EPISODE 2: THE EXODUS
France 5 presents in association with Arte France
A Cabiria Films
With the participation of ARTE France
[Narrator] The Old Testament is a MYSTERIOUS and COMPLEX work. It contains a set of rules and requirements that form the basis of both a religion and a civilization[?]: Judaism.
But it is also a historical [?] work that tells the STORY of the ancient Israelites.
In the previous episode, we learned that the STORY of the Patriarchs -- Abraham, Isaac and Jacob -- was put into writing for the first time in the 7th Century B.C. [???], in the kingdom of Judah [???]. Two researchers, Neil Silberman and Israel Finkelstein put forward that HYPOTHESIS.
But what about the other GREAT stories of the Bible? Many of the vestiges discovered in the sites of Canaan
are the remains of a sophisticated civilization -- THAT OF EGYPT, an all-pervasive presence.
Do these objects bear any relation to one of the most FAMOUS stories of the Old Testament:
That of the conflict between Moses and the Pharaoh?
What are they able to tell us about ancient Egypt?
The Biblical text explains that the descendants of the Patriarchs came to live in Egypt
where they remained for 430 years.
The STORY of their LIBERATION by Moses, and their journey through the WILDERNESS,
is told in the second book of the Bible: the Exodus.
But did this Exodus ACTUALLY take place?
The Bible Unearthed
The Israelites' LONG SOJOURN in Egypt, their ENSLAVEMENT, and LIBERATION, and the LAW received by Moses, represent the core of the second book of the Bible. The Bible tells us that under the leadership of this EXCEPTIONAL man -- Moses -- the Hebrew people RETURNED to the land that had been PROMISED their ancestors.
Our investigation will begin in Lausanne,
in the library of a theology department to be exact.
Thomas Romer is a Biblical scholar. He will be accompanying us in the investigation of these texts.
In order to understand the role played by Egypt in the Bible,
we have to go back to the circumstances surrounding the arrival of Jacob's sons in that country.
[Thomas Romer, University of Lausanne] Egypt is omnipresent in the Hebrew Bible.
It is often a land of welcome. Abraham went there because of the famine in Canaan. as did Jacob and his son Joseph later on. It was also a land of asylum, attracting many political refugees. They always had relations with Egypt. Sometimes those relations were complicated; sometimes they were simple. But there were NO REAL IDEOLOGICAL ISSUES, because in fact, there was not much talk in the Bible of the Gods of Egypt. So what is important with Egypt is that it was constantly in the minds of all the Biblical authors.
[Narrator] Joseph's STORY in Egypt begins at the end of Genesis,
the first book of the Bible.
Sold by his brothers to caravan drivers on their way to Egypt, he was bought by an officer,
and introduced into the Pharaoh's court where he became the GRAND VIZIER!
The Bible tells the STORY of his REMARKABLE FATE.
In powerful and centralized Egypt,
where ROYAL PROPAGANDA played a critical role,
nothing went unrecorded.
Everything relating to the administrative functioning of THE EMPIRE was noted down,
from major events to THE STATE's day-to-day running.
Does this huge collection of hieroglyphics
contain any clues as to Joseph's power, or, AT LEAST, the PRESENCE of the Israelites in Egypt?
In order to answer that question,
our investigators have to go to Egypt.
Neil Silberman is in THE COUNTRY THAT ALL ARCHAEOLOGISTS DREAM ABOUT. A millennial civilization, magnificent preserved monuments, and in the heart of Cairo, an obligatory visit for our historian.
An IMPERIAL building placed under the AUSPICES of [Jean-Francois] Champollion,
the man who unraveled the mysteries of the hieroglyphics.
He will be meeting here with Jean Pierre Cortegianni, a French Egyptologist.
[Jean-Pierre Cortegianni, Egyptologist] When you look at a map of Egypt, it's obvious that it couldn't be anywhere else.
In any case, you have the Suez Canal here, what is known as the Suez Canal today.
