Did the Israelite exodus from Egypt actualy happen? Where is the evidence it did, or that the ancestors of the Jews were even in Egypt?
This is what the archeologists have said:
- There is no evidence that 600,000 (Book of Numbers) out of 3.5 million Egyptians migrated out of Egypt in the 13th century BC (traditional period of the Exodus).Originally Posted by wikipedia
- No evidence of the Exodus has been found at Mount Sinai, a traditional stopping point of the Exodus.Originally Posted by wikipedia
- The Old Testament lists a number of cities as having been built by the Israelites, including Rameses (thought to mean Pi-Rammses and Pithom. Ramesses was build in the reign of Rameses II. However no evidence for Pithom has been found for earlier than the 7th century BC - and even this as the location is disputed. Also this would be 400-500 yrs after Pi-Ramesses was built under Pharoah Ramsses II. So the Israelites cannot have built both cities, if the suppose site of Pithom is correct.Excavations at Kadesh conducted by Dr Rudolph Cohen (former head of the Israeli Antiquities Service) during the Israeli occupation of Sinai following the 1967 war uncovered copious remains of the Middle Bronze I period (sometimes known as Intermediate Bronze Age), which were also found at numerous other sites in the Negev. On the other hand, Late Bronze Age, the conventional time of the Exodus, is unattested in the Negev. In an article in Biblical Archaeology Review of July, 1983, Cohen put forward the suggestion that the Exodus took place at the start of MBI and that the MBI people were, in fact, the Israelites. The idea, fully accepted by those who have worked at sites such as Ein Hatzeva, has not been widely adopted.
- Some have argued that the Exodus refers to the fate of the semitic Hyksos people who ruled part/all of Egypt as the 15th dynasty in 1720-1550 BC. The problems with this theory are: - the Biblical Israelite slave-city Pi-Ramsses wasn't built until 200+ yrs later under Ramsses II; The Merneptah Steele - the first historical primary source mentioning "Israel" - was carved under the son of Ramsses II who died in 1213BC. So Israel must already have been in Canaan (modern Israel-Palestine) by then.The location of Pithom has been the subject of much conjecture and debate. In the spring of 1883 Édouard Naville believed he had identified it as the archaeological site Tell-el-Maskhuta. The site of Pithom, as identified by Naville, is to the east of Wadi Tumilat, south-west of Ismaïlia. Here was formerly a group of granite statues representing Ramesses II, two inscriptions naming Pr-Itm, storehouses and bricks made without straw. The excavations carried on by Naville for the Egypt Exploration Fund uncovered a city wall, a ruined temple, and the remains of a series of brick buildings with very thick walls and consisting of rectangular chambers of various sizes, opening only at the top and without any entrances to one another. Naville identified it as being in the region of Tjeku, the capital of the 8th Lower Egypt nome. Excavations carried out over five seasons between 1978 and 1985 have shown that Tell el-Maskhuta dates only to the end of the 7th century, and may have been built by Pharaoh Necho II, possibly as part of his uncompleted canal building project from the Nile to the Gulf of Suez.
In the 19th century Allen Gardiner identified Pithom with the site of Tell er-Rebata, and this was later accepted by William F. Albright and Kenneth Kitchen, but archeological excavations show Tell er-Rebata to have been unoccupied during the period when we find monuments relating to a town called Pithom.
- Palestine/Canaan was part of the Egyptian empire under Ramsses II. So the Exodus would not constitute an "escape" from Egypt. Tbe last attested presence of Egypt in Canaan dates to 1183BC.
Given the important role of religion in international politics - especially US foreign policy in the Middle East I think this debate is very pertinant.
My opinion is that the Exodus was a nationalistic myth invented for political reasons at a time when the Israelites were embroiled in wars with the Egyptians/Assyrians/Babylonians. The documentary "The Bible Unearthed" (can be viewed on youtube) mentions the Book of Numbers appeared in the 7th century BC during the reign of the king Josiah (died 609 BC) of Judah, who wanted to reconquer the Assyrian-ruled northern kingdom of Israel. Incidentally Josiah sided with Babylon against Egypt and Assyria, and was defeate and executed by the Egyptians under Necho II.