Where Was Moses Again?

The answer to the question where Moses was when he died (see the post “Where was Moses?” October 4, 2009), seems to lie in a mixture of traditions that crept into the Biblical account.

In Deuteronomy 3, as the children of Israel are on the verge of entering Canaan, Moses leaves them and goes up to the mountains east of the river Jordan. There the Lord gives him a glimpse of the Promised Land before he dies. The mountains are named, the land is naturally irrigated and it contains a “sea.” None of these have been identified near Canaan, but, as the previous post shows, they are all names and features that can be found in Kashmir, India. Even the tomb of Moses that cannot be found in Deuteronomy is clearly identified in Kashmir.

With Joshua now leading the children of Israel at the end of their long wanderings over the river Jordan into Canaan, it defies common sense that at about the same time Moses is climbing the slopes of Mount Nebu in Kashmir to get his glimpse of their destination.

What appears to have happened is that a story from one oral history has become inserted in another when the Hebrew bible was first written down. Scholars tend to agree that the writing down mostly took place during the years of exile in Babylon.

After the death of King Solomon in 931 BCE, the Kingdom of Israel split into the northern kingdom, known as the Kingdom of Israel (based in Samaria), and the southern kingdom, the Kingdom of Judah (based in Jerusalem). The northern kingdom lasted until 722 BCE when Assyria started destroying the kingdom. By 720 BCE, the population was exiled and the kingdom was no more. These Israelites, now known to us as the ten lost tribes, never returned. They were most likely assimilated as the Pashtuns into the areas of Afghanistan and eastern Pakistan, as well as into northern India, notably Kashmir.

The Kingdom of Judah suffered a similar fate around 586 BCE, when the Jews were exiled by the Babylonians. These Jews were allowed to return in 539 BCE when the Persians conquered the Babylonians. They were permitted to rebuild the temple in Jerusalem, and they brought with them the written version of their heritage, the Torah.

In the Torah is that passage in Deuteronomy about Moses seeing the Promised Land, but it comes from the tradition of the northern tribes in exile, and this is why there is a discrepancy with the rest of the narrative.

2012: A Space Idiocy (but a Movie to See)

Is the world really coming to an end in December 2012, as the new movie 2012 suggests? There are certainly sites on the Internet that say it will, by a large rogue planet, maybe four times the size of earth – our nemesis, this time coming to finish us off for good.  Indeed, this planet Nibiru is returning after a close encounter with Earth 3,600 years ago. All this adds up to good movie material, but is it really going to happen?

Scientists like those at NASA say no. In fact, since they are beset by mail from worried citizens, they are at pains to squash such thoughts. One good source of their response is at http://astrobiology.nasa.gov/ask-an-astrobiologist/intro/nibiru-and-doomsday-2012-questions-and-answers.

If this planet were going to hit us in 2012, it would be already in the solar system within telescopic sight. Some web sites claimed it would be visible to the naked eye by spring 2009. Why hasn’t anyone mentioned seeing it yet? The answer from the alarmist is the hoary old “government conspiracy” theory. “They” aren’t telling us, so we won’t panic. This is so ridiculous that it’s laughable. The United States government could hardly keep every astronomer in the world quiet, let alone the thousands of amateur astronomers around the world.

The idea that the Mayan calendar predicts this dire event is also nonsensical. To the Maya, the end of a cycle and the start of a new one was the cause of celebration – a far cry from the doomsday idea.  The Mayan “doomsday” was originally predicted for May 2003, but since that date passed without astronomical incidence, the date has now been recalculated to the winter solstice of 2012. Doesn’t this remind you of religious predictions of the “rapture”? When it doesn’t happen on one day, “recalculate” and set another date.

Associated with the rogue planet theory, we also hear obfuscating statements in pseudo-scientific gobble-de-gook, such as “galactic alignments”, “dark rifts” and “mutated neutrinos”, which don’t make any sense and don’t make the fiction any more real except perhaps to the uneducated.

