Professor Barton On “The Religion Of Moses” -- By: Harold M. Wiener

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 077:307 (Jul 1920)
Article: Professor Barton On “The Religion Of Moses”
Author: Harold M. Wiener


Professor Barton On “The Religion Of Moses”

Harold M. Wiener

London, England

The Editor has asked me to answer the discussion on pages 242–246, supra.

In the BS for Oct. 1918 I published a reply to an article by Rev. A. E. Whatham, in which he advocated views similar to those here under discussion, which were indorsed by Professor Barton and Professor L. B. Paton. As there has been no reply to my defense at that time, it will clarify the matter to summarize at the outset the points then made on both sides, which were briefly stated as follows: —

It is common ground that Barneses II. was the Pharaoh of the oppression in whose reign Israel built Pithom and Raamses. According to Nu and Dt, within five years of his death these Israelites had migrated from Egypt, and, while still on (heir wanderings, after initial successes against the Canaanites of the Negeb and the Amalekites (Ex 17), separately, had met with a crashing defeat in Canaan at the hands of the combined forces of these peoples. We know, from the political circumstances of the time, that these tribes were under the suzerainty of Merneptah, the immediate successor of the Pharaoh of the oppression. This battle sufficed to protect Canaan from further attack by Israel until some 38 years later. According to Egyptological evidence the people of Israel while roaming (to use Dr. Barton’s word) met with a crushing defeat in Canaan within 5 years of the death of

Rameses II.; and this, with other events, secured a durable peace for Palestine. Further, 3 years later, according to another document, the strictly limited territory around Pithom where the Israelites had been settled during the oppression, is no longer in their occupation, for Edomite Bedouin are admitted to it. Naturally I conclude that the Hebrew and Egyptian records relate to one and the same wandering Israel and one and the same defeat in Palestine during the early years of Merneptah’s reign. To avoid this conclusion, Mr. Whatham writes, “Merneptah may not personally have undertaken . . . but he may have done so.” Such virtue resides in his “may,” that, on its unsupported authority, he duplicates a nation, postulating a second Israel composed of two persons. This had not left Egypt during Merneptah’s reign and was still in Goshen when the Edomites arrived, though the only document that refers to these persons would lead us to look upon them as palace attendants who had nothing whatever to do with the building of Pithom and Raamses or any of the experiences of the historic Israel. Unlike the first Israel, this second “nation “consisted not of an organized communit...

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