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PERSIA & CREATION OF JUDAISM

Book 4. Sacred History or Phoney History?

Moses And the Exodus 

(Part II)


 

The Sinai Covenant

 

The Passover myth of Exodus 1-15 gave a new reason for the celebration of the seasonal new year when the sun crossed the celestial equator. The opportunity was there to constantly remind the Israelites that the Egyptians were their historic enemies. So the old spring equinoctial festival was given a new spin by associating it with the Exodus from Egypt and bondage. With this constant reminder, the Jews would become the ideal sentinels for Persia on the boundary of Egypt and Asia. Since this was also closely associated with the covenant of God with the Israelites on Sinai, the festival also reminded them that they were committed to a covenant with the new Persian god, and therefore with Persia.

If ye will obey my voice indeed, and keep my covenant, then ye shall be a peculiar treasure unto me above all people. For all the earth is mine.
Exodus 19:5
All the people answered together, and said, All that the Lord hath spoken we will do. And Moses returned the words of the people unto the Lord.
Exodus 19:8

 

In the third month after the Exodus, the community arrived at Sinai, where they were to enter into a covenant with God. Covenants with their gods had been commonly sealed by the peoples of Mesopotamia for centuries. They were ways of imposing law on to the people, especially subjugated people. There is not a scholar of the Ancient Near East who does not know this, but all pretend that the covenants in the bible are a different matter entirely. They insist all the covenants and all the gods are phony except for this one with the God of the Jews and Christians. This one is genuinely agreed with God!

The Mitanni, in a treaty with the Hittites of about 1375 BC, as in typical covenant treaties, calls on the gods to witness its terms. The Hittites called on the sun god. The Mitanni called on Mitra (Mithras). The name Mithras is from the Indo-European root “Mihr”, meaning “friend” and “contract”, but which itself is from “mei”, meaning “exchange”.

The friendship or contract offered by Mithras to his devotees was an exchange between unequal partners with Mithras the greater one. Friendship or contracts imposed obligations on the parties. Mithras oversaw the affairs of his worshippers, and established justice for them. In return, his worshippers had to be upright in their dealings with others.

Because Mithras was “lord of the contract”, a title frequently applied to him, the Persians invoked Mithras to preserve the sanctity of legal contracts. They associated him with fire, and like both Indian and Roman worshippers, the Persians concluded contracts before fires so that they might be made in the presence of Mithras.

Mithras was a moral god concerned with the rightness of the action, and upholding the sanctity of the contract even when it was made with those who would break it. When traditional national gods looked after the welfare of the state and its wealthiest members, Mithras was the first moral deity who stood up for justice for all.

A relief of the first century BC shows Mithras shaking hands with a King Antiochus. Earlier Cyrus had shaken hands with Marduk in Babylon, and with Yehouah, according to the bible. Many such images exist of covenants being arranged by the ruler (on behalf of his subjects!) with a god and being sealed by the exchange of a ring. Here Moses comes down with tablets—the medium of writing in Mesopotamia not Arabia, Egypt or Palestine—but they served the same purpose, to seal the agreement.

The inspiration for the covenant and the particular form it took may be found in the political treaty of vassalage that frequently regulated international relations at the time. The suzerain (monarch) would make a contract with a vassal state, assuring it of protection in return for the vassal’s exclusive and unreserved loyalty.
Nahum S Sarna

 

Israel was committing itself to fealty to Persia through the Persian God they were being obliged to adopt. A breach of loyalty to the god was a breach of loyalty to Persia.

