Exodus and Moses

HENRI:  It struck me one day; that there were lots of images of the peoples the Egyptians had conquered, but none showing Jewish captives.  I am far from expert in the subject but I couldn’t find more than one or two menorah – candelabra – a vague star of David…almost nothing, really.  Which is terribly strange when the Jews are supposed to have drowned the whole Egyptian army, don’t you think?  And Joseph was the Pharaoh’s chief adviser and so on?  It would be, let’s say, like writing the history of Japan with no mention of the atomic bomb. –

One day the thought hit me-could the whole story of the Jews in Egypt have simply been a poem?  More or less like Homer describing magical cattle, and ravenous women and so on?  Ancient peoples saw no difference between a vivid description of marvels and what we call reality – for them the description itself was the reality.  In short, the Jews may never have been literally enslaved in Egypt; or perhaps some had been, but the story as we know it may have been largely fictional, an overwhelmingly powerful act of the imagination. – p. 73-74

It seems that there is a lot of discrepancy regarding how and why the Egyptians did not write down the records of the Canaanites or if the entire situation is fictional.

I have attempted to get slices of each opinion as shown below.

Articles

Slaves and Slavery in Ancient Egypt

“In ancient Egypt, textual references to slaves are indistinct. From word usage alone, it is difficult to ascertain whether one was a slave or a servant. For example, a priest could be read as a god’s slave, but by our definition and understanding of slavery he was not. In reading Egyptian texts, therefore, context is the only criteria for determining such a status, and even then, it can be difficult, because there were different levels of servitude. We should also note that, if it is difficult to identify slaves from textual references, it is even harder to do so with depictions.”

Egyptian Art

This article points out that Egyptians were not encouraged to create works that showed individuality or looked any different from past work – thus making one come to a conclusion that adding symbolism from another culture would be against the artistic ideals of the time.

“The Egyptian style comprised a set of very strict laws, which every artist had to learn from his earliest youth. Seated statues had to have their hands on their knees; men had to be painted with darker skin than women; the appearance of every Egyptian god was strictly laid down: Horus, the skygod, had to be shown as a falcon or with a falcon’s head; Anubis, the god of funeral rites, as a jackal or with a jackal’s head. Every artist also had to learn the art of beautiful script. He had to cut the images and symbols of the hieroglyphs clearly and accurately in stone. But once he had mastered all these rules he had finished his apprenticeship. No one wanted anything different, no one asked him to be ‘original’. On the contrary, he was probably considered the best artist who could make his statues most like the admired monuments of the past. So it happened that in the course of three thousand years or more Egyptian art changed very little.”

Moses in Egypt

This article discusses the following points:

v     There could be an association between King Akhenaten of Egypt and Moses.

v     The lack of records of Joseph’s existence and the occurrence of the Red Sea parting and the first born son of every family dying.

v     Comparison of Moses to the story of King Sargon (who was found in a basket in the river a baby).

“A fairly recent documentary starring Charlton Heston which has aired on the Discovery Channel and other education networks made an argument for Akhenaten, Egypt’s 18th Dynasty heretic King with Moses of biblical fame. There is nothing new in this argument, which has been made since antiquity. Even Manetho, and Egyptian Priest (c. 300 BC) who wrote a valuable history of Egypt claims that the founder of monotheism, whom he called Osarsiph, assumed the name Moses and led his followers out of Egypt in Akhenaten’s reign. Afterwards, other writers such as Lysimachus, Tacitus and Strabo also alluded to this association between Akhenaten and Moses. In the modern era, Sigmund Freud (an active collector of Egyptian artifacts) also proposed this theory in an influential study of Moses and monotheism, and today there is no small number of web sites that likewise continue this argument.

Akhenaten is frequently referred to as the heretic king because he revolutionized Egyptian religion, at least for a brief period, creating a system that was as close as ancient Egypt would ever come to monotheism with his worship of the Sun Disk called the Aten. Strict monotheism is first demanded of the Israelites in connection with Moses and the Israelite Exodus from Egypt, and therefore, writers throughout the ages have made the association between Akhenaten and Moses.

