The Exodus: Fact or Fiction?

Evidence of Israel’s Exodus from Egypt

This Bible History Daily feature was originally published in 2016.—Ed.


Dated to c. 1219 B.C.E., the Merneptah Stele is the earliest extrabiblical record of a people group called Israel. Set up by Pharaoh Merneptah to commemorate his military victories, the stele proclaims, “Ashkelon is carried off, and Gezer is captured. Yeno’am is made into nonexistence; Israel is wasted, its seed is not.” Ashkelon, Gezer and Yeno’am are followed by an Egyptian hieroglyph that designates a town. Israel is followed by a hieroglyph that means a people. Photo: Maryl Levine.

Is the Biblical Exodus fact or fiction?

This is a loaded question. Although Biblical scholars and archaeologists argue about various aspects of Israel’s Exodus from Egypt, many of them agree that the Exodus occurred in some form or another.

The question “Did the Exodus happen” then becomes “When did the Exodus happen?” This is another heated question. Although there is much debate, most people settle into two camps: They argue for either a 15th-century B.C.E. or 13th-century B.C.E. date for Israel’s Exodus from Egypt.

The article “Exodus Evidence: An Egyptologist Looks at Biblical History” from the May/June 2016 issue of Biblical Archaeology Review1 wrestles with both of these questions—“Did the Exodus happen?” and “When did the Exodus happen?” In the article, evidence is presented that generally supports a 13th-century B.C.E. Exodus during the Ramesside Period, when Egypt’s 19th Dynasty ruled.

The article examines Egyptian texts, artifacts and archaeological sites, which demonstrate that the Bible recounts accurate memories from the 13th century B.C.E. For instance, the names of three places that appear in the Biblical account of Israel’s Exodus from Egypt correspond to Egyptian place names from the Ramesside Period (13th–11th centuries B.C.E.). The Bible recounts that, as slaves, the Israelites were forced to build the store-cities of Pithom and Ramses. After the ten plagues, the Israelites left Egypt and famously crossed the Yam Suph (translated Red Sea or Reed Sea), whose waters were miraculously parted for them. The Biblical names Pithom, Ramses and Yam Suph (Red Sea or Reed Sea) correspond to the Egyptian place names Pi-Ramesse, Pi-Atum and (Pa-)Tjuf. These three place names appear together in Egyptian texts only from the Ramesside Period. The name Pi-Ramesse went out of use by the beginning of Egypt’s Third Intermediate Period, which began around 1085 B.C.E., and does not reappear until much later.

In the free eBook Ancient Israel in Egypt and the Exodus, top scholars discuss the historical Israelites in Egypt and archaeological evidence for and against the historicity of the Exodus.

These specific place names recorded in the Biblical text demonstrate that the memory of the Biblical authors for these traditions predates Egypt’s Third Intermediate Period. This supports a 13th-century Exodus during the Ramesside Period because it is only during the Ramesside Period that the place names Pi-Ramesse, Pi-Atum and (Pa-)Tjuf (Red Sea or Reed Sea) are all in use.

A worker’s house from western Thebes also seems to support a 13th-century Exodus. In the 1930s, archaeologists at the University of Chicago were excavating the mortuary Temple of Aya and Horemheb, the last two pharaohs of Egypt’s 18th Dynasty, in western Thebes. The temple was first built by Aya in the 14th-century B.C.E., but Horemheb usurped and expanded the temple when he became pharaoh. (He ruled from the late 14th century through the early 13th century B.C.E.) Horemheb chiseled out every place where Aya’s name had been and replaced it with his own. Later—during the reign of Ramses IV (12th century B.C.E.)—the Temple of Aya and Horemheb was demolished.

During their excavations, the University of Chicago uncovered a house and part of another house belonging to the workers who were given the task of demolishing the temple. The plan of the complete house is the same as that of the four-room house characteristic of Israelite dwellings during the Iron Age. However, unlike the Israelite models that were usually constructed of stone, the Theban house was made of wattle and daub. It is significant that this house was built in Egypt at the same time that Israelites were constructing four-room houses in Canaan. The similarities between the two have caused some to speculate that the builders of the Theban house were either proto-Israelites or a group closely related to the Israelites.


Is this a proto-Israelite house? This plan shows the 12th-century B.C.E. worker’s house in western Thebes next to the Temple of Aya and Horemheb. The house is undoubtedly a four-room house. In Canaan, the four-room house is considered an ethnic marker for the presence of Israelites during the Iron Age. Is the Biblical Exodus fact or fiction? This favors “fact,” so the question becomes, “When did the Exodus happen?” The presence of such a house in Egypt during the 12th century B.C.E. seems to support an Exodus during the Ramesside Period. Photo: Courtesy of Manfred Bietak.

A third piece of evidence for the Exodus is the Onomasticon Amenope. The Onomasticon Amenope is a list of categorized words from Egypt’s Third Intermediate Period. Written in hieratic, the papyrus includes the Semitic place name b-r-k.t, which refers to the Lakes of Pithom. Even in Egyptian sources, the Semitic name for the Lakes of Pithom was used instead of the original Egyptian name. It is likely that a Semitic-speaking population lived in the region long enough that their name eventually supplanted the original.

Watch full-length lectures from the Out of Egypt: Israel’s Exodus Between Text and Memory, History and Imagination conference, which addressed some of the most challenging issues in Exodus scholarship. The international conference was hosted by Calit2’s Qualcomm Institute at UC San Diego in San Diego, CA.

Another compelling piece of evidence for the Exodus is found in the Biblical text itself. A history of enslavement is likely to be true. The article explains:

The storyline of the Exodus, of a people fleeing from a humiliating slavery, suggests elements that are historically credible. Normally, it is only tales of glory and victory that are preserved in narratives from one generation to the next. A history of being slaves is likely to bear elements of truth.


Exodus: Fact or fiction? This four-room house from Izbet Sartah, Israel, shares many similarities with the 12th-century B.C.E. worker’s house uncovered in western Thebes. Photo: Israel Finkelstein/Tel Aviv University.

So, is the Biblical Exodus fact or fiction? Scholars and people of many faiths line up on either side of the equation, and some say both. Archaeological discoveries have verified that parts of the Biblical Exodus are historically accurate, but archaeology can’t tell us everything. Although archaeology can illuminate aspects of the past and bring parts of history to life, it has its limits.

It certainly is exciting when the archaeological record matches with the Biblical account—as with the examples described here. However, while this evidence certainly adds weight to the historical accuracy of elements of the Biblical account, it can’t be used to “prove” that every detail of the Exodus story in the Bible is true.

To learn more about evidence for Israel’s Exodus from Egypt, read the full article “Exodus Evidence: An Egyptologist Looks at Biblical History” in the May/June 2016 issue of Biblical Archaeology Review.


BAS Library Members: Read the full article “Exodus Evidence: An Egyptologist Looks at Biblical History” in the May/June 2016 issue of Biblical Archaeology Review.

Not a BAS Library member yet? Join the BAS Library today.

This Bible History Daily feature was originally published on April 10, 2016.



1. This BAR article is a free abstract from Manfred Bietak’s article “On the Historicity of the Exodus: What Egyptology Today Can Contribute to Assessing the Biblical Account of the Sojourn in Egypt” in Thomas E. Levy, Thomas Schneider and William H.C. Propp, eds., Israel’s Exodus in Transdisciplinary Perspective: Text, Archaeology, Culture and Geoscience (Cham: Springer, 2015). In Bietak’s article, the scholarly debate about the archaeological remains and the onomastic data of Wadi Tumilat is more elaborately treated.


Related reading in Bible History Daily:

Exodus in the Bible and the Egyptian Plagues

Who Was Moses? Was He More than an Exodus Hero?

Akhenaten and Moses

Out of Egypt: Israel’s Exodus Between Text and Memory, History and Imagination

Excruciating Exodus Movie Exudes Errors

Does the Merneptah Stele Contain the First Mention of Israel?


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  1. Rick says

    As with all archaeological issues, the Bible, not scholarly opinion is the foundation for truth. BAR is a good resource but has always leaned more academically liberal chronologically (pushing the Exodus from the 1400’s to the 1200’s BCE) with clear anti-biblical stances on many issues – not necessarily neutral. If you’re looking for a firmly biblical academic opinion I would refer you to The Institute for Biblical Archaeology, The Associates for Biblical Research and World of the Bible Ministries.

    Rick Dack
    Defending the Bible Int’l.
    Minneapolis, MN

  2. Arche says

    1. These specific place names recorded in the Biblical text demonstrate that the memory of the Biblical authors for these traditions predates Egypt’s Third Intermediate Period.

