Every time I start looking into the history of religion, especially Judaism and Christianity, I find things that make me more and more confident that real history and the OT and NT have barely met.
I always assumed Moses and Jesus were real people, and it was only around 5 years ago that I started to figure out they weren't. It was when Mel Gibson's Passion Of Christ was announced that I started innocently enough Googling for what Jesus looked like.
These searches led me to sites that questioned if a historical man named Jesus ever lived. I started looking into it deeper and basically found out that there was no contemporary evidence to prove Jesus' existence on this planet, and my current theory is that Paul or someone like Paul invented Jesus in a dream and over a few decades, Jesus evolved into a real living person with an actual human history. Scott Bidstrup has a great article on this subject, The Bible and Christianity: Historical Origins.
Shortly thereafter, I started to look into the Exodus. Of course, being an atheist I didn't buy into the plagues and miracles and talking bushes, but I always assumed there was historical evidence to substantiate Moses and a whole whack of Jews leaving Egypt.
The more I looked into it, the less evidence I found. What really opened my eyes to the history of Jews was the documentary on the book The Bible Unearthed. I've posted it here a few times, but here again is the link to the 10 part series (videos are around 9 minutes each).
No evidence of monotheism until around 700-800 BC, no evidence of a mass exodus, in fact there is evidence that nothing major happened and that Jews were an ethnicity long before they were a monotheistic religion. One could argue that Judaism did not begin until 450 BC.
Like Jesus Christ's story was based on myths like Dionysus, Moses' story had to be based on something too. Sure there were expulsions throughout the middle east, there were also many different beliefs in many different Gods and idols. But the idea of the 10 Commandments had to come from somewhere too.
A few days ago, I checked out the Blogging Tory Forum thread that led to my personal expulsion from the Forum, and someone had mentioned THE CODE OF HAMMURABI. Never heard of it before. I'm not a history scholar, I admit it. But if something interests me, I will put some time in to research it. This interested me.
I'm not going to get into a huge comparative discussion here, but I will provide links for those who wish to pursue the thoughts I have here.
One of the biggest arguments on the internet between atheist and theist is the idea that man has no basis to be moral without acknowledging God's laws. Of course, this is crap as we evolved "morality" and the idea of the social contract, and yes I admit that society also has an impact on human morality and a lot of that is based on societies who were led to believe they are acting in a way that was appealing to whatever God they believed in.
But if you look at the animal kingdom, you can see that social animals generally act "morally" at least within their own family or tribes. I've never seen a chimp read a bible, have you?
OK, sorry for going a little off tangent. Back to Hammurabi and his code/laws. To sum it up quickly, Hammurabi was a Babylonian King who lived around 1750 BC. He thought he had a direct line with his sun God.
He wrote down on tablets (that actually exist in the Louvre) over 200 laws. These laws, to me anyway resemble the 613 Mitzvohs that are followed in Judaism, especially the negative ones that don't involved worshiping God.
The Commandments/Code of Laws differ because they were written within different cultures. There is a much more hierarchical feeling in the Hammurabi code, because slaves were considered personal property back then and lesser human beings, if human at all. Not that it changed much by the time the 613 Mitvos were written (probably 1500 years plus later), it was just written by those who were more like slaves and according to their invented history, were slaves. I shouldn't say invented history, because there is evidence in many countries that semites were slaves.
In fact, the Hammurabi Code pretty much usurped the Sumerian Code which predated Hammurabi by at least 250 years. Interestingly, during that time the Sumerians were invaded by Semites, and even though Babylon became full of Semites, the culture really morphed into the same culture the Sumerians had.
I found this in my search. I figure I might as copy and paste it:
Mosaic Law and the Code of Hammurabi
This is not the only episode in the Moses chronicles that has been borrowed from Babylon. Everyone is familiar with Moses receiving the ten commandments in two stone tablets from God in Mount Sinai. However, this story is originally Babylonian.
One of the most well known ancient code of law was the Code of Hammurabi, so name after the Amorite king Hammurabi who lived around 1700 BC. On the great Babylonian stone monument, known as the stele of Hammurabi, a drawing inscribed on it shows the great Amorite King receiving the tablets of the law from the sun god, Shamash.
The similarity does not end here. On the stele too is inscribed the laws that made up the Code of Hammurabi. The general similarity between the code and The “Book of the Covenant” (Exodus chapters 21 to 23) and the legal codes of the books of Leviticus and Deuteronomy cannot be denied. The Mosaic laws were obviously written under the influence of the Babylonian code.  In some cases even the wordings are uncannily close to one another. For example take this one from the code on the principle of an-eye-for-an-eye:
If a citizen shall put out the eye of another, then let his own eye be put out.
If a citizen shall knock out the teeth of another who is higher in rank, then let his own teeth be knocked out.
This closely parallel’s one of the Lord’s commands in Exodus:
And if any mischief follow, then thou shalt give life for life, Eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot,
Here is another example, the code gives the following principle:
If a citizen steals the son of another citizen, he shall be put to death.
The principle and wording is closely followed in the verse below from Deuteronomy:
If a man be found stealing any of his brethren of the children of Israel...then that thief shall die...
Moses was Egyptian royalty according to
The other thing is that the Hammurabi tablets still physically exist. Moses' 10 Commandments don't physically exist, and probably never did.
And lets not forget that Israel was invaded by the Babylonian empire just before, according to my theory, that Judaism was invented. The indigenous people of Israel were really screwed with by Nebuchadnezzar and company. But the Babylonian folklore must have stuck by the time Ezra created monotheistic Judaism.
Is it coincidence that invader Nebuchadnezzar is mentioned in the bible as an evil insane idol worshiper and a polytheist. Don't be like him, he is a bad man, he screwed with the Jews. No more idols, only one God, you Jews got it? Good. We can't be like our conquerers.
To end off, when someone says the West is based on Judeo-Christian values, that is not the whole story. It is based on the laws of a King In Babylon who thinks the God of the Sun inspired him to jot down common sense (at that time) that he usurped from the Sumerians.