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Monday, May 7, 2012

Archaeology


Archaeology

Special thanks to Yosef Back and Lisa Liel, both archaeological researchers with extensive experience and knowledge, for helping me with some of the approaches.



A word about archaeology

  • “Good scholars, honest scholars, will continue to differ about the interpretation of archaeological remains simply because archaeology is not a science. It is an art. And sometimes it is not even a very good art.”

Source:


William Dever. 1996. in "Is this man a biblical archaeologist? BAR Interviews William Dever, Part 1. Biblical Archaeology Review 22(4):30-39ff.


There are many such quotes that demonstrate the limits of archaeology. ‘Archaeological evidence’ depends very much on the point of view that one is coming from. Therefore, I don’t believe that we can prove the truth of Torah through archaeology as there is evidence for and against the historicity of Torah. Much of archaeology depends
on interpretation which will depend on if you are a bible minimalist (e.g. Israel Finkelstein) or a bible maximalist (e.g. WF Albright). I will therefore merely show how Zeligman’s questions are very much answerable and only bring evidence to support the divinity of Torah from archaeology at the end of the article.

It should be noted that Zeligman draws his conclusions heavily from Israel Finkelstein. However, the following respected archaeologists seem not to think too highly of Finkelstein.

See the March / April 2006 issue of Biblical Archaeological Review pages 14-5, which accuse him on one topic of using "an intellectual slight-of-hand that serves only to obscure the evidence."  Or the Jan. / Feb. 2007 issue pages 66-7 where we hear from other archaeologists that "there is a disturbing trend in Finkelstein's recent work to ignore data or simply force it into his model".  Or Dr. William Dever's characterization, quoted in the May / June 2003 issue, p. 62 as someone who "changed his mind not on the basis of empirical data, but simply out of an inherent iconoclasm [and] … sense of political correctness."

A note on the difference between Torah and other histories.

Torah is different than almost all of ancient history in its objectivity.

In his "Society must be Defended", Michel Foucault posited that the victors of a social struggle use their political dominance to suppress a defeated adversary's version of historical events in favor of their own propaganda, which may go so far as historical revisionism. Nations adopting such an approach would likely fashion a "universal" theory of history to support their aims, with a teleological and deterministic philosophy of history used to justify the inevitableness and rightness of their victories (see The Enlightenment's ideal of progress above). Philosopher Paul Ricoeur has written of the use of this approach by totalitarian and Nazi regimes, with such regimes "exercis[ing] a virtual violence upon the diverging tendencies of history" (History and Truth 183), and with fanaticism the result.

To quote Rabbi Dr. Dovid Gottlieb (he received his Ph.D. in mathematical logic at Brandeis University and was a Professor of Philosophy at Johns Hopkins University) in Living Up to the Truth, “Now, in making that evaluation you must know one fact - all ancient histories were written as propaganda. This is something upon which historians and archaeologists agree. The function of ancient histories was to glorify contemporary powers, and therefore they would not record their own defeats. After all, the scribes were their employees. You see this, for example, in the following type of historical chain of events. You read in the hieroglyphs that Pharaoh X raised a great army and conquered a number of provinces, and his son Pharaoh X Jr. raised even a larger army and conquered more provinces. Then, there is a hundred year gap in the history. What happened during that 100 years? For that you have to go to the Babylonian records. That is when the Babylonians were kicking the stuffing out of the Egyptians. The Egyptians don't record that because that doesn't glorify their empire. They just leave it out.
An example is the question of the Exodus. Why is it that no ancient Egyptian records mention the Exodus? The answer is that the Egyptians never recorded their defeats. Therefore, since the Exodus was a massive defeat, you would not expect them to record it. So, its absence from their records is not evidence against the Exodus.”

See the unreliability of Manetho an important ancient Egyptian historian, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Manetho.
Regarding the Greek and world historian Herotodus, the following has been said : “Just as Homer drew extensively on a tradition of oral poetry, sung by wandering minstrels, so Herodotus appears to have drawn on an Ionian tradition of story-telling, collecting and interpreting the oral histories he chanced upon in his travels. These oral histories often contained folk-tale motifs and demonstrated a moral, yet they also contained substantial facts relating to geography, anthropology and history, all compiled by Herodotus in an entertaining style and format. It is on account of the many strange stories and the folk-tales he reported that his critics in early modern times branded him 'The Father of Lies'” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Herotodus
Also see the following regarding ancient Egyptian history http://www.reshafim.org.il/ad/egypt/
History which is not objective is not so reliable.
However, the Torah is quite different. The Torah is not only objective, it is one of the most anti Semitic works in world history. The Jewish failures, foibles and sins are bared for all to see. A quick perusal of the Torah will show that Moses does not say one complimentary word to the Jews (when he is speaking to them - he does compliment them before G-d). This is true not only of the common Jews, but even more so of Jewish heroes and kings.
Abraham and Isaac have bad sons, Jacob marries the daughters of an idol worshipping crook, who then give birth to the 12 tribes who form the basis of the Jewish people. Jacob’s children commit many acts which paint them in a poor light (the Talmud shows how they were, in reality, not so bad. However, the Torah does not cover anything up) including the stories of Dina, Judah and Tamar, Reuben and Bilhah, Simon and Levi in Shechem, etc.
The Jews glorify their ancestors as - slaves and idolaters!! Their leaders Moses and Aaron hit a water producing rock instead of speaking to it and aren’t allowed into Israel. This sin and punishment is repeated numerous times in the Torah. Aaron - father of the priestly class, builds the Golden Calf. The Jews commit sin after sin in the desert and are punished constantly. Almost the entirety of the books of prophets is replete with reproof of the sinning of the Jews and how the prophets berate them at every turn. Even Kings David and Solomon are severely criticized for their sins. Do you find anything even remotely like this in ancient history, where a society’s historic books paint their own people and heroes in such a negative light?



On understanding Torah from within

One of the great errors committed by secular bible scholars is that they try to understand the biblical narrative from their own point of view. Such an approach is doomed, because it cannot possibly provide an accurate portrayal of what the Torah is attempting to convey. It is axiomatic in traditional Judaism that the bible cannot be understood without the oral interpretation, given by G-d at Sinai and later recorded in the Talmud and Midrash.
For example, a common attempt to disprove the veracity of the Hebrew exodus from Egypt, usually will base itself on the lack of archaeological remains of the Hebrews in the Sinai desert. The argument goes that if the Hebrews really wandered there for 40 years they would have left some remains. However, if you take the Biblical and Midrashic readings of the exodus into account, it is likely that no remains would be left. See #12 below. 



Zeligman’s questions and some possible responses/approaches

1: Question - The Biblical Food - no evidence.
Solution: The following approach is, in my opinion, the most satisfying: The flood was a supernatural event; see http://www.jewswithquestions.com/index.php?/topic/71-the-mabul/page__p__204__hl__flood__fromsearch__1#entry204
Since it was not a natural event we cannot know how it affected the Earth and traces it would have left behind.
There actually is some evidence of a biblical flood - See Comparative Stratigraphy of Late Holocene Sediments and Destruction Layers Around the World: Geological, Climatological and Archaological Evidence and Methodological Problems by Benny J Peiser of Liverpool John Moores University, School of Human Sciences, wherein he writes, "During the last two decades, researchers have found evidence for abrupt climate change and civilisation collapse as well as sudden sea level changes, catastrophic inundations, widespread seismic activity and abrupt changes in glacial features at around 2200±200 BC. Climatological proxy data together with sudden changes in lacustrine, fluvial and aeolian deposits are clearly detectable at the Atlantic-Subboreal boundary in the archaeological, geological and dendrochronological records from around the world. A survey of ~500 excavation reports, research papers and scientific abstracts on late 3rd Millennium BC civilisation collapse and climate change was carried out in order to assess i) the nature, ii) the extent and iii) the chronology of sudden climatic and social downturns at this particular chronozone. This comparative study shows a significant pattern of abrupt glacial, eustatic, lacustrine, fluvial, pedological and geomorphic changes at around 4250±250 cal BP in many areas around the world. In addition, the majority of sites and cities (>1000) of the first urban civilisations in Asia, Africa and Europe appear to have collapsed at around the same time. Most sites in Greece (~260), Anatolia (~350), the Levant (~200), Mesopotamia (~30), the Indian subcontinent (~230), China (~20), Persia/Afghanistan (~50), Iberia (~70) which collapsed at around 2200±200 BC, exhibit unambiguous signs of natural calamities and/or rapid abandonment. The proxy data detected in the marine, terrestrial, biological and archaeological records point to sudden ecological, climatic and social upheavals which appears to coincide with simultaneous sea- and lake level changes, increased levels of seismic activity and widespread flood/tsunami disasters. The main problem in interconnecting this vast amount of data chronologically is the application of incoherent and imprecise dating methods in different areas of geological and climatological research. It is hypothesised that the globally detected evidence for sudden downturns at the Atlantic-Subboreal boundary is chronologically interconnected and that chronological deviations are mainly due to imprecise dating methods. Neither a seismic nor a climatic explanation for these significant natural and social disasters appear capable to account for the diversity of ecological alterations and great variety of damage features as well as the global extent of these events. Extra-terrestrial bodies, on the other hand, depending on their cometary constitution and their cohesive strength, can have catastrophic effects on the ecological system in a variety of patterns which match the glaciological, geological and archaeological features documented in this study." This was presented at the SIS Conference: http://saturniancosmology.org/files/cata/peiser.txt

There are several other approaches which one can take. I have heard those that claim that the last ice age was what we know as the flood. The basic problem is the age discrepancy. Those who propose this answer would say that carbon dating is inaccurate as it relates to the flood, due to the extreme atmospheric conditions which would cause leeching of radioactive carbon from objects and cause them to appear older than they really are. Archaeological researcher, Mrs Lisa Liel once expressed this opinion to me. She wrote the following, ‘We've uncovered animals trapped in glaciers which are perfectly preserved.  At the slow speed glaciers are thought to have moved, it's hard to imagine a dead animal being swallowed up by ice without a considerable amount of decomposition happening during the process.  We've even found mammoths with undigested food in their stomachs.  I think it strains the imagination to have a woolly mammoth stand there eating grass as a glacier gradually grows over him. In other words, I believe there's abundant evidence of a global flood. It's just that we call it the great ice age.
She further wrote, ‘ A lot of the dating techniques used for antiquity and prehistory are pretty sketchy.  And they rely on assumptions that are both unproven and unprovable.  With carbon-14, the main assumption is that the carbon content in the atmosphere today is pretty much the same as it was 5000 years ago.  But calculate the weight of enough water to cover the earth, and you have a tremendous amount of pressure.  Carbon could be leached out of solids under that sort of pressure, and it's any one's guess at what ratios.
Regarding the recent earthquake in Japan http://www.space.com/11115-japan-earthquake-shortened-earth-days.html
The quake shortened the day by 1.8 millionths of a second.  Which is pretty small, except that we have no idea what sort of quakes there have been in the past.  And now we have proof that the length of the day today isn't necessarily what it was thousands of years ago.  A lot of calculations are based on uniform premises, and those aren't really supportable.’
There are those who will not be satisfied with that answer because we generally do not put the last ice age at a mere 4000 or so years ago. 
Finally it must be noted that almost every ancient culture has a flood story, in spite of the distance and time between each culture, see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_flood_myths. It seems quite unlikely that they all came up with this type of myth on their own. And there is this cuneiform tablet http://zwingliusredivivus.wordpress.com/2014/01/21/this-is-why-we-need-more-people-working-in-cuneiform-the-ark-tablet/ dated back as far as 1900 BC, which talks about the flood and that animals entered two by two just as the Torah states.

2: Question - There seem to be many languages before the generation of the dispersion which, according to the Torah, seems to be the earliest development of languages other than Hebrew. Zeligman attacks this by citing archaeological knowledge that languages were developed thousands of years before that and that even Egyptian language was going through a transitional stage at that time.
Solution: I stumbled upon, what I believe to be, an effective approach to answer this attack. Talmud Yerushalmi Megillah 1:9 states two opinions as to what the verse (Genesis 11:1) means when it says that the world was "Safah Achas udevarim achadim." One opinion is that everyone spoke Hebrew (as cited by Rashi here) and the other is that they spoke 70 languages. Now, R’ E.E. Dessler in Michtav M' Eliyahu (I also heard this quoted from R’ Shlomo Wolbe, and the talmud in Gittin 6B and Berachos 35B seem to back this up) Part 2 (Essays on Rosh Hashanah) states that there is no Dispute in non halachik areas of Torah. So we can say that the whole world spoke Hebrew in addition to one their own languages (out of 70) which were derived from Hebrew. (I.E. Mozeson actually shows how all of language can be traced back to something close to Hebrew http://www.amazon.com/Origin-Speeches-2nd-Isaac-Mozeson/dp/0979261805/ref=tmm_pap_title_0
Actually, it is most reasonable to assume that humankind spoke many languages along with Hebrew before the generation of the dispersion, because if they only spoke Hebrew till the  generation of the dispersion, how did they learn so quickly after G-d confused their language? Did G-d teach each nation its language? This seems unlikely, as only Hebrew is G-d given. It seems more likely that they already knew other languages along with Hebrew as Talmud Yerushalmi indicates.
I recently saw that the commentary Torah Temimah states this exact approach. He proves it by quoting Genesis 10:20 which states ‘These are the sons of Ham according to their families, and their tongues, in their lands, in their nations.’ This means they had languages and this was before the dispersion (haflagah).

3:  Question - Historical records from various civilizations date back through the time of the flood.
Solution: We see great civilizations arise prior to the flood and continue seemingly unabated. We know of these people through literature and their material remains. However exact dating of this period of time (about 4,200 years ago) remains elusive.  Much of the dating of early man is dependent on radio carbon dating.  There is currently an on going debate between archaeologists and scientists as to the accuracy of radio carbon dating.  See debate on eruption of Mt. Thera : http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thera_eruption#Dating_eruption.  This debate could leave us ample time ( a few hundred years) for world populations to be ravaged by a year long flood and bounce back without us in modern times even being able to detect the event.  Furthermore a cataclysmic event such as a world wide flood would severely limit the effectiveness of radio carbon dating as it is based on the premise of equal carbon in environment and normal decomposition (imagine a world instantly losing its trees) calibration methods have been introduced but the results vary. Couple this with national revelation, and the fact that all the great ancient civilizations have flood myths, I would say it is fairly save to assume it happened. Also, see flood legends in world history - http://history-world.org/floods.htm’ From archaeological researcher Yosef Back.

Archaeological researcher Lisa Liel on the reliability of carbon dating: "The troubles of the radiocarbon dating method are undeniably deep and serious. Despite 35 years of technological refinement and better understanding, the underlying assumptions have been strongly challenged, and warnings are out that radiocarbon may soon find itself in a crisis situation. Continuing use of the method depends on a "fix it as we go" approach, allowing for contamination here, fractionation there, and calibration whenever possible. It should be no surprise, then, that fully half of the dates are rejected. The wonder is, surely, that the remaining half come to be accepted.

No matter how 'useful' it is, though, the radiocarbon method is still not capable of yielding accurate and reliable results. There are gross discrepancies, the chronology is uneven and relative, and the accepted dates are actually selected dates."

--[Lee, Robert. "Radiocarbon, Ages in Error," Anthropological Journal of Canada, Vol. 19, No. 3, 1981, pp9,29.]

Shells from living snails were carbon dated as being 27,000 years old.
Science vol. 224, 1984, pp. 58-61

Living mollusk shells were dated up to 2300 years old.
Science vol. 141, 1963, pp.634-637

A freshly killed seal was carbon dated as having died 1300 years ago.
Antarctic Journal vol. 6, Sept-Oct. 1971, p.211
From the Larousse Encyclopedia of Archaeology page 109: “It is true that this method disputed by some, includes a margin of error which varies according to the age of the specimen. For example, for substances some 2000 years old the margin is in the order of 200 - 300 years. This alone makes the method unsatisfactory for classical times onwards. Moreover, the rate of disintegration can be accelerated or slowed down if the specimen has been subjected to a variety of chemical reactions. If, for instance, it has been exposed to rain.”
For a fascinating discussion of the flood with archaeological researcher Lisa Liel, please go to http://fkmaniac.blogspot.com/2006/03/archaeology-and-bible-revisited-or.html

4: Question: Chaldeans reach Ur in Southern Mesopatamia (Ur Kasdim) only in 1000 B.C., long after Abraham was there. Why then was the town he came from called Ur Kasdim (Ur of Chaldeans)?
Solution: Firstly, we don’t know precisely where Ur was http://fontes.lstc.edu/~rklein/Documents/Ur.htm and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ur_Kasdim
Secondly, Zeligman assumes that the biblical Kasdim means Chaldeans. But, perhaps it was from the name Kesed (Gen 22) or the like and not the Chaldean nation? Or maybe it means magicians or stargazers as in Daniel 2? Perhaps the biblical Chaldeans in Abraham’s time were not related to the ones in Nebuchadnezzer’s time, but were called Chaldeans because they were involved in stargazing.

5: Question - Zeligman claims that Philistines couldn’t have been around during the biblical periods of Abraham and Isaac since Philistines are called “Goy Kretim” in Zephania 2:5 which means a nation of Crete, also called Caphtorim in Amos 9:7. These are the Sea People who don’t appear in Israel till 12 century BC.
Answer - ‘Goy Kretim’ in Zephania does not mean a nation of Crete. Rashi cites Samuel 1 30:14 where Kret is a place to the south of the Phillistines (Egypt). Caphtorim are either a Canaanite people according to Rashi in Deuteronomy or according to the Ramban are the Phillistines who originated from Egypt (as the Torah states in Genesis 10:14). See this article with a similar approach from an archaeological perspective: http://starways.net/lisa/essays/philistines.html This article shows that it is unlikely that the Sea Peoples were the Philistines, but rather, the Philistines came from Egypt, similar to the approaches of Rashi and Ramban.

6: Question: Zeligman states that Population of Jews is too large for Egyptian history. Zeligman says 2 - 3 million.
Answer:  This website states 4- 5 million http://www.reshafim.org.il/ad/egypt/people/index.html We have no idea if this would cause a catastrophe in Egypt or if it would be recorded. Ancient recorded histories were done in a way that makes their own kingdoms look good. An exodus and defeat of Egypt wouldn’t be recorded.  Regarding populations - any assumption in what an ancient population was is complete conjecture according to Bar Ilan archaeologist Gabriel Barkay. Also see http://www.reshafim.org.il/ad/egypt/people/index.html#rem2 which maintains that populations in the ancient world are hard to estimate.

7: Question: There seems to be no recorded history of Joseph as viceroy.
Answer: Not true http://www.aish.com/jl/li/a/48967121.html
Yosef Back regarding the exodus - ‘Rabbi Gottlieb http://ohr.edu/2053 deals with this in living up to the truth, as do all others who deal with the topic.  Basically there was no such thing as objective history then.  Inscriptions are always propaganda, and as the exodus was a huge debacle for the Egyptians it would stand to reason that they would not record it.  Furthermore Archeology is the study of the remains of cultures, as such we cannot expect to find everything.  Lack of evidence is not evidence of absence.   In fact the idea of a mini exodus has even been espoused by mainstream archaeologists like William Dever. Same is true with Joseph. 

8: Question: We don't have any record of all the countries coming to Egypt during the famine of Joseph’s time.
Answer: A quick perusal of the commentaries such as the Midrash, Ramban and Ibn Ezra will show that the Torah meant that the famine was in the local countries surrounding Egypt. We do not know how far it spread so we cannot know if the Hittites in Asia minor would have recorded it.
Additionally, the famine lasted only 2 years as is stated in the Midrash and Talmud, so it wasn’t historically significant and wasn’t prominently recorded. 

9: Question - No mention of Hebrews in Israel or the City of Ramses was after Hebrews left.
Answer:  It could be that since the Talmud states that “avodas perach” or backbreaking labor which the Hebrews had to perform meant that the cities sank. Thus we may not have anything left of those cities since they weren’t going to be made to be real storehouses.
In the Jan. / Feb. 2007 issue of Biblical Archeological Review in an article by Dr. James Hoffmeier. "The Nile Delta where the Bible says the ancient Israelites lived has produced no historical or administrative documents that might shed light on any period" since that entire area is so wet, papyri simply don't survive there.
Regarding bible minimalists who disqualify the bible as history, Rabbi Dr. Dovid Gottlieb writes “In 1066, William the Conqueror conquered England. There are very few doubts about it. Yet there is no debris, no strewn bones, no broken walls to show us that that is indeed what he did. However, no one doubts it. In about 539 B.C.E., the Babylonian Empire which spanned a huge area, the biggest of its day, ceased to exist. The empire was conquered by another, that of the Persians, but we do not find any rubble or debris amongst the ruins of Babylon to show it. In fact, if the ruins are all we had to go by, we’d be forgiven for thinking that Babylon never was conquered because it continued to flourish as a city with hardly any change. Yet, it was conquered. It was conquered by Cyrus, king of Persia.”

Ancient mention of the Jews: The Hapiru was a term used for an underclass of nomadic people in ancient middle east. The Amarna letters make mention of them in correspondence http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hapiru between the Cannanite and Egyptian kings, where the Canaanites are complaining about Hapiru destruction of Cannanite cities.  Included in that are some cities such as Jerusalem and Megiddoh, which are also mentioned in Joshua 12 as being conquered by the Hebrews when they entered Canaan.

10: Question - Had Egyptians been destroyed in 10 plagues the Hittites who were constantly fighting them would have attacked. Answer: This is not a problem since the battles took place in 1300’s BCE. If we put the secular date of Exodus which is 1476 BCE, there is no question

11: Documentation of Exodus - Ancient empires did not document their failings (except the Torah) and certainly not the accomplishments of their enemies.

12: Question - No evidence of desert wanderings.
Answer: Rabbi Gottlieb sums it up nicely http://ohr.edu/2053#S3  nomads don't tend to leave many material remains.  We also must mention that archaeological excavations have occurred only in areas of importance in the Sinai IE routes and cities.  The Torah says we traveled in a miraculous route off the beaten path.  The Sinai is 60,000 square kilometers, to say that we have  thoroughly excavated and not found anything is preposterous. Additionally, the Hebrews lived in miraculous situation, Ananei Hakavod - clouds of glory, which according to the Talmud flattened mountains, kept out intruders and dangerous creatures. Due to the Manna there was very little regular food, no defecation, no changing clothes or shoes, no pottery (you don’t take pottery when you leave Egypt and are traveling through the desert especially if you have Egyptian gold, silver, etc). Additionally, the Mysterious MBI People may have been the Jews http://cojs.org/cojswiki/The_Mysterious_MBI_People,_Rudolph_Cohen,_BAR_9:04,_Jul/Aug_1983.

13: Question - Kaddesh and Etzion Geber have been excavated and no evidence of Hebrews.
Answer: Same as above. Also, we don’t know if they actually encamped in these cities or nearby. 

14: Question - Edom only became a kingdom in the 7th century:
Answer from Yosef Back ‘This is archaeological consensus, however it has been challenged recently by Thomas Levy's dig in southern Jordan.  His findings can push back the dating another 200 years.  That is still not enough to help out the exodus, however we have inscriptions mentioning Edomite tribes going back to the 1200's b.c.e.  I deal with this more in my book.’

15: Evidence of Biblical conquests and cities: See Yosef Back’s article below

16: Question - Where did they get food after Manna ran out.
Answer - they conquered Midian, Emori, Og’s nation before they entered Israel, as the Torah states in the end of the Book of Numbers and in Deuteronomy.. They would have ample supplies. Additionally, as we have pointed out in #6, population estimates from those times are conjecture. Furthermore, it is evident from the Tanach’s description of the Jewish conquest of Canaan that it was miraculous even though it may have been made to look normal. It is conceivable that this may have been the case with food supplies as well. 

17 - Archaeological evidence supporting Torah: In order to show that archaeology does not disprove Torah, I have referenced the following articles. Remember that although most of these sites are Orthodox, they are all well sourced and can be cross checked:


W. F. Albright in Archaeology and the Religion of Israel.  "The Mosaic tradition is so consistent ... so congruent with our independent knowledge of the religious development of the Near east in the late second millennium B.C. that only hypercritical pseudo-rationalism can reject its essential historicity."
“ Hebrew national tradition excels all others in its clear picture of tribal  and family origins. In Egypt and Babylonia, in Assyria and Phonecia, in Greece and Rome, we look in vain for anything comparable. There is nothing like it in the tradition of the Germanic peoples. Neither India nor China can produce anything similar. In contrast with these other peoples the Israelites preserved an unusually clear picture...”[The Jews : The Biblical Period W.F. Albright 1963]
Dr. Yohanan Aharoni, in Canaanite Israel during the Period of Israeli Occupation.  "Recent archaeological discoveries have decisively changed the entire approach of Bible critics.  They now appreciate the Torah as a historical document of the highest caliber. ...  No authors or editors could have put together or invented these stories hundreds of years after they happened."

The following are chapters in archaeological researcher Yosef Back's upcoming book

They Built Pitom and Ramses
According to Exodus 1:11, after Pharaoh enslaved Israel, he “afflicted them in their burdens, and they built the cities of Pitom and Ramses.” Is there any evidence of the existence of such cities? Most of the scholars who do accept the historicity of the Exodus place it during the thirteenth century B.C.E, since there was an Egyptian city called Pi-Ramses (Avaris), and that city was built during the time of Ramesses II.[1]
The Talmud records a debate regarding the real names of the cities Pitom and Ramses. One opinion is that its real name was Pitom, but it was called Ramses because the buildings continually collapsed – Hebrew: mitroses – soon after their construction. Another opinion is that its real name was Ramses, but it was called Pitom because the “mouth of the deep” – Hebrew: pi tehom – swallowed the buildings soon after their construction. Apparently, the Egyptians had the Israelite slaves build in boggy areas of the Nile Delta where it was nearly impossible to lay solid foundations.[2]
The Talmud, therefore, considers both cities as one. The Mahrasha in his commentary states that they were not actually one city, but they were located next to one another.[3]
According to this, we have no proof that Pi-Ramses from the time of Ramesses II is the same city as the one(s) that the Israelite slaves built. Even if it is, it may be that its original name was neither Pitom nor Ramses. Often, the Torah identifies an ancient city by the name that city was given at a much later date. An example of this is the account of Abraham who pursued the five kings[4] as far as Dan, meaning the future city of Dan, which would be built by the tribe of Dan centuries later.
In the period of the twelfth dynasty of Egypt (circa 1938-1756 B.C.E.), a major administrative center, originally called Rowaty, was located on the easternmost branch of the Nile, "the door of the two roads."[5] However, by the time Joseph arrived there, at the end of the eighteenth century B.C.E.[6], the city was known as Avaris.[7] This was the Hyksos’ capital during the fourteenth- and fifteenth dynasties of Egypt (circa 1785-1522 B.C.E.). It is most likely that Joseph resided here. From Genesis 45:10, Goshen appears to have been a part of Egypt that lay near the palace of Joseph's Pharaoh, in the Nile Delta. The Pharaoh Ahmose I, (circa 1550–1525 B.C.E.), established a royal center there after he had driven out the Hyksos. When Ramesses II, (1279–1213 B.C.E.), built his royal city on the site, well after the exodus, he renamed it "Pi-Ramses." Thus, Avaris is the most likely candidate for the biblical Ramses.
The city had a large Canaanite population from circa 1850 B.C.E. and onward. The town was continually inhabited until the time of Thutmoses III, 1479–1425 B.C.E., who, it is likely, was the Pharaoh during the Exodus.[8]
Judging from the remains, the people who occupied that land were probably shepherds. Also of interest there is a four-room house of the type usually associated with the Israelite settlement found in Israel from the same period.[9] According to our timeline, the settlement of Canaanites in Avaris occurred just after the birth of Isaac. Our sages teach that the land of Goshen was given to Sarah as a wedding gift from Pharaoh.[10] Furthermore, Jewish tradition tells us that Abraham and Sarah had a large following of proselytes.[11] It stands to reason that some of those people followed Abraham to Egypt and settled there, and that some of these remains are from those people.
Tell el-Maskhuta is the second of the two Delta sites that have been excavated sufficiently to be positively identified as centers of Hyksos occupation. Six phases of Hyksos occupation of the site have been determined, mostly from pottery found during the excavations. So far, this is the leading candidate for the city of Pitom of the Bible. Rashi[12] cites the Mechilta, which identifies Pi-Hahirot – where the Israelites camped just before crossing the Reed Sea – as the site of Pitom. In ancient times the Reed Sea extended farther north, to what is today Lake Timsah.[13] According to the maps of Edouard Naville, one of the first archeologists to explore Wadi Tumilat, the sea came within two miles of Tell el-Maskhuta. Our approach complements the research of Dr. Naville.



