The Exodus: Did it Really Happen? The Musings of an Egyptologist (Part 2)

“There’s no straightforward archaeological evidence” for the Exodus account, says Egyptologist Bob Brier in his Great Courses lecture series, and from that one might conclude that he will trash it. But he doesn’t. There is internal evidence for it and the internal evidence holds up, he says.

Brier’s not concerned that the external evidence is not there. The Egyptians kept only records of their victories, never their defeats, and the Exodus would for sure have been a defeat for them. “If you read all the battle accounts of all the pharaohs, they won every one. Some of them they just kept winning closer to home, as they retreated.”

He also is not concerned because, even if there had been such records, they would never have survived in damp delta area where all the Hebrew action takes place. Chimes in Thomas Mudloff, another researcher: “Indeed, archaeologically we have virtually nothing of this nature from the Delta. The fact is that the entire area is simply too wet for material of this sort [papyrus] to survive. Anyone familiar with the problems of excavation in the Delta will immediately understand. The ancient ground level is now some twenty feet or more below the modern surface and the water table is so high in the area that most current excavations must employ the constant use of pumps to keep the diggings dry.”

Mudloff also builds upon Brier’s first point—that the Egyptians kept no record of defeats, only victories. In the attempt to account for that, the reason that immediately springs to mind is that of pride. Victors write history down to this day, and whenever they think they can get away with it, they are equally inclined to hide whatever embarrasses them. But there is another factor: that of the Egyptian religious belief that “once anything is written down or spoken it may have the ability to be perpetuated and perhaps repeated, something that is part of the nature of Egyptian religious beliefs. We see examples in the Egyptian’s desire to have their names spoken after death in order to maintain their existence in the afterlife, and so the idea that writing an event down will also make it possible for the event to continue, perhaps recurring at some future point. Surely so catastrophic an event as so many slaves being let go at once would not be something the Egyptians would wish to commemorate.”

Besides, Brier doesn’t think the birth of the Jewish nation would be all that important to anyone else. “Do you think the Hittite king cares about what’s happening in upper Egypt?… Nobody cared.” He compares it to the early stirrings of the American Revolution. Would anyone in the Middle East have cared about it enough to take note of the details? He thinks not.

I’m not so sure about this comparison. According to Rahab, the Exodus was the talk of the town in Jericho: She “went on to say to [the Israelite spies]: ‘I do know that Jehovah will certainly give you the land, and that the fright of you has fallen upon us, and that all the inhabitants of the land have become disheartened because of you. For we have heard how Jehovah dried up the waters of the Red Sea from before you when you came out of Egypt . . . . When we got to hear it, then our hearts began to melt. . . ’” (Joshua 2:9-11)

But Rahab is one of the little people, telling the fears of the little people that are not necessarily in the official report. Being a little person, she is only a hairbreadth away from being a fictional one, and until her Facebook page is found, most scholars will suppose she is.

So get used to it—there’s little external evidence for the Exodus. (though there is some, as will be seen) That said, Brier looks at the “internal evidence” “Does the story hold together internally?” He examines the details and declares that it does.

One detail he likes (with every such detail, he says: “So that’s pretty good,” as in building a case) is the straw in the bricks. “[Moses and Aaron] go to [Pharaoh] and say, ‘let my people go’—not only that, but it’s what we would call chutzpah, they say we want three days off! To celebrate a festival to our God. And Pharaoh really thinks this is outrageous. ...He says you’re not getting the three days off to celebrate your holiday, and not only that, we are not giving you any straw for your bricks,” the non-Bronx version found at Exodus 5:10.

Bricks in Egypt were made with straw to give it strength. But they were not made that way in Canaan. The factoid points to an authentic account of someone who knew Egypt, not a made-up-later tale from a Canaanite outsider. Brier likes the fact that they worked with bricks, and not the stones that a later writer might suppose from the pyramids and tombs. He likes where they did it, “building cities as storage places for Pharaoh, namely, Pithom and Raamses.” (Exodus 1:11) There were such places and they were storage cities in the days of Ramses II. Brier thinks that Ramses II (Ramses the Great) would have been the pharaoh of the Exodus, assuming that there was one.

He likes how the Hebrews got into their bondage: “In time there arose over Egypt a new king who did not know Joseph. And he proceeded to say to his people: “Look! The people of the sons of Israel are more numerous and mightier than we are. Come on! Let us deal shrewdly with them, for fear they may multiply, and it must turn out that, in case war should befall us, then they certainly will also be added to those who hate us and will fight against us and go up out of the country.” (Exodus 1:8-10)

It fits in well with a previous lecture of his on how Egypt pushed back at Libya, taking captives: “It seems that the Egyptians always minded when foreigners become too numerous. It was okay to have a few, but when they became a large body to be reckoned with they didn’t like that. As for example, remember the Exodus?”

He also likes a detail of Exodus 1:16, in which Pharaoh lays plans to kill off the newborn Hebrew boys. He there instructs the midwives: “When you help the Hebrew women to give birth and you see them on the stool for childbirth, you must put the child to death if it is a son; but if it is a daughter, she must live.”

The Hebrew word for “stool for childbirth” literally means “two stones,” as in ‘a stone under each buttock.’ Egyptians did give birth that way—it can be seen in their hieroglyphs—and it makes more sense than the modern way of lying prone, for it allows for gravity to assist. One source even tells of an old Egyptian put-down of a capricious man as: “He left me like a woman on the bricks.” What kind of a lowlife would do such a thing?

There are even a few who think “watch the two stones” has nothing to do with the birthing stool and everything to do with the testicles of the newborn! If you see them coming down the birth canal, kill the one who has them.

The two midwives mentioned in the Bible, Shifra and Puah, fear God, and so they disobey Pharaoh. In time, Pharaoh wants to know why: “The king of Egypt called the midwives and said to them: ‘Why have you kept the male children alive?’ The midwives said to Pharʹaoh: ‘The Hebrew women are not like the Egyptian women. They are lively and have already given birth before the midwife can come in to them.’”

Arthur Waskow says that the midwives are very clever here—they placate Pharaoh with a pun that appeals to his prejudices. ‘They’re not civilized like us—they drop them fast, like animals,’ is what he hears. It makes perfect sense to him. And Yahweh rewards the midwives for it, Brier says. He doesn’t use the anglicized ‘Jehovah’ form of God’s name, but neither does he say “The LORD.”

What of the frequent expression that Pharaoh’s “heart was hardened?” “Very Egyptian, very Egyptian,” Bob says. The Egyptians believed that a person thought with his heart. After all, it is the heart that beats faster when someone is excited.

