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References or accounts in historical Egyptian literature about the Exodus

References or accounts in historical Egyptian literature about the Exodus


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In the Bible, there is a long treatise about the miracles that had forgone the Exodus, the Book of Genesis details these. Then there are the dealings between Moses and Pharaoh, the magic fight of Moses' and the Egyptian Sorcerers and, most importantly, the Plagues of Egypt, related in the Book of Exodus.

Are there any references or possible conjectures about these events in historical Egyptian literature?


I will answer this in two parts, concerning historical tradition and actual historical documents.

Historical Tradition and Writings

None of the stories from the Hebrew Book of Names, which you know as the "Exodus" are found either in Egyptian sources or in later Greek sources describing Egyptian mythology with the exception of the account of Manetho. The account of Manetho, a 3rd century BC Greek writer, is called the Aegyptica and is purported to be based on old Egyptian history. In addition to Manetho's book we have a response attributed to "Flavius Josephus" which is a critique of Manetho's book. In the critique, the author seems to acknowledge the basic facts of the account as being true while denying various minor aspects. Manetho's account of the Hebrews is a long discursion from his main topic which is on the kings (pharaohs) of Egypt. We do not have the full original text of the Aegyptica, but only later epitomes, such as those by Syncellus. The account in the "Josephus" work, Contra Apionem is most detailed, so I will paraphrase it here:

Tutimaeus. In his reign, for what cause I know not, a blast of God smote us; and unexpectedly, from the regions of the East, invaders of an obscure race marched in confidence of victory against our land. By main force they easily seized it without striking a blow; and having overpowered the rulers of the land, they then burned our cities ruthlessly, razed to the ground the temples of the gods, and treated all the natives with cruel hostility, massacring some and leading into slavery the wives and children of others. Finally, they appointed as king one of their number whose name was Salitis. He had his seat at Memphis… In the Saitian district [ie the Sethroite Nome] he founded a city and named it "Avaris" according to ancient traditions… [list of kings follows]… These six kings, their first rulers, were ever more and more eager to extirpate the Egyptian stock. Their race as a whole was called Hyksos, that is king-shepards… Some say that they were Arabs. In another copy the expression hyk, does not mean "kings" : on the contrary, the compound refers to "captive-shepherds"… These kings whom I have enumerated above, and their descendants, ruling over the so-called Shepherds, dominated Egypt, according to Manetho, for 511 years. Thereafter, he says, there came a revolt of the kings of Thebes and the rest of Egypt against the Shepherds, and a fierce and prolonged war broke out between them. The shepherds were defeated and confined in Avaris. Avaris was besieged to no avail so a treaty was made by which the shepherds would depart Egypt. The Shepherds with everything they had numbering 240,000 people then left Egypt and journeyed to Syria. There, fearing the Assyrians, they built a city in Judea called "Jerusalem".

Documents

The only documents thought to be relevant to Hebrews in Egypt are the Amarna letters, which are clay tablets found both in Assyria and in the royal palace of Amarna in Egypt. These are diplomatic letters and in numerous instances refer to the habiru occupying the region currently known as Israel. In some cases there are Egyptian writings which refer to apiru and it is believed to refer to the same people. The heiroglyphics for this word are:

In addition to the Amarna letters there are some historical inscriptions involving wars in the Levant, such as the famous Battle of Kadesh inscriptions, however, in these inscriptions identification of the Hebrews are much more conjectural.


There is an historical reference to Plagues of Egypt in an old papyrus. You can see papyrus Ipuwer article in wikipedia and here a comparison between the text of Exodus and the papyrus.


The Exodus

The Exodus (Hebrew: יציאת מצרים, Yeẓi’at Miẓrayim: lit. 'Departure from Egypt') is the founding myth of the Israelites. [1] [a] It tells a story of Israelite enslavement and departure from Egypt, revelations at biblical Mount Sinai, and wanderings in the wilderness up to the borders of Canaan. [2] Its message is that the Israelites were delivered from slavery by Yahweh their god, and therefore belong to him by covenant. [1]

The consensus of modern scholars is that the Bible does not give an accurate account of the origins of the Israelites, who appear instead to have formed as an entity in the central highlands of Canaan in the late second millennium BCE from the indigenous Canaanite culture. [3] [4] [5] Most modern scholars believe that the story of the Exodus has some historical basis, [6] [7] but contains little material that is provable. [8]

The narrative of the Exodus is spread over four of the biblical books of the Torah or Pentateuch, namely Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy. There is a widespread agreement that the composition of the Torah took place in the Middle Persian Period (5th century BCE), [9] although some traditions behind it are older since allusions to the story are made by 8th-century BCE prophets such as Amos and Hosea. [10] [11]

The biblical Exodus is central in Judaism, with it being recounted daily in Jewish prayers and celebrated in festivals such as Passover. Early Christians saw the Exodus as a typological prefiguration of resurrection and salvation by Jesus. The narrative has also resonated with non-Jewish groups, such as the early American settlers fleeing persecution in Europe, and African Americans striving for freedom and civil rights. [12] [13]


The tribal league

The invading tribes who became masters of parts of Canaan, although effectively autonomous and lacking a central authority, considered themselves a league of 12 tribes, although the number 12 seems to have been more canonical or symbolical than historical. Some scholars, on the analogy of Greek leagues of six or 12 tribes or cities with a common sanctuary, speak of the Israelite league as an “amphictyony,” the Greek term for such an association but others hold that there is no evidence that the Israelites maintained a common shrine. Certain leaders arose, called judges, who might rule over several tribes, but this arrangement was usually of a local or regional character. However, the stories about such “judges” (who were frequently local champions or heroes, such as Gideon, Jephthah, and Samson), though encrusted with legend, are now thought to be substantially historical. The period from about 1200 to 1020 is called, after them, the period of the judges. It was during this period that Israelite assimilation of Canaanite cultural and religious ideas and practices began to be an acute problem and that other invaders and settlers became a threat to the security of Israel. One of the chief threats was from the Philistines, an Aegean people who settled (c. 12th century bce ) on the coast of what later came to be called, after them, Palestine. Organized in a league of five cities, or principalities, the Philistines, who possessed a monopoly of iron implements and weapons, pushed eastward into the Canaanite hinterland and subjugated Israelite tribes, such as the Judahites and Danites, that stood in their way, even capturing the sacred ark from the famous shrine of Shiloh when it was brought into battle against them. The Philistine threat was probably the decisive factor in the emergence of a permanent political (but at first primarily military) union of all Israel under a king—what historians call the united monarchy (or kingdom).


Is there any reference to Moses, the plagues, or the Exodus in Ancient Egyptian writings?

With Passover approaching, I was curious as to whether the Ancient Egyptians wrote their own account about the Exodus of the Israelites. Everything I've ever learned is from the Torah and the story of Passover told at our Seder every year. Thanks for your answers.

There's really nothing concrete, and even biblical scholars tend to agree that nothing on the level of the exodus actually happened. There simply isn't any archaeological evidence, despite multiple attempts to find some.

