Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Exodus and The Book of Yasher: Chapter 3

As mentioned previously, one of the most common questions asked is how can such a major event, a defining event for the monotheism of today’s world, be overlooked so completely from the historical records. This has led many to falsely accuse the Old Testament, the Torah, of being a fable, a fabrication of nomadic tribes that sat around the campfire and concocted their own history. It is what the atheists, Anti-Semites, archeologists, etc. have used as their weapon to challenge the veracity of the Bible. And they have done an admirable job of overlooking the obvious, discounting the clues, and ridiculing the researchers that have even attempted to connect the dots on what is a poorly established historical truths that we are taught in school. For example, we are taught the Sphinx was constructed around 3500 BCE but those geologists that have examined it found the traceable waterlines of a much earlier flood engraved on into its stone; a flood that occurred four thousand years earlier. In Germany they have discovered stone implements and designs, quite intricate stone carvings by the way, that have been dated to 25,000 years ago, long before current historians and scientists claim we had the tools and skills to create such devices. So why are we so reliant on our current historical knowledge, provided by research that obviously is inaccurate, confused, and concealing, that we will let those that wish to repudiate, mock and ridicule the accuracy of the Torah to do so publicly within our schooling system?
In Rediscovering the Exodus, I am not asking you to take every word I have to say as undeniable truths. They are alternatives, suggestions, issues to be discussed honestly and openly, as we use the knowledge that we do have in an effort to understand events long ago for which we no longer have confirmation of eye witness accounts. We must let go of our 21st century thinking and try to perceive events through the eyes of what were primitive and tribal thinkers; men who saw miracles in every bolt of lightning and covenants in every rainbow. When you can open your minds at that level, then you will make the connection with your ancestors and see the world and the truths as they perceived them. That is the Karaite way. 

The Book of Yasher

Firstly, it must be recognized that there were other holy books in existence besides the Tanach that were passed down through the centuries. One of these is referenced twice in the Tanach and that is the Book of Yasher. It is not seen as a companion text but as a resource text from which both the Books of Joshua and Samuel have drawn their material. Therefore it is a very ancient text which preceded most of the books in the Tanach. The dilemma is that there are in existence several books with that title. Some are easy to identify as later Greek period frauds. Some are Latin period frauds and one is even an 18th century English fraud but then there are a select few that appear to be segments from a single text, ending well before the establishment of David’s Kingdom and therefore concerned only with the early events of Children of Israel. These are the texts from which the next few articles will be drawn because they paint a very intriguing and interesting picture of the Exodus that does correlate to historical events recorded in Egypt and Canaan. They also say much regarding our early priesthood, a priesthood that many claim only began with Aaron but which may have predated him by centuries if not millennia and from which Aaron was just one of many on a line of descendancy from earlier times. As one of the Kohanim, this in no way depreciates or deprecates my family’s historical background but what it does implicate, is that those now caught in the genetic tracing of our roots and claiming historical accuracy regarding the J1 controversy, most likely have it all wrong but that I will save for another article on another day. Using the Book of Yasher, known as the Book of the Upright, I will make an attempt to connect the dots but for those that are adamant that every word in the bible is to be taken literally, without interpretation ,then I’m afraid that what I have to discuss is only going to offend your religious values and you may wish to desist reading now. Because if you truly believe that the Hebrew slaves were constructing the cities of Pithom and Ramses as is recorded, not recognizing that when the stories of the Torah were finally written down, 700 years later, there were only these names in existence for the places where the slaves toiled and the earlier names had been forgotten and erased from memory, then you are failing to do as Anan ben David instructed; to seek with an open mind and find the answers that are good to you. But if you choose to recognize that that the recorders were merely using names familiar at the time to provide location, reference markers and scale of construction, then what I have to say I believe you will find enlightening. Remember, as Kohan, I have inherited a primary purpose and that is to teach and I have always dedicated my life to doing so.

The Levite Priesthood

The book of Yasher has been divided into chapters even though its original format would have been one continuous dissertation that scrolled on paragraph after paragraph.  The current format makes it easy to reference certain sentences and therefore is a convenient tool for this discussion.  Those that obtain a copy of the particular Book of Yasher that I’m reading from will find these sentences easily. 
The Torah already indicates to us that Aaron is a recognized leader of the people.  He has authority, prestige and the people listen to him  He also serves as interpreter and spokesperson for Moses, indicating that either Moses did not speak the same language as the Hebrews, or else he could not immediately command the same respect that Aaron already had.  Either way, it provides us with a clue that Aaron, and the entire Levite Tribe have an inherited status far exceeding that of the other Children of Israel.     Part of this has already been discussed in my article A Karaite Reading of Exodus at http://hubpages.com/hub/Of-Karaite-Things but I will look to the Book of Yasher to provide a more in depth perspective than what can be gleaned only for the Torah.  In Yasher, specifically Chapter 65 verse 32 we find the following written. “But the children of Levi were not employed in the work with their brethren of Israel, from the beginning unto the day of their going forth from Egypt.”  What we can interpret from this sentence was that the Tribe of Levi were not part of the slave force.  That from the beginning, ie. beginning of recorded Egyptian history, or from the time of their arrival in Egypt, hundreds of years earlier, or even from being of a specific and recognized caste, they were elite and therefore not subject to manual labour, or treated as inferior to the native Egyptian population.   This is further emphasised in the next sentence 33 in which it is written, “For all the children of Levi knew that the Egyptians had spoken all these words with deceit to the Israelites, therefore the children of Levi refrained from approaching to the work with their brethren.”  What we can infer from this, is not only are they not subject to being treated as an inferior stock, but they have access to all the written laws and beliefs, ordinances and palace documents, so that they are well aware of what was happening to the Hebrew slaves but they ensured that they neither became embroiled in the issues nor attempted to intercede in any manner to stop the persecution.   The book then makes its most startling of comments in the next verse 34 which reads “And the Egyptians did not direct their attention to make the children of Levi work afterward, since they had not been with their brethren at the beginning, therefore the Egyptians left them alone.”  What this sentence clearly implies is that the Tribe of Levi was not identical to the Hebrew slaves.  It had different origins, different roots and in the eyes of the Egyptians, were not considered Apiru, Shazu or similar which made up the Hebrew stock.  And later in verse 37 where it is written, “And the children of Israel called Melol the king of Egypt "Meror, king of Egypt," because in his days the Egyptians had embittered their lives with all manner of work,” it is clear that servitude is what the Children of Israel were subjugated with but it was not in the time period of Ramses or his father Seti, but during the reign of the Pharaoh bearing a title that sounded like ‘Melol’.  A first clue as to placing the time of the Exodus and proving the veracity of the Biblical story.  Later on in Chapter 69 verse 9, the author of Yasher reaffirms his earlier statement thusly, “But the tribe of Levi did not at that time work with the Israelites their brethren, from the beginning, for the children of Levi knew the cunning of the Egyptians which they exercised at first toward the Israelites.”  This is a most surprising statement because if you read it correctly, not only are the Levites distinct and separate from the Hebrews but in fact, they persecuted the Hebrews no differently than did the other Egyptians.  From this we can surmise that that the Levites were actually an Egyptian caste that for reasons unknown threw their lot in with the Hebrew slaves at the time of the Exodus.  Conjecture would say that in some way, the Levites did something that offended Pharaoh and therefore lost any status that they once held in Egypt.  So they went from first being persecutors of the Hebrews to allies and leaders of this outcast group through some strange quirk of fate.  Exactly what this may have been, I will leave for the next article.  For now I believe I have left you with enough to contemplate and discuss as we rediscover the Exodus.

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