Torah Time

Hi Helge,

There was a limited discussion on this topic quite some time ago, probably before you began participating.

Yet, due to the recent (and shocking) revelation of a Ptolemaic takeover of the Jerusalem cult leading to the Hasmonean period, the topic is well worth reconsidering!

Here's more of my present thinking - definitely subject to further study and refinement:

1) The Book of Genesis contains almost eerily accurate details about royal persons and their personal/family relationships. Year lengths however are approximate or entirely symbolic, which indicates that the history was written from memory/oral tradition rather having direct access to records (that existed only in the major royal haunts, such as Egypt). The sting of disenfranchisement (as a first-rate royal family) also appears to be fresh. I would tend to place the creation of the Book of Genesis early in the Persian period and by a single author or small group over a short period of time. The Exodus account could have been written later in the Persian period by another author or authors. Deuteronomy was probably written in the Maccabean period, for the reason suggested below.

2) Although the “Zadokites” rebuilt a temple of some kind in Jerusalem, there would have been no link to the former priesthood of that temple. The Zadokite roots were primarily in the Jerusalem of Egypt, that is, Thebes. Although traditions and stories about the Patriarchs certainly existed before the Fall of Thebes, the form they took in the Book of Genesis was new.

3) The Kings/Chronicles history is somewhat less accurate when it comes to anecdotal knowledge of royal ancestors. It is however more accurate in terms of year lengths. Although there is a disclaimer about the evils of kingship, it was written in a time when kingship and autonomy was very much back in style, that being during the Maccabean/Ptolemaic/Parthian era.

We can now appreciate that the priests of Jerusalem in the Ptolemaic era did have access to Egyptian records during that period and that "historical research", such as that undertaken by Manetho, was encouraged. References in the Kings/Chronicles narrative to “annals”, such as the Annals of the Kings of Judah, suggest that access to the Karnak Temple and other permanent temple records was possible and even relatively easy (assuming they had local help with hieroglyph translation). The author(s) of the Kings/Chronicles narrative did not have to then rely only on memory, but could check year lengths for kings and other facts from inscriptions in Egypt.

4) Here is a general contrasting of the Book of Genesis with the Kings/Chronicles history:

Book of Genesis:

a) the narrative style is esoteric, subtle, indirect, understated, feminine.

b) the central character, Abraham, is a cerebral/passive/reactive Osiris figure.

c) the narrative pace is simplified, ambiguous in meaning (allows for shades of grey), reveals good and bad traits of the same individuals, seeks harmony/conflict avoidance, deals with continuity over vast expanses of time and through cyclical patterns.

a) the narrative style is direct, dominant/forceful, masculine.

b) the central character, David, is a physical/active/aggressive Horus figure.

c) the narrative pace is complex/chaotic, emphasizes competition/conflict, is explicit in meaning (good verses bad), but generally hides the good and bad traits of a single individual by assigning multiple names/identities, and it deals with shorter time spans. Cycles are still important but are primarily concerned with the balance and shift of power between rival dynasties and regions. This is presented using a “spiral development” of the action, which goes back and forth in time and in geographic location.

(The Book of Deuteronomy seems to reflect the new mentality/morality of the Maccabean period.)

d) although Kings/Chronicles is later than Genesis, it evidently was designed to be read “inter-textually” (as Joe Atwill would put it) with Genesis. It does not overtly discredit the Genesis history or philosophy. It simply presents a radically different perspective. Even during Herodian times it was understood by the royal family that the two histories were complementary, and that the set of characters were overlapping. For example, in Herod the Great’s case, it was considered appropriate to assume the role of Jacob from Genesis along with Solomon from Kings/Chronicles.

As a final thought, where do the books of Joshua and Judges fit in terms of dating? Because of their emphasis on geographic Israel, they also must have been written no earlier than the Persian period. However, it seems to me that there must have originally been a separate account of the Exodus that accompanied the Book of Joshua. Parts of that book were included in the Torah account of the Exodus, which is in fact a composite of multiple Exodus events. Details from the mock Exodus of Akhenaten (Rehoboam) were combined with details from the earlier Exodus of Hammurabi (Eber).

Responses To This Message

Re: Torah Time
Re: Torah Time