The Exodus: Fact or Fiction? Evidence of Israel’s Exodus from Egypt
Biblical Archaeology Society
Is the Biblical Exodus fact or fiction?
This is a loaded question. Although Biblical scholars and archaeologists argue about various aspects of Israel’s Exodus from Egypt, many of them agree that the Exodus occurred in some form or another.
The question “Did the Exodus happen” then becomes “When did the Exodus happen?” This is another heated question. Although there is much debate, most people settle into two camps: They argue for either a 15th-century B.C.E. or 13th-century B.C.E. date for Israel’s Exodus from Egypt.
The article “Exodus Evidence: An Egyptologist Looks at Biblical History” from the May/June 2016 issue of Biblical Archaeology Review1 wrestles with both of these questions—“Did the Exodus happen?” and “When did the Exodus happen?” In the article, evidence is presented that generally supports a 13th-century B.C.E. Exodus during the Ramesside Period, when Egypt’s 19th Dynasty ruled.
The article examines Egyptian texts, artifacts and archaeological sites, which demonstrate that the Bible recounts accurate memories from the 13th century B.C.E. For instance, the names of three places that appear in the Biblical account of Israel’s Exodus from Egypt correspond to Egyptian place names from the Ramesside Period (13th–11th centuries B.C.E.). The Bible recounts that, as slaves, the Israelites were forced to build the store-cities of Pithom and Ramses. After the ten plagues, the Israelites left Egypt and famously crossed the Yam Suph (translated Red Sea or Reed Sea), whose waters were miraculously parted for them. The Biblical names Pithom, Ramses and Yam Suph (Red Sea or Reed Sea) correspond to the Egyptian place names Pi-Ramesse, Pi-Atum and (Pa-)Tjuf. These three place names appear together in Egyptian texts only from the Ramesside Period. The name Pi-Ramesse went out of use by the beginning of Egypt’s Third Intermediate Period, which began around 1085 B.C.E., and does not reappear until much later…