A Critique of the John D. Croft proposal that the Exodus is recalling the Philistine Invasion of 1175 BCE under a Greek called Mopsus/Moxus

Walter Reinhold Warttig Mattfeld y de la Torre, M.A. Ed.

20 October 2002, Revised 22 Dec 20, 2006

Croft  (please click here for his background) posits on the Yahoo sponsored Ancient Bible History group that an individual called Mopsus or Moxus is behind Moses and the Exodus. He has this Mopsus engaged in war in Libya and dying in Ashkelon (Philista), suggesting that in some way he is leading his peoples from Egypt to Canaan, rather like Moses leading his people from Egypt to Canaan. He notes that this Mopsus has a place called Mopsukrene, in Cilicia, named after him. He is a Seer and a Prophet in Greek myths.

According to Lempriere, Mopsus is the son of Ampyx and Chloris, and is born at Titaressa in Thessaly, Greece. He accompanied the Argonauts in the capacity of a prophet and soothsayer. He died in Libya, on his return from Colchis (on the Black Sea), from a bite by a serpent. Jason (of the Argonauts) erected a monument on the sea-shore, where the Africans afterwards built a temple where he gave oracles. (cf. p.422, "Mopsus," John Lempriere, Lempriere's Classical Dictionary. London. Bracken Books. [1850] reprint 1994. paperback. ISBN 1-85891-228-8)

I see no mention here of Mopsus dying at Ashkelon, in Philista. He was not "a leader" of an army, he functioned as a prophet or seer for the Argonauts (who sail about the world getting into all sorts of Adventures).

Seyfferyt on Mopsus:

Mopsus (Number #1):

"One of the Lapithae of Oechalia in Thessaly, son of Ampyx and the nymph Chloris. He took part in the Calydonian Hunt and in the fight of the Lapithae and the Centaurs and afterwards accompanied the Argonauts as a seer, and died of a snake in Libya, where he was worshipped as a hero, and had an oracle." 

Mopsus (Number #2):

"Son of the Cretan seer Rhacius and of Manto, and founder, with Amphilochus, son of Amphiaraus, of the celebrated oracle at Mallas in Cilicia. Mopsus and Amphilochus killed each other in a combat for the possession of the sanctuary." (p.398, "Mopsus," Oskar Seyffert. The Dictionary of Classical Mythology, Religion, Literature and Art. New York. Gramercy Books. [1906] reprint 1995. ISBN 0-517-12311-8)

Hornblower on Mopsus:

"Mopsus, famous mythological seer(s?), who is already the Argonauts' seer in Archaic epic. He is the son of Ampyx or Ampycus, comes from Titaresos (i.e. Dodona) and dies on the journey, bitten by a serpent in Libya. Another tradition makes him the son of Manto, daughter of Tiresias. This Mopsus founds the oracle of Claros (in Colophon, Ionia) and then emigrates to Cilicia, where the city of Mopsuestia carries his name. Here he defeats Calchas in a contest of divination. As a Hittite inscription mentions a 'Mukus' and the 7th-century BC Luwian-Phoenician inscription at Karatepe 'the house of Mopsus,' this Mopsus probably derives from Anatolia. But how does this fit with the name mo-qo-so in linear B ? Was there a family of seers called Mopsus?" (p.995, "Mopsus," Simon Hornblower & Antony Spawforth, Editors. The Oxford Classical Dictionary. Oxford & New York. Oxford University Pres. 1996. ISBN 0-19-866172-X, pp.1640)

Smith on Mopsus:

"Mopsus No.1, Son of Ampyx or Ampycus by the nymph Chloris. Being a seer, he was called a son of Apollo by Himantis. He was one of the Lapthae of Oechalia or Titaeron (Thessaly), and took part in the combat at the wedding of Pirithous, He was one of the Clydonian hunters, and also one of the Argonauts, and he was a famous prophet among the Argonauts. He died in Libya of the bite of a snake, and was buried there by the Argonauts. He was afterwards worshipped as an oracular hero.

Mopsus No.2, Son of Apollo and Manto, the daughter of Tiresias, and also  a celebrated seer. He contended in prophecy with Calchas at Colophon, and showed himself superior to the latter in prophetic power. He was believed to have founded Mallos in Cilicia, in conjunction with the seer Amphilochus. A dispute arose between the two seers respecting the possession of the town, and both fell in combat by each other's hand. Mopsus had an oracle at Mallos, which existed as late as the time of Strabo." (p. 456. "Mopsus," William Smith. A Classical Dictionary of Biography, Mythology, and Geography. London. John Murray. 1875. pp. 832)

As can be seen from the above articles there is a question as to whether Mopsus is from Thessaly in Greece or from Anatolia (Cilicia). It may be that Croft has confused the two different Mopsus men (nos. 1 & 2) and conflated them into one? 

Mopsus was a seer and prophet with the Argonauts when they landed in Libya (Africa) but he was not the leader of the group like Moses was.

According to Lempriere and Smith Mopsus dies in Libyia and "Africans" build a shrine and oracle in his honor. The Greeks understood "Libya" to mean Africa. The lands to the east of the Nile and its Delta were "Asia," NOT LIBYA, so Croft's Mopsus didn't die and was buried in Canaan (Ashkelon, Philista). MOPSUS DIDN'T LEAD ANYBODY FROM EGYPT TO CANAAN, his body is still mouldering away in Libya, not Canaan. This appears to be Croft's *speculation*, and a seriously flawed methodology. If Croft could quote verbatim from a source, that Mopsus died in Ashkelon, Canaan and not in Libya (Africa), he would then have "a contested" identification because the above consensus is he either died in Cilicia or Libya, NOT Canaan. I remain unconvinced for all the above reasons, that Moses is drawn from Mopsus.

As regards the defeat of the Philistines by Rameses III ca. 1174 BCE being behind the Exodus account:

This is a naval engagement whereas the Hebrews were on foot.

The Hebrews were delivered by a sea which opened up for them then destroyed Egyptian chariots (not boats), 

The Sea-Peoples are INVADING EGYPT, whereas the Hebrews ARE EXITING EGYPT.  

The bible understands that the Hebrews have been in Egypt for about 200 to 400 years (LXX vs. MT) and implies that Moses has an Egyptian Royal Titularly, in that he is a "Prince" of Egypt. The Hyksos were in Egypt for approximately 100 years, and they bore ROYAL EGYPTIAN TITULARLIES, being Pharaohs of the eastern Delta. I am unaware of Sea-Peoples living 100-200 years in Egypt and bearing ROYAL EGYPTIAN TITULARLIES as "Princes" of Egypt. 

The Sea-Peoples settle in Philista. An area Israel avoids upon exiting Egypt, fearing war. So, wrong destination according to the biblical texts!

Israel is headed for the Southern Sinai, a place the Sea-Peoples never went to upon their departure from Egypt under Ramesses III. 

The Israelites are portrayed settling the Hill Country and archaeology has identified this with the Early Iron I period, but there are no Philistine pottery sherds in these hundreds of sites. If Israel is remembering the Exodus from a Sea-Peoples defeat and settlement by Ramesses III why no pottery to show how the idea was transmitted to the future generations (there is no mechanism for the tradition).

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