Monday, January 28, 2013

Torah MiSinai


Professor Martin Lockshin teaches Humanities and Hebrew at York University in Toronto. In a recent article in the Canadian Jewish News, Lockshin reviews a “courageous new book” by Rabbi Norman Solomon entitled “Torah from Heaven: The Reconstruction of Faith”. This is not the proper forum for a detailed refutation of Rabbi Solomon’s thesis, but some of Professor Lockshin’s comments do call for a response.

Lockshin writes as follows:
Usually “Torah from heaven” in Orthodox circles is understood to mean that God dictated the entire text of the first five books of the Bible (with the possible exception of the last eight verses of Deuteronomy) to Moses, who then wrote it down.
So far, so good.  
Furthermore, the text of the Torah scroll that we have in our synagogues today is precisely what Moses wrote.
Unfortunately, this idea is not part of the doctrine of “Torah from Heaven” and is, most likely, not correct. Anyone possessing even a passing familiarity with Rabbinic literature (Talmud, Midrashim, and subsequent halachic texts), knows that the Torah scrolls we possess today are not necessarily identical, letter for letter, with what Moses wrote. Yes, the sentences – along with the message they convey – are indeed the same. However, the precise spelling of the words has, in some cases, been lost to us. The biblical phenomenon of Defective and Plene Spellings (chaseiros v’yisairos) is well-known to students of the Talmud and is clearly not dogmatic to the doctrine of “Torah from Heaven”. This point cannot be overemphasized. Its assumption renders the vast majority of issues raised by Solomon/Lockshin irrelevant.

Lockshin continues:
But Rabbi Solomon notes that the Hebrew word “torah” in the Bible just means “teaching” or “instruction.”… Only many centuries after Moses did people begin to use the word Torah to refer to the first five books of the Bible and did anyone write down the claim that Moses was the author of the so-called Five Books of Moses.
This remark is a product of rank ignorance. The very first book after the Torah makes several references to the “Book of the Torah of Moshe” and the “Book of the Torah”. When Joshua (chapter 8) gathers the people to fulfill the covenant at Mount Gerizim and Eival, he does so in conformance with the “Book of the Torah of Moshe” and the “Book of the Torah”. Joshua built an altar at Mount Eival “as was instructed in the Book of the Torah of Moshe” and wrote the “Repetition of the Torah” on large rocks “as Moshe wrote down for the Jewish nation”. He then “read all of the words of the Torah, the blessings and the curses in conformity with all that was written in the Book of the Torah”! Jews have been referring to the teachings of Moses as the Book of the Torah from the day he died. The claim that it took centuries for this to occur is patently false.

Lockshin writes:
Rabbi Solomon argues further that historical scholarship makes it impossible to believe that Moses was the author of Genesis to Deuteronomy, or that our text of the Torah today is identical to the original one. The Talmud often quotes biblical verses whose wording or spelling differs from our own (as do Rashi and basically every other Bible commentator who lived before the days of the printing press).
Ever since Julius Wellhausen and the advent of biblical criticism, modern academia has been on a mission to undermine the historical authenticity of the Torah. In line with this attitude, Lockshin quotes the same old tired canard of the Bible critics, to wit, “historical scholarship makes it impossible to believe that Moses was the author of Genesis to Deuteronomy”. He then repeats his original error of conflation by attempting to identify “absolute textual identicalness” with the doctrine of “Torah from Heaven”. As we noted above, there are several examples of defective and plene spellings in our traditional rabbinic literature. This phenomenon was fully acknowledged by our sages. The doctrine of Torah from Heaven is in no way compromised by this fact.

There is much more to say on this topic, perhaps for another time. Comments welcome.

Simcha Coffer
Toronto, Ontario                     

77 comments:

  1. Having been a yeshiva bochur myself, I must respectfully disagree with your assertion that

    "chaseiros v’yisairos is well-known to students of the Talmud and is clearly not dogmatic to the doctrine of “Torah from Heaven”

    I hate to break it to you, but the typical yeshiva bochur is not the open-minded intellectual that you present them as. Having sat through countless mussar shmuezzen and kiruv diatribes, I can assure you that the theme of EVERY SINGLE LETTER IN THE TORAH IS MISINAI is a mainstay of yeshivishe hashkafa.

    And it's not without basis. I'm sure you are aware of the gemara in Megilla that states that even a chiddush from a talmid in the future was given at har sinai!

    In addition, the text of the 8th Ani Maamin in the siddur states: "kol hatorah hametzuyah ATA BIYADEINU" was given to Moshe Rabeinu

    So the sad truth is that just as the Left Wing Modern Orthodox cherry picks Chazal to support their accomodationist agenda, the Chareidized Yeshiva World does the same to support it's own obscurantist agenda.

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  2. Simcha, you said comments welcome so...here we go!

    The whole biblical criticism thing is pathetic. Many lines of argument used are the result of poor scholarship and you pointed out one of them. I did wonder whether it as necessary to address an this issue that is not on the agenda frum jews (as opposed to evolution which is quite fashionable), but the truth is that anyone in proximity to the academic world (where you have to take this tripe seriously to get an entrance ticket) is in danger of being influenced by these ideas.

    I'd like to ask you a bit about these "misspellings". I seem to remember learning that there is a single letter difference in the word daka of petzua daka between ashkenazi and sephardi sifrei torah. I wasn't aware of other controversial letters in the five books of Moses. However I am aware of at least one difference in a posuk in tehilim where a gemora in Kesubos seems to quote it differently to our version. Our magid shiur pointed this out to us... this was in a Gateshead Yeshiva. (It's charedi in case anyone reading this isn't sure)

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  3. Flora,

    Shalom Aleichem. Thank you for writing. My response interspersed in the body of your comment.

    Having been a yeshiva bochur myself, I must respectfully disagree with your assertion that

    "chaseiros v’yisairos is well-known to students of the Talmud and is clearly not dogmatic to the doctrine of “Torah from Heaven”

    I hate to break it to you, but the typical yeshiva bochur is not the open-minded intellectual that you present them as. Having sat through countless mussar shmuezzen and kiruv diatribes, I can assure you that the theme of EVERY SINGLE LETTER IN THE TORAH IS MISINAI is a mainstay of yeshivishe hashkafa.


    You’re right, it is. You know why? Because this is what Chazal say in Sanhedrin (99a) and Rambam repeats in Yad Hil. Teshuva 3:8 and in his hakdama to Perek Chelek in his Pirush Mishnayos. The idea of “Torah MiSinai” is that every word of the Torah, and even their spellings, were given to Moshe at Har Sinai and he did not edit a single word. He did not add nor did he detract. This is the fundamental principle of Torah MiSinai and this is what you heard about in your shmuzzen and kiruv “diatribes”. What they didn’t tell you is that during our various exiles some of the spellings were forgotten. In my opinion it is not necessary for Roshei Yeshiva to dilate upon this in their shmuzzen but I do admit that perhaps kiruv professionals should be a bit more careful in their presentations.

    In addition, the text of the 8th Ani Maamin in the siddur states: "kol hatorah hametzuyah ATA BIYADEINU" was given to Moshe Rabeinu

    I have two responses to this comment.

    1) Ani Ma’amin was not written by the Rambam. If you look at the Rambam in Hil. Teshuva and you look at the standard edition of the Rambam in Pirush Mishnayos, you will not see this phrase.

    2) Even if this phrase does appear in Pirush Mishnayos (as it does in the Kapach edition), it can’t mean what you imply it to mean. Modern Orthodox academics such as Marc Shapiro would like you to believe that the words “hametzuyah ata biyadeinu” refers to the Masoretic version of Ben Asher which Rambam accepts in the Yad as halachically binding but this is impossible. Rambam knew that there were different versions of the Torah and even mentions this in the Yad (Hil. Sefer Torah). Rambam’s eighth principle is taken directly from Chazal and precedes the redactions of Ben Asher. The gemara in Kiddushin 30a clearly states that the Babylonian scholars were not expert in chaseiros vi’yeseiros! They recognized that their Sifrei Torah might have the wrong spellings! Do you think the Rambam was not aware of this gemara?!

    In view of these arguments, I submit to you that the term “hametzuyah ata biyadeinu” cannot be understood literally. It simply means “the corpus of the Torah as we possess it today” or some such similar formulation.

    Continued in the next comment…

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  4. Continued from the previous comment…

    So the sad truth is that just as the Left Wing Modern Orthodox cherry picks Chazal to support their accomodationist agenda, the Chareidized Yeshiva World does the same to support it's own obscurantist agenda.

    I don’t like your comparison. The Left definitely does cherry pick to accommodate their agenda but this does not apply to the Yeshiva world. Many (most?) yeshiva people are simply unaware that there is an issue with chaseiros and yiseiros so naturally they extend the principle of Torah MiSinai to present day lettering. But as I wrote, anyone with even a passing familiarity with halachic texts knows that most poskim recognize this phenomenon and even allow for it in halacha. In fact, Rama openly states in Shulchan Aruch (OC 143) that if a baal keria finds a mistake in chaseiros vi’yiseiros, he can keep on reading and need not take out another sefer Torah because we don’t know for certain that our current version is correct! This is an open halacha! If some Yeshiva guys don’t know it, that’s their problem. But the real “Charedi” view, the informed Jewish orthodox view, is not based on ignorance. It is based on Chazal and Rishonim and on our 3300 hundred year mesora and is far more defensible, objectively, than the academic view.

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  5. Marcus Freudental

    Shalom Aleichem Marcus! Nice to hear from you. I haven’t had the time to follow the current lice debate on the site but I skimmed the comments section and it seems you’ve become an active member of our site. It also looks like generally you’re on our side. You must be a mutant or something. No one ever agrees with the positions of this site. Are you a Jewish fundamentalist??? :-)

    Simcha, you said comments welcome so...here we go!

    From you… always!

    The whole biblical criticism thing is pathetic. Many lines of argument used are the result of poor scholarship and you pointed out one of them. I did wonder whether it as necessary to address an this issue that is not on the agenda frum jews (as opposed to evolution which is quite fashionable), but the truth is that anyone in proximity to the academic world (where you have to take this tripe seriously to get an entrance ticket) is in danger of being influenced by these ideas.

    Well then, as they say in court, “asked and answered”. I’ll just add that evolution is no less “pathetic” than bible criticism. The mandate of this blog is to defend the truth of our mesora against its detractors in whatever form they choose to manifest their opposition, pathetic as it may seem to be.

    I'd like to ask you a bit about these "misspellings". I seem to remember learning that there is a single letter difference in the word daka of petzua daka between ashkenazi and sephardi sifrei torah.

    Not Ashkenazi versus Sefaradi; European (ashkenaz and sefarad) versus Yeminite.

    I wasn't aware of other controversial letters in the five books of Moses.

    There are nine differences between European and Yemenite sifrei Torah. Almost all are attributable to cheseiros vi’yiseiros. But two are not. The one you quoted and one more in Parshas Noach (perek tes pasuk chaf tes). According to our sifrei Torah the first word of that pasuk is va’yehi, singular. According to the Yemenites, it is va’yehiyu, plural.

    However I am aware of at least one difference in a posuk in tehilim where a gemora in Kesubos seems to quote it differently to our version.

    Actually, there are several more, including some in the Torah itself.

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    1. "No one ever agrees with the positions of this site."

      Disagreeing is more fun.

      "Are you a Jewish fundamentalist??? :-)"

      Actually, I'm going for "radical preacher" they get lots of attention, fan mail and cash. Me too! Me too!

      "Actually, there are several more, including some in the Torah itself. "

      This to me is much more serious an issue. Can you tell me where they are?

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  6. Hello, Reb Simcha

    Here's my 2 cents on this post...

    >>> Its assumption renders the vast majority of issues raised by Solomon/Lockshin irrelevant.

    I haven’t read Lockshin’s article but if you are referring to Solomon’s book when you made this statement then I have to comment that it is so misleading, that I am tempted to call it outright dishonest.

