The god of Exodus 13:17-40-33 was inspired by a volcano.
Before I start I should say that I will be quoting from the NIV bible.
"By day the Lord went ahead of them in a pillar of cloud to guide them on their way and by night in a pillar of fire to give them light, so that they could travel by day or night. Neither the pillar of cloud by day nor the pillar of fire by night left its place in front of the people."
Now we know that volcanoes produce huge plumes of smoke, often as high as several kilometers , we also know that plumes of fire can come from highly active volcanoes . Both of these can be seen from many miles away and a group of people could easily follow it for several days as described in the Exodus account.
"Moses stretched out his hand over the sea, and at daybreak the sea went back to its place. The Egyptians were fleeing toward it, and the Lord swept them into the sea. The water flowed back and covered the chariots and horsemen—the entire army of Pharaoh that had followed the Israelites into the sea. Not one of them survived."
We now understand that tectonic activity causes both tidal waves (as seemingly described here) and volcanoes, often in the same place at the same time , this may well have been part of an aural history about a tidal wave. (However I have to say that this could be some sort of symbolism for the sea peoples).
"While Aaron was speaking to the whole Israelite community, they looked toward the desert, and there was the glory of the LORD appearing in the cloud."
This is talking about Yahweh appearing in a cloud above mount Sinai, this shows that there was a huge cloud over mount Sinai which again sounds very much like a volcanic plume. This could also be referring to a volcanic ejection.
"On the morning of the third day there was thunder and lightning, with a thick cloud over the mountain, and a very loud trumpet blast. Everyone in the camp trembled."
We know that volcanic plumes can attract immense lightning storms (volcanic lightning) , we can also attribute the sound of the trumpet to a sound produced by the eruption, remembering that an early trumpet would have sounded much more crude than a modern one. This also sound exactly like you would expect a primitive (for want of a better word) people encountering a volcano.
"Mount Sinai was covered with smoke, because the LORD descended on it in fire. The smoke billowed up from it like smoke from a furnace, and the whole mountain trembled violently."
First this says that mount Sinai was both covered in smoke an on fire. It also describes the smoke as coming from a "furnace", this seemingly perfectly describes the crater of an active and erupting volcano.
I won't dwell on this much but the seemingly divine revelations received by Moses are not particularly original, even just going on the book of Exodus the commandment "You shall not murder."  is shown to have been already in effect in egypt .
The way mount Sinai is presented in the exodus account is far too reminiscent of a volcano to have come by chance, even if we play with the idea that Yahweh El Abagashar did present herself on mount Sinai she must have done it in the form of a volcano as the similarities are too immense to brush off easily.
 Exodus 20:13
 Exodus 2:12-1
Pro has certainly provided some very interesting points! However, I believe that I can satisfactorily show that the verses used by my opponent do not actually provide proof that God revealed Himself as a volcano, a.k.a. Mt. Sinai.
(Any bible verses that I quote can be found in the ESV translation of the Bible unless stated otherwise)
Exodus 13:21-22 • Pillars of Cloud and Fire
While there may be some evidence in these verses of volcanic involvement, there's more evidence to prove that the pillars of cloud and fire were actually freely moving objects instead of a stable mountain.
The NIV says that neither of the pillars "left its place in front of the people." The ESV says that "The pillar of cloud by day and the pillar of fire by night did not depart from before the people."* Now, we know that the people themselves were constantly on the move, so if the pillars never departed from before the people, wouldn't they also be on the move? Pro has brought up an excellent point in that they could have simply been walking straight towards a distant and unmoving volcano, but the Bible gives us a different idea. The definition of the Hebrew word translated "before" in verse 22 coupled with the way it's used suggests that the pillars were in the very presence of the people. The word is "paniym." When it's used with a preposition, in this case it's used with the preposition "from," it gives the idea of "being in the presence of." So, the verse could be correctly translated as "The pillar of cloud by day and the pillar of fire by night did not leave the presence of the people."
