- 1. Introductory Observation
- 2. The Basis for the Exodus Date-Biblical Chronology
- 3. A Modified Chronology of the Reign of Ramesses II
- 4. Astronomical Confirmation of this Drastic Chronological Change
- 5. The Chronology of the Sojourn in Egypt
- 6. Evidence for the Sojourn in Egypt
- 7. Exodus—Leaving Egypt
- 8. Good Evidence—But Scholars Doubt
- 9. Conquest of Canaan
- 10. But Scholars Debate
- 11. Correcting C14 Chronology
- 12. Summary of the Information that we Have Discovered thus Far
- 13. An Alphabetic Script at the Time of the Exodus
- 14. Scholarly Incredulity
- 15. A Boader Perspective on the Origins of the Hebrew Script
- 16. How the Proto-Sinaitic Script Developed
- 17. Observations about the Spirit of the Age
- 18. Looking at Genesis
- 19. Conclusion: How I Will Move Forward in this Work
“He Wrote of Me” (John 5:46)
Moses Wrote the Pentateuch and it is Historically Reliable:[i] [see note]
At the time of Descartes the skepticism of the age kept men from seeking their firm truthful foundation in the Word of God. Still today the practice is to separate faith and reason and to discount faith as a part of, or as a guide to, an accurate understanding of the world. But:
Everyone who hears these words of Mine and acts on them may be compared to a wise man who built his house on the rock. (Matthew 7:24)
I am able to present this because a small number of scholars have dared to challenge the timeline that is traditionally accepted for the Exodus and for parts of Egyptian chronology. They have then been able to assemble mountains of evidence that collaborates the Biblical accounts of the Sojourn, the Exodus, and the Conquest of Canaan. We will follow their ideas and their thinking. But we will also quote “incredulous” scholars and their ideas as we progress through our reasoning.
I want to begin by making an important observation about the discussion of these topics. There is a direct relationship between the Mosaic authorship of the Pentateuch and the historical reliability of those books. The basic approach in scholarship when denying the truth of any Biblical book is to first question its Patriarchal or Apostolic authorship, then to date its creation or writing to a somewhat later period of time, and thereby attack its basic credibility. Therefore the Mosaic authorship of the Pentateuch and its historical accuracy are linked together in the academic discussions of our time.
This issue is more than a fringe issue. It stands at the center of our Christian faith. Jesus, the Incarnate Word of God, the Creator of the universe, spoke directly to this point:
If you believed Moses, you would believe Me, for he wrote about Me. If you do not believe his writings, how will you believe My words? (John 5:46–47)
For Moses said, ‘Honor your father and your mother’. (Mark 7:10)
Our Lord believed that Moses wrote the Pentateuch. He cannot be wrong. This assertion was the understanding of the Jews throughout their history and the understanding of all the Fathers and Doctors throughout the history of Christianity. We have always believed God commanded Moses to write the Pentateuch and that He inspired him as he wrote it.
Then the Lord said to Moses, “Write this in a book [lit.: the book] as a memorial and recite it to Joshua, that I will utterly blot out the memory of Amalek from under heaven.” (Exodus 17:14)
We also reiterate how vital chronology is to the study of ancient times. We cannot link two past events together accurately unless we know the times when they happened. Therefore chronology is the basis for an accurate reconstruction of the past.
The Basis for the Exodus Date—Biblical Chronology
The chronology of the reigns of the Hebrew kings has been worked out in conjunction with a broader Middle Eastern and Assyrian chronology to a very high level of certainty. This well-known fact is most important. At this point I want to explain what the Bible says about the date of the Exodus, which relies on the accuracy of the chronology of the Hebrew kings.[ii]
In the midst of much chaos, how did the chronology of the Hebrew kings become a solidly worked-out historical fact? For centuries this was a mysterious subject, seemingly fraught with inconsistencies. Then a man named Edwin R. Thiele found the key that resolved all of the seeming contradictions and harmonized Biblical and other Middle East chronologies. He explains the long-standing issue that confronted scholars.
For more than two thousand years Hebrew chronology has been a serious problem for Old Testament scholars. Every effort to weave the chronological data of the kings of Israel and Judah into some sort of harmonious scheme seemed doomed to failure. The numbers for the one kingdom could not, it seemed, be made to agree with the numbers of the other. The data concerning the synchronisms appeared in hopeless contradiction with the data as to the lengths of reign. Dates established by the biblical numbers seemed to be constantly out of line with the dates of Israel's neighbors.[iii]
The author goes on to explain:
Thirty years after the publication of my solution to the problem of the mysterious numbers of the Hebrew kings comes a need for a new edition. Confused and erroneous as these numbers seemed to be, they have proven themselves to be remarkably accurate. The basic factors that brought about the solution stand out today more clearly than ever.[iv]
Thus a long-standing chronological difficulty was solved and has stood the test of time. In the introduction to Thiele’s work his mentor Professor William A. Irwin of the University of Chicago, explains the importance of Dr. Thiele’s chronology to historical studies.
It has been well said that chronology is the one sure basis of accurate historical knowledge. History, it is true, is much more than tables of dates and lists of events; these are merely annals, but history must set all in a coherent and meaningful structure of change and development. None-theless, to the extent that the historian is deprived of accurate dating, his results grow propor-tionately vague and uncertain. They become, one might say, a collection of mental antiquities, interesting and possibly beautiful, but nothing more than curios until touched by magic like that of the trained museologist who arranges his disparate pieces in a cultural sequence.[v]
Thus Dr. Thiele’s work, first published in 1951 as his doctoral thesis, has now become a classic in the field of Biblical chronology. From his work we will use two bits of information.
1st: In Judah, the reigns of kings were reckoned on a Tishri-to-Tishri year. Tishri was an early fall month in the Hebrew lunar calendar, falling around September or October. So if a king assumed the throne in May, for example, the first year of his reign would not begin until Tishri 1 of that year. The time from May until Tishri 1 would be considered to be “the beginning of the reign” of the king. To say that a king reigned five years in all would mean that his reign spanned a total of five Tishri 1’s. Even if he died on Tishri 1 of the fifth year, it would still be reckoned as a year of his reign, and not as part of the reign of his successor.
2nd: According to Thiele’s chronology the first year of Rehoboam’s reign was 930 BC; that is, the first year of his reign was reckoned from Tishri 1 of the year 930 BC. Because his father Solomon reigned for forty years (that is, for a total of forty Tishri 1’s), the first year of Solomon’s reign began on Tishri 1, 970 BC. This verse tells us the exact year of the Exodus:
Now it came about in the four hundred and eightieth year after the sons of Israel came out of the land of Egypt, in the fourth year of Solomon’s reign over Israel, in the month of Ziv which is the second month, that he began to build the house of the Lord. (1 Kings 6:1)
From this information we can determine the year in which the month Ziv of the fourth year of Solomon’s reign fell. Here is a table of the first four regnal years of Solomon:
Beginning of regnal year:
Tishri 1, 970 BC
Tishri 1, 969 BC
Tishri 1, 968 BC
Tishri 1, 967 BC
Regnal year ends day before:
Tishri 1, 969 BC
Tishri 1, 968 BC
Tishri 1, 967 BC
Tishri 1, 966 BC
The month Ziv is in the spring or early summer. The month Ziv of the fourth year of the reign of Solomon was in 966 BC. Thus the Exodus was 480 years earlier, in 1446 BC.
The Exodus happened on Nisan 15, so there was a part of a year—from 15 to 45 days—in 966 that preceded the dates in the month Ziv. If that partial year is reckoned as another year, which sometimes was done, then the Exodus would be one year later, or in 1447 BC. Clearly this date (whichever we choose) cannot be reconciled with Ramesses II being the pharaoh of the Exodus. We must reconcile that claim, which is also based on the Bible.
There is another Biblical reference connecting the Hebrews to the city Pi-Ramesses and the land of Goshen. In Genesis, in Chapter 47, when Jacob and his family are entering Egypt at the time of the famine, it is repeatedly stated that they were to settle in the best of the land, in the land of Goshen. But it is also stated that they would settle in the land of Ramesses.
So Joseph settled his father and his brothers and gave them a possession in the land of Egypt, in the best of the land, in the land of Rameses, as Pharaoh had ordered. (Genesis 47:11).
How could Ramesses be pharaoh at the time of Joseph and also at the time of the Exodus? These events are separated by centuries. What we are seeing here is an anachronism, a place that has been renamed to a more modern or up-to-date name, likely because its old name had become obscure and meaningless to those who would read the text of the Bible, to the Jews of Old Testament times. The name of the city where the family of Jacob settled had a different name at the time of the famine, but it passed out of usage at some point in Old Testament times, so the Hebrew scribes substituted the then-current name of the place into the text of the Bible. Both cities were in the same location, in the land of Goshen, in the best part of the land of Egypt, but the new name was more meaningful and understandable.
An example from our own country is the name of the city founded by the Pilgrims. Surely they founded New York. That is the present name of the city. But when they founded it the name was New Amsterdam. Yet today we can easily say that the Pilgrims founded the city of New York, even though it did not receive that name until the Dutch ceded it to the British in 1664. The statement refers to the name the city had at the time of the writing, not to the name it had many years earlier. Thus using Exodus 1:11 to set the date of the Exodus was a mistake from the beginning, and the date must be determined another way.
There are a few other examples of anachronisms in the Old Testament, no doubt arising from the need to update ancient place names. A few examples: Genesis 14:14 says that “Abram pursued them unto Dan.” But Dan (the northern most area of the promised land) was not called by that name at the time of Abram. Thus this is a later update to that ancient place name, whatever it was called at the time of Abram. In Genesis 21:34 it is said that “Abraham sojourned in the land of the Philistines for many days.” If the present scholarly opinion is correct that the Philistines did not live in that area at that early date, then this is another example of an anachronism, an update to an ancient place name that had become obsolete at some point in the history of Israel. The same could be conjectured about the reference to “Philistines” in chapter 26 of Genesis.
One question that arises is, when scholars chose 1250 BC as the date of the Exodus then how did they get around this clear and obvious chronological statement? They said that 480 years was an editorial comment based on the fact that there were 12 generations from the Exodus to Solomon and the Hebrews had reckoned 40 years to a generation. Because there actually are more like 20-25 years in a generation, the actual time period was more like 240-300 years, which agrees approximately with 1250 BC. Considering the importance of chronology in general, and the precision of Old Testament chronology in particular, it is clear that such an attempt to dismiss this clear chronological statement is not acceptable.
I want to give an example revealing more clearly the reasoning by which one scholar rejects this straightforward chronological statement in the Bible.
The figure  resolves into twelve units of forty years, the latter figure being commonly used in the Old Testament to represent a generation; further, the succession of High Priests from Aaron to the return from the Exile can be divided into two sections, one bridging the time between the Exodus and the first temple, and the other extending from the building of the first temple to the Exile, each section consisting of twelve generations; and the sum of the lengths of the reigns of Judah's kings from the fourth year of Solomon to the destruction of Jerusalem by Nebuchad-nezzar, as given in the books of Kings, with the addition of fifty years for the Exile, yields another period of 480 years between the building of the first temple and the founding of the second, which exactly balances the 480 years between the Exodus and the building of the first temple. For these reasons the figure is held to be artificial and unreliable.[vi]
The scholar that reasoned in this way is not the author of the book referenced, but someone whom he is quoting. The author of the book goes on to refute this reasoning. But I want to examine the presuppositions that underlie this kind of thinking.
- The scholar who is quoted here believes that the Book of 1 Kings was written at a date long after the time of the events that it describes. It was written after the Babylonian captivity, after the return from that captivity, and at least as late as when the second temple was being built or had been built.
- The person believes that the writer of 1 Kings had a special religious motive in mind as he wrote, a motive that led him to write about history in a cavalier way, distorting the facts in order to emphasize a certain theological point.
- The person reinterprets a book that appears to be written in the genre of history as a religiously motivated text with questionable historical content—as a pious fraud.
- The person stretches to find a repetitious numerical pattern in the succession of the high priests and in the duration of times in order to substantiate his reasoning.
These attitudes certainly undergird the remarks made by the one who wrote this opinion, and they impute motives to the writer of the 1 Kings, as if the scholar can read his mind. Such attitudes were commonly expressed by enlightenment authors for over two centuries before this scholar wrote. They were not based on new information, as we mentioned. They were simply expressing new attitudes toward the Scriptures, attitudes of radical skepticism that proceeded directly from rationalist presuppositions.
Lest the reader think that such scholarship is just cavalier, or is the product of wicked minds, let me give another illuminating quote that elucidates this thinking:
In interpreting the Old Testament record, it is necessary to remember how it is composed. From the period of the Patriarchs onwards, the earlier books of the Old Testament are true history, but it is a traditional history, a record of tribal events transmitted verbally. In the actual form that we know, the books of the Pentateuch are quite late, perhaps not earlier than the seventh century B.C. But the authors certainly had earlier documents as their sources, some of them perhaps as early as the twelfth century B.C. Behind these lie the traditional history, passed on from generation to generation. The earlier written records were themselves compilations, as a critical analysis can show, with sources in the traditional history of more than one tribe or group, and the final form carries on the process. At each stage, the aim of the editor was to produce a continuous narrative, with the supreme aim of showing the relationship of the Israelites to their god Yahweh and his guidance of their destiny. As regards pure history, such a compilation has two main limitations. Traditional, verbal, history is incomplete, striking events alone being remembered, and its chronological framework is very loose, for it must be remembered that the Israelites had no fixed calendar. A generation is at best a vague term, and when events of past generations are recorded, some may be combined, others, believed to be very ancient, antedated. Secondly, in the process of compilation, a record from one source may be made subsequent to that from another, whereas they are in fact contemporary, and thus an inflated chronology is produced, while, when the overriding purpose is a religious one, great events which are taken as evidence of Yahweh's providing for his chosen people are believed to have affected the history of all groups, whereas they formed part of the history of one group only.
Therefore, in attempting to reconcile literary and archaeological evidence, we may take it in the first place that chronology based on the Biblical record cannot be taken literally. Almost any adjustment is possible according to what one wishes to adjust it to.[vii] [emphasis mine]
The idea that the Biblical record was composed over many centuries by a series of unknown people has never been proven. Of course that would undermine Biblical truth. Such a claim cannot be proven in any way—including the (supposed) critical analysis that underlies it. Note the presumption that this person also can read the mind and motives of the “editor.” These erroneous statements reflect a bias rooted in an anti-supernaturalistic worldview.
These ideas are based exactly on the “new presuppositions” that writers worked from as a result of the “enlightenment,” which are themselves expressions of rationalist assumptions going back to Descartes. There is no evidence for any of the assertions that these authors make. In these examples the authors are leaning on rationalist assumptions and conclusions of scholars from the school of “higher criticism,” who are themselves simply reading their original anti-supernaturalistic bias into their scholarship. One area of study feeds into and supports another as the Cartesian-Darwinian Narrative spreads and reinforces itself, creating a comprehensive worldview. Modern scholarship is immersed in these attitudes. And the result of their thinking in this instance is to discount Biblical chronology. With this kind of thinking and scholarship, it is most important to take note of the widely accepted accuracy of the total chronology of the Kings of Israel and Judah. It contradicts this thinking, exposing the bias in the reasons and causes that are cited when people express these ideas.
There is another less exact but important Biblical chronological clue that reinforces 1446 BC as the date of the Exodus. In the book of Judges Jephthah sent messengers to the sons of Ammon saying,
While Israel lived in Heshbon and its villages, and in Aroer and its villages, and in all the cities that are on the banks of the Arnon, three hundred years, why did you not recover them in that time? (Judges 11:26) [emphasis mine]
This was spoken, reasoning from the chronology of Thiele, around 1100 BC. About 300 years earlier Joshuah had established the children of Israel along the banks of the Arnon (Joshua 12:1-2, 13:9, 16). Thus the approximate time for the Conquest of Canaan was about 300 years earlier; i.e., around 1400 BC. The 1210 BC date for the Conquest is impossible because it is two centuries later than this date, but the 1406 BC date fits perfectly.
But as an example of the chaos that plagues ancient chronology, the dates for the reign of Ramesses II are also questioned by scholars today. For instance, Egyptologist Dr. David Rohl proposes a date in the 900’s BC for the reign of Ramesses II.[viii] He dates the beginning of his reign to the late 900’s BC, not to the 1279 BC date that most scholars accept. Of course, the many scholars who hold to the 1279 BC date for the beginning of the reign of Ramesses II have reasons for their position, as we have noted. But Dr. Rohl proposes a disparity of more than three centuries in the chronology of Egypt! I want to look briefly at the reasoning by which he arrives at his assertion. We will follow Dr. Rohl as he begins with a key text from the Old Testament:
When the kingdom of Rehoboam was established and strong, he and all Israel with him forsook the law of the Lord. And it came about in King Rehoboam’s fifth year, because they had been unfaithful to the Lord, that Shishak king of Egypt came up against Jerusalem with 1,200 chariots and 60,000 horsemen . . . [He] took the treasures of the house of the Lord and the treasures of the king’s palace. He took everything; he even took the golden shields which Solomon had made. (2 Chronicles 12:1-2, 9) [emphasis mine]
The question is, who is the Egyptian Pharaoh referred to as “Shishak,” and how does his identity impact the date of the Exodus? Traditionally he has been identified with Shoshenk I. This was first determined by Champollion, a child prodigy in the field of philology. He was the French scholar who first deciphered Egyptian hieroglyphs and who first translated the Rosetta stone. He became a founding figure in Egyptology. How did Champollion conclude that Shashak was the Egyptian pharaoh Shoshenk I?
Once Champollion found the key to hieroglyphs he traveled to Egypt to test out his discovery. Among the ruins of the Temple of Amun-Re at Karnak in Thebes he found a scene of a military campaign into Canaan led by Pharaoh Shoshenk I. Among the names of the people and places that Shoshenk I had conquered was the name “Iuda ha Malkuth,” which Champollion identified as “Judah the Kingdom.” Therefore he connected Shoshenk I with Shishak of the above passage. But the translation of “Iuda ha Malkuth” was soon corrected to “Yad ha-Melek,” which means “Hand of the King,” a completely different meaning.
That error, and the identification of Shishak with Shoshenk I, has never been corrected by scholars even to this day! (The two names are similar, after all.) But Dr. Rohl points out that the campaign waged by Shoshenk I, as derived from the many place names that his inscription mentions, does not even come close to matching the towns of Judah that were fortified by Rehoboam against a possible Egyptian attack. Here is what the Bible says about the fortifications that Rehoboam made as a defense against Egypt:
Rehoboam lived in Jerusalem and built cities for defense in Judah. Thus he built Bethlehem, Etam, Tekoa, Beth-zur, Soco, Adullam, Gath, Mareshah, Ziph, Adoraim, Lachish, Azekah, Zorah, Aijalon and Hebron, which are fortified cities in Judah and in Benjamin. He also strengthened the fortresses and put officers in them and stores of food, oil and wine. He put shields and spears in every city and strengthened them greatly. (2 Chronicles 11:5-12)
These fortified cities are shown as dots on the map of Judah above. Also shown are those cities mentioned in Shoshenk I’s campaign list, in the path that he followed as he pillaged Canaan. Clearly, they are not at all the same cities. We see that Shoshenk carefully circumvented Judah, missing all but one of the fortified cities. Here is what David Rohl so cogently observes:
...[Let us carefully consider] the matter of Rehoboam's fortified strongholds captured by Shishak on his way to Jerusalem. If we compare the list in 2 Chronicles 11 with Shoshenk's campaign list, do we find those strong-holds? No, we do not. Of the fifteen fortresses strengthened by Rehoboam to resist attack from the southwest only one – Aijalon - appears in Shoshenk's list. And that one is directly on the route crossing the hill country north of Jerusalem and the Judean border, used by Shoshenk to reach the Jordan valley. So the next question is: why, if the two campaigns represent the same historical event, does Shoshenk not mention the other fourteen fortresses of Rehoboam among the one hundred and fifty places listed at Karnak? . . .
