In earlier installments of this series, we have described the rather sordid adventures of the dysfunctional family of Abraham. In spite of considerable attention from God, they never seem to understand, really, what “ethics” is all about.
We have to ask just why their newly emerging god, the all powerful Creator of the Universe, could not just lay down all the essential rules for humanity; and then proceed to provide some unbelievably awesome supernatural shock and awe, from which no human would dare to ever cross the line from there on out. You say to us, … well, Jerry and Richard, God did just this when he flooded the entire Earth for 40 days and nights.
But with this amazing storm: apparently Ham and Canaan didn’t get the moral subtext of the shock and awe message. They only took it as punishment for mans’ past sins, but then went right on sinning. Perhaps the problem was God’s fault?
So, God tried again during Moses’ time. And this time, rather than relying on oral transmission, he set down the law for all time, on stone tablets no less. But strangely, Moses’ God bore a peculiar relationship to the Egyptian pharaoh Akhenaten‘s god, the sun god Aten (aka Adon’Ai); as well as another member of the Egyptian pantheon, Seth, who was rather more Satanic.
Thus we assert, rather tongue in cheek, that The Exodus was a metaphorical Aten Bomb sprung upon society. It was another form of Shock and Awe, following up on the ‘splashier’ time of Noah.
Moses and Superman
As we have stated before with Abraham, we can only guess that these Patriarchs are probably mostly fictional characters, retrojected far into the past and assembled to establish a foundational legend for the synthetic basis of Judaism’s Israel. Apart from the biblical texts, there is little convincing evidence as to their having ever existed in reality.
In 1993, William Dever wrote, “The overwhelming scholarly consensus today is that Moses is a mythical figure.” And in her encyclopedic last work “Did Moses Exist?“, Acharya S answered resoundingly in the negative: that Moses never existed. Thus, we must take this as the prevailing rationalist wisdom: that Moses was not a real historical person.
At one level this seems obvious: the stories of ten magical plagues, and of burning bushes, are clearly mythical. But even allowing for such embellishments, there are basic archaeological problems. There is no evidence that the Israelites originated as an enslaved people within Egypt who sojourned in the desert for 40 years, and then emerged to conquer Israel as their promised land.
Moses’ mythical nature is further betrayed by his heroic aspect. In fact, as Simcha Weinstein wrote in “Up, Up and Oy Vey“: Moses, Aaron and Joshua were original Hebrew superheroes. “They all wielded courage and supernatural powers to protect and serve their people.” Moses became possibly the most important literary inspiration for Superman. Funny, nobody is confused that Superman doesn’t exist.
So if the Old Testament tales of the Exodus are not history, then what are they? Who wrote them, where, when and for what purpose? What can they tell us about the actual historical circumstances, uncovered by archaeology? And, what does the story of Moses tell us about the world of today?
In contrast to all of this, there is an element of detailed historical veracity in the Biblical account. Not so much in terms of a credible portrayal of the main characters, but in terms of numerous contextual and cultural elements and details which have been verified by archaeology. Thus, it seems likely that the surviving texts were based, in some way, on earlier sources which are now lost.
If the Biblical characters may indeed have some historical basis, we suggest that they were used as conveniently propagandized literary tropes. The initial audience may have had some familiarity with those earlier sources. Aspects of those sources were included to facilitate the massive religious transition imposed upon the audience.
An Imperialist Front
In keeping with our approach in this Old Testament series: we interpret the text, within the framework that the biblical Lord (Yahweh, El, etc.) represents the goals and intentions of earthly Lords. That is, the wealthy and even more so, the powerful: pharaohs, kings, priests, and nobility. Thinking of God as a fantasy or superstitious relic, or even as a well-meaning theological construct, is a serious analytical error.
In this interpretive framework, the Exodus emerges as an act of contrived cultural division. The voice of God (through Moses) is saying that he wants the Israelites, the slaves of Pharaoh, to go into a new land and conquer it. We ask, Cui bono?
God promised the Israelites their freedom. But it is a strangely restricted freedom, with convoluted new laws and a new tribe of elite overlords and priestly authorities, the Levites. If it is Pharaoh’s voice speaking through Moses and the priests, then the story makes perfect sense from the geopolitical perspective. It is Pharaoh who is directing the Israelites, as his front line troops, to go and conquer the land of the Canaanites. That is, the Israelites are basically a controlled front of the Egyptians and are conquering Palestine on their behalf.
Remember that according to the Biblical account, it was only four generations earlier that Moses’ ancestor Joseph manipulated monetary policy during a famine to place all free Egyptians into bondage (Genesis 47). Perhaps this new ‘freedom’ is just slavery by another name.
There is no God over Pharaoh
The Israelites would have been far less enthusiastic about this imperialistic project, if it was being done for the benefit of the hated Pharaoh. But for themselves, their freedom and their own land, the cost-benefit calculation tilts the other direction. According to the Biblical narrative, the Israelites enthusiastically supported Moses and Joshua. Or at least, as long as the operation proceeded smoothly.
The trickery and deception is that the Moses and Pharaoh were never really at odds. That was all for show. From the Egyptian perspective: Pharaoh said that the Hebrew God was responsible for their misfortune, when actually Pharaoh himself was stoking the flames. And the Israelites believed that Moses spoke for God, when behind the scenes he was working for Pharaoh’s benefit.
Remarkably, it seems that the Israelites were being set up as a sort of “controlled opposition” with respect to the Egyptians left behind.
As Freud famously noted, Moses is an Egyptian name. The Biblical narrative tells us that Moses came from Pharaoh’s household. So, whether as actual family members or householders, it’s easy to imagine that they could have shared common goals and a common outlook, and hatched this scheme to inspire the Israelites into the role of fearsome conquerers — on behalf of their higher geopolitical aims, of course.
Jan Assmann, borrowing Freud’s observation for the title of his “Moses the Egyptian“, said that he would not even ask the question of whether Moses was an Egyptian, historically speaking. But we will risk an answer: at least in terms of the way the Biblical story is written, he seems to be a “Crypto-Egyptian”. That is, a fake Hebrew. This may also be hinted at in the verses describing Moses’ leprous white hand (Exodus 4:6) or his shining face (Exodus 34:29-35); perhaps his complexion was lighter than his asiatic Hebrew subjects.
The skeptical reader may note that this is a “conspiracy theory“. However, the “official story” in this case is that God really did authorize the conquest, with the accompanying genocide of the Canaanites. Which, we submit, is not only impossible, but also an unspeakable evil.
“Secrets of the Exodus”
On behalf of our suggestion that ‘God’ should be read as ‘Pharaoh’, we would like to cite the book, Secrets of the Exodus (2002) by Messod and Roger Sabbah. This book also posits the central role that the 18th and 19th Egyptian Dynasties played in founding the Abrahamic religions. The authors compress most all of the Genesis and Exodus narratives, from Creation till Moses and Joshua, into this period centered upon Akhenaton’s reign at Amarna.
