The route of the Exodus
Comments: write to Ann
To be scheduled for discussion on SeniorNet's Books, a book must have a Books Discussion Leader who has committed to leading the discussion and a quorum (minimum of 3 although the Discussion Leader may ask for a higher number.)
Louise, I am looking on the web for maps to put up so if you know of any, please put a link in here or email it to me if you prefer.
I am glad that you plan on joining us here, horselover. And, your sister, too? Good one!
Happy New Year to all of the SN family!!
What do I want to say about the book so far?? It has me more and more confused because of the way its put together. We all talked about a map but we would have to have a map with the trails of Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and Moses just to start with. When I had finished the first part, I began to wonder what was going on here.
Is Feiler saying that he feels at home in the holy places especially in the Holy Land because he is of Jewish descent?
And, if that is what he is revealing to us, should we all have a place in the world where we can feel the spirit of our ancestors.
For instance, my family is mostly from Ireland and Germany. If I could visit these places, would I have the feeling of having come home?
Did anyone feel the excitement of the archaeologists and the history of the Bible being somewhat true?
Were you shaken by the last archaeologist, who says that the Bible is not a book of history but a book of faith.
Were you thrilled to read Gabi Burky's tale about the young boy finding the pots beneath the stones?
And, that because of the boy's find, the excavation became more centered so that they ended up with what Babi considers his most important find-the two silver cylinders, which when unrolled reveal the priestly benediction from the book of Numbers?
And, ten years later, the young boy, Nathan, shows up at one of his tour talks?
Last night, I watched a program about DNA and the Pharoahs. Will the archeaologists be able to find any traces of DNA that reaveal the Israelites??
And how does this play into our book? I know that an archeaoligist tells Feiler that they have traced the DNA of the priests, the Cohanim, and found that for the past three thousand years, the Cohanim have passed down the same y-chromasome.
By the by, how did you like "The Middle of Everywhere"?
Last night, I reread, the coverage on the Nile and its continuous production of silt that kept the earth cultivatable. But, the Aswan Dam, ended that. Technology raises is ugly head again.
So, in your reading, so far, what has struck you as the most interesting part of Feiler's tour of the Holy Land. Mine was when the archeaologist showed him the archway at the top of the stairs and had him touch the wall. And, then he instructed him with the information and biblical reference that if this was a certain pharoah's arch/steps, then Abraham most likely walked up these steps. Incredible!
You can see that I am most interested in the archeaology and history of this story as I find it giving enhanced credibility to the Bible. Again, technology arises! Wonderful!
"Bible being somewhat true?" "Bible not a history book." But then neither is the Bible a science book. When studied carefully and comparing what is in the Bible with what is in the history or science books there is no contradiction. Feiler's book and all of the maps and illustrations do seem to make the Bible come to life and that can only enhance our faith.
Horselover, your quotes of the those wonderful works of God in the rainbow are just beautiful. What Bible do you use and exactly where are they--in Genesis?
Alf, don't we all finally realize that our children will get where they are going, in spite of our thoughts, ideas and beliefs? Each of us is responsible for ourselves and must make our own way to a belief system of one kind or another. What would any of us do if we had been told that we had a practicing 'witch' in the family--only to learn that their ceremonies are similar to practicing faiths of long ago and that their strong motto is, "First of all, do no harm!" I believe this has become a popular among the New Agers.
Does anyone remember the professor mentioned here who says that we have to take a new look at this ancient text because so much has changed in the past 100 years.
Ginger, what a nice surprise to see you here.
CMac, were you able to get started on your book and what do you think of it? We really want to hear from you.
What has been a new discovery for any of you in the first part here? Have any of you ever been to the Holy Land? Did you feel as if you had just come home?
Tomorrow, we wil begin Book 2 and see where that takes us in the Holy Land and other environs along with the author who seems to be realizing more and more that he is really in need of a better connection to his Jewish faith and its history.
I think it might be a good idea for us to deal with discussion questions under the link up above. Lets just take the first five and see what each of our own impressions are about this book.
Alf, signing in is free and then you can read the NYT online. I think you can choose to receive it online or just sign in occasionally to read an article.
And, I agree, the first definition of "us" seems more probable and certainly not so 'hoity toity' as the second. LOL!
Noah did what God impressed on him to do in the flood, building the ark, putting the animals on board and his family and waiting out the storms and flood as God said. Has anyone not heard Bill Cosby's well known humorous account of "Noah"?
Abraham’s strong faith allowed him to believe in the face of many negative happenings in his life, right down to almost killing his own son, Isaac, for the Lord.
