07 September 2006

Did God Free The Jews From Egypt?

I watched a most interesting program on The History Channel about the Biblical Exodus, Moses leading the Hebrew slaves out of Egypt and into the promised land. The program was investigating the problems with the timeline, such as who was pharaoh at the time, and when it actually happened according to the historical records found in Egypt and other places, the plagues and how they happened and if they could happen and the miracle of the parting of the sea and the location of Mt. Sinai where God gave Moses the ten commandments. It even covered the pillar of fire and smoke said to be the personification of God when He wrote the holy tablets. It was quite interesting because it came up with very plausible and probable reasons for pretty much each and every supposed "miracle" that is recorded in the Bible, which is the book of historical record for so many.
First, they covered the timeline, which changed the accepted pharaoh, Ramses, to another later ruler, who's name I'd never heard of. This also coincided with the writings that were found throughout Egypt of the expelling of a sect of Jewish rulers at the same time. In nearby Saudi Arabia, there were carvings that also date to the same time which depict the parting of the sea.
Then they covered the plagues. These were almost compleatly explained by the eruption of a volcano near Egypt, which most vulcanologists agree did erupt at that time and caused earthquakes throughout the Egyptian kingdom, disrupting fault lines and releasing gases which first changed the waters to red. Sediment on the bottom of lakes and rivers contains iron and when it's stirred up by the gas eruptions, it contacted the air at the upper levels and oxidized, much like rust on a car, turning the waters blood red. When this happened, the fish died and the frogs hopped out, causing the second plague. Then, lice, flies and disease happened because of the die off of the fish and creatures that lived in the waters. The final plague, the death of the first born, was attributed to the poisonous gases that came up from below ground, which is common when there are volcanic eruptions. Most of the victims of Pompeii and Herculaneum were killed by the gases, not the lava. The trip through the parted Red Sea was also explained by the volcano and subsequent earthquakes, which lifted the African continental plate thus draining the seas and giving the Moses and the Hebrew slaves passage across the sea bed. Once the tectonic plates settled, the water rushed back to it's previous levels. Using satellite images, they were able to view old lake beds and chart the fault lines which convincingly explained the entire scenario. They even used the first Gulf War to show how the burning oil fields in that area at that time could have been mistaken for the pillar of smoke and fire that was said to represent God in this story set so long ago. Once again, the earthquakes most likely caused an eruption of oil through the crust and it was set on fire, producing what looked very much like what was described in the Biblical text.
Finally, they think they found God's mountain, Mt. Sinai. It's located in an Egyptian military compound but, it has enough grazing area for the animals brought by the fleeing Jews, enough area to house them and the proper religious artifacts found in and around the area and on the mountain itself. They also found a gold pendant (in a museum) which seems to represent the temple where the Ark of the Covenant was kept and the altar where only Moses (among a few others) could go and worship. It sure looked like a representation of the Ark, as it's described in the Bible and the pendant was fashioned by the same tribe said to have made the Ark itself.
I found the entire program fascinating. I have long held that the Bible is a great teaching tool, full of stories steeped in tradition, allegory, common myth, and fact. The last being the loosest ingredient. Now, based on the information gathered by these esteemed scientists, archeologist, scholars and historians, we can dispel the hocus pocus aspect to the Bible and use it as the book of learning about the human condition. Mutual respect for each other and take from it the tools to live a better life, without the magical and mystical voodoo of God that was used by those who wrote it to explain the incidents happening in the world around them that they didn't yet have the scientific knowledge to understand.


  1. I saw this program... I'm like you and think that what people don't have the knowledge to understand seems like magic to them.

    If you liked this show, you also might lik a couple of the programs they have done where they go back and figure out by current medical science how someone died.

  2. What the hell ? I thought this was a Mel Gibson entry.

    Dammit !!