Continued: Chapter IV-Israel's Bondage In Egypt And The Exodus

B. The Correct Date Of The Exodus

According to the evidence of the pottery and scarabs found in the latest tombs at Jericho, the fall of this city could not have been before the reign of Amenhotep III (1413-1377 B.C.). The presence of the scarabs of this monarch, found in the royal tombs, which were intact when opened by Garstang, proved that the city had not fallen at the time of his mounting the throne. There was sufficient time after his accession to power, which was in 1413, for his scarabs to become current in Palestine and to be interred with the remains of some of the royal house of Jericho. Since there were none of any Egyptian monarchs after this one, and since the distinctive pottery and the decorations of the time of Akhenaten and Tut-Ankh-Amen are entirely wanting, we are to conclude that Jericho fell before the reign of either of these two latter kings of the eighteenth dynasty. On this point Sir Charles Marston argues very ably:

"The scarab evidence seems extremely hard to dispute--if Jericho was destroyed say half a century earlier, how came Amenhotep III scarabs in the tombs? If two centuries later, what has become of all later scarabs? Unless further evidence should come to light, the reign of Amenhotep III (1413-1377 B.C.) constitutes a reliable basis from which to calculate the date of the Exodus. Since we know that after the Exodus, Israel wandered forty years in the wilderness before the capture of Jericho, we have only to add forty to both the beginning and end of Amenhotep's reign to obtain a correct interval of time within which the Exodus should have taken place."

Since we know that the capture of Jericho fell within the reign of Amenhotep III (1413-1377), if we go back forty years from these two dates, we shall have the period within which the Exodus must have occurred. This reckoning points to the period, 1453-1417, as the one in which that mighty migration took place. Since it occurred after the death of a monarch who reigned a very long time as indicated in Exodus 2:23, we are driven by cold facts and logic to conclude that it occurred after the death of Thothmes III in 1447 B.C.E.

We started out with the assumption that the year 1447 was the date of the Exodus. Having examined the facts as presented by Egyptian history and compared them with the date as given in the Scriptures, and having found that there are perfect harmony and unanimity of the testimony, we must conclude that our supposition was correct. Hence I am of the firm conviction that the Pharaoh of the Oppression was Thothmes III and the Pharaoh of the Exodus was his son and successor, Amenhotep II. It was during the early years of the reign of the latter that Moses led Israel out of bondage into the wilderness.

C. The Birthday Of Israel

All nations look back to the distant past for the origin of their nationality. This tendency we see especially among the nations of antiquity. The Hebrew race is no exception to this rule. In contrast with the various kingdoms of the world, whose origins are more or less in darkness and obscurity, Israel can point to a definite historic fact as the day upon which she was born.

When Jacob was invited by Joseph to come with his family into Egypt and there to be sustained by him, the Lord commanded him to go saying, "I am God, the God of thy father: fear not to go down into Egypt; for I will there make of thee a great nation: I will go down with thee into Egypt; and I will also surely bring thee up again: and Joseph shall put his hand upon thine eyes" (Gen. 46:3,4). Israel went down into Egypt seventy strong, and during a period of 215 years developed into a mighty nation. At the time of the Exodus there were 600,000 men capable of bearing arms. To be exact there were 603,555 (Num. 2:33). As has already been seen when Israel first went into Egypt, she enjoyed the favor of the reigning house. Under such advantageous conditions naturally there was a rapid increase of the people. When, however, the persecution began, which was designed to reduce the population, God in a signal way blessed his people and caused them to increase the more rapidly. The Lord always puts His blessing upon all persecutions that are aimed at His faithful children and converts them into blessings. Hence during the period of Egyptian persecution Israel was blessed and greatly increased in numbers.

At the appointed time the birthpains came upon Egypt, and Israel as a nation was born, which event, as we have already seen, occurred in the year 1447 B.C.E. of the chronological system which is generally accepted.

