The Exodus of the Hebrews/Israelites from Egypt The Call of Moses; Departure from Egypt; the Covenant at Mount Sinai; the Wanderings in the Wilderness; and the Death and Burial of Moses across the Jordan from Jericho
Biblical Texts: • The Book of Genesis Concluded: • Genesis 37: Joseph sold into Egypt; • Genesis 42: The Brothers’ First Journey to Egypt; • Genesis 43: The Second Journey to Egypt; • Genesis 46: Migration to Egypt; • Genesis 47: Settlement in Goshen in the East Nile Delta of Egypt; • Genesis 50: Jacob’s Funeral and the Death of Joseph.
Biblical Texts: • The Book of Exodus: • - Exodus 1.1-12.36: The Israelites in Egypt; • Exodus 12.37-18.27: The Exodus from Egypt and the Journey to Sinai; • Exodus 19.1-24.18: The Covenant at Mount Sinai.
Biblical Texts: • The Book of Numbers: • Numbers 1.1-10.10: Preparation for the Departure from Sinai; • Numbers 10.11-22.1: From Sinai to the Plains of Moab (east of the Jordan River and across from Jericho); • Numbers 22.2-36.13: On the Plains of Moab.
Biblical Texts: • The Book of Deuteronomy: • Deuteronomy, meaning “second law”; • not a new law but a partial repetition, completion and explanation of the law proclaimed on Mount Sinai (Deut 12.1-26.19); • the historical portions of the book are also a resume of what is related elsewhere in the Pentateuch (Deut 1.1-4.43); • Deut 27.1-33.29: Final Words of Moses; • Deut 34: Death and Burial of Moses.
The Book of Joshua: - Joshua 1.1-12.24: Conquest of Canaan.
The Traditional Position on the Exodus, Covenant at Sinai, the Wilderness Wanderings; and the Death and Burial of Moses east of the Jordan follows the biblical story closely: • The Exodus and associated events dated to the 13th century BC; • to the time of Pharaoh Ramesses II (1279-1213 BC) of Egypt; • the Israelites/Hebrews located in the East Nile Delta of Egypt before their departure/exodus;
Difficulties with the Traditionalists’ Position (see Textbook, p. 52): • - No mention of such an event in any New Kingdom (1570-1070 [Dyns. 18-21]) Egyptian source, that is, an extra-biblical texts; • no trace of the early Hebrews in Egypt, for example, from extra-biblical texts and archaeology; • the presence of Egyptian forces along the northern coast of Sinai would have made such an escape difficult if not impossible – lots of evidence for this; • no Late Bronze remains in the rest of the Sinai Peninsula; • no Late Bronze presence at Kadesh-barnea where the Israelites are said to have encamped for a long time – archaeology of the site;
Difficulties with the Traditionalists’ Position (see Textbook, p. 52): - the land of Canaan an Egyptian province at the time when the events related were supposed to have taken place – Tell el-Amarna Texts (14th century BC); - many of the places mentioned in the story of the Exodus and the wanderings not inhabited before the 8th or 7th century BC.
Finkelstein’s Position on the Exodus and Associated Events: • Follows Redford in seeing the geography of the Exodus in the eastern Delta and the personal names in the story as fitting the 7th century BC, that is, close to the time when the biblical texts compiled; • a late date for the compilation of the texts would also fit most of the place names relative to the wandering in the desert; • the narrative could contain memories of the expulsion of the Hyksos from the Delta region of Egypt in the 16th century BC; • Was the story of Israelites (of course, with God’s help) humiliating a great Egyptian pharaoh used to give hope to the people of Judah in the time of the authors? • the parallels between the Exodus from Egypt and the return from Exile in Babylon in the 6th century BC (see Textbook, pp. 52-53).
Mazar’s Position on the Exodus and Associated Events (see Textbook, pp. 59-61): • No evidence from archaeology of the Israelites/Hebrews’ stay in Egypt and the Exodus; • there is evidence, however, for Semites living in the East Nile Delta of Egypt throughout most of the 2nd millennium BC; • Semites, the Hyksos, founded the Fifteenth Dynasty (ca. 1684-1567 BC) in Egypt; • Ramesses II built, in the 13th century BC, a new city called Pi-Ramesse close to the location of the old capital city of the Hyksos at Avaris in the East Nile Delta; • this could be related to the portrayal of the Hebrews as building the city of Ramesses (Exodus 1.8-14); • Egyptian papyri tell of small groups of slaves escaping Egypt to the Sinai – this parallels in some way the biblical story of the Israelite slaves escaping Egypt;
Mazar’s Position on the Exodus and Associated Events (see Textbook, pp. 59-61): • - Archaeology provides evidence of Egyptian fortifications in the northern Sinai and south of Gaza; • But the Israelites did not take this route but went southward to avoid the Egyptian garrisons;
Mazar’s Position on the Exodus and Associated Events (see Textbook, pp. 59-61): • Nevertheless: • - The story cannot be accepted as an historical event; • - It must be seen as a national saga; • Cannot perceive an entire nation wandering through the desert for 40 years under Moses’ leadership; • Yet tradition rooted in the experience of a group of West Semitic slaves escaping the East Nile Delta in the 13th century BC; • this group could have brought with them the story of the Exodus and new religious ideas;
Mazar’s Position on the Exodus and Associated Events (see Textbook, pp. 59-61): • - However, as archaeologists, we cannot provide any clues to the Exodus as an event that actually happened; • - We cannot identify Mount Sinai; • No archaeological remains from the period found in the Sinai peninsula, including the oasis of Kadesh-barnea; • Yet, the Exodus story reflects a good knowledge of the East Nile Delta, the Sinai peninsula, the Negev, and Transjordan; • the biblical Red Sea ought to be translated as “Sea of Reeds” – Yam Suf; • what can be said is that the Exodus story is based on some remote memories rooted in the reality of the 13th century BC;
Mazar’s Position on the Exodus and Associated Events (see Textbook, pp. 59-61): • - other components of the story of the Exodus relating to the Negev and Transjordan refer to later features not established before the time of the Israelites monarchy, e.g., the kingdom of Edom, or entirely unknown from actual history, e.g., the Amorite kingdom of Sihon; • - cannot corroborate the historicity of the Exodus; • however, provide a hint as to the earliest emergence of the story; • eventually, the story transmitted and adapted as a pan-Israelite one; • during the period of its transmission, it was constantly changed and elaborated on until it received the form in which we now have it in the Hebrew Bible/Old Testament.