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Chapter 2
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From Adam, Noah, prophets old,

Then Abraham and Jacob bold,

Their sons did Egypt captive hold,

Till Moses led them, we are told.

 

 

Chapter 2:  In The Beginning

 

 

            Some background in the history of the ancient world is necessary in order to understand how later events and relationships fit together.  There follows a summary of ancient Israel, compiled from the Old Testament, writings of Josephus, the Apocrypha, and other available histories, with special emphasis on those stories pertaining to our present subject.

            I’d like to go further, and compare the religion of the ancient Israelites, and their prophets, with that taught by Jesus, in relation to that taught by the apostles and disciples after the crucifixion, as well as what was taught to the “other tribes”.  Then perhaps we can recognize the presence of prophets later, as well as the corruption of the church without a prophet.  Mankind’s struggle with the desire to come close to God once again during the Reformation, prefaced the Restoration foretold in ancient scripture and the religious phenomenon happening around the world today.  This will not be a deep discussion, but more like hitting the high points in order to lay a foundation for understanding King Arthur’s world, as well as our own.

 

In the Beginning

            The first man and woman on earth, Adam and Eve, were banished from the Garden of Eden about 4000 BC.  They had many children.  Genesis 5:4 states that Adam “begat sons and daughters.”  The first century Jewish historian, Josephus, tells us they had thirty-three boys and twenty-three girls.  John Capgrave, a Catholic monk writing The Chronicle of England in Britain in 1417, acknowledged that while Adam and Eve had many children, Moses only named five: Cain, his twin sister Calmana, Abel, his twin sister Delbora, and Seth (pp5-6).  The only children whose names are mentioned in the King James Version are Cain, Abel, and Seth, who were most likely the youngest three boys. 

After more than 1600 years, all of Adam and Eve’s living descendants became wicked, except Noah and his wife, their three sons, Shem, Ham, and Japheth, and their wives.  The Lebor Gabala Erenn, published in 1150 from ancient Irish scriptures, informs us that Noah’s wife was Coba, and their daughters-in-law were Olla, Oliva, and Olivana.

            God commanded Noah and his family to build a large boat, called the Ark, and fill it with all kinds of animals, plus enough food to last them for a year (Genesis 6-8).  The Ark was approximately 450 feet long, 75 feet wide, and three decks high.  They sealed themselves inside the boat as it started to rain.  After forty days of rain, the Ark finally began to float (Genesis 7:17).  Raging storms lasted for five months (Genesis 8:3).  The scriptures state that not only did it rain, but the fountains of the deep were also broken up.  We don’t know exactly what that means, but it certainly sounds like a major cataclysmic event.  Did an asteroid melt the polar cap?  Was there a shift in the tectonic plates?  Could it have been some volcanic activity in the oceans?  I suspect all of these and more would have been needed to cause five months of rain and the worldwide Flood that covered the tops of all the Earth’s mountains.  All the other people and animals were drowned during the Flood in about 2344 BC.  The remainder of a year was needed to drain away enough water for the Ark’s passengers to disembark.  The Ark is said to have landed on Mount Ararat, believed to be in the eastern part of modern day Turkey. 

            When the Flood was over, Noah and his three sons, and their wives, left the Ark and descended into the plain of Shinar, where children were born to them. These three brothers are the fathers of all the earth’s inhabitants today.  God commanded them to separate and spread across the earth.  However, many of their descendants stayed together under the leadership of a grandson of Ham, named Nimrod.  He attempted to defy God by building a tower tall enough to reach the heavens and save them in case of another Flood.  He persuaded some and coerced others of his kindred into helping him. This tower was called the Tower of Babel, and was in the land thereafter called Babylon, which is in present day Iraq.  The book of Genesis tells how God confused their languages so that they could not understand each other. Almost all of the people left the area during this confusion of languages, which occurred about 2240 BC

            So how many people were there by the time of the tower? There was no census; and we only have a few mentions of children.  However, sixteen grandsons of Noah are named, all born after the Flood.  No doubt girls were born at about the same rate. If we were to hazard a guess that these sixteen grandsons of Noah had large families at an early age, and that it was only about one hundred years from the Flood to the Tower of Babel, could we possibly come up with as many as eight thousand people living on the earth?  If there were anywhere near that many people, half of them would have been under ten years of age.