Which brings me to the next point. If Jerusalem was such a big prize and the target of Shoshenk’s military campaign, how come it does not appear in the Shoshenk campaign relief either? . . . The relief at this point is perfectly preserved. Jerusalem is not included in the campaign list . . .
It is absolutely clear from the Shoshenk campaign relief that his focus is the region north of Judah and then, subsequently, the Negeb desert region south of Judah. The one area he does not invade is the Kingdom of Judah, and he does not plunder its capital city either. Shoshenk's main interest lies in the hill country controlled by the Northern Kingdom of Israel, the Jordan valley, the Jezreel valley and the Sharon plain bordering the Mediterranean coast . . .
To summarize, Shoshenk I did not campaign against the Southern Kingdom of Judah where Egypt's enemy, Rehoboam, ruled in the Biblical story. Instead Shoshenk marched into the Northern Kingdom of Israel where his ally, Jeroboam, ruled. This is in complete contradiction to the story of Shishak. While the Biblical Shishak defeats Judah and no mention is made of a campaign against Israel, Shoshenk avoids entering Judah and heads up into the territory of Israel. Moreover, Shishak plundered Jerusalem and Shoshenk does not even mention this important prize in his list of defeated/subject cities. Don't let anyone tell you that Jerusalem was not listed because it handed over a ransom and was not therefore officially subjugated. That is not how these triumph reliefs worked. Any city plundered or subjugated or forced to pay tribute, gets listed.[ix]
This surely indicates that Shoshenk I was not the Shishak of the Chronicles passage. Dr. Rohl also points out that a major part of the chronology of the kings of Egypt, those with their reigns after Shoshenk I and going into the New Kingdom, are determined by the identification of Shoshenk I with Shishak of the Bible. Ramesses II is a pharaoh of the New Kingdom. Thus the date commonly assigned to his reign by modern scholars is linked to the confusion regarding Shishak and Shoshenk I. Since Ramesses II is (I believe wrongly) equated to the pharaoh of the Exodus by most scholars, the assumed but errant dates of his reign result in errant dates of around 1250 BC for the Exodus. But as Dr. Rohl observes, the chronology of the Kings of Judah as worked out by Edwin R. Thiele is a solid rock on which to build a correct date for the Exodus.
Because the chronology of the reigns of the kings of Israel and Judah has been definitively worked out, and thus is a firm foundation on which to base the chronology of other events, it is good technique to connect an ancient event with the reign of a Hebrew king, if possible, in order to give that event an accurate chronological context. Such a luxury is not available in the archeology of ancient Egypt. Shoshenk I was in the “Third Intermediate Period,” so his reign came just before the New Kingdom, when Ramesses II reigned. That is why, once the chronology of Shoshenk II has been determined, the chronology of many subsequent kings can also be established. This also implies that an extended section of Egyptian chronology has been in error because of the mistaken identification of Shoshenk I with the Shishak of the Bible. Dr. Rohl is seeking to correct a long-standing chronological error.
A Modified Chronology of the Reign of Ramesses II
When did Ramesses II reign in Egypt? What chronological evidence can we muster? The Bible and Egyptian hieroglyphs imply that the time of the Exodus was much earlier than when Ramesses II reigned. Also, a large granite slab called the Israel Stella, discovered in the late 1890’s by Sir William Matthew Flinders Petrie (called the father of Egyptian Archeology), refers to the nation of Israel as a significant Canaanite entity. It was engraved by Merneptah, the thirteenth son and immediate successor of Ramesses II. The hieroglyphs are his campaign register, listing the nations that he conquered or subjugated. Prominent among his list of conquered nations is Israel, “Israel is laid waste, his seed is no more.” This is the typical exaggeration and boasting found on such war campaign registers. Israel was not totally destroyed. But it must have existed as a nation at that time.
But if Ramesses II was the pharaoh of the Exodus, then how could his son be referring to Israel as a major established entity on this stella? The Israel Stella implies that the Exodus happened long before the reign of Ramesses II—or, alternately, that his reign followed the Exodus by many years.[x] Of course, there is great controversy and scholarly debate rages over the right way to understand and interpret the stella.[xi]
Another discover that has much more recently come to light is a block fragment from a statue that is dated to even earlier in Egyptian history, and that has the name “I-a-shra-i-l” on it. Just how much earlier has not yet been determined for certain. This is in the Egyptian Museum in Berlin. It was found in 1913, but has been ignored until recently. These two references to “Israel” imply the Hebrews left Egypt well before Ramesses was born.[xii]
In fact, Dr. Rohl asserts that Ramesses II was the Shishak of 2 Chronicles 12. He uses this to redate his reign to begin in 943 BC. We noted that Shishak sounded a lot like Shoshenk. That was why Champollion first made the connection and identified them as the same person, and that may very well be why the identification continues to hang on even today.
But Ramesses II was called by other titles and names, which Dr. Rohl explains were like nicknames. One of his other names, common throughout broad areas of Egypt and the Middle East, was Sysw. Looking back into the past when Proto-Hebrew was the written script, he notes that the names Sysw and Shishak would have been written identically.
The second line has the nickname “Sysw” as it would have been written in “Proto-Hebrew” at the time of Ramesses II.
The fourth line is how the Biblical name “Shishak” would have been written in “Proto-Hebrew” at the time of Josiah.
The two scripts are clearly indistinguishable![xiii]
He closes his discussion of Shishak with this fascinating insight from a colleague:
Biblical scholar Peter van der Veen of Johannes Gutenberg University, Mainz, brought to my attention the fact that the name Shy-shak can be interpreted as a combination of two Hebrew words. Shy (or shay) was the word used (in Psalm 68:29) to describe the gifts or tribute brought to the Temple of Solomon by visiting kings. In other words this was the word for the temple treasure. Shak, on the other hand, may derive from the Semitic verb shakak which has the meaning 'to ride over the spoils' or simply 'to plunder'. If you put these two Hebrew words together you get “plunderer of the treasure of the Temple of Solomon”. What better nickname for Ramesses the Great, who seems to have been the true plunderer of Solomon's treasure in 925 BC![xiv]
I am not claiming that the extended story or “narrative” that Dr. Rohl is putting forward is accepted by all scholars. It surely is not. It certainly uses several archeological discoveries and interprets them to give some basis to his story. Of course, those who tell another and different story either interpret his facts differently, or fill in the gaps to tell their story in their own different way. However, this revised chronology—for a part of ancient Egypt—is one of the foundations upon which we can construct significant archeological evidence to support the historical accuracy of the Pentateuch. That is one major reason to give it credence. It also reveals the shaky nature of the chronology that scholars have accepted for Egypt.
Astronomical Confirmation of this Drastic Chronological Change
Also, there is an astronomical check that provides strong reason for accepting the revised chronology to which Dr. Rohl has reasoned. Astronomical methods employ the lunar calendars that were universally used by the ancients, and leverage upon the fact that lunar months are either 29 or 30 days long, depending on the fact that the lunar orbit is 29.53 days long, and depending on when a new moon was observed, which was how a new month was reckoned.
Records of ancient times exist and can be compared to astronomically calculated months. Sequences of 29- or 30-day months can be compared to determine the exact year or years that had such a sequence of 29- and 30-day months. Such a sequence exists in ancient records for the final kings of the 12th dynasty and the first few kings of the 13th dynasty of Egypt. When this test was applied to the previous assumed chronology no match of even 60% could be attained. But the revised chronology was between 97% and 100%! This is a very strong indication that it is correct. For our records and going forward, I present here the old and new dates for the reigns of a few of the pharaohs of the 12th and 13th dynasties.
Dates for the Reigns of Pharaohs of the 12th Dynasty and the start of the 13th Dynasty
Clearly the shifting of dates in these chronologies is not consistent throughout the reigns of the pharaohs. In general, we see the difference is in the range of 126 to 159 years, thus varying by 33 years. Why is there such uncertainty when the astronomical data gives us an exact year? The lunar dates to which the modern astronomical cal-culations are being com-pared appear to be from the 30th to the 41st years of the reign of Amenemhat III. The other reigns and coregencies must then be calculated from data about the ancient kings taken from one papyrus record. The image above is what that record looks like:
The kings of the Egyptian 13th Dynasty are listed in a papyrus from the 19th Dynasty which is today called the 'Royal Canon of Turin' (because it is housed in the Egyptian Museum of Turin). The document actually gives the names and reign lengths of the pharaohs from mythological or pre-dynastic times right through to the beginning of the 18th Dynasty (which is the beginning of the New Kingdom), so it is an extremely valuable source for the chronology of the era we are interested in. . . . a bit of the 13th dynasty in Column VI is preserved.[xvi]
This has greatly affected the determination of the dates above, causing scholars to estimate or guess at figures.
We find that Neferhotep I is listed as the twenty-seventh ruler of the dynasty (according to Kim Ryholt's analysis) with a reign length of 11 years 1 month. Working backwards, most of the names of his twenty-six predecessors are fairly easily read (with the exception of six rulers lost in lacunae in the document from which the scribe was copying). Unfortunately, nearly all the reign lengths are lost in the damaged sections of the papyrus. However, scholars are aware that the reigns in this era were very short, few extending beyond three years. So we can assign roughly three-and-a-half years to each, giving us an approximate date for the start of the dynasty of 1626 BC and, in that same year, the end of the 12th Dynasty.[xvii]
Not to mention the fact that this record is dated to the 19th dynasty, which is five or six centuries after the 12th and 13th dynasties. Obviously, even though the astronomical technique (likely) yields an excellent and firm point of reference, the fragmentary nature of the archeological data as a whole still leaves uncertainty in the total chronology. Yet this fragmentary document is often given more credence and authority in chronological matters than the Biblical record!
We are used to the exact and complete records of the reigns of the kings of Israel and Judah as given in the books of Kings and Chronicles. This is what parts of Egyptian chronology are based on. This is why it is important to connect Egyptian dates to Middle Eastern and Biblical events, whose chronology is known “for certain,” in order to date much of ancient Egypt.
The conclusions of scholars that we discuss in this work are greatly influenced by a person’s bias/worldview; either they accept the supernatural origin of the world, of humanity, and of God’s chosen people, or they must look for (and even demand) some other (naturalistic) explanation for all of these events to replace the Biblical account.
This is because Rationalism asserts that all of reality can be known by the human mind, by the use of our reason. So throwing out the revealed (but supernatural) reason for an event, which Rationalism demands, must be immediately followed by producing some rationalistic explanation to replace it, no matter how convoluted the thinking behind the new reason is.
The Chronology of the Sojourn in Egypt
Once we set the date of the Exodus we can also set the chronology for the sojourn of the Hebrews in Egypt. So when did the Israelites enter Egypt? Knowing that the Exodus was in 1446 BC we can then ask the question in an equivalent way: How long was the sojourn in Egypt? The Bible speaks to this, but in a way that has often confused people. I want to go through the reasoning. The apostle Paul says:
Now the promises were spoken to Abraham and to his seed. He does not say, “And to seeds,” as referring to many, but rather to one, “And to your seed,” that is, Christ. What I am saying is this: the Law, which came four hundred and thirty years later, does not invalidate a covenant previously ratified by God, so as to nullify the promise. For if the inheritance is based on law, it is no longer based on a promise; but God has granted it to Abraham by means of a promise. (Galatians 3:16–18) [emphasis mine] [430 years from the promise to Sinai and the Law.]
The promise made to Abraham to which Paul refers is recorded in Genesis 12, 13, and 15.
Now the Lord said to Abram: “Go forth from your country, and from your relatives and from your father’s house to the land which I will show you. And I will make you a great nation, and I will bless you, and make your name great; and so you shall be a blessing; and I will bless those who bless you, and the one who curses you I will curse. And in you all the families of the earth will be blessed.” (Genesis 12:1–4) [This is the promise made to Abraham (Abram).]
The promise (covenant) is reiterated in other words in Genesis 13:14–18. Then in Genesis 15,
Abram said, “O Lord God, what will You give me, since I am childless, and the heir of my house is Eliezer of Damascus?” And Abram said, “Since You have given no offspring to me, one born in my house is my heir.” Then behold, the word of the Lord came to him, saying, “This man will not be your heir; but one who will come forth from your own body, he shall be your heir.” And He took him outside and said, “Now look toward the heavens, and count the stars, if you are able to count them.” And He said to him, “So shall your descendants be.” Then he believed in the Lord; and He reckoned it to him as righteousness. And He said to him, “I am the Lord who brought you out of Ur of the Chaldeans, to give you this land to possess it.” (Genesis 15–7)[Here, when the Lord God showed him the heavens, is where and when Abram believed God.]
He said, “O Lord God, how may I know that I will possess it?” [Abram is asking for an official contract, something to ratify the agreement or promise that God made.] So He said to him, “Bring Me a three-year old heifer, and a three-year old female goat, and a three-year old ram, and a turtledove, and a young pigeon.” Then he brought all these to Him and cut them in two, and laid each half opposite the other; but he did not cut the birds. The birds of prey came down upon the carcasses, and Abram drove them away.
Now when the sun was going down, a deep sleep fell upon Abram; and behold, terror and great darkness fell upon him. God said to Abram, “Know for certain that your descendants will be strangers in a land that is not theirs, where they will be enslaved and oppressed four hundred years. But I will also judge the nation whom they will serve, and afterward they will come out with many possessions. As for you, you shall go to your fathers in peace; you will be buried at a good old age. Then in the fourth generation they will return here, for the iniquity of the Amorite is not yet complete.”
It came about when the sun had set, that it was very dark, and behold, there appeared a smoking oven and a flaming torch which passed between these pieces. On that day the Lord made a covenant with Abram, saying,
“To your descendants I have given this land, from the river of Egypt as far as the great river, the river Euphrates:
the Kenite and the Kenizzite and the Kadmonite and the Hittite and the Perizzite and the Rephaim.
(Genesis 15: 8–21) [This is where God formally ratified His promise to Abram via a covenant.]
The promise was made as soon as Abraham departed from his family in Haran. Then 25 years after he left Haran Isaac was born. At some point Isaac was weaned, likely around age five. At that time Ismael so mocked Isaac that Sarah demanded that he and Hagar, his mother, be cast out of the household. Ismael’s mocking began the oppression of which the Lord had spoken to Abraham. It was 430 years from God’s promise to the giving of the Law on Sanai, and 430 – 25 – 5 = 400 years of oppression that came upon the descendants [seed] of Abraham. This happened as they were sojourning in (or passing through) various lands that were not their own, not their home, not their promised inheritance.
This seems reasonable enough in itself, but there is another verse that brings confusion into this discussion.
Now the time that the sons of Israel lived in Egypt was four hundred and thirty years. And at the end of four hundred and thirty years, to the very day, all the hosts of the Lord went out from the land of Egypt. (Exodus 12:40, NASB)
This makes it seem as if the 430 years was all spent in the land of Egypt, not divided up between Egypt and various places in the Middle East while the patriarchs wandered there. How can/should we reconcile the verses in Galatians and in Exodus?
The King James translates Exodus 12:40 as follows:
Now the sojourning of the children of Israel, who dwelt in Egypt, was four hundred and thirty years. And it came to pass at the end of the four hundred and thirty years, even the selfsame day it came to pass, that all the hosts of the Lord went out from the land of Egypt. (Exodus 12:40, KJV)
This account says that the children of Israel sojourned for a total of 430 years. The Sojourn of the Hebrews began in Canaan. We know this because when Jacob stood before pharaoh as they entered into Egypt at the time of the famine this was their conversation:
Then Joseph brought his father Jacob and presented him to Pharaoh; and Jacob blessed Pharaoh. Pharaoh said to Jacob, “How many years have you lived?” So Jacob said to Pharaoh, “The years of my sojourning are one hundred and thirty; few and unpleasant have been the years of my life, nor have they attained the years that my fathers lived during the days of their sojourning.” (Genesis 47:7–9)
Thus the sojourning began earlier in the life of Jacob, while he was still living in Canaan, and it followed the sojourning of Isaac and Abraham as well. So the sojourning began in the land of Canaan. This agrees with Galatians. So is this just a translation issue?
No, it is also an issue of the correct text. Looking at other texts of Genesis; i.e., other than the Masoretic text, we see the following for Exodus 12:40:
They (the Israelites) left Egypt in the month of Zanthicus, on the fifteenth day of the lunar month; four hundred and thirty years after our forefather Abraham came into Canaan two hundred and fifteen years only after Jacob entered Egypt. [Josephus: Antiquities of the Jews, Chapter XV:2]
And the sojourning of the children of Israel - that is which they sojourned in the land of Egypt and in the land of Canaan - was four hundred and thirty years. [Exodus 12:40, Septuagint version]
Now the sojourning of the children of Israel and of their fathers when they had dwelt in the land of Canaan and in Egypt was four hundred and thirty years. [Exodus 12:40, Samaritan Pentateuch]
It therefore seems that the words 'and in the land of Canaan' have somehow dropped out of the Qumran and subsequent Masoretic editions at some stage during the process of copying. The Septuagint was presumably translated from an original Hebrew text of the Torah during the third century BC (when seventy Jewish scholars were commissioned to write a Greek translation of the Old Testament for Ptolemy II's new library in Alexandria c. 270 BC). Josephus wrote his Antiquities of the Jews in the first century AD, while the Samaritan Pentateuch comes from several centuries earlier. The Qumran fragmentary papyrus of Exodus dates either to the second half of the third century BC or as late as 25 BC (depending on expert opinion), suggesting that the omission occurred sometime in the third century BC or later.[xviii]
For these reasons I think that 430 years in Egypt and Canaan is the correct understanding of the time of the Israelite’s sojourning. 215 of that was in Canaan, and 215 was in Egypt. Thus the date when Jacob and his family entered Egypt was 1446 + 215 = 1661 BC. As we will see when we comment on Genesis, Joseph preceded his father and the rest of his family into Egypt by about 21 years, so Joseph was sold into slavery in Egypt in about 1661 + 21 = 1682 BC. This gives the chronology of the Sojourn of the Hebrews in Egypt.
In this work I develop a Biblical chronology for events going back to the creation. It is not precise in that it can be off by a few years. But it includes a chronology for the time of the Sojourn and the Exodus. Dr. Rohl’s chronology for the Egyptian pharaohs of the 12th/13th dynasties fits my dates nicely. I will develop a coordinated chronology using two reigns:
Senuseret III = 1698-1658 BC [This is the pharaoh whose dreams Joseph interpreted.]
Amenemhat III = 1678-1631 BC [co-regent with Senuseret III for 20 years]
How vital is this date to this work? In our work we will construct a basic chronology of the Old Testament from creation to the Exodus. If we are off by a few years it will not affect what we are about, so I choose 1446 BC as the date of the Exodus. 1447 BC would have done just as well for us. But two centuries off? That is a significant length of time.
Scholars have asserted that there is little or no support for the Biblical account of the Sojourn in Egypt, the Exodus, or the Conquest of Canaan when 1250 BC is chosen for the date of the Exodus. That is definitely not the case when we choose 1446 BC as our Exodus date.
Evidence for the Sojourn in Egypt
Once we assign 1446 BC as the date for the Exodus then abundant archeological evidence for the Sojourn can be found. Again, the Sojourn lasted for a total of 215 years, so it began in 1661 BC and ended with the Exodus in 1446 BC.
