Does Extra-Biblical Information Exist That Backs Up The Book of Exodus?

There were two questions asked on the blog and since they were similar, we’ve addressed them in this prepared answer.  Thanks to the several sources who contributed to answering these difficult questions (A Scientist, A Pastor, A New Testament Scholar and Professor, and Two Academic Researchers).

Question One: Is there historical evidence that the Hebrews were slaves in Egypt, and after leaving wandered in the wilderness for 40 years?

Question Two: Egyptian History doesn’t seem to give an account of the Exodus, the plagues, Jewish slavery, Moses, etc. Does extra biblical information exist that backs up the Book of Exodus?

Preface:  First, we want to always draw people to the Bible first, which we believe to be the best historical source available. We urge the bloggers posing these questions to read thoroughly the book of Exodus.  Many outstanding and reputable archeologists have used the Bible to guide them in their field research. 1 Timothy 3:16-17 (NASB) states, “”All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.” The questions directed to us refer to the historical time period for the Jewish departure or exodus from Egyptian slavery, led by Moses through a 40 year journey in the wilderness to the land of Canaan finally yielding to a covenant with Yahweh (God) who gives them their laws and instructions for the Tabernacle and the means by which he will dwell with them and lead them to the land.  Exodus means in Greek “going out” [Exodos], and in Hebrew it means “Names [Šemot].

Academic Source One:  “My first thought would be to expose a person to all of the archeological finds which confirm the historicity of the Bible. The books are out there. I heard on a TV special once that there isn’t proof of the Exodus. I guess, if that’s true, it would make sense. They were on the move the whole time, living a nomadic, tent existence—including the tabernacle. So it’s hard to imagine that there would be proof available 3000 years later for that. But, leave it to the atheists and agnostics to point to the lack of evidence in this one area in order to build their case that it’s all a fairytale!”

Academic Source Two:  “There is no written evidence outside the Bible for the Exodus. There is plenty of archeological evidence. Moses was next in line to be Pharoah. It is part of Egyptian tradition to wipe out any history of a traitor. Certainly, no historian would want to record that the Egyptian army was defeated by Moses, admitting at the same time that their god was inferior to the God of the Bible.”

Academic Source Two Additional Comments: “There is a video that actually has footage of the whole Egyptian army carnage on the sea bottom in the Red Sea. I forgot the name of the video. I think it is called ‘In Search of the Exodus.’”  [Editor’s Note:  We verified the name.  Here is a link to the video trailer on youtube, http://youtu.be/2PG26Y3PwRo , and the website, http://www.byfaith.org .  A lot of good sources on this website for Biblical archeology done with academic excellence.]

Pastoral Source:  “There is a lot of good stuff.  Egyptians were pretty good at wiping out any evidence of rulers or leaders or priests once the political climate changed.  The biblical date for the Exodus is around 1450 BC so Joseph would be around 1850 BC.  There a lot more I don’t know than I know.  It’s hard to prove everything in the Bible.  But there has never been a historical or Archeological find to disprove anything in the Bible.  That is very good news.”

New Testament Scholar Source:  “Work by Kenneth Kitchen deals best with issues of the Exodus (also work by James Hoffmeier)”

Scientific Source:  “A couple of years ago, a friend at church asked about Egyptian dating, and [name left blank] & I did some studying on it. I don’t remember the details, but the basic ideas are: Traditional archeological dating is based on a set of assumptions that are taught and accepted early in school and never questioned afterward. But… there is an alternative set of dates that have been proposed, and when you use them, suddenly things begin to line up with Scripture, and you find babies buried under houses in Egypt, a period of confusion in Egypt during which the Hyksos raiders come into Egypt and rule (after the death of Pharoah & his army?), burned rubble in Jericho, the wealth of King Solomon, etc. Traditional Egyptian dating is also used to date the rest of the Middle Eastern cultures, and there is something like a 600 year “dark ages” with nothing happening… maybe that’s because the 600 years got added arbitrarily. Lots of Pharoahs reigned simultaneously, but are listed chronologically in the traditional dating, and this throws all other dates off. We have an audio series by Diana Waring called “What in the World?” that teaches world history as influenced by the hand of God in history, and she discussed it. The series is addressed to teens, home schoolers and adults. She referenced this question, and cited David Role (Rohl? can’t remember exact spelling). [Editor Note:  The name is David Rohl, as you will see in additional comments further down.]  After further checking, there were a couple of other guys that discuss it, too, but Diana’s statement is that they can’t find the evidence because they are looking in the wrong archeological place in history!

Scientific Source Additional Comments: The book I referenced is _Unwrapping the Pharoahs: How Egyptian Archeology Confirms the Biblical Timeline_ by John Ashton and David Downs. Master Books. $35. 220 pages, lots of photos, lots of text. Fits better with ancient historians like Manetho and Josephus, as well as other Middle Eastern histories (like Hittites, Syria, Israel). Removes 1st intermediate period (which they don’t have info on anyway… a missing link?). Also, there are problems with the “Sothic dating”, which relates to astronomical dating from a date on the calendar which creeps around the year, and shifts by an entire year every few hundred years. It assumes that the kings never shifted the calendar so the seasons were associated with the correct month, but there is evidence that they did several times in a particular 300 year period we know about (flooding of the Nile and farming schedule, harvest festivals, etc). Manetho’s Kings List has been “simplified” to 30 year reigns, but in actuality, some reigns were very short, & many overlapped: a fact which is suppressed by the establishment. Chapter 28: A Correct Chronology is a good summary, but many details are explored in the book. We enjoyed reading up on a subject we were never aware of before. With the wrong chronology, the Bible stories of Exodus through Kings is nowhere to be found in archeology. If you shift the dates by a few hundred years, suddenly the Bible is everywhere.

Scientific Source Final Comments: My first post referenced _A Test of Time: the Bible — From Myth to History_ by David Rohl. We never read this book, but he was referenced by Diana Waring, whose website is dianawaring.com, or you can get her series, _What in the World_ from answersingenesis.com.

One thought on “Does Extra-Biblical Information Exist That Backs Up The Book of Exodus?

  1. The Biblical date for the Exodus is a bit more recent than 1450 BCE. According to some Lubavitcher rabbis, with whom I studied Talmud in the summer of 1988, that year was the 3,300-year anniversary of Moses receiving the Torah. That translates to 1312 BCE. Granted, the Exodus out of Egypt had already occurred, since Moses received the Torah in the wilderness, but not more than 100 years prior to that. You’re off by about 100 years. That being said, if we use the Bible as a historical source, do we use the entire Bible, or only parts of it? Some pretty supernatural things happen in the Bible and, while there may be legitimate explanations for some of it – i.e. perhaps the Red (Reed?) Sea was at low tide when the Hebrews crossed, and then swelled back up by the time the Egyptians got there – much of it has no historical cross-reference. Perhaps the “plagues” can be explained with natural phenomena as well, but where is the line drawn? Was someone named Adam really the first human, with Eve created from his rib? Did people really live for 600+ years then? Other than Noah, his family, and a lot of animals, was the entire world destroyed by a flood? Where does parable meet history?

    Editor’s Note: We welcome all robust discussion, even if the stated comments don’t support our Biblical position held on the topic. This discussion will be forwarded to one of our historians and we will be posting a reply to the above comments and observations. We may be in error but we believe God’s Word is never in error. 2 Timothy 3:16-17 (NASB) states, “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.” Thanks Tom for your comments.

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