[Neil Silberman] The Bible tells A VERY CLEAR STORY of Jacob's family coming down to Egypt at a time of famine. Are there other important sources in Egyptian inscriptions and pictures of people from Canaan coming down to Egypt in a time of famine?
[Jean-Pierre Cortegianni, Egyptologist] Certain people built careers there, people who held important positions. So the STORY of Joseph becoming a minister in the Pharaoh's service is quite plausible. I prefer NOT to use the word PHARAOH, because we REALLY SHOULD SAY KING of Egypt. As you know, the word "Pharaoh" comes from the Bible. The Egyptians themselves NEVER CALLED THEIR KINGS PHARAOHS, except very late in the period. In any case, there were people in the King's entourage who were Semites, who had been naturalized. They took on Egyptian names, and some of them built brilliant careers there.
Paintings in the ancient necropolis of Beni Hasan show Semites who had come to Egypt, most likely for trade reasons.
These show details of women that are not at all Egyptian, with these patterns here.
The faces are quite typical of how the Egyptians saw the Semites, with long pointy beards and thicker hair.
[Narrator] The traders were not the only ones attracted to Egypt.
The land of Canaan was subject to very dry seasons, and irregular rainfalls, resulting in frequent famines.
Herders and farmers had no other choice but to go to Egypt to work as laborers
and take advantage of a more hospitable land.
That hospitality was a gift of the Nile,
a river that is both the soul of Egypt,
and its life source.
Throughout Biblical antiquity, Egypt acted as a magnet for those who came from arid lands,
a land of refuge that was a source of fascination, as are most lands of plenty.
[Thomas Romer, University of Lausanne] So how do we go from the STORY of Joseph, who was doing SO WELL in Egypt, to the description of Egypt we find at the beginning of the book of Exodus,
where SUDDENLY, Israel finds itself in A SITUATION OF OPPRESSION AND SLAVERY?
This transition, in fact, occurs at the end of Joseph's STORY, because Joseph sends for Jacob and all his family. And IN FACT [?], it's the Israelites who EXPANDED and GREW in number.
The Book of Exodus opens with the following finding: A new Pharaoh came to power who NO LONGER KNEW JOSEPH or what he had achieved. So, ALL OF A SUDDEN, the picture changes. And we find ourselves in A STATE OF OPPRESSION. On the one hand, the Egyptians wanted to retain their workers, but at the same time, they were AFRAID. They tried all sorts of methods TO GET RID OF THEM, as is related in the Biblical text:
"But the more we oppress them, the more they are fruitful and multiply."
[Narrator] The Bible refers to the names of two cities that the Israelites APPARENTLY built: Pithom and Ramses.
Egyptian documents CONFIRM that a city by the name of Pi-Ramses was built in the Nile Delta in the 13th century B.C. under PHARAOH Ramses II.
From the 1920s onwards, archaeological missions began looking for the remains of that city,
located east of the delta in Qantir.
The Bible SUGGESTS the existence of significant IMPERIAL MONUMENTS; however, researchers have been DISAPPOINTED by the results.
The city of Ramses does in fact APPEAR TO HAVE EXISTED, but very few vestiges have been found.
[Neil Silberman] Mohammad, who was this king?
[Mohammad] Ramesses, Ramesses II.
[Narrator] Today, the site has once again become farming land.
But archaeologists have succeeded in finding the solution to THE ENIGMA.
The City of Ramesses was ABANDONED, just after its construction,
when one of the branches of the Nile dried up.
A few decades later, its monuments were taken apart,
and the stones were re-used in the construction of a new capital --
Tanis -- situated a few dozen kilometres away.
So far, nothing appears to CONTRADICT the fact that Ramesses II was the impressive builder-Pharaoh that we read about in the Bible,
the same [?] Ramesses II that Moses pleaded with in the name of God and his ancestors
to LET HIS PEOPLE GO.