Because the Bible says that Jacob and his family settled in the land of Goshen, which is the Eastern part of the Nile delta, we must look there for the signs of their culture. We pointed out that the reference to Ramesses II in the Bible is an anachronism. The location where the Hebrew slaves built a city for pharaoh at the time of the Exodus was located at the same place but was called by another name. That would mean that Pi-Ramesses had been built near to or on top of some other more ancient city. One such city has been found there, built centuries earlier. It is called Avaris. The Sojourn was contemporary with Avaris, not with Pi-Ramesses, which was built centuries after the Jews had left Egypt.
Here is a short overview of ancient Eastern Nile delta history based on the work of Austrian archeologist Manfred Bietak and his team of workers.
The entire area of the two cities - one Middle Bronze Age [Avaris] and the other Late Bronze Age [Ramesses] - had been surveyed by the Austrians (back in the 1960s) using eight hundred and fifty drill-cores to establish the topographical layout (and, in particular, the location of the Pelusiac branch of the Nile). Then, over the last decade, a much more detailed ground-penetrating radar project was undertaken, by both the Germans (at Pi Ramesse) and Austrians (at Avaris), to reveal a vast city complex.[xix]
It was at this spot that the Pelusiac branch split into two channels, hence the original name of the town - Rowaty ('Mouth of the Two Ways'). Many centuries later, the royal city of Ramesses II was built in the triangle of land between these two branches of the river, north of the old city of Avaris. Ramesside texts actually mention Avaris as the southern quarter of Pi Ramesse.[xx]
The arrival of Jacob and his family is clearly marked in the digs.
Towards the end of the 12th Dynasty, the old, abandoned settlement of Khety's Rowaty witnessed the arrival of Semitic peoples from the north-east. The new village rapidly expanded into a town and then, within a couple of centuries, it became a huge city of over a square mile. This demographic change, marked by the arrival of these Asiatics as observed in the archaeology, began at the very moment we have placed the arrival of Jacob and his tribe in the land of Goshen. At about the same time, the name of the city was changed to Ha(t)ware(t) (pronounced Hawara or Haware, Greek Auaris, modern Avaris) which means the 'Office of the Region' because it became the northern headquarters of the government - most likely represented by the presence of the vizier [presumably Joseph] for at least part of the year.[xxi]
Time then to see what we can learn about these Proto-Israelites from archaeology. As I said, the city of Avaris began life as a small village towards the end of the 12th Dynasty when the 'Mittelsaal Haus' [central hall/house] of Jacob was erected in Area F. At about the same time, houses began to be built a couple of hundred yards to the south-east on the turtleback ridge (now known as Tell A) that would eventually become the heart of the Asiatic city of Avaris.[xxii]
Avaris had a mixed population of Egyptians, Semites, and even some Greeks. It included 25,000 to 30,000 Semitic people. Avaris was surrounded by dozens of other settlements which together would have made up a large and expanding population of Semitic people. But this was in 1450 BC and the decades that followed, not in 1250 BC.[xxiii]
The Bible says the Hebrews “filled the land.” Indeed, other settlements of Semitic people have been found in various Egyptian cities. One example is Kahun, which is further south, further up the Nile River. It also developed a large Semitic population after 1450 BC.[xxiv]
Much later, by more than a century, archeology indicates that the outlook of the Semitic population of Avaris changed for the worse.
According to the archaeological evidence at Tell ed-Daba, conditions then began to deteriorate, with skeletal remains in the graves showing signs of malnutrition (Harris lines in the bones.) Anthropological studies show that adults were dying in their early thirties. Strangely, there were far more burials of infants and young children (50%) than normal (25%) for this sort of ancient civic society. Moreover, there were more females than males in the adult grave population. For every three females there were only two males. Where had the adult males gone?
The Bible provides the answer. The opening chapter in the Book of Exodus tells us that the Egyptians first enslaved the Israelites, then culled the male infants because the slave population was getting too large, and Pharaoh perceived this as a threat. Obviously, in archaeological terms, this would mean an increase in infant burials and a skew in the adult population in favor of females.[xxv]
More specific details about Avaris from 1450 BC and following:[xxvi]
- A Semitic population with their distinct culture continued living at Avaris for centuries.
- One modest Semitic dwelling had an elaborate Egyptian structure built on top of it. It must have belonged to a man of prestige. The elaborate superstructure had 12 pillars in it, and in the garden or courtyard surrounding it were 12 tombs.
- One of the tombs was in the shape of a pyramid, which is significant because that shape of tomb was normally reserved for pharaohs, but this man was not a pharaoh because inside of the pyramid was a statue of a man with red hair and pale, yellow, skin. That was how Egyptians depicted northerners. The statue had a throw stick across the shoulder, a unique symbol of office made for an official from Asia. The statue itself was twice as high as normal, indicating again his great importance.[xxvii]
- On the back of this man we can see the faintest remains of paint-colored stripes from a multi-colored coat. The statue as been broken and cast down, but here is shown an artist’s reconstruction with an enhanced photo of the coat on that statue. Here is the description of the find from the Austrian archeological mission at Tell el-Daba:
Of special interest was the discovery of fragments of a smashed tomb statue. The head, parts of the cloak and the seat were found in tomb p/19-Nr. 1. Other fragments, such as a joining shoulder and the left foot were discovered in nearby tombs. The statue was made of limestone and originally was larger than life. It portrayed a seated man wearing a striped cloak and a red, mushroom shaped hairstyle. Such hairstyles are found on various Egyptian depictions of Asiatics in the Middle Kingdom. The skin color of the man is shown as yellow. In the right hand he is holding a throw stick which is resting against his right shoulder. Egyptian Middle Kingdom images showing people as Asiatics most commonly show these as conquered enemies. This man, on the other hand, held a position of power, on a local level. He reached this position, however, by maintaining - even emphasizing - what for the Egyptians constituted an 'Asiatic'.[xxviii] [this note directs to the website for the Australian archeological team.]
Above is a picture from the web site of the reconstructed statue found at Avaris. Below is a slightly enhanced photo of the shoulder showing the faint stripes of its colorful coat.
Finally, see the artistic reconstruction of the statue below. It appears to be a statue of Joseph. From its composition we can tell it was carved in the royal work-shop at Hawara. That was the workshop of Amenemhat III. The chronology of David Rohl indicates that Joseph served as the vizier of Egypt under that pharaoh.
- Finally, in the account in the Scripture Joseph commanded his descendants to carry his bones with them when at last the Lord God visited them and took them to the land that He had promised to their forefathers. The tomb had been raided, as we notice from the fact that the statue lies broken in pieces, but no grave robber would have taken bones. Only those treating Joseph’s body with the reverence that he had requested would have taken the bones. Thus it appears that the body of Joseph was removed, just as he requested, and buried in Israel. In fact the body of Joseph is claimed to have been buried at Shechem in Israel, where there is a shrine.
- One further point about the tombs at Avaris; The Egyptian graves were hastily filled with bodies, while in the Semitic quarter we see a sudden mass abandonment. Because of the careful and elaborate burial customs of the Egyptians, in contrast to the hasty burial of bodies thrown together in Avaris graves, it appears as if they must have been facing a plague, or dealing with some kind of very contagious disease. This is very much like what we would expect as the result of the judgments of the Exodus.[xxix]
There was a similar sudden unexplained departure of the entire Semitic population at Kahun around the same time. The sudden departure of Semites from Kahun used to be a mystery.
A further question remains to be answered—why did the inhabitants of this first occupation at Kahun [first observed many decades ago by Sir William Matthews Petrie] leave their homes? . . . There are different opinions . . . The quantity, range, and types of articles left behind may indeed suggest that the departure was sudden and unpremeditated.[xxx]
One reason why that sudden departure used to be such a mystery is that the date of the departure was thought to be long before the Hebrews were living in Egypt. But with our new chronology, and with a 1446 BC Exodus date, this event becomes much easier to explain because it looks like the departure of the Jews at time of the Exodus.
When the Exodus judgments fell on Egypt they would have left the nation weakened and in a desperate state. Are there archeological records reporting such an occurrence? Yes, an ancient Egyptian Papyrus, The Admonitions of an Egyptian Sage, written by an otherwise unknown person named Ipuwer. The document is addressed to his majesty the pharaoh and describes circumstances that sound like what would have prevailed in Egypt as a result of the Exodus judgments. Here are some statements from the Admonitions: [In bold][xxxi]
- Behold, Egypt is fallen to the pouring of water, and he who poured water on the ground seizes the mighty in misery.[xxxii] In Exodus 4:9 Our Lord, speaking to Moses, gives him three signs to validate himself to the elders of Israel, to show that he has been sent to them from the Lord God.
But if they will not believe even these two signs or heed what you say, then you shall take some water from the Nile and pour it on the dry ground; and the water which you take from the Nile will become blood on the dry ground. (Exodus 4:9)
- The river is blood! As you drink of it, you lose your humanity and thirst for water.[xxxiii]
Then the Lord said to Moses, “Pharaoh’s heart is stubborn; he refuses to let the people go. Go to Pharaoh in the morning as he is going out to the water, and station yourself to meet him on the bank of the Nile; and you shall take in your hand the staff that was turned into a serpent. You shall say to him, ‘The Lord, the God of the Hebrews, sent me to you, saying, “Let My people go, that they may serve Me in the wilderness. But behold, you have not listened until now.” Thus says the Lord, “By this you shall know that I am the Lord: behold, I will strike the water that is in the Nile with the staff that is in my hand, and it will be turned to blood. The fish that are in the Nile will die, and the Nile will become foul, and the Egyptians will find difficulty in drinking water from the Nile.”’” Then the Lord said to Moses, “Say to Aaron, ‘Take your staff and stretch out your hand over the waters of Egypt, over their rivers, over their streams, and over their pools, and over all their reservoirs of water, that they may become blood; and there will be blood throughout all the land of Egypt, both in vessels of wood and in vessels of stone.’” So Moses and Aaron did even as the Lord had commanded. And he lifted up the staff and struck the water that was in the Nile, in the sight of Pharaoh and in the sight of his servants, and all the water that was in the Nile was turned to blood. The fish that were in the Nile died, and the Nile became foul, so that the Egyptians could not drink water from the Nile. And the blood was through all the land of Egypt. (Exodus 7:14–21)
- Gone is the grain of abundance . . . Food supplies are running short . . . Nobles hunger and suffer . . . Upper Egypt has become a wasteland . . . Grain is lacking on every side . . . Women say, “Oh that we had something to eat.”[xxxiv]
And all the livestock of Egypt died; but of the livestock of the sons of Israel, not one died . . . Now the flax and the barley were ruined, for the barley was in the ear and the flax was in bud . . . Locusts came up over all the land of Egypt and settled in all the territory of Egypt; they were very numerous. There had never been so many locusts, nor would there be so many again. For they covered the surface of the whole land, so that the land was darkened; and they ate every plant of the land and all the fruit of the trees that the hail had left. Thus nothing green was left on tree or plant of the field through all the land of Egypt. Exodus (9:6, 31; 10:14, 15)
- Behold, plague sweeps the land; blood is everywhere with no shortage of the dead . . . Children are dashed against the walls. The funeral shroud calls out to you before you come near . . . Woe is me for the grief of this time . . . He who buries his brother in the ground is everywhere . . . Wailing is throughout the land, mingled with lamentations.[xxxv]
Now it came about at midnight that the Lord struck all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, from the firstborn of Pharaoh who sat on his throne to the firstborn of the captive who was in the dungeon, and all the firstborn of cattle. Pharaoh arose in the night, he and all his servants and all the Egyptians, and there was a great cry in Egypt, for there was no home where there was not someone dead. (Exodus 12:29, 30)
This reflects what we saw at Avaris: bodies were thrown hastily in graves, contrary to Egyptian custom and the homes of the Semitic population suddenly abandoned.
- There is fire in their hearts! If only he had perceived their nature in the first generation! Then he would have smitten the evil — stretched out his arm against it. He would have destroyed their seed and their heritage.[xxxvi]
This must reflect the author’s anguish at what the Hebrews were doing to Egypt at that dark and difficult time. The Exodus was a tragedy for the nation of Egypt.
Good Evidence—But Scholars Doubt
Dr. Rohl is very impressed by this ancient document and its parallels to the Exodus.
Now, you may think, like me, that this is all pretty remarkable stuff and that there are indeed clear parallels between the Biblical story and the 'Admonitions' of Ipuwer ... but most Egypt-ologists dismiss such conclusions with disdain. They argue that the 'Admonitions of an Egyptian Sage' is nothing more than a literary device or a piece of imaginative prose designed to give a flavor of what life would be like if Pharaoh did not maintain order in the land. For them it cannot reflect any actual event in Egyptian history.[xxxvii]
An example of scholarly disagreement can be found in Miriam Lichtheim, renowned translator of Egyptian documents, who gives a lengthy introduction to the Admonitions before translating it. Expounding at great length and agreeing with many other scholars, she calls the writing in the Admonitions a complete fantasy.
Ever since [Sir Alan Henderson] Gardiner’s pioneering edition of this difficult text, his view of the Admonitions as the work of a Twelfth Dynasty author who laments the alleged calamities of the First Intermediate Period has held sway. It is, however, contradictory and untenable. Gardiner maintained on the one hand that “the pessimism of Ipuwer was intended to be understood as the direct and natural response to a real national calamity” . . . I submit that there is strong inherent reason why this cannot be so. . . [comparing it to compositions with politico-propagandistic aims expressed through the poetic elaboration of the topos [“national distress”] the Admonitions . . . reveals itself as a composition of the same genre and character, which differs only in being longer, more ambitious, more repetitious, and more extreme in its use of hyperbole. Its very verbosity and repetitiveness mark it as a latecomer in which the most comprehensive treatment of the theme “national distress” is attempted, in short, as a work of the late Middle Kingdom and of purely literary inspiration. The unhistorical character of the whole genre was recognized by S. Luria in an article that did not receive the attention it deserved. . . Luria also made the telling point that the description of chaos in the Admonitions is inherently contradictory, hence historically impossible: On the one hand the land is said to suffer from total want; on the other hand the poor are described as having become rich, of wearing fine clothes, and generally of disposing of all that once belonged to their masters. In sum, the Admonitions of Ipuwer . . . does not derive from any . . . historical situation. It is the last, fullest, most exaggerated, and hence least successful, composition on the theme “order versus chaos.”[xxxviii] [emphasis mine]
Even though the Exodus explicitly says:
Now the sons of Israel had done according to the word of Moses, for they had requested from the Egyptians articles of silver and articles of gold, and clothing; and the Lord had given the people favor in the sight of the Egyptians, so that they let them have their request. Thus they plundered the Egyptians. (Exodus 12:35, 36)
On this particular point the Admonitions has these corresponding remarks:
The slave takes what he finds . . . What belongs to the palace has been striped . . . Gold, lapis lazuli, silver, and turquois are strung on the necks of female slaves . . . See how the poor of the land have become rich whilst the man of property is a pauper.[xxxix]
Dr. Rohl records an interview with Dr. Maarten Raven, curator of the Leiden Museum in the Netherlands where the Admonitions is kept. Some of Dr. Raven’s remarks:
Ipuwer? We don't know who he was, but he was obviously somebody in a position to address his majesty the king. There is only one copy of this specific text and that is here in the Leiden Museum. It's a very, very vivid report - or would-be report - of what happens to Egypt when the central power falls away.
I see no connection between the papyrus of Ipuwer and the stories of the Plagues of Egypt. It is, in a way - a very indirect way - an eyewitness report of a historical period. It pretends to be such a report, but in fact it isn't. . . All the time we have to convince ourselves that this person can't have seen all this. He imagined it. Or he had received this information from other similar propagandistic literature. . . Yes. It's very fantastic. But he hasn't seen it - he just imagined it. . .
Don't confuse this with the message of the Bible - the Ten Plagues. That's quite a different story. Whether this happened or not is irrelevant. It's a beautiful literary document and, again yes, God was angry and punished the Egyptians. But this is just a literary cliché. . .
It's out of the question that this papyrus can refer to one and the same event. Conventional chronology has it that the Exodus took place somewhere during the Ramesside period in Egypt - maybe around 1200 BC - whereas with our papyrus, when you look at the grammar and literary figures, etc., there's no question that it was composed in the Middle Kingdom and that is six, seven, eight hundred years earlier.[xl] [emphasis mine]
Actually, the Middle Kingdom in Egypt continued as late as the 15th century if we accept Dr. Rohl’s chronology. His remark on this points to a recurring theme in scholarly unbelief.
So, when it comes down to the nitty gritty of why Raven cannot accept any parallels with the Biblical account, it appears to rest on the chronological issue once more. The reason why the account of Ipuwer could not possibly be an Egyptian account of the Exodus is because it is much too early in history. But that is only the case if you have the Exodus set in your mind as having occurred in the time of Ramesses II or his immediate successors. So the Ramesses Exodus Theory gets in the way of an obvious parallel once again.[xli]
Chronology is a huge factor in the rejection of this clear evidence for the Exodus (as is an underlying anti-supernaturalism). Poor chronology will be seen as a recurring reason for much of the skepticism that is so common in scholarly circles. In reality, however, because Ms. Lichtheim dated this to the late Middle Kingdom, and Dr Rohl’s new chronology places the 1400’s BC during the Middle Kingdom, the date of this composition now matches the Exodus timeframe and only an anti-supernatural bias would refuse to see the confirmation of Biblical details from archeology. For the unbiased, is there similar confirmation from archeology regarding the Conquest of Canaan?
Conquest of Canaan
We are looking for archeological collaboration in the time frame of 1406 BC, Middle Bronze Age II, not 1210 BC. As we noted, only three Canaanite cities were initially destroyed by Joshua. These were Jericho, Ai, and Hazor. But, as we shall see, others were destroyed at other times in the Conquest. The Israelites were commanded by God to destroy all pagan shrines, and the cities were “infested” with them. But most cities, orchards, wells, herds, fields, etc. were to be taken over as part of the divine inheritance that the He was giving to His people—blessings that they would enter into even though they had not worked for them.
We will begin with the city of Jericho, which was excavated by Sellin and Watzinger (in the early 1900’s), then by John Garstang (in the 1930’s), and finally and most exhaustively by Kathleen M. Kenyon (in the 1950’s). We will look at the opinions of Garstang and Kenyon, which are based on excavations that fell about 25 years apart. Then we will also look at the evaluation of their finds made by another scholar about 25 years after Kenyon completed her excavation notes. We will only briefly mention the finds from the previous excavation of Sellin and Watzinger, for each successive dig was more elaborate than the previous.
Let us begin with a summary of Professor Garstang’s four-year excavation effort appearing in a London Illustrated News article. His examination of evidence pointed to at least four periods of occupation for the ancient city of Jericho. The Scriptures record the destruction of the fourth and last period of occupation, called “City IV.” Professor Garstang explains that Biblical event and its date, as verified from his archeological finds:
The palace, the store-rooms, like the house-rooms against the city wall, bear witness to a general conflagration which completed the destruction of the city. Below the black masses of charcoal and white ash, . . . waist-deep in most rooms, were found the objects which represent the culture and life of the inhabitants of Jericho at the time when the city fell. Especially important in this connection was the recovery from the top-most strata of numerous fragments of painted vases and Cypriote wares, which by reason of their distinctive features can be closely dated. These, in the now agreed opinion of experienced archaeologists, range in date from 1600-1400 B.C., and they include portions of a number of vessels which correspond piece by piece, detail by detail, with objects from the dated tombs of the fifteenth century B.C.. . .. Further, during the whole routine of these excavations, lasting now four years, in the course of which my wife has methodically washed, and I have examined, more than 100,000 specimens or fragments, not a single piece has been found, to my knowledge, within the walled city of the Bronze Age that should be attributed to a later age than that of Amenhetep III [At that time, Amenhetep III was believed to have reigned from 1410-1375 B.C. However the chronology of Egyptian kings can be changed, as we noted.], whose scarabs give the last date also among the tomb deposits. Life within the city and the use of the tombs both ceased suddenly, after a continuous history of a thousand years, about 1400 B.C.; and this is the round date to which, on independent evidence we had already assigned the final disaster to the city walls. It is thus established that the Bronze Age city of Jericho perished by earthquake and fire about 1400 B.C.[xlii]
In his book Professor Garstang notes that much of what he found, which was also mentioned in the Biblical account, could not have been known unless the author had been there to see it, for it would have been covered over soon after, only recoverable by careful excavation.