Good old Isaac just went along with it all and became the father of Jacob who dreamed about God and wrestled him in his sleep, changed his name to Irael as told to do by an angel of God.
Now, the people of God, though strong, have gone against his will by trying to bring true the covenant that their ancestors made with God. But, according to Avener, they weren’t ready yet and had to go through becoming slaves to the Egyptians for over 400 years before being freed to return to the promised land, led by Moses.
Some of us have read ‘The Red Tent” about the sons of Jacob breaking their promise to the Caaniites to live peacefully with them and allow intermarriage between the two families or tribes. Although Dina, Jacob’s only daughter, is the heroine of that book,the story that is woven around Jacob’s family is biblically true.
So, today we fly to Egypt to hear the stoies surrounding that country and its strong connection to Israel’s history. As Avener says, there is more history here about the Israelites than in Mesopotamia.
In answering the first question above, I believe that I have already mentioned that the most impressive thing to me so far was the story about Abraham walking up the stairs with the king of Dan(Laish). According to the author, touching the wall at the top of the steps made him realize that all of us need a physical manifestition of the old myths about our ancestors. Touching the wall gave him a sense of history. Powerful stuff to me!
Louise, I had to laugh at your description of the book as a travelogue and that you would just enjoy it and quit trying to be back in that time. I thought it was me when I couldn't keep track of the readings, the hikes to the historical sites, the old cities and the rivers. Too much to take in and arrange historically. I have finally given up and an reading for pleasure only.
Horselover, your questions are very insightful. I really hadn't thought about the 'fearing of God' vs 'the loving of God'. I guess its God's choice as to how we feel about him. Hmmmm! Maybe the mindset of the people at different times, the improvement of civilizations with time made one think more about peace instead of war. Somewhere I have a timeline of early civilization. Will put it in here. Timeline
CMac, glad you have the book and do let us know what you think of it.
BabiA map! Lucky you! I found mine from when we read "Abraham" last March and am using it a little. There are some maps up above for those who might want to see where the people traveled in the desert. In tracing the Exodus, I was surprised to see that they took such a long route but I suppose that they thought it was safer. The bible says that they were 600,000 strong and that was only the men. How did poor shy Moses ever get their attention?!!
Please refer to the book God by Jack Miles which has a long chapter on this topic. Man's thoughts about God are evolutionary and not static.
I do agree that we see God according to our own ideas as I think that the ancients did. I particularly like the idea that if we trust God to always be there watching out for us, we will not fear being tested. Babi, didn't you just send me the wonderful little tale about the refining of silver. I really liked that and sent it on to my family. Lets put it up here or a link to it.
Was anyone lucky enough to watch our author's interview on CSPAN last night. It is being repeated on BookTV at 11am this morning. Not new(10/2002) but certainly worth watching, because although his newer book, Abraham, is the reason for the program, he does talk a great deal about his trips to the Holy Land, the book, "Walking the Bible" and his friend, Avner. He certainly has a lot of nervous energy and because of that energy, he is supporting and speaking at many of the Abraham Salons which are springing up around the country and consist of the believers of the three faiths coming together to discuss and compare and understand their own historical connections with Abraham. I don't know if the Salon's are still meeting but it certainly would be impressive if they are accomplishing some kind of understanding between the Jewish, Christian and Muslim faiths. As Friedman points out today in NYT," we are living at a remarkable hinge of history and its not clear how it's going to swing."
This morning, I visited St Catherine Monastery with the author. He took me through the dark lanes of the nighttime monastery with a view of the burning bush and the chapel, then to the impressive morning prayers that have been recited since 551 C.E. and a little history of St Catherine and a surprising symbolization of the Burning Bush to the Annunciation: "Just as the bush was filled with fire, but remained unburned, so Mary conceived the savior, but remained a virgin." Now I want to see the Monastery of the Burning Bush which the monks claim is the world's oldest continually operating church.
Yes, we are on a journey here to the historical places where monotheism prevailed. Did I not read in another book or NG story that one of the pharoahs actually started that belief when he destroyed all the idols in Egypt and insisted there was only one god; that Abraham was somehow connected to this new Egyptian belief?
Always, I am realizing that there was no light at night but the stars and moon! What must that have been like?
Imagine being led by a burning bush, provided with manna every morning and quails at night for, was it, 40 years?
Last night, I watched another PBS program about the Pharoahs and this time, the pyramids. Amazing how close the program came to the one told here by Feiler. One of the archeaologists interviewed was Dr.Zahi Hawass who didn't have time to talk to Avner and Feiler when they visited the pyramids. What do you think of the coincidences that the author quotes about the pyramids and their location? Their heigth, their circumference and their position in reference to the Red Sea where the Israelites crossed, the Holy Land, Bethlehem where Jesus was born and the aside pertaining about NASA? Too much for me digest.
