You are on page 1of 14

Dating the Exodus

T. J. Betts

T. J. Betts is Assistant Professor of Probably one of the most controversial meaning the oppression of the Hebrews
Old Testament Interpretation at The and hotly debated subjects pertaining to may have begun a number of decades
Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. biblical chronology is the dating of the before Ramesses II came to the throne.5
He is a fourth generation Baptist minister Exodus. Basically, most biblical histori- Ramesses II finished the construction
and has pastored fourteen churches in ans are divided between what are called of the city naming it after himself. It is
Ohio and Indiana. Dr. Betts is the author the late date1 and the early date2 of the inconceivable that the city could have
of Ezekiel The Priest: A Custodian Of Exodus. Most proponents of the late date been named after a pharaoh who did
Tora (Peter Lang, 2005). believe the biblical and archaeological not even exist. Therefore, it is impossible
data discovered so far indicate the Exo- for the Exodus to have happened before
dus happened in the thirteenth century a pharaoh named Ramesses was on the
B.C. sometime around 1267 B.C. in the throne. Furthermore, the majority of
nineteenth dynasty, twenty years into the archaeological discoveries along with
reign of Pharaoh Ramesses II (1279-1213 inscriptional references to geographical
B.C.).3 Most proponents of the early date locations from this sight appear to come
of the Exodus argue it happened during from the thirteenth and twelfth centuries
the eighteenth dynasty in the fifteenth B.C. and not the fifteenth century B.C.6
century B.C. about 1447/46 B.C. The fol- Much debate has risen over this under-
lowing is an overview of major arguments standing of the store city of Raameses
pertaining to both sides of the debate. by those who advocate the early date of
the Exodus. First, archaeologists have
The Debated Texts discovered an eighteenth dynasty citadel
Exodus 1:11 at the location of Tell el-Dabva. West of
Exodus 1:11 is a key passage in the the citadel they located what might have
debate. It states, “Therefore they set task- been a temple. About 150 meters south
masters over them to afflict them with of the location excavators found a large
heavy burdens. They built for Pharaoh storage building containing pottery dat-
store cities, Pithom and Rameses.” Many ing to the Late Bronze I period. North of
have equated the city of Rameses with the the citadel they discovered a number of
city of Pi-Ramesses. According to Kitchen, Minoan frescoes from the same period.7
Seti I initially built a summer palace at its Shea says those who have argued against
location, then Ramesses II built the vast the early date of the Exodus because there
store-city of Exodus 1:11.4 Pi-Ramesses has been no evidence of an eighteenth
was located at modern-day Qantir near dynasty presence at Tell el-Dabva must
Faqus and is called Tell el-Dabva. Hoff- lay that argument to rest.8
meier suggests Ramesses II probably com- Second, Robert I. Vasholz questions
menced work on Pi-Ramesses about 1270 the notion that a pharaoh would indeed
B.C., but he recognizes that construction name cities which “were basically depots
on this sight predates Ramesses II at least for the storage of supplies and taxes paid
to the time of Horemheb (1323-1295 B.C.), in terms of foodstuffs” after himself.9 He

82

middle. we must conclude that there Third. they have failed to they built or rebuilt after themselves. They have made an kingdom period. the city also having term Rameses in Gen 47:11 but not in Exod taken this name.” tion in the Old Testament. which is the second month. happened during the time of Ramesses ses means “begotten by Ra. if he is indeed correct. though they reveal that pharaohs did not name cities are convinced of it.C. Menfe (also known assumption based on the similarity of as Memphis) was renamed to Hitpuah.12 Kitchen ages before and the Ramessides of the Nineteenth Dynasty were allows for editorial updating with the named for them.18 Therefore.argues that Egyptian records of cities prove the case concerning Rameses in at from the old. demonstrate that the Rameses of Exod Instead.16 that Ramesses II could be that one excep.”10 same cities. In any case.17 the Old Testament. Second. a number of pharaohs had failed to show that the events of Exod 1:11 names that came from their gods.13 Hoffmeier argues against such an of the city of Rameses proves that updating because it fails to fit the normal the Exodus must have taken place pattern of editorial glossing of names in during the reign of Rameses II. or the new says. Dyer believes basing the date of the sun god and was also a primary god in Exodus on the similarity of names fails Egypt. Typically. even if they are the which means “spirit of [the god] Ptah. in the month where a name that has been changed of Ziv. tion of a pharaoh who named a city after it is by no means certain that the himself. they tended to name cities after 1:11 was indeed the city Pi-Ramesses their gods. Wood believes the name Rameses in Exod It could well be that there had been 1:11 is an editorial updating of an earlier an ancient Ramesside dynasty long name that went out of use.14 Nevertheless. For instance. Wood demon- of the land of Egypt. the names. In fact. Genesis 47:11 states that Jacob and Ramesses II of the nineteenth dynasty his family settled in the land of got his name in much the same way the Rameses when the entered Egypt city of Rameses got its name some two in the nineteenth century. convinced of the early date. “In the four hundred and eightieth name is accompanied by an explanatory year after the people of Israel came out clause. It old name with the new name. during the new built by Ramesses II. Vasholz concedes the possibility to be a compelling argument. both were named after which there is not the slightest Ra at different times. advocates of the late date have Furthermore. he appears without any formula or explana- began to build the house of the LORD.” Ra was a II. both the 1 Kings 6:1 earlier name and the later name occur First Kings 6:1 is another important together with a formula connecting the text concerning the date of the Exodus. Rame. for centuries earlier. according to this pas- late date of the Exodus have failed to sage. First. there is no need to assume that the mention 1:11. Solomon began building the temple 83 . was an area by that name before there was ever a Pharaoh Rameses. city of Rameses was named after then it would suggest the possibility that the Pharaoh of that name. Merrill argues. and new kingdoms least one of two ways. in the fourth year of strates there are number of occurrences Solomon’s reign over Israel. unless we postulate an anachronism.11 However. proof.15 Solomon reigned from 971/970 – 931/930 Dyer says that those who hold to the B.