We have compared our archeological results with the indications of the Bible narrative, both as regards the features of the Fourth City as well as the manner and date of its destruction; and we also have tested the implied setting of the narrative in the scheme of Egyptian history based upon that date, without finding any radical discrepancy. On the contrary much of the detail convinces us not only that the fall of the Fourth City is that described in the Book of Joshua, but that the narrative embodies the tradition of an eye-witness.
Ms. Kenyon does not agree with Professor Garstang. Let us look into her excavation notes and see why that is so, for she records many details that fit the Biblical account.
Both Ms. Kenyon and Professor Garstang note that the city was occupied multiple times over a long period of time. The Jericho that Joshua destroyed they call “City IV.” It seems as if Jericho during the time of Joshua was an extremely well-fortified city, which possessed an outer wall composed of 15 feet of stones cemented together, and on top of that yet another mud wall 10 feet high. Inside the outer wall was a steep rampart of slick plaster which would have been very difficult to climb.
The excellence and slipperiness of the surface in Trench I [black arrow] emphasizes what a very difficult obstacle it would have been to storm.[xliii]
On top of that was yet another 25-foot-high wall of mud that was 10 feet thick. (Labeled as “Early Bronze Age City Wall” in Sketch.)
Although not shown, the walls also extended on the east and enclosed a spring of water that nourished the city.
(For reference the image above is Kenyon’s sketch of Middle Bronze Age Jericho.[xliv])
- MB IIB [Middle Bronze Age IIB] Jericho was apparently destroyed by an earthquake, with its strong defensive wall (which stood at the top of a sloping plastered rampart) falling outwards and down the slope, tumbling over the stone revetment wall at the base of the glacis.[xlv]
Ms. Kenyon’s notes describe it as follows:
A heavy fill of fallen red bricks piling nearly to the top of the revetment. These probably came from the wall on the summit of the bank [and/or] . . . the brickwork above the revetment.[xlvi]
So the people shouted, and priests blew the trumpets; and when the people heard the sound of the trumpet, the people shouted with a great shout and the wall fell down flat, so that the people went up into the city, every man straight ahead, and they took the city. They utterly destroyed everything in the city, both man and woman, young and old, and ox and sheep and donkey, with the edge of the sword. (Joshua 6:20–21)
My observation: Joshua and the Israelites knew what an earthquake was. In the time of Uzziah a major earthquake is recorded (Amos 1:1). If this destruction had been the result of an earthquake then Joshuah would have said so. Such an event would have destroyed other near-by cities as well. But that did not happen. What happened was not an earthquake. It was a miraculous divine intervention, specifically at Jericho.
- MB IIB City IV was destroyed by a massive conflagration, leaving an ash layer several feet thick. Again, Kenyon vividly describes what she had found, making it clear that the walls had fallen down before the fire.[xlvii]
Ms. Kenyon’s notes explain:
The destruction was complete. Walls and floors were blackened or reddened by fire, and every room was filled with fallen bricks, timbers, and household utensils; in most rooms the fallen debris was heavily burnt, but the collapse of the walls of the eastern rooms seems to have taken place before they were affected by the fire.
The destruction was followed by a period of abandonment, for which the stratigraphical evidence is very striking. Above the destruction debris was a layer of wash, up to 1 m. thick. It cuts right down to the surviving tops of the walls and the debris packed between them, on a line sloping steeply down to the east. It is made up of powdery streaks of burnt material, red, white, black, brown, and blue. It quite clearly represents a wash down the side of the mound of the gradual erosion of the top of the burnt buildings. Its thickness showed that the process was a prolonged one, the product of successive winter rains. It is this level that is called 'The Streak' in the reports of the 1930-6 excavations. and it was found over a large part of the Middle Bronze Age buildings in this area.[xlviii]
So the entire city was thus destroyed—totally destroyed.
They burned the city with fire, and all that was in it. Only the silver and gold, and articles of bronze and iron, they put into the treasury of the house of the Lord. (Joshua 6:24)
- Storage jars in Jericho’s MB IIB houses were found to be full of charred grain.[xlix]
This indicates that it was in the springtime, soon after the harvest of the barley. The people of Jericho had stored food from the spring harvest in anticipation of a siege.
On the tenth day of the first month [Nisan, so around April] the people went up from the Jordan [they had crossed on dry land behind the Ark] and camped at Gilgal on the eastern border of Jericho. [They attacked Jericho after Passover, Nisan 14–15.] (Joshua 4:19)
- The siege had not lasted long because the food stores were not depleted.[l]
So he [Joshua] had the ark of the Lord taken around the city, circling it once; then they came into the camp and spent the night in the camp . . . Thus the second day they marched around the city once and returned to the camp; they did so for six days . . . Then on the seventh day they rose early at the dawning of the day and marched around the city in the same manner seven times; only on that day they marched around the city seven times. At the seventh time, when the priests blew the trumpets, Joshua said to the people, “Shout! For the Lord has given you the city. (Joshua 6:11, 14–16)
This is unusual because normally a city would be under siege for an extended period before it fell. This was a unique situation, as described in the Bible. Also, we might ask ourselves why the Israelites did not take some of the grain, since there was so much stored there. It was because according to Joshua 6:17 the city and all that was in it was “devoted to the Lord.” The grain was burned in the fire with the rest of the city, even though it would have been very useful, for they had been migrating and the manna had just ceased (see Joshua 5:11–12).
- Also, drawings by the earlier archeologists show one section of the wall that had not collapsed. This surely must be where Rahab the harlot lived with her family.
Excavations of the northern part of Tell es-Sultan (ancient Jericho) by Sellin and Watzinger revealed something rather remarkable. Here houses had been constructed between the upper wall of the citadel and the lower wall resting on top of the stone revetment. These were not the dwellings of the wealthy citizens of Jericho but rather the houses of the poor. It was definitely the seedy side of town. The streets between the houses consisted of steps descending down the slope between the walls. The houses had shops on the ground floors and living quarters above, suggesting that this was the town market district. But, even more remarkably, some houses here were actually built into the lower mud brick wall standing above the revetment. These looked directly out onto the mountains, affording easy escape from the city . . . and photographs from the German excavations show that the outer wall here had not collapsed during the earthquake which had destroyed the rest of Jericho and brought the walls 'a tumbling down' elsewhere.
. . . Here were houses that corresponded exactly to the story of Rahab the 'harlot' of Jericho who lived within the wall—the scarlet woman who had harbored the Israelite spies sent by Joshua before lowering them down from her window in the wall for their escape across the fields to the nearby hills (Joshua 2:1–24). The medieval Jewish commentator Rashi claimed that, far from being a harlot, Rahab was a food seller, while Josephus calls her an innkeeper. [The Hebrew word means harlot, but it derives from a word meaning well-fed, thus implying wanton.][li]
After protecting the spies from the searchers sent by the king of Jericho, Rahab asked:
Now therefore, please swear to me by the Lord, since I have dealt kindly with you, that you also will deal kindly with my father’s household, and give me a pledge of truth, and spare my father and my mother and my brothers and my sisters, with all who belong to them, and deliver our lives from death.” So the men said to her, “Our life for yours if you do not tell this business of ours; and it shall come about when the Lord gives us the land that we will deal kindly and faithfully with you.” (Joshua 2:12–14)
Joshua said to the two men who had spied out the land, “Go into the harlot’s house and bring the woman and all she has out of there, as you have sworn to her.” So the young men who were spies went in and brought out Rahab and her father and her mother and her brothers and all she had; they also brought out all her relatives and placed them outside the camp of Israel. (Joshua 6:22–23)
Rahab the harlot and her father’s household and all she had, Joshua spared; and she has lived in the midst of Israel to this day, for she hid the messengers whom Joshua sent to spy out Jericho. (Joshua 6:25)
We also mention a find at another city that the Bible says was totally destroyed by Israel. At Hazor a burn layer was found dated to the same time as the destruction at Jericho, and in its palace was found a cuneiform tablet with the name Jabin on it (see Joshua 11).[lii]
Once the towns of the hill country were subdued or destroyed, Joshua marched his troops up to Hazor, 'foremost of the kingdoms' as the Bible calls it. Here the same pattern of evidence can be witnessed. The vast Middle Bronze Age lower town was burned and destroyed, but then reoccupied again some years later. The upper citadel was also burned to the ground . . . but from the ruined palace came the fragment of a small cuneiform tablet bearing the name of the king of Hazor who lived in that palace. He was called Yabni-Addu. The current excavator of the site, Professor Amnon Ben-Tor, agrees that this is identical to the name Jabin, mentioned in the Conquest narrative as the king of Hazor killed by Joshua during the taking and sack of the city.[liii]
The role “King of Canaan” which Jabin filled (Joshua 11:1ff), and the description “head of all those kingdoms” (Joshua 11:10) as applied to Hazor, were only true in very early times. This indicates that this section of Joshua comes from the 1400’s, not some later date.
This Jabin is referred to as the 'King of Canaan' with the obvious conclusion that he was the greatest ruler in the region. As Yohanan Aharoni [Israeli archeologist and inspector in Galilee for the Department of Antiquities.] notes, the only time that the city of Hazor was the 'head of all those kingdoms' in Canaan was in the Middle Bronze IIB and not in the Late Bronze IIB when Gaza, under the control of the New Kingdom pharaohs, was the political hub of the region.[liv]
We have referred to the fact that Jericho, Hazor, and Ai are prominently mentioned in the text of Joshua as being fully destroyed. But other cities are also said to have been utterly destroyed, or at least all of their inhabitants killed, at the same time. Some have not been identified by archeology, but many have. Here is a list of those that have been identified, showing the claims made in the Bible compared with the finds of archeologists—assuming a 1406 BC date for the Conquest of Canaan, so the finds should be dated around 1400 BC, near to or right after the destruction of Jericho and Hazor:
Bethel (Destroyed; Judges 1:22–26)
Debir (Captured; Joshua 15:1–17)
Lachish (No survivors; Joshua 10:31–32)
Hebron (Utterly destroyed; Joshua 10:36–37)
Hormah (Utterly destroyed; Judges 1:16–17)
Dan [Leshem] (No survivors; Joshua 19:47–48; Judges 18:27)
destroyed about 1400 BC
destroyed about 1400 BC
destroyed about 1400 BC
destroyed about 1400 BC
destroyed about 1400 BC
destroyed about 1400 BC[lv]
Thus the archeological remains of many cities in Canaan match the account of the Conquest as it is described in Joshua and in parts of Judges; that is, as long we use the date of 1406 BC for the Conquest.
But Scholars Debate
However, Ms. Kenyon maintains that the uncovered destruction cannot be identified with the Biblical Conquest of Jericho because she dates the event to around 1550 BC, which is at least three centuries too early for the Conquest if you subscribe to a 1250 BC Exodus, and still a century too early if you choose a 1446 BC date. How can she ignore or dismiss Garstang’s dating evidence from the pottery and scarabs? She says:
In the excavations of the 1930’s, a number of tombs were found which contained Late Bronze as well as Middle Bronze objects. At the time when Professor Garstang was reporting on these tombs, knowledge of the pottery of the earlier part of the Late Bronze Age was very inadequate. With the subsequent publication of a number of excavations, notably that of Megiddo, it has very much increased.
His conclusion that these tombs show continuous occupation therefore requires revision, for a whole century or more of pottery is lacking in them. Moreover, our further examination of the tombs shows how unreliable stratification by absolute level within the tombs can be, owing to the habit of mounding up earlier materials round the edge when later burials are put in. The occurrence of Late Bronze Age objects at the same absolute level as Middle Bronze Age ones does not therefore indicate an overlap of forms. Moreover, the other dating criterion used, scarabs of the period for which the pottery seems to indicate a gap, is not safe, for scarabs are the sort of thing liable to be heirlooms.
A review of the finds made in these tombs suggests that, as with the tombs found in the more recent excavations, the main use ceased at the end of the Middle Bronze Age, early in the six-teenth century B.C.[lvi]
Ms. Kenyon also claims that a more careful dating of the debris from the destruction shows that not all of it comes from the same time periods, that the broken walls might not all have existed during the same periods of Jericho’s history—some too early, some too late to be matched to the Biblical events.
She says there is no solid evidence for the Biblical event, likely because of erosion.
It is a sad fact that of the town walls of the Late Bronze Age within which period the attack by the Israelites must fall by any dating, not a trace remains. The erosion which has destroyed much of the defences has already been described . . . The excavation of Jericho, therefore, has thrown no light on the walls of Jericho of which the destruction is so vividly described in the Book of Joshua . . . As concerns the date of the destruction of Jericho by the Israelites, all that can be said is that the latest Bronze Age occupation should, in my view, be dated to the third quarter of the fourteenth century B.C. This is a date which suits neither the school of scholars which would date the entry of the Israelites into Palestine to c. 1400 B.C. nor the school which prefers a date of c. 1260 B.C.[lvii]
On the point of erosion—that much has been lost or obscured thereby, Kitchen agrees with Kenyon. He also accepts her chronology and thus most of her conclusions as well.
It [Jericho] was obviously very prosperous in the Middle Bronze Age (early second millennium), as the spectacular finds from that period's tombs bear witness. But only traces of this survive on the town mound itself . . . But this all perished violently, including by fire, at roughly 1550 or soon after. And for about 200 years the ruins lay barren . . . During that interval a great deal of the former Middle Bronze township was entirely removed by erosion . . . If 200 years of erosion sufficed to remove most of later Middle Bronze Jericho, it is almost a miracle that anything on the mound has survived at all from the 400 years of erosion between 1275 and the time of Ahab (875-853), when we hear report of Jericho's rebuilding (1 Kings 16:34) in Iron II - double the length of time that largely cleared away the Middle Bronze town.[lviii]
In this way he argues for a possible 1250 BC Exodus and a correspondingly later date for the Conquest. Thus he claims that the absence of supporting archeological evidence is due to a number of factors, with erosion being one of the primary factors.
So: Garstang produced an emphatic dating for the fall of Jericho at around 1400 BC. Then 25 years later Ms. Kenyon gave an emphatic dating of around 1550 BC. But: 25 years after Kenyon, Professor John J. Bimson carefully reconsiders the foundations of Ms. Kenyon’s thinking, along with the ideas of a number of other scholars, including the dating via pottery and the dating via the assumed connections with the Egyptians and their expulsion of the Hyksos from Egypt. He again argues exhaustively for a date for the destruction of Jericho that falls in the latter half of the 1400’s BC! Thus he says, pointing out the previous errors in the underlying assumptions of Kenyon, and the faulty conclusions she drew from them:
- The MB II B-C cities of Palestine were not strongholds of the Hyksos, and their fortification-systems should not be described as Hyksos. [Hyksos: Oppressors of Egypt for centuries.]
- Thus the destruction of these cities has nothing to do with an Egyptian war of retaliation against the Hyksos; Egyptian action against the Hyksos probably never extended beyond Sharuhen, in the south of Palestine. [Hyksos: Finally driven out of Egypt forever.]
- The destruction of the MB II cities has been incorrectly dated, because of its association with a hypothetical Egyptian offensive against the Hyksos throughout Palestine. Their destruction should be dated not to the 16th century BC but to the 15th. Consequently the appearance of bichrome ware [the key distinctive pottery that was used to date the city and its destruction] and the beginning of the LBA must also be redated. [LBA: Late Bronze Age. This means the end of the MBA, or Middle Bronze Age, must be extended to over a century later than previously thought, for the MBA immediately preceded the LBA.]
- The destruction of the MB II cities was the work of the Israelite tribes which left Egypt during the first half of the 15th century BC.[lix] [It was not the Egyptians pursuing the Hyksos.]
Clearly the interpretation of what has been found at Jericho differs widely among scholars, and the points to be made are detailed and technical. Many scholars assert that Ms. Kenyon misdated the excavation site and that it should be dated to around 1400 BC, which would fit perfectly with a 1446 BC date for the Exodus. Many scholars also claim that the dates for the Middle Bronze Age are uniformly off and that they need to be adjusted. That is why Kenyon misdated the destruction of Jericho. This is another issue of chronology.
One observation about the many scholarly objections to connecting events to the Bible: It seems that chronology is almost always a large factor in such a discussion. So to conclude: A chronological indicator matching the destruction of Jericho to the time of Joshua can be found in the tombs of Jericho from the end of the Middle Bronze Age. Kenyon notes:
Of the other seventeen Middle Bronze Age tombs dealt with in this volume . . . six contained multiple simultaneous burials. . . On the evidence of the pottery and the other finds, these six tombs were all contemporary. There must clearly be a reason why they are in such noticeable contrast to the other tombs. It does not seem probable that it is a case of retainers or family being killed to accompany the head of the household . . . [for] no one body is treated as more important than the rest. Moreover, no evidence has been found of violent death. The alternative is that many members of a number of families died simultaneously. Since the pottery indicates that this group of tombs belongs to the very end of the Middle Bronze Age, it might be tempting to associate the mass burials with the final destruction of the Middle Bronze Age town, probably to be ascribed to an Egyptian raid in the campaign which drove the Hyksos out of Egypt at the beginning of the 18th dynasty, and therefore to be dated to c. 1580-1560 BC. [Note that this assumed invasion of Canaan by Egypt to “drive out the hated Hyksos” in c. 1580 BC to 1560 BC is just that—an assumption with no evidential basis, as Bimson notes above in point 3. This is one reason why Kenyon misdated the fall of Jericho.] But this [ascribing it to the Egyptian invasion] is unlikely on two grounds. In the first place, the skeletons, as we have noted, show no signs of injuries. In the second, survivors of the destruction of the town by fire would be unlikely to bury the dead with such an elaborate equipment, and the furnishings of the houses must have been destroyed in the fire. It is therefore probable that disease was responsible for the death of entire families. This may have taken place very shortly before the final destruction of the town. On this evidence from the tell, the site was then completely abandoned for a considerable period, and therefore no subsequent burials were made in the tombs.[lx] [Emphasis mine]
Now consider this account of the sin of the sons of Israel while they were camped at Shittim, directly across from Jericho, a short time before beginning the conquest of the city. The Lord had just protected Israel from the attempt by Balak to get Balaam to curse the Sons of Israel. Then the sons of Israel sinned against the Lord God.
While Israel remained at Shittim, the people began to play the harlot with the daughters of Moab. For they invited the people to the sacrifices of their gods, and the people ate and bowed down to their gods. So Israel joined themselves to Baal of Peor, and the Lord was angry against Israel. The Lord said to Moses, “Take all the leaders of the people and execute them in broad daylight before the Lord, so that the fierce anger of the Lord may turn away from Israel. So Moses said to the judges of Israel, “Each of you slay his men who have joined themselves to Baal of Peor.”
