Debunking "The Exodus Decoded"

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Excerpt The Exodus Decoded made its US debut August 20 on the History Channel. Produced and narrated by Simcha Jacobovici, the film purportedly provides new evidence to demonstrate the Exodus really happened. Some of Jacobovici’s points are old hat... Continue reading

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The $3.5 million documentary The Exodus Decoded made its US debut August 20 on the History Channel. Previously it had been broadcast on the Discovery Channel in Canada in April and was shown at the Jerusalem Film Festival in July. Produced and narrated by Simcha Jacobovici, the film purportedly provides new evidence to demonstrate the Exodus really happened. Some of Jacobovici’s points are old hat, having been proposed before, while others are indeed new. But, alas, the presentation suffers from the same fate as other similar “documentaries”—dates are revised willy-nilly to make everything neatly come together to explain the events of the Exodus. In the end, Jacobovici does more harm than good since he mishandles the archaeological evidence, hence providing fuel to skeptics who wish to undermine the Exodus.

The information is conveniently organized by “Exhibits.” Let us examine the Exhibits one-by-one to check their credibility.

Bust of Pharaoh Ahmose,
Brooklyn Museum of Art.
(ABR photo by Michael Luddeni)


Ahmose bust


Exhibit A: The Ahmose Stela. It was under the leadership of Ahmose that the Egyptians drove out the hated foreign Hyksos who had infiltrated Egypt’s eastern Nile delta. The Hyksos, meaning “foreign rulers” in Egyptian, were Canaanite traders who had emigrated from southern Canaan. Ahmose went on to establish the powerful Egyptian 18th Dynasty. The stela tells of a great storm during Ahmose’s rule, ca. 1569–1545 BC. Jacobovici claims that the darkness and storm described in the stela are related to the Biblical plagues. His major premise in the documentary is that the Biblical Exodus is the same event as the expulsion of the Hyksos in Egyptian records. This raises three insurmountable problems. First, the expulsion is dated to the 15th year of Ahmose, ca. 1555 BC (Bietak 1991:48).[1] According to Biblical chronology, on the other hand, the Exodus occurred in 1446 BC (Young 2003), over a century after the expulsion of the Hyksos. Jacobovici overcomes this difficulty by arbitrarily splitting the difference between the two events; he raises the date of the Exodus to 1500 BC and lowers the date of the expulsion to 1500 BC. Voilà, discrepancy resolved! Even with this nifty slight-of-hand, there is not a good correlation between the stela and the Biblical plagues. The stela tells of darkness and a fierce rain storm that caused devastating flooding (Redford 1997: 16). There was no rain or flooding associated with the ninth plague of “darkness that can be felt” (Ex 10:21). The second major problem with the hypothesis is that the Hyksos were not slaves, but wealthy merchants and rulers of Egypt. The Hyksos, in fact, ruled Egypt for 108 years. They built palaces and temples at their capital city of Avaris, and had far-flung commercial operations.

Exhibit B: Pharaoh Ahmose. By associating the Exodus event with the expulsion of the Hyksos, Jacobovici maintains that, for the first time, we know who the Pharaoh of the Exodus was—Ahmose. But Jacobovici is not the first to make a connection between the expulsion of the Hyksos and the Israelite Exodus. Associations can be seen as far back as the third-century BC Egyptian priest Manetho (Redford 1992: 412–19). As we have seen, however, more than 100 years separate Ahmose and the Pharaoh of the Exodus, so the identification is invalid. In addition, the third problem with Jacobovici's thesis is that Ahmose drove the Hyksos out of their capital Avaris by force of arms, whereas the Israelites left peacefully when Pharaoh ordered them out to avoid further calamities.

Wooden sarcophagus of Ahmose, Egyptian Museum, Cairo. (ABR photo by Michael Luddeni)
Ahmose Sarcophagus

Exhibit C: Tomb at Beni Hasan. Jacobovici wishes to connect a Semite caravan depicted in a Middle Kingdom tomb at Beni Hasan in Middle Egypt with the migration of Jacob and his family to Egypt. At this point in the narration, he states “we know from the Bible that the Israelites arrived in Egypt some 200 years before their Exodus.” This is incorrect. The length of the Sojourn as recorded in the Bible was 430 years (Ex 12:40). He then goes on to say that the Beni Hasan tomb painting dates to 1700 BC. Wrong again! The painting is clearly dated by an inscription to the sixth year of Sesostris II, ca. 1890 BC (Wilson 1969: 229), 190 years before Jacobovici’s entry date of 1700 BC. Setting the chronological faux pas aside, the association is not a good one. The inscription says there were 37 individuals in the caravan compared with 66 in Jacob’s entourage (Gn 46:26). Jacobovici claims that the Beni Hasan group came from the area of modern Israel, whereas the inscription says they came from Shut, not Retenu or Hurru, the Egyptian names for the area of modern Israel.

Beni Hasan tomb painting
Scene from the tomb of Khnumhotep in Beni Hasan, Middle Egypt, of a group of Semite (Asiatic) traders entering Egypt to sell eye paint, ca. 1890 BC. (ABR photo by Michael Luddeni)

Exhibit D: The “Yakov” (Jacob) Royal Ring. Jacobovici contends that Joseph’s royal seal was discovered at Tell el-Daba, the site of the ancient Hyksos capital Avaris. This is also the location of Rameses, the place where the Israelites settled (Gn 47:11) and where they departed from (Ex 12:37). In the 13th century BC, long after the Israelites had left, Rameses II rebuilt the city and named it after himself. It is this later, better-known, name that is used in the Bible since the earlier names of the site (there were several) went out of use. The Austrian team excavating the site found nine scarabs (beetle-shaped amulets) bearing the name of a Hyksos called Jacob-Her dating to ca. 1700 BC. Jacobovici, of course, surmises that this is Joseph’s father Jacob. He further contends that these are “seals worn by Joseph’s court officials.” If the scarabs are connected to the high official Joseph, then why is Jacob’s name on them? Jacobovici does not explain. In reality, Jacob was a common Semitic name and in this case probably belonged to a prominent Hyksos leader or businessman. In addition to the nine examples at Tell el-Daba, three Jacob-Her scarabs were found in Israel: two at Kabri, near Nahariya, and one at Shiqmona, near Haifa (Bietak 1997: 115).