The Lord, with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm, brought His Chosen People out of the degrading bondage into which they had been thrown by the imperious Pharaohs. Not until after the Lord had sent ten distinct judgments upon Egypt and her gods, did Pharaoh consent for them to leave the country. After permitting them to go, he attempted to bring them back and lost his hosts in the Red Sea. Never in the history of the world did the Almighty, who always, in a secret and unobserved manner, works all things according to the good pleasure of His will, come out in the open, break through the so-called natural order, and intervene in behalf of anyone or any people as He did in the case of the Chosen Race. When Israel was safe on the eastern shores of the Red Sea, she looked back and saw the carcasses of her enemies floating upon the water. Realizing that their overthrow was a judgment from God and a victory in her behalf, she sang with Miriam and Moses the hymn of deliverance (Ex. 15:1-18). That day was one of rejoicing--praise to God, who alone can deliver and meet the needs of His people.

As we have already seen, if we accept the year 2113 A.H. as the date of the weaning of Isaac and his being pronounced the seed of Abraham, and then add the 400 years during which the chosen seed should be under foreign domination (Gen. 15:12-21), we arrive at the year 2513 as the date of the Exodus, the birth of Israel. This calculation is confirmed by the statement of that Hebrew of Hebrews, the apostle Paul, in his declaration that the law was given 430 years after the promise was made to Abraham (Gal. 3:17).

The tenth stroke of judgment which fell upon Egypt was the destruction of the first born of all families of the land. According to previous instructions, the Israelites had proclaimed and observed their Passover, sprinkling the blood upon the doorposts and lintels. By so doing they had protected themselves from the death angel, which passed over Egypt that night. They ate this first Passover on the 14th of the first month. (Read Exodus 12 and 13.) It was not because of any merit or goodness on their part that their first-born were saved from the destruction wrought by the death angel. But it was simply because they by faith screened themselves behind that blood which had been appointed by the Lord to protect them. Of course, as we shall see later, this blood was not in and of itself efficacious, but owed its significance to its typical character. Nevertheless it was necessary for them to screen themselves behind it in order to be spared the stroke of judgment.

On the night of the 15th of Nisan Israel began her long trek toward the Promised Land (Num. 33:3,4). At the command of the Lord as she stood upon the western bank of the Red Sea, she looked to God in faith for deliverance. He did not disappoint her, but opened up a way for her to pass through the Sea. Her enemies attempted to do so but were drowned. This was a great deliverance. This 15th day of the first month of the year 2513 A.H. is properly and accurately called the birthday of the Jewish nation. The Hebrew people have always looked back upon it as the real beginning of their history. The psalmists and prophets likewise considered it with this same significance.

The Prophet Jeremiah showed us that that past deliverance was only typical of one which will be far greater and more glorious. Read his glowing description of it, for it will eclipse in every way the former one:

"Behold, the days come, saith Jehovah, that I will raise unto David a righteous Branch, and he shall reign as king and deal wisely, and shall execute justice and righteousness in the land. 6 In his days Judah shall be saved, and Israel shall dwell safely; and this is his name whereby he shall be called: Jehovah our righteousness. 7 Therefore, behold, the days come, saith Jehovah, that they shall no more say, As Jehovah liveth, who brought up the children of Israel out of the land of Egypt; 8 but, As Jehovah liveth, who brought up and who led the seed of the house of Israel out of the north country, and from all the countries whither I had driven them. And they shall dwell in their own land" (Jer. 23:5-8).

D. An Examination Of Contending Theories Concerning The Date Of The Exodus

Although we have established beyond a reasonable doubt that the Exodus occurred in the reign of Amenhotep II of the eighteenth dynasty, the investigation would be incomplete without a candid examination of the principal theories advocated by the leading scholars.

1. The Exodus A Phase Of The Hyksos Retreat

According to the position generally held the Hyksos were expelled from Egypt by the native dynasty about 1580 B.C.E. Hall, in his ancient history of the Near East, speaks of the Biblical story as a censored account of this expulsion which was appropriated by Israel. This theory does not allow sufficient time for Israel to remain in Egypt. Furthermore, it lengthens the time between the Exodus and the fourth year of Solomon far beyond the limits allowed by the Biblical data. For these two reasons alone it is out of the question.