Then behold, one of the sons of Israel came and brought to his relatives a Midianite woman, in the sight of Moses and in the sight of all the congregation of the sons of Israel, while they were weeping at the doorway of the tent of meeting. When Phinehas the son of Eleazar, the son of Aaron the priest, saw it, he arose from the midst of the congregation and took a spear in his hand, and he went after the man of Israel into the tent and pierced both of them through, the man of Israel and the woman, through the body. So the plague on the sons of Israel was checked. Those who died by the plague were 24,000. (Numbers 25:1–9)
This plague, which was inflicted upon Israel shortly before the assault on Jericho, must have overflowed into the city of Jericho and resulted in the deaths of many of the residents of the city. If this striking “coincidence” is accurately interpreted, then the sons of Israel were indeed responsible for the destruction of the city of Jericho, which followed shortly after the burials from the plague took place. Therefore, the date for that final destruction was 1406 BC, after which time the city, although inhabited for many centuries, lay desolate as the Bible indicates because of the curse that Joshua placed on it (see Joshua 6:26).
One of the dating factors not mentioned by Bimson and others, but which is clearly important, is the result of radiocarbon dating. C14 dating was conceived of in the late 1940’s by Willard F. Libby, a University of Chicago professor of Physical Chemistry. He first published his work “Radiocarbon Dating” in 1952, for which he won the Nobel prize in 1960. The technique was still quite new at the time that Ms. Kenyon used it to date her specimens. Her Middle Bronze Age radiocarbon measurements were made in the 1950’s. Her notes indicate:
Fifty-five radiocarbon determinations have been made of material from various levels at Jericho ranging in age from the Mesolithic (Natufian) to the Bronze Age . . . There have nevertheless been great improvements in methodology since the mid 1950’s when the first dates were obtained. Some of these original determinations may therefore be less dependable than those made more recently.[lxi]
There is a known anomaly that recurs for radiocarbon dating. We must look briefly at that.
Correcting C14 Chronology
In his lectures Dr. Douglas Petrovich has pointed out a serious anomaly in the C14 results from before 1,400 BC. C14 dates are too early by 120-140 years for events that lie before 1,400 BC, an anomaly now known to all experienced researchers in the field.
Although the chronology of many ancient sites seems well worked out, Manfred Bietak, the Austrian archeologist who was the principle at the Avaris dig, notes a serious discrepancy between the C14 dates for Tell el-Daba and the results from stratigraphy. Referring to the recently published C14 results he notes:
The results have just been published (Kutschera et at. 2012) but . . . the radiocarbon results from Tell el-Dab'a [Avaris] show an average offset of 120 years (Figure 8.2). The dates are too high . . . As a matter of fact, offsets of samples from Ancient Egypt, also apart from Tell el-Dab'a, are an old problem of radiocarbon research (S. Bonani et al., 2001).[lxii]
Bietak argues strongly and convincingly against those who would redate the strata based on the C14 data, pointing out the wide range of archeological data that it contradicts.
In addition to the ceramic assessment and its seriation, which add to the accuracy of stratigraphic excavation over vast expanses, other criteria for compiling evidence for individual settlement phases were also employed, such as follow-up of architectural units and their relationship to adjacent buildings. This also spawned the observation that there are phases in which specific building material and specific house types were introduced for the first time. The discovery of emergency graves surfacing at the end of a specific phase (Gj1-3) late in the 13th Dynasty and in two different excavation areas was an observation which confirmed the ceramic and architectural connection of the two stratigraphies. As a result, the stratigraphy and the dating of the phases of Tell el-Dab'a is highly reliable and was confirmed repeatedly by site-to-site comparisons with other excavations (Bietak et al. 2008; Bader 2009).[lxiii]
Because Bietak collaborates his results with other widely scattered digs even stretching into the Levant, he casts significant doubt on the reliability of Kenyon’s C14 numbers.[lxiv]
Dr. Petrovich points out that this anomaly is well known and widespread in both Egypt and in the Middle East, that it begins to show up for dates before 1400 BC, and that it becomes more pronounced (up to several hundred years) as we move further back in time.[lxv] These considerations lead us to re-evaluate the C14 dates for Jericho, lowering them by about 140 years. If we do that then the chronology for the destruction of Jericho changes as follows:
Possible C14 dates fell between 1601-1566 BC or, equally likely, 1561-1524 BC. If we reduce these dates by 140 years we get date ranges of 1561-1426 BC or, equally likely, 1421-1384 BC. These fit very well with the Biblical date for the destruction of Jerico at 1406 BC.[lxvi]
I know of no naturalistic explanation for the sudden chronological anomaly around 1400 BC. Apparently Dr. Petrovich also knows of no such explanation. But the phenomenon is widely known and must be considered when interpreting radiometric dating results.
Summary of the Information that we Have Discovered thus Far
Let us now recap what we have discovered thus far as it relates to the Sojourn, the Exodus, and the Conquest of Canaan. The string of archeological finds that we have reviewed thus far present striking support and collaboration for the accuracy of the Biblical accounts of the origin and establishment of the Hebrew nation. The total picture that these finds present to us can be expressed as follows:
This matches the Biblical scenario perfectly. This was accomplished by the sovereign will of the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, as recorded in the Sacred Scriptures. The origin of the nation of Israel cannot be adequately explained in naturalistic terms. There was a strong supernatural element in the formation of the nation. The Bible gives us the broader scenario, while archeology can only allow us to peek at discrete events along the way.
Of course, the reasonableness of this scenario, or the reasonableness of various key parts of it, can be bandied about by archeologists as they attempt to piece together the broader picture of the distant past of Egypt and the Middle East. We can watch these discussions as they progress through the decades—through the generations of scholars—but the nature of the data that they have—fragmented, partial, open to various interpretations—can never disprove the clear and simple facts we have seen, which undergird the Biblical narrative.
Scholars can ask many questions about the details of the Biblical account, and can attempt to uncover more information about the historical setting in which the Biblical events actually might have happened. For instance, what were the conditions like at the time of Joseph, at the time of Moses, while the Israelites were wandering in the desert, while they were in the process of establishing themselves in the Promised Land, etc.? These investigations can shed light on the circumstances that prevailed as the Biblical events unfolded. But the scholars are servants of the Word, not the final word on exactly what happened. The Lord has not given that kind of ultimate knowledge into the hands of men. We are and will always be dependent upon His revelation—not just for the total picture, but for the correct way to understand and interpret that picture. The telling of history is a prophetic function.
The telling of history is a prophetic function because the Lord God is in charge of human history. Human development and human history are under His sovereign control. They are not merely the product of social forces or human will. Thus the correct understanding of history is, and can only be understood, if/when we understand and consider His sovereign will and His purposes for the human race. This is a matter of revelation. It can never be discovered by any merely human activity or investigation. The scholarship that we have looked into in this chapter has sometimes proceeded without regard for the Divine purpose for human beings. The mind of God, Who created humans for His high and holy purposes, is revealed only in His holy word, in the Sacred Scriptures. The meaning of human life on this earth, the purpose of our existence, is central to the understanding of all history.
An Alphabetic Script at the Time of the Exodus
We have answered the objection that there is little or no archeological evidence for the Sojourn, the Exodus, and the Conquest of Canaan. But the second objection to the Mosaic authorship of the Pentateuch, and therefore to its historical reliability, is that there was no alphabetic script in which Moses might have written the Pentateuch, especially the last four books. Therefore it had to have been transmitted orally for centuries and is historically unreliable. This is reinforced by the claim that reading and writing were not widely known among the Hebrews at the time of the Exodus.
We observed that consonantal alphabetic scripts emerged in the ancient Middle East in the 11th century BC, with the Phoenicians seemingly inventing the first and oldest such alphabet.
It is difficult to understand how such an idea ever took root because in 1904/1905 Sir William Matthew Flinders Petrie, known as the father of Egyptian archeology, discovered a script in the Sinai Peninsula (named proto-Sinaitic) that was alphabetic, consonantal, and dated to before 1600 BC. Thus it predates all Middle Eastern alphabetic scripts by many centuries. In addition, he noted that the script was unquestionably Semitic in form, and even indicated that his discovery showed it might have been possible that the Israelites used such writing. It is the opinion of scholars that this script could support a work as artistic and detailed as the last four books of the Pentateuch. In other words, if the Hebrews knew and used this script then the proto-Sinaitic script would be the earliest form of Hebrew, what we might call proto-Hebrew, and Moses could have used it to write down the Pentateuch.
After Petrie discovered the scripts they were examined by another luminary in Egyptian archeology, Sir Alan Henderson Gardiner. He showed that the scripts had been created by reforming Egyptian hieroglyphics. This means that the person who invented the script was Semitic but also knew Egyptian Hieroglyphics. He was a Semite who was educated in the writing of Egypt, and he lived in Egypt before 1600 BC.
This is the historical background for the work of a modern Egyptologist and epigrapher Dr. Douglas Petrovich. His new discoveries, constructed upon older existing finds, have shown that Hebrew is the world’s oldest alphabet. Dr. Petrovich is also the author of the book The World’s Oldest Alphabet—Hebrew as the Language of the Proto-Consonantal Script. We will follow his thoughts as he pursues the development of the proto-Sinaitic script from ancient Egypt into the several Semitic scripts found in the ancient Middle East, including the earliest Hebrew inscriptions, dubbed paleo-Hebrew, from sometime after 1000 BC.
Dr. Petrovich reiterates the profound implications of his work for Biblical archeology. He begins by pointing out the similarities between the various ancient Semitic scripts found in Canaan, the basic logic in assuming that Hebrew was the first and oldest such script, and the possible scholarly bias leading people to hold to a different paradigm.
The ironic thing is that these Paleo-Hebrew writings are often impossible to distinguish from the Phoenician ones and were just as much a natural development from the earliest Proto-Sinaitic and Proto-Canaanite examples. Yet most sources continue to communicate the standard paradigm. In their article on the Phoenician alphabet, Wikipedia states, “The Phoenician alphabet, called by convention the Proto-Canaanite alphabet for inscriptions older than around 1050 BC, is the oldest verified alphabet.” This view is maintained despite the fact that the oldest examples don’t come from Phoenicia and predate the existence of Phoenician culture. Might this practice be conveniently retained by those who don’t want Moses to be considered as a possible author of the Torah?[lxvii]
In addition to this observation I might add: There are excellent reasons to believe that the ancient Hebrews were in Egypt and the area of the Sinai Peninsula centuries before they lived in Canaan. But there is no reason at all to believe that the Phoenicians were ever in that geographical area. Thus, if the proto-Sinaitic inscriptions are what eventually evolved into the various Middle Eastern scripts (and he shows this to be the case), then it is most reasonable to assume that the script was imported from Egypt by the Hebrews at the time of the Exodus. After all, the oldest examples of the alphabet do not come from anywhere near ancient Phoenicia (Lebanon) and predate that culture by several centuries.
Besides the inscriptions found by Petrie a number of other instances of proto-Sinaitic have been found in Egypt. These inscriptions have been translated by Dr. Petrovich. Here are several examples of the ancient script that Dr. Petrovich gives in his book, along with their very illuminating translations.
Early inscriptions found at Wadi el-Hol near the Nile river, between Thebes and Hiw.
WeH 1, translated as:
Wine is more abundant than the daylight, than the baker, than a freeman.[lxviii]
WeH 2, translated as:
Surrounding the crooked one, your afflicter, is God.[lxix]
His comments on this somewhat mysterious inscription:
The best way to comprehend WeH 2 is to illustrate it. If, for example, a Hebrew man noticed that a fellow Hebrew man was being afflicted or tormented by a Nubian trader, he could encourage his countryman by reassuring him that the Nubian's unwarranted affliction would not last long, because El (the supreme God of Israel)—whose actions can be symbolized by those of a boa constrictor—would surround the crooked Nubian, his afflicter, and slowly squeeze him until the life of the Nubian would be extinguished from him. In this scenario, the supreme God of the Hebrews is seen as the defender of the righteous person, acting on his or her behalf to bring the tormentor to justice . . .
This text is written in poetical form, now becoming the oldest extant Hebrew proverb, far surpassing the Biblical proverbs in age, by anyone's estimation of their date of composition. While this also could represent the earliest Hebrew writing that exalts monotheistic religious belief, it does not have the distinction of being the oldest monotheistic inscription, which claim may belong to Ebla, whose pantheon contained about 500 deities.
At Ebla, the following text, which was preserved in three onsite copies, was written in Sumerian:
"Lord of heaven and earth: The earth was not; (so) you created it. The light of day was not, (so) you created it. The morning light you had not [yet] made (to) exist"
(Pettinato 1981: 259, with slight modifications to the punctuation).
Thus Ebla's polytheistic and monotheistic religious traditions seemingly coexisted peacefully and posed no threat to one another. The Hebrew supreme God (El) of WeH 2 may follow in this monotheistic tradition that is attested at Ebla. [lxx]
The above are somewhat interesting, but later inscriptions are most interesting indeed. Thus let us look at four translated inscriptions dated to around 1480 BC, just 36 years before the Exodus, while the Hebrews were being systematically exterminated by the Egyptians:
Sinai 349, translated as:
He sought occasion to cut away to barrenness our great number, our swelling without measure. They yearned for Hathor [Goddess of music, love, sexuality, maternal care. The Hebrews were calling out to a pagan deity!], but the quiver of our brothers was thoroughly despised, [so] he performed terror against their quiver and brought about a cry of wailing.[lxxi]
Dr. Petrovich comments on this inscription, found at the turquoise mines at Serabit el-Khadim. (We know that slaves were commonly used by the Egyptians to work those mines.)
The text of Sinai 349 presents a clearly defined "he vs. us" juxtaposition. Considering that a Hebrew who worked the turquoise mines in Sinai undoubtedly authored the inscription, the reference to "our (= us)" suggests that he considered himself as a member of the first-person-plural entity spoken of throughout the text, and that the Hebrew people are to be identified with that entity. The referent of the "he" in Sinai 349 is less explicit, but the contextual events of Biblical history may shed light on this question.[lxxii] [That is, “he” would have been pharaoh!]
Hathor was often portrayed in Egyptian art as a cow or as a woman wearing a headdress of cow horns with the disk of the sun. Here we see clear worship of this deity by the Hebrews and their asking her/it for deliverance. This makes the incident with Aaron and the golden calf all the more poignant. “This is your god, O Israel, who brought you up from the land of Egypt” (Exodus 32:4). The plagues of the Exodus were God showing His supremacy over the gods of Egypt, wooing the people from their idolatry. The reversion to pagan worship was described by the Lord to Moses as “corrupting themselves, turning aside from the way which I commanded them” (Exodus 32:7–8). God took the people out of Egypt, but it was more difficult to take Egypt out of the people.
Sinai 353, translated as:
It is time to be hopeless. The Lady (Baalath) [The feminine counterpart of Baal, meaning lord, master, or husband.] had organized for battle. We banded together to remain with heads held high. We celebrated a festival of the sun, which came out in order to hold us back.[lxxiii]
A brief extract from His comments:
Sinai 353 joins the alarming number of New Kingdom inscriptions from Serabit that convey an extremely pessimistic tone . . . here either confined just to the Hebrews on the current mining expedition, or on a national level. . . Whatever the exact events were that generated this gloomy outlook, they went unstated in the text.[lxxiv]
Baalath was a goddess of ancient Canaan often equated in Egypt with Hathor. Again we see the Israelites referring to pagan deities to explain or understand their difficult situation.
Sinai 357, translated as:
A curse of 100-fold has passed through our people. A swooping has befallen us. A multitude has surrounded us. My father was completely depleted by the king.[lxxv]
Here are a few of his comments:
Sinai 357 is another in the trend of New Kingdom inscriptions with a highly pessimistic tone. The writer of Sinai 349 lamented how “he,” probably referring to the Egyptian king, sought occasion to cut away the Hebrews’ great number, their swelling without measure. This matches well chronologically and descriptively with the account of the royally-sponsored edict in Exodus 1 to slaughter all newborn male Hebrews. Sinai 357 most likely records similar hardships that the Israelites were experiencing before the exodus, but this time with an explicit reference to the king as the culprit behind the evil deeds.[lxxvi]
Sinai 360, translated as:
O man [or possibly, “Take courage”], you have arrived. You have been pruned off, in a year to forget.[lxxvii]
Dr. Petrovich comments:
Whether Sinai 360 begins with direct address ("O man,") or an imperative verb ("Take courage!"), the author clearly is speaking futuristically to subsequent Hebrew miners who would arrive at Serabit el-Khadim to perform the same labor that he was performing. Once again, this was a somber and pessimistic message inscribed in Hebrew during the New Kingdom, almost un-doubtedly dating to 1500-1446 BC. The author wrote to inform these future miners that the result of their arrival at Serabit would be the equivalent of the branches of a vine that are pruned away so that the tree would yield more grapes; while this act proves highly beneficial to the vintner, it proves fatal to the branches that are detached from the vine.
Whether this message meant that some of the author's fellow Hebrew miners on the current or former expeditions actually were killed by their Egyptian overseers or not, there is no way of knowing. The possibility exists that the imagery was hyperbolic, and that the Hebrews merely were treated so brutally that their perception of the abuse seemed equivalent to murder.[lxxviii]
Here is one more inscription with a date of 1446 BC assigned to it by Dr. Petrovich.
Sinai 361, translated as:
Our bound servitude had lingered. Moses then provoked astonishment. It is a year of astonishment because of the Lady.[lxxix]
His fascinating comments on this text:
Just as with virtually all of the Hebrew inscriptions of the New Kingdom, Sinai 361 expresses pessimism and exasperation. The first statement the author makes is that the bound servitude of his people had lingered. The word expressing this action also is used of the saddling of donkeys, or the harnessing of animals, accentuating the instrument with which the animal is forced to obey the wishes of the enforcer. When the word is used of humans, the idea of forcing a person into servitude is connoted (Isaiah 3:7). Therefore, the writer was communicating that the Hebrew people had endured bound servitude under compulsion, although there is no indication that the servitude had ceased at the time of writing . . .
As for the significance of attributing this as "a year of astonishment," the author of Sinai 361 may have been . . . explaining that Moses' provoking of astonishment was not merely a mo-mentary event, but one in which this astonishment continued throughout the year. The point was not that this astonishment had lasted 12 full months, or that it began on the first day of the calendar year, but that the year was filled with astonishing events. This commentary would fit well with the events of the plagues reported in the Bible, which undoubtedly continued over a period of months, caused amazement, and brought despair to the Egyptians who endured these events (Exodus 10:7).
The author evidently had hoped or expected that the Hebrews' bound servitude would have ceased, which was not the case. This failed freedom from forced labor brought him disappointment and despair. Given the relationship between the first and second statements in the inscription, the author evidently connected the continued servitude with Moses' provoking of astonishment, which transpired at the time that the servitude lingered, meaning that perhaps there was hope that Moses would have brought an end to it. This would fit well with the Biblical narrative.[lxxx]
Again we see the Hebrews connecting the events surrounding the Exodus with a pagan deity, referred to here as “the Lady” (Baalath or Hathor). The Lord God was delivering them, but they did not fully realize what was happening or Who their deliverer was. Thus in His commandments God begins with:
I am the Lord your God who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery. (Exodus 20:2)
It is also worth noting that the Exodus portrays the Hebrews as crying for help in their deep affliction, but that it does not explicitly say that they cried to the Lord God. They surely must have cried out to Him, but it appears that they called out to other “gods” as well. But the One Who heard their cries was not Hathor or any or “god,” but the God of their fathers.
