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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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  • noel says

    I read Israel Finkelstein’s book The Bible Unearthed where he presents some interesting evidence for arguing that the exodus and conquest did not happen. Who is the most prominent critic who is archaeologist who challenges his hypothesis

    • John says

      I just happened to see this Finkelstein on a TV show earlier this evening, entitled ‘Temple Mount,’ he doubts the efficacy of the Bibles account of Solomon’s temple, to me, after watching some of it, that he was ‘hell bent’ on trying to prove that that the Bible account of Solomon’s temple was a myth…..typical of some archaeologists ……after reading your statement, Noel, I can see how my thoughts did not go deep enough………he probably wants to discredit the entire Bible……….well I am sorry, he is in for a rather rude awakening.

  • M. says

    There are something like 1500 years between the building of the Pyramids and the Hebrew presence in Egypt. Explain that.

  • 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?

    • John says

      You should go to the ‘British Museum’ in London, it is truly amazing………with the right guide you can walk through Bible history…..you look at a particular artefact, go to the appropriate Bible chapter and verses, read about it…..and there it is in front of your eyes……..you can do this through the various sections of the museum, representing Biblical Empires, e.g. Egypt, Assyria, Babylon, Medo-Persia, Greece and Rome.
      It really does make the Bible ‘come to life’
      If you ever have that chance Gisel, I recommend it………you would certainly learn something. The God of the Israelites, Jehovah, was well known to the Israelites before their enslavement in Egypt………Moses had to remind the Israelites, about their God after 215 years bondage to the Egyptians, their release from captivity, and that is certainly well documented in in the Bible book of Exodus. (there was only ONE Exodus)
      And, the Bible is not just a book for Hebrews, it is a book for all mankind…….that is why it has existed for so long…….even after many attempts, throughout history, to destroy it , or prevent it from being published into hundreds of different languages, it is still a ‘best seller’

  • Jamie says

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

  • 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.

    • Eric says

      Noah’s Arch? Really? Paul there’s more to worry about…like knowing the basics and spelling.

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