Easton's Bible Dictionary
the great deliverance wrought for the children of Israel
when they were brought out of the land of Egypt with "a mighty hand and with an
outstretched arm" ( Exodus 12:51 ; Deuteronomy 26:8 ; Psalms 114 ; 136 ), about
B.C. 1490, and four hundred and eighty years ( 1 Kings 6:1 ) before the building
of Solomon's temple.
The time of their sojourning in Egypt was, according to Exodus 12:40 , the space
of four hundred and thirty years. In the LXX., the words are, "The sojourning
of the children of Israel which they sojourned in Egypt and in the land of Canaan
was four hundred and thirty years;" and the Samaritan version reads, "The sojourning
of the children of Israel and of their fathers which they sojourned in the land
of Canaan and in the land of Egypt was four hundred and thirty years." In Genesis
15:13 - 16 , the period is prophetically given (in round numbers) as four hundred
years. This passage is quoted by Stephen in his defence before the council ( Acts
The chronology of the "sojourning" is variously estimated. Those who adopt the
longer term reckon thus:
|From the descent of Jacob into Egypt to the death of Joseph
|From the death of Joseph to the birth of Moses
|From the birth of Moses to his flight into Midian
|From the flight of Moses to his return into Egypt
|From the return of Moses to the Exodus
Others contend for the shorter period of two hundred and fifteen years, holding
that the period of four hundred and thirty years comprehends the years from the
entrance of Abraham into Canaan (see LXX. and Samaritan) to the descent of Jacob
into Egypt. They reckon thus:
|From Abraham's arrival in Canaan to Isaac's birth
| From Isaac's birth to that of his twin sons Esau and Jacob
|From Jacob's birth to the going down into Egypt
|From Jacob's going down into Egypt to the death of Joseph
|From death of Joseph to the birth of Moses
| From birth of Moses to the Exodus
During the forty years of Moses' sojourn in the land of Midian, the Hebrews in
Egypt were being gradually prepared for the great national crisis which was approaching.
The plagues that successively fell upon the land loosened the bonds by which Pharaoh
held them in slavery, and at length he was eager that they should depart. But
the Hebrews must now also be ready to go. They were poor; for generations they
had laboured for the Egyptians without wages. They asked gifts from their neighbours
around them ( Exodus 12:35 ), and these were readily bestowed. And then, as the
first step towards their independent national organization, they observed the
feast of the Passover, which was now instituted as a perpetual memorial. The blood
of the paschal lamb was duly sprinkled on the door-posts and lintels of all their
houses, and they were all within, waiting the next movement in the working out
of God's plan. At length the last stroke fell on the land of Egypt. "It came to
pass, that at midnight Jehovah smote all the firstborn in the land of Egypt."
Pharaoh rose up in the night, and called for Moses and Aaron by night, and said,
"Rise up, and get you forth from among my people, both ye and the children of
Israel; and go, serve Jehovah, as ye have said. Also take your flocks and your
herds, as ye have said, and be gone; and bless me also." Thus was Pharaoh (q.v.)
completely humbled and broken down. These words he spoke to Moses and Aaron "seem
to gleam through the tears of the humbled king, as he lamented his son snatched
from him by so sudden a death, and tremble with a sense of the helplessness which
his proud soul at last felt when the avenging hand of God had visited even his
The terror-stricken Egyptians now urged the instant departure of the Hebrews.
In the midst of the Passover feast, before the dawn of the 15th day of the month
Abib (our April nearly), which was to be to them henceforth the beginning of the
year, as it was the commencement of a new epoch in their history, every family,
with all that appertained to it, was ready for the march, which instantly began
under the leadership of the heads of tribes with their various sub-divisions.
They moved onward, increasing as they went forward from all the districts of Goshen,
over the whole of which they were scattered, to the common centre. Three or four
days perhaps elapsed before the whole body of the people were assembled at Rameses,
and ready to set out under their leader Moses ( Exodus 12:37 ; Numbers 33:3 ).
This city was at that time the residence of the Egyptian court, and here the interviews
between Moses and Pharaoh had taken place.
From Rameses they journeyed to Succoth ( Exodus 12:37 ), identified with Tel-el-Maskhuta,
about 12 miles west of Ismailia. (See PITHOM .) Their third station was Etham
(q.v.), 13:20 , "in the edge of the wilderness," and was probably a little to
the west of the modern town of Ismailia, on the Suez Canal. Here they were commanded
"to turn and encamp before Pi-hahiroth, between Migdol and the sea", i.e., to
change their route from east to due south. The Lord now assumed the direction
of their march in the pillar of cloud by day and of fire by night. They were then
led along the west shore of the Red Sea till they came to an extensive camping-ground
"before Pi-hahiroth," about 40 miles from Etham. This distance from Etham may
have taken three days to traverse, for the number of camping-places by no means
indicates the number of days spent on the journey: e.g., it took fully a month
to travel from Rameses to the wilderness of Sin ( Exodus 16:1 ), yet reference
is made to only six camping-places during all that time. The exact spot of their
encampment before they crossed the Red Sea cannot be determined. It was probably
somewhere near the present site of Suez.