Exhibit E: Serabit Slavery Inscriptions. Serabit el-Khadem is an area of turquoise mines in the northwestern part of the southern Sinai Peninsula. Inscriptions in both Egyptian hieroglyphs and early Semitic (Canaanite) alphabetic script written with pictographic signs have been found there. The Semitic inscriptions are assumed to have been written by Asiatic slaves who worked in the mines. Whether or not these inscriptions can be related to the period of Israelite slavery in Egypt is an open question. Specialists are divided as to whether they should be dated to the Middle Kingdom (ca. 2061–1665 BC) or New Kingdom (ca. 1569–1081 BC) (Beit-Arieh 1993).

Exhibit F: Santorini Pumice in Egypt. The second major premise of The Exodus Decoded is that tectonic activity caused the eruption of the Santorini volcano and triggered earthquakes, bringing about the plagues in Egypt. Jacobovici says the eruption took place in 1500 BC at the time of the Exodus. The date of the eruption is a hotly debated topic. Carbon-14 samples suggest a date of ca. 1625 BC, whereas conventional historical dating places the event at ca. 1525 BC.[2] Pumice from the Santorini eruption was found at Tell el-Daba. Here, we run into another major chronological difficulty. The pumice was found in an archaeological stratum later than the reign of Ahmose (Bietak 1997: 124–25). Thus, there is a chronological disconnect between Jacobovici’s Pharaoh of the Exodus and the eruption of Santorini.

Exhibit G: Ipuwer Plagues Papyrus. Jacobovici now calls on the Ipuwer Papyrus, which he believes provides evidence for a plague of “ice and fire mingled together.” The seventh plague of hail, he says, is volcanic hail induced by Santorini as described in the Ipuwer Papyrus. Again, we have a chronological problem. Although Jacobovici states that many scholars date the Ipuwer Papyrus to the Hyksos period, the fact of the matter is that most Egyptologists date it to the First Intermediate Period (ca. 2100 BC) or the late Middle Kingdom (ca. 1700 BC) (Shupak 1997: 93), well before Jacobovici’s Exodus date of 1500 BC.

Ipuwer Papyrus
Ipuwer Papyrus, National Archaeological Museum, Leiden, Netherlands. It tells of ordeals and calamities blamed on an unnamed king, perhaps Pepy II (ca. 2300–2206 BC) of the Sixth Dynasty, and predicts better times under a coming, ideal monarch. (ABR file photo)

Exhibit H: Santorini Ash in the Nile Delta. Jacobovici claims that an ash cloud from Santorini caused the darkness of the ninth plague. There is no question but what Santorini ash arrived on the shores of Egypt. But the pumice evidence indicates that this was after the Hyksos period.

Exhibit I: Male Plague Victims. Jacobovici asserts that mass burials of males in pit graves at Tell el-Daba are evidence for plague 10, the death of the firstborn. However, he presents only part of the evidence. As usual, there is a chronological problem. The burials are from the early 18th Dynasty, after the expulsion of the Hyksos. In addition, the individuals have a very narrow age range: between 18 and 25. We would expect victims of plague 10 to be younger than 18 and older than 25. Anthropological examination has shown that some of the individuals were Nubians, commonly employed in the Egyptian army in this time period. Since the burials were in the area of a military camp and arrowheads were found in the graves, the most logical explanation is that the burials were soldiers from the Egyptian army. The excavator concludes, “They were probably soldiers who died in the camps from diseases over a period of time” (Bietak 2005: 13).

Exhibit J: Ahmose’s Son Prince Sapair. Ahmose’s son died at age 12 and therefore died in the 10th plague according to Jacobovici. The presumed cause of the disaster, touted as “the first scientific explanation of the tenth plague,” was earthquake-dislodged carbon dioxide rising to the surface of the Nile River. Such an event occurred in 1986 at Lake Neos, Cameroon, when carbon dioxide gas was released from the mineral-saturated waters trapped in the lake's depths. A similar event could not happen in a river, however, because moving water prevents minerals from accumulating at the bottom as in a stationary lake.

Exhibit K: el Arish Inscription. The el-Arish Inscription is a text from the Ptolemaic period (305–31 BC) written on a shrine found at el-Arish on the Mediterranean coast in northern Sinai. It is a legendary text concerning the gods Shu, god of air and sunlight, and his son Geb, god of the earth, and has nothing to do with the Exodus. Immanuel Velikovsky related the inscription to the crossing of the sea in his books Worlds in Collision and Ages in Chaos. Jacobovici follows Velikovsky’s interpretations, claiming the text “tells the entire story of the Exodus from Pharaoh’s point of view,” even giving the precise location of the crossing. Velikovsky’s understanding of this text has been thoroughly refuted. Mewhinney writes, “His interpretations of the el-Arish inscription are so obviously, blatantly wrong in so many particulars that it is hard to see why there should have been any controversy over the facts of the case, excepting only minor details. We find names altered and combined, words mistranslated, characters confused with one another or split in two, and events set in the wrong time and place. To permit Velikovsky to make the associations he does, one would have to take a sledgehammer to the shrine, smash it to bits, and reassemble the pieces in a different order. The method­—a sort of ‘free association’ in which a whole complex of ideas is summoned up by an isolated word or phrase—­must be rejected as well” (2006).

Exhibit L: Yam Suph (Reed Sea). Based on the el-Arish inscription J. identifies the sea crossing as the Ballah Lake on the northeast Egyptian frontier. On this point, we can agree with Jacobovici. It is not the el-Arish inscription that leads to this identification, however, it is modern archaeological research (Byers 2006a; 2006b).

Suez Canal
View of the Suez Canal looking north from the Qantara Bridge in the northeast Nile delta. This was the area of the northern end of the Ballah Lake prior to the cutting of the canal in 1859–1860. This is possibly the area where the Israelites crossed the Reed Sea. (ABR photo by Michael Luddeni).