There are a few stories that seem to roughly line up with the exodus, but the most prominent one is the one I'm familiar with, so I'll recount it here.

The Jewish Historian Josephus quotes some writings by Manetho, who was an Egyptian Historian in the 3rd century BCE, who wrote about a group known as the Hyksos. Both quotes by Manetho are incomplete fragments, but the first fragment seems to indicate the the Hyksos had origins in Asia, who invaded Egypt, defeated the indigenous rulers, and briefly ruled Egypt. They were then either driven out or left (I've seen both as translations), headed to Judea and founded Jerusalem. Josephus (not Manetho) associate the Hyksos with jews, which would make this an account of the ɾxodus', even if the details are significantly different.

The second fragment is a bit more relevant, if seeming a lot more questionable. An Egyptian pharaoh was told he would be able to see the gods if he purged Egypt of the unclean. He gathered all the lepers and those inflicted by disease, and sent them to the city of Avaris, which had belonged to the Hyksos in the first fragment.

The lepers, led by a priest known as Osarsiph-Moses (original name Osarsiph), rebelled and called upon the Hyksos to join them. The Hyksos do so, bringing a grand army to Egypt and conquering it for a second time, joining with the 'impure' Egyptians. They're noted to be particularly horrible rulers, making the Egyptians butcher their sacred animals and performing sacrifices. Manetho clarifies that Moses was responsible for their way of life, and that he was a priest from Heliopolis. The Hyksos rule Egypt for thirteen years, but are eventually driven out of Egypt by Pharaoh Amenophis and his son Ramses.

It's such a small fragment, and only one source, so historians would be hard pressed to go either way on it. It's possible it was made up, it's possible it was added to or changed from later.

That's the account I am most familiar with, although I'm aware of a few other (much smaller, or much more hard to relate to the exodus) accounts, generally from later in history.


References or accounts in historical Egyptian literature about the Exodus - History

Exodus 15:1-2 - I will sing unto the LORD, for he hath triumphed gloriously: the horse and his rider hath he thrown into the sea. The LORD is my strength and song, and he is become my salvation: he is my God, and I will prepare him an habitation my father's God, and I will exalt him.

Map of The Exodus (Old Testament)

The Israelites Passed Through the Red Sea. After the 10 plagues that were brought upon the Egyptians, Pharaoh gave the order to let the Israelites go free. It was through God's mighty miracles that the Hebrews were delivered from Egyptian bondage, and the man Moses was the tool that God chose to work his miracles. Moses brought the Israelites to the Red Sea, Moses raised his staff and the walls of the sea stood up on both sides and the Israelites passed through it on dry ground. The Bible reveals that they passed through the Red Sea at a place called Baal-Zephon. This place has not been identified with certainty.

They Began their Journey. The Israelites began their journey through the wilderness to the promised land, to take possession of the land of Canaan that was promised to their father Abraham. After they crossed the Red Sea they camped at a place called Marah, where the waters were bitter, and after they complained God sweetened the water by a miracle. After that they camped at Elim where there were 12 wells of water and 70 palm trees to encourage God's people, and strengthen their faith. Then they came to Rephidim, and continued through the wilderness of sin. They passed by Dophkah and Alush, and it was here in the wilderness that God provided them Manna for food, turning the dew into wafer-like bread. The manna continued until they reached the land of Canaan. Later Moses provided water for the Israelites by smiting a rock in Horeb. After this Moses was visited by his father-in-law Jethro, a priest from Midian, who brought Moses' wife and children to him. When the Israelites came to Mount Sinai they were terrified of God, who revealed himself on the mountain. During this time God delivered the 10 Commandments to Moses, and spoke them to the Israelites from the mountain. After these powerful events the Israelites came to Taberah, Kibroth, and Hattavah. Soon after this Aaron and Miriam rebelled against Moses. After this they journeyed through the wilderness of Paran to Kadesh-barnea.

Spying Out the Land of Canaan. From Kadesh-barnea the Israelites sent 12 spies, one from each of the 12 tribes, to look over and spy out the land of Canaan. After seeing the land, 10 of them right back a very bad report because they were afraid of the walled cities and the giants in the land. Only two of them, Joshua and Caleb, brought back a good report and had courage to enter the land. The Israelites after hearing the bad news were afraid, and wanted to return to it Egypt. God was so displeased with their lack of faith that he "decreed that all who were 20 years old and upwards, except Joshua and Caleb, should die in the wilderness."

Egypt and the Nile River. The land of Egypt was blessed with the Nile River, and everything near this river was fruitful. Egypt was truly called "the gift of the Nile", and without this magnificent river everything around would be a desert. In Egypt the desert is everywhere, but along both sides of the Nile River is black mud which created lush farmland. The great mountains of Africa carry rich soil into Egypt via the Nile River. Nearly every year the Nile River would overflow its banks, when the snow on the mountains had melted. This would cause the soil near the banks of the Nile to be very rich and fertile, and this is the reason why Egypt was called "the gift of the Nile".

Geographical Facts. The Nile River is the longest river in the entire world, flowing over 4000 miles from its origin down in Central Africa and dumping into the Mediterranean Sea. In fact the river flows from south to north which is very unusual for a river. The Nile River is between 2 miles and 30 miles wide depending on where you are along the river. If one were to park along the bank of the river and walk on shore, there would be lush dark soil or "black mud" for a period of time, and suddenly it would become dry sandy desert colored red. In the ancient world when people noticed this dark line running down the landscape, they describe it as looking like a thread, and the Egyptians referred to it as "Redland Blackland." The Egyptians built their homes in the desert a short distance away from the rich dark black thread of soil. According to Genesis 10 the father of Egypt was Noah's grandson Mizraim whose name comes from two words that means "red soil" and "two Matzor or Egypts" which no doubt alludes to the red color of the desert sand, and a prophecy of the dual nature of Upper and Lower Egypt. The modern Arabic name for Egypt is Muzr.

The Nile Delta. At the northernmost portion of the Nile River, also known as the mouth, there is the great Nile Delta. In fact this is the meaning of the word Delta, when a river flows for a very long time the mouth begins to form many channels. The word Delta is actually the fourth letter in the Greek alphabet and looks like a triangle, with a point on one end and a fan on the opposite end, and this fan provides the imagery of the mouth of a river. The Delta never stops widening because of the new soil deposits.

Etymology of the word "Nile". The Greek word Nilus is not an Egyptian word or meaning, nor is the Semitic word Nahar which means river. The ancient Egyptians revealed the meaning in the hieroglyphic names of the river, in reference to various gods and goddesses, for example Isis, and the natural attributes of the Nile River attributed to her. Hapi means that "overspreads" alluding to abundance, Nu means that is "lifted up". Uka speaks of what "gushes forth". Akba Ura speaks of "great weeping", when the Nile overflows its banks. The ancient Egyptians also spoke of the river as a divine serpent.

Genesis 12:9-10 - "And Abram journeyed, going on still toward the south. And there was a famine in the land: and Abram went down into Egypt to sojourn there for the famine was grievous in the land."


