The Chief of Miners Mashe/Moshe, the Historical Moses

The quest for the historical Moses is considered by many historians a futile endeavor that has yielded not a shred of primary historical evidence confirming his historicity. The real problem however is not absence of evidence but why the very considerable evidence of Moses is unknown to historians.

See Also: This is a non-technical but enhanced version of my article “The Chief of Miners, Moses: Sinai 346, c. 1250 BCE” in the 2017 issue of the Bulletin of the Belgian Academy for the Study of Ancient and Oriental Languages [BABELAO], an electronic journal accessible on the Internet.

By Charles Krahmalkov (Krahmalnikov)
Professor Emeritus of Ancient and Biblical Languages
The University of Michigan
February 2017

Click here for article.

Comments (1)

We who have an amateur interest in these things are very much dependent on the mediation of those with expertise we lack. We should welcome new readings of texts that editors and translators have made familiar to us.
However, some things here surprise me. There is the suggestion that historians don't know about the turquoise mine evidence. On the other hand there is a bibliography which mentions publications by recognised experts that are decades old. There would have to be something pretty wilful about any ignorance or lack of information here.
As to Moses, we have someone who is in charge of a commercial enterprise and presumably selling his wares, which are towards the luxury end of the scale, to local customers, presumably including Egyptians. Since he identifies Yahweh and Ptah, one deity two names, he is not entirely outside the Egyptian religious world and since yet other deities appear he does not seem to me to be entirely monolatrous. It seems necessary to reconfigure the Biblical Moses significantly. An important figure in Egyptian and/or international commerce, directing an Israelite workforce, might be, like Biblical Moses, an honorary member of the Egyptian royal family but he isn't the outside observer, shocked by what he sees, that B-Moses is.
The confrontation between Pharaoh and Moses feature Ph's angry inability to comprehend who Yahweh is. If Moses could - and in a sense should - have said to him 'You call him Ptah' - the story and its implications as to cultural incompatibility between Israel and Egypt - seem to move into a completely different moral universe.
As to the Israelite polity which involved Gezer and Yanoam until Philistine times, this too seems to involve considerable reconfiguration, if that is the word, of the Biblical history. It would rather bother me, were I advocating this view, that Gezer is so specifically mentioned as Solomon's wedding gift and said to be not Israelite or Philistine but Canaanite up to that point, after all that time, with no sense of interrupted tenure. I put it that way because you might say that there ought to be no worry about correcting the Bible in matters of minor detail.
I don't know how one would prove that information about the Moses of turquoise mine did not survive to be used - and surely to some extent reimagined - by the writers of Exodus. But the changes of detail seem to pile up and changes in the whole character of Moses, of his relationship with the Israelites and with the Egyptians, seem to arise. The point of the using this material for this re-imagining would then become problematic and the sense that this is real history would diminish.

#1 - Martin Hughes - 02/16/2017 - 23:02

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