Now it came about in the course of those many days [while Moses was in Midian] that the king of Egypt died. And the sons of Israel sighed because of the bondage, and they cried out; and their cry for help because of their bondage rose up to God. So God heard their groaning; and God remembered His covenant with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. God saw the sons of Israel, and God took notice of them. (Exodus 2:23–25)
Also, consider these scriptures:
Our fathers in Egypt did not understand Your wonders [i.e., wonderful acts] . . . Nevertheless, He saved them for the sake of His name, that He might make His power known . . . They made a calf in Horeb and worshiped a molten image. (Psalm 106:7, 8, 19)
Did you present Me with sacrifices and grain offerings in the wilderness for forty years, O house of Israel? You also carried along Sikkuth [Saturn, or a shrine of your Moloch] your king and Kiyyun [or stands of], your images, the star of your gods which you made for yourselves. Therefore, I will make you go into exile beyond Damascus,” says the Lord, whose name is the God of hosts. (Amos 5:25–26)
The idolatry that the sons of Israel had adopted in Egypt (and possibly also in Canaan) wasn’t easy for them to shake off. It stuck with them and resulted in their downfall centuries later. In contrast, the patriarchs Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob were monotheistic and faithful.
In these amazing inscriptions and their translations we see clear extra-Biblical confirmation of the major events that immediately preceded the Exodus, and which made it the powerful event that it was. These confirm that the Hebrews were in Egypt, were in severe bondage there before their deliverance, and that they were writing about it. They had an alphabetic script and were using it. They were widely learned in reading and writing. We have heard that the judgments of the Exodus were aimed at, or directed against, the Egyptian Gods. Seeing how steeped in idolatry the Hebrews were before the Exodus, I can see why Our Lord would do this. He wanted His people to know for certain Who He was, and how very powerful He was. Hathor could not deliver them, but He could, and He did.
These first examples of the use of this early alphabet make it clear how this script could have been used by Moses. Dr. Rohl makes the obvious connection:
The actual Ten Commandments of Moses, composed atop Mount Sinai, must have been written in Proto-Hebrew which, in reality, was none other than the Proto-Sinaitic script we came across at Serabit el-Khadim. [Dr. Rohl believes that the path that Moses led the Israelites on at the Exodus took them near to Serabit el-Khadim and the turquois mines there, where they picked up the Hebrew slaves that were working the mines.] Now that we know that the Exodus took place in the Middle Bronze Age, rather than at the end of the Late Bronze Age [i.e., in 1446 BC, not 1250 BC], it becomes obvious that the Decalogue ('ten words') of the Mosaic law were composed of the Egyptian hieroglyphic signs that Joseph and his kin had borrowed to write their Semitic alphabet. This then evolved into what scholars call Proto-Canaanite (which, in reality, included Late Bronze Age Proto-Hebrew); and from this came Iron Age Phoenician and Hebrew . . . and, of course, the Greek and Roman alphabets of the Classical era.[lxxxi]
In closing this wonderful accumulation of epigraphical support for the presence of Hebrews in Egypt, I want to explain how very important it is in the skeptical climate of our times. We have explained how belief in the historicity of the Sojourn, the Exodus, and the Conquest are inextricably intertwined. And the credibility of the entire Old Testament, and then of the total Christian revelation, rests on the truth of those accounts. Dr. Petrovich has first-hand experience vis-a-vis the state of Biblical scholars and their confidence in the historicity of those foundational accounts. Here are some of his observations.
Hoffmeier [we quoted from his works before] further noted that beginning with the 1970s and continuing into the twenty-first century, [many leading scholars] have reasoned that since there is no tangible evidence of Israelites who conquered Canaan after having entered from outside of its borders, it seems unlikely that Israel originated in Egypt, as the Pentateuch would lead one to believe. The unexposed reality is that none of these scholars has studied Egyptology with enough vigor to determine whether or not the Israelites actually resided there. Hoffmeier . . . concluded by issuing a challenge for Biblical scholars to engage in a careful study of Egyptian history and archaeology before articulating rash conclusions about Biblical history, especially as it relates to an early Israelite presence in Egypt.[lxxxii] [emphasis mine]
So lack of knowledge about these matters, knowledge that is rooted in first-hand personal research, is one basic reason for the continuing unbelief of Biblical scholars. How has this situation arisen? Below Dr. Petrovich explains the obstacles that maintain this anomaly.
First, he gives us some astounding observations of fact.
...[Hoffmeier conducted a poll which indicates that most Egyptologists (19 out of the 25 polled) do believe that the early Israelites lived in Egypt, and none of them said they did not believe it. This is in contrast to higher critical Biblical scholars, whose unstated agenda is to create doubt about historical matters in the Biblical text.] [at a large Biblical] conference in 2013 on the topic of the exodus, no speaker presented pos-itive evidence of the exodus or the sojourn, which is reflected in the same dearth of positive evidence in any of the 43 articles published in the follow-up volume of 2015. Even more astound-dingly, none of the speakers / authors even commented about personal research they were conducting to determine whether or not such tangible evidence exits. If neither artifactual nor epigraphical evidence is being studied expressly to determine if an archaeological footprint of Hebrews in Egypt of the second millennium BC exists, what legitimate chance of discovering such evidence is there? [Thus, the common dating of the Exodus to 1250 BC is a fatal error.]
The closest that their research came to this is Manfred Bietak's alleged evidence (2015: 30) of an ancient Israelite "memory" of a "possible sojourn of Israel in Egypt [dating] to the late Ramesside Period, i.e., the 20th Dynasty" (1196-1069 BC), a time frame that exists long after the Merneptah Stele's reference to ethnic Hebrews thriving in Canaan in 1219 BC. [We discussed this chronological problem above.] Thus what hope does Bietak have of finding Hebrews in Egypt at a time so long after they already have been established in Canaan as a people?[lxxxiii]
Finally, lack of evidence for the Biblical record when the date of 1250 BC is assumed for the Exodus is a huge problem in Christian circles today. Many devout believers simply set the entire subject aside and refuse to address it. Dr Petrovich explains the situation:
Essentially, this has created a "straw man" argument that critical scholars have used to mock the historicity of the Biblical account of the Israelite sojourn in (and exodus from) Egypt. This has left the non-specialist to conclude that the Biblical narrative of these events is nothing but a fabricated series of stories designed to provide Jewish parents with enchanting material to recount to their children about a glorious past that never actually took place.
Is there any way of putting the "straw man" to the test? The truth is that in order to begin such research that has not yet been conducted, any such ambitious scholar must virtually master a dizzying number of disciplines. This implies sound study and training in at least the following fields / disciplines: ANE history, Biblical Hebrew language I grammar, Western Semitics, lower textual criticism of the Hebrew Bible, OT studies, OT chronology, archaeology of the Levant, Egyptian language I grammar (MElLE), Egyptian texts, Egyptian archaeology, epigraphy, ANE iconography, and historical geography. The imposing nature of this list of disciplines to learn prevents all but the most devoted and obsessive enthusiasts of the sojourn-exodus narrative from possessing the ability to contribute to the topic in any truly significant manner.
For all of these reasons, the historical credibility of the account of the Israelite sojourn-exodus has been nothing but an object of criticism. What is more, even if someone were to receive the appropriate training and discover such evidence of Israelites in Egypt during the 430-year sojourn, archaeologists and ANE scholars would then turn around and accuse that researcher of applying improper methodology and I or having an illegitimate agenda, all in a sly attempt to marginalize the relevance of the all-important data that was collected. Until now, the critical-scholarly world thus has cleverly built an impenetrable force field around the evidence, without any rational hope of breaching their defense, and not welcoming anyone into the academy who would challenge the status quo. Yet with the present work, a new day has dawned.[lxxxiv] [emphasis mine]
Dr. Petrovich has encountered significant obstacles and bias as he has pursued his work. He paints for us an ominous picture of the resistance that scholars will encounter if they attain to competence in the many areas of study required to contribute to such work, and then dare to introduce ideas supporting the Biblical record rather than the existing paradigm of skeptical unbelief. So, too, we may add, is there a lack of openness to consider evidence in other domains that are part of the Cartesian-Darwinian Narrative. For example, to question the “assured results” arising from paleoanthropology (the study of human evolution), Darwinian evolution in general, Big Bang cosmology and other highly flawed stories set forth to deny supernatural intervention is often a sure way for a scientist or scholar to become an outcast in his field of study. We will point this out in later chapters.
Dr. Ralph Martin, the director of Graduate Theology Programs in the New Evangelization at Sacred Heart Major Seminary, author, and president of Renewal Ministries has recently written a book A Church in Crisis. He explains the crisis in evangelization, teaching of basic Christian truth, morality, and fervor that has such a firm deep grip on the Church. We have seen why the crisis that he describes exists. If Christian scholars do not believe their own book, the foundation and source of their faith, then they cannot pass on that faith to the priests and ministers and lay leaders whom they are instructing; in fact, they will instill deep doubt and confusion in those whom they teach—the future leaders of the Church. If the leaders of the Church are weak in their faith then they will pass that on to the flock that they shepherd. Christians with no foundation will fall prey to the demonic wolves that are roaming around freely in our secular culture of intense immorality, deception, and unbelief.
This is why scholarship like what Dr. Petrovich is giving to us is critical to the Church today. This is why this entire volume, Undergirding the Truth of Genesis and the Ancient Faith of the Church, is so important. Not only do multitudes doubt the Faith, but they have drifted so far away that they no longer recall what the Faith is or even care that it must be seen as based upon real historical events if it is to survive. Millions of former believers have forgotten, perhaps in a willful way, that “origins” is a vital, an indispensable, a foundational aspect of our Faith. Tragically, the Christian truth-seeker and critical thinker has largely become a thing of the past. When ignorance replaces a reasoned faith, the faith itself will undergo massive destruction; this is precisely what has happened over the past several decades, and it is poised to continue.
A Boader Perspective on the Origins of the Hebrew Script
At this point, I want to back up a bit and form a hypothetical scenario to explain exactly how and when this alphabetic script was invented, and how it happened that many Hebrews were versed in this script. I also want to talk about the unique roles that Joseph and Moses each played in the development of this script. As with all archeological scenarios, models, or “hypothetical constructs,” this is not totally founded on facts, as is the existence of the above inscriptions, but it is fascinating to consider the evidence to be discussed. (Of course, some will surely argue with Dr. Petrovich about the translation of various of the above scripts. But few things from ancient times are completely free from controversy and scholarly dispute.)
Another way to explain this: In what we see above, Dr. Petrovich is not trying to put forth a broad scenario about the past. He is looking deeply at one narrow subject—the remnants of the proto-Sinaitic script as it is found in and around ancient Egypt. There still is some subjectivity in what he is doing, but not as much as if he were trying to interpret diverse findings and then weave them into a total scenario. That is what I want to do next, as many archeologists do. But one observation about my scenario; the Bible does give us a broad scenario on the history of the world and on the nation of Israel. What I am about to put together fits in with the Bible, and that gives it a greater likelihood of being accurate.
The ruling pharaohs at the time of Joseph, according to the revised chronology of David Rohl, as explained above, were Senuseret III and his son Amenemhat III.
- This is the revised chronology that arises when Ramesses II is thought to have ruled in the 10th century not in the 13th century, when Joseph entered Egypt and was elevated to second in command after pharaoh at the age of 30.
- Senuseret III was the pharaoh who elevated Joseph to vizier in Egypt because he had wisely interpreted his dreams. His son continued to carry out his policies.
- In the chronology of Dr. Rohl I am moving his dates three years into the past to make them dovetail perfectly with the Biblical chronology.[lxxxv] Remember, we saw that the Egyptian chronology was a bit uncertain, inexact, and estimated.
Senuseret III = 1701-1661 BC (instead of 1698-1658)
Amenemhat III = 1681-1634 BC (instead of 1678-1631)
One fact that ties Biblical chronology to Dr. Rohl’s: 1704 BC, at 17, Joseph is sold into slavery. The time of Joseph was also the time when Avaris thrived with a large settlement of Asiatic people (Semitic people), as we saw earlier. But because it overlapped the reign of Amenemhat III, it was also the time of the greatest famine in the history of Egypt, as we will explain. The following scenario utilizes Dr. Rohl’s insights and historical connections.[lxxxvi]
The Nile waters rose each year in late June and peaked in September, flooding the land with life-giving water and a fresh deposit of black silt to fertilize the land. The waters of the Nile were measured during the reign of Amenemhat III at the fortresses of Semna and Kumma hundreds of miles upstream. The records of these measurements are preserved still today. The fortresses were on each side of a narrow gorge in the Nile, and that is the place where the measurements were made—on the sides of the cliff walls of the gorge.
In the 3rd-19th years of the king—for 17 years straight—the water levels were 14 feet higher than normal. This modest rise in the flood level of the Nile would have eventually brought agricultural prosperity to the nation—a time of plenty. The Bible says the last seven of these years were very prosperous. That is when Joseph collected and stored grain for pharaoh.
Now Joseph was thirty years old when he stood before Pharaoh, king of Egypt. And Joseph went out from the presence of Pharaoh and went through all the land of Egypt. [This project must have taken many years (over 20) to implement, to make preparations.] During the seven years of plenty the land brought forth abundantly. So he gathered all the food of these seven years which occurred in the land of Egypt and placed the food in the cities; he placed in every city the food from its own surrounding fields. Thus Joseph stored up grain in great abundance like the sand of the sea, until he stopped measuring it, for it was beyond measure. (Genesis 41:46–49)
Joseph was wise enough, from the interpretation of pharaoh’s dreams with which he had been gifted, to prepare for and harness the years of plenty when they came along.
But Joseph was also wise enough to instigate another engineering project, one not explained in the Bible. To understand that project we must understand the cause of the years of famine that followed. The records of Semna and Kumma show that in the next 12 years the water level of the Nile was even higher—so high that the Nile would have completely flooded Egypt and caused widespread destruction. It would also have prevented the people from planting their crops because the land would have been under water during the times of planting. This would have resulted in a terrible famine instead of plenty.
This might be hinted at in the dreams that pharaoh had, as interpreted by Joseph.
So Pharaoh spoke to Joseph, “In my dream, behold, I was standing on the bank of the Nile; and behold, seven cows, fat and sleek came up out of the Nile, and they grazed in the marsh grass. Lo, seven other cows came up after them, poor and very ugly and gaunt, such as I had never seen for ugliness in all the land of Egypt; and the lean and ugly cows ate up the first seven fat cows. Yet when they had devoured them, it could not be detected that they had devoured them, for they were just as ugly as before. Then I awoke. (Genesis 41:17–21)
Why were the cows coming up from out of the Nile? Because the Nile was the cause, both of the years of plenty and of the years of famine. Pharaoh’s second dream was:
I saw also in my dream, and behold, seven ears, full and good, came up on a single stalk; and lo, seven ears, withered, thin, and scorched by the east wind, sprouted up after them; and the thin ears swallowed the seven good ears. (Genesis 41:21–24)
Here is how Dr. Rohl analyzes the dreams, garnering the total picture of what they meant:
A combination of excess water coming from the southern reaches of the Nile and a severe heat brought by east winds suggests to me that we have here a northward shift in the climate zones. This brought tropical rains to Ethiopia, normally associated with the equatorial zone, and a northward movement of the Arabian desert zone into Canaan, producing hot winds from across the rift valley of the Jordan. This turned the already marginal pasturelands of the southern highlands of Judah and the northern Negeb into inhospitable desert.[lxxxvii]
In other words, the jet stream simply shifted and all of Egypt and the Middle East suddenly was afflicted by devastating climatic changes. Famine was everywhere—in Egypt because of too much water, and in other places because of too little rainfall. A verse in Genesis makes more sense with this understanding.
Then Joseph said to his brothers, “Please come closer to me.” And they came closer. And he said, “I am your brother Joseph, whom you sold into Egypt. Now do not be grieved or angry with yourselves, because you sold me here, for God sent me before you to preserve life. For the famine has been in the land these two years, and there are still five years in which there will be neither plowing nor harvesting. God sent me before you to preserve for you a remnant in the earth, and to keep you alive by a great deliverance. (Genesis 45:4–7)
Why would a famine prevent both plowing and reaping? What kind of situation had arisen that caused this catastrophe? Certainly a severe, annual, overflowing of the Nile would prevent both sowing and reaping. Also, as in other places of the account, Joseph expresses his faith perspective that the hand of the Lord was in the events. In fact, his having been sold into Egypt by his brothers, as hard-hearted as it was, was turned by the Lord God into an opportunity to preserve the family of Jacob.
This set the stage for the account of Genesis.
When the famine was spread over all the face of the earth, then Joseph opened all the store-houses, and sold to the Egyptians; and the famine was severe in the land of Egypt. The people of all the earth came to Egypt to buy grain from Joseph, because the famine was severe in all the earth. (Genesis 41: 56, 57)
So what did Joseph do to alleviate that famine? After all, the devastatingly high-water level of the Nile lasted for 12 years, not just for seven. That brings us to the engineering project that was undertaken to alleviate the problem for all time. This is not in the Bible.
As if guided by some remarkable premonition, a massive project was begun to construct a long canal (or perhaps widen and deepen an existing prehistoric river offshoot), branching away from the Nile at Asyut and flowing northwards all the way to a natural break in the western desert escarpment where is disgorged into Fayum basin, there to form a huge reservoir called Lake Moeris in the classical literature. At the point where this waterway reached the westwards break in the desert ridge the ha toer dam was constructed, with sluice gates to control the water, which could either be directed into Lake Moeris during the inundation or redirected back into the Nile to flow northwards into the delta during the dry season.[lxxxviii]
This allowed water to be diverted out of or into the Nile and, in general made the nation less dependent on the whims of the weather and the unpredictable levels of the Nile that resulted from weather or climate changes. This canal, called the canal of Joseph, or Bahr Yussef, is still in existence in Egypt today.
Amenemhat III was so impressed by this engineering marvel, revealed as a solution to a devastating flood by a dream and a divine interpretation, that he built his Hawara pyramid on the desert plateau overlooking the channel and also erected two huge statues of himself at the mouth of the canal, at the location where it emptied into the lake.
The canal that Joseph built still exists and can be seen in Egypt today.
It seems clear that the great canal was excavated to divert a large part of the floodwaters from the Nile into Fayum basin, thus preventing the worst of the high waters from reaching Lower Egypt and the delta. This was the solution which the Egyptian state came up with to alleviate the cause of famine, and there can be little doubt that it would have made a considerable difference to the fortunes of Lower Egypt in this period of crisis. Though this huge engineering project to divert the floodwaters is not mentioned in the Book of Genesis, the building of the canal and the storage of grain were actions which saved Egypt from the worst of the famine. And the name of that canal? Well, it has always been known simply as the Bahr Yussef - the 'Waterway of Joseph'.[lxxxix]
I set out to produce a unified chronology of the archeological events as Dr. Rohl pieces them together, and the Biblical chronology that I will develop in this book.[xc] Here it is, with the dates for Senuseret III and his son Amenemhat III adjusted back into the past by three years.
My Biblical chronology gives us these important chronological markers:
Joseph was 17 when he was sold into slavery (Genesis 37:2).
My calculations in this work give this date as 1704 BC.
Joseph was 30 when he stood before pharaoh to interpret his dreams (Genesis 41:46).
Therefore that had to be in 1691 BC.
Jacob entered Egypt in the second year of the famine, which I calculate to be 1661 BC.
Key unifying fact: Amenemhat III’s 21st year was also the 2nd year of the famine (1661 BC).
