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EXODUS, THE ĕk’ sə dəs (Gr. ἔξοδος, G2016, a going forth). The occasion upon which the Hebrews left Egypt under Moses.
The main Biblical data.
Then the Hebrews were instructed to turn back from the wilderness-edge (i.e., instead of continuing eastward), so that the Pharaoh might be taught a sharp lesson in seeking to subdue them (
At this juncture came the crossing through the wind-divided waters of the “sea” (
They were explicitly kept away from the way of the land of the Philistines, the direct Egypt-to-Gaza route near the Mediterranean coast, and so would have to take a more southerly route within the Sinai peninsula. On this consideration, pattern A is more meaningful than B, as A permits the Hebrews simply to continue in a southeasterly direction for Sinai, while B would land them back on the forbidden N coast route unless they further performed a sharp U-turn (not reflected by the narratives) to bring them back S again for Sinai.
Topographical background evidence.
The starting point, Rameses, would seem beyond any reasonable doubt to have been located either at Tanis/Zoan or near Qantir 27 km. (seventeen m.) SSW. Although Tanis has hitherto been the more popular identification, Qantir would appear to be preferable on both archeological and topographical grounds. None of the quantity of Ramesside monuments at Tanis were actually found in place—all had been reused by later kings who appear to have brought them as quarry-material from elsewhere. At Qantir, evidence of palaces, the houses of high officials, temples and houses for military personnel has been found of a kind that is clearly not brought from elsewhere or (like a well of Ramses II) is definitely in situ. Geographically, Raamses (Egyp. Pi-Ramessē) in Egyp. documents stood on the “Waters of Ra” in a fertile district—true of Qantir, but not of Tanis. See Raamses, Rameses (city) RAAMSES (city). Therefore, with a high degree of probability, one may place Rameses as the starting point of the Exodus in the district of Qantir-Khatana. This fits well with the general location of the land of Goshen which was also in some measure the “land of Rameses” (
From a Raamses at Qantir, two routes lay before the Hebrews, a fact perhaps reflected by an inscr. of an earlier epoch (12th dynasty) from near Qantir and mentioning the settlement Ro-waty, “Mouth of the Two Roads,” i.e., the place where these roads diverged: text in S. Adam, Annales du Service des Antiquités de l’ Egypte, LVI (1959), 216, 223 and pl. 9; cf. Kees, Mitteilungen, Deutschen Archäol. Instituts, Kairo, XVIII (1962), 1-13, and van Seters, The Hyksos (1966), 141. The first road thence was the main route to Pal. going NE to Qantara and ancient Sile (Tjaru) and so by the way of the land of the Philistines to Gaza and Canaan, but this was forbidden to the Hebrews (
The second day’s march was perhaps briefer (fifteen to eighteen m.?), prob. ENE toward the desert now E of the Suez Canal and the El Gisr ridge, and so to the wilderness proper, named Etham or Shur. Etham is a name that lacks any convincing identification in the Egyp. texts. It can hardly be Egyp. khetem (ḫtm) “fort,” because Heb. ’aleph-breathing is a different sound, much weaker than Egyp. ḫ. Nor is it the ’Idm of Papyrus Anastasi VI, 55 (ANET, 259a), as Heb. t appears in Egyp. as t, not d. ’Idm is most likely Edom. However, within the Biblical data, the tacit equation of Etham with Shur (
Therefore, it is possible to suggest that when the Hebrews “turned back” (
Pi-ha-hiroth cannot be closely identified geographically at present, but may be attested in Egyp. sources as Pa-ḥir, “the Ḥir-waters” (a canal or lake). In Papyrus Anastasi III, 2:9, Pa-ḥir is set in parallel with Shihor (old Pelusiac Nile-arm), producing natron and (
One may suggest that the famous crossing of the waters took place somewhere in the region of the present Lake Ballah; the phenomenon of the winds and waters is not unknown in modern times (cf. Ali Shafei, Bulletin de la Société royale de Géographie d’Ēgypte, XXI , 278 and figs. 10, 11). Going on SE and S from such a crossing, the Hebrews under Moses would then find themselves back in the wilderness of Shur and Etham. Three days later (or, on the third day?) they reached Marah, which on such a time scale might well be as far S as the traditional ’Ayun Musa, some nine m. SE of Suez, on the Sinai side of the Gulf.
