Sunday, April 27, 2014

The Exodus and Akhnaten

On several occasions I have suggested that the Israelites who fled Egypt might have been expelled or escaping devotees of Egypt's  monotheistic Akhnaten religion.  There is much that fits but the problem is that the Exodus story is quite unlike anything we know from Egyptian history.  Below is an account that shows the connection is possible  -- JR

The whole subject of the Exodus is embarrassing to archaeologists. The Exodus is so fundamental to us and our Jewish sources that it is embarrassing that there is no evidence outside of the Bible to support it. So we prefer not to talk about it, and hate to be asked about it.

However, there is another way of looking at it, another way of seeking support for this fundamental experience of our peoplehood.

We do not look for evidence from the biblical text, but we can look to it for the general context of a sojourn in, and an exodus from, Egypt, and there are three major elements.

The first is that the Israelites were slave workers in mudbrick. They had to manufacture the material and they were semi-skilled workers in laying the bricks. As there were thousands of Israelites, what projects were they working on? The pyramids and the temples were in stone, the mudbrick houses of the peasants were built by themselves, so what project needed hundreds of workers in mudbrick? Secondly, when the Israelites escaped, it was during a period of turmoil brought on by the magical plagues, a period when the Egyptians were off their guard and keen to see the slaves go as they wished into the desert.

When could that have been? And thirdly, the Israelites escaped into the desert and there built a most luxurious portable shrine to their God, to accompany them through their long desert trek and to house the Deity that would lead them and protect them on the way. It was to be made of fabulous materials, in hardwood and colored cloth with gold and copper trimmings, as described in detail in 16 chapters of the Torah.

How could all that have been manufactured and assembled in the arid Sinai wilderness? We should then ask, is there any period in Egyptian history when the conditions for these three elements could have come together and thus formed a basis for the context and account of the Exodus? And the answer here is “yes” – there was one such period.

It was around the death of the heretic Pharaoh Akhenaten, the one who decreed that all worship should be directed to the single god Aten, the disc of the sun, and all other gods should be downgraded to secondary rank. To impose his new religious order, Akhenaten closed the old cultic centers of Saqqara and Luxor, closed the temples there, disowned their priests and founded a new city, Akhetaten, called the Horizon of the Aten, on a prime site well away from the old centers.

TO IMPOSE the new rule, the city had to be built quickly, and it went up in the incredibly short time of two years, being built throughout in mudbrick, except for the temple and palace, which were in traditional stone.

How could it have been built so quickly? It was said to have employed thousands of slaves working under military taskmasters. It was the largest mudbrick project in Egyptian history and it required thousands of bricklayers and millions of bricks. It employed the army to supervise the slave workers and force them to work as fast as the Pharaoh demanded.

The new city was at El Amarna, on the east bank of the Nile, where there was plenty of soft mud for the bricks but little straw.

Thanks to slave labor, Akhenaten’s model city was built in record time, but it did not last long. After only 16 years, Akhenaten died, his reforms had been deeply unpopular and when he died, his new religion was abandoned, and so was his city. Akhenaten and his beautiful wife Nefertiti had had no son, only six daughters, and so it was one of the sons-inlaw who succeeded him: Tutankhamun, the famous boy king Tut.

He had the onerous task of restoring the old order, the old religion, the old gods and their priests, and he was under threat if he did not do so. The restitution stele says that the old gods would punish him if they were not given back their old rights and positions.

Hapi, the androgynous god of the Nile, would make its waters undrinkable; Kermit, the goddess of fertility, would release her frogspawn to swarm over the land; Osiris, the god of corn, would not prevent the locusts from consuming his cereals, and Ra, the sun god, would refuse to shine. Sound familiar? The laws of succession had already been altered, there was no firstborn son to succeed Akhenaten, only a daughter and son-in-law.

As the new city was abandoned, there was breakdown in law and order and the Israelite slaves saw their chance to escape. Like the other departing inhabitants they took with them any treasure they could lay their hands on. They “despoiled the Egyptians” (Exodus 12:36) and marched off with precious materials and above all the battle shrine of Tutankhamun.

Every Pharaoh had a portable battle shrine, to go with him into war, so he could consult the deity and look to it for guidance on the field. Tutankhamun did not go to war, as far as we know, but he had to be ready and he had a war chariot, as one was figured on his furniture, so he would have had a battle shrine as well, but none was found among the luxurious treasures of his tomb when it was uncovered by Howard Carter in 1922.