    2. A worker’s house from western Thebes also seems to support a 13th-century Exodus.

    3. A third piece of evidence for the Exodus is the Onomasticon Amenope.

    These mean only that there were Israelis in Egypt during the 13th-century, not that a mass exodus occurred. As Egypt controlled much of the Levant during this period, doubtless Israelis crossed back and forth frequently, often staying for work and settling there if times were good.

    For 600,000 men to have left Egypt in such an exodus would have involved approximately 2.5 million men, women, and children, not including livestock, at a time when the entire population of the country consisted of about 3.5 million – the loss of 2/3 of the country’s population would have left more than a ripple in the nation’s economy.

    Marching 6 abreast, such a column would have extended for 150 miles – how long would it have taken a group that size to cross the Red, or the Reed, or any other sea?

  3. Gregory says

    Does anybody besides me not see any meaningful similarities between the two house outlines, other than that they are roughly rectangular, and has rooms?

    I don’t doubt that the Israelites could have been slaves n Egypt. But I think using the narrative that a story in the Bible (Israelites were Egyptian slaves) is evidence for the validity of that story is philosophically circumlocutive (A story is true because the story says it’s true). A more compelling case might be based upon landmarks and events and people which can be verified. All people have some creation story, but few seem to know their origins (e.g. any Native American origin story never seems to indicate hey came over the Bering Strait).

  4. Ferdinand says

    Since Egyptians were paid to work on building sites during Nile river flood, it is unlikely unpaid slaves would have been employed or even needed. Jews were free to come and go as they pleased and any exodus represented a net loss of the Jewish population as they left in small groups to assimilate with the Canaanites. The conquest of Canaan was a mere overwhelming by population than a military conquest. Egyptians were probably glad to see such an intelligent and resourceful people leave.

  5. Joseph says

    It still boggles my mind that BAR continues to ignore David Rohl’s New Chronology and Immanuel Velikovsky’s Revised Chronology, both of which present near iron-clad evidence that the problem is not the biblical dates for the Exodus, but academia’s faulty reckoning of Egyptian chronology. I suggest readers check out the documentary Patterns of Evidence: Exodus for a better understanding of that, and to see the compelling evidence for the historicity of the Exodus account.