    Question: Did you read the book?

    The discussion on “plene & defective” spelling is only one idea among many others that argue (maybe not overtly, but certainly at least indirectly) against Rambam’s (or as you say "that has been attributed to the Rambam) 8th principle.

    Solomon also discusses many reasons why one would be skeptical about the Torah not having been divinely authored. He writes that this is because of various internal contradictions, moral problems, scientific and factual errors and textual analysis. Although admittedly, he doesn’t go into elaborate detail on each of these subjects.

    So, even if you were to delete the entire discussion on spellings, the main point about TMS stands.

    >>> This remark is a product of rank ignorance. The very first book after the Torah makes several references to the “Book of the Torah of Moshe” and the “Book of the Torah”.

    First off, is the insult really necessary? I am positive that Prof. Lockshin is well aware of the contents of the Book of Joshua.

    The question really is “when was this book written?” Based on the fact that it lacks some important historical events and contains other questionable narrative, an objective view is that it likely was composed many years (maybe many centuries) after Joshua’s time, by someone who apparently was ignorant of what actually transpired during that time period.

    Also, even if our tradition is correct about when the Book was composed, there still is no proof that our Torah of today was extant. After all when it references Moishe’s Torah the question is, what are the contents of that “Torah”? What is the evidence that that Torah is anywhere close to our Torah. It seems to me that in the first 11 or so chapters indicates otherwise. Since, any reference to contents that are in the Torah are only to contents of what is now Devarim (and maybe even to only parts thereof), as its and quotes and phrases mainly match Devarim.

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  7. Rabbi Coffer: What evidence do you have that when Yehoshua spoke about "the Book of the Torah" that he was speaking about the full Five Books of the Torah? After all, the word just means "teaching," and it could well simply refer to the warnings, brachos and kllalos that were stated by Moshe Rabbeinu in Devarim.

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  8. elemir,

    Hello, Reb Simcha

    Hi R’ Elemir, nice to hear from you again.

    >>> Its assumption renders the vast majority of issues raised by Solomon/Lockshin irrelevant.

    I haven’t read Lockshin’s article but if you are referring to Solomon’s book when you made this statement then I have to comment that it is so misleading, that I am tempted to call it outright dishonest.

    Question: Did you read the book?


    Nope. But as you’ve admitted, you haven’t read Lockshin’s article. So let me quote Lockshin’s synopsis of Solomon’s thesis to you.

    “Rabbi Solomon’s thesis is straightforward: “The classical doctrine of ‘Torah from heaven’… with its erroneous historical claims and occasionally questionable moral consequences, cannot be upheld by the serious historian, scientist or philosopher.” And yet the claims that “Torah is from heaven” and that Moses wrote the Torah are, in a certain sense “true,” as they are Judaism’s “foundational myth.””

    My comments are directed at the “historical” elements of Solomon’s claims, not his philosophical ones. I’m not being dishonest. Lockshin is an academic. I trust he is presenting an accurate portrayal of Solomon’s book. He mentions nothing in his article about scientific or philosophical objections. Read Lockshin’s presentation of Solomon’s book before jumping to conclusions about me being misleading.

    The discussion on “plene & defective” spelling is only one idea among many others…Solomon also discusses many reasons why one would be skeptical about the Torah not having been divinely authored. He writes that this is because of various internal contradictions, moral problems, scientific and factual errors and textual analysis. Although admittedly, he doesn’t go into elaborate detail on each of these subjects.

    So, even if you were to delete the entire discussion on spellings, the main point about TMS stands.


    If he doesn’t go into detail about any of these subjects, then how do you know that his main point still stands?

    The question really is “when was this book written?” Based on the fact that it lacks some important historical events and contains other questionable narrative, an objective view is that it likely was composed many years (maybe many centuries) after Joshua’s time, by someone who apparently was ignorant of what actually transpired during that time period.

    I have no idea what you are talking about. Joshua is mentioned several times in the Chumash, beginning from Shmos, and the book of Joshua is a narrative which begins with the death of Moshe. If you have evidence that disproves the historical validity of the book, please produce it. Vague references to “questionable narratives” doesn’t cut it with me.

    Also, even if our tradition is correct about when the Book was composed, there still is no proof that our Torah of today was extant. After all when it references Moishe’s Torah the question is, what are the contents of that “Torah”?

    I’m sorry but you seem to be confused. My comment has nothing to do with the contents of the Torah. Lockshin quoted Solomon (approvingly) that the term Torah means teaching and only centuries later were Moshe’s teachings referred to as the Book of the Torah. I simply produced a proof that this assertion is wrong.

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    1. >>> If you have evidence that disproves the historical validity of the book, please produce it.

      I don’t know what Prof. Lockshin’s views are about the B of J, or what evidence he uses to back these views, but here are a few ideas that argue against the total veracity of the book’s contents.

      Archaeology (that old bugaboo) has shown beyond a reasonable doubt that many of the events described in the B of J are likely fictional. The evidence falls into several discussions:

      (a) The most powerful argument is:
      There is very extensive "evidence" in the form of artifacts, documents, etc. that shows that sometime in the late 2nd millennium BCE both Egypt and the Hittites presided over empires that controlled most of the land of Canaan between them. Read any credible book on ANE history or Egyptology. The general consensus is that this was around 1400-1100 BCE. Now if you want to argue that dating is not precise and this is too far back in time and move it forward by a couple of hundred years, you have problems with the Hebrew monarchies. A period in time every agrees as to the general history. Be that as it may, it means that IT WOULD HAVE BEEN IMPOSSIBLE for the B”Y to conquer Canaan without engaging in major battles with the Egyptians and/or the Hittites. IMPOSSIBLE. Any book that overlooks this thereby reflects the ignorance of history by the author.
      .
      (b) Woeful lack of physical remains. If B’Y, numbering 3 million and more, entered the land, there should be evidence of a sudden increase in population, and a sudden appearance of large numbers of Egyptian style materials, especially pottery. All of which is missing..

      (c) Also, lack of material evidence that would support the results of the warring activity and ensuing destruction described in the Book. But, maybe the dictum “absence of evidence being no evidence of absence” works reasonably well here, so we’ll let this one pass.

      Now since I believe that author of the B of J sincerely reported what he thought was history, the conclusion is then that the author lived some time after the events he was writing about

      The beginning of my own suspicion that the author lived later in time than the end of the exodus and also lacked knowledge of the actual events comes from the verses Josh. 5:12:

      12. On the next day, when they ate of the produce of the land, the manna ceased. The Israelites got no more manna; that year they ate of the yield of the land of Canaan.

      If the Torah in Bamidbar is to be taken literally that the nation consisted of millions of people, the author of this verse states something that is patently absurd. Where did the massive amount of produce come from to feed millions of people for an entire year. This kind of error or simple oversight is only made by someone writing years later.

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    2. Elemir, you make a number of claims. I'd like to address them.

      (a) The most powerful argument is:
      There is very extensive "evidence" in the form of artifacts, documents, etc. that shows that sometime in the late 2nd millennium BCE both Egypt and the Hittites presided over empires that controlled most of the land of Canaan between them.


      In hachi nami. The archaeological evidence of the Iron Age doesn't support the Israelite conquest and settlement. But the transition between Early and Middle Bronze does.

      (b) Woeful lack of physical remains. If B’Y, numbering 3 million and more, entered the land, there should be evidence of a sudden increase in population, and a sudden appearance of large numbers of Egyptian style materials, especially pottery. All of which is missing..

      Why do you assume that after 40 years in the desert, we'd still be using Egyptian styles? 40 years ago now, no one had a VCR and phones were for talking to people. And weren't portable. Things change. They change particularly quickly if you're a nation that's gone from oppression to freedom overnight. See the Enlightenment for a more recent example of that.

      And, of course, there was a major increase in population at the end of Early Bronze.

      (c) Also, lack of material evidence that would support the results of the warring activity and ensuing destruction described in the Book. But, maybe the dictum “absence of evidence being no evidence of absence” works reasonably well here, so we’ll let this one pass.

      On the contrary. You're simply looking in the wrong place. The destructions of Jericho and Ai and Arad and other cities mentioned specifically in the books of Deuteronomy and Joshua took place at the end of Early Bronze.

      The beginning of my own suspicion that the author lived later in time than the end of the exodus and also lacked knowledge of the actual events comes from the verses Josh. 5:12:

      12. On the next day, when they ate of the produce of the land, the manna ceased. The Israelites got no more manna; that year they ate of the yield of the land of Canaan.

      If the Torah in Bamidbar is to be taken literally that the nation consisted of millions of people, the author of this verse states something that is patently absurd. Where did the massive amount of produce come from to feed millions of people for an entire year. This kind of error or simple oversight is only made by someone writing years later.


      We had 40 years to stockpile food. Remember, we lived at an oasis for 38 of the 40 years. Look at the 2 and a half tribes who wanted to stay in transjordan to tend to their herds. We had herds and flocks and produce. I don't see your problem.

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    3. The Israelites got no more manna; that year they ate of the yield of the land of Canaan.

      We had herds and flocks and produce. I don't see your problem.

      To expand on this answer, when the posuk says, that year they ate of the yield of the land of Canaan, it does not mean that the yield of Canaan was now their only source of nourishment; just that now the yield of Canaan newly became a source of nourishment.

      It would be interesting to see how this works with the classical mefarshim.

      Lisa, what is the source that we lived in an oasis, rather than a barren desert, for 38 years?



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    4. Kadesh Barnea was an oasis.

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    5. Hi Lisa,
      before i write a bit longer a response, can you kindly answer the following:
      1) what year (in secular) date does the seder olam date the Exodus?
      2) can you provide a date range for your early - mid-bronze scenario
      3) when would date the Egyptian-Hittitie empire hegemony over canaan?? if at all.

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    6. 1. Seder Olam doesn't date the Exodus with a secular date. But translating the actual date, we get either 1476 BCE (if the Babylonian destruction of Jerusalem was in 587 BCE) or 1311 BCE (if the destruction was in 422 BCE).

      2. You'll have to clarify that question. I can't quite make out what you're asking. Are you asking when I'd put Middle Bronze? If so, bearing in mind that nomenclature differs from one archaeologist to another, and what some call EB IV, others call MB I, and still others call EB IV / MB I, and yet others call IB (Intermediate Bronze), I'd say that period began with the Israelite conquest of Canaan, and lasted through the dissolution of the United Monarchy under Rechavam.

      3. Which hegemony would that be? Both the Egyptians and Hittites campaigned across Israel during the Late Bronze. That doesn't mean that either of them exercised what a 20th/21st century person would recognize as hegemony over a territory.

      Here's a rough list of the equivalencies:

      The Early Bronze Age in the land of Israel, believed to have been the time of "Canaaneans," or "proto-Canaanites," was the time of the Canaanites, and lasted from the Confusion of Tongues until the invasion of Canaan under Joshua. It was roughly coeval with the Egyptian Early Dynastic Period and Old Kingdom, and with the Sumerians and early Akkadians in Mesopotamia.

      The Middle Bronze Age I (also called the Early Bronze Age IV or the Intermediate Bronze Age), believed to have been the time of unknown invaders, was the period of Israel in the Desert and the Conquest. It's roughly the First Intermediate Period in Egypt, and the middle of Akkad up north.

      The Middle Bronze Age IIA (also called the Middle Bronze Age I or II), believed to have been the time of the biblical Amorites, was the period of the Judges. In Egypt, this was roughly the Middle Kingdom, while in the north, it covered the end of Akkad, the neo-Sumerian dynasty of Ur-Nammi, the First Babylonian Dynasty of Hammurabi, and the Mari letters.