[Maps are free to use for personal, classroom, or church use]


The Exodus Is Not Fiction

Richard Elliott Friedman, who holds a Th.D from Harvard, is the Ann and Jay Davis Professor of Jewish Studies at the University of Georgia and the Katzin Professor of Jewish Civilization Emeritus of the University of California, San Diego, and was a visiting fellow at Cambridge and Oxford and a Senior Fellow of the American Schools of Oriental Research in Jerusalem. He is the author of seven books, including the bestselling Who Wrote the Bible? and Commentary on the Torah. He participated in the City of David Project archaeological excavations of biblical Jerusalem and served as a consultant for PBS’s Nova: The People of the Covenant: The Origins of Ancient Israel and the Emergence of Judaism and A&E’s Who Wrote the Bible? and Mysteries of the Bible.

Following publication of Reform Judaism’s Spring 2013 edition in which Professor David Sperling and Rabbi David Wolpe asserted that the biblical Exodus is a fiction, you wrote expressing concern to the magazine editors. Why?

After reading those articles, your readers may have concluded that scholarship shows that the Exodus is fictional, when, in fact, that is not so. There is archaeological evidence and especially textual evidence for the Exodus.

I respect Professor Sperling and Rabbi Wolpe. They were understandably following the claims of some of our archaeologists. Those archaeologists’ claims that the Exodus never happened are not based on evidence, but largely on its absence. They assert that we’ve combed the Sinai and not found any evidence of the mass of millions of people whom the Bible says were there for 40 years. That assertion is just not true. There have not been many major excavations in the Sinai, and we most certainly have not combed it. Moreover, uncovering objects buried 3,200 years ago is a daunting endeavor. An Israeli colleague laughingly told me that a vehicle that had been lost in the 1973 Yom Kippur War was recently uncovered under 16 meters—that’s 52 feet—of sand. Fifty-two feet in 40 years!

Still, all of us would admit that two million people—603,550 males and their families, as the Torah describes—should have left some remnants that we would find. But few of us ever thought that this number was historical anyway. Someone calculated long ago that if that number of people were marching, say, eight across, then when the first ones arrived at Sinai, half of the people would still be in Egypt!

There is no archaeological evidence against the historicity of an exodus if it was a smaller group who left Egypt. Indeed, significantly, the first biblical mention of the Exodus, the Song of Miriam, which is the oldest text in the Bible, never mentions how many people were involved in the Exodus, and it never speaks of the whole nation of Israel. It just refers to a people, an am, leaving Egypt.

It wasn’t until a much later source of the Exodus—the so-called priestly source, some 400 years later—that the number 603,550 males was added to the story.

So are you suggesting that a smaller group may have left Egypt? And if so, who might they have been?

Yes. At a recent international conference entitled “Out of Egypt” on the question of the Exodus’ historicity, one point of agreement, I believe, among most of the 45 participating scholars was that Semitic peoples, or Western Asiatics, were in fact living in Egypt and were traveling to and from there for centuries. And the evidence indicates that the smaller group among them, who were connected with the Exodus, were Levites. The Levites were members of the group associated with Moses, the Exodus, and the Sinai events depicted in the Bible. In the Torah, Moses is identified as a Levite. Also, out of all of Israel only Levites had Egyptian names: Moses, Phinehas, Hophni, and Hur are all Egyptian names. We in the United States and Canada, lands of immigrants, are especially aware of how much names reveal about people’s backgrounds. The names Friedman, Martinez, and Shaughnessy each reveal something different about where they came from. Levites have names that come from Egypt. Other Israelites don’t.

Present scholarship on the question of who wrote the Bible bolsters this picture that the Levites were the group who departed Egypt. The Five Books of Moses were not written by Moses but by authors of four main texts, known as J, E, P, and D. Three of the four texts—E, P, and D—are traced to authors who were Levite priests, and these three are the only ones telling the story of Moses, Pharaoh, and the plagues. The fourth main source, called J, the one that shows no signs of having been written by a Levite priest, makes no mention of the plagues. It just jumps from Moses’ saying “Let my people go” to the story of the event at the sea.

The Levite authors also devote more ink in Exodus, Leviticus, and Numbers to the Tabernacle—the Tent of Meeting which held the ark in the Exodus account—than they do to any other subject. The non-Levite text, J, doesn’t mention it. This is also significant because the architecture of the Tabernacle and its surrounding courtyard matches that of the battle tent of Pharaoh Rameses II, for which we have archaeological evidence, as was shown by Professor Michael Homan in a brilliant combination of archaeology and text (To Your Tents, O Israel, 2005). Professor Sperling had emphasized in the RJ article that, archaeologically, there are no Egyptian elements in Israel’s material culture. But in the Tabernacle we do have those Egyptian elements. Egyptian culture is present, but, again, only among the Levites, not all of Israel.

Likewise, only the Levite authors emphasize that males have to be circumcised, which was an Egyptian practice. They write of God commanding Abraham to make circumcision the sign of the covenant (Genesis 17), and they include the commandment for all males of Israel to do so (Leviticus 12:3.) Only the non-Levite source, J, does not command it. Again, the connections with Egyptian culture are there—but only among the Levites.

And the Levite authors are also the ones who explicitly insist that Israel must not mistreat aliens (foreign residents). The first occurrence of the word “Torah” in the Torah, in Exodus 12, says, “You shall have one Torah for the citizen and the alien.” The Levite sources say it about 50 more times, and several times tell us why: “Because we were aliens in Egypt!”—we know how it feels. And, again, the non-Levite source, J, doesn’t command this. This most explicit reflection of the Egyptian experience in Israel’s culture occurs in all of the Levite sources and not in the non-Levite source.

So if you’re talking about the Levites rather than all of the Israelites, the argument archaeologists have made that we haven’t found evidence of Egyptian cultural influence on the Israelites is not true. It is present in the Egyptian names, circumcision practices, the teachings about aliens, and in the design of the Tabernacle.

Is there any other evidence that the Levites left Egypt at the time of the Exodus?

Yes, and it comes from one of the earliest writings in the Bible, the Song of Deborah, composed in Israel in the 12th or 11th century B.C.E. After the Canaanites suffer a major defeat, Deborah summons the victorious tribes of Israel. In uniting the tribes, which constitutes the founding event of Israel’s history as a nation in its land, 10 of the tribes are summoned—but noticeably absent is Levi. Their absence is perfectly consistent with all of the other facts we have observed. The Levites weren’t there in Israel yet they were in Egypt. Think of this: The two oldest texts in the Bible are the Song of Deborah and the Song of Miriam. The Song of Deborah, in Israel, doesn’t mention Levi. The Song of Miriam, in Egypt, doesn’t mention Israel!

If the Levites were latecomers to Israel, how did they convince the Israelite tribes to adopt the Exodus story as their own?