Exhibit M: Santorini Wall Paintings. Jacobovici claims that the Miniature Frieze found in the West House in the excavations at Akrotiri on the island of Santorini (ancient Thera) depicts a Minoan voyage to Avaris, Egypt. Although this interpretation is undoubtedly wrong,[3] there is ample evidence to indicate that there was contact between the Minoans and Egypt. From this interchange, he contends that some of the followers of Moses in Egypt were Aegeans from Greece and that they returned to Greece shortly after the Exodus. It is necessary to make this connection in order bring in artifacts from Greece that supposedly relate to the Exodus (Exhibit N and Final Exhibit below). Needless to say, there is no evidence to suggest that there were Aegeans enslaved in Egypt when the Israelites were there. Egyptian texts only speak of Asiatic slaves at that time (David 1986: 188–92; Redford 1992: 78–79, 208–209, 221–27).

Santorini wall painting

Minoan wall painting of a naval procession, West House, Akrotiri, Santorini. Rather than depicting a voyage to Avaris in Egypt as claimed in The Exodus Decoded, it is more likely a cultic procession taking place somewhere in the Aegean. (ABR file photo)

Exhibit N: Grave Stelae of Mycenae. Since there is no evidence that there were Greeks among the Israelite tribes that left Egypt, there is no basis for interpreting the images on grave stelae at Mycenae as scenes of the sea crossing as claimed by Jacobovici.

Elim photo


 

Ayun Musa (Spring of Moses) at the northeast shore of the Gulf of Suez, possibly Elim of Exodus 15:27. (ABR photo by Michael Luddeni)

Exhibit O: Mt. Sinai (Hashem el-Tarif). Jacobovici’s methodology in attempting to locate Mt. Sinai is admirable in that he utilizes Biblical data. Unfortunately, some of his information is incorrect. He bases the location on the distances the Israelites could travel within the Biblical timeframe. He begins by saying it took the Israelites 14 days to travel from Elim to Mt. Sinai. Elim, he suggests, is located at Ayun Musa on the northeast shore of the Gulf of Suez, which is no doubt correct, but his timeline is off. According to Exodus 16:1, after the Israelites left Elim, they “came to the Desert of Sin, which is between Elim and Sinai, on the 15th day of the second month after they had come out of Egypt.” They then arrived at the Desert of Sinai a month later (Ex 19:1; Nu 33:3). So, the travel time from Elim to the Desert of Sinai was more than 30 days, not 14 days. The daily rate of travel Jacobovici assumes, 15 km (9 mi) is also incorrect. Pastoralists traveling with their flocks can go no more than 10 km (6 mi) per day (Wood 2000). In addition, one cannot simply multiply a rate of travel times the number of days traveled and draw a straight line on a map to locate Mt. Sinai. The ancient routes and the zigs and zags and ups and downs of traveling by foot in a rugged terrain must be taken into account. Although Hashem el-Tarif may be a valid candidate for Mt. Sinai, one cannot arrive at that identification using Jacobovici’s calculations.

Grave stelaGrave stela from Shaft Grave V in Grave Circle A at Mycenae, ca. 1550–1500 BC, National Archaeological Museum of Athens. Jacobovici interprets the scene as “an Egyptian charioteer chasing Moses across the parted sea” just before the waters returned. The spirals, which Jacobovici says are waves, are a common Mycenaean motif. (Credit: University of Oklahoma)

Final Exhibit: The Ark of the Covenant. The final exhibit of the presentation is a small gold object from the Bronze Age cemetery at Mycenae. J. claims it represents a composite view of the Ark of the Covenant, ramp of the Tabernacle and altar as seen from the Holy of Holies. Why would the Ark be depicted on an object found in Greece? Jacobovici conjectures that Greeks referred to as Danoi by Homer are Danites who migrated to Greece after the Exodus. Since the Tribe of Dan helped make the Ark it was the Biblical Danites who fashioned the gold object.

There are a number of difficulties with this scenario. First, the Tribe of Dan did not help make the Ark. According to Exodus, Bezalel, a Judahite, was the chief craftsman for the Tabernacle appointed “to make artistic designs for work in gold, silver and bronze, to cut and set stones, to work in wood and to engage in all kinds of artistic craftsmanship” (Ex 31:4). It was he who made the Ark (Ex 37:1). A Danite named Oholiab was appointed to help Bezalel (Ex 31:6), but his specialty was embroidery (Ex 38:23) and he was involved in “constructing the sanctuary” (Ex 36:1). Moreover, the Danoi were native Greeks, not immigrants. According to Greek tradition, a legendary figure named Danaus immigrated to Greece from Egypt. He became a ruler and required the native Greeks to be called Danoi (Stabo, Geography 8.6.9). In addition, the two figures depicted on the so-called “ark” are ordinary birds, not cherubim[4] as on the Biblical Ark (Ex 37:6–9).

Conclusion

The Exodus Decoded is similar to The Da Vinci Code in that disparate pieces of information from the past are brought together in a story line. There is a big difference between the two, however. The Exodus Decoded is presented as factual history, whereas The Da Vinci Code is advertised as a novel. The exhibits of The Exodus Decoded do not stand up to scrutiny in the court of objective scholarship. Archaeological data are wrenched from their chronological contexts and forced into a different time frame to fit the filmmaker’s reconstruction. What is more, the film is replete with factual errors. Although the production is offered as a serious and accurate documentary, it is not accurate and it cannot be taken seriously. There is little of substance in The Exodus Decoded for those seeking valid historical and archaeological information on the Exodus.

 

Recommended Resources for Further Study

     
Bible and Spade
CD-ROM
Archaeology and
the Old Testament
Moses and
the Gods of Egypt

Footnotes

[1] Egyptian dates in this article are from the Egyptian King List in Redford 2001.
[2] For a summary of the issue, see Balter 2006.
[3] The Miniature Frieze probably depicts a cultic procession taking place in the Aegean. See Wachsmann 1998: 105–22.
[4] Although it is not known exactly what cherubim looked like, it was a composite beast, no doubt similar to composite beasts depicted in Ancient Near Eastern art (Harrison 1979)

Bibliography

Beit-Arieh, Itzhaq
1993 Serabit el-Khadem. Pp. 1335–38 in The New Encyclopedia of Archaeological Excavations in the Holy Land 3, ed. Ephraim Stern. Jerusalem: The Israel Exploration Society & Carta.

