I really need help on the following-I was on a website recently that claims that Aaron’s feast day of the golden calf that is said to have occurred in around 1446 BC in Exodus was copied from a events that took place within the same time period (between 17-15 century BC) by a group of asiatic Egyptian miners who left inscriptions asking their god “El” to protect them (who he claims is depicted as an Ox protecting his people. He claims this because Aaron declared a calf as the god who brought them out of the land of Egypt. Perhaps his conclusion is that since there is apparently no proof for the Exodus it must have been plagiarized from a similar event that took place at the same time. I am a believer since 2010, but I am very disturbed at some of the things I have read concerning our God and the Bible. I was on a Christian blog and another God-hating skeptic claims that the name YHVH (yahveh) was originally a Canaanite deity who was portrayed as the God of war, wind, plagues, disease and storms and that the Jews worshipped a cow god called mnevis of of Heliopolis who is reffered to as “thy god which brought thee up out of the land of Egypt”. Another post I saw says that the Bible and its history did not originate from Israel but Judah, that they were never united and that Judah “bought and paid for the destruction of Israel” at the hands of the Assyrians. Many of these attacks are based on Exodus or claim that Bible stories are fictional narratives that were stolen from real events that happened that same time period. Do two similar events happening in the same era, at a similar occasion always mean that one was stolen from another?Please help me any way possible with the above, it is seriously stressing me out. One of the articles I read goes like this: “One tribe of the Canaanites associated their fortunes with a god they called Yahveh. Without the vowels it was written in Hebrew “YHVH”, but the pronunciation is not known with any certainty, and the explanation that it means “I am that I am” is mere conjecture. Originally this god was a North Arabian or Midianite deity, and was associated with deeds of violence and destruction, and especially with war. His weapons were fire, disease, tempests, plagues, etc. – everything in nature which appeared irresistible and destructive. It is clear that the leadership of Yahveh must have been restricted to a very small area, for on every side we find the names of other gods as leaders of small tribes in Palestine, and in the great empires of Egypt and Babylon no such name occurs on the monuments. We can allege with the greatest confidence that the Hebrews, who are said to have lived for upwards of four hundred years in lower Egypt, had no deity called Yahveh. They were worshipers of the bull of Heliopolis, Mnevis, referred to as “thy god which brought thee up out of the land of Egypt”. I know that some of these claims are ludicrous but it still has disturbed me quite a lot. Many deny that the crossing of the Red Sea did not happen and assign it to various other locations.
You should be cautious and take such claims with a very big grain of salt. For example, what is the evidence that this author quotes that the party that was held when Aaron made the golden calf was borrowed from a group of Egyptian Asiatic miners? My guess (I have not seen this particular claim, so I must speculate) is that this author has literally not a shred of evidence that Aaron and the Israelites borrowed the idea for this party from “Egyptian Asiatic miners.” Most likely, he sees some sort of parallel and simply assumes, without any evidence, that they borrowed from archaeological information about these miners.
I am prepared to accept that there was a group of non-Jews who used the name El for their local deity. The fact is that El simply meant God. It was a fairly generic word for God in the Near East in the second millennium BC. If the Israelites were going to give a name to the one true creator/God, they would use a name which was a relatively generic name for God. They also called God Elohim, YHWH and El Shaddai and Adonai. I would argue that the name the Jews used for God is not very helpful in determining the source of their concept of God. It is helpful in this connection to know that when Christians speak of God in Muslim countries, such as Malaysia and Indonesia they call God “Allah.” I know this from listening to prayers while in these countries in a Christian worship. Many Muslims call God “God” rather than Allah when speaking in English. The fact that the Israelites used El as the name for the one true God is simply not evidence that their belief evolved from a local deity into the Jewish idea of a single Creator/God. Historians of religion are free to make such speculations, but they ought to remember to let their readers know that this is mere speculation. Besides, I believe that this speculation comes from a presupposition that there is no God–that the God of the Bible is not real. If we ASSUME that the God of the Bible is not real, then it is only natural that we will conclude that God/El of the Jews evolved from a polytheistic god. The fact is that this speculation is based on a false presupposition–at least in my opinion! I believe that the God of the Bible is real, which kind of destroys the presupposition that these religious anthropologists are using.
As for plagiarizing the Exodus from another religion, I know of no religion from which this story could have been plagiarized. Besides, there is plenty of evidence for the inspiration of the Bible which makes this conclusion a dubious one (although this should probably not be used to prove that the story was not plagiarized when discussing this with a skeptic). In this case, the burden of proof for plagiarizing would be on the one who says it was plagiarized and, like I said, I know of no religious tradition parallel to that of the Exodus.
