Sunday, January 08, 2012
[Great Pyramid of Giza]
One apparent conflict between secular history and Judaism is that according to traditional Jewish chronology, the Deluge (Genesis 7) occurred in 2106 BCE. The Dispersion (Genesis 11) occurred in 1765 BCE. This means that between those two dates, for a period of 340 years, the earth was uninhabited outside of Mesopotamia. Also people after the Dispersion spoke different languages than they did before the Deluge. According to Tan. Buber, Noach 28, prior to the Dispersion all people spoke Hebrew.
Egyptians, however, supposedly the spoke the same language from 3400 BCE until 1700 CE. How can this be explained?
I would assume that the antediluvian Egyptians were among the “mighty men of old” (Genesis 6:4). They built the Great Pyramid and spoke Hebrew. They died in the Deluge. [I suspect that this early race of superior men also built the remarkable Stonehenge monument which dates from about the same period.]
Following the Dispersion, new settlers arrived in Egypt who wished to revive the culture of the earlier inhabitants. They never approached the architectural achievement of the original Egyptians, however they emulated Old Egyptian culture and claimed descent from them. (Many ancient dynasties claimed descent from ancient gods or heroes.)
Until about 1300 BCE, writing was pictographic. This means that each character represented a word, not a sound. This system is still used in eastern Asia today. Therefore, we cannot know what ancient Egyptian sounded like. For example, today, Japanese writing is derived partly from Chinese characters, although the two spoken languages are entirely different. The written language may have no connection to the spoken language in some cases. The antediluvian Egyptians may have spoken Hebrew while Egyptians after the Dispersion spoke Egyptian, but continued to use hieroglyphics.
This is to some extent similar to the Latin alphabet which continued to be used long after the destruction of Rome. In fact, this blog is being written in the Latin alphabet. Classical Greek and Roman architectures were also often revived. Most people today use a slightly modified Roman calendar. So the old Egyptian writing continued long after the original old Egyptians were gone.
Interestingly, the Egyptians are virtually the only ancient culture not possessing a flood legend, I would suppose because they wished to deny their lack of continuity with the pyramid builders.
Posted by jewish philosopher at 2:57 PM