The Levites were not people to whom one said “No.” Four different biblical texts connect them to violent acts. Levi is one of the brothers who massacre the city of Shechem for the violation of Dinah (Genesis 34), and he is also cursed for his general violence in Jacob’s deathbed testament (Genesis 49). The Levites slaughter the people associated with the golden calf incident, thus following Moses’ command to put them to the sword (Exodus 32:26–28). And in the poem at the end of the Torah (Deuteronomy 33), God is asked to “pierce Levi’s adversaries’ hips, and those who hate him, so they won’t get up.” These four texts come from four different authors. So basically everyone knew: You don’t mess with the Levites.

So they reached an agreement: The Levites got the priesthood, which included some cities (Joshua 21:13) plus a tithe (10%) of Israel’s produce (Leviticus 27:30). One of the Levites’ main tasks as priests was to teach Torah to the Israelite people. Deuteronomy 33:10 says, “They’ll teach your judgments to Jacob and your Torah to Israel.” Leviticus 10:11 commands that they are to teach what God spoke through Moses. Naturally, when the Levites taught Torah, they taught the tradition they had brought with them out of Egypt. And that is how every Israelite child learned, “We were slaves in Egypt and God brought us out with a strong hand and an outstretched arm.” Much later, this Torah passage was placed in the haggadah—which is how most of us know it today.

And that is how a historical event that happened to the Levite minority became everybody’s celebration—how we all came to say that we were slaves in Egypt, although that was not the experience even of most Israelites of the period. It’s not so different from practicing, say, the American cultural tradition of Thanksgiving, which most Americans do, even though most U.S. citizens are not descended from Pilgrims or Native Americans.

How else did the Levites influence Jewish thought?

The Levites worshipped the God Yahweh, while the Israelite tribes worshipped the God of Canaan: El. Once the Levites arrived on the scene, the tribes needed to make a decision as to which God they would worship—Yahweh or El. They could have decided to worship both, in the manner of the pagan peoples around them who worshipped more than one god. They could have developed a mythology in which Yahweh was the son of El, or El the son of Yahweh, just as the pagans did when they said that Ba’al was the son of El. Alternatively, they could have decided to worship only El or only Yahweh. Instead, the tribes decided that El and Yahweh were one, in essence saying, “the same God by a different name.” That explains why two of the Levite-authored sources (E and P) both developed the point that God was known as El until the time of the Exodus, and then God revealed to Moses that his true personal name was Yahweh (Exodus 6:2–3 and Exodus 3:15). El and Yahweh were one and the same.

This decision was a crucial step toward the victory of monotheism over pagan religion. Who knows how long it would have taken—if ever—to have developed monotheism as we know it in Judaism if we had spent our first few centuries believing in two primary deities?

So, what we have been discussing here turns out to be vastly more important than just the question of whether the Exodus was historical. If the picture that I’ve been describing based on the facts that are known to us is correct, then those events were foundational to Judaism ever after.

Given the centrality of the Exodus story to Jewish tradition, does it really matter if the Exodus was history or a foundational myth of Judaism?

My rabbi used to tell me as a child that even if we could prove that biblical events were not true, the Bible still contained great lessons.

Over time, though, I’ve come to the opposite conclusion. History matters.

First, history is part of our legacy. The Jews, in fact, invented the writing of history. Prior to the court history of King David in Second Samuel, there was no history writing anywhere on Earth. We Jews haven’t taken enough cognizance of this. We’ve accepted the prevailing notion that the Greek historian Herodotus, who lived in the fifth century B.C.E., was the father of history, when in truth the court history of David, probably written in the ninth or eighth century B.C.E., preceded Herodotus by some 400 years.

Second, history is exhilarating. Think of the excitement we feel when an archaeologist verifies or challenges something in the Bible and we read about it on the front page of The New York Times, like when Avraham Biran of the Hebrew Union College uncovered the “House of David” inscription, the very first confirmation of the dynasty of David in an archaeological artifact, just 20 years ago.

I’m not arguing that everything in the Bible is factual. I may not believe, for example, that the world was created in seven days, or that humanity began with two naked people and a magic tree and a talking snake. But real evidence exists that the Exodus is historical, with text and archaeology mutually supporting one another. What lies next for us is to give due consideration to this evidence and refine it further in our work.


Passover In Egypt: Did the Exodus Really Happen?

This question has puzzled biblical scholars, archeologists and all those interested in solving one of the Old Testament's most intriguing mysteries. Was the story of the Israelites fleeing Egypt after years of slavery history or myth? Were there really 10 plagues that became so progressively terrible that they forced the Pharaoh to finally release all the Israelite slaves? Was there really a leader named Moses, and did he guide this "mixed multitude" for 40 years in the wilderness of the Sinai desert?

Passover is the Jewish festival that celebrates the flight of the Israelites out of Egypt. During this Passover season it is particularly pertinent to wonder, did the Exodus really happen?

Clues and speculations abound regarding alleged items of evidence discovered for the Exodus, and nearly all have their champions and detractors. It seems that every time a theory is proposed and the Exodus mystery appears to be solved, it is quickly shot down for one reason or another.

Nevertheless, ongoing archeological and etymological investigations into the Exodus have produced some tantalizing items and scholarship. Presented for your consideration are Exhibits 1-4. Read and wonder.

Exhibit 1: The Ipuwer Papyrus

How could plagues described in an Egyptian papyrus be so similar to those found in the Bible?

In the early 1800s, a papyrus was found in Egypt called The Admonitions of an Egyptian. It is now in the Leiden Museum in Holland. An Egyptian named Ipuwer wrote it at the end of the Middle Kingdom, around 1650 B.C.E. scribes copied it in the 19th Dynasty, in the 1200s B.C.E. Below are some of the amazingly similar plagues described in both the Ipuwer papyrus and the Bible. (The biblical plagues befell the Egyptians at the time of Moses and the Exodus, which has been dated sometime between 1570 to 1290 B.C.E.)

The disparity of the dates between the Ipuwer and Exodus documents is enough to convince many scholars that no relation exists between the two. In addition, prevalent theory now claims the papyrus is simply ahistorical. Be that as it may, the similarities are striking, and why they are remains a mystery. Could it be that the scribes who copied the document at the time of the Exodus were experiencing similar calamities to the earlier ones and were using Ipuwer's words to warn the present-day Pharaoh?

Exhibit 2: The Israelites' Travel Itinerary and the Egyptian Maps

Did the cities the Israelites camped in on their way to Canaan really exist?

One of the most contentious problems regarding the Exodus investigation is the fact that there is no archeological evidence for various places mentioned in the biblical travel itinerary of the Israelites as they fled Egypt for the Promised Land, Canaan. In an article in the September/October 1994 issue of Biblical Archaeological Review, Charles R. Krahmalkov, then Professor of Ancient Near Eastern Languages at the University of Michigan, points out that various scholars have used this explanation to "reject the entire story" of Israel's origins, and therefore the Exodus.

However, Krahmalkov discusses a number of biblical sites that appear to be corroborated by Egyptian sources. Among them are Dibon (Numbers 13:45), a city where the Israelites' camped on their way to invade Canaan, and Hebron (Numbers 13:22), another city targeted for invasion.