Yehouah is shown calling upon Moses to occupy the land of Canaan (Ex 3:8;6:6-8). He makes no promise of a covenant. The various credal summaries of the Exodus story in the scriptures (Dt 26:5-9;6:21-23; Josh 24:2-13) do not include the story of the receiving of the covenant at Sinai. It looks as though the Sinai covenant was interpolated into the Exodus tale after Joshua and Deuteronomy were written. They have the stylistic qualities of the Deuteronomic writers. Several hymns and psalms that refer to the Exodus might also be expected to mention the Sinai covenant also, but do not (1 Sam 12:8; Pss 78;105;135-136). Psalms 106 mentions the Golden Calf but not the covenant. A statement defintely post-Persian conquest (Neh 9) does mention it. So the covenant looks to be associated with a late group of “returners”—probably Ezra’s priests. The original purpose of the Exodus story was simply to justify the “returners” occupying the land of Israel.

Wellhausen, who shrewdly realized that the prophets preceded the law, thought that the covenant had been written into the Mosaic history at the time of the prophets. He was a few centuries out, the prophets and the law both being fifth century but the prophets preceding the law by about half a century or so. The purpose of the biblical prophets was to counter the prophets of the Canaanite Baals, probably shamans who prophesied under the influence of intoxicants or drugs like the Delphic oracles of Greece. Amos decries Amaziah.

Evidently one of the first ways the Persian deportees tried to influence the Canaanites was to introduce the ethical prophets of the God of Heaven to counter the traditional prophets of the country. The prophets were not interested in particular ethical matters but merely in loyalty and obedience to God. The sins that are mentioned are meant to show up the pre-Persian kings of Israel. They are oppression, cruelty, exploitation, greed and dishonesty. They raised these matters, though they were not unusually interested in them, simply to get over their main message—to get people to accept this strange God. If they accepted Him, they would be loyal and obedient to the god of the Persians and therefore would be reliable and lawful subjects. The main sin of the people was not to accept Yehouah as their salvation.

Later the covenant was imposed by the Persians, delivered to the people of Israel as a historic covenant by the founder of the Israelites with their God in the depth of antiquity. Since then, of course, many had stumbled but their God had remained faithful. The references to the covenant in the so-called eighth century prophets are few and show that the covenant followed their writings, the few references there are being redactional. Isaiah and Micah hardly mention the Sinai saga. The covenant ( berith ) tradition has been said to be the work of the Deuteronomist.

Bizarrely some Christians decided that God had used as his model of a covenant the form used by Hittite monarchs at about the time the Sinai covenant was supposed to have happened. G E Mendenhall claimed an exclusively congenial context for the covenant in that the Hittites ceased as a power in about 1200 BC. This proved that the chronology was correct and the treaty was genuine! They have not explained why God should have chosen to copy Hittite treaties with a large body of Egyptian slaves who had probably never heard of the Hittites anyway.

And, if the God of Israel could make use of Hittite treaty forms, why not other nations closer to the heartland of the Hittites than Sinai and Palestine—like the Assyrians? In fact, that is just what did happen, the form of the Hittite treaties (which even themselves were common to earlier states) becoming the standard treaty form of the Near East for a thousand years. Its use in Exodus is therefore more likely to be through the Assyrians and Persians.

 

The form and ideology of the divine covenant in Israel was based on the pattern of the treaties between the suzerain and his vassal which were prevalent in the Ancient Near East.
Eryl W Davies, Prophecy and Ethics

 

Mendenhall found nine elements in the Hittite treaties but not all were always present, certainly in other Ancient Near East treaties that were considered based on the Hittite form. The central elements, to which any of the remaining elements might be added, are:

  1. A list of the gods of the suzerain and the vassal as witnesses to the treaty.
  2. Stipulations laid upon the vassal as conditions for the treaty from the suzerain—tribute, non-hostility to other vassal states of the suzerain, not allying with any other power while allied with the suzerain, extradition, provision of soldiers and appearance in the suzerain’s court as required.
  3. A preamble, a historical review and a procedure for punishing the vassal if the treaty were violated in which the I/thou forms of address were used respectively for the suzerain and the vassal.
  4. A list of curses and blessings to accompany the possible outcomes.
  5. A formal oath of allegiance arranged at a public ceremony.
  6. Informing the vassal’s subjects by depositing the treaty in their temples and arranging for the treaty to be read on prescribed occasions.