[1] Edgar B. Pusch, "Piramesse," in OEAE, (Oxford Encyclopedia of Ancient Egypt), 3:48-50.
[2] Talmud, ibid., Rashi
[3] Ibid.
[4] Genesis 14:14
[5] Manfred Bietak, Avaris, the Capital of the Hyksos: Recent Excavations at Tell el-Daba, London British Museum, 1996, pp. 9, 19
[6] Joseph resided in Egypt from the time he was sold, in the year 1708 B.C.E. (2216 A.M.), until his death, in 1615 B.C.E. (2309 A.M.)
[7] Ibid., p. 40
[8] Josephus, Against Apion 1:231
[9] Bietak, "Center of Hyksos Rule," pp. 98-99. These houses have been found in abundance in the hill-region of Judea and Samaria, and date from the Iron Age, 1200 B.C.E. Archeologists have found that these people were farmers and herders of sheep, consumed kosher species of animals, and generally refrained from idolatry. This has led many to assume that the inhabitants of these villages must have been Israelite.
[10] Pirkei DeRebbe Eliezer 26
[11] Genesis 12:5, Rashi ibid.; see also Rambam, Hilchot Avodat Kochavim 1:3
[12] Ibid.
[13] Edouard Naville, "Map of the Wadi Tumilat" (plate image), in The Store-City of Pitom and the Route of the Exodus, London: Trubner and Company, 1885

From Joshua’s Conquest of Canaan Until His Death
1436 B.C.E. to 1408 B.C.E.
(2488 A.M. to 2516 A.M.)
According to most archeologists and academics, there was no nation of Israel in the land of Canaan until the latter part of the thirteenth century B.C.E. – some two hundred years after Joshua conquered the land according to the Bible’s account. The earliest agreed-on evidence of Israelites in Canaan comes from the Merneptah Stela,[1] which has been dated to about 1210 B.C.E. Furthermore, archeological evidence shows that the cities of Jericho and Ai – both of which, according to the Bible, were conquered and destroyed by Joshua – were not inhabited at all during that period in history. In fact, there is almost no evidence of the existence of any walled cities in the area at the time of the transition from the Late Bronze Age to the Early Iron Age (approximately 1200 BCE). The Bible’s detractors single out the cities of Ai and Jericho,[2] demonstrating that Jericho was uninhabited at the time that it was supposedly conquered, as was the site of Khirbet et-Tel, which they assume to be the site of the city of Ai.
Archeologists bolster this claim by pointing to the archeological evidence of the four-room house. These houses began to appear throughout Israel in the Early Iron Age (1200 B.C.E.-1000 B.C.E.) and have generally been attributed to the early Israelites, because almost no idols or nonkosher species of animals have been found in their surroundings. By the thirteenth century B.C.E. Israel’s neighbors Philistia, Edom and Moab were established in the land, but there is no evidence of their having been there earlier, whereas the Bible places these nations there from at least the time of Joshua.
This evidence would seem to indicate that there was no Israelite settlement prior to the thirteenth century B.C.E.
These objections to the Biblical accounts are based on the assumption that the Bible itself claims that these cities were settled and subsequently conquered during the thirteenth century B.C.E. The truth is, though, that by using Talmudic sources we would have to place the Exodus from Egypt in the year 1476 B.C.E. (2448 A.M.) This is based on the acknowledged date of the destruction of the first Temple – 586 B.C.E. (3338 A.M.) – and the Talmud’s assertion that this destruction took place 890 years after the Exodus. This would place the Israelites’ entrance into Canaan and the conquest of Jericho in the year 1436 B.C.E. (2488 A.M.).
Jericho
Kathleen Kenyon excavated Tel es-Sultan in the 1950s. Situated northwest of the modern-day city of Jericho, Tel es-Sultan is assumed to be the Biblical Jericho. Kenyon claimed that the city was destroyed sometime around 1550 B.C.E., most likely by the Hyksos. This would have been long before Joshua’s time. Her claim is based on the fact that she did not find at the site any of the type of imported pottery typical of the fifteenth century B.C.E., when Joshua would have lived, and that the walls dated to the Middle Bronze Age. However, she did not publish an analysis of the pottery that she did find. Secular academics have since used her thesis in their attempts to debunk the Bible’s account of history.
Some twenty years before Ms. Kenyon’s expedition, John Garstang conducted a dig in Tel es-Sultan and published a detailed study of his findings, including the types of pottery he found at the site. He concluded that the city was destroyed sometime around the year 1400 B.C.E., which is well within range of the Bible’s account. He himself did not recognize the significance of the evidence he had in his pottery findings, as the methodology he used was still in the developmental stage at that time.
In 1990 Dr. Bryant Wood, an expert in Late Bronze Age pottery, affirmed that Garstang’s dating of the site is accurate, as it corresponds to the Egyptian pottery record. Indeed, pottery from the Late Bronze Age was found at the site, including the very pottery Kenyon had been looking for to date the site. It was discovered later that Kenyon was digging in what was the poor section of the town. Even at her excavation site, however, there was local pottery dating from the fifteenth century B.C.E. Wood also pointed out that Egyptian scarabs bearing names of pharaohs of the eighteenth dynasty were found in the city’s cemetery, and all of these pharaohs lived later than 1550 B.C.E.
In 1983 the British Museum conducted a carbon-dating analysis on charcoal remains from the destruction level at the Jericho site, dating it at circa 1410 B.C.E., but these findings were later found to be faulty. More tests were conducted in the early 1990s, and the samples were carbon-dated to 1590 or 1527 B.C.E., fully supporting Ms. Kenyon’s position. Most academics considered this to be the final nail in the coffin for the veracity of the biblical account. Yet there is an ongoing debate over how radiocarbon dating applies in archeology today. In general, radiocarbon (also termed C-14) dates are 100 to 150 years earlier than those of the Egyptian pottery record, which serves as the basis for archeological dating in the Middle East. Jericho is just one example of this discrepancy. The debate rages regarding the date of Mt. Thera’s eruption as well.[3] Due to the controversy over radiocarbon dating from this period, and to the evidence of pottery and scarabs that date from later than 1550 B.C.E., coupled with the fact that Wood’s proposed date falls within the range of our tradition, we can certainly consider Dr. Wood’s findings regarding Jericho to be valid.[4]
Jericho was the first city the Israelites conquered when they entered Canaan.[5] Tel es-Sultan boasts impressive remains, including evidence of a well-fortified city.[6] Massive stone retaining walls have been found there that stood approximately 10-15 feet high. These retaining walls supported a large earthen rampart that was plastered over to enable people to build on top of the rampart. An additional mud-brick wall that was 6 feet thick and 20-26 feet tall surrounded the perimeter of the city atop the retaining wall.[7] At the crest of the earthen rampart stood another mud-brick wall, which enclosed the upper city. This would have given the city two lines of defense: the invading army would first encounter the perimeter wall, which was made up of the retaining wall together with the mud-brick wall. An attacker from the outside would have had to scale walls that, together, rose about 35-40 feet (over ten meters) in order to gain entrance to the lower city. From there the invaders would have had to scale the rampart until they reached the internal fortifications of the upper city.
Archeological digs have revealed that when the mud-brick wall fell, it collapsed and fell outward to the ground; it did not fall inward, as it would have had it been pushed by an external enemy force. It is likely that the rubble of these fallen walls made it easier for the Israelite invaders to scale the retaining walls and enter the city.
The Bible (Joshua 6:20) states that the wall “fell in its place.” The Talmud[8] interprets this to mean that the walls of Jericho sank into the earth. However, the Talmud points out, the verse uses the term fell, not sank; moreover, the Talmud asks what advantage there was to the wall’s having sunk as opposed to having fallen over. The Talmud goes on to explain that the wall was as wide as it was high, so had it simply toppled over, it would have remained a barrier, just as it was before.
Apparently, the Talmud is referring to the retaining wall described above, not to the mud-brick wall, which did indeed topple over. In order to enable the invading Israelites to charge into the city, the retaining wall was buried by the debris of the mud-brick wall in such a way that the Israelites were able to charge upward. Had the retaining wall simply collapsed it would have remained a formidable obstacle for the invaders, because the rampart was still in place.
Trenches have been dug at various points around the circumference of the city where the wall would have been located. Evidence of destruction as described in the book of Joshua was found all around. The retaining wall was found buried by the remains of the mud-brick wall for almost the entire circumference of the city, with the exception of the northern wall. Excavations reveal that the northern section of the mud-brick wall remained intact, and houses were found there that used the city walls as support.[9] The Bible student will remember that Rahab’s house was built into the wall itself and that she and her family survived the attack.[10] It is very tempting to suggest that these homes were those of Rahab and her family.
There is evidence of a major fire that occurred at the site of the northern wall. Evidently, the fire was set after the wall was destroyed, matching the account in Joshua 6:24. Massive stores of grain were also found, attesting to the brevity of the siege and the fact that the conquest took place shortly after the previous year’s crops were gathered into the storehouses. The Bible states that the Israelites crossed the Jordan in the spring[11] and that the siege lasted for just seven days.[12] Thereafter, other than a single palatial structure, dated to about 1325 B.C.E.,[13] the site was abandoned until the eleventh century B.C.E. Thus the archeological evidence does indeed support this biblical account.[14]
Ai
Another major source Bible detractors employ to give credence to their claims is the city of Ai, supposedly located on the site of Khirbet et-Tel, situated about two miles to the east of the village of Beitin, which scholars identify as the biblical Beth El. According to all opinions, this site of Khirbet et-Tel contains no remains from the time of Joshua’s conquest. The city has been found to have been inhabited twice: once around 3300-2250 B.C.E., during the Early Bronze Age, and again around 1200-1150 B.C.E., during the Iron Age. The Iron Age inhabitants built the city themselves and did not wage any war to conquer it from others. During the fifteenth century B.C.E. this site was not inhabited at all and so could not have had anything to do with any conquest or war with Israelites.
The flaw in this argument is that there is no proof that Khirbet et-Tel is the site of Ai. There are at least two other areas that should be considered as possible sites for the city: Khirbet el-Maqatir and Khirbet Nisya.
There are many hints in the Bible itself that can help us locate the city of Ai. Furthermore, the majority of Jewish commentaries on the Bible maintained that there were two cities named Ai.[15] Thus, there is no need to match any one site to all the references of Ai found in Biblical sources.
This author favors the site of Khirbet el-Maqatir as being the city of Ai mentioned in the book of Joshua, for the following reasons:

·         Ai is adjacent to Beth Aven.[16] Khirbet el-Maqatir is 1.5 km southeast of Beitin, which is the most likely candidate for Beth Aven.
·         Ai is east of Beth El.[17] Khirbet el-Maqatir is 3 km northeast of El-Bireh, the most likely candidate for Beth El.
·         Ai was a small fortress; it was smaller than Gibeon.[18] A fortress about 3 square acres in size has been found at Khirbet el-Maqatir dating to the time of Joshua, and pottery from the fifteenth century B.C.E. was found at there. The site of Gibeon is about is about 11 square acres.
·         There was an ambush site between Beth El and Ai.[19] There is a very deep valley called Wadi Sheban between Khirbet el-Maqatir and El-Bireh. This valley is not visible from either Khirbet el-Maqatir or El-Bireh and could easily conceal a large ambush force.
·          There must be a valley north of Ai,[20] since the king of Ai saw Joshua and his men marching down into the valley.[21] Wadi Gayeh is situated just north of Khirbet el-Maqatir and separates Khirbet el-Maqatir from Jebel Abu Ammar, where Joshua was most likely camped. The hill of Jebel Abu Ammar is visible from Khirbet el-Maqatir.
·          Ai was destroyed by fire.[22] Abundant evidence of destruction by fire has been found at Khirbet el-Maqatir in the form of ash, burned pottery, burned stones and burned bedrock.

In order to locate Ai we must first locate Beth El and Beth Aven; but this is where things can become a bit confusing. As we have mentioned, most academics claim that the village of Beitin is built on the site of ancient Beth El. Beitin was first associated with Beth El on May 5, 1838, when the famous explorer Edward Robinson visited the area, arriving in the village of Beitin. Based on the similarity of the names Beitin and Beth El, and on the fact that the ancient Church historians Eusebius and Jerome stated that Beth El was located 12 Roman miles[23] north of Jerusalem, Robinson identified Beitin as Beth El. He calculated the distance according to his horse’s rate of travel, which was approximately 3 miles per hour. The journey took him about 3 ¾ hours.[24]
William F. Albright firmly endorsed this assumption of Robinson’s. As we have noted, Ai must be east of Beth El. In a watershed article published in 1924, Albright wrote, “Since the writer has scoured the district in question in all directions, hunting for ancient sites, he can attest [to] the fact that there is no other possible site for Ai than [Khirbet] et-Tel.”[25]
Other than the problems mentioned above with the theory that Khirbet et-Tel is Ai, we have no archeological evidence to support the hypothesis that the site of Beitin is Beth El. Archeologists point to a burn layer in the city, dated to circa 1250 B.C.E.,[26] which, they claim, proves that the Israelites destroyed the city. However, according to our timeline this date is 186 years after the conquest of Canaan. Furthermore, there is no Biblical account of the burning of Beth El, nor was there any Canaanite habitation at the site of Beitin during the Late Bronze Age I.[27][28] According to our model the Late Bronze Age I, specifically 1436, is the date of conquest.
Dr. David Livingston has challenged the identification of Beitin as Beth El. He claims that the site of El-Bireh, just east of Ramallah, is a more suitable location for Beth El, based on the following quotations:
Eusebius: “Bethel [Genesis 12: 8] now is a village twelve signs [i.e., milestones] on the right, going up from Aelia toward Neapolis....”
Jerome: “Bethel, the village at the twelfth milestone from Aelia on the right side going to Neapolis….”
Both Eusebius and Jerome speak of mile markers, not just measurements of distance. A few of these stone mile markers have been found between Jerusalem and Shechem (i.e., Nablus/Neapolis), and their inscriptions have been published.  Three of these mile markers were numbered by Thomsen; they are 261, 262 and 263 – the fifth, fourth and third, respectively.[29] Of these, only on the fifth is the actual mileage inscription still visible.
Eugene Germer-Durand presents compelling evidence that the 0 milestone was located inside Jerusalem proper and not at the Damascus Gate.[30] He suggested that the milliarium aureum (“golden 0 milestone”) may have been located near the temple of Jupiter or near a temple of Venus, or even as far south as Mt. Zion. To corroborate his claim he cited the examples of the central milliarium aureum of Rome and London, giving their locations. He then demonstrated that measurements from the third milestone found at Shufat would place the theoretical first milestone close to, but not at, the Damascus Gate. This precludes any possibility that the 0 milestone could have been at that gate. Charles Clermont-Ganneau agreed with him.[31] Hadrian’s column, located at the Damascus Gate, was not used as a mile marker. It was probably a commemorative pillar, similar to the pillar of Trajan in Trajan’s Forum.[32]
To further bolster this claim, Dr. Livingston cites another quote from Eusebius, this time in the identification of the city of Rama (today A-ram): “Rama (Joshua 18:25). Tribe of Benjamin, city of Saul. At the sixth sign [i.e., mile marker] from Ailias [i.e., Jerusalem] as one goes toward the northern region of Bethel.”
The fifth milestone on the road leading north from Jerusalem was found with clear number inscriptions in both Latin and Greek.[33] Based on the fact that the fifth marker was found at least one mile southwest of A-Ram, one would expect to find the sixth marker near the south side of A-Ram. The seventh would then have been located where the road leading north out of the village intersected the main road.
According to this, Beitin is about two Roman miles too far north to be considered a candidate for the location of Beth El, as the twelfth Roman mile would land in the region of El-Bireh.
Most scholars today identify El-Bireh with the ancient site of Beeroth, due to the similarity of the names. However, as we have shown, the fact that a city has a similar-sounding name does not always indicate that it is built on that ancient site. Furthermore, Eusebius and Jerome mention that the city of Beeroth is located between six and seven miles from Jerusalem, past Gibeon on the road to Nicopolis (Emmaus).[34] Today if the Beeroth of the times of these Christian scholars was located in the same location as its biblical counterpart, it would be located somewhere between Nebi Samuel and the city of Bidu.
In Tevuot Haaretz, Rabbi Yehosef Schwartz writes: “…In Shemot Rabbah, ch. 32, it is written that there is a distance of 3 mil – 2¼ miles – between Jericho and Ai. Therefore, this city of Ai cannot possibly be the Ai near Beth El, because Beth El is more than 20 mil [15 miles] from Richa [Jericho]. This statement [referring to Ai as being near Beth El] must, therefore, be referring to the Ai that was near the present-day Richa.”
In a footnote, Rabbi Schwartz adds: “If we examine the passage cited from Shemot Rabbah a little more closely we will find that it refers to a residence of a king, so it can refer only to the Ai near Beth El, because it was here that the king in question dwelled. I suppose, therefore, that there is a transcriber’s error, and that it should read, ‘between Beth El (not Jericho) and Ai is only 3 mil,’ and in truth this is the approximate distance between Beitin [which may refer to Beth Aven] and Chirbath Medinat Gai.”
According to Rabbi Schwartz, this midrashic statement tells us that there is a distance of three mil between the cities of Beth El and Ai. The Talmudic mil is approximately a kilometer. The distance as the crow flies between Khirbet el-Maqatir and Beitin is approximately 3,050 meters. The distance between these two sites is well within the range of the midrashic passage we have cited above.
Those who prefer to identify Khirbet Nisya with Ai point out that in Khirbet el-Maqatir no remains from the Persian period have been found, whereas the Bible’s account would indicate that something from this period should be there.[35] Khirbet Nisya does hold such ruins. One possible solution to this problem is that both locations are called Ai, and Khirbet Nisya is the Ai that was inhabited during the Persian era. As we have pointed out, many commentators asserted that there were two cities called Ai.
Beth El
Radak,[36] Metzudat David[37] and Rashi[38] are all of the opinion that there are two places called Beth El. The place called Beth El in the book of Joshua, located in the tribal province of Benjamin, was not the same one that Jacob renamed in the book of Genesis.[39] The city that Jacob called Beth El is referred to as Luz in the book of Joshua and was located in the tribal province of Ephraim.
Dr. Livingston explored a small hill called Ras et-Tahuneh, slightly northeast of El-Bireh. Surface surveys at the site have shown evidence of occupation as early as the Chalcolithic, Early Bronze and Middle Bronze periods (as well as during several later periods, including the Iron Age).[40] Livingston conjectures that this was the highest point in Beth El, in the province of Ephraim. It would be here that Jeroboam ben Nebat placed one of his two golden calves.[41] This site seems to be the ideal candidate for the location of the city of Luz, situated just north of the Beth El that is in the tribal province of Benjamin. This latter Beth El is the one described in the book of Joshua.
Joshua’s Altar
On the windswept slopes of Mt. Kabir in the modern Jewish village of Alon Moreh, one is greeted with a beautiful view of the typical Samarian landscape. With tall mountains protruding from flat plain-like valleys, the scene is breathtaking. If the visitor looks westward across the valley he will see Mt. Ebal, just to the north of the city of Shechem. If he strains his eyes a bit he will be able to see a pile of stones just north of its peak, where the mountain plateaus. If he is accompanied by a tour guide, at this point his guide will pull out a Bible and begin to read the section from Deuteronomy[42] describing how Moses commands the Israelites to build an altar on Mt. Ebal upon entering the Land. He will then proceed to the book of Joshua[43], showing that Joshua did just as he was commanded. Proudly, the guide will explain that this pile of stones he is looking at is more than likely the altar that Joshua built when he was here.
Indeed, according to Dr. Adam Zertal, the archeologist who excavated the site, the stone installation that we are looking at is an altar. In fact, this altar almost fits the description of the altar of the Temple, as defined by the Mishnah in tractate Midot[44] (the altar on Mt. Ebal differs in that it is slightly rectangular). This altar predates the Mishnah by more than a thousand years!
Furthermore, Dr. Zertal’s team found animal bones, all of them male, with the vast majority of the bones coming from cattle or sheep. Many of the bones showed evidence of having been cut at the joint. These findings seem to correlate with the rules that are applicable to an olah-offering as found in the book of Leviticus.[45] The remainder of the bones came from fallow deer. The bones were all found to have been burned on an open, low-temperature flame, indicative of an altar’s flame.
Dr. Zertal dates the site from circa 1250 B.C.E.-1150 B.C.E. These dates are based on the pottery found there, coupled with a very rare scarab that was made during the reigns of either Ramses II or Ramses III. As we have noted, these are the dates secular scholars and archeologists usually assign to the Israelite conquest of the Land.
According to our timeline, these dates do not match that of the Exodus. The Talmud[46] relates an interesting story regarding this altar:
When the Israelites crossed the Jordan river to enter the Land of Israel, a miracle occurred for them: the waters stopped flowing and they walked on dry land. They were commanded to take twelve stones from the area where the water had been. They then proceeded to bring these stones to Mt. Ebal, where they assembled them to form an altar. Moses commanded them to write the Torah on the twelve stones in the seventy original languages. From there the altar was to be dismantled and the stones transported to Gilgal.
In total there were three sets of twelve stones set up by Moses and Joshua:
·         On the eastern bank of the Jordan River in the land of Moab; these were also inscribed with the text of the Torah in the seventy original languages
·         In the Jordan River, at the site where the Israelites crossed the river
·         In Gilgal; the stones were first brought to Mt. Ebal, set up as an altar, dismantled, then brought to Gilgal, which was their final stop
The purpose of these stones was to serve as a memorial to this miraculous event. The stones in Gilgal were known until the time of the Mishnah.
According to Jewish tradition no altar remained on Mt. Ebal. Therefore, the pile of stones on that site cannot be Joshua’s altar. It would seem that these stones would have been a large bamah – a personal/communal altar. Dr. Zertal dates this altar to the time when the Mishkan stood in Shilo. During that time it was forbidden for the Israelites to build private altars.[47] Alternatively, this altar could have been made by non-Jews in the area. Dr. Zertal noted that Biblical altars are all square, whereas the one they found at Mt. Ebal was slightly rectangular. Many other non-Jewish Near Eastern cultures built rectangular altars in those times. This may be a remnant of one of those.
Gibeon
The city of Gibeon was an important site in the land of Canaan, located northwest of Jerusalem. After the destruction of Jericho and Ai, the inhabitants of Gibeon (one of the seven nations that were known as the Hivites) sent delegates to deceive the elders of the Israelites into making a peace treaty with them by pretending that they had come from a far-off land. According to the Torah, the Israelites were commanded to destroy all the inhabitants of the Land who were of the seven nations of Canaan. The Gibeonites’ ruse was soon discovered, and the decision was made to spare them – despite the fact that that the oath of the peace treaty was not binding (as it had been made through deceit). The Gibeonites were subsequently assigned to perform lowly tasks for the Israelites.[48]
Excavations conducted between 1956 and 1962, led by University of Pennsylvania archeologist James B. Pritchard, revealed that the site had been occupied during parts of the Early- and most of the Middle Bronze Age (c. 3000–1550 B.C.E.) and in the latter part of the Late Bronze Age (c. 1550–1200 B.C.E.), at which time the town was a dependency of the city-state of Jerusalem and was probably not fortified. The earliest extra-Biblical source for this is found on a list of cities engraved on one of the walls of the Amum temple in Karnak, Egypt. This relief commemorates the invasion of Israel by Shoshenq I (945-924 BCE).
Significant remains were discovered, most of them from the Israelite period. Among these finds were sixty-three wine cellars from the eighth- to the seventh centuries B.C.E. Hebrew inscriptions of the name Gibeon (גבען) were found written on the handles of wine storage jars. Most of these were excavated from a large pool matching the biblical description. This sealed the identity of Gibeon in Biblical archeology with the site of Al-Jib. Pritchard published articles on their production of wine, the Hebrew inscriptions, the rock-cut wine cellars, and the well-engineered water conduits that supplied the city with water.
The first temporary occupation at the site was in the Middle Bronze Age. There was a more permanent occupation later on in the same period. However, the only evidence found of occupation during the Late Bronze Age (the time of Joshua, according to our chronology) was some pottery and other deposits found in tombs that had been cut at a much earlier date.
Nevertheless, this does not indicate that there was no Late Bronze Age city there. It is quite probable that early constructions were robbed, their materials to be used for building projects later in antiquity.
Hazor
According to the book of Joshua,[49] Hazor was a mighty city. King Jabin of Hazor initiated the northern alliance of Canaanite city-states to stand against Israel. Joshua and his men surprised the Canaanite forces at the waters of Meron and decimated their ranks, pursuing them as far as Sidon. The army of Joshua then turned back to Hazor, killing its king and burning the city, utterly destroying it.
Modern archeology has borne out the importance of the city of Hazor. The site covers some 200 acres and is the largest tell in the Land of Israel. Ample evidence has been found in the excavation of the fifteenth-century city[50][51][52] to conclude that the city was destroyed by fire. In the upper-city area from this period the Long Temple was destroyed and was never rebuilt.[53] Another Temple was found covered by a 15-cm-thick layer of ash on its floor[54] and a 70-cm-thick layer of mud-brick debris above that.[55] Further evidence of major destruction was found throughout the site.[56] Most archeologists have attributed this destruction to Thutmoses III, from one of his campaigns through Canaan.[57] However, there is no evidence to suggest this connection. It seems more logical, in light of our finds, to attribute this destruction to the Israelite invasion.
Despite this destruction, the city of Hazor was resettled by the Canaanites, for we find that the Israelites had to deal once again with Jabin. See next chapter: “Hazor Revisited.”
Why don’t we find Israelite settlements outside of urban areas until the middle-Judges/Iron Age I?
There is much scriptural evidence to suggest that the early phases of Israelite settlement in the Land took place in the preexisting Canaanite cities. As we have noted, only three cities were burned by fire when the Israelites entered the Land: Jericho, Ai and Hazor.
In the book of Deuteronomy[58] it is written: “It shall be that when the Lord your God will bring you to the Land that was sworn to your Fathers Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, to give to you – great and good cities that you did not build, houses filled with every good thing that you did not fill, hewn-out cisterns that you did not have to hew, vineyards and olive trees that you did not plant – and you shall eat and be satisfied.” These verses clearly show that Israel was to dwell in the Canaanites’ fully furnished houses. In his farewell address to the nation in Shechem, Joshua quotes this section of Torah.[59]
In the book of Leviticus[60] it is written: “When you shall come to the land of Canaan that I give you as an inheritance, and I will place a tzaraat-affliction on the house in the land of your possession….” Rashi cites a midrash from Vayikra Rabbah that states that this was a good tiding for the owner of the house, because the Amorites used to hide their wealth within the walls of their houses, and the tzaraat-affliction would enable the Israelites to discover these treasures.
On this issue I would agree in part with those archeologists who would claim that the Jewish nation came from the Canaanites. Yes, they inhabited their Canaanite cities and used Canaanite pottery and other wares, as the Bible relates, but not because they are descended from the Canaanites but rather because they subjugated these nations. This situation continued for some 200 years, until some Israelites left these cities for the hill-country, to found the many Israelite settlements there in the thirteenth century B.C.E.
Evidence of Israelite inhabitation of Canaanite buildings is evident in Hebron and Shechem. In Hebron, a structure in area 6 in the city center showed damage from fire in the Late Bronze Age, but the area was refurbished and was used throughout the Iron Age, until the Babylonian exile (1200-586 B.C.E.)! This is also true of the Middle Bronze Age wall that surrounded the city throughout the same period.[61][62]
In the city of Shechem, both the wall and fortress temple date to the Middle Bronze Age and were in use until the time of the Judges (1125 B.C.E.).[63] See the “Shechem” section, in chapter 6.



[1] See footnote # 103.
[2] Jericho: Joshua 6:24; Ai: ibid., 8:18
[3] See footnote 7 for more information
[4] The fact that the walls date to the Middle Bronze Age and not the Late Bronze Age does not present a problem. In both Hebron and Shechem, the cities’ Middle Bronze Age fortifications were used well into the Iron Age.
[5] Joshua, chapters 2 and 6
[6] This is in line with the biblical narrative, which describes Jericho as a fortified city; see Joshua 2:5, 15, and ibid., 6:5, 20.
[7] Dr. Bryant Wood, from his article, “The Walls of Jericho,” which was originally published in the Spring 1999 issue of Bible and Spade Magazine
[8] Tractate Brachot 54b
[9] Sellin and Watzinger, Jericho, Blatt 13, Tafel III
[10] Joshua 2:15
[11] Ibid., 3:15
[12] Ibid., 6:3-5; 15-22
[13] Judges 3:13 mentions that Eglon, in alliance with Ammonites and Amalekites, captured the “City of Palms.” Rashi and Radak cite the Targum Yonatan, which states that the City of Palms was Jericho. According to our timeline, Ehud assassinated Eglon in the year 1348 B.C.E. Garstang believed that this structure was Eglon’s palace. See: Garstang, "Jericho: City and Necropolis," 106-10; idem, "The Story of Jericho: Further Light on the Biblical Narrative," AJSL 58 (1941): 368-72; idem, "The Story of Jericho: Further Light on the Biblical Narrative," PEQ 73 (1941): 168-71; and John Garstang and J.B.E. Garstang, The Story of Jericho, rev. ed. (London: Marshall, Morgan & Scott, 1948), 177-80. A twenty-three-year discrepancy in ancient pottery dating, as we find here, is negligible. Furthermore, Garstang found remains of much imported pottery and an inscribed clay tablet, which attests to the affluence of its owner. It is certainly tempting to say that this could have been Eglon’s palace.
[14] Ibid., 6:26; Joshua declared a ban on the city, cursing anyone who would rebuild it. Heil of Beth El transgressed this ban (see Kings I 16:34). This happened during the reign of Ahab, which, according to our timeline, was about 898 B.C.E. That being case, how could there have been settlement on that site from the eleventh century B.C.E.? In Samuel II 10:5, we find King David admonishing two of his servants, who had been humiliated by Hanun king of Amon, to stay in Jericho until their beards grew back. This would have occurred in the eleventh century B.C.E.
[15] Tevuot Ha’aretz ch.3 part 1.; Radak to Joshua 7:3
[16] Joshua 7:2
[17] Ibid., Genesis 12:8
[18] Joshua 7:3, 10:22
[19] Ibid., 8:9
[20] Ibid., 8:11
[21] Ibid., 8:14
[22] Ibid., 8:28
[23] 12 Roman miles are equivalent to 11 American miles.
[24] Edward Robinson and Eli Smith, Biblical researches in Palestine, Mount Sinai and Arabia Petraea..., Volume I (John Murray, London, 1841) pp. 448-449
[25] Bryant Wood, “Researching Ai,” Summer 2009 issue of Bible and Spade
[26] Albright, 1934:11 and 1939: 48
[27] The Late Bronze Age I lasted from 1550 B.C. E. to 1400 B.C.E.
[28] Kelso 1968:28, 58; Dever 1971:463
[29] Dr. David Livingston, “Locating Biblical Beth El,” Fall 1998 issue of Bible and Spade
[30] Ibid.
[31] Ibid.
[32] Ibid.
[33] Ibid.
[34] Ibid.
[35] Nehemiah 11:31
[36] Joshua 16:2
[37] Ibid.
[38] Ibid., 18:13
[39] 28:9
[40] Kochavi 1972:178
[41] Kings I 12:26-27
[42] 27:1-10
[43] 8:30-35
[44] 3:1
[45] 1:5; 10
[46] Tractate Sotah 35b
[47] Deuteronomy 12:8-9; Talmud, tractate Zevachim 117a-b
[48] Joshua 9
[49] 11:1-13
[50] Stratum XV in the upper city and stratum II in the lower city
[51] Amnon Ben-Tor, “Tel Hazor, 2001,” IEJ( Israel Exploration Journal) 51, 2001, pp. 235-8, esp. 238
[52] Yadin, Hazor, the Head of All Those Kingdoms, 45:100-1
[53] Yigael Yadin, “The Fifth Season of Excavations at Hazor, 1968-1969,” BA (The Biblical Archeologist) 32, 1969, p. 52; idem, Hazor, the Head of All Those Kingdoms, Schweich Lectures of the British Academy 1970 (Oxford University Press, 1972) pp. 103, 125; idem, Hazor: The Rediscovery of a Great Citadel of the Bible (Random House, 1975) pp. 260, 261; Ben-Tor, “Hazor,” in NEAEHL, 2:604; and Amnon Ben-Tor et al., Hazor V: An Account of the Fifth Season of Excavation, 1968, James A. de Rothschild Expedition at Hazor (Jerusalem: Israel Exploration Society, 1997) p. 102
[54] Yigael Yadin et al, Hazor III-IV: An Account of the Third and Fourth Seasons of Excavation, 1951-1958, Text, James A. de Rothschild Expedition at Hazor (Jerusalem: Israel Exploration Society, 1989) p. 228
[55] Yadin, Hazor, the Head of All Those Kingdoms, p. 80; and Yadin et al, Hazor III-IV, p. 227
[56] Concerning Area C, see Yigael Yadin et al., Hazor I: An Account of the First Season of Excavations, 1955, James A. de Rothschild Expedition at Hazor. (Jerusalem: Magnes, 1958) p. 73; and idem, Hazor II: An Account of the Second Season of Excavations, 1956, James A. de Rothschild Expedition at Hazor (Jerusalem: Magnes, 1960) p. 92. Concerning Area K, see Yadin et al., Hazor III-IV, p. 287. Concerning Area P, see Ben-Tor et al., Hazor V, p. 382.
[57] Hebrew University annual dig reports from Hazor; from the year 1994, found online
[58] 6:10-11
[59] Joshua 24:13
[60] 14:34
[61] Jeffrey R. Chadwick, “Discovering Hebron,” BAR 31:05, Sept/Oct 2005
[62] How was it that the city of Hebron had a wall? Hebron was one of the three cities of refugee listed in the Torah, which Joshua consecrated on the Canaanite side of the Jordan (Joshua 20:7). The Talmud (tractate Makkot 10A) states that cities of refuge were not walled. Yet we find in the halachot of Purim, on the subject of walled cities whose walls are from the time of Joshua son of Nun, that Hebron is considered a city of uncertain status and therefore people living there read the Megillat Esther on both the fourteenth and the fifteenth of Adar. This was the ancient custom in the city and is attested to by Rabbi Chaim Joseph David Azulai, better known by the acronym HIDA (Birkei Yosef 688:4), as well as the responsa of Divre Yehosef Schwartz (#2, p. 11b). Therefore, the inhabitants of Hebron must have expanded the city outside of the walled portion to comply with the ruling of the Talmud.  This was most likely the case in Shechem as well.
[63] Lawrence E. Stager, The Shechem Temple,” BAR 29:04, Jul/Aug 2003




188 comments:

  1. It is important, as you noted, to understand the limitations of archeology. A great book on this subject is On The Reliability of the Old Testament (http://www.amazon.com/On-Reliability-Old-Testament-Kitchen/dp/0802849601/ref=sr_1_sc_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1336604281&sr=8-2-spell) which systematically goes through the Bible from the destruction of the First Temple back in time to that of the patriarchs to show how either there is actual archeological support, definite absence of contradictory evidence and great reasons why certain parts of the Bible have no archeological record. For good measure he goes to town against the Documentary Hypothesis as well. It's a great read and trashes pretty much everything in "Letter to My Rabbi".

