Where’s the Proof?

Egyptology is a remarkably new area of study for archaeology. That’s not to say that people haven’t been digging up and examining places and things within Egypt. What I mean is that any understanding of the language of hieroglyphics is relatively recent (1800). The languages of Mesopotamia and India were already well understood by the time that the Rosetta Stone was discovered.

One of the problems with placing the Exodus account in a historical context is that there seems to be no record of Hebrews or “sons of Israel” in Egypt among the surviving records. So, we have to look at clues within Exodus to attempt to guess at the time frame. There are a lot of different theories, counter-theories, and suggestions of timing. And there are are many who simply consider the Exodus to have never happened at all.

One of the clues is found in Exodus 1:8, “Now a new king arose over Egypt, who did not know Joseph.” (NASB) Again, there are a lot of theories about who this might have been. There is a period of Egyptian history when they were ruled by foreigners known as “Hyksos“, about whom we know very little. The best guess is that the Joseph and the Exodus took place either during, or shortly after this period. But, there remains the problem of the lack of record.

The lack of record of the Hebrews in Egypt or any such departure of a huge population from Egypt is the normal argument against the historicity of the biblical account (Google it, you won’t find one argument against Exodus being a historical event that isn’t based on the lack of reference to Israel). But there are reasons why this lack of evidence isn’t that surprising.

For instance, the Egyptians are well-known historical revisionists. Every book on Egyptology makes mention of one dynasty erasing or modifying elements or references to previous ones. The hieroglyphic writings were most often painted, and while durable, were also often painted over, or removed.

Add to this problem that Egypt, as a geographical reference, has been occupied by one or more people groups, successively and continuously, for almost 6,000 years. There has to be a lot of records either removed, reused, destroyed, or simply remaining to be found. In other words, the lack of evidence has many possible, and very plausible, explanations.

Essentially, no one can either prove or disprove the historicity of the Exodus using available archaeological records from Egypt. The Hebrew Scriptures remain the best record we have for the event of a million or so ethnic Hebrews leaving the land of Egypt to sojourn in the desert wilderness of the Sinai Peninsula.

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB. Copyright by The Lockman Foundation

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2 Comments

  1. Yes, and Christians didn’t help matters with the destruction of most “books” at Alexandria. And, as you said, the entire records of some Pharaohs were literally cut out of the stones and, we would have to assume, any papyrus writings attributed to these Pharaohs would also be stricken.

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    1. Matt Brumage says:

      Oh, right! The destruction of the Library of Alexandria was just inexcusable. And you are so right about the continued destruction of records, even today. So sad to loose so much history.

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