Tuesday, April 17, 2012



An Egyptian physician, Dr. Ashraf Ezzat, has recently questioned the historicity of the biblical Exodus, calling it ‘a myth’ (see Salem-news.com). He claims that while Egypt is mentioned in the Hebrew Bible hundreds of times, Israel is only once mentioned in ancient Egyptian annals. I myself am neither a professional nor an amateur Egyptologist. I am a specialist in Hebrew and Aramaic Epigraphy of the biblical period. I research archaeological texts. I should also make it clear that in my published scholarly studies, over several decades, I have never engaged in the business of trying to validate biblical accounts through archaeology.

The question of the Hebrews living in ancient Egypt has been the subject of scholarly research by renowned Egyptologists. Egyptology is a highly specialized field where an amateur would be on slippery ground. Now the story of enslavement and liberation in the Hebrew Bible is so pervasive and deep-rooted in the narratives, writings, and poetic compositions of the Pentateuch, Prophets, and the Psalms that it is nigh impossible to dismiss it as a myth. These deep-rooted traditions stretch over centuries, especially during the first half of the first millennium BCE. Indeed, the very large number of instances Egypt and Exodus are mentioned or alluded to in the Hebrew Bible gives it credibility and authenticity. The Pharaohs, powerful masters of a great land, consorts of the gods, assured of immortality, are the least people to recognise, acknowledge, and deal with the case of an enslaved people.

Consider, for instance, how the history of Babylonian/Iraqi Jews and of Middle Eastern Jews in general is given scant space in Israeli school books, written by Ashkenazi East European Zionists. If they could they, as colonial masters, would even erase this history. A few decades ago Golda Mabovitch (= the infamous Golda Meirson) declared publicly and unashamedly that the Palestinian people did not exist! And more recently the Zionist State (never call it the Jewish State) has made it a criminal offence to commemorate the Palestinian catastrophe of 1948 -- the Nakba. Such attempts seek to obliterate factual history and so deny the memory of those who happen to be powerless. In brief, Hebrew slaves would be given next to zero space in Pharaohs’ historical annals.

But let us get back to our medical doctor. One can see from his own Blog that the books that interest him are those that attempt to demolish the history of the ancient Middle Eastern Jews in Palestine. In one of his earlier published articles which came to my attention only after publishing an older version of this present essay, Dr. Ezzat lumps Zionists and Jews together, indiscriminately, in one basket, and damns them all. Unfortunately, he is confusing the Jewish faith with modern political Zionism – and that is exactly what the Zionists wish him to do. This is a trap that many people, Jews and non-Jews alike, stumble against and fall into. For political Zionism is not Judaism and my own ideas about this issue were already made public in two newspaper articles published in The Johannesburg Rand Daily Mail in 1982 (following the Israeli invasion and criminal destruction of Southern Lebanon.

Of course the fact that Near Eastern Jews lived in ancient Palestine does not validate the establishment of an unjust political Zionist entity –an entity that has been established through war and atrocities by people foreign to the Middle East. Anyone who is familiar with my own writings (e.g. Essays From Occupied Holy Land, 2010) would know that I have denounced political Zionists as racist, foreign colonials who don’t give a fig for the Jewish faith.

It is now clear that Ashraf Ezzat is neither a friend of the Zionists, nor of the Jews. Thus, instead of seeking to counter and denounce Zionist claims, as I myself do, he erroneously and blatantly attacks the Jewish faith.

Many of us are familiar with holocaust deniers. I think it is barbarous to deny the holocaust which happened in Europe during the Second World War. Millions of Jews and non-Jews alike were killed. At the same time I think it is equally barbarous, indeed medieval, to make criminals out of those who deny it. What our Egyptian physician is trying to do is to deny the biblical Exodus, and along with the Exodus, he wishes also to erase the memory of the Ten Plagues that were inflicted on his ancestors, the Egyptians. But with this Pharaonic hardening of heart, he is of course up against God Almighty and the great Moses and the Major and Minor Prophets in the Hebrew Bible.

It is curious that our medical doctor has not made it known whether he espouses any religion, such as Islam or Christianity. But perhaps he appropriately worships the gods and goddesses of ancient Egypt (and indeed what is the difference between Osiris and Jesus?). Anyway, if he is a follower of Islam, he could enlighten us on the textual development or revelation of the Qur’an. But if he is a follower of Coptic Christianity (in which apparently he does not believe), he could delve into the shaky foundations of Christianity and its false claims that it has any real or solid roots in the Jewish Scriptures.

The profession of medicine is an honourable one and there is still much research needed in this field. Our physician could try to find some solutions to existing diseases that plague our planet. But if he wishes to continue with his interest in ancient Egyptian history, it would be best not to mix it with present-day politics.