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Rabbi Waxman makes my point: those who get stuck on an “all or nothing approach” (i.e. proving or disproving the historicity of the Exodus) miss the point of the eternal values the story contains. However, that rule goes for both sides of the argument, not only those who cling to proving how anachronisms could be right, but also those who argue that any anachronism proves that there was no historical event. Theories come and go.

While we will probably never uncover verifiable external evidence of the Exodus, that doesn’t mean we should ignore the archaeological material, which enhances our understanding of the historical context of the Biblical text–the peshat in rabbinic terms. History is just one of many tools for drawing as much meaning as we can from the record of the Israelite’s experience of God in their communal lives. These “kernels” of history can help us better understand what our ancient ancestors thought and transmitted about their experiences, and helps us get the most of our experience interacting with the text.

–Posted by Rabbi Susan Grossman

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