Naturally, the foregoing suggestion of a possible route of the Exodus remains in some degree tentative, but it will serve to show how well the extant Biblical data fits into the background setting as they stand; one has no need of an appeal to documentary hypotheses to solve the problem, like that offered in a welldocumented study by Cazelles in RB, LXII (1955), 321-364.
During the later 19th cent. and the first half of this cent., many dates have been suggested for the Heb. Exodus from Egypt. Two in particular have enjoyed some prominence. An “early” date for the Exodus placed that event in the mid-18th dynasty under Amenophis II c. 1440 b.c., reckoning his predecessor Thutmose III as pharaoh of the oppression; the initial conquest of Canaan under Joshua then came c. 1400 b.c. (temp. Amenophis III). The main basis of this scheme was a linear interpretation of the 480 years between the Exodus and Solomon’s Temple (
data and background
Specific OT data.
was from Egypt; the OT accounts do not name the Egyp. kings involved with the Hebrews, but merely refer to them as “Pharaoh.” One more specific datum is the names of the “store-cities” in
Pithom (q.v.) lay somewhere in the Wadi Tumilat, in the SE Delta. There are two possible sites: Tell el Maskhuta and Tell el Rotab. Whichever is correct, the result archeologically is the same. Both chance finds and regular excavations have produced virtually nothing before the 19th dynasty at either site; see the lists in Porter & Moss, Topographical Bibliography of Ancient Egyptian Hieroglyphic Texts, Reliefs and Paintings, IV (1934), 53-55. Impressive monuments of Ramses II and later times came from both sites. Hence, it would be more natural for the Hebrews to be engaged on work at Pithom (whichever be its site) under Ramses II when major monuments were installed there, than under the 18th dynasty kings who appear to have manifested almost no interest in the Wadi Tumilat region (Porter & Moss, op. cit., IV, 53, have only some usurped traces at Gebel Hassa).
The situation for Raamses is similar. The two possible sites are either Tanis or Qantir, with archeological and geographical data increasingly favoring the latter, as noted above (Route). Again, the remains recovered from both locations tell a similar story. Middle Kingdom and Hyksos-age relics are followed by nothing else until the mass of monuments of the 19th and 20th Ramesside dynasties, see again Porter & Moss, op. cit., IV, 13-26 (Tanis) and 9, 10, 26, 27 (Qantir area, plus “Horbeit” monuments really from Qantir, cf. L. Habachi, Annales du Service des Antiquités de l’Égypte, LII , 514-526). So many of the Ramesside works are original (usurpations being from the Middle Kingdom) that one cannot support the theory that Ramses II had merely usurped those of the 18th dynasty, for at neither Tanis nor Qantir was there anything of consequence from that epoch for him to usurp. It would appear that Sethos I began the new residence city, but that Ramses II took it over and by his vast works made it his own in fact as well as name. The appellation of “store-cities” applied to Pithom and Raamses was prob. very apposite. Each stood on a main route from Egypt to Pal., and at Raamses the “Horbeit” stelae (so miscalled) show the existence there of military contingents, requiring arsenals and stores. Raamses was at once a summer residence, a base for military campaigns, and an administrative center alongside Memphis and Thebes.
In relation to Pithom and Raamses, there is good reason to place the Exodus no earlier than the early years of Ramses II, i.e., after either 1304 or 1290 b.c., the two alternative dates for that king’s accession. The term “land of Rameses” (
Other external data.