2. The Exodus A Phase Of The Revolution Under Amenhotep IV About 1366 B.C.E.

Those taking the position stated in the caption of this section believe that Moses got his monotheistic ideas from the movement inaugurated by Amenhotep IV, Akhenaten the heretic king, and that he led the children of Israel out of Egypt at the time when this monarch's reign collapsed. This theory places the Exodus about 80 years too late. Hence it lengthens the time of Israel's sojourn in Egypt by 80 years and cuts off the same amount from the time of the Exodus to the fourth year of Solomon. It, like the first one, goes counter to the Biblical data. Therefore it is unacceptable.

3. The Exodus A Phase Of The Revolt Under Merneptah 1220 B.C.E.

Those holding the theory that Israel left Egypt at the time of the revolt against Merneptah believe that Rameses II of the nineteenth dynasty was the Pharaoh of the Oppression and his son, Merneptah, the Pharaoh of the Exodus. This position is based upon a special interpretation of the following Scriptures:

"And Joseph placed his father and his brethren, and gave them a possession in the land of Egypt, in the best of the land, in the land of Rameses, as Pharaoh had commanded. 12 And Joseph nourished his father, and his brethren, and all his father's household, with bread, according to their families" (Gen. 47:11,12).

"Therefore they did set over them taskmasters to afflict them with their burdens. And they built for Pharaoh store-cities, Pithom and Raamses" (Ex.1:11).

"And the children of Israel journeyed from Rameses to Succoth, about six hundred thousand on foot that were men, besides children" (Ex. 12:37).

It is necessary for us to examine these passages most critically and candidly in order to ascertain the facts. As we have seen, Joseph was sold into Egypt in the year 2276 A.H. Jacob with his family went into Egypt in 2298 A.H. The year 2298 in the Anno Homonis system is equal to 1827 B.C.E. According to the Biblical facts as we have already seen, this date was 215 years prior to the Exodus. Nevertheless Moses tells us in Gen. 47:11 that Joseph located his father and his brethren in the land of Rameses, which was Goshen. The question arising at this place is, When was the term Rameses applied to this territory and by whom, or on account of whom was this name given to it? Those advocating the theory under consideration insist that Genesis 47 was written after this designation had been given to this section of the land. They also contend that the name Rameses was derived from Rameses II of the nineteenth dynasty. Upon these two hypotheses as a basis the argument is made that the Exodus occurred after the reign of Rameses II, and that the record was written after his day. Therefore, in the opinion of these scholars, the Exodus occurred after the reign of Rameses II.

Before accepting this theory one must be satisfied that the two hypotheses upon which it is built are absolutely correct. As we have already seen, Moses himself by inspiration wrote the last fourteen chapters of Genesis and doubtless did so about the time of the Exodus, or after it occurred. In the Genesis passage he was speaking of the settlement of Israel in Egypt, which occurred 215 years prior to the Exodus. In his day, that is in Moses' time, Goshen was known as the land of Rameses. The fact that it was called by this name cannot be doubted. It may not have had this title when Jacob was settled there, but it certainly had it at the time of the Exodus because we are told in Exodus 12:37 that the children of Israel journeyed from Rameses to Succoth. No one who is willing to let facts speak for themselves can question for a moment this position; namely, that Goshen was, in the days of Moses, called the land of Rameses.

