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Archaeological Evidence For Moses


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#1    sinewave

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Posted 12 January 2010 - 08:54 PM

I mean no disrespect to Jewish tradition or those who believe in it and I hope this does not become a brawl but is there any archaeological evidence that Moses was a real person?  Do any details of his life correspond with established facts?  There have been some posts here recently that directly challenge his existence.  I have never had a reason to question the stories and always assumed there was real person or persons behind them.  It is clear though that the issue is far from settled.

Edited by sinewave, 12 January 2010 - 08:55 PM.


#2    jaylemurph

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Posted 12 January 2010 - 10:03 PM

View Postsinewave, on 12 January 2010 - 08:54 PM, said:

I mean no disrespect to Jewish tradition or those who believe in it and I hope this does not become a brawl but is there any archaeological evidence that Moses was a real person?  Do any details of his life correspond with established facts?  There have been some posts here recently that directly challenge his existence.  I have never had a reason to question the stories and always assumed there was real person or persons behind them.  It is clear though that the issue is far from settled.

Historically speaking, existence isn't proved negatively. It's proved positively -- i. e., person X wrote this document (or directly caused this to be written), this document mentions person X, this text refers to his death, sources Y and Z offer different versions of the great things s/he did.

Unfortunately for many people in this forum, modern historians do not use religious texts as these kinds of primary sources, chiefly because religious documents do not exist to record history -- they exist as a form of propaganda to influence people to join that religious establishment. They are sometimes used as a sort of secondary evidence. No one taken seriously uses the Bible (for example) as a primary source document, but on the (infrequent) occasions it agrees with legitimate historical or archaeological evidence, it might be mentioned.

That said, there is no reference to Moses outside of the Bible. There is nothing to prove he ever existed. (Which is odd, really, because the Egyptians were a meticulous people, and you'd think that the whole of their slave force up and leaving one day, precipitated by ten terrible plagues, might just warrant someone writing down.)

Rather like Jesus (for whom there is only vanishingly small amounts of actual historical reference), the record we do have obviously draws on well-known period stereotypes and ethnic mythological traditions, so its easy to see that whatever the real person might have been like -- if he indeed ever existed -- was eventually totally converted into a mythical figure.

Was there a real Moses? Maybe, but the literal figure that exists in the Bible (and only in the Bible) is unlikely in the extreme.

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#3    sinewave

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Posted 12 January 2010 - 10:10 PM

Thank you for the thoughtful response.  Your point about the Egyptians is well taken as Moses is said to have been raised by Egyptian royalty.  Certainly some record of that would have survived.


#4    jaylemurph

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Posted 12 January 2010 - 10:14 PM

View Postsinewave, on 12 January 2010 - 10:10 PM, said:

Thank you for the thoughtful response.  Your point about the Egyptians is well taken as Moses is said to have been raised by Egyptian royalty.  Certainly some record of that would have survived.

Really, the person to ask is kmt shesh. I can give you an overview of the historical procedure and general consensus of the field (for what it's worth), but kmt can give you the fine detail (or lack thereof) in terms of source and interpretation you seem to be looking for.

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#5    sinewave

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Posted 12 January 2010 - 10:16 PM

Yes, he is very knowledgeable.  I certainly respect his opinions.


#6    SlimJim22

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Posted 12 January 2010 - 11:34 PM

View Postsinewave, on 12 January 2010 - 10:16 PM, said:

Yes, he is very knowledgeable.  I certainly respect his opinions.

Is the Syrian Moschos the same as Moses?

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#7    J.B.

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Posted 12 January 2010 - 11:40 PM

Considering one of the kings who fought the Hittites, I believe, had a mural depicting his false victory over them created, I'm not sure they're quite as meticulous as we think, at least when something terrible to the kingdom, or the King's Ego, occurs. Though you're all free to debate the stuffing out of that one. :lol:


#8    OhZone

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Posted 12 January 2010 - 11:48 PM

There are some researchers who believe that Moses was Pharaoh Akhenaten.
Ahmed Osman was one of them...see article:
http://www.grahamhan...osman_moses.php

Also:
"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."

http://www.touregypt...ories/moses.htm


#9    sinewave

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Posted 13 January 2010 - 12:03 AM

View PostSlimJim22, on 12 January 2010 - 11:34 PM, said:

Is the Syrian Moschos the same as Moses?

I don't know.  I am not clear on the languages of the region over time but I believe Arabic and Aramaic are the spoken in Syria today. Hebrew is also a semitic language so there are certainly cognates.