 

The Nations of the Earth

            The people left the area and settled in family groups.  And where did they go? Were these three brothers responsible for the three main racial types we know today?  We are told in the Bible that Ham’s wife was a black woman, and that their children settled in Africa.  Shem’s descendants can be traced through the Middle East to Europe and the Americas.  But what is the origin of the Mongoloid race?  Were these descended from Japheth and his wife?  Each grandson of Noah settled a different area and called the area after his own name.  Every family group would have had, at the most, some five hundred individuals. 

            Japheth had seven sons: Gomer, Magog, Madai, Javan, Tubal, Meshech, and Tiras.  Josephus said the Gomerites settled the eastern part of the area now called Turkey.  The Magogites were supposed to have lived north of the Black Sea and the Caspian, in the general area of Russia, and spread all the way into Siberia.  Were the children of Magog later called Mongols?  The Madains, or Medes, were in the area now called Iran.  The Greek Ionians supposedly came from Javan.  It is possible that Kittim is the father of the Khattes who became the Hittites.  From Tubal came the Thobelites of Spain and Portugal.  Meshech fathered the Cappadocians of central Turkey.  Tiras ruled over the Thracians in what is now Bulgaria and surroundings.  The Kassites and Hurrians appear to have descended from one of these groups.

            Ham’s wife was a Canaanite woman.  Their four sons were Cush, Mizraim, Phut, and Canaan.  They had a daughter named Egyptus.  Cush reigned over Ethiopia.  Mizraim fathered the Mestreans of Egypt.  His eight sons took the land from Gaza to Egypt, which included the Philistines and the children of Anamim.  Mizraim’s grandson Philistim gave his name to Palestine, but little is known about the rest of this large family.  Phut founded Libyia.  Canaan lived in the area of present-day Israel and called his people Canaanites.  His sons established Sidon, but many of their settlements were wiped out in later generations.  Those destroyed included the Amorites, Hivites, Jebusites, and the Girgasites.  The Anakims, a race that included some giants, also lived in Canaan.  Egyptus, the daughter of Ham, discovered Egypt, which is said to have been under water at the time, presumably the annual Nile flood.  She may have been married to her brother, Mizraim, as he also lived in Egypt.  She settled her sons there, the eldest being called Pharaoh, who was a righteous king.

            Shem had five sons: Elam, Asshur, Arphaxad, Lud, and Aram. They are said to have inhabited the land from the Euphrates River to the Indian Ocean.  The Elamites were ancestors of the Persians.  Asshur founded the Assyrians.  The Arphaxadites were later called Chaldeans, from whom descended the Hebrews.  Half of the Hebrews settled in Asia beside the Cophen River in India.  The city and empire of Ur were founded by Chaldeans, as was the Babylonian Empire.  The people of Lud were called Lydians, and lived in what is now western Turkey.  The Aramites were later known as Syrians.

            We have records in the Book of Ether of one group of righteous people, called the Jaredites, who were at the Tower of Babel.  They prayed that their language would not be confused.  This tells us clearly that they had prior warning from the Lord, and that certainly would have been through a prophet, though none is specifically named.  It seems likely that this might have been Noah himself, or one of his three sons.  The Jaredites, this small group of twenty-four brothers and cousins and their families, were led away from the Tower of Babel area, toward the north.  The Book of Ether says they were led across a wilderness, many waters, and a sea, till they came to the great sea that divided the lands, which was near a mount of exceeding height.  Nevertheless, when they built very unusual boats and left, there is no mention of anyone staying behind.  They sailed to what is now North America.  At no time are we told who the Jaredites descend from.  After more than two thousand years, virtually all their descendants were killed in a huge war.  There is a story that some descendants survived, and that one of their most precious relics, a glowing stone that had been touched by the finger of God, was passed down into the twentieth century.