The other limiting datum comes from outside the OT, from Egypt itself; the so-called Israel stela (cf. ANET, 376-378 and refs.). This inscr. is dated to the 5th year of Merneptah, successor of Ramses II, i.e., to either 1234 or 1220 b.c. (depending on the latter’s date). Its main theme is to commemorate Merneptah’s great victory in smashing a massive Libyan invasion of Egypt, but at the end he also claimed that the Hittites were pacified, Canaan purged, Ascalon conquered, Gezer held, Yenoam made as if non-existent, Israel destroyed as without seed (either grain or offspring), and Pal. (Khuru) is like a widow. These names are specific and concrete, not just vague boasts, and would seem clearly to place Israel squarely in W Pal. [by Merenptah’s 5th year]. These names would reflect a brief Palestinian campaign of Merneptah before his Libyan war. These apparently clear inferences and the data on which they are based have been doubted by some, but doubts of Merneptah’s veracity can be discounted in the light of a less famous monument. On a stela in the temple of Amada in Nubia, Merneptah has a specially elaborate titulary, calling himself in parallel clauses “Binder of Gezer” and “seizer of the Libyans.” Again, Gezer should reflect a specific event. “Seizer of Libya” is a clear allusion to Merneptah’s Libyan victory, and so one may legitimately expect an equally real exploit to appear in the parallel clause—here, the capture of Gezer in Pal., and so a campaign there in the course of which the Egyp. forces happened to brush with some Israelites, these already being in W Pal.
Occasionally, scepticism has been expressed as to whether the name on the Israel stela is actually Israel and not someone (or place) else, e.g., Jezreel, with Eissfeldt, CAH2, II, ch. XXVIa (Palestine in Time of 19th Dynasty , 14). Such doubts are totally unjustified, and such a reading is highly improbable in view of the close correspondence to the Egyp. term and the Heb. for “Israel” (cf. Kitchen, Tyndale Bulletin, XVII , 90-92, and Ancient Orient and b.c. Thus, the Exodus, forty years of wilderness sojourn and beginning of the conquest is best located on the evidence so far within the seventy years between 1304-1234 b.c. or 1290-1220 b.c., 59, note 12). Hence, one may suggest that the initial phase of the conquest under Joshua could not well have begun any later than shortly before 1234 or 1220
Some further indirect confirmation of this result may perhaps be drawn from reliefs of Ramses II as Luxor temple at Thebes, illustrating a campaign in Moab. He records the capture of “Bwtrt in the land of Moab” (? later Raba-Batora), and of Daibon (i.e., Dibon of Mesha-stela fame). See Kitchen, JEA, L (1964), 47-70, esp. 50, 53, 55, 63-67, 69, 70. It is far easier to assume that Ramses II raided Moab before the Hebrews entered that area, than to envisage the pharaoh’s forces bursting into a district (e.g., Dibon northwards already populated by Israelite tribes [Reuben, Gad, Manasseh], cf.
Exodus and conquest
Data in Palestine.
With these results one may correlate the Palestinian evidence. In Trans-Jordan, the early Iron-age kingdoms of Edom and Moab seem to have become real entities politically, ringed with forts, from c. 1300 b.c. onward, in contrast to the earlier conditions with the area mainly left to nomadic tribes and occasional settlements on some routes (cf. N. Glueck, Other Side of the Jordan , and further references, etc., in Kitchen, Ancient Orient and Old Testament, pp. 43, note 40 and 61 note 16). Thus, for Edom and Moab to oppose Israel (
In W Pal., the evidence for several sites would seem to agree with this result. This is so at Tell Beit Mirsim (? Debir), Lachish (Tell ed-Duweir), Bethel (Beitin), Tell el Hesi, and esp. Hazor (Tell el Qedah). The final destructions at Canaanite Debir and Lachish could represent the exploits of Caleb after Joshua’s campaigning. An important point is the change of culture visible when some of these sites were reoccupied (refs., Kitchen, op. cit., 66/68 notes 37, 45). In this picture, only Ai and Jericho appear to cause real difficulty. But there is no proof that Et Tell (destroyed c. 2400 b.c.) is Ai rather than Beth-Aven (see Grintz, Biblica, XLII , 201-216), and the real Late Bronze Age Ai may yet await discovery. At Jericho, heavy denudation of the long-unoccupied mound has apparently destroyed nearly all of the Late Bronze levels, along with much of the Middle Bronze. Hence, the Palestinian evidence is incomplete but is not incompatible with the other data.