Brier likes the name “Moses,” and says that it’s a purely Egyptian name. It means “birth.” It is incorporated into the names of several pharaohs: Ahmose, (“the moon god is born”) Thutmose. (“Thoth is born”) In Greek, the name with its appended suffix becomes Amosis and Thutmosis. Ramesses is similar in pattern: (Re is the one who bore him)

If this Egyptian etymology is correct, it makes an even greater point for authenticity, because the Bible writer doesn’t appear to know that, and he attributes a Hebrew setting to the name, a play on the verb mashah (to draw out [of water]). We read that the weaned infant was brought to Pharaoh’s daughter, “so that he became a son to her; and she proceeded to call his name Moses and to say: ‘It is because I have drawn him out of the water.’” (2:10) The application doesn’t quite fit, say some, for the word construction implies that Moses does the drawing, whereas the text says otherwise, and the only way to solve the difficulty is to ignore it. Moreover, why would Pharaoh’s daughter name the child with Hebrew etymology and not her own? Without intending to, the Bible writer gives added reason to regard the account as genuine.

There is a document, known as the Leiden Papyrus, from the time of Ramses the Great. It contains an instruction to “distribute grain rations to the soldier and to the Apiru who transport stones to the great Pylon of Ramses. Some connect “Apiru” (it means “stateless people”) with the origin of the “Hebrew” that it sounds like. It fits well with Exodus 1:11, “they appointed chiefs of forced labor over [the people of Israel] to oppress them with hard labor, and they built storage cities for Pharaoh, namely, Pithom and Raamses.”

Ramses the Great ruled for 67 years, had about 100 children, of which 52 were sons, and outlived many of them, including his firstborn, Amunhirkepshef. It is his 13th son, Merneptal, who succeeds him as pharoah. Of his early military campaigns, (“he’s going to list the countries that he’s beaten up,” Bob says) Merneptal has recorded in his fifth year that “Canaan has been plundered into every sort of woe; Ashkelon has been overcome; Gezar has been captured; Yano’am was made nonexistent; Israel is laid waste, its seed is not.” This is the first (and only) mention of “Israel” in ancient Egyptian records.

It is telling how the word “Israel” is written. At the end of every other mention is a hieroglyph of three hills. It means “country.” At the end of “Israel” is the drawing of a man and a woman. It denotes Israel is not yet an established place, not yet a country. It is still a people wandering in the Sinai wilderness? If so, and counting backwards, might Amunhirkepshef be the firstborn of Pharoah who’s death at last twisted his arm to let the Israelites leave Egypt?

Bob doesn’t buy into the Bible number of Israelites leaving Egypt, 600,000–all men—not including families. It’s like the fish tale that gets bigger each time you tell it, he says. He thinks the number is much smaller, maybe by a factor of 1000. Nor does he buy into the Red Sea. It is a mistranslation of “Reed Sea,” (Hebrew: Yam Suph) he says. I am reminded of a tale somewhere in Jehovah’s Witness literature in which a schoolteacher tries “educate” a child away from his faith in the Exodus account by asserting that it was not the Red Sea, it was the “Reed Sea,” and the latter was a marshy area of water probably just “two inches” deep—whereupon the child begins to snicker. When the annoyed teacher demands the reason why, it turns out the child is amused at his teacher thinking the Egyptians could drown in just two inches of water. Maybe he was combining the image with God “taking wheels off their chariots so that they were driving them with difficulty.” (Exodus 14:25) Come on!—how can anyone not smile at that image?

“Suph” means “reed” in Hebrew, and from that fact comes the “Reed Sea” derivation, a place that no longer exists, but some think might be bodies of water replaced by the Suez canal. However, there is also a Hebrew word,“Soph,” which means “destroy,” “end,” or even “storm-wind.” What a fine pun it would be, some have suggested, to let one stand for the other, “suph” for “soph,” since the Egyptian army did indeed come to an violent end in that sea. Besides, King Solomon later builds a fleet of ships “upon the shore of the Red Sea (also Yam Suph) in the land of Edom.” (1 Kings 9;26) He wouldn’t do that if the sea was only two inches deep.

To make a pun not so fine, you can only water down the Exodus account so much before you create problems with Brier’s earlier lecture of Ramses II’s life. His early years were warlike. No battle in history is so well-documented as Ramses fighting the Hittites at Kadesh in his fifth year. It is carved everywhere—Egypt’s version of Washington crossing the Delaware, Bob states. Afterwards, Ramses relocates from Memphis to more strategically located Pi-Ramses to the north, because he means to return and pummel the Hittites, perhaps yearly.

Yet, he later experiences a “midlife crisis,” as Brier puts it more than once. He signs a peace treaty with the Hittites, very much to their benefit since they were also battling the Assyrians, but for Egypt, making peace was unheard of and seemingly unnecessary. The treaty may be the first one recorded in history. A temple wall inscription says Hittite and Egyptian soldiers “ate and drank face to face, not fighting.” Bob declares it nothing short of “amazing—Hittites were one of Egypt’s nine traditional enemies.”

Thereafter, Brier states, Ramses II becomes “a more sedentary pharaoh,” who turns to supervising tomb building, his last forty years so different from “the glorious beginning” of his reign. Ramses “didn’t seem to have any fight left in him,” says Bob. “Why did Ramses have a midlife crisis?” Bob Brier ends a lecture with this cliffhanger: “The Exodus, as we shall see in the next lecture, may have had something to do with it.”

Well, it wouldn’t have had something to do with it if the Exodus was some penny ante affair involving just a few hundred fleeing people, and chariots that bog down in the two-inch mud trying to catch them. No, a “midlife crisis” only ensues if it was a spectacular event involving thousands of Israelites and the mass destruction of Pharaoh’s troops.

Does Bob not realize the non-sequitur he sets up? Or does he realize it very well, but also realizes that he puts his status as learned Egyptologist at risk by siding too openly with the Bible account, and so he avoids speculating on the available facts (as he doesn’t elsewhere)? Dunno. Still, I appreciate that the Egyptian record allows very well for the Exodus account to be reality, even if it doesn’t nail down the point. Given what archeologists have uncovered thus far, you could hardly expect it to.

(Thomas F. Mudloff is the author of Hieroglyphs for Travelers)

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Photo by CCXpistiavos

See Evidence of Joseph:

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Tweeting the Meeting: Week of May 3, 2021

Weekend Meeting:

The speaker today is one who served where the work is banned. If you asked him about conditions there, he would reply only with Bible verses, such as Matthew 24:14, or Hebrews 10:24

Some talk prior to the meeting as to whether Russian brothers had managed to work around certain restrictions. “If they had, I’m sure they wouldn’t talk about it,” someone said.

Now he has a tree picture on display and says how “in his law he reads in an undertone day and night. And he will certainly become like a tree planted by streams of water, hat gives its own fruit in its season.” (Ps 1:2-3)

This will be one of those meetings where the chairman can comment on how the public talk fits right in with the Watchtower Study. Not all meetings are like that. When they are, is it planned or coincidence?

