Full Text for Exodus- Volume 11 - When did the exodus take place and how does it fit into the narrative of history? (Video)

ROUGHLY EDITED COPY CONCORDIA UNIVERSITY EDUCATION NETWORK EXODUS DR. DAVID ADAMS #11 Captioning Provided By: Caption First, Inc. 10 E. 22nd Street Suite 304 Lombard, IL 60148 800-825-5234 *** This text is being provided in a rough draft format. Communication Access Realtime Translation (CART) is provided in order to facilitate communication accessibility and may not be a totally verbatim record of the proceedings. *** >> Boy, that's all really interesting. So when did the exodus take place? How does that fit into this history? >> Well, Nick, that's not an easy question to answer. In some ways, we have plenty of information. Maybe too much information. And it's -- it doesn't all fall out neatly together. The way that the information is interpreted -- and remember, I mentioned earlier when we were talking about dating things in history that there's no such thing as information that tells us exactly when something happened. It all has to be interpreted in one way or another. And this information does, too, as you will see. But there have developed over the years two major theories about the date of the exodus. We call these the Early Date and the Late Date or the traditional date, you know, is the Early Date and then the Late Date is a little later. Both of these fall within the 18th dynasty. So they are all part of the New Kingdom Period. And the 18th dynasty was one of the most important dynasties in Egyptian history. We tend to think of these sometimes as a conservative versus a liberal theory. And that's not exactly correct. It's true that most conservatives do tend to prefer the Early Date, which is the traditional date. And most liberals, at least those who think there was an exodus at all -- and some don't believe that there even was an exodus or that the Hebrews were ever in Egypt at all. But those who do tend to prefer the later date. And that's because it has to do largely with how important you think the biblical data is versus some of the archaeological data. But there are certainly some conservatives who hold to the Late Date. It's just that they interpret some of the biblical dates not as literal dates but as round numbers. And we'll look at a couple of examples of that as we go along. Now, there's so much information that we would need to consider to really understand this question that I'm not going to attempt to present it all to you. What I want to do is give you some examples of the kind that's used in answering this question of the date of the exodus and where it leads us. That is to say, where it leads us in terms of methodology. What kind of questions we need to consider when looking at this material and then also what answer would this lead us to one way or the other. So I'm not -- as I said, I'm not going to attempt to answer everything. But I want to look at this in terms of a couple of categories of information. We have information from the Bible itself obviously. We have information from Egypt and Egyptian literature. We also have information from archeology more broadly. And all of this comes together. And we'll kind of sample some of this. But there is a sort of general methodological question that we need to be aware of. Those who support the Early Date tend to interpret the biblical numbers literally. Now, earlier in this course, remember, we were talking about dating. And I mentioned I Kings 6:1. The -- I'm sorry; II Kings 6:1, the statement that the building of the temple began 480 years after the exodus. And I mentioned that some people take that as a round number. You know, 40 years equals one generation. So that 480 years doesn't equal 480 literal years but is a way of talking about a certain number of generations which in literal years may have been something less than that. And there are some conservatives who understand the text that way. They are not denying the historicity of the text. They are simply saying that the numbers weren't being used, weren't intended to be used as exact numbers. Much like we might say something -- there are 100 people over there. Well, we might know that, you know, there really -- if we counted them and we found that there were 93 instead of 100 or 112 instead of 100, we wouldn't say that person was lying when he said there were 100 there because we would understand that he meant there was something like around 100. 100 as a round number. And so it's not so much a question of do you believe the dates of the Bible or not as it is a question of how do you understand the dates in the Bible? And do you understand them to be always exact literal numbers? Or do you understand them in some cases to be figurative numbers or round numbers? And we'll see this question emerging over and over again, especially with regard to the biblical data. Well, the first thing we probably will mention in looking at the biblical evidence is this verse from Exodus 1:8 that we were mentioning in relation to the last question. "There arose a new king over Egypt who did not know about Joseph." Well, what does this tell us historically? Some people suggest this requires a Hyksos ruler for the time of Joseph and that Joseph's memory was honored among the Hyksos. And that, you know, there later arose a ruler who did not know Joseph, a non-Hyksos ruler. And again, those who prefer a late date will have put more distance between the Hyksos period and the period of the exodus. And so they tend to separate those a little more. But that's not really such an important verse. Another one that comes up -- and this sort of connects the biblical material with archeology -- is the mention in Exodus Chapter 1 that the Hebrews built for Pharaoh the cities of Pithom and Rameses. Well, based on the archaeological identification of these sites, these sites were abandoned. They were built. And then they were later abandoned. And then they were rebuilt. They were -- they existed earlier. And then for some reason these sites were abandoned around 1570, about the time of the expulsion of the Hyksos. And they didn't