Who Wrote the Pentateuch?
“Biblical scholars have long known that all the books of the Hebrew Bible were written long after the events that they purported to describe, and that the Bible as a whole was produced by composite writers and editors in a long and exceedingly complex literary process that stretched over a thousand years.”
Dr. William Dever, Who Were the Early Israelites and Where Did They Come From? (1)
“During the 17th and 18th centuries, the voices became louder which contested the traditional view that the Pentateuch in its entirety had been written by Moses. Scholars pointed to numerous passages which seem to reflect events, customs, etc., of periods after Moses. Among other things, it was time and again pointed out that Moses could not possibly have described his own death (Deut. 34:5–12).”
Dr. Paul Sanders, The Provenance of Deuteronomy 32 (2)
“No direct connections have been found between the abundant documentary evidence from the ancient Near East for the second millennium and the biblical narrative of Israel’s ancestors and origins found in the first seven books of the Bible. As a result, it is impossible to determine whether or not the individuals and events described in the Bible existed, and, if they did, when they should be dated.”
Dr. Michael D. Coogan, A Brief Introduction to the Old Testament (21)
“...the early date of Pentateuchal sources according to the Documentary Hypothesis is entirely lacking in external corroboration, since archaeological evidence, including an analysis of written finds in Judea and at Elephantine, does not support the existence of any written Pentateuchal materials prior to the third century BCE.”
Russell E. Gmirkin, Berossus and Genesis, Manetho and Exodus (2)
THE STORY OF MOSES is contained in the first five books of the Bible, called the Pentateuch or Torah, consisting of Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy.
Many people believe that the Bible is a monolithic product of the Almighty God himself, infallibly recorded by its author, Moses. The evidence overwhelmingly indicates that Moses was NOT the writer of the Pentateuch, as is taught by tradition.
The Old Testament texts are pseudepigraphical: In other words, they were not written by those in whose names they appear. Like the New Testament, over the centuries the texts of the Old Testament were redacted many times. They were edited, interpolated, mutilated and forged.
Even though the text contains errors of history from earlier eras, much of the Old Testament seems to have been composed during the first millennium BCE, with the older language that was used similar to what quotes from the King James Bible, Shakespeare or Chaucer would be like in a modern day book written in today's commonly spoken English.
Moses the Writer?
The question of whether or not Moses wrote the Pentateuch has been circulating within academia since at least the 17th century, when the French Catholic priest Richard Simon (1638–1712) composed his Critical History of the Old Testament, which “reasoned that Moses could not have written the Pentateuch because it contains historical details and refers to events about which he could not have known.”
This questioning continued over the centuries, with the result that today most mainstream authorities doubt Moses was the writer. Concerning modern scholarly consensus regarding Moses and the Torah, Bible expert Dr. Richard E. Friedman remarks;
“At present… there is hardly a biblical scholar in the world actively working on the problem who would claim that the Five Books of Moses were written by Moses—or-- by any one person.”
History Errors and Contradictions
In 1679, Spinoza already had;
“observed that in the Pentateuch certain towns and places bore names that were not given to them until several centuries after Moses.”
This fact has been borne out by a great deal of scholarship and scientific analyses since Spinoza’s time.
Regarding the many historical errors of the Pentateuch, lawyer Joseph Wheless (1868–1950) comments:
The first and most obvious proof that the so-called Five Books of Moses were not written by Moses, but date from a time many centuries after his reputed life and death, is very simple and indisputable. This proof consists of very numerous instances of what are called post-Mosaica, or “after-Moses” events. These events related in those books under the name of Moses as their inspired author; events of which Moses of course could not have known or written, as they occurred long after his death.
These post-Mosaica elements are summarized thus:
Several details point to a 1st millennium date for the Book of Exodus: Ezion-Geber, (one of the Stations of the Exodus), for example, dates to a period between the 8th and 6th centuries BCE with possible further occupation into the 4th century BCE. Also those place-names on the Exodus route which have been identified— Goshen, Pithom, Succoth, Ramesses and Kadesh Barnea—point to the geography of the 1st millennium rather than the 2nd millennium.
Similarly, Pharaoh’s fear that the Israelites might ally themselves with foreign invaders seems unlikely in the context of the late 2nd millennium, when Canaan was part of an Egyptian empire and Egypt faced no enemies in that direction. But the Pharaoh's fear does make sense in a 1st millennium context, when Egypt was considerably weaker and faced invasion in that direction first from the Persians and later from Seleucid Syria.