In the Bible, the life of Moses begins AS IN A MYTH:
his mother set him afloat in the river Nile, in order to ESCAPE the authorities' ORDER OF DEATH of all first-born Israelites.
He was taken in by the Pharaoh's daughter, and raised as an Egyptian noble.
One day he saw an Egyptian strike an ISRAELITE slave.
He killed him and fled to the desert.
There, the God of ISRAEL, ordered him to FREE HIS PEOPLE, and to guide them to THE PROMISED LAND.
After HESITATING for a while, he ACCEPTED THE MISSION, and returned to the Court to IMPOSE THE WILL OF THE GOD OF ISRAEL on the Pharaoh.
[Thomas Romer, Lausanne University] Moses defied the Pharaoh. What did that defiance SYMBOLIZE? It showed that Yahweh, the God that sent Moses to the Pharaoh, was MORE POWERFUL than all that the King of Egypt symbolized. When Moses came to see the Pharaoh, the Pharaoh asked who this god Yahweh was? HE HAD NEVER HEARD OF HIM, and considered him as THE MINOR GOD of an Oriental people that was of NO CONSEQUENCE. But, little by little, he realized that this Yahweh was IN FACT more powerful than the whole of the Egyptian pantheon.
[Narrator] But the Pharaoh continued in his refusal.
As a result, Egypt was STRUCK by the TEN PLAGUES.
These plagues FORCED the Pharaoh to CHANGE HIS MIND, and LET THE ISRAELITES GO.
[Thomas Romer, University of Lausanne] According to the Biblical STORY, the CHILDREN OF ISRAEL journeyed from Rameses to Succoth, about 600,000 on foot that were men, not counting children.
[Narrator] [According to the Bible], the ISRAELITES left Egypt in the middle of the night and crossed the Red Sea. The Egyptian army was SWALLOWED UP in its waters. Moses LIBERATED an ENSLAVED people, from under the YOKE of a GREAT EMPIRE.
So much for THE STORY!
But what are the HISTORICAL FACTS?
Museum of Egyptian Antiquities, Cairo
According to the text, the exodus occurred 480 years before the construction of Solomon's temple. That is, in the 15th century, B.C.
But the reference in the Bible to a city by the name of Pi-Ramses led researchers to place the exodus
in the 13th century at the earliest,
a period where we find the first pharaohs bearing the name of Ramses.
An archaeological vestige held by the Museum of Cairo
makes it possible [?] to determine a chronology
for the Exodus on the basis of historical data. [?]
It was discovered in 1896 in the funerary temple of Ramesses II's son, Pharaoh Merneptah.
The stele describes a military campaign led by Merneptah against Canaan. It provides a list of the cities and people that were fought and conquered.
[Jean-Pierre Cortegianni, Egyptologist] At line 27, at the very bottom of the stele, we find a word that corresponds EXACTLY with that of ISRAEL.
"ISRAEL IS DESTROYED, AND ITS SEED IS NO MORE."
It is this idea of a community of people that is rendered in the hieroglyph of the man and the woman --
the determinative with the plural, which is therefore Israel. IT IS THE ONLY REFERENCE TO ISRAEL IN THE WHOLE OF EGYPTIAN LITERATURE: historical, religious, or literary that we are aware of.
ONLY ONCE is Israel mentioned in all the Egyptian texts, whereas the Bible refers to Mizraim, or Egypt, about 700 times.
[Narrator] An actual reference then, albeit the only one we have.
We know the date on which the stele was erected: 1207 B.C. At that time, Israel was already established in Canaan. So the exodus could not have occurred before this date.[?]
So, to summarize: SEMITES were definitely to be found in Egypt. Pharaoh Ramesses II was the father of Merneptah.
And the 13th century seems to be a plausible time period. [?]
IF WE LEAVE ASIDE ERRORS IN THE CHRONOLOGY OF THE BIBLE,
The exodus therefore COULD HAVE occurred. [?]
What was the itinerary that was taken?