      The Middle Bronze Age IIB,C (also called the Middle Bronze Age II or III or both), believed to have been the time of a "Hyksos Empire," was the period of the United Monarchy of David and Solomon. That's not 100% precise, because we date it mostly by architecture, and it was the imperial architecture of Israel. Shilo was an early example of it, though it was destroyed before the style became widely used under Solomon, and the Jericho built by Chiel was a very late example of it, post-dating the fall of the empire by over a century. In Egypt, this was the Second Intermediate Period and the New Kingdom of Hatshupset and Thutmose III. In Mesopotamia, it was a mess.

      The Late Bronze Age, believed to have been the time of the biblical Canaanites, was the period of the Israelite Monarchies up until the beginning of the Assyrian invasions. It overlapped with MBIIB,C as the common style. It was the time of Ramses II and his dynasty, as well as the Third Intermediate Period. Ramses II fought the Hittite Mursilis. This was also the time of the Amarna letters, the founding of Carthage, the fall of Troy, and went up to the rise of the neo-Assyrians like Tiglath Pileser III.

      The Iron Age, believed to have been the time of the Israelites, from their Conquest and Settlement until the Babylonian Exile, was the time of the Assyrian invasions, the colonization of the Samaritans, and the late kings of Judah until the Babylonian Exile.

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    7. thanks, Lisa

      >>> You'll have to clarify that question.
      the is documentation attesting the the occupation at various times by Egypt, the Hittites, and Assyrians, of many of the cities in Canaan, in the form of letters, garrisons reporting to "palace", detailed accounting of tribute collected, letters by local "governors" about conditions of the cities and the subjects, battles (even if details are falsified or exaggerated). The classical dating is about 1500-1200. what would be your dating of all this activity?

      As for the 3 Bronze ages, i hate to do this to you but could you simply supply estimated date ranges for the 3 periods, and the beginning of iron I., however imprecise these figures might be.

      I would then be able to understand better you timelines. My brain is that of a mathematician and sees tables and numbers much better.

      honestly, you wrote a great answer, but its just too much information.

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    8. No problem, elemir. First of all, the documentation attesting to occupation doesn't actually do that. Sure, the Egyptians were strong, and if they rode through Israel and planted stelae to commemorate their presence, we didn't have much to say about it.

      In Kings, it says "There was no king in Edom at that time; a governor was king." And yet that governor is referred to repeatedly as "the king of Edom". That's because the system of government in the ancient world was polyarchy. Tiered kingships. The ruler of a city-state was a king to his people, and a governor to the king of that region. Who in turn was a governor to the high king of that larger region. Under the Persians, such minor kings were termed satraps (khshatra-pan, from khshatra, or royalty), and in the medieval period, they became barons and dukes and other nobility.

      As far as dates, sure. I'm not a mathematician, but I'm a coder, so I do as well. These are rough. I'll use GAD for generally accepted date and RD for revised date.

      Early Bronze I, II, III
      GAD: 2900-2200 BCE
      RD: 1928-1476 BCE

      Early Bronze IV / Middle Bronze I:
      GAD: 2200-2100 BCE
      RD: 1476-1420 BCE

      Middle Bronze IIA
      GAD: 2100-1750 BCE
      RD: 1420-1000 BCE

      Middle Bronze IIB,C
      GAD: 1750-1550 BCE
      RD: 1060-960 BCE

      Late Bronze I
      GAD: 1550-1400 BCE
      RD: 1000-960 BCE

      Late Bronze II
      GAD: 1400-1300 BCE
      RD: 960-870 BCE

      Late Bronze III
      GAD: 1300-1200 BCE
      RD: 870-785 BCE

      Iron I
      GAD: 1200-950 BCE
      RD: 785-715 BCE

      Iron IIA
      GAD: 950-900 BCE
      RD: 715-690 BCE

      Iron IIB
      GAD: 900-800 BCE
      RD: 690-640 BCE

      Iron IIIA
      GAD: 800-650 BCE
      RD: 640-605 BCE

      Iron IIIB
      GAD: 650-587 BCE
      RD: 605-587 BCE

      I hope that's more helpful

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    9. wow, thanks. all i needed were 3 lines.
      In any case, I'm off for a short business trip and will respond sunday or monday.

      to you as well Reb Simcha.

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    10. Shabbat Shalom. I'm going to be in Israel next week, and I probably won't have a lot of Internet accessibility, so my reply will probably have to wait a while as well.

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  9. Anon4today

    Rabbi Coffer: What evidence do you have that when Yehoshua spoke about "the Book of the Torah" that he was speaking about the full Five Books of the Torah? After all, the word just means "teaching," and it could well simply refer to the warnings, brachos and kllalos that were stated by Moshe Rabbeinu in Devarim.

    I wasn’t trying to prove this. I was simply pointing out that the term Torah doesn’t just mean teaching but also refers to a specific book written by Moshe. Besides, I don’t have to prove anything. You do. If you want to call the historical Pentateuch into question, bring proof! The Chumash in its current form (i.e. the five books) has been around for thousands of years and is attested to by the traditions of other nations, not just our own. Ever hear of the Septuagint? Or the dead sea scrolls?

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  10. Marcus Freudental

    "Actually, there are several more, including some in the Torah itself. "

    This to me is much more serious an issue.

    Why?

    Can you tell me where they are?

    Check out Tos. in Shabbos nun hey amud beis dibbur h. Ma’avirim and Gilyon HaShas ad loc. R’ Akiva Eiger has a pretty long list there.

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  11. MF: "This to me is much more serious an issue."

    SC: Why?

    Because if there are different traditions between europe and yemen then it's easier to believe that your version, whatever that version is, is the correct version. But if the your own version of Talmud has one version and your own version of written Torah has another, then you have an error has been transmitted to you in one or both of those sources.

    thanks for your source in Shabbos NH Beis. I'll have to check it out!

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    1. Rav Reuvain Margolios presents an interesting thesis. We know that during the time when Torah sheh-b'al peh was truly b'al peh, it was generally prohibited to say full pesukim by heart. Therefore, when the sages in Talmudic times would cite pesukim orally, they would purposely make slight changes in them so as not to transgress the prohibition. When these oral discusiions were reduced to writing, the wording they used was often retained.

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    2. Thanks for that idea. I have a feeling this is a massive sugya with each case demanding it's own attention and investigation.

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  12. I recommend these articles:

    vbm-torah.org/archive/tanakh/03c-tanakh.htm

    vbm-torah.org/archive/tanakh/03d-tanakh.htm

    vbm-torah.org/archive/tanakh/04a-tanakh.htm

    vbm-torah.org/archive/tanakh/04b-tanakh.htm

    vbm-torah.org/archive/tanakh/04c-tanakh.htm

    vbm-torah.org/archive/tanakh/04d-tanakh.htm

    vbm-torah.org/archive/tanakh/04e-tanakh.htm

    vbm-torah.org/archive/tanakh/04f-tanakh.htm

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  13. Elemir,

    Archaeology (that old bugaboo) has shown beyond a reasonable doubt that many of the events described in the B of J are likely fictional.

    Its statements like these that drive me up a wall! You know, a few comments ago you took me to task for my response to Lockshin’s claim that the term “Book of Torah” was anachronistic. I remarked that this claim was a product of “rank ignorance” and you took umbrage with this, considering it unnecessarily insulting. Although I disagree with you, I chose not to respond to your chastisement because I know I can be harsh at times. I thought to myself: “Maybe I shouldn’t have been insulting… maybe…”

    Unfortunately, your comment above has brought things into perspective for me. The historical veracity of our mesora is supported by an endless number of things. When people make blanket statements like “historical scholarship makes it impossible to believe that Moses was the author of Genesis to Deuteronomy” or “Archaeology has shown beyond a reasonable doubt that many of the events described in the B of J are likely fictional”, it drives me crazy!

    (Just thought I’d share some of my emotions with one of our site’s veteran commenters… now on to business)

    The evidence falls into several discussions:

    (a) The most powerful argument is:
    There is very extensive "evidence" in the form of artifacts, documents, etc. that shows that sometime in the late 2nd millennium BCE both Egypt and the Hittites presided over empires that controlled most of the land of Canaan between them… Be that as it may, it means that IT WOULD HAVE BEEN IMPOSSIBLE for the B”Y to conquer Canaan without engaging in major battles with the Egyptians and/or the Hittites. IMPOSSIBLE. Any book that overlooks this thereby reflects the ignorance of history by the author.


    Ho hum… We’ve been over this ground already, have we not? All this was discussed at length in our post on Biblical Archaeology. I’m afraid your “powerful argument” leaves much to be desired.

    Re Egyptians, Lisa pointed out to you that “Joshua would not have had to contend with anyone, because even according to conventional scholars, the period just after the end of the Early Bronze Age was one where Egypt was just starting to recover (look up the end of the 6th dynasty, and the First Intermediate Period), and in Mesopotamia, Sargon of Akkad and his son Naram-Sin had their hands full up there. Don't believe me. Look it up.” (June 12, 2012).

    As far as the Hittites, your comment is incomprehensible. What do you think the book of Joshua is all about??? He battled the Hittites (among other nations) and kicked them out of Canaan! This is exactly what you claim is impossible not to have happened and this is precisely what is depicted in the B of J to have happened! What’s your problem?

    Continued in the next comment

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  14. Continued from the previous comment

    Elemir,

    (b) Woeful lack of physical remains. If B’Y, numbering 3 million and more, entered the land, there should be evidence of a sudden increase in population, and a sudden appearance of large numbers of Egyptian style materials, especially pottery. All of which is missing..

    Elemir, I respect you so I will hold my tongue. But frankly, it seems like you’re grasping at straws, literally anything to invalidate the book of Joshua.

    The 3 million that entered the land displaced the local population! The book of Joshua is all about the conquering of Canaan. They were not allowed to leave the indigenous people alive. That’s what the Torah says! So why would we expect to see a sudden and dramatic increase in population?

    The same applies to your argument from Egyptian pottery. First of all, the majority of ancient Egyptian pottery is comprised of carvings of amulets, deities, animals and other such type materials. Surely the Jews didn’t take Avodah Zara out with them when they left Egypt. And even other things like vases and the like were useless to them. Why in heaven’s name would they schlep around useless trinkets in the wilderness for 40 years??? And even if they did, pottery breaks after time. They were wandering for 40 years before they got to Canaan and they settled the Trans-Jordan before entering the land, as the Torah depicts. Any functional pottery that possibly survived the 40 year trek was probably discarded in favor of the vessels of the people of Emori, Bashan, Amon and Moav. Besides, the Torah specifically states that Hashem commanded the Jews to take gold and silver vessels from Egypt, not pottery. And that’s precisely what they did! So if you don’t find a sudden proliferation of Egyptian pottery in Canaan, this is perfectly consistent with the Torah’s depiction and that of the book of Joshua.

    (c) Also, lack of material evidence that would support the results of the warring activity and ensuing destruction described in the Book. But, maybe the dictum “absence of evidence being no evidence of absence” works reasonably well here, so we’ll let this one pass.

    What a blessed relief…

    On second thought, I just can’t let it pass without making one obvious comment. Archaeology actually confirms the sinking of the wall of Jericho into the ground just as depicted in Joshua! So there is evidence of the warring activity! How do you like that! A war that occurred over 3 thousand years ago and there is clear archaeological evidence of its existence. I’ll bet you can’t provide me with clear archaeological evidence of, say, the Polish wars of Tach v’Tat which occurred a mere three hundred years ago (Chmielnicki uprising) yet I’m sure you believe in its historical veracity. Kal va’chomer you should believe in Joshua’s depiction which is actually supported by evidence.

    Continued in the next comment

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  15. Continued from the previous comment

    Elemir,

    The beginning of my own suspicion that the author lived later in time than the end of the exodus and also lacked knowledge of the actual events comes from the verses Josh. 5:12:

    12. On the next day, when they ate of the produce of the land, the manna ceased. The Israelites got no more manna; that year they ate of the yield of the land of Canaan.

    If the Torah in Bamidbar is to be taken literally that the nation consisted of millions of people, the author of this verse states something that is patently absurd. Where did the massive amount of produce come from to feed millions of people for an entire year. This kind of error or simple oversight is only made by someone writing years later.