Under the direction of God the children of Israel went "forward" from the camp
"before Pi-hahiroth," and the sea opened a pathway for them, so that they crossed
to the farther shore in safety. The Egyptian host pursued after them, and, attempting
to follow through the sea, were overwhelmed in its returning waters, and thus
the whole military force of the Egyptians perished. They "sank as lead in the
mighty waters" ( Exodus 15:1 - 9 ; Compare Psalms 77:16 - 19 ).
Having reached the eastern shore of the sea, perhaps a little way to the north
of 'Ayun Musa ("the springs of Moses"), there they encamped and rested probably
for a day. Here Miriam and the other women sang the triumphal song recorded in
Exodus 15:1 - 21 .
From 'Ayun Musa they went on for three days through a part of the barren "wilderness
of Shur" (22), called also the "wilderness of Etham" ( Numbers 33:8 ; Compare
Exodus 13:20 ), without finding water. On the last of these days they came to
Marah (q.v.), where the "bitter" water was by a miracle made drinkable.
Their next camping-place was Elim (q.v.), where were twelve springs of water and
a grove of "threescore and ten" palm trees ( Exodus 15:27 ).
After a time the children of Israel "took their journey from Elim," and encamped
by the Red Sea ( Numbers 33:10 ), and thence removed to the "wilderness of Sin"
(to be distinguished from the wilderness of Zin, 20:1 ), where they again encamped.
Here, probably the modern el-Markha, the supply of bread they had brought with
them out of Egypt failed. They began to "murmur" for want of bread. God "heard
their murmurings" and gave them quails and manna, "bread from heaven" ( Exodus
16:4 - 36 ). Moses directed that an omer of manna should be put aside and preserved
as a perpetual memorial of God's goodness. They now turned inland, and after three
encampments came to the rich and fertile valley of Rephidim, in the Wady Feiran.
Here they found no water, and again murmured against Moses. Directed by God, Moses
procured a miraculous supply of water from the "rock in Horeb," one of the hills
of the Sinai group ( 17:1 - 7 ); and shortly afterwards the children of Israel
here fought their first battle with the Amalekites, whom they smote with the edge
of the sword.
From the eastern extremity of the Wady Feiran the line of march now probably led
through the Wady esh-Sheikh and the Wady Solaf, meeting in the Wady er-Rahah,
"the enclosed plain in front of the magnificient cliffs of Ras Sufsafeh." Here
they encamped for more than a year ( Numbers 1:1 ; 10:11 ) before Sinai (q.v.).
The different encampments of the children of Israel, from the time of their leaving
Egypt till they reached the Promised Land, are mentioned in Exodus 12:37 - 19
; Numbers 10:21 - 33 ; Deuteronomy 1 , 2 ,10.
It is worthy of notice that there are unmistakable evidences that the Egyptians
had a tradition of a great exodus from their country, which could be none other
than the exodus of the Hebrews.
Hitchcock's Dictionary of Bible Names
Smith's Bible Dictionary
of the Israelites from Egypt. the common chronology places
the date of this event at B.C. 1491, deriving it in this way: --In ( 1 Kings 6:1
) it is stated that the building of the temple, in the forth year of Solomon,
was in the 480th year after the exodus. The fourth year of Solomon was bout B.C.
1012. Add the 480 years (leaving off one years because neither the fourth nor
the 480th was a full year), and we have B.C. 1491 as the date of the exodus. This
is probably very nearly correct; but many Egyptologists place it at 215 years
later, --about B.C. 1300. Which date is right depends chiefly on the interpretation
of the Scripture period of 430 years, as denoting the duration of the bondage
of the Israelites. The period of bondage given in ( Genesis 15:13 , 15:14 ; Exodus
12:40 , 12:41 ) and Galatians 3:17 as 430 years has been interpreted to cover
different periods. The common chronology makes it extend from the call of Abraham
to the exodus, one-half of it, or 215 years, being spend in Egypt. Others make
it to cover only the period of bondage spend in Egypt. St. Paul says in ( Galatians
3:17 ) that from the covenant with (or call of) Abraham the giving of the law
(less than a year after the exodus) was 430 years. But in ( Genesis 15:13 , 15:14
) it is said that they should be strangers in a strange land, and be afflicted
400 years, and nearly the same is said in ( Exodus 12:40 ) But, in very truth,
the children of Israel were strangers in a strange land from the time that Abraham
left his home for the promised land, and during that whole period of 430 years
to the exodus they were nowhere rulers in the land. So in ( Exodus 12:40 ) it
is said that the sojourning of the children of Israel who dwelt in Egypt was 430
years. But it does not say that the sojourning was all in Egypt, but this people
who lived in Egypt had been sojourners for 430 years.
|(a) This is the simplest way of making the various statements harmonize.
(b) The chief difficulty is the great increase of the children of Israel from
70 to 2,000,000 in so short a period as 215 years, while it is very easy in 430
years. But under the circumstances it is perfectly possible in the shorter period.
See on ver. 7
(c) If we make the 430 years to include only the bondage in Egypt, we must place
the whole chronology of Abraham and the immigration of Jacob into Egypt some 200
years earlier, or else the exodus 200 years later, or B.C. 1300. in either case
special difficulty is brought into the reckoning.