The Bible tells us that in order to flee, the children of Israel had the choice of two routes: one in the north, which was direct, and one in the south which crossed a mountainous desert.
Which one did they choose? In order to find out, Neil Silberman is going to meet with Donald Redford,
an Egyptologist who has specialized in the Bible, at his excavation in Mendes in the delta.
[Neil Silberman] Hi, Don.
[Donald Redford] Hi, Neil.
[Neil Silberman] Great to see you!
[Donald Redford] Good to see you. How was the trip?
[Neil Silberman] Terrific.
[Donald Redford] Oh, great. We expected you a bit earlier, but the best laid plans, I guess ...
[Neil Silberman] I guess! I hear you're having a great season here.
[Donald Redford] Oh, yes. This is one of the best. I'd like to show you the site. Shall we go and see it?
[Neil Silberman] I'd love to.
Just in the places where the Bible describes the exodus of the Israelites, as they left Egypt, were there fortifications? Was there a military presence there that would have encountered these fleeing Israelites?
[Donald Redford, University of Pennsylvania] Oh, yes, um. All over the eastern delta, and in the Sinai, and up in the Negev, and further north, there were permanent Egyptian garrisons and garrison points. Checkpoints.
In fact, the Bedou were constantly under watch by the Egyptian paramilitary police along the borders.
[Narrator] A carving at the Karnak Temple attests to the existence of a sophisticated system of garrisons
that ensured the logistics of a route that followed the north coast of Sinai.
It was a strategic route for the Egyptians that led into Mesopotamia and Anatolia.
A fleeing multitude could not have taken it
without being spotted and stopped by one of its garrisons.
This left them with the southern and more arid route, the one that is most in keeping with the Biblical STORY.
The Bible tells how, after having camped in the desert for almost three months,
the ISRAELITES RECEIVED THE TEN COMMANDMENTS at Mt. Sinai.
They then headed off towards the northeast to the land of Canaan.
At that point, the Biblical text tells us they reached the oasis of Kadesh-Barnea, located between the Sinai and Negev deserts.
It is here that they spent many years AFTER REFUSING TO ENTER THE HOLY LAND.
The oasis was thoroughly excavated during the 1950s and 1970s.
No remains from the 13th century --
which is believed to be the period of the exodus --
were found at the site.
Modern archaeological techniques enable us to pinpoint the tiniest remains
left behind by simple herdsmen.
And yet, NO TRACE of the Israelites' LONG STAY in the area is to be found.
The ABSENCE OF ANY EVIDENCE of their journey through the wilderness, in either this oasis, OR ANYWHERE ELSE IN THE SINAI PENINSULA,
is ONE OF THE ENIGMAS of the Exodus STORY.
[Neil Silberman] How can you explain the possibility of such a large group, as described in the Exodus STORY,
actually going out of Egypt? Is that possible?
[Donald Redford, University of Pennsylvania] WELL, I COULDN'T EXPLAIN IT! [Laughter]
NOTHING OF THAT shows up in the archaeological record or textual record. And one might argue, that's an argument from silence, admittedly, but nonetheless, WE KNOW SO MUCH about that period that NOT TO FIND EVEN A SINGLE BLIP on the radar screen, as it were, WOULD BE FATAL TO THAT THEORY. Moreover, the Biblical account has 600,000 weapon-bearing males leaving Egypt in the Exodus. That would probably translate into 2 million souls. CAN YOU IMAGINE 2 million people leaving a country of the size of Egypt, which had only a population of 3-1/2 million at the time? That would have made A HUGE HOLE in the social and economic system that CERTAINLY WOULD HAVE SHOWED UP IN THE RECORDS! It would have resulted, almost immediately, in a downsizing, economically, and socially, that would CERTAINLY HAVE DISRUPTED the Empire irreparably.
Nothing of that sort is found in the record. NOT A THING! I couldn't see the exodus, as described in the Bible, as occurring in the 13th century.
