DID THE EXODUS HAPPEN? ANSWERING THE SCEPTICS

A new wave of scholars is now dogmatically declaring that the Exodus never took place. They insist it’s just a myth concocted centuries later in the time of Josiah to justify the existence of a Jewish state. Some of these new sceptics, such as Zeev Hertzog and Israel I Finkelstein of Tel Aviv University, are Jewish themselves!

The implications of their teaching are profound. They insist that, historically, there really is no such thing as a Jewish or Israelite people descended from Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. There never was an Abraham, Isaac, or Jacob. Moses was a myth, and never wrote the first five books of the Bible. The so-called Israelites are just Canaanites that emerged in Palestine, were joined by a few nomads, and concocted a new religion.

If these new theories are true, then:

The Jewish people have no historical claim to either the land of Canaan, being a nation, or maintaining the State of Israel today. According to the new historians, Israelites aren’t Israelites, just Palestinians.

Christians can’t rely on the authority of the Bible if the very events that foreshadow the death and sacrifice of Jesus Christ are myth. The Passover in Exodus 12 points to His death and He observed as a memorial as did Paul’s converts in I Corinthians who recognized vital spiritual lessons in the Hebrew Exodus.

The new archaeological theories present a fundamental attack on the very foundations of both Judaism and Christianity.

Denial of the Exodus and the reality of the Biblical account is nothing new. Neither are these arguments. The sceptics have been around for over 200 years, and much of their teaching has been the accepted wisdom in universities for a long time. The theories are now being recycled because of a lot of new archaeological evidence that Professor Finkelstein and others have uncovered. This evidence, it is claimed, provides no evidence for the Exodus or the Bible.

Are the sceptics right? They are looking at the right evidence, but at the wrong time. Dating in the history of Egypt and Palestine is based on a couple of assumptions that professors have handed down over the decades. First, they assume the Exodus took place, not when the Bible says it did, around 1450-1447 BC but around 1300 BC. The Bible says the Hebrews built the city of Ramesses and that existed around the time of Ramses II who is dated around 1290. There is no evidence of Hebrews or an Exodus at that time.
What if, however, the Hebrews built the city of Avaris, which existed before the city of Ramesses? Also, what if the Egyptian chronology itself has been wrongly focused? At the very time the historical establishment was more and more rejecting the Biblical record, a handful of archaeologists were questioning the accepted wisdom. In 1991 a group led by Peter James published a book called Centuries of Darkness. Four years later British archaeologist David Rohl published A Test of Time,
marketed in America as Pharaohs and Kings. Both of these books argue, convincingly in my opinion, that the traditional dating of much of ancient history before 1000 BC in most history books is flawed.

Both James and Rohl did not start out with an agenda of trying to prove the Bible. They just went to the Egyptian tombs and monuments and concluded that several of the later dynasties ruled side by side. This meant that earlier dynasties were placed anywhere from one hundred to three hundred years further back than they should have been. The three hundred year ‘Dark Age’ which historians describe in Greece, Phoenicia, and other places, shrinks and even disappears.

The Pharaoh Shishak who invaded Jerusalem has been identified with Soshenk. But Soshenk never attacked Jerusalem but northern Israel! Another Pharaoh did attack Jerusalem. ..the famous Rameses II. In Egyptian he is Ra Me Shi Sha, the Shishak being a Hebrew nickname for ‘The Destroyer’. Rohl concluded that Shishak was Rameses, that the splendid late Canaanite period was the time of Solomon, that the period of the El Amarna letters was the time of Saul and David.

Rohl’s biggest discovery, though, was in finding the evidence for the Exodus in the Thirteenth Dynasty. His findings are summarized by John Fulton, a supporter of David Rohl:

‘Before Moses, the Bible records that the Israelites were enslaved by their Egyptian hosts (Exodus 1:8-14). In the Brooklyn Museum (p.276, fig. 310) resides a papyrus scroll numbered Brooklyn 35:1446 which was acquired in the late 19th century by Charles Wilbour. This dates to the reign of Sobekhotep III, the predecessor of Neferhotep I and so the pharaoh who reigned one generation before Moses. This papyrus is a decree by the pharaoh for a transfer of slaves. Of the 95 names of slaves mentioned in the letter, 50% are Semitic in origin. What is more, it lists the names of these slaves in the original Semitic language and then adds the Egyptian name each had been assigned, which is something the Bible records the Egyptians as doing, cf. Joseph’s name given to him by pharaoh (Genesis 41:45). Some of the Semitic names are biblical and include:- Menahem, Issachar, Asher, and Shiprah (cf. Exodus 1:15-21).

