I am currently reading this fantastic story from Bruce Feiler, “Walking the Bible: A Journey by Land through the Five Books of Moses”. Bruce teams up with an an archaeologist, and tries to visit all the places he can locate, as closely as he can locate. The book is part story, part history, part archeology, part literary and part geography all blended together in with such insightful perspective, that you start to experience the trip with him. I like how he intertwines his story, with the history, with the facts.
Here they were having a discussion about the improbability of some of the biblical numbers:
“The point is…that the Israelites had a different sense of history than we do. They weren’t trying to record facts objectively. They were trying to tell a story, and let the facts support the story.”
I think that very often in ancient cultures, the symbolism was more important than the facts…people across thousands of years understand symbolic meanings…the Bible isn’t journalism, its a story.
Do we want to spend our time arguing over whether 600 thousand men plus women and children really crossed the Red Sea, and was it really the Red Sea? or somewhere else? If you do, you might miss the point of the story which is: a really, really large number of people crossed thru the middle of a sea, on dry land! And that is about God, and what He can do, and that is the point of the stories in the Bible.