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Floyd Johnson | Forum Activity | Posted: Tue, Oct 5 2010 9:22 AM

I am taking a non-credit course on the "History of the Jews [through film]" at the Rochester Institute of Technology.  Last week we looked at the life of Moses.  In the class consists of a number Jewish members.  Last week, after class, one of them commented last week that there is no proof of Moses' existence.  

The best information that I found in LOGOS (gold) was a statement that there was no evidence for or against Moses actual existence.  

The question I am trying to answer is this - is there any evidence for the historicity of Moses?  

Thank you for any leads you can provide from LOGOS or otherwise.

Blessings,
Floyd

Pastor-Patrick.blogspot.com

Posts 808
Jack Hairston | Forum Activity | Replied: Tue, Oct 5 2010 5:53 PM

I can't find the quote, even after praying to St. Google, but someone said that the greatest proof that the Bible is true is the existence of the Jewish people.

Posts 3163
Dominick Sela | Forum Activity | Replied: Tue, Oct 5 2010 6:19 PM

I found an interesting discussion on the historicity of Moses in my Logos book "Moses: Heroic Man, Man of God" by George W. Coats. Phil wrote a book "Life of Moses" but Logos doesn't have it.

That said, I have never seen anyone claim that there is evidence of Moses' existence from the time, outside of the Bible.  The arguments for his historicity are more ones that render those who say he did not exist as unconvincing. So from that perspective, there is no "proof" that Moses existed outside the Bible. 

Posts 2964
tom | Forum Activity | Replied: Tue, Oct 5 2010 6:34 PM

Floyd Johnson:

I am taking a non-credit course on the "History of the Jews [through film]" at the Rochester Institute of Technology.  Last week we looked at the life of Moses.  In the class consists of a number Jewish members.  Last week, after class, one of them commented last week that there is no proof of Moses' existence.  

The best information that I found in LOGOS (gold) was a statement that there was no evidence for or against Moses actual existence.  

The question I am trying to answer is this - is there any evidence for the historicity of Moses?  

Thank you for any leads you can provide from LOGOS or otherwise.

 

Hello Floyd,

While I am not an expert in this area, I can tell you that my Reformed Jewish brothers and sisters have told me that they do not believe Moses was a real person or that their was an Exodus.

While not about the Moses, I did find this in the text book that we used in seminary about the Exodus:

As we have seen in the introductory chapter, the internal chronology of the Bible suggests a date about 1445 b.c.e. for the exodus. There is little evidence, however, that would enable us to corroborate the biblical account by relating it other sources. The exodus, as reported in the Bible, is not attested in any ancient nonbiblical source. While it might be argued that the escape of the Israelites was inconsequential for the Egyptians, and therefore not recorded, in fact the Egyptians kept tight control over their eastern border and kept careful records. If a large group of Israelites had departed, we should expect some mention of it.

 

John J. Collins, Introduction to the Hebrew Bible : An Inductive Reading of the Old Testament (Englewood Cliffs, N.J.: Prentice Hall, 1988). 108. 

 

Here is some info about Moses from the AYBD: 

A.     Historicity of Moses No portion of the Bible is more complex and vigorously debated than the story of Moses, and few persons have evoked such disparate views. No extant non-biblical records make reference to Moses or the Exodus, therefore the question of historicity depends solely on the evaluation of the biblical accounts. One interpretation is the assumption of early Jewish and Christian traditions that the Pentateuch is an accurate historical record written by Moses himself. . . . The opposite extreme is J. Van Seters’ declaration: “The quest for the historical Moses is a futile exercise. He now belongs only to legend.”

 David Noel Freedman, The Anchor Yale Bible Dictionary (New York: Doubleday, 1996, c1992). 4:909. 

I hope this helps

Posts 18763
Rosie Perera | Forum Activity | Replied: Tue, Oct 5 2010 7:42 PM

Jack Hairston:

I can't find the quote, even after praying to St. Google, but someone said that the greatest proof that the Bible is true is the existence of the Jewish people.

 

From "No Religion Is an Island" by Abraham Joshua Heschel:

"The Protestant pastor, Christian Furchtegott Gellert, was asked by Frederick the Great, "Herr Professor, give me proof of the Bible, but briefly, for I have little time." Gellert answered, 'Your Majesty, the Jews.' "

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I learned in my Old Testament Survey class that there is archaeological evidence for a people group called Hapiru or Habiru which some have suggested is an Akkadian cognate of "Hebrew." There are plenty of occurrences of Hapiru in my Logos library. Here's what the ABD has to say about that theory:

ḪABIRU, ḪAPIRU. Often considered to be the Akkadian equivalent of Heb ˓ibrı̂. See HEBREW.