    Here we go again! “This kind of error or simple oversight” Your missive culminates with precisely the same dismissive attitude it began with. This kind of talk just drives me nuts…

    The answer to your question is simple. Had you chosen to spend a bit more time investigating the issue (instead of automatically dismissing the text as erroneous), you would have figured it out for yourself. Rashi explains that the Manna stopped falling on the 7th of Adar (Moshe’s petira) but it continued to subsist in their vessels until the sixteenth of Nissan. The Jews encamped in the valley of Jericho in Nissan (before penetrating the city proper) and gathered enough grain to subsist on temporarily, like any conquering army that subsists on the produce of the conquered. That’s how they made the matzos mentioned there; from the grain of the land, just as the verses state! Besides, they had over a month on the other side of the Jordan during which time they surely gathered enough produce to sustain themselves for the initial stages of the upcoming campaign against the Canaanites. Only after the nation’s physical needs were firmly secured did the Manna in their vessels finally come to an end.

    Now, wasn’t that a simple answer? Doesn’t it make sense? Couldn’t you have figured it out for yourself? Don’t you feel silly accusing the author of Joshua of “This kind of error or simple oversight”? just because you, Elemir of Israel, happen to have a kasha?

    Don’t take offence Elemir; I only talk this way to people I love. :-)

    Be well my friend…

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  16. Zvi Lampel and Lisa,

    Hi Rabbi Zvi and Rebbetzin Lisa. Thanks for commenting.

    Lisa, what is the source that we lived in an oasis, rather than a barren desert, for 38 years?

    Yeah rebbetzin, what is the source? Actually, we lived in Kadesh Barnea for 19 years and then wandered around Har Sair for the next 19 years until we came to Midbar Sin. And as far as I can tell from the sources, Kadeesh Barnea was desert, not oasis.

    But Lisa’s main point stands. We were in the Transjordan for a while before we crossed over the Jordan and we could easily have stockpiled stuff there.

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    1. We were in Kadesh Barnea at the time of the Meraglim (Num 13:26) and at the time that Edom turned us away (Num 20:14). That seems like at least 38 years. And I've always heard it referred to as an oasis.

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  17. Elemir,

    Hi Lisa,
    before i write a bit longer a response, can you kindly answer the following:
    1) what year (in secular) date does the seder olam date the Exodus?
    2) can you provide a date range for your early - mid-bronze scenario
    3) when would date the Egyptian-Hittitie empire hegemony over canaan?? if at all.


    Hi again Elemir. This question is not for me but I want to see if I’ve learned properly from Lisa (our resident Archaeology expert) so I will respond tentatively and Lisa can correct me if I’m wrong.

    1) 1312 BCE
    2) Lisa would say that Early Bronze began approx. 1850 BCE and lasted until approx. 1476 BCE and Mid-Bronze began 1476 and lasted until 960 BCE – (I personally shift the entire Bronze period forward about 150 years.)
    3) Lisa would date it somewhere in the early Bronze Age

    How did I do Lisa?

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    1. Excellent on the first two, but the hegemony he's referring to, if I'm not mistaken, was during the Late Bronze. For more on that, there's an interesting section in Yehoshua Etzion's "The Lost Bible" that I translated some years back and put on my website. http://www.starways.net/lisa/essays/philistines.html

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  18. Lisa,

    We were in Kadesh Barnea at the time of the Meraglim (Num 13:26)

    Correct

    and at the time that Edom turned us away (Num 20:14).

    Yes. But see Rashi Devarim 1:46. He explains that after 19 years they left Kadesh and travelled around the wilderness for 19 years and finally returned to Kadesh.

    That seems like at least 38 years.

    Yes, it does. But it is split up into two 19 year periods as per Rashi. Alternatively, there are other commentaries that maintain that Kadesh (Edom) and Kadesh Barnea (meraglim) are two different places.

    And I've always heard it referred to as an oasis.

    I don’t know who told you that but clearly they were wrong. After 39 years the nation finally reached the Desert of Tzin and settled in Kadesh where Miriam died. As soon as she died, the Well disappeared and the Torah relates that the nation thirsted for water! Kadesh doesn’t sound like much of an oasis, huh? From the Torah it seems clear that Kadesh is a desert land. See Bamidbar 20: 1-5.

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  19. Lisa,

    Excellent on the first two, but the hegemony he's referring to, if I'm not mistaken, was during the Late Bronze.

    Well, his Late Bronze is your early Bronze which fits perfectly with the idea that Canaan was subject to the Hittites and Egyptians. The Hittites actually lived there and the Egyptians exerted enormous influence. During times of famine, occupants of Canaan were forced to go down to Egypt for food as the Torah relates regarding Avraham Yitzchok (who was told not to go by Hashem) and Yaakov.

    And if you’re referring to your Late Bronze (i.e. the period of the Israelite Monarchies up until the beginning of the Assyrian invasions), there is no Hittite “hegemony” referred to in Tanach during this 250 year period. At least none that I’m aware of. Am I missing something?

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    1. Um... no. No one is disputing the stratigraphy. Only the dates of the stratigraphy. His LB is my LB, and his EB is my EB.

      The Hittites he's referring to are a major empire that was centered in what's now Turkey. They were actually a conglomeration of a number of nations. They called their land Hatti, but didn't call themselves that.

      The Hittites and Egyptians you're talking about, who warred over Israel and Syria, were in the Late Bronze, which is the time of the divided monarchy in Israel.

      I'd note that II Kings 7:6 has the Arameans terrified that the king of Israel had paid the kings of the Egyptians and Hittites to attack them. That right there tells us that this was the period when the Egyptians and Hittites were running rampant all over Israel and Syria.

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  20. Lisa,

    Um... no. No one is disputing the stratigraphy. Only the dates of the stratigraphy. His LB is my LB, and his EB is my EB.

    Yes, this is what I was saying.

    The Hittites he's referring to are a major empire that was centered in what's now Turkey. They were actually a conglomeration of a number of nations. They called their land Hatti, but didn't call themselves that.

    Yes. They arose after the collapse of the Hittite Empire which, according to the book of Joshua, occurred as the result of the Jewish conquest of Canaan. The new Hittite nation was a conglomeration of some of the old Hittites which survived the Jewish campaign against Canaan, Syrians, and Turkish people.

    The Hittites and Egyptians you're talking about, who warred over Israel and Syria, were in the Late Bronze, which is the time of the divided monarchy in Israel.

    The Hittites I’m talking about are exactly the same as the ones you described above. According to the book of Joshua, the Hittites were driven from their homeland by the Jews in approx. 1265 BCE (Standard dating has the collapse of the Hittite Empire at 1180 BCE, very close to the Bible date). Any Hittite nation or king mentioned in Tanach subsequent to the Jewish conquest refers to the new Hittite kingdom. Of course, the old Hittites are mentioned several times in Tanach but they were only a small remnant that the Jews allowed to live after kivush v’chiluk and they were subjugated by the Jews and made as slaves (eved Canaanim). This was the basic state of affairs of all of the survivors of the conquest as is denoted over 400 years later in Divrei HaYamim 2: Chapter 8 verse 7.

    I'd note that II Kings 7:6 has the Arameans terrified that the king of Israel had paid the kings of the Egyptians and Hittites to attack them. That right there tells us that this was the period when the Egyptians and Hittites were running rampant all over Israel and Syria.

    I don’t know about that. In the story you refer to, it was the Arameans that were running wild and they were worried that the King of Israel made alliances with the Kings of some of the neighboring nations. But in point of fact the King of Israel had not made any such alliance and other than this pasuk there is no evidence that Egypt and the Hittites controlled the land. It was Ashur (Assyria) that eventually exiled the ten tribes. Other than the hit and run campaigns of nations such as Amon and the Philistines during the times of the Judges, Assyria was the only nation that temporarily held sway in the land, not the Egyptians and certainly not the Hittites. Eventually the Assyrians were driven from the land (mysterious plague that wiped out their army) and it was the Babylonians that ultimately brought the 900 year Jewish commonwealth to an end.

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  21. Wow... with all due respect, there's a lot of mistaken ideas in what you just posted. Let me run through them:

    You wrote before "Well, his Late Bronze is your early Bronze". My point is that this is not the case. Everyone agrees that Early Bronze was the time of the Egyptian and Hittite Old Kingdoms. Everyone agrees that Late Bronze was the time of the Egyptian and Hittite Empires who battled over the ancient near east. The difference is whether the Late Bronze, with Egypt and Hatti fighting was before Israel entered Canaan (the generally accepted dating) or after Israel entered Canaan (the revised dating).

    When I say that the Exodus occurred at the end of the Egyptian Old Kingdom (at the end of the 6th Dynasty), that means that the Hittite Empire wasn't even a glimmer yet. The great Hittite kings Suppiluliumas and Mursilis lived during the divided monarchy of Israel and Judah. Their empire fell due to invasions of Cimmarians and Assyrians. The same Assyrians who destroyed Samaria.

    You wrote "The Hittites I’m talking about are exactly the same as the ones you described above. According to the book of Joshua, the Hittites were driven from their homeland by the Jews in approx. 1265 BCE (Standard dating has the collapse of the Hittite Empire at 1180 BCE, very close to the Bible date)."

    You can't use dates like that. The collapse of the Hittite Empire isn't dated by years. It's dated by periods. After that, those periods are dated by years. The collapse of the Hittite Empire occurred at the end of Late Bronze and the dawn of the Iron Age. If that happened in the mid-1100s, as per the standard chronology, it means that the Exodus never happened, because there's zero archaeological support for the Exodus anywhere in the Middle or Late Bronze Ages. It means that the great Empire of Shlomo never existed, because there's no trace of any such thing in Israel during the Late Bronze or Iron Age.

    If, on the other hand, the end of Late Bronze and the dawn of the Iron Age was at the time of the Assyrian invasions of Israel, as I've been arguing, it means that the Hittite Empire and the Egyptian Empire of Thutmose III and Ramses the Great existed during the time of Eliyahu and Elisha.

    The panicking Arameans didn't say, "OMGZ, the Jews have hired the kings of the Elamites and Babylonians to attack us!" No. They thought it was the kings of Egypt and the Hittites. There's a reason for that. It's because those were the foreign kings who were active in the region at the time.

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  22. Lisa,

    I realize that you must have put a lot of thought into your time-lines, and I'm sure is well thought out, but there still seem to be many unresolved problems with your RDs.

    Aside from the fact that time-lines do not do much to counter the many arguments against the Flood (i.e. arguments from geology, genetics, textual issues etc.) and the Tower story, and also the fact that your RD is clearly contradicted by the limited carbon-14 dating (and I know some opinions that dismiss carbon dating), the main point i want to make here is that the RD timelines only exacerbate existing (apparent) anachronisms in the Torah’s and N’kh narratives. Here are some, just off the top of my head.

    1. chariots. Arch. says they were introduced into Egypt around GAD 1550. They certainly didn’t exist at the end of the Old Kingdom (supported by the fact that they are missing and non extant in pictorials of battles and warriors and documentation of that era). OK, for chariots in the Torah as far as GAD goes, but Gad 1550, would according to the RD be ca 1000. (am I right?) which is very much after the exodus (ca 1312) and also after the traditional date for the writing of the Torah. An definite anachronism.
    2. The name, Pharaoh. Arch. says the term was first used for designating the monarchy by either Hatshepsut or Thutmose. GAD puts that around circa 1500-1450. now, RD would make that 975, (again, am I correct?) much after Moishe wrote the Torah. . Also an anachronism.
    3. The Pelishtim of Abraham’s era (consensus identifies them as the Philistines). Now, in Abraham’s time, who would they be? Arch. equates them with the Sea peoples and GAD has them arriving ca 1200. Already an apparent anachronism. The RD would worsen this to ca.800. And further, with whom was Saul and David contending along the coast, a nation also also called Pelishtim?
    4. Abraham’s encounter with Hittites. Who would they be? GAD has the Hittites existing ca 1800-1200. don’t know exactly when they began to move south into Canaan. But, in any case the RD would then map this date range to 1100-???. Certainly not in Abraham’s period. Also, who would the Hittites be that Moishe in the Torah refers to??
    5. In GAD 1479 Thutmoses III fought against the king of Kadesh and alliance of Canaanites kings in the Battle of Megiddo. RD would put this at ca. 975, by that time, if N’kh is accurate that the Israelites killed them off, there should not have been any Canaanite kings left.
    6. Battle of Kadesh. Probably the most documented war in the ANE. GAD has it at 1275. RD would then be ca. 825, right in middle of the Jewish monarchy. Very unlikely that Egypt would be able to move through Israelite territory without series opposition.
    7. In general, there is much correspondence between Egypt and its outpost, with very little reference to an Israelite monarchy threatening the garrisons.

