Ancient Israel in Sinai: The Evidence for the Authenticity of the Wilderness Tradition

Ancient Israel in Sinai: The Evidence for the Authenticity of the Wilderness Tradition

Ancient Israel in Sinai: The Evidence for the Authenticity of the Wilderness Tradition

Ancient Israel in Sinai: The Evidence for the Authenticity of the Wilderness Tradition

Synopsis

In his pathbreaking Israel in Egypt James K. Hoffmeier sought to refute the claims of scholars who doubt the historical accuracy of the biblical account of the Israelite sojourn in Egypt. Analyzing a wealth of textual, archaeological, and geographical evidence, he put forth a thorough defense of the biblical tradition. Hoffmeier now turns his attention to the Wilderness narratives of Exodus, Leviticus, and Numbers. As director of the North Sinai Archaeological Project, Hoffmeier has led several excavations that have uncovered important new evidence supporting the Wilderness narratives, including a major New Kingdom fort at Tell el-Borg that was occupied during the Israelite exodus. Hoffmeier employs these archaeological findings to shed new light on the route of the exodus from Egypt. He also investigates the location of Mount Sinai, and offers a rebuttal to those who have sought to locate it in northern Arabia and not in the Sinai peninsula as traditionally thought. Hoffmeier addresses how and when the Israelites could have lived in Sinai, as well as whether it would have been possible for Moses to write down the law received at Mount Sinai. Building on the new evidence for the Israelite sojourn in Egypt, Hoffmeier explores the Egyptian influence on the Wilderness tradition. For example, he finds Egyptian elements in Israelite religious practices, including the use of the tabernacle, and points to a significant number of Egyptian personal names among the generation of the exodus. The origin of Israel is a subject of much debate and the wilderness tradition has been marginalized by those who challenge its credibility. In Ancient Israel in Sinai, Hoffmeier brings the Wilderness tradition to the forefront and makes a case for its authenticity based on solid evidence and intelligent analysis.

Excerpt

Here, in the early twenty-first century, we are heirs to two centuries of breathtaking discoveries and to frontiers of knowledge pushed out to vastly broadened horizons. In the pioneering nineteenth century, the first broad outlines for our knowledge of the real biblical world—the Ancient Near East—began to emerge with the decipherment of Egyptian hieroglyphs and of the intricate Mesopotamian cuneiform script. In the meantime, pioneer archaeologists probed the secrets of "hundred-gated Thebes," resurrected the vast palaces of Nineveh and Babylon, probed deep into fabled Troy and Mycenae, and opened up the geography and mounds of Syria-Palestine, from Palmyra to Petra.

In the tumultuous twentieth century, the rate of discovery grew apace: first, with spectacular finds such as the golden treasures of Tutankhamun in Egypt and of the royal tombs in "Ur of the Chaldees"; the wonders of Ugarit, Mari, and Ebla in Syria; or the Dead Sea Scrolls in Palestine; and second, with a growing refinement and precision, especially in field archaeology and the introduction of useful techniques from the natural sciences in the last fifty years. And today, both the growth and the refining of knowledge and how we understand it continue to expand.

It is in this wider panoramic context that we may set Professor James K. Hoffmeier's new book on Egypt, Sinai, and earliest Israel. He has already spent most of an active lifetime in the professional study of ancient Egypt and of the Hebrew Bible in its ancient context. Egypt's East Delta and North Sinai districts have always been zones of continual contact and transit between Egypt and her northeast . . .

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