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A DIVINE COMEDY:
The word “God” has no objective meaning. This explains why there have been so many religions throughout the ages. In this article I show that the God which we currently know as the only God of the universe was originally thought of as being one of many gods. If believers wish to accept the Bible as the word of God, then we have his own admission that he is not the only god.
Early religions were polytheistic. In the Bible, God started out as a Jewish tribal god. By the early first century BCE, the definition changed to a Jewish God of the universe. In the early centuries CE there were many schools of thought at odds with each other. Modern Christianity arose through the efforts to unify God under one secular authority. There is more politics to religion than meets the eye.
One could argue that the modern definition reflected a growing awareness among religious authorities that God was more encompassing than earlier thought. The counter to that argument is that by making the definition of God universal, it expanded Church authority. It is because the Church set itself as the medium for knowing about God, that it is, in effect, marketing itself.
Without God’s minions campaigning on his behalf, he would have become a forgotten relic. God needs your support because the organizations behind him need your patronage. In effect, faith in God translates to faith in Synagogue/Church/Mosque authority.
To make my point, what is wrong with this picture?
God/YHWH/Allah, the creator of the universe, the super-intelligent being who is omnipotent, omniscient, omnibenevolent and perfect in every way, can’t get his message across without guidance from religious organizations.
In contrast, scientific discovery presents an opposing view of Nature as being devoid of any conscious activity. For argument’s sake, if there was a creator God, his first laws have proven to be the inviolable laws of Nature.
It is only within human imagination that such laws can be violated.
Joshua explains that Abraham’s ancestors served other gods.
2And Joshua said to all the people, “Thus says the LORD, the God of Israel, ‘Your fathers lived of old beyond the Euphrates, Terah, the father of Abraham and of Nahor; and they served other gods. (Joshua 24:2)
Jeremiah notes that for as many cities there are gods.
28But where are your gods that you made for yourself? Let them arise, if they can save you, in your time of trouble; for as many as your cities are your gods, O Judah. (Jeremiah. 2:28)
In biblical days, it was a hard and fast rule for kingdoms to have their own god as a symbol of political prestige.
The term Elohim is plural for god and is used 216 times in the Old Testament for “gods” and 2366 times for “God.” The singular form of Elohim is Eloah and is used 55 times in place of “God.” This mistranslation hides the pluralistic nature of the Hebrew god. To the Israelites, Elohim encompasses all supernatural beings: spirits, angels, demons, semi-gods and so forth.
So whenever they appealed to Elohim, they were inferring the entire pantheon.
That these lesser beings are not gods is a matter of semantics. By pagan definition, they are all gods. For example, the Greek God, Mercury, was seen as a messenger god. To the ancient Jews, he would be the equivalent of an angel.
According to the Hebrew translation, there were many gods involved in creation. There was not one single god all by himself.
1In the beginning God [Elohim] created the heavens and the earth. (Genesis. 1:1)
Genesis 1:2 explains the true meaning of Genesis 1:22, “Let us make man in our image.”
26Then God [Elohim] said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness; and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps upon the earth.” (Genesis. 1:26)
We have evidence that many gods revealed themselves to Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and Moses.
2And God [Elohim] said to Moses, “I am the LORD.
3I appeared to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, as God Almighty, but by my name the LORD I did not make myself known to them.(Exodus. 6:2-3)
Only 216 or about ten percent of the time, Elohim is properly interpreted as gods.
11Now I know that the LORD is greater than all gods, [Elohim] because he delivered the people from under the hand of the Egyptians, when they dealt arrogantly with them.” (Exodus. 18:11)
A good example of how the English translations mislead can be found in Genesis 3:5. In the King James, the Serpent tells Eve she will be like the gods, knowing good from evil.
5For God [Elohim] doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods [Elohim], knowing good and evil. (Genesis. 3:5 KJV)
Modern translations convert to the singular God to hide a critical embarrassment.
5For God [Elohim] knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God [Elohim], knowing good and evil.” (Genesis. 3:5)
Out of 55 times when the singular form of God, eloah appears, it appears 40 times in the book of Job. God is never addressed directly as eloah. The term is always applied indirectly.
9By the breath of God [eloah] they perish, and by the blast of his anger they are consumed. (Job 4:9)
If there were no other gods, Yahweh would have no reason to be jealous.
14You shall not go after other gods, of the gods of the peoples who are round about you;
15for the LORD your God in the midst of you is a jealous God; lest the anger of the LORD your God be kindled against you, and he destroy you from off the face of the earth. (Deuteronomy. 6:14-15)
14(for you shall worship no other god, for the LORD, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God), (Exodus. 34:14)
God was so frustrated by the Israelites disloyalty that he grew to hate them. In reality, it was Jeremiah expressing his own hatred.
8My heritage has become to me like a lion in the forest, she has lifted up her voice against me; therefore I hate her .(Jeremiah. 12:8)
GOD OF ISRAEL
The term, God of Israel, appears almost 200 times in the Old Testament. Simply, the phrase, God of Israel, designates the name of a national god, not the god of the universe.