These brothers are Jewish rabbis, and are thus also part of a most helpful trend. Numerous Jews (including Freud, Velikovsky, Shahak, Feather, Sand, etc.), have addressed, in various ways, the actual Egyptian historical roots of the Jewish religion; and indeed, Western Civilization itself.
Unfortunately, some Jews do not approve of such honest examinations of their CULTURE. Thus, authors such as these run the risk of being labeled self-hating Jews by their own kind. And, of course, there are many goyim who are scared witless. Such examinations also threaten the artificial ‘Gentile’ cultural Identity, spoon fed to them from cradle to grave.
But, there is no need for anyone to fear. Once the origins of these cultural biases are widely recognized, we hope that humanity can tuck them safely in the past, where they belong.
The Secrets of the Exodus should have gotten much more notice, but for these neurotic cultural insecurity factors. But, as well, we should acknowledge once more what Martin Bernal exposed in great detail (Black Athena Vol. 1): the top down, institutional academic effort (via the 1730’s formulation of Romanticism) to deny the massive input to Western Civilization from Egypt. This Romantic project insisted instead that the Classical Greeks developed it all, despite the Classical Greeks’ denial of same.
The Elohim: the Image of Pharaoh
To set the tone, let’s first look at the Sabbahs’ proposed real meaning of Elohim and Nephilim. The Sabbahs rely on the analysis of Rashi, who was a famous 11th century French rabbi.
From Chapter 10, The Elohim, page 74-76:
“When mankind began to increase in population on earth and daughters were born to them, the sons of the Elohim saw that the women were beautiful. And they married those of them that they wanted” (Hebrew Bible, Genesis 6:1-2).
Rashi offers this explanation about the beings that appear in these verses:
The sons of the Elohim: children of princes and judges. Another explanation of the Midrash [Hebrew commentary on the Bible]. They were heavenly beings, accomplishing a divine mission. They were also mixing with the women. In any case, the word Elohim always carries with it the sense of supremacy. It is thus that God said to Moses: “Thou shalt be for Aaron one of the Elohim” (Exodus 4:16), Or again, “Behold, I shall cause you to be one of the Elohim for Pharaoh.” (Exodus 7:1)
The commentary gives us a better glimpse of the priests of ancient Egypt. The pharaohs succeeded one another in the course of the different dynasties, and each one had numerous wives and children. They assured the futures of the princes by assigning them functions in government, the army, and above all, the priesthood.
The Nephilim and the Nobility
“The Nephilim were on the Earth in those days and afterward too, when the sons of the Elohim mixed with the daughters of men. And those daughters bore children to them. They were the ancient heroes and men of renown” (Hebrew Bible, Genesis 6:4).
Although the Hellenists translated nephilim as “giants,” the sense of the verse was contested by Fabre d’Olivet:
The simplest things are always those the scholars see least. They go searching into the beyond, with infinite pains, neglecting the truth right under their noses. The savants had the Latin word nobilis, under their eyes, which carries the same root as the Hebrew Nephilim … and which has to be seen in the Nephilians of Moses, not as giants of men of colossal height, but the grandees, distinguished, illustrious men, In short, the nobles.
This explanation, based on semantics, permits us to reinforce the sense of “sons of the Elohim” as those belonging to the pharaonic nobility, ambitious and proud of the past.
The Sacred and the Profane, Inverted
The Israelites of the biblical Exodus story are marked by profound cultural distinctiveness, placing them into opposition with the surrounding peoples. This was noted by outside observers such as Tacitus, who wrote: “the Jews consider everything that we keep sacred cred as profane and permit everything that for us is taboo“. Jan Assmann called this basic principle of the Jewish religion: “normative inversion”. For example, Tacitus noticed that the Jewish sacrificial ram makes a mockery of the Egyptian god Amun, and that their sacrificial bull similarly mocks Apis. (Jan Assmann, Moses the Egyptian, Kindle Locations 512-513).
In our view, this is the basic psychological mechanism that the Egyptians used to create the Israelites as a distinctive people. Their mission would be as conquerors, a thorn in the side of all surrounding peoples.
Laurent Guyénot, in From Yahweh to Zion, argues that the distinctive Hebrew god Yahweh is modeled on the Egyptian god Seth. But, who is Seth? Jenny Hill of Ancient Egypt Online explains:
Seth and the Hyksos
Hill goes on to state that Seth became associated with the Hyksos during the 2nd intermediate period. In fact, Jan Assmann said, the Hyksos king Apophis “did not worship any other deity in the whole land except Seth.” (Jan Assmann. Of God and Gods: Egypt, Israel, and the Rise of Monotheism, Kindle Location 664). Seth’s reputation took a turn for the worse when the Hyksos were conquered and ejected from Egypt at the beginning of the 18th dynasty.
Thus, the adoption of a Seth-like god by the Hebrews, at a time when Seth was being demonized by the Egyptian priesthood, constitutes a very significant cultural inversion. Guyénot says that “From a point of view of Egyptian metaphysics, the god of the Jews betrays a Sethian character. Yahweh is Seth on an archetypal or paradigmatic level.” (From Yahweh to Zion, Kindle Location 895).
Seth as the Anti-Osiris
Guyénot points to the story of Cain and Abel as an example of a story that points to the role of Seth in Hebrew religion:
The epilogue added to the Cain-Abel story reinforces the symmetry. Like Osiris, the murdered Abel gets a new life of some kind, when Yahweh grants to Adam and Eve “another offspring, in place of Abel.” And this third son, a substitute or alter ego of the second, is named Seth (Genesis 4: 25). This homonymy cannot be a coincidence, but rather strong evidence that the Cain-Abel story, in the form that has come down to us, is dependent on the Osiris-Seth myth. (Kindle Locations 809-816)
Anti-Egyptian Views on Paradise and the Afterlife
Possibly the deepest meaning of this inversion of the Osiris story, is that Judaism rejects the Egyptian view of Paradise and the afterlife. Guyénot says:
Here is the explanation for the asymmetry between the myth of Osiris and its biblical inversion: there is no resurrection for Abel, as Seth-Yahweh is the god of death, not resurrection. There is no Other World for the good dead in the Torah: the Yahwist scribes have borrowed Paradise, the land of blessed immortality, from neighboring cultures, but shifted it to the beginning of the story, then closed access to it forever. The originality of the Bible, as we shall see, is often merely the inversion of motifs from other cultures…(Kindle Locations 906-915).
All of this “normative inversion”, we submit, is another indication that the Torah is describing false flag imperialism. The Israelites of the Bible are no longer able to be at home in Egypt, not even as slaves, because of their religious isolation. To survive in a hostile environment, they have no choice but to succeed as warriors.
Authoritarianism in the Biblical Exodus
Biblical Moses famously goes to Pharaoh with the demand to “set my people free”. But in fact the narrative has little to do with “freedom”, at least not in a modern sense. Perhaps the emphasis should be on Moses’ characterization that the Israelites were “MY” people, that is, owned by Moses.
