A Comparison of Exodus to Egyptian History

A More Plausible Explanation for the Exodus Based on Egyptian History.
Submitted by Trou.

I used to think the Bible was the truth, every word of it. I studied it, assured of this fact, and used it as the backbone of my worldview. But as I became more educated and exposed to new ideas, I began to realize that the Bible was not true and it could not provide answers to the questions and challenges that were generated by scientific knowledge. Yet, I was fascinated by the stories told in the Bible. How did they come to be told and from where did these stories originate? These were the initial questions that spurred me to read as much as I could on the subject.

In my reading, I happened upon quite a few authors who wrote of the Egyptian origins of the Jewish people and religion. Although they do not all agree on the details, the general Egyptian genesis thesis can explain the early stories of the Bible, the literary figures and the religious concepts that we find in Genesis. There is very little if any historical or archaeological evidence for the early time period when Israel became a people and no historical evidence whatsoever of the patriarchs, the flood, and the exodus that corroborates the Bible version. However, there is historical and archaeological evidence for events and religious beliefs that can be shown to bear a striking similarity to the events as described in the Bible. Let me give you a background of the political and religious climate of the 18th dynasty and make a case that this was the time, the place and the events that the Book of Genesis based its myths on.

In the first part of the 19th century the remains of the city of Akhetaten were found. This was the first anyone new of the city and scholars and Egyptologists found evidence of the existence of a pharaoh who was not included in the pharaoh's list of succession. It was soon evident that this pharaoh, named Akhenaten, had been blotted out of history and the city that he had built had been destroyed.

He began his reign under the name of Amenhotep IV and ruled as coregent with his father Amenhotep III. After the first few years of his reign he changed his name to Akhenaten to signify his devotion to the god Aten instead of the god Amen. At this point his whole reign became first and foremost about the worship of Aten. This was not unusual except that this was done to the exclusion of, and not in addition to, the worship of the other gods of the Egyptian pantheon. Akhenaten funded only the priesthood that was devoted to Aten and ignored all the rest of the priesthood to their detriment. He built a new city call Akhetaten in the honor of his Aten and situated it away from the traditional worship centers of the other gods. Such disrespect for the gods and the traditional priesthood would not be forgotten.

Akhenaten is credited with being the world's first monotheist. He was innovative in several things that today we associate with Judaism. Akhenaten didn't allow any graven images of the god Aten. As the unseen God, Aten could not be represented in animal or human form as the other false gods were depicted. Aten was … "an abstract entity not known to man but designated only by a symbol of the daylight that radiated from the disk of the sun by which his power was manifest." (Akhenaten, p262, 245) This disc had rays emanating from it with ankh symbols at the end of the rays positioned near the nostrils of the pharaoh and his wife. This was an indication of the fact that Aten was responsible for the breath of life also a concept familiar to those of us who have read the creation story in the Bible.

The great hymn of Aten reads, concept for concept, just like Psalms 104. Many think that Akhenaten himself wrote this psalm. The hymn and the psalm both depict creation and the giving of life by God and it is also reminiscent of the Genesis creation account. So, the monotheism of Akhenaten featured the one god, without an image, who was the creator and sustainer of life, along with the concepts of king and father, all of which we associate with the Abrahamic faiths. (Moses and Akhenaten, p. 163-164.)

The monotheistic Atenists only had power for 12-17 years until both Akhenaten and his son Smenkare died. After this, Tutankhamen, who changed his name from Tutankhaten, came to be the boy pharaoh. His vizier, and a future pharaoh Ay, was the one with the power and influence who orchestrated the move back to the worship of the neglected gods. We can assume that a young boy would not change his religious preference from Aten to Amun, as his name change indicates, without being influenced by someone. The Aramaic bible, called the Targum, which is the oldest copy of the torah that we know of, speaks of Adon Ay when referring to the god of the exodus. The Sabbah brothers think that this is a reference to this vizier/pharaoh who, as royalty, had the status of a god, and in fact, one of his titles was Father of the God. They believe he was the one responsible for ridding the country of the followers of Aten and returning Egypt to the religious ways of the past.