Where then was his battle shrine ? It had been taken away by the Israelites.

And what was its form? We can assume that it was similar to that of Ramesses the Great, whose battle shrine is depicted on the walls of his temple at Abu Simbel. It was a two-chamber movable building set in a large courtyard; the inner chamber was square and contained the ark of a deity protected by two winged birds, and the outer room was twice as large, for the worshipping priests.

That of Tutankhamun was taken by the fleeing Israelites and converted by artisans Bezalel and Oholiab, as instructed by Moses, to become the portable Mishkan or Tabernacle, that accompanied them through the wilderness and landed up at Shiloh, in Canaan. Thus it was made of the finest material, as was everything else that Tutankhamun left behind, including furniture with carrying poles and a golden chest surrounded by cherubim. Sound familiar?

THUS, AT the death of Akhenaten we have a situation in Egypt where the three major conditions of the Israelite account of the Exodus came together; the building of a vast mudbrick project; a period of unrest and turmoil when slaves could escape; and the foundation of the Mishkan in the shape of a luxury battle shrine. The date of the death of Akhenaten is placed at about 1330 BCE, and Tutankhamun came to the throne the same year.



Bundy Ranch Repeat Brewing On The Red River

The Texas – Oklahoma border on the Red River is the latest flashpoint in the growing property rights war between overreaching federal bureaucrats and private citizen landowners.

Breitbart’s Bob Price reports that the Bureau of Land Management (the rogue federal agency that precipitated the Bundy Ranch standoff in Nevada) is considering seizing 90,000 acres of private land along the Red River that forms part of the border between Texas and Oklahoma.

The BLM is now contemplating the same strategy it used some 30 years ago to deprive Texas rancher Tommy Henderson of 140 acres of his property without paying him one cent to gain control of more land in the Red River area.

According to Representative Mac Thornberry’s staff, the issue of the ownership of this land dates back to the Louisiana Purchase of 1803. When the BLM made the claim on Henderson’s land, their position was that Texas never had the authority to deed the land to private parties and therefore it would fall under federal control.

According to Breitbart’s Price, the U.S. Supreme Court attempted to settle the boundary dispute in Oklahoma v. Texas and declared the boundary to be defined by wooden stakes set on the river bank. But as Price observed, that boundary apparently lasted no longer than anyone could expect wooden stakes to last in the shifting sands of a meandering river. In 2000, Texas and Oklahoma’s legislatures agreed to a “Red River Boundary Compact” which defined the border between the states as the southern vegetation line.

In 2000, Texas and Oklahoma’s legislatures agreed to a “Red River Boundary Compact” which defined the border between the states as the southern vegetation line. According to the Constitution, Congress must ratify agreements of this kind between the states (Article 1, Section 10, Clause 3) which was done when Congressman Thornberry introduced House Joint Resolution 72 during the 106th Congress which was passed and signed by the President to become Public Law No: 106-288.

Ostensibly the issue that has once again brought the BLM into the picture is a state dispute between Texas and Oklahoma, and federal rights accrued through the 212 year-old Louisiana Purchase, but the real issue is not whether the land in question is rightly or wrongly in private hands; it is who controls the public lands in Texas.

Texas is the only western state with no significant federal landholdings outside of parks and military installations because when the Republic of Texas came into the Union it claimed title to all the lands not then in private hands within the state borders.

The Republic of Texas had a policy of attracting settlers and encouraging them to build wealth through the protection of private property rights and eventually those Texas lands were deeded to private parties.

In many cases the lands currently eyed by the federal government have been in Texas families for generations, but were the BLM to pursue its claim to the Red River lands vast areas of Texas could be open to a similar challenge and eventual federal control.

The great Texas oil boom of the 20th century, and the vast expansion and wealth of Texas cities, such as Dallas, Ft. Worth and Houston that accompanied it, all took place on private property without much federal interference. Likewise the newer shale plays, such as the Cline shale are outside of federal control.

The Red River lies between the Barnett shale in Texas and the Woodford in Oklahoma and some observers are beginning to wonder if controlling the water and energy potential of the region isn’t behind the sudden federal interest in the Red River private property.