However, the Old Testament offers no evidence of a relationship between Moses and Akhenaten, and in fact there has never been any direct evidence of Moses discovered in Egypt. It is even questionable whether the Old Testament authors could have even known about him at all. Because of Akhenaten’s revolutionary religious ideas, his successors largely eliminated his memory by hammering and hacking his name and the record of his reign from monuments throughout Egypt.

Furthermore, Akhenaten‘s religion was, at least to some extent, the culmination of a path established by earlier pharaohs, but perhaps even more importantly, it should be noted that, according to the Bible, only after leaving Egypt were the Israelites given the laws of god which required that their Lord be worshipped exclusively. In fact, monotheism plays no real significant role in the Book of Exodus, which is assumed to be the earliest version of Moses’ story, and by all accounts, prior to receiving the Ten Commandments, the Israelites worshipped more than one god. Hence, while Akhenaten cannot be completely ruled out as the Pharaoh of Exodus fame, there is not much reason to believe that he was, either.

In fact, the quest for Biblical accounts of ancient Egypt at least into the 19th Dynasty of Egypt’s New Kingdom, take on an interesting approach by most investigators. Essentially, since there is no evidence to clearly support the existence of Joseph, or Moses, or the Israeli Exodus, most of the investigation examines what was possible, what cannot be ruled out, or what fits into and Egyptian context. In other words, is it possible that such events or people could have existed from what we know of ancient Egypt. Some specifics are very possible, such as Joseph’s rise to importance in the Egyptian court. Other events, such as the Exodus, as specifically told in the Bible, are much more difficult. Though the Egyptians may not have liked to record defeats, it would seem very probable that, were the disasters inflicted upon them as detailed in the Bible, there would have survived some textual evidence. For example, the Egyptians certainly recorded events such as eclipses of the sun and the levels of the Nile Flood. Were the Nile to have turned to blood and every firstborn child suddenly have died, not to mention all of the other plagues mentioned in Exodus, there would have doubtless been some record left, particularly during the New Kingdom. Tomb records frequently provide us with the most meager of details, and we have, from that period, many thousands of documents recording civil actions and even commercial contracts.

Therefore, in order for serious scholars to accept the generality of such events, they must frequently reject some of the details as fiction. Therefore, we begin to ask the question of whether it was possible for Moses to have lived in Egypt. The bible tells us that between his birth in Egypt and death in Moab, Moses played many different roles. He had the privilege to speak with god, to plead on behalf of his community before the Pharaoh and to lead his people. He was a miracle worker, a prophet, a lawmaker and lawgiver, as well as a priest. Many scholars believe that at least some of these functions were only attributed to him in the course of tradition, but the key element here is his link between the Hebrews and Egypt.

One possibility is to interpret the biblical Exodus from Egypt is to set it against the known historical context of the Kingdom of Israel and the fall of Samaria to the Assyrians in 721 BC. In other words, the Exodus could have been modeled on the people of Samaria who were forcibly deported by their Assyrian conquerors. It could have reflected the circumstances, experiences and hopes of these people. Mostly, they needed a leader such as Moses.

The story of Moses’ childhood has many features in common with the Mesopotamian legend of King Sargon, who, as an infant, was said to have been abandoned on the river in a basket. This story would have been fairly contemporary to the biblical authors of the 8th and 7th centuries BC who composed parts of the Old Testament. Hence, they may have adapted the Sargon legend to the Exodus, but this could have also reflected a more ancient memory of a similar event in Egypt. Therefore, while various details told in the Biblical account of Exodus may be fictional, that does not mean that some form of the Exodus did not take place, or that Moses himself did not exist. Certainly people of his race were in Egypt, and some probably served as slaves, as well as masters.

Otherwise, we must remember that people generally tend to build traditions around their historical founders, which in many cases are not planted firmly in reality. Egypt’s own founder, Menes (though because of historical records, we may make speculate), is as difficult to identify as Moses, for while later tradition firmly places him at the roots of historical Egypt, contemporary proof is lacking. Consider also that only after several hundred years, historians now doubt that George Washington, one of the principal founding fathers of the United States, ever cut down an apple tree only to show the merits of honesty by confessing the act to his father.

