That all sounds very likely to me Bogart. From what I can tell, despite writing on the documentary hypothesis, Friedman is extraordinarily conservative in his acceptance of the veracity of traditional Biblical history. The 'twelve tribes' stuff has always seemed like myth to me. And Friedman buys into a lot of things that strike me as pretty silly -- example, he talks about how Solomon married an Egyptian princess, and so he must have been extraordinarily powerful because otherwise it is unknown for the Egyptians to marry their princess to a foreigner, so by doing so Solomon was unique and special.
As opposed to drawing the obvious critical inference from this incongruity, which is that Solomon never married any such princess, and this was an error made by somebody who was trying to aggrandize the glorious ancient king by regaling people with his mythical power and might.
Still, it is kind of depressing to see how far ahead the critical mindset is in Biblical studies. Islamic studies are pretty much 150-200 years behind the curve. Friedman goes over the steady historical collapse of the traditional view of the Torah's authorship, and it's rather amazing how closely it parallels the present situation with the Qur'an's authorship. For many centuries, Moses was considered the sole author of the Torah, with increasingly unconvincing explanations being used to justify that traditional viewpoint. You see the exact same thing with the Qur'an, where people make extraordinary efforts to try to jam its authorship into the life of a single prophet despite (like the Torah) the fact that the text in no way even begins to resemble something that looks like a single author produced it.
One should approach it from exactly the opposite perspective, which is of asking *who wrote the Qur'an*, and then entertaining various hypotheses about that question. Not beginning with a default dogma, imposing a 'burden of proof,' and readily accepting hypotheses that, no matter how contrived, are at least arguably consistent with the default dogma.
"Hezekiah assigned the priests and Levites to divisions — each of them according to their duties as priests or Levites 2 Chronicles 31:2 We have another contradiction of what or who the Levites were. If following the biblical narrative Levites are the priest so one can not divide between priest and Levite when they are one and the same. Levites are again a tribe pushing the number to 13, in this the Tribe of Simon not longer exists. I still maintain that the Priesthood is a profession only later turned into a narrative tribe.
A lot of Solomon mirrors Amenhotep III. Massive construction works, fortification of cities inside and outside of Egypt particularly in Canaan, royal marriages with foreigners to the King. This is also the dynasty which established control of Canaanite was established. However is it very hard to identify links between Egypt, Canaan and Solomon. A lot of it is speculation which I not sure is relevant to the thread. It is more related to the tribal organization of Canaanites and Hebrews using the base number of 12. Hence 12 and 6 tribes. Which does give a little credit to the idea that tribal organization was based on the number 12 and redacted into the texts as genealogy. This causes a conflict with base number system of Egypt which was 10. With Joseph as viceroy of Egypt and Moses raised by royalty he would have been educated in the base system of 10, not 12 of Babylon. While the Canaanites vassals still maintained their number system as Egypt never colonized only garrisoned the region.
An issue with the Golden Calf is that it was also an Canaanite icon for Moloch according to the Biblical narrative. Bull worship is later linked with Sidon, the Phoenicians and later Carthage. El and Baal are depicted with horns. The verses covering the Calf contradict the previous narrative. God a short time prior unleashed the 12 plagues, base number of 12 not 10, on Egypt. We have the Red Sea crossing followed by the destruction of Pharaoh's army. We have the burning bush leading the people through the desert. We have repeated examples of Moses' one God. Why would Aaron suddenly revert to a Calf association with God? Many point out Apis as a source. However this makes no sense in light of the narrative. Beside Apis is a popular but rather minor messenger god. Apis has the function equivalent to an angel as a intermediary between humans and the supreme god. So association of a known messenger god with a supreme god? There are also two other bull gods, Mnevis and Buchis. None of the three god really fit a pre-exile Hebrew as slaves which work on the monuments of the pharaohs. None are associated with a trade or craft skill. There is also Ptah which during the enslavement, exodus, conquests of Canaan all the way to the conquest of Egypt by the Roman is becoming increasingly dominate. First a patron deity of a city, then region, then Lower Egypt followed as the supreme God. Ptah is associated with crafts skills. Unless Ptah was also the God of the bible it still makes no sense to associate these icons with the Hebrew God. Also given the use of Semitic systems rather than Egyptian rises doubt with connect between the Calf and a different God especially of a foreign one. If an idol of God why the Calf? As slaves there is little documentation of Hebrews living as a pastoral slave people. I will cover more later.
Why Sumerian? Sumerians were a dead culture for centuries before the enslavement. How could an outsider, regardless of culture, gain so much influence after the exodus to convince a people to give him their gold in order to construct an idol. More so how does a supposed slave people have enough gold to construct an idol at all. Exodus makes no sense when it comes to getting gold from the Egyptians. First off Exodus places the plunder before any mention of it's use. We shift God shifting between material wealth being good, not good, then good then we have Jesus with his needle. Why does God need bling for his house? More so God compels people to give their gold to the Hebrews yet never did this with the rest of the Exodus narrative. If God can compel, force, people to give up their gold why not just do the same for releasing of slaves. The verses about gold seems to hint at a raider plundering an area than anything else. It does not fit the narrative at the time only the narrative of Solomon centuries after Exodus in which the house of God is built. Why was Aaron not executed? He built the calf, he was the one that accepted the demands of the people yet he is spared.
Thrones are a more modern icon. God's in antiquity did not have thrones, they had animals. Animals were the icon which thrones are now. The Calf was not an idol but a "throne" animal of God, aka El.