My debate with Aron Ra on the Historicity of the Bible
I had the opportunity to debate Aron Ra a few months ago on the issue of Old Testament historicity (ranging from Noah's flood to the Exodus). This was important, because for the first time we could witness proper academic biblical scholarship being presented to a well known celebrity atheist, and that his notions of mythicism fell flat on its face by conceding a lot of my points. I actually plan on making an official series on the history of Israel, showcasing every piece of authenticity in the Old Testament record.
Here's a teaser from the Exodus account, where these initial details show that Moses obviously had an intimate knowledge of ancient Egypt when he wrote down the Exodus story:
1. Exodus involves an unnamed pharaoh, but we may be able to figure out who he is. Exodus starts by describing that the Israelites (the descendants of Jacob, who was also called Israel) have become numerous, and this bothers the pharaoh.
2. The pharoah puts a taskmaster over them and enslaves them. They build store cities in brick (not in stone) for the pharaoh. This is an important detail.
3. The pharaoh says to the midwives:
When you help the Hebrew women give birth, watch the two stones. If it's a son, kill him; but if it's a daughter, let her live.
The "two stones" refer to the birthing stools that Egyptian women used to give birth. They gave birth squatting down. The pharaoh tells the midwives to kill the male infants when they are born.
4. But even with this directive from pharaoh, the Israelites prosper. The pharaoh asks the midwives why; they reply that the Israelite mothers are giving birth before the midwives arrive.
5. One Israelite child’s mother was worried her son would be killed, so she put him in a basket and set him adrift on the Nile. The pharaoh’s daughter finds the basket, adopts the baby, and names him Moses.
6. Traditionally, we are told that she gave him that name because she drew him out of the reeds, and moshe in Hebrew means "to draw out." But why would an Egyptian princess speak Hebrew? And would she give him a Hebrew name? It doesn't make sense.
7. What does "Moses" mean in ancient Egyptian? The consensus today is that "Moses" goes back to an Egyptian root "ms" (child), or "mss" (to be born). These roots appear as a personal name in Egyptian but is better recognized as the second part of theophoric names. For example:
- Ahmose (Ah is born);
- Ptahmose (Ptah is born).
Thus, it makes more sense that an Egyptian princess would give her newfound baby an Egyptian name meaning "birth".
8. Moses grows up in an Egyptian household but has an encounter with the God of the Israelites, Yahweh, who appears to Moses as a burning bush. Yahweh tells Moses to go to the pharaoh and tell him, "Let my people go."
9. Moses doesn't think he can do it. So Yahweh tells him to throw down his staff, and it turns into a snake. He next withers Moses' hand, then restores it. Moses is going to have supernatural powers, but he is still hesitant. He is "slow of speech," so Yahweh lets Moses bring his brother, Aaron, to do the talking.
10. Moses has an audience with the pharaoh. The pharaoh is never named. He is just called "pharaoh," which is not an Egyptian word. The word for "king" was "news".
11. What does "pharaoh" mean in ancient Egyptian? The two hieroglyphs that make the sound "pharaoh" are "per" (house) and "ah" (great). Therefore, the "pharaoh" is the guy who lives in the Great House. Hence, "pharaoh" is a foreigner's way of saying "king." Curiously, after the Exodus, the word "pharaoh" will enter the Egyptian language to mean "king."
12. During his audience with the pharaoh, Aaron throws down his staff and it turns into a snake. But this doesn't impress the pharaoh. His magicians do the same thing with their staves. Still, Aaron's snake swallows those of the pharaoh's magicians, so that is a bit of a victory.
13. In Coptic, the word for "magician" is seshperonch. Remember that Coptic is just a different script for writing the ancient Egyptian language.
14. Thus, the equivalent is sesh-per-ankh, "scribe of the house of life." Priests in ancient Egypt were educated in a school called the House of Life. Therefore, the magicians were priests.