1Afterward Moses and Aaron went to Pharaoh and said, “Thus says the LORD, the God of Israel, ‘Let my people go, that they may hold a feast to me in the wilderness.'” (Exodus. 5:1)
The God of Israel vows to enlarge the borders of Israel.
23Three times in the year shall all your males appear before the LORD God, the God of Israel.
24For I will cast out nations before you, and enlarge your borders; neither shall any man desire your land, when you go up to appear before the LORD your God three times in the year. (Exodus. 34:23-24)
GOD OF SPIRIT
In this context, the God of spirits means the God of the dead.
16″Let the LORD, the God of the spirits of all flesh, appoint a man over the congregation, (Numbers. 27:16)
GOD OF GODS
We see some braggadocio here. The Israelites claim their God is the supreme God of all gods. There can be no denial here that the biblical world is infested with deities and demons.
17For the LORD your God is God of gods and Lord of lords, the great, the mighty, and the terrible God, who is not partial and takes no bribe. (Deuteronomy. 10:17)
1God has taken his place in the divine council; in the midst of the gods he holds judgment: (Psalm. 82:1)
2O give thanks to the God of gods, for his steadfast love endures for ever. (Psalm. 136:2)
3O give thanks to the Lord of lords, for his steadfast love endures for ever; (Psalm. 136:3)
In the Ancient Near East, a number of deities were known be several names. For example, the Babylonia deity Marduk had 50 names, the Egyptian deity Re had 74 names, and Osiris had 100 to 142 names. Such deities also had hidden or secret names known only by certain priests who knew the proper way to invoke them without offense. The second reason was that it was believed that these hidden names were believed to give the speakers access to and influence with-and sometimes magical powers-over the named.
7″You shall not take the name of the LORD your God in vain; for the LORD will not hold him guiltless who takes his name in vain. (Exodus. 20:7)
This passage tells us about an Israelite woman who turned in her son to Moses for blaspheming God’s name. We are not told what he said, but he was stoned to death shortly thereafter. This is where the Muslims get their Blasphemy law!
10Now an Israelite woman’s son, whose father was an Egyptian, went out among the people of Israel; and the Israelite woman’s son and a man of Israel quarreled in the camp,
11and the Israelite woman’s son blasphemed the Name, and cursed. And they brought him to Moses. His mother’s name was Shelomith, the daughter of Dibri, of the tribe of Dan.
12And they put him in custody, till the will of the LORD should be declared to them.
13And the LORD said to Moses,
14″Bring out of the camp him who cursed; and let all who heard him lay their hands upon his head, and let all the congregation stone him.
15And say to the people of Israel, Whoever curses his God shall bear his sin.
16He who blasphemes the name of the LORD shall be put to death; all the congregation shall stone him; the sojourner as well as the native, when he blasphemes the Name, shall be put to death. (Leviticus. 24:10-16)
YEHOVAH OR YAHWEH
“Lord” translates to Yehovah over 6,400 times in the Old Testament. Yehovah was originally conceived of as a local weather God, responsible for rain and fertility. Yehovah is now translated to “Yahweh.”
8Smoke went up from his nostrils, and devouring fire from his mouth; glowing coals flamed forth from him.
9He bowed the heavens, and came down; thick darkness was under his feet.
10He rode on a cherub, and flew; he came swiftly upon the wings of the wind.
11He made darkness his covering around him, his canopy thick clouds dark with water.
12Out of the brightness before him there broke through his clouds hailstones and coals of fire.
13The LORD also thundered in the heavens, and the Most High uttered his voice, hailstones and coals of fire.
14And he sent out his arrows, and scattered them; he flashed forth lightnings, and routed them.
15Then the channels of the sea were seen, and the foundations of the world were laid bare,
at thy rebuke, O LORD [Yehovah], at the blast of the breath of thy nostrils. (Psalms 18:8-15)
It wasn’t until the rise of the monarchy in Judah and Israel, did Yehovah rise to the status of a supreme god and universal weather god.
17For the LORD [Yehovah] your God [Elohim] is God [Elohim] of gods [Elohim] and Lord [Adon] of lords [Adon], the great, the mighty, and the terrible God, who is not partial and takes no bribe. (Deuteronomy. 10:17)
5 For I know that the LORD [Yehovah] is great, and that our Lord [Adon] is above all gods [Elohim]. (Psalm. 135:5)
Far from being friendly, ancients had to fear the Lord (Yahweh), who was more powerful than all the other deities.
10And all the peoples of the earth shall see that you are called by the name of the LORD; and they shall be afraid of you. (Deuteronomy. 28:10)
Jehovah can be found in the King James four times, translated from the Hebrew Yehovah. Other English versions typically translate to God. Yahweh is now the favored translation in place of Yehovah.
3And I appeared unto Abraham, unto Isaac, and unto Jacob, by the name of God Almighty, but by my name JEHOVAH was I not known to them. (Exodus. 6:3 KJV)
18That men may know that thou, whose name alone is JEHOVAH, art the most high over all the earth. (Psalm. 83:18, KJV)
2Behold, God is my salvation; I will trust, and not be afraid: for the LORD JEHOVAH is my strength and my song; he also is become my salvation. (Isaiah. 12:2, KJV)
4Trust ye in the LORD for ever: for in the LORD JEHOVAH is everlasting strength: (Isaiah. 26:4, KJV)
Lord translates to Adonay to denote the god of Israel. It is used 430 times in the Old Testament, with Ezekiel counting for over 200 times. Elsewhere, Lord is substituted for Yehovah over 6,400 times.
