The evidence for the Exodus has grown substantially in recent years. It can now be said with high confidence that the biblical account of the Exodus represents a true historical event. Much of this evidence is spectacularly depicted in the award-winning documentary Patterns of Evidence: The Exodus. You can watch this documentary on Netflix, or order a DVD online from the producer’s website here.
The Deniers: 13th Century or Bust
Many secular Egyptologists and archaeologists deny the evidence because they insist that the Bible places the Exodus in the 13th century BC. In fact we agree there is no evidence of the exodus in the 13th century BC. But what has become abundantly clear is that they are looking in the wrong century! As Bob Enyart aptly quipped, “The Exodus never happened, but when it never happened was in the 13th century BC.”
Secular critics assume the Bible places the Exodus in the 13th century BC because of Exodus 1:11, which states that the Jews built the city of Pithom and Ramses. However, those cities did not originate in the 13th century BC, instead the first buildings appeared two centuries earlier. Enyart provides a great analogy of the error of the secular critics. If you google the origin of New York City, it will give you a date much earlier than when New York City actually was given its name. In fact it used to be New Amsterdam. Is google wrong to claim New York city originated at a date earlier than when it was named? No. Are the critics wrong to ignore clear evidence of an origin of Ramses earlier than the date it was named? Yes!
Evidence for the Exodus
Here are the highlights of this evidence:
- A large city of Semites called Avaris, which is beneath the city of Ramses, has been uncovered by Egyptologist Manfred Bietak. As a member of the 13-only crowd he denies that these Semites were Jews.
- The Avaris settlement consisted of houses similar in architecture to those found in northern Syria.
- Avaris often had burial sites under the dwelling, a tradition of Ur of the Chaldees, the place of Abraham’s birth.
- Avaris was a town of foreigners that according to 13-only Bietak had some sort of special status with Egyptian royalty. This fits perfectly with Genesis 47:6 when Pharaoh told Joseph: “The land of Egypt is before you. Have your father and brothers dwell in the best of the land”.
- Numerous Semite settlements are found in Goshen. Genesis 47:27 states: “So Israel dwelt in the land of Egypt, in the country of Goshen; and they had possessions there and grew and multiplied exceedingly.”
- The Semites were shepherds, as even 13-only skeptic Bietak noted: “We have some evidence of sheepherders, we find again and again in this area, pits with goats and sheep, so we know sheepherders.”. This jives quite well with Genesis 46:31-32: “My brothers and those of my father’s house, who were in the land of Canaan, have come to me. And the men are shepherds.” It’s amazing with all this evidence that Manfred Bietak still insists these can’t be Jews since the Exodus had to, in his mind, occur in the 13th century!
- There is a palace in Avaris built for a Semite. That’s right, a PALACE. Why is there a palace in Egypt for a non-Egyptian? For a Semite?This palace happens to have 12 pillars, AND 12 tombs! Sound familiar? This was very likely Joseph’s home, and the 12 pillars represent the sons of Jacob. These sons are the basis for the 12 tribes of Israel (the word Israel was given by God to Jacob).
- One of the tombs is in the shape of a pyramid!
This is very significant since pyramid tombs were only allowed for Egyptian royalty. Who is the most likely non-Egyptian to get an exception to this? The only pyramid in all of Egyptian history dedicated to someone who was not Egyptian royalty would most likely be for Joseph. Moreover, the statue of the person in the tomb is a Semite! Recall how Pharaoh viewed Joseph: “You shall be over my house, and all my people shall be ruled according to your word; only in regard to the throne will I be greater than you.” And Pharaoh said to Joseph, “See, I have set you over all the land of Egypt.” (Gen 41:39-41).
- The statue in the tomb is wearing a multi-colored robe! For those who don’t know the story, from Genesis 37:23: “they stript Joseph out of his coat, his coat of many colors”.
- Unlike the other tombs, the tomb in the pyramid was empty of bones! Why is this important? Recall that Joseph wanted his bones buried in his home country, not Egypt (see Genesis 50:25 and Exodus 13:19). As Dr. Charles Aling, professor emeritus of Northwestern College noted, this person is either “Joseph, or it’s someone that had a career remarkably the same as Joseph had”.
- Today there is still an important canal in Egypt called Bahr Yussef, or “The Waterway of Joseph”. This canal was critical in making an otherwise dry area fertile for growing crops. This fits perfectly with Joseph’s plans to deal with the seven years of famine spoken of in Genesis 41.
- Inscriptions of the word Israel from an Egyptian artifact from the 15th century (link).
- Egyptian scribe Ipuwer’s eyewitness account of the plagues and their aftermath is incredibly similar to the Biblical account! Among many examples include the numerous times Ipuwer laments of how the rich suddenly became poor, and the poor suddenly became rich. Amazingly, in one specific passage Ipuwer names the person behind the calamity as “he who poured water on the ground… the river is blood”. Recall from Exodus 4:9: “But if they do not believe these two signs or listen to you, take some water from the Nile and pour it on the dry ground. The water you take from the river will become blood on the ground.”
- As noted in Israel’s Exodus in Transdisciplinary Perspective, a whopping 90 Egyptian texts contain Exodus parallels.
Scratching the Surface of the Exodus
These evidences alone make a very compelling case for the Exodus as an actual historical event, yet there is so much more. I highly encourage watching the afore-mentioned documentary Patterns of Evidence: The Exodus (available in DVD or on Netflix). For a thorough online list of this evidence, visit Real Science Radio’s List of Evidence for the Exodus.