In the final analysis, attributing Moses to a specific person, or even determining which specific Pharaoh was involved may always be a matter of speculation. To the modern reader, the biblical Moses seems to oscillate between tradition and reality, and more secure historical knowledge is probably not possible, at least at present.. And though an Exodus could have taken place, the specific details recorded in the Bible largely fall outside the sphere of probability, given the silence of any Egyptian record. “

Moses and the Exodus

This article brings up the following points:

  • People often, over time, loose the truth behind stories that provide important and heroic historical acts regarding their culture(s).

  • There are many ways in which there is proof that there were Canaanites in Egypt during the time there were historically Jewish slaves in Egypt.

  • The Universality of escaping tyranny.

“Even people who know little about the Bible likely can recount the story of Moses leading the Israelites from Egypt in an extraordinary exodus. In this interview, Carol Meyers, an archeologist and professor of religion at Duke University, reflects on the significance of the Moses narrative in ancient times, the role it plays in American history, and why it continues to resonate with us today.

Editor’s note: Carol Meyers, like other academic scholars, uses the term B.C.E. (Before the Common Era) instead of B.C. (Before Christ).

Beyond fact or fiction

Q: Questions about whether or not events in the Bible really happened evoke strong passions. As a biblical scholar, how do you see the issue of historical authenticity in terms of the earliest biblical accounts—the ones for which there is little archeological evidence?

Carol Meyers: Too often in modern western thinking we see things in terms of black and white, history or fiction, with nothing in between. But there are other ways of understanding how people have recorded events of their past. There’s something called mnemohistory, or memory history, that I find particularly useful in thinking about biblical materials. It’s not like the history that individuals may have of their own families, which tends to survive only a generation or two. Rather, it’s a kind of collective cultural memory.

When a group of people experience things that are extremely important to their existence as a group, they often maintain collective memories of these events over generations. And these memories are probably augmented and elaborated and maybe even ritualized as a way of maintaining their relevance.

We can understand how mnemohistory works by looking at how it operates in more recent periods. We see this, for instance, in legends about figures in American history—George Washington is a wonderful example. Legends have something historic in them but yet are developed and expanded. I think that some of the accounts of the ancestors in the book of Genesis are similar. They are exciting, important, attention-grabbing, message-bearing narratives that are developed around characters who may have played an important role in the lives of the pre-Israelite ancestors.

Q: Let’s turn to one of the most vivid figures in the Bible, Moses. Who is the Moses of the Bible, and could there have been such a person?

Meyers: The Moses of the Bible is larger than life. The Moses of the Bible is a diplomat negotiating with the pharaoh; he is a lawgiver bringing the Ten Commandments, the Covenant, down from Sinai. The Moses of the Bible is a military man leading the Israelites in battles. He’s the one who organizes Israel’s judiciary. He’s also the prophet par excellence and a quasi-priestly figure involved in offering sacrifices and setting up the priestly complex, the tabernacle. There’s virtually nothing in terms of national leadership that Moses doesn’t do. And, of course, he’s also a person, a family man.

Now, no one individual could possibly have done all that. So the tales are a kind of aggrandizement. He is also associated with miracles—the memorable story of being found in a basket in the Nile and being saved, miraculously, to grow up in the pharaoh’s household. And he dies somewhere in the mountains of Moab. Only God knows where he’s buried; God is said to have buried him. This is highly unusual and, again, accords him a special place.

“It’s possible that a charismatic leader, a Moses, rallied people and urged them to make the difficult and traumatic and dangerous journey.”

Q: What spurs the transformation of a real person into such a legendary figure?

Meyers: We can see the Moses narratives as the products of a period of trauma. We see this at other times and places. Think about our own American history. In the difficult period of the Revolutionary War, there’s a lot of trauma and turmoil. Should people fight for freedom and risk losing everything? Or should they remain dominated by European colonial powers? And one man, George Washington, emerges as a superhero, the one in whom people could put their faith, who would take them to new terrain, who would lead them to independence. If you look at the biographies of George Washington that were written before 1855, you would think he was a demigod. The mythology about him is incredible.

