So here we are on the threshold of the second book of the Torah. … Whenever I think of the stories of Exodus, I think about my father. He raised me to be Taoist from the time I was born and never allowed me to consider Christianity as a religious option until I was supposed to have grown up. He habitually extolled the superiority of the Chinese folk religion over Christianity and forbade his Christian relatives from converting us, though he didn’t prohibit the giving of Christian gifts (children’s Bibles, bookmarks etc.) when they visited.
This was my reality throughout childhood, so it surprised me when one day, he came home with a laser disc (yes, it was the early 90s :p) of Cecil B. DeMille’s The Ten Commandments and excitedly put it on, wanting us to watch it. He recounted how he saw it in the cinema in his youth and said that it was an important film we had to see. And over the course of the film, he interjected at intervals with commentary about the actors and events being depicted, giving us a sense of how epic it all was (the parting of the Red Sea was one scene he was particularly excited about).
I remember being really puzzled about the whole thing because the movie didn’t seem to be just about Dad’s enthusiasm for Heston and Brynner. He actually seemed to regard the Bible story of what Moses did as a part of human history… that it somehow really happened.
I don’t know if that’s actually what he thought (or if it was, whether it still is), but that was certainly the impression that I got from him. And for all the ways he might’ve disposed me negatively toward Christianity, he planted this one seed: he made me think that it’s a faith which nevertheless deserves some regard because it’s testimony to some amazing things which God did in the history of human civilisation, and establishes the place that the Jewish people and Christians have in that history.
In recent years, I discovered why Dad displayed such singular behaviour… he was exposed to Christian preaching and read the Bible in his youth, and somehow, I think The Ten Commandments made a big impression on him because he was quite young when he saw it, and its dramatisation of the stories he read in Scripture must’ve affected him quite deeply. … So in honour of that, for this first portion of Exodus, Shemot (Exodus 1-6:1; meaning “names”), I want to present material that helps establish the historicity of the man Moses.
I’ve touched on this before in the post “Was the Torah written by Moses?” but with the popular trend to discredit/undermine the Bible as a reliable source of history in secular media and the academic world, I thought I’d do it some more. So here are a couple of articles written by Australian archaeologist David Down, who, among several other experts in his field, believes that an adjustment of the Egyptian chronology needs to take place so that the figures and events recorded in the Bible can be correctly dated and identified:
And for those who want to know more about Down himself, a feature: Timing is everything.
I also shared a documentary series a couple weeks back that talks about when Moses is most likely to have existed, here: The reign of Joseph (it, too, argues for a revision of Egyptian chronology and is well worth watching).
… Apologies that this week’s post is so short, but it’s currently a busy time so I don’t know if I’ll be able to do a lot in the next little while. But I’ll certainly present items of interest that’re directly related to the Torah portions at least, so I can build a little base of resources that anyone (myself included) can refer back to in future to supplement their Bible study.
Next week, the 10 plagues begin.