Most tellingly, the tribes of Israel were not a self-governing federation. On the contrary, they were ruled over by the Levites, who were Moses and Aaron’s relatives. And, under Moses, Aaron and the Levites, the Israelites were subject to a bewildering 613 laws covering every aspect of behavior. They were, virtually, portrayed as slaves to Yahweh, with sacrifices due at every turn. And (under our basic interpretive framework) we know who Yahweh represents.
The role of Aaron and the Levites is on display in the remarkable episode of the Golden Calf, Exodus 32:1-35. As the chapter opens, we find that some of the Israelites are still polytheistic. Aaron encourages all these backsliders to turn in their gold, which he fashions into a calf for them. Then Moses returns, and calls down the wrath of God against those who fell for Aaron’s invitation. Or rather, the wrath of the Levites, who “there fell of the people that day about three thousand men.” (Ex. 32:28).
But Aaron himself was not punished. He kept his slot in the leadership, even though he had shaped and organized the rebellion. As to whether the peoples’ gold was really ground into a powder and scattered on the water, we are skeptical.
On the contrary, the true Machiavellian goal of Aaron & Moses (as depicted in the story) was to disorient the pagan Israelites, take their money, and install the Levite priestly caste as rulers over them.
Mapping the Exodus into History
As we mentioned above, the Exodus tale cannot be found, per se, in the archaeological record. Finkelstein & Silberman in “The Bible Unearthed” (2001), along with most archaeologists, argue convincingly that there was never any mass migration of Israelites from Egypt. In general, Israel and Judah emerged from the highlands of Palestine, where the inhabitants were typically Canaanites, ethnically and culturally, perhaps aside from an aversion to pork.
The first characteristically Israelite monumental architecture that has been found by archaeologists to date, is from the time of the ruler Omri. Finkelstein & Silberman contend that the various six-chambered gates and city walls that have sometimes been attributed to Solomon, are in fact from the Omride dynasty or even later. This is based on the similar building style to Samaria, which is generally accepted as built by Omri. Similar monumental architecture has been unearthed all over the territory ascribed to the northern kingdom of Israel, while there is a complete absence of any such ruins in the southern kingdom of Judah, or any of the major cities of Solomon’s kingdom that was supposedly in Judah.
Finkelstein says that Judah was far less developed and prosperous during the 10th through 8th centuries BCE, compared to either Israel or to the coastal settlements of the Philistines or Phoenicians. As such, there was no material basis for a great empire such as the one ascribed to Solomon. Finkelstein & Silberman don’t dispute that David and Solomon might have existed: but if they did, they must have been local chieftains, rather than captains of empire.
Similarly, there is simply no evidence for the existence of any complex state apparatus anywhere in ancient Israel before the Omrides. Thus, conventional historians are at a loss to explain how the stories of the Exodus, Judges, or the Kingdom of David and Solomon (as eyewitness history) could ever have been written down by anyone. This is a crucial point, because as we will demonstrate, these stories do indeed have analogs in real historical events.
Exodus as a Consolidation of Narrative Sources
If these histories were not written down by the Hebrews, then by whom? Our answer is that the records must have been maintained by the Egyptians, and by their proxies, the Levite priests. And indeed we find that some Egyptian records describing similar scenarios do exist. If (as we contend) the stories describe a covertly directed operation, then the Egyptian records should describe the events from an Egyptian point of view. One must decode the propaganda to see the mirror image of the events from the Israelite point of view.
In further explanation of our views, we point again to Jan Assmann, who suggested that the Exodus narrative has no single origin, but rather combines numerous historical experiences into “a coherent story that is fictional as to its composition but historical as to some of its components”. (Assmann, Jan (2014). From Akhenaten to Moses: Ancient Egypt and Religious Change, p. 26)
These traumatic events include the expulsion of the Hyksos; the religious revolution of Akhenaten; a possible episode of captivity for the Habiru, who were gangs of antisocial people operating between Egypt’s vassal states; and the large-scale migrations of the ‘Sea Peoples‘. We will look at each of these events in turn, and explore how they contributed to the development of the Biblical story.
If all of these separate historical events were originally represented by source documents, which were combined in a literary fashion to produce our received Exodus narrative: then which of those events was a Machiavellian covertly-directed conquest, as we have suggested? None of them, or all of them? We will return to this question at the end.
The Hyksos Exodus
The Hyksos people (also known to the Egyptians as “asiatics”) were a West Semitic people akin to the Canaanites. During the Middle Kingdom period, they moved into Lower (Northern) Egypt, either by conquest or assimilation. By the time of the Second Intermediate period, they were ruled over by the “Fifteenth Dynasty” of Hyksos Pharaohs, who in many ways emulated Egyptian culture. Meanwhile, the traditional Egyptian pharaohs continued to rule in Upper Egypt, possibly as vassals of the Hyksos. Eventually, these Upper Egyptian pharaohs emerged triumphant, and drove the Hyksos out of the Delta region and into the Levant.
The tale of the Hyksos is told in Book 1 of Against Apion by Flavius Josephus. The purpose of the book is to defend Josephus’ work in the Antiquities of the Jews, against certain unnamed critics who say that the Greeks know nothing of the ancient origins of the Jews. (Apion isn’t mentioned until book 2.) Josephus says that his information about the Hyksos comes from the Egyptian historian Manetho. The story is narrated very approvingly, as a true story of the great antiquity of the Jews.
According to Josephus, Manetho said that the Hyksos came to Egypt as ruffians from the East, and conquered the country, governing from Memphis while setting up Avaris as a frontier fortress. After “511 years”, the Hyksos were finally driven out, and they went first to Avaris, and then on to Judea, where they built the city of Jerusalem.
Josephus notes several similarities between Manetho’s account and the Hebrew bible, including the idea that the Hyksos were called “shepherds”, and also “captives”. He mentions that at the same time as the Hyksos were driven out by the Egyptians, that Danaus left for Argos, and comments that this was a thousand years before the Trojan war.
Hyksos, Patriarchs and the 18th Dynasty
Related to Josephus’s narrative, author Ralph Ellis, in “Jesus Last of the Pharaohs“, noted a similarity between the names of certain Hyksos pharaohs of the 14th dynasty, and the names of Biblical patriarchs. For example, he suggests that the name of the throne name of the pharaoh Sheshi, which is Mayebra, may have been pronounced backwards as Ayebra’m or Abram, or Abraham. Other suggestions include Cainan (son of Arphaxad) = Khyan, Heber = Yakub-her, and Jacob = Yakbim. Very little is known about these 14th dynasty Pharaohs beyond their cartouches and scarabs. Even their sequence is not agreed on. Therefore, there is little if any evidence to confirm or deny the relationships suggested by Ellis.
Ellis argues that these Hyksos Pharaohs were distinguished from the Theban Pharaohs more by their religion than by their ethnicity. He says that they were characterized as “shepherd kings” because they had observed the precession of the zodiac, and therefore had chosen to worship Aries the ram, rather than Taurus the bull. As mentioned above, it is also known that these Hyksos worshipped Seth above other Egyptian gods.