            Many of these nations were reported by Josephus, while others have been deduced from various written histories.  Are they all correct?  Not likely.  Relics of these ancient nations are constantly being discovered, deciphered, and analyzed by every conceivable kind of scientist.  They are continuously excavating cities, measuring skulls, and translating writings in painstaking efforts to discover the who, what, when, and where of our world’s history.

 

The City of Melchizedek

            Melchizedek, king of Salem, called the great high priest, taught his people to be righteous. These people finally became so perfect that their entire city, including buildings and animals, was taken up into heaven. Genesis 14:18-20 describes Abraham paying tithes to Melchizedek about 1940 BC.  Around 1898 BC, Abraham returned to this site with his son, Isaac.  Abraham had been commanded to offer his son, Isaac, as a sacrifice.  Abraham was obedient to God’s command, but at the last minute an angel ordered him to spare Isaac’s life.  His obedience was what God wanted, not his son’s life.

The site of the former city of Salem was barren at that time, as the city had been gone for a while.  Salem may have been populated by the righteous people of many different nations drawn together by the opportunity to live the Gospel in peace.  Noah and his three sons were the most righteous people we have records of, other than Abraham, so it seems likely that they may have been associated with this city.

            Some time after Abraham and Isaac went to the ancient site of Salem, the Jebusites, a Canaanite tribe, built a city called Jebus on the same site.  It was captured by King David centuries later, and was renamed New Salem, or Jerusalem.

 

The First Israelites

            Abraham was born ten generations after Noah, about 2022 BC in the city of Ur in Chaldea, and was a righteous man.  This was 322 years after the Flood.  Noah, and every one of Abraham’s forefathers in between them, was still living.  Abraham had possession of his family’s records, and the Lord gave him “interpreters”, called the Urim and Thummim, before he left Ur.  The Lord had Abraham travel far to the west in about 1947 BC, through Haran to the land of the Canaanites, and there, from the top of a mountain, covenanted that He would give Abraham all the land he could see, which is present-day Israel.  However, the occupants of the land at that time were not yet “ripe in iniquity,” so Abraham’s children could not have it for four hundred years.  In the meantime, Abraham decided to go to Egypt because of a severe famine.  Before this trip, the Lord taught him about the sun, moon, and stars, and commanded him to teach these things to the Egyptians.  This was the beginning of the science of astronomy.  As taught to Abraham, each planet is ruled by the planet above it (Abraham 3).  This science was later corrupted into astrology, in which it was taught that men are ruled by planets.

            After a brief stay in Egypt, Abraham and his wife, Sarah, returned to the land of Canaan.  Abraham eventually had three wives and eight sons.  Sarah’s only son was Isaac, and it was to him that the Lord reaffirmed the covenant He had made with Abraham.  Abraham’s second wife, Hagar, was an Egyptian woman, whose son, Ishmael, also married an Egyptian, and had twelve sons.  The six younger sons of Abraham, by Keturah, were established by him in Arabia, and included the Midianites.  These are the fathers of many of today’s Arab, or Middle-Eastern peoples.

            Isaac and his wife, Rebekah, had twin sons.  The first son was Esau, who was the father of the Edomites.  The second son, Jacob, was the one chosen by the Lord to continue the covenant.

            The Lord changed Jacob’s name to Israel, and his descendants were called Israelites.  The word “Israel” means one who prevails with God or a believer in Jesus Christ.  The syllable “El” in a Hebrew word denotes God.  This syllable is prevalent throughout Hebrew names and place names, and can appear anywhere within a word, though most often at the end.  Other examples of this are in Michael, Joel, and Daniel.  Watch for the “El” throughout this book.

            Israel had four wives and twelve sons: thus the twelve tribes of Israel.  His first wife Leah had Reuben, Simeon, Levi, Judah, Issachar, Zebulun, and a daughter, Dinah; the second wife Rachel had Joseph and Benjamin; the third wife Bilhah had Dan and Naphtali; and the fourth wife Zilpah had Gad and Asher.  Leah and Rachel were sisters, nieces of Isaac’s wife, Rebecca.  Bilhah and Zilpah were also sisters, daughters of a kinsman of Abraham.  This man had been captured and enslaved from the city of Ur.  When Abraham saw him in the slave markets in the west, he recognized him and bought him.