Citizen outrage continues to rise and were federal bureaucrats attempt another land grab using the Henderson case as precedent the situation along the Red River could become another Bundy Ranch-style confrontation between citizens protecting their private property and overreaching federal bureaucrats.

Organizers with the Oklahoma Militia, that claims nearly 50,000 volunteers, say they currently have members in Nevada helping to defend Cliven Bundy’s ranch.

Members say they are taking Bundy’s side and fear the BLM's practices there could spread to the Sooner State.

Scott Shaw told Oklahoma City’s News Channel 4, “Evidently in America we don’t actually own the property anymore if you ever did.”

Shaw says Oklahoma Militia members are ready to take up arms against the federal government if needed.

He said, “It’s up to the feds. The ball’s in their court! You can do this legally or if you want to try to do a land grab violently, you can do that. We’re going to resist you!”

Shaw says the militia has not had to defend Oklahoma from the government yet but members are becoming concerned.

Shaw said, “Just look around the country, they are doing it everywhere. If they can do it in Nevada, they can do it in Colorado, Texas. I mean, what’s to stop them from coming to Oklahoma? The only thing to stop them is ‘We the People’.”




The Plan: Dump Those Plans:  "Another ObamaCare insurance policy casualty may be what's known as fixed benefit or indemnity insurance. People who hold these policies receive a fixed sum of money when they use health care services, and because they're not tied to a network, these policyholders can visit any doctor they like. And they're less expensive than the typical insurance policy. Yet new regulations sprouting from ObamaCare would make these plans illegal because they don't offer the required benefits of the law. That means -- you guessed it -- another wave of cancellations of plans that people like. There are hundreds of thousands of people on these policies, and enrollment in them has increased thanks to ObamaCare's spiking premium costs. The poor will be hardest hit.

How Many Uninsured?:  "Ostensibly, the purpose of ObamaCare was to insure the uninsured. At least that's what Barack Obama and his leftist cadres repeatedly told us. Well, so much for that. The CBO estimates that at the end of this year, 42 million Americans will still lack insurance. A decade from now, the number will be 31 million. And the CBO's estimate is likely too good because it's based on their calculation that of the supposed eight million enrollees in ObamaCare, six million were previously uninsured. Other estimates put that number as low as two or three million. But it gets worse, Fox News reports: “Not only that, but starting in 2018, the CBO report projected the total getting coverage from the exchange will hit 25 million, although at the same time 12 million will lose coverage.” If you like your… oh, never mind.

IRS Awards Its Tax Evaders Bonuses:  "As if you needed yet another reason to despise the IRS, the Associated Press reports on an inspector general investigation revealing that between October 2012 and December 2012, tax evaders within the agency were awarded $1 million in bonuses and $2.8 million overall was given “to employees with recent disciplinary problems.” The AP notes, “[The] report said the bonus program doesn't violate federal regulations, but it's inconsistent with the IRS mission to enforce tax laws.” Those would be the very tax laws that land ordinary citizens in deep trouble for evading. But laws are for the little people; breaking the law in the public sector earns you a reward. The report adds that these bonuses “create a conflict with the IRS's charge of ensuring the integrity of the system of tax administration.” Did the agency ever have any integrity? The targeting of conservative groups should put any such assertion to rest.

Obama's war on women:  "As of 2012, the most recent year for Census Bureau income data, the median income of American women was $21,520 in constant 2012 dollars. That was down $914 dollars—or about 4.1 percent—from 2009.  The median income of American women has not recovered in the current recovery. It has continued to decline from its pre-recession high.  The measure of “income,” according to the Census Bureau, does not include “noncash benefits, such as food stamps, health benefits, rent-free housing, and goods produced and consumed on the farm.” But it does include money a person takes in from such sources as unemployment compensation, Social Security payments, Supplemental Security Income, public assistance, disability benefits, and other cash payments such as rents, royalties, dividends, and interest."


For more blog postings from me, see  TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH,  POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC,  AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, and Paralipomena (Occasionally updated) and Coral reef compendium. (Updated as news items come in).  GUN WATCH is now mainly put together by Dean Weingarten.

List of backup or "mirror" sites here or  here -- for when blogspot is "down" or failing to  update.  Email me  here (Hotmail address). My Home Pages are here (Academic) or  here (Pictorial) or  here  (Personal)


No comments: