THE EXODUS FAIRY TALE
Part I
I

Laurie Eddie

(Investigator 182, 2018 September)


MOSES

 "…the earlier chapters of the Old Testament, from Genesis through to 1 Kings 11, which recount the lives of colorful characters ranging from Adam to Solomon, make almost no reference to written evidence." (Propp, 2006, p. 735)

One of the most important characters of the entire exodus saga was Moses. First mentioned in Exodus 2:1-4, he was born at a time when the Pharaoh had ordered the death of all newly-born Hebrew males, however, he is saved by his mother Jochebed, (Exodus 6:20; Numbers 26:59, first by being hidden for three months, (Exodus 2:2), then later, placed in a waterproofed papyrus basket and left amidst the reeds of the Nile, while his sister kept watch.

While it is probably true that some babies were set adrift on the Nile, this particular example is probably entirely fictional. Stories of heroes being born into danger are common in a number of ancient cultures, while the theme of a male child being set adrift on a river, rescued and growing up to become a great hero, is not completely unknown. One example of this is the story of the birth of Sargon I, (2340-2284 BCE): -

1.    The result of an illicit union, his mother, an enetu, (a high-priestess), had to keep his birth a secret for, if it became known, the child would be in grave danger;
2.    To save him his mother placed him in a basket made of reeds, covered with bitumen;
3.    Set adrift on the river, he was found by Akki, a gardener, (water-drawer), who raised him as his own son;
4.    Loved by the goddess Ishtar, he grew up to become a great leader and the deliverer of his people.

Currid (2013) observed that, "…in matters of plot, sequence and details the stories generally match." (p. 78) However, others, like Hoffmeier (1999), argue that the apparent similarities are purely coincidental, since the Sargon text emerged only in the 8th century BCE, while the Exodus text, by J and E authors, was recorded as early as the 10th century BCE. (pp. 136-137).

Currid (2013) also suggests that the Moses birth story may have been based on an Egyptian birth narrative concerning the god Horus. As a child, he too faced mortal danger, but was rescued and adopted by a childless fisherman. Another ancient story tells of the queen of Kanes, (Kanesh), who, after giving birth to thirty sons in a single year, made containers caulked with grease and set them adrift on a river; carried out to sea they drifted to the land of Zalpa, where they were rescued by the gods, (Foley, 2005, p. 262).

Regardless of the actual origins of the Moses birth-story, stories of special children, born with a divine destiny, at great risk of death during infancy, who survive due to divine protection and go on to perform great deeds, were common in many ancient cultures.


THE EGYPTIAN PRINCESS

It is claimed that, "one of Pharaoh's daughters," (Exodus 2:5, traditionally known as Bithiah, or Bityah, Maciá, 2014, p. 155), found the baby Moses amongst the reeds. The text specifically says the child's, "...helpless cries touched her heart." (2:6), a quaint way of saying that she immediately formed an emotional attachment to the child, even though she realized immediately that it was an Hebrew child, (Exodus 2:6). While it is possible to accept that a barren Egyptian peasant might adopt an abandoned Hebrew baby, the idea that an Egyptian princess would do so is extremely unlikely. Egyptian royalty considered themselves to be exceptional beings, the kings, (pharaohs), were perceived as divine beings, "god-kings" believed to possess sacred powers, to be able to mediate with the gods. As Dijk (2004) indicated,

"Akhenaten in particular put much emphasis on the fact that he was the 'mother who gives birth to everything' who had 'created his subjects with his ka'. He was the creator-god upon earth who fashioned mankind after his own image." (p. 272).

Although not quite as divine as the king, (pharaoh), nevertheless, members of the royal family were perceived as exceptionally superior individuals; the wives and mothers, of pharaohs, such as Ahmose-Nefertari, could even be deified. (Bryan, 2004, p. 213) So, it seems inconceivable that any royal daughter would pollute the blood-line by adopting a Hebrew slave. Furthermore as a princess, if Bityah was so desperate for a child, no doubt it would have been relatively easy to find some high-ranking Egyptian woman willing to give up a child.

There are other problems with the "Moses in the bulrushes" scenario: -

1.    Egyptian royalty were usually surrounded by "attendants," servants and armed guards, whose duty it was to keep commoners away, so, the suggestion that a Hebrew slave Miriam, (Numbers 26:59), the sister of Moses, who, according to tradition was six-years old, could have approached the princess, and offered to find a Hebrew wet-nurse, (Exodus 2:7), is highly improbable;

2.    Why would a princess, with a multitude of servants and wet-nurses at her disposal, send a "prince of Egypt" to be suckled by a Hebrew slave and then brought back to the princess when he had been weaned? To do so would have "tainted" the child, making it extremely difficult to hide the fact that it was not only, not her child, but even worse, that it was a Hebrew child, and not Egyptian.


KILLING THE EGYPTIAN

It is claimed that, "When Moses was forty years old" (Acts 7:23), he, "... went out to visit his fellow Hebrews" (Exodus 2:11), and, at that time, he killed an Egyptian who was attacking a Hebrew, (Exodus 2:11-12), and hid the body; so, how likely is such an event?

Firstly, how would Moses have known he had been born a Hebrew? According to the text, after a time being "nursed" by his mother, she, "… brought him unto Pharaoh's daughter, and he became her son." (Exodus 2:10) It was common practice in many societies, including ancient Egypt for children of the nobility to be "wet-nursed" until weaning, which was usually around twelve months of age. However, the normal practice was that the child resided in the parent's home, and the wet-nurse lived in, as a servant. But, even if Moses had been nursed in the home of his birth-mother, and brought to Bityah when weaned, he would have been too young to remember this period of time. As Bauer (2004) pointed out, it is extremely rare for an infant to have any memories of events before they are two-three years of age, so the earliest childhood memories Moses would not have been of his time with his birth-mother but of his time spent at the pharaoh's court, so: -

1.    It is extremely unlikely Bithiah would ever have told Moses he was the son of Hebrew slaves, and, so, with no idea of his true origins, how would he know he was visiting his "fellow" Hebrew slaves;
2.    Raised as an Egyptian prince, with no knowledge of his true origins, it is most unlikely that he would have been troubled by a Hebrew "slave" being attacked by an Egyptian; slaves had no rights, and their masters and overseers had the right to kill them if they so desired;
3.    One must ask why would Moses would bother to kill the overseer himself? Surely he would have had attendants and guards to carry out his will;
4.    Even if he had killed the man himself, as a prince he would hardly have bothered to look around to make sure there were no witnesses before killing the Egyptian, (Exodus 2:12); he would have had the authority to kill any commoner with impunity. In ancient times pharaohs, and the aristocracy, had almost unlimited authority to punish servants and commoners. For example, during the reign of Khufu a servant named Ra-Or accidentally knocked over the king's sceptre, the punishment for this was death, however Khufu spared him. In addition, according to Exodus 1:15-22, the Egyptian king could order the death of thousands of children. Consequently, the scenario whereby the king, "...ordered Moses arrested and executed" (Exodus 2:15), for the "murder" of a single individual, seems highly improbable;
5.    In ancient Egypt magistrates usually dealt with most criminal offences, however, serious offences, such as murder, were heard by the Vizier. As the king's direct representative it would have been unlikely that he would find a prince guilty of murder. Even if he had, it is much more likely that, as the aristocracy often did throughout history, he would have escaped punishment by being ordered to pay compensation to the family of the murdered man. Moreover, those in authority, could manipulate and delay legal proceedings; in one example cited by Oakes (2006, p. 111), a legal dispute against the local police chief at Set Maat, (Deir el-Medina) lasted for eleven years.


THE PLAGUES OF EGYPT

The Lord appears to have been ever ready to inflict plagues upon both Israelites and Egyptians, (e.g. Leviticus 26:25; Numbers 11:33; 14:12; 14:37; and 16:46 which killed 14.700 Israelites), and, because pharaoh refused to allow the Israelites to leave Egypt, it is claimed the Lord brought ten destructive plagues upon Egypt.

In esoteric mysticism the number 10 is considered to be a perfect number, signifying totality, the complete fulfilment of a particular action. It appears often in Jewish writ, e.g. Ten Commandments, (Exodus 20); the Passover Lamb was to be sacrificed on the 10th day of the first month, (Exodus 12:3); "…a tenth of all your produce in the third year, the year of the tithe" (Deuteronomy 26:12); Ten Lost Tribes of Israel, Ten elders, (Ruth 4:2); the Day of Atonement, ten days after the Festival of Trumpets, (Numbers 29:7); the tabernacle made from, "…ten sheets of fine linen" (Exodus 26:1); curtains, "supported by ten posts set into ten bases." (Exodus 26:12, the descendants of illegitimate children to be excluded from the assembly for "ten generations" (Deuteronomy 23:2); and ten rabbis martyred by the Romans after the destruction of the second temple — in this instance the infliction of ten plagues is intended to demonstrate that Israelite's god is greater than the mightiest temporal empire on earth, Egypt.

While the exodus plagues were likely completely fictional, it is possible that some may have been based upon memories of actual unusual weather events or plagues of insects in the past. Insect infestations, such as those of locusts, frogs, gnats, (KJV "lice"), are often due to the vagaries of weather, or part of a natural breeding or swarming process. Many insects depend on the presence of water to reproduce, and some, such as the swarms of millions of tiny flies that appear over Lake Tanganyika, Lake Malawi and Lake Victoria, form such a dense cloud that they often appear as, "…huge 'smoke' plumes rolling over the water." (Van Huis, Van Gurp and Dicke, 2014, p. 31)

Bible literalists have proposed a number of often quite fantastic theories to support their belief that the plagues occurred exactly as described in Exodus. One fantastic theory is that the plagues, and the inundation of pharaoh's army, was caused by events following the eruption of the volcanic Mediterranean island of Thera. Shanks (1981), indicated that Goedicke was one of the first to make this connection; according to his scenario, in 1477 BCE, a tsunami caused by the eruption of Thera, swept across the Nile Delta, inundating Lake Menzaleh, (a.k.a. Manzala), and the plains to the south of the lake, drowning the Egyptians who were in pursuit of the fleeing Israelites.

Ritner and Moeller (2014) claim this cataclysm event was recorded on the Ahmose Tempest Stela. Found in pieces amongst rubble at the base of the third pylon at Karnak, this calcite block, inscribed on both sides, "…once stood over 1.80m tall." (p. 2). The video presentation, Treasures Decoded: Plagues of Egypt (2017), which relied heavily on the claims that this event were recorded on the stela, by deviously manipulating the facts, managed to attribute all of the Exodus plagues to the Thera eruption.

Certainly volcanic eruptions can influence weather patterns; Stommel and Stommel (1979) described how the dust from the major eruption of the Indonesian volcano Tambora in 1815 produced unusual weather patterns in the following year. In America, 1816 was described as a year without a summer, and unusually heavy rain falls were recorded from England to the Baltic.

Oman et al. (2006) outlined how the 1783-1784 eruption of the Lakagígar volcano in Iceland resulted in a lower than normal flow of water into the Nile, and, as a result,

"The inundation of 1783 was not sufficient, great part of the lands therefore could not be sown for want of being watered, and another part was in the same predicament for want of seed. In 1784, the Nile again did not rise to the favorable height, and the dearth immediately became excessive. Soon after the end of November, the famine carried off, at Cairo, nearly as many as the plague … By January 1785, 1/6 of the population of Egypt had either died or left the country in the previous two years;"

Despite such events, there is certainly no evidence to suggest volcanic activity could produce the plagues specifically mentioned in Exodus. Furthermore, as Friedrich et al. (2006), indicated, radiocarbon dating of a tree branch buried in the volcanic ash from the Thera eruption, indicated that the eruption occurred circa 1621-1605 BCE, a date which precludes it from the normally "accepted" time-frame of the Exodus.

Despite the various theories attempting to "explain" the plagues, they are most likely simply fictional, Probably originating in the vivid imagination of the Exodus author/s, based perhaps upon memories of actual unusual weather-related events and infestations in the past, they were greatly exaggerated and woven into a decuplet of fictional confrontations between Moses and the pharaoh, to demonstrate the power of the Lord.

Possibly of most interest to students of the arcane is the final "plague" — the "deaths of the firstborn". The Israelites were commanded to sacrifice, "… either a sheep or a goat, with no physical defects." (Exodus 12:5), that was one-year old, then to smear its blood on the top and sides of the doorframes of their homes. (Exodus 12:7). This ritual reflects a common belief in many primitive societies that blood was a "life force" which contained a magical form of "positive energy", as such, it could provide protection to individuals and objects by repulsing any malign "negative" forces. It was once common practice to bury a sacrificial animal in the foundations of buildings to "protect" the building and its occupants from harm; in a similar fashion, the belief here appears to have been that, by painting this positive "life force" on the doorframes, it would prevent the deadly miasma that was spreading throughout the land, from entering the homes of the Israelites.


GOLD, SILVER AND JEWELLERY

In Exodus 11:2-3, Yahweh instructs the Israelites, "…to ask their neighbors [the Egyptians] for articles of silver and gold." and, then, incredibly It is claimed,

"The LORD made the Egyptians favorably disposed toward the people, and Moses himself was highly regarded in Egypt by Pharaoh's officials and by the people." (Exodus 11:3); and,

"The LORD had made the Egyptians favorably disposed toward the people, and they gave them what they asked for; so they plundered the Egyptians." (Exodus 12:36)

Exodus 2:15 tells us that Moses had originally fled from Egypt to avoid arrest and execution, yet now, despite the claim that, "...all those who wanted to kill you are dead.'' (Exodus 4:19), it seems most unlikely that Moses would now have been, "...revered by Pharaoh's officials and the Egyptian people alike." (Exodus 11:3). Even more extraordinary, we are expected to believe that, after experiencing devastating pestilence, disease, the death of their cattle, and even the death of their firstborn children, the Egyptians would not only forgive Moses and the Israelites, but become so accommodating that they would willingly surrender so much gold, silver jewellery, and clothing, that, "...the Egyptians were practically stripped of everything they owned!" (Exodus 12:36).

Given the incredible nature of these claims it seems much more likely that their primary purpose of these particular texts was: -

a)    To confirm the prophecies, "…they will come out with great possessions…" (Genesis 15:13-14) and, "…I will see to it that the Egyptians load you down with gifts when you leave, so that you will by no means go out empty-handed!"; (Exodus 3:21);

b)    To provide an explanation for the apparently unlimited supply of precious metals, gems, and exotic materials in the wilderness, which were used to construct, and furnish, the tabernacle and manufacture priestly clothing.


THE NUMBERS

Perhaps the greatest difficulty with the entire exodus saga is the vast number of individuals, Israelites, (and others), claimed to have left Egypt, the text definitely implies there was a great number of them, "…the countless thousands of Israel" (Numbers 10:36), so many that, "…they cover the face of the land…" (Numbers 22:5), "… today you are as numerous as the stars in the sky." (Deuteronomy 1:10). Although the exact number of Israelite individuals is never specifically mentioned, there are certain clues which enable one to calculate their approximate number.

To begin with, when conducting a census of their population, the Israelites only counted males over the age of twenty, thus,

"Take a census of the whole community of Israel by their clans and families. List the names of all the men twenty years old or older who are able to go to war." (Numbers 1:2-3) and;

"Take a census of all the men of Israel who are twenty years old or older, to find out how many of each family are of military age." (Numbers 26:2)

It is claimed that, as they travelled from Rameses to Sukkoth, using this method of calculation, "There were about 600,000 men, plus all the women and children." (Exodus 12:37). This figure is repeated later when, at Taberah, "…Moses said, "Here I am among six hundred thousand men on foot…"" (Numbers 11:21) However, at another time, before taking a census to determine the allocation of gold and silver to be collected to furnish the tabernacle, "… those counted, twenty years old or more, a total of 603,550 men." (Exodus 38:26, also at Numbers 1:46)

This number did not include the Levites, (Numbers 1:47). Their census was different, "Count the Levites by their families and clans. Count every male a month old or more." (Numbers 3:14); they were numbered as follows, the Gershonites - 7,500 (Numbers 3:22), the Kohathites - 8,600 (Numbers 3:28, some sources say 8,300), the Merarites - 6,200 (Numbers 3:34). Numbers 3:39 gives the total as 22,000 although the actual figures above total 22,300.

A second census recorded 601,730 men [Numbers 26:51, and 23,000 Levites, (Numbers 26:62).

Despite the discrepancy between Numbers 11:21 and Exodus 38:26, we will use the basic figure of 600,000 males of "military age" to make an approximate calculation of the overall population.

Given that males generally comprise approximately 50% of a population, so, with a similar number of females, this suggests approximately 1,200,000 adult Israelites. Furthermore, since families were an important aspect of ancient Israelite society, it seems likely the males of "military age" would be married, so that would mean some 600,000 married couples, with children. In ancient times couples tended to have large families, and, we are told, the Israelites

     "… were exceedingly fruitful; they multiplied greatly, increased in numbers and became so numerous that the land was filled with them." (Exodus 1:7),

    "The people of Judah and Israel were as numerous as the sand on the seashore…" (1 Kings 4:20).

So, how many children would each family have had? We can obtain some clues from Genesis 46 which provides a list of, "…the names of the sons of Israel, Jacob and his sons, who came to Egypt:" by averaging the number of children of these various families, we obtain a figure of 4.9 children per family. It should be noted however, that since only the sons are named, not the daughters, the average number of children in each family would actually have been greater. Nevertheless, by conservatively, allowing for four children for each of the 600,000 married couples, we obtain a figure of some 2,400,000 children. Ignoring the, "Many people who were not Israelites went with them…" (Exodus 12:38), by adding together the figures of 1,200.000 adults and 2,400,000 children we obtain a total of some 3,600,000 individuals who left Egypt in the exodus." Although only a rough estimate, this figure corresponds closely to others such as Propp (2006), who cited a figure of, "…two to three million persons" (p. 736), and Payne (1963) who proposed a figure of "…almost 3,000,000 souls". (p. 388)
 
Butzer (1999), estimated that at the time of the so-called exodus the population of Egypt, was around three, to three-and-a-half million people, (p. 297), so, if our estimations of the Israelite population are correct, then Egypt would have lost almost its entire population. Obviously this is an impossibility, nevertheless, since, according to Exodus, the Israelites represented a major part of Egypt's labour resources, their departure would have completely devastated the Egyptian economy. Yet, although as Ritner and Moeller (2014) mentioned, there are numerous texts, (e.g. the Speos Artemidos text of Hatshepsut, 109 the Tutankhamun Restoration Stela,110 the encomium on the accession of Ramses IV,111 the Harris Papyrus112 and the Elephantine stela of Sethnakht.113), all of which outline Egyptian "…social and political chaos," (p. 13), nowhere is there any mention of a sudden loss of a major portion of their workforce, or of any subsequent economic downturn.

Furthermore, if the exodus actually occurred, and it involved 3,600,000 individuals, we would expect to find a sudden vast increase in the population of Canaan, yet again, there is no evidence of such an event ever occurring!