            Reuben, Israel’s firstborn by his first wife, lost his birthright because of a grievous sin; therefore this right was given to Joseph, firstborn of the second wife.  Levi was given the right to the priesthood.  The Old Testament states in 1 Chronicles 5:2 that, “Judah prevailed above his brethren, and of him came the chief ruler”.  In the Testaments of the Twelve Patriarchs, Judah states that he became king at age nineteen.  Most likely, that means he ruled over temporal affairs.  He clearly says that his brother Levi was above him, in that he ruled over spiritual things.

            Judah married a Canaanite woman, and had three sons - Er, Onan, and Selah.  Er married Tamar, but died shortly because of his wickedness.  By law, Tamar was given to his brother, Onan, as his wife.  However, he too soon died.  The third son, Selah, was too young to marry, so Judah told Tamar to go and live with her father till Selah grew up.  However, when that time arrived, Judah neglected to arrange the marriage.  When Tamar was told that Judah was about to leave on a trip, she took off her widow’s garments and dressed herself as a harlot, covering her face, and went and sat near the path she knew he would follow.  When Judah came along and saw her, he asked to lay with her and promised to pay her with a kid of the flock.  He gave her his signet, bracelets, and staff to hold till he could send the kid.  Tamar conceived twins from that union, and the signet, bracelets, and staff proved they were Judah’s children.  The Canaanite son, Selah, could not rule, so one of the twins would be Judah’s heir.  The twins had a very unusual and significant birth.  In Genesis 38: 28-30 we read:

 

28. And it came to pass, when she travailed, that the one put out his hand: and the midwife took and bound upon his hand a scarlet thread, saying, This came out first. 

29. And it came to pass, as he drew back his hand, that, behold, his brother came out: and she said, How hast thou broken forth? this breach be upon thee: therefore his name was called Pharez. 

30. And afterward came out his brother, that had the scarlet thread upon his hand: and his name was called Zarah.

 

            So which was born first?  At stake was the right to rule.  It almost seems like a tie, and many will say it was Pharez, knowing he went on to father the Israelite royalty.  However, the correct answer is really Zarah, usually spelled Zerah.  It was he who led the Israelites after his father, Judah.  And when Joseph retired as prime minister, it was Zerah’s sons who took over the rule of all Egypt.  Zerah went on to become one of the most famous men in history, but you won’t remember Pharez’s name by tomorrow.  These twin sons, Zerah and Pharez, became the fathers of many royal houses.  Pharez was the ancestor of King David, King Solomon, Joseph of Arimathea, the Lord Jesus Christ, and later of King Arthur.  Zerah was the ancestor of the kings of Troy, Rome, the Vikings, the Irish, the Welsh, and also King Arthur.  So what happened to this rightful king of Israel who disappeared from the pages of the Old Testament?  That answer comes a little later in our story.

            Meantime, however, the Israelite family was living the pastoral life in Palestine.  Joseph, as a boy of seventeen years, was seized through treachery and sold into slavery in Egypt. After a number of years, the Egyptian Pharaoh, or king, had a dream, which all his wise men were unable to interpret.  The Pharaoh was told that the Hebrew, Joseph, could explain dreams.  At that time, Joseph was a prisoner and was also acting as the administrator of the prison.  Through the Pharaoh’s dream, the Lord warned Pharaoh and Joseph that Egypt would enjoy seven years of plenty, followed by seven years of famine.  Because of Joseph’s understanding and wisdom in interpreting this dream and suggesting plans to prepare for it, the Pharaoh appointed him to be Prime Minister of Egypt, second only to the Pharaoh himself.  Joseph practiced food storage on a grand scale, preserving the excess crops of the years of plenty to feed the people during the famine to come.  In this way, the Lord used Joseph to preserve not only the Egyptians, but also many of the people of the surrounding countries including his own people.  When the famine came and the Israelites discovered their brother Joseph, the Pharaoh invited all the Israelites to come and live in Egypt.  This would have been about 1732 BC.