The mention of the dromedary camel in Exodus 9:3 also suggests a later date of composition, as domesticated camels had not been introduced to Egypt until Cambyses II’s invasion in 525 BCE.
the hand of the Lord will bring a terrible plague on your livestock in the field—on your horses, donkeys and camels and on your cattle, sheep and goats. Exodus 9:3
For decades now, many people have contended that the mention of camels in the Bible represents a history error, because remains of domesticated camels do not appear in the archaeological record until centuries after their purported use by the patriarch Abraham described in Genesis 37:25. Hence, it is claimed the Bible could not have been written until the beginning of the first millennium BCE -- at the earliest, when the first signs of camel domestication emerged in Israel, long after Abraham’s purported era (c. 2000 BCE).
And they sat down to eat bread: and they lifted up their eyes and looked, and, behold, a company of Ishmeelites came from Gilead with their camels bearing spicery and balm and myrrh, going to carry it down to Egypt. Genesis 37:25
The rebuttal or apology for this alleged error is that camels have existed for millions of years and that evidence from northern Arabia points to their domestication by 2000 BCE. However, the claim is not being made that there were no camels on Earth previous to the first millennium BCE, as the earliest known type existed some 40 to 50 million years in North America, where it became extinct 10 to 12,000 years ago. Nor is it denied that camels evidently were in some domestic use in Arabia as early as 4,000 years ago.
However, it is maintained, for example by Old Testament scholar Dr. John Van Seters in Abraham in History and Tradition, that “only with the first millennium B.C. was the camel fully domesticated as a riding and burden-carrying animal.” In this regard, camel bones appear to have been introduced suddenly into the relevant biblical areas during the 10th century BCE.
Moreover, since camels evidently were domesticated in Arabia by the 20th century BCE, when most scholars place Abraham’s supposed time, and if the patriarch had packs of these beasts of burden (Gen 24), it seems inexplicable that they were never used again after he allegedly arrived with them in Israel and that domesticated camel bones discovered there would date only from a thousand years later (10th century BCE).
These be the heads of their fathers' houses: The sons of Reuben the firstborn .... Exodus 6:14–27
In addition to the camel anachronism, Wheless also points out that the genealogies at Exodus 6:14–27 take pains to identify Moses and Aaron with other figures of tradition, an identification that would only be necessary for scribes centuries later clarifying the tale and trying to tie these legendary founders in with the contemporary Jewish kingdom. Says he:
It is recognized by scholars that all these elaborate genealogies inserted in the Five Books are post-exilic compositions. Their exact duplicates are found in the post-exilic Books of the Chronicles and some in Ezra.
In other words, the lists attempting to depict Moses’s historical lineage are very late dated, probably to the time of the biblical scribe Ezra in the fifth century BCE.
Christian apologists who admit that these anachronisms occur after Moses nevertheless insist that the patriarch Joshua, immediate successor to the lawgiver who led the chosen into the Promised Land, “was responsible for some, if not all, of the post-Mosaica under the same divine utterance as Moses,” interpolating the Pentateuch “under the direction and inspiration of the Holy Spirit.”
Appealing to the imagination of a supernatural intervention aside, the bottom line is that significant portions of the Pentateuch were not composed or redacted until the eighth to fourth or, possibly, third centuries BCE.
Another profusely proffered proof that the Pentateuch was not written by a historical Moses is the fact that the text itself speaks of the lawgiver in the third person by asserting that;
He buried him in Moab, in the valley opposite Beth Peor, but to this day no one knows where his grave is. (Deut 34:6)
Obviously, “to this day” implies a passage of time, and the deceased Moses surely was not writing about how his own grave had become lost many years after his death.
This time clarification also negates the that Moses could have been prophesying his own death in writing this passage. Most literalists today argue that Joshua composed this post-Mosaic verse, but that claim too would make little sense, since, again, “to this day” implies a length of time, and since Joshua surely would know where his predecessor was buried.
The fact that the author of the Pentateuch speaks in the third person is important to note, as not only does it sound strange in numerous instances, but also there are other contradictions indicating authorship by someone else.
