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atalante

correlating Pentateuch to Egyptian history

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kmt_sesh

There are lots of people like Rendsburg who assign Exodus to other points in time. Pretty much every pharaoh of the New kingdom has been fingered as the pharaoh of Exodus. It just expressed people's attachment to the biblical tale and the desire to pin it down to a real time and person. I get that. In fact I've long enjoyed studying ancient Hebrew history and, to an extent, the biblical events we can in fact fit into real history. What I strongly dislike, however, is when a writer tries to turn biblical characters into real kings and officials from ancient Egypt (e.g., Joesph was this vizier or Moses was that king/prince). That's when an attempt at historical veracity flies way out the window.

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atalante
Posted (edited)
On 5/31/2018 at 9:02 PM, kmt_sesh said:

There are lots of people like Rendsburg who assign Exodus to other points in time. Pretty much every pharaoh of the New kingdom has been fingered as the pharaoh of Exodus. It just expressed people's attachment to the biblical tale and the desire to pin it down to a real time and person. I get that. In fact I've long enjoyed studying ancient Hebrew history and, to an extent, the biblical events we can in fact fit into real history. What I strongly dislike, however, is when a writer tries to turn biblical characters into real kings and officials from ancient Egypt (e.g., Joesph was this vizier or Moses was that king/prince). That's when an attempt at historical veracity flies way out the window.


kmt,
 
I like your balanced approach for posting about the bible.  It seems unlikely, to me, also, that Egyptian royal people (whose names are known by modern Egyptology, such as any vizir) were reported in the bible, together with specific Egyptian job activities. 
 
I hope your post was not objecting to Rendsburg's calling out the name Ramses III. 
 
Biblical studies in recent decades have made healthy progress by accepting that an initial phase of the legendary biblical "Exodus" movement was likely to be a small detachment of people, which moved away from the highly populated capital cities of Egypt.  Then a secondary phase of the legendary Exodus - at a later date, roughly one generation after the first phase - has commemorated a secondary migration that moved into the core biblical region. 
 
Stiebing's's 1989 book, "Out of the Desert ?", publicized some economic details "inside" the Nile Valley, which could easily have made Egyptian residents want to migrate away from the core area of Egypt during a few specific decades.
 
Stiebing (pages 178-179) reviewed previous studies that had showed - the price of grain skyrocketed in Egypt, for roughly 25 years after the death of Ramesses III, reaching 8 to 24 times the price that was previously charged for Egypt's wheat in more normal times.  After those first 25 years, the prices of Egyptian grain remained approximately 8 times higher than normal for approximately an additional 25 years.  Those were 50 drought years for Egypt.  Although the bible suggests (only) proto-Israelites were being oppressed into poverty shortly before the legendary Exodus - Stiebing's book has shown that all of the Nile valley's residents were thrust (for approximately 5 decades) into oppressive lifestyles, at a time when the legendary biblical Exodus might have occurred. 
 
Egyptology is well aware that Ramesses III claimed he had settled some Sea Peoples in Egyptian garrison cities along the Mediterranean coastline. The bible narrative makes a somewhat similar claim - that the bible's Exodus migrants were positioned a few miles inland (at Kadesh-Barnea, for most of a legendary 40-year period in the desert) near powerful garrison cities for "Philistines" (i.e. for Sea Peoples). 
 
Presuming that the bible's Exodus group was contemporary with (and also confronted) Philistines, then the timing for an initial phase of the bible's Exodus events must be no earlier than the reign of Ramesses III. 
 
Other lines of reasoning also indicate that the Exodus events belonged in the era of the 1100s BC, (when many consecutive pharaohs were named Ramesses).  For example, biographical details in the bible list only a few generations of Levite people who were in Egypt during the period of bondage.  
Edited by atalante

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Kenemet
42 minutes ago, atalante said:
 
Stiebing (pages 178-179) reviewed previous studies that had showed - the price of grain skyrocketed in Egypt, for roughly 25 years after the death of Ramesses III, reaching 8 to 24 times the price that was previously charged for Egypt's wheat in more normal times.  After those first 25 years, the prices of Egyptian grain remained approximately 8 times higher than normal for approximately an additional 25 years.  Those were 50 drought years for Egypt.  Although the bible suggests (only) proto-Israelites were being oppressed into poverty shortly before the legendary Exodus - Stiebing's book has shown that all of the Nile valley's residents were thrust (for approximately 5 decades) into oppressive lifestyles, at a time when the legendary biblical Exodus might have occurred. 
 