Lord translates to Adon 211 times.
3O give thanks to the Lord [Adon] of lords [Adon], for his steadfast love endures for ever; (Psalm. 136:3)
Adonis originally meant lord, which is translated that way 211 times.
5For I know that the LORD [Yahweh] is great, and that our Lord [adon] is above all gods. (Psalm. 135:5)
LORD OF HOSTS
The word “hosts” is a euphemism for the stars.
3Now this man used to go up year by year from his city to worship and to sacrifice to the LORD of hosts at Shiloh, where the two sons of Eli, Hophni and Phinehas, were priests of the LORD. (1 Samuel 1:3)
WHO IS THE CREATOR?
To Jews, the one God of creation is Yahweh. To Christians, he is the Trinitarian God embodied in Jesus Christ. But according to Scripture, it is none of the above. In fact, both religions are as polytheistic as their pagan predecessors. Here is why.
The word God is not a proper noun such as John. With a capital G, it designates a title, like Mister or Sir. The same can be said of the word Lord. It is within these two title words, Lord and God, where the original definition is disguised by the translators.
In the ancient Near East all theistic religions believed in a supreme God who reigned above lesser gods; Judaism and Christianity were no exceptions. For example, to the ancient Egyptians, the supreme god was Ra. To the Greeks, he was Zeus. According to the pagan definition of all immortal beings as gods, Christianity is just as polytheistic. It is all a matter of semantics.
The question before us is what god or gods caused creation as defined by the first two verses of Genesis?
By mistranslating the true Hebrew name, Elohim, from the original texts for the generic name, God, readers are deceived into thinking of God as a singular entity. To repeat, the God of creation is not a Jewish or a Christian God. Elohim, in Hebrew means gods, spirits or lords. In the singular, it is El, meaning the supreme Canaanite god. Thus the early Hebrews worshipped the same God or gods as their heathen neighbors. So let’s revise Genesis. 1:1 to what it honestly says.
1In the beginning [the] God[s] created the heavens and the earth. (Genesis 1:1)
The plurality of God gives true meaning to when the gods agreed to,
“Let us make man in our image, after our likeness.”
If the gods made man in their image, then it stands to reason that the gods are in the image of men and women.
26Then [the] God[s] said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness; (Genesis. 1:26)
In the English translations, the word that denotes Yahweh is Lord. Another term we see in Genesis 2 is Lord God, which means Yahweh Elohim or Yahweh of the gods. As events turn out, Yahweh is nothing but a mythological tribal God among others which the heathen Israelites worshipped.
Several passages tell us that Jews did not claim Yahweh as their only God; he was merely the supreme to other gods.
Other statements attest to this fact. Moses’ father-in-law, Jethro, is made to say:
11Now I know that the LORD is greater than all gods. (Exodus. 18:11)
Moses and the Israelites are credited with this next statement.
11Who is like thee, O LORD, among the gods? (Exodus. 15:11)
In the passage below, Yahweh is the most fearsome among a council of gods.
6For who in the skies can be compared to the LORD? Who among the heavenly beings is like the LORD,
7a God feared in the council of the holy ones, great and terrible above all that are round about him? (Psalms 89:6-7)
Even in the Ten Commandments, God recognizes the existence of other gods. There is a big difference between, “you shall have no other gods” verses “there are no other gods.”
3″You shall have no other gods before me. (Exodus. 20:3)
Bear in mind that Christianity is on even shakier grounds in maintaining the existence of only one God. First, by canonizing Jewish Scripture, the Christian Fathers gave recognition to Yahweh and the pantheon of lesser gods mentioned by name throughout the Old Testament. And don’t even mention Mohammedanism and Allah.
The supreme God El has been traced to the Amorite kingdom of Ugarit, located in North Syria. He was known as the creator, the supreme authority in all matters human and divine, the father of gods and men.
Associated with El is the young male God, Baal, the storm god. Associated with El and Baal were two female figures, Ashera and Anath, goddesses of fertility. The Ugarit (Babylonian) myths also feature two adversaries of Baal, Yam, the sea, and Mot, the destructive power of drought and sterility. In another interesting parallel with the biblical sea monster Deep, Yam is personified as dragon, serpent and Leviathan, representing the forces of chaos.
The Canaanite influence on the early Hebrews can be found by tracing the origins of the Hebrew language. The father of Jews, Abraham is said to come from “Ur of the Chaldeans” (Genesis. 11:31). It’s a safe bet that the Chaldean Abraham was an ordinary idol-worshipping heathen Syrian who never heard of Yahweh. Additionally, the Chaldeans were known for their expertise in astrology.
