Wednesday, February 24, 2021

Historicity of Moses, continued

Answering Useful Charts on Moses and Criteria of Historicity · Historicity of Moses, continued

Principles given up to time signature 7:40 in previous, video as given there, are applied in later parts of the video with which I deal here.

9:54 - 10:05 nothing in the archaeological record for that time period or any other time period for that matter to suggest a sudden population drop of 2 million people within Egypt nor 2 million people travelling through the sinai

Most historic events do not leave traces in archaeology.

Especially not traces that would identify the events in detail to exclusion of other scenarios.

And if we stick to carbon dated 1447 to some later date, with my calibrations for C-14, these carbon dates ...

1408 B. Chr.
0.991755 pmC/100, so dated as 1478 B. Chr.
1386 B. Chr.
0.992589 pmC/100, so dated as 1446 B. Chr.

Creation vs. Evolution : New Tables

... actually correspond to Judges period.

You are looking at wrong period of Egypt. I am looking at just before the Hyksos invasion, with Amalecites as Hyksos. If you look at wrong period, you may instead of getting absence of evidence get evidence of absence.

Invasion of Canaan argument : the archaeological evidence you look for presumes you could identify the newcomers, but what if they had Canaanean habits before leaving Egypt or changed habits from Egyptian to Canaanean, in the ways that cultures are identified?

10:39 The physical evidence for 2 million people travelling would obviously not just have to have existed but also have to have survived after 3500 years, for your argument to hold.

I mean that is a lot of evidence to be lost. Also he mentioned in the video that proof of much smaller communities and groups exist from that time in that area. AND they had Egypt, Sinai and Canaan as areas where there was no evidence found although the exodus happened reportedly in all three areas.

Hans-Georg Lundahl
@lightgivener Lot's more have been lost than that.

What remains and is found remained by chance and often enough was found at least half by chance.

So, it's not as if it were drastic.

@Hans-Georg Lundahl well but to be fair they did look. I found the conclusion that there might have been an exodus but of a smaller number quite good. And yes there still could be evidence someday but it is somewhat telling that there hasn't been any.

Hans-Georg Lundahl
@lightgivener looking is not enough, being first to find things so it isn't picked away and not walking exactly 50 cm too far to the right or the left of it to notice it are important, but so is sth actually getting dropped and that something getting preserved from physical destruction.

After 3500 years, absence of evidence is not evidence of absence.

@Hans-Georg Lundahl i agree to some extend. But you can't just flip it entirely on its head and say it did happen and if you can't prove it didn't then it still did. Not having found any proof when proof of other communities WAS found lessens the likelyhood.

I wouldn't rule it out completely but insisting something did happen just on the basis of text is a mostly a belief system not proof as the video explains well and in detail. Doesn't mean it is wrong to see value in the story. It just doesn't mean it happened like this.

I don't see what the value in thinking it has to have happened is. Or why the historical method is not considered as the good method it is.

Hans-Georg Lundahl
@lightgivener "Not having found any proof when proof of other communities WAS found lessens the likelyhood."

Not significantly.

Do you know the difference between median and mean?

Take a stat with 15 lifespans. Let one lifespan be 5 and one 7 years too long. For mean, the value is heightened by 12/15th of a year. For median, it can depend very much on where the real lifespans were and where the false ones land, most cases the median will be the same as with real values. Why? Because the errors fall through the grid.

Well, with most known communities the truth falls through the grid. In Egypt carbon dated 1650 BC, we fail to see most of the c. 42 nomes. Nearly all, I'd say. For any given carbon dated century, if we accepted only finds, we would probably land with something like 2, 3 to 5, perhaps 8 nomes, each century. Which is ridiculous.

Plus, you are pretending only archaeology is proof, when texts are.
In fact, the historic method as presented by UsefulCHarts is not how history is made for most periods of history.

@Hans-Georg Lundahl well texts are A source but no not really a trustworthy one. We know of many reasons people would lie and also as he showed in the video accuracy lessens if there is a bias or the events are far removed in time or location.

A text is A important indicator but it is not proof and we must always apply critical thinking.

But as I said I agree that information still could be found. There just is not reason to favor that it will to that it will not. Not knowing is totally fine. But if you believe something happened without actual good indicators or if discrediting evidence does exist than that is a belief system. Which is fine. It just makes the implications different.

Hans-Georg Lundahl
@lightgivener On the contrary, texts, oral or written, are always the primary proof.

