More Proof of the Exodus
Although the Egyptian records do not describe the Exodus, there is enough evidence to verify that the Exodus did take place. This week's commentary is taken from John Sailhamer's book, Biblical Archaeology:
" The most likely candidate for the Pharaoh of the Exodus is the eighteenth dynasty king Amenophis 2. Are there historical or archaeological indications that during his reign the events of the Exodus occurred? No Egyptian records describe the Exodus. One would not expect such an account. The primary purpose of Egyptian records at that period was to cast the Pharaoh in a positive light, and the events of the Biblical narratives would do anything but that. There are, however, interesting anomalies in the reign of Amenophis 2 and his successor, Thutmosis 4, that suggest events such as those recorded in the Bible did, in fact, occur.
The military of the eighteenth dynasty in Egypt was well known in the ancient world, particularly during the time of Thutmosis 3, the predecessor of Amenophis 2. Thutmosis' military campaigns in Syria and Canaan (1500-1445 B.C.) are well documented. His first most important campaign ended with a complete victory over an alliance of Canaanite kings at Megiddo. During his eighth campaign in the year 1460 B.C., Thutmosis 3 conquered the regions of Syria as far north and east of the Euphrates River. Such exploits show that Egyptian military power was at its height just prior to the time of the Exodus.
In the reign of Amenophis 2, Thutmosis' successor, however, Egyptian military power seems to have suffered a considerable setback. The Pharaoh launched only two military campaigns in his life. During his reign, Egypt's borders receded from the Euphrates River to well within the confines of the land of Canaan. The significance of such a drastic reversal of military power may have been the effect of the events of the Exodus, particularly the loss of a large portion of the Egyptian strike force in the waters of the Red Sea.
Another possible indication of the events of the Exodus can be seen in a curious inscription set up in front of the famous Sphinx. In the inscription, Thutmosis 4, the son and successor of Amenophis 2, tells of a promise made to him by the Sphinx. In a dream as a young man, the Sphinx promised to give the kingship to Thutmosis 4. What this suggests is that Thutmosis 4 did not have a natural claim to the throne; he had to appeal to a divine promise. Perhaps Thutmosis 4 was not the heir apparent because of the death of an elder brother. If that were the case, it would accord well with the Biblical account of the death of the firstborn son of the Pharaoh of the Exodus. "
The timing of the Biblical narrative of the Exodus does coincide with Egyptian History. Another narrative about Jacob's son, Joseph, in the Bible also coincides with History. This is also quoted from John H. Sailhamer's book Biblical Archaeology:
" Other documents from the time of the patriarchs also reveal a deep insight into the social customs of the age of the patriarchs. When we have opportunity to compare details in the Biblical narratives with those that have come to light in ancient documents, we often find truly remarkable correspondence. One such detail is the price for which Joseph was sold into slavery in Genesis 37:28. The Biblical narrative records the price as twenty shekels of silver. From the laws of the Babylonian king Hammurapi, a contemporary of Joseph, we know that the price of a slave was precisely twenty shekels. At an earlier period, the price was somewhat lower, ten shekels. Later the price increased to forty, fifty, and eventually, 120 shekels (Kenneth A. Kitchen, The Bible and the Ancient Orient). It is unlikely that a later writer could have guessed accurately the price of a slave in Joseph's day. "
October 29, 2006
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