I'm not sure how much of an impact this would have had for the Egyptians.  They had a sort of neo-socialist system where the Pharaoh (through the temples) owned a lot of the land and a lot of the produce.  Since this was in an age before money, taxes were collected in grain and other resources and redistributed to the people during the Flood Season.  Individuals did sell produce to others (but it was a local thing) - I can see them charging foreigners more, but I haven't seen anything that suggests internal prices were that high.

Also... "50 drought years"  doesn't make much sense.  Egypt is in a desert, so it's in a perpetual drought.  They use the Nile for water and there was not a 50 year period of consistently low Nile flows.

Also, I think Stiebing's book may be out of date.

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Windowpane
1 hour ago, Kenemet said:

... I think Stiebing's book may be out of date.

It can be previewed here.

(But apparently Dever was doubtful ... )

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Kenemet
1 hour ago, Windowpane said:

It can be previewed here.

(But apparently Dever was doubtful ... )

Yes, I noted the 1989 publication date (meaning information from the 1980's.)  There's been several revisions since then and a lot of new material (a changed understanding of Thutmoses III and Hatshepsut, for instance.)  

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atalante
23 hours ago, Windowpane said:

[one third of] It [Stiebing's book) can be previewed here.

(But apparently Dever was doubtful ... )


Both Dever and Stiebing have rejected two extremes:  a) the positions of biblical minimalists (that the bible is talking trash for every time period before 500 BC); and B) the Deuteronomic Historian's claim that the Exodus events included a brutal total conquest, 468 years before Solomon's Temple was built (i.e. a conquest ca.1440 BC). 
 
The book review you quoted (by Dever, dated 1991) falsely complains that there was no major drought in the archaeological era named Israelite Iron 1.  However, the passage of time has proven that Stiebing was right, and Dever was wrong, about the severe drought era that ended the Late Bronze Age.  Cline's book "1177 BC:  the Year Civilization Collapsed" has collected abundant details about the drought era that Dever initially said did not exist.  
 
Dever insisted the famous Merneptah Victory stele must be used (like a magic lamp with a genie inside) for explaining the origin of archaeological "Iron 1" society. 
 
Dever (Who Were the Early Israelites, pages 201-208) argues that Merneptah's military action, ca 1210 BC, had caused a group (which ancient Egypt had named "Israel") to disperse into the central highlands, where the dispersed group of people started modern archaeology's "Iron 1" culture.    
 
Stiebing's book still comes quite close to the modern consensus about how Yahwism worked its way into Israelite society.  By contrast, Dever disliked discussing Yahwism. 
 
 
I think Dever rightly connects the Merneptah stele's comment about "unsettled Israel" to the dispersed Iron 1A culture, which arose soon afterward in the central highlands.  
 
But on the other hand, Dever clearly was on the wrong side of any "Pan-Mediterranean drought" arguments.  Cline has thoroughly demolished Dever on this 1100s BC drought issue.
 
So I recommend calling the bickering between Dever and Stiebing a minor bickering.  
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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atalante
On 6/2/2018 at 7:39 AM, Kenemet said:

I'm not sure how much of an impact this would have had for the Egyptians.  They had a sort of neo-socialist system where the Pharaoh (through the temples) owned a lot of the land and a lot of the produce.  Since this was in an age before money, taxes were collected in grain and other resources and redistributed to the people during the Flood Season.  Individuals did sell produce to others (but it was a local thing) - I can see them charging foreigners more, but I haven't seen anything that suggests internal prices were that high.

Also... "50 drought years"  doesn't make much sense.  Egypt is in a desert, so it's in a perpetual drought.  They use the Nile for water and there was not a 50 year period of consistently low Nile flows.

Also, I think Stiebing's book may be out of date.

Kenemet,

In Egypt, famines resulted from low flood levels of the Nile river.  Beginning in the time of Ramesses III, there were several strikes by the craftworkers in the Valley of Kings.   Stiebing points out that a craftworker was typically paid enough grain to feed about 16 people, and had a typical family size of 8 or 9 people.  In famine years, the pharaoh might cut in half the amount of grain that was distributed to royal craftworkers.  When the grain pay-reductions occurred, the craftworkers could only feed their families, with no surplus grain to trade for things like clothes or other niceties.  

Here is a link that explains a 2-meter drop in the Nile flood level might reduce the size of Egypt's planted acreage by 33%. 


The blessings of the Nile were many, but they did not come without some costs. A low flood could lead to famine, and too high a flood could destroy dikes and other irrigation works. Even a 2-meter drop in the river’s flood level could leave as much as a third of the floodplain unwatered.7
 
The well-known biblical account of Joseph and the Pharaoh’s dream is a reasonable reflection of the threat of famine that Egyptians periodically faced. Asked to interpret his ruler’s dream, Joseph foretells several years of abundant harvests followed by seven years of shortage, and advises the Pharaoh to begin storing massive quantities of grain to avert famine.
 