 

The first element is illustrated by Assyrian treaties with the Medes and the Aramaeans. Listed along with the deities are often natural objects such as heaven, earth, mountains, springs and rivers, winds and clouds. In a treaty of Rameses II there occurs a list of a thousand gods to witness the treaty and then, “the mountains and rivers of the land of Egypt, the sky, the earth, the great sea, the winds, the clouds”. In the covenants of Yehouah, no such a list is appropriate because Yehouah is the only god, so only Yehouah himself appears as a witness and guarantor of the covenant. And yet heaven and earth do appear too, just as they do in the old treaties (Dt 4:26;30:19;31:28;32:1; Isa 1:2). McCarthy ( Treaty and Covenant ) says the whole of Deuteronomy has been influenced by Ancient Near Eastern treaty traditions.

Historical reviews often feature in God’s covenants and instructions to his people. The treaties review the benefits conferred on the people of the subject state by the suzerain and the reactions expected of the vassal. In the scriptures these are paralleled by lists of the benefits conferred on His people by God and what he expects of them in return. In these God has the role of an eastern emperor and Israel that of a vassal state.

Most interesting is that the relationship between the suzerain and the vassal in the treaties is expressed in terms of blood kinship. The suzerain is the father and the vassal the son! The relationship Father to Son therefore signified the relationship of an overlord to his subordinate. Equal parties were called brothers. Compare their use in the scriptures (Dt 32:19; Isa 1:2; Jer 3:19; Mal 1:6). In the scriptures sons are condemned for seeking help from a third party (Isa 30:1) thus breaking the fidelity to the father (suzerain) that excluded dealings with others. In the Exodus story, God describes Israel as his first born son (Ex 4:22) thus linking an important feature of the treaty protocol with the Sinai covenant.

Christian commentators see the family relationship used by the prophets to depict God’s relationship with Israel (Hos 1-3;11:1-9; Amos 3:1-2; Isa 1:2-3) as an alternative, more personal way of expressing a relationship than the treaty forms, apparently failing to realize that family relations were used in the treaties.

Curiously, a word used often in the covenant treaties and in the scriptures clearly relates to the word for Passover (pesah, understood to mean “protect”). The verb “to rebel” (PSC) or revolt against an overlord appears frequently meaning the subject state’s failure to meet the suzerain’s stipulations (and forgo his protection?). It is not a word in general usage but a diplomatic or political term, so could hardly have been used in a religious context without a deliberate intention to use a diplomatic form. The scriptures use it in just the proper sense (Isa 1:2).

Besides diplomatic language, legal language is a feature of the covenants. The authors seem to be intent on making God as witness and upholder of the covenant sound like a judge. The agreement is considered as a legal entity between God and His people, and God is one of the parties, the witness and the judge in the breach. God often has the role of judge in the psalms, passing sentence on Israel and other nations.

The Decalogue (Ex 20:1-17) follows this sort of plan. The treaties were called the “words” of the suzerain and The Decalogue begins appropriately, “And God spoke these words… “ God declares himself so He is the divine witness. He states His historical benefit to Israel in bringing her out of bondage in Egypt, then lists a catalogue of stipulations and obligations he required in return—the commandments. A required stipulation in the Near Eastern treaties was that the vassal would not seek any other overlord, and this appears as the first of the commandments. Some of the later proscriptions on injuring other people match the proscription in the treaties on injuring others of the suzerain’s sons—his other vassals. Elsewhere, the commandments are inscribed on tablets and deposited in the Ark of the Covenant, a mobile temple. There are also provisions for re-reading the words (Dt 31:9-13). Curses and blessings are dotted about freely in the scriptures and so are not separately listed. There are other examples (Ex 19:3-8;24:3-8;34:10-28).