    A bit weaker but still needs addressing

    8. Arch. claims Moab, Ammon, Edom didn’t become organized groups (with kingships) until (GAD) ca 800. Since there is not much evidence for this, nor overt negative evidence against the early existence so its not that strong, but the. RDs makes this point more difficult for traditional views on the histrocity .
    9. Iron age not beginning until GAD 1200 So already the word Barzel (generally translated as iron) in Chumash might be anachronistic. Your RD moves this to ca 800, making it even more problematic.

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  23. >>> The historical veracity of our mesora is supported by an endless number of things.

    Not really. I would say that he historical veracity of the existence of A mesora is supported by an endless number of things.”

    I think you once did a list of some of the reasons you believe the support is there. could you link me again to that list.

    You’ve convinced yourself that “our mesorah” is extremely accurate, reliable and therefore totally trustworthy and hence allows you to dismiss anything that’s not hard core scientifically proven. I’m not sure what exactly you consider to be part of this vaunted “mesorah”, but of what I’ve picked up, there are dozens of core elements either missing or in dispute or just plain not true and so this makes for not all that reliable a source of truth. (A discussion I’d gladly have)

    >>> Ho hum… We’ve been over this ground already, have we not?

    Yes, we started, but never concluded. The discussion seemed to have petered out. As you correctly pointed out that it was a “dating issue” and that is the key and you were so pleased when Lisa supplied alternate timelines which (if true) explained away some problems. You seemed then to have declared victory and gone home. As for her timelines, see my response just above. And, please take careful note as Lisa admits in her comment to your last comment (BTW TO Lisa: I commend you for your honest approach), if her timelines are not valid, then most of the Torah narratives (particular details of the narrative) have problems...

    >>> As far as the Hittites, your comment is incomprehensible. What do you think the book of Joshua is all about???

    Joshua attacks and defeats about 2 dozen cities. First off the text claims that they all had kings. (OK, Lisa says its just a term) But acc. to Arch., under Egyptian or Hittite or Assyrian suzerainty, many were governed or controlled by their occupiers. Yet, the book never mentions the Hittites or the Egyptians or the Assyrians for any city attacked.

    >>>> He battled the Hittites (among other nations) and kicked them out of Canaan!

    That’s just the point. Arch claims, (acc. To GAD) this never happened. The Egyptians and Hittites were there long after Joshua was gone. Lisa on the other hand, timelines it so that there should not have been any Hittites in the land at all.

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  24. Cont’d

    >>>> The 3 million that entered the land displaced the local population! The book of Joshua is all about the conquering of Canaan

    Irrelevant. Archaeologists don’t think there were more than 500,000 people in all of Canaan, as the most liberal estimate. So, displacement is meaningless. Besides it took years, and we know from other comments in Kings about Solomon enslaving the remnants of the natives that they never killed off all the enemy.

    >>> The same applies to your argument from Egyptian pottery.

    OK, I was lazy to spell it out. Of course, it’s not JUST pottery. It’s jewelry, its gold, silver, and copper vessels. It’s food utensils, baskets, water bottles, style of clothing and footwear. Methods of irrigation and other technologies that the locals never had.. The type of weaponry, war machines, wagons, saddles and other paraphernalia , the style and method of housing, the shape of tents, and dozens of other things that I can’t think of just now, but all part of living in any cultural environment. OK, so you are right, they threw away a few broken pots. The bottom line: the Egyptians lived substantially different than the Canaanites. There should be dramatic finds.

    >>>> Now, wasn’t that a simple answer? Doesn’t it make sense?

    No, absolutely not. I really don’t think you understand (or refuse to understand) the logistics of moving, feeding and clothing 3,000,000+ people and their livestock.

    You totally miss the point.

    First, what do you think was the population of the West Bank region of the Jordan that they captured, in and around Jericho at that time (i.e. before the invasion)? Saying 100,000 for that area is likely a quite generous estimate. How much produce did this region produce, by and for, such a population? Again lets be generous. Enough to feed twice or three times the population and maybe again some, to pay tributes or for some external trading. But to say it produced for 30 or 40 times its population is ludicrous. There probably wasn’t even enough arable land for such a population.

    So where did the food come from to feed B”Y for years to come.

    My wife tells me it takes 5 cups of flour to bake a mid-sized bread. Can you imagine how much wheat and other grasses the land had grow to feed 3,000,000+ and their animals for one year.

    Do the same with eating their meat. How much livestock is needed?. And consider that only a fraction of a herd in any year is ever allowed to be killed for food.

    I even have problems believing that slaves who spent their time doing all kinds of construction even knew how to farm, let alone their children who were in the desert for up to 40 years, where nobody farmed.

    On the other hand, if you are prepared to say that the census in the Torah is not to be taken literally, and the more likely scenario that only a few thousand come out of Egypt, I’ll retract this whole discussion.

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  25. cont'd (3rd page)

    Side question: How do you reconcile the census of about 600,000 when the B”Y left Egypt with the fact that the second census says they were still only about 600,000, 40 years later. What happened to all the children?

    >>>> On second thought, I just can’t let it pass without making one obvious comment. Archaeology actually confirms the sinking of the wall of Jericho into the ground just as depicted in Joshua! So there is evidence of the warring activity! How do you like that! A war that occurred over 3 thousand years ago and there is clear archaeological evidence of its existence.

    Ha Ha. Incredible cherry-picking and besides not thought through at all.

    So what, nobody ever said that everything in the Book is fiction. It’s likely a composite of many actual events mixed with exaggeration. I believe in that Yitzias Mitzrayim happened and that they arrived in Canaan, and maybe even won a few battles along the way.

    OK. Since you invoke Arch. Let’s see what it says about Jericho.

    The GAD (to use Lisa’s term) of the destruction of Jericho is given as either ca. 1550 based on stratigraphy work done by Kenyon, or 1400 based on pottery dating done by Woods, or ca 1575 based on carbon dating (I think by the British Museum). Also dated by our SO (seder olam) Joshua arrived at the Jordan ca 1275,. so the city was long gone by then, according GAD arch.

    And if you want to use Lisa's RDs for the stratigraphy dating and pottery dating (can’t change the Carbon dating), 1550 would map to about 1000 BCE (based on the table she gave me) and 1400 would map to about 960, neither being close to the SO dates for the destruction of Jericho. That is Arch using the RDs says that Joshua destroyed a city that had been gone per the Book of Joshua for about 300 or so years.

    So, Arch isn’t much support.

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  26. Cont’d pg 4 a few more comments.

    >>> The Hittites I’m talking about are exactly the same as the ones you described above. According to the book of Joshua, the Hittites were driven from their homeland by the Jews in approx. 1265 BCE

    Well maybe Joshua may have beaten up a few Hittites, but I doubt he defeated the entire Empire, and what’s more it seems from the text that the author really didn’t know the actual extant of the land of the Hittites, as seems from this quote:
    Joshua 12:8
    The lands included the hill country, the western foothills, the Arabah, the mountain slopes, the wilderness and the Negev. These were the lands of the Hittites, Amorites, Canaanites, Perizzites, Hivites and Jebusites.
    It seems he claims that B”Y took the lands of the Hittites, which is definitely not supported by any timeline in Arch. Again, something that argues that this was written much later by an author that had some tradition about B”Y beating up on the Hittites, but didn't have the correct history.

    >>>> in approx. 1265 BCE

    Again Don’t think so…see comment above to Lisa about the battle of Kadesh.

    Finally please note, I really am not trying to convince you of anything. As I constantly repeat to all, my goal is to show why the rest of world (outside of religion-biased scholars) believe what they do about T’N’KH.

    ReplyDelete
  27. Lisa,

    Wow... with all due respect, there's a lot of mistaken ideas in what you just posted. Let me run through them:

    Thank you for taking the time to set me straight. I had to read your missive several times and cross check the dating and events with biblical and secular sources but it all adds up.

    Based on everything you’ve explained, I think I can reconcile your paradigm with the various biblical references to the Hittites. Here’s how.

    When the Torah discusses the seven nations (amongst them the Hittites) who are “greater and mightier” than the Jews (Devarim 7:1), and when Hashem appears to Yehoshua and informs him that he will defeat the Hittites, a nation whose dominion stretches “From the desert and Levanon to the great river Euphrates – all the land of the Hittites – to the great sea westward” (Yehoshua 1:4), this refers to the Old Hittite Kingdom.

    On the other hand, the Hittites mentioned 400 years later in Melachim Aleph (end of chapter 10) described as exporting horses and chariots to Shlomo (or the Hittite empire you mentioned during Elisha’s time) are the New Hittites who crawled out of the ashes of destruction and eventually formed the “Mighty Hittite Empire”. This empire began to diminish at the battle of Kadesh and was eventually destroyed by the Assyrians a hundred years later around the time of Chizkiyahu haMelech.

    So, did I get it right this time? Don’t pull any punches. If I’m out to lunch, let me know. I’m looking for a coherent reconciliation of Archeological events (statigraphic) with the depictions in Tanach. If there are any weaknesses in my above presentation, I need you to tell me.

    Once again, thanks for your time.

    SC

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I believe that Lisa's Revised Dating has the Hittite empire hundreds of years after Joshua's conquest.

      Also, the posek you quote (Josh 1:4) kinda argues against you, because (at least my reading) seems to indicate that the writer was unaware of the full extent of that Empire, which according to Arch went deep into present day Turkey.

      Delete
  28. Lisa:
    I just re-read some of the dating material you provided. There is an overlap for the RDs in 3 categories Middle Brone IIA and IIB,C. and also with Late Bronze I. Was this intentional??
    Also, can you please confirm that your view is that the Exodus occurred ca 1475?

    Thanks.

    ReplyDelete
  29. Elemir,

    I think you once did a list of some of the reasons you believe the support is there. could you link me again to that list.

    Sorry but I don’t remember. I would however be willing to discuss some of my reasons. But I think I should probably write a post about it. It’s too important to get buried in a technical debate on Archaeology.

    You’ve convinced yourself that “our mesorah” is extremely accurate, reliable and therefore totally trustworthy and hence allows you to dismiss anything that’s not hard core scientifically proven. I’m not sure what exactly you consider to be part of this vaunted “mesorah”,

    So let me tell you. As far as the history of our people, our Mesora consists in three primary sources. 1) Tanach. 2) Seder Olam. 3) Talmud Bavli. All three works were written by Jews about Jews and universally acknowledged by subsequent Jewish scholars (Gaonim, Rishonim) as the authoritative version of Jewish history. The historical events depicted in these sources constitutes the traditional (i.e. mesora) portrayal of Jewish history as recorded by the nation itself and passed down from generation to generation.

    >>> As far as the Hittites, your comment is incomprehensible. What do you think the book of Joshua is all about???

    Joshua attacks and defeats about 2 dozen cities. First off the text claims that they all had kings. (OK, Lisa says its just a term) But acc. to Arch., under Egyptian or Hittite or Assyrian suzerainty, many were governed or controlled by their occupiers. Yet, the book never mentions the Hittites or the Egyptians or the Assyrians for any city attacked.