 

Joseph and Asenath

            The Pharaoh called Joseph, Zaphnath-paaneah, and gave him for his wife, Asenath, the daughter of Potipherah, priest of On.  They had two sons, Manasseh and Ephraim, both born before the Israelites moved to Egypt.  Jacob later blessed Ephraim with the covenant lineage.  Who was Asenath?  It seems unlikely that Ephraim would have had the covenant lineage if he had an Egyptian mother.  There are clues in the 46th chapter of Genesis.  Here Jacob’s children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren are named and numbered.  However, anyone who has ever done the math has noticed there is one missing.  Verse 15 contains two important clues regarding this missing person.  Leah’s descendants number 33, whereas only 32 are named.  Jacob’s daughter (singular) Dinah is named, and then the word daughters (plural) is used.  Was there another daughter?  Could a daughter, who is not a daughter, be a granddaughter?  Easily, but none is named.  Verse 26 states that 66 people entered Egypt; and verse 27 says that makes a total of 70, meaning the missing person is already in Egypt.  The last clue, and the one we usually miss, is in verse 20 where those already in Egypt are named.  They are Joseph, his sons Ephraim and Manasseh, and his wife Asenath.

            John P. Pratt, in Jacob’s Seventieth Descendant (Meridian Magazine, July 1, 2001), gives more reasons for believing that Asenath was the daughter of Dinah, daughter of Jacob and Leah.  He refers to an ancient Jewish tradition, which states that Dinah had a daughter by Shechem (Genesis 34).  Dinah’s brothers wanted to kill the infant, but Jacob would not allow it.  He hung a silver disk around the baby’s neck, which was inscribed “Holy to God”.  He placed the child under a thorn bush where Potipherah, whose wife was barren, discovered her the same day.  Eighteen years later when Joseph became Prime Minister of Egypt, the women were tossing flowers and gifts to him.  Asenath took off her silver necklace and tossed it.  Joseph caught it and recognized it as the one his father had made.  He then asked for Asenath to be given him for his wife.  The apocryphal book, Joseph and Asenath, tells a completely different story, including Asenath’s conversion.  However, it states that Asenath looked nothing like other Egyptian women, but was as tall as Sarah, as beautiful as Rebekah, and as fair as Rachel, the wives of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.  The book also mentions her “foster father”.  Later Joseph was buried at the city of Shechem and it was given to his son, Manasseh, as a part of his inheritance.

 

The Israelites in Egypt

            Little is known about what happened to the Israelites during the 215 years they lived in Egypt.  Let’s put all the clues together and see if we can get a broad picture of the main events.

            First, from the Bible, Genesis chapter 46 names the seventy descendants of Jacob and his four wives who moved to Egypt.  There seem to be three female descendants, and sixty-seven males.  What is not mentioned is the servants they would have had.  Abraham, when there were only himself and his wife in the family, had 318 young males trained for war (Gen. 14:14).  There would have also been males older and younger, as well as females.  Isaac similarly had a “great store of servants” (Gen. 26:14).  It seems reasonable to presume that some hundred years later there would still be large numbers of servants, and that they would go wherever the family went.  However, the census made when they left Egypt only included a very small percentage of “strangers among them.” (Ex. 12:38)  These servants may have gradually married into the Israelite family during the sojourn in Egypt.  Both Abraham and Jacob are known to have married servants.

            Regarding the future royal family who entered Egypt, Genesis 46:12 states, “And the sons of Judah; Er, and Onan, and Shelah, and Pharez, and Zerah: but Er and Onan died in the land of Canaan.  And the sons of Pharez were Hezron and Hamul.”  Apparently Shelah (or Selah), who was old enough to have married before the twins, Pharez and Zerah, were born, had no sons yet, and neither did Zerah at this time.

            Near the end of chapter 46 Joseph gave this advice to his brothers before introducing them to the Pharaoh:

 

33. And it shall come to pass, when Pharaoh shall call you, and shall say, What is your occupation? 

34. That ye shall say, Thy servants’ trade hath been about cattle from our youth even until now, both we, and also our fathers: that ye may dwell in the land of Goshen; for every shepherd is an abomination unto the Egyptians. (emphasis added)

 

            Was this idle chitchat about the abominable shepherds?  The ancient Egyptian historian, Manetho, writing in the third century BC, said that there was an early group of ‘shepherd kings’ who lived in the Delta and took over all of Egypt.  They ruled for a hundred years before they were driven out to the east and went and settled Jerusalem.  Could that have been the people of Melchizedek who founded the city of Salem, and were taken to heaven during Abraham’s time?  Or was it the Israelites themselves?