come back into use until around 1300. And so those who believe in a late date would argue that what the Hebrews were doing were not building these cities initially. They were rebuilding them you know. And so they were bringing them back into status. And that would support a later date, a date after 1300. Usually around 1250 is the most common date quoted plus or minus a few years. The traditional date would see these as being built early. And we're talking about here it's not rebuilding them but building them the first time. And that's even if -- even if the cities that we think were Rameses and Pithom actually were. There's much debate about the exact identification of these sites. So another issue is -- actually comes from the joining together of two biblical bits. In Exodus 2 Verse 23 we're told that the pharaoh died. And that he dies while Moses was in Midian. After Moses had left Midian in the New Testament in the book of Acts Chapter 7 Verses 29 and 30, we read that Moses fled and became a dweller in the land of Midian. And when 40 years had passed, an angel of the Lord appeared to him and so forth. And putting these two together, some people conclude that if you put these two together, that means that the pharaoh of the oppression, the one who was the pharaoh at the time Moses fled Egypt, must have lived for at least 40 years. And this limits the number of pharaohs because there weren't too many pharaohs that lived that long. And this limits really to two in this period. That is Tuthmosis III and Rameses II. And these are two very important pharaohs. Rameses II was one of the most powerful pharaohs in the whole history of Egypt. So this becomes a very interesting debate over which of these two pharaohs is involved. Those who support a late date, which, by the way, would fall during Rameses II's period, would argue that actually we don't need a precise chronological time here because when the Bible says that 40 years had passed, you know, they interpret this as not 40 literal years but a generation. In other words, that generation had died off. And so they would say you don't need to find a Pharaoh who actually lived 40 years. That in saying 40 years had passed, they simply meant that generation had died and the pharaoh had died with it. So in Exodus 12 we're told that the sojourn of the children of Israel in Egypt was 430 years. Now, if it's -- if our understanding of ecology is correct, then Jacob would have entered Egypt during the reign of Pharaoh Senusert III who was pharaoh from 1878 to 1883 not during the Hyksos period. Those who see this as a late date sometimes want to equate the coming of Israel into Egypt with the coming of the Hyksos. And so they want to move the date down and say that because the Hyksos, you know, ruled -- were later than that, that you need to move 430 years from the time the Hyksos came, which would bring you closer to the 13th century date than the 15th century date. And the key passage, the one that's most discussed, is the one that we talked about earlier, I Kings Chapter 6 Verse 1 (sic), that 480 years past from the exodus to the beginning of the building of the temple. Well, we know -- at least we're pretty sure that Solomon began building the temple in 966 BC. This would place the exodus in 1446 BC. And that's -- that then becomes the traditional date for the exodus. If you look at things that use a traditional date, it's almost 1446 plus or minus a year or so. Sometimes they round it off to 1450 just to make it easier to talk about. But 1446, those who prefer a late date would say 480 is really kind of a round number for 12 generations. It doesn't mean 480 literal years. It means 12 generations. Since a generation could be 20 to 25 years in real terms, that would mean the period of time would be 250 to 300 years, which would fit a late date for the exodus of around 1250 or something like that. Well, again, I don't want to go through all of the evidence. Even all of the biblical evidence. There's several other things that we could take into account here. But you can see how these arguments are made. Mostly in terms of biblical evidence it's a question of how you interpret the numbers. Do you understand the numbers to be literal numbers. Or do you understand them to be round numbers or symbolic numbers? And it's especially difficult when these numbers happen to be multiples of 40 or something like that. You know, where -- you know, if the Bible said this happened, you know, 472 years afterward, then it wouldn't be an issue or not as much of an issue anyway because that's not an easy round number. 480 is such an easy round number that it makes interpreting it this way attractive to some people. Even some conservatives. So we can see how the biblical evidence then could be understood both to support an early and a late date of the exodus. Let's look quickly at a couple of bits of information from Egypt itself. We've already indicated that there's no mention of the exodus in the Egyptian literature. That's not surprising given the kind of literature that exists from Egypt. We really wouldn't expect it to be reported. Also some people note that there's no -- there's no mention in Egyptian literature of a pharaoh dieing under remarkable circumstances like his army being drowned in the Red Sea. Well, that's true. But I would just mention that you read the exodus account quickly, it doesn't tell us that Pharaoh was killed. It tells us that his army was destroyed. But it doesn't tell us that Pharaoh was with the army at the point that it was destroyed. So it may be that Pharaoh, like many generals ancient and modern, led his troops out to the point of the battle and then stood back and watched the battle unfold and that Pharaoh himself did not lead his army as it entered the Red Sea or the Sea of Reeds and was, therefore, not killed. So the fact that no Pharaoh is reported to have died under such circumstances really isn't a factor for us. Here is an interesting question, though: In Egypt there was an archive of letters that were written from Palestine on clay tablets so they survived. And they were stored in a royal