[Neil Silberman] So we're talking about SOMETHING THAT ISN'T QUITE HISTORY, but there are a number of specific geographical terms.
Can they give us any clue to when this was written?
[Donald Redford, University of Pennsylvania] The geographical clues can, in fact, help to date the person who put this down. That's true. When one does that, one comes up with A FAIRLY GOOD IMPRESSION of what the writer knew, and the geography that he was familiar with. And that would help to plug him in in terms of chronology. "When did he live?"
[Neil Silberman] When was that time?
[Donald Redford, University of Pennsylvania] Well, Pithom, as I say, has been identified as the city called Per-Etham, the House of Etham. This was built by Pharaoh Necho II around 600 B.C. Certainly not before 605 B.C. That's one item.
Going out of Egypt you have such names as Etham, Pi-hahiroth, Baal-zephon -- all of these are known from the later geography of Egypt.
They weren't around -- many of them -- in the new kingdom WHEN THE STORY IS SUPPOSED TO HAVE TAKEN PLACE. I would see the Saite Period, what we call the Saite -- that's the 26th dynasty, from 664-525 B.C., as a period, kind of an OPTIMAL PERIOD, for the general background of the STORY as we have it in Exodus. At any rate, we've limited it to 7th, 6th centuries before Christ.
[Narrator] So, as in our investigation of the Patriarchs, both the clues gathered in the field, and the texts point in the same direction: CERTAIN STORIES, INCLUDING THE EXODUS, started to be written down in the 7th century B.C. [???]
Neil Silberman has returned to Megiddo.
He is discussing these new elements with Israel Finkelstein.
Whatever the possible sources that inspired the Exodus SAGA,
the STORY DOES NOT DESCRIBE the Egypt of the 13th century B.C. The investigation of this Biblical STORY once again leads us to the 7th century. What were the reasons for writing down this text at that time? [?]
We have to BROADEN our historical perspective. In the 9th century, and most of the 8th century, Canaan was divided into two kingdoms: Israel and Judah. [?]
These kingdoms were located between two of the greatest empires of the near east. In the south, Egypt, whose power and might we have seen evidence of.
Canaan was obviously a strategic area for this IMMEMORIAL kingdom, which had significant REGIONAL AMBITIONS.
And in the northeast, Assyria, the great Mesopotamian empire of the time.
In its desire for REGIONAL HEGEMONY,
it was obviously and aggressively one of Egypt's rivals.
Israel and Judah: these TWIN [?] kingdoms would ultimately be caught up in that rivalry. But they would not share the same DESTINY.
[Israel Finkelstein, Tel Aviv University] In the late 8th century B.C., the Assyrians show on the scene.
They wipe out the northern kingdom. [?] Take over it's territory. A torrent of refugees come to the south, to Jerusalem, to Judah. And that puts a heavy burden on the people of Judah and Jerusalem, because now they are THE ONLY ISRAELITE NATION LEFT. [?}
[Narrator] Our investigation will now move to Jerusalem,
the capital of the kingdom of Judah. IT IS HERE [?] that the Biblical STORIES of Egypt, Moses, and the Exodus into the desert would be WOVEN during the 7th century. [?]
Unraveling those STORIES is no mean feat,
and requires CAREFUL ANALYSIS.
Jerusalem is a city of hundreds of thousands of inhabitants. Each man and woman,
and also each stone, CARRIES THE WEIGHT OF A SACRED STORY.
Undertaking excavations here is quite a challenge.
Nevertheless, surprising discoveries have been made thanks to the determination of archaeologists.
[Israel Finkelstein] This wall was built in the late 8th century B.C. in the time of King Hezekiah
At that time Jerusalem grew dramatically in population and in size.
Ten times bigger than before in a matter of 25, 30 years, 40, something like that. And that was because of the torrent of refugees who came from the north, after the destruction of the northern kingdom of Israel by the Assyrians, came to Judah and settled here.