Attempts to utilize references to the Habiru have proved rather sterile, because the term is too wide, ranging in ancient sources from c. 1800 to 1150 b.c., over the whole area of Mesopotamia, Asia Minor, Syria-Palestine and Egypt; and conditions in the Amarna tablets do not correspond with those in the , and so throw no direct light on the conquest period.
On specific points, see above in text. An outline review of older views will be found in C. de Wit, The Date and Route of the Exodus (1960). For a compact but fully-documented treatment of the date of the Exodus, see K. A. Kitchen, Ancient Orient and Old Testament (1966), 57-75.
International Standard Bible Encyclopedia (1915)
I. THE ROUTE
1. The Starting-Point 2. Rameses to Succoth 3. Succoth to Etham 4. Passage of the Sea 5. Other Views of the Route
II. THE DATE
1.Chronology 2. Date of Conquest of Palestine 3. Date of Exodus 4. Other Views 5. Astronomical Calculations 6. Relation between Date of Exodus and Date of Patriarchs 7. Agreement between Monuments and Old Testament Chronology 8. A Text of Minepthah
III. THE THEORY OF LEPSIUS
1. 1st Argument: City Rameses 2. 2nd Argument: Manetho’s Statements 3. Relation of Manetho’s Stories to the Exodus 4. Greek and Latin Writings 5. Condition of Egypt under Minepthah 6. Explanations of Minepthah’s Statements (1) Pithore was Heroopolis (2) Rameses II not Named in Judges (3) Some Hebrews Were never in Egypt
IV. THE NUMBERS
1. Colenso’s Criticism of Large Number 2. Increase of Population 3. Number a Corruption of Original Statement 4. Review
I. The Route.
1. The Starting-Point:
On the 14th Abib (early in April) the Hebrews were gathered at Rameses (
2. Rameses to Succoth:
We are not told how many days were occupied on the way from Rameses to SUCCOTH (which see), though the general impression is that the stages mentioned (
3. Succoth to Etham:
The next march (
4. Passage of the Sea:
5. Other Views of the Route:
This view of the Exodus route is practically the same as advocated by Dr. Robinson, by Dr. E. Naville, by Sir S. Warren, by Sir W. Dawson, and by others who have visited the region in question. The view advocated by Brugsch, according to which the sea crossed was a lagoon near Pelusium, has found no supporters, because it directly conflicts with the statement that Israel did not follow the shore road to Philistia, but went by the wilderness of the Red Sea. Another theory (see Sinai), according to which the "Red Sea" always means the Gulf of ’Aqabah, is equally discarded by most writers of experience, because the distance from Egypt to Elath on this gulf is 200 miles, and the Israelites could not have traversed that distance in four marches, especially as the route has hardly any water along it in springtime. As detailed above, the route offers no difficulties that would discredit the historical character of the narrative.
II. The Date.
1. Old Testament Chronology:
The actual statements of the, giving parallel reigns from the time of Solomon’s death down to the fixed date of the fall of Samaria in 722 BC, place the foundation of the Temple within a few years of 1000 BC. It is true that this interval is reduced, by about 30 years, by scholars who accept the very doubtful identification of Ahabu of Sir-lai with Ahab of Israel; but this theory conflicts with the fact that Jehu was contemporary with Shalmaneser II of Assyria; and, since we have no historical account of the chronology of Hebrew kings other than that of the Old Testament, for this period, and no monumental notice of Israel in Egypt, or of the Exodus, we must either adopt Old Testament chronology or regard the dates in question as being unknown.