library in Egypt in a place called Amarna. So they are called the Amarna Letters. The Amarna Letters are written around 1400 BC. In other words, they were written between the Early Date and the Late Date for the exodus. They do not mention -- they are written from various kings from the land of Canaan. And they do not mention the Hebrews at all. And many people argue that since these kings don't mention them, most of the Amarna Letters are actually appealing to the pharaoh for political help because there are people who are attacking -- this is what makes it so interesting. There are people who are attacking and causing all sorts of trouble. They are not called the Hebrews, however, in the letters. They are called -- and hold on. This is where it gets really interesting. They are called the Habiru or the Hapiru, depending on how you read the cuneiform. And many people want to read this reference to the Habiru because it sounds so much like Hebrews. They want to read this as a reference to the Hebrews and that all of these people who were attacking these cities in Canaan were the Hebrews, even though they were not called by that term. They were called by something that sounded very similar to it. You know, this is, again, a very highly debated point. Part of it goes to how you read the cuneiform, how the words should be pronounced. But also several studies of the Habiru or Hapiru have been done. And it's clear that whatever the Habiru were, they were not to be just -- they can't be simply equated with the Hebrews because they existed over a wide period historically and a wide period geographically. And it appears today that this group, the Habiru or the Hapiru, were not so much a people group as they were a social class of perhaps people who lived on the margins of society and who were raiders or outlaws who raided places at various times. Now, this leaves open the door to the question of were the Hebrews as they invaded Canaan interpreted by the residents as just another group of this sort of social outcasts who lived on the margins of society and were storing up trouble for them, attacking their cities and so forth? So you can see what a difficult and thorny issue this is. We can't stop to go into detail about it. Those who think that -- who think that the Early Date -- the traditional date is correct usually want to see some kind of connection between the Habiru and the Hebrews. Even if they are not directly connected, the Hebrews would be interpreted as a kind of Habiru. Those who want to view a late date, want to hold to a late date, suggest that the fact that Israel is not mentioned at all proves that they weren't there. That there's no connection between the Habiru and the Hapiru (sic) at all. Period. That they were still in Egypt at that time. So that's an interesting issue coming from Egypt. Another one is -- I've already mentioned this one in a previous question -- is this statue or monument called the Merneptah Stela. The Merneptah Stela records the victory of a king, Pharaoh Merneptah, over some people who lived in Canaan or Palestine around 1220 BC. And among them is the first mention of Israel. And Israel is described not as a nation but as a people, which is, you know, an interesting question. And the issue then is: What's the significance of this? Well, those who want to hold to a late date of the exodus say the fact that they weren't described as a nation proves that they were newcomers on the scene in 1220. That they were -- you know, they were not really settled, a permanent population by that point. And so that they were not an organized political group. And so therefore, the reference on the Merneptah Stela to them as a people rather than as a nation supports the latter date. Those who want to hold to the traditional date would argue that's not the case at all. Remember, this would be during the time of the judges. So there was no king in Israel. There was no centralized political authority. So it would make perfect sense for Pharaoh to look at a group of people who didn't have a king and not call them a nation but call them a people. So again, the evidence from the Merneptah Stela can cut both ways depending on how you interpret it. But that's not the only monument in Egypt that provides information. Another one is a monument known as the Dream Stela of Pharaoh Tuthmosis IV. Now Pharaoh Tuthmosis IV was the pharaoh after -- let me get my memory straight. He was the pharaoh after Amenhotep II. Amenhotep II died. And Tuthmosis was -- Tuthmosis IV became Pharaoh. But he was not the man who would have become Pharaoh. He's not -- he wasn't the appointed -- he wasn't the normally recognized heir. The reason this is important is if the Early Date of the exodus is correct, then it's generally assumed that the pharaoh of the exodus -- I'm sorry; the pharaoh -- yeah, the pharaoh of the exodus would be Amenhotep II and his son would have been the one who would have died in the plague of the first born. And the successor, Tuthmosis IV, who tells us that he was not the man who should have been Pharaoh initially, you know, became Pharaoh instead of the son who died in the plague of the death of the first born. So there's a very interesting possible connection there. This suggests that Tuthmosis IV was not the legal heir who would have died in the tenth plague but rather someone who became the heir after that. So those who prefer an Early Date interpret it this way. Those who prefer a late date say, you know, that's fine. The fact that Tuthmosis IV wasn't the original heir, a lot of children died at an early age in ancient Egypt in the ancient world. It doesn't necessarily prove this is the one who died as a result of the tenth plague. Although, again it lines up correctly with the Early Date of the exodus. So if you like the Early Date, you've got some strong evidence if you interpret the Dream Stela of Tuthmosis IV that way. Well, there's other evidence from Egypt, as well. But again, I wanted to give you an example of the kind of material that we have and show how your presuppositions in interpreting it affect what it tells you or what you think