(d) Therefore, on the whole, it is well to retain the common chronology, though
the later dates may yet prove to be correct.
The history of the exodus itself commences with the close
of that of the ten plagues. [PLAGUES, THE TEN] In the night in which, at midnight,
the firstborn were slain, ( Exodus 12:29 ) Pharaoh urged the departure of the
Israelites. vs. ( Exodus 12:31 , 12:32 ) They at once set forth from Rameses,
vs. ( Exodus 12:37 , 12:39 ) apparently during the night v. ( Exodus 12:42 ) but
towards morning on the 15th day of the first month. ( Numbers 33:3 ) They made
three journeys, and encamped by the Red Sea. Here Pharaoh overtook them, and the
great miracle occurred by which they were saved, while the pursuer and his army
were destroyed. [RED SEA, PASSAGE OF]
International Standard Bible Encyclopedia
I. THE ROUTE
1. The Starting-Point
On the 14th Abib (early in April) the Hebrews were gathered at Rameses (Numbers
33:5) where apparently the hostile Pharaoh was also living (Exodus 12:31). From
Psalms 78:12,43 it appears that the wonders preceding the Exodus occurred in the
"field of Zoan," where the starting-point may be placed (see RAAMSES; ZOAN). Dr.
Naville has suggested that the court was at Bubastis, not at Zoan, and that the
route lay from near Zagazig down Wady Tumeilat--a line well fitted for a people
driving flocks and herds. On the other hand, in favor of the starting-point having
been at Zoan, we read that the "way of the land of the Philistines" was "near"
(Exodus 13:17). This route, which was not taken lest the people should be discouraged
by defeat at Gaza where the Egyptians always had troops, reached Egypt at Migdol
(see MIGDOL, 2), and ran thence to Daphnai--some 15 miles--and to Zoan by a second
march of the same length. The route from Bubastis to Daphnai (some 50 miles) is
less likely to have been described as "near." Although an Arab will march 30 miles
in a day on foot, yet when moving camp with camels, who travel only about 2 miles
an hour, with women and children and herds, he only covers about 12 or 15 miles
a day. We cannot suppose the Hebrew cattle to have covered more than this distance
without water on any single march.
2. Rameses to Succoth
We are not told how many days were occupied on the way from Rameses to \SUCCOTH\
(which see), though the general impression is that the stages mentioned (Numbers
33) represent a day's journey each. Measuring back from the first camp after crossing
the Red Sea, we find that Succoth probably lay in the lower part of Wady Tumeilat,
where there was plenty of water and herbage. The direct route from Zoan leads
to Phakousa (Tell Faqus) by a march of 15 miles through well-watered lands. A
second march, across the desert to Heroopolis and down the valley to Succoth,
would be of the same length. The Hebrews departed "in haste," and no doubt made
as long marches as they could. If the whole of the people were not in Rameses,
but scattered over Goshen, it is possible that some came down the valley from
near Bubastis, and that the whole force concentrated at Succoth.
3. Succoth to Etham
The next march (Exodus 13:20; Numbers 33:6) led Israel to Etham, on the "edge
of the wilderness" which lies West of the Bitter Lakes, not far from where the
Nile water then entered them, and no doubt made them sweet. The intention of Moses
probably was to reach the desert of Shur by rounding the head of this stretch
of water; but we are told (Exodus 14:2) that he was commanded to "turn"--evidently
to the South--and to encamp before "the mouth of the lakes" (see PI-HAHIROTH),
in order that Pharaoh might conclude that the Hebrews were "entangled in the land,"
and shut in between the lakes on their left and the desert mountains on their
right. This camp would seem to have been West of the lakes, and some 10 miles
North of Suez. It was perhaps two days' journey from Etham, since the lakes are
30 miles long; or, if Etham was farther South than the head of the lakes, the
distance may have been covered by one forced march of 20 to 25 miles, the beasts
being watered from the lakes if they were then filled with fresh water, as they
would be when having an outlet to a tideless sea.
4. Passage of the Sea
The sea which Israel crossed is not named in the actual account of the journey,
but in the So of Moses (Exodus 15:4) it is called the "Red Sea" in the English
Versions of the Bible, following the Septuagint, the Hebrew name being Yam Cuph,
or "weedy sea," a term which applied not only to the Gulf of Suez (Numbers 33:10),
but also to the Gulf of 'Aqabah (Deuteronomy 28; 1 Kings 9:26). We are also told
that the route chosen was "the way of the wilderness by the Red Sea" (Exodus 13:18).
