SEDER OLAM - Revisited

סדר עולם - חדש



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Index of names


Generations  1-14
(3760 - 2080 BCE)

Generations 15-21
(2080 - 1240 BCE)

Generations 22-28
(1240 - 400 BCE)

Generations 29-35
(400 BCE - 440 CE)

Generations 36-42
(440 - 1280 CE)

Generations 43-49
(1280 - 2120 CE)

Generation 50

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Pharaoh Horemheb
(2441 AM - 1319 CE)

(2454 AM - 1306 CE)

The 430 years
The 400 years
The years in Egypt
The 4th generation in Egypt

Death of Horemheb
(2454 AM - 1306 CE)

The giving of the Torah
(2454 AM - 1306 CE)

Yom Kippur and the Jubilee
(2455 AM - 1305 CE)

The cycle of 7 generations

Census of the Israelites
(2455 AM - 1305 CE)

The Explorers
(2456 AM - 1304 CE)

Caleb and Joshua
(2456 AM - 1304 CE)

Encounter with Moab
(2475 AM - 1285 CE)

Seti I's campaign in Canaan
(2476 AM - 1284 CE)

Ramses II
(2486 AM - 1274 CE)

The Land of Canaan
(2494 AM - 1266 CE)

Death of Aaron
(2494 AM - 1266 CE)

Og, king of Bashan
(2494 AM - 1266 CE)

The prophet Balaam
(2495 AM - 1265 CE)

Death of Moses
(2495 AM - 1265 CE)