Krahmalkov concedes the lack of archaeological evidence, but he points out that the Egyptians thoroughly mapped these sites, as well as a number of other regions mentioned in the Bible. The mapping was done in the Late Bronze age, in Dynasties XVIII and XIX (according to his dating, 1560-1200 B.C.E. He dates the Exodus in the range of 1400-1200 B.C.E.). Also included are the cities of Iyyn and Abel (biblical Abel Shittim) both in Numbers 13: 45-50 Yom haMelach (Numbers 34:3) and Athar (Hebrew Atharim) (Numbers 21:1). The maps survive in list form, and they are found on the temple walls of ancient Egyptian kings. Since they are documented in the most important extra-biblical source -- Egypt -- the evidence is strong that these cities indeed existed at the time of the Exodus.

Exhibit 3: Aper-el's Tomb

Was there a Hebrew advisor to Egyptian kings at the time of the Exodus?

In 1987, searchers rediscovered a tomb in the Saqqara region of Egypt belonging to a man they call Aper-el. They say his name is an Egyptian version of a Hebrew name. Aper-el was vizier to the famous Amenhotep III (1370-1293 B.C.E., 18th Dynasty) and later to his son, the monotheistic king Akhenaten. They dated the tomb around 1353-1335 B.C.E., but there is something of mystery here.

The tomb was originally discovered by the legendary archeologist Sir Flinders Petrie in the 1880s. He copied an inscription that spells the vizier's name Aperia. I don't know if the 1987 team found other inscriptions with the -el ending, but -el would be the equivalent of Elohim, one of the terms for God in the Bible. The ending -ia would indicate Ya, short for YHWH or Yaweh, the other biblical name for God, generally translated "Lord." (Think the familiar Halleluya, Hebrew for "praise the Lord.")

It is tantalizing to wonder if Aper-el/Aperia was indeed a Hebrew advisor to the young king Akhenaten. If so, did Aper-el/Aperia influence Akhenaten's thinking toward monotheism? In any case, it would place a Hebrew advisor to the kings within the range of years claimed for the Exodus just as Joseph was to an Egyptian king hundreds of years earlier. In the book of Genesis, Joseph rose from captive to be second only to the Pharaoh, and he was empowered to save Egypt from starvation during a seven-year drought. It isn't known how Aperel/Aperia got there!

Exhibit 4: The Shiphra Papyrus

Is the name of the Hebrew midwife in Exodus the same as that of a slave mentioned in an ancient Egyptian papyrus?

The Brooklyn Museum has a papyrus, possibly from Thebes, with a list of slaves from the Egyptian Middle Kingdom, about 1740 B.C.E. It includes a slave named Shiphra and others with Semitic names. In the Bible, a Hebrew woman with the same name, Shiphra, was one of two midwives the Pharaoh commissioned to kill all the male Hebrew children at the time Moses was born (Exod. 1:15). She didn't. Since by that time all Hebrews had been put into servitude by the Pharaoh, the midwife Shiphra would also have been a slave. The fact that the name Shiphra is found in both the Bible and the papyrus indicates that the name and the woman's condition of slavery were familiar to both Israelites and Egyptians.

The Mystery Continues

Although the comparisons between the Ipuwer Papyrus and the Bible are tantalizing, Ipuwer alone does not provide absolute evidence for the Exodus and the Passover. For that matter it can't even account for the existence of the Israelites.

As long as there is little tangible archeological evidence and until the mystery is finally solved, we are left to rely on the venerable Passover service to connect us to our past at this holiday season. We must be content to repeat the most pertinent of the famous "Four Questions," which the youngest at the table asks on the first night:


Justice

Exodus morality meant giving justice to the weak and the poor. Honest weights and measures, interest-free loans to the poor, leaving part of the crops in the field for the stranger, the orphan, and the widow, treating the alien stranger as a native citizen &mdash these are all applications of the Exodus principle to living in this world.

Thus, the Exodus, as articulated at Sinai, transformed the Jewish people and their religious ethical system. Inasmuch as Christianity and Islam adopted the Exodus at their core, almost half the world is profoundly shaped by the aftereffects of the Exodus event.

In modern times, the image of redemption has proven to be the most powerful of all. The rise of productivity and affluence has heightened expectations of the better life. Widely disseminated scientific ideas and conceptions of human freedom carry the same message: do not accept disadvantage or suffering as your fate rather, let the world be transformed! These factors come together in a secular concept of redemption. By now, humans are so suffused with the vision of their own right to improvement that any revolutionary spark sets off huge conflagrations. In a way, humane socialism is a secularized version of the Exodus&rsquo final triumph. The liberator is dialectical materialism, and the slaves are the proletariat&ndashbut the model and the end goal are the same. Indeed, directly revived images of the Exodus play as powerful a role as Marxism does in the worldwide revolutionary expectations. In South America, the theology of liberation directly touches the hundreds of millions who strive to overcome their poverty.


Egypt, History & the Bible

God has intervened into the affairs of mankind many times. The original King James Bible faithfully records these events. And it is always exciting to discover archaeological remains that increase our understanding of these historical events. It is a tragic fact that many “secular” records have been found that totally confirm history as presented in the Bible but portions of these have been intentionally destroyed or hidden by “scholars” (evolutionistsatheists) who take it upon themselves to “manage” archaeological evidence to suit their own deceptive purposes. The Turin Papyrus, which was prepared in the late 18th dynasty and included lists of all the kings of every dynasty of ancient Egypt through the 18th, was found in a temple excavation during the 19th century. The King of Sardinia carefully preserved it and entrusted it to some “scholars” at Turin for translation. It arrived in perfect condition but the “scholars” destroyed or hid most of it because they realized that it proved the “long dynastic” history of Egypt to be untrue. To “explain” the “changed condition” of the papyrus, they accused the king of Sardinia of sending it “unwrapped”. The Palermo Stone contained a similar list, and while many “scholars” quote from “missing parts” of the stone, “unapproved researchers” can only have access to a few fragments. It is obvious that the stone was “broken” recently as all inner edges of the fragments show recent fracture conditions.

A leading “archaeologist” on the board of B.A.R. once said to me in the presence of Mary Nell, ” Your problem, Ron, is that you excavate a location to see what is there you should decide what you want to be there first and then make it turn out that way”. Mary Nell had refused to believe me when I told her that this is what archaeologists do. She was shocked to hear it “from the horse’s mouth”.

Those of you who like to “dig” through history books might wish to read ARCHAIC EGYPT by W.B. Emery–Penguin Books Reprint 1984. This author is one of the rare few who admit how truly limited our knowledge of ancient Egypt is: “Unfortunately, our knowledge of the archaic hieroglyphs is so limited that reliable translation of these invaluable texts is at present beyond our power and we can only pick out odd words and groups which give us only the vaguest interpretations.” (p. 59.) Yet, in the majority of books, translations and conclusions are never stated as being theory they are stated as firm fact.