It is generally supposed that the head of the Gulf of Suez at the time of the
Exodus was farther North than at present; and, as the Bitter Lakes were then probably
filled by the Nile waters flowing down Wddy Tumeildt, they would no doubt have
carried the Nile mud into this gulf, which mud had gradually filled up this Nile
branch before 600 BC. The probable point of passage was the narrow channel (about
2 miles across) by which the lakes discharged into the sea, and was thus about
10 miles North of Suez. We are told that the water was driven back by "a strong
east (or "contrary") wind" in the night (Exodus 14:21), and the sea (or "lake,"
as the word yam often means in the Old Testament; see Gesenius, Lexicon, under
the word) was thus "divided," a shoal being formed and the waters being heaped
up (Exodus 15:8), so that when the wind ceased they rushed back; whereas, during
the passage, they were a "wall" or "defence" (Exodus 14:22) against any flank
attacks by the Egyptians (compare 1 Samuel 25:16, where David's men are said to
have been a "wall" when defending Nabal's shepherds). The effect of the wind on
shallow waters can be seen at the mouth of the Kishon, where a shoal exists which
is dry with a west wind, but under water and impassable when the wind blows down
the river. In 1882, Sir Alexander Tulloch saw the waters of Lake Menzaleh driven
back more than a mile by the east wind. Thus, however opportune the occurrence,
the drying up of the sea, as described in the Bible, was a perfectly natural phenomenon.
The Hebrews crossed in the morning, and a march of 15 miles would bring them to
the springs from which Suez is supplied, called 'Ain Naba' and 'Ayyun Musa ("the
gushing spring" and "the spring of Moses"), from which point their wanderings
in the desert of Shur would begin (see WANDERINGS OF ISRAEL).
5. Other Views of the Route
This view of the Exodus route is practically the same as advocated by Dr. Robinson,
by Dr. E. Naville, by Sir S. Warren, by Sir W. Dawson, and by others who have
visited the region in question. The view advocated by Brugsch, according to which
the sea crossed was a lagoon near Pelusium, has found no supporters, because it
directly conflicts with the statement that Israel did not follow the shore road
to Philistia, but went by the wilderness of the Red Sea. Another theory (see SINAI),
according to which the "Red Sea" always means the Gulf of 'Aqabah, is equally
discarded by most writers of experience, because the distance from Egypt to Elath
on this gulf is 200 miles, and the Israelites could not have traversed that distance
in four marches, especially as the route has hardly any water along it in springtime.
As detailed above, the route offers no difficulties that would discredit the historical
character of the narrative.
II. THE DATE
1. Old Testament Chronology
The actual statements of the Books of Kings, giving parallel reigns from the time
of Solomon's death down to the fixed date of the fall of Samaria in 722 BC, place
the foundation of the Temple within a few years of 1000 BC. It is true that this
interval is reduced, by about 30 years, by scholars who accept the very doubtful
identification of Ahabu of Sir-lai with Ahab of Israel; but this theory conflicts
with the fact that Jehu was contemporary with Shalmaneser II of Assyria; and,
since we have no historical account of the chronology of Hebrew kings other than
that of the Old Testament, for this period, and no monumental notice of Israel
in Egypt, or of the Exodus, we must either adopt Old Testament chronology or regard
the dates in question as being unknown.
2. Date of Conquest of Palestine
We have several statements which show that the Hebrew writers believed the conquest
of Palestine by Joshua to have occurred early in the 15th century BC, and this
date fully agrees with the most recent results of monumental study of the history
of the XVIIIth (or Theban) Dynasty in Egypt, as about to be shown, and with the
fact that Israel is noticed as being already in Palestine in the 5th year of Minepthah,
the successor of Rameses II. In 1 Kings 6:1 we read that the Temple was founded
"in the 480th year after the children of Israel were come out of the land of Egypt,"
this referring to the Conquest and not to the Exodus, as appears from other notices.
The Septuagint reads "440 years," but the details show that the Hebrew text is
preferable. In Judges 11:26 the first victory of Jephthah is said to have occurred
300 years after Joshua's conquest. The details given for this interval, in other
passages of the same book, amount to 326 years; but the periods of "rest" may
be given in round numbers, and thus account for this minor discrepancy. Samuel
ruled apparently for 20 years (1 Samuel 7:2), and Saul (the length of whose reign
is not stated in our present text of this same book) very probably ruled for 20
years also, as Josephus (Ant., VI, xiv, 9) states. Thus 175 years elapsed between
Jephthah's victory and the foundation of the Temple--a total of 475 years, or
rather more, from Joshua's conquest.
3. Date of Exodus
The popular belief that many of the judges were contemporary does not agree with
these facts, and is indeed in conflict with ten definite statements in Jgs. In
Acts 13:19,20 we read that after the Conquest there were judges about the space
of 450 years, and this rough estimate (including the rule of Samuel) agrees pretty
nearly with the 415, or 420, years of the various passages in the Old Testament.
According to the Pentateuch and later accounts (Amos 5:25; Acts 7:30), Israel
abode in the desert 40 years. We therefore find that Joshua's conquest is placed
about 1480 BC, and the Exodus about 1520 BC. According to the revised chronology
of the XVIIIth Dynasty of Egypt (see HITTITES), which rests on the notices of
contemporary Kassite kings in Babylon, it thus appears that the Pharaoh of the
oppression was Thothmes III--a great enemy of the Asiatics--and the Pharaoh of
the Exodus would be Amenophis II or Thothmes IV. If Moses was 80 at the time of
the Exodus, he must have been born when Thothmes III was an infant, and when his
famous sister Hatasu (according to the more probable rendering of her name by
French scholars) was regent, and bore the title Ma-ka-Ra. She therefore might
be the "daughter of Pharaoh" (Exodus 2:5) who adopted Moses--no king being mentioned
in this passage, but appearing (Exodus 2:15) only when Moses was "grown"; for
her regency lasted more than 20 years, till Thothmes III came of age.