    Actually, the book does mention that the Hittites were conquered by the Jews (e.g. 24:11) so technically speaking you are wrong. Nonetheless, I retract my original statement. Based on Lisa’s presentation, I am now convinced that the Hittites mentioned in the Torah and in the book of Yehoshua are the Old Hittite Kingdom, not the Hittite Empire you and I are discussing. See my latest response to Lisa.

    >>>> He battled the Hittites (among other nations) and kicked them out of Canaan!

    That’s just the point. Arch claims, (acc. To GAD) this never happened. The Egyptians and Hittites were there long after Joshua was gone. Lisa on the other hand, timelines it so that there should not have been any Hittites in the land at all.


    The way I understand it, Lisa is referring to the Hittite Empire which flourished after the Middle Kingdom. The Hittites have a history you know. Before the Hittite Empire came the Middle Hittite Kingdom and before that the Old Hittite Kingdom. As I mentioned in my previous comment, the Hittites mentioned in the Torah refers to an earlier Hittite Kingdom, not the one mentioned during Shlomo’s time.

    Cont’d

    ReplyDelete
  30. OK, I was lazy to spell it out. Of course, it’s not JUST pottery. It’s jewelry, its gold, silver, and copper vessels. It’s food utensils, baskets, water bottles, style of clothing and footwear. Methods of irrigation and other technologies that the locals never had.. The type of weaponry, war machines, wagons, saddles and other paraphernalia , the style and method of housing, the shape of tents, and dozens of other things that I can’t think of just now, but all part of living in any cultural environment. OK, so you are right, they threw away a few broken pots. The bottom line: the Egyptians lived substantially different than the Canaanites. There should be dramatic finds.

    Don’t see why. As our sages say, the Jews in Egypt kept apart. They dressed differently than the Egyptians. And it was this mode of dress that they maintained thorough out the 40 years in the wilderness. According to our traditions (based on a pasuk in Chumash), the Jews did not have to change their clothing for forty years. Their clothing miraculously did not wear out. As far as the housing and the like, they took over the existing homes as the Torah states. They didn’t live in tents. And any new homes they built were probably in the style of the existing homes there. The paraphernalia they brought in was from the Transjordan nations they had conquered in the past year, not some sundry items they may have schlepped around for forty years in the wilderness.

    Cont’d

    ReplyDelete
  31. >>>> Now, wasn’t that a simple answer? Doesn’t it make sense?

    No, absolutely not. I really don’t think you understand (or refuse to understand) the logistics of moving, feeding and clothing 3,000,000+ people and their livestock.

    You totally miss the point.

    First, what do you think was the population of the West Bank region of the Jordan that they captured, in and around Jericho at that time (i.e. before the invasion)? Saying 100,000 for that area is likely a quite generous estimate. How much produce did this region produce, by and for, such a population? Again lets be generous. Enough to feed twice or three times the population and maybe again some, to pay tributes or for some external trading. But to say it produced for 30 or 40 times its population is ludicrous. There probably wasn’t even enough arable land for such a population.

    So where did the food come from to feed B”Y for years to come.


    You need to use your imagination. First of all, they were in the Transjordan for almost a year before they began the conquest of Canaan. There was plenty of time for them to fortify themselves for the upcoming campaign. Jericho was just the first stop. They didn’t need food for 3 million people just from Jericho proper. The campaign continued and as they conquered, they settled the land (temporarily) and accessed the storehouses of food and all the rest of the goods of the conquered nations as the Torah states. Besides, the woman and children didn’t go into battle. In fact the woman and children of a full two and a half tribes didn’t even cross over the Jordan; they remained in the Transjordan for 14 years while the land was conquered and divided up. Even today Eretz Yisrael is famous for its fertility. There are 10 million people living there (Biblical boundaries) and the land is easily capable of supporting the population. From an agricultural standpoint, Israel is primarily an exporter, not an importer. This is as of today. But we know from the Torah and from descriptions in the Talmud that the land was far more fertile back then. Also, Transjordan was a very fertile land. Today there are 6 million people living there and Jordan exports plenty of fruits and vegetables. Also, don’t forget that every city had emergency storehouses of wheat and as the campaign continued across the land the Jews accessed these storehouses. This in addition to the wheat that they harvested in the Transjordan in the preceding year and the emergency storehouses they accessed there. Don’t forget; they didn’t eat any of the wheat in the Transjordan. The Manna continued to fall for 11 months and lasted in their vessels until they breached the land of Canaan. So they began the campaign with an enormous stockpile of food.

    As I mentioned, all this is simple to figure out for someone who reads the Torah in an unbiased manner. But for someone who is looking to question, no answer will suffice.

    Cont’d

    ReplyDelete
  32. Side question: How do you reconcile the census of about 600,000 when the B”Y left Egypt with the fact that the second census says they were still only about 600,000, 40 years later. What happened to all the children?

    I have no idea what you’re talking about. The people from the first census all died out in the wilderness during the forty years as the Torah tells us. The second census was the children.

    Ha Ha. Incredible cherry-picking

    You made an assertion. You claimed there is no evidence of warring activity. I countered your assertion with arch. evidence thereby refuting your claim. Your response is… what…? Cherry picking? Not a very convincing response.

    Also, the posek you quote (Josh 1:4) kinda argues against you, because (at least my reading) seems to indicate that the writer was unaware of the full extent of that Empire, which according to Arch went deep into present day Turkey.

    The writer was describing the local colonization of the Hittites, not their entire empire.

    ReplyDelete
  33. Lisa, what is the purpose of change of GAD, to RD?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Pardon, my intrusion, but I think Lisa’s motivation is:

      If one believes in the total destruction of humankind ca 2100 as per the Torah and the dating of Seder Olam, and then the Tower story ca 1750. BUT, at the same time is cognizant of the massive Arch. of Egypt, Assyria, etc. then to accommodate civilization’s re-start ca 1750, that pushes everything forward.

      But not without its own problems.

      Delete
  34. ...the Exodus occurred ca 1475?

    Elemir, I would say ca 150 years earlier.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. This comment has been removed by the author.

      Delete
    2. >>>> ..the Exodus occurred ca 1475?

      Yes, that's the GAD of the Exodus by most biblical scholars. They date Solomon's reign ca 1000-960 and the construction of the Temple ca 995. and using the statement in I Kings 6:1 that the Temple was completed 480 years after the Exodus, they then date the Exodus at ca 1475.

      >>> I would say ca 150 years earlier.

      do you mean ca 1625 or ca 1325??

      Nobody (to my knowledge), dates the Exodus 1625.

      and Nobody, except our mesora, dates the exodus ca 1325.

      Delete
    3. I misunderstood you, it seems. Your numbers are negative, for some reason.

      Delete
    4. All dates are BCE so when you said 150 years earlier. did you mean 1475, going back another 150 years, i.e. 1625, or did you mean 1475 less 150 i.e. 1325 BCE.

      Delete
    5. I meant neither. If you can't figure it out, forget it.

      Delete
  35. >>>> I have no idea what you’re talking about. The people from the first census all died out in the wilderness during the forty years as the Torah tells us. The second census was the children.

    OK, let me re-ask the question.

    First, how many male children did B”Y have when they left Egypt??

    Based on the fecundity that took 65 males to 600,000 (or 3,000,000 according. to the medresh) in 200 or so years (about 7-8 generations), you must conclude the B”Y were having at least 4, 5, 6 or maybe more male children each generation.

    So the 600,000 must have had, say, at least 2,000,000 or more male children aged under 20 when they left Egypt. Now the under 20 were not punished to die out in the desert, except by otherwise natural causes. Even if those that did die must have had children. So, add to that all the children born in the next 40 years, reasonable, there must have been upwards of 3 million children? Deduct from these children that were not to be counted (i.e. under 20) in the second census, or died of natural causes at a youngish age, still left well over 1,000,000, maybe even over 2,000,000.

    What happened to them, if the second census says that the over 20 males amounted to only 600,000.

    will respond to other points later...


    ReplyDelete
  36. OK, forget amount the population size of the B”Y entering the land. Its not that important. I should not have mentioned it. It is a distraction to the main point.

    So, let me summarize.

    I stated that Arch. demonstrates that the Book of Joshua must have been written by an author, later in time, who didn’t quite know the details of the history of the region.

    Why do I say this?

    Because,

    Using, the assumption that Seder Olam has the activity of the Book taking place ca 1275, i.e. the author is reporting events around 1275 BCE.

    Yet, Arch. claims

    1) that the Hittites, Egyptians, and Assyrians controlled, occupied, and fought over Canaanite ca. GAD 1500-1100. And the Book makes no mention of all this massive activity. OK maybe the mention of the Hittites in a couple of places does refer to their occupying the north of the country, and does reflect their power as an empire, but what about the Egyptians and Assyrians? One has to read up on the extensive material uncovered, its extremely compelling.

    2) Jericho. Arch claims that ca 1275 Jericho had long been destroyed. So the author has a tradition of the destruction of Jericho and attributes it to Joshua.

    3) Arch claims that in this time frame (i.e 1500-1100) there is no evidence of a massive influx of peoples into eastern Canaan. ( admittedly, for this point, you can invoke “absence of evidence etc.”, but a heck of a lot of digging has found nothing much to date)

    4) And to use Lisa’s money quote:

    “If that happened in the mid-1100s, as per the standard chronology, it means that the Exodus never happened, because there's zero archaeological support for the Exodus anywhere in the Middle or Late Bronze Ages. It means that the great Empire of Shlomo never existed, because there's no trace of any such thing in Israel during the Late Bronze or Iron Age.”

    Although, again, you might evoke “absence of evidence etc.” to explain away her quote.


    5) On the other hand, And if you accept Lisa’s RD instead of the GADs, as she suggests, then the problem is that the Hittites were nothing to talk about ca 1275, so why arethey even mentioned in the Book. Also, I’m not sure how she explains the Hittites in the Torah. And, with her dating and according to Arch’s find., Jericho gets destroyed hundreds of years later than 1275.

    So, the bottom line:

    There is no way to reconcile the 1275 date with Arch, i.e Arch. implies that the Book of Joshua MUST have been written much later as this conclusion is the only reasonable way to account for the Book’s misinformation on history.


    ReplyDelete
  37. Moshe Rafael,

    ...the Exodus occurred ca 1475?

    Elemir, I would say ca 150 years earlier.


    You mean 150 years later. Elemir means 1475 BCE. According to the unanimous Jewish tradition, the exodus occurred in 1310 BCE, 165 years later (in time) than the date mentioned by Elemir.

    ReplyDelete
  38. Elemir,

    Yes, that's the GAD of the Exodus by most biblical scholars… and Nobody, except our mesora, dates the exodus ca 1325.

    This is highly misleading. Our mesora is the only authoritative version of Jewish history. It is based on an internal and unbroken tradition (Biblical+Rabbinic) which has been scrupulously preserved by the nation. Secular historians can only speculate based on a patchwork of external traditions and/or documentation. The fact is, even secular history matches our reckoning date for date until approximately 371 BCE. Our mesora puts this date as the year Cyrus conquered Babylon and established the Persian Empire whereas secular history pushes this date back 167 years to 538 BCE. The reason for this discrepancy is beyond the scope of this short comment (actually, I discussed it at length in our original Arch. debate, I think…) but suffice to say that Jewish scholars (e.g. Saadya Gaon, Abarbanel) have taken note of this discrepancy and have provided possible resolutions. But one thing is clear; the scriptures make it abundantly clear that our reckoning is correct, not the secular one. Any “biblical scholar” who denies this is not much of a scholar.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. >>>> Our mesora is the only authoritative version of Jewish history.

      What to you mean by “authoritative”? And since when does authoritative = error-free?