 Previous <<   Generation 21   >> Next

Hebrew years 2400 to 2520 (1360-1240 BCE)
~~~ Part I ~~~ Part II ~~~ Part III ~~~

Year 2441 – 1319 BCE  – Horemheb, Pharaoh of the Exodus

The next ruler to reign after Ay was Horemheb, the military chief during Tutankhamen’s reign. Horemheb pursued the policy of oppression against the Hebrews, and made them build the cities mentioned in the Bible, Pithom and Ramses (Exodus 1:11).

What was Ramses? The name means Ra bore him. It was a new city built east of the Nile Delta, in the site of an older city called Avaris that was occupied by the Hyksos and that Ahmose I had destroyed.[12] Later this new city of Ramses will be extended and named Pi-Ramses during the reign of Ramses II and will become the capital of Egypt during his 19th Dynasty. Horemheb ordered the construction of this city Ramses, a name that must have be of importance to him as his designated heir will take the name of Ramses (he will be Pharaoh Ramses I, founder of the 19th Dynasty).

What was Pithom? The name spells Pi-Thom, Pi meaning House of in Egyptian, like Pi-Ramses, the above-mentioned city. And Thom could have been the Hebrew word for the Egyptian god Ptah. So Pi-Thom means the House of Ptah. This place would then be associated with the city of Memphis, because this is where the cult of Ptah developed and where the Great Temple of Ptah had been raised. This city had of course already been built long time before the Hebrew slaves worked on it but, during Horemheb, it was certainly restored to some past glory after the years of abandon during the Amarna heresy. The restoration to this city is what the Biblical text referred to as building Pi-Thom, meaning the House of Ptah (or indirectly City of Ptah), meaning Memphis. Another theory is that Pithom meant Pi-Atom, House of [God] Atum. In such case, the city of Pithom would have been located at the East of the Nile Delta, and would have become in later years a city renamed Heroonopolis at the time of the Greeks. There was the Royal Canal in this location that connected the Nile with the Red Sea.


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Year 2454 – 1306 BCE  – The Exodus

Horemheb was the Pharaoh to whom Moses addressed himself to free the Hebrews from Egypt: Let my people go... The Exodus took place in Hebrew year 2454, which falls during the reign of Horemheb.

Moses before Pharaoh
Moses and Aaron before Pharaoh (Gustave Doré, 1868)

How can we know this year was 2454? In Exodus 12:40, the text mentions the following, based on common translation into English: Now the time that the children of Israel dwelt in Egypt was four hundred and thirty years. And this translation has caused mistakes in the attempts to dress a Biblical chronology, because it was impossible to reconcile these 430 years with the time of their dwelling in Egypt. It also created difficulties to reconcile Bible and History when one would attempt to identify the Pharaoh of the Exodus. But the problem is mostly a problem of translation... Let us look at the actual text in Hebrew:

 וּמוֹשַׁב בְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל, אֲשֶׁר יָשְׁבוּ בְּמִצְרָיִם--שְׁלֹשִׁים שָׁנָה, וְאַרְבַּע מֵאוֹת שָׁנָה

Thus it should have been translated as follows: And
the dwelling of the Bene-Israel, [those] who had dwelled in Egypt, was four hundred and thirty years. (Exodus 12:40)

Spot the difference... The Hebrew text doesn't actually say the Bene-Israel "dwelled 430 years in Egypt", it says the Bene-Israel, who had dwelled in Egypt, have dwelled for 430 years. In other words, the counting of the dwelling is not for their sole number of years in Egypt only but for the total number of years they had been dwelling (anywhere) thus far. If we take a simple analogy of a person who lived a life of 70 years in total, and had lived in Holland for some of these years, we would say: "and the life of this person, the one who had lived in Holland, was of 70 years." Similarly here in the Biblical text: the 430 years apply to the word
מוֹשַׁב (dwelling) but not solely to the word אֲשֶׁר יָשְׁבוּ (had dwelled).

Then the next problem to resolve is: where should we start counting these 430 years?
Those who had believed that the 430 years applied to the sole dwelling in Egypt were obviously led to the wrong path. In general, the non-Jewish timelines of the Bible assumed that the Exodus either happened much earlier, during the Hyksos invasion, or much later, during the reign of Ramses II. Neither are correct. The Jewish tradition however follows the text of the Seder Olam which correctly states that the 430 years applied to a greater period, not just the time of dwelling in Egypt. But the Seder Olam Rabbah counts 400 years from the birth of Isaac in Hebrew year 2048 based on the following verse:

And He said unto Abram: 'Know of a surety that your seed shall be a stranger in a land that is not theirs, and shall serve them; and they shall afflict them four hundred years.
--- Genesis 15:13

The reasoning is that your seed applies to Isaac, thus 400 years should be counted from the time of his birth (in year 2048). Thus it states that the Exodus occurred in Hebrew year 2448. However, it seems more correct to find a solution to these 430 years specifically mentioned in the Exodus verse ! In the chapter of the Covenant with Abraham, God also specifically mentioned to Abraham that his descendance will live in a land that will not be theirs. This was the so-called Brit Bein Habetarim (the Covenant of the Pieces). The problem, as explained in that chapter (see Generation 17), is that the timing of this Covenant had not been precisely mentioned and may have, in fact, been a series of visions that Abraham had. Thus the importance was not the actual date of the Covenant but what parallel it was drawing, which was the exodus of Abraham from Egypt, paralleled with the Exodus of his descendants, 430 years later day for day, on the 15th of the month of Nisan. This is confirmed a second time by the verse Exodus 12:41 that follows the previous one:

וַיְהִי, מִקֵּץ שְׁלֹשִׁים שָׁנָה, וְאַרְבַּע מֵאוֹת, שָׁנָה; וַיְהִי, בְּעֶצֶם הַיּוֹם הַזֶּה, יָצְאוּ כָּל-צִבְאוֹת יְהוָה, מֵאֶרֶץ מִצְרָיִם

Translation: And it came to pass, at the end of 430 years, and it came to pass in fact on that day that all the hosts of the Lord came out of Egypt. (Exodus 12:41)

What does mean "all the hosts of the Lord"? It means all the generations of Hebrews, including the very first one, Abraham, who is the founder and ancestor of these hosts. So the Exodus date is calculated from the date when Abraham went out of Egypt. And his descendants, the Hebrews, came out of Egypt on the same day, "on that day", the 15 Nisan, exactly 430 years after Abraham.

Abraham, the Patriarch of the Hebrews, had left Egypt in a hurry, pushed out by Pharaoh and accompanied by his soldiers until the border of Egypt, with gifts of wealth, after plagues that God inflicted upon Egypt, and had arrived to dwell in the land (of Canaan) that God has promised to him. This first exodus out of Egypt occurred in Hebrew year 2024 (1736 BCE). Abram went down only to sojourn because of a famine. The same circumstance occurred with his descendance: Jacob and his family came down to Egypt because of a famine and initially thought only to sojourn for a while. But they were given wealth and honours, thanks to the role of Joseph, had assimilated and stayed in Egypt, and even adopted the Egyptian gods and cult. All this sojourn in Egypt turned to become a sin and the Hebrews were at the edge of becoming Egyptians altogether and forgetful of where they came from, and of the Covenant with God. Abraham too, when he went down to Egypt, committed a sin by leaving the land that God had promised to him because he had showed that, somehow, he had lacked in the trust that God would be able to allow him to overcome this famine. And, in both cases with Abraham and the Exodus, it was through the plagues of God against Egypt, that both left Egypt, and also with riches. The two exits from Egypt are parallel stories as depicted in the Biblical text by the fact that both stories are told in similar chapter number: Genesis 12 for Abraham and Exodus 12 for the Exodus. [Note: the division in chapters was only made in Medieval times by Christian scholar but it is so universally used that one may think that this scholar had been divinely inspired as his proposed division greatly eased Biblical studies]

And, in comparison, when an event of famine occurred to Isaac, he too contemplated going down to sojourn in Egypt, but then God stopped him and asked him to remain in Canaan, and thus allowed him not to sin by lack of trust as his father Abraham did and as his son Jacob did.