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  2. I think it is interesting that you are doing this – but it is pretty hard to figure out whether your work is superior to the work of skeptics like the “Letter to My Rabbi” author.

    I think the part on carbon dating could be good though. I notice when I Google “Is carbon dating accurate?” that the majority of the first page (or close to it) are religious/fundamentalist websites who want to challenge carbon dating.

    I won’t really take a religious website too seriously as a primary source – but if academic scientists conclude that the carbon dating is actually not accurate and can give wildly off readings – well, that would be at least interesting.

    There are really two questions for a person looking at whether (and in what ways) the Torah is a man made document.

    The first question I believe we have to ask is “is it reasonable to think the Torah is actually from G-d?” and its opposite: “is it reasonable to think the Torah is a creation hundreds of years in the making?”

    I have done my own research (staying away from Talk Reason and fundamentalist websites – both of which seem to be too close to the questions to be reliable.)

    I have done a pretty good amount of reading of James Kugel’s How to Read the Bible, and have continued on reading and listening to others, like David Carr of Union Theological, and others.

    There are actually many academics, from all over the world (including Israel and even Jerusalem) who, in a very dispassionate way, give solid reasons for their reaching the common understanding that the Torah reads like a collection of texts that were preserved and sewn together and reflect hundreds of years of wisdom writings from the Ancient Near East.

    It’s not easy to read all of their work. And Kugel’s work (the best known of all) How to Read the Bible -- is really just trying to sample and summarize some of the points made by some of the academics.

    What I’m saying is: this question of authorship, and where the substance of the text of the Torah comes from (for academics – who themselves argue over many fine points) is not something a rabbi, or a student, can just figure out in a day or a week of research and reading.

    There are decades of secular materials – some of it very fascinating (even for a frum person.)

    So I suppose my critique of the effort to characterize those who oppose the traditional ideas about Torah is – no one on the frum side really bothers to immerse themselves in the various points and reasons that academics have for seeing the Torah as they do.

    And that is too bad. Because this stuff is reasonable. I can’t speak to Talk Reason – but where Kugel points you – if you read and read and study – you will not find it so full of holes (even if you don’t find it particularly persuasive.) You will find a rich vein of material and many decades of argument and refinement of theories. But no one on the religious side ever seems to move beyond dismissing it all out of hand (or after “summing” the “Kugel Perspective” up in five minutes.)

    It would be nice if a website like this bothered to see if they could interview James Kugel (a frum Jew by the way) and ask questions that would help us all see which side is more reasonable – Torah from Mt. Sinai, versus Torah from man.

    In a way, they are both reasonable – but a debate or constructive talk would make this website less about “indoctrination.” (As Talk Reason is a brutal attack that is another kind of over-the-top and one sided indoctrination.)

    One final point I want to make is that, on some level, I can tell you as a skeptic that the biggest problem people like me have with the frum community is that we are simply invisible there. Our views are not possible to hold, or express. And the price for having the ideas of a Kugel are high. If our views could be acknowledged, if they could be recognized, it could change the tone of the discourse quite a bit.

    Tuvia

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  3. Tuvia, thank you for taking the time to look at my website.
    The sources I cite regarding the unreliability of carbon dating are all from academic sources, not religious ones.

    Re James Kugel etc. The problem with Kugel and those like him is that they work with the Documentary Hypothesis or something similar, but that has long ago been discredited. See http://www.aishdas.org/toratemet/en_cardozo.html for a good overview.
    Furthermore, theories that the Torah is similar to ancient texts such as Hammurabi show a severe lack of understanding of Torah. See http://www.aishdas.org/toratemet/en_yitro.html among other articles.
    Academics simply assume that that Torah isn't divine because they would not be taken seriously in academia if they expressed religious views.

    You write, "no one on the frum side really bothers to immerse themselves in the various points and reasons that academics have for seeing the Torah as they do." And "this question of authorship, and where the substance of the text of the Torah comes from (for academics – who themselves argue over many fine points) is not something a rabbi, or a student, can just figure out in a day or a week of research and reading."

    Let me turn that around. Do any of the academics have an inkling of the vast corpus of gemara, midrash and commentaries, which do a far better job of explaining the Torah than any academic ever has? Have they really spent time studying the generic connection between the oral and written Torah expressed in Vilna Gaon, R' SR Hirsch, Malbim, Torah Temimah, etc? Have they ever seen a Baal Haturim or studied the Steipler's bircas peretz which show hints in the Torah text to their corresponding laws in Torah shbaal peh. Do you really think that the vast gemaros, all based on Torah, which have been studied by countless millions for centuries on end, with every word dissected and analyzed ad infinitum, trying to be understood by some of the great minds in history. Was all that based on a book made up by some guy in a cave 3000 years ago? And how is it that this Torah - supposedly a compilation of other ancient near eastern texts - has become the most read book in human history? And the morality of the western world is based on it.

    You say my website is about indoctrination. Sorry but I am simply rebutting Zeligman's lies and distortions. I didn't start this, he did.

    Kugels views and those like him have come and gone in every generation. In every generation chazal have dealt with the questions and have given answers. I suggest you try to study Torah more in depth and you will be less of a skeptic.

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  4. First, Kugel is Orthodox (as are his kids and his grandchildren.) He certainly spends time studying Torah and Talmud. He still sees the reasonableness of multiple authors and multiple times.

    Second , Kugel is not the only fellow with a kippah on who see evidence of multiple authors and epochs in the formulation of the Torah. There are other academics (at Hebrew U and Bar Ilan who subscribe to multiple authors and epochs.)

    Third, it is not about divine versus human authorship. It is one author at one time versus many authors through different times – living in different times in the Ancient Near East.

    Fourth, it is about more than just a literary theory called the Documentary Hypothesis.
    This is my big axe to grind with rabbis – they read about Wellhausen (from a hundred fifty years ago) and think that is where Modern Biblical Studies begins and ends. That’s just not true. (And how ridiculous – how on earth would there even be a Modern Biblical Studies category – if there was so little to it?) You know if someone sums up Modern Biblical Criticism in five minutes – they are not summing it up at all.

    Sixth, the documentary hypothesis – that there is more than one author of Torah and that it involves different eras on the Ancient Near East – grows more confident with time, not less.

    Seventh, a professor could really make a name for himself if he could come up with a good case for one author (obviously making a case for a divine author would be a little out of the academic world’s ken.)

    Eighth, the book Kugel wrote is (by his own admission) really just a surface treatment of what the academic world believes so far is true. You have to drill down into his footnotes to realize: there are a lot of people and a lot of reasons for seeing the Torah the way the academics see it.

    Ninth, in the end, it is not about “who is right?” That argument will never die. The question is – “is it reasonable, really, to think the Torah came into its final form over stages through time, with contributions from writers through time?”

    That is a reasonable thing to conclude – reason will get you there. That’s really the point for someone who is trying to clearly evaluate the traditional versus the academic view: can I reasonably choose to be impressed by the academic view – to find it compelling? I know that the answer is yes. So do many Orthodox academics.

    Tuvia

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  5. So lemme get this straight. If someone is orthodox, that means that his views that the Torah was taken from multiple Near Eastern texts should be considered valid within the Torah community? Oh please...

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  6. Meir:

    I read the Cordozo piece on the DH. I think Rav Cordozo is a terrific guy and smart. Would be great for an academic like Prof. Kugel to take a look at Cordozo’s article, and respond. I will see if I can get the article to him!

    Yes, multiple sources should be valid. I am not an expert on this stuff – but I do know that censorship and suppression are bad responses to these ideas. Warning people that they are apikorsos as a way of scaring them is bullying, authoritarian, and wrong. The ideas are around – and they are staying around (as they should, because they’re reasonable, and supported in many ways.)

    The Ancient Near East – the “cradle of civilization” – was an unusual hotspot for centuries for wisdom writings, and scribes amassed and transmitted texts there for centuries. The Torah appears to reflect this (something which can be demonstrated.) Now discuss!

    From what I read (not an expert), the idea of individual authorship of texts didn’t even surface until the Iliad and the Odyssey were attributed to Homer. All at once, the Torah was attributed to Moses. And that idea carried forward from then. Why can’t we walk that idea backwards (or at least let it be a valid expression of Judaism?)

    Professor Kugel in one online lecture I heard called it a “Jewish Spring,” making a joke in regards to the “Arab Spring.”

    Tuvia

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  7. Tuvia, this getting tiring. If you have a specific example backing up your position regarding the near east then quote it. Otherwise I will assume you are like anyone else quoting "experts" with no real understanding.
    I still don't understand how multiple authorship can be an orthodox belief if it contradicts the text. If it was authored by humans then Torah isn't divine. If Torah isn't divine then it is a sick, crazed waste of time. If Torah isn't divine then what value does a 3000 year old text have to me in the 21st century? There isn't anything that author knew more than we know today. He made a hero out of a guy who wants to kill his son because he heard voices telling him to slaughter his son on Mount Moriah. We don't make a patriarch out of someone like that, we institutionalize them. We don't follow a non divine Torah because it supports genocide against the Midianotes and Canaanites.

    Bottom line - Your academics believe what they do because they cannot allow in their minds for Torah to be divine because then they would have to follow it and because they would be considered religious wackos, not academics. They also believe in multiple authors because they see the written Torah as a stand alone book. If they understood that it is clear that there was a companion explanation to it (the oral Torah) then many of their questions and evidence to multiple authors would fall away.

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  8. Meir:

    I guess what I would say is there is no “bottom line” at this time. There are even very orthodox guys – I believe a rav Joshua Berman is one – who think the academic view is powerful – and wants to debate it head on. So, there is no bottom line right now.

    People are orthodox for myriad reasons. Many young people are troubled by the world, and are trying to figure out this thing we call “identity.” Kiruv steps into the breach and gives them one. But really, it does come with a warning: don’t look to closely at what a guy like James Kugel would have you explore -- stay away from that research.

    Kugel is actually orthodox – fully mitzvoth complying. He is not concerned about how the Torah was composed. Then there is frum professor Marc Shapiro. His latest book – may be out now – is on how the masorah is basically fake, built to fortify emunah, not transmit historically accurate information.

    He does not study what Kugel studies – but he says if it became clear to him that the Torah was a composite document – it would not change at all his practice of Judaism. For him, whatever is true is Judaism.

    Best,
    Tuvia

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  9. r:

    You wrote:

    “We don't follow a non divine Torah because it supports genocide against the Midianotes and Canaanites.”

    One of Kugel’s main points is that we don’t actually follow the Torah. We follow halacha – the Talmud. We follow the ancient interpreters. The men who centuries later, took the Torah and reinterpreted it, which eventually turned into the Talmud. He also says Judaism is a religion of “deed, not creed.”

    He also believes (as in, has faith) that there is some divine in the Torah – though he doesn’t feel pressured to expound on what he is specifically talking about.

    He also believes in G-d.

    Tuvia

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  10. Sorry, I meant to start "Meir," not "r"

    Tuvia

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  11. Tuvia, the only kugel I am interested in is potato. Let's agree to disagree. If you'd like to continue discussing please email me off the blog

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  12. Hi,

    Meir, I’m commenting to support much of what Tuvia’s is saying.

    First know, that I was raised and studied in the Yeshivah world and am shomer Torah u’mitzvot. However, I strongly do not believe in TMS nor that Moshe wrote it all. And I'm not unique. I davven in a minyan where all are professional-educated types who are all relatively learned and shomer shabbos. I would estimate that about a third doubt the Mosaic authorship of the Torah (as we have it today)

    Second, I do want to commend you on a valiant effort, seemingly done with much time and research, but it will be to no avail, as the truth will win out. There are many arguments to support this non-belief about TMS, maent for another time.

    For know, I just want you to know that long before I ever even heard of the DH, I came to the realization that Devarim and the rest of Chumash could not have be written by the same person. The contradictions, the differences in the details within the narratives, and the non-correspondence in the religious outlooks (haskofot) and that's with knowing most of the classical meforshim.

    I’m not writing to get into it with you, but I do want to comment are some of your statements

    You said: “I still don’t understand how multiple authorship can be an orthodox belief if it contradicts the text.”

    Where does it state in the Torah that the (complete) Torah was written by Moishe??

    Also you said: “If it was authored by humans then Torah isn't divine. If Torah isn't divine then it is a sick, crazed waste of time. If Torah isn't divine then what value does a 3000 year old text have to me in the 21st century?”

    I’m sorry that you feel that way, but yeah. That’s the problem Orthodox Judaism faces. That is, can it maintain the delusion that Chazal introduced 2000+ years ago or can you face reality and address this (and related) issues, by maybe re-interpreting. It was done before, sometimes successfully, sometimes not, but it must be done again.

    david a.

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  13. David, I don't doubt that there are many ostensibly frum Jews who dont believe in a divine Torah but I would say that usually they are people who have had very limited education in and exposure to the foundations of Jewish belief. I highly doubt most of them have really researched the issues with an unbiased eye and then came to a conclusion. Rather, they are ignorant in much of the basis of Jewish belief. Additionally, non belief is often just a symptom of people who find little meaning or passion in their Judaism so they assuage their feelings by saying, "it probably isn't true anyway."

    You say, "I came to the realization that Devarim and the rest of Chumash could not have be written by the same person. The contradictions, the differences in the details within the narratives, and the non-correspondence in the religious outlooks.." Again, this is the sign of someone who doesn't have an understanding of Torah shbaal peh in depth. If you spent serious time studying Vilna Gaon, Baal Haturim, Torah Temimah, Haksav V'hakabbalah, Rav SR Hirsch, Bircas Peretz of the Steipler, you would see the amazing and generic connection between the written and oral Torah and the various parts of written Torah itself.

    You say, "Where does it state in the Torah that the (complete) Torah was written by Moishe??" Two places where it states so are Devarim 31:9 and Joshua 1:7 and I'm sure there are more if I looked around. In any case, "Vayedaber Hashem el Moshe Laymor" indicates divine authorship.

    You can "get with the times" and believe the academics, that the Torah isn't divine and was written by multiple authors. But remember that throughout history there were always Jews who wanted to change Judaism because Chazal were too old fashion. They were the polytheists of old, the Cuthim, the Hellenists, the Sauducees, the Essenes, the Karaites, The Shabtai Tzvi followers, the Frankists and they are all gone on the ash heap of history, while the old fashioned Rabbis are still here. The Conservative and Reform also have tried this and sadly, sadly, they are intermarrying and disappearing in dizzying numbers. I don't think this is a coincidence. G-d's hand, is clearly visible here.

    David, you can follow those groups on your way out or choose to follow the rest of the Jewish people and remain with us throughout history.

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  14. Thank you for taking the time to respond so extensively, but basically with all that you wrote it boils down to:
    a) that the non-believers are either ignorant (of the brilliance of our great talmidei khachomim and what they've said) or just plain stupid.
    b) And, that one must have faith (truth be damned) or else. Certainly, both convincing arguments.

    On your first point, actually, my experience in life (and I’m a senior citizen by now) is exactly the opposite. People, among the frum crowd, who don’t believe in TMS tend to be more educated in both worldly and traditional matters.

    As for me, you haven’t the slightest idea of my level of knowledge or intelligence or why I reached the conclusions that I have. But, I forgive you. I’ve been called worse.

    To continue, what I meant to do with my comment was to point out that very little of what are traditional interpretations of the Torah (and Nach) precedes Chazal. Thus, while you may spend extensive explanations on refuting the many arguments against TMS, you haven’t proven that it (the Torah we have today) is really m’sinai.

    As to the quotes you referenced. (Deut 31:9 and similarly, Josh 1:8). You (and Rashi et al.) say it means that Moishe wrote the Torah as we have it. But in reality, there is absolutely no indication as to the contents of the scroll that Moishe wrote. In fact, if we go with events in II Kings 22-23, where a Sefer Torah was found in the temple, it could be that the Torah Moishe wrote and deposited with the Levi-im was only all or part of Devarim and not the entire 5 books.

    As for your statement That "Vayedaber Hashem el Moshe Laymor", indicates divine authorship. No, it doesn’t. It indicates that the author of the book attributed the mitzvoth to God. Not the writing of the Torah. A huge difference.

    You stated: “But remember that throughout history there were always Jews who wanted to change Judaism because Chazal were too old fashion.”

    I got news for you, most of us believe that it was Chazal that originally changed Judaism, not the other way around…but again that’s another discussion.

    Now, kindly, let me ask you one of my favorites questions. We take it for granted that B’nei Yisroel kept the Torah in the 40 years in the desert. Did they wear tefillin, bentch after eating, say Kriat shema 2 times a day, get divorced, marry sister-in-laws, not marry Moabites, and all the other mitzvoth first mentioned in Devarim? What do you think?

    david a.

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  15. David, calm down. I never said you were ignorant of Torah in general, I said that people who don't believe in Torah Misinai often do not have the foundational ideas of Jewish belief. You might know all of shas but the yesodos of Judaism and its beliefs are lacking.

    You write, "very little of what are traditional interpretations of the Torah (and Nach) precedes Chazal." Umm, could you tell me any interpretation pre chazal? Actually chazal's interpretations are the oldest known ones. Additionally, it is clear that Jews practiced Torah shbaal peh before it was written down as there are references to ideas only known in Torah Shbaal Peh found in the prophets. Furthermore, the 2100 year old Tefillin now in the diaspora museum and the mikvaos on Masada predate the Mishna by hundreds of years yet they are thing only known in Torah shbaal peh.

    Your question of, "Where does it state in the Torah that the (complete) Torah was written by Moishe?" is a red herring. If you had received the Torah from Moshe why would he need to define, in the Torah, which part was his? You would simply open it up and see what he wrote. Clearly, the references I cited indicate that there was a known Torah that Moshe wrote. Additionally, like everything else in Torah, we have no choice but to rely on chazal and the oral law to define the Torah for us and what it contained. Even you rely on chazal, for you cannot know the Torah's grammer, vowels, punctuation, etc. You cannot know whether it is milk (chalav) and meat or meat and fat (chaylev) that is forbidden, you cannot know how we were supposed to slaughter animals, etc without chazal's definitions. Clearly, there was some definition to these things whenever it was that the Torah was given.

    You ask for proof of Torah Misinai, but as I wrote in the blog intro, that isn't the purpose of the blog. If you'd like I can provide you with books and sources to look at for evidence of a divine Torah.

    As for multiple authors, I suggest you read http://www.aishdas.org/toratemet/en_cardozo.html
    In any case see the NY Times 11/08/81: "A computer analysis of the Old Testament Book of Genesis has yielded evidence to support a common Christian and Jewish religious belief that the work was written by one author. Yehuda T. Radday, professor emeritus of biblical studies at the Technion, Israel's institute of technology in Haifa, announced last week that a five-year linguistic analysis of the book's 20,000 words indicated an 82 percent probability that it was written by one author. This contradicts the ''documentary hypothesis,'' which has been accepted by many biblical scholars since the early 19th century, when Julius Wellhausen, a German Protestant theologian, said variations in the style of the first of the five Books of Moses showed that Genesis was a compilation of documents written by two or three authors." A similar study of Kant's works found a likelihood of less than 15% that he wrote all works ascribed to him.

    Finally, Yes in the desert Jews wore tefillin, Bentched (though perhaps not with the same nusach we have as the talmud explains), said shema twice daily, got divorced (possibly), performed Yibum (if that is what you mean by sister in laws) didn't marry Moabite men who converted (Moabite women who converted were permitted as the talmud states) and performed the mitzvot as they were commanded by G-d to Moshe. It is possible that not all mitzvot had been mentioned in the Torah right away, so they could not have had a text that gave us commandments only found in Devarim, until Moshe actually wrote them down at the end of 40 years, but they knew these things orally from Moshe.

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    Replies
    1. >>>>> Umm, could you tell me any interpretation pre chazal? Actually chazal's interpretations are the oldest known ones.

      Sure…ever heard of the book of maccabbees, or book of jubilees, or book of ben sirach….their contents contain material that relates to explaining and interpreting the Torah or its laws. Jubilees particularly, has many narratives paralleling B’reishit and Shemot with notable differences.

      >>> Additionally, it is clear that Jews practiced Torah shbaal peh before it was written down as there are references to ideas only known in Torah Shbaal Peh found in the prophets.

      Of course there was/is an oral tradition. There had to be, the Torah is impossible to follow without some “study-guide” or explanations or definitions. In fact, in general I doubt that any law book exists without an accompanying oral tradition.
      I’m sure even the Sadducees, reputed to deny the oral law, had one. What they denied or contradicted was our version of the oral law that accompanied the Torah.

      You mention prophets … curious … sure, we extract many laws or practices from the recorded activities of the heroes of these books but on the other hand, these very same books, particularly the earlier ones (i.e. Samuel, Kings, Isaiah, Jeremiah) provide extensive and compelling “arguments” that these very same heroes quite likely did not have the Torah, or at best if they had a Torah, it certainly did not resemble ours. If you wish to follow this line, I can provide many an example.

      >>> Finally, Yes in the desert Jews wore tefillin, etc.

      So, your belief is that the entire Torah was given at Sinai, taught to BY, and then some parts written down immediately, some later.
      OK. But your answer is far from complete. You must also provide a reasonable explanation as why Moishe chose some laws to record later, and more importantly why he repeated others at that later date (faithfully) and why some he repeated but seems to have expanded on them (which means he must have left out these details earlier), and then others he actually contradicted himself (Maaser, Shmittah, Bechor, Pesach, eligibility for priesthood, etc).

      Also, why, if the laws were given at Sinai, why didn’t Moishe know how to answer b’not Tzelofchod, or pesach sheini, punishment for mekoshesh Eitzim? And further, why doesn’t the Torah tells us which version of Pesach the Jews kept the second year, when it narratives that the kept Peasch.

      BTW, how many parshot did the tefillin have? And what text did they say for Kriat shema?

      The bottom line for me is, if one has dozens of questions, contradictions, and/or oddities and answer is provided for almost all, if not all, with one simple idea, it becomes very, very compelling to accept that idea.

      Oh, and never mind the infamous Documentary Hypothesis, to me, that is the real Red Herring in this discussion.

      david a.




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  16. Pardon my ignorance but wasn't the book of Macabees a history of the Greek persecution of Israel? Also Ben Sirach is more similar to Mishlei with different ethical ideas. Jubilees is some sort of history of the Torah but these are hardly commentaries on Torah. Furthermore, Jubilees was written in the 2nd century BC. When Rebbe wrote the Mishna circa 180 CE he was quoting Rabbis (the zugos - pairs) from that era so you can't say those books are pre chazal.

    >>>If you wish to follow this line, I can provide many an example. Please do

    There is a dispute in the Talmud as to when the Torah was written, either right after things happened or at the end of 40 years. In any case the commandments were given to him at Sinai and he taught the Jews over the 40 years (See Rashi quoting Toras Kohanim Lev 25:1). The oral Torah/talmud/kabbalah often give reasons for why certain things are placed in different parts of Torah. E.g. Tztitzis is said next to shatnez to teach us that one may have tzitzis of wool and linen. The mitzvos repeated in Devarim were extra important if the Jews wanted to remain in Israel. The mitzvos in kedoshim teach us how to be holy. Everything has a reason as to why and where it is said and repeated, explaining seeming contradictions, etc. That is the whole of oral law David.

    >>>why didn’t Moishe know how to answer b’not Tzelofchod, or pesach sheini, punishment for mekoshesh Eitzim.
    Deut 1:17 - [And the case that is too difficult for you] bring to me: Because of this [presumptive] statement, Moses forgot the law regarding the daughters of Zelophchad [in Num. 27:1-5](San. 8a).

    Pesach Sheni - This portion should really have been said through Moses, like the rest of the Torah, but these people merited that it be said through them, for merit is brought about through the meritorious. - [Sifrei Beha’alothecha 1: 22]

    Mekoshesh - Moshe did not receive a command as to what form of death was proscribed for a Shabbos violator only that he be put to death.

    Tefillin - It is possible to say that there were originally only 2 parshiyos of tefillin, though to me it seems more likely that at Sinai, Moshe received the words that would eventually be placed in Devarim (shema) that were put in tefillin. Ditto with Shema.

    Bottom line - Oral Torah deals with all of these issues. From its sheer magnitude and depth it becomes clear that it isn't man made. If you want to waive your hand and say it is all made up, fine, go ahead. Don't let the door hit you on the way out. Just answer me please, since you don't believe in Torah Misinai, why do you bother davening or keeping anything Jewish?
    Furthermore, it seems to me, that you have an incentive to take the easy way out and say that the Torah isn't divine. For if it were, you would be obligated to keep it 100% and that seems like something that you wouldn't want.

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  17. >>> Pardon my ignorance but wasn't the book of Macabees a history of the Greek persecution of Israel? Also Ben Sirach is more similar to Mishlei with different ethical ideas. Jubilees is some sort of history of the Torah but these are hardly commentaries on Torah. Furthermore, Jubilees was written in the 2nd century BC. When Rebbe wrote the Mishna circa 180 CE he was quoting Rabbis (the zugos - pairs) from that era so you can't say those books are pre chazal.

    First, all 3 were (supposedly) written some time before 100 BCE, thus hundreds of years prior to the Mishna, Even if the Mishna quotes some authorities from earlier on, so what. My point was that references to a variant in the oral tradition is found dating from earlier on.

    Also, I did not mean these books as commentaries on the Torah, just that within their contents we find reference to laws that contradict the Talmud. For example, book of the Maccabees states that the Jewish practice among the faithful was to require that one dies or allows himself to be killed rather than violate Shabbos. However, when the enemy began to take advantage of this, the maccabees changed the law to permit violating Shabbos for self-defense.

    Or in the Book of Jubilees, the description of the Jewish calendar is different than the one we keep. Plainly, there were oral laws (or maybe complete systems of laws) than was NOT our mesorah.

    The point is that there exist documentation that is different than the Talmud’s view of earlier Jewish practices.

    You obviously have absolute belief in the “truthfulness” of statements about historical events and practices found in the Talmud (and other medroshim) and I’m saying that it isn’t quite so black and white.

    >>>> There is a dispute in the Talmud as to when the Torah was written, either right after things happened or at the end of 40 years.

    You do agree that it is impossible for both opinions to be right. That is, one is definitely wrong. Well, so why is impossible for both to be wrong.

    >>>> The mitzvos repeated in Devarim were extra important if the Jews wanted to remain in Israel.

    Then Gilui a-rieyot, shmittah, and many others not found in Devarim were not important??. In fact the “tochecheh” in Vayikrah actually singles out shmittah twice as THE mitzvah that brings golus, yet Devarim omits it.

    No, the challenge is to provide an acceptable explanation for the set of mitzvos in Devarim. It simply hasn’t been done yet. Therefore, I'm going with simple explanation, and see that as more believable. it has substantially less problems.