The next question arising in this investigation is why, by whom, or in honor of whom was this name given to this special section of the country? The advocates of the theory under discussion insist that it was given this appellation by the great Rameses II of the nineteenth dynasty. The reason for this position is that these scholars do not know of any king of Egypt by this name prior to the nineteenth dynasty. Is this course of reasoning logical and the inference a necessary one? By no means. It is the argument based upon silence, which, as is well known by all logicians, is the most precarious type of reasoning. One cannot afford to build a theory upon such a premise. The answer advanced is that we do not know of any other Rameses and we must accept him as the one by whom or in whose honor this name was given to the territory. This is not a necessary inference at all. Those acquainted with the history of Biblical criticism realize how precarious and dangerous the argument from silence is. For instance, the advanced scholarship of the world formerly scoffed at the mention of Sargon as the king of Assyria, of whom we read in Isaiah 20:1. They ridiculed the record, saying that this passage was simply imaginary since they had not been able to find any king by that name who reigned in Assyria. Finally his palace was unearthed at Khorsabad about 13 miles northeast of old Nineveh. His inscriptions were found and deciphered. These facts forced the critics to abandon their position and to admit that Isaiah was correct in referring to Sargon. Since we do not have a complete story of Egypt, as one will see if he will compare the deductions made by the outstanding Egyptologists, we must be very slow in hastening to accept a position which goes counter to the Scriptures, because in every instance where it has been possible to test the Biblical data by archaeological facts (not theories) the Bible has been found to be true.

Specialists are not united with reference to the various dynasties that reigned in Egypt. Some contend that certain houses were contemporaneous, whereas others insist that they were successive. In view of the fragmentary character of our data relative to Egypt, it is preposterous for any scholar to build an hypothesis upon such meager evidence--to advance a theory which goes counter to the Biblical records. Archaeology may at any time uncover new facts which will discredit and throw into the discard the hypotheses that are founded upon hasty and faulty deductions. Therefore, since both the Genesis and the Exodus passages show clearly that the land of Goshen was known by the name of Rameses in the days of Moses, we shall accept the evidence at its face value and reject any theory that attempts to disjoint these passages and to throw the date of the Exodus at a time contrary to the unanimous testimony of all the Biblical writers. For these reasons, I therefore conclude that these passages do not in the least degree favor the date of the Exodus as occurring after the reign of Rameses II.

The next passage which demands attention is Exodus 1:11 and which states that they (the Israelites) built for Pharaoh store-cities, Pithom and Raamses. Rameses II of the nineteenth dynasty, who reigned for 67 years (1292-1225 B.C.), is claimed by many to have been the Pharaoh of the Oppression who required Israel to build the cities of Pithom and Raamses. As proof of this position, our attention is called to a statement on the stele of Rameses II found at Beth-Shean (Beisan) by the expedition of the University of Pennsylvania. On this stele Rameses boasts of his victories in the north and in the Hauran. Those favoring the present position call our attention to a statement which, "if correctly rendered, says that he built the city of Ramses (Raamses) with Semitic laborers--impliedly with Israelite slave labor." Let us note the fact that the writer quoted is not positive that the inscription was read correctly, because he says that, "if correctly rendered," it declares that Rameses built this city with Semitic slave labor.

Let us assume for the sake of argument that Rameses II of the nineteenth dynasty recorded on this stele his having built the cities, Pithom and Raamses, with forced Semitic labor. We will take the claim at its face value. Are we then forced to believe that he is the one of whom Moses spoke in Exodus 1:11? We have already seen that the testimony of Moses in Genesis and Exodus was that Goshen was called the land of Rameses at the time of the Exodus; 1447 B.C.E.--at least 155 years before Rameses II came to the throne. It is not unreasonable to believe that store-cities were built in this region about this time with Hebrew labor. In fact, the "new king over Egypt, who knew not Joseph,"--whether he was Thothmes III or some other king of the eighteenth dynasty--could have been the one who built the cities of Pithom and Raamses and who gave them their name. During the course of the 155 years which elapsed between the death of Thothmes III and the accession of Rameses II many things could have occurred to these cities which necessitated their being repaired on a very large scale, or even torn down and rebuilt. This supposition is not a far-fetched one, but is in harmony with the wrecks of time. Therefore Rameses II sometimes during his long reign of 67 years could have remodeled and rebuilt these cities or could have torn them down and built them anew. In doing this he could correctly state on the stele of Beth-Shean that he built these cities with forced Semitic labor. Therefore, since such a supposition is entirely within the realm of reality, we must accept such possibilities instead of trying to force one special interpretation upon the data which contradicts other positive and clear evidence.

