Canaan? OOPS, Wrong Country

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Book Details

Author  Avner Ramu
Publisher  Isgav Publishing LLC
Publication Date   October 1, 2003
ISBN  097343760X
Pages  308

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About the book

Reading the Old Testament of the Bible frequently results in encountering contradictory accounts which may confuse the reader and raise doubts on the credibility of the text. In this book the author analyses the historical, geographical, and biographical material of the Bible in an effort to resolve some of these issues. Here is an example: As early as the 4th century AD, certain places in the Sinai Peninsula were referred to as the Biblical stations on the route of the Hebrew’s journey from Egypt to Canaan. Extensive archeological excavations in the Sinai area have not substantiated this traditional belief. Egyptian sources indicate that in the second half of the 2nd millennium BC, Canaan was an Egyptian province and the Sinai Peninsula was under tight Egyptian control. Therefore, it would have been unreasonable for Moses to take the Hebrews out of Egypt in an eastward direction. In fact, such a claim does not appear in the Bible, and we are actually told that because the Philistines were then in Canaan "God turned the people around".

For the understanding of the Exodus story it is essential to locate the geographical site of Biblical Goshen, where the Hebrews had resided for some four hundred years. Although it is generally presumed that Gohen is situated on the eastern edge of the Nile delta, this location is disputed and there is no mention of it in Egyptian documents. James K. Hoffmeier noted that while the prophet Jeremiah, who traveled to Egypt at the beginning of the 6th century BC (passing through the northeastern region of the delta), referred to several place-names in Egypt, he never mentioned Goshen.

Intensive farming was always practiced in the Nile delta which was considered to be the bread-basket of Egypt. It is unlikely that the Egyptians would allow a foreign pastoral clan to settle there and let their herds of sheep and goats to graze on their arable land. In fact, when we hear Joseph telling his brothers: "you shall reside in the land of Goshen, because all shepherds are abhorrent to the Egyptians", we may conclude that Goshen was not in the delta region but was located in some non-cultivated grasslands, such as the small patches of land along the Nile in Upper Egypt or in Nubia. The name Goshen could be a variant of the Biblical word Cushan, a term used by the ancient Egyptians to describe the regions south of Egypt. It is quite remarkable that certain phrases in the book of Exodus describing the life of the Hebrews in Egypt, appear similar to those found in Egyptian documents which relate to the Nubians residing in the area administrated by the Egyptian viceroys (who bore the title: "Pharaoh’s son"). In addition to the exploitation of Nubia, some Nubians were enslaved and exported to Egypt. The reality of two different Hebrew communities is attested to by the Biblical information that the response of the Hebrew slaves in Egypt to Moses’ message was unlike that of the other Hebrew community. The location of Goshen in Nubia would also explain why the plagues inflicted upon the Egyptians, who mostly resided in the delta region, spared the Hebrews.

In this book the author indicates that the geographical distribution of the Hebrew people forced Moses to execute their Exodus from Egypt along a route that is very different from the one traditionally believed to had been journeyed by the Hebrews.

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