31Terah took Abram his son and Lot the son of Haran, his grandson, and Sarai his daughter-in-law, his son Abram’s wife, and they went forth together from Ur of the Chaldeans to go into the land of Canaan; but when they came to Haran, they settled there. (Genesis. 11:31)
Abraham’s grandson Jacob erected an altar to El of the gods.
20There he [Jacob] erected an altar and called it El-Elohe-Israel. (Genesis. 33:20)
And El said to Jacob he is the supreme god of gods of his father.
3Then he said, “I am God [El], the God [Elohim] of your father; do not be afraid to go down to Egypt; for I will there make of you a great nation. (Genesis. 46:3)
According to the appendix of the American Heritage Dictionary, the Hebrew language branched off from the Canaanite language. Abraham spoke the dialect of his region in the days when Canaan was under Egyptian domination. Even Isaiah admits to that fact.
18In that day there will be five cities in the land of Egypt which speak the language of Canaan and swear allegiance to the LORD of hosts. (Isaiah 19:18)
What kind of leader was the God of Abraham? Exodus 15:3 tells us he is,
“the Lord is a man of war”-Yahweh is a war god.
Drawing from Sarah and El, we get Israel, meaning a nation who worships a war god by the name of El. The marriage of Abraham and Sarah was the Bible’s way of introducing the Jewish race by way of pun.
16I will bless her, and moreover I will give you a son by her; I will bless her, and she shall be a mother of nations; kings of peoples shall come from her. (Genesis. 17:16)
Abraham is said to be married to Sarah (Genesis. 17:15). Sarah comes from the Hebrew, Sar, meaning prince, ruler, leader, chief, chieftain, official, captain.
Certainly, Yahweh was NOT the god of creation.
Instead, what we learn is that the Jewish Patriarchs and the Israelites were Chaldean (Babylonian) speaking heathens until the time of the Exodus when Moses was first introduced to Yahweh during the burning bush incident. The colloquy between God and Moses demonstrates that Moses never knew or heard of Yahweh when he lived in Egypt.
13Then Moses said to God, “If I come to the people of Israel and say to them, ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you,’ and they ask me, ‘What is his name?’ what shall I say to them?” (Exodus. 3:13)
Since Moses grew up in Egypt, it can be understandable that he never heard of Yahweh until this time. But in these next passages we find out that the Chosen People never heard of Yahweh either.
13Moses said to God, “Suppose I go to the Israelites and say to them, ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you,’ and they ask me, ‘What is his name?’ Then what shall I tell them?” (Exodus. 3:13)
Curiously, God tells Moses that his one true name is I AM, and it is to remain that way forever. As we shall see later, he gives Moses a different name.
14God said to Moses, “I am who I am. This is what you are to say to the Israelites: ‘I AM WHO I AM has sent me to you.'”
15God also said to Moses, “Say this to the people of Israel, ‘The LORD, the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, has sent me to you’: this is my name for ever, and thus I am to be remembered throughout all generations. (Exodus. 3:14-15)
A CASE OF PIOUS MISTRANSLATION
Knowledgeable students of the Bible would probably agree with the above statements, arguing that God purposely did not reveal his true name before the time of Moses. In support, they cite Exodus 6:1-3, when God said he withheld his true name from Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. So let’s examine.
2And God spake unto Moses, and said unto him, I am the LORD:
3And I appeared unto Abraham, unto Isaac, and unto Jacob, by the name of God Almighty, but by my name JEHOVAH was I not known to them. (KJV, Exodus. 6:2-3)
Modern revisions such as the Revised Standard Version, substitute Lord for Jehovah. To clear up this name confusion, Jehovah comes about as the English translation for the Hebrew YHVH. Traditionally, vowels are inserted to make the consonants pronounceable interchangeably as Yahveh or Yahweh.
2And God said to Moses, “I am the LORD.
3I appeared to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, as God Almighty, but by my name the LORD I did not make myself known to them. (Exodus. 6:2-3)
Now that we have positive affirmation that the true name of the one true God is known interchangeably as Jehovah, Yahweh, Yahveh or YHVH, it would be reasonable to expect any of these names to be used throughout the Old Testament. Almost none of the English translations do this.
In the Hebrew versions, the word Jehovah appears 6,528 times. In the King James Version, it can be found four times: Exodus. 6:3, Psalms 83:18, Isaiah 12:2 and 26:4. It contains none of the other iterations. The English revision to follow the King James was the American Standard Version which contains Jehovah 5,763 times.
4These are the generations of the heavens and of the earth when they were created, in the day that Jehovah God made earth and heaven. (Genesis. 2:4 ASV)
Throughout all English translations, the name for the Canaanite God pantheon, Elohim, appears 2366 times as God and 216 times as gods. The name for the Canaanite supreme God, El, appears 224 times in Hebrew, but nowhere in the English translations.
In conclusion, if the English translators stuck to the original god names, they would not be able to deceive their readers into believing that Judaism was always a monotheistic religion.
WAS JESUS IN THE BEGINNING
Three passages in the New Testament stand out as claiming Jesus was the same God of Creation.
John claims he was at the beginning with God.