The Identity of the ḫabiru/ḫapiru

Ever since this Akkadian expression was first recognized in a.d. 1888, viz., in the Amarna Letters written by Abdi-Ḫepa of Jerusalem around 1375 b.c. (EA 286–90; Greenberg 1955: 47–49) scholars have discussed the significance of the ḫabiru/ḫapiru for the origin of the Israelites. In this discussion the etymology of the word has played a significant part since it was soon recognized that a W Semitic word must lie behind the Akkadian expression. In Akkadian cuneiform writing the consonant represents at least three different W Semitic gutturals (notably ḥ, ḫ, and ˓), and it was therefore proposed that the ḫabiru mentioned in Abdi-Ḫepa’s letters were Israelite tribesmen who were then forcing their way into Palestine in the course of the Israelite conquest. The fact that these ḫabiru/ḫapiru (or ˓abiru/˓apiru) were only mentioned by the king of Jerusalem was, however, considered a serious obstacle to this identification, because—according to the OT—Jerusalem was not attacked by the Israelites until the early days of King David, ca. 1000 b.c.

Only when the German orientalist Hugo Winckler succeeded in a.d. 1895 in identifying the ḫabiru/ḫapiru of Abdi-ḫepa’s letters with the sa.gaz people, who figure far more frequently in the Amarna Letters, did scholars in general incline to accept the identification of the ḫabiru with the Hebrews (Loretz 1984: 60). This seemingly obvious identification was soon challenged by other discoveries which showed that the ḫabiru/ḫapiru were present in sources from all over the ANE in the 2d millennium b.c. Especially when they appeared in the Hittite archives from Boghazköy (Ḫattušaš) it became doubtful whether they could in fact be identical with the early Israelites. Evidently the expression covered an ethnic entity which could not be equated with the forefathers of the Israelites in a simple way. The confirmation that it was necessary to disassociate the problem of the ḫabiru from the early history of the Israelites first became apparent in Egyptian sources and later in Ugaritic documents, which made it clear that the second consonant should most properly be read p instead of b; the same also proved that the first consonant actually was an ˓ (in Eg ˓pr.w, in Ug ˓pr). Doubt also arose as to the ethnic content of the expression, especially because of the German Egyptologist Wilhelm Spiegelberg (1907: 618–20), who believed that the term designated a social group of some sort. According to Spiegelberg the term was most properly applied to nomads who lived on the fringe of the Syrian desert (including the Proto-Israelites).

Today the mainly social content of the expression is only occasionally disputed (e.g., by de Vaux 1968), but the interpretation of its social content has changed, most notably thanks to Benno Landsberger, who showed that the expression ḫabiru/ḫapiru should actually be translated "fugitives" or even "refugees" (in Bottéro 1954: 160–61). That such an understanding lies near at hand is confirmed by the Sumerian equivalent of ḫabiru/ḫapiru, sa.gaz (variant spellings sag.gaz, or simply gaz), as this Sumerogram is in fact merely a transcription of the Akk šaggašum, "murderer." Moreover, sag.gaz is occasionally, in the Akkadian lexicographical lists translated as ḫabbatum "brigand." Today most orientalists consider that the expression ḫabiru/ḫapiru encompassed fugitives who had left their own states either to live as refugees in other parts of the Near East or outlaws who subsisted as brigands out of reach of the authorities of the states (Bottéro 1980).

[...]

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Even the more conservative ISBE has a section in its entry on Hapiru titled "Impossibility of Equation of Ḫapiru and Hebrews in Biblical Studies."

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There's a section called "The Quest for the Historical Moses" in Preaching the Word: Exodus by Philip Graham Ryken:

The Quest for the Historical Moses

Jochebed let her baby go because it was part of God’s plan for helping him achieve his destiny. This little child was destined to become Israel’s savior. From his birth we learn at least three things about salvation, and the first is that God accomplishes salvation in human history.

Here we need to respond to the objection that Moses (for that was to be the child’s name) never existed. Scholars raise this objection in part because he is not mentioned in any of the historical accounts left by the Egyptians. As we have seen, this is not surprising. There are many gaps in the Egyptian records, especially when it comes to their embarrassing defeats. It is also important to remember that the Bible itself provides reliable historical evidence. There are many different types of literature in the Bible: law, poetry, genealogy, gospel, epistle, and so forth. But a great deal of the Biblical material, including the book of Exodus, is presented as history. When it comes to Moses, the Bible carefully records that he was a great-grandson of Levi, who was one of the twelve sons of Jacob and the father of Israel’s priests (Exod. 6:16–20). In time Moses became Israel’s deliverer, the great prophet who led his people out of Egypt. These are all historical claims that the Bible presents as matters of fact.

