Last year, Bar-Ilan University’s Joshua Berman set out for the former land of the Pharaohs to view evidence supporting his case, previously set forth in Mosaic, for the historicity of the biblical account of the Israelites’ enslavement and redemption. Rossella Tercatin reports:
“The Torah is infused with Egyptian culture and its response to it,” Berman said, . . . “suggesting that the Israelites were indeed in Egypt, and they were there for a long time, but also that the way the Torah engages with this material is what today we would call cultural appropriation—a people using the propaganda of their oppressors and making it their own,” he said.
“The Lord freed us from Egypt by a mighty hand, by an outstretched arm and awesome power, and by signs and portents,” reads a verse in the book of Deuteronomy describing the Exodus. The expression “mighty hand and outstretched arm” appears multiple times in the Bible, but only in the context of the Exodus. Berman said this is not by chance, as these praises were used in Egypt as well.
The use of names of clear Egyptian origin in the Torah also suggests the close connection with Egyptian culture, he said. “Miriam, for example, means ‘beloved of the God Amun,’” he added.
Last year, he was finally able to fulfill his dream of visiting Egypt and the different sites bearing evidence of what he learned. On Monday, he set out to Egypt once again, leading a special ten-day kosher trip to visit the same sites.