In some ways, we have that kind of material about Moses. The hype about him is a way of expressing the fact that people could trust his judgment. They could trust that there would be success in this highly risky venture of leaving a place where they at least had food and water and going to a place where they might not have enough food and water. But they were apparently convinced it was worth the risk, if they might eventually be able to determine the course of their own lives and to escape the tyranny of Egyptian control.

Evidence of the Exodus

Q: You and other scholars point out that there isn’t evidence outside the Bible, in historic documents and the archeological record, for a mass migration from Egypt involving hundreds of thousands of people. But it may be plausible that there was a much smaller exodus, an exodus of people originally from the land of Canaan who were returning to it. Is that right?

Meyers: Yes. Despite all the ways in which the exodus narratives in the Bible seem to be non-historic, something about the overall pattern can, in fact, be related to what we know from historical sources was going on at the end of the Late Bronze Age [circa 1200 B.C.E.], around when the Bible’s chronology places the story of departure from Egypt.

Now, what is the evidence? First of all, during this period there likely were a lot of people from the land of Canaan, from regions of the eastern Mediterranean, in Egypt. Sometimes they were taken there as slaves. The local kings of the city-states in Canaan would offer slaves as tribute to the pharaohs in order to remain in their good graces. This is documented in the Amarna letters discovered in Egypt. So we know that there were people taken to Egypt as slaves.

There were also traders from the eastern Mediterranean who went to Egypt for commercial reasons. And there also probably were people from Canaan who went to Egypt during periods of extended drought and famine, as is reported in the Bible for Abraham and Sarah.

So Canaanites went to Egypt for a variety of reasons. They were generally assimilated—after a generation or two they became Egyptians. There is almost no evidence that those people left. But there are one or two Egyptian documents that record the flight of a handful of people who had been brought to Egypt for one reason or other and who didn’t want to stay there.

Now, there is no direct evidence that such people were connected with the exodus narrative in the Bible. But in our western historical imagination, as we try to recreate the past, it’s certainly worth considering that some of them, somehow, for some reason that we can never understand, maybe because life was so difficult for them in Egypt, thought that life would be greener than in the pastures that they had left.

And it’s possible that a charismatic leader, a Moses, rallied a few of those people and urged them to make the difficult and traumatic and dangerous journey across the forbidding terrain of the Sinai Peninsula, back to what their collective memory maintained was a promised land.

Origins of the Israelites

Q: Do you think that these people returning to Canaan met up with other Canaanites in the hill country and became the people of Israel?

Meyers: The emergence of ancient Israel in the highlands of Palestine is shrouded in clouds and mystery. We’ll really never know the whole story. We can only conjecture how the inhabitants of new settlements in the highlands, in places where there never had been any settlements before, somehow began to identify with each other. And, at least as I see it, they could have met with people who had made the trek across the Sinai Peninsula.

What was it that brought them together and gave them a new national identity, a new ethnicity? Many scholars, including me, would search in the theological realm. There is a belief in the Bible that the dream of escaping from Egypt and returning to an ancestral homeland could not have happened without supernatural intervention, divine intervention. And the group that had come from Egypt felt that one particular god, whom they called Yahweh, was responsible for this miracle of escape.

They spread the word to the highlanders, who themselves were migrants into the highlands, who perhaps had escaped from the tyranny of the Canaanite city-states or from an unsettled life as pastoralists across the Jordan River. And the idea of a god that represented freedom—freedom for people to keep the fruits of their own labor—this was a message that was so powerful that it brought people together and gave them a new kind of identity, which eventually became known by the term Israel.

Remembering the Exodus

Q: So even though most of the early Israelites had not themselves made the exodus from Egypt, they adopt this story as part of their heritage.

Meyers: Yes. While very few Israelites may have actually made the trek across Sinai, it becomes the national story of all Israelites and is celebrated in all kinds of ways. Their agricultural festivals become celebrations of freedom, for instance. Many aspects of a new culture emerge and are linked with the “memories” of exodus.

