And all the congregation of them that were come back out of the captivity made booths, and dwelt in the booths; for since the days of Joshua the son of Nun unto that day had not the children of Israel done so. And there was very great gladness.
I then drew the conclusion that Moses was not an historic character.
Rabban Gamaliel disputed both the Deuteronomy theory and the Sukkot theory and if he is correct, would defeat my conclusions about Moses and reinstate the status-quo (but not prove it).
Was Deuteronomy written by Moses?
Gamaliel said> "Also it doesn't say the Torah was not heard of."
The first thing to note is that the question is about Deuteronomy, not about the Torah as a whole. As there's some confusion about what I wrote, let me state it again.
8. And Hilkiah the high priest said unto Shaphan the scribe, I have found the book of the law in the house of the LORD. And Hilkiah gave the book to Shaphan, and he read it. 9. And Shaphan the scribe came to the king, and brought the king word again, and said, Thy servants have gathered the money that was found in the house, and have delivered it into the hand of them that do the work, that have the oversight of the house of the LORD. 10. And Shaphan the scribe shewed the king, saying, Hilkiah the priest hath delivered me a book. And Shaphan read it before the king. [II Kings 22]The conclusion from this passage is that "a book of the law" was discovered and caused quite a stir. It went from the High Priest, to the court scribe, to the King himself who heard it and then tore his clothes in grief. No-one seems to have known of this book until now - therefore many scholars suggest there is a strong possibility that the book of Deuteronomy was new and hadn't been heard of before this point.
"The book of the law" doubtless refers to one of the books of the Torah (law), but the question is which one? Deuteronomy is the obvious choice, as it has a completely different style to the rest of the books and contains many of the laws of all the other books as well as some of its own.
Further, the actions of the Josiah in response to the discovery of this new book seem to indicate that the book referred to is Deuteronomy:
Deuteronomy 16:21: Do not set up any wooden Asherah pole beside the altar you build to the LORD your God 22 and do not erect a sacred stone, for these the LORD your God hates.
Deut. 17:2: If a man or woman living among you in one of the towns the LORD gives you is found doing evil in the eyes of the LORD your God in violation of his covenant, 3 and contrary to my command has worshiped other gods, bowing down to them or to the sun or the moon or the stars of the sky, 4 and this has been brought to your attention, then you must investigate it thoroughly. If it is true and it has been proved that this detestable thing has been done in Israel, 5 take the man or woman who has done this evil deed to your city gate and stone that person to death.
2 Kings 23:4: The king ordered Hilkiah the high priest, the priests next in rank and the doorkeepers to remove from the temple of the LORD all the articles made for Baal and Asherah and all the starry hosts.And more:
Deuteronomy 12:2 Destroy completely all the places on the high mountains and on the hills and under every spreading tree...
2 Kings 23:5: He [Josiah] did away with the pagan priests appointed by the kings of Judah to burn incense on the high places of the towns of Judah and on those around Jerusalem—those who burned incense to Baal, to the sun and moon.
Deuteronomy 23:17 No Israelite man or woman is to become a shrine prostitute.
2 Kings 23:7 He also tore down the quarters of the male shrine prostitutes, which were in the temple of the LORD...
Deuteronomy 7:5 This is what you are to do to them: Break down their altars, smash their sacred stones, cut down their Asherah poles and burn their idols in the fire.
2 Kings 23:15 Even the altar at Bethel, the high place made by Jeroboam son of Nebat, who had caused Israel to sin—even that altar and high place he demolished. He burned the high place and ground it to powder, and burned the Asherah pole also.
Deuteronomy 12 demands one place of worship, which is exactly what the demolition of all high places (idol and non-idol) and killing of pagan priests and general smiting of all religious things outside Jerusalem would do. It creates a centralised base of worship. This all seems to confirm that the book in question is Deuteronomy.
If the book of Deuteronomy had merely been lost, I argued, why weren't there some elderly people who remembered it? Grandparents? Or how about younger people who had been told some Torah from Deuteronomy - for example, the opening words of the Shema (Deut. 6:4) - why didn't anyone remember it? In writing this up, I even crunched some numbers.
Menashe, the wicked king of Judah to whom the forgetting of Deuteronomy is attributed, ruled for 45 years. His son Amon then succeeded him and ruled for all of two years before he was killed. Then Josiah, Amon's son emerged as ruler. In his 18th year he found the book which is the subject of our discussion. That's 55 years in total and since we know that the average life expectancy was around 70 years (Psalms 90:10) it's entirely plausible that someone could have remembered one of the famous passages from Deuteronomy.
However, this is without factoring in that Menasseh ultimately repented of his evil ways and reinstated his saintly father's religious ordinances, so it's quite unlikely any forgetting of anything could happen just in Menasseh's reign, or in the two years of his son.
What suggests itself more logically, and in view of the evidence, is that the book of Deuteronomy was newly written and introduced to the people in Josia's reign, whilst inventing the notion that it was an old but forgotten book and Menasseh was used as a scapegoat to validate the story.