For example, at Exodus we read that Moses was “very great in the land of Egypt”;
(The Lord made the Egyptians favorably disposed toward the people, and Moses himself was highly regarded in Egypt by Pharaoh’s officials and by the people.) Exodus 11:3
yet, in the Book of Numbers he is “very meek, more than all men that were on the face of the earth.” Wheless remarks, “So meek a man would not probably have made such immodest boasts of himself.”
(Now Moses was a very humble man, more humble than anyone else on the face of the earth.) Numbers 12:3
Book of the Wars of the Lord
In the Book of Numbers it mentions an earlier text upon which the Mosaic author(s) evidently drew:
That is why the Book of the Wars of the Lord says:
“. . . Zahab in Suphah and the ravines,
the Arnon Numbers 21:14
If Moses wrote this text, it is inexplicable why he would refer to himself in the third person and to a previous composition for his account. Apparently, this “book of the wars of the LORD” was copied by the Pentateuch writers and then destroyed or lost.
Because of such glaring errors and contradictions, not including believing Christian and Jewish fundamentalists, few scholars today believe that Moses actually wrote the Pentateuch. This is reflecting a doubt that has lingered on for centuries of critical scholarship and that encompasses the certainty of a fable character concerning the Israelite lawgiver.
Composed in Ezra's Era
Even in ancient times, it was evident to various writers that Moses did not write the Pentateuch and that there was not a clear period in which the Hebrew prophet may have lived. In the second century BCE in the text Against the Christians, Greco-Phoenician philosopher Porphyry (234–c. 305 AD/CE) remarked:
...nothing Moses wrote has been preserved; for, all his writings are said to have been burnt with the temple. All those [books] written under his name afterwards were composed inaccurately one thousand one hundred and eighty years after Moses’s death by Ezra and his followers.
If Moses’s purported era was the 13th century BCE, Porphyry has placed the prophet Ezra at around the first to third centuries BCE, while mainstream scholarship generally dates him to around 480–440 BCE. It seems that in Porphyry’s time Moses was considered to have lived at a more remote date, as is believed today by most Christians and Jews.
In the fourth century CE (AD), Church father Jerome (Chronicon) contended that the Israelite lawgiver was born in 1592 BCE. Other authorities place his birth in 1491 BCE. Mainstream Jewish scholars today put the period when Moses supposedly lived to around 1391–1271 BCE. Rabbinic Judaism traditionally favors 1313 BCE for the Exodus. Some modern Christian apologists reckon Moses’s birth to 1526 BCE, based on a verse in Exodus, which makes Moses 80 years old and Aaron 83 when they asked pharaoh to let their people go, an advanced age to be leading hundreds of thousands of warriors into battle.
Moses was eighty years old and Aaron eighty-three when they spoke to Pharaoh. Exodus 7:7
In any event, we can see the difficulty here, as Moses’s date was uncertain even in antiquity. And in that antiquity, it was understood Moses did not compose the Pentateuch, the first five books of the Bible, as tradition holds.
No Moses Before the Exile?
One major problem with the tradition of Moses composing the Pentateuch and especially the Exodus story of comes from the fact that several other Old Testament Books omit the patriarch largely or entirely, even when discussing the law or other foundational myths.
These texts are attributed to prophets who traditionally thrived before the Babylonian Captivity or Exile (598/7–538 BCE), the period when significant numbers of Jews purportedly were held captive in Babylon. These books include;
Amos, Habakkuk, Hosea, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Jonah, Micah, Nahum and Zephaniah.
Regarding the absence of Moses in these biblical texts, Bible scholar Dr. Margaret Baker remarks:
Why is Moses not a part of the religion of the pre-exilic prophets? It has even been suggested that Moses is not mentioned in any genuinely pre-exilic writings.
Baker also states;
“the authors of the pre-exilic literature of the Old Testament outside the Pentateuch appear to know virtually nothing of the patriarchal and Mosaic traditions of the Pentateuch...”
Danish Old Testament professor Dr. Niels Peter Lemche (b. 1945) agrees that “Moses is also not mentioned by the pre-exilic prophets.” It appears, therefore, that the biblical character was created for the most part not until after the Exile, or perhaps during.
Hosea, No Mention of Anything Exodus
For example, the author of the book of Hosea, Lemche remarks,
“knows nothing of Moses, since Hos 12:14 is secondary.”
As an instance of how an earlier text may have been redacted to create the fictional tale, although Hosea thus makes no mention of Moses, Aaron, and any miracles, the text apparently was used by later editors (e.g., “J” and “E”) to compose the Pentateuch.