Typically, some biblicists will not hear of the covenant being a Near Eastern treaty unless the form is a perfect fit. The agreement between the covenant and the ancient treaty form is far from rigid for several reasons. The treaties were not of a rigid form, God was a party to the covenant and was the only admissible witness, the national form of the treaty of Persian times has been changed to a set of personal commandments after the Persian defeat by Alexander, and finally the books of the bible have been re-written again in the Hellenistic period, notably by the Maccabees. So purity of form of anything in the scriptures is hardly to be expected. Even so, the treaty form of the covenant is still evident and it is still, to this day, deposited in temples (synagogues or churches) and is read out in public. Artaxerxes would have been amazed!

The Covenant as a Vassalage Treaty

 
The Covenant as a Vassalage Treaty
    Statements of the Covenant
  Elements of the Treaty Ex 20-31 Deut 1-32 Joshua 24
1. Preamble: the author 20:1 1:1-5 24:2
2. Historical Review: showing the benefactions of the suzerain 20:2 1:6-3:29 24:2-13
3. Stipulations: obligations on the vassal…
a. …essential 20:3-17; 22-26 4,5-11 24:14-15
b. …additional 21-23, 25-31 12-26 24:16-25
4. Propagating the treaty locally…
a. …placing the treaty in the vassal’s sanctuary 25:16; 40:22 31:9,24-26 24:26
b. …publicly reading: to the subject people   31:10-13  
5. Witnesses: the gods—Yehouah alone in the bible—and natural phenomena 24:4 31:28; 32:1 24:22; 27
6. Curses and Blessings Lev 26:14-20, 3-13 28:15-68, 1-14; 31:16-22; 27;29 24:19-20

Inasmuch as they are based on treaty forms, McCarthy sees them as fitting first millennium BC types not second millennium ones. Thus Exodus 24 is confirmed by a rite, the later practice, not by an oath. Moses in the fifteenth or thirteenth centuries BC would not have known about or followed a Hittite practice but a Moses myth composed in the fifth century could obviously have followed the practices current then in international treaty forms.

The treaty patterns in Deuteronomy are perhaps closer to the common form and are universally accepted as first millennium BC. The Exodus story and the Sinai tradition has also accreted later additions, for example by the priestly writer (Ex 19:3-8;20:22-23:19, the Book of the Covenant 24:15b-31:18;35-40; Num 1-10). Even The Decalogue (Ex 20:2-17) has been added because the passage in which it is set reads more comfortably when it runs from Exodus 19:19 directly to Exodus 20:18. What remains when these additions are excized is simply a theophany, with perhaps the earliest form of the covenant in Exodus 24:3-8, where the “blood of the covenant” and the sacrificing and sprinkling by young men rather than priests sounds primitive—there apparently being no priests—and not from the hand of the Deuteronomist. It is also depicted as simply a theophany elsewhere in the scriptures (Dt 33:2; Jg 5:5; Ps 68:9), no mention being made of the law or covenant in references to Sinai outside the Pentateuch. It seems to represent an early stage of the “return”.

To this primitive covenant, all the law codes were added subsequently, mostly, of course, by the priestly writers possibly in the Ptolemaic period. Prophets preceding Jeremiah are mainly silent about Moses and rarely use the word “berith” (covenant), but criticize the people for disobedience. Elements of the treaty forms might nevertheless be present in the prophetic writings through their use of woes, judgements curses perhaps reflecting the curses section of the treaties. The legal parts have also been related to the prophetic lawsuit (rib). The Prophets could not have avoided talking about Moses and the Sinai covenant had it really been a long known and central element of Jewish history.

The word “berith” is a word of the Deuteronomist school of “returners”, for whom Sinai becomes Horeb, but they had noticed the earlier theophany with its crude covenant and altered it to fit their improved ideas. Sinai obvious refers to the god, Sin, suggesting that the people who composed the original were formerly worshippers of Sin and were from Harran. Ai is another god from Syria, who might have been the same as Ia (Yehouah) or confused with him, and so Sinai means “Yehouah is Sin”.