A possibly confusing aspect is that the term ‘Hyksos’ may refer either to the entire people (who are thought to be West Semitic) or to the Hyksos rulers, who might not be ethnically the same as the commoners. As we have discussed elsewhere: the Biblical narrative indicates that Abraham came from Ur, which most likely means Edessa, a territory hotly contested by Hittites and Mitanni. These are the peoples that brought chariot warfare to the ancient near east, introduced in turn into Egypt by the Hyksos. The Levirate marriage contract seems to be another common cultural feature.
According to all known archaeology, the Hyksos kings were driven from Egypt to Jerusalem by Ahmose I, the first 18th dynasty pharaoh. And from there, they disappeared from all historical records.
About this same time (give or take), the great volcanic eruption of Thera occurred. Apocalyptic rainstorms were described on Ahmose’s Tempest Stele, consistent with the result of a massive volcano explosion. While some scholars argue that this is confirmation of some seemingly miraculous aspects of the Biblical exodus, others say that the Tempest Stele should be interpreted metaphorically.
Regardless of which is the case, Josephus’s identification of the Hyksos exodus with the biblical Israelite exodus seems plausible. It was widely accepted by 19th century scholars, and later rejected only because the Hyksos seemingly disappeared, rather than achieving any verifiable archaeological continuity with the later Israelites.
Amenhotep III: A Hyksos Resurgence?
Ellis goes on to suggest that the Hyksos ruling family continued to live in Jerusalem during the time of the 18th dynasty. Furthermore, he proposes, they took on a role as advisors to the Theban pharaohs during that time, as exemplified by the biblical Joseph. Ellis suspects that the last Hyksos pharaoh driven from Egypt by Ahmose I was Jacob (aka the pharaoh Yakbim) and that Joseph was a title denoting several generations of Pharaoh’s viziers.
If this is correct, and Jacob was in fact the Hyksos pharaoh driven from Egypt by Ahmose, then perhaps the odd story of Genesis 32:22-32 is a parable of this event. According to the story, Jacob wrestles overnight with God until daybreak, and the battle ends in a draw. God then tells Jacob that his new name will be Israel. In accordance with our interpretive framework, we say that Jacob has not fought with God, but rather with Pharaoh; that is, Ahmose. Perhaps, are insiders being informed that Pharaoh has sponsored the nation of Israel as a front, to advance a hidden agenda?
Eventually, Egyptian history tells us that the vizier Yuya‘s daughter Tiye married the pharaoh Amenhotep III, and Yuya’s granddaughter, Nefertiti, married Akhenaten. Yuya’s tomb is known as the most opulent one yet discovered in the Valley of Kings (aside from Tutankhamun) and he is suspected of non-Egyptian ethnicity, either Mitanni or “asiatic”. Ellis notes that Amenhotep II and Amenhotep III both included the glyph for ‘hyk’ in their cartouches, and states that Amenhotep III called himself “The Hyksos King of Thebes”.
Amenhotep III was the son of Thutmosis IV with Mutemwiya, who may have been the same person as a daughter of King Artatama of Mitanni who was taken as a bride by Thutomosis, whose name is otherwise lost to history. At any rate, DNA testing indicates that Yuya was not only Amenhotep III’s father-in-law, but also genetically closely related.
Given all this information, we contend that these Hyksos pharaohs (aka Biblical patriarchs) were in fact Indo-European (that is, Aryan) foreigners, ethnically allied with the Hittite and Mitanni ruling classes. If so, then the central dialectic of Western civilization, based on the tension between Jewish and Christian elements, is essentially built on a massive ‘identity’ scam. The tribe of Judah, David, and Christ is not Semitic, but Aryan. The irony should set any Zionist or White Nationalist’s head spinning.
Ahmed Osman says that Amenhotep III gave the city of Zarw to his wife Tiye, and built a pleasure lake there the year after Akhenaten was born. Osman believes that this city was built exactly on the site of Avaris, the former Hyksos capital.
If indeed there was some continuity between the Hyksos and the later 18th dynasty Pharaohs, this helps explain why animosity developed between Akhenaten and the Theban priesthood. It might also explain why Akhenaten chose to build a new capital in upper Egypt at Amarna, roughly half way between Thebes and Zarw / Avaris.
However, the late 18th dynasty Pharaohs seemingly abandoned the Hyksos anti-God, Seth, in favor of the solar deity Aten. This may have been based on a recognition that Seth’s reputation had deteriorated to the point where rehabilitation was impossible. But, the underlying theological view of Seth seems to have survived in the Hebrew view of Yahweh.
The symbol of the Burning Bush (with its unquenchable flame) may be interpreted as a link between Aten, Yahweh and Seth.
An Exodus from Akhenaten’s Amarna
Stephen G. Rosenberg, writing in an op-ed in the Jerusalem Post, noted some similarities between the time of Akhenaten and Tutankhamen, and the scenario of the Exodus. According to the Old Testament, the Israelites were slave workers in mudbrick; and, we now know from archaeology, Akhenaten’s capital city of Amarna was hastily constructed of mudbrick. After Akhenaten’s death, there must have been a departure or exodus of some sort from the newly built city. And finally, Rosenberg says that the design of the Israelite tabernacle described in the Old Testament is similar to the portable war shrines built by the Pharaohs of that time.
As the Sabbah brothers also noted, Tutankhamun’s tomb contained a chest of sculpted wood, with carrying poles, covered in gold leaf. Another container was sealed with gold panels depicting winged angels or cherubim. And the tomb was within a wooden frame covered with a large linen cloth. The entire scenario evokes the tabernacle and the Ark of the Covenant as described in the book of Exodus.
Putting these elements together, Rosenberg suggests that the Israelites were Akhenaten’s slaves at Amarna. At his death, they departed, and took Pharaoh Tutankhamen’s war shrine with them.
Plagues in the Restoration Stele
Rosenberg thinks that the script of Tutankhamen’s “Restoration Stele” is echoed in the Biblical text:
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?
Josephus describes the Amarna Exodus?
After identifying the Hebrew exodus as the Hyksos exodus, Josephus goes on to relate an alternative version of the origin of the Jewish people: as lepers. This story seems to be loosely based on the fall of Akhenaten’s headquarters in Amarna.
Josephus says the story comes from three different sources: Manetho, Chaeremon and Lysimachus. Josephus himself is skeptical, and seeks to prove that they are all lying, by showing up the contradictions in their various stories. But as readers, we must suspect that there must be some kernel of truth in the various stories, which overall seem pretty compatible with each other.
The most complete version of the story is from Manetho, who says that Pharaoh Amenophis expels 80,000 lepers from Egypt to work in quarries. These lepers chose themselves a ruler named Osarsiph, who makes an alliance with the Hyksos from Jerusalem. They conquer Egypt, while Amenophis takes refuge in Ethiopia. Osarsiph changes his name to Moses. Finally, Amenophis and his son Rampses return from Ethiopia and drive the lepers and Judaeans back to Syria. Josephus contends that the whole story is absurd on multiple levels.