  6. F. says

    Here is the story of Moses and his nation as it is told in the Koran, as much I could sum up.
    The name of Moses is the most frequently occurring one in Quran – twenty-five times more than the name of Mohammed himself . His life story represents an epic of miracles from the very outset: to the deep humiliation of the tyrant Pharaoh, who was taking all precautions to prevent the rising of the savior of the then-enslaved nation of Israel, Allah predestined that Moses would be born during the year in which the Pharaoh was killing all the newborn males of his Jewish subjects, and, moreover, predestined that the baby would be brought up within the Pharaoh’s court itself. Growing to manhood, Allah bestowed Prophecy upon him, and provided him with many miracles that stand as the most distinguished among those given to His Prophets and Messengers.
    With the settling down of Jacob, whom Allah had named Israel, and his twelve sons and their families in Egypt began a long story of a people’s tragedy. Jacob was the founder of the Jewish nation, and his twelve sons represented the seed of the twelve branches into which this nation was initially divided. They came to live in Egypt, as we have seen, when the family’s most brilliant member, Joseph, was occupying one of the highest offices in the land, and their number was constantly increasing throughout the following centuries until they became a distinguished ethnic group in Egypt’s demography.
    The Egyptians lived in peace with the Children of Israel for many centuries following, and traces in Quran indicate that Joseph’s calling to worship Allah gained considerable followers among the heathen nation, initially because Joseph’s gift in exegetics had saved the nation of Egypt from a disastrous famine. The esteem in which the Egyptians had held the Children of Israel was thus accrued from the interpretation of a vision seen by the King, and all this was changed, ironically enough, as a result of the interpretation of another vision seen some centuries later by another Egyptian monarch.
    It came to pass that a certain Pharaoh saw in a dream a great fire originating in the land of Jerusalem and sweeping over all the land of Egypt, destroying it all except the areas inhabited by the Israeli people. The Pharaoh’s high priests interpreted that to be a baby son to be born among the Israeli nation, who would eventually be the cause of the collapse of the Egyptian kingdom. From that time on, the Pharaoh was not slow to take precautions to save his kingdom from the predicted menace, and every effort was made to purge the Children of Israel of any newborn male.
    The Egyptians had a firm hold over the Israeli citizens, and resistance was impossible. The Children of Israeli were kept in a constant state of servility: all newborn male babies were slaughtered, while the women and girls were always taken as servants to the nobles’ families. This unjust policy towards the male babies, however, was seen to be threatening in the long run the number of the Israeli people, who were necessary for the many humble works in the land, and so it was changed in due course to be practised biennially: sparing their lives a year, and putting them to death in the next.
    Accordingly, a certain pious Israeli woman was fortunate to give birth to a baby son, whom she named Aaron, in the year of condoning, but since she was again expecting during a killing year, she was anxious and tried to keep herself away from the eyes of Pharaoh’s spies, in case she bore a male baby.
    When the faithful woman was nearing her time, and in the midst of her oppressive feeling of fear, she was ordered by Allah that she would give birth to a baby son, and that if she feared danger she should nurse him and then cast him into the river! Time passed and she did give birth to a male baby, and news came that the tyrant’s spies were searching in the nearby precincts. The affectionate mother, without hesitation, began to act on the Heavenly instructions: she nursed her baby, put him in a wooden sarcophagus, and, before the baby was even given a name, she threw him into the river. “Don’t fear and don’t feel sad! We will return him to you and We will make him of the Messengers,” Allah promised.
    The river was not less kind with the baby than his mother, though it moored the sarcophagus at the very shores where the Pharaoh’s palace stood. There, one of the Pharaoh’s family saw the floating wooden sarcophagus, picked it up from the water, and was astonished at finding a baby in it. The baby, whose Allah has “cast over him a Love of His,” was taken to the Pharaoh’s wife, who, being childless, ordered the Pharaoh “not to kill him; that he might benefits us; or we might adopt him as a son,” and named him Mu-Sa , which means “son of water.”
    Meanwhile, being informed of the incident, “the heart of Moses’ mother became empty because of fear; and she would have unconcealed her secret had not We fixed calmness on it.” Moses’ sister, Miriam, who was one of the queen’s maidservants, secretly watched her brother, and she found a chance to recommend to the queen a certain woman to be the baby’s nurse, for Allah “had forbidden for Moses all the nurses” – a matter that had much worried the queen about her adopted baby.
    The proposed nurse came to the court, and to the pleasure of the queen, Moses sucked her milk cordially, for the proposed nurse was not but his mother. At once the queen ordered that the nurse should immediately take the baby to her house for that purpose: and Moses’ mother became the only mother in all the history of humankind to nurse her baby through a royal warrant! In such a way Allah “returned him to his mother, to make her heart tranquil, and may not she be sad, and to let her know that the Promise of Allah is a truth.”
    After a two-year period, Moses was returned to stay with his royal foster mother, though he continued to frequent the house of his “nurse.” In his late childhood, Moses was aware of the truth of his real family, and that he belonged to Israeli nation, but the matter remained as a secret among the Israeli people, who might have recognized through the correlative miracles that that boy would be their savior whom they had long dreamed of.
    One day at the royal court, it is said, the child Moses pulled the beard of the Pharaoh in such painful way that the reminiscence of the old nightmare of his kingdom’s collapse was awakened in his memory. He determined at once to kill the child, of whom he had become very suspicious, but the queen managed to make him reprieve the verdict by suggesting putting the boy to a test. An ember and a piece of fruit were introduced to the child Moses, in an examination of his awareness, and fortunately he picked up the ember and put it to his tongue. Thus Moses had escaped punishment, but he grew up with a speech impediment thereafter.
    Years passed, and Moses was now in his manhood. One day, Moses entered during a hot summer noon into the town, whose citizens were compelled, because of the fierce heat of the day, to retreat to their houses earlier than usual. In one of the empty roads Moses found two men – one Egyptian, the other Israeli – quarreling. The Israeli man asked the help of Moses, who came forthwith to his rescue and, in frenzy, boxed the Egyptian. It was a mortal blow, and at once Moses repented of his wrong deed and asked Allah’s Pardon.
    Allah “forgave him, for He is the Most-forgiving and the Most-merciful,” but Moses was in danger of losing his life for the murder he committed. On another day, Moses met the same Israeli, who was quarreling with another Egyptian, and asked the support of Moses. Just as Moses came to his fellow’s rescue, the Egyptian recognized, somehow, that it was Moses who had dispatched the Egyptian assailant the other day. “Do you want to kill me as you had killed one aforetime?” the Egyptian anticipated Moses, “you want to be of the tyrants in the land, then; and you don’t want to be of the conciliators.”
    The confrontation was broken up peacefully, but the incident placed Moses in grave danger more than before. While at home, and before long, “a man came from the furthest end of the town” to Moses to tell him that the Egyptians were conspiring his murder, and advised him to depart the town as soon as possible to save his life. No place in Egypt was deemed a safe refuge, of course, and so Moses was obliged to leave the Pharaoh’s entire domain. He absconded and traveled east, with no vision to guide him as to where to go. On reaching the tip of the eastern “horn” of the Red Sea, he turned down southwardly along the coast until arriving at a settlement in the deserts of Arabia called Midian.
    Almost worn out, Moses stopped for a rest at the point of Midian’s water-well, where he found a group of shepherd men watering their cattle and two women keeping back their animals.
    “What is the matter?” addressed Moses the two women.
    “We cannot water our cattle until the shepherd men have finished their undertaking; and our father is an old man,” they replied.
    Thereupon Moses undertook watering the women’s animals, and they thanked him and left for their home. Shortly afterwards, while he was seated in the shadow of a tree near the water-well, one of the two girls came to him and told him that her father wanted him to come to their house to recompense him for his good deed. Moses went with her, met the old man, and told him his story. The old man assured him that he was safe at Midian, and offered him one of his two daughters in marriage on the terms of working for him as a wage earner for ten years.
    Moses accepted the offer, and at the end of the ten years, homesick, he wanted to return to Egypt to visit his mother. He set out with his little family during winter days, and at a certain point on the long journey, near Mount Al-Tour in Sinai, Moses thought that he had confused the right way to Egypt. Stopping for a while, he looked about and could see in the distance a burning fire. Leaving his wife there, he headed to that spot intending to obtain a blazing brand for warming, and, if possible, directions to Egypt.
    As he arrived at the fire site, Moses heard: “O Moses, I am Allah, Lord of the existence!” It was at that “Sacred Valley” that Allah commissioned him to the mission of Prophecy, and showed Moses two miracles that he would be possessed of during his mission to call the Pharaoh to worship Allah and to ask his permission to let the Children of Israel get out from Egypt to the Sacred Land, Jerusalem.
    “What is that thing in your right hand, Moses?” Allah asked.
    “That is my wooden stick; I am leaning on it, attend my sheep by it, and I have other purposes in it,” replied Moses.
    Allah ordered Moses to cast off his stick, and when Moses did, the stick turned into a snake, which terrified Moses and stirred him to “take to his heel and never to turn around.” But Allah calmed him down, and gave him another Sign of His: “Push your hand into your pocket; when you get it out, it shall appear of pure white color; these are two proofs to the Pharaoh and his people, who are a dissipated folk.”
    Moses did not accept the heavy task without debate, however. He remarked that he had killed one of the Egyptians, that he was afraid of being put to death for it; and that his speech impediment would make it difficult to argue with them. He therefore asked to be assisted by his more talkative brother, Aaron. Allah agreed, and promised that they would be given strong shoulder from Him during their Prophetical mission until they were victorious. Moses, trusting and resigned, returned back to where his wife was waiting, and the journey was resumed.
    Arriving in Egypt, Moses and Aaron immediately undertook their mission. It was not easy to appoint a meeting with the Pharaoh, who was said to neglect their request for no short time. At last, when the interview was held, in the presence of the Pharaoh’s viziers, Moses imparted to the monarch the purpose of that meeting:
    “We are the Messengers of the Lord of existence; so you should let the Children of Israel go with us, and do not put them to torture,” said Moses.
    “Have not we brought you up among us, while a child, and you stayed with us for several years?” said the monarch grimly. “And you have done your murder, proving that you are one of the ungrateful.”
    “I have done it as I were of the misguided, and I fled your land when I feared you. Then Allah has bestowed upon me a Sound Verdict, and made me of the Messengers. And it is not a favor that you have enslaved the Children of Israel.”
    “What is that Lord of the existence?”
    “He is the Lord of the heavens and the earth and what in between.”
    “Hear what he says,” said the Pharaoh, turning to his viziers.
    “He is the Lord of you all and your fathers of old,” went on Moses.
    “The messenger sent to you is mad,” ridiculed the Pharaoh, and the courtiers laughed. But Moses never turned a hair, and, keeping a phlegmatic mood, he continued:
    “He is the Lord of the East and the West and what is in between.”
    “If you would consider any god but me, I will make you of the prisoners,” thundered the tyrant.
    Seeing himself confronted with a man deaf to argument, the Messenger decided to show the Pharaoh and his courtiers the Signs Allah had given him: he cast his wooden stick onto the ground, and it turned into “a grand snake”; and put his hand into his garment’s pocket, and drew it back to “appear to the onlookers of a white color.”
    The Pharaoh was dazed by these, and he had soon the inspiration to command a consultation with his viziers, who, thinking that Moses was a magician, advised their king to sent messengers of him throughout the width and breadth of the land to call for the most skilful magicians. Before the meeting was broken up, Moses and the Pharaoh agreed on the time for the contest with the Pharaoh’s magicians, and the chosen time was the forenoon of the “Day of Embellishment” – a day of a gorgeous public festival of ancient Egypt.
    Volunteer magicians came from all over Egypt to the Pharaoh, who accommodated them in his royal palaces and promised to bestow special favors upon them if they won the day. At the predetermined time, the open court of the great temple, with the Pharaoh and his viziers at the forefront, became overcrowded with people, who came to the capital city of Egypt to see the “wizards’ battle.”
    Breathless with excitement, all who came there saw with their own eyes the Egyptian magicians casting onto the ground some sticks and ropes, and, as they all, including Moses and Aaron, were bewitched, the magicians’ tools appeared to them as if they were moving like snakes.
    “Moses felt fear within himself,” but Allah told him that he would overcome just as he cast his stick. When Moses did as he was ordered, the great sensation came: his wooden stick became a grand snake and swallowed all those tools of the magicians, who, recognizing that what Moses had done could only be from a True God’s power, prostrated on the ground, and announced: “We have believed in the Lord of the Existence, the Lord of Moses and Aaron.”
    The “rebellious attitude” of the Egyptian magicians added bitterness to the Pharaoh’s defeat, and he hastened to strike at them by professing that “it was a plot which you and Moses had planned together,” and so he announced his verdict concerning the new proselytes: “I will wed you all to the balm trunks; and I will cut your hands and feet off from your bodies.” But still much more bitterness was in store for him, as the new faithful magicians’ reply came back in open defiance of his punishment: “We will never prefer you to what has come to us of the truth; so, dispense what you like to do – you are only dispensing in this worldly life!”
    Many years passed before Allah ordered Moses to lead the Children of Israel out of Egypt. During that time, the Egyptians returned to their policy of killing the newborn Israeli males and enslaving the females. Thereupon Allah descended upon the Egyptians His Punishment, which made them suffer from a number of afflictions and hardships, including drought, lack of crops, the infesting of frogs, locusts, and lice. But still they refused to submit to Allah. “Whatever you show us of the Signs, we will not believe in you!” they addressed Allah’s Messenger haughtily.
    But the plagues lasted for a long period, becoming unbearable, and so they asked Moses: “Pray to your Lord God on our behalf to turn away from us His afflictions; if you do, we shall believe in Allah, and shall send the Children of Israel with you.” Nevertheless, “when We turned the plagues away from them, they abjured their allegiance to Us.” The inevitable sequence of the Pharaoh’s wrong deeds was nearing, and the Children of Israel, acting on Moses’ commands, had long prepared for the Exodus and were waiting for Allah’s Order.
    In the same time, the Pharaoh had previously sent to the provinces of Egypt for a mobilization against the Israeli people, and vast crowds of Egyptian soldiers were gathered and equipped in the capital city. Allah’s Command was given to Moses to start out from Egypt on a certain night, and under his leadership the Children of Israel traveled eastwards, aiming for Sinai. When they were almost at the east coast of the Red Sea, the Egyptian army, under the command of the Pharaoh himself, appeared at their heels.
    “We are caught up,” said the followers of Moses to him as they saw the vanguard of the pursuers, but Moses, who had had an abiding faith in Allah, did not turn a hair: “Nay, my Lord will guide me.” At this very moment Allah ordered Moses to strike with his stick at the sea, which was miraculously parted into two parts: “each part was like a momentous mountain.” Between the two parts of the divided sea was a “dry road” through which Moses and the Children of Israel removed safely to the other side. As the last one of them reached the west coast, Moses wanted to strike the sea again to close up the road, but Allah ordered him: “Let the sea open; they will be drowned soldiers.”
    Meanwhile, neither the Pharaoh nor any one of his soldiers dared to pass through the road between the two water-mountains until the entire hordes of the Israeli people were on the other shore. As the sea remained in the same situation, all of the Egyptian army flocked to go through it. When the army reached the middle of the road, Allah crashed the sea down, and they all were drowned.
    Quran says that at the time of his death-rattle, the Pharaoh uttered: “I have believed that there is no God but that in Whom the Children of Israel believe; and I am of the Muslims .” But death-bed conversions are not accepted by Allah, and so Allah drowned the tyrant and destined that the waves would wash up his dead body on the eastern shores of the Red Sea. “We will get out your body rescued from the sea to make of you a lesson for the coming generations.”
    Moses and his people, after they had seen with their own eyes the fate of their enemy, resumed their journey to the site of Mount Al-Tour, where Allah had first spoken to Moses during his return trip from Midian to Egypt, and there they were ordered to settle down. On their way to that site, however, it happened that the Children of Israel passed by some settlements whose people worshiped idols and images, and Moses was shocked to hear his people asking him: “O Moses, make for us a god just as this people have gods!” Moses reply came back in a fury: “Would I choose for you a god except Allah, Who favored you to all the people of your time?”
    On reaching the site appointed by Allah, which was, and still is, a barren desert, Moses asked of Allah salvation from the lack of food and water that they encountered there. So, Allah “bestowed over them with the manna and quail,” as a daily source for food, and “shadowed over them by clouds,” and, to supply each of the twelve tribes into which they were divided, He ordered Moses: “Strike the stone by your stick; thereat sprung from the stone twelve water-spring, each tribe should know their drinking source.”
    After the Children of Israel settled down “at the right side of Al-Tour,” Allah promised Moses an appointment after thirty nights, which should be spent in worship of Him, but as Moses went to the appointed place a little earlier than agreed, Allah ordered him to complete an additional ten nights of worship. “When Moses completed the appointed time of his Lord, he said to his brother Aaron ‘be my successor in command of my folk; conciliate between them, and do not follow the way of the corrupters,’” and then departed for the promised appointment.
    “When Moses came to Our appointment and his Lord Allah spoke to him, Moses asked his Lord saying ‘my Lord, allow me to see You,’ but Allah said you cannot see me; but look at the mountain – if it will remain in its stability, then you will be able to see me. Thus, when Allah revealed Himself to the mountain, the revelation caused the mountain to smash down, and Moses fell down swooned. When he was up and about again, he said ‘Exalted You! I have repented to You, and I am the first of the believers.’”
    Moses was given, in that appointment, “the Tablets, in which We have written of everything a sermon, and the detail of everything,” and was ordered, too, “to keep a firm hold to the instructions therein, and to order his folk to look upon the best of these.” Before he started back to his folk, Allah told Moses that when he came to His appointment early, one man among his nation misguided them by introducing a golden calf as a god to be worshiped instead of Allah. So “Moses returned to his people angry and regretful.”
    “Has not Allah promised you the good promise,” he addressed his people in a rage, “does the promise appear to be attained, or do you want that your Lord’s wrath comes down upon you by breaking my covenant?”
    “We have not broken your covenant of our own accord,” they replied to their Prophet, “but we had been compelled to bring with us some jewels of the Egyptians; then we melted these with fire, and that man, Al-Samerie, made up out of this a golden calf that mooing––he said to us that this was the god of Moses!”
    Not knowing that Aaron had firmly stood against the wrong act with such persistence that “the folk had nearly killed him,” and that he remarked on the incident by saying “O my people, you have been infatuated by the golden calf; it is Allah who is your God; so you should follow me and obey my order,” Moses turned ferociously on his brother, caught hold of Aaron’s head and beard, and addressed the speech to him in scolding tones: “What had prevent you, when you saw them misguided, from following my instructions? Did you refuse to comply with my order?”
    “O my mother’s son,” answered the courteous Prophet Aaron, absolving himself from what Moses had thought, “do not pull me by head and beard! It happened that the folk regarded me a weak one, and they had nearly killed me. So, do not make my enemies crow upon me… I feared you accuse me for sowing division among the Children of Israel; and for not acting on your order.”
    Aaron was absolved of the sin, and it became clear that it was Al-Samerie who was responsible for the aberration. In answer to the charge, Al-Samerie said that he could get a handful of the dust that bore traces of Gabriel’s horse, on his coming to execute Allah’s Order of drowning the Pharaoh and the Egyptian army, and that by casting this dust into the furnace he could achieve the miracle of a mooing golden calf: “In such way had myself abetted me.”
    Accordingly, Moses threatened Al-Samerie Allah’s punishment for his wrong doing in this world and the hereafter, and the golden calf was seized and put into a furnace until it reached an excessive temperature, and then it was thrown off into the sea to explode into pieces.
    “When anger had become dormant within Moses, he took the Tablets, which in its copy is found a Guidance and Bless for those who fearing their Lord.”
    Moses had now to select from his people seventy men to go out for Allah’s appointment, to ask His forgiveness concerning with the wrong deed of worshiping the calf. When they went to the appointed place, they were seized by a tremendous tremor, and Moses beseeched Allah: “My Lord, if You had wanted to destroy them and me formerly, You would have done that. Would You punish us for what the debauched among us had done? It is but Your trial, by which You mislead whom You will, and You guide whom You will. You are our Protector – so, forgive and bless us: You are The Best Forgiver.”
    Allah subsequently ordered that the Children of Israel should start out for the Sacred Land of Jerusalem to obtain it from the heathen people inhabiting it. The Order of Allah included that if they did that and entered the gates of the town prostrated and submitted to their God and asked Him His Forgiveness, Allah would forgive their sins and He would bestow additional favours upon the benevolent of them.
    “O Moses,” they commented on the Order, “there is a tyrant people living in the Sacred Land, so we will not enter it until they get out of it: if they will do, we will enter.”
    Nonetheless, there were more pious people among the Israeli who tried to make the rest of the folk believe that if they would only submit to Allah’s Order and enter the Sacred Land, they would be victorious. But the vast majority of the Children of Israel lingered: “Moses, we will never enter it; so go you and your Lord together to fight them – we are seated here,” they ignominiously retorted.
    Thereupon, the Children of Israel were punished by Allah for their lingering: “It is forbidden for them to enter it for forty years, during which they will wander in the land; so, Moses, do not feel sorrow about the debauched folk.” During those forty years, not one of the entire Israeli nation could get out of the wilderness for any other land, and thus the liberator of Israel’s Children died in the wilderness of Sinai before accomplishing his desire for reaching the Sacred Land, and so did Aaron.