That 50% of the names are Israelite means that there must have been avery large group of them in the Egyptian Delta at that time, corroborating the testimony of Exodus 1:7 which alludes to how numerous the Israelites became. The sceptics look for Israel in the Egypt of the Nineteenth Dynasty and remain sceptics, because the proof is in the Egypt of the Thirteenth Dynasty. The site of Avaris has been uncovered by the Austrian archaeologist Manfred Bietak in the land of Goshen underneath that of
the city of Ramesses. It provides plenty of proof, says Fulton, for Israel’s presence and sufferings in Egypt:

‘The people who lived in Avaris were not Egyptian but Asiatic Palestinian or Syrian. The finds there included numerous pottery fragments of Palestinian origin. Several factors about the graves were particularly fascinating:- 65% of the burials were of children under 18 months of age, the normal for this period being 20-30%. Could this be due to the killing of the male Israelite children by the Egyptians, recorded in Exodus 1:22? A disproportionately high number of adult women as opposed to adult men are buried here, again pointing to the slaughter of male Israelite babies. There are large numbers of long-haired Asiatic sheep buried which indicate these people to be shepherds. Large numbers of weapons found in the male graves indicate the warlike nature of the people.’

According to the Bible, Moses was bom around 1527 BC, in the reign of Neferhotep I. A few fragments of ancient records from a Jewish historian called Artapanus were preserved by the Catholic historian Eusebius. They say that the Pharaoh’s daughter at the time Moses was born was called Merris. She married the Pharaoh Khenephres, also called Sobekhotep IV.

Moses or Mousos, meanwhile became a great general who invaded Nubia and Ethiopia. Josephus, Antiquities of the Jews, 2.10.1-2 tells the story. The Ethiopians had invaded Egypt and had practically overrun the country:

‘The Egyptians, under this sad oppression, betook themselves to their oracles and prophecies; and when God had given them this counsel, to make use of Moses the Hebrew, and take his assistance, the king commanded his daughter to produce him, that he might be the general of their army ... So Moses ... cheerfully undertook the business’ and defeated the African invaders by marching through a snake-infested region and taking them by surprise: ‘When he had therefore proceeded thus on his journey, he came upon the Ethiopians before they expected him; and, joining battle with them, he beat them, and deprived them of the hopes they had of success against the Egyptians, and went on in overthrowing their cities, and indeed made a great slaughter of these Ethiopians.’

Josephus was right. A monument in the British Museum tells of Khanferre or Khenephres invading Sudan and Ethiopia, the only Thirteenth Dynasty ruler to do so. Remains of an Egyptian government building with the Pharaoh’s statue has been found hundreds of miles south of known Egyptian territoy

Sobekhotep IV/Khenephres was the Pharaoh of the Oppression from whom Moses fled, about 1487 BC. The forty years Moses spent in Midian were likely to have been 1487-1447 BC. The Pharaoh of the Exodus was Dudimose. Fulton records that the Austrians found evidence both of God’s slaying of the firstborn and the sudden departure of Israel from Goshen:

‘The Tenth Plague to be sent on Egypt just before the Exodus was the plague on the first-born, recorded in Exodus 12:29,30. At the end of stratum G/l at Tell ed-Daba or the ancient city of Avaris (p.293), archaeologists found shallow burial pits into which the victims of some terrible disaster had been thrown. These death pits were not carefully organized internments; the bodies were simply thrown in on top of one another. Could these be the burial pits of the first-born Egyptians? What is more, immediately after this disaster, the remaining population left Avaris en masse; this fits perfectly with the Exodus of the Israelites following the final terrible plague.’

Manetho, the Egyptian historian wrote how Egypt collapsed in the reign of Dudimose:

Tutimaos: In his reign, for what cause I know not, a blast of God smote us; and unexpectedly, from the regions of the East, invaders of obscure race marched in confidence of victory against our land (Egypt). By main force they easily seized it without striking a blow and having overpowered the rulers of the land, they then burned our cities ruthlessly, razed to the ground the temples of the gods and treated all our natives with cruel hostility, massacring some and leading into slavery the wives and children of others.’

The invaders were the Amalekites Israel encountered after leaving Egypt. They found Egypt, devastated by Divine judgment an easy prey.

‘The continuing archaeological discoveries’ says Fulton, ‘here in the ancient city of Avaris mirror exactly the early Israelites revealed in the Old Testament. For two centuries no evidence was found for the Israelites when looking in the strata of the 19th Dynasty. Now that the chronologies have begun to be amended and the sojourn in Egypt placed in the 12th and 13th Dynasties, we have a wealth of archaeological evidence corroborating the Biblical account.’

[ECCLESIASTES 11:4] "HE THAT OBSERVETH THE WIND SHALL NOT SOW; AND HE THAT REGARDETH THE CLOUDS SHALL NOT REAP."

 

[ECCLESIASTES 11:6] "IN THE MORNING SOW THY SEED, AND IN THE EVENING WITHHOLD NOT THINE HAND: FOR THOU KNOWEST NOT WHETHER SHALL PROSPER' EITHER THIS OR THAT, OR WHETHER THEY BOTH SHALL BE ALIKE GOOD."

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