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63

I believe it to be an euphemism similar to how today one might say something like gazillions for a large number. In a society that is mostly innumerate as well as illiterate, where neither pencils nor paper exist and both slateboards and chalk are fragile and rare, the scale of numbers readily accessible to the common population are much smaller than today. ...


61

There seems to be a bit of pushback on Pieter's (correct) answer, so perhaps a bit more detail is in order. It is not at all uncommon in languages to have words that, while technically a specific number, are usually used just to indicate an unspecified large amount. One of the technical terms for this is non-numerical vague quantifiers. The most well-known ...


27

Barring some archaeological find in the future, the answer is: No. On skeptics.SE, there is a question about the Biblical figures who are also historical and there's a fairly long list of people who verifiably existed. Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego don't make that list. On the other hand, you might need to readjust your historical lens. If the events ...


25

Historians quite widely agree that there very probably was a historical person called Jesus. They do agree that this person provided the blueprint or projection space for the belief that centered on and around him. A belief that was a Jewish sect during his lifetime and later slowly forming into what we know today as Christianity. I wrote "widely" as there ...


17

First and foremost, you've got to understand what it is that ancient historians mean by "records" of ancient Egypt. We do not, by and large, have accounting ledgers or encyclopedias from that time. They may have existed (well, probably not in the case of the latter) but they are gone to us. What we have instead are the objects that were left behind: ...


17

The direct answer is that in modern Egyptian geographical terms, they came from central Egypt. In ancient historical terms, from "Upper Egypt". First off, I need to address a misconception in the question. Modern Egyptians mostly speak Arabic, but the Egyptian language spoken by the Ancient Egyptians was not Semitic. It was part of another branch of the ...


15

According to the graph on the World Population wiki page, global population at 1000 BC was about 50 million. The vast majority of that would have been in the areas of intensive farming, which at that time means Mesopotamia, Egypt, China, and perhaps the Indus valley. So that number doesn't seem completely out of line. However, Israel is much more marginal ...


15

There is no evidence at all for any of the biblical stories involving Egypt. There is also overwhelming evidence that the origin of the Israelites is indigenous. There is no indication of a takeover as described in the Bible for example. As for the plagues themselves, although there is one papyrus describing a series of disasters they do not fit with the ...


15

This is only answerable with a certain amount of discussion. To illustrate the problem bluntly: you expect a date well before the exile, and "Yahweh" will be found absolutely nowhere there or then. There were no vowels recorded in the local scripts. And the biblical tetragrammaton YHWH (יהוה) is by far not the only form that most scholars believe to be one ...


14

The practice of Circumcision was by no means unknown in ancient Egypt, although I'm not sure how widely it was used. A parallel to the Israelite practice of collecting the foreskins of slain enemies was the ancient Egyptian practice of collecting hands and/or genitals from the dead. Soldiers were rewarded for each "trophy" they brought back. The practice is ...


13

I'll summarize what the Jewish Study Bible, 2nd edition says about the subject. This material is from the introduction to Exodus and two essays: "The Religion of the Bible" and "Archeology and the Hebrew Bible". Positive evidence: We know that Semites of similar ethnicity to the Hebrews had for centuries migrated to Egypt in search of food and water during ...


12

Not everybody living in Israel at that time was Jewish. The country had been mostly ruled by Greeks since 333 BC, and then by Romans since the mid first century BC. As this was quite recent, this resulted in a real polyglot mix of people, with Greeks performing much of the upper-class administration duties, while the soldiers were Roman. It is generally ...


11

The overall "feeling" is that it is neither historical fact nor legends. It is a book of stories, many of which have real events that lies behind them, and many that do not. There is a discussion about exactly what is true, though. The well known stories such as the flood and the exodus generally have no or little evidence behind them, and often a lot of ...


11

Biblically, Forty is a number associated with testing and trials https://www.thoughtco.com/biblical-numerology-700168 Jesus wandered in the wilderness 40 days, Israel wandered in the desert for 40 years etc. It's a number that indicates enough time passed for God to achieve a goal. Fullness of time.


10

In the earliest years of the newborn Christianity, scribes wrote on single sheets of papyrus, formed into scrolls, or birch bark sheets. Towards the end of the 1st century a.d., parchment, made of animal hides (the best type known as vellum, whose root is shared with veal, or calf). While papyrus did continue to be used perhaps as late as the 9th century, by ...