  7. Adrian says

    Just finishing Velikovsky’s “Ages in Chaos”, had never heard of him until last month… has there been any serious refutation of the solid reasoning behind his work? It seems solid. I’ll be ordering his other books soon.

  8. Jonathan says

    Fact or fiction? The “truth” then (as now) for any historical account lies somewhere in between these. Complete fabrication seems highly unlikely as a whole cloth fiction serves no historical function in culture. Interpretation of events and understanding is dependent upon the author(s) and may not agree with the understanding/interpretation of others–but differences of opinion don’t equate with fiction. We also lack access to the author(s) and their perspective. Establishing the facts–places, people, and events over 3000 years past is thus a fairly high order undertaking. I doubt that many historians consider the Exodus accounts to be non-historical–the problem for archaeology is finding evidence, the problem for all academic inquiry is how to understand the interpretation of the events.

  9. Veli says

    I think exodus started in 1159 BC, 10 days after the spring equinox, when there was a lunar eclipse. There was a cooler time 1159-1140 BC. 40 years in that context means a generation.

  10. Dennis says

    It was during the Hyksos period that the Israelites were expelled from Egypt. It is well known that large numbers of people left Egypt upon their defeat.

  11. Brent says

    The evidence is there for all to see but most miss it. Amenhotep III was the pharaoh who wouldn’t let the Israelites go free. His first born son was Thutmose who died as the first born son during the Exodus or he was Moses and he left rather than died. The Egyptian records don’t indicate what happened to Thutmose he just disappears from the records before Amenhotep died. His second son was Akhenaten who abandoned the Egyptian gods and started his own religion worshiping Aten the sun god. Akhenaten left thebes and built his new capital in the desert. Why did he abandon the old gods? Why did he build a city in the desert? The answer is pretty obvious he abandoned the gods because he saw that the Israelites god was more powerful than Egypt’s gods so he started worshiping a god he could both feel and see (the sun) like the Israelite GOD YHWH.