#10    TheSearcher

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Posted 13 January 2010 - 12:06 PM

View PostOhZone, on 12 January 2010 - 11:48 PM, said:

There are some researchers who believe that Moses was Pharaoh Akhenaten.
Ahmed Osman was one of them...see article:
http://www.grahamhan...osman_moses.php

Also:
"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."

http://www.touregypt...ories/moses.htm


If it were only Graham Hancock claiming this, I would have dismissed it out of hand, as he is not an egyptologist nor even a scientist. He's a journalist plain and simply. But Ahmed Osman has a Master's Degree in Egyptology, so this lends him some credibility in my eyes. This said, Osman's core claim, that Moses and Akhenaten were the same person, supporting his belief by interpreting aspects of biblical and Egyptian history, seems a bit flimsy.
He alleges that Atenism can be considered monotheistic and related to Judaism, and includes other similarities, like the similarity of the name Aten to the Hebrew Adon, or "Lord". It's all circumstantial at best and requires some "bending around the edges".

The other article you quote is interesting, but to be fair, you should have quoted the following too. The article admits the possibility, but admits that it seems unlikely.

Quote

.....
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.
.....
Source


I find the continuation of the article even more interesting, as it seems too show a link between the Mesopotamian legend of King Sargon, who, as an infant, was said to have been abandoned on the river in a basket, just like Moses was.

But like Jaylemurph said, Kmt might be able to shed some light on this obscure affair, as he is our resident Egypt expert.

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#11    TheSearcher

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Posted 13 January 2010 - 12:41 PM

View PostSlimJim22, on 12 January 2010 - 11:34 PM, said:

Is the Syrian Moschos the same as Moses?

If I remember correctly Aramaic was the lingua franca of the region before the advent of Islam, after which is became a mix of Arabic, Kurdish, Armenian and Turkmen.  Modern Aramaic and Western Neo-Aramaic are still spoken in some very small parts of Syria.

It all depends what language Moschos is from. If it is Aramaic, then I would suppose it is possible, because the hebrew form of Moses is Moshe (correct me if I'm wrong).

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#12    SlimJim22

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Posted 13 January 2010 - 12:59 PM

Amenhotep IV (Akhenaton). The date of Akhenaten's ascension to the throne varies from 1370 B.C. to 1358 B.C. He was the Father of Tutankhamun and reigned towards the end of the 18th dynasty. Moses is most likely to be either the last king of the Hyskos Intermediate period Kamose or adopted son of Thutmose I. Moses comes from what is left of a combo of the Egyptian words for "child of" and "water" (swh -- which was generally applied to the Nile as well). So "Moses" would be a child of the water, one who was "born of" or, metaphorically, drawn out of the water (the metaphorical usage being made precisely in order to draw the pun between "Moses" and "draw out" in Hebrew.
Source

As far as the Sargon link goes there is little weight to it other than the reed basket so very flimy argument. Sargon was King of Aagade some time before 2,000bce. This is the accepted view as I understand it. Perhaps the story was embelished with parts of other stories or maybe it was not that uncommon for babies to be found in reed basksets. As far as Moses is concerned it could be a case of a hidden meanig.

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#13    Agent. Mulder

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Posted 13 January 2010 - 03:53 PM

View PostSlimJim22, on 13 January 2010 - 12:59 PM, said:

Amenhotep IV (Akhenaton). The date of Akhenaten's ascension to the throne varies from 1370 B.C. to 1358 B.C. He was the Father of Tutankhamun and reigned towards the end of the 18th dynasty. Moses is most likely to be either the last king of the Hyskos Intermediate period Kamose or adopted son of Thutmose I. Moses comes from what is left of a combo of the Egyptian words for "child of" and "water" (swh -- which was generally applied to the Nile as well). So "Moses" would be a child of the water, one who was "born of" or, metaphorically, drawn out of the water (the metaphorical usage being made precisely in order to draw the pun between "Moses" and "draw out" in Hebrew.
Source

As far as the Sargon link goes there is little weight to it other than the reed basket so very flimy argument. Sargon was King of Aagade some time before 2,000bce. This is the accepted view as I understand it. Perhaps the story was embelished with parts of other stories or maybe it was not that uncommon for babies to be found in reed basksets. As far as Moses is concerned it could be a case of a hidden meanig.

is that a religious site?
anyways, to the OP question, there arent really any sources at all (that im aware of) that lend any form of credence to Moses being a real individual.
and, youd think someone would have recorded this elsewhere from the the bible for what he did.