During a period of disappointing floods between the reigns of Ramses III and Ramses VII in the twelfth century BC, food shortages caused the price of wheat to rise markedly. Prices stabilized at a high level until the reign of Ramses X, and then fell rapidly as shortages eased by the end of the Ramessid Dynasty, about 1070 BC.8
endquote
 
 
The above pdf is using Butzer (1976), and Hughes (1992), as references for its footnotes 7 and 8.

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Kenemet
59 minutes ago, atalante said:

Kenemet,

In Egypt, famines resulted from low flood levels of the Nile river.  Beginning in the time of Ramesses III, there were several strikes by the craftworkers in the Valley of Kings.   Stiebing points out that a craftworker was typically paid enough grain to feed about 16 people, and had a typical family size of 8 or 9 people.  In famine years, the pharaoh might cut in half the amount of grain that was distributed to royal craftworkers.  When the grain pay-reductions occurred, the craftworkers could only feed their families, with no surplus grain to trade for things like clothes or other niceties.  

Yes, I know this.  It's well documented.  No quibble there.

What I *AM* quibbling about is the claim of a multiple-decades long drought in Egypt (beyond the usual desert climate they have there.)  We do know that there were several major droughts during Egypt's long history, but these numbers seem to be pulled out f a hat.

Quote

The well-known biblical account of Joseph and the Pharaoh’s dream is a reasonable reflection of the threat of famine that Egyptians periodically faced. Asked to interpret his ruler’s dream, Joseph foretells several years of abundant harvests followed by seven years of shortage, and advises the Pharaoh to begin storing massive quantities of grain to avert famine.

 

I don't think you can use the Bible as a source since it can't be shown which Pharaoh this was supposed to be.  It might simply be a Jewish "Faith story" about something that did not actually happen.

Quote
During a period of disappointing floods between the reigns of Ramses III and Ramses VII in the twelfth century BC, food shortages caused the price of wheat to rise markedly. Prices stabilized at a high level until the reign of Ramses X, and then fell rapidly as shortages eased by the end of the Ramessid Dynasty, about 1070 BC.8

To some extent, but I'm dubious of the rather extreme prices quoted (unless someone's got a really good source (like actual bills of goods) for it.)  I haven't seen it in other books; is there other good documentation about this?

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atalante
23 hours ago, Kenemet said:

 

....To some extent, but I'm dubious of the rather extreme prices quoted (unless someone's got a really good source (like actual bills of goods) for it.)  I haven't seen it in other books; is there other good documentation about this?

Kenemet,
 
It would be nice to see the "bills of goods"  I have been hoping that you had the "bills of goods" (or at least, that you can find it).
 
Many Egyptology writers have stated that Egypt's highest grain prices occurred in the reign of Ramesses VII.  That was the time when Egypt pulled out of Beth Shan (the main city that Egypt had used for administering the core biblical region), and also pulled out of the entire Levant region. 
 
Perhaps some of the experts at kmt sesh's Chicago museums have access to the price numbers in relevant "bills of goods".
 
Stiebing's book includes many additional details about those decades with grain shortages, which he cites from (among others):  John A Wilson (1951, University of Chicago), The Burden of Egypt, pages 274-288.    
 
For example:  during the reign of Ramesses IX, the royal necropolis workers turned to organized tomb robbery.  "It is compelling that the item most frequently purchased with the loot was food; another large share went as bribes to granary guards and officials so the thieves could obtain grain in the future" (Wilson 1951, pages 280-288; Stiebing, page 180)
 
It seems to me that organized tomb robbers in the Valley of Kings would have access to huge amounts of valuables; so they could pay very high prices for food with their stolen loot.    

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Kenemet
4 hours ago, atalante said:
 
It seems to me that organized tomb robbers in the Valley of Kings would have access to huge amounts of valuables; so they could pay very high prices for food with their stolen loot.    

Probably not.

If I recall correctly, some higher ups were involved in this.  The robbers themselves had to take what they were given (the middlemen did better) and although they improved their lives (and the village) they did not become wealthy land owners and weren't able to buy expensive tombs and so forth.  It was their fences who did better financially and the jewelers that the fences sold to.

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atalante
 
Archaeologist Amihai Mazar identified 1140-1130 BC as the date when Egypt surrendered control of Beth Shan to Canaanites, in the following paper (see page 166).  "Lower level VI" at Beth Shan had occurred before the 1140-1130 BC transition; and "upper level VI" occurred after the transition.
 