Let me give you a suggestion. It is fine to read the claims of skeptics, but you should avoid getting all upset about their claims. We should listen carefully and respectfully to others, but should bear in mind that any conclusion coming from a person who ASSUMES that there is no God and that the Bible cannot possibly be inspired is just plain wrong and is therefore very likely to contain a bias. I have seen sufficient evidence for inspiration that the Bible earned the benefit of the doubt a long time ago. Such reasonable granting of the benefit of the doubt is not blind faith. It is reasonable and is really part of how all people who think reasonably operate.
About this second website you mention–the one who say that YWHW was originally a Canaanite deity–a god of war, winds and plagues–this one is on even thinner ice. I know of no precedence for a polytheistic god named YHWH. All the evidence is that concept of a single creator/God named YHWH (as opposed to El or Adonai) originated with the Jews. To say that YHWH started as a Canaanite deity of war, winds and plagues is sheer speculation, based entirely on a presupposition. I would not be troubled by this theory in the slightest.
As to worship of a cow-god, there is lots of evidence that the Jews did worship the Egyptian (or perhaps the Canaanite) cow-god. Might the Jews have incorporated some of their pagan idolatry into their worship of YHWH? Absolutely. In fact, the Bible reports that this is what happened and, of course condemns this. The evidence from the Bible is the opposite of what these critics are saying. The evidence is that the Jews were taught a single God of creation but that they let paganism creep in, not the other way around. So, I can agree that there was influence among the Jews from Egyptian cow-worship, but I disagree with the claimed implication.
As for the depiction of a fratricidal war between Israel (the Northern Kingdom) and Judah (the Southern Kingdom), this is obviously supported by the evidence in 1 and 2 Kings as well as 2 Chronicles. As for the history of the Bible coming from Judah, not Israel, there is a grain of truth in this as well. Most scholars agree that the Chronicles were clearly written from the perspective of the Southern Kingdom (Judah), whereas I and II Kings has a more balanced treatment of Israel and Judah (although both agree that Judah was, overall, more faithful than Israel). What I can say about this is that the unfriendly relationship between the Northern and the Southern Kingdom has little to do with whether the Bible is inspired by God. It seems that this argument is a smoke screen as far as the reliability of the Bible goes, but there is truth in the claim as regards Israel and Judah.
Do two similar events happening in the same era always mean that one was stolen from another? The answer is obviously no. Such connections are possible. For example, if two different regions had the same style of pottery, most likely one region “stole” the style from the other. If two different regions both invented the use of bronze, this might or might not mean that one “stole” from the other. Such things are established by train of evidence and common sense. However, we should be cautious of proof by analogy.
About the claim, “”One tribe of the Canaanites associated their fortunes with a god they called Yahveh. Without the vowels it was written in Hebrew “YHVH”, but the pronunciation is not known with any certainty, and the explanation that it means “I am that I am” is mere conjecture. Originally this god was a North Arabian or Midianite deity, and was associated with deeds of violence and destruction, and especially with war. His weapons were fire, disease, tempests, plagues, etc.” What this person is saying is that the Hebrews had a God named YHWH (true, obviously) and he claims that it was a local deity associated with war, fire, diseases, etc. and by implication not originally conceived as the only God (sheer speculation, based on a presupposition that there is no God, as above and therefore you can feel free to ignore this unfounded assumption for what it is… an unfounded assumption).
Here is another unfounded statement: ” We can allege with the greatest confidence that the Hebrews, who are said to have lived for upwards of four hundred years in lower Egypt, had no deity
called Yahveh.” OK, based on what evidence? Answer: none. Not a single piece of evidence supports the conclusion, so what is the basis for the “greatest confidence” that the Jews did not worship God before Moses? None. Now, we know that they were given the name YHWH during the time of Moses, so the statement that the name is not found in Egypt before the Exodus tells us nothing except that this gentleman did not think carefully about his argument, as no Christian or Jew would expect to find YHWH on any monument before the Exodus. And we also know that the Jews revered the name so much that even THEY hesitated to write down the name. So, the fact that YHWH is not found in Egypt at that time is literally not the slightest bit of support for his unfounded speculation that the Jews did not worship God at the time of the Exodus.
By the way, there is really solid evidence that the Jews DID worship Jehovah at the time of the Exodus. That solid evidence is found in the most reliable and accurate history book of the entire ancient world, also known as the Old Testament. I will defend in front of any scholar or historian the clear fact that the Bible is by far the most accurate and reliable book of ancient history, with no close second. These skeptic claims are based, not on evidence, but on a presupposition that there is no God and that the Bible is not inspired by God. You should not be intimidated by such speculations, coming, as they are, from people who assume the answer before they do the investigation.