I feel like my fellow tourists are slipping away. Where are you all?
I find the Egyptologist professor claim to having no knowledge or historical evidence of the Israelites disconcerting. Does anyone else? But, he did allow for differences in different religious claims since he is a good Muslim.
The Ramadan lasts how long? And, did you also fast all day during that time?
Alf, you were so right about the water being so important to these people. The professor says that the Nile made the Egyptians feel that they were the chosen ones. And, they felt protected because no matter where you go to get out of Egypt, you meet the desert and that made them feel very safe.
I had to wonder at their guide claiming that Zahi Hawass was not worthy of the attention paid to him but that the professor who broke fast with Feiler and Avner was worthy of all the credit, as he was the Egyptologist, very knowledgeable!!
Tomorrow, we go to St Catherine's Monastery, which I have already mentioned(too soon, I fear).
Persian, did you say that Ramadan goes on for a month? That reminds me of the "fasting" that all Catholics used to do during Lent. I like the reasons that you gave for the Muslims fasting. I don't think thats exactly the reason the church gave for the Catholic fast, but it does have a spiritual focus. We used to have a "Stone Soup" luncheon every Friday where we were asked to fast and to donate our "luncheon" money to charity,usually the local soup kitchen.
Thanks for the link to Islam. I think that I already have that link from our Abraham discussion. :<)
Louise, we seem to have come to an agreement here that the term "fear of God" indicates "reverential awe".
Diane, do chime in whenever you wish. We are just glad that you have been lurking and will drop in now and then.
We are starting on Book 3 tomorrow and I will probably repeat my post of Sunday just to get myself in the correct place. Hope ya'll don't mind!
Until I read this book, I did not know that the commandments were not quite what we have used over the years. They were divided differently so that there were 12? or 7? There's that number 7 again. Where did I read that the number 7 means something important in the Judaic tradition?
This is a quote from an internet site about numbers and the Biblical meaning of them. Here is the link to that page:
1350 BCE:. The Egyptian king, Amenhotep IV (Akhenaten) rules. He tries to force his subjects to worship the god Aton, whom he believes is the god of the universe. Egypt has withdrawn from Syria and Canaan.
1300 BCE: .The Assyrians have benefited from the decline of the Hurrians and are in control all of Mesopotamia. People from Micronesia have sailed into Melanesia, including the Solomon and Fiji islands. Writing has appeared in Shang civilization, with characters partly pictorial and partly phonetic, and bronze casting has developed.
1200 BCE:. Tribal peoples from Central Asia had been moving westward with their herds, running from droughts. They are pushing other tribal peoples into Asia Minor. Hittites are overrun and begin to disappear as a recognizable people. Waves of illiterate migrants overrun Greece, beginning a "dark age" there. Brown-skinned people begin migrating eastward into Polynesia, to the Tonga and Samoan islands.
1177 BCE:.People in boats, perhaps escaping from invasions into Greece, raid the coast of Egypt and are driven off. They land farther east and are to be known as Philistines.
1050 BCE:.A century or so after the arrival of the Philistines, Hebrews, occupying hilly regions in the Land of Canaan, combine their forces for the first time and confront an army of Philistines near the Philistine outpost at Aphek, and they lose the battle.
1010 BCE:.The Hebrew David conquers and subjugates Amorities -- also known as Canaanites. David has acquired some Canaanite culture and is a man of his time.
I am also awed by the comment of Gunther Plaut : "The story of Mt Sanai, Moses and God, achieves its major goal: to convey to some degree the awesomeness of that moment when the Lord of the universe showed His Glory to Israel and when he made his covenant with them, changing their history and the history of all men as well." revelation, covenant, Israel's history is reared. "without then, Israel would have been a nation like other nations: with them, it became a focal of point of human history."
Previous to this quote, the author also points out that the giving of the ten commandments changes the relationship between God and Israelites as they now agree to follow this covenant and as a result,"they would forever alter the course of both political and religious behavior." Now the people must not only be strong but just and moral in their endeavors if they are to honor their covenant with God.
Hinduism seems to go back the farthest(10,000B.C.E.) supposedly the earliest dating of the sacred Veda(their Bible?). In fact, from what I understand, Hindu's do believe in the one God but offer various ways to believe through other gods.
The native North Americans believe in the sacredness of the earth and nature and a creator
As to the Chinese religions, Confuscianism, Daoism and Buddhism--those three date to around the same time-604-551 B.C.E.--Primarily ethical systems to which rituals at important times in one's lifetime have been added.