Bietak, Manfred
1991 Egypt and Canaan During the Middle Bronze Age. Bulletin of the American Schools of Oriental Research 281: 27–72.
1997 The Center of Hyksos Rule: Avaris (Tell el-Dab‘a). Pp. 87–139 in The Hyksos: New Historical and Archaeological Perspectives, ed. Eliezer D. Oren. Philadelphia: The University Museum, University of Pennsylvania.
2005 The Tuthmoside Stronghold of Perunefer. Egyptian Archaeology 26: 13–17.

Balter, Michael
2006 New Carbon Dates Support Revised History of Ancient Mediterranean. Science 312 (April 28): 508–509.

Byers, Gary A.
2006a New Evidence from Egypt on the Location of the Exodus Crossing, Part 1. Bible and Spade 19: 14–22.
2006b New Evidence from Egypt on the Location of the Exodus Crossing, Part 2. Bible and Spade 19: 34–40.

David, A. Rosalie
1986 The Pyramid Builders of Ancient Egypt: A Modern Investigation of Pharaoh’s Workforce. London: Routledge & Kegan Paul.

Harrison, Roland K.
1979 Cherubim. Pp. 642–43 in The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia 1, ed. Geoffrey W. Bromiley. Grand Rapids MI: Eerdmans.

Mewhinney, Sean
2006 El-Arish Revisited, http://www.pibburns.com/smelairis.htm, accessed August 30. Originally published in Kronos 11.2 (1986).

Redford, Donald B.
1992 Egypt, Canaan, and Israel in Ancient Times. Princeton NJ: Princeton University.
1997 Textual Sources for the Hyksos Period. Pp. 1–44 in The Hyksos: New Historical and Archaeological Perspectives, ed. Eliezer D. Oren. Philadelphia: The University Museum, University of Pennsylvania.
2001 The Oxford Encyclopedia of Ancient Egypt (ed.). Oxford, England: Oxford University.

Shupak, Nili
1997 The Admonitions of an Egyptian Sage: The Admonitions of Ipuwer. Pp. 93–98 in The Context of Scripture 1: Canonical Compositions from the Biblical World, ed. William W. Hallo. Leiden, The Netherlands: Brill.

Wachsmann, Shelley
1998 Seagoing Ships & Seamanship in the Bronze Age Levant. London: Chatham.

Wilson, John A.
1969 Egyptian Historical Texts. Pp. 228–64 in Ancient Near Eastern Texts Relating to the Old Testament, 3rd ed. with supplement, ed. James B. Pritchard. Princeton NJ: Princeton University.

Wood, Bryant G.
2000 An Editorial Comment. Bible and Spade 13: 98–99.

Young, Rodger C.
2003 When Did Solomon Die? Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society 46: 589–603.

 

Comments Comment RSS

6/17/2008 9:54 AM #

Dear Mr. Owen,

Thanks for writing to ABR. Regarding the location of Mount Sinai, about the only thing Mr. Jacobovici got right that it IS in the Sinai proper. The Galatians 4:25 reference should not be equated with modern day Saudi Arabia. See two articles by Gordon Franz here:
www.biblearchaeology.org/.../...-Saudi-Arabia.aspx

www.biblearchaeology.org/.../...-Saudi-Arabia.aspx

Hope this helps--Henry Smith

hsmith - 6/17/2008 9:54:10 AM

6/17/2008 11:35 AM #

Someone needs to refer Simcha Jacobovici to Galatians 4.25 if he really wants to find Mt. Sinai.  
Moses was in Midian tending Jethro's flocks when he was commissioned by God to "deliver Israel."  During the Exodus, before arriving at Mt. Sinai and receiving the ten commandments, Jethro counselled him to appoint representatives to hear the people's complaints.  Now...just where do you suppose Jethro was at the time?  Was he not still in Midian (Western Saudi Arabia)?

Michael L. OWEN - 6/17/2008 11:35:51 AM

7/4/2008 11:07 PM #

.“we know from the Bible that the Israelites arrived in Egypt some 200 >years before their Exodus.” This is incorrect. The length of the Sojourn as >recorded in the Bible was 430 years (Ex 12:40).

Actually you are wrong. There are only FOUR generations between Jacob and Moses. The Bible even names them and tells us how old they were when they died in Exodus 6. See here:

Exd 6:16  And these [are] the names of the sons of LEVI according to their generations; Gershon, and KOHATH, and Merari: and the years of the life of LEVI [were] an hundred thirty and seven years(137).

Exd 6:18  And the sons of KOHATH; AMRAM, and Izhar, and Hebron, and Uzziel: and the years of the life of KOHATH [were] an hundred thirty and three years(133).

Exd 6:20 And AMRAM took him Jochebed his father's sister to wife; and she bare him Aaron and MOSES: and the years of the life of AMRAM [were] an hundred and thirty and seven years(137).

How can FOUR generations last 430 years? Did they wait until they were well into their 100s to have children? I don't think so.

The 430 years of Exodus 12:40 is explained by looking at the Greek translation of the Old Testament. It says "The children of Israel and their fathers dwelt in the land of Canaan and Eygpt four hundred and thirty years". They spent 215 years in Canaan. Then because of a famine the Israelites moved to Egypt and dwelt there 215 years and then came to Sinia(Horeb) and then spent 40 years in the wilderness.

David - 7/4/2008 11:07:23 PM

7/5/2008 5:13 AM #

Dear David,

Referring to your recent post, dated 7/2/08. Please find an alternative viewpoint posted here, which deals with your objections thoroughly:

www.biblearchaeology.org/.../...ourn-In-Egypt.aspx

Thank you for your interest in the ABR ministry!
Henry Smith

hsmith - 7/5/2008 5:13:17 AM

1/17/2009 6:13 PM #

A couple of things. First, Simcha Jacobovici clearly indicates that his documentary provides a theory, not a definitive article, as to the cause of events of the Exodus. Therefore, it must be taken in that vein.
Secondly, Galatians 3: 17 indicates that the Law came 430 years following the covenant God made with Abraham, if I am reading the text correctly. One has to go back several verses to get the context that Paul is referring to the covenant God made with Abraham 430 years prior to Him giving the Law to Moses. The Bible, at least, is not entirely specific as to the actual duration of the Israeli sojourn in Egypt. Much of the text and, also of the archeology, is open to interpretation. We need only to believe that Israel was enslaved in Egypt ant that Moses led them out after the ten plagues. We can be sure that the Israeli and Egyptian records of the history are going to be different. We see that with the historical revisionism that is occurring in this country when we compare contemporary historical texts with those written almost 150 years ago. It is quite likely that the Egyptian records would show an expulsion, as is implied in Exodus 12: 31 & 32. The Israeli version is, of course, recorded in The Exodus.
This is humbly submitted, not as an exacting treatise, but to raise questions for consideration.