As is well known, Rameses II was a great builder, erecting temples and statues of himself throughout the length and breadth of the land. When I was in Egypt in 1937 I saw different statues erected by this boastful monarch. Furthermore it is a well known fact that he magnified his achievements and glorified himself at the expense of others, claiming to have done that which was accomplished by them. In view of his dealing carelessly with the truth, one cannot put too much credence in any statement that he might have made.

When we look, therefore, at the Biblical passages bearing upon this subject and examine all the data which we have, we see that the Scriptures referred to and here examined are far from justifying any one's placing the date of the Exodus during the reign of Merneptah, the son and successor of Rameses II of the nineteenth dynasty.

Negative evidence which militates against this position is found in the Merneptah Stele, which was discovered by Petrie in 1896 in "the mortuary temple of Amenhotep III at Thebes." This inscription as it appears in Breasted's
Ancient Records, Egypt, volume 3, page 264ff, is quoted by Barton in Archeology and the Bible as follows:

    The kings are overthrown, saying 'salaam!'
    Not one holds up his head among the nine bows.
    Wasted is Tehenu,
    Kheta is pacified,
    Plundered is the Canaan with every evil,
    Carried off is Askelon,
    Seized upon is Gezer,
    Yenoam is made as a thing not existing.
    Israel is desolated, his seed is not;
    Palestine has become a widow for Egypt.
    All lands are united, they are pacified;
    Every one that is turbulent is bound by King Merneptah,
    who gives life like Rā every day.

This reference to Israel is the only one appearing upon any of the Egyptian monuments. Its importance is readily conceded by all who realize its bearing upon the date of the Exodus. Let us note what Merneptah has to say in regard to his military operations in Palestine. He starts out by declaring that "The kings are overthrown, saying: 'salaam!'" None, he asserts, holds up his head. Turning his glance westward toward Lybia he tells us that it is wasted. Looking northward he states that the Hittites are pacified. But he does not tell how this has been brought about. Next he views the land of Palestine, claiming that Canaan is plundered. He is thinking especially about the maritime coast as we see from his reference to Askelon. Then he speaks of Gezer which was farther north in the district between the maritime plain and the mountains. In his thinking he passes still farther northward to Yenoam, which was located in the Jordan valley immediately south of the Sea of Galilee. Following this reference He speaks of Israel which is desolate. He concludes his survey by stating that "Kharu"' (South Palestine) has become a widow for Egypt. Thus in this description he goes up the maritime corridor as far as Esdraelon and eastward to the Jordan valley; thence southward to southern Palestine. In doing so he locates Israel as dwelling in the central portion of the country at the time of his invasion. This is where the Scriptures place her at the time. This incidental reference to her being located in the land at that date is fatal to the position that the Exodus occurred during the reign of Merneptah.

When all the facts are weighed and properly evaluated, one comes to the irresistible conclusion that Israel came forth from Egypt during the first part of the reign of Amenhotep II. This thesis is supported by all the Biblical data.

E. The Reason For Dating The Exodus In 1447 B.C.E.

In I Kings 6:1 we read the following statement: "And it came to pass in the four hundred and eightieth year after the children of Israel were come out of the land of Egypt, the fourth year of Solomon's reign over Israel, in the month Siv, which is the second month, that he began to build the house of Jehovah." This passage is generally understood to mean that 480 years after Israel left Egypt, Solomon began the erection of his temple at Jerusalem. Chronologers usually attempt to locate the fourth year of his reign and, going backward 480 years, set the date of the Exodus. According to some historians he ascended the throne of Israel in the year 970 B.C.E. But according to Sir Flinders Petrie, he came to power in 960 B.C.E. Upon the assumption that his first year was 970, his fourth year would be 967. If we add 480 years to this date we get 1447 B.C.E. as the date of the Exodus. On the other hand if we accept Petrie's estimate of 960, his fourth year would be 957, and the date of the Exodus would, in this case, be 1437 B.C.E.