And this area, which was outside the old city of the Bronze and Iron Age, became populated. And then, because of the Assyrian threat, Hezekiah decided to fortify it. And he built this huge fortification -- huge wall - to surround the new quarter in the western hill of Jerusalem.
[Narrator] During the reign of this king, Hezekiah, Jerusalem underwent a METAMORPHOSIS. From a modest town of 6 hectares, [14 acres]
the city was transformed into an urbanized zone of about 60 hectares, [148 acres] protected by an impressive wall.
The city appeared to be preparing for a battle, undoubtedly with the Assyrian empire.
The archaeologist Ronny Reich has been involved in excavations here for many years. He's a specialist on the city of Jerusalem. In order to appreciate how seriously the Assyrian threat was taken by the small kingdom of Judah, we have to enter into the bowels of the city.
Jerusalem's only permanent source of water flowed outside the city walls, and could not be accessed if the city was under siege.
To maintain supplies to Jerusalem, King Hezekiah
launched an extraordinary project, for a tunnel that would bring water to reservoirs situated inside the ramparts.
[Israel Finkelstein] And the tunnel goes from here for over 500 metres, cut from both sides, they met in the middle, all in the rock.
[Ronny Reich, University of Haifa] This is really an engineering achievement, because two groups which were cutting in a tunnel which is not straight,
but has an "S" shape outline,
they went like this, and met here. They could have cut one next to the other, and one above the other -- two types of errors -- and they avoided both of them. And we still don't have an adequate explanation of how this was done.
[Israel Finkelstein] But we have the inscription of the two groups working with the axes and hewing the rock, and then they meet, and the great moment when they hear each other.
[Narrator] Carved into the rock, this inscription, in ancient Hebrew, commemorates the meeting of the two teams.
The Bible, IT SEEMS, also refers to this event in the Book of Kings.
[Neil Asher Silberman, Centre for Archaeological Research -- ENAME] This ancient Hebrew inscription is really one of the most important pieces of evidence we have for the rise of Judah as a kingdom.
So it represents both the engineering that was possible by the kingdom, and also the attempt by the kingdom to record that act in an official way, in an official inscription. And so this really brings us to a time when the kingdom was centralized, when Jerusalem was a city, was administered by royal officials that had the power and the level of literacy to record their achievements in their history.
[Narrator] In this way, a tiny kingdom lost in the hills of Judah, became A GENUINE STATE IN A VERY SHORT PERIOD OF TIME.
It probably hoped to play an important role in the region, but its fate was already sealed.
[Dominique Charpin, Assyriologist -- EPHE] After the fall of the kingdom in the north, only one buffer state remained between Assyria and Egypt: the TINY STATE of Judah. The people of Judah wavered between the idea that they should submit to the Assyrians, and the idea that they could remain independent with the support of Egypt.
At some point they went too far, and Sennacherib
, Sargon's son, decided to put an end to the situation.
[Narrator] It was 701 B.C. The new Assyrian king, Sennacherib
, marched on Judah at the head of a huge army.
When they reached Lachish, the second largest city of the kingdom, they laid siege to it.
Today, Lachish is an artificial tel, or mound. In the 8th Century B.C., it was one of Judah's administrative capitals, and the site of A MEMORABLE BATTLE.
Evacuations carried out along its fortifications, have revealed evidence of a violent confrontation.
David Ussishkin, who heads the excavations,
is a professor of archaeology at the Tel Aviv University.
[David Ussishkin, Tel Aviv University] The Assyrians, when they came to Judah,Sennacherib
came to Lachish.
He didn't go to Jerusalem.
Now why did he come to Lachish and not straight to Jerusalem? In my view, he wanted to show an exemplary conquest. He wanted to show the people of the country what he can do, and what he can do to Jerusalem. And in my view, he decided to destroy this fortress of King Hezekiah
, and then he send army to Jerusalem to negotiate with him, and to come to some agreement with him.