1In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
2He was in the beginning with God;
3all things were made through him, and without him was not anything made that was made. (John 1:1-3)
John has Jesus claiming he was “I am” in reference to God’s name in Genesis 3:14. The following passage tells us his audience was so offended they threw stones at him. The Jewish leaders never accepted him as their leader.
58Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I am.”
59So they took up stones to throw at him; but Jesus hid himself, and went out of the temple. (John 8:5-59)
Paul tells us Jesus was the Creator.
17He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. (Colossians. 1:17)
The Moody Handbook of Theology offers two Old Testament proofs to support the New Testament. But when we examine them, we see that they are taken out of context and don’t refer to Jesus.
First, Micah predicts a child from Bethlehem Ephrathah will come forth as ruler of Israel to rescue him. So this can’t be Jesus because he never ruled over Israel, and because Micah was dead hundreds of years before Jesus’ time.
2But you, O Bethlehem Ephrathah, who are little to be among the clans of Judah, from you shall come forth for me one who is to be ruler in Israel, whose origin is from of old, from ancient days. (Micah 5:2)
Second, Isaiah tells us a child is born, meaning he was born during Isaiah’s time, hundreds of years before Jesus.
6For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government will be upon his shoulder, and his name will be called “Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” (Isaiah. 9:6)
This is only a sampling of how disconnected the Old Testament is from the New Testament. Christian apologists have no scruples about taking Old Testament Scripture out of context to “prove” that their Jesus is the same God of the Old Testament. Even the Old Testament is replete with errors, false translations and self contradictions. It can’t even prove itself much less prove the false claims of the New Testament.
MOSES? NOT IN THE NEW ENCYCLOPAEDIA JUDAICA
New edition of Jewish world’s most profound encyclopedia is rather skeptical of Moses’ existence
01.21.07, / Israel Jewish Scene
No figure in Jewish annals compares with Moses.
He “changed the course of human history all by himself,” Rabbi Norman J. Cohen writes enthusiastically in Moses and the Journey to Leadership, one of those inspirational books built around biblical personalities.
“He is the founder of the nation, a revolutionary, a lawgiver, a priest, a judge, a politician, a teacher, a prophet, a comforter and a guide – all rolled up into one. He is the paradigm for all subsequent leaders, for all of us.”
But a Cohen colleague at Reform Judaism’s New York City seminary, Rabbi S. David Sperling, isn’t certain that Moses even existed or, if he did, whether the Bible provides much reliable information about him.
Sperling contends that if traditional accounts of the origins of Judaism had not recorded a founder, “analogy would have required postulating him; and that is probably what happened” when ancients wrote the Bible.
That’s one of the more important assertions in the newly issued second edition of the Encyclopaedia Judaica (Macmillan Reference, 22 volumes, USD 1,995). Of the monumental work’s 21,000-plus articles, 2,600 are new and nearly half were updated from the 1972 original.
The introduction to Moses’ life says “we cannot really reconstruct a biography of Moses. We cannot even be sure that Moses was a historical character.” The 1972 edition was less skeptical.
Not that the second edition’s attitude is odd in academic or Jewish intellectual circles nowadays. Conservative Judaism’s official Torah commentary (2001) says that what should concern Jews is “not when, or even if, Moses lived, but what his life conveys in Israel’s saga.” It calls Moses a “folkloristic, national hero.”
This fading Moses, of course, departs radically from long-standing tradition. The “13 Principles” of the revered 12th century sage Maimonides, for example, insisted that Moses lived as Judaism’s supreme prophet through whom God gave the Torah. And the Book of Exodus, of course, recounts Moses’ career in considerable detail.
Orthodox Judaism further believes that Moses’ last will and testament in Deuteronomy affirms his role in writing the Bible’s first five books and that he provided authoritative oral interpretations of these Scriptures.
Sperling, however, writes that the biblical story of Moses’ birth “contains generic elements that are discounted by historians” and echo pagan legends. He deems passages on early adulthood “historically unverifiable” and says the exodus account was “dramatically woven out of various strands of tradition.”
He thinks the credibility of the wilderness wanderings is undercut by discrepancies in the story and lack of confirmation from archaeology.
‘True, unless conclusively disproved’
This treatment omits elaboration of opposite reasoning among Orthodox Jewish scholars, admittedly a minority.
Orthodox Rabbi Shalom Carmy of New York’s Yeshiva University grants that historians have so far found no documentation on Moses apart from the biblical writings. He doesn’t find this gap surprising and says scholars who make that argument fail to acknowledge that evidence corroborating ancient texts is very spotty.
Summarizing the Jewish divide, Carmy observes that liberals hold the biblical text “doubted until independently proven true,” while for fellow traditionalists “it is true unless conclusively disproved.”
THE BOOK OF EXODUS IS A HOAX
I’ve read the Book of Exodus twice in English, once in Latin and three or four times in Hebrew. These readings took place between 1965 and 1980 approximately. Since then I’ve referred only now and then to Exodus to refresh my memory on one point or another.