A scarab from pharaoh Ramesses IV is the last New Kingdom object found at Beth Shan (stated on page 177 in the above paper). 
 
 
 
Inside the Nile valley, dysfunction of Egypt's government has been documented for the period 1151-1142 BC, which was about a decade before Egypt surrendered Beth Shan to the Canaanites.
 
quoting from Stiebing's book, Out of the Desert, pages 179-180:
 
The grain shortage and rampant inflation encouraged growth of other evils as well.  Among these was dishonesty on the part of various government officials who sought to provide food and wealth for themselves, their families, and friends, with little thought for the rest of Egyptian society.  There had probably always been some venal and dishonest officials within the Egyptian bureaucracy, but this problem became much more widespread during the 12th century BC.  During a ten-year period (c. 1151-1142 BC) in the reigns of Ramesses IV and V, a ship's captain whose job it was to transport a yearly ration of grain from the delta to a temple in upper Egypt stole 91% of the grain he was supposed to deliver !
 
That this fellow could get away with embezzlement on such a scale for an entire decade indicates that corruption went much farther than the captain and his crew.  As John A Wilson has pointed out, "The ship captain could not have engaged in such wholesale robbery without the knowledge and participation of a host of agents, all the way from the farmers who delivered grain to his boat in the Delta to the clerks who registered it at the temple of Khnum at the first Cataract." (*J. Wilson, 1951, page 280)  Somehow the fellow was eventually brought to justice, but it is unlikely that he and his cohorts were the only ones engaging in such embezzlement of royal and temple revenues.
 
endquote from Stiebing's book

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atalante
On 6/5/2018 at 10:07 PM, Kenemet said:

Probably not.

If I recall correctly, some higher ups were involved in this.  The robbers themselves had to take what they were given (the middlemen did better) and although they improved their lives (and the village) they did not become wealthy land owners and weren't able to buy expensive tombs and so forth.  It was their fences who did better financially and the jewelers that the fences sold to.


Kenemet,
 
Your observation is a good one.  Organized groups were being successful in 12th century BC Egypt - rather than individuals.
 
I pointed to a similar issue in my post about a "group" of shipping embezzlers that stretched from the Delta, along the Nile, upstream to the temple of Khnum. 
 
 
 
Around 1160 BC, Ramesses III donated several groups workers, as recorded in the Great Harris Papyrus.
For examples of groups that Ramesses III established:
 
At Tell El Yehudiya [ https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Leontopolis_(Heliopolis) ], Ramesses III built a new palace adjacent to Heliopolis.  At this Heliopolis palace, he settled 2093 foreigners among 6296 Egyptians.  [ *8 in  http://www.newchronology.org/fullt/51.txt ]
 
At Beth Shan, Ramesses III added to the existing Egyptian installations. 
In regard to the foreigners:   Ramesses III's foreign serfs are described as "maryanu (soldiers), apiru, and people already settled in the temple estate". [ http://www.liquisearch.com/habiru/the_sources/egyptian_sources ]
 

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atalante
Posted (edited)
Ramesses III did a huge amount of construction in Egypt.   When Egyptology experts analyze the Great Harris Papyrus, for claims about the projects that Ramesses III constructed - we are told that Ramsses III constructed more cubic feet of volume than the Giza Pyramids.
 
In this post I am only focusing on Ramesses III's constructions at 4 places, which the bible says were involved in the biblical Exodus.
 
*  Heliopolis (= biblical "On"), where legendary biblical "Joseph" rose to power;
*  a facility adjacent to Heliopolis (Tell-Yehudiya) where the Great Harris papyrus says Ramesses III donated 2093 "foreigners" (including apiru servants) to build a fortified palace in honor of Ramesses III;
*  Pi-Ramesses (where Exodus 1:11 reports that Israelites/Hebrews were forced to build the constructions);
*  and Egypt's Canaanite city for administering the entire core biblical region (i.e. the city Beth Shan).
 
The following link explains that these 4 construction projects by Ramesses III involved as much cubic volume of construction material as the Great Pyramid.
 
 
quote from Egyptologist Eric Uphill, at:  http://www.newchronology.org/fullt/51.txt
Some idea of just how vast this 
[Ramesses III's construction program] 
would be can be seen from the fact that
Medinet Habu alone has an outer wall and circuit
measuring 315m x 210m square, with a rampart
over 17m high standing on a foundation platform
averaging 2.5m high and just over 30m wide,
fronted by a lower rampart wall. In addition there
is the substantial inner rampart with towers, the
whole system comprising at least 234,000 cubic
metres of material.