The speaker says how a prior assignment was NYC Chinatown. It was common for babies to be sent to the mainland for a few years while parents worked to be financially established—maybe a restaurant, he said. But what happened years later upon reuniting? ...1/2

He speaks of articles written of emotionally scarred children, feeling abandoned by parents, and that he and wife had seen it....2/2

The Watchtower conductor said nothing of the talk fitting hand-in-glove with the study. It is not his m.o. Some conductors never fail to make the plug.

The study material for today.

Someone just used the expression, “as the expression goes.”

The sister who gave us a lot of food just commented. We said we didn’t need it, but she insisted. It’s okay—we know ones we can pass it on to.

A brother with small kids has a big bobbing balloon in his Zoom box. For a time, I had one of those big smiley yellows ones secured at proper height in my car. “It’s my girlfriend,” I would tell my wife. “She’s low maintenance.”

At that picture of David going after the bear to rescue the sheep, one brother related how he went after a cat to rescue a bunny rabbit. “Your servant saw a bunny rabbit being devoured by a mean cat, and I rescued it from it’s mouth. ...1/2

Now, give me a crack at that big lout Goliath!” “Next!’ Saul shouts, as they haul the upstart away....2/2

That 1 Samuel 17:28 verse: as though David just wanted to rubberneck at the auto wreck. And who did he leave those sheep with?

“What can young brothers learn from David’s [1 Samuel 27] example?” (Para 9) Well—best not take it TOO literally. “Off the kings friends and make him think if is his being enemies carted off to the dumpster.”

Here is a verse that will come in handy sometimes, from 2 Chronicles 14: “O Jehovah, it does not matter to you whether those you help are many or have no power. Help us, O Jehovah our God, for we are relying on you.”

“In fact, from then on, Asa was constantly at war. (2 Chron. 16:7, 9; 1 Ki. 15:32) What is the lesson?” (Para 13) Maybe that deflect once, and you will not recover, until you come to terms with that initial deflection.

Jehu the son of Hanani the visionary went out to meet him and said to King Jehoshaphat: “Is it the wicked you should be helping, and is it those who hate Jehovah you should love? (2 chronicles 19:2)

“Very nice” said the conductor to a comment that was so garbled with internet fuzz that I couldn’t understand it.

It’s not widely known, but the one who just commented is son of a man drafted into an NFL team. Yet the old man would not permit his young children to watch football—presumably b/c of the violence he knew of.

Midweek meeting

A comment on how God spoke face to face with Moses, but other means with Joshua. It is an “organizational adjustment,” the commenter says.

The creative brother begins his talk boasting on the goat he is bringing for sacrifice, a real “blue medal” one, that will surely “impress the priest.” “And what are you bringing?” he asks. “Aw—how cute. A turtle dove.”

“Honor Jehovah with your valuable things and with the firstfruits of all your produce,” Prov 3:9. Is the verse under consideration. Counsel on not comparing self with others, but only with selves.

“They’ve changed the words of the song,” [Let Your Light Shine] my wife gives me a heads-up, as though to say, “You’d better not mess it up.”

The new child from India is having a tough first day, but Sophia [after a setback] welcomes her on the basis of recalled counsel on impartiality.

Several who actually are young answered before they had to settle for those “young at heart.” The first child to answer the Sophia video recently lost her baby teeth.

 

Lots of counsel on making friends. What to look for. What not to look for. How to cultivate. Where to look. Watch out for what’s toxic. Broaden horizons.

The reader’s dog has decided to bark up a storm. I am trying to read his face to see how disconcerted he is. Only a wry smile at the end.

To Zedekiah it is said: But your day has come, O fatally wounded, wicked chieftain of Israel, the time of your final punishment. This is what the Sovereign Lord Jehovah says: ‘Remove the turban, and take off the crown. This will not remain the same. ...1/2

Raise up the low one, and bring low the high one. A ruin, a ruin, a ruin I will make it. And it will not belong to anyone until the one who has the legal right comes, and I will give it to him.’...2/2. (Ezekiel 21:25-27)

The one who has the “legal right” is Christ Jesus. The verse is tied in with Daniel 7:12-13. “someone like a son of man...gained access to the Ancient of Days...to him there were given rulership, honor, and a kingdom, that the peoples, nations&language groups should all serve him

Circuit assembly was last week, hence no tweeting of the meetings then. Turns out 12 were baptized, 5 brothers, 7 sisters, ranging in age from 15 to 89. (older than Shultz, probably!)

The American sister who translated the meeting for the Chinese said the experience was “rough.”

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Mathematics and Everything: From Hannah Fry to Stephen Fry. Part 3

For continuity, start with Part 1.

Now—what about Hannah Fry’s TV presentation—“Magic Numbers?” Are they really magic? Or are they like when my gushing business typing teacher from high school days said, “Today we are going to learn how to use the magic margins!” and I said to myself, “This guy really thinks they are magic.”

Remember, Harley—you don’t want to be a donkey here. Remember how you were with Meg, working on her dissertation involving the Heisenberg Uncertainty principle, and the only one who could grade it was her U of R professor because he was the only one who knew what she was talking about? Don’t make the same faux pas with Fry that you made with her—saying something to show that you’re not exactly ignorant about her subject, and in so doing conveying that you are. Don’t be like Ed Norton, trying to impress the financier, casually letting it slip that he is in the “sewer game” himself.

Okay, now. Turn on the TV. What do you notice about math? Yikes! The first thing I notice has nothing to do with math. It is about Fry. She is one attactive woman!

Harley, you gauche slob! That’s even worse! Go back to saying something stupid about math! Nobody cares about physical appearance! It is only the mind we care about! If you didn’t have such a perfect face for radio, you wouldn’t come all unglued when you see one for television!

It made a mixed initial impression on me, and not all of it good. “We cannot be certain of this and we cannot agree on that,” she more or less said, and I added, “but can we all agree that my flowing and flaming red hair is beautiful?” I mean, don’t go telling me that her producer doesn’t know the power of outward appearance. He showcases her as though a model on Vogue Magazine.

And in fact, once I adjusted to it, all was well. It was my bad. Most things are. I had expected some drab and dry old hen chalking formulas on the board. It’s not her. My bad. You use whatever you have to best present your topic. Lord knows I do. Go for it. When they strap Hannah Fry into a zip line harness to show she speeds up just like Galileo said she would, instead of her dull professor of yesteryear dropping a marble and bowling ball simultaneously—well, why not? He wanted to ride a zip line, too, but it wasn’t allowed back then. Now it is.

It may be that the scientists and mathematicians have never been dull, and only now is the stereotype breaking that says they are. It may all be a carryover from my school days, when they would roll into the classroom a towering TV for some “educational television” and the only thing you knew for sure was that it would be BORING.