  12. Krzysztof says

    Facts versus fiction? Facts are archeological evidences plus what can be derived off from the interpretation called Bible stories; Bible itslef is not the textbook of a history! What we have known from Rev Israel.Filkenstein the first pure historical names -as confirmed by archeological evidences- appear only from 8th century BC; here,maybe some old historical names of places got into texts created in 6th-1the cent BC. Slavery and liberation from it maybe even not once but a few times is the real history in Ithink in 6or 5th century B.C. An interpretation (of facts) is neither a fact or a fiction ! An experience of liberation is a pure fact or Aristotelian substance. The facts are the positions of stars in the sky seeing by eyes or telescopes; an interpretation of it by Ptolomey or Copernicus is not a fact (physical). On Scientific Semantics of A.Tarski (Warsaw Lwow School of Logic) from 1935 will help in theology also! “Partying of the sea” is a physical or historical fiction for sure but as a narrative tool has a poetic sense; surely, Decmber 8,1991-the date of a formal end of Soviet Union is a historicial fact! The period from August 1980, Gdansk’s Strike to that date – an exodus is an interpretation but very rational and historical or one must believe in a chance

  13. BHD says

    I once researched a paper on the influence of Akhenaton’s monotheism on the Exodus. My premise was that the Egyptian religion prior to that time was inclusive and absorbed gods and myths from surrounding subject people. However, after the suppression of Amarna, when the traditional religion came back, something new had been added: dogma. The Priests of Amun were now super sensitive to other religious beliefs and particularly, monotheism. No one has ever pinpointed when the Hebrews came into Egypt, or who Joseph might have been, but if they were there then and practicing their own religion, they would have experienced prejudice and suppression which could have driven them to leave. I did find evidence of 100,000 people leaving from the Delta region during the Ramesside period. They were not slaves, but were vintners. Part of the evidence was a drastic reduction in wine seals from this period. I have always been fascinated with the influence of religion on human history and this period was obviously pivotal.

  14. AF says

    What would happen if groups of Egyptianized Caananites had a sudden or even catastrophic migration of some kind or another back to an ancestral homeland? We already know factually that significant populations of semites were residing in Egypt at more or less the right time. And the Isrealites couldn’t just reassimilate seamlessly with their old Canannite cousins. They’d been gone a little too long and things were different. They’d changed. The resident Canaanites had changed also. So the returnees decided to assert themselves and eventually they established a foothold on some territory to live in.

    It’s easy to forget how simplistic the story can be when you strip it down. And it’s almost eerie how the core of the story parallels or even prefigures other events in history involving similarly displaced, migrating or exiled peoples.

    For that reason, I believe the Exodus story is fact just because it all sounds plausible thematically at its core. Of course thinking something sounds plausible is really different than knowing it factually. The story may be perhaps more plausible anthropologically than it might ever be provable archeologically. But maybe someday. I hope so. That would be pretty exciting.

  15. Robin says

    I very much enjoyed the article that is in the current issue of BAR and done by Manfred Bietak, I believe. I have heard (read) some of these arguments before and from similarly qualified individuals of various backgrounds. His arguments are reasonable arguments to the extent that they try to “connect the dots” for an event that would have occurred long ago. I can accept that much of ancient history is discussed on the basis of minimal or occasional documentation, limited concrete evidence, and just the merest of anything. And that is all that can be done. I have heard (but not done the counting myself) that the Bible makes about 2,000 mentions of the Exodus. Thus, it is an event — whether large or small — that made a real mark in national memory and helped to shape their sense of identity and of religion. Thus, this article presents a positive assessment of evidence that does exist. It will be encouraging — and convincing — for some. Others will not find it so convincing. But I think it is clear that something happened and these bits of information point to it .

  16. DOROTHY says

    I just recently saw the Documentary called, “Patterns of Evidence – Exodus” by Tim Mahoney that approaches this subject brilliantly with scientific and archeological evidence to back it up. I would highly recommend this Documentary that sheds light on the biblical and historical account of the Exodus and the timeline that substantiates his findings. This was a 12 year quest and worth a look if you want a visual of what has been written here.

  17. BHD says

    See my blog “The First and Second Exodus from Egypt.”
    The Five pastoral Judahite tribes lived at Goshen in Egypt from about 1630 to 1210.BC
    From 1290 to 1210 the Judahites were conscripted to work on the canals of Pi-Ramesses (See Bietak canals K1 and K2). The mud from these canals was mixed with hay and made into mud bricks for dwellings at Pi-Ramesses.
    I’ah-mose (Moses) the prophet of YHW led the Judahites to Midian in Arabia AFTER the death of Ramesses II in 1213. Exodus 2:23..
    This was a LEISURELY JOURNEY with women, children, sheep, goats and cattle. Their tents were loaded onto donkeys.
    Moses knew the route well having only recently returned to Goshen from Midian..
    There was NO confrontation with Pharaoh ( He was already dead),.There was no death of the first born of Egypt. This refers to the death of the Crown Prince of Egypt. Definitely a late addition to the story. The name Egypt only appears during the 26th Dynasty (6th Century BC).
    There was NO pursuit and parting of the Red Sea. This was a borrowing from the Exodus of the Hyksos and Israelites from Avaris pursued by King Ahmose and the problems at the Sea of Reeds about 1540 BC..
    The Judahite tribes stayed in Midian Arabia with Moses father in law Jethro for about 15 years. The Judahite tribes did NOT go to Sinai peninsula. The welfare of the livestock of the tribes was paramount. Moses knew every pasture and well in Midian having lived there as a sheep herder for Jethro for over 10 years. There are NO trees or bushes on Mt Sinai. This is again a late addition supported by Helena mother of Constantine over 1500 years after the event.
    About 1195 the Judahites moved to Kadesh Barnea where the 600 members of the Judahite tribes split up into 4 groups. The Simeonites to Hormah, the Judahites to Hebron and the Reubenites and Gadites with Moses to the Trans-Jordan.. The Levites were split up between these 4 tribes.
    The Judahite tribes were the half-brothers of Joseph who had thrown him down a well after stripping him of his coat of many colors. Joseph as vizier of the Hyksos
    had the power to punish the conspirators when they came to Avaris. They were given grazing land at Goshen. There was NO reconciliation EVER. The rest of the Israelites were welcomed into Avaris, Capital of the Hyksos..
    After the expulsion of the Hyksos and Israelites from Avaris the Israelites became the Shasu-YHW (wanderers of YHW) in the Trans Jordan for 300 years 1535-1235.
    The Israelite tribes were led into Canaan about 1235 by Joshua the Ephraimite, a direct descendant of Joseph.
    The total time for Israelites and Judahites in Egypt was 430 years if the 10 years of Joseph in Avaris is added to the total, that is 1640-1210 BC.
    The miracles and inflated numbers were to tie the Judahites to the State and to the family God YHW at a time when the very survival of the Judahites was in doubt due to the aggression of the Assyrians, Egyptians and later the Babylonians.

  18. BHD says

    Recently saw the DVD Decoding the Exodus by Simca Jacobovic. His ten year research documents evidence that the Exodus did indeed happen. It is well worth seeing what he presents.

  19. Helen says

    @ F — taking the “witness” of the Koran for Biblical narratives is like taking Shrek for Grimm’s tales.

    The Koran is not a good witness to Biblical narratives. It’s a second or third hand tale.

  20. Krzysztof says

    How maths (v.simple) will help: from “Adam” to the Restoration of Temple in 164B.C by Maccabi=4000 years/ One Great Year (for Greeks)= all the sum of lives (of “persons”)and periods (also in Egypt, 400years). Check it!

  21. Brian says

    Biblical Archaeology has yet to come to its literary history senses, and is filled with such political correctness nonsense of rear end kissing atheism, that it has no clue as to what the historical facts are or how to again and again come to a same right conclusion.
    The Greeks who existed before Cyrus I conquering Babylon in circa 539 B.C., reckoned their years upon a 10-month or ca. 305-day calendar (Theophilus to Autolycus, 3.27). It was NOT a annual calendar based on seasons, it was a mathematical calendar. It was with Cyrus I in Babylon, that the Greeks reckoned a 48-month cycle for each Olympiad in place of the 40-month cycle (Julias Africanus, Fragment 13 -.3). –Post-539 B.C., we are to calculate against a 12-month calendar.

    According to Herodotus, by his era, the Greek calendar became reckoned as 12 months of 30 days, with every other year being given an extra inter-calculated month of 30 days — Year 1 being 360 days, and Year 2 being 390 days, and then repeating itself thereafter (Herodotus, Histories, 1.33).

    — From 539 B.C. to 46 B.C., the average Macedonian / Greek year appears to have become tabulated on average of 375 days long: being 360 days 1 year, then 390 the next. So this era of 46-539 B.C. is the point of the greatest trouble in calculating actual years in Greek reckonings. In 46 B.C., the Greeks adopted the standard Roman or Julian calendar of 365 days. In that particular year, adjustments were made, and 46 B.C appears to have been 445 days long.

    raditionally, the first Olympiad is thought to have occurred around 776 B.C. In reality, the early Olympiads, which contained 4 years of 10 months each, first started when Ahaz reigned in his first year in Jerusalem, in 741 B.C. (Julius Africanus, Fragment 15).

    Therefore, any year before 741 B.C. is pre-Olympic history to the Greeks. By being able to balance proper Biblical Chronology early on, we can more properly reckon the older dates of both Greek and Hebrew Histories as presented in Patristics.

