Baruch Halpern from Pennsylvania University says “The actual evidence concerning the Exodus resembles the evidence for the unicorn.” In other words a mythical animal, we have no evidence that the unicorn existed, so conversely since we have no evidence of Israel coming out of Egypt, the biblical account of the Exodus can’t possibly be right.
“The Exodus story cannot possibly be fictional“ says Nahum Sarna, an African theologian, “No nation would be likely to invent for itself and faithfully transmit century after century an inglorious and inconvenient tradition of this nature unless it had an authentic core.”
In other words people didn’t invent stories about themselves being slaves, they invented stories about them being kings, rulers and conquerors. Nahum Sarna writes “If you were making up history it would be that you were descended from god’s or kings, not from slaves.” It is not surprising to find that the pharaohs have not recorded the flight of the Hebrew slaves in any of the records of Egypt. Why would they? You don’t broadcast the fact that you have just lost your slaves, that a man called Moses defeated you and escaped with three million plus people. Imagine “a spokesperson for Rameses the Great, Pharaoh of Pharaohs, supreme ruler of Egypt, son of Ra, before whom all the earth trembles in awe, blinded by his brilliance, today announced that the man Moses had kicked his royal butt for all the world to see.”
The Bible records the details warts and all. No other Ancient Near Eastern book of history does that. What I am about to tell you is amazing. Normally the data you can find on biblical archaeology can be found in any book on Biblical Archaeology you chose to look at. It is all standard information readily available. This following material is only found in one book by Grant Jeffrey called The Signature of God.
In an area of the Sinai Peninsula in the central hill country is a valley named Wadi Mukatteb, the Valley of the Writing. A series of inscriptions have been found there that appear to give details about the Exodus event. The only reason I am willing to share this with you is because there is some substantial corroboration to what Jeffrey talks about. It is not just Grant Jeffrey speaking about the amazing find he has made, as is the case with many others. I am very sceptical about that kind of thing. There are many people who make claims that can’t be substantiated. If it was like that with Grant Jefferies and there was no substantiation any other way I would stay away from material like this. But there is other evidence from different sources over time which point to the same area on the Sinai Peninsula.There is reference to this area in Diodorus Siculus’s writings entitled the Library of History in 10 BC referring to an area on the Sinai Peninsular that had some strange writings in his time in 10 BC. And he says back at that time “Moreover, an altar is there built of hard stone and very old in years, bearing an inscription in ancient letters of an unknown tongue.” Siculus also wrote “It is an ancient report among the Ichtheophagi, who inhabit the shores of the Red Sea, that by a mighty reflux of the sea which happened in former days, the whole gulf became dry land …Until the water by an extraordinary high tide returned to its former channel.” This was written in 10 BC.
Cosmas Indicopleustes, a Byzantine Christian, in AD 535 reported that the writings were ancient in his day. This evidence seems to go back into antiquity. He said “The engravings appeared at all the halting places, all the stones of the region which were broken off from the mountains, written with carved Hebrew characters.“ Indicopleustes suggested they were made by the ancient Israelites fleeing from Egypt. We are not just talking about Grant Jefferies finding something in recent times. There seem to be periods of time when evidence for the existence of these writings surfaced sporadically in ancient times. Others to note them have been:
- Bishop Robert Clayton (1753) a Christian adventurer, going around the area of Palestine and parts of the Ancient Near East trying to find reasons to believe, trying to find artefacts for his faith.
- Professor Lottin de Laval (1815) a French adventurer and explorer and a non-Christian.
- Reverend Charles Foster (1862) did extensive studies in the area and documented all kinds of things; he refers to this area as well. He published a book in 1862 called Sinai Photographed. He was the first to take photos of this phenomena. We will return to that point in a later slide.
- Professor Arthur Penrhyn Stanley (1905) a Christian scholar and adventurer.
All of these above mentioned people referred to a place similar to Wadi Mukatteb and located in the same area.
Notable features of the inscriptions that are found there:
They are written in a twenty-three letter combination of the Egyptian and Hebrew alphabets. That is fascinating, a combination of 23 letters, twelve of which are Hebrew and 13 from the Egyptian Demotic script. That would figure, the Israelites spend the time in Egypt and come out after their culture had been influenced by the culture they have been a part of. They came out bringing with them the writing systems and a language that has been to some degree mixed. It is perfectly possible. Isn’t it interesting we might expect the Jews to have some Hebrew mixed up with Egyptian after all those years in exile. But it is not normal for a people to be in exile for 400 years and still come out with their language. That is unusual.
The dominant language pattern seems to be Egyptian. The writers did not use any of the words, or characteristic patterns of the language of Moses. We are not talking Biblical quotes in this material. What has been found at Wadi Mukatteb is quite different from that. The writings are ancient and not from the biblical text. There are pictures of quail often etched alongside the writing.
Here is an example of one of the inscriptions. This was first photographed by Charles Forster in 1862. Grant Jefferies referred to the book “Sinai Photographed”. When I first read that I thought I would like to substantiate it, how do I substantiate that? I wonder if you can still get a copy of the book “Sinai Photographed” by Charles Forster. So I contacted Evermore Books and searched the internet to see if we could get the book “Sinai Photographs” by Charles Forster. Yes, it was still in existence, we could get a copy of it, the problem is that it costs US$3,000. Needless to say I didn’t pursue the matter any further.
Here are translations of some of the inscriptions:
- “The wind blowing, the sea dividing into part, they pass over” is a translation of Charles Forster’s. Other inscriptions: “The Hebrews flee through the sea; the sea has turned to dry land.”
- “Their enemies weep for the dead, the virgins are wailing. The sea flowing down overwhelmed them. The waters were let loose to flow again.”
- “The people drink, winding on way, drinking with prone mouth.” What is prone mouth? I am not sure, this was the English used in Forster’s translation of the text at the time. Whatever it means it has to do with drinking, either scooping water up with cupped hands or getting down to drink from the surface.
- “Jehovah gives them drink again and again.”
- “The people had to drink to satiety, in crowds they swill. Flesh they strip from the bone, mangling it. Replete with food, they are obstreperous. Surfeited, they cram themselves; clamouring they vomit.”
- “The people are drinking water to repletion. The tribes weeping for the dead, cry aloud with downcast eyes.“
- “Congregating on all sides they ensnare them, the people voraciously devour the quails. Bending the bow against them, bringing them down. Eagerly and enormously eating the half raw flesh, the pilgrims become plague-stricken.”
- “Miriam, Prophetess of lying lips and deceitful tongue. She causes the tribes to conspire against the pillar and prince of the people.”
Obviously the translation has been written in Victorian English, not quite how we would write it today, but translated from the inscriptions that were found. It makes you feel you are right back there watching it all happen. In the following Nuggets we will pursue substantiation from other sources. This is the beginning of a series of Nuggets on the Proof of the Exodus.