This online institute is designed to give a brief analysis and discussion of all scientific disciplines through the lens of a biblical world view. +++ SDG +++

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Smoky Mountain Bible Institute
Lesson #52
            Break out your maps and histories as we travel again in our time machine to examine history & geography through a biblical worldview. We left Jacob’s little clan of around 70 people last month, and things were going well for them. Life is good in the promised land until around 1878 BC — this is when the years of famine begin.  It only takes a couple of years for things to start getting desperate, and Jacob sends his sons to Egypt to buy some grain. By 1876 BC Jacob and his clan are settling in to the land of Goshen as Pharaoh's honored guest. Jacob lives out his days to the ripe old age of 147 in Goshen and they have a large funeral procession back to the promised land to bury him in the family cemetery in around 1859 BC.

            Joseph served in essence as the Grand Visor of Egypt for some 80 years, dying in around 1806 BC after turning this already healthy nation of Egypt into a very strong and wealthy one. Now which kingdom that is.... is an issue of debate, so without getting too deeply into the details there are three main options: 1. Accept the Egyptian chronology and fit the biblical chronology to it. 2. Accept both chronologies and see where they overlap. 3. Accept the Biblical chronology and fit the Egyptian chronology to it. As we are looking at things through a biblical worldview we will reject option one and I will note in passing that the standard Egyptian chronology has its weaknesses. The two weaknesses of the Egyptian chronology are that it heavily relies on Manetho's King List (a third century BC Egyptian historian) (problematic primarily because it does not account for overlapping co-regencies), and the improper dating caused by the Sothic dating of events. There are many resources available if you wish to further study these two weaknesses. Specifically I would recommend "The Test of Time" by David M. Rohl and "Centuries of Darkness" by Peter James. Using option one also incorrectly gives you Ramses II as the pharaoh of the Exodus. Ramses is only given as a place name in scripture — the pharaoh during the Exodus is only referred to as Pharaoh and his name is not given. 

            Let's move on to option 2. If we accept both chronologies as mentioned in option 2, then Pharaoh Ahmos (1539 BC - 1515 BC) becomes the new king of Egypt who had no knowledge of Joseph, and Thutmose I (1493-1483) becomes the pharaoh of the Exodus. This also has its problems, not the least of which is the complete lack of evidence of Semitic peoples in Egypt during the reigns of those pharaohs from the eighteenth dynasty.                

            In option 3 there are some interesting parallels that pop up when you compare the writings of some ancient Hebrew midrashes and the pharaohs of the late sixth dynasty which is conventionally dated from 2345 BC to 2181 BC. Simply stated, the last kings in this dynasty bear some striking resemblances to the pharaohs mentioned in this and other midrashes. What is a midrash? It is in essence a Jewish sermon or homily that seeks out and proclaims the truth of holy scripture. The best of these are in collections ranging from 200 BC to the present. These collections are used as biblical commentary to explain what is in the text.  So what are the similarities between the Sefer haYashar midrash and the Pharaohs who closed out the 6th dynasty?

            1. Pepi II Neferkare reigned for 94 years — the longest reign found on any king list. The Sefer haYashar mentions a pharaoh by the name of Melol who reigned for 94 years and is referred to as the "Pharaoh of the oppression". The difference in names is easily dealt with when you consider that Melol is a logical Hebrew transliteration of the Egyptian name Meror which is one of the names ascribed to Pepi II. There is no Egyptian hieroglyph for the L sound, and the closest sound to L is R (there is no L sound in Japanese either).

            2.  Merenre Nemtyemsaf II reigned for 4 years and could very well be the pharaoh of the Exodus for a number of reasons. First, he was the second son of Pepe II as his older brother was unable to rule and would have later died in the 10th plague. Second, Adikam the son of Melol in the Sefer haYashar also reigned 4 years.

            3. The First intermediate Period. The time that follows the sixth dynasty which ends with Merenre Nemtyemsaf II is also known as the dark period because there is very little evidence of anything happening for that 100 year period. This is what you would expect to find if a nation had suffered the same 10 plagues Egypt had, not to mention having just lost their entire army and chariot inventory in the Reed Sea. They also gave the bulk of their wealth to the two to three million departing Jews. It would logically follow that if a society has no resources, all of its crops are destroyed, and the bulk of its working and protecting population is gone, it would take at least 100 years to recover from such an economic blow, and there would be no archeological evidence of this slow recovery. If you would like a more in-depth description of this chronological realignment that only requires the sliding of about six to seven hundred years of the Egyptian timeline to fit with the biblical timeline, I suggest you read "Riddle of the Exodus" by James D. Long. This book also has a very good accompanying DVD of the same title.

            We will fast forward about 430 years next month and start off in around 1526 BC with the birth of a man named Moses.
In Christ,
Pastor Portier