There would have also been a number of serious logistical problems involved with the movement of such a huge number of individuals. According to the Modern English Version, "…the children of Israel went up prepared for war out of the land of Egypt." (Exodus 13:18), This suggests they were organized like a marching army, in a single column. If we assume these 3,600,000 individuals marched ten abreast, (ignoring their, "…many flocks and herds." Exodus 12:38), and allowing for one metre between each line, they would have formed a column some 360 km. (223 miles) long, and, moving at normal walking pace, 5 kph, (3.1 mph), for 12 hours a day, it would have taken this column approximately six days to pass a single point.

Communication would have been rather difficult. If Moses had sent a messenger on horseback to convey his instructions throughout the column, given that a horse can only safely travel 48-64 km. (30-40 miles) per day, it would have taken the messenger some 5½ days to reach the end of the column. While the earliest evidence of camels existing outside the Arabian Peninsula is circa 930 BCE, (Hasoan, 2014; Sapir-Hen and Erez, 2014), Genesis 12:16 and Exodus 9:3, mention Egyptian camels, while Abraham's camels are mentioned in Genesis 24:10-11; and also in verses 14, 19-22, 30-32, 35, so, allowing for the possibility the Israelites used camels during the exodus, since camels can only travel 30-35 km. per day, it would have taken around ten days for a camel-riding messenger to travel the length of the column.

It is a fact that so many people, restricted to what is a relatively small area of wilderness for forty years, should have left considerable evidence of their passage. Especially at their campsites one would expect to find large amounts of detritus, broken pots, animal bones, food scraps and lost or discarded tools or other items, yet, as Finkelstein and Silberman, (2002) commented,

"... not a single campsite or sign of occupation from the time of Rameses II and his immediate predecessors and successors has ever been identified in Sinai. And it has not been for the lack of trying." (p. 62)


CROSSING THE "RED SEA"

"Then Moses stretched out his hand over the sea, and all that night the LORD drove the sea back with a strong east wind and turned it into dry land. The waters were divided, and the Israelites went through the sea on dry ground, with a wall of water on their right and on their left." (Exodus 14:21-22).

In ancient times the Way of Horus, (also known as the Way of the Philistines), was a 350 km. long road which ran roughly parallel to the Mediterranean coast, provided the most direct route connecting the eastern region of the Nile Delta with Canaan, (Moshier and El-Kalani 2008, p. 450). Yet, "…God led them not through the way of the land of the Philistines, although that was near;" (Exodus 13:17, this refers to the "Way of the Philistines"); there would have been good reason not to take this route as the Egyptian army maintained at least four permanent forts along this road. The first was Tjaru, (Moshier and El-Kalani 2008, p. 452), believed to be located some 3 km. north-east of present-day El Qantara, (160 km. north-east of Cairo, formerly Kantara, or Kantareh).

We are told that, before they crossed the "sea," the Israelites camped, "…between Migdol and the sea…" (Exodus 14:2) Although Tenney (1963) located Migdol, "…just W of the former shallow bay at the N end of the Gulf of Suez" (p. 532), according to Gardiner (1920), sculptures in the temple at Karnak, erected by Sethos I, (circa 1300 BCE), suggest Migdol was not only located on the Way of Horus (p. 109), but that there were a number of locations named "Migdol". As Gardiner (1920), pointed out, "… the demotic papyrus Cairo 31169 … mentions no less than four Migdols in the Eastern Delta." (p. 108); there was "Migdol of Sety Meneptah-(is)-beloved-like-Seth." (p. 109); "Migdol-of-Ramesses-Prince-of-Heliopolis", (p. 110), and "Migdol-of Menma"(p. 107); which, Gardiner (1920) believed, "…corresponds to the Migdol of the Old Testament." (p. 107). Given that the term "Migdol" means "tower" in Semitic, its general usage may suggest that it referred to the fact that these were forts with watchtowers.