    It is entirely important that we know that 741 B.C., like the Diaspora of 586 B.C., be a fixed year and immutable. Once such a year is fixed firmly, such as the Bible does do for us, we can then springboard with greater accuracy as to what the testimony of the past really is.
    One example of using the Patristic reckoning of Greek history is found in the dating of Homer, the author of many Greek myths and false deities. But in order to date Homer, we also need to date the fall of Troy.

    During the times of the 62nd Olympiad, Heraclitus wrote that the Trojan War and the First Olympiad were separated by 407 [10-month] years (Clement, Miscellanies, 1.21).

    By that reckoning, the Trojan War ends in 1071 B.C. But Clement also cites the Greek historian Eratosthenes, who appears to “phrase” an oversight to historians.

    a) From the capture of Troy to the descent (or expedition) of the Heraclidae: are 80 [10-month] years

    b) From the Heraclidae to the founding of Ionia: are 60 [10-month] years

    c) From the Heraclidae to the protectorate of Lycurgus: are 159 [10-month] years

    d) From the protectorate of Lycurgus to the First Olympiad: are 108 [10-month] years

    First Assumption ——————————- Actual Testimony

    1070 B.C. — The fall of Troy —————— 1032 B.C.
    1005 B.C.— The descent of Heraclidae ————957 B.C.
    957 B.C.—- Ionia is founded — —————–909 B.C.
    828 B.C.— The “Protectorate of Lycurgus” ——- 828 B.C.
    741 B.C. —- The First Olympiad —————– 741 B.C.

    In the above, we find that the testimony hinges on a double reckoning from the descent of Heraclidae. Once this ‘double reckoning’ is established as being the ‘actual intent’ of the Greek historian: it is then corrected, and the Greek reckoning falls in line with the biblical testimony.

    It also casts a light of importance on the ‘double reckoning’ as well, because to Eratosthenes, the descent of the Heraclidae is a major calculable event in Greek history. Therefore, prior to the Olympics, the Greeks must have used this as an event year from which to reckon from for about 216 years actual, or about 256 years on their calendars.

    In analyzing this period, we find that the late Second Century A.D. scholar of Alexandria, Egypt, — Clement of Alexandria — cites Homer as having been an Egyptian, and not a Greek.

    Like Herodotus, Clement lists all sorts of dates that various ancient Greeks have speculated through the centuries on the man called Homer. The most reliable of these historians, tells us that Homer died 90 years before the first Olympiad (Clement of Alexandria, Miscellanies 1.15, 1.21).

    Taken after the percentage of what a 10-month year is to a 12-month year, we then calculate 90 years times that fraction to achieve a death of Homer in 814 B.C. (the calculation being now about 73 years prior to the First Olympiad).

    His birth, according to Philochorus, was 180 years after the Trojan War (Clement, Miscellanies, 1.21). After the calculation of 180 years times the inter-calculatory fraction, the Greek percentage of a 10-month versus the later 12-month calendar, we find that Homer was born in 886 B.C. Therefore, by reckoning Greek history from fixed dates, we find that Homer died in his 71st or 72nd year of life. No more, and no less.

    In short, if we use the reckoning of the Exodus using the Greek Historical Calendar left us by Patristics, we will find that the parallel reckoning of the Exodus must place the event between 1545 to 1570 B.C. And using Josephus with a new understanding that he applies this same 10 month calendar prior to Cyrus I, and knowing how to properly date the Bible by taking its annual reckonings literally, we will see the Bible reckon the actual Exodus date as 1551 B.C., vetted by Josephus and by the Greeks as cited by Early Christian Church writers.

  22. Anne says

    The biblical narrative holds up when it is recognized that there is a wide divergence (about 350 years) between the biblical and standard timelines at the time of the Exodus. The Exodus had to have taken place near the end of the 12th Dynasty. The Hyksos were able to enter Egypt easily shortly after the Exodus because of the devastation that the 10 plagues caused and the Ipuwer Manuscript describes this time. The ancestor (Jacob) of the Children of Israel entered Egypt originally in the 3rd Dynasty; Joseph was Imhotep as can be shown through probability; the divergence of the two timelines is about 1000 years at that time. The numbers of the Children of Israel were far smaller than is generally believed, because the word “eleph” only came to mean 1000 in classical Greek times. I could go on and on. I have researched and published on this subject for some time. My papers and other writings are referenced from my web site I welcome private correspondence on these issues.

  23. Brian says

    The calculation of the last year of the Trojan War is affirmed in the ancient witnesses utilized by the Church Fathers: as being about 1031 – 1034 B.C. Now 1031 – 1032 B.C. is the 4th year of Solomon’s reign — making both King Solomon, and his father David, as of an older date than modern “Intellectuals” will lead you to believe.

    Using a separate Jewish calendar,
    Josephus: reckons a total of 477 years and 6 months between the destruction of Jerusalem in 586 B.C., and the building of Jerusalem by King David (Josephus, Wars of the Jews 6.10.).

    This places David in Jerusalem in ca. January-February of 1063 B.C.

    But in his Antiquities of the Jews, 8.3.1. Josephus uses the reckoning of the familiar Greek calendar (of his Roman audiences) to state that Solomon built the Temple 592 years after the Hebrew Exodus, before switching gears and reverting to the Jewish calendar of reckoning again.

    Josephus knows the Scriptures use 480 years, as according to Hebrew reckoning, in I Kings 6:1.

    The Greek calendar years of 592 times our inter-calculatory fraction of the pre-Cyrus I Greek Calendar of 10 months and 305 days is about 480.05 …or rounded off, 480 years. Josephus uses this methodology for preservation of Jewish history, when mentioning the Greek calendar, in Caesar’s library.

    In Antiquities of the Jews, 20.10.1, in discussing the lineage of the high priests from Moses to the A.D. 70 destruction of Jerusalem; Josephus gives a similar length of time (612 short years). When calculated against our inter-calculatory fraction, we are given a new insight into Biblical History.

    Josephus cites a rule of the high priesthood for the last 16 years of the 40 years in the wilderness, when Moses was 104 – 120 years old. This was followed, again, by a 480-year gap between the entry into the Promised Land by Joshua, and the Temple of Solomon’s dedication. There were only 13 high priests ruling in all that time. 480 divided by 13 is about 37 years per high priest’s tenure. Contrast this with the 28 appointed high priests in the 107 years from Herod I to Titus’ conquest, in which the average high priest served for a little less than 4 years because of robbery and political corruption of the office.

    The testimony of the Galilean Israelite, Josephus, is that he agrees with the Greek reckoning that puts King David, in Jerusalem and building it, in circa 1060 to 1063 B.C.!

    It appears that a few years elapsed before the actual major construction began. Thus, David’s reign is calculated to have begun no more recent or later than 1075 to 1070 B.C David reigned in Jerusalem for 33 years, and based on Josephus’ calculations, until ca. 1037 to 1036 B.C. (I Kings 2:11).

    Therefore, for Solomon to dedicate the Temple in the fourth year of his reign (2 Kings 6:1), and for it to be 480 years after coming into the land from the Exodus: the Exodus entry into Canaan must date to ca. 1512 – 1511 B.C.

    In I Kings 6:1, the literal reading show us that “…it was 480 years from the lasa’ah of the children of Israel from the Land of Egypt.” That is, it was the finishing moment, the end destination, the conclusion to — leaving Egypt, being the end of 40 years in the wilderness, and the feet of all Israelites touching both sides of the Jordan. This makes the entry a certainty at 1511-1512 B.C.

    Upon closer examination of Manetho’s 3rd Century B.C. Histories of Egypt, we find that A-mosis is really both Ahmose, and Tethmosis (Thummosis) – the son of Alisphragmuthosis. Under his leadership, says Josephus in Against Apion 1.14, while citing Manetho, 480,000 Egyptians rallied around the city of Avaris, and expelled the Hyksos families of those who perished in the Red Sea with their king, Assiss (Asehre Khamudi). These families were expelled along the northern route out of the country, and settled in Judea. Since the Hyksos had giantism and are linked to the same clans of the Anakim that the Jews saw both in what later was called Egypt and in what was later called Judea, the literary historical is there for all to see, but with book sales and political correctness that rewards unbelief, in an environment bent on grants and fund-raising and not offending donors or those who cut your paycheck or salary to you, even Biblical Archaeologists and others are just too illiterate to see it.

  24. Brian says

    In Egyptology, we find that there is a relief that celebrates Raameses victory at Kadesh in 1180 B.C. This same victory is recorded in Judges 13:1, which the biblical record of successions tells us, is 331 years AFTER THE EXODUS. Therefore, this Pharaoh is not the one who died in the Red Sea during the Hebrew Exodus in the era of the Hebrew Judges of Israel, who judged IN ISRAEL.