2. Date of Conquest of Palestine:
We have several statements which show that the Hebrew writers believed the conquest of Palestine by Joshua to have occurred early in the 15th century BC, and this date fully agrees with the most recent results of monumental study of the history of the XVIIIth (or Theban) Dynasty in Egypt, as about to be shown, and with the fact that Israel is noticed as being already in Palestine in the 5th year of Minepthah, the successor of Rameses II. In
3. Date of Exodus:
The popular belief that many of the judges were contemporary does not agree with these facts, and is indeed in conflict with ten definite statements in Jgs. In
4. Other Views:
As regards this date, it should be remarked that theory of Lepsius, which has been adopted by Brugsch and by many writers who accept his authority, is not accepted by every scholar. E. de Bunsen supposed that the Exodus occurred early in the times of the XVIIIth Dynasty; Sir Peter le Page Renouf said that "no materials have yet been discovered for fixing historical dates in periods of Egyptian history as far back as the Hebrew Exodus"--which was true when he wrote. Professor J. Lieblein supposes the Exodus to have occurred late in the time of Amenophis III--also of the XVIIIth Dynasty (see Proc. Biblical Arch. Soc., 1890, 157-60; 1892, 60-62; 1898, 277; 1899, 53; 1907, 214). Dr. Hommel has also recently declared in favor of the view that the Exodus took place under the XVIIIth Dynasty (Expository Times, February, 1899). Lepsius asserted that the Exodus occurred in 1314 BC, being the 15th year of Minepthah; but this is generally regarded as at least half a century too early for the year in question, and Israel was not in Egypt even ten years earlier in his reign.
5. Astronomical Calculations:
The approximate dates given by Brugsch for the XVIIIth and XIXth Dynasties are very close to those which can be deduced from notices of contemporary kings of Babylon (History of Egypt, II, 314). The later dates which Mahler based on certain astronomical calculations of the French astronomer Blot (Academie des inscriptions, March 30, 1831, 597, 602-4) are not accepted by other Egyptologists. Brugsch says that on this question, "scientific criticism has not yet spoken its last word" (Hist Egypt, I, 36). Renouf (Proc. Biblical Arch. Soc., December, 1892, 62) more definitely states that "unfortunately there is nothing on Egyptian documents which have as yet come down to us which can, by astronomical calculations, be made to result in a date." This judgment appears to be justified by recent discoveries, since Mahler’s dates are about a century too late, as shown by the known history of the Kassites of Babylon. Biot’s calculations were based on recorded observations of the rising of Sirius just before the sun, in certain years of certain Egyptian kings. But Sirius is not in the plane of the earth’s orbit, and its rising is not constant in retardation. The "heliacal" rising is now about 2 1/2 min. later each year, but about the date in question the retardation was about 12 min., so that a cycle of 1,461 years cannot be used by simple addition. Blot also assumed that the Egyptian observations were as accurate as those made by a modern astronomer with a telescope, whereas, when using the naked eye, the Egyptian observer may well have been a day wrong, which would make a difference of 120 years in the date, or even more. The Babylonian chronology thus gives a far safer basis than do these doubtful observations. On the basis of Biot’s calculations the Exodus has been placed in 1214 BC, or even (by Dr. Flinders Petrie) in 1192 BC (Proc. Biblical Arch. Soc., December, 1896, 248). He thus cuts off more than three centuries in the period of the Judges, many of whom he regards as contemporary. Lepsius in like manner, in order to establish his date, accepted the chronology of the Talmud, which is notoriously 166 years too late for the known date of the fall of Samaria, and he endeavored (while rejecting the Old Testament statement as to the 480 years) to base himself on the number of generations before the Exodus, whereas it is well known that the Hebrew genealogies often give only the better-known names and skip several links.
