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Friday, February 19, 2010

Biblical Exodus

The central belief of Judaism is that the Hebrews were once slaves in Egypt and were taken out under the leadership of Moshe. The obvious question to ask is whether this event really took place or not? We know that the Greek myths are all made up stories, perhaps the same can be said about this Hebrew story?

From what I have read and from what I understand I do believe that Yetzius Metzraim (Exodus from Egpyt) is based on a historical event. I imagine that some people will tell me I am even wrong about that but I do not think so. I say so because there is evidence that there was a group of people called "Hyksos" who lived in ancient Egypt around 1500 BC. These people were either slaves or of very low class who later left Egpyt. This is documented on the wall paintings in ancient Egyptian locations. These wall paintings were used to keep their history. Archaeologists and ancient historians also know that Hyksos were of semitic origin. Can these people have been the Hebrews? I think so. I do want to add that Flavius Josephus does write about the Hyksos being the Hebrew people. This is what makes me think that the Exodus story is based on historical events that took place in Egypt a long time ago.

There is no evidence however for any of the grand miraculous stories that are believed by the Jewish people today. My understanding is what I wrote about here. Namely, there was an event that taken place and the people associated with this event passed it down to their generations in a more glorious version. This continued to happen until we have the grand story of the Exodus as the Jewish people believe it today. Therefore, I think that the Exodus story is inspired by something which really happened, but it is sexed up with miracles.

There is also the story about the splitting of the sea. Another big part of Judaism. What I think, as proposed by archaeologists, is that the Hebrews passed through a sea when it was during its low-tide. Later when the high-tide came back in it covered up what they have traveled through. The Hebrews were so impressed by that, that they attached to it mythological notions. Thus, over time this story became the grand amazing story which is believed by Jewish people today.

No evidence has been presented that shows that the Hebrews were chased by the Egyptians, the sea split in half, they walked through, the Egyptians followed, then the sea closed up again killing the Egyptians. If this was the case then we should be able to find evidence in the sea that Egyptians were killed.

Some Jewish people will object to what I have just said and say, "but we have been able to find an Egyptian chariot wheel in the Red Sea, so the story is true". There is just so much that bothers me about such an objection. The main one being is the hypocrisy of the Jewish people. If you try to use archeology they will tell you, "it is unreliable because it is studying things which are long gone". Of course, the real reason why Jewish people (and religious people in general) are anti-archeology is that it challenges their religious beliefs. However, when they found a piece of archeology which they think vindicates their beliefs then they have no problem using it. You cannot have it both ways. But there is another significant problem with the chariot wheel in the Red Sea. Why do you have to assume that this chariot wheel has to do with the Exodus? There could be hundreds of other explanations for this chariot wheel. Why immediately jump and think it has to do with the Exodus? Finally, the reason why this Jewish apologetic fails miserably is because the Exodus did not take place at the Red Sea! If you are a Jewish person who believes the Exodus took place at the Red Sea then you must have been reading the King James Bible instead of the Torah. The Torah is clear, it is, "yam suf". Which means, "reed sea". If you use Artscroll they translate it as, "Sea of Reeds". Some archaeologists think they have been able to identify the actual sea. Which, by the way, is a tiny little sea, nothing in size to the Red Sea.

The point of all of this is that if you want to believe in something you need to have rational and empirical reasons to believe in it. I believe that the Exodus is based on something which happened because I can justify that. But I do not believe in anything more because it goes against Reason, and cannot be justified by any evidence whatsoever. This is why I think the Jewish story of the Exodus evolved to what it is today by glorification of stories by subsequent generations of believers.

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