            After the interview, Pharaoh told Joseph in Genesis 47:6, “The land of Egypt is before thee; in the best of the land make thy father and brethren to dwell; in the land of Goshen let them dwell: and if thou knowest any men of activity among them, then make them rulers over my cattle.”  Normally cattle would mean cows.  However, the word cattle is also used as a generic term for livestock, as evidenced later in that same chapter in verse 17, referring to the Egyptian people: “And they brought their cattle unto Joseph: and Joseph gave them bread in exchange for horses, and for the flocks, and for the cattle of the herds, and for the asses: and he fed them with bread for all their cattle for that year.”  It goes on to say that after Joseph bought all the herds for grain, he then bought all the land, moved the people into cities, assigned them to farm the Pharaoh’s land, and introduced taxation.  And the Egyptians were grateful!  Some of the people were assigned to the military, and the rest to building projects.  These assignments took them away for three months of every year, after which they were sent home to take care of their families and plant their crops.

            Was Joseph a good prime minister?  There would have been large initial outlays of resources to build the storage facilities and buy up the excess crops.  The selling of grain to foreigners, as well as to the Egyptian people, would have more than made up for this expense.  The record clearly states that he collected all the money, herds, and land of Egypt, except for that belonging to the priests.  This would certainly have made his boss, the Pharaoh, a rich and happy man.  Joseph gave the common people food and jobs, for which they were grateful.  And he apparently gave his own people, the Israelites, free food, the best land, and the best jobs.  Sounds like he was the greatest prime minister in history!  How long did he rule?  He was made Prime Minister in 1741 BC, at age thirty, and he lived to be one hundred ten.  Both the Testaments of the Twelve Patriarchs and Joseph and Asenath state that Joseph ruled Egypt for forty-eight years.

            So what were the rest of the Israelites doing all this time?  There is evidence they were engaged in trade in Egypt along the Nile River, and also out in the Mediterranean Sea.  They had some of the best land along the Nile River, on the eastern delta; they had large herds of their own; and they were in charge of the Pharaoh’s livestock, including horses.  They bred horses!  And not just any horses, for even then the Arabian horses were famous for being the very best.

            How long did all this good fortune last?  Joseph lived for seventy-one years after the Israelites moved to Egypt.  At some point after his death, a new ruling family came into power, and tensions no doubt increased.  The only clues to this time period are found in Exodus 1:6-11:

 

6. And Joseph died, and all his brethren, and all that generation. 

7. And the children of Israel were fruitful, and increased abundantly, and multiplied, and waxed exceeding mighty; and the land was filled with them. 

8. Now there arose up a new king over Egypt, which knew not Joseph. 

9. And he said unto his people, Behold, the people of the children of Israel are more and mightier than we: 

10. Come on, let us deal wisely with them; lest they multiply, and it come to pass, that, when there falleth out any war, they join also unto our enemies, and fight against us, and so get them up out of the land

11. Therefore they did set over them taskmasters to afflict them with their burdens.  And they built for Pharaoh treasure cities, Pithom and Raamses. (emphasis added)

 

            I would have expected this new Pharaoh to fear that the Israelites might try to take over the country, but it states here that he was concerned that they might leave.  It was probably about twenty years after the death of Joseph before the Israelites were enslaved.  This would account for the one hundred years that men from the east had been rulers in Egypt, according to the Egyptian historian, Manetho.

            It is unclear in the historical records whether this new Pharaoh seized control of Egypt peacefully or by war. Either way, he was likely to find himself needing, or wanting, some cash.  There were only two basic ways to get rich in those days.  One was by working long and hard.  The other was by conquering a rich nation, and taking their land, herds, gold, and enslaving the people.  Generally, the men would all be killed if they put up a fight, and the women and children taken for slaves.  This is most likely what happened to the Israelites between “let us deal wisely” and “set over them taskmasters.”  The Israelites, being “more and mightier”, would not have handed over all their goods and submitted their wives and children to be shackled.  It had to have meant a war. 