And there was a famine in the land, beside the first famine that was in the days of Abraham. And Isaac went unto Abimelech king of the Philistines unto Gerar.[1] And the Lord appeared unto him, and said: 'Go not down unto Egypt; dwell in the land which I shall tell you of. Sojourn in this land, and I will be with you, and will bless you; for unto you, and unto your seed, I will give all these lands, and I will establish the oath which I swore unto Abraham your father; and I will multiply your seed as the stars of heaven, and will give unto your seed all these lands; and by your seed shall all the nations of the earth bless themselves.
--- Genesis 26:1-4

Three patriarchs, three famines, and three times the promise or covenant: these are connected circumstances. These famines were ordeals to prove the patriarchs, and their descendants: Abraham went to Egypt but didn't sojourn long, Isaac listened to God and didn't leave Canaan, Jacob went down to Egypt to sojourn for a while but the Hebrews stayed there and assimilated. Their Redemption was at risk, so God had to intervene to extract them out of Egypt.

In summary, the Hebrew year 2024 + 430 years of dwelling (without identified "home", in his sense) = Hebrew year 2454 : this was the year of the Exodus.

The word used for dwelling, here it is 
מוֹשַׁב in Hebrew, means seat. And it means exactly what this is about: the Hebrews, since Abraham, didn't have their own home yet, or homeland, although the land of Canaan had been promised to them through three patriarchs. So they only were dwelling, here and there, and in Egypt too as the Biblical text says, but this was just a seat, not a home. The home was yet to come.

There is an additional proof of the above, in the next verse, which should really be translated as follows:

And it came to pass, at the very end of four hundred and thirty years, and it came to pass, in fact on that very day, that all the Legions of the Lord came out of Egypt.
--- Exodus 12:41

Why does the text take extra length to mention the very day of this event? Because the two events did happen on the same day, the 15th of the month of Nisan, 430 years apart, day for day. With Abraham, the event was recorded in chapter Genesis 12, and with the Hebrews the event was recorded in chapter Exodus 12. At the middle of the night after the last plague of the first-born, Pharaoh called for Moses:

And he [Pharaoh] called for Moses and Aaron by night and said: 'Rise up, get you forth from among my people, both you and the children of Israel; and go, serve the Lord, as you have said.
--- Exodus 12:31

And in the case of Abraham, the same occurred when God struck Egypt with plague and when Pharaoh called Abraham and expelled him:

And Pharaoh called Abram, and said: 'What is this that you have done unto me? Why did you not tell me that she was your wife? Why said you: She is my sister? So that I took her to be my wife; now therefore behold your wife, take her, and go your way.'
--- Genesis 12:18-19

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The Exodus - David Roberts 1828
The Hebrews leaving Egypt, by David Roberts, 1828
(Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery, UK)

It is interesting to note that one of His discussions with Abraham, God mentioned to him:

And He said unto Abram: 'Know for your knowledge that your seed shall be a stranger in a land that is not theirs, and shall be enslaved, and they shall afflict them --- four hundred years. And also that nation, who shall enslave them, will I judge; and afterward shall they come out with great substance."
--- Genesis 15:13-14

So there is an apparent difficulty because the above text mentions 400 years that do not match the 430 years previously mentioned. The reason is that these are two different references. In the 430 years period, it was to state the number of years of dwelling from the exodus of Abraham from Egypt until the Exodus of the Hebrews from Egypt. Whereas, in the above text, it is to state the number of years of affliction. We have discussed above the calculation of the 430 years. As of the 400 years of affliction, they refer to your seed, of Abraham, and not to Abraham himself. Who was his seed? It was not Ishmael but Isaac and his descendants, as it said:

And God said unto Abraham: "Let it not be grievous in your sight because of the lad [Ishmael], and because of your bondwoman [Hagar]; in all that Sarah says unto you, hearken unto her voice; for in Isaac shall seed be called to you."
--- Genesis 21:12

So Isaac was Abraham's seed. When does the affliction start? When he was 6 years old, because the previous verses say:

And the child [Isaac] grew, and was weaned. And Abraham made a great feast on the day that Isaac was weaned. And Sarah saw the son of Hagar the Egyptian, whom she had borne unto Abraham, making sport. Wherefore she said unto Abraham: "Cast out this bondwoman and her son [Ishmael]; for the son of this bondwoman shall not be heir with my son, even with Isaac." And the thing was very grievous in Abraham's sight on account of his son.
--- Genesis 21:8-11

Normally a child is weaned after the age of 2 years old minimum.
[13a] This means that the weaning period ended at the earliest in the year 2048+2 = 2050. But this was a Jubilee year, the 41st Jubilee from Creation (41 x 50 years = 2050), when the land must rest. So, because it is mentioned that Abraham made a great feast, we have to suppose that this feast could only happen at the end of the Jubilee period (in order to be able to use produces from the land), thus taking the count to year 2051, when Isaac was still in his 3rd year of age and thus weaned on the day, which was the first day of the New Year in Tishri 2051. And the affliction of the seed (Isaac) started after Isaac was weaned, and also after he grew. The use of dual verbs (grew and weaned) in the verse means that we have to double the count of the period, so to speak. The distinction of the two periods is also illustrated in the following verse: 

And the sucking child shall play on the hole of the asp, and the weaned child shall put his hand on the basilisk's den.
--- Isaiah 11:8
The following verse also mentions And Sarah saw, etc. which also confirms that a lapse of time happened between the weaning and the start of the affliction. In the lack of further mention of time, we have to assume that the affliction started after the doubled length of time, when the growing and the weaning were equally accomplished, thus in the 6th year of Isaac's life, in year 2054 AM.

In summary, Isaac, 
Abraham's seed, was born in year 2048 AM, and his affliction started in year 2054 AM. The Exodus took place 400 years from the affliction, in year 2454 AM.

The text mentions that Moses was 80 years old when he led his people out of Egypt, and Aaron was 83 (Exodus 7:6). This detail shows that Moses was born in year 2374 AM (1386 BCE), during the reign of Amenhotep III, as it was considered in a previous chapter (see Generation 20). 

The Exodus took place 216 years after Jacob and his family came down to Egypt. A duration that was exactly half the 430 years that the text mentioned. This detail, and the detail above-mentioned about the growing and weaning being two halves of a 6 years period, have a connection with the Brit Bein Habetarim (Covenant of the Parts) when Abraham took some animals under the instruction of God and split them into two halves to offer them as a sacrifice (Genesis 15:10). Following this, God announced to Abraham the affliction that his descendants will suffer in a foreign land (Egypt) during four generations.

Slavery in Egypt

There is also one ancient source worth mentioning the date of the Exodus: it is the Sefer ha-Yovel, known in English as the Book of the Jubilees. The detail of its calculation of the Exodus is detailed further down in this site: to check it, click here.

Another reason for the date of the Exodus to be in year 2454 AM is as follows. The Biblical text mentions that Amram, Moses' father, lived 137 years. But Amram was not among the 70 souls that came down to Egypt. In another hand there is no mention of Amram in the fate of Moses when his mother decided to out him in a basket on the Nile. The obvious reason was that Amram had probably just died when Moses was left on the waters. As Moses led the hebrews out of Egypt when he was 80 years old, it gives a total number of years between the birth of Amram to the Exodus of 137 years + 80 years - 1 year maximum for the few months of life of Moses until his father's death. This totals 216 years. If we would follow the computation of the Seder Olam Rabbah, which gives the Exodus in year 2448 AM, it would necessary mean that the number of years in Egypt since Jacob came with the 70 souls (in year 2238 AM) was of 210 years.[13b] But then it would mean that Amram, presumably born just the year of the Hebrews' arrival to Egypt, died when Moses was 7 years old. But then why didn't his father Amram have any say about the fate of his son Moses? It is thus more reasonable to follow that Moses' father died when Moses was a few months old rather than a 7 years old boy raised in the palace of Pharaoh !