Also, Exodus 14:19 and 24 both document the pillars moving. In verse 19 the pillar of cloud moves from in front of the people to behind then and in verse 24 both pillars look down upon the Egyptians in the middle of the sea.
Exodus 14:27-28 • Drowning the Egyptians
Pro suggests that tectonic activity may have caused the event that drowned the Egyptians and also caused the volcano that the Israelites followed. I believe that I have sufficiently proven that the Israelites weren't following a volcano in my previous point, so I'll move on and tackle the "tidal wave" mentioned by my opponent.
The Bible actually tells us what caused the waters to fall back into their normal place. Exodus 15:10 says "You [God] blew with Your wind; the sea covered them; they sank like lead in the mighty waters." We see here that it was wind that caused the water to recollect in its natural position instead of a tidal wave.
Exodus 19:16-18 • God On The Mountain
With regard to verse 18, Pro states "this says that mount Sinai was both covered in smoke an on fire." This is correct, but there is no need to turn the mountain, or God, into a volcano in order to explain this. The text clearly says that there was smoke because of the fire of The Lord, not because of the fire of the mountain. This passage also shows that the fire descended upon the mountain. Generally, that's not how volcanoes work. The fire or lava comes up out of the mountain itself, it doesn't come from the sky.
I'm not entirely sure what this has to do with our debate... I would appreciate your enlightenment if you could do so.
*I want to explain my use of the ESV Bible instead of the NIV as my opponent is doing. There are two basic types of Biblical translations. The "phrase-for-phrase," which generally translates each sentence, and the "word-for-word," which generally translates each word. Phrase-for-phrase translations give the connotation/intent of the passage as best they can, while the word-for-word translations give the literal meaning as best they can. NIV is phrase-for-phrase and ESV is word-for-word. A combination of the two can sometimes help the reader understand what's being said in any particular passage.
Moving pillar of fire
Volcanic plumes do move . Due to wind currents plumes can move and the ash can spread even further. Even just the first level plume (that directly from the crater) can move several kilometers away from the volcano due to wind currents .
In certain conditions the ash cloud could have actually descended to ground level and this would have meant the Israelites would have been inside the ash cloud, making more sense of your translation (which I of course accept).
I feel you have not refuted my initial point.
I suggest that the drowning of the Egyptian army could have been loosely based on a real tidal wave that drowned a small number of soldiers (now I should point out that this was never recorded by the Egyptians) but this seems more likely. You say that :"We see here that it was wind that caused the water to recollect in its natural position instead of a tidal wave." a smaller tidal wave could sink back. Very little force is required to drag down a heavily armored soldier and a small tidal wave caused by tectonic activity could cause that.
I should hasten to add that there isn't enough in the bible to make any conclusions on this specific point.
God On The Mountain
Lets think about it, if you were an ancient people who had never heard of a volcano before how would you explain it? I feel it would sound very like this.
Expanding on the original point the commandments in exodus are not particularly original. For instance Exodus 20:13 is show to have already been in effect in Egypt by Exodus 2:12-1. And the idea of burn offerings (commanded by Yahweh in Leviticus 1:1-17) was shown to already have been in effect as a a burnt offering was made by Noah in Genesis 8:20. But going past that the biblical commandments mirror many other earlier systems of law such as the code of Hammurabi . As it seems there are no major advances in morality or reason here it seems as if another explanation should be sought.
I think you have not sufficiently refuted my existing argument.
In Exodus 14:24, both the pillar of cloud and the pillar of fire are described as "looking down on the Egyptians." I suppose that if the pillar of cloud had been by itself, then it could have been a volcanic plume, but we see that the pillar of fire was also present. Now, volcanoes are indeed fiery! But, if the volcano you're referring to is Mount Sinai, there is no way it could have looked down upon them. This is based on the fact that the Israelites traveled away from the river for around 20 days before they reached the mountain.
