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http://www.jpost.com/Editions/1999/12/24/Features/Features.718.html

Chipping Away at the Past


By Abraham Rabinovich

(December 27) -- Some scholars are using archeological research to challenge the historical truth of central elements of the biblical story. --

Holy writ the Bible may be. But is it true? That cheeky question has been revived with surprising vigor recently on the basis of archeological findings and a new mindset that have caused some scholars to reassess how the Bible was written and when.

To begin with the bottom line, as Prof. Israel Finkelstein reads it, the main elements of the Pentateuch (the first five books of the Bible) were written in the seventh century BCE by different hands, each giving a contemporary, political-religious spin to ancient folk memories. These strands would be woven together into a single text by a master editor two centuries later.

With scholars like Finkelstein, head of the Archeology Institute at Tel Aviv University, the bottom line is a good place to begin, because the view from the starting line may be too awesome to contemplate. Perched at the edge of a new millennium, revisionists are boldly proposing to rewrite basic tenets of a faith that has been the spiritual underpinning of much of Western civilization for the past two millennia.

The new bibliohistorians are challenging the historicity of central elements of the biblical story, like the epic of the Patriarchs, the sojourn in Egypt, the Exodus, the divine encounter at Mount Sinai, and the conquest of the land under Joshua. In recent years, even the existence of David and Solomon has been challenged by some of the minimalists, as these "Bible bashers" are sometimes called.

The good news for traditionalists is that there are few challenges to the Bible story from the ninth century BCE forward because from this period - from 853 BCE, to be exact - we have corroboration of the main outlines of the biblical story from extra-biblical sources, most notably, the royal Assyrian annals. These describe contacts with the kings of Israel and Judah in the course of the frequent Assyrian military campaigns. The kings named in these annals, carved in stone in the Assyrian palaces, are ones we know from the Bible.

The bad news is that there is little corroboration for anything previous to the ninth century BCE, including the major events of the national saga from Abraham to Solomon.

Most scholars agree that the Bible had several authors and that they based their writing on both folk traditions and written records. The disagreement is over the extent to which those traditions represent authentic history.

"The historical part of the Bible is about the seventh century," says Finkelstein. That is an odd conclusion on the face of it, since the seventh century BCE was not a sharp historical turning point like the 10th century BCE (David and Solomon, the establishment and dismemberment of the united monarchy of Judah and Israel) or the sixth century BCE (destruction of First Temple Jerusalem, exile to Babylon, and return). But it was in the political-religious turbulence of the seventh century - not amidst the thunder and lightning of Mount Sinai - that the ethos and mythic tradition of the nation were shaped, Finkelstein and others contend.

What differentiates Finkelstein from most minimalists is that he comes to his scenario not through textual analysis but on the basis of archeological surveys and excavations in which he was personally involved. These have produced far-reaching - some would say revolutionary - data that had not been available to earlier scholars.

The angry responses to a recent article in Ha'aretz by archeologist Ze'ev Herzog describing holes allegedly kicked in the biblical story by archeological findings reflect a broad resentment at seeing the biblical story deconstructed. Even a militant secularist like Shinui leader MK Yosef "Tommy" Lapid, who never misses a chance to attack the religious establishment, rallied to the defense of the Bible, accusing the minimalists of "cheap pursuit of sensationalism." The article has touched off a spate of public conferences and passionate newspaper stories, as well as interviews of archeologists and biblical scholars by local and foreign media.

"There is a new attitude among archeologists," Herzog says. "In the past we saw ourselves obliged 'to prove the Bible.' We've freed ourselves from this feeling, probably in the past decade, and are looking at things now more objectively. This applies also to historians and scholars in other, related disciplines. There may be two or three in these professions here who haven't changed their views, but hundreds of others have."

Herzog's article broke no new ground for anyone who has followed archeology in recent years. His point, however, was that the general public was unaware of this. The shocked responses to it confirmed Herzog's view that the public was either uninformed or willfully holding its ears.

