Henry L Lazarus
4715 Osage Ave.
Philadelphia, PA 19143
Who wrote the Torah
There are many theories about how the five books
of Moses were put together. None of them ever made sense to me. The
problem is that the torah is truly ancient, with parts written less
than a thousand years after the invention of writing. people looked
at the world very differently, and there are many assumptions about
the Torah that completely miss this point. The torah has been read
several times a week to listeners since the beginning of the second
temple period. It makes sense that scribes would read important
documents to the population regularly. Tribal membership was an
important part of ancient society, and I think that stories about
the tribal founder would have been regularly read to the tribal
members. Archaeologists haven't found examples of such
writing. However Archaeology is working with little stuff that has
survived the thousands of years.
by Henry L Lazarus
There is no question that in the
middle of the fifth century a group of Jewish scribes created the
version we have today. The obvious reason is that the alphabet the
text is written, today known as Hebrew, is actually Aramaic.
It was the official alphabet of the Persian empire after the
beginning of the fifth century during the reign of Darius the great.
The kingdoms of Israel and Judah used an alphabet archeologists call
Paleo Hebrew. The Samaritan version of the Torah is still written in
that alphabet and the Dead Sea Scrolls contain documents using that
alphabet. During the time of Ezra, there was a great assembly
of elders that met somewhere in the Persian Empire during the time
of Ezra the Scribe. They eventually moved to the second Temple and
became the great Sanhedrin.
No records of its proceedings survive.
Bronze age had customs very
different from our own. People lived in clans which were parts of
Tribes. They loved genealogy but changed elements fo fit their
needs rather than being truly accurate. They also would conflate
clans with the individuals that gave the clans their name, making
for very long lifetimes. Most people were associated with cities
though there was a class of people who lived, like modern Bedouins,
called Hapiru, Habiru, or Apiru. It was a period when empires
collected tribute from the cities it ruled.
The ancient city of Mari was destroyed by
Hammurabi in 1761 b c e. Archeologists have recovered letters
collected by it’s final king Zimri-Lim and they provide a
fascinating look at this ancient world. A few letters refer to Terru, a
vassel ruler appointed by Zimri-Lim to
run Urkesh. Afeter a
few assassination attempts on his life, he quits to become a habiru
and moves to Haram. Some Archeologists thing he might have been
Abraham’s father Terah. That would put Terah’s move to Harran
(today known as Carrhae sometime between 1775 and 1761 b c e.
It was an independent city state that worshiped the moon Sin.
The story of Abraham has two events that are well
described and probably represent actual events. Both concern the
five cities of the Plain north of the Dead Sea in what is now
Jordan. In one The king of Elam and, some of his vassal kings
defeated the kings of Sodom and the King of Gomorrah. One of the
vassal kings of Elam is Amraphel
king of Shinar. He is frequently identified as Hammurabi by
Archeologists. That would put th battle sometimes before 1763 when
Hammurabi conquered Elam. The destruction of four of the cities of
the Plains by fire matches what is found at Tall
el-Hammam. At least one archeologist compares the destruction
with the meteorite explosion of Tunguska, Russia. Radiocarbon dating
puts the date of destruction at 1650. Our ancestors
would have considered this destruction an act of the gods.
Unfortunately Radiocarbon dating is not very accurate for the
ancient middle east, so that date may not be very accurate.
Dating in the ancient world is difficult.
Hammurabi, for example, is dated by a mention of a solar eclipse
centuries before. One of the reasons the ancients had trouble
keeping track of ancient events, was there was no standard dating
system. Events were dated based on the reign of kings.
Writing in the ancient world was done by scribes.
Some of the nobility were taught to read at least one language, but
there were also multiple ways of writing. Hieroglyphics and cuneiform were very different and Scribes
were supposed to know both them and other form of writing. Herodotus
in the fourth century wrote his The Histories with a team of
scribes, dictating his words. With the exception of cuniform tablets
found by archeologists in ancient cities, all ancient works, that
have survived till today, were regularly copied and sometimes
modified for the audience the work was read to. As a result errors
creep in. Scribes add additions not present in the original work.