Isaiah - Moses Inserted
The major prophet Isaiah’s very lengthy book contains the word “Moses” in only two contiguous verses;
11 Then his people recalled[a] the days of old,
the days of Moses and his people—
where is he who brought them through the sea,
with the shepherd of his flock?
Where is he who set
his Holy Spirit among them,
12 who sent his glorious arm of power
to be at Moses’ right hand,
who divided the waters before them,
to gain for himself everlasting renown, Isaiah 63:11-12
but these too could be secondary interpolations into a typical recitation of what originally comprised Yahweh’s miraculous works, not those of Moses. The rest of this very long book has no other mention of the patriarch. Indeed, these verses in Isaiah 63 appear to reflect the mythical core of the Exodus story, obviously of great importance to the Israelites in their national identity, and built upon over the centuries to incorporate a fictional founder.
Moses an Authority?
Fifteen or so pre-exilic prophets who seem to be oblivious to the existence of Moses.
Apologists cite the 21 biblical books with 71 references to the Mosaic authorship of the Pentateuch. This number may appear impressive, but it only reflects a tradition continued throughout the history of the Bible and Judaism. This tradition exists to give the text and religion authority under a divine legislator who allegedly received his law directly from the finger of God.
In consideration of the fervent biblical contention of the Jews as the “chosen people” of the God of the cosmos, a holy nation of priests, it is not surprising that this claim of the religion being codified by a “prophet of the Lord” is made repeatedly, as it continues to be today, in order to justify Judaism as the “only true religion” (Catholics say the same thing about Jesus).
Thus, the many books are attributed to Moses being the author in order to give them authority -- Stated by a believer,
"The patriarch is the inspired lawgiver and possesses supernatural and miraculous capacities, demonstrating that the Lord God indeed is working with and through him."
Again, such contentions were common in antiquity, with numerous divine legislators cited in other cultures, such as the Babylonian-Amorite king Hammurabi (d. 1750 BCE),95 who allegedly received his law from the sun god Shamash. As noted, several of the Ten Commandments are similar to the earlier Code of Hammurabi, a brutal law requiring the death penalty for transgressions such as theft and adultery, as does the Mosaic law. If we are to accept that Moses received the law supernaturally on Mount Sinai during the 13th or 15th century BCE, then we must also accept the claim that Hammurabi received his code from Shamash in the 18th century BCE, indicating that the Babylonian deity is as real as the Israelite god.
Fig. 8. Hammurabi receiving the law from Shamash, 18th cent. BCE. Stele from Susa, Louvre (FritzMilkau-Dia-Sammlung)
Cosmic Understandings or Petty Concerns?
Throughout the Pentateuch/Torah, Yahweh is depicted as communicating with and appearing in person to Moses, Aaron and assorted other persons, in detailed dialogue over a period of years. Moses becomes so comfortable with God that he speaks as a child to a parent, running the gamut from subservience to insolence.
One is left wondering a number of things from these discussions, including what was happening in the rest of the cosmos while the God of the universe was occupied by chit-chatting with Moses and his select representatives in a tiny backwater of the miniscule earth, off to the side of one of numberless galaxies? A cosmos, in fact, that is described as infinite? And why would such a massive entity be fascinated by these few puny humans of no significant material substance, no grand buildings, no real art, no navy or even a country—why choose such a contingent out of a seemingly infinite choice?
God Loves Human Bloodshed
The absurdity of the creator of the cosmos being obsessed with animal sacrifice is evident enough, but a significant part of the rest of the biblical tale is likewise repugnant. For example, the founding of Israel as the “Promised Land” is rife with bloodshed and slaughter, as God—again, speaking quite personally with Moses, Aaron and others for months or years on end— commands his “chosen” to massacre one group of people after another, such as the Amalekites, Canaanites, Midianites and Moabites. This bloodshed was followed by Joshua’s slaughter all around Canaan, proudly boasted about throughout the book of Joshua, part of the Hexateuch or first six biblical books.