    Kadesh: 31 years earlier. In Judges 11:26, Jephthaa speaks of 300 years having passed from the entry of the Hebrews into Israel, to his time. The Judges, like Jephthaa, are more so contemporaneous with the Tell El-Amarna tablets, than is the Exodus to its contents. The tablets, dated by some to ca. 1375 – 1358 B.C., calls for Egypt to deliver the Philistine Lords from their ‘apiru” or ‘habiru’ oppressors.
    Archer, Gleason L. “A Survey of Old Testament Introduction,” Chicago: Moody Press, ©1964, p. 164, (1974 edition.); cf. pp.241,289-295 (1994 edition.)

    In 1422 B.C., Amenophis ruled Egypt, until 1391 B.C. Osiris is known as the deity of Heliopolis. In the reign of Amenophis, there were ambassadors “sent out to those shepherds driven out of the land (of Egypt) by Tethmosis, to the city of Jerusalem, whereby he informed them of his own affairs…” (Josephus, Against Apion. 1.26.). The result of this communication forges an alliance between the Rephaims and Philistines with Egypt, against the local Israeli Hebrew population.

    If this is the case, this supports the validity for and the era of the Tel Amarna tablets. These Babylonian linguistic tablets from the Philistines to Egypt are to be dated to circa 1384 B.C., when: 1) Ehud, the son of Gera, of the tribe of Benjamin, delivers the Israelites from Eglon (Judges 3:16 -20); and 2) Shamgar, the son of Anath, kills 600 Palestinian men with an ox goad the same year (Judges 3:31).

    The Hyksos, former masters in Egypt, only 167 years after their concurrent Exodus through the northern Sinai, were servants of Egypt in Israel. In Canaan/Israel, the once oppressive Hyksos were, in turn, afflicted by the Hebrews: and resorted to asking Egyptians (who their ancestors despised as weak), for archers as protection against the Hebrew judges and a popular uprising. The Hyksos were also related to the Anakims (Numbers 13:33) or “Nephilims”. Nephilims are translated as giants, but literally, it means “the fallen ones”, and is a direct reference to those who died in the Red Sea while pursuing Israel.

    In 1391 B.C., Horus, the son of Osiris and Isis was upon the throne. Isis, says Clement of Alexandria, in Miscellanies 1.21. will be deified in what we may reckon as somewhere near 1271 B.C.

    The Romans over a thousand years later, will worship her as Demeter: the deity of the fruitful and bountiful earth, and the “protector of marriage”. Her son, Horus, also is — centuries later — remembered by the Greeks, and thought of as a deity: Apollo. His sister, Acenchres (called “Nefertiti”), is Artemis and Diana. She ruled from 1354 B.C. until 1342 B.C. through Ikhnaton (Amenhotep IV). Her successor from 1342 to 1333 B.C. was Rathotis (a.k.a., Tutankhamen). Thus, the Tell Amarna tablets become a type of formula for prayers or requests to the fabricated deities Apollo (Horus) and Diana (Acenchres), for deliverance from the Jews, and the One True Faith in GOD, the GOD of Israel.

    In the Tell El-Amarna tablets, the Philistine lords or city-kings, communicate to Egypt in the Babylonian language…not in Egyptian. Why? One tablet speaks of Gezer having fallen, along with Ashkelon and Lachish. In Joshua 16:10, 21:21; and Judges 1:29; we find that Gezer was portioned as half-Jewish priests with their families and half-Canaanite. The Babylonian language entered the land with distinction in ca. 1450 B.C. with the invasion of Chushanrishathamin (Judges 3:8) , and remained the language of trade from 1450 B.C. until ca. 1211 B.C., some 239 years later. This example we see again with the Hellenization of the region and the influence of the Greek language over 1,000 years later.

    In Isaiah 52:4, we find the Jewish history that those who oppressed the Jews in Egypt before the Exodus were not Egyptian at all: they were Syrian or Assyrian. In other words, the only peoples that fit this description within Egypt during the era in question: are the Hyksos, who came out of Syria-Assyria and into Egypt, because the Hittites were too strong for them to defend against at the time. This brings into Egypt the language of Aram, which is later characterized as Syriac-Babylonian.

    Therefore, the language of Moses and of the Hyksos was a separation of distinctions or dialect of the same general mother tongue. To not be immersed and familiar with the characterizations and recent slang might cause one to stammer and stutter in conversing with those who use certain unfamiliar idioms regularly. This is perhaps what Moses meant in his asking GOD for, and receiving, a helper in Exodus 4:10-16. This insight appears to be lost in the discussion regarding a proper dating of the Exodus.

  25. Brian says

    Let me also present another proof by offering a timeline in which we use the 1180 B.C. Battle of Kadesh as a marker, taking into account the inter-calculatory reckoning of years on the shortened Greek calendar of 10 months or 305 days, as stated earlier existing pre Cyrus I, and showing how that Josephus, Patristics, and the Bible can be shown to be explaining the same accurate parallel history one with another regarding these years in question.

    The Clementine Stromata Book 1, Chapter 21 with Josephus’ Antiquities of the Jews (AoJ) and the Bible, presents us a clear outline.

    1551 – 1486 B.C.

    Joshua 24:29 ; Judges 2:8 — “And Joshua the son of Nun…died, being a 110 years old.”

    Clement: “As the book of Joshua relates, the above mentioned man was the successor of Moses 27 [ actual 25] years”

    Clement: “After the close of Moses’s life, Joshua succeeded to the leadership of the people, and he, after warring for 65 years, rested in the good land other 25.” [Corrected by Josephus]

    Josephus, Antiquities, 5.1.29: “So Joshua, when he had thus discoursed to them, died, having lived a 110 years; 40 of which he lived with Moses, … He also became their commander after his death for 25 years.”

    Hence: 1551 B.C – 65 years = 1486 B.C.


    1511 B.C. – 1471 B.C.

    Judges 3:11 – “ And the land had rest 40 years. And Othniel the son of Kenaz died.”

    Clement: “Gothoniel [ Othniel]. the younger brother of Caleb, of the tribe of Judah, who, having slain the king of Mesopotamia, ruled over the people 40 years in succession.”

    This section is the only one that I have found where the addition of years seems to infer one meaning while being translated as another, and likely is the one that throws most chronologists off the trail. I believe that the proper interpretation may be that Othoniel co-ruled with Joshua (as his general and then as his chief administrator) for 40 years. The notion that the Land had rest, may imply the East Bank lands of 2 1/2 tribes enjoyed the Shabbat, as did any lands the Hebrews immediately conquered. Unfortunately, this is a tenuous interpretation forced by the circumstance of all the other years of the chronology add up and correspond. Since Scripture is inerrant, I must therefore view the Scripture in the chronology it makes available for me to interpret from, using the information that it provides.

    1486-1471 B.C.
    [Unknown 8 year tributary period at any time in this 15 year period]

    Judges 3:8 — “the children of Israel served Cushan-rishathaim 8 years.”

    Clement: “Then the Hebrews having sinned, were delivered to Chusachar [ Chushan-rishathaim] king of Mesopotamia for 8 years.”


    1477 -1459 B.C.

    Judges 3:12 — “and the L-RD strengthened Eglon the king of Moab against Israel.”

    Clement: “ And… were delivered into the hands of Æglom [ Eglon] king of the Moabites for 18 years.”

    Josephus AoJ 5.4.1.: “Eglon, king of the Moabites…reduced [the Israelites] to poverty for 18 years.”


    1441 – 1361 B.C.

    Judges 3:30 — “So Moab was subdued …and the land had rest 80 years.”

    Clement: “ But on their repentance, Aod, [ Ehud.] … was their leader for 80 years.”

    Josephus AoJ 5.4.3: “Ehud…died after he had held the government 80 years.”


    1361-1341 B.C.

    –[actual “Jabin”, king of Canaan]
    Judges 4:3 — [Jabin for ] “20 years … mightily oppressed the children of Israel”.

    Clement: “On the death of Aod [Ehud]… were delivered into the hand of Jabim,…20 years.”

    Josephus AoJ 5.5.1-2 – Israel subdued by Sisera to Jabin’s control, 20 years.


    1341-1301 B.C.

    Clement: “Deborah ruled, judging the people 40 years”

    Josephus AoJ 5.5.3-4 – Israel delivered to Deborah administration and commander Barak.


    {A Kadesh in May, 1300 BC would have encountered a simultaneous Midianite bid for control of the plains and farmlands of the Hebrews.}

    1301 – 1294 B.C.

    Clement: “On her death, the people … were delivered into the hands of the Midianites 7 years.”

    Josephus AoJ 5.6.1: “For about 3 years the Israelites fought off the Midianites and Arabians, then retired to the mountains, and endured famine.”


    1294-1254 B.C.