"Secular people are often the most upset," he says, "because they have rejected Halacha and adopted the Bible as an expression of national identity." While the haredim have no trouble dismissing archeology as irrelevant or mistaken, however, the minimalist claims deeply upset many modern Orthodox for whom the Bible is also a political anchor. They are not readily solaced by the minimalist view that if the early Israelites did not come from outside the country - Mesopotamia or Egypt - then they were indigenous and therefore even more deeply rooted in the Land.

Undermining literal acceptance of the Bible is not a new phenomenon. In his book Who Wrote the Bible? Prof. Richard Friedman of the University of California notes that inconsistencies in the Bible and the fact that many of its stories - including accounts of the Creation and the Flood - are told twice (doublets), and somewhat differently each time, had already suggested to some scholars centuries ago that the Bible was shaped by more than one hand. It has always been difficult, even for many believers, to accept the traditional view that the Pentateuch was written by Moses with divine inspiration, since much of the story takes place after his death.

Raising further questions about the Bible's origin is the claim that central features of the Bible story have clear parallels in earlier Mesopotamian cultures. Even the insights of Ecclesiastes carry an echo of Mesopotamian "Wisdom Literature" composed a millennium earlier.

By the last century, scholars - including clerics - were detecting at least four distinct threads in the Pentateuch, each of which came to be attributed to different authorship. A similarity was seen with the New Testament, which rested on four separate gospels offering parallel accounts. The strands of the Pentateuch, however, did not constitute separate books but were closely interwoven into a single text - different strands often sharing the same page - by subsequent editors who deftly cut and pasted.

In one set of doublets, the Supreme Being is called Jehovah (Yahweh) while in the other he is called Elohim. Scholars came to call the author of the first "J" and the other "E". A third strand dealt mainly with priestly matters and its author was designated "P". The name "D" was given to the author of the last of the five books, Deuteronomy, who had access to historical documents apparently not available to the other authors. "D" was also seen responsible for some of the largely historical works that followed the Pentateuch, the early prophets. A fifth and decisive hand in the shaping of the Bible was that of the final editor, who artfully wove these separate, sometimes conflicting, texts into one document.

Some scholars saw these separate strands reflecting the development of the religion from one that was nature/fertility oriented ("J" and "E") to a spiritual/ethical religion ("D") to one based on priests and law ("P").

This background helps understand the readiness of scholars in recent years to look afresh at the biblical text. If it is broadly accepted that the Bible was compiled by diverse individuals at some point or points in history - even if it is maintained that they were divinely inspired - then the text could legitimately be examined by other men at a later point in history. Particularly, if the latter had new information that was not available to the original authors. And, if it comes to it, who is to say they were not divinely inspired as well?

In the immediate aftermath of the Six Day War, teams of archeologists and archeology students from Tel Aviv University - among the latter, Finkelstein - were sent into the hills of the West Bank to undertake a survey. They would later be joined by other archeologists. It was assumed that the area would shortly be returned to Jordan and that the survey could be little more than a sampler. However, the surveyors in the end had two decades - until the outbreak of the intifada - to comb the hills of Judea and Samaria.

Moving on foot, they examined pottery shards that had worked their way to the surface. These were sufficient to establish the age and size of settlements that had dotted the landscape in antiquity, and sometimes also to make assumptions about the ethnic identity of those associated with specific styles of pottery. For the first time, a comprehensive picture emerged of settlement in the biblical heartland in antiquity.

Finkelstein's team surveyed the area of Ephraim in the central hill country, but he would subsequently analyze the findings of the other teams as well. Following a period of gestation - "it took me 10 years" - he arrived at conclusions that initially won him notoriety, and then growing attention in the scholarly community.

The conventional view of Israel's formation - which he had previously shared - saw the Israelites settling in the land in the late 13th century BCE. About two centuries later (1000 BCE), King David mounts the throne of Judah and incorporates the 10 northern tribes, Israel, into a united monarchy. He and his son, Solomon, rule for about 70 years, the kingdom splitting in two with Solomon's death.

The potsherds, however, told a different story. Israel was seen to have been a well-developed state by the early ninth century BCE, but Judah contained only half a dozen inhabited locations, all tiny, from the 10th century BCE to the eighth century BCE. Its major site, Jerusalem, was distinctly unimpressive.