Egypt in Prophecy
The Bible gives us panoramic views of ancient cities and kingdoms through prophecies that extend from the time that the prophecy is being written until the end of time. One such prophecy sequence is in the nineteenth chapter of Isaiah. This prophecy is about the land of Egypt. We recommend that you read this chapter after asking the Father to give you the enlightening of the Holy Spirit, asking in the name and Blood of Jesus Christ. We will look at the verses that we can find secular historical references to and archaeological remains from.

The first such text is the fourth verse of this chapter: I

SA 19:4 And the Egyptians will I give over into the hand of a cruel lord and a fierce king shall rule over them, saith the Lord, the LORD of hosts.

During the 7th century A.D., Egypt was conquered by Mahomet and his followers. Seldom has so cruel a person appeared upon the stage of history as Mahomet. He ordered the brutal death of all those who refused to accept his new god, Allah, and to accept him (Mahomet) as this god’s only prophet. The result was that he killed the honest and truthful persons and spared the liars and dishonest persons.

The following verses reflect the loss of the clever use and development of water management systems that had for centuries produced great agricultural wealth along with the production of dried fish for marketing and the production of Egyptian papyrus that was used throughout the ancient world.

ISA 19:5 And the waters shall fail from the sea, and the river shall be wasted and dried up. 6 And they shall turn the rivers far away… 7 The paper reeds by the brooks,…and every thing sown by the brooks, shall wither,… and be no more. 8 The fishers also shall mourn, and all they that cast angle into the brooks shall lament, and they that spread nets upon the waters shall languish. 9 Moreover they that work in fine flax, and they that weave networks, shall be confounded.10 And they shall be broken in the purposes thereof, all that make sluices and ponds for fish.

For all practical purposes, Egypt then reverted back to a pastoral way of life and became a base nation.

History tells us that after the downfall of the Moslem powers, Egypt became the vassel of several world powers, such as France and Britain. It then fell under the influence of the Soviet Union and participated in several futile and destructive wars against Israel, but they would not be successful:

ISA 19:17 And the land of Judah shall be a terror unto Egypt, every one that maketh mention thereof shall be afraid in himself, because of the counsel of the LORD of hosts, which he hath determined against it.

The “land of Judah” “terrorized it [Egypt]” and would have conquered and occupied it except for the intervention of the U.N. in 1967-73.

ISA 19:18 In that day shall five cities in the land of Egypt speak the language of Canaan, and swear to the LORD of hosts one shall be called, The city of destruction. This verse reflects the fact that Arabic, which is closely akin to Hebrew and is related to the ancient Canaanite language, became the dominant language of Egypt and its five major cities of the country. The city of Memphis, which had been the capital of Egypt from the 1st Dynasty, didn’t survive when the Moslem conquerer, `Amr ibn el `Asi founded a new capital, El-Fustat, on the east bank of the Nile at the south end of present-day Cairo. The Moslems pillaged the Giza-Sakkara plateau and stripped away the marble and polished limestone from the pyramids and temples and used it in building their own mosques and palaces.

The nineteenth verse is the most significant in relationship to the present time and to the amazing archaeological revelations the Lord is providing us as proof of the reliability of His word.

ISA 19:19 In that day shall there be an altar to the LORD in the midst of the land of Egypt, and a pillar at the border thereof to the LORD.

Let’s discuss the “altar” here mentioned. First of all, the term “altar” does not have to signify something upon which sacrifices are offered:

JOS 22:26 Therefore we said, Let us now prepare to build us an altar, not for burnt offering, nor for sacrifice: 27 But that it may be a witness between us, and you, and our generations after us, 󈻴 Therefore said we, that it shall be, when they should so say to us or to our generations in time to come, that we may say again, Behold the pattern of the altar of the LORD, which our fathers made, not for burnt offerings, nor for sacrifices but it is a witness between us and you.

An altar can be a monument of some type.

Today, there is a “stepped pyramid” at Sakkara. This is the remains of a very impressive complex built by the order of Djoser, a pharaoh of the third dynasty of Egypt, designed and built under the supervision of IM-hotep. The “steps” were constructed of stone, which were then filled in with mud brick. Then, the entire outer surface of the pyramid was finished off with a wind and water-proof layer of polished limestone, giving it the familiar “pyramid” shape instead of its present “stepped” shape. (See color photo)

But when the Moslems came, they continued a practice they were well known for- they stripped this pyramid of its outer covering of smooth limestone and used it in building their mosques and other buildings, leaving the mud-brick filler exposed. Because mud-brick is extremely vulnerable to long-term wind and weather, this filler in time disintegrated and was dug through and tossed aside while pillagers searched for treasure. None was found, and the remains of these mud bricks were hauled away in the 19th and 20th centuries when this area was excavated. There are historical references to farmers hauling these mud brick away for use as fertilizer. See SAQQARA: The Royal cemetery of Memphis by Jean-Philippe Lauer, pub. Charles Scribner’s Sons, New York, pp 75. This left the “stepped” appearance that we now see- the shape of an altar similar to the ziggurats of Mesopotamia, except- without steps.

Joseph was obviously very close to God and acted under Divine influence when he constructed this monument. Djoser may have ordered its construction to honor himself, but regardless of his motivation, in God’s time it became evident as the monument it was- “an altar to the Lord in the midst of the land of Egypt”, marking the location of the grain storage pits in the land in which God provided a safe haven for Israel to grow and develop into a great nation.

But where was the “pillar at the border thereof”? King Solomon erected inscribed pillars on each side of the Red Sea crossing site, and built a shrine at the foot of Mt. Sinai in Arabia. This was done in the 10th century B.C. We found them in 1978-84. The pillar on the Egyptian side of the crossing site had fallen into the water when we found it in 1978 (during the time Israel had control of the Sinai). We showed this to the Israeli military and they erected it in concrete very near where it was found, which would be exactly “at the border thereof” of the land of Egypt, for the Sinai soon reverted back to Egypt.

Plywood in Ancient Egypt
In the earlier mentioned book, “Saqqaa”, on the bottom of page 99 is a statement about the knowledge and use of laminated “plywood” in very early Egypt:

“…within the remains of a coffin whose sides were made of six thin superimposed layers of wood with the grain alternating as in modern ply wood.”

As you know the deck boards of Noah’s ark were made of laminated (ply) wood, based on the fact the we have an actual specimen. The use of the same material by the early Egyptians proves that this knowledge was available in the early years of ancient Egypt, passed along though Noah’s offspring as they began to settle throughout the world. It would probably stagger the imagination if we knew how much technology was lost by man after the flood.


More Evidence for Joseph from Egypt

As archaeologists continue to dig deeper they have repeatedly dug up evidence that confirms the Bible. In a previous article we had documented “Evidence for Joseph in Egypt” 1) see Heath Henning, “Evidence for Joseph in Egypt,” September 2, 2016 http://truthwatchers.com/evidence-joseph-egypt/ and since then there has been more evidence piling up from Egypt further substantiating the biblical account.