It’s not that way now. The two Great Courses archeologists I follow present almost as Indiana Jones. One of them was even inspired by Indiana Jones, for he relates how his mom dropped him off as a boy at the multiplex, the movie subtitle said. “Somewhere in South America,” and he said to himself: “There’s a South America?” Who says they have to be dull? It’s a good gig—why not behave as though it is? Paul Halpern may have the largest cache of physicist photos on the planet—all the time he is posting them, showing the good ‘ol (usually) boys of brilliance having a ball. And just yesterday he posted a cartoon with the quantum computer diagnosis: “broken in every way possible, simultaneously.” I added: “And the relativity computer looks broken when they pass it one way, but okay when they pass it the other way.”

So Hannah Fry begins to narrate her program. “Look hard enough to at anything, mathematics is lying beneath,” she says at the show’s outset. Is math all in our heads, invented? she poses the question. Or is it an eternal physical reality, something existing out there, waiting to be discovered?

Then she dives into the same chronology that they all dive into, but it is such a rich chronology that every presentation is different. Farmelo wrote in his book how he was struck in high school that the formula for gravity took the exact same form as the formula for magnetism, different only in that you can reverse the latter. Why should that be? I was struck by it, too. He also said he didn’t recall any of his teachers ever commenting on that peculiarity. Neither do I.

“How could something we invented in our brain have the power to reveal the workings of the universe?” she says, and then inserts clips of a few mathematicians who say confirming things, like how it’s “shocking that mathematics makes predictions about the world around us.”

“It seemed inconceivable that math could be anything other than something we discover,” Fry says, but then she ventures that in the 19th century, people began to wonder if everyone was really as it seemed. “The problem for humans is overriding our instincts, trusting in our intuition,” another guest math-whiz says. Aristotle, clever though he was, got a lot of things wrong. It’s intuitive that heavy lands before light [is it?], so Aristotle stated that it did. Galileo figured it didn’t, wrote the formula to govern falling things, and said the feather falls slower only due to friction with the air. Whereupon, Hannah splices in Apollo moon footage in which they attempted just that experiment—take out the air— and sure enough, they do both land at the same time! She could have done it in some drab school experiment where they pump the air out of some container, but she did it on the moon! Don’t tell me she doesn’t know how to use the modern medium.

Breaking free of Euclid makes it more complicated—now Fry will try to serve up some sympathy with the ‘inventors of math’ view. (But it won’t work with me—I’m on to her—and it’s not clear where she stands herself.) Cantor pours fuel on the fire with his infinites, some of which are greater than others! You would think that an infinity is an infinity is an infinity, but it turns out that some “are more equal than others.” And don’t get me going about that “proof” (Hannah didn’t cite this one—I just threw it in myself) that the sum of all natural numbers is -1/12.

Then there is Descartes, who invented imaginary numbers. They correspond to nothing real in themselves, but they have been used to build bridges from one real place to another, places that otherwise seem to be “you can’t get there from here,” places. The only thing I know for sure about imaginary numbers (always based upon the square root of -1) is that Hobbes, Calvin’s stuffed tiger, helping the boy with his homework, declared that an especially hard arithmetic problem would require their use—the kid’s hair stood on end and his eyes bugged out at the thought.

Okay, so maybe we don’t have to run the “inventors” completely off the planet, but to suggest that anything can be accounted for by what some smart-alek math whiz will concoct is just too much.

Why can’t it just be acknowledged what Job acknowledged? “Look! These are the fringes of his ways, And what a whisper of a matter has been heard of him!” Why should humans assume that they will figure it all out, then come all unglued when they can’t, and somehow work that into a scenario that God doesn’t exist, whereas it should do just the opposite? It reminds me of a old buddy who would overturn the gameboard whenever he saw he was not going to win.

As to Fry being attractive—sorry—maybe I should not have said anything about that. It’s not the thing to focus on. On the other hand, there was a smiling young women, always posing with her motorbike, chalking up hundreds of likes from social media users in Japan. But some sharp-eyed users smelled something amiss. Mirror reflections didn’t look so pretty. Sometimes her arms were hairy! They pushed an investigation and, sure enough, it was a 50-year old guy playing with photoshop! The fellow wasn’t overly repentant. “Who’s going to click on tweets of a 50-year-old guy?” he said.

Exactly. I’ll bet Hannah is a 60-something, pot-bellied, balding slob like me!

 

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Live Tweets from Ancient Egypt: Part 14

Great Courses, Bob Brier, tweets composed and sent while dog-walking. AI screwups corrected in brackets

For continuity, start with Part 1:

Lecture 27: What mummies tell us

“A mummy is a mummy is a mummy” to most people, Bob Brier says, but all cars are not alike—neither are mummies. They made them over thousands of years. They differ.

Early mummies of the First Kingdom aren’t very good. Bodies are encased as with statues, but not preserved. X-rays reveal they have fallen apart, bones lying at the bottom.

Hetepheres, wife of “my man Sneferu” is an exception—with internal organs that had been removed.

Great story of high-quality artifacts suddenly appearing on the antiquities market in the 1870s, so authorities figured tomb robbers had made a massive find (steal) and, sure enough, found the culprits and (eventually) tortured the location out of them.

A huge trove of mummies, the grave robbers had found. Mummies spanning many dynasties. Shipped off to the Cairo museum, where researchers learned much about mummymaking—what innovations had been made at what time periods.

One other cache of mummies found later, the tomb of Amenhotep II. That’s where Bob Brier discovered that the king had bad teeth, maybe he needed a coregent because he was incapacitated.

All Egyptians had bad teeth, on account of the sand from the grindstones that found its way into its bread.

Lecture 28: Making a modern mummy:

Cool! Bob makes his own mummy. Only he doesn’t identify the person. This reminds me of when my wife took anatomy for nursing. These bodies are donated for research, she was told. They might be someone you know. They were to be treated respectfully.

He says he did it not to make a mummy but to learn how it was done. Lots of unanswered questions after reviewing the papyri. Only way to answer them was to do one, he said.

For example, the brain coming out the nose? Bob thought you could just pull it out with a hooked instrument, but no—it is too viscous. Can’t be done that way. Instead, they—(are you sure you want to know this?)—are swished around up there further, making it more liquid, then inverted the body so as to pour it out through the nostrils.

They made bronze tools. I guess I should have known this, but didn’t. Bronze, a hard metal, results form the mix of two soft ones—tin and copper. But the knife made was not very good.

The “sharp Ethiopian stone” (obsidian) worked well for a knife. Bob says modern surgeons have gone that way—using obsidian.

They used natron (basically salt and baking soda) to preserve. (It takes 600 pounds of the stuff) Bought the frankincense and myrrh from local sites.

Now they have a control sample—they know what they did. They know what works and what doesn’t. It will help with the analysis of ancient mummies.