6. Relation between Date of Exodus and Date of Patriarchs:
As regards the relation between the earlier date for the Exodus (about 1520 BC) and the chronology of the Hebrew patriarchs, the Hebrew text gives an interval of 645 years, and the Greek text of 430 years between the Exodus and the call of Abraham; and the call would thus be dated about 2165 BC or 1950 BC. Abraham is very generally held to have been contemporary with Hammurabi of Babylon (Amraphel), whose accession dates (according to Dr. F. Peiser) in 2139 BC. Dr. Hommel and Mr. King prefer a later date, about 1950 BC, though Nabunahid (the last king of Babylon) places Hammurabi about 2140 BC. The longer reckoning is reconcilable with the Hebrew text, and the shorter with the Greek text, of Gen, without disturbing the approximate date for the Exodus which has been advocated above.
7. Agreement between Monuments and Old Testament Chronology:
There is in fact no discrepancy between the actual results of monumental study and the chronology of the Old Testament. If the Exodus occurred under Thothmes IV, it would have been useless for Israel to attempt the entrance into Palestine by the "way of the land of the Philistines," because at Gaza, Ashkelon and in other cities, the road was still held by forces of Egyptian chariots, which had been established by Thothmes III. But about 40 years later the rebellion of the Amorites against Egypt began, in the time of the Egyptian general Yankhamu, and general chaos resulted in Southern Palestinegarrison at Jerusalem (Amarna Tablets, Berlin, No. 102) was withdrawn in his time--about 1480 BC--and it is then (numbers 102-3-4-6, 199) that a fierce people coming from Seir, and called the ’Abiri or Chabiri, are noticed by the Amorite king of Jerusalem as "destroying all the rulers" of the country. They are not named in any of the other Amarna letters (the term gum-gaz, or "man of war," though once applying probably to them, being used of other warriors as well); and the name is geographical for they are called (no. 199) "people of the land of the ’Abiri." The first sign has the guttural sounds ’A and Chronicles, and has not the sound K, which has been wrongly attributed to it, making the word to mean Kabiri, "or great ones." Nor can it be rendered "allies," for it is the name of a people, and quite another word is used for "allies" in this correspondence. The date agrees with that mentioned in the Old Testament for the Hebrew conquest of Palestine, and the only objection to the identification of the ’Abiri (who attacked Ajalon, Lachish, Ashkelon and other cities) with the Hebrews is, that it upsets theory of Lepsius and the popular views as to the date of the Exodus which he maintained.
8. A Text of Minepthah:
Nor is this the only evidence which destroys his theory; for Dr. Flinders Petrie (Contemporary Review, May, 1896) has published an equally important text of the 5th year of Minepthah, from Thebes. A slab of black syenite, bearing this text, was reused from a temple of Amenophis III. In it Minepthah boasts of his conquest of the invaders who--as elsewhere stated- -attacked the Delta, and penetrated to Belbeis and Heliopolis. He says that "Sutekh (the Hittite god) has turned his back on their chief"; "the Hittites are quieted, Pa-Kan’ana is ravaged with all violence"--this town being otherwise known to have been near Tyre--"the people of Israel is spoiled, it has no seed"; "Ruten has become as the widows of the land of Egypt." Thus, so far from the Exodus having occurred in the 15th year of Minepthah, Israel is noticed 10 years earlier in connection with a place near Tyre with Hittites yet farther North. Even if the Hebrews had only just arrived, they must have left Egypt 40 years before--in the reign of Rameses II--if we attach any value to Old Testament statements; and all the dates variously given by followers of Lepsius are quite upset; whereas the notice of the ’Abiri, two centuries before Minepthah’s accession, is quite in accord with this allusion to Israel, as well as with Old Testament chronology.
III. The Theory of Lepsius.
The reasons which influenced Lepsius require, however, to be stated, and the objections to a date for the Hebrew Conquest about 1480 BC (or a little later) to be considered, since theory that Rameses II was the Pharaoh of the oppression, and Minepthah the Pharaoh of the Exodus is often said to be a secure result of monumental studies, whereas it is really not so, because the only monumental allusions to Israel and the Hebrews are those just mentioned.