So, are we back on square one with the wrtten words of the Bible and the Quaran attributing these words to the one and same God and Abraham, Jesus and Mohammed-our prophets, patriarchs??
Am I making any sense here? I think I need to return tomorrow after a good night's sleep!
Horselover, I hope you will have patcience with me and wait until tomorrow so that I can comment on your post. Nite all!
I understand what you are saying and agree that we are all finding our own path to our maker. Somewhere in my search for the different religions, I came across a particularly interesting article about the Trinity. Will look for it and maybe email it to you.
In reference to last night's post, what I think I am saying about ties to the one god is this. It seems to me that the followers of Christianity, Judism and the Muslim faith are the only claimants to having been conacted by the one God and they have kept written records. Its really awesome!
I am also reading an interesting book titled "The Mystic Heart" by Wayne Teasdale. His premise is that the world has reached a point where we need to be recognizing the sameness of our beliefs and acknowledging the good points of each religion.
I received an email from Bruce Feiler where he calls us "Pioneers of Interfaith" and compliments us on our continuing discussions. He says he is too busy to join us but I have emailed him one more time to urge him to take a few minutes to look in and see our folder.
I am not advertising for this site. Its just one that I came across on one of my google searches.
And, while comparing the text for these two faiths, I find that I am wrong. B'hai is closer to Islam, Christianity and Judism.
I have a young friend who was married for 5 years to a Ba'hai from Iran(where they are persecuted for their beliefs). But due to the man's belief's in a woman not having any rights, she just couldn't stay with the marriage.
While talking to friend of Avner's, Ramadan, a Bedouin who has opened his home to the author and Avner, he asks if he can learn to love the desert. And Ramadan says
"People coming to the desert discover that they are drinking from truth. And people become at peace with themselves because of this truth, this quiet. It's something that's built into the spirit of people and its waiting to be discovered, sometimes maybe without their knowing it. The nature around here, it's not me who built it, or you. It's God, the all-knowing. The desert finds a way to bring out peace"
From another part of the world, in the Northwest of the US, here is a different quote from Chief Seattle about the Indian land, but its rings loud bells to me as to how the Jews and the Muslims feel about the Promised Land.
Every part of this soil is sacred in the estimation of my people. Every hillside, every valley, every plain and grove, has been made holy by some sad or happy event in days long vanished. Even the rocks, which seem to be voiceless and dead as they swelter in the sun along the silent shore, thrill with the momories of stirring events connected with the lives of my people. And the the very dust upon which you hnow stand responds more lovingly to their footsteps than to yours, because it is rich with the blood of our ancestors and our bare are conscious of the sympathetic touch." Quote: Chief Seathl
For me personally, each of these peoples feels very much the same about their land and its meaning to them. They each have a history of suffering in a land but have come through it and plan to continue to do so through their ancestors.
My husband, in his working days, was part of the Surveyor (moon landing) team. The thrill of that endeavor and eventual success was unique. And the fellowship of so many people working together for a common end was an example, perhaps, of how things should be. It was a terrific accomplishment and, even at that, has been overtaken by even braver, more ambitious happenings. And failures, too, it is only fair to note.
But absolutely, all those many, many dollars - what might they have accomplished if directed instead toward the earth-bound miseries of hunger, disease, poverty, bridge and road maintenance - so many things.
I remember once, in a slightly different context when Ross Perot said that for all the money we, as a nation, spent on the wrong things, our cities should be gleaming, shining examples of what civilization can be. Or something like that but I remember the basic thought.
Seems like the human race is always trying something different to appease itself but falls short of what they could really do if they just thought a little harder and a little longer.
I want to discuss the people who Feiler met on the Negev but have company today plus am attending a symphony concert this afternoon so will return tonight or tomorrow. Chao!
When my great grandfather came here from Portugul in the 1850's, he was taken in by another Portuguese family who taught him a trade(blacksmithing) and when he was ready to leave, they sent him to the Midwest(Indiana) where he was the blacksmith for a large meat packing company's farm or ranch. The couple who sort of adopted him were childless and he was a skinny 15 year old with no English either. He heard the man speaking his country's language and just started talking to him. How scary that must have been.
And then some questions arise about "The Land of Milk and Honey" and its inhabitants.
Weren't you amazed by the lifelong focus of Ben Gurion?
Would we all like to see Sdeh Boker?
Have you always been curious about the kibbutz?
Raz says that all Jews come to Jerusalem and the desert. What do we consider a 'must see' here in the US?
