Does any one have any feedback to share on Max I. Dimont’s “Jews God and History”. I am about to read it and would appreciate your comments on the book. It is often cited as being a remarkable book but I’m not sure how accurate it is. I’d also like to hear from Jewish scholars and their response to the book. I do understand that he treats biblical figures (such as Moses) as real historical figures, even though their historical existence is open to question. Thank you.
By the way, I have the 2nd edition edited by his daughter Ethel Dimont
Ethel was his wife. But it’s not a bad book.
I read it as a kid and remember having my mind blown by the Moses stuff (which I believe is originally due to Freud). From memory: basically Moses was a native Egyptian member of the brief lived monotheistic cult of Aten which briefly dominated Egypt. When a new Pharaoh (the famous King Tut, IIRC) suppressed his father’s religious movement, Moses led his co-religionists out of Egypt where they evolved into the Jewish people.
It’s almost certainly not true, since Aten worship was definitely idolotorous, doesn’t seem to have any parallel to the Torah other then the first commandment and the Jewish God has pretty clear precursors in Cannanite religions rather then Egyptian. And most of the supposed links between Aten and Jewish scripture are loose enough to attribute to coincidence. But its still kind of a fun theory to read about, as long as you keep in mind post-1962 scholarship hasn’t been particularly supportive of it. (and the cult of Aten was certainly a real thing, and is interesting to learn about in its own right).
Sorry. His daughter’s name is Gail Goldey. Ethel was Max Dimont’s his wife.
I thought the pharaoh during the Moses’s lifetime was Rameses II. I keep coming across his name in the context of the Exodus, although I think scholars may disagree on which pharaoh was in power at the time. Apparently there were quite a few Ramses.
I believe you are correct.
Another popular misconception even among Jews is that when we were slaves in Egypt, we built the pyramids.
IIRC - There’s no real independent archeological or documentary evidence in Egypt for the story of Moses, The Jews, the captivity, or the Exodus.
Ramses II was the greatest of the pharaohs, and about the right time, so it’s probably conceit as much as anything to claim he was done in by the chosen people. IIRC Ramses II (who also set the record for cubic yardage of statues of himself) is in the Cairo Museum, at the far end from Tut’s mask; for an additional 100LE you can drop in and look him in the face, he’s been partly unwrapped for your delight and edification. Since he died at the age of 90, he’s probably not the guy in the chariot chasing Charleton Heston and being swept away at sea. There was a recent press kerfuffle that suggested since a different salt mixture than usual was detected in his mummification chemicals, he’d drowned in the Red Sea; but I suspect it’s just some priests making a susbstitution in the recipe.
As I understand it, there is no evidence whatsoever, apart from the stories in the Bible, that anything like the central event of Exodus, a mass escape of slaves from Egypt, ever occurred at all. That being so, and given that the Bible’s just does not say which Pharaoh was reigning at the time of the alleged events (and gives few other clues as to exactly when they might have occurred), all attempts to identify the Pharaoh must be purely speculative. So far as I can see it gets pinned on Ramasses II purely because he is one of the very few Pharaoh’s most people today have heard of (and the only one more famous today, Tutankhamen, seems a poor candidate, having been a weak Pharaoh who reigned only briefly, at a young age, and whose present fame is almost entirely due to the contingencies of modern archeology).
The theory that the Exodus happened in the wake of the reign of Akhenaten, at least has the merit of not being completely arbitrary, as it does draw a connection between monotheistic Aten worship and monotheistic Judaism, both contrasting with the polytheistic nature of the vast majority of religions of the relevant era. However, it is a very weak connection, as others have noted. In most other respects, Judaism does not ever seem to have been very much like Aten worship.
Most likely, nothing resembling the Exodus, even if we strip the story of its miraculous elements, ever happened. In the unlikely event that there really was once some mass escape of slaves, whose descendants eventually settled in Palestine and became the forefathers of the Jewish people, we really have only a very vague idea of when, in Egyptian history, that escape might have happened. Even if we take the Bible stories to be accurate in every detail, there is no way to determine in whose reign the events might have occurred.
Yes njtt. Robert Wright in his book “The Evolution of God” makes a strong case that the Exodus was a myth. .
p.122 " The eminent scholar Frank Moore Cross has argued that one of the keystone events of the entire Bible–the crossing of the Red Sea—has roots in Baal mythology. He notes that this episode featurs, in a sense, the sea submitting to God’s will, a faint echo of Baal 's dominating Sea (Yamm) in battle.
Wright also argues that Judaism evolved within Canaan, not outside it.
Interestingly, Wright writes :
" El Shaddai, famously rendered in English as " God Almighty" is a mistranslation; thought the exact meaning of El Shaddai remains cloudy , it seems to refer to mountains, not omnipotence…Giod says: “I am Yahweh. I appeared to Abraham, to Isaac and to Jacob as El Shaddai, but by my name Yahweh I did not make myself known to them” Even Yahweh himself says that he started life with the name El"
The word El means “God” as in El-Elohe-Israel. Incidentally Israel ends in the -el.
Ankhenaten was a self-motivated nutbar from what the few surviving documents say. If he’d been motivated by a “false prophet” or otherwise colluded in a big way with any prominent person or movement for his new religion… It would most likely have been mentioned somewhere, if only to demonize that person too. The fragments of Ankhenaten’s works surviving do not, AFAIK, mention any other prominent persons or groups influencing him. It was all about him and the Sun God.
One thought was that Ankhenaten was pulling a “Henry VIII”. He was destroying the status and holdings of the entrenched priesthood, whom he felt were becoming too rich and powerful at the expense of the Pharoah. Once he died, the regent(?) for Tutankhamen and then Tut himself made every effort to eliminate any trace of the deviancy, of course overseen by the resurgent priesthood.
Ramses II had conquered well into Syria and the Hittite areas, among others. I don’t think wandering the Sinai or Caanan would take the Israelites far outside his jurisdiction.