    >>> The mitzvos in kedoshim teach us how to be holy.

    Here is an oddity. Devarim emphasizes forbidden foods as one of the basis of Am Kodesh and omits the list of sexual sins. Big difference in hashkofah, if you asked me.

    >>> Everything has a reason as to why and where it is said and repeated, explaining seeming contradictions, etc.

    Can’t disagree. Every has a reason. The question remains, what is the “true” reason..

    >>>> Bottom line - Oral Torah deals with all of these issues.

    Of course it doea. Chazal, absolutely positively knew Chumash backwards and forwards and generally picked up on most anomalies, (and missed some). In any case they and the many commentators afterwards offered many suggested reconciliations. Unfortunately too many of them are simply not very compelling, and what’s worse some are downright lame, as the one you supplied about the b’not tzelofchat. If Moishe really did forget, aside from the silliness that he “forgot” why didn’t he consult others, after all it’s a bit incredible that in 40 years (or near 40 years) he never taught that particular mitzvah to others.

    >>>> From its sheer magnitude and depth it becomes clear that it isn't man made.

    You are kidding, of course.
    I would say that the field of physics is quite deep and with the sheer magnitude of books written on the subject it becomes clear that the subject is not man made.


    david a.

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    1. >>>The point is that there exist documentation that is different than the Talmud’s view of earlier Jewish practices. So what. The Samaratans, Hellenists, etc also had a different viewpoint on the Torah. Maybe one of them wrote Jubilees, etc. Different oral laws prove nothing about our Mesorah.

      I am not going to try to answer all of your problems with devarim, etc. I am quite sure that most experts in Chumash (of which I am not one) and many of the Rishonim and Acharonim would be able to address your points quite easily. You can accept Chazal and remain vital and last throughout history, or you can pick and choose what is convenient for you and you will disappear like the Sauducees, Essenes, Karaites and now sadly the reform and conservative.

      >>>after all it’s a bit incredible that in 40 years (or near 40 years) he never taught that particular mitzvah to others. Actually it is possible that G-d caused him to forget that particular point in a vast body of law before he had a chance to teach it to others and it only became relevant when the Bnos Tzlafchad brought it up.

      Your comment about physics just proves my point. Physics is not a man made subject. It is based on the rules of nature which were created by G-d. So yes they are very deep. If you wanted to make a relevant comparison you should have used an Eastern religion, or some philosophy or literature. Of course you wouldn't use those as comparisons because the greatest philosophies and works of literary genius pale in comparison to Tanach, the sea of Talmud, Kabbala, etc.

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  18. >>>> If you want to waive your hand and say it is all made up …..

    “all”. Who said all. The world doesn’t have to be only black or white. As to being made up, please tell me: do you believe that all the medroshim are factual events?

    If you do, then the conversation ends here.
    If you don’t then you do agree that some of it is “made up” or is non-literal and then the problem becomes where does one draw the line or how does one know.

    >>> Just answer me please, since you don't believe in Torah Misinai, why do you bother davening or keeping anything Jewish?

    Not a simple answer, but in a nutshell. I want to part of a very unique and special group and I want to maintain its continuity and I recognize that the best way is through a common bond like the Torah..

    I believe in God, and that he created our universe for the purposes of mankind. I believe in a neshomah and thus the reality of another plane of existence where there is truth and justice.

    Now, here is where it diverges. Where I major problems is that I cannot believe where there is compelling evidence otherwise. So, I don’t think (note: the word think, i.e. opinion not belief) that God revealed himself as per the description given in the Torah, to B”Y or to mankind. I think it was the other way round. Our ancestors found God and in time produced the great prophets whose influence generated what was in its time the greatest gift to mankind, the Torah, which it seems likely, initially, to only have consisted of Devarim or parts thereof.

    Unfortunately, at the beginning of the second temple the priests took over and added their focus on purity and holiness, which was tempered with Chazal contribution. Then, more recently, came the disdain for knowledge of nature, all these developments are not what the prophets had in mind..

    ----- If you wish to follow this line, I can provide many an example.
    >>>> Please do

    I will, so to be continued, …...

    david a.

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    1. Midroshim are not all factual events. We rely on chazal and the wise men throughout the ages to explain and expound upon each idea and tell us if it is literal or not and how it should be understood. If you do not believe Chazal or the subsequent Rabbis you are essentially wasting your time bothering to read any midrash or gemara. Just as the later ones are wrong in your eyes, so should the earlier ones (who passed down the Medrash through the generations) be.

      Clearly the Torah had a strong oral component and the best we can do is to trust the interpretation that is the most rigorous, the most studied and frankly the most likely to be true - our Talmud and medrash. You can't pick and choose what you like. That is intellectually dishonest.

      So basically you believe that the Jews had some inspiration to make up a Torah and that is why you follow it? How do you know what was divine and what was made up? How do you know the prophets really had prophecy? If the Torah was a human product then why should anyone follow it? There isn't anything they knew 2500 years ago that I don't know much more about today. Furthermore, if the Torah isn't divine, then it is immoral for its sanctioning of genocide and slavery and most of its commandments are irrelevant. Abraham shouldn't be a hero - he should be institutionalized for hearing voices that tell him to kill his son. David, sorry but you make no sense. Either it is divine and we have to keep all of it. Or it isn't and we live our lives without it.

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    2. >>>So basically you believe that the Jews had some inspiration to make up a Torah and that is why you follow it?

      That’s not quite what I said. First of all, yes I believe its man-made. But, I follow the Torah because I want to be Jewish and I want the Jewish nation to survive. They will disappear without a common set of values and rituals, what we call the Torah. Look Chazal dropped or changed many aspects of the Torah and we still call it the Torah.

      Now, Why do I want them to succeed? Because I believe in God and I believe He wants us to “find” Him and emulate Him. And the Jews seemingly were the first and most successful in this life-purpose to date. Unfortunately, the Jews have gone Off the Derech, not the way you understand the term, but the way I understand it (i.e “light unto the nations” of the prophets). I still have hope the Jews will recover and might yet uncover some important metaphysical truths.
      You ask…How do I know this view of Judaism? I don’t. But that’s why it’s called faith.

      >>>> How do you know what was divine and what was made up?
      I don’t, but neither do you. You have just convinced yourself that you do.
      Absorb this fact of life. WE DON'T KNOW WHAT GOD WANTS. For those of us (myself included) who believe that He exists and also importantly that HE is immanent in human existence we can only speculate.
      You criticize me for picking and choosing. Yet you don’t realize that you do the same. How did you decide which teacher or Rebbi or scholar to trust and believe? Your mind did it (or you were brainwashed). Well my mind tells me that with the help of all that I have read and studied, I see that many beliefs of traditional Judaism are flawed at most, and not true at worst, and needs rethinking. And, as has happened in the past, the time has come for it to happen again.
      I am well aware that in recent times, the Enlightenment tried but failed miserably. But not necessarily because they were wrong.

      >>> How do you know the prophets really had prophecy?
      Again, I don’t. I just believe that they had great insight into Godliness and speculated at what He may want from his human creatures. Unfortunately, Judaism followed a different path than that laid out by the early prophets. The priests got a hold of Judaism and had a negative effect.
      Really, study Nach objectively and decide how much of the Torah (as we have it) they had. BTW, I will get back to this in another post.

      >>> If the Torah was a human product then why should anyone follow it?

      Yes, and that’s why Judaism has stagnated for the last 1000 years.

      >>>> There isn't anything they knew 2500 years ago that I don't know much more about today.
      I'm pleased that you realize that.
      david a.

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    3. >>>> Furthermore, if the Torah isn't divine, then it is immoral for its sanctioning of genocide and slavery and most of its commandments are irrelevant.
      Yes, genocide is immoral. That’s why Chazal fixed this and many other of its flaws.
      And that’s why treating women unfairly also needs to be corrected, more that has been done. (and don’t ask me about homosexuality, I have a lot of trouble with what do about that one.)

      >>>> Abraham shouldn't be a hero - he should be institutionalized for hearing voices that tell him to kill his son.

      That’s why any intelligent person, not hampered by blind faith, believes the story is a myth. On many fronts, it doesn’t make sense.

      >>>> David, sorry but you make no sense.
      OK.
      >>>> Either it is divine and we have to keep all of it. Or it isn't and we live our lives without it.

      The world is not so black and white. Chazal changed the Torah, quite radically at that, and Judaism survived. I’m sure we will again and Judaism will survive. (that’s my faith)

      As for divinity… Do you believe that the American constitution is divine. I don’t think it is, yet 99% of the American public swears by it.

      >>>> I am quite sure that most experts in Chumash (of which I am not one) and many of the Rishonim and Acharonim would be able to address your points quite easily.

      The fact is that they don’t…..the major challenge of Devarim, that is as to what was Moishe’s theme for Devarim is simply not answered satisfactorily by anyone. I grant that there are many suggestions, (I think the one offered by RSRH at the beginning of Devarim is the best), but they are have flaws.

      >>> will disappear like the Sauducees, Essenes, Karaites

      Not quite, they didn’t all disappear. You left out one Jewish sect. If the number of adherents are a good measure of success, then the messianic/reform movement of the 1st century CE became the most successful religion in the history of mankind.

      david a.

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    4. >>>>Not quite, they didn't all disappear. You left out one Jewish sect. If the number of adherents are a good measure of success, then the messianic/reform movement of the 1st century CE became the most successful religion in the history of mankind.
      Actually Christianity isn't relevant to our discussion as it was followed primarily by non Jews. Early Christianity may have begun with Jewish leaders but its success was in its ability to convert the gentile masses - not the Jews. My point was that every movement to change the basic theology of Judaism from within (much like you seem to want to do), specifically relating to abolishing or seriously amending the oral law, has led to failure and the eventual assimilation and intermarriage of those followers.

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    5. >>>> My point was that every movement to change the basic theology of Judaism from within (much like you seem to want to do), specifically relating to abolishing or seriously amending the oral law, has led to failure and the eventual assimilation and intermarriage of those followers.

      Sure the surviving version of Judaism is deemed the Authentic one. The historical fact, as much as you've been taught otherwise is that Rabbinic (Pharissaic) Judaism was a massive change of the oral tradition to that date. Of course, you believe that the Talmud's contents were given to us at Sinai.

      Well the Judaism practiced by Moishe and Joshua, then the Prophets, then the Jews in latter half of the First temple (chizkiyahu, Josiah, etc.), then came Ezra's era and the first part of the second temple, then the macabees, then the pharisees all were quite different.

      Read some Nach.

      david a.

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    6. >>>"The historical fact"
      How is that a fact?

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  19. Oh, and since you mentioned the topic of kedusha (holiness), let me say something on that.

    As I read Chumash, the role that Kedusha plays happens to be one of the major hashkofic differences between Devarim and the Sinaic portion of Chumash (S), i.e Vayikrah, Bamidbar and latter half of Shemos..Obviously, the existence or the acknowledgement of these differences are not accepted by the traditional understanding of Chumash. In any case…

    1) We are taught that the Torah is a very precise document and this implies that its choice of words and expressions are exact and purposeful. Dev. uses the expression that B’Y are an “Am Kodesh”. This expression is passive. I.e. you are holy by design. Therefore you are forbidden to act in a certain manner (specifically bans on idolatry and certain foods but oddly, not including sexual bans, at least directly). While in S (mostly in Torat Kohanim) the expression used is “K’doshim tee’yu”, which is an active term, inferring a requirement to work and develop your kedusha, i.e. positive in addition to negative commandments.

    2) Further, S is clearly obsessed with kedusha. The theme permeates S. The term, or some variant, is used over 150 times vs. only about a dozen in Dev. And as such, is applied to a much more varied set of circumstances. The place of offerings is call the Mikdosh not so in Dev.; and there is an inner sanctum termed Kodesh Kadoshim, not found in Dev.; and each and every of the offerings are kodesh with many applicable laws, hardly so in Dev. (only Bechor). The Yomim Tovim are “mikra-kodesh” in S and work is forbidden, not so in Dev. And except for 7th day of Peesach nowhere is work forbidden

    3) More on the Mikdosh: In fact the Ohel Mo-ed (as the holy sanctuary) is not even found in Dev. The term is mentioned once but not in the context that it refers to the Mikdosh. How could the most important building project and its result be overlooked by Moishe? .

    The bottom line, as you say…This just cannot be trivial.

    david a.

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    1. As I stated two comments ago I am not going to try to answer all of your problems with devarim, etc. I am quite sure that most experts in Chumash (of which I am not one) and many of the Rishonim and Acharonim would be able to address your points quite easily. You can accept Chazal and remain vital and last throughout history, or you can pick and choose what is convenient for you and you will disappear like the Sauducees, Essenes, Karaites and now sadly the reform and conservative.

      Delete
  20. OK, so let’s get to Nach

    The arguments that support the idea that the Torah was written by more than one author and also that it developed over time is based on simply reading the early books of the Prophets, with a bit of an open mind. They points to be made are very extensive and a detailing of them would require much time and effort.

    However, I will try to give it to you as briefly as possible.

    Basically the arguments break down into 3 categories.

    1) The fact that “Torah”, either the word itself, meaning teaching, or as a reference to a special scroll, is simply missing, despite its overarching and all encompassing importance, from many books of Nach implying that maybe the “Torah” did not exist in that specific period. But, when we add to this the fact that some of those very same books report acts by the central personalities that seem to indicate they did not know or ignored or transgressed many laws of the Torah (as we have it today), the argument does gather strength.
    2) This argument is simple and straightforward. The development of the awareness of the Torah and/or its myriad contents clearly progresses in steps as one reads forward chronologically through Samuel, Kings and then Chronicles.
    3) This one is a clincher. A close examination of the textual differences between the Samuel&Kings vs. Chronicles matches, to a very large degree, the differences between Devarim and Leviticus-Numbers and makes for a very convincing argument.

    So to category one...

    An excellent example of the premise in this category is from Sefer Shmuel (the book of Samuel)

    · The word Torah never appears in the entire book, nor does “Matan Torah”, nor any reference to Moishe having received or taught any Torah or Mitzvos.
    · Young Samuel being mentored by Eli. Is he being taught the Torah? It doesn’t say.
    · Samuel is being trained by the (high??) priest Eli. For what purpose? Can it be for the priesthood. The text says he was from Ephraim. (Chazal say he was a Levite). But he certainly wasn’t descended from Aaron.
    · Dead bodies are found throughout the book, yet nobody is concerned about “tumat mayt” nor having access to a cleansing mechanism (eg. “red heifer”)
    · People are traveling all the time yet never worry about Shabbat or yom tov.
    · None of the narratives ever, ever reference any of the mitzvot as mitzvot of the Torah.
    · There is much activity at the shrine of Shiloh or Givoin, but there is never any reference to the daily or standard holiday rituals or any others as described in Chumash.
    · The Israelites are constantly at war, yet the myriad of Torah-laws of war are never referenced nor does anyone ever seem concerned about them.

    Ok, Ok, you may at this point say, absence of evidence is no evidence of absence. So, this may not be all that convincing and the faithful can simply dismiss the fact of the missing Torah.

    david a.

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    1. First of all, if you are expecting me to read the Torah in your fundamentalist christian literalist way, or your bible critic - let's read this as an interesting piece of historical fiction way, then you are wasting your and my time. It is clear that Tanach had to have an oral law that explained the contradictions, things that are unclear, not elaborated on, etc. The oral Torah recorded in our Talmud and Midrash is by far the best way to go since it has been studied, chewed over, analyzed piece by piece, contrasted, by millions in each generation, including some of the greatest minds in Jewish and human history. Tens of thousands of commentaries and commentaries upon commentaries have been written on it and if it was just the lofty imagination of some human, the problems would have been exposed so often. Furthermore, the "Pharisees," unlike the bible critics you hold of, had a keen understanding of Hebrew and all Semitic languages, while your bible critics do not.

      Now to your attacks
      - The fact that Torah may or may not appear proves nothing. Clearly Joshua was written before Samuel and the word Torah is in 1:7.
      - He was learning Torah under the Jewish leader. So because it doesn't tell us his curriculum, that means something? I don't see what this proves?
      - Dead Bodies. Again what does this prove. Tanach tells us things that are relevant lessons to life. They don't tell us what Eli or Shmuel ate for breakfast or details which are unnecessary. Obviously, anyone who knows Tanach will know how to cleanse from a dead body. You've proved nothing. Ditto with Shabbos and Yom Yov. Ditto with daily or standard holiday rituals. Ditto with Torah-laws of war.
      - "None of the narratives ever, ever reference any of the mitzvot as mitzvot of the Torah". So what does that prove? If there is a mitzva we know where it came from.

      What a bunch of nonsense.

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  21. But, of course, there’s much more. Many verses do in fact directly contradict or imply that maybe Samuel, Saul, and King David either did not follow or did not have the Torah as we know it.

    Some examples…

    · (I Samuel 2:28) The text says that Eli’s ancestors were appointed as priests in Egypt. While in the Torah it says that at the outset, the firstborn were meant to be priests.
    · (I Samuel 7:9) Samuel brings a sheep of the wrong gender as an offering.
    · (II Samuel 8:18) David’s children are appointed as priests.
    · Throughout the book, David and his children seem to live by a set of laws with regards to sexual conduct quite different than those given in the Torah. (1) David marries his doubly-divorced ex-wife, (2) has relations with a married woman, (3) his son sleeps with (rapes?) his own sister, (4) another son takes David’s concubines, (5) Solomon marries Moabites, Ammonites, Egyptians, all forbidden by the Torah. (I know that Chazal interprets these bans as permissible marriages, but Nehemiah 13, obviously doesn’t.)
    · (I Samuel 15). Samuel tells Saul to wipe out Amalek. It’s seems from the plain reading of the text that neither Samuel nor Saul knew about the commandment in Devarim. Implying that Saul did not have the Torah as we have it.
    · And finally, the most compelling argument that strongly shows that Shmuel must have had a different version of the Torah, if he had any version at all, is seen from the Mitzva of appointing a king. (as given in Deut. 17:14+)

    As the story goes ….
    We all know that the people ask Samuel to appoint a king over them. As is recorded in I Samuel 8:4–6:

    "All the elders of Israel assembled and came to Samuel at Ramah. And they said to him, “You have grown old, and your sons have not followed your ways. Therefore appoint a king for us, to govern us like all other nations.”".

    Samuel was displeased that they had said “Give us a king to govern us.”

    The text goes on to describe that God as well was upset by the fact that the people asked for a king. But, in any case, God instructs Samuel to satisfy the people’s request. It is quite clear, however, that to Samuel, the appointment of a king was being done as a concession (b’dee-eved, as they say). For again, in dismay, Samuel repeats their phraseology “so that we may be like all other nations.” The expressing of a desire for a king and the manner that they ask for one is very disturbing to Samuel, who later in the book repeats his upset. The text further goes on with God telling Samuel to expound to the people the “laws of the monarchy”. Samuel does so, but with absolutely no reference to the laws in Deut. 17:14

    Thus it seems to me that neither the people nor Samuel nor God Himself, read Deut. 17:14 which clearly and unambiguously provides for a command to appoint a king (and as they say in Talmudic language, l’chatchila). And on top of this, the text even allows for them to argue “so that we may be like the other nations”, the very text that most upset Samuel and God.

    To be continued …..(categories 2 & 3)

    david a.




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  22. · (I Samuel 2:28)You have misunderstood the text. In Verse 27 the prophet asks Eli 'Did I appear to the house of your father, when they were in Egypt.' Meaning To Aaron. Then in Verse 28 he states another favor that he did to Aaron's family - this time in the desert, 'And did I choose him from all the tribes of Israel to be My priest.' This doesn't mean that verse 28 happened in Egypt. Rather there's a chronological order of favors done by G-d to Aaron. No contradiction to Torah here.

    · (I Samuel 7:9)No question here. This was not the Tabernacle, but rather a private altar, a bamah. One may sacrifice a female lamb on a private altar. But you wouldn't know that unless you had an oral Torah.

    · (II Samuel 8:18) This just means they were leaders and special people. The word Kohain is sometimes used as such in Tanach, like in Exodus 19:6. (I guess they were aware of Exodus...Whoops)

    (1) David marries his doubly-divorced ex-wife, - Can you explain? If you mean Michal daughter of Saul, well David never actually divorced her prior to her "marriage" to Palti. That was ordered by King Saul, against Jewish law, as a result of Saul's depression. Palti in fact never touched Michal and she was able to return to David.

    David and his children's sins - This proves nothing. We are aware they sinned, this doesn't mean they didn't know that it was wrong. The prophet Nathan even castigates David for what he did. Actually, it proves the veracity of the Tanach for it shows it's objectivity unlike all other ancient histories which were written only to glorify the ruler.

    Solomon - The Rabbis state that the wives underwent conversion and even so he was wrong for marrying so many, since they swayed his heart and worshiped idols and also that a king may not marry for than 18 wives. Your quote from Nechemia proves nothing, since Nechemia was merely referencing the damage done by intermarriage whether or not it was technically permitted. Furthermore it is evident from Nechemia 13 that the figures of the Tanach were well aware of "Pharisaic" Judaism, since in verses 15 - 21 he orders the merchants not to sell things on Shabbat, something one would only know as forbidden on Shabbat, only if one knew the oral "Pharisaic" Torah.

    · (I Samuel 15) What you wrote is nonsense. Samuel was merely commanding Saul when he should go and wipe out Amalek and to furthermore not even allow its animals to live. That last part was the new idea Samuel was telling Shaul, since the Torah only commands them to kill the people. Chazal explain why it was necessary to kill the animals in this case - for they were sorcerers, and they would change themselves to resemble animals.

    Appointment of a king - Once again you have proven nothing. Firstly, it is clear that there was no immediate requirement from Deut 17:14 to appoint a king, for if there was, why didn't Moshe appoint Joshua the king when he would take the people into Israel? It is even unclear if Deut 17:14 commands us to appoint a king or merely allows us to do so - and when we do, to have certain laws modifying the king. The fact that Deut 17:14 states "I will set a king over myself, like all the nations around me," shows that it may not have been a lichatchila.

    Obviously, if we were to appoint a king it should preferably be done under the proper circumstances and not because they wanted to be like the other nations. The reason G-d and Samuel were displeased with the people is because they stated, "Now, set up for us a king to judge us like all the nations." That was the b'dieved.

    >>The text further goes on with God telling Samuel to expound to the people the “laws of the monarchy”. Actually, it is quite clear that in fact Samuel was not telling them the laws of the monarchy, but rather the reality of all the problems that would come as a result of a king. Quite the contrary to what you stated.

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  23. Finally David, you have done nothing more than convince me even more of the truth of chazal. The arguments you make prove nothing on your side and show me that the interpretations and traditions of Pharisaic Judaism are indeed the correct ones. Thank you for helping strengthen my belief!

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  24. Hope you had a festive yomtov…. So, to continue my commenting…

    >>>>> Finally David, you have done nothing more than convince me even more of the truth of chazal.. Thank you for helping strengthen my belief!

    Well, you are certainly most welcome. I am pleased (not being facetious) that I could be of assistance.

    But, I need to emphasize, if I haven’t already, that my intention is NOT to convince you or anyone for that matter, about these beliefs. My objective in writing here is bring to your attention to the many reasons why the overwhelming majority of biblical students, including many frum ones, have reached the conclusions that they have, particularly about TMS.

    >>>> The arguments you make prove nothing on your side and show me that the interpretations and traditions of Pharisaic Judaism are indeed the correct ones

    What is obvious to me is that you fail to see the core problem.

    First, Let's step back a bit.
    t is an undeniable fact that within the Torah (and Nach, as well) the textual contradictions and oddities abound. It’s simply a fact. Of course, it’s also a fact that the Sages (i.e. Chazal and all the later commentators) were quite cognizant of these anomalies and provided or suggested various reconciliations. Many of these reconciliations are quite satisfying to the questioner. Unfortunately there are many that simply do not seem to conform exactly to the plain sense of the text and thus appear contrived, and, in some cases, even worse, there are others that are just plain lame.

    But here is the crux of the problem. it's not what Chazal actually say about these contradictions. It is the basic question of why did God (and then the Prophets) write supposedly perfect text in a manner that appears to have so many unnecessary contradictions and oddities that then require an oral exposition. Sure, no written document is ever a “stand alone” and always requires oral accompaniment. But, text written by any intelligent author, is done in a fashion that any needed oral exposition is meant to expand on and clarify omitted information, never to reconcile contradictions. Nobody intelligent intentionally writes contradictory text, especially legal codes. It’s one thing to have an oral tradition that is used to explain what the written work means with regards to its content, but who writes a document full of maculated text and contradictions that require conciliation, much of it seemingly totally unnecessary.

    And that’s why, all the reconciliation in the world, generally, do not satisfying the objective inquiry into the Torah.

    Ok, So now back to Nach.
    david a.

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    1. No David, you see fail to see the core of the problem. You believe that the written Torah is the primary one and if there is an oral Torah it is there to convey some small points not readily evident from the text. I, like Chazal, believe that the oral Torah was the primary 'lecture' given to us by G-d and the written Torah is merely the notes He gave us to remember the greater lecture. Now G-d conveyed many multiple layers of meaning in each verse. Often He used seemingly contradictory statements, verses, etc, and only one who knows the oral tradition can understand why those verses are stated as such, why indeed they aren't contradictory and what deeper ideas He tried to convey. However, you and your bible critic colleagues read the Torah as a stand alone book and expect everything only to have the basic 'pshat' meaning. So when there is a seeming contradiction you assume that the Torah must be man made.

      Delete
  25. >>> It is clear that Tanach had to have an oral law that explained the contradictions, things that are unclear, not elaborated on, etc.

    Agreed, all written text has and needs an oral accompaniment. But leaving too much to the explanations or having explanations not exactly conforming to the text is, IMHO, flawed.

    >>>> The oral Torah recorded in our Talmud and Midrash is by far the best way to go since it has been studied, chewed over, analyzed piece by piece, contrasted, by millions in each generation, including some of the greatest minds in Jewish and human history.

    Yes, they were great minds, but these great minds also believed in all kinds of what is known to be falsities, e.g. that the earth is flat; that the sky is a solid dome over the earth, in spontaneous combustion, that Moishe was 15-20 feet tall, that there (literally) was a worldwide flood 4000 years ago, that all mankind stems for 2 people 4000 years ago, etc. etc. (you know the drill). So being brilliant, but at the same time ignorant of science and history doesn’t make for an infallible view of the text.


    Besides, how can you say ALL of what is reported by Chazal is obviously right (about history) when this very same Talmud and Midrash reports hundreds, if not thousands, of disputes over specific details within these many recorded events. “Clearly” both views on a particular detail of history couldn’t both be right. One is definitely wrong, so maybe both are wrong.

    >>> Clearly Joshua was written before Samuel and the word Torah is in 1:7.

    “clearly”. what clearly, when clearly, to whom clearly?…

    Here’s the Fact: we do not know when the book of Joshua was written. Period.

    Just because Chazal said it was written by Joshua, doesn’t make it so. Oh, and the likely reason it was placed first in the historical portion of the Nach canon was simply because it refers to events that are historically first. Not because it was written first.

    So, what do objective scholars say about Joshua? They say something to the effect that “clearly” it was written by someone who had limited information on the actual history of that period. Since, if the dating of Joshua & the BY arriving in Canaan somewhere between 1400-1200 BCE, depending on when you date the Exodus is correct, and then the fact that archaeology maintains quite confidently, supported with extensive “evidence” that during this period, Egypt was a military power that occupied western Canaan all the way up into Syria. It would have been just plain impossible for BY to capture Canaan without contending with the Egyptians. Yet, there are absolutely no wars with Egypt mentioned in the Book.. So, obviously, the Book likely was written by someone who was totally unaware of Egypt’s history, and as such likely written hundreds of years after Egypt’s hegemony waned. And, at a time when the Devarim (a.k.a theTorah) was already being promulgated.

    >>> the problems would have been exposed so often.

    Why? Not if a writer or commentator is forced to think inside a constraining box. The idea that the Torah was written many years after Moishe was, obviously, never even considered by our commentators. It was taken for granted. Especially since the Mishna says it’s heretical to believe otherwise.

    Ok. I have no problem with you saying that the absence of Torah and mitzvos doesn’t “prove” anything, to you, at least, yet to me it opens the mind. (I’ll have much more to say later).


    david a.

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    1. >>>“Clearly” both views on a particular detail of history couldn’t both be right. One is definitely wrong, so maybe both are wrong.
      You miss the point here. Firstly, when Chazal dispute concepts in Aggadah (non halachic issues) they are merely expressing two ideas of the same concept. What is viewed as a dispute is often not a dispute but two ways of expressing an idea or reality. Secondly, even if one of their views are possibly wrong, they certainly are generally more likely to be right since they had a much closer connection to the events, people, oral traditions, language, etc, than any of the bible critics did.

      >>>Just because Chazal said it was written by Joshua, doesn’t make it so.
      Actually it is more rational to believe that they were written in order of chronology than to say that they were written randomly yet somehow managed to fit perfectly in terms of chronology. Your theory is not rational yet you shoehorn it in to fit your pre conceived notion.

      >>>Not if a writer or commentator is forced to think inside a constraining box.
      You have evidently not studied talmud where the Rabbis will sometimes remain with a kashya - unresolved. They could have done so with theological and textual issues as well without being called heretics.

      Delete
  26. >>>> Dead Bodies. Again what does this prove. Tanach tells us things that are relevant lessons to life.

    Ah, but the “purity” of the people was relevant to events….

    Consider, I-Samuel 21:4 -

    ”But the priest answered David, ‘I don’t have any ordinary bread on hand; however, there is some consecrated bread here—provided the men have kept themselves from women.’ ”.
    so the question is, why was the priest not also concerned about them being unclean due to Tumat Meis?

    As to “lessons in life” - tell me which is the correct lesson

    David’s revenge for Saul’s attack on Nob and Gibeonites where he kills Saul's progeny (IISam 21:ff):
    "They answered the king, “As for the man who destroyed us and plotted against us so that we have been decimated and have no place anywhere in Israel, 6 let seven of his male descendants be given to us to be killed and their bodies exposed before the LORD at Gibeah of Saul—the LORD’s chosen one.”
    So the king said, “I will give them to you.” "

    Versus IIKings 14:5

    5 After the kingdom was firmly in his grasp, he executed the officials who had murdered his father the king. 6 Yet he did not put the children of the assassins to death, in accordance with what is written in the Book of the Law of Moses where the LORD commanded: “Parents are not to be put to death for their children, nor children put to death for their parents; each will die for their own sin.”