The Stela of Restoration of Tutankhamen reveals some very interesting things about the conditions facing the pharaoh when he ascended to the throne and what Tut was to accomplish during his reign. A translation of a portion of the stela by John Adams Wilson (Egypt, Life and Death of a Civilization) reads, "He drove out deceit from one end of the two lands to the other. And Maat was re-established. The lie (monotheistic religion) became an abomination within the land." The monotheists were called the liars or deceivers by those who later came to power. Another translation of the text states, "Now when his majesty appeared as king, the temples of the gods and goddesses from Elephantine [down] to the marshes of the Delta [had... and] gone to pieces (or fallen into neglect). Their shrines had become desolate, had become mounds overgrown with [weeds]. Their sanctuaries (or chapels) were as if they had never been. Their halls were a footpath (or trodden roads). The land was topsy-turvy and the gods turned their backs upon this land."

Ay, seeing what monotheism had done to Egypt, was committed to returning to the old ways. There had been too much damage politically and to the infrastructure of the kingdom. But, it would not suffice to just return to the worship of the other gods because the threat that the Atenists could regain power would always loom as a future possibility. He devised a plan in which he promised a land flowing with milk and honey, the Egyptian province of Canaan, to the Atenists whose removal would appease the Amunists. This would also benefit Egypt by populating a region of the empire with an Egyptian presence in order to create a buffer in a rather troublesome region that had been giving the realm fits for a few years. The stela of restoration says "If [the army was] sent to Djahi (region in Canaan, possibly in the Judean hills.) to extend the frontiers of Egypt, no success of theirs came at all." Political unrest is indicated in the Armana letters also, (http://nefertiti.iwebland.com/a-rib-addi.htm) so it was necessary for Ay to initiate a military campaign that would help to pacify the region so this relocation of the monotheists could be carried out.

This was accomplished with the help of the Egyptian military under the leadership of Ramses and Horemheb (later pharaohs). Evidence for this can be seen in the restoration stela of Tutankhamen, the war records of Ramses I and Seti I. (http://nefertiti.iwebland.com/ramses_i_stela.htm) (http://nefertiti.iwebland.com/seticampaign.htm). There is an indication that Horemheb, as a general, fought in campaigns in Canaan as he is depicted receiving honors for his victories during the reign of Tutankhamen. This military activity continued through the reign of Ay then Horemheb, Ramses I and his son Seti who finally pacified the region.

Seti I, in his first year as pharaoh, had a series of battles that subdued all resistance to Egyptian rule. If you compare the battles of Seti to the battles of Joshua you will find similarities. The bible says that Joshua conquered 31 fortified cities in Canaan and Phoenicia. Sabbah says, "The many cities taken by Sety I during his campaign – Megiddo, Lachish, Beth-Shean, Yenoam, Geder, Tyre, etc. –correspond to those reportedly taken by Joshua." Claude Vandersleyen, "The kings of Jerusalem, of Hebron, of Jarmuth, of Lachish, and of Eglon were Amorites; Hittites and Amorites are found in the hill country of Judaea. This area corresponds to the lands traversed by SetyI and is confirmed by the texts at Karnak." (http://www.touregypt.net/featurestories/setiwar.htm). The fact that both Seti I and Joshua are said to have erected victory stelae is also noteworthy. Sety erected 2 at Beth-Shean and Joshua set one at Shechem. These 2 places, it seems to me, are very near to one another. This all took about 40 years. The bible says it took 40 years of wandering in the desert till it was time for Joshua to lead the battle to clear out the promise land. The land, now free of turmoil, was ready to allow the Aten priests and their deported followers to settle there after they had been temporarily living in Moab. (Secrets of the Exodus, p.125)

