Evidence of Exodus

By Jeff Laird

Is there any tangible, non-Biblical support for the story of the Exodus? Or has archaeology proven such a thing never happened? Many critics claim there is no evidence of large slave populations in Egypt, or bones of Israelites in the desert near Sinai, from the necessary time periods. As usual, those claims have no basis in fact, and there is substantial archaeological evidence which fits nicely with the Biblical narrative.

Note, of course, the phrase “ancient historical proof” is almost a contradiction in terms. This is especially true when the events in question are more than three thousand years past. The best a reasonable person can hope to find is a combination of supportive documentation and tangible remnants. The scriptures are one written record, and, as it turns out, there is other evidence available, even for the Exodus, for those who aren’t committed to rejecting it out of hand.

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We need to be especially careful about the difference between traditions, assumptions, and Biblical statements. For instance, fictionalized accounts such as The Prince of Egypt and The Ten Commandments often use “Rameses” as Pharaoh’s name. But the Bible never identifies Exodus’ Pharaoh using that name; that association is a product of tradition and assumption. If a person looks for evidence of the Exodus during the reign of Ramesses II, they’re not actually vetting the Bible, they’re chasing a pop culture assumption. As a result, many people are looking not only in the wrong places, but in the wrong time periods.

Dating, then, becomes the biggest sticking point in finding evidence for the Exodus. Not every culture uses the same type of calendar, not all calendars are consistent, and not all ancient events are easily dated, even when there’s considerable evidence that they really happened. Egyptian chronology is notoriously erratic. For example, it’s not unusual to see Egyptian rulers who ruled simultaneously to be listed as ruling in sequence. Even experts in Egyptian archaeology disagree about dating certain events, so it’s not unfair to say historical claims, vis-á-vis Egyptian chronology, have to be taken with a grain of salt…

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