[Narrator] Despite its powerful fortifications, Lachish was defeated.
To avoid the same result in Jerusalem,
Judah paid a levy and became one of Assyria's vassal states.
But as is shown by the archaeological evidence,
THIS SUBMISSION to its powerful neighbor in the north LED -- PARADOXICALLY -- to an unprecedented ECONOMIC BOOM!
Excavations corresponding to this period in all the sites tell the same story, and describe the same phenomenon.
Judah, CONTROLLED BY the Assyrian authorities, PARTICIPATED in Arabian trade and in the production of oil on a very large scale.
At the same time, A GENUINE [VASSAL] GOVERNMENT was set up.
Our books of stone have shed LIGHT ON THE BIRTH OF A [VASSAL] STATE.
[Israel Finkelstein] "Belonging to the King, the City of Hebron."
"Belonging to the King, the City of Soho in the Shephelah."
It represents developed administration.
First of all, because the storages of about the same volume, the same quantity -- they are standardized.
And secondly, the seal impressions too are standardized.
So what you have here is evidence of some sort of [Assyrian] state administration. A person, you know, a family, just somebody out there in the village, doesn't do things like that.
So all the evidence fall together to the same conclusion: FULL-BLOWN [VASSAL] STATE IN JUDAH FOR THE FIRST TIME in the late 8th Century.
[Narrator] This new state of affairs would modify the geopolitical landscape of the region.
The Assyrians, overcome by internal problems, left the Levant around 630 B.C.
[Dominque Charpin, Assyriologist -- EPHE] The end of the neo-Assyrian empire was characterized by serious problems, particularly in Babylonia. The majority of Assyria's military forces were therefore focused on this territory. As a result, the Assyrians were perceived as being much less present, much less available in the surrounding areas, which obviously made this an attractive time for liberation movements.
[Narrator] With the Assyrians weakened, an AUDACIOUS PROJECT BEGAN TO TAKE ROOT IN JUDAH TO CONQUER THE TERRITORY OF THE ANCIENT KINGDOM OF ISRAEL.
It is in this context that the confrontation between Egypt and the Exodus,
as it is described in the Bible, begins to make sense. [???]
A king by the name of Josiah
REIGNED IN JERUSALEM. [?]
He was the great-grandson of Hezekiah, AND DREAMED OF A GREAT PAN-ISRAELITE KINGDOM.
A TRULY UNIFIED KINGDOM! THE BIBLE is exceedingly generous in its praise of this king.
[Thomas Romer, University of Lausanne] "NEVER BEFORE had there been a king like Josiah
, who TURNED TO YAHWEH with ALL HIS HEART AND SOUL AND LIGHT, OBEYING all the LAWS of Moses."
That is what the Hebrew Bible had to say about Josiah
. He is perhaps not a very well-known king, but he was quite extraordinary according to the Bible.
[Narrator] THE AUTHORS OF THE BIBLICAL TEXT TELL how Josiah
ORDERED WORK to be carried out in the Temple of Jerusalem.
THIS IS A VERY IMPORTANT POINT in terms of our investigation.
[Thomas Romer, University of Lausanne] [Reading the Bible] "During these works, THE GREAT PRIEST DISCOVERED A BOOK. He ANNOUNCED that the BOOK OF THE LAW has been discovered!"
The book was given to the king who, on reading it, TORE OFF ALL HIS CLOTHES as a sign of MOURNING or consternation. He then undertook a MAJOR REFORM, which included the PROHIBITION OF ALL OTHER PLACES OF WORSHIP, thereby making Jerusalem the ONLY LEGITIMATE PLACE OF WORSHIP.
[Narrator] Was a book REALLY discovered, or was this just a pretext to launch a project that had been ENVISAGED for some time? NO ONE KNOWS!
But as a result of this DISCOVERY [?],Josiah
[?] launched THE MOST RADICAL REFORM in the kingdom's history.