But, Chaeremon tells more or less the same story, except that there are 250,000 lepers instead of only 80,000, and Chaeremon is confused about where the lepers found their allies, who seem to have come out of nowhere. Chaeremon has Joseph as a contemporary of Moses.
Lysimachus’ version is the most spare on details, gives the Pharaoh’s name as Bocchorus, and says that the lepers were about to be thrown in the ocean wrapped in lead sheets when Moses saved them.
A Nation of Priests
Ralph Ellis suggested that these people were “Lepers” because of their “diseased” spiritual beliefs, rather than any physical problem. And, the Sabbahs identify the exiles with Akhenaten’s priesthood, the ‘Yahud’. In Secrets of the Exodus, Chapter 25, Culture of the Nile, page 259, the Sabbahs assert that the ‘Yahud’ originated in Egypt, as a priesthood of the time of Amenhotep III.
They mention that the Hebrew Yehuda (for Judah) is a theophoric name, containing reference to ‘Yahwe’. And that Judah was the son of Leah, as was Levi. Leah was the ‘hated wife’ of Jacob, the preferred being Rachel. The Sabbahs claim that the Yahud were indeed monotheistic priests, based upon the root words, ‘Hodah’ and ‘Yahu’, meaning ‘praise God’. This, of course, begs the question of the relationship of the Levites to the Yahuds then in regards to priesthood status. Whatever the case, this may help answer the question of why Judea was considered a nation of priests.
A nation of priests needs common people to handle the mundane tasks of life. Here, the Sabbahs provide that the city of Akhet-aten must have had various common peoples such as trademen and craftsmen, etc. But they also explain that a nomadic tribe of Semites, named the Shasu, had earlier been brought to Egypt by Tuthmoses II as prisoners of war. In a temple (Soleb) in northern Sudan today, built by Amenhotep III, was found an inscription reading, “The house of Yahu in Shasu land.”
Yahweh of Edom
Ancient Edom was an area in the Levant located between the Dead Sea and the Gulf of Aqaba. The city of Petra, located at its center, was about 100 miles south of Jerusalem.
‘Shasu land’ was in Edom, where some have suggested that the Biblical exiles remained until the time that Moses died, letting Joshua fulfill the Conquest. In fact, with regard to Petra, there are several shrines named after Musa or Moses. Including a spring, claimed to be the one where Moses struck a rock and water sprang forth. Later on, the region was known as the home of Antipater and the Herodian dynasty.
The name Yahweh is likely to have originated in Edom, later to wind up in Judea. With this information, we can now see the likely exact path of transmission and just why Yahu / Yahweh became the chosen vehicle to launch the monotheist project. This name added a layer of obfuscation, hiding that Egypt was the true source of monotheism in its departure from Akhet-aten. Also, remember that this is the name which is not to be spoken.
The Sabbahs explain that the roots for Yahudah are Yahu-Daeh and are found in the Egyptian words Yahu-Dueh, meaning adoration, prayer, homage, and giving praise. sounds like a priestly type of name. But were the Shasu really the Yahud, or were they just a convenient metaphorical mule of sorts to transport the concept?
The Divine Lions of Soleb
At any rate, the hieroglyphic word for Yahut (or Yahud) breaks down to “divine heritage, function, mission”. As the Sabbahs state on page 263:
The Sabbahs forgot to mention that the lion is the symbol for the tribe of Judah.
The Pharaoh Ay
The Sabbahs make the remarkable claim that the various important personages of the Exodus all have their corresponding analogs in the Pharaohs of that era.
In Chapter 4, Pharaoh Ay, the Sabbahs discuss this pharaoh as essentially the mastermind of the Exodus. As Akhenaton’s father-in-law, Ay was more than witness to the creation of the Aten religion and the city of Akhet-Aten. Ay had been Akhenaten’s very active vizier, as Joseph had been to his pharaoh (here displaced far in time). In the case of Joseph, he had conspired with pharaoh to manipulate the markets and end up enslaving all the people of Egypt (Genesis 47). All the people of Egypt, but not Hebrews … because as the Sabbah brother rabbis conclude, there were no such people … as the extensive lack of evidence shows.
That Ay was an active participant in both the Rise and Fall of Akhenaten is just one of the aspects of this business that should indicate that this was all orchestrated. As often the case with controlled opposition operations, we do not expect to find a signed confession in the government annals. Nevertheless, the signs of a contrivance are clear, with or without drawing a connection between the religious innovations of Akhenaten, and the innovations of Moses.
Adonai and “Aten-Ay”
From Chapter 6, The Bible of Ay, pp. 46-48:
The Aramaic Bible states the name of God as “Ay.” When the Divine Father Ay granted the Land of Canaan (the Promised Land) to the monotheistic priests, they deified his name, and used it as one of the names of the One God. The Aramaic Bible also reveals Ay as a “warrior” or “a man of war.” “Ay is a warrior. Ay is is name” (Aramaic Bible, Exodus 15:3). “Yahwe is a warrior” (Hebrew Bible, Exodus 15:3). This verse illustrates the anthropomorphism of the God of the Bible. The concept of an abstract god was a later development.
Ay was the god of the Yahuds. It was probably after Akhenaton’s and Smenkhkare’s death that Ay’s name became Adon-ay – Lord Ay. With this continuing tradition, much later during the Babylonian exile, God was referred to as “Adonay,” even though the name was written on the page as “Yahwe”; in this way the holy name was avoided, the name “which was never to be spoken.”
The Missing Israelites
Ironically, the archaeologists cannot find any Jews during the time of the 18th dynasty, but some alt-right researchers of current affairs seem to find them all over the place today, as with the masons. The common denominator is the source of both: Egypt and the pharaohs, or at least the 18th and 19th Dynasty pharaohs.
One can see where the Sabbahs may have gone wrong in superficially assuming, like the archaeologists, that the Aten experience was to be taken at face value, rather than a massive ruse. In this case, both the old culture and the new culture of fanatics converted to monotheism. Ay and Akhenaten had not only defiled the old gods, but had bled the old culture to near death so as to make Akhet-aten a virtual Garden of Eden, filled with luxuries and beautiful women.
From pg. 36:
Killing priests was certainly not an Egyptian custom. Such an act was considered the crime of crimes. Besides, Ay himself had been venerate and deified by the monotheistic priests [who had just prior been polytheistic priests of such as Amun – RS].
Levites and Yahuds: Priesthoods Seeking People
Killing priests was certainly not an Egyptian custom. Such an act was considered the crime of crimes. Besides, Ay himself had been venerate and deified by the monotheistic priests [who had just prior been polytheistic priests of such as Amun – RS].
So what was a good [or bad?] vizier to do? The city of Akhet-aten was abandoned after the death of Akhenaten’s son Smenkhkare. It was done quickly and systematically, with no sign of violence as discovered by the archaeologists. As recorded by the accounts, and as mentioned above, the city was very wealthy having scraped the rest of the country clean. Little was left, except as what hidden treasure appears to have been recorded on a copper scroll and was later found in the Dead Sea Scroll caves (i.e. the Copper Scroll as discussed by Robert Feather in his book of the same name).