"It was a small, poor, unassuming highland stronghold, not very different from other hill country [settlements], as my colleague David Ussishkin has shown," says Finkelstein. This was strange for the capital of a united kingdom whose northern half, Israel, boasted a palatial government center in Samaria, sizable fortified sites, and a well-developed hierarchy of small, medium, and large settlements that indicated a politically and economically mature entity. It was stranger still considering that Jerusalem was supposed to be the political and administrative center of what the Bible describes as an empire stretching from the Euphrates in today's Iraq to the border of Egypt.

What the potsherds say to Finkelstein is that the Bible got it wrong - that Judah was not a kingdom or a center of empire during this period, but a modest chiefdom. This, of course, does not preclude the likelihood that the chiefs were David and Solomon. "A small elite ruled from a small mountain stronghold [Jerusalem] with a limited number of inhabitants over a population made up of a few sedentary communities in the midst of a large number of pastoral camps," he would write.

The potsherds showed Judah emerging as a vibrant state towards the end of the eighth century BCE. This, scholars believe, is due to the fall of Israel to the Assyrians in 722 BCE. Although the Assyrians deported some of Israel's population to the east - the beginning of the Ten Lost Tribes legend - much of the population fled south while others stayed in place, dramatically increasing Judah's population. Jerusalem expanded for the first time to its western hill, embracing the area of today's Jewish and Christian Quarters, to accommodate a sudden population boom.

Dramatic evidence of this was uncovered in the dig conducted by Prof. Nahman Avigad after the Six Day War. "There is a time lag of about 150 years," says Finkelstein, "between the rise of the Israelite state in the early ninth century BCE and the emergence of Judah as a fully developed state in the second half of the eighth century BCE." This picture clashes sharply with the biblical version that sees Judah as the dominant element from the beginning of the 10th century and Israel as the junior partner.

This is not the first time that archeology has raised doubts about aspects of the biblical story. Excavations in the 1930s and 1950s showed that no walled cities existed at sites like Ai and Jericho when the Israelites under Joshua were supposed to have captured them. Nor were relevant archeological remains found at stopping-off places during the exodus from Egypt cited in the Bible, like Kadesh Barnea. There are, however, Israelite remains from the seventh century BCE to be found there, says Finkelstein. As for any kernel of history behind the Patriarchal story, he says "it is beyond retrieval."

Not all scholars are prepared to yield the field to the minimalist icon breakers. Prof. Avraham Biran, head of the Glueck School of Archeology at Hebrew Union College, was himself able to go a long way toward restoring David to history when his team found an inscription seven years ago at Tel Dan referring to Beit David, the House of David. It dated some two centuries after the united monarchy, but it was apparently an extrabiblical reference to the Davidic line, the first ever found.

"Archeology is not here to prove or disprove the Bible," says Biran. The Bible and archeology, however, shed light on each other. The wall of a sanctuary uncovered at Dan, for instance, was bowed because a layer of stone appeared unaccountably missing from its middle. Biran found an explanation in I Kings 7:12 which described the construction method employed by Solomon's artisans in the courtyard of the Jerusalem Temple built a century before the Dan sanctuary - "three rows of hewn stone and a row of cedar beams." In the sanctuary restored by Biran at Dan, cedar beams have been installed in the gap between the stone courses evidently left by disintegration of the original wood.

Biran cautions against drawing conclusions from negative evidence. "Just because we have not found Solomon's seaport or his boats doesn't mean that he didn't exist or that he didn't build the Temple." As for the story of the sojourn in Egypt and the Exodus, he says: "No people who respect their history would declare that they are the descendent of slaves. There is no archaeological proof but there must have been some tradition."

Prof. Shmaryahu Talmon of the Hebrew University, a leading Bible authority, believes that the use in the Bible of embellishments and literary devices to describe past events does not nullify a seed of truth that may be at the heart of the stories. "I'm inclined to accept the authenticity of the Exodus story, although not as it is related," says Talmon, who is secular. The Bible tells that 600,000 able-bodied men set out from Egypt with Moses accompanied by the rest of the people and their flocks. Demographic extrapolations suggest that the total number of migrants embarking on that 40-year desert sojourn, counting women, children, and elderly, would have been several million. This plainly fantastic number, says Talmon, does not rule out the likelihood that something like the Exodus, on a much reduced scale, may have happened.