Putting this information together, here is the table of the unified chronology.
|1704||Joseph sold into slavery||Joseph is 17|
|1693||Joseph interprets dreams of pharaoh Senuseret III||Joseph is 30|
|1681||1st year of Amenemhat III||He continues his father’s policies||Joseph is 40|
|1679||3rd year of Amenemhat III||High waters of the Nile river begin |
The storage bins are not ready yet, and the waterway is not completed Joseph’s preparations take time!
|Joseph is 42|
|1669||13th year of Amenemhat III||Abundance, begin to store grain||Joseph is 52|
|1663||19th year of Amenemhat III||High waters and abundance last year||Joseph is 58|
|1662||20th year of Amenemhat III||VERY high waters and famine begins |
First year of famine, people live off stored grain, waterway not ready yet
|Joseph is 59|
|1661||21st year of Amenemhat III |
(Senuseret III dies)
|Jacob enters Egypt when the famine has been in the land for two years||Joseph is 60|
|1656||26th year of Amenemhat III||Seventh and last year of the famine||Joseph is 65|
|1655||27th year of Amenemhat III||First year the waterway is completed |
No famine in Egypt, Nile is controlled
|1651||31st year of Amenemhat III||12th year of VERY high Nile water|
|1650||32nd year of Amenemhat III||Nile returns to normal levels.||Joseph is 71|
I am not normally one to go in for naturalistic or partially naturalistic explanations of the Bible’s miraculous events. But this scenario has three major merits to it.
- It fits the Biblical stories and even makes them come alive with a deeper meaning; for example, the way it explains why there had been neither planting nor reaping. The flood explains that nicely.
- It fits the chronology of the time of Joseph in Egypt fairly well (I had to change the dates of the reigns of the pharaohs of the 12th dynasty by three years—dates that, from the way they had been determined, were partially estimated, and not fixed in stone); It also explains one archeological artifact, the canal or “Waterway of Joseph.”
- It preserves the supernatural elements of the Biblical narrative while elucidating the historical circumstances within which they took place, making them come alive for the reader of Genesis.
Therefore it might be a true and accurate narrative.
Dr. Rohl also mentions the storage bins for the grain, which were a major part of Joseph’s plan. (Genesis 41:33–36.) The excavation of Egyptian urban centers and their grain silos had been ignored until recently, but the storage bins still can be found in Egypt today and are currently (finally) being excavated and studied, as confirmed from other sources.[xci]
We can append a short, estimated chronology extending through the time of the Exodus and the life of Moses.
|1611 BC||Joseph dies at 110 years old.|
|1550 BC (?)||A king who knew not Joseph comes to power and oppression begins|
|1526 BC||Moses born|
|1447 BC||Moses returns to Egypt||He is 79 (or maybe 80)|
|The confrontations with pharaoh and the plagues, the “astonishment” (see Sinai 361) take some time, perhaps many months, until pharaoh finally releases the Jews|
|1446 BC||Exodus||Moses is 80|
|1446 BC – 1406 BC||Desert wanderings||Moses is 80 to 120|
|1406 BC||Moses dies||Moses is 120|
How the Proto-Sinaitic Script Developed
Now let us continue on and construct the hypothetical scenario for the history of the proto-Sinaitic script, a scenario that fits within our new chronological framework.
Joseph entered Egypt and began to work for Potifar in 1704 BC at the age of 17. He was an intelligent man, and learned quickly. But the incident where he was framed by Potifar’s wife landed him in prison. Years later he had the opportunity to interpret the dreams of Senuseret III. That was in 1691 and he was 30 years old. By that time Joseph had taken the time (and had the opportunity) to learn hieroglyphics. He absolutely needed to have that skill in order to be effective in his position of leadership and responsibility in Egypt. That was also the timeframe in which the proto-Sinaitic script appeared. That script was invented by a Semitic person living in Egypt who knew hieroglyphics. I think that person was none other than Joseph. He invented proto-Sinaitic—a stroke of genius, even more likely, an instance of divine inspiration—to help him with his huge task of preparing for the coming famine. In God’s plan, this would eventually allow His people to learn the script.
In 1661 BC his family joined Joseph in Egypt. He settled them in the land of Goshen and passed on to them the understanding of the new script that he had invented. It was helpful to them in the following centuries as they lived and prospered in the land of Egypt. Today we have found many examples of their writing in and around Egypt. Many members of his family became adept at writing/reading the script. Dr. Petrovich eloquently showed this.
When Moses came along two centuries later the script had developed somewhat, as all written scripts do over time, but it was still only used for simple messages and short written phrases. Moses did something with the script that no one had ever done before. He used it to write a book. He used it to write a large, literary work—the Pentateuch. Because he was well educated in all the learning of Egypt, Moses had the training necessary for such a monumental and unprecedented task, extending the function of the script to far beyond anything that his enslaved compatriots had ever imagined.
...[The Israelites] had taken the Egyptian symbols and adapted them for writing their names and a few simple phrases in their own language. But it took the multilingual skills of an educated Hebrew prince of Egypt to turn these simple first scratchings into a functional script, capable of transmitting complex ideas and a flowing narrative. The Ten Commandments and the Laws of Moses were written in Proto-Sinaitic. The prophet of Yahweh – master of both the Egyptian and Mesopotamian epic literature – was not only the founding father of Judaism, Christianity and, through the Koranic traditions, Islam, but also the progenitor of the Hebrew, Canaanite, Phoenician, Greek, and therefore, modern western alphabetic scripts.[xcii] [emphasis mine]
Moses was the first person to utilize the full capabilities of an alphabetic script. He took what had been used to write simple phrases or short notes, and wrote a landmark literary work. He exercised fully the potential that was inherent in such a tool, and he was the first person in history to do so. It was another instance of divine inspiration.
We take alphabetic writing for granted. The power to communicate in writing that it grants to us is an eons-old inherited gift whose absence we cannot even imagine. But the word of our God, if it is to be written down, requires just such a tool. The Bible, God’s revelation to mankind in written form, requires more than cuneiform or hieroglyphics or any similar method of written communication can deliver. That is why God inspired His servants to invent alphabetic scripts, and why he showed us how to make full use of that tool. God’s revelation to man demands an alphabetic script! And He carefully arranged things so that His people, when the written word was before them, would have the ability to read it.
God wanted this ability not just for a few scribes or priests, but for many of His chosen people, so that they could obey His commandment to “teach [His laws] to their sons . . . and write them on the doorposts of their house and on their gates” (Deuteronomy 11:19–20). I think this skill was gifted to the human race for that primary purpose. Other beneficial uses have also been made of it, but that was its first and primary purpose for being given.
When the Jews left Egypt they took the script with them. It was a somewhat more enhanced form that had developed over the centuries between the time of Joseph and the Exodus. From that script all Middle Eastern scripts eventually developed. We can see what each of the Canaanite scripts looked like—Old Hebrew, Phoenician, etc. But at this time we do not have examples of Semitic inscriptions that were written after the Exodus but before about 1050 BC in the land of Canaan. Also, no proto-Semitic inscriptions have been found in Egypt that can be dated to after 1446 BC. When the Hebrews left Egypt proto-Sinaitic left with them. So a gap of a few centuries in the developmental process of proto-Sinaitic is missing. Its daughter scripts eventually appear in Canaan, but we have no archeological evidence for that until several centuries later.
Observations about the Spirit of the Age
We have seen how the history of thought developed in Europe in a way that has led our culture away from its Christian moorings. This had been accomplished by introducing to the intellectual leaders of our world a few key suppositions that were in direct conflict with the Word of God in scripture, and that were directly opposed to the Christian worldview; then by developing a comprehensive worldview based on anti-supernaturalistic principles—a worldview that encompassed all areas of intellectual inquiry. That worldview is deeply entrenched in the intellectual centers of our culture. It has become a widely influential and persuasive source of ideas that are fundamentally opposed to the Christian gospel, and that constantly attack it and undermine belief in Christianity.
In the area of Biblical Archeology this has resulted in confusion and loss of faith among Christian scholars, and in a consequent general weakening of the faith of the Church. The situation is worsened by the bias against change, especially change that allows for a more Biblical interpretation of ancient Egyptian and Middle Eastern finds. Among the express difficulties are a number of chronological errors that make connections between Biblical events and archeological finds impossible. Especially, the erroneous notion that the date of the Exodus was around 1250 BC, rather than two centuries earlier as the Bible directly states, has damaged the credibility of the Sojourn, the Exodus, and the Conquest accounts.
We have seen that, if we pick a date around 1446 BC for the Exodus and allow for a correction to the chronology of one period of ancient Egypt then abundant archeological evidence for the Biblical record is available. In addition, we find evidence for an alphabetic script that was available for Moses to use, in which he could have written the Pentateuch. Thus the four books of the Law, in which Moses was the principal personage, should be seen as written by him and therefore as historically accurate. This total scenario—from the Sojourn to the Exodus to the Conquest—plus the existence of the proto-Sinaitic script for Moses to write with, provides comprehensive archeological support for the complete historical reliability of the last four books of the Pentateuch.
At the same time, we have seen significant bias in academic circles against introducing these ideas. We have focused on a few scholars who have stood against the tide of current scholarship and have asserted that the Exodus surely happened in the mid-15th century BC, and who have followed up on that basic fact by listing the evidence for the accuracy of the Biblical record that immediately follows upon that chronological adjustment. Some of these scholars have suffered for the position that they have taken. Besides the examples that Dr. Petrovich mentioned, which I also quoted along the way, I make these personal observations about his key book, The World’s Oldest Alphabet:
- When I tried to get a copy of this book I found that it could not be purchased as a new book. It seems as if the publisher did not continue to print it, although it is in demand. Carta Jerusalem lists it for $84, but as “out of stock.”
- I found one copy available on the internet for $240! I cannot find that now.
- I looked in the University of Michigan library and found that they had one copy, but it had been checked out and was due to be returned in April of 2018. But as of September of 2021 it was not returned and was considered “lost.” I finally obtained a copy via inter-library loan.
- Petrovich is correct in his statement that some people simply do not want for Moses to be recognized as the author of the Pentateuch. It would certainly imply that the foundational events of salvation history are historical. Some do not want that truth to be widely known and accepted.
As for Dr. Rohl, I know that he has sought to discuss his chronological ideas with certain appropriate scholars, but they have declined to meet with him. He notes:
The objective of any historical work is surely to create a narrative that best accounts for the evidence – in this case, the evidence from archaeology and ancient documents. In that light, the statement by Professor Thomas Thompson, which I quoted at the beginning of this book, and which I re-quote here, is entirely bogus:
"We can say now with considerable confidence that the Bible is not a history of anyone’s past."
Such bald statements are not only untrue, as this book has demonstrated, but also close-minded. The Bible can indeed be used to explain the rise of Israel and the subsequent Jewish nation. It is not a myth, nor is it a work of 'pious fiction'. Now that the stories have been placed in their correct historical era, you can see that they fit the pattern of archaeology and cultural history as described in the ancient documents to a remarkable degree. The stories of Sojourn, Exodus and Conquest do not fit a Late Bronze Age context, where the likes of Thompson erroneously place them, but they do fit into a Middle Bronze Age setting. The pattern of evidence in that timeline is entirely consistent with the Biblical narrative.
The irony is that I have often been accused of constructing a history that is simply too neat. How is it possible for things to fit so well, my critics say? Or, to coin an old adage, it's all too good to be true! But hang on a minute ... if something is true, then should we not expect it to fit the archaeological data? Isn't that what we aim for? We have reached a sorry state of affairs when it can be argued that a historical interpretation fits too well with the evidence to be correct. That is plainly nonsense.
As Professor Martin Bernal put it, one of the greatest problems in the historical disciplines is that there is a fundamental resistance to change - an attitude ingrained in students throughout the course of their academic training.
Fundamental challenges to disciplines tend to come from outside. It is customary for students to be introduced to their fields of study gradually, as slowly unfolding mysteries, so that by the time they can see their subject as a whole they have been so thoroughly imbued with conventional preconceptions and patterns of thought that they are extremely unlikely to be able to question its basic premises. This incapacity is particularly evident in the disciplines concerned with ancient history.[xciii] [emphasis mine]
What we are seeing in these matters, and what we saw so clearly in the reaction of various scholars to the abundant evidence supporting the Biblical record, is very important for understanding the times in which we are living. It can be explained by several factors:
- Intellectual inertia, because once a person has been taught something and has accepted it they are reluctant to change. Students tend to bond with their teachers and their mentors. Learning is not just a matter of imparting knowledge, but also of giving personal formation and establishing basic principles of reasoning. These are not easily changed once the student graduates and assumes a position within academia. They are committed to the worldview that has been imparted to them, and they are imbedded in a culture that supports them in that worldview.
- Protecting personal turf, since these new ideas will inevitably undermine the work that established scholars have done.
- Ignorance, because people, even though highly educated, often are not aware of the evidence that is out there. Archeology is a huge and sprawling field.
- Finally, a philosophical bias against God, His holy Word, and the supernatural—a strong bias that is rooted in the pervasive rationalistic worldview that has taken up residence in academia. This is an a priori unbelief in and bias against God and against the Christian faith.
These factors, especially the bias against the Sacred Scriptures, have now been the norm for so long that they are presumed to be based on irrefutable evidence, but that is not so. They made their appearance long before any evidence to support them had come to light, and they are maintained for the same biased philosophical reasons today. They arise from the rationalist philosophy, as Pope Leo XIII explained over 125 years ago.
It is a lamentable fact that there are many who with great labour carry out and publish investi-gations on the monuments of antiquity, the manners and institutions of nations and other illustra-tive subjects, and whose chief purpose in all this is too often to find mistakes in the sacred writings and so to shake and weaken their authority. Some of these writers display not only extreme hostility, but the greatest unfairness; in their eyes a profane book or ancient document is accepted without hesitation, whilst the Scripture, if they only find in it a suspicion of error, is set down with the slightest possible discussion as quite untrustworthy.[xciv]
Let us never be disheartened when Scriptural truth is maligned in the midst of the scholarly debates of our time. It is not the objective opinions of men that we are witnessing.
We noted that this historical development of thought could not have been guided by any earthly power. For centuries it has been moved along by the powers that hate Our Lord and His holy word. But we can also say that the origin of these ideas was occult from the beginning. Jacques Maritan explains that, according to Descartes’ own notes, he received his initial impetus from a certain “Genius” who appeared to him in a dream and inspired him—a personage that appeared in his life after he had sought out and likely made contact with a group of men called the “Brethren of the Rosy Cross,” an occult group also known as the Rosicrucian movement.[xcv]
What was it that gave Descartes the strength to break with an age-long tradition which, hardened and brittle as it might be, had still a certain solidity, at least a social one? In other words—but the same question—what was the spiritual germ, the central intuition which must have contained, in the virtual and dynamic state, all the energies of the Cartesian revolution?
The notes made by the philosopher in his youth enable us to answer that question with a certain degree of probability. This vital and spiritual germ was the revelation of the "admirable science"—scientia mirabilis— that Descartes received at the age of twenty-three, during that famous dream of the tenth of November 1619—the dream he regarded as being entirely supernatural, and which decided his philosophical vocation.
It is very embarrassing for modern rationalism to have been born in a dream, and at that, in a dream which a "Genius" that had for several days’ past been exciting enthusiasm in him, had (according to [his biographer] Baillet's report) predicted to the philosopher before he had retired to his bed. However, that is the fact.[xcvi]
Thus there was a directly identifiable occult origin to the Rationalist movement that began with Descartes, and which has carried it forward through the centuries. I observe that it has been the demonic strategy to bury the manifest evidence that supports the historical reliability of the Pentateuch under an impenetrable mass of archeological details, covered over and obscured by the skepticism of unbelieving men and women. Thus the truth about His saving works in the past when He formed and guided the nation of Israel are hidden and become much more difficult to see clearly.
Because modern scholarship has rejected the Lord God and has proceeded along its path without regard for His purposes—even in defiance of them at times—the Lord has allowed scholarship to fall into chaos. Scholars search in vain for the right way to understand or to look at ancient cultures. Their sociological theories about cultural development, their ideas about migrations and social conflicts, their theories or models about the past—especially the past of Israel and Judah—have produced little or no lasting fruit. This is because they have systematically omitted the revealed Word of God from their studies and have proceeded along purely naturalistic and rationalistic lines.
As I survey the confusing mass of ideas that their centuries of scholarship have produced, I recall verses of a song from the 70’s. This is adapted from “Hotel California” by the Eagles.
Acclaimed in journal articles, with research grants so nice,
(but they say) we are all just prisoners here of our own device.
In academic chambers, our theories we expound.
We probe the past with brilliant minds, but answers have not found.
We study ancient artifacts, we translate stelas too,
But cultures past, full knowledge of, our scrutinies elude.
“Of course,” says the rationalist. “We only tease the mind.
So ask and ponder all you like, but truth you cannot find.”
It must be frustrating to always learn more and more, but to never come to any certain and true knowledge—to wander endlessly in the labyrinth of the opinions and theories of men.
Looking at Genesis
We noted that, given the full context and timeframe of each book, early Biblical books seem to have been written sequentially, each after the previous book. This is true for Leviticus, which begins immediately after Exodus ends; with Numbers, which appears to begin immediately after Leviticus; with Deuteronomy, which appears to have been written as soon as Numbers ended; with Joshua, which takes up as soon as Deuteronomy ends and the period of grieving for Moses was ended; and with Judges, which seems to pick up after Joshua.
The book of Genesis is unique because at the time of Moses all events recorded in Genesis were more than two centuries in the past, and some were millennia in the past. Thus neither Moses nor any of his approximate contemporaries were possible eyewitnesses to any of those events. Therefore we have to ask and consider how Moses wrote the book of Genesis. I am not referring so much to whether he had the necessary linguistic skills and tools to write it, for we have already shown that to be the case. Rather, I am asking how he obtained the information in that book. How did he come to know about what is written therein?
First of all, there is textual evidence that Moses and the Hebrews of his day knew about the patriarchs and what happened in their lives many centuries before. Consider these verses:
Then Moses said to God, “Behold, I am going to the sons of Israel, and I will say to them, ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you.’ Now they may say to me, ‘What is His name?’ What shall I say to them?” God said to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM”; and He said, “Thus you shall say to the sons of Israel, ‘I AM has sent me to you.’” God, furthermore, said to Moses, “Thus you shall say to the sons of Israel, ‘The Lord, the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, has sent me to you.’ This is My name forever, and this is My memorial-name to all generations. (Exodus 3:13–15)
God spoke further to Moses and said to him, “I am the Lord; and I appeared to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, as God Almighty, but by My name, Lord [YHWH], I did not make Myself known to them. (Exodus 6:2)
The last quotation from Exodus six could be, and preferably should be translated as a question: “But by My name, Lord [YHWH] did I not make Myself known to them [the patriarchs]?”[xcvii] God’s question implies they knew Him by that name and Moses should realize that.
These verses imply the sons of Israel knew the name YHWH, and that it had been revealed by God to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. The last statement, asked of Moses, implies that he also knew the name of the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob—and that he knew that the patriarchs knew it. Thus when he went to the sons of Israel saying that “God has sent me to you to deliver you because He has heard your cry,” they were already familiar with the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and they already knew that his name was YHWH, and they knew that the patriarchs knew His name. All of that was common knowledge to the Hebrews because they knew the stories of Genesis. This implies that there was either a written or an oral tradition that the sons of Israel had kept about their forefathers.
The issue of where Moses obtained the information that he records in Genesis has been a question in the Church from the beginning. The Fathers and Doctors assumed that he was shown those facts supernaturally by God. But they had no tools with which to study or investigate this issue. We do today. And the idea that perhaps Moses had sources from which he might have drawn has been broached in the Church more recently. It was first presented before the Pontifical Biblical Commission in 1906.
Q3: Can it be granted, without prejudice to the Mosaic authenticity . . . that [he] . . . made use of sources . . . written documents or oral traditions, from which, . . . under . . . divine inspiration, he [drew when he wrote the Book of Genesis?]