No Archaeological Evidence
The unreal air of the Pentateuch is obvious also from the lack of archaeological evidence, which continues to elude discovery, despite numerous efforts to find it over a period of centuries to millennia. Concerning this mythical appearance, lay Egyptologist Gerald Massey (1828–1907) remarks:
As history, the Pentateuch has neither head, tail, nor vertebrae; it is an indistinguishable mush of myth and mystery. Had it been a real history, Palestine and Judea ought to have been found overstrewn with implements of warfare and work, both of Hebrew manufacture and of that of the conquered races, whereas outside the book, it is a blank. The land of a people so rich that King David, in his poverty, could collect one thousand millions of pounds sterling towards building a temple, is found without art, sculptures, bronzes, pottery or precious stones to illustrate the truth of the Bible story of the nation of warriors and spoilers of nations who burst away from their captivity in Egypt two millions strong. Nor will the proofs be found, not if Palestine be uprooted in the search….
The chief Jewish teachers have always insisted on the allegories of the Pentateuch, and the necessity of the oral interpretation of the books by those who were in possession of the key. No confession could be more explicit than that of the Psalmist: “I will open my mouth in a parable: I will utter dark sayings of old which we have heard and known, and our fathers have told us....” [Psalm 78:2] Parables and dark sayings of old are the allegories of mythology, and enigmas of the ancient wisdom of Egypt uttered emblematically; the wisdom with which Moses is accredited by Jewish writers. Foremost amongst these parables and mystical sayings are the Exodus, the dividing of the waters, smiting of the rock for drink, and opening of the heavens to let down manna for food. These things which to the modern ignorance are miracles, are parables expressed in dark sayings of old, that is, they are the myths put forth in the manner of the mysteries
Since Massey’s time and even before it, artifacts have been discovered that demonstrate there were inhabitants of Israel, but none that provides verification of the supernatural tales of the Torah, or of the massive warfare with huge numbers of fighters. Thus, this independent scholar, although maligned, was substantially correct in his perception of Moses and the Exodus, without the benefit of modern discoveries but based on the extant literary record of the day, the ideas of Egypt, and his own common sense.
As we can see, there remains a lack of consensus as to the dates of relevant biblical texts, but it would appear that later dates for most of the texts rank as the most scientific analysis, with older strata representing folklore and myth not only from the Hebrews but also from earlier cultures such as the Akkadians, Amorites, Assyrians, Babylonians, Canaanites, Eblaites, Egyptians, Greeks, Hittites, Indians, Mitanni, Phoenicians, Persians, Sumerians, Ugaritians and others.
The Allegorical ‘Dark Sayings’ of Old
In consideration of the fact that “chief Jewish teachers have always insisted on the allegories of the Pentateuch,” we may do likewise in recognizing the various “dark sayings of old” (Ps 78:2) as mythical, not historical. Indeed, we would suggest that these parables and dark sayings are the myths, lamentations, psalms, hymns, scriptures and poems of pre-Israelitish peoples of the area.
In this regard, for the past couple of centuries, archaeologists have been excavating sites of Egyptians and Levantine peoples, unearthing numerous important artifacts, including tens of thousands of texts. From these discoveries, we now know that many of the stories in the Pentateuch represent not “history” but mythology found in these previous cultures. The biblical myths that have counterparts in these earlier cultures include the Creation, the Garden of Eden, the Tower of Babel, Noah’s Ark, Abraham’s Trial, Jacob’s Ladder, the Exodus, Job’s Trial, and Samson and Delilah. A single redactor of the Old Testament such as Ezra would have utilized fragments of just such tales from pre-biblical times.
After this mass of textual evidence began to be discovered, these precursor myths and stories were scrutinized so thoroughly in the 19th century that among the many books on this subject written at that time was one titled Bible Myths and Their Parallels in Other Religions. Since then, archaeology and other disciplines have demonstrated that the biblical renditions are continuities and adaptations of these earlier tales and myths. Yet, the bulk of humanity remains unaware of these mythical precedents, as they are rarely taught from the pulpit and continue largely to be buried within the hallowed halls of academia.
During the past century, discoveries from the pre-Semitic civilization of Sumer or Sumeria have shed an enormous amount of light upon the Bible. The Sumerians’ use of writing to record literature began around 2500 BCE, and their cuneiform script was used for many hundreds of years afterwards, adapted to a number of other languages, including Akkadian, Eblaite, Ugaritic and other Semitic tongues.
Significant Sumerian myths also were passed from one culture to another throughout the region, changed to suit the ethnicity, location and era, and eventually ended up in the Bible as purported Hebrew cosmology.
