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Ancient Israel in Egypt and the Exodus

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Interested in what archaeology can tell us about the historicity of the Exodus?

In this free eBook, learn about the Israelites in Egypt and the archaeological context of the Exodus.

The Exodus is one of the most dramatic events in the Hebrew Bible – the slavery of the Israelites in Egypt and their miraculous escape across the Red Sea. It is traditionally viewed as the single event that gave birth to the nation of Israel. Is there archaeological evidence for the Exodus, and for Israelites in Egypt?

The Biblical narrative of the Exodus is a fascinating account that can be supplemented by additional historical sources. This free eBook, taken from articles in Biblical Archaeology Review magazine, considers texts and archaeological evidence from the second millennium B.C.E. that describe Israel in Egypt and the Exodus.

Chapter One

Out of Egypt

In “Out of Egypt,” James K. Hoffmeier questions how likely is it that the Israelites were enslaved in Egypt. And if they were there, which way did they go when they left? Hoffmeier uses recent archaeological excavation data from Egypt to shed new light on the slavery of the Israelites in Egypt, the locations mentioned in Exodus and the route the Israelites took out of Egypt to the Promised Land.

Chapter Two

Let my People Go and Go and Go and Go

Abraham Malamat’s article “Let my People Go and Go and Go and Go” questions the historicity of the Exodus. Malamat suggests that once we give up the search for a single, dramatic Exodus, the evidence for a more subtle image of ancient Israel in Egypt and the Exodus—one dispersed over time—will emerge.

Chapter Three

When Did Ancient Israel Begin?

Finally, in “When Did Ancient Israel Begin?” Hershel Shanks takes a new look at the late-13th-century B.C.E. Merneptah Stele, which has long been considered the earliest reference to Israel outside of the Bible. But now three German scholars say they may have found another hieroglyphic inscription almost 200 years older naming “Israel.” This new archaeological evidence of the Israelites in Egypt suggests that the Bible may be more accurate than some thought.


This free eBook shares new archaeological evidence for the Israelites in Egypt, and reshapes understandings of the historicity of the Exodus.

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33 Responses

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  1. Ernesto says

    Have you people read “The Bible Unearthed” by Israel Finkelstein ?

  2. Johnna says

    There is not any evidence of Isreals Exodus except for one place if it can be found. This is a living prophecy of today. We are not meant to find proof as when we are taken out of the world there will be no proof of the event. the only place there may possibly be evidence is where the ground opened and swallowed the one who stole and buried the silver under his tent and the ground opened and took his whole family and livestock. Good luck finding it. No other remains are there as they most likely resurrected with Jesus along with the others who came out of their graves when Jesus resurrected. That is my opinion. blessings.

  3. Lee says

    Johnna, surprisingly enough there is quite a lot of evidence for the Exodus. You should look up Thutmoses III and that story and research his history. Not to mention the findings of the Golden Chariot wheels under the Red Sea and Settlement evidence in the desert. I hope this helps.



  4. Don says

    Yam Suf the sea of reeds. is Lake Manzillah in the Delta that until they built the Aswan dam flowed into the Mediterranean. If you look at maps of the Delta prior to 1970 AD, you will see a gap in this long shore drift., In normal times the lake just trickles over sand bar into the Med, but during the inundation it blasts it’s way through creating this gap . and each year that gap moves up and down that long shore drift as can be seen by Napoleon’s maps. However when the Med Tide is out the, but not during the inundation time, waters from the lake will perculate through the sand bar leaving a 6-8ft dry area that can be walked over dry shod bu only for about 3 hours over aprrox a 4km stretch. When the Med Tide rises, the waters in the lake back up and the sand bar is covered by about 100mm of water. However if you’re running through this to the other side and you must be able to see the other side, then if yo fall you can get up . But a chariot doesn’t know this and the last thing the Egyptians wanted was to go into a small hole and the foot soldiers of Israel will come back and kill them ,so it doesn’t look like they followed them. This was the rooute the Egyptians as used then and now in taking a short cut from Port Said to Damieitta., Whereas by road you have to go back almost to Cairo . This tide happened twice a day for thousands of years. Which means Moses didn’t arrive there when the Med Tide was out but must have known about it and can be possible confirmed as being thee before from the Anastasia V papyrus. There is no mention of a Red sea in the Torah, the first referance to this sea was in the Christian Bible. Besides you have to have reeds to make their new abodes at Succoth and you don’t get reeds around salt water of the Red Sea. So where does the Bible get Red Sea from . May I suggest Moses named it Yam Edom the Edomite sea . It got changed to red because Red in Hebrew is Adom and there’s other references, like Karan and Keren where the translators got confused with there E’s an A’s as in Hebrew they’re similar . The Edomites were the people that lived near Elat and Accaba, which Moses passed through and they were seafarers .
    There is now no need for that gap ,so the Egyptians have built a road and houses, where I say Moses once trod. I should add that I believe Exodus and Genesis to be an accurate history of the Jews. It wasn’t God who slowed up the Egyptains. by removing their chariot wheels, it was Moses the stratigist, who sent Joshua and Caleb to remove the axle pins the night before . any questions ask doncox1@onetel.comI