Herodotus’s 35 day period they figured out (too late) is the time the body has to sit after being dried with natron. It is not completely dry by then, you can still cross the hands in royal style, but Bob & crew had waited too long. They had to wrap with arms at sides.

There’s not a lot of mummies in this neck of the woods. I don’t have any original photos. The best I can do is this one of Tauchannock Man in the Finger Lakes region of New York.

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Go to Part 15

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Shishak Beats Up Rehoboam—From Egypt’s Point of View. And Why did Indiana Jones Search for the Ark in Tanis?

For 200 years Egypt was ruled by Libyans. That’s not a long period of time but its nearly as long as the history of the United States.

Head north on the Nile and turn left, Bob* gives the directions, and you will hit Libya. But you will have to traverse 200 miles of desert to get there, so we should not imagine an invading Libyan army riding that far to conquer. No, Prof Brier is sure that the Libyans that ruled were already in Egypt, in fact full Egyptians in all but ethnicity. They had been assimilated previously.

They were probably descendants of captives taken during the reign of Ramses III, Egypts last great pharaoh, Bob calls him. “One of the things he was proudest of is that he pushed back the Egyptians. The Egyptians were getting a little too populous. It seems that the Egyptians always minded when foreigners become too numerous. It was okay to have a few, but when they became a large body to be reckoned with they didn’t like that. As for example, remember the Exodus?”

Exodus 1:9-10 reads: “In time there arose over Egypt a new king who did not know Joseph.  And he proceeded to say to his people: “Look! The people of the sons of Israel are more numerous and mightier than we are.  Come on! Let us deal shrewdly with them, for fear they may multiply, and it must turn out that, in case war should befall us, then they certainly will also be added to those who hate us and will fight against us and go up out of the country.”

The captured Libyans assimilated and, in time, some turned to the military. Sheshonq I was the first of them to assume the throne after a dwindling series of impotent kings bearing the Ramses name. He married the right woman—a sure way to rise in Egypt—the daughter of Ramses XI.

Fighting is what he knew. After consolidating and appointing his sons in key positions, he look northward. Was not Judah ripe for picking? Solomon had just died, and his son Rehoboam didn’t know what he was doing. Sheshonq is the same as Shishak of 1 Kings 14:25-26. He came to conquer but Rehoboam “bought him off.”

“And it came about in the fifth year of King Rehoboam that Shishak the king of Egypt came up against Jerusalem.  And he got to take the treasures of the house of Jehovah and the treasures of the house of the king; and everything he took. And he went on to take all the gold shields that Solomon had made.”

Note what he does not take, Bob says. He does not take the ark of the covenant, “the box, that held the Ten Commandments. That’s not mentioned.” A helpful footnote from movie lore: “That’s why Indiana Jones goes looking for the ark of the covenant at Tanis, in the delta, in Egypt, thinking maybe Shishak brought it back.”

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While he’s at it, Bob Brier eludidates ark: “It’s called a ark, by the way, because ark means box. That why you get Noah’s ark. It’s really a big box that floated on the water, basically.”

You know, it’s not a big point, and certainly Bob does not extrapolate on it here, but in a way it is. Artwork of Jehovah’s Witnesses invariably portray Noah’s ark as a floating box. Church artwork almost never does. To them, it is a storybook boat with bow and stern. When my wife and I stayed in the Cincinnati Best Western because we’d been hurricaned out from our original destination, that morning in the breakfast bar nearly everyone else, family groups all, were headed to the Ark Encounter across the state border in Kentucky. A huge ark replica—with bow and stern. (and dinosaurs!)

These are not people who think the ark is fairy tale, for the most part. These are people who think the Bible flood account is true. If they are willing to remold such an obvious facet of the ark, who knows what else they are willing to remold?

*Notes from The History of Ancient Egypt: Bob Brier, part 19

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Jehovah’s Witnesses: The World’s Most Persecuted Religion—Part 1

Don’t persecute them! a certain foe with no use for Witnesses urged Russia. You’ll just feed into their “persecution complex.”

Well—sure. The best way to feed a “persecution complex” is to persecute whoever has it. On the other hand—which came first: the chicken or the egg?  If there really is persecution, who says it is a persecution complex? Isn’t reality the word he is searching for?

In December 2020, there came an United States Commission on International Religious Freedom report—it is a bipartisan commission, and thus not a product of any one political administration—entitled: “The Global Persecution of Jehovah’s Witness.” Religious scholar Massino Introvigne digests it and issues the obvious byline: “Jehovah’s Witnesses: The World’s Most Persecuted Religion.

The report serves to erase all doubt, even among Witnesses themselves, that theirs is the most persecuted religion today. It is not that other faiths do not suffer persecution from place to place—they certainly do—at times more brutal than that of the Witnesses. It is that no matter where you go, the Witnesses face it in one form or another. The USCIRF focuses on nine different nations—they are all assigned subheadings: Eritrea, Russia, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Azerbaijan, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Singapore, and South Korea, but makes clear that these are just the tip of the iceberg, which does “not include the many other countries where the faith is banned or faces official harassment. The situation is ultimately even bleaker than our survey might indicate.”

Those many verses about persecution?

“You will be objects of hatred by all the nations on account of my name.” (Matthew 24:9)

“All those desiring to live with godly devotion in association with Christ Jesus will also be persecuted.” (2 Tim 3:12)

If the world hates you, you know that it has hated me before it hated you..  If you were part of the world, the world would be fond of what is its own....Bear in mind the word I said to you, A slave is not greater than his master. If they have persecuted me, they will persecute you also.” (John 15:18-20)

and others? They are fulfilled upon the group whose members approach persons one-on-one to speak “about God and bearing witness to Jesus.” (Revelation 1:9) There were repercussions when John did it—exile to the island of Patmos. There are repercussions today. In Russia, it has been exile to Siberia.

Jehovah’s Witnesses are pacifists—why shouldn’t non-pacifists earn the ‘extremist’ label? They’re industrious. Why shouldn’t those who leach off society top the list? They’re obedient to government authority. Why shouldn’t the disobedient be ‘extremist?’ They live, work, and school in the community; they visit their neighbors with Bible thoughts. Why shouldn’t the reclusive and secretive hermits take top ‘extremist’ honors? Even those who dislike them will describe them individually as “very nice people.” Why shouldn’t those not nice win first ‘extremist’ prize? The easiest gig a cop will ever pull is to be assigned traffic control outside the Regional Convention. Everyone smiles at him or nods a greeting. No one calls him a pig. Why doesn’t a group where people do call him a pig take top ‘extremist’ honors?

It is crazy, so contrary to what anyone would expect, yet it is the way things are. So crazy is it, yet so exactly fulfilling Bible expectations, that it all but screams: Here they are! Here are the people hated for doing good—exactly as the Bible said would be the case! The top dishonor of ‘most persecuted’ becomes the top honor of ‘identifying the people taken from the nations for God’s name.’ (Acts 15:14) It is why I ended a chapter in I Don’t Know Why We Persecute Jehovah’s Witnesses: Searching for the Why with: “When searching the field of religion, look for the group that is individually praised but collectively maligned.”