It is therefore in our opinion that the Biblical text has left no doubt as for the date of the Exodus, when adding the 137 years of Amram to the 79-80 years of Moses. And this is conforted by the second Biblical indication of 430 years between the exodus of Abraham from Egypt to the Exodus of his offspring led by Moses.

From Abraham to Moses
From Abraham to Moses

What were the four [family] generations of Hebrews in Egypt?

- The first generation is the one that came down to Egypt; they came to sojourn for a while but remained in Egypt, because they were given a rich land (Goshen, in the Nile delta), important positions in the administration (managed by their brother Joseph); the Biblical text emphasizes on their assimilation: And the children of Israel [Jacob] were fruitful, increased abundantly, and multiplied, and waxed exceedingly mighty, and the land [of Egypt] was filled with them. (Exodus 1:7)

- The second generation completed their assimilation and even worshipped idols (except the tribe of Levi who remained in the path of God, and will be later rewarded for this)[11]

- The third generation was enslaved from the time of Thutmoses IV, who decreed the death of the newborn sons

- The fourth generation is the one of the Exodus; they missed the opportunity to leave Egypt by themselves during the heresy of Akhenaten, and rather returned to the hope of better life among the Egyptians; God sent them oppression again until He took them out from Egypt Himself after the 10 Plagues, and offered them redemption

We can look at these 4 family generations through the example of Moses' ancestry: 1st is the generation that came from Canaan to Egypt, with Levi son of Jacob, 2nd is the generation that settled and assimilated, with Kohath his son, 3rd is the generation that was oppressed, with Amram his son, and 4th is the generation that missed the opportunity to leave and was led out from Egypt, with Moses.

The Biblical text also offers a clue to avoid making the mistake to assume that 400 years were spent in Egypt. Indeed, Levi came down to Egypt at the age of 44 (he was born in year 2194 and the arrival in Egypt was in year 2238). As Levi lived 137 years, he died in year 2331 and thus spent 93 years in Egypt. The oppression started soon after his death. His son Kohath lived 133 years, but was born before entering Egypt (as his name is mentioned among the 70 souls who came down). And his son Amram lived 137 years, dying from the ordeal of slave labour probably in the same year when his son Moses was born. If, in the maximum possible time, we assume that Kohath was born just before leaving Canaan, and dying just at the birth of Amram, the total years in Egypt would be 133+137= 270 years before the birth of Moses, and the Exodus had taken place when Moses was 80 years old, so the total time of stay in Egypt would have been 270+80= 350 years. Although this would be the worst case scenario (fathers dying in the year of their son's birth), the number of years in Egypt would be LESS than the supposed 400 years. The Biblical text's mention of the life duration of Kohath and Amram is very useful for us to avoid such mistake. But, of course, Amram was born when Kohath was still alive, and the stay in Egypt took less than 350 years as well. This exercise was just to show that the 400 years were not the right count. And yet, many (non-Jewish) historians fell in the trap and considered that the Hebrews had suffered 400 years of slavery in Egypt !

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Year 2454 – 1306 BCE  – Death of Horemheb and his wife

God struck Egypt with ten plagues, starting from the 1st of the month of Av of the preceding year, at the rate of one plague each first of a new month. The 8th plague was the locust which struck on the 1st of Adar. The 9th plague was obscurity which fell in the 1st of Nisan.  The last plague was the death of every first-born (Exodus 11:5). Horemheb is known to have died without heir. It is thus assumed by Historians that he never had any child. But this cannot be true because his wife could indeed bear children, as her mummy was found containing a foetus or newborn child.[2] This wife was Mutnedjmet and she died in the 13th year of the reign of her husband,[3] so this was precisely the same year as the Exodus, in 1306 BCE. It is possible that both her and her son (Horemheb’s heir) were first born children and consequently were both struck by God’s last plague. Another theory is that she was a sister of Nefertiti, that the mummy in her tomb was of a foetus because she had died in pregnancy.[4]

Auction of Mutnedjmet bust
Auction of Mutnedjmet bust

It is today assumed that Horemheb died in the 14th year of his reign, although earlier historians thought he reigned for 27 years. But it is also known that he died without having any heir. So, if he would have survived his wife for so many years (14 years), there is little doubt that he would have married again, at least to try have a heir. But that was not the case so it makes more sense to admit the current opinion that he died some months, or one year, after his wife Mutnedjmet, and without heir as they died before him.

Is it possible that Horemheb, who was a military commander at the time of Akhenaten and of Tutankhamen, had died in the pursuit of the Hebrews to the sea after the Exodus? This would explain the closeness of his death and of his wife's and the lack of extra wife/wives and of any heir. The Biblical text does mention that Pharaoh and his chariots pursued the Hebrews to bring them back into slavery. Then came the episode of the Crossing of the Sea which saw all Pharaoh's army being drawn in the waters (Exodus 14:28). The text doesn't however mention the fate of Pharaoh himself. But, as of today, and although Horemheb had benefited from a magnificent tomb built by his successor,[5] nobody has ever found his mummy yet ![6]

The Tomb of Horemheb
The Tomb of Horemheb, magnificent but... empty of his remains

Before his death, Horemheb had appointed his vizier, Paramesse, as successor. This Paramesse reigned after Horemheb’s death as Pharaoh Ramses I, and started the 19th Dynasty of Egypt, thus turning the page on the glorious 18th Dynasty which started with the Pharaoh who raised Joseph to power and ended with Horemheb who died without heir and did not survive the events about the Exodus.

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Year 2454 – 1306 BCE  – The Giving of the Torah at Mount Sinai (Matan Torah)

The Hebrews left Egypt on the 15th of the month of Nisan (which was called Aviv in these times), and crossed the sea 7 days later. It took them a total of 49 days until they reached Mount Sinai where God gave them the Torah on the 50th day from the Exodus. The festival of the Exodus is called Pesach (Passover in English) and the festival of the Giving of the Torah is called Shavuoth (meaning the weeks, but it also refers to the number seven which is the number of weeks from one festival to the other).

Moses was ordered to build an ark to host the two tablets where God had inscribed His Ten Commandments: it became the Ark of Covenant, with two facing cherubim on top.

The Ark of Covenant
The Ark of Covenant

The Biblical Mount Sinai is called Horeb. It has been identified by most scholars as Ras Safsafeh, at the northern edge of the Mount Sinai range. The main reason for this is that a large plain faces Ras Safsafeh which would be able to allow about two million Israelites to camp there, "before the mount" as the Biblical text mentions:

And when they were departed from Rephidim, and were come to the wilderness of Sinai, they encamped in the wilderness; and there Israel encamped before the mount.
--- Exodus 19:2

Ras Safsafeh and the plain before it
Ras Safsafeh and the plain before it (source: Life in the Holy Land)

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Year 2455 – 1305 BCE  – Yom Kippur and the Jubilee

Some of the commandments that God gave to the Israelites at Mount Sinai concerned the cycle of the Year. To start, He instituted the Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur) following the death of the two elder sons of Aaron, Nadab and Abihu:

"And it shall be a statute for ever unto you: in the seventh month, on the tenth day of the month, you shall afflict your souls, and shall do no manner of work, the home-born, or the stranger that sojourns among you. For on this day shall atonement be made for you, to cleanse you; from all your sins shall you be clean before the Lord. It is a sabbath of solemn rest unto you, and you shall afflict your souls; it is a statute for ever."
--- Leviticus 16:29-31
This chapter is read in synagogues on the day of Yom Kippur. It is compared to a special Sabbath day. With this statute, God offered them a way to repent from the sins, and thus avoid a possible divine fatal decree like it fell upon the sons of Aaron.

