Is there any archaeological evidence to support the Exodus of the Bible?
This week, Jews all over the world are celebrating the Passover, the annual feast remembering God’s deliverance of the Hebrew people from the bonds of slavery in ancient Egypt. Is there a genuine historical basis for these events surrounding the Passover?
After the release of Ridley Scott’s movie, Exodus: Gods and Kings, and a new documentary film by Timothy Mahoney, Patterns of Evidence, which seeks to re-examine the archaeological evidence, there is a renewed interest in understanding how the exodus of Moses and the Israelites from underneath the yoke of slavery in Egypt might have happened. This fascinating and highly recommended essay by Jewish scholar Joshua Berman explores the issue of the historicity of the Exodus. Berman takes a position similar to mine, in that once we dismiss the notion of a “massive” event involving 2 to 3 million people, that really should be numbered more in terms of several tens of thousands (see Numbers 3:43 for one additional piece of evidence that Berman cites), a lot of the intellectual hurdles to accepting the biblical story tend to fall off.
On the others side, over the years there have been a number of attempts made by some documentary filmmakers exploring these questions, often suggesting some rather controversial theories. How does one go about evaluating these different claims?
In a 2014 lecture, Egyptologist James K. Hoffmeier at Trinity Internation University and Wheaton College geologist Stephen Moshier consider some of the more controversial theories and review them in the light of Scripture and the available evidence. As a follow-up to this previous extensive Veracity posting on this topic, you might find Hoffmeier and Moshier as providing a more modest perspective that nevertheless still honors the biblical record. The bottom line: while there are a plethora of different proposals for resolving the questions surrounding the Exodus, there is enough evidence to rule out some of the more extravagant claims.