With regard to the cause of the Egyptians drowning, the Bible does give an answer to the cause of the water moving unnaturally. Exodus 14:21 says "Then Moses stretched out his hand over the sea, and the Lord drove the sea back by a strong east wind all night and made the sea dry land, and the waters were divided." Once again, we see that wind was the cause.
God On The Mountain-
I don't believe that there's any proof that these people were oblivious to the existence of volcanoes. Especially if there was an active volcano close enough to the Red Sea to cause a tidal wave as my opponent claims. The Israelites were in Egypt for over 400 years, in that time, you'd think they'd figure out what a volcano was if there was one nearby.
 Exodus 12:40
A volcanic plume can contain some fiery particles it can also travel many miles and as I have already stated that the plume can move very far from the mountain.
I don't quite know what you were saying here:
"But, if the volcano you're referring to is Mount Sinai, there is no way it could have looked down upon them."
Please could you elaborate on what you mean.
""Then Moses stretched out his hand over the sea, and the Lord drove the sea back by a strong east wind all night and made the sea dry land, and the waters were divided." Once again, we see that wind was the cause."
This is a supernatural claim and not substantiated with evidence. I am using this ancient book to show what an ancient people might have interpreted a volcano to be, I am not taking everything said here as fact. In fact the reason I am wondering what these people might have seen is because I wholeheartedly reject that book.
These people had no idea what they were seeing, they simply tried to describe it as well as they could in the context of their own superstitions.
If these people saw a tidal wave they would have described it as they did.
God On The Mountain
"I don't believe that there's any proof that these people were oblivious to the existence of volcanoes."
When Pompeii erupted in 79 AD no one knew what was happening, they attributed it to their own gods. Despite having an empire spanning much of Europe, the middle east and north Africa they didn't know what an volcano was and I highly doubt that the Egyptians or the Jews knew what a volcano was.
"Especially if there was an active volcano close enough to the Red Sea to cause a tidal wave as my opponent claims"
That's not quite how it works it really depends on the overall geological activity.
"The Israelites were in Egypt for over 400 years"
Many active volcano's don't erupt for thousands of years, also I doubt that the " The Israelites were in Egypt for over 400 years" as there are no records of this, in fact the Israelites seem to have come from the Canaanites  and this story was an aural history long before it was written down.
I apologize for the misunderstanding! I was assuming that in your argument the pillar of fire was the volcano and the pillar of cloud was the plume (which would would have meant that the volcano moved). I see now that you were saying both pillars were the plume.
Supernatural Claims vs Substantial Evidence
“I am using this ancient book to show what an ancient people might have interpreted a volcano to be, I am not taking everything said here as fact."
Then how can you take any of it as fact? You seem to be using a double standard here. You believe that the people of Israel did go through some sort of journey, during which they walked across a seabed and had some sort of experience involving a mountain, based on the words of the Bible. But then you say that you "wholeheartedly reject that book." So I'm truly curious to know how you separate the Bible into parts that can be believed and parts that must be thrown out.
With regard to The Lord being the cause of the waters moving, you say "This is a supernatural claim and not substantiated with evidence." I believe that there is evidence. In fact, you seem to be accepting the evidence while rejecting the claim. The evidence that God parted the Red Sea is that the Israelites walked through it on dry land. The evidence that God appeared to Moses on Mount Sinai are the Tablets of Testimony and Moses' glowing face. As I said before, you accept that these events did take place, but you try to give them an unbiblical origin. There are two problems with using the Bible as a platform to attack the Bible. The first is that if you succeed you're left with no platform upon which to stand. For example, if you can prove in this debate that the Hebraic details of the Exodus are incorrect, then how can you continue to believe that the basic story of the Exodus (given by the same Hebrew author) is true? The second problem is that if you fail you've succeeded in strengthening the Biblical claim. You will end up building up the idea that you tried to tear down.