Nibiru is a name that appears in the Babylonian poem Enuma Elish. It is associated with the god Marduk. Scholars are not sure what Nibiru is or what it may refer to. Marduk is the god that corresponds to Zeus or Jupiter. In planetary terms, Marduk is the planet Jupiter. I for one am prepared to accept the planetary nature of Nibiru, but it is not an unknown planet. Nibiru is the planet Venus, whom the Greeks associated with Athena (not Aphrodite, who was the goddess of the moon). Recall that in Greek mythology, Athena sprang from the forehead of Zeus. The planets Venus and Jupiter are therefore closely linked. (See my “Scientific Orthodoxy and Venus”, August 26, 2009 below). We have the same association with Nibiru and Marduk. If Nibiru is a planet, it is the planet Venus, now safe in its inner orbit around the sun.

The alarmist statements, the misleading web sites, the pseudo-science, the misrepresented Mayan references – all this hoohah has one direct commercial object: Go see the movie! Guess what? I will, but not because of these idiocies. No, special effects suck me in every time, even as I groan at the nonsense the characters spout, trying to make it all sound scientifically feasible.

Where Was Moses?

When I was still in elementary school in Wau, Papua New Guinea, I was asked the riddle, “Where was Moses when the lights went out?” The answer was, “In the dark.” Whether it was my age, or my weak English, I was puzzled at first before I could make the leap and “get” it. There is a bigger riddle about Moses, which is intriguingly puzzling: “Where was Moses when his lights went out?” In other words, where was Moses when he died?

The children of Israel had come to the end of their “forty years” of wandering in the wilderness under the leadership of Moses. They now had a younger leader Joshua who was about to take them into the low land, Canaan, seen as their Promised Land. This is the time when Moses, their former leader, departed from them.

In Deuteronomy 3.27, Moses is told to “get thee up into the top of Pisgah, and lift up thine eyes westward, and northward, and southward, and eastward, and behold it with thine eyes: for thou shalt not go over this Jordan.”  Mount Pisgah is usually said to be in the mountains on the other side of the river Jordan, collectively known as Mount Abarim.  (Looking eastward, Moses would have seen nothing of Palestine.) We have a description of what Moses sees. “On this side Jordan, in the valley over against Bethpeor, in the land of Sihon king of the Amorites, who dwelt at Heshbon … And all the plain on this side Jordan eastward, even unto the sea of the plain, under the springs of Pisgah” (Deut. 4.46, 49). Finally,  “Moses went up from the plains of Moab unto the mountain of Nebo, to the top of Pisgah, that is over against Jericho, and the Lord shewed him” the Promised Land. Moses died and the Lord “buried him in a valley in the land of Moab, over against Bethpeor: but no man knoweth of his sepulchre unto this day” (Deut. 34. 1-6).

These sites, Bethpeor, Heshbon and Pisgah, are still unidentified. There is a Mount Nebo, but as Wikipedia points out, scholars continue to dispute whether the modern day Nebo is the same mountain referred to in the Torah.

Here now is the riddle. These places have not been identified in and around Palestine, but they are all in Kashmir, India. How did Moses get there?

Bethpeor (meaning “place of opening”) is Behat-poor (now called Bandipur) where the Jehlum (formerly Behat) river valley opens up. Heshbon (often referred to in the Bible as “the pools of Heshbon”) is the same as Hashba, known for its pools. Pisgah is the easiest to identify, for it is a place with “springs” three miles north west of Hashba. Mount Nebo is Baal Nabu, a peak eight miles north west of Behat-poor (Bandipur). From here the entire Kashmir valley is visible, including Wullar Lake. And here also, near the top of the mountain, there is a tomb, known as the tomb of Moses.

The Lord’s Promised Land is a heaven on earth, a land of hills and valleys that “drinketh the water of the rain of heaven” (Deut. 11.11), a land that is naturally irrigated, and that has a “sea of the plain under the springs of Pisgah” (Deut. 4.49). There are more references of a similar nature. These hardly describe Palestine, but they very well describe Kashmir, down to its very large lake of fresh water.

So the answer to the question, where was Moses when his lights went out, seems to be: in Kashmir, of all places.

