic evidence supports this view.

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

Post by John Kesler » Fri Oct 02, 2015 4:26 pm

semiopen wrote:Placing the Priestly source only 400 years after the Exodus is getting to be anachronistic in this day and age.
I need to add, too, that Friedman dates his Levites-only Exodus later than the conventional time. The common assumption is that since the Merneptah Stele (dated to the 13th century BCE) refers to "Israel" as a nation in Canaan, then the Exodus from Egypt had to predate this, perhaps occurring when Merneptah's immediate predecessor, Ramesses II, was king. This assumes, though, that all of the people who eventually became Israel were in Canaan at this time. However, if Israel existed as a nation while the Levites were still in Egypt, and only later did the Levites become part of Israel, taking Yahweh worship to Canaan with them, then a 400-year span between the oldest source (Song of the Sea) and at-best-fourth-oldest source (P, after SOS, J, and E) for the Exodus is not problematic.

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

Post by semiopen » Sat Oct 03, 2015 6:48 am

John,

I didn't notice the url disclaimer in your first entry, glad I didn't miss anything important. Still, at the end of the day, there were no sources posted.

I didn't understand your date issues with my post. Friedman gives 11th or 12th century BCE for Song of Deborah
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!


The most logical view of the Levites not being included is that they didn't take part in wars. Ironically, they didn't take part in slavery in Egypt either.

Friedman very clearly dates the Levite arrival in Canaan (he calls it Israel) after the Song of Deborah was written
The Levites weren’t there in Israel yet; they were in Egypt.
The other side of this is that the Song of Miriam is pretty much from the exact same time period, assuming it is really later than the 7th or 8th centuries. By the same token, the Levites presumably composed the song of Miriam before they actually made it to Canaan. Amazing that the two different versions of Hebrew would be so close - not to mention that both groups spoke Hebrew.

The whole thing is really dubious, and we aren't even to the point of discussing the seamless merge of the Levites with 12 disparate tribes - that seems sociologically outrageous.

One thing that has puzzled me is the term Song of Miriam. I think he means the Song of the Sea with a bone thrown to women.

Exodus 15:20-21 TNK
20 Then Miriam the prophetess, Aaron's sister, took a timbrel in her hand, and all the women went out after her in dance with timbrels.
21 And Miriam chanted for them: Sing to the LORD, for He has triumphed gloriously; Horse and driver He has hurled into the sea.
The idea of Jewish women dancing around with timbrels frightens me. I thought these lines could have been added later. On the other hand, maybe the other tribes also found these women terrifying and this was a factor in paying them 10% of their incomes in perpetuity. Seems like a long shot.

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

Post by Anat » Wed Oct 07, 2015 10:35 am

Moses and his family were added to a story about an exodus from Egypt that itself was built on a combination of previous traditions and some kind of allegory for conditions in the 6th century BCE (with the unnamed Pharaohs as a stand in for the Assyrian kings). Also, there is reason to suspect that originally the Levities were not a tribal group but a collective name for people of any ancestry who made their living from performing cultic services (see Judges 17, also, why is the text calling Aaron the Levite, shouldn't it be self-evident from his being Moses' brother?). If you want to know about what can be learned from the Bible about conditions in pre-monarchic times it would be bad methodology to use as evidence traditions that are much later, you must identify the bits that are actually ancient.

The language used to describe the oppression in Egypt uses Assyrian terminology, and the mentions of Egypt in the prophets make no mention of slavery etc so we can safely remove any reference to that from anything that is supposed to be the older tradition. The negotiation between Pharaoh and the officers in Exodus 5 and the unnamed prophet in Hosea 12:14 can be taken to imply that early exodus traditions (even after adding slavery) did not include Moses, let alone Aaron. So Friedman's conclusion falls apart once you realize the older elements of the exodus story did not give any special status to Levites, whether as a tribal group or a professional one.

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

Post by outhouse » Wed Oct 07, 2015 11:07 am

John Kesler wrote: since the Merneptah Stele (dated to the 13th century BCE) refers to "Israel" as a nation in Canaan,

.

That is incorrect.

It directly points to a people NOT a nation.

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

Post by semiopen » Thu Oct 08, 2015 8:41 am

Dr. Friedman's theory about the songs being evidence for the later arrival of the Levites seems to be busted because of the weird date it gives for the Exodus. Not to mention the general flimsiness; the fact that Levites aren't mentioned in the song of Deborah has no significance.

That doesn't mean the Levites couldn't have been the only group to leave Egypt, just that trying to prove that through the songs is silly. Still, why ascribe to a belief that completely disembowels Judaism by making the epiphany at Sinai (for example) one that was not shared by all the Jewish people? This is just worse than accepting things at face value; worse even than non-belief.

