Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Archeology and Clothing that Doesn't Wear Out

This week we have a verse that gives True Believers a desperately needed out. As everyone knows, there's no archaeological evidence of the 40-year sojourn in the desert. No pots. No strange rocks. Nothing. The Torah True explanation for this anomaly is that nothing was left behind, as we see in this week's parsha:
Thy raiment waxed not old upon thee, neither did thy foot swell, these forty years.
According to those who wish to reconcile archeology and the bible this verse gives us permission to believe that the traveling Israelites produced no waste. Their clothing (see Rashi) never wore out and never had to replaced. Also, they ate nothing but mon (and the occasional quail) and among this food's magical supernatural miraculous properties was that the body absorbed it fully, so no bathroom breaks. Thus, nothing left in the sand for pesky, atheist archaeologists to discover later.

I'll leave it to scazon, our resident Torah/ Science expert to tell us why this theory fails to solve the problem. What I find interesting is that there are other, less helpful ways to understand the verse. Take for instance Shadal who says the verse does not suggest something miraculous at all. According to his reading, the verse means the Israelites left Egypt with piles of clothing, and therefore always had something new to wear, and, presumably, loads of things to leave behind to be dug up later.

This idea that the Israelites traveled with sort of an bottomless wardrobe also appears in Ibn Ezra (who, however, seems to prefer a miraculous explanation which, with the help of God, will be discussed tomorrow.)

ParshaBlog: Ekev: Did The Israelites' Clothing Stay Fresh Naturally?

Search for more information about archological attacks on emunah at

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