    BTW: Note the reference to Moishe’s Torah in Kings.

    david a. more in a few days.

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    1. >>>why was the priest not also concerned about them being unclean due to Tumat Meis?
      That's easy. He was unconcerned about tamei mais because that was uncommon while intimacy with ones wife is common. Secondly, touching a dead body is something David would know about while intimacy is private so David wouldn't have known whether his men were intimate with their wives, so the high priest asked him to make sure about that.

      IISam 21: Once again David, you are lost without Chazal: Rashi quoting the talmud - Saul slew the priests who had provided them [the Gibeonites] with food, scripture considers it as though he had slain them. Now do not wonder that the Holy One Blessed be He demands his honor and [simultaneously] demands punishment for his sin, for so it is written: “that have executed his judgment פעלו) (אשר משפטו” (Zeph. 2:3). Where there is found his judgment there can also be found his execution.

      David led the children of Saul in front of the ark to see which children would be determined for death by G-d. Clearly a divine exception was made here, even though normally a child isn't punished for the sins of his parents.

      Delete
  27. More comments in response to your comments.

    >>>> (II Samuel 8:18) This just means they were leaders and special people.

    OK granted that the word Kohen may have other translations, as your reference to Rashi in Exodus indicates. But there the word may mean a “priestly” kingdom, referring to a nation of people acting in a priestly fashion.

    In addition it seems that the author of Chronicles doesn’t like translating “kohanim” to other than "priest". In the parallel verse in I-Chr. 18:17 he changes the word “Kohanim” to “Rishonim”. Why bother to change if the word “Kohen” doesn’t universally mean priest.

    >>> Palti in fact never touched Michal and she was able to return to David.

    Granted that this narrative is open to many suggestions as to what may have happened, but the fact is that in II Sam. 3:15, Paltiel is called her husband. And David takes her back.

    >>> Solomon - The Rabbis state that the wives underwent conversion …

    Maybe.

    As an aside comment though, I don’t think so. Because, as far as I see reading Tenach (especially in the early books of Nach), there does not appear to be a concept of conversion at all.

    >>>> (I Samuel 15) What you wrote is nonsense. Samuel was merely commanding Saul when he should go and wipe out Amalek and to furthermore not even allow its animals to live. That last part was the new idea Samuel was telling Shaul, since the Torah only commands them to kill the people. Chazal explain why it was necessary to kill the animals in this case - for they were sorcerers, and they would change themselves to resemble animals.

    “Nonsense”, of course is in the eyes of the beholder.

    Several points.

    First, the fact is: There is no reference to a Torah, or any prior divine commandment to wipe out Amalek in chapt 15.

    Second, David and Saul engage Amalek several times in Nach (Sam 14:48, 27:8, 30:1) both before and after Samuel’s divine message. Yet, at those encoundters the text never indicates that they were under command to kill off all of Amalek.

    Third (although this is a side issue), killing the animals makes no sense.

    And your explanation (from the Medrish) is a bit lame. Because, even if it were true that humans can change themselves to animals, a very dubious stunt, God could easily have given Saul the ability to detect the fake animals.

    David a. (to be cont’d)

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    1. Chronicles and the other books of prophets serve a different purpose, hence the discrepancy in language and other things. Chronicles comes from the perspective of the development of the Jewish people to the direction of their messianic goal.

      >>>>God could easily have given Saul the ability to detect the fake animals.
      You missed the point. G-d was testing Saul to see whether he would listen to G-d or be afraid of the people. This was part of the test

      Delete
  28. To continue, here’s another angle.

    An argument from the text in Nach, as to why modern scholars think that the Torah was developed over time is simple and fairly straightforward.

    You’ll agree that most, if not all, biblical scholars, both traditional and academic, concur that chronologically, the Books of Samuel, Kings and Chronicles were produced in the order as found in the Canon.

    So a reading of the plain sense of the texts of the three books we see the following.

    A. Samuel. In the first book (Samuel) there is no mention of Torah, or Toras Moishe, or Toras Hashem, and to any Mitzvot followed by the expression as Hashem commanded or anything similar. There is never any reference to any events in the “midbar”, particularly to the “ohel Mo-ed” or its contents (expect for the ark) as is found in many other places in Nach. Particular noteworthy to me is that David is often praised as being beloved by God, but it is never noted that he follows the Torah or some similar Godly instruction.

    Plus, as discussed earlier, the “heroes”, at least appear, to transgress many Torah laws without any admonishment from the author. I understand that explanations are provided for these apparent “transgressions”, but as stated earlier this approach does not make sense to me. Why does the text not clearly state that the acts were not as they seemed. (I’ll concede that some of the supposed transgression were not as recorded, but you cannot say all.)

    B. Kings. Then, in Kings, one begins to find a few references to Moshe’s Torah. Particular noteworthy is David’s sermonizing (found immediately as the Book begins) to his son Solomon about being loyal to Moishe Torah. Something not found anywhere prior. Later on we find more references, particularly the scroll found in the Temple (which tradition says was Devarim), with some mitzvos mentioned (Pesach, the concept of sacrifices/offerings, the three pilgrimages, commandment against killing children) but, all in all, very limited. Again, noteworthy is that the increase in references occurs as we get closer to the end of Kings.

    C. Chronicles. Finally, in Chronicles, we find a veritable explosion of references to the Torah, to its mitzvoth, the phrase “as written in the Torah” is repeatedly used. Notably are repeated references to the Ohel Mo-ed and its contents, its activities, the contribution of of the Kohanim and Levi-im, the naming of the individuals found in the Torah.

    All the above are simply facts. No interpretation of the text, just a reflection of the contents of the 3 books.

    So the question is:

    “Is this progression simply a coincidence or does it indicate something else?”

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  29. I don't get your point here. Each Book had a different author. The prophet who wrote it, had a specific style and goal in mind when writing the book, while staying true to the prophecy that G-d gave him. So textual and literary 'styles' are inevitable.

    >>>Why does the text not clearly state that the acts were not as they seemed.
    See my comments earlier regarding the purpose and nature of the oral law.

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  30. Bible flood - no doubt floods and even great floods may have happened. But the story of Noah, the ark and animals, sounds impossible and is simply a myth. The cause of floods have nothing to do with gods. PLEASE

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  31. Exodus - there is no evidence of hundreds of thousands of jews living for 40 years in the desert. How were they able to find enough food ? I know mannah from god. And you want people to believe this story because its in a book, with no other evidence at all from any place.

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    1. Try googling Mysterious MBI people. They very well may be the ancient Israelites. In any case, the talmud and Midrash are clear that the Israelites left few if any remains in the desert since they used no new clothing, food other than manna, didn't defecate, etc.

      Delete
    2. How convenient of a reason why there is no evidence of over 600,000 people in the desert. How they managed to survive, leave no traces..Miracle upon miracle upon miracle, or more likely it just never happened.

      Delete
  32. Anonymous - Your statement about floods misses the point. If there is a G-d who created everything and is the Cause Causeum of everything, then He can make a flood just as he can make the world. Either He exists or He doesn't. The question is whether G-d exists, not if He can make a flood. Furthermore, almost every ancient civilization across the globe has a flood story. And, as Professor Peiser has shown, there has been mass population collapse around the globe around 4000 years ago - when we claim the flood happened. Pretty coincidental, don't you think?

    Exodus - There is actually much evidence of the truth of Judaism, which I will post at some point, when I get a chance. For now the following email that I once sent to someone, touches on a few pieces of evidence.

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    1. Please read what I wrote again. The story of the Noah itself makes no sense. The size of the boat, the number of animals, taking care of the animals... No way it happens unless you have miracle upon miracle upon miracle. Sure, if you invent gods that can do anything, well then anything is possible. We have seen no supernatural events ever since science came along. It comes down to what is reasonable and credible.

      When I get a chance I will try to respond to your email about Kuzari and the seven wonders of Judaism.

      Delete
    2. Your understanding of G-d is very immature. The Torah understands G-d to be the creator of reality. So He created all that exists. It follows then that He can manipulate Earth anyway He chooses.

      Your assertion that 'We have seen no supernatural events ever since science came along,' is wrong because science, by definition, would never ascribe G-dly of unscientific actions to anything. Scientists would simply say, 'We don't yet understand these things.'

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    3. >>>Your understanding of G-d is very immature.

      Actually, beleiving in god(s) and miracles seems childish. No evidence exits for supernatural beings or events. NONE. I repeat NONE.

      >>>The Torah understands G-d to be the creator of reality. So He created all that exists. It follows then that He can manipulate Earth anyway He chooses.

      Even if you posit god created the universe, IT DOES NOT LOGICALY FOLLOW HE CAN MANIPULATE THE EARTH ANYWAY HE WANTS. Maybe he can or maybe he can not.

      Meir, you are drawing illogical conclusions from your premises.

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    4. You aren't making sense. If G-d could create the world, why couldn't He manipulate events therein?

      Delete
  33. R' Dovid Gottlieb on the Kuzari Principle. http://ohr.edu/explore_judaism/living_up_to_the_truth/living_up_to_the_truth/2054 Most critics do not properly understand the Kuzari principle and so they destroy it using a straw man argument since they didn't understand the Kuzari in the first place. The strength of the Kuzari Principle is that we all admit that it is better to create a religion in front of all of your followers than in private, with one or two witnesses. If Sinai is so easy to replicate then why has no other religion started with a mass revelation story? Religions always start when an individual makes a claim not when the claim is that everyone saw the miraculous. Why has this only occurred once in history - only at Har Sinai?
    http://www.simpletoremember.com/articles/a/7-wonders-of-jewish-history/ The seven wonders of Jewish history. All of these things are amazing things predicted in the Torah and do not usually occur to other nations. How many other nations have survived as a despised minority for so long? Most nations of history have disappeared but not the Jew. No other nation has returned to its homeland after 2000 years. How is it that Jews have influenced every aspect of history and continue to influence every area of modern life in spite of them being .02% of world population? How is it that Israel only gives forth its produce when Jews live there, yet as soon as Jews are gone, it goes desolate? Yes, all very convenient coincidences....
    The objective history of Torah stands in stark contrast to all other ancient histories. Name me a person mentioned in the Torah and you will almost always see Torah criticism of him of some sort. The Torah unabashedly criticizes it's heroes. Ancient history doesn't. Objectivity indicates truth
    Does it make sense to you for the Torah to command it's people to commit national suicide by not working their crops for a year when 80% of its population were farmers and importing crops was impossible due to the enemies surrounding Israel? And why would they be commanded to leave their borders 3 times a year? But don't worry, lo yachmod ish es artzecha! Please, why do that unless you are G-d and you can back it up. Otherwise just don't give the commandment.
    How did the Torah know that the 8th day is the best day to circumcise? Why not do it when the child is 13 like Arabs? How about when the child is six months old. How did they pinpoint the eight day? Holt and McIntosh, in their classic work, Holt Pediatrics, observed that a newborn infant has “peculiar susceptibility to bleeding between the second and fifth days of life. … Hemorrhages at this time, though often inconsequential, are sometimes extensive; they may produce serious damage to internal organs, especially to the brain, and cause death from shock and exsanguination” (1953, pp. 125-126).It has been shown that it is on the fifth through the seventh days of the newborn male’s life that vitamin K is present in adequate quantities for blood clotting.On the eighth day, the amount of prothrombin present is above one-hundred percent of normal (the only day in the male’s life in which this will be normally be the case). Therefore, the 8th day is the perfect day to do the circumcision … when the Vitamin K and prothrombin levels are at their peak.
    http://ohr.edu/3440 The Esther Code. I'm sure you can rationalize the Esther Code but really it is quite amazing.
    The Vilna Gaon and PI http://www.ouisrael.org/tidbits/detail/A-pasuk-in-Melachim-Alef79111111111111111111111111/#.UV81bpOUQaY

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    1. >>>How many other nations have survived as a despised minority for so long? etc: etc: there are rational non supernatural explanations for all such questions. Why have the gypsy survived ? Why have the Hawaii'ns survived ? Every people have unique histories.

      >>>The Torah unabashedly criticizes it's heroes. Ancient history doesn't. Objectivity indicates truth.

      The legends of the many cultures impose human nature onto it gods, folk heroes etc: etc: Should we believe those ancient legends too ?


      >>>Therefore, the 8th day is the perfect day to do the circumcision.

      Lets assume that is true. Circumcision was widely practiced (and not just among jews). So people would observe and learn about when to do it. That answer is rational. Saying supernatural told the jews is not rational.

      Bible codes are all nonsense. Read up on it.

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    2. >>>then He can make a flood just as he can make the world. Either He exists or He doesn't. The question is whether G-d exists, not if He can make a flood.

      Its possible a god exists but he can not change the laws he set in motion. It is also possible he may have existed and no longer does.

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    3. >>>Does it make sense to you for the Torah to command it's people to commit national suicide by not working their crops for a year when 80% of its population were farmers and importing crops was impossible due to the enemies surrounding Israel? And why would they be commanded to leave their borders 3 times a year?

      1) To us it does not make sense, but to ancient people that believed that spirits would save them it could make sense.
      2) Maybe the Torah is just stupid.
      3) Ever hear of the Ghost Dance. Native Americans thought they would be invisible to bullets. Does that make sense ? Thata what happens when you believe in Superstitions.


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    4. 4) The Jews probably had scouts on the borders. I assume if a war started and the Jews began to get slaughtered, the smarter Rabbi's and people would say defend your self.

      5) You may not work your fields, but you can live off any surplus, trade the best you can, find food in the wild. If not you starve and that is just what happened. See daatemet.org, for when Yaweh/El/Elohim/Shadaii did not show up.

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    5. Gypsies and Hawaians- Gypsies are 1500 years old, for shorter than Jews. Your point about Hawaiians shows that you misunderstand the evidence. My point was that although there are ancient nations as old as the Jews (e.g. Chinese, Kurds) they were always a majority, who lived in their own land. The miracle of Jewish survival - which is unprecedented in history - is that the Jews were a despised and persecuted minority dispersed throughout the world and still managed to survive, whereas ancient superpowers have risen and fallen without a trace of them.

      You assert that 'The legends of the many cultures impose human nature onto it gods, folk heroes' misses my point completely. Ancient histories have one thing in common, they never criticize their leaders. The Torah does, which is why it is objective.

      Your assertion about circumcision is wrong - how is it that only the Jews discovered that precisely the 8th day is the best for circumcision, yet nobody else did?

      The fact that you think that Pi and the Vilna Gaon or the Esther Code have anything to do with standard Bible codes shows that you understand neither

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    6. 1,2,3,5 Shmittah - You misunderstand the evidence of Shmitah. There was no purpose of commanding an entire people to stop farming once every 7 years. Even if we assert that they wanted to allow the fields to rest, they could have rotated the land into 7 parts, with each area not farming on a different year. That way they don't needlessly risk a revolt and mass starvation every 7 years. (your assertion from the Indian ghost dance is irrelevant since the Indians had no other option against the White Man's bullets. Here the Jews didn't need to make the Shmitah commandment in the first place) The notion that they could trade with others shows complete ignorance of the reality back then. Israel was surrounded by enemies. And the notion that millions could forage for food is beyond ridiculous.

      4) You misunderstand the evidence from the commandment of all males going up to Jerusalem 3 times a year. The point is, why give the command in the first place? What did we gain? Why not simply command all males except for those in the army?

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    7. You make assertion after assertion with no evidence. For example there was no world wide conspiricy to kill jews. One country attacked them so they went to another accepting country. Jewish survival can be explained with natural reasons. EVEN if you do not like those reasons, it does not follow there is a god, let alone a jewish one. That is basic logic.

      Also, you ask a question with questionable premises implied in them, and then assert that ther is no natural explanation and then assert there is a god. That is a non sequitor.

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    8. >>> You misunderstand the evidence from the commandment of all males going up to Jerusalem 3 times a year. The point is, why give the command in the first place? What did we gain? Why not simply command all males except for those in the army?

      1)We have to research the original reasons for all of the commandments. We do know many are common to ancient Semitic cults. Some were meant to oppose and create separation from those cults. That’s how religion works. My religion is different than your or better than yours because blah blah blah.

      2) Some of the commandments we can not explain and seem preposterous to us, because we lack sufficient knowledge of the ancient Jewish customs. Even some OJ jews say well we do not know why we do this, except its in the torah.

      3) Just because the torah has strange or ridiculous notions and customs (according to modern standards) It does not mean the torah is god given. That is another one of your non sequitur.

      Actually, bizarre rituals and nonsense advice found in the torah strongly implies the ancient jews were superstitious

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    9. >>>The fact that you think that Pi and the Vilna Gaon or the Esther Code have anything to do with standard Bible codes shows that you understand neither.

      I never studied those codes or material. But I read a little about the bible codes and they have been debunked. Very likely Esther code is non sense as well.

      Delete
    10. >>>1,2,3,5 Shmittah - You misunderstand the evidence of Shmitah. There was no purpose of commanding an entire people to stop farming once every 7 years. Even if we assert that they wanted to allow the fields to rest, they could have rotated the land into 7 parts, with each area not farming on a different year.
      According to Torah the world was created in 6 days and god rests on day 7. So maybe that’s why all the land must rest and not just alternate sections. Another superstition. Also, shmittah has agricultural pros and cons. Resting all the land simultaneously may be better because then disease and insects have a reduced reservoir. I will not get into the negative sides and there are some agricultural reasons why its bad.

      >>>That way they don't needlessly risk a revolt and mass starvation every 7 years. (your assertion from the Indian ghost dance is irrelevant since the Indians had no other option against the White Man's bullets. Here the Jews didn't need to make the Shmitah commandment in the first place) The notion that they could trade with others shows complete ignorance of the reality back then. Israel was surrounded by enemies. And the notion that millions could forage for food is beyond ridiculous.
      My point about the Indians, is people can be superstitious and believe non sense even when it is detrimental to their well being. Also, the Indians had a choice - they did not have to fight. Also, how do you know the ancient jews did not invent some of their commandments because they also had no choice. You know, we are having a drought - so pray to god for rain.
      There must have been times of peace or at least peace between some Israelite tribes and neighbors. Also, even in times of conflict there are ways to have international trade with your enemies and non enemies. Foraging for food is not ridiculous - it is actually was very common. And why could the jews not rely on stored food. And are they not allowed to eat fruit, nuts, olives meat and hunt ? And what about kosher locusts and fish ? And what evidence do you have that there were millions of jews living during the Shmittah ? Maybe the custom was practiced by the some of the small evolving Jewish tribe. Then it became incorporated as a national custom and only later were there more jews.

      Meir, you ask a lot of questions, but if you think about them yourself with an open mind and no apriori assumptions, you can answer them with natural explanations. Sometimes we just can not explain why any ancient or even modern people believe in nonsense. Part cultural and tradition, part brain washing, part wishful thinking, part economics, part geopolitics, part politics, part emotional reasons, part rationalizations, part vested priest/church/rabbi/government financial interests etc: etc: BUT IT IN NO WAY IMPLIES THEE IS A GOD.

      Delete
    11. >>>Your assertion about circumcision is wrong - how is it that only the Jews discovered that precisely the 8th day is the best for circumcision, yet nobody else did?

      I am not sure 8 days circumcision is the best. Even if it is I already explained to you how the jews may have discovered it. Also, within 6 days is too early (from experiments) and 7 days is off limits because that magic number in the torah seven. That leaves 8 days or later. Jews wanted to do the dirty deed ASP. That leaves day 8.

      Other ancient cultures did do it to infants as well.

      All you have shown is that the Jews picked day 8. It may be coincidental, it may be related to the creation myth, and may be it was discovered by experiment. Why did other peoples not pick only day 8 ? I did not study this but can only speculate for there own religious superstitions or perhaps based on their own experiments.

      The practice itself is barbaric. What kind of god would want people to mutilate their penis ? Think about that. It may have had some minor medical benefits especially in ancient times, but that is not the reason jews give for doing it.

      Rather than circumcision proving a jewish god exits, it actualy strongly implies yaweh does not exist.


      Delete
    12. >>>You assert that 'The legends of the many cultures impose human nature onto it gods, folk heroes' misses my point completely. Ancient histories have one thing in common, they never criticize their leaders. The Torah does, which is why it is objective.

      By imposing negatives human traits they are in effect criticizing their gods, folk heroes etc:etc: I truly doubt your assertion that ancient cultures or [ancient texts] never criticize their leaders is true.

      Give credit were credit is due. To the extent the Torah does critique it’s leaders it is teaching a lesson or a parable.

      But it in no way implies Yahweh exists or the Torah is god given or the Torah is being truthful or objective in what it says in general.


      Delete
    13. >>>Gypsies and Hawaians- Gypsies are 1500 years old, for shorter than Jews. Your point about Hawaiians shows that you misunderstand the evidence. My point was that although there are ancient nations as old as the Jews (e.g. Chinese, Kurds) they were always a majority, who lived in their own land. The miracle of Jewish survival - which is unprecedented in history - is that the Jews were a despised and persecuted minority dispersed throughout the world and still managed to survive, whereas ancient superpowers have risen and fallen without a trace of them.


      But the gypsies are a good example. Also, many uprooted people just decided to assimilate into their new culture, Some did not and may have been destroyed by new occupiers. Jews just may have hit on good survival techniques. Remember, they evolved out of ancient religions and said we are different and also wanted to preserve their occupation of their land.
      All this is besides the point. Just because jews survived does not imply a god exists or its a miracle. All it implies is
      the jews survived, and there are many plausable explanations why they did. Its even possible it was just fortuitous.

      Delete
    14. >>>PI and Gematria

      I only skimmed the article about pi, and here are some quick comments on gematria and this specific one about pi. In no specific order. They are specious arguments.

      1) First some commentators are saying the object was not circular, so even calculating pi based on the object is not relevant. The whole gematria falls apart right there.

      2) The commentators cannot decide if the dimensions are internal or external. This creates the opportunity for mixing and matching to get to the correct combination of the correction factor and the crude pi approximation.

      3) Is there only one way to spell the pronouncing of the Hebrew word ? If so you can pick and choose to get to the correct combination of the correction factor and the crude approximation of pi.

      4) And why is 3 the crude approximation to pi ? Because the Rabbi’s tried to deduce the value of pi from a Pasuk instead of studying geometry. Not a very intelligent approach to learning about reality.

      5) Pick up any text at all - if you try hard enough you can find all kinds of ways to make up gemmatria gimmicks based on different spellings of words, meanings of words, roots of words , addition of letters, sounds of words, various ways of applying the arithmetic, various ways to assign numeric values to letters: etc:

      6) Here is another explanation - its all a miracle. Although normally the ratio of the circumference to diameter is 3.14...., by a miracle of god this circular vase has the ratio only 3. You see how all problems go away if you invent miracles.

      7) The Torah and Rabbi’s make so many mistakes about science and reality, it is preposterous for anybody to claim that oral tradition or written tradition is divine.

      8) And why is the ratio taken as 111/106 and not the reverse ? Because we know the correct value of pi. That is what is called circular reasoning.

      9) And why is the correction factor multiplicative ? Because in this convoluted example it works out the way you want. In other words, the correction factor could have been additive, subtractive, divisive but thru circular reasoning we pick multiplicative.

      10) There are so many ways to back into the appropriate arithmetic type of and value of correction factor and also the spelling and also the crude value of pi, no wonder somebody finds one sequence that works.

      11) Who decides that aleph is one, bet is 2 etc: ? Why should there be any association of order or quantity with a specific letter. ? Why should the base 10 be used for letters and numbers ? Do you understand that the arithmetic base is chosen by people and there are different bases used. Also, some letters I think can have two different values. This greatly increases the chances of finding gematria tricks. How vowels are used is added to the arsenal.

      12) I think some muslim said something like this:The Quran uses the Arabic word for "sea" x times, and the Arabic word for land y times. And the ratio of sea to land on planet earth is exactly the same as the ratio of x to y. And Mohammed didn't even realize the earth was round, really, and certainly didn't know about the Americas and Antarctica and the Pacific Ocean, so that proves the Quran was written by Almighty Allah, who DID have those facts at his holy fingertips in Allah's Almanac.
      You see how easy it is to find gematria in other places.

      13) SEEK AND YOU WILL FIND, meaning finding patterns when none are really there. There are virtually an infinite number of permutations in the torah, so of course you will develop patterns of gematria/ gematria tricks if you seek them.

      14) And why would god use this convoluted way to tell us the value of pi is 3.14... ? What can possibly be the purpose ? Oh, I know to show us the truth of torah. But suppose nobody discovered it ? Then it would have been a bigwaste. A lot better way would have been is to give accurate information of reality.

      Delete
    15. >>> More on Gematria

      15) There are thousands of words in the Torah. And there are thousands of times when gematria turns up nothing telling. But by chance combined with creative invention (often with circular reasoning) and the use of numerous potential gematria tricks, sometimes people can “discover” (actually impose) something of interest when in fact its just a figment of imagination. When you have so many words and so many potential ways to use gematria, you can sometimes invent a marvel.

      16) When words and language evolved people used human reasoning. In other words, there could be some built in gematria and other fascinating findings. It has nothing to do with god.

      17) When people write books (including the Torah) they may at times imposed some gematria for various reasons including poetic form, metaphor, superstition etc: It has nothing to do with god.

      Delete
    16. Once again you miss the point. The liklihood of having a verse in the prophets speaking about a 3/1 circumference and then discovering a kri/ksiv which equals exactly to pi to the fourth decimal point is amazing. The evidence is in the coincidence. The fact of whether or not you believe in gematriah is immaterial. The coincidence is what is amazing, and you missed it.

      Same thing with Jewish survival. The liklihood of it occuring and the fact that it is unparalleled in world history is evidence of supernatural guidance. Same thing with circumcision. The coincidence that only the Jews of all the nations figured out day 8 to circumcise is evidence of supernatural guidance.

      Delete
    17. See my prior posts on Jewish survival - natural explanation suffice. For example in Spain the jews went underground, sometimes jews relocated. Jews were in many countries so the risk of total destruction was virtually impossible. I could go on and on how they survived. No god needed. Also, just because jews survived does not imply god in anyway, and that Meir is basic logic.

      Gematria and pi example in particular is totaly refuted in my
      my prior posts - please reread them again rather repeating its amazing. It really is not amazing from a human nature point of view and fromn a stats point of view. You can simply invent ways to back into your target. What is amazing is people persisting in believing in something in the face of very strong refutations.

      Delete
    18. daatemet@netvision.net.il Let me make it clearer why the gematria and also the Pi is not so amazing. Given that there are almost an infinite number of ways to create a gematria and given you have a book with thousands of words, and given you can use circular reasoning to back into something you are guaranteed to "find" AMAZING things. But what they are coincidences, circular reasoning and man made invention. The items of my laundry list of the critique of gematria and Pi work in conjunction with human nature, and work synergistically in combination with each other to create apparently amazing things. You can do this with any book with thousand of words, especially if millions of man hours are spent trying to find gematria in that book. If you study human psychology (see for example confirmation bias in wikipedia) and probability theory, many so called amazing coincidences have high chances of occurring

      Delete
    19. Hey Meir - the "Mr. Anoymous or the Gematria Anonymous or current Anonymous" is not from daatemet@netvision.net.il or daatemet. The email address got accidently pasted in sorry.

      Delete
    20. You have posted about 50 comments this week, it is tough to keep up or respond to most of them, especially since most of your comments misunderstand my assertions in the first place.

      Your 17 point post on gematria is completely irrelevant to the Gaon and Pi as I will explain.

      The fact that you 'could' find a plausible explanation to the Jewish survival throughout history also misses the point. Of course you can find a natural explanation of how the Jews survived. But we are looking for what is the explanation that makes the most sense, i.e. evidence (not proof). You can claim that all is coincidence, but then I see that no other nation throughout history, persecuted and dispersed among the nations, has ever survived as a distinct entity. So maybe it was an accident and anomaly of history. I think it is an indication of a divine guiding hand.

      Of course the gaon finding pi in the verse in Kings which talks about 3 - 1 ratio could have been planted there or an accident of gematria. But when we consider that you cannot find anything remotely as amazing in any other book, nor can you find other cultures at that time who knew of pi to the 4th decimal point, one gets the impression that there is something here more than coincidence. Proof? No. Evidence? Yes.

      Delete
    21. So which guy is from daatemet and which guy is just plain anonymous? I am having trouble following who is who.

      Delete
    22. all posts since may 2013 are from anonymous and not daatemet. anonymous came across daatemet and accidentaly inserted daatemet's email while cutting and pasting. sorry for confusion.

      Delete
    23. So are you the anonymous poster that I have been going back and forth with or are you daatemet?

      Delete
    24. Little old me - not from or related in any way with daatemet.

      Delete
  34. The wisdom of the Hebrew language. There is incredible depth to Lashon Hakodesh. I don't have time to write it all out, but there are some amazing things which you can find in Hebrew and many books that discuss this. One example: The Gemara Kiddushin writes that there are 3 partners in the creation of man; Father, mother and Hashem. ADAM is gematriah 45. The aleph represents his soul as it comes from Hashem who is one. The remaining letters DAM are 44. A man's physical life - his blood is numerically 44, which is the same as the gematria of av and aim (father , mother), because they supply his physical existance.
    As far as I am concerned the greatest proof of the truth of Torah is the depth and beauty of Torah itself. Aside from the fact that all of western religion bases itself on the Torah and most of western morality and the basic tenets of modern morality all can be directly traced to Torah (Peace as an ideal, value of life, education, charity, family values, equal justice before the law), do you really think that if this little book was written by some ancient fellow, we'd be able to find such amazing chochmah in it? Would we really find the word connections and gematriahs which tie torah shebiksav to Torah shebaal peh (as found in Baal Haturim, Bircas Peretz, Rokeach, etc)? More so, would we be able to derive the gemara and it's meforshim, Rashi Tosafos, Rashba, Rambam, Ketzos, Nesivos, R' Chaim, and on and on, with all of its incomprehensible intellectual depth and beauty from a book written in a cave 3000 years ago? In every generation, hundreds of thousands pore over the gemara and it's mefarshim probing every word. Don't you think we would have destroyed it with errors and inconsistencies?
    Some more interesting things http://www.evidencefortorah.comxa.com/torahandscience.php

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    Replies
    1. There is no evidence of a soul exists. What are talking about ?

