Documentary Review: Bible Battles

Bible Battles 


To watch Bible Battles on Youtube click here.

Overall, this is an excellent documentary. One of the points I like to make about Torah study is that there is great value in hearing different opinions. Here, military historians examine the scriptures from their point of view. Unlike religious scholars, secular archaeologists, and the civil, legal and political minded (like myself) these military scholars zero in on military strategies and tactics. The documentary is annoying to the faithful in that is frequently says that G-d “supposedly” told the Israelites this or that. I do not understand why this is necessary. Why not simply, “according to the Biblical narrative” or “the book of such and such states?” In any case, the documentary is well worth the nuisance. I have more than a few corrections to offer regarding the timeline and details as they are read.

Timeline


Terah departed Ur because it was conquered by the Elamites, Avraham later does battle with the Elamites as an ally of Egypt. The only time during which the Elamites had this kind of power and influence was circa 2000 BCE. Therefore, the Israelites would likely have entered Egypt between 1850 and 1750 BCE. Several of the plagues that befell the Egyptians were caused by the eruption of the Island of Santorini which vulcanologists place in 1649 BCE. Archaeologists, however, argue that the eruption that really effected the local civilizations took place sometime closer to 1500 BCE. That gives a much earlier time for the Exodus than is commonly understood.

During the reign of Ramses II, when it is commonly believed that Moshe led the Israelites out of Egypt, Ramses II marched an army 50,000 strong into Canaan to fight the Hittites over the border kingdom of Kadesh. It would have been impossible for Yehoshua (Joshua) to have conquered the land during that period. Interestingly enough, if the timeline I describe above is applied, then this war over Kadesh takes place during a period after Devorah and before Gidon (Gideon) that is void of Biblical narrative. A later editor of the Tanakh mistakenly placed Ehud and Shamgar in this period even though the events of their respective terms as Shofet (Chieftain, ruler, or judge) better fit the narrative in the years immediately preceding the rule of Samson. To read more about this read the article on the book of Shoftim.

If you adjust the years backwards to set the Exodus circe 1500 BCE, the narrative becomes more plausible. Many seculars deliberately ignore this fact in order to make a stronger case that the Biblical narrative is incorrect. Theologians likely ignore the difference in timeline assuming the precision of the Biblical narrative and argue that it must simply be taken on faith. Throughout the Biblical narrative, Hashem chooses heroes who take little on faith and want to see results. We may draw from this that blind faith is not what Hashem demands of us.

Corrections

1. Avraham lived in the 20th Century BCE

2. It was more likely Seqenenre Tao II who ordered the murder of the Hebrew/Habiru boys not Seti. Seqenenre Tao II had two son’s who ruled, Kamose (who mysteriously vanished after 5 years, and a younger son by another wife: Ahmose. It was almost certainly Ahmose was the Pharaoh of Shemot (Exodus). Many disasters befell Egypt during his reign.

3. The Egyptian Chariot was still being refined in the time of Pharoah Ahmose when the Exodus is more likely to have taken place. The wheels were closer to the center of the chariot and had three spokes instead of four. The design was perfected in later years prior to Rameses II’s reign where he used the four spoked chariots to overcome the Hittites in Kadesh.

4. The documentary fails to mention that the Yam Suf as an Egyptian holy site wherein the Egyptians believed that dead souls passed into the afterlife. For the Israelites to cross and the Egyptians to become stuck and/or drown carried significant religious symbolism. No Egyptian army would be unwilling to pursue the Israelites further. Moshe certainly knew this and took advantage of it for tactical benefit.

5. Mt Sinai was not in the southern Sinai Penninsula. There is no water available there. Sinai was more likely in the Eastern Sinai where several good candidates have been found, such as Hashem-el-Tarrif which was identified by Simcha Jakobovichi. In spite of his strange way of investigating and presenting historical information, he is probably right on this one.

6. The scripture clearly states that the walls of Yericho (Jericho) came down. It is possible that the walls were undermined by the Israelite spies such that part of the wall collapsed. This is equally plausible when compared to the opening of the gates which is described in the documentary. Nevertheless, the scripture is clear that at least some part of the walls physically collapsed.

7. The battle described in the book of Shoftim in which the Israelites were led by Devorah was not against the Canaanites, it was likely that the Battle of Mount Tabor was one of (probably the last) Amenhotep II’s campaigns. Thus, the story is one of geopolitical diplomacy and finding a way to give the Egyptians only a Pyrrhic victory. Indeed, Amenhotep II’s last campaign is lightly celebrated and there are hints that the casualties were high and that some sort of political settlement was ultimately reached among the warring parties; far from a total victory for the Egyptians.

Conclusion


This is a fascinating documentary that explores the military tactics, weapons, and strategies employed by the ancient Israelites from which we can all draw lessons. The documentary has its flaws, but it certainly discusses material not commonly presented or elaborated upon in the scriptures. It is worthy of thought and consideration.


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