Reg Watts - 1/17/2009 6:13:43 PM

1/23/2009 9:55 AM #

Hello,

In the context of volcanic eruption i would like to draw your attention to the following verses,
Exodus 15:8 - "By the blast of your nostrils the waters piled up. The surging waters stood firm like a wall; the deep waters congealed in the heart of the sea." (Also look psalm 18:8 and 18:15)

It is interesting indeed to see the Bible declaring the sovereign power of GOD on the nature and the phenomenon of earthquake the narrator points to in this documentary.

Avani Nath - 1/23/2009 9:55:23 AM

3/11/2009 8:08 AM #

This is an extremely helpful article for those who have seen, heard about, or will see "The Exodus Decoded." I do, however, have a question to raise about the Ipuwer Papyrus. The article states that most scholars date it to the First Intermediate Period or the Late Middle Kingdom. I think the article should be more specific in saying that most scholars date the events, or perhaps even the original composition, to the FIP, Late Middle Kingdom, or TIP. However, the actual papyrus is dated to the 13th century B.C., and the original composition date or date of events is purely based off of speculation, arguing that those time periods were extremely chaotic. The article does not address the mass similarities between the papyrus and the plague narratives of Exodus 7-12. Just because a sensationalist journalist or some revisionist historians use the Ipuwer Papyrus to argue for Egyptian documentary evidence of the Exodus, does not mean it is out of the question. The theory should be further explored.

TRN - 3/11/2009 8:08:51 AM

7/1/2009 8:38 AM #

Dear Dr. Bryant Wood,
Your comments are very interesting.

Jacob-El:
According to the Turin king list there were six Hyksos kings who ruled for 108 years. One important ruler was named "Y'qbhr" or "Jacob-hr" (Albright 1934, 11). In 1969 a scarab of Jacob-El was found in the Middle Bronze II tomb at Shiqmona, a suburb of Haifa, that was from a mid-18th century deposit 100-80 years before the Hyksos (Kempinski 1985, 132-3). The Jacob-El of Shiqmona must have been a local Palestinian ruler.In my opinion this proves the semitic origins of the Hyksos. Also this name was common among the Arameans, but uncommon among the Canaanites and Phoenicians (Zobel 1990, 189).

The exit from Egypt by the Hyksos probably included the Israelites as well.

The story of the Exodus is most likely based on the expulsion of the Hyksos from Egypt, for there is no other record of any mass exit from Egypt (Robertson 1990, 36; Halpern 1994, 89-96; Redford 1897, 150). The evidence seems to fit well with Josephus' account. Although the Egyptians saw the expulsion of the Hyksos as a great military victory, the Israelites viewed it as a great salvation victory for them. This seems similar to other events recorded in ancient history where both sides claim a great victory.

In the story of Exodus,Moses was all the time going back and forth to talk to the Pharaoh.This could be only possible if the Pharaoh was in the delta of the Nile and not in Thebes.

Ahmose threw away the Hyksos in 1555 B.C.E. and the volcano of Santorini perhaps exploded in 1525 B.C.E. If this gap of 30 years is not accurated it could be possible that the israelites escape in the middle of the confusion. It is well known that it was a horrible battle between egyptians and the hyksos, specially because the father and the older brother of Ahmoses died in two earlier military campaignes trying to get rid of the hyksos.
Ahmoses triumph was a great glory for Egypt.
Besides ancient egyptians texts describe the area as an area reserved for people with lepres, skin deseases etc...that needs to be "purified".
I do not think that Ahmoses would have cared about chasing slaves and ill people(Myriam,the sister of moses apparently had hanseniase) but was more interested in conquering the south of Nile as he did next.
So the story of a Pharaoh being dragged by the sea in this case is false because Ahmose came back to his proud mom in Thebes where his son was probably waiting for him.If the son died young he died in Thebes, not a victim of Carbon Dioxide in the delta of the Nyle.

Another time a pharaoh was in the area happened when the great Tuthmoses III was on his way to conquer Meggido in 1456 B.C.E.
He obviously had to cross the Red Sea to do so.Could be at that time that he "chased" the slaves that were bothering him with plagues? The bible said the Exodus happened at 1446 B.C.E.Ten years later of the fall of Meggido.With this date could have Tuthmoses talked to Moses and Araon on his way back from Meggido to Thebes?If he did so, he forgot to record it in the temple of Karnak so proud he was "writing" down his great achievements.After all, it is not everyday that you defeat all Palestinians Princes by starving them for 7 months in a fortified town like Meggido,when they finally surrendered.
When Tuthmoses III arrived in Thebes he used to make sure that he was the only one that could enter in the temple to see his golden god who gave him the incredible victory and extended the Egypt Empire untill Canaã by personally erasing his footprints off the floor and sealling the doors.He did not seem to be very impressive with our God!
He also was not swallowed by the sea either.

Some scholars dated the Exodus by the time of Ramses II (1290-1224B.C.E.),just because there was a shift from caananite to israelite culture in the area where later becomes the kingdoms of Israel and Judah.

My question is:
Who was this pharaoh that died dragged by the sea?

Carmen Carolina Baldelli Rezende - 7/1/2009 8:38:56 AM

10/13/2009 11:55 PM #

While I admit this presents some good points, I must disagree with several points.

More times then not the times first given for an event such as the Exodus are wrong, and the further you go back the harder it is to correctly place them. As Jacobovici says in the documentary, what if future scholars where to place World War 2 in the 90s, there would be no evidence. Maybe the reason that the Exodus critics say there is no evidence, is because Christian scholars have misplaced the Exodus, and I know how shocking it must be that you might actual be wrong.