EXPERTS BELIEVE that this book, which has been given the name "The Book of the Covenant,"
was in fact the Book of Deuteronomy, the fifth book of the Pentateuch.
The REFORM gave PRIORITY TO THE LAWS that were given to Moses on Mt. Sinai, and CENTRALIZED THE REGION IN JERUSALEM.
But was this Josiah
's only objective?
[Israel Finkelstein, Tel Aviv University] Josiah
[?] NEEDED centralization of power, strong administration, COMPLETE CONTROL OF THE STATE.
One way to do that was to CENTRALIZE CULT, to do this REFORM OF CULT, which would lead BACK TO THE IDEA, to the pan-Israelite idea, that ALL ISRAELITES MUST WORSHIP ONE GOD IN ONE PLACE -- in Jerusalem. If you do this, and you DEMOLISH THE CULT PLACES IN THE COUNTRYSIDE, definitely you CONTROL better the economy, you control better THE STATE, and you can achieve your goals in A BETTER AND FASTER WAY.
[?] therefore had a political objective:
the creation of a GREAT UNIFIED KINGDOM.
But the WINDS OF HISTORY would once again turn. After a long period of DORMANCY, Egypt renewed with its IMPERIAL AMBITIONS.
Pharaoh Semeticus I ALSO HAD A DREAM,
to return Egypt to the GLORY OF ITS FORMER PHARAOHS, such as Ramesses II.
Egypt would TAKE CONTROL of the part of Canaan that had been relinquished by Assyria.
[Israel Finkelstein] For Josiah
, [?] Egypt was THE REAL THREAT. It was THE ONLY OBSTACLE in front of him which could have prevented him from fulfilling his IDEOLOGY OF THE GREAT ISRAEL. Egypt was there, and at the same time it had its own ideology, its own dreams, its own WISHFUL THINKING. It was the only obstacle!
[Narrator] Judah and Egypt were on the verge of a military conflict. What happened then?
[?] intend to USE THE TEXT to convey a message of hope? A STORY that could show that a SMALL PEOPLE COULD TRIUMPH OVER THE GREATEST OF EMPIRES, as Israel had triumphed [?] over Egypt when its people were led by a GREAT MAN with the BACKING OF GOD AND THE LAW?
[Thomas Romer, University of Lausanne] The STORY of Exodus is the STORY of a LIBERATION
that goes beyond the FLIGHT from Egypt.
In order FOR THE LIBERATION TO BE COMPLETE,
it was NECESSARY TO RECEIVE THE LAW. In the Pentateuch, this law is received OUTSIDE OF ANY POLITICAL INSTITUTION, [?] whether it be royalty or The State. It is thus a law that is GIVEN [?] TO THE PEOPLE by Moses.
[Narrator] Implicitly compared to Moses in the Biblical STORY, a MAN would take on the role of BOTH LIBERATOR AND OF LAWMAKER:
For THE LAW would play a CENTRAL ROLE in UNITING the Israelites,
AND LATER WOULD UNITE ALL THOSE WHO MADE A CLAIM TO JUDAISM. The law that WAS GIVEN TO THE PEOPLE, as it appeared in THE TEN COMMANDMENTS, and in Deuteronomy, would put into writing the BOND that EXISTED between Jews and their God -- The LAW, SEEN AS A COVENANT, a HOLY covenant.
Since that time, this LAW, and ITS TRANSMISSION and study,
constitutes the second pillar of Judaism: a religion unites a people
and its God, as in the time of Josiah
by a covenant that is read and interpreted for ALL TIME.
Our investigation has shown us the role of the Patriarchs in the Biblical STORY. [?]
This time it has established the second PILLAR of what was to become Judaism,
a society UNITED BY ITS LAWS, with the concepts of OPPRESSION and LIBERATION as its background.
In the next episode, our INVESTIGATION will lead us to a re-reading of the STORY of the conquest of Canaan, and will see us following in the footsteps of THE BIBLE'S GREAT KINGS: David and Solomon.