Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Did Moses Write the Torah?

Skeptics have long denied that Moses wrote the Torah (Pentateuch). However, there isn’t any hard evidence backing such a claim. Nor is there any hard evidence that Moses’ five books were authored at a much later date, while there is much evidence that does point to Moses as the author:


• Exodus 24:3-4 So Moses came and told the people all the words of the LORD and all the judgments. And all the people answered with one voice and said, "All the words which the LORD has said we will do." And Moses wrote all the words of the LORD. And he rose early in the morning, and built an altar at the foot of the mountain, and twelve pillars according to the twelve tribes of Israel.

• Exodus 34:27 Then the LORD said to Moses, "Write these words, for according to the tenor of these words I have made a covenant with you and with Israel." (Ten Commandments)

• Numbers 33:2 Now Moses wrote down the starting points of their journeys at the command of the LORD. And these are their journeys according to their starting points:

THESE WRITINGS WERE ALSO PUBLIC PROPERTY. This constituted a paper-trial, making it highly difficult for anyone to later claim to have found a pseudonymous “Torah”:
• Deut. 31:9 So Moses wrote this law and delivered it to the priests, the sons of Levi, who bore the ark of the covenant of the LORD, and to all the elders of Israel.

• Deut. 31:24-26 After Moses finished writing in a book the words of this law from beginning to end, 25he gave this command to the Levites who carried the ark of the covenant of the LORD: 26"Take this Book of the Law and place it beside the ark of the covenant of the LORD your God. There it will remain as a witness against you.

• Joshua 3:3 giving orders to the people: "When you see the ark of the covenant of the LORD your God, and the priests, who are Levites, carrying it, you are to move out from your positions and follow it.


• Deut. 6:6-9 These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.

• Proverbs 7:3 Bind them [the laws of Moses] on your fingers; write them on the tablet of your heart.

• Deut. 31:19-22 "Now write down for yourselves this song and teach it to the Israelites and have them sing it…this song will testify against them…So Moses wrote down this song that day and taught it to the Israelites.

They were recited throughout Israel’s history (2 Kings 23:2; 2 Chron. 17:9; Nehemiah 8:8). Almost all of the subsequent books of the Bible attest, directly or indirectly to Mosaic authorship. In fact, their very substance is dependent upon Moses’ revelation and the history recorded in the Torah. The New Testament and Jesus all affirm Mosaic authorship.

EXTERNAL EVIDENCE: (“It is worth emphasizing that in all this work no archeological discovery has ever controverted a single, properly understood biblical (OT) statement.” Nelson Glueck—a Reformed Jewish scholar.)

1. Vocabulary: “A greater percentage of Egyptian words than elsewhere in the OT” Archer. “Moses”, “Pithom” , “Potiphera”, “Asenath” (Joseph’s wife), “Zaphenath-Paneah” (Name bestowed upon Joseph by Pharaoh—Gen 41:45)

2. Egyptian Idioms:
------“According to thy utterance all my people shall kiss.” (Gen 41:40); “Abrek”= “bow the knee” (Gen 41:43); Use of the term ‘Pharaoh’ instead of the actual name : “This conformity to eighteenth dynasty Egyptian usage turns out to be strong evidence of a Mosaic date of composition.” G. Archer, “Survey of Old Testament Introductions”

3. Egyptian Society:
--------"Thus we can not but admit that the writer…was thoroughly well acquainted with the Egyptian language customs, belief, court life, etiquette and officialdom; not only so, but the readers must have been familiar with things Egyptian.” Garrow Duncan concerning the Joseph and Exodus narratives.

--------“The price of 20 shekels paid for Joseph in Ge. 37:28 is the correct average price for a slave in about the 18th Century BC: earlier than this, slaves were cheaper (aqverage, 10-15 shekels)” K.A.Kitchen

--------“When Pharaoh appointed Joseph prime minister, Joseph was given a ring and a gold chain or collar which is normal procedure for Egyptian office promotions.” Josh McDowell, “A Ready Defense”

--------“For centuries there was a tomb in Shechem reverenced as the tomb of Joseph (Josh 24:32). A few years ago the tomb was opened. It was found to contain a body mummified according to the Egyptian custom, and in the tomb, among other things, was a sword of the kind worn by Egyptian officials.” John Elder, “Prophets, Idols, and Diggers”

4. “The author of the Torah shows a consistently foreign or extra-Palestinian viewpoint.” Archer
--------Crop sequence is Egyptian: Exodus 9:31-32 Now the flax and the barley were struck, for the barley was in the head and the flax was in bud. But the wheat and the spelt were not struck, for they are late crops.

--------“The Shittim or Acacia tree is indigenous to Egypt and the Sinai Peninsula, but not to Palestine.” G. Archer

--------“The lists of clean and unclean birds of Lev 11 and Deut. 14 include some which are peculiar to Sinai.” G. Archer

5. Mention of archaic customs (Genesis) – Cave of Machpelah; Theft of the Teraphim, Deuteronomy is written in covenant form used at the same time Moses was writing.
--------Kitchen writes that there is no “legitimate way to escape from the crystal-clear evidence of the correspondence of Deuteronomy with the remarkably stable treaty or covenant form of the 14th-13th centuries BC.”

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