My original attitude was one of skepticism, though I was quite impressed with the story–the miracles in Egypt and the pillar of fire in the Sinai. I reasoned to myself that Moses probably had been a great leader or insurrectionist and had led the Jews out of servitude in Egypt. I supposed that later generations had simply embellished a true story, adding miraculous episodes. The last time I read Exodus was in 1980, when I spent practically the whole summer in the Atlanta Public Library in Georgia, reading the Jewish Bible in Hebrew. It was during that reading that I realized that Moses was probably entirely mythical. I concluded that he was not the leader and insurrectionist I had imagined him to be.
He was the figment of somebody’s imagination.
Who would invent such a story? Why would someone invent such a story? A definite possibility is that Jewish priests or rabbis collaborated to invent the story in order to justify appealing for contributions to synagogues. This can be seen in the Book of Leviticus, where the twelve tribes of Israel are instructed to bring offerings of meat, grain, wine and other goods to the priests–the descendants of Aaron. Certainly it would be in the interests of the priests not only to compel obedience to these exactions, as no doubt they could, but also to make them sound reasonable and fair, and so they fostered the notion that the tribes owed them gratitude. This they may have done by painting their mythical forebear, Aaron, the brother of Moses, as one of the deliverers of the Jews from slavery.
At the time that I concluded that the Book of Exodus was a hoax, I had not even really checked the reputable archeological sources to see if there was any physical evidence corroborating the tale. Basically, I knew there couldn’t be, just as I know that I don’t have to explore the North Pole to verify that Superman doesn’t have his cave there.
Nonetheless, from about 1980 and right up to the present, I’ve checked innumerable authorities, including Encyclopedias Britannica, Americana and Judaica, and the Catholic Encyclopedia, as well as dozens of individual authors. I’ve never yet heard of a reliable authority who claims that there is any tangible evidence supporting the tale of the Exodus. I don’t consider someone like Ron Wyatt, a Seventh Day Adventist nurse from Nashville, Tennessee, who claims to have evidence of the Exodus as a reliable source, especially when Encyclopedia Judaica, which would have every reason for wanting Exodus to be true, acknowledges that there is no evidence to support the existence of Moses.
The earliest Egyptian mention of Israel is the famous Israel stela of 1209 BC, during the reign of Pharaoh Merneptah, which says, “Israel is laid waste. Her seed is not.” This would have been 2 or 3 generations after the Exodus, but it hardly sounds like the description of a people who had just humbled the pharaoh with a display of terrifying miracles and had established themselves firmly in Israel by means of the brilliant genocidal campaigns of Joshua.
The Book of Exodus mentions that the enslaved Israelites took part in the construction of the cities of Pithom and Ramesses. Archeological excavations in the supposed vicinity of those two cities have indeed turned up ruins, but I don’t think that it has been established for a certainty that the ruins are those of the two cities. But even if they are, it doesn’t necessarily follow that Jews took part in the construction or were even present in the vicinity. One thing I don’t know and have never been able to learn is whether the Egyptian records even mention these cities. In any case, their mention in the Book of Exodus proves nothing.
Another point is that the pharaoh of the Exodus is not named in the book of Exodus. In other parts of the Bible, pharaohs and kings are generally identified by their names. This, of course, may have been the choice of the author or authors of Exodus, but another possibility is that they did not know the name. According to many scholars, the Book of Exodus was written during the Babylonian captivity of the Jews during the 6th century BC. I personally am in no way competent to judge on this argument, but it would explain the omission of the name of the pharaoh. How could Jewish writers in Babylonia possibly have known the names of any of the pharaohs who had reigned 700 years before their time in a land where neither they nor their ancestors had ever been?
But, of course, the most cogent proof of the falsity of the Book of Exodus is the account of all the miracles that Moses was supposed to have worked, all of which violate the laws of physics, chemistry and biology. The laws of science are manmade explanations of the workings of the Universe, and the Universe is under no compulsion to obey them. If a novel phenomenon flies in the face of scientific laws, then the scientific laws have to be changed. So far, though, even if the laws of science have been constantly modified and updated, they have worked beautifully. Science has put airplanes in the sky, ships on the sea, and trains and cars on the back of the land. Science has allowed for the construction of power plants, airports, harbors, highways and skyscrapers. Science has introduced electrical lighting, telephones, television, fax machines, computers and copiers. Science has made possible a healthy water supply, vaccines and remedies for innumerable ailments, refrigeration and ventilation. Science is where truth and happiness lie. How dare anyone disparage science or scientists? Give me the wonders of science and you can have the frogs and the locusts that Moses afflicted Egypt with.
Years ago, in the motion picture “Mondo Cane”, which was a documentary on the tragic ironies of the planet, there was a scene in which a primitive people in New Guinea, who believed that airplanes had been intended by God as a gift to them but had been stolen by civilized people, had built a makeshift “runway” out in the jungle, and were praying that God would land one of their airplanes there. No, they weren’t Bible-believers, but pretty much like them.
About the author Thomas Keyes: I have written two books: A SOJOURN IN ASIA (non-fiction) and A TALE OF UNG (fiction), neither published so far.
I have studied languages for years and traveled extensively on five continents.
THE MYTH OF AN EXODUS EXPOSED
A. By the Bibles own chronology, the year of the Exodus fell during Egypt’s heyday under the 18 Dynasty during the imperium of the puissant Thutmosis III (1490-1436 BCE). It is simply impossible – as so many have said – that the Hebrew slaves attained liberation at the very apex of Egyptian power.
