- Religion and Philosophy
Rediscovering the Exodus 8
Every hub I’ve written on the Exodus has been leading towards these next few that I’m writing. This article is designed to shock the senses; to make the reader ask questions of their own foundation of beliefs, not to weaken but instead to strengthen their convictions. It purposely will interweave historical fact with the existing legendary tales and demonstrate that what we have perceived and dismissed as legends were probably legitimate historical details that others in the past, those responsible for recording the actual origins of our religion, refused to accept and either purposely dismissed or eliminated in their process of refinement. In their efforts to rewrite history for the sake of preserving religious icons in their own image they have in reality not achieved affirmation but instead created doubt, confusion and skepticism in the society of the last hundred or so years, because we are now a people that thrive on facts and are suspicious of anything that lacks supporting documentation or scientific grounding. Essentially, we need proof that what we have been expected to accept on faith for three thousand years really did occur. There will be those that will find the statements made in the content of this article threatening. They will not understand that just because the facts might present a different storyline from what they have grown up to believe does not mean that the teachings are in any way negated. Because as some of the more notable Karaite scholars recognized, the stories of the bible are exactly that, stories. Stories designed to convey lessons in morality, justice, behavior and social interaction. And it mattered not if the story did or did not happen precisely as described but only that the laws as presented to us were handed down by God to his chosen representative and that we recognize that we have only managed to survive for the past three millennia as a result of these laws. Sadly, too often the focus has been on the dazzling bling and very little of the substance. The miracle is not whether a wind from the east parted the Reed Sea and a people walked across on dry land but that this hunted, refugee people actually survived at all and went on to conquer a land within one generation to call their own. Too often we are mesmerized by the spectacular and fail to recognize that it is the simplicity that should draw our attention. The definition of faith should never be about being led around blindly and believing wholeheartedly in the unrealistic and unimaginable. There are other words for that kind of belief and faith certainly isn’t one of them. As a Karaite, faith is about trusting and believing in an interpretation that seems good to me. Creating a framework that reinforces the structure of my religious observance and customs. That is the essential role of the historical traditions in the Torah, and thusly we must relegate them to their actual purpose and not transform them into the actual religious teachings that are held sacred and therefore immutable. They merely provide the scenery, the background, but are not the actual religious ordinance that we must follow.
A Rose By Any Other Name
I have already introduced the likelihood of our Law Giver, Moses, being none other than the crown prince Thutmose, son of Amenhotep III. There are many reasons for making this supposition and once they are laid out in a clear and organized manner, it will become obvious how I have drawn this conclusion. This particular article will concentrate on the background of this mysterious Crown Prince that disappeared completely from the annals of Egyptian history, except for his mummified cat that was entombed along with his mother. The one piece of evidence that tells us that a mother’s love transcends even the eternal command of a disappointed father that his memory was to be obliterated completely. Clearly, the Crown Prince Thutmose was no longer living within his father’s kingdom and was clearly not welcome had he returned. Thutmose, the son of Amenhotep III and Queen Tiye, was also known as Djutmose, Thutmosis and Tuthmose. His name means "Thoth is Born" or "Child of Thoth." Thutmose disappears from Egyptian records completely somewhere between year 27 and year 33 in his father's reign, so he never became a Pharaoh, otherwise he would have been Pharaoh Thutmose V. If the reign of Amenhotep III (1390-1352) is correct then that means that Thutmose disappeared between 1363 and 1357 BCE. One can attempt to justify his absences by claiming that he probably died, but that would not explain why his tomb was not discovered with or close to those of the rest of his family. The tomb that would have been constructed for his eventual entombment since he was already named as Crown Prince was never found in the cluster that was reserved for Amenhotep’s family. What we do know is that during the short period of his recorded life that he was a very important member of the royal family, clearly being groomed to be Amenhotep III's successor. The existence of Thutmose is also attested by a total of 7 pairs of calcite and pottery vases that are held in the Louvre. As for his mother taking his mummified cat into her sarcophagus, we can appreciate had he died, there would have been numerous mementos that Tiye would have taken with her, but the apparent absence of anything of that nature tells us that they had all been purposely destroyed.
Monotheism In Egypt
To comprehend the religious understanding of the Crown Prince Thutmose, it is necessary to appreciate exactly what was happening during the 18th Dynasty. A religious reformation was occurring, that reached its pinnacle under the reign of Akhenaton, Thutmose’s brother. One can describe Akhenaton’s attempt to alter the religious practices of Egypt as an introduction of monotheism, but it ultimately met with failure. The question that should be immediately asked is whether Akhenaton just arrived at this unique vision of monotheism of his own accord, or was he in fact attempting to copy a pattern of beliefs already established by a predecessor? It certainly wasn’t his father that he modelled himself after. His father’s birth name was Amenhotep Heqawaset ("Amun is Pleased, Ruler of Thebes). His father’s throne name was Nub-maat-ra ("Lord of Truth is Ra"). The combination of these names into a singular title would be Amram. Again, one of those reoccurring coincidences that seem to surround the Book of Exodus in that Amram was also the name of Moses’ father. And as I have said repeatedly, there are no coincidences. Amenhotep III also used the Horus name Kanakht Khaemmaat ("Strong Bull, Arising in Thebes"), the Nebty name Semenhepusegerehtawy ("One establishing laws, pacifying the two lands") and the Golden Horus name Aakhepesh-husetiu ("Great of valour, smiting the Asiatics"). So it is apparent that his father was definitely not a monotheist or would he have been in any way a role model for the young Akhenaton’s monotheism.
