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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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12 Responses

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  • Walter says

    We have several dates for the Exodus. The Jewish Historian Flavius Josephus (70 AD) thaought the expulsion of the Hyksos by Pharaoh Ahmose I circa 1546 BC was the Israelite Exodus. 1446 BC is another Exodus date favored by some conservative scholars based on 1 Kings 6:1 statement that the Exodus occurred 480 years before Solomon built the Temple. Then some Liberal scholars favor an Exodus after 1260 BC in the reign of Pharaoh Ramesses II. Why? Because the Exodus begins at the city of Ramesses, and Egyptologists understand Egyptian Per-Rameses came into existence about the time of Ramesses I and II. Two Egyptologists, Hoffmeier and Kitchen, have noted that the 480 years of 1 KIngs 6:1, is contradicted by the Bible’s internal timeline which comes to a time lapse of about 600 years instead of 480 years. 1446 BC plus 600 gives us 1546 BC and the Hyksos Expulsion from Egypt. Yet Hoffmeier and Kitchen ignore this and prefer an Exodus in the days of Ramesses II (circa 1260 BC). Can the Bibl help us? YES. We are told that after Moses’ death Joshua attacks Jericho and orders its fallen walls to be set afire. In the 1950’s Dame Kathleen Kenyon excavated Jericho. She noted its LAST WALLS had fallen due to an earth quake and had been set on fire. She dated the event to the Hyksos Expulsion from Egypt circa 1546 BC! BINGO! The Exodus is 1546 BC and the HYksos Expulsion is being remembered by the Bible. THE PROBLEM? Sites in Jordan (biblical Moab and Ammon and Edom) have been excavated and some did not come into existence until after 1200 BC, or Iron Age I (1200-1100 BC). Conclusion: The Bible is recalling real events, grounded in archaeological findings, and the evidence suggests that the Iron Age I settlement of Jordan and Canaan, 1200-1100 BC has been combined with the Hyksos Expulsion and destruction of Jericho in 1546 BC. The Bible says Israel married the Canaanite’s sons and daughters and came to worship their gods. Assuming the BIble to have been written in Iron Age II, evidently these peoples saw the Hyksos as their ancestors via marriages with Iron I Canaanites (Hyksos descendants).

  • Oiced says

    Adão e Eva e o Jardim do Éden e Pecado Original, Moisés e o Êxodo (histórias de exilios e conquistas foram plagiadas), Dez Mandamentos, Abraão, Josué ou de qualquer dos juízes, Davi, Salomão e seu reino, NOÉ e o Dilúvio, NUNCA EXISTIRAM historicamente.
    A BÍBLIA, conta relatos que não são históricos, são boatos, fábulas, MITOLOGIAS. Não existem textos autênticos e originais estão perdidos. Parem de que enganar e mentir para o mundo relatando como relatos ficcionais como se verdades fossem.
    JESUS de Nazaré (deus ou filho de deus), José, Maria e os Apóstolos… as histórias da Criação e a Natividade, Crucificação, NÃO SÃO FATOS, são inverídicos e não são coerentes entre si (mortos não ressuscitam). NUNCA existiram.
    Os Evangelhos são um labirinto escrito por autores anônimos e editores e revisores conflitantes.
    Do Éden ao Apocalipse, A Bíblia é um registro dos erros e das maldades dos homens. As Escrituras “não são a palavra de Deus”nem inspiradas.


  • NATHAN says

    In my opinion, the Bible is a good place to begin our inquiry, not to dispute its
    history and theology with cut and paste archaelogical references. Also, the bottom line with Biblical history is that God is not only providential, but actively involved in human affairs. The Bible is a revelation of what God has done and will accomplish from creation until the end of the age. Do we think it possible that the God who created a trillion stars in a million gallaxies might actually be capable of parting the Red Sea to rescue His people? If we disgard the first verses of Genesis as a myth, all bets are off. If one is an agnositic or an atheist, the miracles of the Bible that changed human history are nonsense. To paraphrase King David in the Psalms, “In their heart, they say there is no God.” In other words, our final, final on the subject of God’s intervention in Biblical history is an issue of the heart, not of the intellect. Interpreting Biblical history and theology is a grand and rewarding challenge for scholars and archaelogists. Digging dirt in those ancient lands to refute the authenticity of the Bible is a fool’s pursuit.

  • John says

    Y’all need to stop pushing lies and tell the truth the real truth about Moses the real royal family of Kemet kings Ahmoses Ramoses Kamoses Thutmoses especially about Ahmoses chasing out the foreign invaders to regain the land liberation for his people from a bunch of culture vultures nomads stop lying to people about the misconception of lies a lot of people are awoke Israelites aka Hyksos it’s facts y’all need to stop lying to people examples of Hyksos Jacob aka Yaqubher Hykso also Hezekiah aka a Hykso on his seal they found he has a lot of Kemet Tameri symbols on it such as Sun of righteousness and a Ahnk on it stop embarrassing y’all selves entertaining lies

    • Ana says

      Thank you
      Someone FINALLY said it

  • 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.

      • Martin says

        Even the Chinese have a character that represents the flood.

    • Tina says

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

      • Eric says

        OBVIOUSLY, Tina, you must know everything.

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