  5. Grary says

    It seems that much money and ado is spent in the pursuit of opinion. Such opinion has to differ from existing opinion so that a name can be made for ones self. Thus an opinion turns to a hypothesis and a hypothesis to fact in the writer and readers mind. There is only one simple fact, the desires for money, and that desire drives the most rediculous speculations to paper.
    To often your authors state what the Bible says, but it is obvious they have not read it for what they state is wrong.
    To often speculations of a adle minded ditch digger are treated as archilogical fact. May the readers of this e-book beware, it is about as accurate a story as Russel Crowes Noah!

  6. robert says

    I have research this back and forward and found most writer’s are stating their opinion by adding a hypothesis to the very few facts to back up. if people study Egyptian history they keep real good records of certain things. This would have been very important and records would have been keep

  7. None says

    It is clear from serious scientific work that this “exodus” never happened. And for a good reason. Hebrew bedouins were taken to PERSIA as slaves. That is a historical fact, that is also confirmed in the famous “name” Messiah,which is actually PERSIAN “me shah” and it means “our king”.

    But, hey. Science also tells us that believing in supernatural “friends” is clinical schizophrenia.

    SO very true.

  8. Freida says

    I personally think that The Exodus was rather like Noah’s Arch in a way.

  9. Elias says

    Really, this is it for the comments?! Ok, so everyone needs to see http://www.patternsofevidence.com/en and see the proof. Yes Finkelstein is in it! There is not only archeological proof, but also textural proof in the hand of an Egyptian. Much of the proof is coming from UNDER the land called Rameses, a whole layer of another culture, clearly not Egyptian. One of the most outstanding points to me was that Moses wrote Genesis around 1500, a few hundred years BEFORE the Pharaoh Rameses, so likely someone updated the city name later to something more modern, that could be traced, at that time. Again, it is now UNDER that updated location that they are finding masses of evidence! So people have been looking for proof in Egyptian records in the wrong time period, kind of like searching for records of some Americans having African slaves during this 21st century; not finding those records in this century doesn’t mean it didn’t happen, it means one was looking, in the right place, but at the wrong time!

    And as for Noah’s ARK, it was found in the 1950’s, verified through much scientific evidence including a core sample from near the base producing petrified animal dung, hair, and antler. It is exactly the right size according to the Egyptian cubit, can be seen on Google Earth, and has had a visitor center set up for over 20 years now in Turkey.