B. The absence of any recognizable Israelites in the Amarna letters, tablets which describe in detail the conditions in 14 century BCE Canaan (See William Moran, The Amarna Letters, John Hopkins Press, 1992).
C. Most scholars would place Israelite origins in the late 13 century BCE or the beginning of the Iron Age where we fine hundreds of new settlements in the hilly Israelite heartland (Israel Finkelstein, The Bible Unearthed: Archaeology’s New Vision of Ancient Israel and the Origin of Its Sacred ). From exactly the same period, Pharaoh Merneptah’s victory stele boasts of his “eradication” of a group called “Israel” (see Ancient near Eastern Texts Relating to the Old Testament, pp 376 -378).
D. A greater problem is that the new highland settlements in Canaan from the 13 – 12 centuries BCE show very little connection with Egyptian material culture. Similarly, the Hebrew language is a purely Canaanite dialect with only Egyptian borrowings of trade words such as found throughout the Near East (see Thomas Lambdin, Egyptian Loan Words in the Old Testament and Muchiki, Egyptian Proper Names and Loanwords in North-West Semitic). Much more Egyptian words and culture should be present in the highlands of Canaan if the Israelite did indeed spent 400 years living in Egypt and then resettled in Canaan.
E. Another problem is the Bible’s complete silence on the Egyptian forays into Syria-Palestine in the late 13 to early 12 centuries BCE under Merneptah and Ramses III. Had the Israelites completely forgotten these inconvenient facts?
F. Even if we re-date the Exodus in favor of a conquest in the early Iron Age, our problems still remain. All the cities the Bible cites as being present during the conquest of Canaan by the Israelites (Kadesh Barnea, Gibeon, Heshbon and Dibon along with the kingdoms of Moab and Edon) did not exist until well into the later Iron Age (William Dever, Who Were the Israelites and Where did They Come From?) The same problem is evident in Joshua’s purported conquest; virtually none of the cities he is said to have conquered shows any evidence of any occupation for the appropriate period. (Dever, 37-71).
G. While the Biblical Book of Exodus claims that the Israelites left Egypt at about 2 million strong (Numbers 1:46 gives a more precise total of 603,550. The 600,000, plus wives, children, the elderly, and the “mixed multitude” of non-Israelites would have numbered some 2 million people) and wondered in the Sinai Wilderness 40 years, archeologists have found no settlements or any other artifacts to support this story (William Dever, Recent Archaeological Discoveries and Biblical Research).
H. One excellent example is the series (now on Youtube) The Bible Unearthed 2. The Exodus. Those who accept the Biblical Exodus as a factual historical event will do themselves an educational favor to watch this video, especially the video’s 20 – 28 minute mark as the Exodus is discussed by one of the foremost experts in Egyptology, Donald B. Redford
Any Christian who wants to reject such facts MUST deal with William H. C. Propp’s 2 volume commentary on Exodus in “The Anchor Bible” series.
Propp’s final conclusion: The Exodus story is a Romantic myth based on fantasy (see: The Historicity of the Exodus from Egypt, vol. 2, pp. 735 -756).
THE EXODUS LIE
One of the most interesting things about people is our ability to lie. One thing that makes it especially interesting to me is not merely that we lie, but the way we handle the reality that we lie, or rather the way we don’t handle it. There are no classes in High School about lying. There are no classes in college unless there’s something in some obscure psychiatric textbook somewhere. No one teaches you how to spot lies and liars. They don’t teach about the techniques they use or which are the hardest lies to spot, for instance. I get the feeling that its one of those things people don’t like to talk about when discussing our species in general. Why is it that science doesn’t study this subject much and teachers don’t teach us about our true nature? I suspect that one of the reasons is that it would quickly lead to a discussion of politics and religion. If scientists were to be honest though, Homo sapiens would have to be described like this:
1. Highly developed brain
2. Erect body carriage
3. Uses tools
4. Builds fires
5. Lies a lot
As a student of human nature, I’ve found that the best lies always have a grain of truth in them. I’ve also observed that one particularly effective type of lie is the one where the liar reverses things. If you are a liar, for instance, you accuse someone else of lying. One of the best examples you’ll ever find of that is when the Bush administration accused Saddam Hussein of lying about WMDs.
Anyway, I’m quite a ways off on a tangent here since the subject is the Exodus, but I thought I would lay a foundation for the subject and for my question. Did the author of the Exodus pull a classic switcheroo by reversing the facts? Or, more specifically, were the Hebrews forcibly ejected from Egypt as undesirables rather than escaping by parting the Red Sea, etc? Here’s what one writer says about the Exodus:
“The fact is that with all that is known of Egyptian history from this time (since scholars can now read the records the ancient Egyptians with the ease of a modern newspaper), and the fact that the history of Egypt in this period is well documented, there is no evidence from the records of Egypt itself that the events of Exodus ever occurred, either
archaeologically or documentarily in the manner in which the Bible describes the events. The reality is that if a series of plagues had been visited upon Egypt, thousands of slaves escaped in a mass runaway, and the army of the Pharaoh were swallowed up by the Red Sea, such events would doubtless have made it into the Egyptian documentary record. But the reality is that there isn’t a single word describing any such events.