As for suffering under persecution, Jehovah’s Witnesses will be fortified with: “What merit is there in it if, when you are sinning and being slapped, you endure it? But if, when you are doing good and you suffer, you endure it, this is a thing agreeable with God.” (1 Peter 2:20-21) “Look! We pronounce happy those who have endured”—the James 5:11 verse is woven into the current circuit assembly program. As is Proverbs 27:11: “Be wise, my son, and make my heart rejoice, that I may make a reply to him that is taunting me.” It is the Devil taunting God, as he did with Job, that a person will serve God only when the going is easy.

If you peer into the pants of this or that king to tell of his soiled underwear, you can expect him to get mad. But what if you treat him with respect while you simply go about your innocuous business? Won’t he leave you alone? You would certainly think so, is the gist of Introvigne’s parting remark, but—alas—it is not so:

“What the Jehovah’s Witnesses defend is the right to live differently, in this world, yet part of a kingdom ‘not of this world,’ as Jesus says in John 18:36. Are our societies prepared to tolerate those who live in a way different from the majority’s, as long as they are peaceful, honest, and law-abiding citizens? That the answer is ‘no’ in an increasing number of countries proves that our world is becoming a dangerous environment for religious liberty.”

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Live Tweets from Ancient Egypt: Part 13

Great Courses, Bob Brier, tweets composed and sent while dog-walking. AI screwups corrected in brackets

For continuity, start with Part 1:

No narrating into the phone today. It’s too cold. A few days ago it was almost 80. Now it is in the mid-30’s, wet, and blowy. Today walking the dog I’ll must take in the lectures on the headphones and write them up later:

Lecture 25: the end of dynsasty XVIII

No children from the final 3 kings, big problem for continuity.

Horemhab is the last of three. A military general. He is the one who first integrated priests into the army—the first “chaplains?” He saw how powerful priests were with the people, figured ‘best get them on our side.’

That monotheistic king—Athenaten? He’s an embarrassment by now, and subsequent kings try to erase him. That’s why little is known about Tutankhamen other than his intact tomb—the only one that is intact.

The restoration stela at Karnak says that after Athenaten, the statues of the gods had  been melted down (even the one god Athenatem worshiped he said there would be no images of), weeds were growing in the temples, the military was no longer respected.

The images and the weeds—two scenarios that repeat whenever the faithful Israelite kings toss out the riffraff and restore Jehovah’s worship! Only here that is considered a bad thing, not a good thing.

Look, I’m going to chase this down someday. If Joseph can be connected with the Hyksos, Athenaten is not too far removed from him—is he Joseph apostasized? No, I don’t expect to find what the great men have missed. Still, you never know with great men. Sometimes they make assumptions that mess up all subsequent conclusions.

I wonder if Bob brings up and speculates about this later. There is an upcoming lecture about ‘Exodus—did it happen?’

Horemhab’s wife was named Mutnedjemet. It means “sweet mama!” A common name, Bob says, so it maybe isn’t Tutankhamen’s sister-in-law, as some Egyptologists think. 

Lecture 26: Mummification

Bob loves mummification. He has done one, you know. (I wonder on who?) People come to Egypt and they want to see two things: pyramids and mummies. Mummies are special, he says. A recognizable figure staring at you from thousands of years in the past.

Still, they weren’t much cared for until recently. Artifacts were, but it did not occur to the collectors that dead bodies should be. Now Bob Brier will try to retrace how dead ones were mummified.

Not easy, because no written instructions were kept. Just a relief he tells of somewhere that shows the mummified body up on two blocks, so you can wrap underneath with out disturbing it. “Like jacking up a car,” the professor from the Bronx states. 

He spends time on embalmers, that they in many ways like undertakers today—a family profession. They might have several being embalmed at the same time, and they had different options representing different expense levels!

Just like when I buried my Dad and I told the undertaker that JW’s (Dad was not one, but he would have agreed on this) view the body as a container. At death, the person no longer has any need of it. Therefore, cremation would do just fine.

He said he thought of bodies much the same way. Did it give him the creeps working alone at at night amidst bodies? He said sometimes at first, but the feeling quickly fades. (I’ll bet he doesn’t feast on horror shows, though.) 

This is the funeral director who let me sit is his vintage Cadillac, picked up from some Hollywood mogul. It had been in a few films.

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How to do mummies was a trade secret, not written down, but for Herodotus, since he was going away, Bob says embalmers told him a lot. Like how they take the brain out—through the nose with a “sharp Ethiopian stone.” Bob figures obsidian.

Go to Part 14

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Mathematics and Everything: From Hannah Fry to Stephen Fry—Part 2

See Part 1 here.

You can always trust Albert Einstein to come up with good questions. You can trust him to dive into the scientific but not abandon the spiritual. You can’t trust everyone to do that but you can trust him. For example, he says:

“Here arise a puzzle that has disturbed scientists of all periods. How is it possible that mathematics, a product of human thought that is independent of experience, fits so excellently the objects of physical reality? Can human reason without experience discover by pre thinking properties of real things?”

Morris Kline answers. He is not dumb, but forgive me if I suggest that his huge oversimplification is: “What we have achieved by way of mathematical description and prediction amounts to the good luck of the man who finds a hundred-dollar bill while casually taking a walk.”

Replace the hundred dollar bill with a hundred trillion dollar bill and then maybe we can talk. My opening remark will be, “When was the last time you found a hundred trillion dollar bill?”

It’s like Douglas Adams (the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy), who also isn’t dumb. In fact, he’s smart, just like Kline is. But, like Kline, he hugely oversimplifies it. Try oversimplifying a paragraph of his book, and he’d howl like a rhesus.

Adams addresses people who believe that God must exist because the world so fits our needs. He compares them to an intelligent puddle of water that fills a hole in the ground. The puddle is certain that the hole must have been designed specifically for it because it fits so well. The puddle exists under the sun until it has entirely evaporated.

Whoa! What a great illustration! All you need do for it to be perfect is find an intelligent puddle of water. It is as though these pillars of thought leadership just dissolve into mush when they try to explain away what any 5-year-old knows can’t be explained away.

Take this tweet from Richard Dawkins—no one sneers at God more than he: He quotes Einstein again, just like I did in opening this post: “The most incomprehensible thing about the world is that it is at all comprehensible,” the great one says. Dawkins adds: “But what is the alternative to comprehensible? What kind of a world would it be if it were incomprehensible? What would it look like?” He even invites his audience to “discuss” his moronic question.