Then a few chapters later, God instituted a special memorial day, as being the first day of the seventh month, to anticipate the 10th day of that same month, Yom Kippur:

"Speak unto the children of Israel, saying: In the seventh month, in the first day of the month, shall be a solemn rest unto you, a memorial proclaimed with the blast of horns, a holy convocation."
--- Leviticus 23:24
No further signification is given to this special day but it became the day of the new year to start (Rosh Hashanah) in the Oral Law. One of the reasons for this, beside the fact that it is indeed a special day preparing for God's judgment of the people and their atonenement, is that the same day of Kippur (on the seventh month) marks the start of the Sabbatical years and Jubilee cycle which is clearly defined as a cycle of years. The  Jubilee year is to fall every 50th year, after seven periods of 7 years, each of these period being concluded by a Sabbatical year:

And you shall number seven Sabbaths of years unto you, seven times seven years; and there shall be unto you the days of seven Sabbaths of years, even forty and nine years. Then shall you make proclamation with the blast of the horn on the tenth day of the seventh month; in the Day of Atonement shall you make proclamation with the horn throughout all your land. And you shall hallow the fiftieth year, and proclaim liberty throughout the land unto all the inhabitants thereof; it shall be a jubilee unto you; and you shall return every man unto his possession, and you shall return every man unto his family. A jubilee shall that fiftieth year be unto you; you shall not sow, neither reap that which grows of itself in it, nor gather the grapes in it of the undressed vines. For it is a jubilee; it shall be holy unto you; you shall eat the increase thereof out of the field. In this year of jubilee you shall return every man unto his possession.
--- Leviticus 25:8-13

It is important to note that the start of the Jubilee Cycle is proclaimed on Yom Kippur, thus giving a special role to the seventh month. So the Sages of the Oral Law found it necessary or useful to consider the first day of the seventh day, defined as a solem memorial day in the Torah, as the first day of the year cycle. One has to remember that Jewish calendars, unlike other calendars, combine both the lunar cycles (for the months) and the solar cycles (for the years, and seasons). So the first day of the seventh month was proclaimed as being Rosh Hashanah, the start of a new year.

If we parallel each day or year towards a Sabbath into the generations described in the text, we can notice that every 7th mankind generation thus far has been a special one in the history of the Jews and of Humanity, and should continue to be so:

-            7th generation:  death of Cain, and start of the Bronze Age
-          14th generation:  the Flood
-          21st generation:  the monotheism in Egypt (Amarna period), the Exodus and the conquest of Canaan
-          28th generation:  the redemption of the Israelites after their captivity in Babylon, and construction of 2nd Temple
-          35th generation:  end of the Jewish political nation at the hand of the Romans, and completion of the Talmud; the Israelites become a spiritual nation
-          42nd generation: diaspora and building of the Jewish spiritual nation (Zohar, Maimonides, Nahmanides)
-          49th generation:  final return to Sion and pre-Messianic times

Mount Sinai
Mount Sinai

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Year 2455 – 1305 BCE  – Census of the Israelites

In the second year after the Exodus, God ordered Moses to carry out a census of all Israelites above 20 years old of age. The numbers per tribe were (Numbers 1:20-43):

-          Ruben: 46,500
-          Simeon: 59,300
-          Gad: 45,650
-          Judah: 74,600
-          Issachar: 54,400
-          Zebulun: 57,400
-          Ephraim, son of Joseph: 40,500
-          Manasseh, son of Joseph: 32,200
-          Benjamin: 35,400
-          Dan: 62,700
-          Asher: 41,500
-          Naphtali: 53,400

The total number was 603,550 men, from 20 years old. The tribe of Levi was not part of this census, because the census was to count the number of all that were able to go forth to war in Israel (Numbers 1:45), while the Tribe of Levi was destined to priesthood (Numbers 1:47-49). With over 600,000 men of the age of war, we can assume that they had as many wives, so the total number of Israelites was in excess of 2 million people when counting the young children and older family members as well.

The number of the Israelites who left Egypt corresponds to the number of the letters contained in the Torah, which is also over 600,000.[10]

It is well assumed that the Israelites were divided into 12 Tribes but in fact there were 13 tribes when we take into account the Tribe of Levi. And 13 was the number of children that Jacob had, composed of 12 sons and one daughter, Dinah. Jacob did want to have 13 sons, to create 13 tribes and thus reflecting upon the unicity of God, because 13 is the numerical value of the Hebrew word אחד meaning One. But Jacob had one daughter. He later took the opportunity to single out the tribe of Joseph into two tribes, one tribe for each of his two sons Ephraim and Manasseh. Thus he obtained 13 tribes, as desired. The number 13 proclaims the unicity of God, and the Covenant with the Israelites which is reflected in the age of circumcision, also 13.

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Year 2456 – 1304 BCE  – The explorers

After having received the Torah from Moses and God’s commandments, the Israelites moved to a camp at Kadesh-Barneah, on the southern border of Canaan. From there, instead of invading the Promised Land, in full trust in God’s support, they wanted to first send explorers to assess the difficulty of conquering the land that God promised to their ancestors. These explorers were one man from each tribe, mostly all of the same age of 40 years old (Numbers 13:4-16):

-          Ruben: Shammua, son of Zaccur
-          Simeon: Shaphat, son of Hori
-          Gad: Geul son of Machi
-          Judah: Caleb, son of Jephuneh
-          Issachar: Igal son of Joseph
-          Zebulun: Gaddiel son of Sodi
-          Ephraim: Hoshea son of Nun (renamed Joshua by Moses)
-          Menasseh: Gaddi son of Susi
-          Benjamin: Palti son of Raphu
-          Dan: Ammiel son of Gemalli
-          Asher: Sethur son of Michael
-          Naphtali: Nahbi son of Vophsi

The return of the explorers
The return of the Explorers (Julius Schnorr von Carolsfeld, "Die Bibel in Bilderm", 1860)

But, except for Caleb and Joshua, the explorers came back with false reports which undermined the faith of the Israelites:

And they returned from spying out the land at the end of forty days. And they went and came to Moses, and to Aaron, and to all the congregation of the children of Israel, unto the wilderness of Paran, to Kadesh; and brought back word unto them, and unto the entire congregation, and showed them the fruit of the land. And they told him, and said: "We came unto the land where you sent us, and surely it flows with milk and honey; and this is the fruit of it. However the people that dwell in the land are fierce and the cities are fortified, and very great; and moreover we saw the children of Anak there. Amalek dwells in the land of the South; and the Hittite, and the Jebusite, and the Amorite, dwell in the mountains; and the Canaanite dwells by the sea, and along by the side of the Jordan." 
And Caleb stilled the people toward Moses, and said: "We should go up at once, and possess it; for we are well able to overcome it." But the men that went up with him said: "we are not able to go up against the people; for they are stronger than we." And they spread an evil report of the land which they had spied out unto the children of Israel, saying: "The land, through which we have passed to spy it out, is a land that eats up the inhabitants thereof; and all the people that we saw in it are men of great stature. And there we saw the Nephilim, the sons of Anak, who come of the Nephilim; and we were in our own sight as grasshoppers, and so we were in their sight." 
And the entire congregation lifted up their voice, and cried; and the people wept that night. And all the children of Israel murmured against Moses and against Aaron; and the whole congregation said unto them: "Would that we had died in the land of Egypt! Or would we have died in this wilderness!"
--- Numbers 13:25 - 14:2

The explorers were surely shocked by some of the abominations they witnessed among the Canaanites, who sacrificed their children to their gods. They also feared of the tribes of Amalek who were relentlessly attacking the Israelites as soon as they would approach their territory, and probably imagined that the conquest of Canaan would prove to be a disaster if all the people were as belligerent as the Amalekites. They were also impressed by the size of the people who dwelled in the mountains, near Hebron, as being giant like the so-called Nephilim described in Genesis. This detail about the name Nephilim shows furthermore that the contents of the Torah, given by God to Moses and who gave it to the Elders and them to their communities, were taught and known to the Israelites by that time.