Instead, what we do have from Egyptian sources is a remarkably different story of the Exodus. From about the beginning of the second millenium B.C.E., through about 1200 B.C.E., Egypt ruled the region known today as Palestine. How do we know this? We know it not only from Egyptian records themselves, which talk about tribute taken from
the various towns and cities in Canaan, but from archaeological evidence within the region itself, which shows a number of settlements which were clearly Egyptian military outposts.
During this time, the region which was to become the land of Israel, occupying the northern highlands between the coastal plain and the valley of the Jordan River, was sparsely populated and densly forested with stands of oak and terebinth trees. This land was populated by one of two groups (we’re not sure which), either the Apiru or Shoshu
peoples. The former were known to have originated as itinerant nomads, largely on the fringes of lowland society, who may have taken refuge in the highlands, or the Shosu, a more cohesive, well-defined group. The linguistic association of Apiru (sometimes Habiru) with the word, “Hebrew” had long, in the minds of scholars, been considered
good evidence that this was the group that gave rise to the Hebrews, but we now know that the association wasn’t quite that simple. The name may have been from that source, but the people probably weren’t.
In any event, the highlands of northern Palestine which was home to the Kingdom of Israel has a highly variable climate. Agricultural productivity, and the ability of people to sustain trade with the lowlands, was subject to varying climatic conditions, meaning that
famine was a frequent occurrence. When crops failed and trade could not be sustained, it was not uncommon for people to flee the region and head for refuge where crops were dependable. The nearest such place was the Nile delta in Egypt.
So many of the “Hebrews” (culturally indistinct from the Canaanites at this time), who were citizens of Egypt, fled to the Nile delta. Time and again. Every time there was a famine in Judah, Israel or Canaan, refugees headed for Egypt. The event was so common, and the refugees so numerous, that they eventually became a substantial minority group,
influential in Egypt, where they were known as the Hyksos, as is now very clear from the archaeological record.
The story of the expulsion of the Hyksos is easily the closest parallel we have from either the Egyptian record or the archaeological record to the story of the Exodus as recorded in the Bible. There are problems, though. Besides the Exodus story line, the biggest problem
is the dates: the Bible places the Exodus at about 1200 B.C.E., yet the story of the Hyksos culminates in 1570 B.C.E. It is quite likely that the story of the Hyksos is the story that eventually, through generations of revisionistic retelling, became the myth of the Exodus
— another example of history being rewritten to flatter the storytellers rather than to record the unvarnished truth.
Anyway, the Hyksos grew in influence until they eventually took control of Egypt, which they ruled, with considerable cruelty and tyranny during the Fifteenth Dynasty, beginning in 1670 B.C.E. The Egyptians had finally had enough, though, and rebelled against the
rule of the Hyksos and drove them out a century later in 1570 B.C.E. They weren’t just driven out, either; the Egyptians pushed them back into Canaan with considerable force, driving them all the way to the Syrian frontier, sacking and burning Canaanite cities along the way.
Sometime later, the Hyksos capital in Egypt, Avaris, in the eastern Nile delta, was razed to the ground by the Pharoah Ahmose, who chased the last remnants of the Hyksos back into Canaan and even laid siege to Sharuhen, the main Canaanite citadel, destroying it and ending Canaanite influence there. At least one historian claims (a millennium
after the fact) that the Hyksos refugees settled in Jerusalem and built a temple there, but the archaeological record does not support the claim of either a temple or large numbers of refugees in Jerusalem from this period.
It is quite clear from the archaeological record, as well, that there never was a “wandering in the desert for 40 years,” either. Extensive archaeological surveys of the Sanai desert have never shown any encampments dating from the time of the Exodus, either before, during or after the time of the Ramsean pharoahs. At least two sites mentioned in the exodus story have been positively identified and carefully and extensively excavated, but no evidence of late bronze-age occupation or encampment has been found at either site.
Additionally, the Sanai Desert was literally dotted with Egyptian military outposts, and nowhere in the Sanai could the Hebrews have been more than a day’s travel from one of them. It is inconceivable that they could have remained undetected in the Sanai for forty years.
The story of the Exodus is clearly mythmaking designed to portray a possible forced expulsion of oppressors as an escape of victims. . .
The word Elohim occurs more than 2500 times in the Hebrew Bible, with meanings ranging from “god” in a general sense (as in Exodus 12:12, where it describes “the gods of Egypt”), to a specific god (e.g., 1 Kings 11:33, where it describes Chemosh “the god of Moab”, or the frequent references to Yahweh as the “elohim” of Israel), to demons, seraphim, and other supernatural beings, to the spirits of the dead brought up at the behest of King Saul in 1 Samuel 28:13, and even to kings and prophets (e.g., Exodus 4:16). The phrase bene elohim, usually translated “sons of God”, has an exact parallel in Ugaritic and Phoenician texts, referring to the council of the gods.
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