Every time the spot light falls from the ones who have been in it, they will do everything they can to regain it, even if they are wrong. Preserving a flawed status quos will lead to nothing but self-destruction.

A.M.S. - 10/13/2009 11:55:17 PM

10/22/2009 3:53 AM #

I stopped reading after the Jacob scarab part. So...your conclusion is that its totally coincidence that a scarab inbiding the name Jacob just so happens to be in the same area where the Israelites would have settled? talk about conjecture. As for the dating....its not a perfect system...it can be off by less then a hundred years..any archeaologist knows this. there is no to date dating method that gives us the ability to place things in the exact date and time.

I mean..is it really totally just coincidence that we happen to have a biblical story of a man named Moses..and a whole 18th dynasty of Pharaohs and family that contains the name Moses within their names..as well as turning to monotheism afterwards...in which also then containing the nomen Amen, directly afterwards?  it sounds to me that scientists and archaeologists will try to squelch any proof of the bible at all.

nicole - 10/22/2009 3:53:07 AM

10/22/2009 4:09 AM #

Another point on the whole Jacob deal.....If it were the biblical Jacob...and if we are concluding that they Hyksos were the biblical Israelites..we know that Joseph for a time was considered next to the king...as high as Pharaoh..basically...a co-King. So..if this Jacob was the biblical Jacob, and then the biblical Israelites were the Hyksos..then of course a Hyksos King by the name of Jacob dating to the time of the Israelites being in Egypt would occur...they would be one in the same. And I see no reason why it would be so hard to imagine the scarab containing the name Jacob..instead of Joseph since the bible itself constantly calls it "the house of Jacob" the entire family was considered the family of Jacob. Jacob's name was then turned to Israel...IS RA EL...God Is Ra.....therefore...the Jacob on the scarab could be seen as the scarab of Israel. Of they Hyksos. They would be one in the same and they would coincide.

Nicole - 10/22/2009 4:09:29 AM

11/29/2009 1:32 AM #

    ACTUALLY, A 1446 B.C. EXODUS IS UNTENABLE ON BIBLICAL GROUNDS. Solomon's chronologists excluded the 111 years of oppression from the chronology- the correct exodus date is 1557 B.C. (41 years of Moses+30 years of Joshua+450 years of Judges and Oppressors+22 years of Saul+2 years of Ish-bosheth+40 years of David+6 years of Solomon does not equal 480 years). The Exodus most likely took place after the Hyksos Expulsion, which was crushed at Sharuhen. And what is this about the Thera eruption taking place in 1525 B.C.? Last time I heard, it took place in 1628 B.C.! Most of the pumice would have blown North-East-Eastward into the sea or into Turkey and never reached Egypt!

E . Harding - 11/29/2009 1:32:01 AM

12/1/2009 12:40 PM #

Dear E Harding (11/28/09 post),

I refer you to the following articles on the date of the exodus.

www.biblearchaeology.org/.../...Judges-Period.aspx

www.biblearchaeology.org/.../...of-the-Exodus.aspx

www.biblearchaeology.org/.../...mes-Hoffmeier.aspx

www.biblearchaeology.org/.../...nquest-Theory.aspx

www.biblearchaeology.org/.../...of-the-Exodus.aspx

Your theory that the Exodus should be dated at 1557 BC is completely out of sorts with the internal data of the Bible and the extra-biblical evidence.

Blessings,

Henry Smith

ABR - 12/1/2009 12:40:50 PM

12/5/2009 4:18 PM #

Mr. Harding,

I see no Scripture citations for these dates. Your chronology does not survive the testimony of I Kings 6:1 "In the four hundred and eightieth year after the Israelites had come out of Egypt, in the fourth year of Solomon’s reign over Israel, in the month of Ziv, the second month, he began to build the temple of the LORD."

ABR - 12/5/2009 4:18:22 PM

12/5/2009 4:25 PM #

Isr. In Egypt  1797-1557
Death of Jc.  1780 Death of Jo.  1714 Birth of Mo.  1637
Exodus          1557 At Kadesh  1556-1518
Mt. Nebo          1517 Conquest          1516-1486
“Judges” 1486-1036 Oppressors  111 years Judges 339 years
O Cushan 1486-1478 J Othniel 1478-1438 O Eglon 1438-1420
J Ehud 1420-1340 O Sisera 1340-1320 J Deborah  1320-1280
O Midian 1280-1273 J Gideon 1273-1233 J Abimelech  1233-1230
J Tola 1230-1207 J Jair 1207-1185 O Ammon 1185-1167
J Jephthah  1167-1161 J Ibsan 1161-1154 J Elon 1154-1144
J Abdon 1144-1136 O Philistines  1136-1096 J Samson 1096-1076
J Eli 1076-1036 U.M. 1036-1030 Saul 1036-1014
Ish-bosheth  1014-1012 David 1010-970 Solomon 970-930

"Completely out of sorts with the internal data of the Bible and the extra-biblical evidence"? I do not think so.

E. Harding - 12/5/2009 4:25:22 PM

12/28/2009 4:48 AM #

Please consider my identification of Moses as Sinuhe & as Sesostris III. My website is arismhobeth.com. Moses killed the "Egyptian" at age 40, fled to Midian for 40 years, and came back to lead the Exodus at age 80, finally died at 120 (or 127). I consider the "Egyptian" to be Amenemhet I, founder of the 12th Egyptian dynasty. Conventional dating puts this murder at 1962BC. However, Donovan Courville revises the Egyptian chronology as having a few parallel reigns. My chronology also condenses the 12th dynasty to also disagree with conventional (wrong) Egyptian dating. In any case the dating revision puts the Exodus at about 1500BC, close enough for the "old" date of about 1446 or 1491. Sincerely, Aris M. Hobeth

aris m hobeth - 12/28/2009 4:48:47 AM

1/2/2010 8:38 AM #

Well done, E. Harding.

I find it disingenuous to dismiss everything from this documentary solely because Jacobovichi's findings disagree with the speculative notions and dates from the archaeological elite that have been accepted as authentic.