The people who made the exodus from Egypt remember the experience, relive it, recreate it in rituals. They pass their rituals on to others, to future generations and to other people. We do this in our own American lives: Very few of us have ancestors who came over on the Mayflower, and yet that story has become part of our national story.

“The theme of the Exodus is an archetype in not only the Bible but in western culture in general.”

Q: When was the story of the Exodus first written down?

Meyers: It’s really hard to know when the story of the exodus first was put into written form. But it appears in one of the earliest poems in the Bible, the Song of the Sea, found in the middle of the book of Exodus [Exod 15:1-22]. This victory hymn probably dates to the 12th century B.C.E.

It’s also important to note that the Exodus is a theme that’s mentioned over and over again in various parts of the Bible. And it’s interesting to think about that in contrast, for example, to the early chapters in Genesis about the creation of the world and of Eve and Adam in the Garden of Eden. That motif rarely recurs in the Bible. It doesn’t seem to be as important an aspect of biblical culture as was the exodus. The theme of a real people achieving freedom from oppression—that’s something that resonates strongly with the biblical authors.

Q: And it’s a theme that still resonates with us today.

Meyers: Absolutely. The theme of the exodus is an archetype in not only the Bible but in western culture in general. Even though it may be rooted in some cultural memory experienced by only a few people, it became a way of looking at the world that would have great power for generations and millennia to come—the idea that human beings should be free to determine the course of their own lives, to be able to work and enjoy the rewards of the work of their own hands and their own minds.

These are very powerful ideas that resonate in the human spirit. And Exodus gives narrative reality to those ideas. It would be compelling for peoples all over the world, wherever people find themselves subjected to domination and would like to live their lives in some other kind of way.

I think it’s no accident that the founders of our own country, the United States, identified very strongly with the story of the Israelite exodus from Egypt. They felt that, in crossing the Atlantic Ocean and leaving the oppressive conditions of various European countries, they were coming to a place where they would be free from domination, where they would have religious freedom especially. And in the mythology of the colonial period in the United States, the crossing of the Atlantic somehow merged with the idea of the crossing of the Red Sea or Reed Sea of the Israelites. I think that the first seal of the United States actually depicted that kind of crossing.

The Exodus and Ancient Egyptian Record

“A papyrus dating from the end of the Old Kingdom was found in the early 19th century in Egypt. It seems to be an eyewitness account of the events preceding the dissolution of the Old Kingdom. Its author, an Egyptian named Ipuwer, writes:

  • Plague is throughout the land. Blood is everywhere.
  • The river is blood.
  • That is our water! That is our happiness! What shall we do in respect thereof? All is ruin!
  • Trees are destroyed.
  • No fruit or herbs are found…
  • Forsooth, gates, columns and walls are consumed by fire.
  • Forsooth, grain has perished on every side.
  • The land is not light [dark].

Velikovsky recognized this as an eyewitness account of the ten plagues. Since modern men are not supposed to believe in such things, it has been interpreted figuratively by most historians. The destruction of crops and livestock means an economic depression. The river being blood indicates a breakdown of law an order and a proliferation of violent crime. The lack of light stands for the lack of enlightened leadership. Of course, that’s not what it says, but it is more palatable than the alternative, which is that the phenomena described by Ipuwer were literally true.

When the Bible tells us that Egypt would never be the same after the Exodus, it was no exaggeration. With invasions from all directions, virtually all subsequent kings of Egypt were of Ethiopian, Libyan or Asiatic descent. When Chazal tell us that King Solomon was able to marry Pharaoh’s daughter despite the ban on marrying Egyptian converts until they have been Jewish for three generations because she was not of the original Egyptian nation, there is no reason to be surprised.”

Egypt, Trunk of the Tree, II

This portion of the book discusses the common practices of Pharaoh’s wiping out records that made them look bad or erasing occurrences they disliked.