Many secular archaeologists have overlooked this evidence as they have focused on an erroneous interpretation of history, placing the events of the Joseph account at the wrong time. Charles Aling explained, “If the Biblical numbers are taken literally and at face value, the probable kings during the enslavement and subsequent rise to power of Joseph would have been Sesostris II (1897-1878 BC) and Sesostris III (1878-1843 BC). This argument than rests on how one interprets 1 Kings 6:1, a verse which dates the Exodus 480 years before the fourth [year] of Solomon, ca. 966.” 2) Charles F. Aling, “The Historicity of the Joseph Story,” Bible and Spade, Vol 9:1 (winter 1996), p. 18 Though we will leave the argument for the dating problem for a later post, here are a few reasons the later date for Joseph cannot be accurate.

  • Egyptologist attempt to date the events of Joseph in the Hyksos period which they date (ca. 1664-1555 BC), but this is wrong for the following reasons:
  • “Potiphar, an officer of Pharaoh, captain of the guard, an Egyptian” (Genesis 39:1) Hyksos retained the term Pharaoh when they ruled in Egypt, but it is unlikely they would have had an Egyptian such as Potiphar as their “captain of the guard.”
  • Joseph was first brought before the Pharaoh, he was shaved (Genesis 41:14) which was an Egyptian custom the Hyksos were Syro-Palestinian.
  • When Joseph rose to prominence in Egypt, he ruled “over all the land of Egypt” (Genesis 41:41) but the Hyksos only ruled of the northern part

Archaeology also supports this earlier date. “Egyptian tomb painting depicting a caravan of Asiatics, very much like Jacob and his family, entering Egypt in the sixth year of Sesostris II.” 3) Charles F. Aling, “The Historicity of the Joseph Story,” Bible and Spade, Vol 9:1 (winter 1996), p. 20-21

/>Timothy Berry chronographs, “When seventeen-years-old Joseph entered Egypt in 1899, Egypt was still in its Twelfth Dynasty and Pharaoh Amenemhat II (1929-1895 BC) was in his final years. We do not know how many years Joseph spent in Potiphar’s house, but we know that he was in prison for over two years (Gen. 41:1) and that when he finally stood before Pharaoh (perhaps Sesostris II) as an interpreter of dreams he was thirty years of age ([Gen.] 41:46).” 4) Timothy W. Berry, From Eden to Patmos: An Overview of Biblical History, Livewithamission.com (2015), p. 27

Part of the debate over the date of this account revolves around what the name of the city Joseph lived in was during the time he lived there. The Bible records, “And Pharaoh spake unto Joseph, saying, Thy father and thy brethren are come unto thee: the land of Egypt is before thee in the best of the land make thy father and brethren to dwell in the land of Goshen let them dwell…And Joseph placed his father and his brethren, and gave them a possession in the land of Egypt, in the best of the land, in the land of Rameses, as Pharaoh had commanded.” (Genesis 47:5-6,11) Timothy Mahoney explained in an interview with Drew Zahn:

Mainstream archaeologists would say that if the Exodus ever happened, it happened at the time of Rameses, because of the biblical text that said the Israelites were building the city of Rameses. Yet when people understood Rameses lived around 1250 B.C., they didn’t find evidence for this type of story in that time period.

But other archaeologists said to look deeper… Beneath the city of Rameses, was another city, much older, called Avaris. And that city was filled with Semitic people. It started very small, just as the Bible says, and over time it grew into one of the largest cities of that time. And that is where we find, I think, the early Israelites. That’s the pattern that matches the story of the Bible. It’s not at the time of Rameses, but it’s at the location of Rameses. 5) Interview with Timothy Mahoney by Drew Zahn, “Statue of Bible’s Joseph discovered? New film challenges archaeology’s claim there’s ‘no evidence’ of Exodus,” WND, 1/17/2015 http://www.wnd.com/2015/01/statue-of-bibles-joseph-discovered/#uV3UFPMMYrlGHkZw.99

Exodus 1:7 tells how the Israelite multiplied greatly so they obviously would need a large city to dwell in. Josephus, the first century Jewish historian, quoting an Egyptian priest named Manetho who comments about Avaris, “a place that contained ten thousand acres…” 6) Josephus, Against Apion, Book 1, para. 14 in The Complete Works of Josephus, (Tran. William Whiston) Kregel Publications (Grand Rapids, MI: 1981), p. 611 Ancient Egyptians are well known for perverting history, as is seen in Manethos account of the exodus. Josephus later quoting Manetho relates his account of a man he calls Osarsiph who led a revolt against Egypt, “but that when he was gone over to these people, his name was changed, and he was called Moses.” 7) Josephus, Against Apion, Book 1, para. 26 in The Complete Works of Josephus, (Tran. William Whiston) Kregel Publications (Grand Rapids, MI: 1981), p. 618 This revolt was waged, according to Manethos twisted view, by shepherds from Jerusalem that joined with Moses at Avaris. Josephus expanding on Manethos report, records:

Manetho adds also, that “this priest sent to Jerusalem to invite that people to come to his assistance, and promised to give them Avaris for that it had belonged to the forefathers of those that were coming from Jerusalem, and that when they were come, they made a war immediately against the king, and got possession of all Egypt.” 8) Josephus, Against Apion, Book 1, para. 28 in The Complete Works of Josephus, (Tran. William Whiston) Kregel Publications (Grand Rapids, MI: 1981), p. 619

As the archaeologists have dug beyond the city of Ramses they have discovered this city Avaris. Manfred Bietak leading this excavation denies that it is the city of the Bible even though the name Avaris is connected to the Jewish settlement by the ancient historians as quoted above. Simcha Jacobovici discussed what the meaning of the name may be:

Prof Manfred Bietak has been digging at Tell el-Dab’a in Egypt for over 40 years. He has identified it as “Avaris”, the ancient Hyksos capital. Avaris is smack dab in the middle of the area the Bible calls “Goshen” i.e., the area that the Israelites lived in prior to the Exodus. The word “Avaris” means nothing in Egyptian. But, in the Torah, Joseph is repeatedly called a “Hebrew” “Ivri” in the Hebrew language. He is also repeatedly and curiously called “Ha Ish” “The Man”. In other words, the word “Avaris” may very well be related to Joseph, the “Ish Ivri”, or the “Hebrew Man” (Genesis 39:14). All this is lost in translation when Joseph is simply called a “Hebrew”. Put differently, the so-called Hyksos capital seems to be named after Joseph the “Ish Ivri” i.e., Avar-Ish. 9) Simcha Jacobovici, “Statue of Biblical Joseph Found: Story Covered Up!,” Torah Archeology, February 18, 2014 http://www.simchajtv.com/statue-of-biblical-joseph-found-story-covered-up/

