Thursday, February 24, 2011
Final Essay for Biblical Egyptology
The Biblical Egyptology course presents and discusses many pieces of evidence to support the Biblical Exodus of the Jews from Egypt and the existence of the man Moses. The primary textbook for the course is “A History of Ancient Egypt” by Nicolas Grimal. It is interesting that this text states on page 258 that there are no surviving Egyptian sources, which describe the Exodus. Yet the course provides Egyptian evidence such as steles, papyrus, and documents of painted stone.
The window of time in which the Exodus likely occurred is from the 12th to the 19th Egyptian dynasties. Many scholars believe the time of Biblical Joseph, the famine, and the Jews migrating to Egypt was the 12th Egyptian dynasty. Sources put the 12th dynasty at approximately 1985 – 1795 B.C.E. The Exodus likely occurred between the 16th dynasty and the rule of one of the first four pharaohs of the 19th dynasty, which would be approximately 1600 - 1200 B.C.E.
Mention is made of a documentary created by Simcha Jacobovici called “Exodus Decoded”. This documentary can be seen on TV or possibly rented from a library. Much compelling evidence of the Exodus is presented and the likely year is identified. Of course, this information is quite compelling due to the dramatic television style of presentation. Still it was quite interesting and worth viewing.
Let us turn to some of the specific evidence presented in the course. On the Merneptah Stele there is reference to Merneptah’s victory over the Israelites in Palestine. The Stele indicates the Israelites had already left Egypt by the time of Merneptah’s reign. Merneptah was the son of Ramses II and the fourth pharaoh of the 19th dynasty. Though this might not indicate a mass Exodus, it does indicate that there were hostilities between the Jews and Egyptians at this time and that the Jews were no longer in Egypt.
Some accept the Quran as corroborating evidence of the Exodus, since it tells of the Exodus story. But, it is questionable as evidence because it was written much later than the Old Testament and even the New Testament. The source of the information it contains about the Exodus could have come from the Old Testament.
One of the most intriguing pieces of supporting evidence of the Exodus is “Hecataeus, His Work, and the Jewish Excursus”. This is transcribed literature from c.400 B.C.E. This document says the “aliens (believed to be the Jews) were driven from the country (Egypt)”. It says most were driven into Judea and were headed by a man called Moses. This document could be a re-telling of the Exodus story from the Old Testament. However, it does include much other information not found in the Old Testament. For example it states that some of the aliens driven from the country were “cast ashore in Greece and certain other regions”. This is a topic investigated more thoroughly in the “Exodus Decoded” documentary.
Another piece of supporting evidence is the writings of Artapanus. He was a Jewish historian. His writings were transcribed by Eusebius, who had influence in the Council of Nicea, around 300 A.D. These writings contain the Exodus story.
This course presents many tangible items of evidence for the Biblical account of Moses and Exodus. They support Moses and Exodus, but do not provide dates or name the pharaohs of the Exodus time period clearly enough to be certain of which pharaoh it was and thus provide us with an approximate date based on the dynasty. There is a document available known as a “king’s list”, which list the order of pharaohs and the dynasty in which they reigned. Various Egyptologists have created different versions and provided the years of reign for each pharaoh along with the dynasty.
The literary accounts of Manetho and Josephus provide the more credible accounts that confirm the Exodus. Josephus lived from 37 A.D. to 100 A.D. (approximately) and became known as Titus Flavius Josephus. He was a Jewish historian who recorded the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 A.D. He has many writings which are available today in book form. He transcribed the writings of Artapanus and Manetho.
Manetho was an Egyptian priest and lived from 305 B.C. to 285 B.C. He interpreted ancient Egyptian records and kings lists. No complete versions of his writings are available today. But, Josephus preserved extracts of his writings. Josephus identifies the Israelite Exodus with the first Exodus mentioned by Manetho.
Much account is given in this course of the Hyksos, which are likely a Semitic culture, possibly the Jews who left Egypt in the Exodus event. Evidence of two Exodus like events is presented. Enough evidence is presented supporting the Biblical Exodus to cause one to believe it did indeed happen.
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