      >>>> It is based on an internal and unbroken tradition (Biblical+Rabbinic)

      OK, the existence of some kind of chain going back thousands of years seems reasonable and is not in dispute. I do agree that we Jews are unique people in this sense. But, the major issue is the CONTENTS of this chain, especially for events prior to about 300 BCE. Furthermore, while we are in possession of documents going back at least 2500 years and more, the interpretation of these texts is the problem. We have no written interpretation of narratives prior to about the era of Chazal and rely almost totally on their view. In effect creating a substantive break in the chain at that point. Don’t you see this? When a document says Event X happened, and Chazal say it really means Y, then the document has been turned from a written reflection of history to a belief in the correctness of the Interpretation or the Oral Tradition.

      As far as I’m concerned the key is the credibility of the spreaders of the contents, especially the credibility of firs, Chazal and then to cionsider contemporary transmitters. While you may have complete faith in Chazal being error-free in their pronouncements, I just don’t and for several reasons.

      1) First, the fact that there are hundreds of outrageous medroshim promulgated by the very same Sages that you believe transmitted a scrupulous history. Are these narratives supposed to reflect reality? And if not, who is to say which ones are fanciful and which are supposed to be true. The very existence of these books impugns the credibility of Chazal and puts their view of our history in doubt.

      2) The Gemorrah itself, on nearly every page, indirectly declares that the Sages were not perfect in their knowledge of history, specifically in the details of the many historical events, in that there are so many disputes recorded in the Talmud. And since, generally speaking, for any particular dispute it is a fact that only one view can be the right one, so then at least one must be wrong. Chazal were NOT error free.

      3) The contemporary transmitters, who are the people who taught us to have absolute faith in an error free history are themselves NOT totally credible. They claim that Chazal were infallible, that the mesorah never changes (as you do), claims that are simply not true. (More precise details at another time.)

      >>>> which has been scrupulously preserved by the nation.

      Huh? Scrupulously? This is so not true. This is simply a statement on your part through blind faith. I could get into it with you and provide dozens of reasons why i believe this to be a wild exaggeration.


      Delete
    2. cont'd

      >>>> Secular historians can only speculate based on a patchwork of external traditions and/or documentation.

      Is this your code word for dismissing Archaeology ?

      I grant that much of Arh.is based on very little material and very much speculation. But sometimes it's not, and if one makes an effort to separate the wheat from the chaff, a lot of very persuasive “facts” emerge. A good example of this is the destruction of Jericho. Another, the presence of the Egyptians in Canaan. Another would be the dating of the destruction of the first Temple.

      >>> (actually, I discussed it at length in our original Arch. debate, I think…)

      Could you provide a link???

      >>> but suffice to say that Jewish scholars (e.g. Saadya Gaon, Abarbanel) have taken note of this discrepancy and have provided possible resolutions.

      You’d think that the scrupulous mesorah would know the reason.

      >>> But one thing is clear; the scriptures make it abundantly clear that our reckoning is correct, not the secular one.

      What scriptures?? Do you mean Chazal?

      >>> Any “biblical scholar” who denies this is not much of a scholar.

      I guess this is your code words that say, all the biblical scholars (outside of your camp) are just plain ignorant.

      Delete
  39. Elemir,

    OK, let me re-ask the question.

    First, how many male children did B”Y have when they left Egypt??

    Based on the fecundity that took 65 males to 600,000 (or 3,000,000 according. to the medresh) in 200 or so years (about 7-8 generations), you must conclude the B”Y were having at least 4, 5, 6 or maybe more male children each generation.

    So the 600,000 must have had, say, at least 2,000,000 or more male children aged under 20 when they left Egypt.


    Elemir, if you are going to ignore Torah She B’al Peh as a resource, I’m afraid you will never understand certain parts of the Torah.

    According to our sages, woman in Egypt gave birth to sextuplets etc. This means that of the 600k that left Egypt, most were probably brothers and sisters to each other. The older ones where probably the grandfathers of the middle ones who were the fathers of the younger ones etc. 80% of the Jews perished in Egypt. Only the families that remained loyal and eschewed idol worship merited the exodus. It was families that left Egypt, not 600k unrelated individuals.

    I don’t know how many male children under 20 left Egypt but, if the males between 20-60 were 600k, a reasonable extrapolation would be 300k for the male children under 20, not your wild claim of 2m.

    As far as the fact that the nation experienced zero population growth over 40 years, this too is easily explainable. They were wandering for 40 years in a wilderness. As Rashi explains at the beginning of parshas lech licha, travel diminishes pirya v’rivya for obvious reasons. In fact, it is a miracle that the nation did not become smaller during this course of time.

    Also, don’t forget; the wondrous fertility of the Jewish women ceased as soon as the Egyptian servitude stopped. They were blessed with fertility by Hashem specifically to counteract Pharaoh’s decree against the Jews. Now that they were no longer enslaved, they reverted to normal modes of fertility.

    You know Elemir, if you go back to your roots (Chumash with mefarshim and Gemara with commentaries), I think you would be a much happier man.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. >>> They were wandering for 40 years in a wilderness.

      No they were not. According to the medrash, they spent about 20 years at one place.

      But let’s allow for the drop in procreativity and that each adult male, who became adult after the Exodus, in the desert only produced 1 male child. That being said, however, the adults were still producing at the prolific rate before the Exodus.

      >>>> I don’t know how many male children under 20 left Egypt but, if the males between 20-60 were 600k, a reasonable extrapolation would be 300k for the male children under 20, not your wild claim of 2m.

      Well you don’t know. I don’t know either, but let use our heads a little and make a very conservative estimate.

      Earlier you agreed that to go from 65 males to 600,000 males (or as the medrash claims 3,000,000), it must have been that each generation was very prolific, i.e. they must have produced on average many, many children per generation. For simplicity lets use 5. So, if the 600,000 leaving Egypt represented 3 generations of males between 20-80, then the 600,000 can be broken down as: (and using a 5 multiplier for each generation) there would have been about

      20,000 between 60-80,
      100,000 between 40-60, (i.e 5 X 20K) and
      about 500,000 between 20-40 (i.e. 5 X 100K) totally about 600,000.

      Now before the Exodus the youngest of the 3 group, i.e. the 20-40s were already producing children. And if had not been for the Exodus, these 500,000 would have produced, using the 5 multiplier, 2,500,000 male children, so lets be conservative and say that only half of these 500,000 had their pre-Exodus allotment and as you suggested, the rest dropped to only 1 male per person because of the traveling. That still results in about 1,250,000 males during the first 20 years before the Exodus and then another 250,000 males in the next 20 years less any natural deaths for these new adults, resulting in about 1,400,000 ….and then these 1,400,000 should have produced another say at least 600,000, so taken all together, there should have been well over 2,000,000 adult males by the second census. And that’s being conservative.




      Delete
  40. Hi R. Coffer,

    I hope you're doing well. I just discovered your site and it's great! Hope you and your family are well - we need to come down south for a visit one of these days!

    I was just wondering if you can explain how some letters of the Sefer Torah could be lost/changed over time. Ie. if I am a sofer, I am copying from one Sefer Torah to the next very carefully, letter for letter, and if an error was discovered during krias haTorah it would be noticed and would need correction.

    Your insights are appreciated,

    Take care,
    Joseph K.

    ReplyDelete
  41. Elemir,

    I love your comment! You are taking the Torah seriously and trying to understand the scenario by presenting hard mathematical numbers. This is the type of interaction which makes everything worth it. OK. Let’s treat your comment.

    >>> They were wandering for 40 years in a wilderness.

    No they were not. According to the medrash, they spent about 20 years at one place.


    Valid point.

    >>>> I don’t know how many male children under 20 left Egypt but, if the males between 20-60 were 600k, a reasonable extrapolation would be 300k for the male children under 20, not your wild claim of 2m.

    Well you don’t know. I don’t know either, but let use our heads a little and make a very conservative estimate.


    Agreed

    Earlier you agreed that to go from 65 males to 600,000 males (or as the medrash claims 3,000,000), it must have been that each generation was very prolific, i.e. they must have produced on average many, many children per generation. For simplicity lets use 5. So, if the 600,000 leaving Egypt represented 3 generations of males between 20-80, then the 600,000 can be broken down as: (and using a 5 multiplier for each generation) there would have been about

    20,000 between 60-80,
    100,000 between 40-60, (i.e 5 X 20K) and
    about 500,000 between 20-40 (i.e. 5 X 100K) totally about 600,000.


    This doesn’t work. I’ll tell you why but you have to “halt kop” (as they say in Chinese).

    I will begin with a kasha of my own that I had for many years. The Torah says that there were 600k men from 20-60. So, even without rates of increased procreativity, a reasonable extrapolation is that there are 300k males from 1 to 20 and several tens of thousands, perhaps hundreds of thousands above 60. So, all told we have, let’s say, 1 million males. It is further reasonable to assume that the males comprised approx. 50% of the nation so there were approximately 1 million females with a sum total of approx. 2 million Jews standing at har Sinai (the standard sum used in most approximations).

    Now, the Torah (Bamidbar 3:43) states that there were 23,370 first-born males (counting from one month and up). Let’s assume, based on a reasonable ratio of 50/50, that from the 1 million males, approximately half were born after a girl (i.e. sometimes girls are born first, sometimes boys). So we’re left with 500k males that are candidates for bechora (being the first born). Why aren’t all those 500k first born (since they were born before their sisters)? The obvious answer is that some of them were brothers. If we go with Chazal, women gave birth to 6 at a time. Assuming half were female and half were male, three of the males were brothers leaving only one first born out of every three males. Unfortunately, this doesn’t answer the question. If there are 500k available male candidates and we narrow it down to 1 out of 3, there should have been approx. 166k first born males from the 1m males. How is it that there were only 23k first born males from the entire 1m???

    Continued…

    ReplyDelete
  42. Continued from previous

    This question drove me nuts for many years until finally last year I asked the Rav of my shul and he provided the most simple answer imaginable. Chazal say that women gave birth six at a time but they don’t talk about how many times they gave birth! Assuming elevated rates of procreativity, each woman probably gave birth a dozen times over a period of 20-30 years! After all, even today this happens frequently amongst Chareidim.

    Now, let’s eliminate males above 60. We don’t know how many came. Perhaps very few older people came out. So let’s deal with what we know. We know that there was 600k from 20-60. So the outer marker is 60 years old. Let’s assume that all males between 20 and 60 had wives and procreated successfully (thanks to Hashem’s bracha!). Let’s also assume that all males got married at twenty years old. Let’s also assume that the average duration of procreativity per female was 25 years (In line with today’s averages. A girl who get’s married at 18 and remains active can easily conceive until she’s 42, especially if there are special circumstances, i.e. Hashem’s bracha). So, If we want to reach a sum of 23k first-born males from 1 month old to 60 years old (you can always change the calculation a bit to account for males older than 60), here’s how the scenario would go.

    The 60 year olds were very few. Each had 36 male children (based on twelve births) but at least twenty years passed before all of them began to procreate. So too for the next generation. And that’s it! The following generation wasn’t old enough to procreate. It’s impossible to calculate the actual birth rate (some children got married after 20, some perhaps didn’t get married, some perhaps didn’t have children etc.) but the point is that many (if not most or all) of the ones less than twenty were no doubt brothers to the ones over twenty.

    If the above paradigm is adopted, a 2-4 % male first-born rate now becomes plausible. All of the males were related to each other. If you have 23k first-born males in total, this proves that the entire nation was basically split into a very small number of specific families whose progeny was represented in the multitude of exiles leaving Egypt.

    Once you say this, your mathematical cheshbon falls apart. You question is based on the presumption that the 600k males are a product of 20k unrelated males from 60-80 that multiplied over 2 generations based on a multiplier of five to produce 600k but this is impossible. According to this, there should have been hundreds of thousands of first-born males from 1 month on.

    Don’t know if any of this makes sense. I’m sure you’ll let me know.

    Note: I am currently indisposed so my responses will be sporadic at best.

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    1. I don’t get it ..

      Let me review. I asked you, given that the B’Y in Egypt must have been very procreative, to go from 60 to 600K, means that the number of children they must have had leaving Egypt was a multiple of themselves. So how could there have been only an equivalent number (600K) of adults 40 years later.

