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Old 10-13-2011, 06:24 AM
Location: New York City
5,556 posts, read 6,732,614 times
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Originally Posted by QuixoticHobbit View Post
Actually, the Jews started as polytheists and slowly switched to the monotheist cult of Yahweh after they stole the idea from the Egyptian Aten worshippers.

Sorry but if there is a "one true creator God", it isn't the "god" of The Bible. He's a cheap man made imitation not worthy of the title.

Take a peep:

Yahweh's ascent to supremacy becoming the god of the Jews
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Old 10-13-2011, 12:12 PM
3,488 posts, read 3,163,619 times
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Originally Posted by LuminousTruth View Post
I thought it was Yahoo.
It's pretty easy for me to believe that Moses was a historical figure, as were Jesus and Buddha and Julius Caesar, etc... I'm sure there are many people who would do magic tricks and attempt to lead a people... Quite sure they were kicked out of Egypt with the expulsion of the rest of the Hyksos.
The Name Yahweh
Yes - Yahoo is the pronounciation, but the vowel used was ū and may have been expressed with the letter waw when the matres lectionis became common. That was when the latter waw (w in Biblical Hebrew, v in modern Hebrew) was used to represent a long vowel such as ū - so one can see the relationship when the consonantal letters of Yahweh are made up of YHWH.

Frank Moore Cross, Jr. in his fantastic Canaanite Myth and Hebrew Epic: Essays in the History of the Religion of Israel notes :
"....the form Yahweh has been established as primitive by its appearance in epigraphic sources. In extrabiblical materials which date before the Exile, it is the invariable independent form. This is not to say that the jussive (and combinatory) form yahū is not early ; in fact it is surprising that yahū as an independent name does not appear before the fifth century B.C.. At all events, there seems to be no valid reason to doubt that Yahweh is a primitive divine name, the verbal (hypocoristic) element in a liturgical epithet or sentence name." (p. 61) He goes on a little later:

"We must begin in any analysis of the name, therefore, with the form yahweh (as well as the form yahū). This should have been recognized earlier by historical linguists on the basis of parallels in related Near Eastern material. West Semitic personal names normally brgin in transparant appellations or sentence names and shorten or disintegrate. Divine epithets and often divine names follow the same patterns of formation and shortening. They do not begin in numinous grunts or shouts and build up into liturgical sentences or appellations." (p. 62)

To try to summarize the section on Yahweh and the history of the name would be difficult - I encourage you to read the chapter yourself if you're interested. It can be a bit rough if one doesn't bring at least a little proficiency of Semitic languages with you, but it can be done. The chapter is Yahweh and 'El, and the section is The Name Yahweh. Despite it's age (1973) - the work is a foundational work of scholarship and written by a consummate professional in his field. Most people are aware of him from his work on the Dead Sea Scrolls - if they are aware of him at all - but he was a phenomonal linguist and expert on the Ancient Near East.

Moses as Historical Figure
It's possible that Moses was a historical figure - his name was Egyptian - but there is no extra-biblical evidence independently attesting to it. This doesn't prove he doesn't exist - after all, as they say: absence of evidence isn't evidence of absence. The birth narrative of Moses is a little too legendary to be taken seriously (it's a common motif, found previously in the birth of Sargon), but again - this might be a later legend added to the life an actual person.

It makes sense to posit that Moses, growing up in Egypt and familiar with Egyptian culture and religious practices, might make use of these influences to found a new religion - but this idea has several problems:
1- One would expect to see more Egyptian influences than are found - for instance, in theophoric names.
2- The stories of his adoption by a princess (thus explaining his suggested literacy, relgious knowledge of rituals and his leadership qualities) are not certain ; it's surprising that an adopted son of a princess must flee Egypt because of accusations of murder. How harshly were nobles punished for murder of a slave (the victim was a slave, remember?) - I'm not an expert on Egyptian law in this matter.
3- The narrative stories, itineraries, genealogies, and other accounts of Genesis would be difficult to account for, if Moses was merely an Egyptian adopting Egyptian ideas.

The Hyksos explanation is a common one, and was initially based on the writings of Manetho - an Egyptian historian writing in the third century B.C. - who described an invasion of Egypt by foreigners from the east. He notes that it was a brutal invasion, they made their base of operations a city called Avaris, and ruled Egypt with an iron hand for at least five hundred years. The Hyksos were Semites, as is plain from their names, and recent archaelogical evidence has confirmed this from pottery, architecture and tombs. Specifically, they were Canaanites. The Israelites were also Canaanites - as is evident from their language, Hebrew, which is a Canaanite language - and the Hyksos theory attempts to explain the migrations of the Patriarchs, their entry into Egypt and later 'exodus' as the "Invasion of the Hyksos". Manetho was writing as a patriotic Egyptian, however, and archaelogical evidence now shows that the "invasion" was actually a "gradual process of immigration from Canaan to Egypt, rather than a lightning military campaign" (The Bible Unearthed, Finklestein; Silberman, p. 55).

Eventually, the Hyksos were expelled from Egypt, and from Egyptian records and archealogical evidence we can date it to "around 1570 [B.C.]" (ibid, p. 56) . Finklestein points to several problem in regards to using the Hyksos as an explanation for the Genesis-Exodus accounts:
1- The probable date for the Exodus was roughly 1440 B.C. - "more than a hundred years after the date of the expulsion of the Hyksos" (ibid).
2- Most people have tended to attribute the un-named Pharoah of the Exodus account as Ramesses II for various reasons. The construction of the city of Raamses (Exodus 1:11) was done by the forced labor of the Israelites, according to the Bible. "In the fifteenth century BCE such a name is inconceivable. The first pharoah named Ramesses came to the throne only in 1320 BCE - more than a century after the traditional date." (ibid)

Anyways - there's an interesting account from Trogus (a Roman historian) that attributes the expulsion of the Israelites to a severe outbreak of leprosy among the Israelite slaves. The later laws concerning leprosy (technically, the Hebrew word can denote several skin diseases) might be attributed to this expulsion. In the end, Trogus is a bit biased, and not trustworthy - but it's an interesting theory, nonetheless.

The whole situation (the historicity of the Exodus) is a complicated one - and much ink has been spilled over it. In the end, I wonder if it will ever yield actual, concrete results. Biblical scholarship was obsessed in the last half of the past century with 'proving' the Bible using archeaology, with with Willam F. Albright as the 'godfather' of such endeavors. Scholarship has moved away from this ulterior motive, and is finally again attempting to assess the evidence for what it shows us, rather than for what we wish it to prove. It's been an interesting ride, for sure!
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