Finding Richard III's body would have proven nothing, unless you had a tradition in texts on who that was. But we knew very well before 2015 or whenever it was he was king.

Artefacts of Alexander (statues and coins) would have proven a certain face were popular, but nothing about in what context. The contemporary proof that is most interesting is the, precisely, text in cuneiform.

Which means, the primary proof in any case is texts. True, not all texts are trustworthy, but this is no reason to distrust any given text without more specific reasons.

"We know of many reasons people would lie"

Including to themselves about what they remember having heard of? I don't think so.

"and also as he showed in the video"

No, he didn't.

"accuracy lessens if there is a bias"

It can lessen, doesn't do so automatically.

"or the events are far removed in time or location."

Indeed, but my point is, Moses wrote the events down fairly soon after each happened, except last chapter where Joshua took the pen. This is the traditional author assignment, and traditional author assignments are the primary proof we have of authorship. Not something to be discarded in any given case without a specific good reason. He totally left unsubstantiated that earliest development of Torah was 750 years after purported events, and he bluffed shamelessly about Red Sea Divided being an already known literary trope. Plus, presence of such does not prove or even argue very strongly fictitious character of a text.

@Hans-Georg Lundahl there's a great essay called 'stones, bones and Buddhist monks' that explains well why texts should not be considered to have any precedence to archaeological findings. Texts tell us what people wanted to tell, not necessarily truths. Also there is a lot of bias in historical texts! Look at Ceasars bello gallico: for him all other tribes are barbaric - of course because that way he can argue why the Romans are 'right' to conquer them.

The critical method and the historical method are great basic principles. We know that religious texts for example are often evoced to mistreat others. A text tells you very many things: about the authors intentions for example - but it is not a true account we should blindly trust.

Hans-Georg Lundahl
@lightgivener "there's a great essay called 'stones, bones and Buddhist monks' that explains well why texts should not be considered to have any precedence to archaeological findings."

In advance of actually reading it : I don't think it is great.

But we are not here distinguishing texts from findings, we are distinguishing texts from non-findings or not identified findings.

"Texts tell us what people wanted to tell, not necessarily truths."

And archaeological finds are interpreted as archaeologists want to interpret, in this case interpreting a non-finding or not identified finding after 3500 years as a find to the contrary, and that is also not necessarily the truth.

The thing is, history has no algorithm. If you want to add 123+456+789 in mathematics, there is more than one algorithm on the paper that will give the correct result, if correctly followed. In history any clue may be misleading. The point is, we don't treat a clue as actually misleading unless we have a specific reason for it.

As I just explained - did you actually read it? - after 3500 years chances are slim for finding any trace of any particular event or population. Just because some have shown traces, that doesn't mean most do. 1510 AD, most do leave traces to us (first French in Florida before Spanish arrival may be an exception), but 1510 BC, most do not.

This means, we do not have any archaeological specific reason to mistrust the text.

"Also there is a lot of bias in historical texts!"

Well, yes, that doesn't necessarily make them unreliable as to the facts. Certain people are sufficiently biassed and prejudiced to not have to distort facts in order to get a biassed overview. In fact, I think most people do.

"Look at Ceasars bello gallico: for him all other tribes are barbaric - of course because that way he can argue why the Romans are 'right' to conquer them."

In so far as I read book I, which I did, he argued the right on other grounds. Like, after fighting back Orgetorix and Ariovistus with the help of Aedui, these and others wanted a Roman protectorate, a coalition with Rome. He then had to protect his allies against his foes. True, I haven't actually read books II to VIII, but I read the start of the story.

But even you won't pretend that he didn't order the building of a bridge over Lake Geneva. That is not touched by the bias.

Now, my point is, this wooden bridge over Lake Geneva is as far as I know not attested by archaeology. This doesn't mean we don't know he built that bridge. We know it from Bellum Gallicum.

"The critical method and the historical method are great basic principles."

No, they are not. Texts can be misleading and should be treated as such, when there is a specific reason for it, but not on other occasions.

"We know that religious texts for example are often evoced to mistreat others."

Like Torah was so much used to mistreat Egyptians? When?

"A text tells you very many things: about the authors intentions for example - but it is not a true account we should blindly trust."

I say that a text which has by its earliest known audience been taken as historic (as opposed to earliest known audience of The Hobbit) should be taken as a true account of facts unless we have a specific reason to take it as a false account of facts. Not as something to be taken as false until proven true.

