Patterns of Evidence: The Exodus

I’ve watched Patterns of Evidence: The Exodus twice. I liked it and give it five stars. Tim Mahoney, the director, does a wonderful job of presenting current archeological thought on why the Exodus did not happen, while at the same time showing overwhelming proof that it did. I recommend renting or buying it.

Spoilers ahead.

First, let’s explain the Exodus, because I realize in our post-Christian society most people don’t know what the Exodus is.

There was a prophet named Abraham. He loved God and God loved him. So, God blessed Abraham and told him that his descendants would become a great nation and inherit the lands around modern day Jerusalem.

Abraham’s grandson, Jacob had 12 sons. Jacob was renamed Israel by God, and the descendants of Jacob’s sons were grouped into 12 tribes called the 12 tribes of Israel, each tribe being called after the name of the son of Jacob they were descendants of. The most famous is the tribe of Judah that Jews and Christ are members of.

Because of a massive famine, Jacob and all his family ended up in Egypt. This was a long way from the lands that God promised Abraham his children would inherit. The twelve tribes of Israel grew very large and powerful in Egypt over their 400-year stay. The ruler of Egypt, Pharaoh, eventually enslaved them, and prevented them from returning to lands God had promised them.

Exodus refers to the God’s miraculous delivery of the 12 tribes from slavery in Egypt, and bringing them through 40-years of wandering to eventually take over their promised land from a people more powerful than them, but not more powerful than God.

Standard archeological thought is that Exodus didn’t happen. Archeologists claim that there is no proof that the 12 tribes of Israel were slaves to Rameses the Great, so the Exodus never happened. The Bible only refers to the region of the city of Rameses (Goshen) as being the residence of the 12 tribes while in Egypt, but never once says that the pharaoh of Exodus was Rameses the Great.

So the argument that Exodus didn’t happen revolves around one of the grandest Straw Man arguments of all time. The Bible says Israel was in slavery in Egypt to Pharaoh. Archeologists say the Bible says that Rameses the Great enslaved Israel. It is easy to prove that Israel was never enslaved by Ramses the Great, so Exodus is a fabricated story.

In fact, all their claims that no evidence exists rests upon their own dating of Exodus to the reign of Ramses the Great, while ignoring what the Bible states clearly. 1 Kings 6:1 states that the construction of the first Israelite temple began 480 years after Exodus. That places the Exodus two hundred years before Rameses the Great by current archeological dating.

Of course, if standard archeology ignores little things like 200-year differences in stated timelines from original sources, you have to wonder how many other tiny, 200-year mistakes they may have made by ignoring other primary sources. At this point you need to toss out dating (at least temporarily) and look at physical evidence of events, and come back to fixing timelines later.

So, if modern archeological dates are wrong, and you look merely at where the evidence is and assume that dating is slightly off in the textbooks, you can find all the hard, physical evidence needed to support the Exodus.

Archeological evidence of semites (the 12 tribes were semites) living in the city of Ramses before it was called the city of Ramses is plentiful. These semites moved out of Egypt at the end of the Middle Kingdom.

At the end of the Middle Kingdom, Egypt was destroyed by God (not the Gods) by Egyptian accounts. Also, the plagues of Egypt described in Exodus were described in a Middle Kingdom  papyrus housed in Europe.

Ramses the Great reigned after the Middle Kingdom, so all the physical evidence is there, and it all points to the Exodus as happening hundreds of years before the archeological Straw Man argument of Exodus’s timeline.

Additionally, this documentary shows commonly accepted archeological evidence from two of the cities the 12 tribes conquered. The physical evidence matches exactly with what the Bible describes. However, once again, the evidence predates standard archeological dating of the Exodus by hundreds of years.

Calendars and dates can easily get mixed up, but the physical evidence and third party accounts for the Israelite Exodus are all there.

By the way, my two favorite bits of evidence for the Exodus were the Ipuwer Papyrus and the list of Israelite slaves, both of which come from Egypt, not the Bible. Also, it is fairly obvious that the only proof that there is that Exodus didn’t happen rests on saying there is no proof that the Exodus happened when the Bible says it didn’t happen.

Again, great documentary. A must watch.