Manethos is recorded as having said, “but with regard to a certain theologic notion was called Avaris…” 10) Josephus, Against Apion, Book 1, para. 14 in The Complete Works of Josephus, (Tran. William Whiston) Kregel Publications (Grand Rapids, MI: 1981), p. 611 and later, “Now this city, according to the ancient theology, was Typho’s city.” 11) Josephus, Against Apion, Book 1, para. 26 in The Complete Works of Josephus, (Tran. William Whiston) Kregel Publications (Grand Rapids, MI: 1981), p. 618 Typho seems to be connected through ancient pagan myths as recorded from Aristotle , who briefly states, “in the Tyro the discovery by means of the boat.” 12) Aristotle, Poetics, 1454b, Aristotle in 23 Volumes, Vol. 23, translated by W.H. Fyfe. Cambridge, MA, Harvard University Press London, William Heinemann Ltd. 1932 accessed at http://www.perseus.tufts.edu/hopper/text?doc=Perseus:text:1999.01.0056:section=1454b&highlight=tyro#note10 This statement of Aristotle’s is footnoted by the editor’s comment, “A play by Sophocles. Tyro’s twins by Poseidon, who appeared to her in the guise of the river Enipeus, were exposed in a little boat or ark, like Moses in the bulrushes, and this led to their identification.” 13) footnote 10, Aristotle, Poetics, 1454b, Aristotle in 23 Volumes, Vol. 23, translated by W.H. Fyfe. Cambridge, MA, Harvard University Press London, William Heinemann Ltd. 1932 accessed at http://www.perseus.tufts.edu/hopper/text?doc=Perseus:text:1999.01.0056:section=1454b&highlight=tyro#note10 Apparently the theological meaning of Avaris has some sort of connection with Moses being pulled out of the river by Pharaoh’s daughter (Exodus 2:1-6). Both these ancient names are connected to Hebrew men from this city.

Gary Byers relates the excavations of Avaris. “Recent excavations in the eastern Nile delta may have actually identified the location of Joseph’s residence in retirement and even his tomb. At a site known as Tell el-Daba today, The Rameses of the Old Testament, extensive excavations have been carried out under the director of Manfred Bietak of the Austrian Archaeological Institute, Cairo, since 1966… The site has evidence for Asiatic as early as the mid-12 Dynasty (mid-19th century BC), the general period when Jacob enter Egypt. It was an unfortified rural settlement, although numerous enclosure walls probably kept animals.” 14) Gary A. Byers, “Israel in Egypt,” Bible and Spade, Vol. 18:1 (winter 2005), p. 4 Interestingly, it was because Jacob and his family were shepherds, that when they was introduced to the Pharaoh, they were given the land of Goshen to stay (Genesis 46:33-34 47:1-4). “And it shall come to pass, when Pharaoh shall call you, and shall say, What is your occupation? that ye shall say, Thy servants’ trade hath been about cattle from our youth even until now, both we, and also our fathers: that ye may dwell in the land of Goshen for every shepherd is an abomination unto the Egyptians.” Manethos also repeatedly mentions walls but made the suggestion that they were fortified walls for the rebellious army led by Moses.

“But what is most interesting about this find is the cemetery located in the palace garden, and particularly one of the tombs in it. All of the other graves (there are approximately 12 altogether) seem to date to a slightly later period, perhaps the early years of Dynasty 13, and were on the basis of their orientation, definitely not part of the original palace-garden complex. But the largest and most impressive tomb of the lot, consisting of a single brick chamber with a small chapel in front of it, was oriented to the structures of stratum E (early-to-middle 12th Dynasty) (Bietak 1990: 61).” 15) Charles F. Aling, “The Historicity of the Joseph Story,” Bible and Spade, Vol 9:1 (winter 1996), p. 20-21

The largest tomb shaped as a pyramid has drawn significant attention.

“Between 1986 and 1988, Prof. Bietak found the remains of a monumental statue that seems to have belonged to a non-Egyptian ruler of Avaris. Although only fragments remain, the archeologists estimate the original size of the seated figure to be 2 meters high and 1.5 meters in depth i.e., about one and a half times life size. Over the statue’s right shoulder you can still see his “throw stick” i.e., the symbol of his rule. On the back – remarkably, as with the Biblical Joseph – you can still see evidence that this ruler was wearing a striped garment, made up of at least three colors: black, red and white. He was found in a tomb.” 16) Simcha Jacobovici, “Statue of Biblical Joseph Found: Story Covered Up!,” Torah Archeology, February 18, 2014 http://www.simchajtv.com/statue-of-biblical-joseph-found-story-covered-up/

The Babylonian Talmud records the debates of rabbis over where Joseph was buried. “Rabbi Natan says: Joseph was buried in the crypt [kabbarnit] of kings.” 17) (Babylonian Talmud, Sotah 13a https://www.sefaria.org/Sotah.13a.16?lang=bi&with=all&lang2=en The Bible mentions Joseph had a special coat of many colors. “Now Israel loved Joseph more than all his children, because he was the son of his old age: and he made him a coat of many colours” (Genesis 37:3). This statue discovered in the pyramid shaped tomb has been reconstructed with computer graphics to reveal what it once looked like.

A cemetery with artifacts that connected it to the houses was also excavated in the open space to the southwest. One of the tombs was monumental in construction and totally unique in finds. Inside were found stone fragments of a colossal statute of a man who was clearly Asiatic, based on the yellow painted skin, the red-painted mushroom-shaped hairstyle and throwstick on his right shoulder (the hieroglyph for foreigner)…

While the other tombs nearby had intact skeletons, the only finds in the monumental tomb were fragments of an inscribed limestone sarcophagus and a few bone fragments. The body was gone! 18) Gary A. Byers, “Israel in Egypt,” Bible and Spade, Vol. 18:1 (winter 2005), p. 4

This also concurs with the Bible’s account. “And Joseph said unto his brethren, I die: and God will surely visit you, and bring you out of this land unto the land which he sware to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob. And Joseph took an oath of the children of Israel, saying, God will surely visit you, and ye shall carry up my bones from hence. So Joseph died, being an hundred and ten years old: and they embalmed him, and he was put in a coffin in Egypt” (Genesis 50:24-26). This explains why the most important tomb in the yard of the palace is the only one missing a skeleton. The Babylonian Talmud states, “ It states further in the mishna: Who, to us, had a greater burial than Joseph, as it was none other than Moses who involved himself in transporting his coffin.” 19) Babylonian Talmud, Sotah 13a https://www.sefaria.org/Sotah.13a.13?lang=bi&with=all&lang2=en Scripture tells us that Moses took the bones of Joseph (Exodus 13:11) but he never entered the promise land so he could not have reburied the bones of Joseph. John Elder identifies where the missing skeleton is. “In the last verses of Genesis it is told how Joseph adjured his relatives to take his bones back to Canaan whenever God should restore them to their original home, and in Joshua 24:32 it is told how his body was indeed brought to Palestine and buried at Shechem. For centuries there was a tomb at Shechem reverenced as the tomb of Joseph. A few years ago the tomb was opened. It was found to contain a body mummified according to the Egyptian custom, and in the tomb, among other things, was a sword of the kind worn by Egyptian officials.” 20) John Elder, Prophets, Idols and Diggers, New York, Bob Merrill Co., 1960, p. 54

For more on this evidence see Timothy Mahoney excellent documentary “Patterns of Evidence” (2014).


Watch the video: The Exodus in Ancient Egyptian Literature and Modern Archaeology by Jim Long, Root u0026 Branch event (December 2022).

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