The national revelation at Sinai probably never happened
The national revelation at Sinai probably never happened

The national revelation at Sinai probably never happened

The national revelation at Sinai probably never happened
The traditional “proof” of Judaism is that there were 600,000 witnesses to the revelation at Sinai with God himself speaking to the entire Jewish nation. Standard apologetics around this idea include:

No other group has or can ever lay claim to a national revelation.

Such a large group of people cannot possibly have all been simultaneously deceived or have all suffered from the effects of a mass hallucination/delusion.

Such a large group of people cannot possibly have cooperate to tell a lie.

The first of these argument, that no other group has ever laid claim to a national revelation is readily dismissed as erroneous. Roman and Greek mythology has an abundance of stories about various gods revealing themselves to armies, cities, or nations. The Aztecs also have a similar national revelation story (which is, coincidentally, a migration story much like that of the Hebrews) in which the entire Aztec nation heard Huitzilopochtli’s thunderous voice1. So the first of these arguments can easily be dismissed as erroneous.

The second argument is that such a large group of people could not possibly have all been tricked into believing that they heard God speaking to them or that they could not have all suffered from a mass hallucination/delusion. This argument again is easily dismissed. There are multiple recorded instances of large groups of people suffering from shared hallucinations. Most of these are actually cases of pareidolia, which is a psychological phenomenon involving a vague and random stimulus (often an image or sound) being perceived as significant. Common examples of pareidolia include:

• People believing that they can see images of Jesus, the Virgin Mary, or the word Allah in a potato, on piece of toast, or reflected in the scales of a fish.

• Electronic voice phenomenon (EVP).

• Backmasking in music.

Singular cases of pareidolia can readily trigger mass hysteria or mass hallucinations, as in the case of the Sinai “revelation”. All it takes is for one person to claim to have heard an intelligent voice in an otherwise unintelligible sound before everyone begins to claim to be able to hear an intelligent voice. Few of us would have seen a sphinx on Mars were it not for the UFO theorists telling us that a natural rock formation was a sphinx2.

Benny Shanon of Jerusalem’s Hebrew University also suggests that the Israelites who supposedly witnessed this bogus “revelation” might simply have been high on hallucinogenic drugs at the time. Shanon notes that two plants native to the Sinai desert contain the same psychoactive molecules as those found in plants from which the powerful Amazonian hallucinogenic brew ayahuasca is prepared3.

On the balance of probability, which is more likely: that God literally spoke to all the Israelites, or that they were all just hallucinating on some of the local weed? Common sense demands that we dismiss the second Jewish apologetic as nonsense.

The third argument, that such a large group cannot possibly have cooperated on a lie is even more interesting, because I will contend that no large group cooperated on a lie; it was a lie told to them by a much smaller group centuries or generations after the supposed event.

Most schools of Judaism firmly believe that the Torah was written by Moses, dictated atop Mt. Sinai by God, in much the same way that Muslims believe that the Quran was dictated by God to Mohammad. This idea has traditionally been accepted without question and it is heresy to even question this narrative, perhaps because it reinforces the belief in a national or mass revelation. But the truth is that the Torah cannot have been written by Moses, or any other singular person. Even the most basic analysis of the Pentateuch will show that it was shoddily written by numerous authors. The Pentateuch is highly inconsistent, showing drastic differences in style, language, and numerous contradictions in the texts. I’ll go into greater detail about these inconsistencies and amateurish writing in a later debate. But for now, let’s look at some of the inconsistencies that reveal multiple authors, starting with the name of God.

Most of you will know that God is explicitly named in Genesis 2:4 as Yahweh. Yahweh is described as very human-like, even being able to hold conversations with Adam. Yahweh’s earlier incarnation in the Pentateuch, as Elohim, is strikingly different. Elohim is completely removed from the universe as we know it, showing no connection with nor need for mankind. Clearly, these characters are the work of different authors. Had Moses really been the source of the Torah, and it had been dictated by God, these inconsistencies should not exist. So clearly, the Torah is a later work of fiction.

Into this developing narrative, the authors inject a story about a national revelation. This story is controlled by a priestly class whose power to control the narrative is unquestionable. They related this revelation story to the Jewish people, telling them that their ancestors were witnesses to this miraculous event of God speaking to all of them from atop Mt. Sinai. It’s a lie, but it’s a lie that feeds their egos. And if you think that’s impossible, consider what happened in relatively recent history with the German people’s belief in their status as the master race. Much like having a priestly caste of rabbis telling the Jewish people that they alone had been chosen by God, that their ancestors alone had witnessed and heard God’s voice, it was a “priestly” caste within the Gestapo charged with disseminating the lie of Aryan or German racial superiority.

So I argue that the Jewish people did not cooperate in a lie about national revelation. Instead, the Jewish people were lied to about a national revelation. There is absolutely no evidence at all for the revelation at Sinai. The Israelites were simply lied to, and their unwillingness to question this lie is the supposed evidence for the lie being true. This is perhaps the mother lode of irrational behavior.

In conclusion, having addressed the major apologetic defenses of Judaism and having shown each of these apologetics to be weak, we must concede that the founding event upon which religious Judaism is based, the national revelation at Sinai, has no basis in fact and cannot be logically supported.





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