But these fears, although understandable, were also the proof of a lack of sufficient faith in God to deliver this land to the people He promised it to. If He had been able to extract them out of a powerful nation such as Egypt, couldn’t He help them overcome any obstacle that would be met in the land of Canaan? Only Joshua and Caleb raised their voice against the rumours that the other explorers spread to the camp. So God punished this generation, the one that came out of Egypt (the 4th generation since Jacob) to die in the desert, after a wander of 40 years, because for every day a year (Numbers 14:34). One text refers to the sin of the explorers to have been the worst of all:

With ten trials have our ancestors tried the Holy One, blessed be He, but they were punished only for one of them, which is calumny. There are as follows: one at the sea, one at the beginning of the manna period and one at the termintation of it, one at the first and last appearance of the quails, and at Marah, at Rephidim, one at Horeb, one on the occasion of the golden calf, and one when they sent spies. That of the the spies was the hardest of all as it is written [Numbers 14:22]: "And (they) have tempted me these times ten times and have not hearkened to my voice."
--- Tosephta Avot de-Rabbi Nathan, in Rodkinson, Michael, The Babylonian Talmud, Volume I (IX), page 38, published 1900

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Year 2456 – 1304 BCE  – Caleb and Joshua

Only Joshua and Caleb will survive this punishment, as well as all the children of age below 20 years old and some of the Levites who were not counted in the census (Numbers 14:29): they formed the generation who will be allowed to enter the Promised Land. Caleb was 40 years old at the time,[7] but how old was Joshua? The Biblical text does not give it explicitely, but gives us the necessary hints to work it out. When the Exodus took place, Moses came across to know Hoshua and took him at his service. Besides he also renamed him Joshua and described him as a young man (Exodus 33:11). There are not many occurrences of the mention of a young man in the Biblical text before him. In fact the only other Hebrew person called as such was Joseph when he was such described by the chamberlain who was with him in prison (Genesis 41:12). The other correlation between Joseph and Hoshua is that the latter was an Efraimite, so his direct ancestor was Joseph. Moses knew the text of the Torah by then and knew that Joseph was 28 years old when he had known the chamberlain who called him a young man. And this was the reason for Moses to also call Hoshua a young man, thus reminding that he was 28 years old like his ancestor Joseph when they met first (in the year of the Exodus). Also, Moses had renamed Hoshua (הוֹשֵׁעַ) as Joshua (יְהוֹשֻׁעַ), adding the letter yod (יְ) as a prefix to Hoshua (Numbers 13:16). Why did he do this? Because the Yod is the symbol of God,[8] and also, maybe more importantly here, because Hoshua's ancestor, Joseph, has a name starting with this letter Yod. Last, we will learn later in the Biblical text that Joshua died at the age of 110 years old (Joshua 24:29), precisely like Joseph (Genesis 50:26). So there is a precise parallel made in the text between the characters of Joseph and Joshua. So, when Moses called the latter a young man, it was a direct reference of the fact that, like his ancestor Joseph had been 28 years old in the jail when the chamberlain knew him, two years before Joseph was called in front of Pharaoh, the same goes for Joshua who was 28 years old when Moses knew him (at the time of the Exodus), two years before he was called in front of him to participate to the mission of the explorers. So, at the time of this mission, Joshua was 30 years old and Caleb was 40 years old. "Hoshua" should not have been eligible to be part of this mission, composed of men of 40 years of age, but "Joshua" was... because the addition of the letter yod (יְ) to his name was also meant to add a value of 10 to his age.    

Weakened in spirits by God's punishment after them, the Israelites avoided confrontation against the Amalekites and the Canaanites, and remained 19 years in the camp of Kadesh-Barneah.

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Year 2475 – 1285 BCE  – Encounter with Moab

When they finally left their camp, the Israelites took a long detour, instead of taking the direct route into Canaan, and passed onto the other side of the Red Sea, into the land of Edom (Numbers 21). Then they went north from that side of the land and made their first encounter with a peaceful foreign people in Moab. There they took wives among this people and even adopted their pagan rites. So God punished them at Shittim (Numbers 25:1), which is north from the Dead Sea.

Exodus route
Exodus route (source: web site)

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Year 2476 – 1284 BCE  – Seti I's campaign in Canaan

It is interesting to note that the move of the Hebrews away from Kadesh-Barnea, more East towards Edom and Moab, corresponded to the time when Pharaoh Seti I, son of Ramses I, led his army to a victorious campaign into Canaan and the Levant. Since the collapse of the 18th Dynasty, many peoples thought it was a good time to break away from Egyptian rule and Seti I aimed to restore order over this region. He first consolidated his immediate borders, with Nubia and Lybia, and then turned his attention to Canaan. One of his army's victory was against the Canaanite city of Beth-Shean. This victory is recorded in a basalt stele that was found during excavations of this ancient city.

The victory stele of Beth-Shean
The victory stele of Beth-Shean

The text of the stele reminds the people of Beth-Shean of Seti I's victory and warns them of what would happen to them if they dared to rebel again ! This campaign of Seti I restored to Egypt the control of the northern part of the holy land. He also campaigned further north against the Hittites but without conclusive result.

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Year 2486 – 1274 BCE  – Ramses II

Many historians have assumed that Ramses II was the Pharaoh of the Exodus but this hypothesis was, and still is, based on erroneous translation of the Biblical text which misled the non-Hebrew speakers. This hypothesis was not either in compliance with the fact that Egypt was struck by calamities at the time of the Exodus whereas, at the time of Ramses II, this country was flourishing. The fact is that Ramses II had no encounter with the Israelites because, at the time of his splendour, they already passed to the other side of the Jordan River and Dead Sea (Judges 11:18), and thus were not exposed to his passing of Canaan during his military campaigns in the Levant and in Asia. This was the time when Ramses II came to power, in year 1279 BCE. He then started a series of campaign in Canaan and Syria against the Hittites, from the early years of his reign. His father, Seti I, had already campaigned in the Levant and built a renewed Egyptian domination over the Canaanite kingdoms. This fact has recently been confirmed by the finding of the coffin of a Canaanite lord who had himself buried in the Jezreel Valley, Israel, in an Egyptian fashion at the time of Seti I.

Egyptian-styled Canaanite coffin
Egyptian-styled Canaanite coffin
(source: The Times of Israel, 9 April 2014)

Ramses II ventured further north during the early part of his reign, and fought against the Hittites. His biggest victory took place at the battle of Kadesh, in Southern Syria in 1274 BCE.

Ramses II at the battle of Kadesh
Ramses II at the battle of Kadesh (wall relief, Abu Simbel Temple)

Ramses II campaigned again in the region in the years 1271-1270 BCE and then then stopped to venture in this part of the world for the rest of his long reign. His following campaigns were solely focused on the southern part of his kingdom, in Nubia. In fact, he never stepped foot again in the land of Canaan after 1270 BCE which was about the time when the Israelites started their conquest under the leadership of Joshua. He may have had echoes of this unexpected arrival of the Israelites in Canaan and may not have wanted to confront them, after what he had learned in the past to Pharaoh Horemheb, which must have been still present in the Egyptian memory. It is also at this time that he pursued a policy of systemtic destruction of all traces from the Amarna heresy, of Akhenaten, Moses and the Hebrews. Instead he cultivated the memory of Horemheb as a national hero although, as previously mentioned, the tomb of this Pharaoh remained empty.