My contribution was that it would look like this:

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Careful, Tommy, careful. Remember, Dawkins (and Kline, and Adams) is a Great Man, and you are not. You really going to call him moronic? You really going to go the route of the one who doesn’t suffer fools gladly—and a fool is anyone who disagrees? Really?

Sigh...of course I am not. I am chastened. Dawkins has more Twitter followers than I do—and THAT probably is not only what the world would look like if it were incomprehensible, but the greatest proof that it is! Even so, sometimes a child with fewer followers than he must say: “The emperor has no clothes!”

 

Now, if I say that Hannah Fry’s doing a math show to make me mad, it must be conceded that math can make a person mad. It is not so directly transferable to reality as may at first glance appear—and in accounting for this, the renegades are emboldened to take shots at God.

Everyone knows that parallel lines never meet. They know that by looking down the railroad tracks. The rails may seem to converge, but it is just an illusion. So do you think that simple math (geometry) will come down on the side of illusion or sense? It comes down on the side of illusion! In real life, if you walk down a few hundred yards, you see they are still apart—they don’t touch. In geometry, they do!

Do a thought experiment Start in your head with two perpendicular lines; one is horizontal, and one is vertical. They cross. Call the point where they cross ‘P’. Grab hold of the vertical line just above the horizontal line and start to pivot it. What happens to ‘P’—that point of intersection? Doesn’t it move farther and farther down the horizontal line. At what point does it “jump off” to make the two lines parallel?

When I played this trick on guys in the workplace, some saw right away that the lines would never separate—designate a place of separation, and why can you not draw a straight line from the pivot point to a point just a bit further down from your separation point? Some guys walked away scratching their heads. Some got mad, as though I was messing with reality.

It’s like that other scenario of how in a race someone gaining can never pass the one in the lead, since he would first have to close half the distance, and he couldn’t do that until he had closed half that distance. And he couldn’t do that until he had closed half that distance, and so forth. It doesn’t end. The runner catching up can never pass. But go to the races and you will see that he does all the time.. So math can mess with your mind. It does screwy things.

So can you seize upon such things to throw out God? “Mathematics is the alphabet with which God has written the universe,” says Galileo, but since there are some strange letters in that alphabet, that means he didn’t write it. Can you go there? Why not do a Job instead?  “Look! These are the fringes of his ways, And what a whisper of a matter has been heard of him! But of his mighty thunder who can show an understanding?”  (Job 26:14)

The woman following Jesus thought it enough to touch his outer garment, and it did wonders for her when she did. She didn’t have to try the garment on herself. Why doesn’t that satisfy the scientists? Why can’t they just acquiesce to “My ways are higher than your ways?” (Isa 55:8-9)

Return to Einstein, and even my observation of him that he will delve into the scientific without junking the spiritual, ofthe developing field on quantum mechanics, he observed:

“Quantum mechanics is very worthy of respect. But an inner voice tells me that it is not the genuine article after all. The theory delivers much, but does not really bring us any closer to the secret of the Old One. I . . . am convinced that He does not play dice,”

Alas, Einstein caught Him playing dice!—the weirdness of quantum mechanics has proven true. But it didn’t stumble him. He didn’t say, “Well, I guess there isn’t any Old One.” He said (not literally) “Well, I guess Old One is older than I thought, and a cagier too.” I mean, who says he has to spell it all out for humans to understand readily. He’s God. He can do what he wants. “If I were hungry,” he says at Psalm 50:12, “I would not tell it to you.”

Exactly. Are humans going to help him out?

See Part 3.

 

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Live Tweets from Ancient Egypt: Part 12

Great Courses, Bob Brier, tweets composed and sent while dog-walking. AI screwups corrected in brackets

For continuity, start with Part 1:

Egypt 12, Lecture 23: the murder of Tutankhamen: a theory

What he next presents, he makes clear is his theory. Some agree, but it seems most disagree. This is like his theory of Athematem, the religious nut, attracting the flower children.

Why do I begin to equate Bob Brier to Maigret, who insisted upon stepping into the shoes of whatever murder victim, to get a feel for him, before arriving at a solution largely intuitive? 

Another discussion of how names mean something. I’ve let this pass many times before and remarked upon. I won’t go into it here. But like in the Bible, names are significant. Sometimes people change their name, to indicate new beliefs, often new gods they follow or wish to honor.

Johnson equals John’s son. Goldman equals man who works with or sells gold. It almost looks like the only people in history that use names just as a meaningless tag is our age. Historically they have not been that way.

Tutankhamen changes his name to Tutankhamen, to show that the old religion is coming back. No more monotheism of Athematem. He leaves the city in the desert, and comes back to thieves. [Thebes]

He was about 18 years old when he died. They can tell by molars, they can tell by bone ends, which become less Cine week [senewy] with age. They damaged the money [mummy] getting it out. At the time, before DNA knowledge, people didn’t realize the treasures that were mommies, [mummies] and weren’t as careful as they would be with gold objects.

Because his mommy [mummy] is the only one ever found intact in its tomb, they decided to leave it there. You can’t see it. It is within the sarcophagus. What is there is in the tomb as you go visit.

after Tutankhamen’s death, his widow is the sole survivor of royalty, no one left in the family. She writes the Hittite king.

They were enemies. But she says “they say you have a lot of sons. Send over one, and I will marry him andmake him king.” She ends her letter “I am afraid“. She says “never will I marry a servantOf mine.” It sounds like, Bob says, someone is forcing her to marry a commoner. Who would do that?

“That’s like the British writing to Hitler and saying “come on over “”

He presents all those discussion, not so much to say he is right, though of course he thinks he is, but his goal is to show how an Egyptologist forms a theory.

After checking it out, because he doesn’t believe it at first, the headache [Hittite] king sends a prince. The prince is murdered at the border. A government job, Bob says. This is only in the Hittite records, not Egyptian ones.

 He found the new berry [Newberry] ring in an antique with his shop. He didn’t have the money to buy it. He drew it. It showed Tutankhamen’s wife and Aye together. They were married. Was Aye the commoner Tutankhamen’s wife was afraid of? She disappears from history. Someone else bought the ring, so the question comes up:Did it even exist? It has never been heard of again.

Bob says: “it’s like a murder mystery only better!”

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A similar ring was later found. They were married, yes. It is in the Berlin Museum. Bob went to see it. But on the phone the curator did not know about it. Bob asked to speak to another curator. He did know about it. It’s because east and west Germany had just been reunited, and two museums made into one.

I’ve got to admit, Bob’s theory holds together. That guy killed him, and married his widow. But he says it’s just a theory, you shouldn’t take it as fact. He is from the Bronx, though. Bear that in mind.

Wow! Bob plans to go there himself to the tomb and check it out. He wants to excavate the mommy [mummy] again. Now they have CAT scans. Maybe stomach contents will tell him stuff . Maybe he has done these things by now. Best to check it out.