Finkelstein himself leaves open the possibility that a clan living perhaps in the southern part of the country had migrated from Egypt in circumstances that gave birth to the biblical account and that this tale may have been appropriated into the national memory.

Perhaps the most vigorous dissent from the minimalists has been voiced by one of Finkelstein's colleagues on the West Bank survey project, Dr. Adam Zertal, head of the Archeology Department at Haifa University. In the 1980s on Mount Ebal, overlooking Nablus - biblical Shechem - he excavated a cultic complex centered on a stone structure which he identified as the very sacrificial altar which the Bible describes Joshua raising on Mount Ebal. "One can assume that if a central event such as that of Mount Ebal has been proved to have occurred," he wrote, "it follows that considerable sections of the biblical course [sic] must also be based on historical events, which underwent editing." The scholarly world, however, has been disinclined to accept Zertal's identification. Few scholars, he says, have even bothered to relate to his claim.

Archeology may have raised doubts about early parts of the Bible, but it has also provided stunning proof of the historical veracity of later parts. The excavated Assyrian annals, for instance, not only confirm the outlines of two centuries of biblical history, they considerably expand them by telling us about critical doings of the Israelites not related in the Bible.

The Israelites' first mention in the Assyrian annals is one of the most dramatic images we have of them - a tale not without relevance to today's Middle East. In 853 BCE, the Assyrian king, Shalmaneser III, encountered them when he led his army the furthest west it had yet ventured. He had ascended the throne a mere six years earlier and begun a tradition of annual military campaigns aimed at expanding his state, based on the Tigris River, into the world's first superpower.

The kingdoms to the west, alarmed at his ambitions, dropped their own squabblings and formed a grand alliance to stop the tyrant of the Tigris. Of the 12 kings of "Hatti [Syria] and the seashore," mentioned in the annals, King Ahab of Israel was listed third, a ranking that reflected his force's importance in this alliance. Some historians suggest that this surprisingly high ranking was due to the reinforcement of Israel's contingent by soldiers from Judah, a sister state with whom Israel itself was often in conflict.

Prof. Haim Tadmor of the Hebrew University, a biblical scholar and Assyriologist who has published a major work on the Assyrian annals, notes that the king of Judah in this period, Jehoshaphat, had told Ahab (I Kings 22:4) "I am as thou art, my people as thy people, my horses as thy horses." This was said in the context of a different war, notes Tadmor, but the sense of shared destiny may have carried over to the confrontation with Assyria.

The numerical strength of the Israelite force is not given, but it included chariots, the ancient equivalent of tanks. Riding into battle alongside them in the Assyrian account was an Arab force on 1,000 camels. This was the first-ever mention of Arabs in ancient texts. Also participating alongside the Israelites was an Egyptian force of 1,000 men, contingents from Phoenician cities on the coast of today's Lebanon, and the army of King Hadad of Damascus-Aram, a traditional enemy of Israel.

The Alliance forces met the Assyrians at Qarqar on the Orontes River in today's Syria. Assyrian annals claim a rousing victory, but historians tend to doubt this, because Shalmaneser would not venture west again for several years, while Israel and Damascus felt free to resume their own war.

If Ahab's existence is confirmed the very first time that history makes a biblical bed-check, as it were, then Solomon's existence is less likely to be a fanciful invention, since his reign would have been only some 60 years earlier.

The fall of Israel to Shalmaneser V, and the exile of inhabitants, are described in both the Bible (II Kings 17:1-6) and the annals, with small but telling differences. "Shalmaneser, king of Assyria, marched against [Hoshea] and Hoshea became his vassal...." recounts the Bible. On the other hand, "In the ninth year of Hoshea, the king of Assyria captured Samaria. He exiled Israel to Assyria." The 10 northern tribes now disappear from history, although Israelite names would subsequently appear in Assyrian records referring to officials in Assyria itself.