This absence from Canaan from a Pharaoh as powerful as Ramses II and who ruled over Egypt for a very long period, until 1213 BCE, is a mystery that has neven been fully assessed by Historians. How could it possible that such Pharaoh would have never again found excuses to campaign in this neighbouring region for the rest of his 60 years of reign? For me, there is no clear reason for this other than he avoided to engage in that region from the moment he had learned that the Israelites were conquering it, and doing wonders again with the help of their God.

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Year 2494 – 1266 BCE  – Facing the Land of Canaan

Before engaging in the conquest of Canaan, a second census was recorded of every man of age 20 years and above, as follows (Numbers 26:4), which can be compared to the census at the start of the wandering in the desert, after 40 years of wandering in the desert:

- Tribe of Reuben: total of 43,730 which dropped from 46,500
- Tribe of Simeon: total of 22,200 which dropped from 59,300
- Tribe of Gad: 40,500 which dropped from 45,650
- Tribe of Judah: 76,500 which dropped from 74,600
- Tribe of Issachar: 64,300 which increased from 54,400
- Tribe of Manasseh: 52,700 which increased from 32,200
- Tribe of Zebulun: 60,500 which increased from 57,400
- Tribe of Ephraim: 32,500 which decreased from 40,500
- Tribe of Benjamin: 45,600 which increased from 35,400
- Tribe of Dan: 64,400 which increased from 62,700
- Tribe of Asher: 53,400 which increased from 41,500
- Tribe of Naphtali: 45,400 which decreased from 53,400

The total number of men from 20 years old had slightly decreased to 601,730 (Numbers 46:51) compared to the previous census with 603,550. As before, the tribe of Levi was not part of this census.

God also named the princes from each tribe to whom Moses was to give the possession of the territory that will be assigned to them in the land of Canaan:

And the Lord spoke unto Moses, saying: "These are the names of the men that shall take possession of the land for you: Eleazar the priest, and Joshua the son of Nun. And you shall take one prince of every tribe, to take possession of the land. And these are the names of the men. Of the tribe of Judah, Caleb the son of Jephunneh. And of the tribe of the children of Simeon, Shemuel the son of Ammihud. Of the tribe of Benjamin, Elidad the son of Chislon. And of the tribe of the children of Dan a prince, Bukki the son of Jogli. Of the children of Joseph: of the tribe of the children of Manasseh a prince, Hanniel the son of Ephod. And of the tribe of the children of Ephraim a prince, Kemuel the son of Shiphtan. And of the tribe of the children of Zebulun a prince, Eli-zaphan the son of Parnach. And of the tribe of the children of Issachar a prince, Paltiel the son of Azzan. And of the tribe of the children of Asher a prince, Ahihud the son of Shelomi. And of the tribe of the children of Naphtali a prince, Pedahel the son of Ammihud.
These are they whom the Lord commanded to divide the inheritance unto the children of Israel in the land of Canaan."
--- Numbers 34:16-29
Moses took these 40 years of wandering to instruct the Israelites of the terms and conditions of their covenant with God. He also addressed the issue of choosing a king over the people as God probably told him that this is what would eventually happen to be:

"When you are to come unto the land which the Lord your God gave you, and shall possess it, and shall dwell therein; and shall say: 'I will set a king over me, like all the nations that are round about me'; you shall in any wise set him king over you, whom the Lord your God shall choose; one from among your brethren shall you set king over you; you must not put a foreigner over you, who is not your brother.[9] Only he shall not multiply horses to himself, nor cause the people to return to Egypt, so that he should multiply horses; forasmuch as the Lord has said unto you: 'You shall henceforth return no more that way.'
Neither shall he multiply wives to himself, that his heart turn not away; neither shall he greatly multiply to himself silver and gold.
And it shall be, when he will sit upon the throne of his kingdom, that he shall write him a copy of this law in a book, out of that which is before the priests the Levites.
And it shall be with him, and he shall read therein all the days of his life; that he may learn to fear the Lord his God, to keep all the words of this law and these statutes, to do them; that his heart be not lifted up above his brethren, and that he turn not aside from the commandment, to the right hand, or to the left; to the end that he may prolong his days in his kingdom, he and his children, in the midst of Israel."
--- Deuteronomy 17:14-20

It is important to note that God forbad the Israelites to ever go back to Egypt. It had been considered as a sin that two patriarchs had done at the time of ordeal with a famine.

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Year 2494 – 1266 BCE – Death of Aaron

When the Israelites reached the mountains of Moab, on the eastern side of the Jordan River, Aaron went up on Mount Hor at the commandment of God and died there, in the 40th year of the wandering in the desert (Numbers 33:38). He was 123 years old, 3 years older than Moses. Mount Hor is today considered to be Jebel Harun (Harun meaning Aaron in Arabic), a high peak at the west from Petra in Jordan.

Tomb of Aaron
Tomb of Aaron in Jebel Harun, Jordan
(source: blog Scripture for Today)

The great Medieval commentator, Rashi of Troyes, stated the following about Mount Hor, the location of Aaron's tomb:

[It is] a mountain atop a mountain, [appearing like] a small apple atop of big apple.
--- Rashi, commentary on Numbers 20:22

And indeed the topography of the location shows exactly that, where the tomb is located on top of a sort of protrusion which itself is above a mountain.

Jebel Harun
The tomb of Aaron on top of Jebel Harun

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Year 2494 – 1266 BCE – Og, king of Bashan

When the explorers surveyed the land, they mentioned that they saw "the sons of Anak", meaning the giant people who were the offspring from the Nephilim. These people lived in the Golan heights, a land in the north-east side of the Lake of Galillee. After they drove the Amoritesout of their land, on the east side of the Jordan River, the Israelites then turned their attention to the land of Bashan:

And they turned and went up by the way of Bashan; and Og the king of Bashan went out against them, he and all his people, to battle at Edrei. And the Lord said unto Moses: 'Fear him not; for I have delivered him into thy hand, and all his people, and his land; and thou shalt do to him as thou didst unto Sihon king of the Amorites, who dwelt at Heshbon.' So they smote him, and his sons, and all his people, until there was none left him remaining; and they possessed his land.
--- Numbers 21:33-35

Og, the king of Bashan, is referred many times in the Jewish scriptures, and is nearly singled out among the many kingdoms that the Israelites defeated. According to Jewish tradition, Og was a son of the Nephilim who survived the Flood (for more details, click here). An archaeological site in the Golan, Rujm el-Hiri, nicknamed the Stonehenge of the Holy Land, seems to bear witness of very special cult, unseen elsewhere in the Levant, with circles of stones either arranged for a cult or for some astronomical observation. This archaeological site is so unusual that a web site has made up a story that several skeletons of giant people have been unearthed there ! [15a]

The giants of Bashan
The (fake) giants of Bashan

One may note however that the existence of ancient 'giants' is not something that paleoanthropologists are totally rejecting... This is because a certain number of human-type bones have been found on earth (mostly in Asia and Australia) with very large size: these human-type 'giants' are known under the scientific name of Meganthropus. [15b]

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Year 2495 – 1265 BCE  – The prophet Balaam

Just before the fateful punishment of Shittim, there was the episode of the pagan prophet Balaam. He was a reknown prophet of his times, living up north in Aram land, in the city of Pethor,[14] by the River [Euphrates] called by the Moabites to curse the Israelites who were too mighty to be challenged. What did Balaam do? He had a vision from God that he should not pronounce any word except what God decided to put in his mouth. And this is what Balaam said:

הֶן-עָם לְבָדָד יִשְׁכֹּן, וּבַגּוֹיִם לֹא יִתְחַשָּׁב
lo, it is a people that shall dwell alone, and shall not be reckoned among the nations.
--- Numbers 23:9