There are other factors to consider which this article chooses not to look at. No two-hour documentary is going to be able to address the complexities of all the issues brought up. Each step along the way would need its own two-hour segment if Jacobovichi were to stop and explain the controversies and reasons for drawing the conclusions he did. More importantly, disagreements with the findings of older archaeologists and scholars is no reason to outright dismiss the documentary's claims. Just because something's been established as fact doesn't mean it's necessarily true.

How about finding objective scholars (I'm sure some must still exist) to examine each piece of evidence, and point out the possibilities. Sticking to the status quo of the archaeological elite has led nowhere. They've provided no satisfactory answers. Jacobovichi (and others) are thinking outside of the box on every issue (chronology, interpretation, etc.) But of course, rather than being commended for that, they're attacked or dismissed for daring to disregard older interpretations now viewed as unassailable.

I'm not saying he's 100% right. He's likely off on a few points, but that's to be expected. What we need is more scholars like him, willing to start from scratch instead of relying on the accepted theories from the old guard that may in fact NOT be correct (such as the egregiously erroneous 1200 date for the Exodus). Just dismissing new ideas outright because they don't follow the old ideas is little more than establishmentarianism, and gets nobody anywhere, and no closer to finding the truth.

JB - 1/2/2010 8:38:46 AM

1/3/2010 5:27 AM #

Dear JB,

Jacobivici is not a scholar and there is no such thing as an objective "scholar". We are not attacking him. We have simply shown that his ideas do not hold up to scrutiny. There is no outright dismissal going on here. ABR has carefully researched this subject for many years.

Thanks!
ABR

ABR - 1/3/2010 5:27:17 AM

1/22/2010 8:39 AM #

Great Article,
I recently saw the documentary and one has to admit he makes a compelling arguement.  The biggest problem with a chronology of the exodus is that any chronologies is dependant on subjective interpretations.  He could be right or he could be wrong, there is no clear evidence either way.  What you did point out is that he took advantage of a few key weaknesses in the current Chronology with out aligning all of the facts.

Kelly - 1/22/2010 8:39:56 AM

2/2/2010 4:57 AM #

I recently saw the documentary on History Channel. I am not a Historian or Archeologist or Biblical Scholar, I am However, very interested in these things for a Geneological purpose.

I am LDS and I have used the LDS Edition of the KJV and the Chonology listed in the Bible Dictionary in the back.

I am just curious is the date for Solomon concrete at 970-940?

It shows that Solomon started building the temple in 1012 BC. If we add 480 to that we get 1492 bc which is only 8 years off of 1500 BC. Is the chronology list in the above post official is is acurate or is it like the one in the LDS Bible Dictionary approximate dates?

I am just curious. If anyone can let me know I would appreciate the help.

I hadn't heard some of the things in the documentary before so I wanted to find out just how accurate or inaccurate they are. I would like, if anyone can give them, refferences I could use both on and offline, pro and con, on this subject of Ahmose, Moses, also who was Pharaoh in Joseph's time.

Jim Turner - 2/2/2010 4:57:03 AM

2/2/2010 5:00 AM #

Dear Jim re: 2/1/10 post,

I would refer you to these articles that deal with Biblical Chronology issues:

www.biblearchaeology.org/.../...OT-Chronology.aspx

www.biblearchaeology.org/.../...nquest-Theory.aspx

www.biblearchaeology.org/.../...mes-Hoffmeier.aspx

I hope this information helps!

Henry Smith

ABR - 2/2/2010 5:00:51 AM

3/2/2010 10:26 AM #

I thought the theory that some people who escaped Egypt with Moses could have ended up in Mycenae to be far fetched until I saw the pictures of the stelae. Jacobovici’s interpretation of the Grave Stelae of Mycenae is very interesting because it matches the description of the parting of the Red Sea which is found in Eastern Orthodox hymnography from the Eighth century.

The stela with the Charioteer and and man on foot who is holding an upright staff which he showed first, is described this way in the hymnology:
"Tracing an upright line with his staff, Moses divided the Red Sea for Israel, which was travelling on foot" [Irmos of Ode 1, Feast of the Exaltation of the Cross, "The Menaion of the Orthodox Church", translated from the Church Slavonic Menaion by Isaac E. Lambertsen, copyright 1996, St. John of Kronstadt Press]

The third stela, where the chariot is upturned and the figure on foot is holding the staff horizontally matches this descriiption in the same hymn:  "and striking it a transverse blow, he brought the waters together over the chariots of Pharoah, thereby inscribing the invincible weapon of the Cross."

This hymn from the Eastern Orthodox feast of the Exaltation of the Cross is attributed to Cosmas of Maiuma (d. 773 or 794 A.D.)

Carol Surgant - 3/2/2010 10:26:08 AM

4/10/2010 7:42 AM #

Whike I found the "documentary" interesting and the person of Jacobovici charismatic, I also felt that the actual evidence presented to be slight and selective. This may be nit picky but in one scene, after having left the area of the perceived Mt Sinai due to military presence then returning again (were did the military go?) J. says that they came back again later "armed only with a small camera", which they show in the video and which appears to be an ordinary still image one.

Um, okay so what do they call the video camera that they use to film the
individual holding the still image one and which they used to film the trip up Sinai? The boom mike they show in the same scene is a big one.

Byron - 4/10/2010 7:42:12 AM

5/10/2010 3:06 PM #

I guess I missed the part when Egypt turned to monotheism during the 18th dynasty.  There was a brief time during the 18th dynasty where a pharaoh named Akhanaten outlawed the worship of all other gods in favor of his god: the Aten.  But after he died, the rulers after him reversed things, and did everything within their power to erase his name from history.  Amun became the principle god because the capital was moved to Thebes, where he was the principle god of the city.  But he certainly was not the only god worshipped.  The Egyptians were building temples to their gods well into the ptolemaic dynasty.

Scott - 5/10/2010 3:06:22 PM

6/4/2010 2:45 PM #

>View of the Suez Canal looking north from the Qantara Bridge in the northeast Nile delta.<

Nice picture!