HOW MOSES FLED OUT OF EGYPT INTO MIDIAN. -Josephus

Josephus is a respected historian of the turn of the b.c. to a.d.  He was a Jewish man and was historically known to be very even keeled and virtuous in his testimony regarding history.  His writings support the Biblical testimony regarding the Jews in Egypt.

1. Now the Egyptians, after they had been preserved by Moses, entertained a hatred to him, and were very eager in compassing their designs against him, as suspecting that he would take occasion, from his good success, to raise a sedition, and bring innovations into Egypt; and told the king he ought to be slain. The king had also some intentions of himself to the same purpose, and this as well out of envy at his glorious expedition at the head of his army, as out of fear of being brought low by him and being instigated by the sacred scribes, he was ready to undertake to kill Moses: but when he had learned beforehand what plots there were against him, he went away privately; and because the public roads were watched, he took his flight through the deserts, and where his enemies could not suspect he would travel; and, though he was destitute of food, he went on, and despised that difficulty courageously; and when he came to the city Midian, which lay upon the Red Sea, and was so denominated from one of Abraham‘s sons by Keturah, he sat upon a certain well, and rested himself there after his laborious journey, and the affliction he had been in. It was not far from the city, and the time of the day was noon, where he had an occasion offered him by the custom of the country of doing what recommended his virtue, and afforded him an opportunity of bettering his circumstances.

CONCERNING THE TEN PLAGUES WHICH CAME UPON THE EGYPTIANS.

1. BUT when the king despised the words of Moses, and had no regard at all to them, grievous plagues seized the Egyptians; every one of which I will describe, both because no such plagues did ever happen to any other nation as the Egyptians now felt, and because I would demonstrate that Moses did not fail in any one thing that he foretold them; and because it is for the good of mankind, that they may learn this caution – Not to do anything that may displease God, lest he be provoked to wrath, and avenge their iniquities upon them. For the Egyptian river ran with bloody water at the command of God, insomuch that it could not be drunk, and they had no other spring of water neither; for the water was not only of the color of blood, but it brought upon those that ventured to drink of it, great pains and bitter torment. Such was the river to the Egyptians; but it was sweet and fit for drinking to the Hebrews, and no way different from what it naturally used to be. As the king therefore knew not what to do in these surprising circumstances, and was in fear for the Egyptians, he gave the Hebrews leave to go away; but when the plague ceased, he changed his mind again, end would not suffer them to go.

2. But when God saw that he was ungrateful, and upon the ceasing of this calamity would not grow wiser, he sent another plague upon the Egyptians: – An innumerable multitude of frogs consumed the fruit of the ground; the river was also full of them, insomuch that those who drew water had it spoiled by the blood of these animals, as they died in, and were destroyed by, the water; and the country was full of filthy slime, as they were born, and as they died: they also spoiled their vessels in their houses which they used, and were found among what they eat and what they drank, and came in great numbers upon their beds. There was also an ungrateful smell, and a stink arose from them, as they were born, and as they died therein. Now, when the Egyptians were under the oppression of these miseries, the king ordered Moses to take the Hebrews with him, and be gone. Upon which the whole multitude of the frogs vanished away; and both the land and the river returned to their former natures. But as soon as Pharaoh saw the land freed from this plague, he forgot the cause of it, and retained the Hebrews; and, as though he had a mind to try the nature of more such judgments, he would not yet suffer Moses and his people to depart, having granted that liberty rather out of fear than out of any good consideration. (25)

3. Accordingly, God punished his falseness with another plague, added to the former; for there arose out of the bodies of the Egyptians an innumerable quantity of lice, by which, wicked as they were, they miserably perished, as not able to destroy this sort of vermin either with washes or with ointments. At which terrible judgment the king of Egypt was in disorder, upon the fear into which he reasoned himself, lest his people should be destroyed, and that the manner of this death was also reproachful, so that he was forced in part to recover himself from his wicked temper to a sounder mind, for he gave leave for the Hebrews themselves to depart. But when the plague thereupon ceased, he thought it proper to require that they should leave their children and wives behind them, as pledges of their return; whereby he provoked God to be more vehemently angry at him, as if he thought to impose on his providence, and as if it were only Moses, and not God, who punished the Egyptians for the sake of the Hebrews: for he filled that country full of various sorts of pestilential creatures, with their various properties, such indeed as had never come into the sight of men before, by whose means the men perished themselves, and the land was destitute of husbandmen for its cultivation; but if any thing escaped destruction from them, it was killed by a distemper which the men underwent also.