Ancient writing is still more accurate than oral lore and keeps
details that would be lost by bards. Comparing Homer’s works
with the Torah, for example, there are many details such as city
names and places that were included in the Torah. Scribes did add to
the work to make the tale interesting to the audience it was read
to. The Torah is read to an audience several times a week
because of the common lack of literacy when it was written.
In my opinion, the tale of Abraham, because of
its detail, seems to me to have had its first version commissioned
by Isaac or Ishmael at his funeral. It was important enough to be
read aloud regularly to Isaac and Jacob’s people.
Joseph became Vizier of
Egypt under a unnamed Pharaoh. Some people date this to the time of
the Hyksos, 1650-1559,
But these Semite Pharaoh’s only ruled Northern Egypt. I assume that
Joseph lived a little earlier, and was Vizier under one of the final
Pharaoh’s of the thirteenth dynasty, the last of which decamped to
Thebes, leaving the Semites in the city of Avaris in charge.
In my mind I can see Joseph’s scribes writing his story, and adding
Abraham’s tale to complete the story.
In 1550 Ahmose I ,
founder of the 18th dynasty, conquered Avaris and enslaved its
population. Skip forward three hundred years to the reign of
Ramses II. According to the bible the slaves built storage buildings
in Pithom and Ramses.
The city Ramses and an
early version of Pithom were both built by Ramses II, The city
Ramses was close to Avaris where the slaves lived, and was where
Ramses II had his palace. The movements of the Israelites mentioned
in Exodus come near several Egyptian cities that were abandoned a
few centuries later.
The details of the Exodus story suggest, to me,
that Scribes were writing the tale. I am convinced that this early
version of the Torah was lacking the first eleven chapters, all the
laws that seem to interrupt the text, and the description of the
Tabernacle with its rules and rituals.
Flash forward till King Josiah in second kings in
632 where his workers found the book of the Torah. That caused a
religious revival, Most people think what was found was the book of
Deuteronomy, It makes more sense to me that this would have been the
early version. The book caused a revival of religion in Judah. As it
says in Kings II 22.8 : And Hilkiah the high priest said to Shaphan
the secretary, “I have found the Book of the Law in the house of the
Lord.” It’s interesting that the holiday of Passover was
restored (or created) by Josiah for in verses 21-23 it says “And the
king commanded all the people, “Keep the Passover to the Lord your
God, as it is written in this Book of the Covenant.” For no such
Passover had been kept since the days of the judges who judged
Israel, or during all the days of the kings of Israel or of the
kings of Judah. But in the eighteenth year of King Josiah this
Passover was kept to the Lord in Jerusalem.”
It makes sense to me that in the middle of the
fifth century when scribes were compiling texts to help Jews survive
s Jews, they decided to add things. Some scribes insisted on adding
all the temple laws and religious laws that had developed during the
first kingdom. The priests wanted descriptions of rituals. The first
eleven chapters were created from myths common to Semetic peoples
modified to fit the belief in a single God. Since many people
associate the tower of Babel with Etemenanki,
a ziggurat rebuilt by Nabopolassar and Nebuchadnezzar II in
Babylon, its possible that these ancient myths were written down
when the final version of the
Torah was created.
Ancient papyrus decays. Even in the dry desert
conditions, most of the dead sea scrolls are only pieces. The texts
used by the scribes who edited the bible into it’s present form have
been long lost to decay. There is no way to prove my suppositions,
but they make sense me me.
The following Youtube channels helped be thresh
out my ideas: Ancient
Egypt and the Bible, Armstrong Institute of
Biblical Archaeology, Beneath the Bible, Expedition
Bible, History with Cy,
History by a Jew. There’s also a large number of books I
bought on ancient Jewish history.