14:01 I think it is time to go to layers of Avaris:

Stratiagraphic layers M-N
Amenemhet I (12th) planned a settlement, called Hutwaret located in the 19th Nome, circa 1930 BC. It was a small Egyptian town until about 1830 BC when it began to grow by immigration of Caananites (Levant Middle Bronze Age IIA) By 1800 BC it was a much larger trade colony under Egyptian control. Over the next 100 years immigration increased the size of the city.[13] Scarabs with the name "Retjenu" have been found in Avaris, also dating to the 12th Dynasty (1991-1802 BCE).[14]

Stratiagraphic layers G
At about 1780 a temple to Set was built. The Canaanites living at Avaris considered the Egyptian god Set to be the Canaanite god Hadad. Both had dominion over the weather.[15]

Stratiagraphic layers F
Around 1700 BC a temple district to Canaanite Asherah and Egyptian Hathor was built in the eastern part of the city. From 1700 onward social stratification begins and an elite arise.[16]

Stratiagraphic layers E
In 1650 the Hyksos arrive and the city grows to 250 ha. It is believed that Avaris was the largest city in the world from 1670 to 1557 BC. A large citadel was built around 1550.

I presume all of these are carbon dates and I also suppose that the carbon dates are inflated by still ongoing rise in C-14 and I finally suppose that Avaris was not Goshen.

Now, where do I put the Exodus in real time and what is that in carbon years?

1) Exodus is 1510 BC
2) 80 years before, we have death of Sesostris III, dated to 1840 BC
3) 40 years later, we have fall of Jericho, dated to 1560 BC.

Yes, 120 years carbon dated as 280 years.

Around when would Exodus have been in carbon year terms?

1521 B. Chr.
0.98184 pmC/100, so dated as 1671 B. Chr.
1498 B. Chr.
0.98555 pmC/100, so dated as 1618 B. Chr.

Creation vs. Evolution : New Tables

Between 1670 and 1620, so, 1645, it would matter little if it were 1650 or just before, this means, the Hyksos came to Avaris just after the Exodus.

The actual fact is, we do see an arrival which means (according to sources) an Egyptian defeat.

Layers of Avaris as per:

14:37 If we consider that Manetho wrote c. 1250 years after Moses wrote Exodus, we have a case for basically ignoring Manetho on Moses.

Except for the point that his version is one way to cover up the defeat.

And while Akhenaten is historically verified, we do not have any more reason to pretend he's either Moses or "Osarseph" than to pretend Sargon is Moses bc found in a basket after being set out.

15:00 None of the non-Biblical versions line up nicely with the Biblical one, but neither do all of them line up nicely in one version against it.

Tacitus or that Hellenist claiming Moses invented the alphabet were arguably depending (with liberties and misunderstandings) on the Hebrew version.

Note very well, I endorse the criterium, ten sources claim Greek victory only one claims a Persian one = probably Greeks won.

But this is not comparable to one source being the only one for a series of events that is not on any single point contradicted by all other (much later) ones.

22:42 Not only is Manetho as biassed, but Manetho is as religious, just that Manetho was Khemetist, not Hebrew in religion.

Non-religious sources are futile to put as a desideratum for most of the time concerned.

17:07 "and the earliest stage of the Torah's development is around 750 years"

So, Moses writing down the text is supposed to not have been the earliest stage for books II-V? (There were obviously earlier ones for book I).

This is against Tradition - the great guide to history.

Tradition has it, he wrote it. I am not saying he wrote it in square letters and same type of vowel signs as in the Leningrad codex, I am not even saying his consonants were necessarily the same as the ones in Qumran manuscripts, there are such things as linguistically updating later copies.

Since Swedish underwent three reforms in the writing, 1870's, 1906 and 1950, after Tegnér wrote Fridthiofs saga and after Geier wrote Swea Rikes häfder, same year, 1825, we have spelling updates for Tegnér's verse according to 1870's and 1906 for later editions, and if there were one for Geier, as it is prose, it would also involve the conjugation reform of 1950, since changing "voro" to "var" changes no meaning, but does change verse rhythm.

Ergo, while we may not have the original linguistic form of the Torah, while the forms we have point to later editions, this by no means implies that Moses didn't write the Torah. Or that Adam didn't dictate the parts of Genesis 2 and 3, concerning turning points in his life even earlier on.