The Assyrian annals attribute the conquest of Samaria not to Shalmaneser but to his successor, Sargon. "With the strength of my gods," says Sargon's account, "I fought with and defeated the Samarians.... I took captive 27,290 inhabitants. From among them, I organized 50 chariots as a royal unit, and the rest of them I resettled within Assyria. The city of Samaria I rebuilt and repopulated more than before; I brought people there from the lands which I had conquered. I placed my courtier over them as governor and imposed tax and tribute upon them, just as if they were Assyrian. I also had them trained in proper conduct." An explanation for the different versions is offered by Tadmor: Samaria fell to Shalmaneser in 722, but his death a few months later left the fate of the city in limbo. The Assyrian army apparently withdrew until Sargon's succession was established. The Assyrian account confirms a population transfer but, unlike the biblical version, one limited in numbers.

There is a single extrabiblical mention of Israel from Egypt, one that predates the Assyrian annals by almost four centuries. But the Merneptah Stele, dating from 1207 BCE, raises more questions than answers. Describing the victories of the Pharaoh Merneptah, it includes the following lines: The [sic] Canaan has been plundered into every sort of woe: Ashkelon has been captured; Gezer has been captured; Yano'am is made nonexistent. Israel is laid waste and his seed is not." Scholars say the hieroglyphic signs for Ashkelon, Gezer, and Yano'am indicate city-states, while for Canaan the indication is of a foreign land. For Israel, the indication is not of a land but of a foreign people. Scholars have engaged in long debates about the historical implications of that mention, but it remains a mystery.

Finkelstein does not, like some foreign scholars, deny the existence of David and Solomon, but sees them as figures who lived a less splendid life than the ones described to us in the Bible, given the modesty of their realm and of their capital. He does not even deny the possibility that there was a transitory political union at some point between Judah and areas to its north.

To him, the David and Solomon stories are largely - for some minimalists completely - the creation of later generations whose communal self-image required them to nurture the memory of a golden age and to aspire to something like it again in the future.

The focus of the Bible for Finkelstein and other scholars is not Moses (of whom, needless to say, there is no archeological evidence), David, or Solomon but a seventh-century figure who will not be readily recognized by persons with only casual familiarity with the Bible - King Josiah. Josiah was a religious reformer, destroying idols and centralizing religious worship in the Jerusalem temple. It was under him, some believe, that monotheism for the first time took exclusive hold, displacing the gods whom previous generations had worshiped simultaneously with Jehovah. (Excavators of David's City, for instance, found numerous small idols.) The Bible tells us that during Josiah's rein a "scroll of the Torah" was found by a priest in the temple. Upon hearing it read, the king tore his clothing and called for a gathering at which the covenant between God and his people was renewed. It was during Josiah's long reign, many of these scholars believe, that the Bible began to be shaped.

It was about now, in the late seventh century, that the Assyrians, who had less than a century before destroyed Israel, suddenly pulled up stakes as they turned to contend with the rise of Babylonia. In the heady atmosphere left by their departure, Finkelstein suggests, anything may have seemed possible. "There was in Judah a feeling they were at the center of the universe."

The sudden withdrawal of Assyria opened up the possibility of Judah's expansion northwards into Israel. It seemed an opportunity to revive the golden age of the united monarchy. But an arrow that cut Josiah down at Megiddo when he went to confront the Egyptian ruler, Necho, put an end to those dreams. Josiah was followed by four nondescript kings of short duration and then Babylon fell upon Judah, destroying the Temple and carrying off the elite to exile.

Hints that biblical tales were not simply a straightforward account come from the anachronisms that dot it, such as the mention of Abraham sojourning in the land of the Philistines. The Philistines did not arrive in the land until a millennium or two after the period associated with the Patriarchs. Similarly, Finkelstein notes, Abraham is described as hailing from Ur of the Chaldees. "The Chaldees did not exist in the so-called Patriarchal age but did exist in the seventh century." A clear indication of a contemporary, seventh century BCE, subtext in the Bible, say revisionists, is the account in I Kings 13 of Jeroboam, first king of breakaway Israel (10th century BCE), standing at an altar in Beth-El burning incense. A "man of God" says to him: "Here a son will be born to the house of David, Josiah by name...." Writes Prof. Friedman: "No other case of such explicit prediction of a person by name so far in advance [three centuries] occurs in biblical narrative." In addition, he notes, the author of Deuteronomy had a critical word to say about all the kings he writes about from David on, except one - Josiah.