  10. BHD says

    ALL the info. on the Exodus is in the Bible. There were 2 Exoduses, one at the time of the Hyksos expulsion from Avaris in Egypt about 1535 BC of the Josephite tribes the second of the Judahite tribes after the death of Ramesses II in 1213 BC. The First Exodus lead to the Israelites being in the Trans Jordan for 300 years, Judges 11:36 until lead out by Joshua the Ephraimite (a Josephite) into Canaan. This Exodus was one of haste pursued by King Ahmose and there is a record of this ! The Second Exodus of the Judahite tribes after the death Of Ramesses II (Exodus 2:23) when Moses the Judahite lead the Judahite tribes out from Goshen near the City of Ramesses to Midian. in Arabia. This was a slow Exodus because the pastoral Judahites were burdened with their flocks of sheep and herds of cattle (Genesis 47:32). Moses would have taken the direct route to Midian via the ancient Trade route having only recently returned from Midian (Exodus 4:19-20).
    The reason for the separaration of Josephites based at Avaris and Judahites at Goshen in Egypt stemmed from the five conspirators (Genesis 47:2) the half brothers of Joseph who had conspired to kill Joseph and then sold him into slavery at Avaris where he became vizier and was able to settle the brother and half brothers who had not conspired against him. The story is all there in the Bible, today partly obscured but still present- two Exoduses not one.
    Archaeology in Amenhotep III mention of the Shasu YHW the wanderers of YHW and the Ishrael base perhaps from the time of Thutmose III indicate the presence of Israelites outside Egypt long before the time of Moses and Ramesses II

  11. Keith says

    I have been excited about the work of Egyptologist Dr. David Rohl and look forward to his new book “Exodus – Myth or History”. Dr. Rohl found the timeline for Egyptian history was out of sync with the actual archeological facts. If you place the new timeline over the known dates for the conquest of Canaan then even the fall of Jericho now falls into place.

  12. Mervyn says

    Dr Rohl learned about the errors in dating Egyptian history from Prof. Immanuel Velikovsky’s book “Ages in Chaos”. When the dates are corrected all the Bible falls into place. There is no “myth”. To understand, get hold of the book FIRST.

  13. Chris says

    In my life as I have walked holding hands with Elohim _ I have learned that He purposely keeps to Himself proofs of His accounts. In doing so He challenges us to believe in this case, regardless the apparent lack of archaeological evidence. The knowledge belongs to Him and He reveals His knowledge as needed for us to exercise our faith in Him in a manner that help us to grow as believers. Deuteronomy 29:29 states “The secret things belong to the Lord our God, but those things which are revealed belong to us (…)”.
    The real believer is that who doesn’t need any proof but His word. He gives us crumbs of knowledge, not too much that we become lazy in our faith and not too little that we get discouraged for the lack of it. This dynamic is compatible with The Lord’s character; He gave us free will so we can choose to believe or choose not to, He doesn’t force us, however as Jesus said to Thomas: “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”
    I believe.

  14. BHD says

    As written in Judges 11:26 The Israelites were 300 years in the Trans Jordan. The Israelites were part of the Hyksos at Avaris, see Bietak Expedition Reports, from the time of Joseph vizier of the Hyksos, Genesis 41:33-39. The 5 conspirators who had conspired to kill then sold Joseph into slavery, Genesis 37::18-28 were given land at Goshen near the future city Pi-Ramesses Genesis 47:2-6. This was about 1620 BC.
    The conspirators were the pastoral Judahites. Reuben, Simeon, Judah, Levi and Gad..
    The Israelites who lived at Avaris were expelled by King Ahmose along with the Hyksos about 1535 BC and there was a pursuit. This Exodus was one of Haste This episode is described by Ebana at his tomb site.. The Israelites fled into Canaan along the way passing the Sea of Reeds probably Lake Ballah, See the Haggadah P.106 Seif Edition. The Israelites found themselves in the Trans Jordan. They may have made a brief foray back into Canaan about 1447 BC while Thutmose III was attacking the Amorites. The Israelites entered Canaan about 1230 led by Joshua the Ephraimite
    a Josephite. The Judahites remained on their land at Goshen until the advent of Moses the Judahite who returned from Midian after the death of Ramesses Ii in 1213 BC Exodus 2:23. The Judahites were conscripted to provide labour for the building of Pi-Ramesses, the city of Ramesses Exodus 1:11. The Exodus of the Judahites was burdened with herds of Cattle and flocks of sheep Exodus 12:32, it was a leisurely affair. Moses had just returned from Midian and would have taken the Judahites by the shortest route back to Midian Exodus 2:15. There is no Egyptian record of any pursuit or disaster at the time of this Exodus. The Judahites entered Canaan from the south as described in Judges 1:3 forty years after leaving Egypt probably led by Caleb the Judahite, after 1170 BC. At least 60 years after the eastern entry of the Israelites into Canaan led by Joshua the Josephite.
    The First Exodus was one of haste pursued by King Ahmose. The Second Exodus was a leisurely affair. King Merneptah was not at Pi-Ramesses at the time of the departure of the Judahites he had moved to a palace at Memphis, see Univ. of Penn. Museum exhibit.