I think this view is actually looking *south* from the bridge. The pond in the picture is at 30.8184 North, 32.3127 East; you can see it clearly in Google Earth. That section of the Suez Canal divides the green delta on the west from the brown Sinai on the east. Curiously enough, the Peace Bridge is built on the ancient Isthmus of Qantara, which according to legend was traveled by the Holy Family on their flight into Egypt. The pond marks the northern edge of the Ballah Lakes stretching into the distance.

Carl Drews - 6/4/2010 2:45:17 PM

6/9/2010 12:38 PM #

If you count 1012BC as the fourth year of Solomon's reign(1 Kings 6:1) and count backwards 480 years to the Exodus you get the year 1492BC. And in the year 1492BC you have the death of Thutmose I. By the way no body has ever found the remains of this king(because the Bible clearly states he drowned in the Red Sea). And his first born son did not succeed him(because he died during the death of the first born plague).

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thutmose_I

David - 6/9/2010 12:38:15 PM

6/9/2010 3:22 PM #

Dear David Re; 6/9/10 post,

Thanks for contacting the ministry of ABR.

We would refer you to the following articles on the subject of the date of the Exodus and the pharaoh:

www.biblearchaeology.org/.../...xodus-Pharaoh.aspx

www.biblearchaeology.org/.../...mes-Hoffmeier.aspx

www.biblearchaeology.org/.../...odus-Conquest.aspx

www.biblearchaeology.org/.../...of-the-Exodus.aspx

The chronology of the Kingdom period is complex, as the date you are proposing extends this period 45 years and places the Exodus at 1491/2. See this discussion and its references to the study of the chronology of the Kingdom period:

www.biblearchaeology.org/.../...OT-Chronology.aspx

There is some disagreement on the exegetical meaning of the Psalmist's reference to the drowning of the pharoah. Does it mean the army, which would be a representation of the Pharaoh, or the pharaoh himself? These are two legitimate choices.

I hope this helps!

Henry Smith
ABR

ABR - 6/9/2010 3:22:28 PM

9/26/2010 3:42 AM #

Dear Henry,

I have more of a thought to ponder regarding the Minoans being a part of the exodus.  You made comment that "Needless to say, there is no evidence to suggest that there were Aegeans enslaved in Egypt when the Israelites were there. Egyptian texts only speak of Asiatic slaves at that time (David 1986: 188–92; Redford 1992: 78–79, 208–209, 221–27)."  My thought is this: Why do you/others assume that the Minoans were slaves?  Does not the biblical account of the exodus speak of other Egyptians leaving with the Hebrews?  And as such why could Minoans not be included in that group spoken of?  The swords and gold found in Greece seem to offer compelling validation of this theory?

EJ

Erik Lindquist - 9/26/2010 3:42:42 AM

4/23/2011 3:55 PM #

Some of what you discuss in the "debunking" could be true, but I have read that the Israelites DID have their own written language -- that was previously spun off ancient Canaanite -- that was to become Aramaic, which later combined the ancient Canaanite/Aramaic, and Egyption hieroglyphics (restyled) into Semite -- which AGAIN later become combined with other written languages, becoming English.

The timeline IS off, because my Bible (NAS) states that the Exodus started 430 years TO THE DAY from when Jacob (Joseph's father/and the rest of their family) moved to Egypt to be with Joseph.   ..........I used to wonder how accurate my Bible is. Well, my pastor, Dr. Richard Freeman, mentioned in his sermon one Sunday -- that of all the various versions of the Bible, the New American Standard [mine] is the CLOSEST to the original Jewish scrolls.

Gail Noon - 4/23/2011 3:55:09 PM

5/5/2012 6:59 PM #

I am disturbed when carbon dating tests are used to argue dates of events associated with heated materials, such as volcanic pumice, or for any material that may have been under the sea or water. Heat and ion-exchange greatly influence carbon dating. In addition, I have read that the earth's carbon containing gas properties have not remained constant and dating must be calibrated against known recognizable historical events. I understand known recorded history does not go much beyond 5,000 years. In general, any type of dating test that assumes and maintains that earth's chemical properties and processes have remained constant on earth, although they have not, and then extrapolate backwards assuming chemical properties are known all along the way backwards and accounted for, and assume an equilibrium when there is not equilibrium, disturb me greatly.

Will - 5/5/2012 6:59:29 PM

4/4/2013 11:17 AM #

After reading this 'debunking' you would think there was never an Exodus at all.

What's next - are you going to pretend the chariot wheels found underwater aren't there?

Joe - 4/4/2013 11:17:07 AM

2/21/2014 12:47 PM #

It seems awful coincidental that there is an Egyptian account of an entire nation of people being chased out of Egypt (as viewed from the
Egyptian perspective) who originate from the same area as the
Israelites, where herdsmen, settled in lower Egypt, and were considered as powerful as the king of Egypt himself.  If we look to the Biblical account, the Israelites were not slaves at first but powerful and inhabited the best of the land, the same area in fact that the Hyksos made their Capitol.  It wasn't until the
Egyptians realized the power of the Israelites that they became afraid and began to oppress them. (The end of e 17th dynasty perhaps?).   From the research that I have read on the subject, the biggest point of contention is the dating.  Most have settled on a 1550 BC date for the reign of Ahmose 1, and I am among the many that prefer the Biblical date of 1446BC for the exodus, based on the clues left in the scriptures.  Maybe the area to be questioned is Egyptian Chronology.  Maybe it is possible that those who have dated the events of the beginning of the 18th dynasty were 97% accurate, missing by only 104 years on a 3500 year  scale. The case for Ahmose is strong,  even if some of the other elements of the documentary in question are a little far fetched.

Wil Clark - 2/21/2014 12:47:12 PM

2/21/2014 12:56 PM #

Dear Readers

Here are some up to date articles on the Exodus:

www.biblearchaeology.org/.../...us-from-Egypt.aspx

www.biblearchaeology.org/.../...-and-Conquest.aspx

www.biblearchaeology.org/.../...xodus-Pharaoh.aspx

www.biblearchaeology.org/.../...of-the-Exodus.aspx

These should help clarify a number of comments, questions and objections posted here on this thread.

Sincerely,
Henry B. Smith Jr.
ABR Staff

ABR - 2/21/2014 12:56:12 PM

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