Some scholars believe that parts of the Bible were written as early as the 10th or ninth centuries. The last part of the Bible - Writings, which was composed after the Bible's other two parts, Torah (the Pentateuch) and Prophets - is believed to have been completed only a century or so before the destruction of the Second Temple in 70 CE. In all, 24 books would enter the sacred canon of the Bible before the rabbis declared that the age of divine inspiration had passed.

A major figure in the Bible's creation, scholars agree, was the scribe, Ezra. Returning from Babylonian exile, he, it is believed, was the editor who masterfully wove various biblical sources into a vivid Pentateuch text. He gave the world access to these writings for the first time - removing them from the exclusive province of the priests - when he read the edited text to the people at an ecstatic assembly inside Jerusalem's Water Gate.

The challenge posed by minimalists has aroused alarm in some quarters, but the impact on belief will probably be limited. Lack of evidence, after all, is no proof that something didn't happen. While the minimalists may have raised questions about the earliest 1,000 years of heritage - albeit a mythic and formative span - this still leaves unchallenged 3,000 subsequent years of creativity and earthly witness. A period of this length that includes 1,000 years of national independence, a vital Diaspora, the Talmud, the Golden Age of Spain, Maimonides, Einstein-Freud-Marx, and, not least, the Bible itself - is, in modern argot, not chopped liver.

The minimalists may have succeeded in nudging the biblical beginnings out of the continuum of history to which they had been seamlessly joined, leaving them more clearly in the sphere of tradition and faith. But the Bible has sustained the Jews for more than two millennia and they are unlikely to abandon it - whether as sacred text or precious cultural heritage - as they cross the threshold into the next.





Mixed Metaphors

By Abraham Rabinovich

(December 24) -- There is little likelihood that archeology, no matter how deep it digs, can undermine the faith of believers. Rabbi Avraham Yitzhak Kook, one of the most respected rabbinical authorities of the 20th century and the first Ashkenazi chief rabbi of Palestine, confronted the issue some 90 years ago when Assyriologists were publishing documents from Mesopotamia astonishingly reminiscent of stories in the Bible, although written long before.

"Rabbi Kook said that we have to build religion one level above science in such a way that there wouldn't be conflict," says Prof. Shalom Rosenberg of the Hebrew University. "In doing that, he said, you will have elevated religion."

Rosenberg, who teaches general philosophy and Jewish thought and is himself Orthodox, is, like Rabbi Kook, unalarmed by the shadow cast over the Bible's veracity by archeological findings. There is theological truth and there is scientific truth, he says, and the latter can never endanger the former.

"It's as if you are in an airplane looking down and see two cars on courses bound to bring them into collision," he says, in expanding on Rabbi Kook's image. "But they don't crash because they are on different levels." He sees the biblical text delivering a message, perhaps by metaphor, that cannot be rebutted by archeological findings. "Let's take the story of the Creation. Geologists speak of different ages covering billions of years. I can accept that there were different ages, but to me the text is holy and it speaks a truth that is deeper than geological truth. There is a metaphoric or allegoric construct in the Bible containing a theological truth. The story tells me the world was created by God and not by chance, that the creation was the result of a plan and God's will, that man is not an animal. This for me is theological truth. Once I've said that, I can talk about geological findings objectively."

Describing himself as "Orthodox, not fundamentalist," Rosenberg does not feel constrained to defend the literal truth of every passage in the Bible, even as he defends their theological truth. He is not even upset at the notion that the Bible may have been written by several people. "What difference does it make if part was written by Moses, part by Aaron, part by Mr. J, and part by Mr. E? I believe it was all divinely inspired. I believe the Talmud is divinely inspired as well, even though it is full of arguments among the rabbis."