4. Other Views
As regards this date, it should be remarked that theory of Lepsius, which has
been adopted by Brugsch and by many writers who accept his authority, is not accepted
by every scholar. E. de Bunsen supposed that the Exodus occurred early in the
times of the XVIIIth Dynasty; Sir Peter le Page Renouf said that "no materials
have yet been discovered for fixing historical dates in periods of Egyptian history
as far back as the Hebrew Exodus"--which was true when he wrote. Professor J.
Lieblein supposes the Exodus to have occurred late in the time of Amenophis III--also
of the XVIIIth Dynasty (see Proc. Biblical Arch. Soc., 1890, 157-60; 1892, 60-62;
1898, 277; 1899, 53; 1907, 214). Dr. Hommel has also recently declared in favor
of the view that the Exodus took place under the XVIIIth Dynasty (Expository Times,
February, 1899). Lepsius asserted that the Exodus occurred in 1314 BC, being the
15th year of Minepthah; but this is generally regarded as at least half a century
too early for the year in question, and Israel was not in Egypt even ten years
earlier in his reign.
5. Astronomical Calculations
The approximate dates given by Brugsch for the XVIIIth and XIXth Dynasties are
very close to those which can be deduced from notices of contemporary kings of
Babylon (History of Egypt, II, 314). The later dates which Mahler based on certain
astronomical calculations of the French astronomer Blot (Academie des inscriptions,
March 30, 1831, 597, 602-4) are not accepted by other Egyptologists. Brugsch says
that on this question, "scientific criticism has not yet spoken its last word"
(Hist Egypt, I, 36). Renouf (Proc. Biblical Arch. Soc., December, 1892, 62) more
definitely states that "unfortunately there is nothing on Egyptian documents which
have as yet come down to us which can, by astronomical calculations, be made to
result in a date." This judgment appears to be justified by recent discoveries,
since Mahler's dates are about a century too late, as shown by the known history
of the Kassites of Babylon. Biot's calculations were based on recorded observations
of the rising of Sirius just before the sun, in certain years of certain Egyptian
kings. But Sirius is not in the plane of the earth's orbit, and its rising is
not constant in retardation. The "heliacal" rising is now about 2 1/2 min. later
each year, but about the date in question the retardation was about 12 min., so
that a cycle of 1,461 years cannot be used by simple addition. Blot also assumed
that the Egyptian observations were as accurate as those made by a modern astronomer
with a telescope, whereas, when using the naked eye, the Egyptian observer may
well have been a day wrong, which would make a difference of 120 years in the
date, or even more. The Babylonian chronology thus gives a far safer basis than
do these doubtful observations. On the basis of Biot's calculations the Exodus
has been placed in 1214 BC, or even (by Dr. Flinders Petrie) in 1192 BC (Proc.
Biblical Arch. Soc., December, 1896, 248). He thus cuts off more than three centuries
in the period of the Judges, many of whom he regards as contemporary. Lepsius
in like manner, in order to establish his date, accepted the chronology of the
Talmud, which is notoriously 166 years too late for the known date of the fall
of Samaria, and he endeavored (while rejecting the Old Testament statement as
to the 480 years) to base himself on the number of generations before the Exodus,
whereas it is well known that the Hebrew genealogies often give only the better-known
names and skip several links.
6. Relation between Date of Exodus and Date of Patriarchs
As regards the relation between the earlier date for the Exodus (about 1520 BC)
and the chronology of the Hebrew patriarchs, the Hebrew text gives an interval
of 645 years, and the Greek text of 430 years between the Exodus and the call
of Abraham; and the call would thus be dated about 2165 BC or 1950 BC. Abraham
is very generally held to have been contemporary with Hammurabi of Babylon (Amraphel),
whose accession dates (according to Dr. F. Peiser) in 2139 BC. Dr. Hommel and
Mr. King prefer a later date, about 1950 BC, though Nabunahid (the last king of
Babylon) places Hammurabi about 2140 BC. The longer reckoning is reconcilable
with the Hebrew text, and the shorter with the Greek text, of Gen, without disturbing
the approximate date for the Exodus which has been advocated above.
7. Agreement between Monuments and Old Testament Chronology
There is in fact no discrepancy between the actual results of monumental study
and the chronology of the Old Testament. If the Exodus occurred under Thothmes
IV, it would have been useless for Israel to attempt the entrance into Palestine
by the "way of the land of the Philistines," because at Gaza, Ashkelon and in
other cities, the road was still held by forces of Egyptian chariots, which had
been established by Thothmes III. But about 40 years later the rebellion of the
Amorites against Egypt began, in the time of the Egyptian general Yankhamu, and
general chaos resulted in Southern Palestine The Egyptian garrison at Jerusalem
(Amarna Tablets, Berlin, No. 102) was withdrawn in his time--about 1480 BC--and
it is then (numbers 102-3-4-6, 199) that a fierce people coming from Seir, and
called the 'Abiri or Chabiri, are noticed by the Amorite king of Jerusalem as
"destroying all the rulers" of the country. They are not named in any of the other
Amarna letters (the term gum-gaz, or "man of war," though once applying probably
to them, being used of other warriors as well); and the name is geographical for
they are called (no. 199) "people of the land of the 'Abiri." The first sign has
the guttural sounds 'A and Chronicles, and has not the sound K, which has been
wrongly attributed to it, making the word to mean Kabiri, "or great ones." Nor
can it be rendered "allies," for it is the name of a people, and quite another
word is used for "allies" in this correspondence. The date agrees with that mentioned
in the Old Testament for the Hebrew conquest of Palestine, and the only objection
to the identification of the 'Abiri (who attacked Ajalon, Lachish, Ashkelon and
other cities) with the Hebrews is, that it upsets theory of Lepsius and the popular
views as to the date of the Exodus which he maintained.