As such, where would these thousands of Aten priests and other court officials go, if not into an approved exile, a Promised Land of sorts? If these had gone to nearby Canaan as hated exiles, one might think that later Egyptians would have had no compunction in eliminating them. But there is no record of any such genocide. Exodus 12:35-36 concurs that “the Hebrews” were allowed to take all the booty of Egypt along with them.
Furthermore, the Sabbahs discuss that the so-called Restoration Stele, erected in the time of Tutankhkamen, by Ay, records that the old religions had to be reformed via the recruited sons of such as the bureaucrats, and not from the traditional sons of the priests. Why? Because the old priesthood was gone to Disneyland.
A Buffer Zone in Canaan
As recorded in the Pentateuch (Numbers 35), the Levites were set up as the effective rulers of the 48 largest cities in Canaan. From here, their sons would become the future Levites of Judea and Israel, such as the ancestors of Josephus Flavius. This is a description of a contrived False Dialectic, with a contrived priesthood transported off to a contrived exile.
The Sabbah brothers introduce an interesting and compelling idea that Ay got the additional benefit of placing the exiles in Canaan, so as to create a buffer zone in the region that had been wracked by turmoil of various sorts. The Canaanite king, Rib-Hadda, and others had frequently complained to Akhenaten about being attacked by such as the Apiru. At this time the Hittites were still a nearby power. Here they quote the one of the Targums (an Aramaic translation of the older non-extant Hebrew Bible): “On exactly that day, all of the armies of Ay left the land of Egypt.” (Exodus 12:41) In other words, the Egyptian army actually escorted the exiles into their new promised land, rather than chasing them.
Like Rosenberg, the Sabbah brothers discuss that Akhet-Aten was built mostly with bricks, which they say was unique in Egyptian history. The Bible story of the Hebrew slaves having to make bricks is famous. Yet there is no evidence of such slaves, as distinct from ordinary Egyptians. Also, it is now known that bricks were used later on in delta cities like Avaris.
It seems far more likely that the Yahud or Levites represented a relatively small vanguard. Slaves used for construction of Amarna had presumably left earlier, during the years between the city’s construction and its abandonment. The bulk of the “Hebrew People” never lived in Egypt, but were indigenous Canaanites and/or Edomite Arabs.
Aramaic Bible says that Moses was a Yahud, not a Hebrew
Continuing to develop the theme that the historical exodus at the end of the Atenist period was an exodus of priests, the Sabbahs state:
The Moses of the Bible was a Yahud, a son of Levi. The two Bibles deal with this fact differently. “At that time, Moses had grown up. He went out among his people and saw them toiling at hard labor. He saw and Egyptian beating a Hebrew, one of his own people” (Hebrew Bible, Exodus 2:11); “At that time, Moses had grown up. He went out among his people and saw them toiling at hard labor. He saw an Egyptian beating a Yahud, one of his people” (Aramaic Bible, Exodus 2:11).
The Aramaic Bible reveals that the Yahuds were priests of Egypt, of a different caste from the Hebrews, the “multitude,” in ancient Egypt. “Yahud” (or “Yahut”) is a heiroglyph meaning official or civil servant, an hereditary position of one charged with serving pharaoh. Hebrews as a distinct and separate people simply are not to be found in the ancient land. They were an invention of scribes who wrote centuries later, in a far-off, foreign land.
In Egypt, Everyone Except Pharaoh was a Slave
The Sabbahs then continue with a discourse about the contextual meaning of the word slave; as in that everyone, from the vizier on down could be considered a slave. So this must be taken into account when the Bible refers to the Hebrews being slaves in Egypt.
Except… Rashi’s comment on Genesis 18 states that the Midrash has it that the Tribe of Levi “had never been Pharaoh’s slave.” This may reflect that the priesthood was attempting to establish an independent power base; and indeed, later Egyptian history showed a decline of Pharaoh’s power, and a rise of a priestly oligarchy.
Just as our previous textual analysis of the relationship between subservient Judah and exalted Joseph (Ephraim) puts the Jewish construct in a different light, consistent with our False Dialectic Model and SSM (Shepherd Sheepdog Model), the Sabbah brothers have delivered a detailed account that dovetails very, very well with ours.
Moses and Ramesses I
Getting back to the Sabbahs’ idea that each major character in the Exodus narrative is an analog to an Egyptian pharaoh: Chapter 17 of Secrets of the Exodus is titled Moses and Ramesses I. The chapter begins with a discussion of some of the murals from Ramesses‘s tomb. One mural shows the god Amun brandishing his rod over the 12 coiled serpent, Apophis. Apophis was also the name of the Hyksos king that was defeated by the first king of the 18th Dynasty, Ahmose I, many years before. (Or was that Jacob who was defeated?)
The second mural is that of 12 Egyptian goddesses of the night watching Apophis flee into a depiction of a parted sea. According to the Sabbahs, these images represent “the origin of the legend of the nocturnal expulsion of the twelve tribes of Israel and the crossing of the Red Sea”.
Reviewing the birth legend of Moses, the Sabbahs discuss its similarity to the prior legends of Sargon I, Gilgamesh, Cyrus (the first Persian Emperor and Biblical Jewish savior) and the Egyptian Sinuhe. However, in those prior legends, an allegedly royal baby is hidden and cast away, to be raised as a commoner. In the Moses legend, a common Hebrew child is cast off, to be adopted and raised as a royal. Another clever narrative inversion to serve a relatively transparent political purpose, to hide Moses’ “crypto-Egyptian” ethnic origins.
Although, the Sabbahs point out, the Targum has it that Exodus 2:6 calls Moses a “Yehudaeh” rather than a Hebrew. If this is correct, then Moses was born into the Pharaoh’s cultic priesthood.
As further evidence that Moses’ birth story establishes him as a divine royal hero, the authors point to the following illustration, showing Isis hiding her son Horus among the reeds.
So here one can see Isis, bearing the Sun disk, giving life to the divine child within the sea of reeds, the papyrus marsh. The gods Amun and Thoth are assisting, along with two foster mothers holding serpent rods. The crowns of the foster mothers are those of the upper and lower kingdoms of Egypt, indicating that they are of the royal court.
Taken from page 143 of the book is the graphic detailing the cartouche of Ramesses I:
On the right side we see the hieroglyphs for Min and Nun, which both make up the main components from the god Amun, thus Min (who emanates from) above the Nun (the primordial waters) provides the underlying substrate for the (Mess) birth of the king – emanating from the primordial waters. The hieroglyph Mess appears to be three bullrushs or ‘reeds’. Per the graphic’s annotation, the word Maim is Hebrew for water.
Note too, in the lower right is a lion, which is also featured at Amenhotep III’s temple at Soleb – where the Yahud priesthood seemed to be originally located. Of course, the lion (Hebrew lavi) is the biblical symbol associated with Judah in the book of Genesis, later to be traced through various European royal house heraldry.