(Note that there are other references in the Bible that describe the Promised Land in terms that befit Kashmir, rather than Palestine. The ones in Isaiah seem to suggest that this is the Promised Land for the ten “lost” tribes of Israel after their captivity. These references are detailed in Jesus in Heaven on Earth by K. N. Ahmad, of which Chapter 18 is the reference source for this blog.)

The Origin of Australian Aborigines: A Speculation

Aborigines have been in Australia for at least 40,000 to 60,000 years. The later time is still the main one given, but there is enough evidence to push that back to the earlier date, perhaps even to 70,000 years. What is intriguing is not where they came from, which is from Asia, but how they got to Australia.

The people in Asia that they most resemble are the original people of India. Although this is not universally accepted, I think they are the most likely ancestors. The peoples who now live in Southeast Asia between India and Australia were later arrivals, supplanting the original inhabitants. The most common assumption is that the Aborigines arrived via a land bridge, like the aboriginal Americans arrived from Siberia. Unfortunately, there was never a land bridge between Asia and Australia anywhere near a time when the Aborigines needed to have crossed (or since). Even at the most optimum, there were 150 miles of ocean that had to be navigated, and this was at a time long before early man took to the sea, before boats, before canoes, before rafts, before anything made to float on. At 150 miles, no land on the other side or loom of land is visible.

It is possible that by accident, a person clinging to a log could drift across to Australia, but even at the shortest distance of 150 miles, it would take many days, assuming a steady progress. One person is not enough; two are needed for procreation. But even that is a stretch. A scientist, whose work I read while still in Australia, writing on this problem, said that it would take a group of at least 27 or 28, for survival to be viable. That figure is the bare minimum. Is it possible that such a large group could have drifted across?

Actually, and here comes the speculation, it is possible, more than 28, possibly hundreds, but they were not drifting. They were washed over. This speculative scenario occurred to me while I was rereading Velikovsky’s Earth in Upheaval.

Velikovsky wrote Earth in Upheaval to counteract criticism that there was no hard evidence for major catastrophes in the past, as he postulated in Worlds in Collision, which was based on ancient records and mythologized remembrances of ancient peoples. The evidence he gathered for Earth in Upheaval does show massive catastrophes that not only suddenly wiped out large numbers of ancient animals, like mammoths, hippopotami, various predators, and so forth, all mixed up and smashed into crevices and caves, so suddenly that the food was undigested and grass being eaten was still between the teeth. Mixed in amongst them were also human remains. Errant boulders were pushed long distances, even uphill, and much, much more.

The part that I focused on was the evidence of vast tidal waves that swept over large areas of the world. There are no precise times for these, but the range of animals involved roughly match our years of interest.  (Later in the book, he focuses on the last millennium BCE.) The cause for the tidal waves may have been some kind of cosmological ping-pong in our solar system, but the cause is not really relevant here. Such a huge tsunami could have swept enough survivors onto the Australian continent. In their new country, these new Aborigines would have found plenty of large game (assuming it survived), and a new environment to adapt to and gradually to make their own.

One final speculation can be made, assuming cosmological origins of the catastrophe. In Worlds in Collision, Velikovsky links the concept of dragons and the like to apparitions seen in the sky during planetary close encounters. For the aborigines, the Rainbow Serpent is the most important concept in their mythology. Is there a corresponding origin here with that of the dragons?

(To give a perspective on the time span involved, I should add that Aborigines were in Australia well before humans got to Europe.)

The Chronology of the Ancient World

Last week, archaeologists reported the unearthing of a couple from the ancient city of Troy. They believed the two had died around 1200 BCE about the time when the best-known Troy was thought to have fallen. The date given for Homer’s Troy is usually in the late Bronze Age in the 13th century BCE. Radiocarbon testing may well confirm the year of their death, but this is not the time of Homer’s Troy. Homer’s Troy belongs in the 8th century BCE.