I realize this book is "light" in content but, IMHO,it also gives anyone reading it, a chance to pause and recenter their faith on their beliefs. In the end, I believe that the author was in need of doing just that for himself so he accomplished what he intended, was able to start interfaith group discussions and he made some money along the way. He is an accomplished writer with several books under his belt.
In his letter to me last week, Bruce Feiler mentions that his book, "Abraham" which we read, is being rereleased in paperback and he starts another book tour plus an urging ot readers to start up their own interfaith discussion groups.
So far, the discussions in RRBks have gone rather well and no one seems to be proselytizing. Just giving their opinions about what's being discussed.
So far, the discussion has been about Christianity, Islam and Judaism because the books that we chose stayed on those religions. We would like to discuss other faiths,ie. Taoism, Hinduism,etc. And, we would like for people to bring titles here that are about religions and for the purpose of discussion.
I don't know who Brian is but the photos sure do give one an idea of how baren the Negev is. Did you know that it covers 60% of Israel?
Four feet of snow!! Egad! We are having a strange week with an up and down thermometer plus snow, a thunderstorm, promised rain and sleet and ice but while on my way home from breakfast out with my husband, the sun burst forth among fluffy white clouds and blue sky. Go figure!
So you lived in the Negev? My goodness,and you lived in a kibbutz? From some of the pictures that I have seen on the net, the kibbutz looks like a welcome oasis in that barren wasteland we call the desert. Did you like it? Did you feel closer to the Bible and its stories when you lived there?
Please feel free to speak up anytime in the waning days of the discussion of this book and look for this folder more often in the future as we continue to discuss the different ways people have of practicing their faith, whatever it is. Come again, anytime, and comment as we wrap up the book and go on to more discussions of religions in the world.
Here are some very good photos of Israel's Negev
These are on an Israel travel page so you have to scroll down a little and look on the right and of course, if you click on the picture, it enlarges. There are three pages of pictures!!
and another about
Imagine walking through the "Siq" and coming upon the temple. Makes one feel so small!
JoanK, I am bookmarking that site also for later perusal plus the very well written text that goes with it. I don't have anyone around who would understand why I sent it to them. Maybe I will just send some friends the book. I do have a brother who is always reading non-fiction, and who is trying to live a better life, in his old age! hahahaha!
One of the few lines from the book that really impressed me was when Feiler explained what visiting all those Biblical places had done for him and his belief in God. He mentions that while traveling, he believes that he leaves a part of himself wherever he goes but also brings a part of the place out with him. He felt it even more deeply while visiting the three continents, 5 countries and 3 deserts. Walking the roads, touching the rocks, sleeping on the desert had added another column to his being.
He says, "And the only possible explanatioin I could find for that feeling was that a spirit existed in many of the places I visited, and a spirit existed in me, and the two had somehow met in the course of my travels. Its as if the godliness of the land and the godliness of my being had fused."
I am impressed with the spirituality of this book without being preachy. Its been a nice read!
We are now ending this most interesting book. IMHO, it was very informational and, at the same time, spiritual.
I liked the way the author finally decides that we all have a path to follow and need to know that we carry our God right in our hearts and souls. Most likely, God is the same entity for most of us and so we try to know our God.
Do most of you feel that this quote is true?
"This is the lesson of Mt Nebo and the poetic twist at the end of the Five Books that help make them such a hymn: The land alone is not the destination; the destination is the place where human beings live in consort with the divine. Ultimately, it doesn't matter that what the Bible describes is impossible to see. It doen't matter because what the Bible describes is impossible to see. It doesn't matter because MOses wasn't seeing as we do. At the end, he wasn't even looking at the land. He was looking where we should look. He was looking at God."
I hope that all of posters who have read along or just lurked will join us in a general discussion about "Religion Related Books" which will be up tomorrow. Its been fun to read this book and share it with you all.
Thank you for your generous note.
I have been very moved by the reaction to WALKING THE BIBLE and now ABRAHAM, readers around the world sharing their thoughts, and sharing the book with friends. Thank you for being part of that. Especially in these trying times, I am honored that my work has served to bring people together. I'm so honored you have discussed both of the books, and trust you have the discussion guides that are on my site. Give my regards to your fellow students. You're pioneers of interfaith!
I wish you happy travels, and happy reading.
P.S. As for visiting, the paperback of ABRAHAM is being released on 02/17/04 and I'll be traveling around the U.S., visiting over 20 cities. I hope to meet you. The details of the tour will be on my website soon.
This afternoon I received a note from him and he says he will be in Ohio next month. So, maybe I can look forward to meeting him in Columbus.