This sentence was seen as a curse by the Moabites but is also a blessing for the Israelites. What did it mean? On the surface, it looks like a curse, because the Israelites are said to be alone and not reckoned by the other nations. But this is actually the blessing for the Israelites who shall, and must, dwell alone, meaning that they have to avoid assimilation and adopting foreign rites. If they do not respect God's will in this matter, then Balaam words become indeed their curse. There is also a gematria about the significance of the introducing word הֶן (value 55) which concurs with the lesson of Balaam's crypted message.

According to Tradition, Balaam was considered as one of the heathen prophets, and the son of Job. Unlike his father, who is said to have lived 210 years, Balaam  lived a short life and was considered evil. Yet he was a prophet. The Biblical text describes him several times as:

Balaam the son of Beor [Job] and the saying of the man whose eye is opened.
--- Numbers 24:3

This description is important because it was confirmed by an archaeological exploration in Deir 'Alla, Jordan, in 1967. The inscription found there starts with:

The sa]ying[s of Bala]am, [son of Be]or, the man who was a seer of the gods.
--- Deir Alla inscription, translated by McCarter, wikipedia

The inscription has been dated around 840-760 BCE, which is much later than the timing of the current events, but it shows that the extraordinary tale of Balaam, prophet hired by the Moabites, had lasted for centuries. The Balaam inscription is probaby a copy of a copy of another inscription that dated at the time of Joshua. The key points here, and before the Biblical text was actually compiled (much later by the prophets Ezra and Nehemia) is that ther is a direct parallel between the Biblical text and this inscription as for the identity of Balaam: he is said to have been the son of Beor, and he is said to have been a seer of the gods, meaning a man whose eye is opened [to God's messages].

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Year 2495 – 1265 BCE – Death of Moses

The Israelites then went further north, following the east side from the Dead Sea, until the Jordan River at the level of the city of Jericho. God then instructed Moses about how to divide the possession of the land of Canaan between the tribes, and the head of each tribe to be the repository (Numbers 34:16-29). It was then time for Moses to die. Before, he gave ultimate instructions to his people:

And Moses wrote this law, and delivered it unto the priests the sons of Levi, that bore the Ark of the Covenant of the Lord, and unto all the elders of Israel. And Moses commanded them, saying: "At the end of every seven years, in the set time of the year of release, in the feast of Tabernacles [which is Sukkoth], when all Israel is come to appear before the Lord your God in the place which He shall choose, you shall read this law before all Israel in their hearing. Assemble the people, the men and the women and the little ones, and your stranger that is within your gates, that they may hear, and that they may learn, and fear the Lord your God, and observe to do all the words of this law; and that their children, who have not known, may hear, and learn to fear the Lord your God, as long as you live in the land when you go over the Jordan to possess it."
--- Deuteronomy 31:9-13

Then Moses gave his blessing to each Tribe of Israel (Deuteronomy 33) before mounting from the plains of Moab onto Mount Nebo to die there, at the age of 120. God Himself buried him. The Falashas, Jews from Ethiopia, hold the following story about the death of Moses, illustrating God's reluctance to tell a man when he would precisely die (as of Talmud, Pesachim, 54b):

And Moses went out of his house and left his wife and his children; and he went with his heart sunken and his face withered and he did not know which way to walk. And he met three handsome young men who were digging a grave. And he said to them: 'Peace to you and may God's peace be with you'. And then again Moses said to them: 'For whom are you digging this grave ?' And these young men said to him: 'We are digging it for a man beloved of God '. And Moses said to them: 'If you are digging for a man beloved of God, then I shall help you and dig with you '. And when they had finished the grave Moses said to them: ' Bring the corpse which we are to bury'. And these young men (they were angels who resembled men) said: 'We are afraid that this place will be too short for him whom we are to bury, and he is like you in size, height, and appearance; now enter into the grave and measure it for us'. And Moses entered into the grave and found there the Angel of Death. And the Angel of Death said to Moses: ' Peace to you, Son of Amram '. And Moses said to the Angel of Death : ' May your greeting return upon you ! '
And Moses died and the angels buried him.
--- Ullendorff, Edward, The 'Death of Moses' in the Literature of the Falashas, Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London, Vol. 24, No. 3 (1961), pp. 419-443

The place of Moses' burial is today identified with Jabal Naba in Jordan (Naba means Prophet in Arabic). Today this site in Jordan is under custody of a Franciscan group who even placed a plaque declaring it "Christian Holy Site"... How ridiculous !

Mount Nebo plaque
The Franciscan plaque at the top of Mount Nebo !!!

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[1] Isaac went south to the land of the Philistines as he was on his way to Egypt

[2] See article in Wikipedia about the succession of Horemheb, which mentions an extract from Geoffrey Martin, The Hidden Tombs of Memphis, Thames & Hudson (1991), pp.97-98

[3] See article in Wikipedia about Mutnedjmet

[4] Hawass, Zahi, Dig Days: The search for Queen Mutnodjmet, article in Al-Ahram, issue 960, 13-19 August 2009, currently available online

[5] Horemheb's tomb in Saqqara was rediscovered in 1975 by Geoffrey Martin and his excavation team; see article and description online

[6] For speculation about the possible mummy of Horemheb, see this article online

[7] In Joshua 14:7, Caleb mentions his age of 40 at the time of this mission of the explorers

[8] There are many occurrences where the letter Yod, of numerical value 10, is referred to God, in His direct involvement or presence: the 10 words He used during the Creation, the 10 plagues over Egypt, the 10 commandments He gave at Mount Sinai, and so on.

[9] This commandment explains why King Herod, who was not an Hebrew, was unpopular as King of the Jews

[10] The Zohar Chadash 74d mentions that there are 600,000 letters in the Torah; the count can be considered in multiple ways; first, the number of letters is known to be of just over 300,000; so some assume that the count of the Zohar Chadash roughly adds one vowel per letter which brings the count to over 600,000; another way of calculating it is to realize that each letter of the Hebrew alphabet is composed by a combination of 1, 2 or 3 basic letters (for example the letter Aleph is made of two letters Yod and one letter Vaw, thus the letter Aleph would count as three letters in the total count); so the count of these basic letters (that make up all the letters of the Hebrew alphabet) is also just over 600,000

[11] Jewish tradition states that the Hebrews in Egypt kept in the faith and did not assimilate; this is however contradictory with Biblical statements such as those in Exodus 1:7 (And the children of Israel were fruitful, etc. and the land was filled with them) and later when they returned to the faith, Exodus 4:31 (And the people believed; etc. then they bowed their heads and worshipped)

[12] The site of the ancient Avaris/Ramses is located in the North-Eastern part of the Nile Delta at location 30°47'14.71"N, 31°49'16.92"E

[13a] Genesis Rabbah considers that Isaac was weaned at the end of 24 months old, as Rashi mentioned in his commentary on this verse  

[13b] Rashi inferred that the 210 years were hinted by the word re'du [Go down] in verse Genesis 42:2 because the gematria of this word is 210; this may well be so but there are two points to consider: first the word is not re'du but re'du-shama (רְדוּ-שָׁמָּה) which gematria is 555 (210+345); second, if we consider that the Israelites would remain 210 years in exile, we should probably consider the tw parts of the exile: the first 6 years were a necessity (due to the famine still prevailing for another 6 years from the time they went down to Egypt), while the remaining 210 years (as re'du) were the true exile because they should have returned to Canaan when the famine was over; therefore the total number of years in Egypt would be 6 (famine, necessity) + 210 (exile) = 216 years

[14] The Aramaean city of Pethor is assumed to have named Pitru when taken by the Hittites; the city was eventually destroyed during the Assyrian invasion at the time of Shalmaneser II

[15a] To read this parody article, click here

[15b] To read about the Meganthropus, click here

 >> Go to Part III

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