There is an argument that the Song of Deborah is pre-monarchic but that may be circular in that the united kingdom is most probably mythical. Therefore a date of 12th or 11th century is probably partially based on a monarchy arising in the 11th. One also has to wonder if the tent is an anachronism -
Most blessed of women be Jael, Wife of Heber the Kenite, Most blessed of women in tents. (Jdg 5:24 TNK)
It's not clear if tents existed before the Iron Age - continuing
25 He asked for water, she offered milk; In a princely bowl she brought him curds.
26 Her left hand reached for the tent pin, Her right for the workmen's hammer. She struck Sisera, crushed his head, Smashed and pierced his temple.
27 At her feet he sank, lay outstretched, At her feet he sank, lay still; Where he sank, there he lay -- destroyed.
Shining Stars of Davida: Deborah, Jael, and Sisera's Mother - http://starofdavida.blogspot.com/2011/0 ... -jael.html
Sisera asked her for water; however, she gave him milk. One reason for this may have been that dairy induces sleepiness (a fact that Judith knew well), and Jael wanted to put Sisera to sleep.
Maybe I have a dirty mind but perhaps this has something to do with sex.

In reviewing Dr. Friedman's work, he seems to have concentrated on Women's issues. Therefore his fascination with the song of Deborah and referring to the song of the sea as the song of Miriam is understandable.

One of the ironic things about Women's studies is that they usually have a prurient side and Song of Deborah is no exception.

TNK and JPS both give "At her feet" while the Hebrew is actually closer to "between her legs." It goes almost without saying that many commentators think there was sex/rape going on.
29 The wisest of her ladies give answer; She, too, replies to herself:
30 "They must be dividing the spoil they have found: A damsel or two for each man...
This sort of recalls the SecretAlias cup thread. "Damsel" is an overly polite translation of רַ֤חַם which means womb (I don't believe it can be found anywhere else in the bible) and a correct English rendering would be cunt.

Anyway, the correct dating of this is far from clear. My guess is it's not that much older than the rest of Judges.

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

Post by John Kesler » Tue Oct 13, 2015 9:41 am

Anat wrote:Also, there is reason to suspect that originally the Levities were not a tribal group but a collective name for people of any ancestry who made their living from performing cultic services (see Judges 17...
I don't see how this adversely affects Dr. Friedman's hypothesis. If anything, it strengthens it, since Friedman believes that the Levites' contribution to Israel was Yahweh worship. When Yahweh was introduced to Canaan, Yahweh and the resident deity, El, were fused, and the claim made that Yahweh and El were the same god all along. Indeed, Micah appointed his son as a priest but thought that he needed a Levite to really connect to Yahweh: "Then Micah said, ‘Now I know that Yahweh will prosper me, because the Levite has become my priest’ (17:13). Only later in Israelite "history" was Levi conceived as a tribe and the son of Jacob/Israel.
Anat wrote:...also, why is the text calling Aaron the Levite, shouldn't it be self-evident from his being Moses' brother?).
You are referring to Exodus 4:14. This is not from P, and it is the P source that claims that Moses and Aaron are flesh-and-blood brothers. Other sources don't claim this, such as Exodus 15:20: "Then the prophet Miriam, Aaron’s sister, took a tambourine in her hand; and all the women went out after her with tambourines and with dancing." Viewed in context, Exodus 4:14 refers to Moses and Aaron as Levite brothers.
Anat wrote: The language used to describe the oppression in Egypt uses Assyrian terminology, and the mentions of Egypt in the prophets make no mention of slavery etc so we can safely remove any reference to that from anything that is supposed to be the older tradition. The negotiation between Pharaoh and the officers in Exodus 5 and the unnamed prophet in Hosea 12:14 can be taken to imply that early exodus traditions (even after adding slavery) did not include Moses, let alone Aaron.
No one is claiming that the prophets knew the whole Torah in its final form. Staying in Hosea, look at Hosea 2:14-15 (vv. 16-17 in Hebrew), which claims that the wilderness period was one of fidelity to Yahweh, contrary to the Torah's claims (Exodus 14:11-12 et al.). Regarding Hosea 12:14's reference to a prophet, I see no reason why this couldn't be referring to Moses, since he is called a prophet in Deuteronomy 18:15 and 34:10, and it's possible Hosea knew this tradition. Frankly, I don't see what Exodus 5 has to do with Friedman's idea. No one doubts that the Exodus story had layers accreted to it. If you and the other respondents haven't already done so, I urge you to watch Friedman's video (only about half an hour) and read his argument. Since I can now post links, I'll supply them: http://thetorah.com/the-historical-exodus and https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H-YlzpUhnxQ.

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

Post by semiopen » Fri Apr 22, 2016 8:01 am

It must be close to Passover, Dr Friedman either impressed at least one of his listeners with his tale, or perhaps the writer needed a topic for his Passover column.

The Case for a Smaller Exodus - http://atlantajewishtimes.com/2016/04/c ... r-exodus/

Mr Jacobs admits to not being interested enough to take notes during the talk, but suggests the subject might provide a slightly edgy topic for liberal seders.

No word on Dr Friedman's threatened book on this, my guess is that it won't appear in the near future.

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

Post by outhouse » Fri Apr 22, 2016 4:08 pm

Anat wrote: To outhouse: Obviously there won't be a definite date, but I was hoping for evidence that would allow to narrow the scope down a bit. Also

.
8th century BC in its most primitive form, and I'm being generous with said date.

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

Post by Secret Alias » Wed May 31, 2017 10:07 am

great point.
“Finally, from so little sleeping and so much reading, his brain dried up and he went completely out of his mind.”
― Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra, Don Quixote

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