.......

Yehudiya as rebuilt by Ramesses [III], was probably
nearly double this figure, while Heliopolis follow-
ing Petrie may have been much greater still.

If then an average of about 233,000 cubic
metres is taken as a basis for calculation, bearing
in mind that this does not include all the interior
buildings of these foundations, whose bulk must
therefore have added at least twenty five per cent
or more to the total mass, then the aggregate of
buildings constructed during this reign is truly
formidable. 

At the minimum there are five places
listed [in the Great Harris papyrus]
as having fortifications of the Medinet Habu
class, not including Heliopolis or Yehudiya which
as shown would between them have added the
equivalent of five more such constructions. This
alone would equal the Great Pyramid in volume 
of materials. 

......
In addition sites such as Beth-shan rebuilt by
Ramesses I11 as a fortress covering about 2.5
hectares and standing on a very tall mound that
rises from 40 to 60m above its surroundings, give
an indication of what type of foreign establish-
ments were comprised in the Harris inventory.
Largest of all in constructional terms among
those listed in Egypt itself may have been the
settlement and great estate wall at Per-Ramesses.
 
endquote
 
Edited by atalante

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atalante
Thomas Mudloff has analyzed excavation of Egypt that was performed by University of Chicago (at Medinat Habu), and proposes the biblical Exodus occurred in a timeframe near Ramesses IV.
 
In the following link, the core part of his explanation for a 12th century BC date of the Exodus starts at the heading "A Reconsideration of Evidence".
 
 
Who is Thomas Mudloff?   He is a PhD Egyptologist who lectures at Field Museum of Chicago:   http://www.abrock.com/MudloffSite/Tom.html
 

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kmt_sesh
9 hours ago, atalante said:
Thomas Mudloff has analyzed excavation of Egypt that was performed by University of Chicago (at Medinat Habu), and proposes the biblical Exodus occurred in a timeframe near Ramesses IV.
 
In the following link, the core part of his explanation for a 12th century BC date of the Exodus starts at the heading "A Reconsideration of Evidence".
 
 
Who is Thomas Mudloff?   He is a PhD Egyptologist who lectures at Field Museum of Chicago:   http://www.abrock.com/MudloffSite/Tom.html
 

I personally know Mudloff. I trained in hieroglyphs under him. He's a good man. I don't recall his ever talking about Exodus, however, but he was nig into religious studies.

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atalante
Posted (edited)
On 6/19/2018 at 7:01 PM, kmt_sesh said:

I personally know Mudloff. I trained in hieroglyphs under him. He's a good man. I don't recall his ever talking about Exodus, however, but he was nig into religious studies.

kmt,
The webpage from Thomas Mudloff (which I linked in a previous post, 
 http://www.abrock.com/MudloffSite/Exodus_1.html ) said Mudloff will write a second part of his theme about the biblical Exodus.  I would like to read his second part.  
 
I especially hope he will comment about a solar eclipse that occurred on September 30, 1131 BC - a total eclipse that NASA says was visible in Gaza and the southern part of biblical Israel.     https://eclipse.gsfc.nasa.gov/SEsearch/SEsearchmap.php?Ecl=-11300930
 
This 1131 BC eclipse corresponds to a "miracle of the sun", which the book of Joshua discusses (Joshua 10:13-14), and says occurred after the biblical Israelites had left Egypt and had been wandering in the desert for many years.
 
Thomas Mudloff has recommended an Exodus date near the reign of Ramesses IV (1153-1147 BC) , so this 1131 BC eclipse would have occurred roughly 20 years after Mudloff's suggestion for the date of an Exodus from Egypt.  According to the bible (Joshua 10:13), an ancient tradition about the eclipse had been preserved in a book titled Jasher, long before the book of Joshua was written.  
Edited by atalante

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atalante

Excavation in 2013-2014 at Tell Abu al-Kraraz has confirmed a bible story that Philistines greatly expanded their territory, shortly after 1100 BC. https://bionews-tx.com/news/2014/02/14/evidence-that-biblical-philistines-originated-as-migrant-sea-people-from-europe-unearthed-in-ancient-jordanian-settlement/
 
 
This Philistine expansion activity may have peaked ca. 1070-1050 BC.  And if so, it occurred in the time of biblical king Saul - who was traditionally born ca. 1080 BC, and was appointed as king to fight back against the Philistine expansion.  This Philistine expansion date also occurred near the time Egypt collapsed into its 3rd Intermediate period (1070 BC).

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