  15. Mervyn says

    BHD claims (without the slightest evidence) that the Hyksos and the Israelites worked together. Other commentators make similar stupid assertions. The Hebrew Bible tells us clearly that the Israelites heading EAST or SOUTH EAST were attacked by the Hyksos heading WEST Into Egypt after Egypt had been totally destroyed in what we call the Ten Plagues. Moreover the Egyptian people at all levels had been decimated as their stone buildings collapsed on them. Further, their army and pharaoh
    had been drowned at the Reed Sea so the Land of Egypt was wide open and, as we are told in the Bible, there was no resistance.
    Will those commentators expressing their own wishful views rather than facts, please read Dr Immanuel Velikovsky’s “Ages in Chaos” which explains HOW it all happened. No need for ignorant hypotheses anymore. Or even so-called learned ones!

  16. Mervyn says

    The Pharaoh at the time of the Exodus was Pharaoh Thom, the last of the 12th Egyptian Dynasty (apart from a son who died immediately after Thom drowned.) From then on there were the Hyksos/Amu/Amalekite dynasties 13,14,15 and 16th Dynasties. That lasted until King Saul defeated them completely at the battle of Avaris, their capital. Read about it in the Hebrew Book of Samuel.

  17. Mervyn says

    The first new Pharaoh of Egypt after the overthrow of the Amu/Amalekites/Hyksos was the native short-lived 17th dynasty followed by the 18th. “The Great Queen of Egypt and the South” otherwise known as Hatshepsut was the queen “Sheba” who visited King Solomon of Israel and bore him a son. On her return to Africa she made him viceroy of Ethiopia and gave him and his heirs a title carried down the dynasty as “The Lion of Judah” until Emperor Haile Selassie was assassinated in our life-time.
    Instead of writing “Comments” about which several of you obviously know nothing, try reading Dr. Immanuel Velikovsky’s book “AGES IN CHAOS”. It opened my eyes and opened History.


  18. Mervyn says

    After you have read Velikovsky you can THEN discuss the subject of Jewish history.

  19. Oracle says

    Correction Moses was not a Judite. He was from the tribe of Levi.

  20. Kurt says

    What evidence is there that bricks were made in ancient Egypt?
    The Bible book of Exodus states that the Egyptians put their Hebrew slaves to work making bricks. The slaves had to make a prescribed number each day, using clay mortar and straw.—Exodus 1:14; “They made their life bitter with hard labor, as they worked with clay mortar and bricks and in every form of slavery in the field. Yes, they made them toil in harsh conditions in every form of slavery.”-Exodus 5:10-14.”So the taskmasters and their foremen went out and said to the people: “Here is what Pharʹaoh has said, ‘I am giving you no more straw. Go and get your own straw for yourselves wherever you can find it, but your work will not be reduced at all.’” Then the people scattered throughout all the land of Egypt to gather stubble for straw. And the taskmasters kept urging them: “You must each finish your work every day, just as when straw was provided.” Also the foremen of the Israelites, whom Pharʹaoh’s taskmasters had appointed over them, were beaten.They asked them: “Why did you not reach the quota of bricks that you used to make? It happened both yesterday and today.”http://wol.jw.org/en/wol/d/r1/lp-e/2012010
    The making of sun-dried bricks was an important occupation in the Nile Valley in Bible times. Ancient monuments built from this material still stand in Egypt. A wall painting in the 15th-century B.C.E. tomb of Rekhmire in Thebes, almost contemporary with the events recounted in the book of Exodus, illustrates the process.
    The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia describes the scene in this painting as follows: “Water is brought from a pool; mud is mixed with a hoe and then carried to a spot convenient for the brickmaker. This mud is pressed into a wooden mold which the brickmaker holds to the ground. The mold is then lifted off, leaving a newly shaped brick to dry in the sun. Rows and rows of bricks are molded and, when dry, stacked preparatory to use. This procedure is still followed in the Near East.”
    Different papyrus documents from the second millennium B.C.E. also refer to the making of bricks by serfs, to the use of straw and brick-clay, and to the daily production quota of bricks that workers had to meet.
    Detail of wall painting in tomb of Rekhmire; Erich Lessing/Art Resource, NY

  21. David says

    For Don and others taken in by the “Yam Suf means Sea of Reeds and therefore just means such-and-such lake” argument: this argument doesn’t take into account that during the time of King Solomon, the Bible calls the sea at Elat “Yam Suf” as well, and in that case, there is no question it is speaking of what we call the Red Sea.