Edited by Agent. Mulder, 13 January 2010 - 03:57 PM.

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#14    Riaan

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Posted 13 January 2010 - 04:08 PM

View Postjaylemurph, on 12 January 2010 - 10:03 PM, said:

That said, there is no reference to Moses outside of the Bible.
--Jaylemurph

This is not quite true, but I suppose it all depends on how far back (or how recent) you are prepared to go. Josephus did us the favour of recording several (antagonistic) reports of Moses (from my website):

Manetho (an Egyptian historian) [AA I.15 (74-102), 26 (227-252)]

* The Hebrews were in fact called the Hyksos (shepherds), and that they had previously invaded Egypt and subdued its inhabitants. They were driven from Egypt and resettled in Jerusalem.
* The Hebrews were affected by the plagues of Egypt as much as the Egyptians.
* Moses was a priest born in, Heliopolis and was known by the name Osarsiph.
* A king called Amenhotep was advised by his high priest that he would 'see the gods' if he were to clear the country of the lepers and the impure people. He drove eighty thousand of them into the quarries (which resulted in a revolt).
* Those who revolted appointed Moses as their leader, who instructed them to fortify Avaris in preparation for war against Amenhotep.
* Moses' followers included Egyptian priests and other 'polluted' Egyptians.
* Moses sent ambassadors to the shepherds in Jerusalem, explaining the situation in Egypt and asking for their assistance in his war against Egypt.
* The shepherds were delighted at this news and two hundred thousand men from Jerusalem later invaded Egypt, upon which Amenhotep gathered his army, but 'did not join them in battle' and instead fled with his army and a multitude of Egyptians into Ethiopia. There they remained for thirteen years.
* Under instruction of Moses, the people of Jerusalem, who along with the expelled polluted Egyptians had invaded Egypt, treated the men in a barbarous manner, set the cities and villages on fire, destroyed the images of the gods and forced the priests to slaughter their sacred animals and eat them. These men were then ejected naked out of Egypt.


Cheremon [AA I.32 (288-293)]

* A sacred scribe called Phritiphantes advised Amenhotep to purge Egypt of the men that had pollutions upon them. Amenhotep then expelled two hundred and fifty thousand men who had pollutions upon them.
* Moses and Joseph were scribes who made a league of friendship with these men and instigated a revolt against Amenhotep.
* Moses and Joseph were driven away at the same time.
* Amenhotep fled away into Ethiopia.


Lysimachus [AA I.34 (304-311)]

* The people of the Jews being leprous and scabby…in the days of Bocchoris, king of Egypt. Bocchoris was advised by an oracle named Hammon [called Haman in the Koran - XXVIII.6, XXIX. 39] to purge his temples of impure and impious men by expelling them into the desert, but drowning the scabby and leprous people. The scabby people were wrapped in sheets of lead and drowned in the sea.
* The rest got together and were addressed by Moses, under whose advice they plundered and burned the temples of other men (the Egyptians), and 'abused' them.


Apion [AA II. 2 (9-12)]

* Moses was of Heliopolis. He used to follow the customs of his forefathers, but then reduced them all to be directed towards the sun.
* Moses brought the leprous people, the blind and the lame out of Egypt.


Justin (second century Roman historian)

"The youngest of the brothers was Joseph, … His son was Moses, whom, besides the inheritance of his father's knowledge, the comeliness of his person also recommended. But the Egyptians, being troubled with scabies and leprosy, and moved by some oracular prediction, expelled him, with those who had the disease, out of Egypt, that the distemper might not spread among a greater number. Becoming leader, accordingly, of the exiles, he carried off by stealth the sacred utensils of the Egyptians, who, endeavouring to recover them by force of arms, were obliged by tempests to return home."

Author of Thera and the Exodus, published February 2013

Details here.

#15    SlimJim22

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Posted 13 January 2010 - 04:09 PM

View PostAgent. Mulder, on 13 January 2010 - 03:53 PM, said:

is that a religious site?
anyways, to the OP question, there arent really any sources at all (that im aware of) that lend any form of credence to Moses being a real individual.
and, youd think someone would have recorded this elsewhere from the the bible for what he did.
The Hyskos are an archeological fact. It would fit that Kamose was Moses as he was their last king before they left assumably for Sinai and Cannaan. He sure left his mark if he was just a fictional figure dreamt up by some 8th century scribe. The Exodus is the imporant fact of the story so where did the hebrews go? Mesopotamia or Greece via Syria seems most likely. The Danaos perhaps.

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