A Jewish philosopher had once jokingly suggested that the letter "R" - applied by scholars to the redactor, or editor, of the Bible - be understood to stand for rabeinu, our rabbis. Rosenberg goes one better by suggesting that the "R" stand for ribono shel olam, Lord of the Universe.

Yes, the Gilgamesh epic describing the Flood was written in Mesopotamia long before the biblical story of Noah and the Ark, he acknowledges, but the Noah story is not a pirated edition of the Mesopotamian legend; rather it is a protest against it. "It's as if today you read a "post-Zionist" historian writing about Israel's War of Independence with his own agenda and you want to protest. Noah is saying 'there is an existing story about the Flood but I will tell it differently. God destroyed the earth not because Mankind didn't let him sleep but because there was corruption.' "

He is willing, says Rosenberg, to have an "objective" discussion with archeologists about the sojourn in Egypt and the Exodus without his falling back on the sanctity of the Bible as an argument. He is even willing, in theory, at least, to accept their conclusion if they can prove it. What matters, he says, are the religious and moral lessons to be drawn from the story.

"Let's play 'what if,' " he says. "It is fantastic to think that I would draw up a family tree showing my ancestor to have been a slave if he wasn't. But let's take the least comfortable thesis for me - that this was just a literary device. Even so, the story says something very important to me. I see a whole theology in the concept of slavery - about what it means to be a slave, about what it means to be a servant of God and not of man. The Ten Commandments begin with God reminding the Jews that he had brought them out of bondage. Even before the Commandment, 'Thou shalt not murder,' we are told how we must relate to slaves [the injunction that on the Sabbath, servants shall also have a day of rest - A.R.] for we were once slave ourselves."

Why has this manuscript, compiled thousands of years ago in a tiny land that left no other monuments, not only survived the ages but been a primal force in the shaping of Western civilization?

"When we lived in a pagan world, nature was our measure," says Rosenberg. "We could say the world has wolves and sheep and the wolves eat the sheep. What the Bible does is give us a different perspective. Archimedes said, 'Give me a place to stand on and I can move the world.' That place is outside the world - that is, the God we know from the Bible. We can now say, 'The day will come when the wolf will lie down with the sheep.' Nature is no longer our measure." The concept of social justice, the comfort of faith, the idea of utopia as personified by the Messiah, these are some of the ideas from the Bible that have suffused the culture of much of mankind, says Rosenberg.

Quoting the philosopher, Herman Cohen, Rosenberg says that if the story of Joseph and the Egyptian temptress Potiphar's wife had been a Greek legend, it would have been presented as a debate between the goddess of love, urging Joseph on, and the god of justice, calling for restraint.

"As long as the pagan world is a projection of man's internal world," says Rosenberg, "then it includes all the good and bad that exists. With monotheism, the projection is reverse. God is grace but also law, very strict law. Here you have an absoluteness of values, with all the problems inherent in that. But that is the Bible, the decisiveness of the answer."


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Garaudy's "Founding myths"


Jewish hate against Christians
By Prof. Israel Shahak

Introduction to Revisionist
Thought
- By Ernst Zündel

Karl Marx: The Jewish Question

Reel Bad Arabs - Revealing the racist Jewish Hollywood propaganda

"Anti-Semitism" - What is it?

Videos - Important collection 

The Jews Banished 47 Times in 1000 Years - Why?

Nation of Islam and The Synagogue of Satan - Videos

The International Jew - By Henry Ford

Pravda interviews Ahmed Rami

The Founding Myths of Modern Israel
Shahak's "Jewish History"


The Jewish plan to destroy the Arab countries - From the World
Zionist Organization

Judaism and Zionism inseparable

"Jewish History" - a bookreview

Revealing photos of the Jews 

Racist Jewish Fundamentalism

"Jews" from Khazaria stealing the land of Palestine

The U.S. cost of supporting Israel

Turkey, Ataturk and the Jews

Talmud unmasked
The truth about the Talmud


Israel and the Ongoing Holocaust in Congo

Jews DO control the media - a Jew brags! - Revealing Jewish article

Abbas - The Traitor

Protocols of Zion - The whole book!

Quotes - On Jewish Power / Zionism

Caricatures / Cartoons 

Activism! - Join the Fight!