Home › Forums › Existence of the Israelites in Egypt › Origins of the Hebrews: New Evidence for Israelites in Egypt from Jos to the Exo › Reply To: Origins of the Hebrews: New Evidence for Israelites in Egypt from Jos to the Exo
MemberApril 20, 2021 at 11:56 am
I apologize for the late reply. Well, you have a lot there! Let’s give it a go (with your comments or questions in quotes): “You indicated that you have more evidence coming in your next book that points to an Israelite presence in Egypt in the 19th century. Could you please provide us with a small sampling of that evidence?” Yes. The evidence (1) identifies Joseph, Manasseh, Ephraim, Manasseh’s grandson, and (probably) Jacob in ME (Middle Egyptian) inscriptions; (2) documents Joseph’s initial move to Lahun (after his elevation) and his project to build a dyke that would allow controlled water-flow in the Fayyum, which created Egypt’s breadbasket for thousands of years; and (3) numerous strands of evidence of the societal upheaval that must’ve ensued when ALL of the Egyptians–minus the priests–sold themselves and their property to the king. That should suffice for a sampling.
“And could you help us to understand how the Sinai inscriptions were dated?” The short answer is that (1) not every inscription is datable, and (2) the ones that are datable are datable for various reasons. Some are datable to an exact year, usually because there is a regnal date (in ME) on the inscription. Others are datable to a range, based on the dateability of objects such as pottery. All of this is explained inscription-by-inscription in my first book.
“Also, while your theory about Manasseh as Hebeded is compelling, for the sake of playing the advocate, is it possible that Hebeded is the name of someone other than Manasseh, and if so, how would this affect the interpretation of this and related inscriptions?” Sure, it’s always possible. It’s possible that an inscription with “-yahu, servant of Hezekiah” that is dated by accompanying 14C evidence to 720-690 BC belongs to someone other than the King Hezekiah who ruled during Sennacherib’s invasion. The question is just always about plausibility. When you see how tight the datable inscriptions are that serve as multiple stands of a rope to tie together the ID of Manasseh, Ephraim, Joseph, Manasseh’s son, and Jacob, and compare all of this to accurate chronological synchronization, you honestly have to practice the willful suspension of persuasive force to disbelieve (to invent my own term, LOL). If anyone wants to live on such a planet as that, he/she can knock himself/herself out.
“Is there any way the inscriptions could have been invented or placed by the Hyksos?” Not a chance in the world. I devote a lengthy appendix in my new book to demonstrate persuasively that non-Hyksos Asiatics resided at biblical Ramesses both BEFORE and AFTER the Hyksos. This can be proven from multiple lines of evidence from material culture of all of the Asiatics there from MBA IIA until LBA I, Hyksos and non-Hyksos alike. Besides, the Hyksos left behind an absolute PLETHORA of inscribed objects that most certainly would have displayed their written (proto-consonantal) script . . . if it actually belonged to them. Anyone who would propose this theory, after seeing the evidence, simply would have to put himself/herself off of the radar screen (of reality) completely to maintain this view. Period.
“Who do you think the Hyksos might be?” This is a tough question to answer, given that you could intend it in various ways. I’ll see if I can guess correctly. Conventional thought is that they are Asiatics who migrated from the Caucuses to the southern Levant, then descended into Lower Egypt and took power for themselves during the SIP (2nd Intermediate Period). I have no reason to doubt this view, but I cannot prove it, either. We know nothing about their relationship with the Hebrews. All we have, to my knowledge, is Josephus’s account about how Manetho’s Hyksos narrative (i.e. their departure from Egypt as shepherd-kings) was a reliable Egyptian account about the Israelite Exodus. Josephus even called the Hyksos ‘our people.’ Obviously he conflated the two departures, but he at least understood from Manetho (an earlier Egyptian priest) that the timing of their departure was from the same general era (i.e. one at the beginning of LBA I, and the other at the end of LBA I).
“Is there any reason to think that Hebrew was ever written in a cuneiform script?” None whatsoever. Zip. We can always fantasize, speculate, dream, or whatever, but there is no rational reason to believe this happened. Moreover, why would Manasseh and Ephraim need to create a script for their uncles at biblical Ramesses (Avaris) if their uncles/descendants already had a perfectly legitimate script in use? Once again, we would have to be driven to practice the willful suspension of the persuasive force of the available evidence to dissent.
“Is it possible that it was a modification of another Semitic language to accommodate the conceptual nature of the Hebrew alphabet (Aleph + Beit = Leader of the House = Father), or is that putting the cart before the horse?” I cannot conceive of anything like this.
“When does Aramaic appear, relative to Akkadian and Hebrew? Could it have been used to synthesize the Hebrew language?” Aramaic inscriptions do not appear until late in the 11th century BC, which is over 800 years later. That’s a long time, even in antiquity. Are you talking about the spoken language or the written script? If it’s the written script, how are we to conceive of a much later Hebrew script being synthesized into a script that didn’t cut its teeth until 8 centuries later? I’m not sure what rational thought would be behind this idea.
Thank you for giving us some valuable things to talk about, Jennifer. Unfortunately, far too many (although certainly not all) comments on these boards reflect wrong assumptions, inaccurate scholarship, or misguided criticisms. Your topics were a refreshing departure from the norm.