The Ark of the Covenant to Balaam

The Ark of the Covenant is constructed as the place where the tablets of the renewed covenant will be kept. The Ark is similar to the devices used by nomadic tribes of the time for housing and transporting their idols. Cherubim were inscribed on the sides of the Ark, the winged figures that represented the Persian god, Ahuramazda. The myth is plainly invention because the wealth and skill implied for its construction was hardly what impoverished bricklaying slaves would have. Someone has noticed this and has explained the discrepancy by stating that the Israelites had robbed their Egyptian masters (Ex 12:36) when they left Egypt!

No less a scholar than the great Julius Wellhausen pointed out that the story of the tabernacles is an idea of the priests retrojected in history. That is what practically the whole of the Jewish scriptures is too.

The horde of Israelites stayed at Kadesh-Barnea for 38 years and must have left some sort of detectable impact upon their surroundings surely. Archaeology can find no trace of anything there before the tenth century BC. The model of the Israelites on the move is likely to be much later. Greek instances of mobile cities admittedly go back to about 1200 BC, but are better known in the fourth century BC.

The Greek tyrants of the late archaic age signified their inter-state family ties through names. Herodotus remarked that Pisistratus was named after the son of Neleus of Pylos as a way of indicating his family’s connexion with the early Athenian kings, Melanthus and Codrus. Parentage was essential to one’s identity in antiquity, not only in terms of heredity but the degree of citizenship—full membership, with its rights and privileges, or slavery, and a range of classes, each consenting to its status through birth, between these two poles. It was effectively a caste system. Land ownership was important to the communities of the Greek city-states. It was often a sine qua non of full membership in the community.

Those who lacked the wherewithal of citizenship became wanderers—“planomenoi”. Matthew F Trundle, discussing Greek mercenaries in Ancient History Bulletin says:

Those who had suffered exile from their native state theoretically had lost their identity as well as their community. Exile was a theme of Greek politics… Exiles were on the increase in the Greek world of the fourth century BC.

 

Wanderers and their families formed moving communities. They had no land and no traditions. The armed male heads of households and their sons had an original status from their position before their exile or loss of landholding rights. Thereafter, they maintained their status simply as a “kyrios” having authority within the “oikos”. Such wanderers joined together to form larger communities, becoming wandering cities. The Sea People evidently organized this way. They too were moving cities.

Similar were the roving armies overseas of the fourth century where the armed body of men formed the assembly of “citizens” politically organized below the army’s commanders who made up the political council. Camp followers and families, as with any army, accompanied them. G B Nussbaum illustrated the mercenary army as the rootless city-state using as his example the Cyreans who Cyrus the Younger had employed to overthrow his brother, the Great King of Persia, in 401 BC. The mobile city of the Israelites in the exodus reflects this model.

The Moses saga continues with further rebellions of the wilful Israelites overcome, and the Levites under Aaron again being confirmed as the upholders of God. Scholars have seen in the points of this story (Num 16-17) a disguised history of Levitical struggle. Doubtless all of it and some of the stories of the Patriarchs are allegories of the struggles of the settlers, against the Am ha-Eretz and against each other, to get control of the colony from the edict of Cyrus to the final establishment of the new religion about a hundred years later. Moses is an allegorical Ezra (or Nehemiah), the Persian administrator who finally establishes the new religion.

Nehemiah 8 clearly describes Ezra reading the law, specified as the law of Moses, to the people at the Feast of Booths. If Moses delivered this law in 1300 BC and it was ever after considered so important, why did Ezra have to re-introduce it to the Israelites in the fifth century BC? The plain fact is that this is when the law was introduced to the Israelites. It is most likely that Ezra was Moses, insofar as he it was who introduced the law to the Canaanites of the Palestinian Hill Country.