  22. Tamás says

    If you are interested in the topic:

  23. SHAWN says


  24. Ronald says

    I don’t think that there were any slaves. Ancient Egypt was a metaphysics capital of the world. Moses stole the Ark of the covenant in my opinion. The only way to recharge the Ark was in the Giza pyramid. .. why steal something that you can not use? God’s energy is shown in the form of the winged disc or solar disc that is actually Antihydrogen fusion wrapped in antihelium antioxygen that created the universe. This is also seen in the book of coming to light. .. Dark matter producing dark energy creates gravity and mass while living in the quantum field or aether shown in their art. My theory is backed up by NASA’S Fermi satellite And Italian space agency satellite PAMELA detected antihelium a signature of Dark matter during Sprite production. It looks like the sun but is double ringed flying disc made by lightning hitting hydrogen in a weightless environment of space. It created the universe.

  25. Vladi says

    Chris says the best! Amen brother!

  26. evan says

    i don’t think any of this is true

  27. Mervyn says

    Did all the “comments” dry up because the people who offered their stupid opinions have now actually read the Hebrew Bible AND Dr. I Velikovsky’s “Ages in Chaos” which clearly explains the proof of the Exodus and the 10 Plagues. Without this book, they are simply writing opinions based on nothing at all.
    I look forward to reading from someone who has actually read the facts, the scientific and other proof of the accuracy of the Hebrew Bible and the dating related to Egypt. (See above).

  28. Mervyn says

    Ronald says “I think….” But he simply doesn’t think.

  29. Carl says

    Thanks for the comment Chris (2/14/15:20:43). My feelings and thoughts exactly. ‘Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God’ AMEN, and AMEN. And remember also: “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not unto your own understanding and He will direct your paths” … Again, AMEN and AMEN.

  30. Janice says

    I wholeheartedly agree with all of Chris’s comments of Feb 2015. Chris, your comments are profound but come from the humble heart TRUE believer. You should start your own blog / Q & A to aid bible students come to the truth. You would lead many to Jesus Christ; Who is God in human form.


  31. Paul says

    I have always worried about Noah’s arch… good grief. There is good evidence for Israel in Egypt and for Israel leaving Egypt. Comparing archaeological information and Scripture it seems that Senusret III [also known as Sesostris III} was Pharaoh when Joseph, son of Jacob was taken to Egypt. The key is that there is more evidence for the resurrection of Jesus Christ than for any other personal event in ancient history.

  32. Jamie says

    Thankyou Chris & Carl for your faith. And I completely agree. I too believe.

  33. gisele says

    Who would reasonably expect archaeological evidence of the various travels of nomads thousands of years ago through the sands of Sinai? I find the proofs on the realities of today. We know Israel was Canaanite, with the god EL forming part of its name. We know the god who became the God of Israel came form the South. Archaeology supports that. Those two groups, who saw themselves as kin, ie, the various “exodus” migrations bringing their god to Canaan and the existent tribes of Israel, became one, just as their gods became one. Who knows, maybe the “Shema” prayer attests to that merging of gods. North and South were historically at odds with each other. Provenances are clear. So it is in language, like the many ה ‘s added to names previously not containing them, such as Abram and Abraham, the h ( ה) being of southern provenance. So what’s the fuss, the denials, the politics, the insistence on ” accuracy” from the Bible – a book written by Hebrews for Hebrews as anything but perfect science in mind- , the dating feuds. Is there any doubt really that these migrations from Egypt, called the one Exodus compounding many stories, happened? Do the deniers have better explanations for the simplest of facts proving the composition of what was to become Israel post-Canaan?

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