it tells you and why even though we have all of this evidence, we can't come to any definite conclusion. There's other archaeological evidence, as well. And this I'm not going to go into much detail. I don't want to spend too much time on this. But for example, in the 1950s there was an archeologist by the name of Nelson Glick who did a number of excavations in the Transjordanian area, the area to the east of the Jordan River that we know later as Moab and Edom and those nations. And we're told in the book of Numbers what nations were there. And Glick claims to have found that -- that there was no occupation, no organized occupation, of this land during the 15th century. In other words, during the time of the Early Date. That these nations didn't come into being until later. Well, Glick's evidence was controversial even in its own day. And Glick himself later admitted that maybe his evidence wasn't as conclusive as he claimed that it was. But you still see it often referred to by those who want to argue for a late date. They will say there's no evidence that Moab and those nations that are there that are mentioned in the book of Numbers were there in the 15th century. The fact is that even if there weren't organized nations with kings, there would have been people living there. And those people may have had the name Moab, even if they had no king just as Israel had the name Israel in the period before it did not have a king. So you know, that is sort of an example of the kind of archaeological evidence. There's similar discussions about the city Ai -- that's the city spelled A i -- in the Bible that people always have trouble pronouncing. Some people pronounce it Ai. I think Ai. Is probably a better pronunciation. Joshua 8:19 tell us it was burned and destroyed. Some archeologists believe that the evidence says it wasn't burned and destroyed until the 13th century. Others would argue, would say, there actually is evidence that it was burned and destroyed in the 13th century. Similarly with Jericho. The evidence about the destruction of Jericho, again, cuts both ways, depending on how you interpret it. Was it destroyed in the 15th or 13th century? Or was it destroyed more than once? And that's possible, as well. There are actually a whole host of sites throughout Canaan that were destroyed a number of times. Many of them were destroyed in the 15th century. Others were destroyed in the 13th century. And all of that goes into the mixture of debating the archeology when these cities were destroyed and how we understand them. But this is all, you know, again, part of the evidence. And I mention it not because it helps us conclusively know the date. But because we need to be aware of the kind of material that -- that we will encounter in commentaries and in other books. And the fact that even though, you know, people will often support this material, you know, they will only give you one side of the argument. They won't give you the other side. And you need to be aware that there's almost always another side of the argument no matter which date that you hold. One last thing that I want to mention in this regard. There is another theory favored by liberals that conservatives never find acceptable. And that is there was no exodus at all and there was no conquest at all. That what you actually get are a number of sort of groups that are not related genetically but sort of socially related that kind of drift gradually into Canaan and settle and over time sort of coalesce into the people of Israel. This is usually referred to as the Infiltration Theory. Sometimes they connect it and say, yeah, one of those groups or maybe two of those groups came out of Egypt and, you know, ultimately found their way to Canaan. And maybe they became the leading groups and so they gave their name to the whole. But this Infiltration Theory approach to the exodus and conquest is clearly contrary to the biblical record. Whatever you think of the date, whether you think the 1446 date, the traditional date is the best date, or whether you prefer a 13th century date somewhere around 1250, the one thing that you can't do if you want to hold to the biblical evidence at all is to adopt this kind of Infiltration Theory. Because that doesn't work with the biblical evidence at all. So having gone through all of that, I'm sorry to say that I can't really tell you when the exodus occurred. I probably tend toward the Early Date. Because I think that I prefer to give precedence to the biblical data recognizing that it's not entirely conclusive. I think that the biblical -- while the biblical numbers may not always be exact numbers, there are enough of them that fit together that suggest accuracy. You know, it's not just one date but in the end three or four dates that all just happen to fit together. And so from my view, I think the Early Date, the traditional date, is still the best date. It fits a lot of evidence. The archaeological evidence cuts both ways. And you know, it doesn't really prove anything conclusively one way or the other. So I'm certainly not going to hold you to one date or the other in this class. If you look at the evidence and you think a late date fits the biblical evidence better, then by all means, I think it's -- you can be a conservative Christian and hold to the Late Date. I think you have a few more things to explain. But those are not inexplicable sorts of problems to overcome. So I'm going to use the traditional date throughout this course. And you know, you should be aware that I've done that sort of consciously and intentionally. But there are other people out there -- and you'll read other things -- that would prefer a later date. That doesn't necessarily mean that they are liberal. Although, again, as we began at the beginning, it is true that most conservatives tend toward the earlier date and most liberals tend toward the later date. *** This text is being provided in a rough draft format. Communication Access Realtime Translation (CART) is provided in order to facilitate communication accessibility and may not be a totally verbatim record of the proceedings. ***