    Clement: “Gideon, of the tribe of Manasseh …ruled 40 years.”

    Josephus AoJ 5.6.7 – “Gideon ruled over the government 40 years.”


    1254-1251 B.C.

    Clement: “The son of Ahimelech, 3 years.”


    1251-1229 B.C.

    Clement: An Israelite judge [obscured by Clement]…“of the tribe of Ephraim, who ruled 23 years”

    Josephus AoJ 5.7.6.: “Jair the Gileadite of the tribe of Manasseh…22 years.”

    1229 – 1211 B.C.

    Clement: “The people having sinned again, were delivered to the Ammonites 18 years”

    1211-1205 B.C.

    Judges 11:26 – [And Jepthaah inquired] – “While Israel dwelt in …all the cities that are along by the side of the Arnon, 300 years; wherefore did ye not recover them within that time?”

    1511 B.C. – 300 years = 1211 B.C. We have a chronological marker for accuracy in Judges 11;26.

    Clement: “Jephtha the Gileadite, of the tribe of Manasseh… ruled 6 years ”


    1205 – 1198 B.C.

    Clement: “Abatthan. of Bethlehem, of the tribe of Juda, ruled 7 years.”Cf. Judges 12:7,9


    Clement: 1198 – 1190 B.C.

    Clement: “Then Ebron the Zebulonite, 8 years”

    Scripture: 1198 – 1188 B.C. Judges 12:11

    Clement: 1190 – 1182 B.C.

    Scripture: 1188 – 1180 B.C.

    Judges 12:13-14 “And after him Abdon… judged Israel…8 years.”

    Clement: “Then Eglom of Ephraim, 8 years”

    A Kadesh battle in 1180 B.C. regarding Rameses and the Hittites would have left a vacuum of power in Israel that is quickly filled by the Cretan based Philistines. That is exactly what appears to have happened.

    Clement: 1182 – 1142 B.C.
    Scripture 1180-1140 B.C.

    Judges 13: 1 And the children of Israel …into the hand of the Philistines 40 years.”

    Clement: “Under the power of the foreigners, the Philistines, for 40 years” [Cretan based]

  26. Robin says

    Anne and Brian — esp the latter — are quite devoted to a particular point of view. The explanations presented here are very detailed and obviously done by spending much time piecing things together and using their calculators. I have heard reputable evangelical Egyptologists defend the 13th century BC dating for the Exodus of the Bible and say that the evidence that does exist converted them from their earlier 15th century BC. POV. And yes, I saw (and bought) the movie “Patterns of Evidence.” Well done movie though heavily critiqued by some. The article in BAR is excellent.

  27. Brent says

    The Exodus wasn’t during the reign of Ramses the Great. There is ample evidence for an Exodus in the 15th century BC. Amenhotep III is the Pharaoh who wouldn’t let the Israelites go free. His son Thutmose was the first born and he mysteriously disappears from the Egyptian records and is said by scholars to have predeceased his father. Manetho even wrote about him, The story depicts Osarseph [Moses] as a renegade Egyptian priest who leads an army of lepers and other unclean people against a pharaoh named Amenophis [Amenhotep]; the pharaoh is driven out of the country and the leper-army, in alliance with the Hyksos (whose story is also told by Manetho) ravage Egypt, committing many sacrileges against the gods, before Amenophis returns and expels them. Towards the end of the story Osarseph changes his name to Moses.” Probably the best evidence for the Exodus at this time is the fact that when Akhenaten came to power he immediately forsook the Egyptian gods and the Egyptian capital of Thebes and he went and built his own capital in the desert, a completely new city with temples dedicated to the sun god Aten. In conclusion Amenhotep III is the Pharaoh of the Exodus, Thutmose III is the Pharaoh who was reigning when Moses was born c.1472 BC and his daughter took him in, possibly Beketamun. Moses fled towards the end of Thutmose’s reign c.1432 BC. The Exodus was c.1391 BC.

  28. Gary says


    Book 3, Chapter 27’s context, is the Roman calendar. We still use this numbering in Sept., Oct., Nov. Dec. The calendar consisted of 304 days. The days from the end of Dec. to the beginning of March, were not assigned to any month at all. But they still were there, and were considered, and noted.

    Using 304 days, with no days considered in between? In three years, December would be starting in July.

    The Romans, would have noticed.

    The Calendars were set up, to count time; and, specifically, to recognize the days for the beginnings of the religious festivals, which all have their origin in the cycle of planting, growth, harvest, and dormancy. The mythologies of all peoples, are rooted within the cycle of the seasons, for the most part. Persephone, Demeter, and Hades; Sukkot, are specific examples, of the purpose of the calendar.

    No ancient calendar is detached from the cycle of the seasons, no matter how accurate, or inaccurate, it is.

    Any consideration of ancient calendrical systems, must recognize why they were created in the first place, and what they are based upon. The time of planting, is the most important to calculate, especially in areas of more meager rainfall. And every planting, is definitely a new year, to every ancient culture.

  29. Kola says

    Date of the Exodus is very difficult to fix with certainty. Different historians have assigned it to the period of the (a) Hyksos (b) Amarna Age (c) Ramses and Merneptah (d) 20th Egyptian Dynasty.(b) and (c)are much more probably true than (a) and (d). The Biblical tradition should be assumed as valid;i.e.that the Pharaoh of the oppression was Ramses II and that of the Exodus, his successor Merneptah. Ex. 1:11 and 2:23-24. Clues: (a) if the period of the Hyksos should be agreed upon, although very unlikely, then the date of the Exodus should be c1550. (b) if the Hibaru of the Armana Tablet could be identified with the Hebrews and the wars fought by them in Palestine were the wars under Joshua, then the date of the Exodus was c1450B.C. (c) Exodus Exodus 1:11 if this points to the Pharaoh of the Ramses dynasty, this would put the Exodus to 1234- 1214B.C. There is evidence in Egyptian Records of Semetic labour during the reign of Merneptah II(1229B.C.) (d) I Kings 6:1 says Temple began 480 years after the Exodus. Date of Solomon’s reign is c 970B.C. Therefore c970+480=c1450B.C.(c) Exodus 12:40 gives 430years as period of sojourn. If the Hebrews reached Egypt immediately the Hyksos gained power in Egypt, I.e. c1800, then the date of the Exodus is 1800– 430= 1370, or if immediately after their expulsion 1580– 430=1150B.C. We may therefore conclude that our earlier date is probably not later than the early part of the 15th century B.C. but we can not say more than that if it probably took place between the middle of the 16th and the 13th Century B C. As regards the crossing of the Red Sea it is a mistranslation of Sea of Reeds as Red Sea from Bible commentaries. There are Bibles with maps of the Exodus and none of them show a transition of the Red Sea. From time immemorial there had been a highway between Africa and Asia along which Moses took the Israelites the same highway that Napoleon almost drowned with his horse when he reached its end at the gulf !!!

  30. Michael F. says

    The problem I have with BAR is that they want to be a scholarly publication yet asks ridiculous tease questions such as “Exodus Fact of Fiction?” It is hopelessly fictional. To even pose such a question, leads anyone of an scholarly integrity to ignore the publication.

  31. Vadim says

    In 1970s totally assimilated, non-religious, non-circumcised Jews got up and left the totalitarian Soviet Union. It is estimated that over a million “Russian” Jews emigrated in a space of 5 years. That occurred shortly after H. Potock has written his unsubstantiated “Jews of Silence,” about the loss and assimilation of the “Russian” Jews. The people were denied exit visas, lost relatives, jobs, etc., ect. Majority of Jews from this 1st Exodus from the Soviet Union settled in Israel. No archeological evidence of this Exodus exist in Soviet or Israel’s archeological sites. In the Soviet Union mention of Jewish emigration in press or in public speeches was outlawed. Nothing much was evident in Israel, where these highly educated, energetic immigrants were resented by local Jews. Nothing showed except sudden apartment construction, engineering and scientific boom in Israel and unexpected collapse of the Soviet Union. What should archeologist and historians say 3000 years from now? Was it possible to loose and receive a million Jews? Where are the Soviet records? How did 4M Israelis absorbed 1M “Russians?” Was it a miracle?

    Now millions are leaving Middle East for Europe. Is this a miracle? Europeans do not publish statistics either. Tents and trailers will not remain after 300 years either.

  32. Robert says

    Read ‘Where Moses Stood’ for the true facts.

  33. edward says

    The cities of Pi Ramses and Pi Atum. I don;t think the former city would be named before a Ramses became pharaoh.. Pi Atum seemingly was named for Aten, the heretical god. Ramses came along more than a hundred years after the Atenism was suppressed.
    For a Ramesside to name a city for Atum would be like a .a catholic ruler naming a city for Luther.
    Therefore, if there was an exodus the Israelite’s did not have a reliable date for it

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