Home of the Eblaites, the city of Ebla, Syria, has yielded thousands of cuneiform texts that reveal a bustling trade, educational and religious center over a thousand years before the supposed conquest of Canaan. Ebla is the first known area in which a Semitic language—now called Eblaite—was recorded in cuneiform, using a simplified Sumerian script.
Fig. 9. Cuneiform clay tablet, 3rd millennium BCE. Found at Ebla, Syria
These Eblaite compositions date to around 2250 BCE and include a legal code, which has been compared in particular to Leviticus 16. Names of various biblical characters also have been discovered at Ebla, such as Abraham and David, long predating any “historical” individuals by those names and
indicating their probable mythical nature instead. A hypothesized “ya” godname has been posited in one of these texts; however, the suggestion has been refuted by biblical apologists.
In “Old Testament Mythology in Its Ancient Near Eastern Context,” British Near Eastern archaeologist Dr. Wilfred G. Lambert (1926–2011) comments on Sumerian texts found at Ebla:
...virtually from the beginning personal names reveal names of deities and occasionally their attributes. The remains of the earliest group of literary myths have been recovered from three Sumerian sites from about the middle of the 3rd millennium... Only a few individual phrases or sentences have been deciphered so far, but two of these express the widespread myth of the separation of heaven and earth, which appears, somewhat transformed, in Gen. i as the dividing of the cosmic waters. The period of these Sumerian myths is also the period of the Ebla archives, and some Sumerian literature has been found at Ebla... The only original literary texts in Semitic from Ebla...are incantations...
Lambert also states:
One of the most striking things from the study of Near Eastern myth is the essential similarity of so much from different civilizations, despite differences in detail. From the Aegean to Pakistan striking similarities constantly occur to the attentive reader.
It is significant that Ebla is fairly close to the areas of Ugarit and the Mitanni kingdom, as these later cultures share similar mythical archetypes with the earlier Eblaites. In the end, there is significant “biblical” tradition, doctrine and ritual in the Sumero-Semitic literature, and it remains logical and scientific to suggest that such earlier culture represents the real foundation of scriptural tradition, rather than the myths purporting supernatural divine revelation.
Another highly influential, literate Semitic group was that of the Amorites, who left many texts at Mari in eastern Syria, on the western bank of the Euphrates River. Some 25,000 cuneiform tablets (1800–1750 BCE) from Mari reveal the extent of the Amorite civilization there. The official language of the tablets is Akkadian, but there are “hints in syntax” that Mari’s citizens spoke Northwest Semitic, essentially Amorite/Canaanite.
To reiterate, at the Canaanite city of Ugarit or Ras Shamra were discovered thousands of cuneiform tablets in the local dialect of Ugaritic, dating to the 14th to 12th centuries BCE. The occupation of Ugarit began in the Neolithic (c. 6500 BCE) and continued to the end of the second millennium BCE, including the arrival around 1900 BCE of the Amorites to settle its lands. Because of its location on the eastern Mediterranean, Ugarit became a commercial hub and “attracted merchants and foreigners from nearby maritime towns as well as more distant locations like Egypt, Cyprus, Syria and Mesopotamia,” encompassing “Phoenicians, Hittites, Egyptians, Assyrians, Canaanites, Cypriots and other Aegeans.”
It is surmised that the Ugaritic epics were passed along orally for hundreds of years before being written down initially during the reign of the king Niqmaddu II (c. 1350 BCE). Schniedewind remarks that Ugarit as a scribal center was “particularly important when we reflect on the significant parallels between Ugaritic and biblical literature…” He further states: “Such scribal schools were undoubtedly a conduit for some of the literary and poetic similarities between Ugaritic and biblical literature.”
Regarding these texts, Russell concurs that “there are many parallels between the literature unearthed at Ras Shamra and the Old Testament literature of all periods.” These various Semitic texts, along with Egyptian, Greek and others, will be discussed throughout this present work.
In addition to shared god-names and divine epithets, the languages of Canaanite and Hebrew themselves are largely indistinguishable for most of Israel’s early history. Much temple terminology and many sacred rituals believed to be Hebrew from their repeated discussion in the Bible are actually
Canaanite/Ugaritic/Western Semitic or Phoenician. These Ugaritic/Canaanite terms that made their way into the Bible included “priest” (kōhēn) and “tent of meeting,” which were “derived from Canaanite prototypes.”