Inasmuch as the entrance into Canaan was 40 years later, we place the fall of Jericho in either the year 1407 or 1397 B.C.E. Since the scarabs of Amenhotep III were found in the tombs at Jericho, there is perfect harmony of all the data. Sir Charles Marston favors the 1397 date as the probable time for Jericho's fall, since it would give ample time for the scarabs of Amenhotep III to find their way to Jericho and would also synchronize more perfectly with the Tell el-Amarna letters.

In this section as in former ones, we have been thinking of historical facts in terms of the generally accepted chronology. With chronology, as with many other systems of thought and calculations, it is necessary that one express himself in terms of current and popular usage. We most frequently are forced to take things as they are and not as they should be. Since the evidence of archaeology and the calculations expressed in terms of the accepted chronology harmonize, we who believe in the infallibility of the Scriptures, hail this synchronization of all the historical data with great enthusiasm and joy. We see in it additional positive proof of the inerrancy of the Word of God.

Facts--stubborn, hard realities--always coincide and are in perfect accord with all other facts. Truth always harmonizes when all of the facts are known.

As we shall see in this investigation, there were exactly 594 years from the date of the Exodus to the fourth year of Solomon. I am here giving the result of the calculations that are based upon numerous passages of Scripture which we shall study in chapters V to VIII. But for the present I ask the kind indulgence of the reader to accept my assertions as true and then continue his study with an open mind. The result will be that he will see definitely and unmistakably that this calculation is correct.

Assuming, therefore, the correctness of this statement, one will ask, "Why does the writer of Kings state that from the Exodus to the fourth year of Solomon, when he began building the temple, there were 480 years, whereas the calculations based upon other statements of the Scriptures prove conclusively that there were 594 years?" At first glance the thoughtful person shakes his head and declares that there is a mistake somewhere. There is nothing wrong with the Scriptural records, but the difficulties lie in our lack of a full understanding of the Biblical statements. How could the period from the Exodus to the fourth year of Solomon be 480 years and at the same time 594? In order to answer this question, I wish to call attention to this fact; namely, that there is a certain period of time, as we shall see later, the length of which was actually 497; nevertheless the sacred writer spoke of it as being 490 years. There was an excess of 7 years. How can this be true? The key which unlocks the door for the solution of the problem is the statement, that God's clock stops when Israel is out of fellowship with Him. This quotation immediately suggests the idea of theocratic years--the years during which Israel was ruled by the Lord. The correlative idea is that there was a time or era during which she was out of fellowship with Him. When we study the record and see that during 114 of these 594 years intervening between the Exodus and the fourth year of Solomon, Israel was out of fellowship with Him, we instantly recognize that there were 480 years during which she was by divine grace reckoned as being in full accord with her Maker. By subtracting the 114 years from the total number, we have 480 years. Since the writer is giving the record of Israel and placing upon it the correct philosophy of history we must conclude that the 480 years mentioned by the writer of Kings are theocratic. The sacred historian was simply counting the years during which she was in fellowship with the Lord.

Therefore to calculate the chronology by adding 480 years to the 967 or 957 B.C.E. is erroneous. Any system built thereupon likewise produces only error. The further we go in this investigation of Biblical dating, the more evident it will become that grave errors were made by those who developed the generally accepted scheme. These earnest scholars sought diligently to unravel the chronological thread which runs throughout the Scriptures. They did some very excellent work, but at the same time they made many faulty deductions. Whenever they came to a difficult problem, they, as a rule either discredited the text, emended it, or claimed that it was only an approximation. These three methods will be seen in this investigation to be misleading and very fallacious. In this connection may I assert that God was sufficiently able to express Himself so as to be understood? Furthermore, He was honest, saying what He meant and meaning what He said. Whenever there is a seeming discrepancy, the difficulty is with man's understanding and not with the Lord's expression.

Since we can not rely upon the current chronological system in which we are accustomed to think, we shall be forced to speak in terms of the inerrant Biblical data. In this system of reckoning we say that the Exodus occurred in 2513 A.H.

End Of Chapter IV.