Another objection to the historicity of Moses comes from extra-Biblical literature, where the abandoned child who rises to greatness is a popular motif.2 The most famous example is the story of Sargon, king of Akkad, who lived centuries before Israel went into Egypt:

Sargon, the mighty king, king of Agade, am I.
My mother was a changeling, my father I knew not.
The brother(s) of my father loved the hills.
My city is Azuprianu, which is situated on the banks of the Euphrates.
My changeling mother conceived me, in secret she bore me.
She set me in a basket of rushes, with bitumen she sealed my lid.
She cast me into the river which rose not (over) me.3

According to the legend, Sargon was later rescued out of the water by a gardener named Akki. The existence of such stories has led some scholars to conclude that "the quest for the historical Moses is a futile exercise. He now belongs only to legend."4 The great liberator "was a creation of the ancient Hebrews’ binding together their own national epic out of the tales of neighbors."5 He was "merely a character in a grand historical novel, the invention of storytellers."6

There are several ways to handle the allegation of literary dependence. One is to point out that "The Legend of Sargon" was actually written after the book of Exodus. Although Sargon himself lived from 2371–2316 b.c., the manuscript fragments that contain his birth narrative come from the Neo-Assyrian or Neo-Babylonian period (seventh or sixth century). Perhaps the story originated during the reign of Sargon II (721–705 b.c.), who cherished the memory of his famous predecessor. But in any case, Sargon’s story was not written down until long after the exodus.

It is worth noticing the many differences between the history of Moses and the other ancient stories that contain some of the same motifs. The story of Sargon is the closest parallel, but even here there are significant differences. Sargon was kept in hiding because he was illegitimate, not because his life was endangered. Unlike Sargon, Moses was rescued and raised by real human beings. Besides, his story contains a wealth of specific details about the circumstances surrounding his rescue (who his family members were, how he was discovered, who nursed him, etc.), which are entirely absent from the story of Sargon.

It also helps to know that exposing a child was much more common in ancient times than it is today (especially due to the current prevalence of abortion). James Hoffmeier concludes that "the reason for the multitude of stories from across the Near East and Mediterranean of casting a child into the waters is that it may reflect the ancient practice of committing an unwanted child, or one needing protection, into the hands of providence. A modern parallel would be leaving a baby on the steps of an orphanage or at the door of a church."7 All in all, it seems unlikely that the Israelites knew the story of Sargon, but it is not impossible that they had heard the tale of some foundling rising to greatness. If so, what happened to Moses would have sounded familiar to them, but this raises no doubts whatsoever about his personal history.

One good reason for believing in the historical Moses is his name, which sounds like the Hebrew verb "to draw out" (mashah). Pharaoh’s daughter seems to have known some Hebrew, for it was she who "named him Moses, saying, ‘I drew him out of the water’ " (Exod. 2:10). Her Hebrew needed a little work, however, because Moses literally means "he who draws out of." Unwittingly, Pharaoh’s daughter gave the child a name that hinted at his destiny. Just as Moses himself was drawn out of the water, so he would later draw God’s people out of Egypt through the sea. What is interesting historically is that Moses also fits the Egyptian pattern for names in the royal court. The Hebrew name Moses sounds like the Egyptian word mose, which is derived from the verb "to bear, to give birth to."8 The Pharaohs often combined it with the name of a god, as in the name Thutmose (or Thuthmoses, which means "born of the god Thoth"), or the name Rameses ("the sun-god Re has given birth to him"). The name Moses, therefore, has a double etymology that fits the historical context and thus provides further confirmation for the presence of Israel in Egypt.

Some scholars say that it doesn’t matter whether or not Moses ever existed; the book of Exodus is still a great story. But it makes more sense to say that if Moses never existed, then the exodus doesn’t matter. If the book is nothing more than a historical novel, it might make for interesting reading, but it would not have supernatural power to change anyone’s life. The only God worth knowing is a God who has the power to work in human history to accomplish salvation. If God did not raise up a man named Moses to lead Israel out of Egypt, how can we be sure that he has the power to deliver us from our bondage to sin or to raise us up to eternal life? If our problems were literary problems, then a good story would be enough to solve them. But we live in time and space, and the difficulties we face are the difficulties of daily life: loneliness, addiction, conflict, grief. We need a God who can actually do something to help us. We need a God who is at work in our homes and stays with us on the job. If God did not save Moses the way the Bible says he did, it is doubtful whether he can save anyone at all.