I know of no direct, historical evidence that these priests were said to have been the beginnings of the Hebrews. However, the Aramaic Bible, called the Targum, does say as much by calling these priests Yahuds from which comes the word Judah. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jew) The word Yahuda (Judah) comes from Yahu-Hodah meaning praise god or one who praises or adores god. The Egyptian Yahu-Daeh means adoration, prayer, homage and giving praise. The Yahuds of the Aramaic Bible correspond to the monotheistic priests who left Egypt where, as priests of Aten, they rendered homage to the dawning light. It is clear that not just anyone could have the status to worship Aten so referring to Yahuds as Jews would not be precise enough. They were the priestly class. The Aramaic Bible makes a clear distinction between the Hebrews (Children of Israel) and the Yahuds. The Hebrew Bible does not make such a distinction. (Secrets of the Exodus, p.47) The Targum also mentions that the Yahuds were escorted out of Egypt by the armies of Ay. (Aramaic Bible, Exodus 12:41. "On exactly that day, all the armies of Ay left the land of Egypt".) The Hebrew Bible reads it differently calling them the hosts of Jehovah which makes one think of a group of people and not an army. A military escort makes sense and the direction of their travel takes them by several Egyptian military outposts that would have posed a problem for them had they been fleeing instead of being led away or deported.

One other link to the restoration stela gives further credence to the idea that the Yahuds were exiled to Canaan. The stela says, "He allocated waab-priests, God's Servants and the heirs of the Chiefs of the Cities to be the sons of wise men whose reputation is established." I quote Sabbah, "According to Claude Vandersleyen, the Stela specifies that Egypt, lacking enough priests for the restoration of the cult of Amun, organized a massive recruitment drive. "The only written indication of social reorganization of the priests states that from then on, the priesthood would consist of children of the functionaries of their cities." If the customary and historic rite of succession of the priesthood had to be changed for this occasion then that must have meant that there was a shortage of priests. Where could they have gone? Could it be they chose deportation to Canaan over performing the priestly duties to Amun?

I commented earlier in a post that the Levi and Cohen names are associated with the Jewish priesthood and have a genetic marker on the Y chromosome that indicates this lineage goes back 10,000 years. Since the Jewish people can only account for 3500 years of history how can this bloodline have gone back nearly 3 times that far into the past? This thesis that I'm presenting accounts for that nicely. The Israelites came from the monotheistic priests and their followers who were formerly a part of the Egyptian priestly class and were Egyptian through and through and the Egyptian priesthood extended from father to son back into the beginning of Egypt.

Why does this whole thesis seem such a foreign concept to most scholars. First of all, Horemheb erased all mention of the Armana pharaohs from history and claimed his place in the kings list right behind Amenhotep III eliminating 4 of the pharaohs involved in this saga. In a fit of revenge at what Akhenaten did to the country, the city of Akhetaten was dismantled bit by bit to be used as building blocks for other projects so there was no knowledge of Aten and the impact his worship had on religion and culture. Also, the Bible wasn't compiled and in its final or more modern form or formalized into a holy book until the Babylonians conquered them and took them captive at about 600 BC. The Bible stories were changed to make them more acceptable to their conquerors who were enemies of the Egyptians. "The commentary of Rashi, discussing Ex, 12-40, shows that this practice was known in the oral tradition. He wrote, "This is one of the passages of the Torah which was modified to please King Ptolemy."" Sabbah, p.95. So all things Egyptian were disguised and some of it was placed in a Chaldean context to please the Babylonians. Things like camels were added to the text which were yet to be domesticated for a few hundred years, for example.

So I think that the Egyptian origins thesis fits nicely with the historical evidence that we have. In fact, what I have just written is by no means the only support for this theory. The traditional biblical version, on the other hand, is not backed up historically at all. The more one digs into the archaeology and history of Genesis the less likely is seems that there is any literal truth to it at all.

Secrets of the Exodus by Messod and Roger Sabbah

Moses and Akhenaten by Ahmed Osman

Akhenaten by Cyril Aldred

The Mystery of the Copper Scroll of Qumran, The Essene Record of the Treasure of Akhenaten by Robert Feather

Great Hymn of Aten ; http://www.touregypt.net/hymntoaten.htm

Great Hymn and Psalms 104; http://kemet.250x.com/psalm104.html

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