If the sources of information about the patriarchs that Moses and the sons of Israel had recourse to, were in written form—if they were very ancient indeed, from before the Sojourn in Egypt, then those documents had to have been written in cuneiform. That was the only form of writing that existed in ancient Babylonia from which they had come. From the point of view of literary complexity, this is reasonable because, unlike the last four books of the Pentateuch, Genesis is a simpler work that could easily have been written in Cuneiform.
Finally, it appears that the beginning of Exodus is written as a direct follow-up to the last part of the book of Genesis. The book of Exodus begins as follows:
Now these are the names of the sons of Israel who came to Egypt with Jacob; they came each one with his household: Reuben, Simeon, Levi and Judah; Issachar, Zebulun and Benjamin; Dan and Naphtali, Gad and Asher. All the persons who came from the loins of Jacob were seventy in number, but Joseph was already in Egypt. Joseph died, and all his brothers and all that generation. But the sons of Israel were fruitful and increased greatly, and multiplied, and became exceedingly mighty, so that the land was filled with them.
Now a new king arose over Egypt, who did not know Joseph. (Exodus 1:1–8)
These verses set the stage for explaining how the sons of Israel who had entered Egypt centuries before finally came to be oppressed by the Egyptians. It connects to Genesis, and it prepares for the explanation of the oppression, which led to deliverance by the Lord God at the Exodus, which led to the desert wanderings, which led to the Conquest of the land of Canaan. It is a transition from very ancient times to the time of the Exodus.
My guess: Moses had read the events of Genesis written in cuneiform, had organized and edited them, and had already written Genesis before he wrote the rest of the Pentateuch.
Conclusion: How I Will Move Forward in this Work
I will make use of the foundation that we have uncovered in this chapter: I assume that the Exodus happened in 1446 BC, in accordance with the clear statements of Scripture. I assume that Moses wrote the Pentateuch; in fact, he wrote it in the proto-Sinaitic script. (Because he was intimately involved in the last four books of the Pentateuch, I assume that they are historically accurate, as Christians have always believed.) I will assume that the length of the Sojourn in Egypt was 215 years. I must take a position on this in order to establish a chronology for the earliest times: the Creation, the Deluge, Babel, and the lives of the patriarchs before and leading up to the Sojourn in Egypt. This is a general overall chronology, which can be off by a few years here and there, but which gives us a broad chronological framework for the most ancient times of which Genesis speaks.
One other chronological issue that affects the events in Genesis: We have already noted that the Septuagint has a different chronology for the periods from creation to the flood and from the flood to Abraham. The Septuagint inserts an extra 100 years between many of the generations of the early patriarchs. If we accept that chronology, it pushes back the Flood by hundreds of years and it pushes back the time of the creation by over 1500 years. One possible explanation for the longer chronology in the Septuagint is that the scholars who made the translation from Hebrew into Greek were working in Alexandria, in Egypt. They may well have been influenced by the Egyptian chronologies which went back tens of thousands of years and may consequently have tried to bring the Biblical chronology into greater harmony with the Egyptian chronology. Julius Africanus observed that not only the Greek and Roman pagan intellectuals embraced long ages but also the Egyptians before them:
The Egyptians, indeed, with their boastful notions of their own antiquity, have put forth a sort of account of it by the hand of their astrologers in cycles and myriads of years …” [myriad = 10,000].
St. Theophilus of Antioch, occupying the see founded by St. Peter, at the end of the second century expounded upon:
the number of years from the foundation of the world . . . to condemn the empty labour and trifling of these [pagan] authors, because there have neither been twenty thousand times ten thousand years from the flood to the present time, as Plato said . . . affirming that there had been so many years; nor yet 15 times 10,375 years, as we have already mentioned Apollonius the Egyptian gave out; nor is the world uncreated, nor is there a spontaneous production of all things . . . but, being indeed created, it is also governed by the providence of God, who made all things; and the whole course of time and the years are made plain to those who wish to obey the truth.
Most of the early Church Fathers were Greek-speaking and they accepted the longer chronology derived from the Septuagint. However, St. Jerome learned Hebrew and concluded that the numbers in the Masoretic text of the Old Testament were more reliable than the Septuagint numbers. Later, Venerable Bede came to the same conclusion as St. Jerome. It is a testimony to Venerable Bede's integrity and love for the Truth that he made the most thorough possible examination of the different Scriptural traditions regarding the genealogies in Genesis 5 and 11 and was prepared to correct the majority view when the preponderance of evidence justified him in doing so.
Venerable Bede actually blazed a trail for later Doctors and scholars by noting that while St. Jerome followed the Septuagint translation of the Hebrew Scriptures to a great extent, the numbers that he included in the genealogies of Genesis 5 and 11 in the Vulgate disagree with the Septuagint, reflecting a tradition that St. Jerome deemed more reliable than the Septuagint chronology, and one that resulted in a chronology 1200 years shorter than the Septuagint chronology of 5200 years from Creation to the Nativity of Our Lord. That Bede was almost certainly correct to deviate from the Septuagint tradition in this respect can be seen by examining the Genesis commentaries of St. Ephraim the Syrian who was a fluent Aramaic speaker who could understand the idioms of Moses in Genesis as well as, or better than, any of the other Church Fathers. In his commentary on the first genealogy in Genesis, St. Ephraim writes:
Then after he [Moses] had finished writing about the tribes of the descendants of Cain and had completed the story of the words of Lamech to his wives, [Moses] turned to record the generations of the house of Seth, beginning from Adam, saying that when Adam had lived one hundred thirty years, he begot a son in his own likeness according to his image (St. Ephraim the Syrian, Commentary on Genesis).
Anyone familiar with the Septuagint text of Genesis 5 will immediately recognize that the age that St. Ephraim gives for Adam at the birth of Seth is one hundred years less than the age that is given in the Septuagint! Indeed, St. Ephraim, like St. Jerome, and St. Bede after them, does not hesitate to depart from the Septuagint - at least in the form in which it has come down to us - in this respect. By a rigorous examination of all of the manuscripts available to him, Venerable Bede concluded that the chronology derived from the Hebrew manuscripts that St. Jerome used for the Vulgate was more reliable than the chronology derived from the Septuagint genealogies, even though that chronology had been accepted by most of the theologians and Church leaders of his time.
Thanks in part to the work of Venerable Bede, the Magisterium of the Catholic Church eventually embraced his reasoning, and in the post-Tridentine era the greatest Doctors of the Roman Church, like St. Alphonsus Liguori and Cornelius a Lapide, upheld the chronology derived from the genealogical data contained in the Vulgate, which is why all of the Douay-Rheims Bibles in the United States published at the beginning of the twentieth century had an appendix citing a chronology of four thousand years from Creation to the Nativity of Christ, almost identical to Venerable Bede's!
Based on the understanding that Moses could have written Genesis by using certain written sources at his disposal, and based on the archeological evidence already presented in this article—and additional evidence that which will be presented in my book on Biblical archeology—I have reached the following conclusion:
We realize that oral traditions have been generally considered to be of less reliability than written records. In this work we hold, and will demonstrate, that there were not oral but written records from which Moses drew when he wrote the Book of Genesis. Those records were first written in the Middle East and were written in cuneiform. Moses used the proto-Sinaitic script that was widely known by many of his Israelite countrymen, the script first invented by Joseph, which he had taught to them two or more centuries earlier, to write the first five books of the Pentateuch. He wrote the last four books from his own personal experience, for he was intimately involved in the events that they portray. He wrote Genesis by using, referring to, and editing a set of written documents that he had in his possession. I call these documents:
The Genesis Documents
These were available to Moses. They were written in cuneiform. The purpose of one of the chapters in my forthcoming book is to show you, the reader, what they were and who wrote them. When we see what those documents were and who wrote them, it will provide us with every possible literary/textual reason to believe that Genesis is true.
Believing that Genesis is true—believing that the Ancient Faith is actually true—is a thought that will shake the very foundations of academia today, because it contradicts the Cartesian-Darwinian narrative, which is a basic assumption within almost all modern fields of study.
George Orwell is credited with a saying that is directly applicable to the situation that we are facing in the Church today when we accept the truth of Genesis.
In times of universal deceit speaking the truth becomes a revolutionary act.
In this instance, however, my writings in defense of the literal historical truth of the Pentateuch do not actually flow from a desire to ignite a revolution within the field of Biblical scholarship but rather from a desire to contribute to a restoration of authentic Biblical scholarship—a restoration that will form an integral part of that universal “reestablishment” of which St. Paul writes in the first chapter of his Letter to the Ephesians: “In the dispensation of the fulness of times, to re-establish all things in Christ, that are in heaven and on earth, in Him” (Ephesians 1:10).
[i] This entire section follows a pattern that is similar to what the reader can see/listen to at “Patterns Of Evidence,” at the website https://www.revelationmedia.com/. At that site you can watch several related videos and lectures that present this material. The credit they deserve is that they sifted through the confusing mess and chaos of Egyptian and Middle Eastern archeology to bring forth these key discoveries and present them clearly. Of special benefit are the following: The Exodus, The Moses Controversy, The David Rohl Lectures, The Douglas Petrovich Lectures.
[ii] Ibid., pp. 39–43ff. Dr. Rohl gives a nice summary of the chronological thinking behind the dates of Israel’s kings. But see also the note a few lines below on the opinion and reasoning of Kitchen, who espouses a date of 1250 BC for the Exodus.
[iii] Edwin R. Thiele, The Mysterious Numbers of the Hebrew Kings, (Grand Rapids, MI: The Zondervan Corporation, 1983), p. 15.
[iv] Ibid., p. 23.
[v] Ibid., p. 25.
[vi] Ibid., Redating the Exodus and Conquest, p. 75.
[vii] Ibid., Digging up Jericho, pp. 257–258.
[viii] David Rohl, Exodus—Myth or History, (St. Louis Park, MN: Thinking Man Media, 2015), pp. 334–335.
[ix] Ibid., pp. 55, 56.
[x] Ibid., Exodus—Myth or History, pp. 22–26.
[xi] Ibid., Israel in Egypt—Evidence for the Authenticity of the Exodus Tradition, pp.27–31.
[xii] Ibid., Exodus—Myth or History, pp. 26–27.
[xiii] Ibid., pp. 61–69.
[xiv] Ibid., p. 69.
[xv] Ibid., pp. 71–85. Dr. Rohl has an extended discussion of chronology ending with this astronomical correlation.
[xvi] Ibid., p. 77.
[xviii] Ibid., Exodus—Myth or History, p. 78.
[xix] Ibid., p. 121. See also: Manfred Bietak, Avaris, the Capital of the Hyksos—Recent Excavations at Tell el-Daba, (London: British Museum Press, 1996), pp. 3ff.
[xx] Ibid., Exodus—Myth or History, p. 122.
[xxi] Ibid., Exodus—Myth or History, p. 122. See also, Avaris, the Capital of the Hyksos—Recent Excavations at Tell el-Daba, pp. 19–20
[xxii] Ibid., Exodus—Myth or History, p. 122.
[xxiii] Ibid., p. 133ff.
[xxiv] Ibid., p. 135. The records of servants at a Theban estate show at least 50% had Semitic names. This was in Upper Egypt (that is, further south). Thus the Hebrews from the Nile delta truly had spread throughout the land. For a description of this papyrus and other records of Asiatic servants in the 12th Dynasty see: A. R. David, The Pyramid Builders of Ancient Egypt—A Modern Investigation of Pharaoh’s Workforce, (London: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 196), pp. 189–194.
[xxv] Ibid., p. 127.
[xxvi] Ibid., pp. 106–130, 133.
[xxvii] Ibid., Avaris, the Capital of the Hyksos—Recent Excavations at Tell el-Daba, pp. 20–21. Manfred only mentions it in passing and does not describe all of its features. But the next source from his expedition does. (See next note.)
[xxviii] Ibid., p. 116. Dr. Rohl has reproduced this from: Schiestl: ‘The Cemeteries of F/I in the Strata d/2 (H) and d/1 (G/4), late 12th Dynasty and early 13th Dynasty’ at http://www.auaris.at/html/stratum_f1_en.html.
[xxix] Ibid., pp. 153–156. See also this website for Kahun: Kahun - CreationWiki, the encyclopedia of creation science. Also, David Down, Unwrapping the Pharaohs: How Egyptian Archaeology Confirms the Biblical Timeline
[xxx] Ibid., The Pyramid Builders of Ancient Egypt, pp. 194, 199. See also, David Down, Unwrapping the Pharaohs: How Egyptian Archaeology Confirms the Biblical Timeline, (Green Forest, Arizona: Master Books, A Division of New Leaf Publishing Group, 2007), p. 86. This author also notes primitive scratchings on pottery as perhaps indicating the beginning of alphabetic writing.
[xxxi] Ibid., Exodus—Myth or History. Quotes from Ipuwer are from pp. 150–152 and from Miriam Lichtheim below.
[xxxii] Miriam Lichtheim, Ancient Egyptian Literature, (Oakland, CA: University of California Press, 2019), Vol. 1, p. 156. This distinctive saying, so descriptive of Moses, is on page 156. [Note: page numbers vary with the printing. Look for Admonitions by name or for Ipuwer to find this text.]
[xxxiii] Ibid., p. 151.
[xxxiv] Ibid. The quotes given here appear in fragments. I separate the fragments by “. . .” These sayings are scattered throughout the text and must be looked for in pieces. In Exodus—Myth or History Dr. Rohl gives them as a unified quote.
[xxxv] Ibid. The quotes given here appear in fragments. I separate the fragments by “. . .” These sayings are scattered throughout the text and must be looked for in pieces. In Exodus—Myth or History Dr. Rohl gives them as a unified quote.
[xxxvi] Ibid. This key verse is on page 159.
[xxxvii] Ibid., Exodus—Myth or History, p. 152.
[xxxviii] Ibid., Ancient Egyptian Literature, Vol. 1, pp. 149–150. This is taken from her introductory remarks.
[xxxix] Ibid. The quotes given here appear in fragments. I separate the fragments by “. . .” These sayings are scattered throughout the text and must be looked for in pieces. In Exodus—Myth or History Dr. Rohl gives them as a unified quote.
[xl] Ibid., Exodus—Myth or History, pp. 152–153.
[xli] Ibid., p. 153.
[xlii] John Garstang, The Fate of Jericho Revealed by the Spade. “The bronze age city of Jericho perished by earthquake and fire about 1400 BC.” Definite conclusions, after four years of excavation, and new discoveries on a famous site. The Illustrated London News, vol. 183, no. 4939, Dec 16, 1933.
[xliii] Kathleen M. Kenyon, Excavations at Jericho, Volume III, The Architecture and Stratigraphy of the Tell (Text), Ed. Thomas A. Holland, (London: British School of Archeology in Jerusalem, 1981), p. 109.
[xliv] Ibid., Excavations at Jericho, Volume III, Figure 4, just before p. 1.
[xlv] Ibid., Exodus—Myth or History, p. 276.
[xlvi] Ibid., Excavations at Jericho, Volume III, p. 110.
[xlvii] Ibid., Exodus—Myth or History, p. 277.
[xlviii] Ibid., Excavations at Jericho, Volume III, p. 370.
[xlix] Ibid., Exodus—Myth or History, p. 278.
[li] Ibid., pp. 281–282
[lii] Ibid., pp. 287–290.
[liii] Ibid., p. 362.
[lv] Ibid., Redating the Exodus and Conquest, pp. 188-210, 216.
[lvi] Ibid., Digging up Jericho, p. 260.
[lvii] Ibid., p. 262.
[lviii] Ibid., On the Reliability of the Old Testament, p. 187.
[lix] Ibid., Redating the Exodus and Conquest. The quote, summarizing his points, is from pp 107 and 111. But see his extensive discussion, which covers the entire chapter, pp. 106–136.
[lx] Ibid., Excavations at Jericho, Volume I, pp. 264, 267, 268.
[lxi] Ibid., Excavations at Jericho, Appendix C, p. 501.
[lxii] Andrew J. Shortland and C. Bronk Ramsey eds., Radiocarbon and the Chronologies of Ancient Egypt,Bietak, Antagonisms in Historical and Radiocarbon Chronology, (Oxford, UK: Oxbow Books, 2013), p. 77.
[lxiii] Ibid., p. 79.
[lxiv] Ibid., p. 81ff.
[lxv] From Dr. Petrovich Lectures, Lecture #4, The World’s Oldest Alphabet is Hebrew. You can view this on the Patterns of Evidence website.
[lxvii] Ibid., Lecture #1.
[lxviii] Douglas Petrovich, The World’s Oldest Alphabet—Hebrew as the Language of the Proto-Consonantal Script, (Jerusalem, Israel: Carta Jerusalem, 2016), pp. 36–45.
[lxix] Ibid., pp. 45–51.
[lxx] Ibid., p. 51.
[lxxi] Ibid., pp. 101–117.
[lxxii] Ibid., p. 115.
[lxxiii] Ibid., pp. 127–139.
[lxxiv] Ibid., p. 138.
[lxxv] Ibid., pp. 140–153.
[lxxvi] Ibid., pp. 151–152.
[lxxvii] Ibid., pp. 153–158.
[lxxviii] Ibid., p. 158.
[lxxix] Ibid., pp. 158–172.
[lxxx] Ibid., pp. 169–171
[lxxxi] Ibid., Exodus—Myth or History, p. 229.
[lxxxii] Ibid., The World’s Oldest Alphabet—Hebrew as the Language of the Proto-Consonantal Script, p. 186.
[lxxxiii] Ibid., pp. 186–187.
[lxxxiv] Ibid., pp. 187–188.
[lxxxv] Using Dr. Rohl’s data and the Bible we get: 19th year of Amenemhat III is the last year of abundance. His 21st year is the 2nd year of the famine, and also the year Jacob entered Egypt. If the Exodus was in 1446 BC and the Sojourn lasted 215 years, then Jacob entered Egypt in 1661 BC, the 21st year of Amenemhat. So that pharaoh’s first year had to be 1681 BC, not 1678 BC. And his father Senuseret III began his reign 20 years earlier, or 1701 BC. This adjustment of the dates by three years is commanded by the total logic of what Dr. Rohl and the Bible say when the two sources are combined to make a unified narrative. I use these adjusted/corrected dates to construct my chronology.
[lxxxvi] Ibid., Exodus—Myth or History, pp. 93–102.
[lxxxvii] Ibid., p. 97.
[lxxxviii] Ibid., p. 99.
[lxxxix] Ibid., p. 101.
[xc] See the table of dates going back to the creation in the chapter “Babel” in this book. Also see Appendix I for a brief discussion of chronology.
[xci] Ibid., pp. 104–114. Also, see this site for a description of the grain silos used in ancient Egypt around estimated dates 1630-1520 BC. Archaeologists find silos and administration center from early Egyptian city (uchicago.edu) It appears as if grain was a kind of currency. This collaborates what David Rohl explains in these pages.
[xcii] David M. Rohl, The Lost Testament—From Eden to Exile: The Five-Thousand-Year History of the People of the Bible,
(London, UK: Random House UK Ltd, 2002), p. 221.
[xciii] Ibid., Exodus—Myth or History, pp. 331–332.
[xciv] Ibid., Providentissimus Deus, 20.
[xcv] Ibid., The Dream of Descartes, pp. 17ff.
[xcvi] Ibid., p. 167.
[xcvii] K. A. Kitchen, On the Reliability of the Old Testament, (Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans, 2003), pp. 329–330. Also see the footnote in The New Defender’s Study Bible on Exodus 6:3, pp 134–5.
[xcviii] Henry Denzinger, Compendium of Creeds, Definitions, and Declarations on Matters of Faith and Morals, forty-third edition, San Francisco, CA: Ignatius Press, 2012), p. 687. Response of the Biblical Commission, June 27, 1906; # 3396.