      Torah and oral customs/laws/morality - are bizarre and often barbaric by todays standards, please read your bible, talmud etc: with an open mind.

      Gentile and Jew each has a seperate rule of law - no way Torah has equel treatment.

      Delete
    2. more nonsense - check out this link
      http://daatemet.org.il/
      to see how much nonsense the torah, talmud, chazal... writes.

      Yes, hebrew is a wonderful language, but other cultures also have wonderful language. As primitive primates evolved into people, communications improved. It has nothing to do with god. PLEASE.

      Delete
    3. For another opinion that contrasts with daatemet.org see
      thesanhedrin.org, who dispute the claims of datemet.org so its not an open and shut case and depends on the issue. But the bible itself still seems to contain nonsense.

      Delete
    4. Actually there is evidence of a soul http://www.lifebeyonddeath.net/
      There have been millions out of body experiences, in which patients have described real events which they couldn't have known about. This has been backed up by numerous doctors and medical personal, who are quite scientific.

      Delete
  35. Why the argument from Mount Sinai and my Father told me so fails.
    1. We know that folklore, customs, and myths evolve and then get passed down Parents to children. Why not this alleged event ? Also,
    why can it not just be propaganda ?
    2. The event sounds like a volcano. Volcano erupted in ancient times
    people got wind of it and thought it was related to god. Mountains are
    considered holy sites by ancient pagan religions. This could have
    started a legend.
    3. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Miracle_of_the_Sun - A mass revelation in
    the early 1900's that thousand and thousand of people saw Jesus etc:
    In 1900's people are more sophisticated (we hope) than ancient
    primitive people like the Jewish tribes, yet it seems they are also
    deceived. If not, then maybe we should become Christian ?
    4. The implication that a being so powerful as the alleged god would
    come down to earth (a mere speck in the universe) to a mountain in a
    desert and speak to only to a Jewish tribe and choose them over all
    nations and gave them the torah is so preposterous as to be insane.
    5. The torah is full of nonsense, contradictions, doublets and so lacks
    credibility. PLUS, THERE IS NO empirical EVIDENCE THE
    EVENT OCCURRED. THERE IS NO EVIDENCE OF A MASS OF
    PEOPLE BEING IN THE DESERT. Carl Sagan said, “extraordinary
    claims require extraordinary evidence.”
    7. We have no witnesses to cross examine.
    8. Read Deuteronomy 5: "I stood between the Lord and you at that
    time, to declare unto you the word of the Lord; for you were afraid
    because of the fire, and went not up into the mount". So, the jews did
    not hear the word of god.
    9. Even if no other people have a similar mass revelation story, it does
    not follow the Jewish one did occur. The Jews might just be more
    brazen, because maybe they were more desperate.
    In other words, just because only one tribe of people claim event of type
    XYZ was witnessed by them, and there is no corresponding type claim
    among other peoples, does not imply event XYZ actually happened.
    10. Peoples can accept a false national history. See "The Invention of Tradition (Canto Series)

    11. for more on this type of argument see these links

    http://www.talkreason.org/articles/gottlieb.cfm
    http://www.talkreason.org/articles/kuzari.cfm
    http://www.talkreason.org/articles/kuzariflaws.cfm

    There is even more, but why waste my time. Enough has already been said. It has been my experience that Fundamentalist do not want to learn, only to use sophistry and hair splitting logic and rationalisations to justify their apriori faith.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. one more critique of this argument is at this website.

      http://www.infidels.org/library/modern/shlomi_tal/sinai.html

      Delete
  36. Your attacks are not anything that I haven't heard before. I'll answer them when I get back the first week of June. Meir Goldberg

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. No problem. Take your time and do not rush. If you read what I say, I will read what you say. If I do not respond, its because I am very busy.

      Delete
  37. More Kuzari -

    Suppose the jewish experience, claims... is so unique that we can't totaly explain it to your satisfaction.

    THAT DOES NOT MEAN THAT THE SINAI EVENT ACTUALLY HAPPENED. Its just we can't totaly explain to your satisfaction. I am sure the are many things we can not explain, that does not mean that Gods is somehow involved.

    ReplyDelete
  38. Yet even more on Kuzari

    With a have a story according to Yahweh’s chosen people.
    That Yahweh intervened in human affairs, perform all kinds of miracles to free an enslaved tribe, then miracle upon miracle kept this tribe of hundreds of thousands of people in the desert alive for 40 years. Yaweh also came down to a mountain in a desert and made them the chosen people.

    We have two explanations

    A) The Exodus and Sinai story as essentially nation building myths.

    B) That the story actually happened.

    Given all that I have said in my prior posts (lack of external evidence etc: etc:), the more reasonable explanation is the former. It explains the story in the context of human affairs and natural phenomena. The latter explanation implies some supernatural Yahweh and miracles that add a level of complexity that strains the imagination and creates more unsolved problems than it solves.

    ReplyDelete
  39. The Khazar argument against Kuzari.

    http://failedmessiah.typepad.com/failed_messiahcom/2013/01/new-genetic-study-reportedly-proves-khazar-ancestry-for-ashkenazi-jews-567.html

    If true this is an argument against Kuzari.

    My Grandfathers and Father and Mother are all Ashkenazi Jews. They accepted the story that their ancestors were in Egypt and then at Sinai. The original Jewish converts in Khazar knew that their ancestors could not have been at Mount Sinai. Yet after a few generations their descendants believe their great great....great granddaddy was at Mount Sinai ! The Ashkenazi Jews accepted a false national origin.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Aside from the fact that the notion of Ashkenazi Jews being exclusively of Khazar descent has been completely discredited (http://www.faqs.org/faqs/judaism/FAQ/07-Jews-As-Nation/section-5.html#b), there are millions of Sephardic Jews that you have ignored. There is much evidence of Jews living in Europe for several millenia.

      Delete
    2. My point was the Ashkenazi Jews accepted a false national origin. That has nothing to do with other Jewish sects.

      Perhaps Ashkenazi are not SOLELY Khazar, I have not studied th issue in depth and there may not be universal agreement. But the point is most Ashk. Jews probably are Khazar, and those that are accepted a false national origin.

      Delete
  40. http://larrytanner.blogspot.com/2010/07/definitively-refuting-kuzari-principle.html

    The above website offers a refute to Kuzari as well. also see the blogs.

    Meir, please read all the above and see why so many people think the Kuzari fails.

    ReplyDelete
  41. http://larrytanner.blogspot.com/2010/09/kuzari-principle-index-of-posts.html
    here is a more complete discussion of kuzari.

    ReplyDelete
  42. Meir - just read all the above websites and blogs and my additional comments.

    If you feel Kuzari still stands fine.

    I am unconvinced. Save your time and do not bother to respond.I do nothave the time to get bogged down in hair splitting sophism and specious arguments.

    I was once Orthosox jewish and feel so terribly sorry for the OJ children going thru the same yeshiva brain washing I went thru. My heart aches for them.

    ReplyDelete
  43. http://bpelta.blogspot.com/2010/12/kuzari-principle-proof-from-mass.html

    http://dovbear.blogspot.com/2006/02/demolishing-dumb-arguments-mass.html

    Yet 2 more refutes of Kuzari

    ReplyDelete
  44. I will soon post a more complete explanation of the Kuzari evidence. For now I will merely point out why the arguments you cite from talkreason, Shlomo Tal, Tanner, Pelta, Dovbear, etc, all fail.

    The Kuzari arguement is based on the fact that you will admit that a mass revelation of G-d to an entire people is far greater, more convincing and harder to do than a revelation to one or a few charismatic leaders who then convince everyone else. It is also based on the fact that there is only one nation in known history which claims a divine revelation to the entire populace - Judaism.

    The basis of the Kuzari argument is that if it was so easy to create a national revelation story over the centuries, why hasn't anyone else done it? That is why Tanner, Pelta, Talkreason and Co. all fail. They can argue all they want but the bottom line is, nobody else has created a national revelation story other than Judaism.

    Furthermore, there is no break in Jewish history. Every century is documented with names, dates, places, people, etc. When was the myth created? And why is it that there is no mention of a dynamic leader who recreated and reintroduced Judaism to the people? Surely he should be a national hero - but no such hero exists? Surely you don't mean Ezra was that hero - Ezra merely gathered 42,000 people back to Israel, yet there were many millions more in Babylon and in southern Europe, North Africa, Ethiopia, Yemen, etc, who weren't influenced by Ezra and knew about Judaism.

    ReplyDelete
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    1. >>>The Kuzari argument is based on the fact that you will admit that a mass revelation of G-d to an entire people is far greater, more convincing and harder to do than a revelation to one or a few charismatic leaders who then convince everyone else.

      No evidence whatsoever exists to support the claim a mass revelation occurred at Sinai. We only have a flawed book (torah) that asserts numerous fanciful tales and myths. Included among those stories is the Sinai story.

      >>>It is also based on the fact that there is only one nation in known history which claims a divine revelation to the entire populace - Judaism.
      Even if true, all it proves is an ancient primitive and superstitious group of tribes made such a claim. It in no way does it follow logically, that the story happened in reality. No evidence whatsoever exists to support the claim a mass revelation occurred at Sinai. We only have a flawed book (torah) that asserts numerous fanciful tales and myths. Included among those stories is the Sinai story

      >>>The basis of the Kuzari argument is that if it was so easy to create a national revelation story over the centuries, why hasn't anyone else done it? That is why Tanner, Pelta, Talkreason and Co. all fail. They can argue all they want but the bottom line is, nobody else has created a national revelation story other than Judaism.

      Even if true, it in no way follows the alleged stories actually occurred. That is basic logic.

      Delete
    2. >>>It is also based on the fact that there is only one nation in known history which claims a divine revelation to the entire populace - Judaism.

      Even if your statement is true (I am not sure it is) it in no way follows that the sinai event actually occurred.

      Also, much of history is lost, was never recorded, tribes and nations have vanished. So it is possible such claims of divine revelation were made by other peoples, we just do not have records of it.

      Delete
    3. Once again, history always repeats itself. If so, why is there only one instance of national revelation if it is the best way to start a religion? Why wouldn't all religions try to pull it off? Answer: cause they couldn't, because it can't be faked.

      Delete
    4. >>>Once again, history always repeats itself.

      Another unfounded assertion.

      >>>...there only one instance of national revelation....

      1) Unfounded assertion.

      2) All we have is a claim in a flawed book

      3) See my prior posts for other refutes.

      4) No evidence any national revelation occured. No evidence of 600,000 plus people in a desert.

      >>> if it is the best way to start a religion? Why wouldn't all religions try to pull it off? Answer: cause they couldn't, because it can't be faked.

      See my posts about evolving national myths and oral traditions. Ancient people are superstituos and or ignorant and accept what they think are true folklore stories when in fact with modern science we know the stories could not have happened or most likely did not happen. It may have nothing to do people being faked.

      Also see my prior posts why the Sinai event should not be accepted by rational people.

      Delete
    5. Maybe try googling historic recurrence. Things in nature and science never happen only once.

      We have a claim in a 'flawed book' yet no other book has the guts to make this claim, the best possible claim to be made. Why not? You keep on avoiding the issue. Your prior posts also avoid the issue.

      In science, one can only call something scientific and factual if it can be replicated over and over again. Since the national revelation has never been replicated, neither by 'legendary development or nation myth building of oral traditions', it follows that Sinai is a historical anomaly which causes us to use it as evidence (not proof) that something supernatural happened here. Of course it is possible that it isn't supernatural, but we are looking for evidence. I.e. the most likely possibility. Therefore, it is rational to believe it.

      Delete
  45. As for the argument of the Miracle of the sun and the revelation to the Aztecs, they are irrelevant for the following reasons.
    A) These were not national revelations introducing a new religion - they were merely miracles. Judaism does believe that anyone can experience a miracle, even another religion, so long as it is not a mass revelation introducing a new religion.
    B) The Miracle of the Sun and the Aztec prophecies aren't comparable to the Kuzari argument since they weren't introducing anything new to the people who witnessed them. Therefore there was no reason for anyone to deny that it happened since it was no threat to their previously held belief. On the other hand, Judaism was a completely new and foreign set of beliefs which required a radically new set of laws, beliefs, cultural system, all of which were completely at odds with what the ancient Hebrews were used to. They had every incentive to deny Sinai, yet they didn't. Why not? They fought Moses constantly in the desert, yet they never denied Sinai.

    C) The examples you gave from the Miracle of the sun is flawed from it's source. Firstly, the only thing that people saw was some unexplained sun activity. Only 3 young children claimed to have seen Jesus? If Jesus or Mary appeared, why did only 3 children out of the 30,000 - 100,000 people see Jesus? Why did all the others see at most some funky sun, and some saw nothing at all?

    http://blog.dovidgottlieb.com/2012/11/aztec-national-revelation-in-past-i.html shows from 3 sources that the Aztecs never had a national revelation. They heard it all from their priests who told it to them. Sorry Messrs Tanner, Dovbear, Pelta, Tal, Etc.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. So you have read all my posts and others and still stick to the KUZARI argument - I suggest you reread them with an open mind once again. If you still insist KUZARI is correct you are entitled to your opinion.

      >>>On the other hand, Judaism was a completely new and foreign set of beliefs which required a radically new set of laws, beliefs, cultural system, all of which were completely at odds with what the ancient Hebrews were used to.

      I doubt that is true. Many of the customs were not new and were well known ancient semitic cult rituals and folklore. For example: circumcision, harvest festivals, sacrifice, annointings, flood myths, creation myths, Hammarabi code, Temples, Priests,....


      >>>They had every incentive to deny Sinai, yet they didn't. Why not? They fought Moses constantly in the desert, yet they never denied Sinai.

      They may have had incentives to not deny the myths since it was spart of the nation building narative. For example - that is our land because our god says so, so we have every right to exterminate you dwellers. And how do we know they did not deny Sinai - Oh, I know because the Torah does not mention it. That is circular reasoning.






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    2. Sorry but you simply are ignoring history. The notion of one G-d, the disdain for idolatry, concern for humanity, animals, charity, were all completely foreign at that time.

      You say 'They may have had incentives to not deny the myths since it was spart of the nation building narative'. So the Jews rebel against Moses at least a dozen times, but that was not part of the nation building narrative, yet Sinai was? This makes no sense

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    3. >>>Sorry but you simply are ignoring history. The notion of one G-d, the disdain for idolatry, concern for humanity, animals, charity, were all completely foreign at that time.

      You are ignoring the examples I suppied you. Also,
      Yahweh, EL the ancient bull god, etc: were known Canaan gods. Yawah even had a female consort. The jews embraced a god for superstition reasons thinking he would protect them and provide for them. Egypt had a monotheistic cult - that predates the alleged Sinai event. One god or many - who cares. Idolatry and Judaism are more similar than you think. Jews eventually did oppose Human Sacrifice - but so did other ancient cultures. So the Torah invented animal rights ? Human rights ? Charity (you must mean tribal charity - help the members of your own tribe - this is a survival stragedy). And you can prove that no ancient cultures had human rights/charity/animal rights ? Its more likely any ethics or morals in the torah was due to evolving ethics and the codification of such by the people who wrote the torah. Probably over 80% of the torah has nothing to do with moral and ethics and alot of whats in it is abhorrent by todays standards.

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    4. >>>You say 'They may have had incentives to not deny the myths since it was spart of the nation building narative'. So the Jews rebel against Moses at least a dozen times, but that was not part of the nation building narrative, yet Sinai was? This makes no sense

      All the stories are part of the nation building myth and or to keep the jews in line while they are creating an independent identity. For example if jews rebel against Moses or who ever, sometimes they get punished - teaching you dont mess with Yaweh. They are a collection of fictional stories, perhaps with some small basis in real events. The Sinai myth may relate to Volcano. There may have been an ancient flood ec: etc:

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    5. Animal rights - I am no expert - but Hinduism a very ancient faith had strong animal rights aspects, and I think even more so than Judaism. Plus the Torah codifying animal sacrifice with Yaweh even loving the smell of burnt flesh does not sound at all like animal rights to me. Kosher rituals (including salting) may have had more to do with getting the blood out of the animal than with a real concern for the animal.

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    6. Another ancient culture with great reverence for animal rights and communal sharing of wealth is the Native American Indians. But this all besides the point. Even if Judaism has some good moral teachings (and some bad ones as well) , all you can conclude is JUDAISM HAS some good and bad teachings. IN NO WAY DOES IT IMPLY A GOD IS INVOLVED. That is basic logic.

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    7. >>>As for the argument of the Miracle of the sun and the revelation to the Aztecs, they are irrelevant for the following reasons.
      A) These were not national revelations introducing a new religion - they were merely miracles. Judaism does believe that anyone can experience a miracle, even another religion, so long as it is not a mass revelation introducing a new religion.

      The Jewish religion has no particular start date. Certainly not at the alleged Sinai event. It evolved over time.

      >>>B) The Miracle of the Sun and the Aztec prophecies aren't comparable to the Kuzari argument since they weren't introducing anything new to the people who witnessed them. Therefore there was no reason for anyone to deny that it happened since it was no threat to their previously held belief. On the other hand, Judaism was a completely new and foreign set of beliefs which required a radically new set of laws, beliefs, cultural system, all of which were completely at odds with what the ancient Hebrews were used to. They had every incentive to deny Sinai, yet they didn't. Why not? They fought Moses constantly in the desert, yet they never denied Sinai.

      I responded to this in other posts. Also, The Jewish religion has no particular start date. Certainly not at the alleged Sinai event. It evolved over time from the very common Semitic cults in the ancient middle east.

      >>>C) The examples you gave from the Miracle of the sun is flawed from it's source. Firstly, the only thing that people saw was some unexplained sun activity. Only 3 young children claimed to have seen Jesus? If Jesus or Mary appeared, why did only 3 children out of the 30,000 - 100,000 people see Jesus? Why did all the others see at most some funky sun, and some saw nothing at all?

      I stand corrected and therefore perhaps many thousands did not see Jesus et al. But, many thousands did accept the fact a supernatural event and miracle did occur. That the whole point, people are gullible.

      >>>http://blog.dovidgottlieb.com/2012/11/aztec-national-revelation-in-past-i.html shows from 3 sources that the Aztecs never had a national revelation. They heard it all from their priests who told it to them. Sorry Messrs Tanner, Dovbear, Pelta, Tal, Etc

      There is some controversy over what versions of the Aztec story involve god speaking to a group of people versus only a few priests. But the point is, people are gullible and can accept false stories as true. Even the Sinai story its says Moses heard from god and then Moses told the people. So even according to torah no mass revelation of god.




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    8. The bottom line is, for anyone who understands history, that Judaism was a radical departure from what the Jews were used to. The Jews had no problem rebelling against Moses, yet they never denied the Torah at Sinai? Why not?

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    9. >>>...that Judaism was a radical departure from what the Jews were used to.

      Unfounded assertion. Also, you choose to ignore the evidence I already supplied why the departure was not so radical as you may think.

      >>>...they never denied the Torah at Sinai? Why not?

      Unfounded assertion. Also see my prior posts for good reasons why they may not have.

      Delete
    10. >>>...that Judaism was a radical departure from what the Jews were used to.

      Even if true, it means nothing. Change happens all the time.

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  46. Finally, Mr. Anonymous, if you don't want to believe in Judaism due to the fact that you don't like the community or some other way that Orthodox Jews have failed you, I can understand and respect that. We are a good but flawed people. But please don't try to convince yourself and others that we are philosophically or historically wrong with your arguments which are inaccurate. You do us all and yourself a disservice.

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    1. I rejected OJ for rational reasons and for intellectual hoonesty. I have heard all the kiruv "arguments" for OJ, and they are all very flimsy, deceptive and unconvincing. Actually, it would be lovely if there was god to even the score and maybe help mankind with all the problems this species is creating on the planet. Its extremely unlikely such a god exists.

      I do not have the time to debate with you. Thanks for responding and best wishs (Rabbi ?) Meir.

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    2. Not just my own numerous arguments which casts grave doubt on the Kuzari, but also many other wise people who think the Kuzari is not a valid argument. Go back and read them them and see if common sense would choose the Sinai event or a natural explanation. You are just trying to defend an apriori position with sophistry.

      It also turns out that the so called unbroken chain of GrandDaddy to Daddy to Son, may not be that unbroken. For more on that see Daatemet.org that strongly suggests the chain of the torah commandments probably does not go back to a Sinai event.

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    3. Daatemet is a very clever blog which falls to pieces under scrutiny. Sunshine is the best disinfectant

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    4. Not sunshine, but science, critical thinking and evidence based reasoning is the best disinfectant and refutation of Orthodox Judaism and supernatural believing religions in general.

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  47. For more on the Kuzari argument see http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PEg_Oys4NkA

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    1. This video is Kelemen's version of Kuzari and does not add anything more to the Kuzari. Kelemen is refuted by all my prior posts and those of the links I blogged you.

      Please email him my refutes and the supplied links so he can learn the truth and remove his video. I am unable to contact him. Thank You.

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    2. 1) You can not say something is true just because we currently can not find a counter example. Kelemen and Gottleib and Meir ought to be aware of that.

      2) You did notice kelemen ignores the possibility of legendary development or nation myth building of oral traditions. Ancient people can and do accept false traditions and stories. Even modern people do. The fact that those stories do not conform exactly like the Sinai story is not the relevant issue.

      3) To repeat all we have is a Sinai story in a flawed book the Torah, that is written by people according to all academic scholars. We can examine no witnesses and there is no evidence that 600000 people were in a desert or at Mt Sinai.

      4) The most plausible and rational explanation are in natural events. Introducing supernatural god(s) and miracles and miracles introduces an unneeded complexity and seems laughable.

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    3. 2) Keleman doesn't ignore that at all. He points out that in science, one can only call something scientific and factual if it can be replicated over and over again. Since the national revelation has never been replicated, neither by 'legendary development or nation myth building of oral traditions', it follows that Sinai is a historical anomaly which causes us to use it as evidence (not proof) that something supernatural happened here. Of course it is possible that it isn't supernatural, but we are looking for evidence. I.e. the most likely possibility.

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  48. Once again you miss the point completely. If it is so easy to create a national revelation story and those stories are, admittedly the most believable, why is it that no other religion has come up with one? The rule in history is that it repeats itself. Things in science and history never happen only once. So why did a national revelation such as Sinai happen only once?

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    1. See my prior posts. Read them all and to be intellectually honest you must consider all my comments.

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  49. See my prior posts. I already responded to similar questions, but you have ignored what I said and repeated the questions over again.

    You are also making unproven assertions again.

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    1. You have posted about 50 comments in the past week, most of which make no sense and completely miss the point of what I was trying to say. You are either very biased, or not trying to understand what I was writing

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    2. Yes, I am very biased. It is in favor of science, critical thinking and evidence based reasoning. Of course I disagree with you, and my comments do make sense if you read all of them. My guess is you are not reading them carefully and have not visited the links I blogged you.

      All I can say is try to read all of them, because the way the blog works blogs appear out of order.

      I have tried to address all your points, but I noticed you ignored many of my comments. Fine.

      Are there any more things you want me to clarify for you ?
      If not, consider this dialogue over.

      Meir, thank you for your time.

      Best Wishs

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    3. I looked at all of your sources including Tanner, Tal, Pelta, daatemet, et al. As I explained, they all fail because they do not address the primary evidence of the Kuzari principle, namely why only the Jews have had the guts to make a mass revelation claim.
      The source you brought about all Ashkenazic Jews descending from Khazars has been proven to be pseudo science and is not taken seriously by anyone other than anti semites.

      Many of your other posts are simply wrong (like your denial of the historical recurrence principle) or are not addressing the evidence that I was bringing (e.g. the 17 points about gematriah you listed) and are not germane to the discussion.

      Thank you for taking the time to comment. Best Wishes. MG

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  50. >>>.... [only the Jews made a mass revelation claim.]

    Like I have said before, that assertion may or may not be true. We only have knowledge of a limited sample of surviving legends. Also, the torah itself may not say a mass revelation occurred.

    >>>why only the Jews have had the guts to make a mass revelation claim.

    Lets assume only the Jews made such an assertion. THAT DOES NOT MEAN IT ACTUALLY HAPPENED. In fact since there is no evidence of a people mass in the Sinai, its probably just a legend.

    I am not so sure it has anything to do with guts. Perhaps it was a legend that developed over time. It may well be the people involved thought they were doing nothing unusual. I can only speculate on reasons. Maybe a Volcano occurred and it was thought to be god descending from the sky. A legend developed and got passed down. Ancient Jews were superstitious, it may have nothing to do with guts.

    Maybe ancient jews were just very desperate for some reason or perhaps just more ignorant than others.

    We can also ask, why does any people have the “guts” to believe in their national myths modern or ancient ?

    >>>The source you brought about all Ashkenazic Jews descending from Khazars has been proven to be pseudo science and is not taken seriously by anyone other than anti semites.

    My understanding it was based on genetic studies. Ashk Jews do not look all that semetic. There must be a lot of non semetic ASHK jews or at least many Ashk jews with very small percentages of semetic genes. The argument does not require “all” be Khazars. It only requires a substantial number of Ashk Jews not be semetic or having very small percentages of semetic genes.

    >>>Many of your other posts are simply wrong (like your denial of the historical recurrence principle)

    I was disputing the Kuzari argument in general. There are many variants. If there is a particular one you want me to read let me know. However, I will respond to that particular author when I have time,
    I don’t remember you using the term “historical recurrence principle”, but you did say something like history repeats itself. Is that what you are referring to ? And that assertion important to your Kuzari argument, because then you ask the question why no body else claims mass revelation ?
    Do you have a reference for “historical recurrence principle” that you can supply me with ?
    And which other posts of mine are wrong ? Just saying they are wrong, is not an argument. If you like I will try to explain them further.

    >>>...not addressing the evidence that I was bringing...

    OK - which of your evidences did I not address ? If you like I will take the time to explain them.

    >>>(e.g. the 17 points about gematriah you listed) and are not germane to the discussion.

    You are the one who raised gematria issues, not me. I read the link YOU supplied and then responded.


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    1. I will explain it to you for the last time. We all admit that a mass revelation claim is a stronger one, harder to invent, than an individual revelation claim (like in Christianity and Islam). If you are starting a religion, a mass claim makes you more believable than an individual claim, since many witnesses to an event are more believable than individual witnesses. But a mass claim is also easily refuted, since, if it didn't happen, the people to whom you are claiming it happened to can simply say, 'we never saw anything/we never heard anything like that happen to our ancestors - you must be making it up.' That is why no other religion ever makes a mass revelation claim. Because if it is made up, it is easily refuted.
      So of course I cannot know 100% if Sinai happened, as I wasn't there. But I can surmise that it likely did occur since it is the most bold claim which is almost impossible to get away with if false (which is why other religions never even make the claim). If it was just a volcano, then why wouldn't other religions use a volcano/natural phenomena to fake a mass revelation claim, since, according to you, it is so easy to make up?
      Furthermore, there are no gaps in the Jewish historical record in which such a claim could have been developed. Jewish history is filled with names, dates, places, many of which have been confirmed by archaeology. See the article above.

      History repeating itself is an obvious tool in history http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Historic_recurrence and a basic foundation in science. If something occures but cannot be replicated, we need to attribute something other than science to it.

      To compare simple gematrias to the Gaon and Pi, shows that you don't understand the Gaon Pi evidence. The evidence is in the fact that it is extremely unlikely that pi to the 4th decimal point was accidental to the verse in Kings. And if it is so easy to plant such amazing mathematics in verses, can you show me something similar in any other book? Surely you will be able to since it is 'so easy' to do. Finally, Pi to the 4th decimal point was not known at that point in history.

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  51. >>>To compare simple gematrias to the Gaon and Pi, shows that you don't understand the Gaon Pi evidence. The evidence is in the fact that it is extremely unlikely that pi to the 4th decimal point was accidental to the verse in Kings. And if it is so easy to plant such amazing mathematics in verses, can you show me something similar in any other book? Surely you will be able to since it is 'so easy' to do. Finally, Pi to the 4th decimal point was not known at that point in history.

    1) I checked the PI gematria and the pasuk in Hebrew from the link again. The author left out the begining vav from both words so the backed in value of PI is not as accurate as the link says it is.. Using the same formula as in the link gives PI 3.13...

    2) One of my points were the people writing the Gematria trick itself for example perhaps the Vilna Goan, knew the value of PI and backed into it.

    3) There was knowledge of PI among ancients.

    From wikipedia on PI - The Great Pyramid at Giza, constructed c. 2589–2566 BC, was built with a perimeter of about 1760 cubits and a height of about 280 cubits; the ratio 1760/280 # 6.2857 is approximately equal to 2pi # 6.2832. Based on this ratio, some Egyptologists concluded that the pyramid builders had knowledge of pi and deliberately designed the pyramid to incorporate the proportions of a circle.[24] Others maintain that the suggested relationship to pi is merely a coincidence, because there is no evidence that the pyramid builders had any knowledge of p, and because the dimensions of the pyramid are based on other factors.[25]

    The earliest written approximations of pi are found in Egypt and Babylon, both within 1 percent of the true value. In Babylon, a clay tablet dated 1900–1600 BC has a geometrical statement that, by implication, treats p as 25/8 = 3.1250.[26] In Egypt, the Rhind Papyrus, dated around 1650 BC, but copied from a document dated to 1850 BC has a formula for the area of a circle that treats p as (16/9)2 # 3.1605.[26]

    4) Reread my write up and gematria and pi. If you spend millions of man hours looking for gematria tricks you will find them in any large text. I am not going to do that for you. But Bible Code debunkers have done it for letter skipping and find amazing revelations in fictional texts.
    Gematria tricks - Muslims have done it for the Koran, Christians for the New Testament and I guarantee you it can be done for any large text. It all a case of backed into figures, coincidences, cognitive errors, and the many other explanations already provided to you.