In Numbers 20:21-29, the Israelites fight a battle and occupy the region of Heshbon. No archaeological evidence of any presence before 900 BC has ever been found there. Of the biblical names for people living in the region, Canaanite, Amorite and Hittite were simply alternative designations for Canaanites, the latter two being Mesopotamian words for Syrian people. Nothing is known in history about the Hivites, Perizzites, Girgashites and Jebusites who also appear. It must be considered that these are allegorical names for factions that opposed the “returners”.

The story of Balaam is introduced. A seventh century BC inscription mentioning Balaam has been uncovered in Jordan. It seems that he was a Moabite Merlin, but he could have had nothing to do with the thirteenth century Moses as Moab did not exist then.

Most of the cities along the alleged route that the Israelites travelled immediately before reaching the Jordan River—Iyyim, Divon, Almon-divlatayim, Nevo, and Avel Shittim (Num 33:45-50)—have not been located, and those that have been found did not exist at the time of the supposed exodus. Yet Charles Krahmalkov notes what are apparently the same names on the walls of the Egyptian temple of Karnak, recorded in the same order as in the bible. If the places are marked on the temple walls in precisely the same order, and are so obviously places on the way from Egypt to Canaan, then that could have been the source of them used by the much later author.

Graffiti found on the walls of the Chapel of Achoris at Karnak are dated to the fourth century BC. The first five names are Greek and a further fifty-five names are in Cypriote syllabic script. They probably were the names of mercenaries from Cyprus stationed at Karnak. More Greeks died fighting in the service of the Persians than died in the defence of Greece in the Persian wars. The Greeks in the army of Darius III fought loyally for him against Alexander the Great. Greeks in the Persian army and Alexander’s Greeks must then have seen the walls of the temple at Karnak. By the third century, the Ptolemaic Greeks had integrated with the Egyptians, and been able to translate the inscriptions at Karnak for inclusion in the newly written Septuagint.

Successive “Returns”

The Israelite religion before the Babylonian conquest was Canaanite. The local god was called Yehouah but his title was the same as that of other Canaanite gods, and it still is. His title was Baal—Lord! Admitting this, biblicists like to think that the Canaanite version of Yehouah was an aberration, a falling back of the people to idolatry just as they had done when Moses ascended the mountain and they immediately took to bull worship. The experts tell us the prophets in the 800s, 700s and 600s constantly warned the people to return to the true god, the God introduced by Moses, but they failed to mention Moses and the people failed to take any notice.

The truth is that the books of the prophets are all post-exilic, written as warnings to the natives in Palestine to back the new god the Persians were trying to introduce as the true God of the Israelites, and His temple. The strategy was to pretend that the people had always been ready to backslide from the proper worship of the true god, so they invented a history to prove it, but Moses was not important in it, if he appeared at all. Not only that, but they wrote pseudepigraphic prophecies that the true god would punish them for their backsliding. Since they were writing these after the events or after mythical events had been invented, they were able to put convincing prophecy into the mouths of the prophets. The Persians depicted Jewish prophets in the days of the monarchy as incessantly warning the people not to apostatize. They always did! The saga of the Exodus must have been one of the last additions to the history.

The priest-administrators had to justify their own position, the situation of the state as a loyal subject of the Persian king and the wretchedness of the people who had to find tribute for the temple and the Persian king out of their stony soil. Their wretchedness was God’s punishment for them for previously backsliding, but with the grace of God and their own commitment to obedience, they might be saved.

The Persians covered their introduction of new laws and histories by pretending to find lost books of scripture, like Deuteronomy (Second Law—so-called by Christians: First Law, really), which like the prophets they again back-dated into the monarchy. Ezra introduced these as new laws that the people could not even understand—the law of Moses. They are now all in the Jewish scriptures as the priestly rules of temple worship and sacrifice.