Yet, although the worship of Ra, Amun and Horus are clearly evident in the 18th Dynasty, so to were the beliefs in the ancient gods of Egypt, those that came first. Djehuty is sometimes alternatively rendered as Jehuti, Tahuti, Tehuti, Zehuti, Techu, or Tetu or as jt-nṯr "god father". The first rendering of Jehuti is very close to names that were commonly used by the children of Israel as in Jehudi, or one from the Tribe of Yehudah or Judah, the J being pronounced as a Y in Hebrew. Once again, another of those coincidences but that is not the point of this discussion so we won’t explore it further. The Crown Prince Thutmose, named after this primordial god Djehuty would be aware of the many roles his namesake held in the Egyptian pantheon. Thoth served as a mediating power, especially between good and evil, making sure neither had a decisive victory over the other. According to the texts of the ancient Egyptians, Thoth was regarded as One, self-begotten, and self-produced. This belief bears a striking resemblance to the basis of monotheism in which God was there from the beginning, omnipresent. Thoth was considered the master of both physical and divine law, once again a striking similarity to Moses’ appreciation of our one and only God. Similarly, Thoth is credited with making the calculations for the establishment of the heavens, stars, Earth, and everything in them, identical to the wording in Genesis. The Egyptians credited him as the author of all works of science, religion, philosophy, and magic. With this description of Thoth in mind, it would not be surprising if the Crown Prince came to the realization that his namesake was the one and only God of the universe, the primordial God from which all things flowed, just as the description of Nun proclaims. In this belief, there would have been only one God, this Djehuty or Nun. And as discussed in http://hubpages.com/hub/Of-Karaite-Things the letter Nun is quite significant, especially in the matter of Rabbinical cover-ups. If Jehuti was the most probable pronunciation, then Yahweh is certainly well within the scope of that name.
The Building of Pi-Ramses
The building of these twin cities in Goshen is golden key to the story of the Exodus. In fact, it was the naming of these cities that led to the belief that the Exodus had to occur during the 19th Dynasty because how else could it be explained that one of the twin cities was named Ramses. But again, it is imperative that we understand that the recording of these stories in their final written form, came long after the actual events, meaning that the editors would use names of towns and cities with which they were familiar in their own timeline. How many today would refer to the city of New York as New Amsterdam, its original name? They wouldn’t because that name is lost to later generations, the same way the original names of the cities of Pithom and Ramses were lost in the time period of the actual writing of the Torah. We know for a fact that these cities had another name, long before the restoration of the 19th Dynasty. We know this because archeology has proven that Seti and Rameses weren’t the first to begin building these cities. In fact these weren’t original cities at all but the reconstruction of a much older one. The original name for the city where the twin cities were being reconstructed was Avaris. This city which once was the capital of the Hyksos rulers of Egypt, was leveled by Ahmose several hundred years earlier when he conquered the Hysksos and reestablished Theban rule over Egypt. And what is even more interesting is that the excavations by Dr. Mandfred Bietak of Vienna University have found inscriptions that were records of the slave labour force that was used to rebuild the city. This rebuilding occurred between 1385 and 1360, during the reign of Amenhotep III. The use of slaves on a mass scale to rebuild this city would correlate well to what is written in Exodus. There is other evidence that suggests that it was this first rebuilding, almost one hundred years earlier than the reign of Ramses II, that is the correct dating of the Exodus. We know that the Egyptians recorded that they had slaves from the Hapiru. We also know that the Hapiru apparently came from the land of Canaan. Once again, the coincidence of slaves referred to as Hapiru and the Children of Israel referring to themselves as Hebrew would suggest that it was no coincidence at all but one and the same people. But if that is the case, then the inscription on the Hypostyle Hall at Karnak celebrating the victories of Ramses’ father Seti would only make sense if the Exodus occurred during the reign of Amenhotep III. This inscription reads, “Fallen are the Hapiru of Beisham.” The city of Beisham, located in central Canaan, unless one wants to argue that the Hapiru and the Hebrew were not the same people, was already conquered by the Israelites and had a large enough population that they attempted to defend the city from the Egyptian army. This could only mean that the Hebrew were already well established in the land long before the 19th Dynasty.
Archeology gives us one more vital piece of information that also dates the Exodus to the reign of Amenhotep III. Originally, when Kathleen Kenyon excavated Jericho she placed the date of its destruction around 1500 BC. A date which many used as a weapon to negate the story of the conquest since that date was well before any possible Exodus by the Children of Israel. From that date they also tried to say that the Joshua of the Bible never existed. But in 1996, two researchers at Groningen University radiocarbon dated cereal grains that Kathleen Kenyon herself had actually excavated at the site. The dating of these grains had an approximate date of 1320 BC plus or minus 10 years. This would place the event 30 years after the reign of Amenhotep, or the one generation that the Children of Israel wandered in the desert.
This article is just the first of several that will utilize existing information to provide the framework of the Exodus. What we have seen is that there was a Crown Prince that disappears from Egyptian recorded history at the same time there are Hapiru slaves building the historical city called Pi-Ramses at a later date. We know that monotheism was taking shape in Egypt exactly at the same time that these other events were occurring. We know that archeology is suggesting that Jericho was burnt to the ground one generation after these aforementioned events. What is left now is to find the evidence for the actual exodus, the plagues, and true identity of the Law Giver. These will be provided over the next few articles. And when all is completed, there will be a historical Exodus that we can clearly point a finger at and all will hopefully find their faith strengthened.