4. But when Pharaoh did not even then yield to the will of God, but, while he gave leave to the husbands to take their wives with them, yet insisted that the children should be left behind, God presently resolved to punish his wickedness with several sorts of calamities, and those worse than the foregoing, which yet had so generally afflicted them; for their bodies had terrible boils, breaking forth with blains, while they were already inwardly consumed; and a great part of the Egyptians perished in this manner. But when the king was not brought to reason by this plague, hail was sent down from heaven; and such hail it was, as the climate of Egypt had never suffered before, nor was it like to that which falls in other climates in winter time, (26) but was larger than that which falls in the middle of spring to those that dwell in the northern and north-western regions. This hail broke down their boughs laden with fruit. After this a tribe of locusts consumed the seed which was not hurt by the hail; so that to the Egyptians all hopes of the future fruits of the ground were entirely lost.

5. One would think the forementioned calamities might have been sufficient for one that was only foolish, without wickedness, to make him wise, and to make him Sensible what was for his advantage. But Pharaoh, led not so much by his folly as by his wickedness, even when he saw the cause of his miseries, he still contested with God, and willfully deserted the cause of virtue; so he bid Moses take the Hebrews away, with their wives and children, to leave their cattle behind, since their own cattle were destroyed. But when Moses said that what he desired was unjust, since they were obliged to offer sacrifices to God of those cattle, and the time being prolonged on this account, a thick darkness, without the least light, spread itself over the Egyptians, whereby their sight being obstructed, and their breathing hindered by the thickness of the air, they died miserably, and under a terror lest they should be swallowed up by the dark cloud. Besides this, when the darkness, after three days and as many nights, was dissipated, and when Pharaoh did not still repent and let the Hebrews go, Moses came to him and said, “How long wilt thou be disobedient to the command of God? for he enjoins thee to let the Hebrews go; nor is there any other way of being freed from the calamities are under, unless you do so.” But the king angry at what he said, and threatened to cut off his head if he came any more to trouble him these matters. Hereupon Moses said he not speak to him any more about them, for he himself, together with the principal men among the Egyptians, should desire the Hebrews away. So when Moses had said this, he his way.

6. But when God had signified, that with one plague he would compel the Egyptians to let Hebrews go, he commanded Moses to tell the people that they should have a sacrifice ready, and they should prepare themselves on the tenth day of the month Xanthicus, against the fourteenth, (which month is called by the Egyptians Pharmuth, Nisan by the Hebrews; but the Macedonians call it Xanthicus,) and that he should carry the Hebrews with all they had. Accordingly, he having got the Hebrews ready for their departure, and having sorted the people into tribes, he kept them together in one place: but when the fourteenth day was come, and all were ready to depart they offered the sacrifice, and purified their houses with the blood, using bunches of hyssop for that purpose; and when they had supped, they burnt the remainder of the flesh, as just ready to depart. Whence it is that we do still offer this sacrifice in like manner to this day, and call this festival Pascha which signifies the feast of the passover; because on that day God passed us over, and sent the plague upon the Egyptians; for the destruction of the first-born came upon the Egyptians that night, so that many of the Egyptians who lived near the king’s palace, persuaded Pharaoh to let the Hebrews go. Accordingly he called for Moses, and bid them be gone; as supposing, that if once the Hebrews were gone out of the country, Egypt should be freed from its miseries. They also honored the Hebrews with gifts; (27) some, in order to get them to depart quickly, and others on account of their neighborhood, and the friendship they had with them.

Joseph’s Story

So far as Joseph is concerned.  He was sold into slavery by his brothers which fits into skeptics beliefs that many people were sold into slavery and that he became the viceroy over Egypt because of his power to interpret the Pharoah’s dreams.  None of my research seems that it speaks against the history of the time.

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