Lecture 24–Medicine

No Bob Brier will do one of what he calls his side trips, this time into medicine. Last time I think it was obelisks, how to make one, how to transport one, how to set up one.

The physicians are connected with the priest. Serving at different temples.

Writing is obviously an important invention. But for some reason the Egyptians didn’t write an awful lot of things. Not mummification. Not how to make pyramids. But they did write down their medicine.

Play toll [Plato] says Egyptians invented writing, the God toss [Toth], and it was a terrible invention. “Good old Play-Doh?” [Plato}

He says “now men will have the appearance of knowledge, but not true knowledge“. So you don’t have to have it in your head anymore. You’ve got it on papyrus, so you don’t need to know it. Apparently that’s his thought.

So there is a tradition that really important things, you don’t write down. And Plato was a student of Socrates, who never wrote anything down.

Three guards, [gods] he discusses the mall [them all], were associated with healing. You went to the temple for your healing. “It was like the clinic”

“Egypt was famous for his positions [physicians]” There are Greek inscriptions of ones who say they came, they asked the guard [god] for help, and they were cured.

Some think that Egyptian’s were so good at Madison [medicine] because they practice mummification, and that’s how you learn anatomy.

Bob himself doesn’t buy it, though. The priest and the bombers [embalmers] were of different classes. The embalmers kind of more slowly [lowly], they smelled, they reeked of chemicals.

They took all organs out through about a 2 inch opening in the abdomen, so you don’t really see too much that way. You don’t learn too much of anatomy that way.

The Edwin Smith Surgical Papyrus. Three options given physicians  that they can say. One. This is an illness that I will treat. To. This is an illness with which I will contend. Three. This is an illness that I will not treat. Saved face for the physicians, Bob says. There were illnesses you were supposed to walk away from.

The Edwin Smith surgical papyrus has instructions for 48 types of injuries. It mostly deals with physical injuries, breaks and so forth, that you might encounter building huge pyramids, moving huge blocks.

Another papyrus outlines 800 medical treatments. Spells, poultices,

Magical spells for blindness.  For “when the gods made me see night during the day”

If you had a lame foot, wrap it in a deer skin. The deer is fleet of foot. Maybe wrapping it around your foot will make you fleet of foot like the deer.

So there were two approaches. One was clinical, and one was magical, when the calls [cause] wasn’t known.

Go to Part 13

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Tweeting the Meeting: Week of April 19, 2021

Weekend Meeting:

That speaker today—a young man. He was a single teen when I last worked with him in Sunday PM service. He’d come with his parents for his Dad’s public talk

When he and his wife thought he’d be moving, prior to Covid, I ended up storing an array of drums in my attic that had been stored in his.

3 scriptures from the speaker in short order & my wife says she has used all of them in service in the past 2 weeks:

Showing favor to the lowly is lending to God

The foolish one pays attention to every word

Treat others as you would want to be treated.

The overall theme is Psalm 19:7–“The law of Jehovah is perfect, bringing back the soul. The reminder of Jehovah is trustworthy, making the inexperienced one wise.”

Watchtower Study: 

Someone cited the observation of how Mary’s participation in deep spiritual discussion with Jesus would have “shocked most Jewish men” of the time.

I remember working in a van with a group of five, and the sister driving knew how to mix 5 so everyone had equal turns with others, and I didn’t, yet she felt obliged that I should make those assignments. “Tell me what you want to do and I’ll bless it,” I said.

“A baptized son is not the head of his mother. (Eph. 6:1, 2)”

I remember the family that had done a work stint in Saudi Arabia describing the utter chaos, even delinquincy, that resulted when mothers were unable to discipline their teenage sons.

“With good intentions, an elder might think of himself as a fatherlike head...& reason that if a family head has the right to make rules to protect his family, an elder can make rules...” I’ve never heard it put that way, but I have seen it play out. A good point to set straight.

Faces blacked out on the Governing Body picture, because it’s not about them, someone said, but their assignment —illustrated by the world map overhead that was not blacked out. Well—I can recognize their profiles, though. These guys are all spottable jw.org days.

“Why should we respect the headship principle?” Contrast with the greater world, where everyone pushes to be head & the collective chaos that results, even though they be better educated, many of them.

“The article mention he [the husband] may well want to consult his wife before...” “May?!—he’d better!” says my wife—not to all on Zoom.

Midweek Meeting—Assigned Bible reading: Numbers 22-24

Finally Jehovah caused the donkey to speak: “What have I done to you to make you beat me these three times?...Am I not your donkey that you have ridden on all your life until today? Have I ever treated you this way before?” He has a point.

Someone said how there is free will, yet God “notices” when Balaam tries to act the way his will clearly is.

These are verses as though prophets almost come under a spell. I mean, Balaam doesn’t want to bless anyone. He wants to curse them. But his own words outmaneuver him each time.

It IS a little awkward getting the other person to read out loud. I always say it helps me to follow along.

Jade said she wasn’t about church, so maybe someone might thing a Bible verse wouldn’t wash. But she did say she was about promises.

Bandwidth problems! The internet crashes just before my wife’s student talk! It is restored, just in the nick of time—via someone else texting the conductor to wait a few seconds. Then turned to a hotspot.

When you are in prison, it is more about Jehovah helping you to keep positive outlook and find joy. The more we concentrate on what we had before, the more we suffer. The quicker we accept our new circumstances, the quicker our joy returns to us, along with the opportunity to make good use of the new circumstances.

Someone said the video is not meant to scare, but “it is just reality.”

“I heard how everyone came to meet you. I tried to imaging how cool it is to be loved, valued, and missed. For some, there is not enough of that in life. Take care of yourself, Dima.”

A sister with a checkered dress is sitting on a checkered cloth chair. It’s a good thing she is wearing a sweater to tell where one leaves off and the other begins.

“Do not put your trust in princes Nor in a son of man, who cannot bring salvation. His spirit goes out, he returns to the ground; On that very day his thoughts perish. Happy is the one who has the God of Jacob as his helper,” (psalm 146:3-4)

On the picture, someone says it is not one party vs another. It is all human government vs God’s Kingdom government.

What was the overall theme tonight? Wasn’t it that Jehohah’s will stands, despite opposition from —count em—Batak, Moab, Ammon, Nazi Germany, Russia, Egypt, Tyre—different examples appeared though the night.

A visitor recognized a few in the congregation. Big response when she did. Catching up on things before all in the breakout room. “How’s you mom?” “She died 5 years ago.”

The elderly sister whose grandson bought hives last year, which survived the winter, said—and I don’t think it was intentional—that “he’s buzzing all around here.”

 

 

 

 

 

Defending Jehovah’s Witnesses with style from attacks... in Russia, with the ebook ‘I Don’t Know Why We Persecute Jehovah’s Witnesses—Searching for the Why’ (free).... and in the West, with the ebook ‘TrueTom vs the Apostates!’ (free)