1. 1st Argument: City Rameses:
The arguments adduced in favor of the later date are as follows: In the first place, Lepsius (Letters from Egypt, 1842-44) held that no city called Rameses could have been so named, or built by the Hebrews, before the reign of Rameses II, and he placed the site at Heroopolis. This was a very doubtful assumption (see Raamses), and his identification of the city is now abandoned. The theory always was vitiated by an objection which he seems to have overlooked: for the "land of Rameses" is noticed in the time of Jacob (
2. 2nd Argument: Manetho’s Statements:
The second argument is based on the account by Manetho of the expulsion of leprous and unclean tribes from Egypt. Manetho was an Egyptian priest who wrote about 268 BC, and who evidently hated the Jews. His account only reaches us secondhand through Josephus (Apion, I, 14, 15, 26-31), this Hebrew author rejecting it as fabulous. Manetho apparently said that, after the Hyksos kings had ruled for 511 years, and had fortified Avaris (see Zoan), they agreed with King Thummosis to leave Egypt, and went through the desert to Jerusalem, being afraid of the Assyrians (who had no power in Palestine at this time). He continued to relate that, after Armesses Miamon (Rameses II) had ruled 66 years, he was succeeded by an Amenophis whom Josephus calls a "fictitious king"--and rightly so since the name does not occur in the XIXth Dynasty. Apparently Minepthah was meant--though perhaps confused with Amenophis II--and he is said by Manetho to have sent the leprous people to quarries East of the Nile, but to have allowed them later to live in Avaris where the shepherds had been. They were induced by Osarsiph, a priest of Heliopolls, to renounce the Egyptian gods, and this Osarsiph Manetho identified with Moses. They then induced the shepherds who had been expelled by Thummosis to return from Jerusalem to Avaris, and Amenophis fled to Memphis and Ethiopia. His son Rhampses (apparently Rameses III is meant) was sent later to expel the shepherd and polluted people, whom he met at Pelusium and pursued into Syria. This story Josephus discredits, remarking: "I think therefore that I have made it sufficiently evident that Manetho, while he followed his ancient records, did not much mistake the truth of the history, but that, when he had recourse to fabulous stories without any certain author, he either forged them himself without any probability, or else gave credit to some men who spoke so out of their ill will to us"--a criticism sounder than that of Lepsius, who prefers the libelous account of a prejudiced Egyptian priest of the 3rd century BC, identifying Moses with a renegade priest of Heliopolis named Osarsiph, to the ancient Hebrew records in the Bible.
3. Relation of Manetho’s Stories to the Exodus:
A thread of truth underlay Manetho’s stories, but it has nothing to do with the Exodus, and the details to be found on Egyptian monuments do not agree with Manetho’s tale. The Hyksos rulers were not expelled by any Thothmes, but by Aahmes who took Avaris about 1700 BC, and who reopened the quarries of the Arabian chain. Minepthah, about 1265 BC, was attacked in Egypt by Aryan tribes from the North, who had nothing to do with Hyksos chiefs, being Lycians, Sardians and Cilicians. He repelled them, but they again attacked Rameses III (about 1200 BC), and were again driven to the North. No mention of Israel occurs in connection with any of these events.
4. Greek and Latin Writers:
The story of the leprous Jews was, however, repeated by other Greek writers. Cheremon (see Josephus, Apion I, 32) says that Rameses, the son of Amenophis, defeated and expelled a diseased people led against him, at Pelusium, by Tisithen and Petesiph, whom he identified with Moses and Joseph. Lysimachus said that a scabby people were led by Moses through the desert by Judea and Jerusalem in the time of Bocchoris (735 BC). Diodorus Siculus (Fr. of Bk, 34) repeats the tale, about 8 BC, saying that lepers were driven out of Egypt, and were led by Moses who founded Jerusalem, and "established by law all their wicked customs and practices," and again (Fr. of Bk, 40) that strangers in Egypt caused a plague by their impurity, and being driven out were led by Moses. Tacitus, about 100 AD (Hist, v. ii), believed the Jews to have fled from Crete to Libya and, being expelled from Egypt, to have been led by their "Captains Jerusalem and Judah." Again he says (v. iii) that under Bocchoris (735 BC) there was sickness in Egypt, and that the infected being driven out were led by Moses, and reached the site of their temple on the 7th day.