We are confronted with highly idealized attempts at reconstructing the past, the aim of which was not to transmit a precise framework for the pre-exilic history, far less for the pre-monarchial history of Israel and Judah.
J Alberto Soggin

 

Textual analysis of the scriptures long ago found different sources, notably the J, E, P and D sources in the Pentateuch. The J and E sources, mainly of Genesis, are considered the oldest layer of writing in the bible, J standing for the use of Yehouah as the name of God, and E standing for the use of El or Elohim as the name of God. We have two gods here at the very least, and “Elohim” is an odd name for a single god because it has the form of a plural noun. Once again, these distinctions mean nothing to those innocents that read the bible in English, because the translators eliminate this implication of polytheism by translating all of them as God or Lord.

There is no avoiding the fact that there must have been two schools or more involved in writing the stories of Genesis and attributing them to quite different gods. El was the Canaanite high god, as is known from extra-biblical sources, and Yehouah or Yeho was a lesser god, identified even in the bible as a son of El. The presence of both in parts of the scriptures must testify to a disagreement among the “returners” about which of the Canaanite gods to make into the God of Heaven.

The god, El, seems the obvious choice as the high god, but people evidently were more devoted to their Baals, the sons of the high god, as being more personal and accessible. The local Baal was Yehouah. Different versions of the early books of the bible must have been written by the first “returners” to suit the different factions, but Yehouah seems to have soon prevailed, and the state came to be called Judah and the people Yehudim—those who worship Yehouah—instead of Israel—“we are the sons of El”—and Israelites.

Julius Wellhausen long ago pointed out that Israel and Judah were never two separate small states but were the same place—the hill country of Palestine. Israel was its name before the Persian administration and Judah its name during and after it.

There might be traces in Genesis of ancient Canaanite myth, though most of the biblical mythology is Mesopotamian. Familiar material to the Canaanites will at first have been written into the new polemical books of the “returners” to allow the Am ha-Eretz to identify with the re-cast mythology. The next phase of “returners” were the ones who discovered Deuteronomy and wrote the Deuteronomic History, inserting new references into the earlier books at key points to set the framework for the additions. This school has also been involved in writing Hosea, Jeremiah, Ezekiel and perhaps Amos. Haggai, and proto-Zechariah are from shortly after the “exile” and Third-Isaiah, Obadiah and Malachi are all later still.

The book of Deuteronomy was supposedly found by Josiah before the “exile” but was really introduced by a new group of “returners”. The discovery was cast back in time two hundred years to shortly before the defeat of Jerusalem by the Babylonians, a time that nobody would remember because the rulers who knew and recorded history had all been deported. It allowed the administartors to claim that the reforms had already been started by kings before the deportation by the Babylonians, and were not being imposed by the Persian Satraps. The Deuteronomic school revized the works of the earlier less effective “returners” and effectively produced the first complete version of the Jewish scriptures. Probably later additions were the extensive Priestly laws meant to enslave the people to raise tithes.

Deuteronomy is the origin and first book of the bible. It is the law read out to the sobbing people by Ezra. It then had to be read out regularly to the people, being the basis of modern church services. The colonists added to Deuteronomy a pseudo-history, the Deuteronomistic History, that depicted the kings and people of the country as being inveterate apostates from the true God. It gave lots of material to the priests to offer to the people in their exhortations that accompanied the readings of the law. The earlier “returners” had allegorized some of the troubles they had experienced in the century before Ezra arrived. It made up Judges and parts of Joshua. Earlier allegories of the arrival of people from Syria (Aram) were combined with myths brought with them from Syria and Mesopotamia. Later they were to make up Genesis. The Egyptian priests under the Ptolemies, who themselves sought to use the temple state for their own ends, added Exodus and Numbers, and Leviticus was added about the same time to codify all the additional laws that the priests of the temple cult, now independent of the Persians, wanted to generate riches faster. The first four books of the Pentateuch were additions to the original one, Deuteronomy, as was the beginning of Joshua, and the history, and all were substantially edited by P, the priestly school to seem coherent.

 

 

 

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Moses And the Exodus (Part III)

 

 

 

 

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