8. A Text of Minepthah
Nor is this the only evidence which destroys his theory; for Dr. Flinders Petrie
(Contemporary Review, May, 1896) has published an equally important text of the
5th year of Minepthah, from Thebes. A slab of black syenite, bearing this text,
was reused from a temple of Amenophis III. In it Minepthah boasts of his conquest
of the invaders who--as elsewhere stated- -attacked the Delta, and penetrated
to Belbeis and Heliopolis. He says that "Sutekh (the Hittite god) has turned his
back on their chief"; "the Hittites are quieted, Pa-Kan'ana is ravaged with all
violence"--this town being otherwise known to have been near Tyre--"the people
of Israel is spoiled, it has no seed"; "Ruten has become as the widows of the
land of Egypt." Thus, so far from the Exodus having occurred in the 15th year
of Minepthah, Israel is noticed 10 years earlier in connection with a place near
Tyre with Hittites yet farther North. Even if the Hebrews had only just arrived,
they must have left Egypt 40 years before--in the reign of Rameses II--if we attach
any value to Old Testament statements; and all the dates variously given by followers
of Lepsius are quite upset; whereas the notice of the 'Abiri, two centuries before
Minepthah's accession, is quite in accord with this allusion to Israel, as well
as with Old Testament chronology.
III. THE THEORY OF LEPSIUS
The reasons which influenced Lepsius require, however, to be stated, and the objections
to a date for the Hebrew Conquest about 1480 BC (or a little later) to be considered,
since theory that Rameses II was the Pharaoh of the oppression, and Minepthah
the Pharaoh of the Exodus is often said to be a secure result of monumental studies,
whereas it is really not so, because the only monumental allusions to Israel and
the Hebrews are those just mentioned.
1. 1st Argument:
City Rameses: The arguments adduced in favor of the later date are as follows:
In the first place, Lepsius (Letters from Egypt, 1842-44) held that no city called
Rameses could have been so named, or built by the Hebrews, before the reign of
Rameses II, and he placed the site at Heroopolis. This was a very doubtful assumption
(see RAAMSES), and his identification of the city is now abandoned. The theory
always was vitiated by an objection which he seems to have overlooked: for the
"land of Rameses" is noticed in the time of Jacob (Genesis 47:11), and since it
is impossible to suppose that Jacob lived in the time of Rameses II, the followers
of Lepsius are obliged to regard this notice as an anachronism, which destroys
their case, as it might equally be an anachronism in the account of the Exodus,
though it is probably correct.
2. 2nd Argument:
Manetho's Statements: The second argument is based on the account by Manetho of
the expulsion of leprous and unclean tribes from Egypt. Manetho was an Egyptian
priest who wrote about 268 BC, and who evidently hated the Jews. His account only
reaches us secondhand through Josephus (Apion, I, 14, 15, 26-31), this Hebrew
author rejecting it as fabulous. Manetho apparently said that, after the Hyksos
kings had ruled for 511 years, and had fortified Avaris (see ZOAN), they agreed
with King Thummosis to leave Egypt, and went through the desert to Jerusalem,
being afraid of the Assyrians (who had no power in Palestine at this time). He
continued to relate that, after Armesses Miamon (Rameses II) had ruled 66 years,
he was succeeded by an Amenophis whom Josephus calls a "fictitious king"--and
rightly so since the name does not occur in the XIXth Dynasty. Apparently Minepthah
was meant--though perhaps confused with Amenophis II--and he is said by Manetho
to have sent the leprous people to quarries East of the Nile, but to have allowed
them later to live in Avaris where the shepherds had been. They were induced by
Osarsiph, a priest of Heliopolls, to renounce the Egyptian gods, and this Osarsiph
Manetho identified with Moses. They then induced the shepherds who had been expelled
by Thummosis to return from Jerusalem to Avaris, and Amenophis fled to Memphis
and Ethiopia. His son Rhampses (apparently Rameses III is meant) was sent later
to expel the shepherd and polluted people, whom he met at Pelusium and pursued
into Syria. This story Josephus discredits, remarking: "I think therefore that
I have made it sufficiently evident that Manetho, while he followed his ancient
records, did not much mistake the truth of the history, but that, when he had
recourse to fabulous stories without any certain author, he either forged them
himself without any probability, or else gave credit to some men who spoke so
out of their ill will to us"--a criticism sounder than that of Lepsius, who prefers
the libelous account of a prejudiced Egyptian priest of the 3rd century BC, identifying
Moses with a renegade priest of Heliopolis named Osarsiph, to the ancient Hebrew
records in the Bible.