17:16 - 17:39 Charts' summing up:
1. The archaeological evidence contradicts the Biblical account.
2. There are numerous conflicting accounts in other texts.
3. All of the textual sources are likely biassed.
4. All of the textual sources were written many centuries later.
Conclusion: Moses is more of a legendary figure than a historical one.

My answer:

1. No actual contradiction, unless you look at wrong layer of archaeology.
2. No unified one version in other texts with one conflict against the Biblical one.
3. All textual sources have some bias, but that alone cannot rule out any one of them. The Torah shows at places a lack of bias for Moses, like when he was so "humble" - the word would have meant socially handicapped - he didn't dare to speak up before the Pharao.
4. All except the Torah were written many centuries later.
5. Torah by unanimous Hebrew tradition attributed to Moses.
Conclusion: Moses is a historical figure and an author. "Legendary" does not deny and in many cases affirms historicity.

18:05 "unless we rely solely on religious faith"

Not so. For historicity, we rely on tradition. It may be difficult to conjugate parting of the Red Sea with a non-Hebrew religion, specifically with most versions of Atheism and obviously with Khemetism, but for the physical fact we do not just have Hebrew (in my case Christian) religious faith, we have the tradition of the Hebrew nation.

To give an example, in the case of the Trojan War and of Ulysses killing a lot of suitors when arriving to his waiting wife, I rely on the Greek tradition. I do not have any kind of faith in the Homeric gods. They are in some cases Homer's way of explaining Providence, and in some cases may have been Ulysses' own way of categorising some type of experience where a lightbringing being gave him practical tips and encouragement, and some of it may have been a deliberate avoidance of naming real actors, like if Athena is a standin for people helping him out with Bian Lian* so he could in a firelit room be taken at first for an old man ... but they are nowhere as essential for the story as God for Exodus. Or in the case they are, we can take them as standin for guardian angels.


18:21 600 BC - 500 AD = when people started to write history like we do today.

No, they didn't. Eliminating the story of a succession of events is a much more recent trick. And the pre-600 BC history being a story is not really born out as different, and certainly can't be taken as proof details were unimportant and (up to a certain level) fictional.

It is common sense that conversations you weren't in may be reported in non-verbatim ways. It is equally common sense that conversations you were in yourself you report as you remember them.

It is not common sense to pretend miracles could be arbitrarily added for effect prior to Herodotus. It is, however, seemingly a meme these days.

18:30 Ancient people mixed facts with embellishments ...

The one point where that would be correct is in detailed conversations for facts happening miles away from where the author were. Allowing Brennus to say "vae victis" in Livy is perhaps an embellishment, though it is hardly beyond credible Romans recalled some version of "too bad, pal". But this does not add up to Romulus being an embellishment.

... in order to craft an overall story that made an important point,...

Well, actually telling a story at all usually implies it is making an important point.

... not one that simply recorded exactly what happened and when.

Thank you for qualifiers "simply" and "exactly". This allows for the story to include comment (like Homer's view of divine councils) and some vagueness.

But there is no reasonable way in which comment or vagueness can produce "additions" like infant in a basket in a river or parting of the Red Sea.

The one actual departure from this would have been c. 1800 AD when boring details about geometric ceramics came to rival Homer's life as Greek history of 800 BC.

That is the starting point for what you conceive as modern historiography.

As I mentioned Geier's Svea Rikes häfder, its approach to the "legendary" is fairly unlike yours. All legendary kings are given as facts. Which I think is correct and as to Odin (first king in Yngling dynasty), I think that is a much better candidate than Our Lord for one category of Talmud statements about Yeshu : temporarily he could for instance match a disciple of Joshua ben Pekharia. As his son Thor is known as "son of earth" this could be a mistranslation of "ben ha-eretz".

However, when we have even purported author several centuries after when the legend is from, I think one can accept there were some mistakes and some especially naughty retellers in between who did take non-pertinent material as embellishments.

Like Homer is c. 400 years after the events. The visit to Sicily with Polypheme could be an addition, and in Iliad, he could have been landed with only boring side by sides of short songs of exploits and have invented the fates of Hector and Achilles to give overall interest. Doesn't mean Achilles didn't live and doesn't mean Ulysses didn't get back to Ithaca.

18:43 "literary tropes"

Read Jo Wajsblat and Maurice Cling. How much of their stories of surving Auschwitz are variations on the literary tropes of Oliver Twist, especially the harsh orphanage?