            James Pritchard in his Ancient Near Eastern Texts (pp 233-234) quotes an Egyptian soldier telling his experiences in this very war.  He describes the siege of Avaris and the fighting on the canal in the city.  He also tells of capturing a prisoner and carrying him across the water.  This soldier captured several Israelites, mostly women, which the king gave him as his slaves.  Many of the Israelites were killed.

            Other supporting evidence of this war is a verse in Joshua 17: 1 which states: “There was also a lot for the tribe of Manasseh; for he was the firstborn of Joseph; to wit, for Machir the firstborn of Manasseh, the father of Gilead: because he was a man of war, therefore he had Gilead and Bashan.”  Manasseh was born to Joseph a few years after Joseph had been made prime minister.  By the end of the hundred years or so of Israelite power in Egypt, Manasseh’s son Machir would have been a middle-aged leader, and as the oldest son of the oldest son of the birthright son, he would have been one of the top leaders among the Israelites.  Now it is more than 160 years later, and his descendants are being given an extra inheritance to honor him as a “man of war”.  At the very least, he was a famous war hero among the Israelites.

            It is well documented that God never let anyone overthrow his chosen people, except when they had become wicked.  Also, we are told many times throughout the Old Testament that the Israelites had become idol worshipers while in Egypt.  It seems likely that the Israelites, who would have become very wealthy long before this war, fell prey to the great demon, prosperity.  Brigham Young said he wasn’t concerned about persecution, but that he feared prosperity would be the downfall of the Saints.  Jesus, in Matthew 19:24, stated that it would be easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.  Prosperity should be used to advance the kingdom of God, else it may become idol worship itself.

            And what of our royal family?  Pharez’s children, grandchildren, and so on down the line, can be traced through the Old Testament all the way to King David hundreds of years later.  Zerah’s sons are named Zimri (Zabdi), Ethan, Heman, Calcol, and Darda (1 Chron. 2:6)Descendants of Zabdi are mentioned at Jericho, and then they were destroyed.  Most of the remainder of Zerah’s family disappear completely from the Old Testament, except for two intriguing verses in 1 Kings 4:30-31:

 

30. And Solomon’s wisdom excelled the wisdom of all the children of the east country, and all the wisdom of Egypt. 

31. For he was wiser than all men; than Ethan the Ezrahite, and Heman, and Chalcol, and Darda, the sons of Mahol: and his fame was in all nations round about.

 

What was it that these sons of Zerah (Ezra): Ethan, Heman, Calcol or Chalcol, and Darda, had done to be compared in wisdom to Solomon?  It obviously had something to do with the Egyptians.  These men would have been in their prime about the time the Egyptians were attempting to enslave the Israelites.  Darda (or Dara or Dardanius) is listed in the European Royal Genealogies as being the founder of the City of Troy.  Did these brothers escape from Egypt?  Many times in the scriptures the Lord has removed righteous people from one area and transplanted them into another.  I believe that is exactly what happened in this case.

            There is an ancient Irish history, often called more mythology than history, which appears to shed some light on these escapees.  The Lebor Gabala Erenn, which has several spelling variations, tells of a group of people leaving Egypt seven hundred seventy years after the flood.  Four ships, each containing twenty-four married couples and three extra sailors, sailed north under the leadership of a descendant of Calcol named Sru.  We will discuss this story further in a later chapter, and you can expect that part of that story will be about their horses.