10

Early Israelite religion was not monotheistic, and it remained in that classification for at least several hundred years. YHWH was developed very slowly in a syncretistic process were he was ascribed with all the attributes of the other deities in the region. This process of accumulation of powers and status reached a first high point during the ...


9

The exact population is a bit unclear. Estimates for the time period fall in between 2 and 4 million. This area of Egypt was one of the more densely populated areas in the world at that time due to the fertility of the Nile delta. In the Biblical account, Exodus 12:30 says "for there was not a house without someone dead". Family size is also tough to nail ...


9

The Kashrut has a long development under which the laws have changed significantly. The first written down laws are in Leviticus, and date to after the Babylonian exile. The rules may be older, but there's no documentation of that as far as I can find. The Torah was compiled between 600 BC and 400 BC. Some of the sources from which it was compiled probably ...


8

There are a number of Egyptian defeats known to history - some of them come to us from contemporaneous accounts from neighboring civilizations, others from archaeological evidence, but many of them come from the Egyptian historical record. In direct answer to your question, here is the Victory Stela of Piye, which documents the conquests of the Nubian ...


8

The best English translation of the relevant statement from Strabo (Book VIII, Ch. 6, Section 20) I can find is: And the temple of Aphrodite was so rich that it owned more than a thousand temple slaves, hetairas, whom both men and women had dedicated to the goddess. And therefore it was also on account of these women that the city was crowded with ...


8

First: A warning. What you're going to get on this website is going to be the fruits of the Documentary Hypothesis and similar historical approaches. This often clashes with some folks' "fixed beliefs". I'm a Christian myself, and have no issue reconciling my faith with secular scholarship, but some faith traditions have big problems with it. The first ...


7

As a Christian myself, I regret to inform you that the answer is "No". There are two events in the Gospels that scholars almost universally agree most likely did happen: Jesus' baptism and his Crucifixion. This is chiefly due to the logic that they both appear in all of our older sources, and they'd both be bad things to make up if you are a Christian ...


7

Backing up Jon's answer a bit here... The surrounding events place Daniel's life at around the seventh and sixth century BC. Daniel however is a rather unique book in the Hebrew scriptures, in that it was actually not written in Hebrew. Instead, large amounts of it appears to be a work of Aramaic. Why the difference? Well the most logical reason would be ...


7

The oldest Biblical manuscript is Papyrus P52 containing a fragment of the Gospel According to John. It dates to around 100-150 A.D., and is usually cited as from 125 AD. It has been alleged that a fragment of the Gospels According to Mark dates to the first century, but as far as I know this has not been authenticated officially. (Since the question was ...


7

I don't think they were collecting foreskins, and I believe this mistaken assumption is due to a mistranslation. This goes back to the meaning of the word "ערלה" ("Orla") in Hebrew also meaning specifically foreskin, but also "uncut", or "un-refined". This isn't a new interpretation, this is just knowing the source language, as a brief survey of the use of ...


7

Nobody really knows for sure. El/Elohim (which by the time of the writing of most of the Hebrew scriptures had become synonymous) has ancient Semitic roots, but Yahweh appears to be (nearly) unique to the Hebrews. There is almost no agreement on the origins and meaning of Yahweh's name. It is not attested other than among the Israelites, and seems ...


7

The Big "Where?" Question It's nearly impossible to establish Jebel al Lawz as the location of Mt Sinai based solely on physical remains today. The petroglyphs at the site of Jebel al Lawz are almost universally acknowledged to be from the Nabataean period. I've watched one of the several videos put out about Jebel al Lawz (this particular one by Bob ...


7

Mostly we know details about Herod the Great from the Romano-Jewish historian Josephus, and a bit from The Bible. Before I get going, I want to address one thing that looks like a misconception here. During the Reign of King Herod, Judea was under the "protection" of Rome. One could (and Wikipedia today does) say it was a client state, but it would perhaps ...


7

Motivation for the answer I'll take a literary approach, aiming less at the surrounding historical context and more at an internal analysis of what "significance" the document's authors intended to convey. However, rereading your question and David Robinson's comment, I see that you're not asking about this significance so much as the motivation to use "40"...


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