Ancient history of the Mediterranean basin is based on two chronologies. On the one side, there is the Egyptian one, which includes the Mycenaean and Minoan cultures; on the other is everyone else’s. Homer’s Troy has been placed with the Mycenaean. The trouble is that the chronologies are about 500 years out of sync. So we end up with situations such as the Mycenaean civilization flourishing in isolation from the rest of Greece, and then suddenly dying out to be followed by five centuries of dark ages. Then, lo and behold, half a millennium later, the same civilization appears nearby on the Greek mainland! These kinds of anomalies appear everywhere, requiring ingenious solutions and other fictions.

As an example of fiction, one major problem was the identification of a hostile people—hostile to the Egyptians, that is. Who were these people of Hatti? No record could be found of them, except in Egyptian records. The problem was “solved” when an English missionary, just back from the field, suggested that they should be called the Hittites. Problem solved, yes, except for the lack of corroboration outside of Egypt. These “Hittites” had many similarities to the Chaldeans who were active around Babylon 500 years later. That there should be such similarities is no surprise, for when the chronologies are realigned, the “Hittites” turn out to be the Chaldeans, and Hatti is nothing more than the Egyptian word for the general area around Babylon.

Here is another, absurd example. A tomb was found in what is now Syria. The grave clearly belonged to the 7th century BCE in all respects. It contained a number of vessels, all but two of them belonging to the time of the tomb. The problem was that the two other vessels were Egyptian, and, because Egyptian chronology takes precedence over any other, the grave had to be dated some 500 to 600 years earlier! Now the mystery was how did those later vessels get into the tomb. Finally, an acceptable “solution” was devised: 500 years later, thieves entered the tomb, looking for jewelry, and they must have left those vessels there. Brilliant! It’s like thieves breaking into your house, looking for money, and leaving a couple plasma TV sets. I can just visualize those would-be thieves of the 7th century BCE, climbing over mounds, looking for ancient tombs, carrying vessels with them, so they can leave them in the tomb. The obvious answer, that the vessels were all contemporary, was never considered.

I also wonder how the Egyptian workmen of the 13th century BCE could chisel their records into rock surfaces, some of which were harder than granite, using Bronze Age tools and soft meteorite iron. Some centuries later, it would have been so much easier with the forging of iron and the ability to harden that iron into a kind of steel. Egyptians could not have been making steel hundreds of years before their neighbors; because the quality of their iron ore was so poor, they had to import from other countries, notably Greece.

The fault in all this lies with the Egyptian chronology, which in the last 200 years has been considered inviolate.  In itself, this chronology does account for all the required years. The problem is that some of the kings (pharaohs) about whom very little is known, around 500 years worth of these guys, are really duplicates of earlier pharaohs, but listed under their Greek names or one of their many other ones.

Would not radiocarbon dating show the errors in the dates? Very little carbon dating has been done. As one Egyptologist said, radiocarbon dating is unnecessary since we already know the date. Dating of wood gives the time when the wood was growing, not when it was cut down and used. One piece that was carbon dated, indicated that the wood was at least a hundred years later than the level it was found in. The explanation? Somehow that piece of wood got pushed down from a higher level.

Once the chronologies are realigned, everything falls into place. And there are other bonuses. The Queen of Sheba, who visited King Solomon in Jerusalem, is identified as Queen Hatshepsut of Egypt. The detailed record of her visit to Punt matches the record in the Bible. The pharaoh of the exodus of the Israelites is identified, and it is not Ramses II, but Thom. There is even a record of Thom’s death in the whirlpool, the closing of the Red Sea waters as recorded in the book Exodus.

All this is detailed by Immanuel Velikovsky in Ages in Chaos, Ramses II and His Time, The Peoples of the Sea, and in the outline drafts of two other books, The Dark Age of Greece and The Assyrian Conquest, which were unfinished at his death and may be found at www.varchive.org. While one may question his theories of major world catastrophes in our recent past, there is no doubt that he is correct on the chronologies of ancient history.

More than 50 years have passed since he first proposed bringing the chronologies into alignment, but it is going to be a long time before the error is fixed. The problem is not just human ego (i.e. a reluctance to admit one’s errors) that prevents acceptance of the new chronology; it’s the enormity of the problem.

(References to Velikovsky are appearing in my blogs around this time, since I have been rereading his works.)