Is it true that there is no evidence for the Exodus story of Israel leaving Egypt?
There is some information on the Old Testament I found through an atheist and I think it’s very interesting. It hasn’t harmed my faith but it did raise some interesting questions. http://www.theology.edu/ugarbib.htm This link implies that the God we know as God YHWH is actually a remnant of Canaanite mythology which was as you know polytheistic. from the dates of the tablets and the fact that the Biblical exodus happened a good 140 years before these tablets it stands to reason that YHWH was introduced into Canaanite culture before they were written. Even more since Abraham lived in Canaan as a servant of God and he was rich and influential it is very likely YHWH was adopted into Canaanite culture then. However, and this is where things get dicey for me, atheists and modern archaeology mostly claim that the Biblical exodus from Egypt never happened. I know Hoffmeier and Kitchen who are the real authorities say it did but with mainstream archaeology saying “no” it is very difficult to argue this with atheists. Is there some information that I’m missing? I obviously trust the Bible as the primary source but they don’t, so how do I demonstrate that the Exodus did happen? Here, also, is the article where I found out about Hoffmeier’s theories which defend the Biblical point of view, I suspect that there is much more evidence for the Exodus than is plain to the public, but I don’t know where to look, perhaps you may point me in the right direction? http://www.ctlibrary.com/ct/1998/september7/8ta044.html
My generic answer is that the archaeological evidence for the Exodus is fairly weak, whereas the evidence for the conquest is moderately strong. We should remember that lack of evidence is not evidence of lack (ie. not having a physical object to prove that a recorded event happened is not evidence that such recorded event did not happen–otherwise we would know almost nothing of ancient history) This is true especially as regards the ancient world, and even more so with a group who were extremely poor and had no significant physical possessions, but the fact is that evidence for the Israelites in Egypt is virtually lacking. About all I know for that is the Papyrus Ipuwer, which is not a terrifically strong “proof” of the miracles of the Exodus. On the other hand, evidence for the destruction of Hazor and of Jericho at the correct time is quite strong, as is evidence from the Tel el Amarna letters, for the conquest of Canaan by Israel. We should be careful against overselling evidence. Of course, the skeptics and atheists should also be careful about overselling lack of evidence. Bias exists on both sides. However, the overall conclusion I find from studying history, archaeology and the Bible is that the Old Testament remains, by far, without peer, the most reliable and accurate record we have from the ancient world. This is the bottom line which the skeptics seem impervious to noticing. They will accept as authoritative almost anything except that which supports biblical reliability. Such bias should be born in mind.
As for the theory that YHWH is an evolved Canaananite minor god, this is based on presupposition and circular reasoning, not on evidence, and it preassumes both that there is no God, and that, YHWH, therefore, CANNOT be derived from actual experience with that God, plus the presupposition that the Bible cannot be inspired history. When we begin our investigation of a question by assuming the answer before beginning the investigation, it is predictable where we will end up. Of course, Christians have made this mistake, but atheists and other kinds of skeptics do this in blatant ways and they are generally completely oblivious to this blatant bias. There is zero evidence from the Bible that YHWH was ever considered anything other than the one, unique God and Creator of the universe. The only “evidence” that those who push this theory have is in the form of objects which show that the Israelites worshipped other gods during this time. Of course, the fact that this was happening is recorded in painful detail in the Old Testament. Again, this is NOT evidence that the Hebrew YHWH evolved from a polytheistic deity. Evidence for this theory is entirely lacking, and the conclusion comes from presupposition.