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    1. 1) The first letter vav merely means and and has no relevance to the part talking about the word kav which means circumference.
      2) So lemme get this straight. The Gaon accidentally backed into the gematria of pi specifically with the word that means circumference in Hebrew in a verse discussing circumferences and diameters? Oh please.
      3) Read what I wrote. I said there was no knowledge of pi to the 4th decimal point at that time.
      4) I realize that you can find codes anywhere given a big enough area of text. That is why Drosnin's codes and the Jesus codes are not reliable. The original Aish hatorah codes used very small areas not at all comparable to the ones you are referencing. In any case I never used codes as one of my pieces of evidence for veracity of Torah because I know people assume that they are fake.
      But this is one verse discussing circumferences and diameters which just coincidentally has the exact numeric code in the Hebrew word that means circumference, of pi to the 4th decimal point.

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    2. >>>1) The first letter vav merely means and and has no relevance to the part talking about the word kav which means circumference.
      You can pick and choose at will what letter to include or not to fit your goal.

      >>>2) So lemme get this straight. The Gaon accidentally backed into the gematria of pi specifically with the word that means circumference in Hebrew in a verse discussing circumferences and diameters? Oh please.
      REREAD my prior posts on Gematria.
      Combinations of those reasons explain why Gematria occurs.

      >>>3) Read what I wrote. I said there was no knowledge of pi to the 4th decimal point at that time.
      Maybe yes or maybe not. We have only a limited number of written records.
      In any event the gematria developers did know about the correct value of pi, and so could create a way to back into it.
      >>>4) I realize that you can find codes anywhere given a big enough area of text. That is why Drosnin's codes and the Jesus codes are not reliable. The original Aish hatorah codes used very small areas not at all comparable to the ones you are referencing. In any case I never used codes as one of my pieces of evidence for veracity of Torah because I know people assume that they are fake.
      But this is one verse discussing circumferences and diameters which just coincidentally has the exact numeric code in the Hebrew word that means circumference, of pi to the 4th decimal point.

      Reread my prior posts. The pasuk does not state the correct value of PI. It is not even clear the vase was circular. A relatively recent Rabbi knowing the correct value of pi found a way to derive it using gematria tricks.

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  52. >>>If something occurs but cannot be replicated, we need to attribute something other than science to it.

    You make vague assertions. Depends on what the something is. Depends on what replicated means. Furthermore, it is possible science has just not figured it out yet. Invoking supernatural adds no knowledge and only adds complexity.

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    1. You are being obtuse here. We have a bunch of religions making a claim. The claim is either true or false. There is one religion making the best possible claim that nobody else can replicate. Furthermore, this claim, if false, is easily refuted. Yet it never is refuted and it is never replicated by anyone for no apparent reason other than it is too hard to get away with if false. We are left to conclude that claim is very likely true.

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  53. >>> Furthermore, there are no gaps in the Jewish historical record in which such a claim could have been developed. Jewish history is filled with names, dates, places, many of which have been confirmed by archaeology.

    1) Even works of fiction have some true facts.

    2) There are gaps in the record. I will not get into this debate.

    3) Most of the Torah has been refuted by the following disciplines: archaeology, science, linguistics and history.

    I will say this for the last time.

    See my prior posts, links and especially all of Tanners writings. The Kuzari arguments include at least the following fallacies among others: false dilemmas, ad ignorantiam argumentation, loaded language, complex question, non sequitur, circular argumentation as well as disputable and more likely false assertions. It is mere sophistry and specious argumentation.

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  54. There are no gaps, Maimonides and others and the prophets themselves trace Rabbi to student through the generations.
    3) Unfounded assertion. Most of the 'refutations' of science are based on fundamentalist readings of the Torah. If you take the Torah along with the oral law and if you properly understand Torah, there is no refutations. Maybe some questions but not refutations.

    I already explained why Tanner's problem with the Kuzari principle was wrong.

    You have an awesome vocabulary!

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  55. Rabbi Goldberg is a true tzadik. I love this guy

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  56. Also I find it a bit cute how many times "anonymous" says he lacks the time to make arguments and has not time to debate but he comments 8:1 to Rabbi Goldberg.

    I think this man should listen to Rabbi Gottlieb's tape , because despite what is "possible" i think what is probable needs to be looked at. There is a science to history and the patterns are that a hoax to this magnitude was never claimed in history and proven false. The lack of found evidence of gathering at sinia (which we dont know where it actually is)is not a disproof it simply throws doubt into the mix. I think Tanner's blog missed the point completely... yet i wonder how no one can see how it simply just struck out.

    I thank Rabbi Goldberg for his patience in his replies to this one guy, Kol Hakavod

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    1. sorry for the typos, its a bit late and im falling to sleep. It is 12:52 but i'm addicted to this blog

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  57. Sorry this post is out of order. But I could not find Meir's original post.

    >>>Meir says We have a claim in a 'flawed book' yet no other book has the guts to make this claim... Why not ?

    I have touched in this issue in prior posts sometimes directly, sometimes indirectly.
    1) The fact that the book is flawed, and that the event requires miracle upon miracle and supernatural god and there is no empirical evidence for the event makes the entire episode very suspect. The torah strongly suggests the authors and ancient jews were very superstitious.
    2) It may have nothing to do with "guts" as I have explained in other posts, but you keep bringing it up..
    3) We have a limited sample size of religious books and traditions from ancient times. Many traditions have been lost or where never recorded, so we do not know for sure if similar claims were never made.
    4) Peoples experiences and histories are different so its not unexpected to find unique myths. The Ancient Celts believed themselves to be descended from the God of the Underworld. They accepted it as national history, We know it is false.
    5) The Aztec claim has some similarities.
    6) The Sinai event has Moshe relaying god's word to the people ( see my prior posts). This kind story does occur in other culture's myths.
    7) Jews may have been more desperate. They were trying to establish a nation under difficult conditions. Good propaganda helps to motivate people and keep them united. What can be better than saying we are chosen and the god(s) are on side.
    8) If a volcano is behind the whole story, maybe some of the Jewish ancestors were the ones witnessed the eruption. These are ancient superstitious people.
    9) Native American traditions assert that the ancestors of the Nisqually, Suquamish, Snoqualmie, and others were created and placed here at the end of a distant Myth Time, when the earth was prepared for human beings by a powerful supernatural being called dukibel, Xode, or Snoqualm, the Changer. They accepted it as national history, that we know is false.
    10) Even if we assume for the sake of argument that only the jews made "thee claim”,
    It does not logically follow the claim actually occurred.

    >>> Meir says: Since the national revelation has never been replicated neither by 'legendary development or nation myth building of oral traditions', it follows that Sinai is a historical anomaly which causes us to use it as evidence (not proof) that something supernatural happened here. Of course it is possible that it isn't supernatural, but we are looking for evidence. I.e. the most likely possibility. Therefore, it is rational to believe it.

    1) You are confusing science (as in lab work) with history. Historical claims need not be replicated. See some of the applicable comments in the above list. So you argument is dead in the tracks right here.

    2) Sinai claim has similarities to other known myths. Also see for example 3 and 6 above.

    3) The most likely possibility is that a national divine revalation is a myth and therefore it is irrational to believe it. Why ? For the many reasons I have already provided to you in my numerous posts.
    ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    This response will have to do for now until I can get back to Meir with more - probably in a couple of weeks. That should also give Meir and Me a rest.

    Thanks again Meir for yourtime and effort.

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    1. Dude you keep on making the same mistake. Of course every religion makes fantastic claims of their origin. But that claim is always based on the founder or originator having a revelation which only he or a few others saw. That is easy to convince people - like your points 2 - 9.
      The thing that makes Sinai unique is that the Torah as being presented to the people is claiming that they themselves saw G-d give them the Torah en masse. Now when Moses wanted to convince them to believe him how could Moses convince them to believe that they saw this happen if they clearly didn't see it happen? Your only option is to say that this was a myth that developed over time. I.e. someone came to the Jews and told them that long ago Sinai occurred to their ancestors. But this is problematic for the following reasons:
      1) There is no record of the Jews being convinced of Torah after a long absence without it, in Jewish history. Furthermore, one would assume that this 're introducer of Judaism' would be mentioned somewhere, but he isn't (The claim that this is Josiah, is a flawed one for many reasons, which I can explain if you want).
      2) As Maimonides, the Talmud, the prophets themselves all record, there is no historical gap in Jewish history. In fact Jewish history is replete with names, dates, places, many of which have been backed up archaeologically. But if Judaism was sold to a bunch of people saying that their ancestors heard something, there should be an obvious historical gap.
      3) Most importantly, as I keep telling you, a mass revelation claim is the best, most convincing claim to make while starting a religion, yet nobody else makes that claim. Why not!? You keep on avoiding that question because you have no answer for it. That destroys points 2 and 10 and the final 3 points you made

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    2. >>>>Dude you keep......
      I have explained to you why the Kuzari fails on logic alone. Disproof of the Kuzari does not require that another claim for a mass revelation be presented. There is no empirical evidence for the Sinai event. Therefore, we can stop our dialogue right now.
      You have not destroyed point 10. You have only used faulty reasoning to think you disproved it.
      You have not destroyed point 8 - I explain more in this post.
      Point 2 is still valid, its not about guts.

      >>>The thing that makes Sinai unique is that the Torah as being presented to the people is claiming that they themselves saw G-d give them the Torah en masse

      1) There are many founding myths that are "unique", and are now known false based on modern science and academic disciplines. Many times we do not know for sure how those "unique" myths developed and became accepted as true by their cultures. (Strange things happen when you are dealing with ignorant and ancient superstitious people, sometimes modern people as well). Just because the myth become accepted by the cultures does not mean they are true or even likely to have happened. The same applies to the Sinai story. What likely happened is folklore and legends of the ancient Semites became embellished over time and became written down and codified over many years. The jews most likely adapted, incorporated and modified ideas and concepts from the many cultures they were in contact with. They also probably invented some of their own concepts and rituals. Talkreason links and LarryTanner blogs explain very plausibly how the Sinai story became accepted.

      2) Even if you say it there is a claim for a mass revelation in the torah it does not follow at all that it is likely. On the contrary, the claim is so lacking in corroborating evidence its more likely it did not occur. In addition it posits miracle upon miracles for 40 years, and supernatural being(s) coming down to mere speck in the universe( planet earth) to choose a tribe in a desert. The same tribe having lots of self serving reasons to believe in the story.
      -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
      Its not about convincing or presenting by Moshe or anybody else, it is about national myth building. There are many unique ones we are aware of, but my guess is more have been lost than what we know. Just because any of them are unique or somehow what you consider the "best" unique one does not mean any are true or even likely true. The more supernatural the claim is the more evidence we need to accept it. There are much more plausible explanations of The Sinai story.

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    3. I have responded to your arguments numerous times. I have presented the evidence. If you want to keep on repeating your arguments, fine. go ahead

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    4. What evidence - an incorrect application of history reoccurence (as Ihave pointed out already) and incorrect reasoning ?

      Delete
  58. Meirs Point 3 is also addressed below.

    My point 5) Aztecs - Maybe you never heard of their migration story. I will get a link in my next posts.

    A) It is not about starting a religion from scratch. Its about founding myths. Also, we do not have records of many founding myths, so its possible some may have had a mass revelation myth. We just have no record of it. We do know there are many myths similar to other Torah myths like Babel, creation myths,... , so in the absence of corroborating empirical evidence it is very reasonable to assume the Sinai story is just another myth.

    B) Ancient Jews may have been more desperate and or have specific reasons to make such a claim, including convincing themselves and others why they are entitled to ancient Canaan land. Per my recollection that latter pretext is confirmed by Rashi commentary why the torah begins the way it does. Seems self serving & makes the Sinai event even more suspect than it already is.

    C) If the Sinai story began with some of the ancient superstitious Semites/Jews seeing or hearing about a volcano, they were already primed by prior beliefs in god(s) to see the event as supernatural. But other people who do not have such biases witness the volcano would not say it was god coming down from the sky. The volcanic event could have provided a core for the Sinai myth.

    D) The conditions necessary to develop a mass revelation myth may occur very infrequently, therefore we may not be able to find a recording of such an event. For example if the Sinai event relates to a volcano, then you need to have a volcanic eruption and also have a mass (or at least a few) ancient superstitious people witnessing or hearing about the volcano. They or the other people require motivation for making the claims. Then it would to be passed down, evolve in a particular way over generations and then eventually recorded. The culture or at least the book/recording would have to survive so we can examine it today. That’s an awful lot to ask for.

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    1. http://blog.dovidgottlieb.com/2012/11/aztec-national-revelation-in-past-i.html shows from 3 sources that the Aztecs never had a national revelation. They heard it all from their priests who told it to them.

      Delete
    2. Regarding the Aztecs - There are conflicting stories ( just like in the Torah).

      This link says god did speak to the Aztecs.
      http://descendantofgods.tripod.com/id72.html

      Scetion I
      ".....They called themselves Teochichimeca, Azteca, Mexitin.
      They brought along the image of their god,
      The idol that they worshipped.
      The Aztecs heard him speak and they answered him;
      They did not see how it was he spoke to them…"
      So it seems the Aztec heard god speak thru an idol

      Delete
  59. E) What kind of mass revelation doe does the Torah describe ?

    E-1) Do we know how many people were actually at the mountain and in the desert according to the Torah itself ?

    Ancient Hebrew has terms and words that we do not know exactly what they mean and it depends on context. I will let the Hebrew experts and bible scholars figure it out. But can we be ceratin the Torah meant to say 600,000 plus at mount Sinai ? I have heard it debated.

    E-2) Here is what the Torah says about was seen and heard. Source http://www.mechon-mamre.org

    Exodus Chapter 19 verse 21 And the LORD said unto Moses: Go down, charge the people, lest they break through unto the LORD to gaze, and many of them perish.

    So the jews likely did not see god.

    Exodus 14-16 And all the people perceived the thunderings, and the lightnings, and the voice of the horn, and the mountain smoking; and when the people saw it, they trembled, and stood afar off. 15 And they said unto Moses: 'Speak thou with us, and we will hear; but let not God speak with us, lest we die.' 16 And Moses said unto the people: 'Fear not; for God is come to prove you, and that His fear may be before you, that ye sin not.' 17 And the people stood afar off; but Moses drew near unto the thick darkness where God was.

    Then in Deuteronomy 5: 5 I stood between the LORD and you at that time, to declare unto you the word of the LORD; for ye were afraid because of the fire, and went not up into the mount

    So god spoke to Moshe and Moshe told the people. The jews did not hear god.

    Its all confusing to me - where is the mass revelation ? Thunderings, lightnings, horn voices, smoking mountain.

    E-3) It is highly unlikely that after a mass revelation, the jews go and build a golden calf.

    F) You assert only the jews made a mass revelation claim. Then because you claim I can not provide you with another example, you conclude the jews are the only people that ever made the claim. Furthermore you then conclude the claim likely happened. STOP. THOSE ARE BOTH NON SEQUITURS. Also, if we look harder, discover new historical documents, talk to the many other tribes all over the world ... maybe we will find some story of a mass revelation claim. I intend to give you some examples of unique revelation in my future posts. Stay tuned

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    1. The Torah describes national revelation in Exodus 20 and Deut 4.

      E-1) The Torah counts the Jewish population in the desert as 603,550 males between 20 - 60,several times including in the beginning of Numbers.
      e-2) verses 14 - 16 make it clear that they saw 'the event' and verse 15 is clear that G-d initially spoke to them. Also see Deut 4: 32 - 37 which is clear.
      e-3)You dont understand the golden calf story. It was to replace Moses not G-d. If you take a literalist understanding of the bible you will not understand anything. You need the oral law to understand.
      F) It is evidence, not non sequiters. Combined with the other evidence I wrote, we build a compelling case.

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    2. Verse 15 its not clear to me they heard god speak. They heard the thunder.. got scared and were afraid to hear god. This is confirmed in Deut5:51.

      But like you indicate there is a different story in Deut 4:32.. that has the jews hearing god.

      It is still confusing.

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    3. What evidence - an incorrect application of history reoccurence (as I have pointed out already) and incorrect reasoning about gematria....?

      You have only supplied pseudo philosophy which is not evidence.

      Delete
    4. It is not clear the torah meant to say 600,000 plus people. Has to do with hebrew language.See this link.

      http://www.martincwiner.com/reconciling-biblical-numbers-three-million-at-sinai-is-making-a-mountain-out-of-a-molehill/

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    5. I already explained and refuted Israel Finkelsteins nonsense which Martin Winner leans heavily on. See archaeology posts # 6 and # 12 above

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    6. Did you bother to read the link ? Your 6 and 12 posts do not adress the issue I mention about Hebrew language.It is not clear the torah meant to say 600,000 plus people. Read the whole link.

      THERE IS NO EVIDENCE OF 600000 Plus in the desert, therefore it most likely did not happen.

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  60. 1)http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Our_Lady_of_Assiut
    Our Lady of Assiut is the name given to a series of reported apparitions of the Virgin Mary in 2000 and 2001 in Assiut, Egypt. The sightings were witnessed by many thousands of people...
    2) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Our_Lady_of_Warraq
    Our Lady of Warraq is believed, by some, to be a mass apparition of Mary, the mother of Jesus Christ according to the Bible, that occurred at the Coptic Orthodox Virgin Mary and Archangel Michael church, in Warraq al-Hadar. [Happened in 2009]
    3) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Our_Lady_of_F%C3%A1tima
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Miracle_of_the_Sun
    In the Spring and Summer of 1916, three little shepherd children, Lucia Santos and her two cousins, Jacinta and Francisco Marto, experienced the visitation of an Angel on three separate occasions. The Angel appeared to them as they watched their sheep, teaching them specific prayers to pray, to make sacrifices, and to spend time in adoration of the Lord. These three visits were apparently to prepare the children for the visitations of the Blessed Mother, which were to follow in 1917.
    As early as July 1917 it was claimed that the Virgin Mary had promised a miracle for the last of her apparitions on October 13, so that all would believe. What happened then became known as "Miracle of the Sun".
    In addition to the Miracle of the Sun, the seers at Fátima indicated that the apparition prophesied a great sign in the night sky which would precede a second great war. On January 25, 1938, bright lights, an aurora borealis appeared all over the northern hemisphere, including in places as far south as North Africa, Bermuda and California. Just over a month later, Hitler seized Austria and eight months later invaded Czechoslovakia.
    4) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marian_apparition#Our_Lady_of_Zeitoun
    Our Lady of Zeitoun was a mass Marian apparition that occurred in the Zeitoun district of Cairo, Egypt, over a period of 2–3 years beginning on April 2, 1968. According to witnesses, the Virgin Mary appeared in different forms over the Coptic Orthodox Church of Saint Mary at Zeitoun for a period of 2–3 years. The apparitions lasted from a few minutes up to several hours and were sometimes accompanied by dove-shaped luminous bodies. The sick and blind are said to have been cured, and many people converted to Christianity as a result.

    So here we miracles (including allegedly curing the sick and blind), prophecies that come true, and mass revelations all supporting Christianity. And not just one mass revelation but several. And there are even more examples. These miracle, prophecies and mass revelations happened in relatively recent times and are therefore arguably BETTER than the alleged Sinai event from thousands of years ago. Furtheremore, if modern people can be mistaken it is that much more likely ancient superstitious jews were ( kal - vechomer).

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    1. As I already explained to you these examples are irrelevant for the following reasons.
      A) These were not national revelations introducing a new religion - they were merely miracles. Judaism does believe that anyone can experience a miracle, even another religion, so long as it is not a mass revelation introducing a new religion. Perhaps these apparitions are true? So what. We believe idol worshipers have the ability to do miraculous things as the Talmud states all of the time.
      B) These incidences aren't comparable to the Kuzari argument since they weren't introducing anything new to the people who witnessed them. Therefore there was no reason for anyone to deny that it happened since it was no threat to their previously held belief. On the other hand, Judaism was a completely new and foreign set of beliefs which required a radically new set of laws, beliefs, cultural system, all of which were completely at odds with what the ancient Hebrews were used to. They had every incentive to deny Sinai, yet they didn't. Why not? They fought Moses constantly in the desert, yet they never denied Sinai.

      Delete
    2. >>>>A) These were not national revelations introducing a new religion -
      >>>>B) These incidences aren't comparable to the Kuzari argument since they weren't introducing..

      Your points make no sense.

      Judaism did not start at the Sinai event. It goes back at least as far as Avrahum Avinu and likely even further back in time.

      The examples include mass revelation. And more recent, so its better than Sinai story. Who cares if it does not follow Kuzari. Idol worshipers did not do a miracle. Rather a miracle and mass revelation happened to people, and some ofthese peoplenot Christian.

      If want to believe claims of prophecies, apparitions and miracles are reflective of something supernatural, I would say you are deluded.

      Also, you are creating artificial distinctions to exclude any event that does not match your alleged Sinai event criteria as well as other conditions you are imposing. That shows the weakness of you argument.

      Since Judaism has not revealed any miracles or mass revelation(s) in thousands of years, Christianity has a better claim.

      I am not Christian, nor am I am arguing for Christianity. I pointing out the intellectual dishonesty of your case.

      I live in the real world and try to explain phenomena with natural explanations. You allow for Santa Clause.

      Delete
  61. Here is an example of a “mass revelation”. Its from the Zuni Indian tribe of North America.
    Page 311 Myths of the world 1930 edition. Also called Orpheus. Here is page 311 where it starts.
    PAIYATUMA AND THE MAIDENS OF THE CORN
    Whence came they, the Maidens who are told of in the stories and
    sung of in the songs of our Fathers, the seven Maidens with their
    magic wands and plumes who were lovelier than the seven bright stars
    that are above us now? Paiyatuma the Flute-player, the God of Dew
    and of the Dawn, brought them to our Fathers; they were his fosterchildren.
    And when he had brought them to where our Fathers were,
    he sang a song that warned all who were there that these were virgins
    and must be forever held as sacred beings. Paiyatuma sang:
    The corn that ye see growing upward
    Is the gift of my seven bright maidens:
    Look well that ye nourish their persons,
    Nor change ye the gift of their being
    As fertile of flesh for all men
    To the bearing of children for men,
    Lest ye lose them, and seek them in vain.
    The mists of the morning were clearing away. Even as his voice had
    already gone into them, Paiyatuma the Flute-playing God went into
    the mists. Seven plants of corn he had left before our Fathers; seven
    Maidens he had left who would cause the corn to grow. "Thanks,
    thanks to thee, Paiyatuma," our Fathers cried into the mists that
    closed round him. "Verily we will cherish the Maidens and the substance
    of their flesh."
    Thereafter, as the season came round, our Fathers would build for
    the Maidens a bower of cedar-wood that was roofed with timbers
    brought from beyond the mountains. They would light a fire before
    the bower. All night, backwards and forwards, the Corn Maidens
    would dance to the music of drum and rattle and the songs sung by
    the elders. They would dance by the side of the seven growing plants
    of the corn, motioning them upward with their magic wands and
    plumes.
    Then the first Maiden would embrace the first growing plant.

    Also this link http://www.firstpeople.us/FP-Html-Legends/TheCornMaidens-Zuni.html here we have the people witnessing spiritual beings dance.

    Ala Kuzari - My Zuni father has told me our Forefathers heard god sing and also introduced to to spiritual beings. Could our fathers lie to us ? Never. Could our fathers create a fake story ? Never, because you would have to have a vast conspiracy. The corn maidens and Pai. Must exist.

    What’s more if you study the Zuni stories of the corn maidens (see page 237 Mythology an Illustrated Encyclopedia 1980 Richard Cavendish) the Zuni claim they had a famine and prayed for the corn maidens to return and dance. The famine ended. Proof positive.

    ReplyDelete
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    1. As I already explained to you these examples are irrelevant for the following reasons.
      A) These were not national revelations introducing a new religion - they were merely miracles. Judaism does believe that anyone can experience a miracle, even another religion, so long as it is not a mass revelation introducing a new religion. Perhaps these apparitions are true? So what. We believe idol worshipers have the ability to do miraculous things as the Talmud states all of the time.
      B) These incidences aren't comparable to the Kuzari argument since they weren't introducing anything new to the people who witnessed them. Therefore there was no reason for anyone to deny that it happened since it was no threat to their previously held belief. On the other hand, Judaism was a completely new and foreign set of beliefs which required a radically new set of laws, beliefs, cultural system, all of which were completely at odds with what the ancient Hebrews were used to. They had every incentive to deny Sinai, yet they didn't. Why not? They fought Moses constantly in the desert, yet they never denied Sinai.

      Delete
    2. Wrong - Pai spoke to the Zuni. It was a mass revelation by a god. Also the corn maidens ARE new to the Zuni. Do you bother to read the Zuni story ?

      Also, see my 6/19/2013 6:04PM post for more, including Judaism did not start at the Sinai event. It goes back at least as far as Avrahum Avinu and likely even further back in time. I suggest you study evolution of religions; mythology; and ancient religions before you make up more nonsense.

      But no use repeating what I have stated and proved to you in prior posts already.

      Delete
    3. The mass revelation of the Zuni was not one that was presented to the people who are being sold a new religion. Of course it is possible to go to a people and tell them some legend that may have once happened to their people. It may have been a forgotten legend which they were reminded of. Or it may have occurred to a different group of people and then sold to some other tribe, just as Paul sold the Jesus story to gentiles around the world about what Jesus did in Israel.
      My point with Sinai is that this mass revelation is different because the mass revelation claim is to the very people who are being presented a new religion. That is easily falsifiable if did not happen. They will merely state, it didn't happen to us as you, Moses, say it did.

      I don't care when Judaism started. I am not trying to prove whether or not Abraham's story is true on it's own - I am trying to prove whether the Torah is true as a whole. If it is, then Abraham's story will also be true.

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  62. Page 234 Mythology An Illustrated Encyclopedia 1980 Richard Cavendish

    The Sioux (North American Indians) have the White Buffalo Calf pipe in a palladium in Dakota and members of the tribe make pilgrimage to it. You can read the revelation story in that book, The supernatural being is talking to the people and it sounds like a fair number from the story.

    I found this link http://www.firstpeople.us/FP-Html-Legends/White-Buffalo-Calf-Woman-Sioux.html with for our purposes is about the same as the book. The pipe discussed in the link is claimed to be from a supernatural being. We jews do not have the alleged stone 10 commandments.

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  63. I feel that your point about the Zuni's runs into Kellermans issue with "past theory". Here you do not have a record of people seeing it , rather a record of the story being passed down. Here no one is claiming my father saw this rather the story can trace back to a group of people relating this legend, but no record of those who initially as a group saw this.

    This is also addressed by gottlieb in his "verification for the torah 3" which talks about how people believed in dragons.. People can believe a lie if its about something that can not be checked (dragons were seen in forests or in other countries).- This same idea is echoed by Applewhite theorem - Im not really sure how the belief that miracles happened addresses the Kuzari's statement

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  64. >>>shmuelJune 19, 2013 at 12:46 PM

    See my prior posts - Exodus, Deut - even the Sinai event is confusing. What did the jews hear ? what did they see ?

    Why can't the Sinai story also only be a record of a story ?

    Because some jews claim their 6000,000 + ancestors were at Sinai, but that is also part of the story. The story with 600000 plus can be checked and it is most likely false, yet OJ still believes it happened. So much for Gottlieb #3.

    You are splitting hairs and making almost meaningless distinctions just to protect the Sinai story, I do not find it at all convincing.

    The Zuni did believe in the corn maidens and explain why thru a claimed revelation from Pai. Reminds of some of the OJ claims - Why do we do this ritual or that ? Because of a certain story in the torah. Ancient superstitions ignorant people, especially over a few generations will accept false stories or nonsense regardless if they can be checked or not. Apparently the same is true for some modern people as well.

    The christian examples shows that even in modern times people can be mistaken. (Can believe in nonsense even if it can be checked). I also suggested that the christian claim is in some respects better than the sinai event. Also Kuzari does loosely apply - to the children of the witnesses. My father saw a christian revelation, and another childs father was cured by miracle during the revelation...Christainity must be true. Would my father lie ? Never. Besides there were so many witnesses. It could be checked, so it must be true.




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    1. It is obvious you haven't read that half dozen times I tried to explain to you the difference between Christian and other claims and Sinai. I give up on trying to explain it to you.

      Delete
    2. Sorry I agree with Rabbi Goldberg, I like hearing both sides but each one of your theories have been falling into the Kellerman past or present narratives (also the response on the gottlieb theory was not speaking to my point.. perhaps the cd is worth a listen too) .... If you dont understand what i mean I encourage you to watch it again- please watch because you seem to be a bit bitter and angry at the other side(This might at least perhaps offer you a bit of solace). If this dosent do anything to strengthen your belief at the very least it can give you the ability to walk away gracefully and without animosity. I have read silently your posts for a while now. I have noticed 2 things
      1. you are heavily emotional about this issue. I am sorry yuo feel the need to come on here and write out your grievances from behind a keyboard but i think you at least should sit down with a Knowledgeable Rabbi and state your opinions in person
      2. You dont argue to the points Meir has been setting forth. He is showing you compelling evidence from a historical perspective to make a logical assumption that this event was supernatural. The story can be traced back to sinia (through testimony, but at the very least to a point 500 years after sinia) The point Rabbi G said was that if 500 years after the event the claim was 500 years ago we received the torah and then we forgot it at the very least the jewish people would have record of A. the individual who restored it (which they dont)
      or B- the narrative of a 500 year gap. This is a great arguement please understand the idea, then compare it against your theories.
      You then say back no Archaeological evidence which is again not listening to the story the story says we had Annannie hacavod which clear the path and cleaned our clothing and restored our vessels. (we again are trying to claim a supernatural event) The fact that there is no evidence of vessels or clothing in the desert is not relevant.
      Im happy Rabbi Goldberg is choosing to stop replying to this because you are not being honest with this conversation.
      I will not reply anymore- please for your own sake watch the videos or just give up on this stuff and go out and enjoy life.

      Delete
    3. AnonymousJune 19, 2013 at 7:44 PM
      >>>shmuelJune 19, 2013 at 12:46 PM

      I see one of your points and typed to fast.

      Why can't the Sinai story also only be a record of a story ?

      Because the story claims that 600,000 were there. But that is also part of the story. It somewhat circular reasoning.

      The story with 600000 plus can be checked and it is most likely false, yet OJ still believes it happened. So much for Gottlieb #3.