From pg. 141 then is quoted the relevant Bible verse:
The child grew, and she [the nurse] brought him to Pharaoh’s daughter. And he became her son [Leben]. She named [ Vaykra] him Moses, saying, ‘Because I drew him [Masheti-oo] forth from the waters [Min A-Maim]'” (Exodus 2:10).
To the Sabbah brothers this is the most important message in the Bible, and maybe so. This, because in reading between the lines we see the princess drawing a connection between Moses and Ramesses I, as well as Levi and the lion of Judah.
This does create some confusion though, as Levi and Judah are brothers within Jacob’s lineage, albeit both from the “unloved” mother Leah. Here, as throughout the book, the Sabbahs don’t seem to realize the Biblical importance placed upon Ephraim, the favored son of Joseph. But in any case, they identify the Yahud ‘Levites’ as the army of Ramesses I.
Or, at least (in our view) as the army portion that will remain the occupiers of Canaan, as depicted in detail in Leviticus and Numbers, with the Levites being placed in control of the largest 48 cities of Canaan. This irregardless of the general territories of the other 11 tribes, many of which may have been really indigenous ‘Canaanites’ at the time. And the tribe of Dan, having been the Mycenaean tribe of the Danoi in the post collapse period of the Late Bronze Age.
Joshua ben Nun and Seti I
Continuing on, the authors mention that Seti I, Ramesses I’s son and also equated with the Biblical Joshua ben Nun, wrote a declaration that corresponds to the Biblical account of the Exodus. From Dominique Valbelle’s Histoire de l’Etate Pharoanique (1998) pg. 288, as quoted in Secrets of the Exodus pp. 143-144:
(The text in brackets is the authors, the red highlighting is added.)
Next begins a discussion of the Ten Commandments upon the stone tablets supposedly given to Moses by God while upon Mt. Sinai.
As they say, apart from the prohibition of worshiping all the other gods, of making graven images, and of resting on the 7th day, the other commandments are included within the traditional Egyptian wisdom literature. The three exceptions mentioned just prior are part of the massive cultural inversions imposed upon the new synthetic society that Egypt is imposing upon its neighboring region, i.e. the 613 Mosaic Laws. The seven laws that are yet in common with the Egyptian ones are known in Judaic oral tradition as the “seven laws of Noah” or “Noah’s laws”. In any case, a good Egyptian had to justify his mortal behavior before the celestial tribunal by the upholding of these laws as well as 35 others.
The authors discuss that Moses and Joshua, really Ramesses and Seti, escorted the “dissidents” along with their new monotheistic accoutrements, focusing here on their conception of a dual arched stone tablet, similar to a hieroglyphic paired cartouche on exhibit in the Turin Museum. The first and last words on the cartouches form “Ankh Aten”, the basis for Akhenaten’s name, and conforming with the first biblical commandment said to have been inscribed on Moses’s tablets, that of “Anokhi Adonay”. Note that Hebrew, or any other script alphabetic writing, did not exist at this time.
Then comes a curious remark that the 11th century CE Jewish commentator, Rashi, had stated that the 613 Mosiac Laws were contained within the 10 Commandments, and that those all derived from the first law. Hence, according to the Sabbah brothers, they can be seen as all essentially flowing from the name for Akhenaten.
The Sabbahs derive the name Shaddai from the cartouche of Seti I, with the dual yod glyphs associated with the glyph for the god Seth (or Shad as an acceptable pronunciation). Then the Sabbahs equate biblical term “Yahu-Shua, son of Nin” with the Egyptian “The great God Shaday, beloved of Ptah and Nun.”
The Sabbahs then go on to discuss the military campaign of Joshua and how it matches that of Seti I. Joshua began his campaign upon the death of Moses, while Seti began his campaign upon the death of his father Ramesses I.
Next is related that Seti had to confront a coalition of unhappy Canaanite kings, just as Joshua did. Then he must deal with such as the powerful Hittites as at Kadesh. Seti and Joshua set up stone memorials (stele), with Seti’s being found in Beth-Shean in Israel.
There is no recorded war between the Egyptians and these otherwise rather powerful forces of Hebrews described in the Bible. The Sabbahs suggest that this makes sense if Joshua (Seti) was commanding the forces of the Egyptians, with the same stories being told from two perspectives.
Lastly, the Sabbahs mention the silver trumpets which God ordered Moses to have made. These are used by Joshua’s men to help bring down the walls of Jericho. In Tut’s tomb were found four silver military trumpets.
Moses and Akhenaten
The author Ahmed Osman also believes that the events of the Exodus occurred during the late 18th and early 19th dynasty period. However, in his book “The Lost City of the Exodus“, Osman contends that Akhenaten was in fact the person depicted as Moses in the Old Testament, while Ramesses I was his opponent Pharaoh. In support of this view, Osman notes that Akhenaton might have been hidden at birth, because of priestly opposition to his mother Tiye. The priests would have preferred that Amenhotep III should have married his sister, according to the tradition. Akhenaten may have been raised at Tiye’s summer palace at Zarw, away from Amenhotep’s Theban court. These circumstances might have inspired the biblical story of Moses’ unusual upbringing. Akhenaten called himself “the long living” and represented himself as Osiris, both possible indications that he considered himself fortunate to have survived against priestly opposition. Osman also points out that Amram, the name of Moses’ father, is similar to Imran, the name of the god Aten’s father.
While it is generally believed that Akhenaten died in the 17th year of his reign, Osman contends that in fact he went into exhile in the Sinai wilderness, and then returned at Horemheb’s death. Ramesses I was not of the royal blood, leading Akhenaten to challenge him for the throne. After this challenge failed, Akhenaten fled again, this time with his followers, to go to Jerusalem.
Osman presents only non-specific, circumstantial evidence that Akhenaten survived beyond his 17th year. However, if the biblical Exodus story is a literary composition based on various earlier sources, there’s no reason that the Moses character shouldn’t be based both on aspects of Akhenaten and Ramesses I. And, these relations may be valid even if “Exodus” never really happened as a discrete historical event.
The Danaoi and the Danites
Dr. David Elan, an archaeologist with Hebrew Union College, has identified Aegean-style artifacts and structures at his excavation at Tel Dan, the biblical city of Dan. Based on this finding, Philippe Bohstrom of Haaretz says:
The connection between the biblical Dan and the Mycenaean Danaoi is also bolstered by chapter 5 of Judges, the Song of Deborah, which mentions the tribe of Dan failing to leave their ‘ships’ to aid their neighbor tribes.
Gilead abode beyond Jordan: and why did Dan remain in ships? Asher continued on the sea shore, and abode in his breaches. Judges 5:17 KJV
The Dan remained in their ships because they were primarily a seafaring people, not a seafearing people. The difference between seafaring and seafearing is deeply embedded one’s respective Culture.
Here we must also remember the Greek legend about the schism between Danaus and Aegyptus that caused the former to depart from the land of Goshen with his 50 daughters, to go to Argos in Greece.