5. Condition of Egypt under Minepthah:
No true critic of the present time is likely to prefer these distorted accounts of the Exodus, or any of the Greek and Roman calumnies leveled against the hated Jews, to the simple narration of the Exodus in the Bible. The historic conditions in the 5th year of Minepthah were very different from those at the time of Moses. The invaders of Egypt reached Belbeis and Heliopolis (see Brugsch, History of Egypt, II, 117), and Minepthah states, in his text on the wall of the temple of Amon at Thebes, that he had to defend Hellopolls and Memphis against his foes from the East. The region was then "not cultivated but was left as pasture for cattle, on account of the foreigners. It lay waste from the time of our forefathers." The kings of upper Egypt remained in their entrenchments, and the kings of lower Egypt were besieged in their cities by warriors, and had no mercenaries to oppose them. But Israel, as Minepthah himself has told us now, was in Palestine, not in Egypt, in this year of his reign; and, far from desiring to expel Asiatic pastoral peoples, the same Pharaoh encouraged their immigration into the region of Goshen (see Pithom) laid waste by the Aryan raid.
6. Explanations of Minepthah’s Statements:
Objections to the view that the Exodus occurred two centuries and a half before the reign of Minepthah began, and attempts to explain away the statements on his monuments require some notice.
(1) Pithom was Heroopolis. The first of these objections is due to the belief that Pithom was Heroopolis, and was a city founded by Rameses II; but this (see Pithom) is too hazardous a conclusion to suffice for the entire neglect of Old Testament chronology which it involves, since the site of this city is still very doubtful.
(2) Rameses II Not Named in Judges.
A second objection is made, that the Old Testament shows complete ignorance of Egyptian history if it makes Rameses II contemporary with Jud because he is not named in that book. But Old Testament references to foreign history are always very slight, while on the other hand it is quite probable that there are allusions, in this book, to the events which took place in the reigns of Rameses II, and of Minepthah. The Hebrews were then confined to the mountains (
(3) Some Hebrews Were Never in Egypt.
But another explanation of the presence of Israel in this year on the line of Minepthah’s pursuit of these tribes after their defeat has been suggested, namely, that some of the Hebrews never went to Egypt at all. This of course contradicts the account in the Pentateuch (
IV. The Numbers.
1. Colenso’s Criticism of Large Number:
The historic difficulty with respect to the Exodus does not lie in the account of plagues natural to Egypt even now, nor in the crossing of the Red Sea, but in a single statement as to the numbers of Israel (
2. Increase of Population:
3. Number a Corruption of Original Statement:
It should not be forgotten that variations in numbers are very commonly found in various texts, VSS, and parallel passages of the Old Testament. Thus for instance (
The general questions of the credibility of that history of the Exodus which is given us in the Pentateuch, and of the approximate date of the event, have been treated above in the light of the most recent monumental information. No reference has yet been found in Egyptian records to the presence of Israel in the Delta, though the Hebrews are noticed as present in Palestine before the 5th year of Minepthah. The Pharaohs as a rule--like other kings--only recorded their victories, and no doubt reckoned Israel only as a tribe of those "hostile Shasu" (or "nomads") whom the Theban kings of the XVIIIth Dynasty drove back into Asia. It would be natural that a disaster at the Red Sea should not be noticed in their proud records still extant on the temple walls in Egypt.
See also WANDERINGS OF ISRAEL.