The Volcano Itself
I have a few questions regarding the volcano in question:
Where exactly is this volcano? Are there any scholars or experts that have stumbled across a volcano that erupted during this time period on the Sinai Peninsula? Is Mount Sinai itself a volcano?
I look forward to your response as we move into the final portion of our debate!
 Exodus 32:15-16 and 34:29-35
Supernatural Claims vs Substantial Evidence
"Then how can you take any of it as fact? You seem to be using a double standard here. You believe that the people of Israel did go through some sort of journey, during which they walked across a seabed and had some sort of experience involving a mountain, based on the words of the Bible. But then you say that you "wholeheartedly reject that book." So I'm truly curious to know how you separate the Bible into parts that can be believed and parts that must be thrown out."
I will demonstrate with another example, that of Atlantis. We could all say with relative certainty that the story of Atlantis as described by Plato never happened but we can speculate over what inspired the story. We could speculate that the story of Atlantis might have been based on a flood that berried a low lying island in the black sea or mud flats in the south of Spain. Or Atlantis might have been based on an island volcano like Milos that erupted destroying a city. We could also speculate that Atlantis was merely a cautionary tale. But none of those speculations require us to accept the supernatural claims of the Atlantean myth.
The Volcano Itself
"Where exactly is this volcano? Are there any scholars or experts that have stumbled across a volcano that erupted during this time period on the Sinai Peninsula? Is Mount Sinai itself a volcano?"
From what I can tell there are no active volcanoes on the Sinai peninsula but this assumes that the Jews came from exile in Egypt, it appears more likely that the Jews actually came from the Canaanites based on similarities in language and ways of worship .
If this is correct we are looking for a volcano in what is now northern Saudi Arabia (because of the town of Yahu where the Jews are thought to have origionated from). And we find several .
The Exodus account has too much in common with a volcano to not have had some influence. Describing the plume of a volcano, geological activity taking place at the same time and an ejection from the volcano itself.
I thank my opponant for deabting this topic.
 Robert K Gnuse, No Other Gods: Emergent Monotheism in Israel, Sheffield Academic Press (1997) pp. 74-87
"I will demonstrate with another example, that of Atlantis..."
I see what you're saying here, but my question remains unanswered. How do you actually decide which parts of the story are unacceptable? Are you merely throwing out what you see as being supernatural, or is there more? If Plato fabricated one part of his story, then there's every chance that he fabricated more or all of it. In order to find out what inspired Plato's tale, you must accept some part of it as truth. The same standard applies to the account given in Exodus. It's clear that you do not accept Exodus as pure truth, but you do seem to believe that some part of it is true, otherwise you wouldn't spend your time trying to figure out what's behind it. Earlier in this debate, I assumed that you believed in the account of the journey itself (minus what you call "supernatural events"), but now you're saying that that account is also false.
This brings us to the claim made by my opponent that the Israelites actually started their trek in Canaan as opposed to Egypt. One of the many problems with this idea is that, if it's true, it totally discredits the Exodus account. And if that happens, you're, once again, left without a leg to stand on. If the people started in Canaan then they wouldn't have crossed the Red Sea and they wouldn't have stopped at Mount Sinai, because their destination was.... Canaan. The whole point of the Exodus was to get the Israelites into Canaan. Therefore, by making the Israelites origin point (at this particular time) Canaan, the account given in Exodus becomes a complete myth. There is no longer anything factual behind the story that you can accept as truth because it's all a sham. Yet my opponent still asserts that the action of The Lord, if not the entire journey, that's recorded in Exodus was inspired by a volcano.
So, to summarize my statements throughout this debate: My opponent may have found some evidence that supports his theory, but it simply doesn't fit with the rest of the story. On the contrary, my opponent's evidence perfectly fits both the theory that I'm defending and the rest of the story.
I want to thank my opponent very much for his time and thoughts during this debate. God Bless!
 Exodus 3:8,17; 6:4,15; 13:5,11 and MANY more.
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