Dear Mr. Collins,
I was discussing the migrations of the Zerah branch of Judah through the Mediterranean Sea before the Exodus and founding Greece, Rome (Darda) and Ireland (Calcol) with someone. I also cited E. Raymond Capt’s book Assyrian Tablets which discusses the pre-Exodus migrations. The person I’m discussing this with made a remark that I’m not sure how to respond to:
“The extraordinary theory that the Zerahites, or any portion of them, actually left Egypt ahead of the Exodus of Israel falls to the ground on the strength of Numbers 26:20. When I saw what you wrote, I saw a statement that the Bible was silent silent on the matter of the descendants of Zerah. I find, in my own perusal of the Bible, that It is anything but silent. That verse in Numbers clearly demonstrates that the Zerahites were marching alongside their fellows the Pharezites even in the last year of the forty years of wandering in the wilderness.
Moreover, I remind you that James Ussher interpreted the ancient legends of Diodorus Siculus and Eusebius quite differently from E. Raymond Capt’s interpretation. He states that King Cecrops I was an Egyptian, a statement that I find far more likely than the idea of Calcol being Cecrops. The Egyptians were known seafarers; in the house that I now live in hangs a papyrus reproduction of an ancient Egyptian image of an Egyptian sailing craft with a full crew of rowers and riggers. The Hebrews and Israelites were never known to be seafarers. Recall that King Jehoshaphat attempted a joint seafaring trading expedition to the Straits of Gibraltar (“Tarshish”) along with Ahaziah of Israel. That expedition ended in unmitigated disaster.”
How would you respond to this? Particularly the claim that “Numbers 26:20 militates with extreme prejudice against the notion that the Zerahites, or indeed any branch of that clan, left Egypt ahead of the Exodus of Israel”, as this person says?
While I appreciate your question on the Zerah branch of Judah, I have not done independent research on this branch of the tribe of Judah. Since Numbers 26:20 records descendants of Zerah were in the wilderness encampment, they obviously were there. If you have read my article The Missing Simeonites at my website, you will notice that I believe a large portion of the Simeonites left the camp after the incident in Number 25. Numbers 26 indicates the descendants of Zerah remained there even after there was a migration from the Israelite camp. I also urge you to read my article Did the Ancient Hebrews Fear the Sea? The Israelite were very skilled mariners. Judges 5:17 records the tribe of Dan had a maritime lifestyle circa 1200 BC. I Kings 9:26-27 and 10:22 record the Israelites had a large and far-sailing navy. The fleet of Jehoshaphat was very likely a well-made fleet of ships, but it was God who destroyed the ships as a punishment for Jehoshaphat’s alliance with the wicked king of Israel (II Chronicles 20:35-37). It is my assumption God destroyed the ships in a storm.