Why would they do this?
Easy. The temple needed cash for repairs and the priests of the temple needed to consolidate their power. The economic gain in having all sacrifices brought to the temple in Jerusalem, as opposed to any of the other "high places," is obvious, as is the effect of the entire nation giving tithes to the priests and levites. This effect is magnified as it was only the local Levites and the family of Hulda and Hezkia - descendants of Zadok - who were able to officiate at the Temple, whilst the northern Levites were demoted (they were non-Zadokites) - in essence, the central Jerusalem temple and one particular and powerful Levite family were benefiting from this new arrangement.
Is it any wonder a high priest "found" this document? And any wonder that Hulda, the high priests cousin and not anyone else, validated it? And any wonder that only Zadokites were able to officiate (validated by Ezekiel)?
Myth of the 13 Torah Scrolls
Interestingly, the book found is said to be written in Moses' own hand, no less. But if Moses existed, did he even have access to parchment in such quantity? Doubtful, considering that medium wouldn't be commonplace until 5 BCE. Parchment did exist as early as somewhere between 2613BC-2484BC.
Generally, everything was being written on papyrus or stone - which is why, I suppose, we have the idea of the tablets of stone.
Specific responses to Gamaliel
As for Persia being unknown in the Torah, what has that to do with anything? Deuteronomy doesn't give us any new history, it merely concisely (relative to the rest of the book) notes the history of Moses and Israel in the desert, before going on to give laws which are extremely favourable to the economy of the temple and Kingdom of Josiah.
You said also that "It is the way of the world that most of what we expect to be recorded of the history of a nation is from itself." Whilst I agree there, it is also the way of the world that a nation writing about itself tends to exaggerate things with absolutely no shame. This is why historians look for evidence external to that nation when seeking validation for any particular claim.
As for the proof texts brought for Sukkot, you brought down the text for the dedication of the temple. It says:
Kings I Chapter 8
1. Then Solomon assembled the elders of Israel, and all the heads of the tribes, the chief of the fathers of the people of Israel, before king Solomon in Jerusalem, that they might bring up the ark of the covenant of the Lord from the city of David, which is Zion. 2. And all the men of Israel assembled themselves to king Solomon at the feast in the month Ethanim, which is the seventh month.
Sukkot is mentioned right here during the time of Solomon, therefore it's obvious that Sukkot was celebrated after the time of Joshua, and Nehemia 8:17 needs to be reinterpreted: "and all the congregation of them that were come back out of the captivity made booths, and dwelt in the booths; for since the days of Joshua the son of Nun unto that day had not the children of Israel done so." It shouldn't mean that the Israelites had no knowledge of Sukkot, rather, they had a novel celebration of it on this particular occasion.
The term "feast" (or chag in Hebrew) is a generic term which can refer equally to any of what we now call "High Holy Days." So then, which Chag takes place in the seventh month? All the High Holy days:
Rosh Hashanah: 1+2 Tishrei
Yom Kippur: 10th Tishrei
Sukkot & Hoshanna Rabbah: 15th-21st of Tishrei
This means the feast in 1 Kings could refer to any of Rosh Hashana, Yom Kippur or Sukkot, all of which fall in the month of Tishrei. That means that the "feast" spoken about doesn't necessarily imply a celebration of sukkot. Further, the dedication of the temple described here took place around the 8th of Tishrei and lasted for 14 days:
1) It was not a feast of 7 days, which sukkot is, so can't mean sukkot.
2) The sombre tone and many sacrificial offerings given seem to indicate that the feast started between Rosh Hashanah or Yom Kippur, or possibly on one of these days, but doesn't necessarily indicate Sukkot.
3) The absence of the construction of booths during this celebration, which is specifically mentioned in Deuteronomy, seems to confirm the feast here was not sukkot.
4) To interpret "novelty" into the text and to state this was the booths being constructed means that for many hundreds of years, sukkot wasn't celebrated in accordance with the Torah and brings fault onto the likes of the Eli Hakohen, the Prophet Samuel, King Saul, King David and so on and so forth until the 18th year of the reign of Josiah. Is it likely these people would fail to celebrate a Torah-mandated festival? No.
Given all these objections, I consider it unlikely that your interpretation of the text in Kings is correct. Further, history very much seems to verify the theory but contradicts yours:
1) There's no mention of sukkot after Josiah discovers Deuteronomy, though it does mention Passover wasn't celebrated like it was there "since the days of Joshua."
2) No mention of sukkot during the babylonian exile.
3) If you're wrong about Solomon, which I believe you are (and if you object, I look forward to the rebuttal of all my objections), then there's no mention of sukkot there either.
4) Ezra arrives: suddenly we have sukkot.
Any proof from Chronicles brought for the celebration of Sukkot during Solomon's time is irrelevant because Ezra also wrote Chronicles.
I didn't mention anything about Passover in my original post, so have nothing to respond to the proofs of Passover you brought down.