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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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  • William says

    In my opinion the reliability of the Bible as source material with regard to historical research is undermined by the nonsense myths and legends contained in the Bible. For example ‘The Flood’ legend in Genesis 7 is borrowed from the Babylonian cuneiform text which is one thousand years older than the Biblical Hebrew text. Dr Irving Finkel in his book ‘THE ARK BEFORE NOAH Decoding the Story of the Flood’ ( published by Hodder & Stoughton, Great Britain, 2014, ISBN 978 1 444 75708 8 ) acknowledges the pioneering contribution by George Smith ( 1840 – 76 ) who, in 1872 ‘astounded the world by discovering the story of the Flood – much the same as that in the Book of Genesis – inscribed on a cuneiform tablet made of clay that had recently been excavated at far – distant Nineveh’ ( op cit, p,1 ). This find at Nineveh and the translation by George Smith that the Flood story was written on a clay tablet one thousand years before the Hebrews plagiarized the Flood story, begs the question ‘what else did the Hebrew chroniclers plagiarize to compile the history of the Hebrews and which ‘God’ are the Hebrews referring to in their texts?’

    • Jon says

      How would finding the universal flood story in other countries and languages discount the story? Would it not add to it’s veracity? If the flood in Noah’s day was indeed universal it stands to reason that there wouldn’t be only one people group that knows and retells the same story. Actually, cultures all over the world, far removed from the Middle East and isolated from all external influence, retell ancient flood stories similar to that in the Bible. Would these ethno-historical accounts of remote peoples, that may have been orally passed down from ancient times, disprove the Bible? Would we say they’ve also plagiarized the ancient Babylonian story? Does the Bible claim to be the only account of a universal flood? No, it only claims that the flood was universal and, as such, would have, at least initially, been universally known. We outsmart ourselves when we try to disprove biblical records simply because we don’t want to believe it. Shouldn’t we rather see that, since so many of the biblical accounts are accurate and verified, maybe the whole of it is true?

      • Al says

        Well said, exactly what I would believe. As Noah’s family grew and repopulated the earth, the flood would of been passed down to the generations. Thanks Jon.

    • Tina says

      You obviously know nothing about Hebrew heritage or you would not make your comments.

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