Skip to comments.Moses' Comet
Posted on 10/09/2005 4:25:36 PM PDT by blam
Moses Comet, by Mike Baillie
Discovering Archeology, July/August 1999
Moses called down a host of calamities upon Egypt until the pharaoh finally freed the Israelites. Perhaps he had the help of a comet impact coupled with a volcano.
A volcano destroyed the island of Santorini in the Aegean Sea (between today's Greece and Turkey) around the middle of the second millennium B.C. Researchers Val LaMarche and Kathy Hirschboeck suggest the volcano might be associated with tree-ring evidence for several years of intense cold beginning in 1627 B.C.
Could that form the basis for strange meteorological phenomena recorded in the biblical book of Exodus? In the book of Exodus, which describes events a few hundred kilometers from Santorini, we read of a pillar of cloud and fire, a lingering darkness, and the parting of the Red Sea. An enormous column of ash must have hung in the sky over the eruption (the Israelites pillar of cloud by day and fire by night?), and the volcano doubtless caused a tsunami, or tidal wave (which could have drowned a pharaoh's army).
The Exodus story is traditionally dated to either the thirteenth or fifteenth century B.C. Those dates, however, depend ultimately on identifying the Pharaoh of the Oppression, and historians have never proven to which ruler that infamous title referred.
Many biblical scholars will disagree, but I suggest that a seventeenth-century B.C. date is not impossible.
The argument can be bolstered. Equally catastrophic meteorological conditions are recorded in the Bible for the time of King David.
Psalm 18, in reference to David, speaks of terrifying events: Earth shook and trembled. The foundations of the hills moved and were shaken. ... Smoke ... fire ... darkness ... dark waters ... thick clouds of the skies ... hailstones and coals of fire. On some chronologies, David is placed 470 years after the Exodus.
The spacing between the two disastrous events recorded in Irish tree rings at 1628 and 1159 B.C. is 469 years. The Exodus story includes dust, several days of darkness, hail, dead fish, undrinkable water, cattle killed by hail, water breaking out of rocks, the earth opening, the sea parting as in a tsunami, and so on.
Someone looking at the Exodus story and knowing descriptions of other distant volcanic effects might offer the possibility that the Israelites escaped from Egypt under the cover of a major natural catastrophe.
There may be veiled references to comets in the biblical narrative, leading to the possibility that the Santorini eruption itself may have been triggered by a bolide (comet or asteroid) impact. David Levy, co-discoverer of the comet that bears his and Jean Shoemaker's names, has argued that the description of the angel of the Lord in the sky over Jerusalem with a drawn sword (1 Chronicles 21) could be a reference to a comet.
The Angel of the Lord was, of course, also present at the Exodus, as it was traveling in front of Israel's army. Further, there are indications that as the Israelites left Egypt, the night was as bright as midday.
The nights over Europe were reported to have been daytime-bright after the only known modern bolide impact, the Tunguska explosion over Siberia in 1908.
These stories raise the question of whether comets recorded by the Chinese at the start and end of the Shang Dynasty, at very near the same dates, were the same as the comets that may be recorded in the Old Testament.
I believe that we know the answer: In the last five millennia, several dynastic changes and dark ages have been the direct result of impacts and/or volcanoes. The consequences of such events must have been devastating, leading to apocalyptic imagery in religious writing and predictions of the end of the world.
Zachariah of Mitylene lived through the environmental disaster that began about 540 A.D. In the mid-550s, he wrote in his twelve-volume records of the trials the world had survived: In addition to all the fearful things described above, the earthquakes and famines and wars, ... there has also been fulfilled against us the curse of Moses in Deuteronomy." The curse included pestilence, consumption, fever, fiery blasts from the skies, mildew, a rain of powder and dust, and darkness.
The curse of Moses must have seemed an appropriate description of life after the impact of a piece of a comet.
Mike Baillie is a leading dendrochronologist and Professor of Palaeoecology at Queen's University, Belfast, Northern Ireland. His book, Exodus to Arthur, describes in detail his theory of comet encounters and turning points of civilization."
I understand Moses had some help from God, too.
Interesting. The Exodus is dated by the Bible as 480 (solar) years before the laying of the cornerstone of the Temple, which foundation is dated by O.T. chronologists working from Kings and Chronicles to about 966 B.C. Hence, a date is found for the plagues of about 1406 B.C.
I believe it's GENE Shoemaker.
Or maybe it was the Angel of the Lord.
Oops. 1446 B.C.
I think the volcano eruption make more sense that most theories.
Velokowski? thought that Venus was a comet that was captured by the sun, and that its passage caused great disturbances. His explanations of the plagues using this theory was pretty far out.
I remember a National Geographic article in the 1950's that talked about grasshoppers in the Sinai desert that excrete a carbohydrate that is edible, and NG author conjectured that this was the manna of Exodus. I think that article also stated that a reversal of tides phenomenon is known in the Red Sea area that causes waters to retreat occasionally, making it possible to cross.
As Moses was in exile in that area, he probably was familiar with these phenomena.
The most interesting plague is the death of the first born.
Not sure volcanos can explain that, although the deaths of those who didn't keep the same hygiene rules the Hebrews did would explain why mostly Egyptians died in a time of flies and boils, but not why the first born would be affected only.
One of the plagues mentioned in Exodus is a plague of frogs. Napoleon conquered Egypt in 1798 and brought with him a bunch of French scholars who studied the antiquities of Egypt. You'd think they would have made a special search for the bones of the frogs, being French.
Velikovsky was nuts. The planet Venus is just slightly smaller than the earth. Comets are vastly smaller bodies than an earth-sized planet...there is simply no way that a comet could have transmogrified itself into the planet Venus.
I have some problem with the volcano part. If I recall correctly, they were led thru the wilderness by the pillar of smoke by day and fire by night for 40 years. That seems a bit long for one volcano to spew.
Volcanos can spew ash for long periods and appear fiery by night.
Mauna Loa? in Hawaii has been erupting for years.
Still, I agree that scientific discussion of religious text is problematic at best, though fun for some.
Yes, that's usually the point missed.
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So tell me, have you read Worlds in Collision? Earth In Upheaval? or Ages in Chaos? Or don't you need to read a book to know a theory is wrong or the author is nuts?
You're spot on, (Eu)gene Shoemaker, and of course, the actual discoverer, Carolyn Shoemaker. Gene and David were figuring out where to point the telescope, and were taking the photos.
Excellent summary. I have the Pensee publications.
I do not agree with the end of the article where it tries to debunk some "scholar". One would have to debunk the entire "scientific community".
But, since they predicted Venus to be cold and it is not, they lost one. Since they did not believe that there would be radio emissions, they lost two. Since Velikovsky only reported what the ancients said, they lost three....
in reference to Baillie's claims about the (non-)eruption of Thera...
New Ice-Core Evidence Challenges the 1620s age for the Santorini (Minoan) Eruption
Journal of Archaeological Science, Volume 25, Issue 3, March 1998, Pages 279-289 | 13 July 1997 | Gregory A. Zielinski, Mark S. Germani
Posted on 07/29/2004 12:25:45 AM PDT by SunkenCiv
I suspected that!