      You then say give me a calculation.

      So I invent a number by choosing a multiple of 5 as a conservative figure that would easily take 60 to 600K in 6 or 7 generations.

      Now here’s where I lose you. You just responded… no, no, you say, it can’t be 5, why, because of the first born ratio 600K:22K problem causing you to suggest that to explain the ratio that for one generation the multiple is much larger, so say its 15 and if its so huge I must conclude that you hold that for all other generations they only produced males on a replacement basis i.e. each adult, on average, had only 1 adult male offspring. Isn’t this scenario a bit farfetched.

      BTW, if you are going to believe unnatural or farfetched events, why don’t you solve the firstborn ratio problem by simply concluding that 90% of firstborns were always females. After all, God can do anything. Or that during “choshech” among the supposed millions that died were the missing 100K+ firstborns. When you accept unreasonable events anything goes.

      Another small point…

      >>>> The Torah says that there were 600k men from 20-60.

      where does the Torah say that the count (of males) was limited to the under 60 years olds.




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    2. We had to do a mass circumcision after we went into Canaan, at a place called Gilgal. The reason was that we didn't circumcise our sons in the desert because of the climate. It wasn't healthy in the desert. So perhaps the death rate in the desert was on the high side.

      Asking why the population changed this way or that when we only have a description of maybe two years out of the whole 40 is kind of silly. Anything could have happened. There could have been wars. There could have been sickness.

      The Torah isn't a history book as we think of history books. It only tells us the things we need to know, and it deliberately omits things that any historian would consider significant, if those things would teach the wrong lesson.

      Case in point: King Ahab of Israel participated in a major battle against the king of Assyria. He was at the forefront of an alliance of Phoenician and Aramean kingdoms. We have a record of King Shalmaneser III of Assyria defeating them at the Battle of Karkar. The book of Kings doesn't mention this at all.

      Elemir, I've seen you doing this throughout the biblical period. You object to the fact that neither Kings nor Chronicles mention the Egyptian dominance of the region, but why would they necessarily do so? You're taking what you consider significant, from the point of view of a person in the year 2013 who has some interest in history, and assuming that the authors of Kings and Chronicles share your view of their significance. That's fallacious. Surely you see that.

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    3. >>>> Asking why the population changed this way or that when we only have a description of maybe two years out of the whole 40 is kind of silly. Anything could have happened. There could have been wars. There could have been sickness

      Yes, something must have happened. but, and this is the key, it was far from normal, because it killed off hundreds of thousands of children. Despite Reb Simcha’s dismissal earlier, if the pro-creativity of B”Y was so great in Egypt, there must have been at least 1 million children at the Exodus, and yet the second census says that most weren’t around anymore. This directly contradicts the text that says God promised that only the adults would be punished for the national sin of the spy incident.

      So, silly, maybe. By silly (to paraphrase an expression), is in the eyes of the beholder.

      Because, if one reads the text a bit more openly, the implication of this question is not “silly”, it is quite instructive.

      >>> It only tells us the things we need to know, and it deliberately omits things that any historian would consider significant, if those things would teach the wrong lesson.

      Need to know, OK what lesson do you suggest the text is teaching us by reporting this census in such detail? Besides couldn’t God just simply have told Moishe the count or better still, didn’t Moishe take a census every year with the half-shekel, so why the special command? And why the redundant form of reporting each tribe’s count?

      >>> Elemir, I've seen you doing this throughout the biblical period. You object to the fact that neither Kings nor Chronicles mention the Egyptian dominance of the region, but why would they necessarily do so? You're taking what you consider significant, from the point of view of a person in the year 2013 who has some interest in history,

      Let me ask you. If you read a report on the events leading up to the formation of the state of Israel, and that report never mentions a word about the British, knowing what you know about the true history, would you consider that report a bit suspect. Well the same goes for the Book of Josh. According to my reading of Arch., some of the towns attacked and destroyed by Joshua, were under Egyptian suzerainty.

      Re: the Hittites, you said

      >>>> They were Canaanites who moved to Anatolia.

      certainly possible, but what about their language?? Arch says it wasn’t similar to Canaanite

      quote from wikipedia

      “The present work undertakes to establish the nature and structure of the hitherto mysterious language of the Hittites, and to decipher this language [...] It will be shown that Hittite is in the main an Indo-European language.”

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    4. "Yes, something must have happened. but, and this is the key, it was far from normal, because it killed off hundreds of thousands of children."

      Maybe, but, and this is key, we don't know. We don't know much about what happened during those years. We really don't. Maybe we'd be likely to draw false conclusions if we had a full description of events, like the way Pat Robertson blamed Katrina on homosexuality.

      "This directly contradicts the text that says God promised that only the adults would be punished for the national sin of the spy incident."

      Case in point. It was a dangerous environment. Lots of people died. If we had a description of that, someone might have said, "Hey, that sounds like they were being punished", when it was no punishment at all. Things happen in the real world. Not all of them are rewards or punishments.

      "OK what lesson do you suggest the text is teaching us by reporting this census in such detail?"

      Next time I'm chatting with God, I'll try and remember to ask. I mean, I have like a trillion more important things that I'd like to ask Him, but I'll try and get that one in. Are you seriously implying that if I don't have an answer for what exactly we're supposed to learn from it, that something is wrong with this picture?

      "If you read a report on the events leading up to the formation of the state of Israel, and that report never mentions a word about the British, knowing what you know about the true history, would you consider that report a bit suspect."

      That's what I keep trying to tell you. The Bible isn't a "report". If you treat it as one, you're going to draw wrong conclusions. If I read a medical textbook thinking that it's a novel, I'm going to find the story incomprehensible and terribly boring.

      "Re: the Hittites, you said

      >>>> They were Canaanites who moved to Anatolia.

      certainly possible, but what about their language?? Arch says it wasn’t similar to Canaanite"

      Incorrect. See, what archaeologists call "Canaanite" is the language used, written, spoken, in the Late Bronze Age in Israel. Because they think the Israelites didn't arrive until the Iron Age, they're stuck with a bizarre situation of Canaanites who spoke and wrote Biblical Hebrew. Used Biblical measurements and used Biblical imagery in their Bible-like poetry.

      The actual Canaanites lived in the Early Bronze, and didn't leave us any written material whatsoever. So no one knows what their language was. Maybe it was "in the main an Indo-European language."

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  43. Lisa,

    hi, are you going to find time to answer at least some of problems i pointed out with your suggested time frame??

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    1. 1) Chariots. You say "Arch. says they were introduced into Egypt around GAD 1550." I disagree. Archaeology says that they came into widespread use around GAD 1550.

      GAD 1550, when used in relation to Egypt, means the beginning of the 18th Dynasty, which by RD is around the time of King Saul. But I don't see an anachronism here. Iron didn't come into regular use in Egypt until late in the Iron Age, but there were some iron artifacts there as early as the Bronze Age. Beware drawing too many conclusions from too little evidence. It's tempting, because of the relative dearth of actual evidence, to think of it as comprehensive. It isn't.

      2) The name Pharaoh. Our tradition says that the second king of Egypt was called Pharaoh, and that we called subsequent kings that after him.

      Back in the 60s, when I was little, "cop" was a derogatory term for a police officer. Over the years, it became so common that even cops call themselves cops, and no one thinks of it as a slur.

      In the RD, the `Amu who were expelled from the Eastern Delta by Thutmose III were Israelites. Solomon's kingdom extended to Goshen, which was in the Eastern Delta. It's not surprising that it was right around that time that the Israelite name for an Egyptian king came into use by the Egyptians. I'd go even further and suggest that the Egyptian etymology for the name -- pr-aa, or Great House -- is at most a folk etymology. That's if there's any evidence of the Egyptians themselves understanding the word that way. It may simply be the best guess that Egyptologists were able to come up with.

      (cont'd)

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    2. (cont'd from part 1)

      3) Philistines. I refer you to this link, which is a translation of a section of Yehoshua Etzion's book התנ"ך האבוד (The Lost Bible).

      This happens, sometimes. There's a nationality that exists in historical documents, and there's a nationality that's found around the same time around the same place in archaeological finds. It's logical to match them. I totally agree with that. The problem is, if the dating is such that the time of the written evidence and the time of the physical evidence don't match, you still have matches. They're just mistaken.

      Another example is the great Hyksos Empire. The only written historical evidence we have of a people called Hyksos comes from Josephus, possibly relying on Manetho. They are described as nomadic shepherds who went into Egypt and ruled for a while from Memphis, in Upper (southern) Egypt. They were expelled, he tells us, by the 18th Dynasty kings. Well... it turns out that there's evidence of a huge empire at the end of the Middle Bronze, just before the 18th Dynasty. It ran from the Nile to the Euphrates, and there's evidence of mercantile relationships with it as far away as the British Isles. So historians put two and two together and concluded that Josephus's Hyksos were the people who were responsible for this empire.

      Never mind the fact that Josephus depicts them as reigning from Memphis, south of the southernmost part of the MBIIB,C empire. Never mind that Josephus doesn't paint them as exercising any power outside of Egypt at all. If you're looking for foreigners on Egyptian soil just before the 18th Dynasty, that must be them.

      Unless, of course, the GAD is wrong, and the RD is right. In which case, that empire was Solomon's.

      The same thing with the Philistines. There were tribes from around Greece who marauded up and down the Mediterranean coast around the beginning of the Iron Age. Some of them settled on the coastal plain, which is where the Bible describes Philistines as living. So put two and two together, and they must be the same people.

      Except.

      Even according to the GAD, this leaves Abraham's Philistines as an anachronism. But curiously, it was around the beginning of the Iron Age according to the RD that Philistines began campaigning into the Negev. Hezekiah fought with them. I would submit that the population pressure of all those Greek settlers was responsible for the resurgance of Philistine aggression at the time.

      4) Hittites. The Hittites, in my view, were one of a number of Canaanite peoples who lived in Canaan. The Hittites themselves showed up in Anatolia around the beginning of the Middle Bronze Age, and joined with other nations to create a conglomerate that we call the Hittite Empire. They did not call themselves this, though they did call their geographical location Hatti. Some people think they came from the Ukraine, and others think they came from the Balkans. According to the RD, they were from Canaan, and the reason they showed up in Anatolia when they did was that they'd been booted out of Canaan by Joshua and the invading Israelites.

      In other words, it isn't that they moved from Anatolia into Canaan. It's the other way around. They were Canaanites who moved to Anatolia.

      (cont'd)

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    3. (cont'd from part 2)

      5,6) The Battle of Kadesh. What Canaanite kings did Thutmose III fight against, and what makes you call them Canaanite, other than the GAD?

      In the RD, the Battle of Kadesh was Shishak's campaign, 5 years after the death of Solomon. Thutmose III's golden Horus name was Djesherkau, so maybe that's what Shishak was a transliteration of. Or maybe it was some kind of a nickname.

      7) No comprendo

      8) Begs the question of what are considered kings.

      9) Iron. Oh, come on. Iron was in widespread use in Anatolia during the Bronze Age. And it didn't get popular in Egypt until late in the Iron Age.

      You do realize that Bronze and Iron Ages aren't called that because of metal usage, right? The division into Stone, Bronze, and Iron Ages is old. Hesiod divided the history of the world into Gold, Silver, Bronze, Heroic and Iron Ages. Lucretius refined this to Stone/Wood, Copper/Bronze, and Iron 2000 years ago. There's a whole Wikipedia article on the "three-age system".

      The dating of the dawn of the Iron Age to around 1200 BCE is, ironically, due to a misreading of the Bible. Specifically I Samuel 13:19. But since "smith" in that verse doesn't necessarily mean a blacksmith (iron smith), that's insubstantial.

      Still, the names were put into use before any actual archaeology was done, and now they remain, as more or less fossils. The ages today refer to styles of pottery and other material culture.

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