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By Terrell Clemmons
For something like 1500 years of Western Civilization, and going back another roughly 1500 prior to that in Jewish history, the Exodus narrative of Moses leading the Israelites out of Egypt was more or less accepted as a historical event. But today, mainstream archeology says it probably didn’t happen. Yes, some artifacts have turned up here and there that could be interpreted as tangible corroborations of the biblical text, but to draw those connections would be “a very weak affair,” in the words of Egyptologist Manfred Bietak of the University of Vienna.
Filmmaker Tim Mahoney was stunned to hear this. Raised a Christian, he began to ask, Did Jesus get it wrong? Has the whole of Judeo-Christianity believed a lie for near on three millennia? He needed to know. So he set out on a quest.
He took a closer look at the details of the biblical account. The story of the exodus really begins centuries earlier when God called Abram (whom he would later rename Abraham) out of Ur of the Chaldees, as recorded in the Old Testament book of Genesis.
But Mahoney focused in on the Exodus narrative, which picks up with the family of Abraham’s grandson Jacob, whom God had renamed Israel. He identified a sequence of six noted “events” that could be placed somewhere on a timeline of Egyptian history:
- Israel’s family arrived in Egypt, after his favored son Joseph had preceded them by about twenty years.
- Israel’s descendants multiplied greatly.
- Pharaoh, out of fear over this multiplication, began to oppress Israel, and they became enslaved to Pharaoh in Egypt.
- After several generations, about 400 years, God wrought a great judgment on Egypt.
- Moses led Israel out of Egypt, leaving Egypt all but destroyed.
- About forty years later, Israel began to take possession of the land of Canaan, beginning with the conquest of the highly fortified city of Jericho.
A truly scientific approach, Mahoney thought, would be to look for patterns of evidence that might indicate whether or not these events actually took place…
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