3. Relation of Manetho's Stories to the Exodus:
A thread of truth underlay Manetho's stories, but it has nothing to do with the
Exodus, and the details to be found on Egyptian monuments do not agree with Manetho's
tale. The Hyksos rulers were not expelled by any Thothmes, but by Aahmes who took
Avaris about 1700 BC, and who reopened the quarries of the Arabian chain. Minepthah,
about 1265 BC, was attacked in Egypt by Aryan tribes from the North, who had nothing
to do with Hyksos chiefs, being Lycians, Sardians and Cilicians. He repelled them,
but they again attacked Rameses III (about 1200 BC), and were again driven to
the North. No mention of Israel occurs in connection with any of these events.
4. Greek and Latin Writers:
The story of the leprous Jews was, however, repeated by other Greek writers. Cheremon
(see Josephus, Apion I, 32) says that Rameses, the son of Amenophis, defeated
and expelled a diseased people led against him, at Pelusium, by Tisithen and Petesiph,
whom he identified with Moses and Joseph. Lysimachus said that a scabby people
were led by Moses through the desert by Judea and Jerusalem in the time of Bocchoris
(735 BC). Diodorus Siculus (Fr. of Bk, 34) repeats the tale, about 8 BC, saying
that lepers were driven out of Egypt, and were led by Moses who founded Jerusalem,
and "established by law all their wicked customs and practices," and again (Fr.
of Bk, 40) that strangers in Egypt caused a plague by their impurity, and being
driven out were led by Moses. Tacitus, about 100 AD (Hist, v. ii), believed the
Jews to have fled from Crete to Libya and, being expelled from Egypt, to have
been led by their "Captains Jerusalem and Judah." Again he says (v. iii) that
under Bocchoris (735 BC) there was sickness in Egypt, and that the infected being
driven out were led by Moses, and reached the site of their temple on the 7th
5. Condition of Egypt under Minepthah:
No true critic of the present time is likely to prefer these distorted accounts
of the Exodus, or any of the Greek and Roman calumnies leveled against the hated
Jews, to the simple narration of the Exodus in the Bible. The historic conditions
in the 5th year of Minepthah were very different from those at the time of Moses.
The invaders of Egypt reached Belbeis and Heliopolis (see Brugsch, History of
Egypt, II, 117), and Minepthah states, in his text on the wall of the temple of
Amon at Thebes, that he had to defend Hellopolls and Memphis against his foes
from the East. The region was then "not cultivated but was left as pasture for
cattle, on account of the foreigners. It lay waste from the time of our forefathers."
The kings of upper Egypt remained in their entrenchments, and the kings of lower
Egypt were besieged in their cities by warriors, and had no mercenaries to oppose
them. But Israel, as Minepthah himself has told us now, was in Palestine, not
in Egypt, in this year of his reign; and, far from desiring to expel Asiatic pastoral
peoples, the same Pharaoh encouraged their immigration into the region of Goshen
(see PITHOM) laid waste by the Aryan raid.
6. Explanations of Minepthah's Statements:
Objections to the view that the Exodus occurred two centuries and a half before
the reign of Minepthah began, and attempts to explain away the statements on his
monuments require some notice.
(1) Pithom was Heroopolis.
The first of these objections is due to the belief that Pithom was Heroopolis,
and was a city founded by Rameses II; but this (see PITHOM) is too hazardous a
conclusion to suffice for the entire neglect of Old Testament chronology which
it involves, since the site of this city is still very doubtful.
(2) Rameses II Not Named in Judges.
A second objection is made, that the Old Testament shows complete ignorance of
Egyptian history if it makes Rameses II contemporary with Jud because he is not
named in that book. But Old Testament references to foreign history are always
very slight, while on the other hand it is quite probable that there are allusions,
in this book, to the events which took place in the reigns of Rameses II, and
of Minepthah. The Hebrews were then confined to the mountains (Judges 1:19) and
the Egyptians to the plains. No Pharaoh is mentioned by name in the Old Testament
till the time of Rehoboam. In his 8th year Rameses II took various towns in Galilee
including Salem (North of Taanach), Merom, Beth-Anath, Anem and Dapur (Daberath
at the foot of Tabor). The revolt of Barak probably occurred about the 25th year
of Rameses II, and began at Tabor. In the So of Deborah (Judges 5:2), the first
words (bi-pheroa` pera`oth), rendered by the Septuagint (Alex MS) "when the rulers
ruled," may be more definitely translated "when the Pharaohs were powerful," especially
as Sisera--who commanded the Canaanite forces--bears a name probably Egyptian
(ses-Ra, or "servant of Ra"), and may have been an Egyptian resident at the court
of Jabin. So again when, about 1265 BC, Minepthah says that "Israel is ruined,
it has no seed," the date suggests the time of Gideon when wild tribes swarmed
over the plains, "and destroyed the increase of the earth, till thou come unto
Gaza, and left no sustenance in Israel" (Judges 6:4). The Midianites and Amalekites
may have then joined the tribes from Asia Minor who, in the 5th year of Minepthah,
ruined the Hittites and invaded the Delta.