The garrisons of these forts were there to maintain control and defend the region, as well as to pursue run-away slaves, (Gardiner, 1920, pp. 109-110), and keep track of the movement of traders and nomadic herding groups moving through the area. (Finkelstein and Silberman, 2002, p. 59) Gardiner (1920) mentioned that the inhospitable region of the northern Sinai, between El Qantara and Gaza, was, "… inhabited only by a small population of Bedawin nomads." (p. 114). The last fort on the road, located at Gaza, also had a customs house. (Gardiner, 1920, p. 104) Given the level of security in the area it seems most unlikely that several million people could have moved out of Egypt without the commanders of these garrisons being aware, yet, as Finkelstein and Silberman (2002), noted, "...in the abundant Egyptian sources ... there is no reference to the Israelites ..." (p. 59).

Nevertheless, the principal question is which "sea" was it that the Israelites are actually supposed to have crossed? Was it the Red Sea, the Sea of Reeds, or some other more distant location?

Propp (2006), pointed out that the Hebrew term used in Exodus is yam sûp, (Suph Sea), which has, "…traditionally been translated "Red Sea" but more recently "Reed Sea," since that is what the phrase literally means" (p. 752). Traditionally, it is believed the Israelites crossed somewhere on the Gulf of Suez, (the most northerly part of the Red Sea), although others believe the crossing was actually at the Gulf of Aqaba.

The Gulf of Suez forms the northernmost part of the Red Sea, and is located adjacent to the western side of the Sinai Peninsula; the Gulf of Aqaba is located on its eastern side of the Sinai Peninsula more than 200 kilometres to the east. Although a crossing at such a distant location makes no sense, as Propp (2006, p. 752) pointed out,

"… there is little doubt that in Exod 23:31; Numbers 14:25; 21:4; Deuteronomy 1:40; 2:1; Judges 11:16 [?]; 1 Kings 9:26; Jeremiah 49:21, the Suph Sea is the Gulf of Aqaba. In Exod 10:19; 13:18; Numbers 33:10-11, however, the Suph Sea appears to be the Gulf of Suez." (p. 752).

Further complicating the issue is that the water in both of these gulfs is saline, yet, "…reeds do not grow in or near…salt waters." (Propp. 2006, p. 752), it is therefore difficult to reconcile these locations with the term "Reed Sea."

According to Exodus 14:2, before they crossed the "sea" the Israelites camped "…near Pi Hahiroth, between Migdol and the sea…by the sea, directly opposite Baal Zephon." Although  the actual locations of these places remain uncertain Jastrow, Buhl, Jastrow and Ginzberg (1906) suggested Baal-Zephon might be located, "…in the neighborhood of the Red Sea." (p. 387), Numbers 33:8 states that after leaving Pi Hahiroth, "…they passed through the midst of the sea…" which would suggest that Pi Hahiroth was located west of the Red Sea. Long (1870) identified it as being located in, or near Arsinoe, (now Ardscherud), a city-port,

"…at the northern extremity of the Heroopolite gulf, [Gulf of Suez] in the Red Sea. It was the capitol of the Heroopolite nome, and one of the principal harbours belonging to Egypt. … It is also conjectured to have stood on the site of the ancient Pihachiroth" (Exod. Xiv. 2, 9; Numb. Xxxiii. 7: (Long, 1870, p. 225).

Unlike the easy crossing depicted in De Mille's The Ten Commandments, if the vast number of individuals we have suggested is correct, then their passage would have presented many logistical difficulties. If, as mentioned earlier, they formed a column some 360 km. (223 miles) long, it would have taken then at least six days to cross the "sea," even if the crossing was only a short distance. However, that time-frame does not allow for the problems of moving older people, and slow moving herds, through mud and sediment, so one can reasonably add several more days for the crossing, even if they did not stop to rest or sleep.

Continued in Part III


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