 

Moses

            The people of Egypt at this time were a black race.  Their Israelite slaves were fair skinned, with blond or red hair, and often had blue eyes.  Shortly before the birth of Moses, the Israelite midwives had been ordered to throw all newborn Israelite male babies into the river.  Moses had been hidden at birth, and at the age of three months was placed in a basket that was left floating in the edge of the Nile River.  He was found by the daughter of Pharaoh, who immediately recognized that he was an Israelite.  Did she know the legend of Asenath, a baby who was “Holy to God”?  Moses’ own mother was hired as nurse to care for him till he was weaned at about age three.  He was then returned to the palace and raised by the daughter of the Egyptian Pharaoh as her adopted son.  Both the Israelite and Egyptian wise men had foretold that this child, Moses, would bring the Egyptian civilization to a downfall, and would free the Israelites from bondage.  The Pharaoh, who refused to destroy Moses as a child, had no other heir and was planning to leave the kingdom to him.  Moses must have been in his thirties when some of the Pharaoh’s counselors, who were afraid of Moses, persuaded the Pharaoh to send him at the head of an army to fight their enemies, the Ethiopians.  They hoped Moses would be killed in battle.  However, God was with Moses and he won battle after battle, till he came to the Ethiopian capital.  There the Ethiopian princess offered him the city, if he would marry her.  They were married, and Moses started back to Egypt with his army.  His new wife never left her own city, as far as we know.  Since Moses was now a military hero, the Pharaoh’s counselors were even more afraid of him. 

            It was shortly after this that Moses apparently decided to spend more time with his brethren, who were slaves.  Moses killed an Egyptian who was guarding and mistreating the Israelite slaves.  The Pharaoh’s counselors, using the guard’s death as an excuse, finally persuaded the Pharaoh to slay him.  God revealed to Moses that his enemies at court were planning to murder him, so he escaped alone across the desert toward the east.  The first settlement he came to was the city of Midian, which was founded by other descendants of Abraham.  The first family he met was that of Jethro, also called Raguel, who was the priest of that people.  He not only gave Moses one of his daughters to marry, but also taught him about God. 

            Forty years later, God called Moses to be his prophet and to go free the Israelites.  He went back to Egypt with his Midianite wife, Zipporah, and their two sons.  He was directed and commanded by God to show certain signs to the captive Israelites and to the Egyptians, in order to persuade the former to follow him, and the latter to release them.  It was absolutely vital that the Israelites trust and obey God and his prophet.  The Egyptians did neither, and refused to let the Israelites go.  The signs and plagues which followed included turning a staff into a snake; turning the water in the Nile River into blood; covering the land successively with frogs, lice, and flies; an illness which killed much of the Egyptian’s livestock; boils on men and beasts; fiery hail; a plague of locusts; darkness for three days; and finally, all the firstborn of men and beasts died in one night.  Most of these plagues did not seriously affect the area where the Israelites lived, except the darkness and the deaths of the firstborn.  However, it was not as dark in their area.  The Israelites were instructed very specifically how to avoid the deaths of the firstborn, by painting their doorposts with lambs’ blood.  Only those who were obedient were protected.

            Egypt was virtually destroyed while their slaves were relatively untouched.  The Egyptians gave the Israelites their gold and jewels and sent them away, but then the Pharaoh changed his mind and took an army to kill them.  By the time this army caught up with the Israelites, they had entered a narrow valley sloping down to the Red Sea.  They could see no way out of their predicament.  Miraculously, the Lord parted the Red Sea so that the Israelites could escape by crossing on dry land between two walls of water.  When the Egyptian army foolishly followed, the waters were released, drowning the entire army.  The Egyptian soldiers, with many of their swords and other weapons, washed up on the shore next to their former slaves.  The Israelites were able to go out the next morning and arm themselves.

Predictably, none is this story appears in the Egyptian histories.  It would be told from the Egyptian point of view, of course, but the main points should be recognizable.  Some historians say that wherever the Israelites were, it was not in Egypt; maybe they were lost in the Sinai area and thought they were in Egypt.  Excuse me!  The account of the Israelites in Egypt was written by an eyewitness, someone sought by every serious historian who has ever lived.  One might suppose that the young slave, Joseph, might not know where he is, or that the child, Moses, being raised in the royal palace has not yet learned his geography.  But no serious scholar could presume that a Prime Minister does not know what country he rules, or that an army general does not know whose troops he leads, or certainly not that a prophet of God was led to the wrong country!  So the question is: why isn’t there some mention of the Israelites in Egyptian history?  Or is there?

 

Faith, a poem

Bibliography

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