Upon the collapse of the Late Bronze Age, Mycenae disappeared from that land, not arise again centuries later with the Classical Greeks. As Cline related in his 1177 BC, Collapse of the Late Bronze Age book: in this collapse, violence was very selective. In many cities, it was limited to just the royal palaces. The common people simply disappeared, and some apparently showed up peacefully elsewhere. For example, the more advanced Peleset immigrated into Palestine, and intermarried with the Canaanites. That is, they became the Philistines. Once this process is over, only Egypt is left standing among the major powers in the Eastern Mediterranean.
Cline’s book also mentions a variety of evidence of a unique trip taken by Amenhotep III (Akhenaton’s father) or his high level emissary, to Mycenae, via Crete. The “exodus” of the Peleset into the Levant occurred much later than Amenhotep III’s visit to Mycenae, and also much later than the “exodus” from Amarna / Akhet-aten.
Tel Dan is also notable as the location of the Tel Dan Stele, the only object that records the name of a character named David. It is apparent that the temple here would have been perceived in later times as a rival temple to the one in Jerusalem, as was the Samaritan one. Was this name David later fictively adopted in the narrative redactions to help pacify the northerner remnants left after the Assyrian and Babylonian forced migrations?
The Habiru of the Amarna Letters
The Amarna Letters paint a picture of Palestine as a region of beleaguered Egyptian allies. The region is under attack by a mysterious enemy known as the “Habiru”. The name seems to be a rather nonspecific pejorative, meaning “brigand” or “marauding band”.
Most mainline scholars reject an identification of the Habiru with the later Hebrews for the same reason as they reject an identification with the Hyksos: the archaeology doesn’t reveal any identifiably Israelite cultural attributes for these Habiru. The first culturally distinctive Israelites come much later.
However, fundamentalist scholars such as S. Douglas Waterhouse point to similarities between the biblical conquest narrative, and the situation depicted in the Amarna letters. He notes that the first cities conquered by Joshua, such as Jericho, Bethel, Gibeon, Shiloh, Mizpeh and Debir, are silent in the Amarna correspondence. Gezer was beseiged from an enemy in the highlands in both scenarios, as was Jerusalem. And, in both narratives, the land of Schechem was turned over to the Habiru / Hebrews, without a fight. The website ‘bible.ca’ also has an interesting page dedicated to the similarities between the Habiru invasion of Palestine during the late 18th dynasty period, and the Biblical description of Joshua’s conquest.
To judge from the Amarna Letters, Amenhotep III and Akhenaten were largely unresponsive to desperate pleas for help coming from their allies and dependencies in Palestine. They were busy with their internal religious reform projects, and neglectful of their imperial duties. We are told that it was not until after Akhenaten’s monotheistic fanatics had been put in their place, and the Theban gods restored, that Egypt was able to attend to the restoration of its power in Palestine. This was accomplished under Ramesses I and Seti I.
If the Sabbahs’ view that the first projection of Atenist monotheism into Palestine occurred after Akhenaten’s death, then the Habiru presence in Palestine would be a largely unrelated event. Or, the fall of Palestine to the Habiru might have been the actual motivation for an Egyptian reconquest of Palestine. In this case, the later invasion of Ramesses I and Seti I into Palestine might have been more of an infiltration, rather than a brutal conquest. The goal might have been to superimpose the Levite priesthood onto the Habiru, thus creating a culturally imposed control mechanism. And, the story of the Habiru conquest of Palestine was re-invented with a new ideological foundation.
It’s also possible that the Habiru were themselves a “false flag” operation, and that Akhenaten was unresponsive to his vassals’ cries for help because the Egyptian government was secretly arming and funding the Habiru “rebels”. From the perspective of Occam’s Razor, this seems unlikely: why would the Egyptians have used the Habiru to conquer the region, if they already controlled it? However, considering the sophistication of the “divide and conquer” scheme exhibited in the Biblical text as we have received it, the Egyptians may have been capable of a multi-layered, multi-generational Machiavellian scheme.
Conclusion: Sources and Processes
According to the ‘Documentary Hypothesis’, the story of the Exodus in the Pentateuch is based on source documents known as J (the Yahwist), E (the Elohist), P (the Priestly source) and D (the Deuteronomist). In “The Bible with Sources Revealed”, Richard E. Freeman argues that the J and E sources are the oldest. He suggests that they were composed sometime during the period of the Divided Kingdom, between 922 and 722 BCE, while the P source was composed shortly after the fall of the northern kingdom of Israel. These three sources contain narratives of the Patriarchs, Moses and the Exodus which are highly compatible, although not identical.
The sources represent a fictionalized version of events which were already long in the past by the 8th century BCE. According to our view, various earlier sources must have been drawn on, but the biblical authors did not hesitate to embellish, draw connections, make inferences, or simply fabricate new tales as needed. All of this was in service of the political and ideological agenda of the Levite priesthood and the monarchs.
If our hypotheses here are correct, the Pentateuch represents a view of history that is distorted in some aspects, while accurate in others. It seems likely that the imposition of the Levite priesthood over the Canaanite culture of the Levant was a somewhat gradual, stealthy process. The image of a vast number of Hebrews descending from Abraham seems to be a fabrication superimposed on history, to hide a much more synthetic, Egyptian-driven process. There may be a grain of truth in the original development of the Hyksos as a culturally distinct entity from the ancient Egyptian culture of Thebes. But we say that by the time of Ay and Akhenaten, the Egyptian dynasty was one big happy family, combining both Theban and Hyksos ancestry. Ay and Akhenaten were intentionally whipping the divide between the priesthoods of Thebes vs. Amarna, with the goal of throwing off a schismatic population that could project Egyptian power into the Levant.
The heroic characters of the Pentateuch, such as Abraham, Joseph, David, Solomon, Moses, Aaron and Joshua, seem to be based on Egyptian royalty. However, if this is correct, the biographies have been fictionalized and romanticized to the point where it is difficult if not impossible to draw specific conclusions about the actual lives of the historical Pharaohs depicted.
On a more certain basis, we can say that the picture of a heroic schism between the Hebrews and other cultures of the area, has been preserved in the Pentateuch because it served the interests of generations of later rulers. This begins with Josiah. Under his rule, the Deuteronomic source was most likely written, and the J, E and P sources were redacted and combined so as to justify Josiah’s own innovations. Josiah’s version of the ‘Law’ augmented and amplified the system of normatively inverted laws set forth in the Priestly texts, crystallizing the isolation of Hebrew culture. This set the stage for Josiah’s own imperialist ambitions.
But, did Josiah perhaps forget the essential aspect of Levite loyalty to Egyptian foreign policy goals? We are told that the pharaoh Necho put an unceremonius end to Josiah’s plans. Not long thereafter, the Egyptians themselves permanently lost control of their outposts in Palestine.
However, later civilizations including the neo-Babylonian, Persian (Achaemenid), Hellenistic Greek, Roman, medieval Catholic, and modern Anglo-American empire, have all been able to exploit the uniquely isolated and insular Hebrew culture as a resource; for scapegoating, division and conquest.