(3) Some Hebrews Were Never in Egypt.
But another explanation of the presence of Israel in this year on the line of
Minepthah's pursuit of these tribes after their defeat has been suggested, namely,
that some of the Hebrews never went to Egypt at all. This of course contradicts
the account in the Pentateuch (Exodus 1:1-5; 12:41) where we read that all Jacob's
family (70 men) went down to Goshen, and that "all the hosts of the Lord" left
Egypt at the Exodus; but it is supposed to be supported by a passage (1 Chronicles
7:21) where we read of one of the sons of Ephraim "whom the men of Gath born in
the land slew, because they came down to take away their cattle." Ephraim however
was born in Egypt (Genesis 41:52), and his sons and "children of the third generation"
(Genesis 50:23) remained there. The meaning no doubt is that men of Gath raided
Goshen; and there were probably many such raids by the inhabitants of Philistia
during the times of the Hyksos kings, similar to those which occurred in the time
of Minepthah and of Rameses III. The objections made to the Old Testament date
for the Exodus early in the reign of Amenophis III, or in that of his predecessor
Thothmes IV, thus appear to have little force; and the condition of Egypt before
the 5th year of Minepthah was unlike that which would have existed at the time
of the Exodus. The theory of Lepsius was a purely literary conjecture, and not
based on any monumental records. It has been falsified by the evidence of monuments
found during the last 20 years, and these are fully in accord with the history
and chronology of the Old Testament.
IV. THE NUMBERS
1. Colenso's Criticism of Large Number
The historic difficulty with respect to the Exodus does not lie in the account
of plagues natural to Egypt even now, nor in the crossing of the Red Sea, but
in a single statement as to the numbers of Israel (Exodus 12:37), 'about 600,000
footmen- -strong men--with many children, and also many wanderers.' The women
are not mentioned, and it has been supposed that this represents a host of 2,000,000
emigrants at least. The objection was urged by Voltaire, and the consequences
were elaborately calculated by Colenso. Even if 600,000 means the total population,
the "heroes," or "strong men on foot" would, it is urged, have been as numerous
as the largest Assyrian army (120,000 men) employed in the conquest of Syria.
With an army of more than half a million Moses would have held control over Egypt
and Palestine alike; and the emigrants, even in close column of companies, would
have stretched for 20 miles; the births would occur every ten minutes; and the
assembly before Sinai would have been impossible.
2. Increase of Population
It is also difficult to suppose, on ordinary calculations of the increase of population,
that in 430 years (Exodus 12:40), or in 215 years as given in the Septuagint,
a tribe of 70 males (Genesis 46:26; Exodus 1:5; 6:14) could have increased to
600,000, or even 100,000 men. But on the other hand we are specially told (Exodus
1:7-20) that the children of Israel "increased abundantly," and the comments of
Dr Orr (Problem of the Old Testament, 1906, 363-65) on this question should be
studied. A young and vigorous nation might multiply much faster than is now usual
in the East. Dr. Flinders Petrie has suggested that for "thousand" we should read
"families"; but, though the word ('eleph) sometimes has that meaning (Judges 6:15;
1 Samuel 10:19; 23:23), it is in the singular, and not in the plural, in the passage
in question (Exodus 12:37).
3. Number a Corruption of Original Statement
It should not be forgotten that variations in numbers are very commonly found
in various texts, VSS, and parallel passages of the Old Testament. Thus for instance
(1 Samuel 13:5) the Syriac version reads 3,000 for the 30,000 chariots mentioned
in the Hebrew and Greek; and the Septuagint (1 Kings 5:11) gives 20,000 for the
20 measures of oil noticed in the Hebrew text. The probable reason for these discrepancies
may be found in the fact that the original documents may have used numeral signs--as
did the Egyptians, Assyrians, Hittites and Phoenicians--instead of writing the
words in full as they appear in the New Testament. These numeral signs--especially
in cuneiform--were apt to be misread, and the sign for "unity" could easily be
confused with those denoting "sixty" (the Babylonian unit) and "an hundred"--if,
in the latter case, a short stroke was added. In the opinion of the present writer
the difficulty is due to a corruption of the original statement, which occurred
during the course of some fifteen centuries, or more, of continued recopying;
but the reader will no doubt form his own conclusions as to this question.
The general questions of the credibility of that history of the Exodus which is
given us in the Pentateuch, and of the approximate date of the event, have been
treated above in the light of the most recent monumental information. No reference
has yet been found in Egyptian records to the presence of Israel in the Delta,
though the Hebrews are noticed as present in Palestine before the 5th year of
Minepthah. The Pharaohs as a rule--like other kings--only recorded their victories,
and no doubt reckoned Israel only as a tribe of those "hostile Shasu" (or "nomads")
whom the Theban kings of the XVIIIth Dynasty drove back into Asia. It would be
natural that a disaster at the Red Sea should not be noticed in their proud records
still extant on the temple walls in Egypt.
See also \WANDERINGS OF ISRAEL\.
C. R. Conder
430 years, bible commentary, bible history, bible reference, bible study, define, deliverance, egypt, exodus (the), israelites