Thursday, August 07, 2008

An ancient memory of the Exodus?

The Talmud records an interesting folk history about the Exodus from Egypt:
All those years that the Israelites were in the wilderness, those two chests, one of the dead and the other of the Shechinah, proceeded side by side, and passersby used to ask: ‘What is the nature of those two chests?’ They received the reply: ‘One is of the dead and the other of the Shechinah’. ‘But is it, then, the way of the dead to proceed with the Shechinah?’ They were told, ‘This one [Joseph] fulfilled all that was written in the other’. (Talmud - Mas. Sotah 13a-b)
I know there has been much question about the historicity of the exodus from Egypt, and I know that this is hardly conclusive, being a folk history from many centuries later. But it is an interesting piece of folk history in being so specific about those details of the journey.

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