Question:

It makes me extremely uncomfortable to be the devil’s advocate regarding Exodus but just to give fair treatment to both sides of the story, I read the Wikipedia section summary of numbers, logistics, and archaeology. They all seem to have strong arguments of how the Exodus just couldn’t have happened. Do you have any sections on your website evidenceforchristianity which discuss Exodus? This surely would help.

Answer:

I have a significant amount of material on the archaeological evidence for the Exodus, both in my book “Reasons For Belief” (available at www.ipibooks.com), and in a presentation I did at York College last November.  The power point for my presentation, as well as several others on archaeology are at http://evidenceforchristianity.org/report-on-2016-icec-at-york-college-history-archaeology-and-christianity/   the audio is available through subscription (for $32/year) at the web site as well.

www.ipibooks.com
Welcome our New author: Brett Kreider along with his new book Aliens and Strangers: The Life and Letters of Peter
evidenceforchristianity.org
Last weekend we brought together eight teachers from across the US for a conference on History, Archaeology and Christianity. We are really grateful to York College …

Here is the short version of an answer to your question.  Biblical critics act as if it is obvious and proved that the Exodus did not happen, but when one looks at their evidence one discovers an extreme bias.  There is literally no evidence that the Exodus did not happen.  On the other hand, to be honest, there is also no clear-cut, smoking gun physical proof of Israel either being in Egypt or passing through the desert.  As believers it is a mistake for us to oversell our evidence.  However, as they say, lack of evidence is not evidence of lack.

For the skeptics, the lack of evidence is really the strongest argument they have against the reality of this Exodus, but this is a fantastically weak argument!!!   What would we expect to find from the Israelites in Egypt?   They were the poorest of the poor—slaves.  What would they leave behind that would be proof of their having been there?  Nothing.  Similarly, what could one expect to find left behind from their sojourning in tents in the desert?  Nothing.  The lack of evidence is what one would expect, both from an impoverished, enslaved people in Egypt and from nomadic travelers in the desert.

But it is not that there is no evidence for the conquest.  It is true that there is no physical evidence from their being in Egypt or from their traveling through the desert, but there is significant physical evidence for the conquest.  This is EXACTLY what one might expect.  When Israel started to have an impact on the political world, at the conquest of Canaan, then one might hope for (but not demand) physical evidence.  Well, this is what we find.  From the Tel el Amarna letters, discovered in the Egyptian city of el Amarna there is a request from a Canaanite official for help because the “Hapiru” were attacking his land.  This comes from the proper time frame, which is close to 1400 BC.  There is also the apparent destruction of both Jericho and Hazor in around 1400 BC.  If you read the account of the conquest, most of the cities of Canaan were occupied but not destroyed.  The only cities destroyed by Israel were Jericho, Ai and Hazor.  Ai has not been definitively located, but Jericho and Hazor both show signs of destruction at that time, whereas, archaeologists have not noted destructions of other important Canaanite cities at that time.  Many of these cities show evidence of Jewish occupation by the 13th century or earlier, but, interestingly, Megiddo does not.  This is in good agreement with the fact that the Bible reports Megiddo only being conquered by the Jews under Solomon, after which the city shows signs of Jewish occupation.

The evidence for the conquest of Canaan makes the conclusion that they left Egypt and traveled in the desert more believable. So, you should view the supposed “accepted” opinion with a massive grain of salt.  Their “evidence” is merely the lack of evidence in an area where we, logically, would not expect physical evidence.  Yet the peripheral evidence with regard to the conquest is strong.

One can add to the physical evidence for the conquest the that the Jewish people have in the Old Testament a record that attests to their slavery in Egypt and exodus.  I will be honest and admit that these accounts may not have been written down for several generations, and therefore this evidence is not as strong as physical evidence would provide, but to completely discount the recollections of the Jews themselves represents a bias as well.

John Oakes

 

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