      If you have not already done so check out the above links and some of my other posts on this blog. I do not want to plagerize their disproofs of Kuzari.

      http://www.talkreason.org/articles/Rubin_Gottl.cfm
      http://www.talkreason.org/articles/gottlieb.cfm
      http://www.talkreason.org/articles/kuzari.cfm
      http://www.talkreason.org/articles/kuzariflaws.cfm
      http://larrytanner.blogspot.com/2010/07/definitively-refuting-kuzari-principle.html
      http://larrytanner.blogspot.com/2010/09/kuzari-principle-index-of-posts.html
      http://bpelta.blogspot.com/2010/12/kuzari-principle-proof-from-mass.html
      http://dovbear.blogspot.com/2006/02/demolishing-dumb-arguments-mass.html

      The Kuzari is a very weak argument.

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    4. I will be posting regarding the Kuzari argument, its detractors that you cite and other evidence, soon.

      Delete
  65. Here goes about the Kuzari principle and why the various bloggers attacks against it all fail:
    The Kuzari principle (This audio by Lawrence Keleman is an excellent presentation of the Kuzari Principle http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PEg_Oys4NkA) is an oft quoted, oft misunderstood idea, which has come under attack by many bloggers and academics. Most of the attacks are based on a lack of understanding of the idea in the first place and so they attack it with straw man arguments.
    Let’s try to first understand the principle. The Torah in Exodus 19, Deuteronomy 4 and other places, recounts G-d revealing Himself and giving the ten commandments to the entire Jewish nation. The Jewish population at the time consisted of 600,000 males (Exodus 12:37 and other places) between the ages of 20 - 60, aside from all the males under 20 and above 60 and all of the females. Add in the mixed multitude of other peoples that joined them and it is likely that there were 3 million Jews at Sinai.
    There are three possibilities here: 1) Moses, or someone similar, convinced the Jews that they experienced a revelation of G-d at Sinai. 2) It was a myth which was eventually accepted by the Jewish people many years or generations after the supposed Sinai event, until it was recorded by human authorship. 3) G-d really gave the Torah at Sinai to the Jewish people.
    Let’s take possibility 1 - that the Sinai revelation story was invented by a convincing Moses figure who convinced the Jews that they saw G-d on top of the mountain. The obvious problem is that this seems quite implausible to do. Imagine telling a group of people that they all saw G-d reveal himself to them at Sinai, would they believe him? Of course not. So how do most religions get started? A mass revelation be the best way to start a religion, since it requires no convincing. As long as the leader can convince everyone that they saw G-d reveal Himself to them, he need not convince them of anything else. However, the mass revelation is never used by any other religion. Instead, other religions begin with a dynamic leader who convinces others that G-d revealed Himself to that leader or another personality. Mass revelation to an entire people is never used because it is impossible to convince people that G-d revealed Himself to the people themselves if this never occurred to them and that is why we never see this anywhere else in history. (We will later discuss open miracles claimed by other nations such as Jesus walking on water, Aztec revelation, The Miracle of the Sun, etc). Some have proposed that a volcano erupted at Sinai and Moses used it to convince the people. However, that begs the question, why has no other religion historically ever used a natural occurrence to foist a mass revelation story upon its populace if it is so easy to do?

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    1. Let’s analyze possibility 2, that Sinai was a myth that was orally given to the Jews by elders until it was recorded.
      Jews have been celebrating the Sinai revelation of G-d for many generations. When was the first generation that accepted the Sinai revelation? The Torah claims that the Jews received the Torah from G-d in 1312 BC. Now suppose that someone tried to convince the Jews that lived several generations later, that their grandparents saw G-d at Sinai. Surely they would have rejected him, since, if something of that magnitude had occurred, they would have been told about it by their forefathers. A more effective tool for the originator of Judaism, would be to simply convince them to listen to him, and say that he experienced a prophecy from G-d.
      Now suppose we say that the Torah was introduced to the Jews at a much later date, but the leader(s) who introduced it, told the Jews that the book had been forgotten and this leader was merely bringing it back. Alternatively, the Torah and Sinai revelation was slowly developed over many years over the campfires of ancient Canaan (this is commonly called, myth formation), until it was recorded in its current form. There are several problems with these approaches. Firstly, there is no record in the Torah or Prophets of any leader reintroducing the Torah to the people. Surely, such a figure would play a massive role in Jewish history, yet he is never mentioned.
      (There are those that claim that this figure is Ezra. The problem is that Ezra did not lead the entire Jewish people, only the 42,360 that returned to Israel during the beginning of the second temple. See Ezra 2:64. There were many more Jews that lived in Babylon, North Africa, Yemen, Europe, etc. How did he convince the majority of Jews who were never under his influence - noting especially that most of the populace ignored his directive to return to Israel? Still others claim that the figure who reintroduced the Torah to the Jews many centuries later was the biblical Josiah. We will discuss this later on.) Secondly, The Torah and prophets are remarkably detailed with names, dates, places, events, etc, more so than any other ancient text. There are no hazy time periods to point to where events were not detailed. The transmission of Torah from Rabbi to student, is furthermore very detailed. In each generation there were many Rabbis teaching many students. One such documented line of transmission which runs from Sinai until today can be found at http://www.simpletoremember.com/articles/a/mesora/ It seems unlikely that there was a sudden reintroduction of Torah with a claim that it was forgotten for a number of generations, or a slow steady development of Torah where things got clearer, when there is such specificity in the Torah regarding its history from Sinai onward. If anything, it would behoove the Torah to be as vague as possible regarding immediate history post Sinai.

      Delete
    2. But most importantly, we need to ask, why did no other religion create a similar mass revelation story? This point is crucial. We would all admit that it is more convincing to start a religion stating to a nation that they all witnessed G-d’s revelation to them, than to say that G-d revealed Himself to one or two leaders who then had to convince others. Yet no other religion does that. Other religions start with a dynamic leader who convinces people to follow him because he is a prophet and G-d revealed Himself to him. No mass revelation to all the followers - that is too difficult to fake and convince people. This is the most important point. Why does nobody else have a mass revelation story to the original followers themselves other than the Jewish people? Is this 100% conclusive proof that the Torah is true? Of course not. It is possible that the Jews were smarter, etc. But that is a small possibility. The more likely choice is that this is evidence to the divine origin of Torah - possibility #3, that G-d revealed Himself to the Jews at Sinai.

      Delete
  66. Objections to this piece of evidence:
    There are numerous objections to this argument from Larry Tanner, Baruch Pelta, DovBear, Shlomo Tal, TalkReason, etc. I will try to address the most common objections and explain why they fail to disprove the Kuzari principle.
    Objection 1. Perhaps the Torah was forgotten by the Jews during the 57 year reigns of Menashe and Amon, when the Jews were steeped in idol worship and it was reintroduced by Josiah. The discovery of a Torah scroll by Josiah’s servants which is the impetus for national repentance found in II Kings 22, is used as evidence to this.
    Reason why this objection is incorrect: This site conclusively destroys this argument: http://www.dovidgottlieb.com/comments/kings-2.htm Furthermore, II Chronicles 33, states that Menashe repented and got rid of idolatry, during his reign. It is clear that there were not 57 consecutive years of idol worship and rejection of Torah.
    Furthermore, II Kings 22 first states that an eight year old Josiah did what was proper in the eyes of G-d and only 18 years later does the story of the Torah scroll occur. To prove this point, II Chronicles 34 recounts the story of Josiah, yet the first 14 verses discuss Josiah and the Jewish people’s repentance to G-d and only afterwards does the story of the Torah scroll occur.

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  67. Objection 2. There are other claims of mass miracles which other religions make. They include:
    Miracles of Jesus that are recorded in the gospels https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Miracles_of_Jesus_in_the_Gospels and miracles in Islamic writings
    The Fatima Miracle of the Sun http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Miracle_of_the_Sun and other such miracles and apparitions.
    Aztec National revelation http://orthoprax.blogspot.com/2007/07/aztecs-national-revelation-ii.html and other Native American miracle stories.
    What makes the Jewish national revelation better than the other ones listed?
    Reasons why the objection is incorrect: Firstly, many of the miracles did not occur to, nor were claimed to have happened to, a mass of people. The Aztec national revelation was relayed to the people by a few priests: http://blog.dovidgottlieb.com/search/label/Kuzari%20Principle The recording of the miracle itself never specifies how many people witnessed the miracle. The Fatima Miracle only had three followers who claimed to have seen Jesus.
    Secondly, Judaism has no problem with other religions performing miracles. In fact, Deuteronomy 13 tells the Jews that there will be false prophets with the ability to perform miracles. What Deut. 4:32 - 36 does state is that no other nation will have a true national revelation.
    Thirdly, the miracle claims of Jesus and Islam were recorded way after the miracle occurred to a group of people that were not necessarily the descendants of the people to whom the miracle supposedly occurred. Thus there is good reason why they never would have denied having heard of the miracle, because it did not happen to their forefathers, rather to another group of people.
    Fourth, if there is one constant in biblical Jewish history, it is that the Jews rebelled against their leaders in almost every generation. They were skeptics. An invention of Judaism or development over time thereof, likely would have led to skepticism about the Sinai event itself, since that is the source of the law that they were rebelling against. Yet nowhere do we find that the Jews doubted the Sinai story. They rebel against G-d, doubt Moses, but never Sinai. Why not? Furthermore, Judaism was a radical departure from the accepted religions and cultures of the time. Numerous inter personal laws, laws that govern agriculture, monotheism, sexual restrictions, etc, were radical ideas at that time. (The notion that the Torah was based on Hammurabi has been discredited. See http://www.aishdas.org/toratemet/en_yitro.html) They had every reason to deny Sinai. As opposed to the Aztec revelation or similar Native American miracle stories, or the Fatima Miracle of the Sun, where there was no challenge to the preexisting notions of the listeners. With the Fatima Miracles, some believed that the sun’s movements looked like an apparition, while some believed it was a natural solar episode. No one’s way of life was challenged. With the Aztecs, suppose the entire story was made up by a priest and he then told everyone about it. Why would they deny it or rebel against him? What was he making them do any different than what they did before? Perhaps they knew at the time that it was a myth but they chose not to challenge it because that served no purpose.
    Fifth, the bottom line and crucial point remains, that if it were so easy to start a religion with a mass revelation story and get people to eventually believe it over time through myth formation, then why does no other religion start that way? Why does every other religion start with one or two charismatic leaders convincing everyone else?

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    1. Objection 3. There is no outside confirmation of the Sinai event other than what is found in the Torah.
      Reason why this objection is incorrect: Whether or not the Torah is the only source of the Sinai revelation is irrelevant. The strength of the Sinai revelation is in the fact that it is the only such claim in the world. It is the strongest way to start a religion and as such should be used by other religions, yet no other religion starts like that.
      Objection 4. Even if we cannot find a parallel to Sinai mass revelation, that does not mean the Sinai revelation must have happened. Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence. Furthermore, it isn’t conclusive proof.
      Reason why this objection is incorrect: As I stated, we do not base our belief in Judaism only in the Kuzari principle/Sinai revelation. We use it as one piece of evidence along with other pieces of evidence, much the same way we would analyze anything. The composite of evidence is what we use to conclude that the Torah is most likely G-d given. Furthermore, we do not say that the Kuzari principle provides conclusive proof, only that it is a strong piece of evidence.
      Further reading: Living up to the Truth: http://ohr.edu/2054 Refutation of critics of Kuzari principle: http://www.dovidgottlieb.com/works/SinaiArgument.htm

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    2. After shmuel's comments, I thought I had over stayed my welcome at your site. But if you do not mind I would like to respond over time to your comments. However, I respect this is your site and will leave if told to do so.

      >>>Objection 3. There is no outside confirmation of the Sinai event other than what is found in the Torah....

      We have been thru this. It is not about starting a religion Judaism did not start at Sinai - it goes back at least to Avrahum Avino. Judaism (its customs, stories...) evolved over many many years.

      Furthermore, the Sinai story and others bible stories provide reasons for some of the ancient rituals. When the some of the jews eventually read about these stories some of them welcomed them as explanations. To this day Orthodox Jews do not know why they do certain customs, except to say it’s a commandment in the bible..

      There are limiting temporal periods, limiting circumstances, and limited peoples with the motivation for evolving and the eventually accepting of mass revelation myth. In addition many ancient people have vanished or failed to record their stories. We expect to find all kinds of myths. The fact that we have a myth that involves mass revelation is to be expected given a large enough sample. Besides there are many unique myths.

      The fact the bible is full of nonsense is important, since it strongly suggests that Sinai is just another nonsense story.

      How do we know the writers of the torah just did not make up the story that a whole nation was witness to bolster the story !

      Rashi asserts the bible begins with the creation of the world to validate he Jewish claim for the land of Israel. So there are self serving propaganda reasons for the Sinai story, making the story even more suspect

      It is also possible the Sinai story was meant as fiction, only later on did it become accepted as true. Check out the Angel Mons, or the War of the Worlds radio broadcast that panicked thousands of people.

      I previously provided you with similar mass revelation claims. For example

      Page 234 Mythology An Illustrated Encyclopedia 1980 Richard Cavendish

      The Sioux (North American Indians) have the White Buffalo Calf pipe in a palladium in Dakota and members of the tribe make pilgrimage to it. You can read the revelation story in that book, The supernatural being is talking to the people and it sounds like a fair number from the story.

      I found this link http://www.firstpeople.us/FP-Html-Legends/White-Buffalo-Calf-Woman-Sioux.html with for our purposes is about the same as the book. The pipe discussed in the link is claimed to be from a supernatural being. We jews do not have the alleged stone 10 commandments. To this day the Indians revere and make pilgrimage to see new born White Buffaloes and give it great importance. Ala Kuzari - how could of such a story been accepted by the Dakota unless it actually happened. They have an oral tradition saying it happened. and it introduced new customs.

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    3. Objection 4. Even if we cannot find a parallel to Sinai mass revelation, that does not mean the Sinai revelation must have happened....

      It is known that myth formation and acceptance appears strange and irrational. Sometimes history is not rational. Therefore using Kuzari pseudo logic principles to theorize as to how ancient ignorant superstitious people should have or could have reacted to a natural event or myth acceptance to then prove an alleged supernatural historical event is preposterous. History requires corroborating evidence, and this applies even more so to claims of supernatural.

      You have provided Kuzari. Gematria has already been refuted. I already refuted circumcision, and besides circumcision procedure would be a risky procedure in ancient times and therefore was a dangerous custom. Circumcision is actually an argument against divine wisdom. Yet many ancient people did it - likely relates to fertility cults for obvious reasons, I also refuted Shemitah and let me add that fallow probably evolved out of fertility cult concepts or agricultural experience or both. Total yield will not change if you fallow all fields every 7 years versus fallow one seventh of the fields every year. (But there are pros and cons to rotation fallow versus total fallow versus no fallow that can affect yields).

      Oral tradition is known to be unreliable, and more so after hundreds and hundreds of years. Furthermore, there is evidence from the bible and Jewish oral tradition itself that the Jewish traditions were forgotten. Zero valid arguments times *10 = 0 valid arguments.



      Kuzari, Oral tradition etc: evidences are not evidences. They are based on a myriad of false premises and illogical deductions. I do not find Kuzari a strong argument at all.

      Actually the overwhelming scientific and academic discipline evidence is against the torah being true. That is a whole another discussion.

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    4. >>>>Objection 2. There are other claims of mass miracles which other religions make. They include....What makes the Jewish national revelation better than the other ones listed?

      We found something we almost agree on. “Firstly, many of the miracles did not occur...” But I would go further and say there is no evidence of any miracle ever occurring..
      Lets be intellectually honest.
      For example Regarding the Aztecs - There are conflicting stories ( just like in the Torah). I already you provided you this link http://descendantofgods.tripod.com/id72.html
      This link says god did speak to the Aztecs. (It does not say how many. But if only a few priests it should not say “Aztecs”.)
      Scetion I
      ".....They called themselves Teochichimeca, Azteca, Mexitin.
      They brought along the image of their god,
      The idol that they worshipped.
      The Aztecs heard him speak and they answered him;
      They did not see how it was he spoke to them…"

      So it seems the Aztec heard god speak thru an idol.

      >>>The Fatima Miracle only had three followers who claimed to have seen Jesus.

      But you mislead by not stating that Mary said a miracle would occur and something miraculous appeared to have occurred.. Our Lady of Zeitoun, Our Lady of Assiut, Our Lady of Warraq, Our Lady Fatima: include mass Marian apparitions, sick and blind claimed cured in one, and a prophecy that came true in another. Arguably these are SUPERIOR claims to Sinai because they occurred in modern times and we also know the head counts. Also, some witnesses who were not Christian converted to Christianity as a result of at least one of the revelations. So for this group it was a life altering event. Kuzari loosely applies - to the children of the witnesses. My father saw a mass revelation, and another childs father was cured by miracle during the mass revelation.... Would my father lie ? Never. Also there were so many witnesses. It could be checked. Therefore, ala Kuzari Christianity must be true. In my opinion these mass revelations can be explained with natuarl reasons, but they show that even modern people can be wrong about events. How much more so for ancient ignorant superstitious people.

      >>>Fourth, if there is one constant in biblical Jewish history, it is that the Jews rebelled against their leaders in almost every generation. They were skeptics. ....They rebel against G-d, doubt Moses, but never Sinai. Why not?

      I’ll take you word that according to the bible the jews did not rebel and say Sinai did not happen.
      That is not evidence that jews believed in the Sinai, only that their denial is not mentioned in the bible. The bible authors may have good reasons not to mention such apikoress, It is very likely a lot of events are not recorded in the bible.

      >>>Furthermore, Judaism was a radical departure from the accepted religions and cultures of the time.....

      Wrong on two counts. I have already provided you with much evidence that Judaism had a lot in common with ancient Semitic cults. Judaism evolved and differentiated over time from ancient semitic cults. To this day, many jewish customs are rooted in ancienct semetic cults.
      enough for you personally.

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    5. >>> They had every reason to deny Sinai.
      Not really:
      A) Rashi asserts the bible begins with the creation of the world to validate he Jewish claim for the land of Israel. So there are self serving propaganda reasons for the Sinai story, making the story even more suspect. Saying jews are God’s chosen treasure has a nice ring to it if you are Jewish..
      B) The Sinai story provided a national history and also justification for ancient jewish practices and thus would have been welcome perhaps initially by a few people and then over the years by more. Besides, how do people come to believe in urban legends or false advice even today, when the stories can be checked ?
      C) It was a story that may have just been written as fiction. Maybe nobody believed it either, Eventually it became accepted as truth (see Angle of Mons and War of Worlds discussion under later objections).
      D) There are no “they”. Rather over time and many generations the story became accepted by SOME JEWS. We do not know how many jews really believed the story as true. Arguably, most did not - thats why so many jews kept worshiping Idols.
      E) The entire Jewish priestly class had a lot to gain if the jews as a whole accepted the torah. This special caste could use propaganda and perhaps other methods to persuade the common folk to accept the torah.
      F) Indians did a rain dance in drought. The Zunni prayed to the corn maidens in times of famine. In other words, ancient ignorant superstitious people (including the jews) invented ways to curry favor from the gods The authors of the torah stress to follow the torah commandments and you get rain, land, plenty of food, destruction of jewish enemies etc: from the animal sacrifice loving jealous, tribal warlike sky god(s) of the ancient jews. But if you do not follow the torah the threat was destruction. So a benefit was promised in the torah. The ancient jews had good reason to want to believe the torah stories.

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    6. >>>>As opposed to the Aztec revelation

      But the Aztec engaged in a mass migration allegedly because of the revelation.!

      >>> Fifth, the bottom line and crucial point remains, that if it were so easy to start a religion with a mass revelation story and get people to eventually believe it over time through myth formation, then why does no other religion start that way?

      I have already refuted these comments many times, but I guess you chose to ignore my refute. Also, according to Jewish tradition - it was Avrahom a single person who started Judaism and actively converted people to it . Judaism DID NOT START WITH A MASS REVELATION. Also see my comments on your later objections. Also, who said it is easy. It requires a confluence of circumstances. Even if no other people have a similar to Sinai mass revelation story, it does not logically follow the Jewish one did occur. Besides, most culture's have myths that are unique in some fashion. How could have the White Buffalo myth story become accepted by the Dakota Sioux ? And by the way - that was not from a couple of leaders. The claim is the tribe saw supernatural being.

      <<Why does every other religion start with one or two charismatic leaders convincing everyone else

      I suggest you study religion evolution, myth formation and acceptance. They do not always start as you say. Even christianity did not start that way. Arguably it evolved out of Judaism and was not a new religion but a modification of judaism.

      Meir - your overall argument is to ask a question (then I assume you believe all solutions are not plausible) and therefore there is Kuzari and therefore there is a god. However, given all we know about ancient ignorant superstitious semitic people, myth formation, and even the gullibility of modern people (let alone ancient people), lack of empirical or corroborating evidence, nonsense bible myths, it is much more likely Sinai is part of a nation building myth rather a true story of god coming down to a mountain. It seems to me the only reason you are not accepting that conclusion is because of an apriori bias (perhaps due to being brain washed in yeshiva and within an orthodox jewish family), not because of objective evaluation. Even if we can not answer your questions to your satisfaction, it does not remotely suggest the Sinai story actually occurred. We may not have an answer convincing enough for you personally.

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    7. Anonymous, I frankly do not have the energy to keep on responding to your posts, especially since you constantly misunderstand (intentionally or otherwise) the points I make and clearly have no grasp of the issues. You miss the point time and again. I am forced to make the points over and over again and I have lost the desire to do so. You are clearly not interested in truth, only in perpetuating your own belief. This is the last time I will dignify you with a response....
      Your White Buffalo Calf Pipe story is irrelevant. Clearly that story was created as a legend way after it occurred and then told to the Sioux - that the tribe saw a supernatural being. I already discussed why that cannot be applied to the Sinai experience.

      You write "History requires corroborating evidence." Wrong - many historical accounts are based solely on written records, including much of ancient history which is based on Manetho and Herotodus, as I explained on this post.

      Your Aztec claim is irrelevant. Their records give no indication of who saw the miracle. The word Aztecs may refer to many or few Aztecs, we have no idea.

      The various Marian Apparitions you site are irrelevant. As I mentioned before, we have no problem believing that other religions can perform miracles. The Talmud is full of talk of demons, evil spirits, etc. But that is quite different than the beginning of a religion. (Your point about Judaism starting with Avrohom is wrong. Avrohom started the concept , but the laws and details and change in lifestyle happen at Sinai) Furthermore, there are youtube videos of the apparitions. All they are, are lights which glow. There is no mass sighting of the actual Mary with her communicating with people. Which is why they were open to much interpretation and why many people did not believe anything. Thousands saw Fatima, some believed some didn't. The fact that people will believe nonsense proves nothing.

      You keep on saying that the people who wrote the Torah had a reason not to include the doubters in the story. Yet those same people wrote about numerous Jewish rebellions in the Torah, including the golden calf, Korach, etc. Why were they not afraid to write about those but they had some agenda not to write about people denying Sinai? You make no sense.

      The bottom line and crucial point which you still have no answer for remains, that if it were so easy to start a religion with a mass revelation story and get people to eventually believe it over time through myth formation, then why does no other religion start that way?

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    8. Ok this will be my last post.
      If you do not like any of my Kuzari examples consider this one in “Critique of the Kuzari Argument By Avi Norowitz”. The Kuzari Argument can be applied to Celtic mythology in the following fashion. Millions of Irish people believed that their ancestors (the Milesians) fought a war against the Tuatha De Danaan gods and drove them into the hills where they magically remained invisible. For this belief to be false, at some point in history one or several people must have presented this belief to the Irish population as truth. Since a population would not accept a story that their ancestors fought wars against gods but they never heard about it, the Irish population would have undoubtedly rejected the belief. Therefore, the conquest must be historical.
      Also Avi points out Oral tradition may have been broken . (Oral tradition is known to not be reliable and I did not want to get into this debate, but there are numerous examples that Jewish oral tradition was broken). For example according to the book of Judges, And Joshua the son of Nun, the servant of the LORD, died, being an hundred and ten years old. And they buried him in the border of his inheritance in Timnathheres, in the mount of Ephraim, on the north side of the hill Gaash. And also all that generation were gathered unto their fathers: and there arose another generation after them, which knew not the LORD, nor yet the works which he had done for Israel. And the children of Israel did evil in the sight of the LORD, and served Baalim: And they forsook the LORD God of their fathers, which brought them out of the land of Egypt, and followed other gods, of the gods of the people that were round about them, and bowed themselves unto them, and provoked the LORD to anger. (Judges 2:8-12)
      -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
      On a side note David Hume explained:
      'That no testimony is sufficient to establish a miracle, unless the testimony be
      of such a kind, that its falsehood would be more miraculous, than the fact,
      which it endeavors to establish....'
      We know nations accept nation building myths and other assorted legends that are false. We know oral tradition tends to not be reliable. So which of the following two choices would be a bigger miracle.
      A) The falsehood of the oral tradition Sinai story
      B) The Sinai story is true
      Clearly choice A is a lesser miracle and therefore should be accepted. This is merely a rephrasing of some of my earlier comments.

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    9. Wrong again! The Celtic mythology was not a belief but a myth story that they may have accepted as such (as all myths are) but had no reason to deny because it was a cool story and had no impact on their lives. Furthermore, it may have been told to people as a story of their ancestors that happened a millennium in the past which is why the listeners never would have heard about it. Cmon, I keep on telling you the same things over and over.

      Your quote from Joshua is irrelevant. Clearly the verse is using an expression that it does all over the prophets, meaning they never experienced the miracles that the generation of people who left Egypt, experienced. Not that they forgot everything. Even when they worshipped idols they still knew and practiced Torah, as is clear from the story of Elijah and Baal on Mt Carmel.

      The compilation of evidence out there regarding divinity of Torah is enough to satisfy Hume's miracle requirements.

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  68. wow. all participants have energy to spare. I was wondering Rav Goldberg if you ever got over to TheTorah.com.

    It is pretty fascinating -- many times orthodox academics and rabbis who have looked in depth and come away with the notion that Torah over time is real based on evidence.

    The ones that stick out are Zev Farber (rabbi, yadin yadin, academic, fully halachic), David Steinberg I think (the Mir, Gateshead, Aish, raising his large family in Passaic), Jacob Wright (orthodox academic, Emory U) and in several videos on youtube, the inimitable James Kugel.

    Anyway, there are many essays on thetorah.com (they have to clean it up or organize it better I think.) Many clearly kippah wearing types who are very learned in academic and Torah -- who see the TMS argument as very refutable.

    Just wondering if you ever checked any of these kinds of people out.

    Kol Tuv,
    Tuvia

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  69. Tuvia, Thetorah.com suffers from the fatal flaw of not considering the oral Torah when analyzing the text. Almost everything the academics have thought of, has been discussed by Midrash/Talmud, Ibn Ezra, Chizkuni, Ramban, Vilna Gaon, Netziv, Torah Temimah, Rav Hirsch, Ksav V'hakabala, Malbim, Etc.

    Furthermore, the logic of the Farber's and Kugel's of the world is untenable. If the Torah was written by man then why follow it? It makes no sense. There isn't anything that they knew then in some Middle Eastern cave that we don't know far more about today.

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  70. Well, I’ve read maybe five or six essays on thetorah.com which are written from different perspectives and by different sometimes haredi, sometimes MO authors. I imagine the oral law is something they have a lot of familiarity with, and they don’t consider it a fatal blow to their analysis (after all, some of these guys are really, really haredi – and I am sure would love to deliver a knockout punch to modern biblical crit.)

    If haredi and secular Jews are not given a prolonged exposure to all points of view, in what sense are they “choosing” religion anyway? If it is taught more as a foregone conclusion, with claims that must remain un-evaluated or looked into – then it really is not an education, but indoctrination (which at its best masquerades as education.) Kiruv rabbis are not informing people, but manipulating them.

    Anyway, I would hope that you would – like Rav Farber (a dayan I think and a yadin yadin smicha guy) would immerse yourself for a few years in the academic study. Then – of course – choose what you believe. But learn and know the arguments of the academic side too! Doesn’t that make sense?

    If you were on a jury, wouldn’t you be suspicious if the prosecutor said (after making his full argument) that the defense would not be permitted to make their case? How is this different?

    Since this is the archeology section of your blog – I will close with the idea that you begin your immersion with the essay “An Israeli Tour Guide with a Ph.D. in Bible” by the very nice, modern orthodox guy Dr. DuDu Cohen at thetorah.com.

    He started where you did, was surprised and challenged, changed his views immensely, and remains as orthodox as he ever was.

    Now go and learn!

    Best,
    Tuvia

    PS - so many comments! No wonder you had to stop this thing! Kol ha kavod for answering so many challenges. A lot of work.

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  71. Wow. There are so…many…comments.

    Just something I heard re the kuzari argument:

    It could have started as a kind of “bed time” story – where they said “legend has it we all were there,” and then, a generation later, become “it is believed all of our ancestors were at Sinai….,” and then, another generation later (or two or three or four generations) become “all our ancestors stood at Sinai…”

    And why us only having national revelation? Well, we were a tribe, and a people – more and different than a “religion only” really. I would think that tribes would feel comfortable with “we all…” kind of stories. Certainly we were more than a simple religion.

    Not saying the above happened of course – but an orthodox person who felt the Kuzari was shaky told me this.

    Also, we are older than the other religions – oral traditions more likely so far back, and mutating oral traditions can turn into “legitimized” stories written down generations later that are far from the original oral version.

    My feeling is, if anything, the totality of evidence suggests more today than even just twenty years ago that the Torah is an “over the centuries” document.

    Here’s what really bugs me though: I feel like orthodox rabbis don’t know Judaism very well! To clarify, they know the tradition – but only from the inside. To me, this is a terrible thing. It’s too parochial. Rabbis should immerse themselves in the academic study of Judaism AND the traditional study of it. That is my only complaint with the orthodox – they use their ignorance to leverage their inflated sense of certainty about their position.

    And it won’t (necessarily) make you less halachic to learn academic views – just more able to understand the other side. I really feel the day is coming when this will happen as the internet grows in its ability to cover and convey the academic view.

    And I don’t think it will cause everyone to leave Judaism at all – it will however cause people to come off their “high horse” of “knowing” they are objectively right about their orthodoxy, and having some humility, and dare I say it, faith?

    Tuvia

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