Posts 5162
DIsciple II | Forum Activity | Replied: Tue, Oct 5 2010 7:55 PM

Floyd Johnson:

I am taking a non-credit course on the "History of the Jews [through film]" at the Rochester Institute of Technology.  Last week we looked at the life of Moses.  In the class consists of a number Jewish members.  Last week, after class, one of them commented last week that there is no proof of Moses' existence.  

The best information that I found in LOGOS (gold) was a statement that there was no evidence for or against Moses actual existence.  

The question I am trying to answer is this - is there any evidence for the historicity of Moses?  

Thank you for any leads you can provide from LOGOS or otherwise.

Attatched is basis search results from my library on the term "Historical Moses" I get 65 hits in 42 resources.  Might give you some leads and some books to think about. I've inlcuded search results by book as well as by rank so you can quickly peruse the list of resources.

8816.Basic_Search_for_Historical_Moses.rtf  2555.Basic_Search_for_Historical_Moses by book.rtf

Posts 4625
RIP
Milford Charles Murray | Forum Activity | Replied: Tue, Oct 5 2010 8:02 PM

Dear Rosie!  *smile*

Thank you indeed for your great post.  Truly appreciate your contributions ..

Peace to you              .............    and Joy!

Philippians 4:  4 Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice. 5 Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand..........

Posts 3666
Floyd Johnson | Forum Activity | Replied: Tue, Oct 5 2010 8:26 PM

Wow - I had checked this late this afternoon and had seen no replys.  I had almost given up - now six hours later, there are several leads to follow.  Thanks for the guidance.  I will follow each lead.

Blessings,
Floyd

Pastor-Patrick.blogspot.com

Posts 4508
Robert Pavich | Forum Activity | Replied: Wed, Oct 6 2010 8:20 AM

I didn't read through this thread but....isn't the bible's account "proof of Moses' existence?"

The bible isn't just chopped liver....it's just as reliable as any secular history book....

Robert Pavich

For help go to the Wiki: http://wiki.logos.com/Table_of_Contents__

Posts 3666
Floyd Johnson | Forum Activity | Replied: Wed, Oct 6 2010 9:03 AM

Robert Pavich:
I didn't read through this thread but....isn't the bible's account "proof of Moses' existence?"The bible isn't just chopped liver....it's just as reliable as any secular history book....

I have no problem with this argument - but then I believe in the inerrancy of the original documents.  But then not everybody does - which is why I raise the question.  I am in a class on the "History of the Jews" at  a local secular university and the question of the historicity of Moses was raised - see my/the first post in this thread for a few more details.  

 

Blessings,
Floyd

Pastor-Patrick.blogspot.com

Posts 116
Chris Thompson | Forum Activity | Replied: Wed, Oct 6 2010 2:19 PM

Floyd Johnson:
I have no problem with this argument - but then I believe in the inerrancy of the original documents.

 

That being the case, it would seem  that your search is an attempt to persuade others of your beliefs. The fact that your Jewish friends do not believe in Moses is the tip of the iceberg. They do not believe that Jesus is the Messiah. If they do not accept that fact,  It would follow that they would reject things that prophesied of Jesus, and things from the OT that Jesus referred to.  Jesus spoke of Moses 19 times, So He obviously believed that Moses was real.

It seems to me that your challenge is not to convince them that Moses existed, But that Christ existed, and is Indeed the Messiah. If/When they accept that fact, The Moses story will be the icing on the cake.

God Bless you in your endeavors.

John 5:39-40
 

Posts 3163
Dominick Sela | Forum Activity | Replied: Wed, Oct 6 2010 2:43 PM

From what I have read, some Jews believed that the OT prophesied two Messiah's - the "suffering servant" and the "Son of David". This is easy to see in Isaiah for example.  As a result, some of them believed that Jesus was the suffering servant, but they still wait for the Son of David who will rule.

It seems that because of a number of things well documented in our books, there is no one common belief amongst Jews. Just some thoughts...

Posts 8893
fgh | Forum Activity | Replied: Wed, Oct 6 2010 3:04 PM

Dominick

I believe that's in the Talmud (I guess I'll find out for sure when it ships): one Messiah ben Josef (sic!), and one Messiah ben David. But we're getting away from Moses here, so we should probably leave it at that.

