The end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time.
T.S Elliot, little Gidding
I always liked those lines by that brilliantly talented English poet; for they reflect something I really believe in, that is the importance of history as an integral and a decisive element to fully comprehend the nature of the past along with the subjects that link it to the present.
And the subject that I’m going to talk about is the Jewish way of myth making and storytelling.
And we have to give them credit for being the best in the world when it comes to the arena of telling a story, especially legendary ones.
The everyday news headlines often hit us with updates of the Israeli state conflict with the Palestinians and the Arabs.
And since in politics we look upon the Israeli state as a newly born state of almost 60 years of age, one often wonders about the authenticity or the legitimacy- if you like- of that politically infantile country.
And since the Zionist movement made it obvious that they chose Palestine as the place for their newly formed political entity for historical reasons that link them to this specific area, which once embraced them after the exodus from Egypt and held whiteness to their magnificent and unsurpassed empire of David and Solomon, in a way that made this remodeled occupation look more like a home comeback.
Well, is it? Or it is what they want us to believe. There is only one way to find out, and that is to see what history has to say about it.
History is supposedly nonbiased unless someone tries to tamper with or falsify, and it actually happened that historical facts were sometimes tampered with by the masters of that art, and always in a way to make them look greater than others and even loftier as the chosen people by a god of their choosing.
So back to history, to find out how the Jewish story will hold out against archeological chisels and historical analysis.
First we have to agree on one thing, that the Zionist claims to historical rights in Palestine as a legally accredited state stem out of the bible as a durable and credential reference to their allegations.
Scholars of the ancient history of the near east used to rely mainly on the study of the Old Testament narrative of that part of the ancient world with once great civilizations and cultures, until the advent of the 19th century and the management of deciphering the ancient Egyptian writing known as the hieroglyphs by the renowned French philologist and orientalist jean-Francois Champollion (1790 – 1832) when he managed to translate some of the writing of the Rosetta stone in 1822.
That was the turning point in understanding and studying the history of the ancient Egyptian civilization known as Egyptology, which grew bigger and more sophisticated as the excavations in the land of Egypt and the new discoveries seemed non stopping
Two centuries of digging and excavating, new texts and inscriptions kept unfolding the mystery that long shrouded this unique civilization in silence.
And historians began to rely on Egyptology and its scientifically verified findings for a better and more realistic understanding of ancient Egypt that had long been monopolized by the narrative of the Old Testament.
Furthermore they were stunned by the appalling discrepancy between the Egyptian and the biblical narrative.
Historians found out that ancient Egypt told them a story completely different from the biblical one, unmatched dates, nonexistent names and events that led to notorious anachronisms.
The word “pharaoh” was mentioned around twenty times in the Old Testament in a way that led scholars to believe that the ancient Jews had such strong and entwined relations with the ancient Egyptian monarchy.
But on the other side, historians were surprised that the Jews were never mentioned in any Egyptian text or inscription, except and doubted for one time, on the Merneptah (1213-1203 BC) stele in which the king commemorates a victory in a campaign against the Libu and Meshwesh Libyans and their Sea People allies, but its final two lines refer to a prior military campaign in Canaan in which Merneptah states that he defeated several foreigners and isiriar – not Israel – as a local tribe, which the king merneptah and his army left wasted and bare of seeds meaning that it was devastated and on the verge of famine.
Such gigantic civilization as the ancient Egyptian that lasted for almost 3 millennia B.C with a huge legacy of what is considered the longest and most coherent documentation of its history.
That civilization hardly registered nor mentioned any reference of the Israeli- or their dramatic exodus – as if they never existed, or maybe existed but not in the glorified way depicted by the Jewish authors in the bible.
This point of apparent controversy drives us to consider that modern archeology refuted the historical aspect of the bible especially that of the Jews as an ancient nation
And that what some contemporary historians – under the new findings – are driving to when they reexamine the history of the Jews like the famous Shlomo Sand in his book entitled ” the invention of the Jewish people” in which he tries to prove that the Jewish people never existed as a “nation-race” with a common origin, but rather is a colorful mix of groups that at various stages in history adopted the Jewish religion.
likewise, Prof. Ze’ev Herzog of the Archaeology Faculty at the University of Tel Aviv, asserts that there is no evidence in the archaeological record that Israel was ever a political force, In his article “Deconstructing the Walls of Jericho”, appearing in Ha’aretz (29 October 1999), he wrote:
• “Following 70 years of intensive excavations in the Land of Israel, archaeologists have found out: The patriarchs’ acts are legendary, the Israelites did not sojourn in Egypt or make an exodus, and they did not conquer the land. Neither is there any mention of the empire of David and Solomon, nor of the source of belief in the God of Israel. These facts have been known for years, but Israel is a stubborn people and nobody wants to hear about it”
Nobody wants to hear or speak about tampering with history. For exposing archeological findings with such agonizing facts would entail the risk of undermining the historical allegation to the very existence of the Israeli state.
It’s about time we separated the myth from the fact regarding the history of ancient Egypt in relation – if any – with that time Jewish tribes.
We should look again and again at where we started, and yes, maybe we’ll get to know the place as if for the first time.
Ashraf Ezzat is an Egyptian born in Cairo and based in Alexandria. He graduated from the faculty of Medicine at Alexandria University.
Keen not to be entirely consumed by the medical profession, Dr. Ezzat invests a lot of his time in research and writing. History of the ancient Near East and of Ancient Egypt has long been an area of special interest to him.
In his writings, he approaches ancient history not as some tales from the remote times but as a causative factor in our existing life; and to him, it’s as relevant and vibrant as the current moment.
In his research and writings, Dr. Ezzat is always on a quest trying to find out why the ancient wisdom had been obstructed and ancient spirituality diminished whereas the Judeo-Christian teachings and faith took hold and prospered.
Dr. Ezzat has written extensively in Arabic tackling many issues and topics in the field of Egyptology and comparative religion. He is the author of Egypt knew no Pharaohs nor Israelites.
In 2013 his short The Pyramids: story of creation was screened at many international film festivals in Europe. And he is working now on his first documentary “Egypt knew no Pharaohs nor Israelites”.