Read a history of Sionism. How much of the 1948 with prequels saga are variations on the literary trope of Moses with Joshua? Like Herzl starring as Moses and Ben Gurion as Joshua?

Read a history of US war of independence, how much is variations on literary tropes of Cyrus having Persians successfully rebel against Medes?

Literary tropes do not prove fictionality of content. Fictionality does not always manifest as already existing literary tropes, since tropes are being invented. If you go to TVTropes, you will often find an indication of how old a trope is, meaning, new ones are added. You will also find ...

19:19 Sargon of Akkad ... probably was set out in a basket too.

2350 BC, if carbon dated, would be between Joseph and Moses:

1655 B. Chr.
0.914498 pmC/100, so dated as 2395 B. Chr.
1633 B. Chr.
0.933283 pmC/100, so dated as 2203 B. Chr.

Creation vs. Evolution : New Tables

For Joseph, I give Hunger stele as parallel reference, meaning Djoser was Joseph's Pharao.

While Sargon is well attested, it is not so well that the chronology can't be wrong.

20:13 Parting of the Red Sea a trope of older heros?

I note that you did not mention even one, so I presume you are bluffing.

Now, if there had been one in literature prior to Moses, it would probably have been in TVtropes.

I click open "literature" and find:

1) An Egyptian papyrus features a story where a princess loses a pendant while on a boat and cannot get over the loss. The court magician then folds one half of a lake onto the other so as to look for the pendant and quickly finds it.
2) Pyramids: This happens briefly during the climax with the river Djel that runs through the kingdom. The inhabitants take advantage to wreak vengeance on the momentarily helpless crocodiles.

Example two is as old as Terry Pratchett. At least tradition has it this discworld novel is by one Terry Pratchett who according to accepted legends died close on six years ago.

Example one is more interesting, it is from:

There is no indication of a carbon date, and while one character in it is Sneferu, a Old Kingdom pharao, according to Turin canon (thought to date from Ramesses II and also not carbon dated), this sounds a bit like Sobekneferu - whom Creationists have proposed as Moses' foster mother.

CMI : Searching for Moses
by David Down | This article is from
Journal of Creation 15(1):53–57, April 2001

B U T - no, Sneferu has a statue and therefore is probably not a misspelling of Sobekneferu.

Other point to ponder from article : "Sneferu's military efforts in ancient Libya led to the capture of 11,000 prisoners and 13,100 head of cattle."
Reference : Oxford History of Ancient Egypt, Pg. 107

No indication this major capture has been archaeologically proven ... to return to TVtropes, would they really have any older epic than Exodus, if there were one with a parting of the sea?

They have :
where we don't find it.

This at least references the normal wikipedia (often called "the other wiki") for :

I think we can safely conclude you bluffed.

20:33 "The biblical story of Moses is a beautifully crafted work of literature, that took common themes and images used at the time and wove them together to create a new story - one that explained Israel's origins and defended their most deeply held beliefs."

Why was it accepted as historical by people who had grown up without that sequence of events as part of their known past?

20:51 "Even if the ancestors of most Ancient Israelites weren't involved in a major exodus from Rgypt or even if the Exodus never happened at all, the point is that the story (and what it symbolised to them) became an important part of their national identity."

Your parallel with Polish immigrants' grandsons celebrating Thanksgiving and 4th of July to fit in is a clear possibility with a smaller Exodus.

It is not one with a non-extant one.

And for a smaller Exodus, we have no need.

For a non-extant one, you'd have parting of the Red Sea in Hume's world, but who says Hume is right? For a non-extant, there is no parallel with US legend, since we have no reason to think even the cherry tree cut down by a certain man was fiction.

22:02 Racism can be directed against very longstanding neighbouring races (like Lapps were victims of such in Sweden between 1930 and 1970's).

Xenophobia is not always wronging the stranger. Getting the right clue to find a criminal or expelling one after his prison sentence is over is not exactly wronging someone just because he is a stranger.

Also, not being xenophobic is no guarantee against the sin. I am in France since 2005. I have partly Jewish origins. I think Jews in France have substantially contributed to oppressing me through things like psychiatric observation or cabales to prevent my acts as being taken for those of an adult, which would have involved my being republished in paper form, and it is by now a question of a study debt of 380 000 SEK, not to mention my expectations on a marriage, which might dwindle considerably if I don't get an income from that and an appartment.

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