"The Christian way of life isn't so much an assignment to be performed, as a gift to be received."  Wilfrid Stinissen

Mac Pro OS 10.9.

Posts 116
Chris Thompson | Forum Activity | Replied: Wed, Oct 6 2010 3:05 PM

Since you have studied the subject, can you tell me why they stopped the animal sacrifices? Were they not symbolic of the blood the Messiah would shed to afford the Atonement? If Christ isn't the Messiah, why are they not still sacrificing animals?

Posts 5162
DIsciple II | Forum Activity | Replied: Wed, Oct 6 2010 3:14 PM

I think it has to do with the fact there is no Jewish temple in Jerusalem that their is currently no system of animal sacrifice.  I believe in some circles the return of the temple and associated animal sacrifice is seen as forerunner to the return of Christ.This is reference I came up with after a quick google search. http://www.enotalone.com/article/19212.htmlon that view.

If one of the people qualified on these things could point out a resource in Logos or one that should be in Logos to assist in gaining a better understanding of this question then they could help us out and keep the thread within the guidelines.

Edit Note:

The following search in my library did come up with 70 hits in 33 articles ( in 32 resources):

"animal sacrifice" NEAR (absence,return)

There seems to be a number of his on commentaries on Ezek (particulary chpt 40), Hebrew, and Levitcus, and a few other prophets.  (Not surprising) .  In terms of Journals Biblia Sacra comes up with a number of hits.   None of the resources that come up though really give a christian perspective on the topic and not a jewish one, so it still would be appreciated if we could gets some resource suggestions, either or already in logos or that should be in logos.

 

Posts 116
Chris Thompson | Forum Activity | Replied: Wed, Oct 6 2010 3:21 PM

Andrew McKenzie:
If one of the people qualified on these things could point out a resource in Logos or one that should be in Logos to assist in gaining a better understanding of this question then they could help us out and keep the thread within the guidelines.

 

Sorry if my curiosity violated the sacred guidelines.

Posts 5162
DIsciple II | Forum Activity | Replied: Wed, Oct 6 2010 3:26 PM

Abi Gail:

Andrew McKenzie:
If one of the people qualified on these things could point out a resource in Logos or one that should be in Logos to assist in gaining a better understanding of this question then they could help us out and keep the thread within the guidelines.

 

Sorry if my curiosity violated the sacred guidelines.

Don't be,  I wasn't meaning to say you had,  I was just thinking forward to where the thread might head. I'm interested in an answer to the question also and to me, even if it isn't strictly in the guidelines, I find this the best place to get these sorts of answers, but by throwing in discussion about a resource that is or could be in Logos to help with answering the question, we do keep it within the guidelines in a round about way, and get an answer to our questions at the same time.  So hopefully it will keep everybody happy.

Posts 116
Chris Thompson | Forum Activity | Replied: Wed, Oct 6 2010 3:46 PM

Thanks for the clarification.

Consider this..In his works, Josephus, a Jewish historian, goes into great detail about the life and times of Moses. Now I have no info on how the orthodox Jews revere Josephus. The fact that he was a Jew is still interesting.

P.S. The Works of Josephus are offered in many Logos packages. Big Smile 

Posts 3163
Dominick Sela | Forum Activity | Replied: Wed, Oct 6 2010 4:32 PM

Philo also wrote about the life of Moses....

and yes, the destruction of the temple in AD 70 by the Romans stopped the ability to do animal sacrifice. Supposedly at the Council of Jamnia (some dispute this), the Pharisees, who "took over" the leadership of Judaism, had to decide where the religion is going since there was no longer any method of atonement.  They moved to prayers, fasting, and almsgiving as the basis of their atonement from that point on.

Posts 8893
fgh | Forum Activity | Replied: Wed, Oct 6 2010 5:30 PM

As for Jewish views on the ending/resuming of sacrifices there should be a lot in the Talmud when it ships. In the meantime there are some quotes on http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Korban#The_end_of_sacrifices, and also further down the page. I presume there is stuff among the Jewish resources in Portfolio as well.

As for a Christian view: maybe a search in patristic resources (which I don't yet have, so I can't try) centered on Christ as the New Temple, or the Temple of the New Covenant, or something similar?

(As for Josephus, Jews consider him a traitor (he worked for the Romans, after all). His works were preserved by Christians, not by Jews, as I understand it.)

"The Christian way of life isn't so much an assignment to be performed, as a gift to be received."  Wilfrid Stinissen

Mac Pro OS 10.9.

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