Matt emphasize the importance of under. Taking the number four oning time than just counting years. advocates of the late date symbolizes completion (Gen 2:2. For example. A literal understanding of cer- tain large numbers may not always hundred forty-four (Deut 34:7). 12 x 25. This calculation means the meaning throughout the rest of the Old Exodus happened about 1267 B. Obviously.”22 hundred and eighty literally would then Bratcher says that there are several groups point to 1447/1446 B. is a more reason. several numbers (Exod 34:28. The number twelve symbolizes standing how the biblical writers used community and wholeness (Gen 35:22. There are obvious cases where the number 40 is extremely difficult tend that the number forty should be to interpret literally. Such Bratcher points out how multiples of these a view of Scripture encourages the researcher to investigate seriously numbers appear in the Scripture. observe that numbers in the Bible were Sinai to receive the law 40 days and 40 nights and during the period “he used for purposes other than just pre. prevalent use of the number forty in fore. and four hundred thousand Proponents of the late date believe the (Josh 20:2). these generations are best understood to Hoffmeier has suggested that perhaps have lasted twenty-five years each. Outside of the Bible. but not both. neither ate bread nor drank water” cise counting. There. this verse stylized for other purposes than simple forces us to accept either the 40 days counting. cf. Jud numbers.18. 1 Kgs 4:26). No human could last 40 days without in Scripture “are used symbolically. Matt understood among Israel’s neigh- 18:22). one bors. not literal. the reign of Ramesses II.25).21 Most supporters of the late date con. or 300 years. taken symbolically in 1 Kgs 6:1. or are approximate numbers or the complete fasting literally. Deut 9:9. the Old Testament originated with the able actual number for the time elapsed Israelite wandering in the wilderness. 15:35). 29. Hoffmeier addresses the issue: 19:29). of how to interpret numbers.19 (1 Sam 4:2). 3:3). Consequently. The number seven often However. four thousand of Scripture’s meaning. They Moses is said to have been on Mt.23 Understanding this use of number 480 should be understood to numbers has led many scholars to believe represent twelve generations made up the 480 years of 1 Kgs 6:1 should be taken of periods of forty years each. the number three text for proponents of the early date to often denotes a short period of time or argue their case.C. as the date of the of numbers that perform certain roles in Exodus.C. one hundred twenty (Gen 6:3). For instance. in 967/966 B. on the surface it extent without intending to be specific seems to be an open and closed case. Such a misplaced literal- ism would be a “misinterpretation” four hundred (Gen 15:3). such as how large numbers were used and seventy or seventy-seven (Gen 4:24. forty thousand (Josh 4:13. Exod 16:35). one hun- be correct if the authorial intent was dred and forty-four thousand (Rev 14:1).C. between the building of the temple and from there it possibly took on symbolic the Exodus. are water. Furthermore. Hoffmeier continues. And the number forty is a “sche- matized number used for a generation the culture and conventions of the penman’s milieu must be borne in or simply an unspecified long period of mind when addressing the question time” (Gen 7:4. symbolically. (Jonah 1:17. 1 Kgs 6:1 is a major Scripture. In fact. during Testament.20 Actually. In fact. based on different cultural ways of reck- 84 .

Applying the num- challenging. of Moses to the time of Solomon appear to ing that the 40 year period actually was no more than 23 years. be “truncated. the instigator who raised the biblical authors intended the numbers a rebellion against Moses (Numbers 16). gies giving the generations from the time way through Ahab’s 22 years. it is undeni- bers twelve and forty as stock numbers able that 480 does correspond to “12 times 40. Cassuto’s study gave attention to the nowhere in the Bible does it communicate biblical writers’ use of numbers in the that forty years is the ideal or full gen. this number is couched in a verse Alternative understandings of these pas. that gives very specific information about sages where one understands the num. When cussion. Umberto Cassuto’s lectures. 85 . raise another interesting from the number of generations between point for one trying to understand 1 Kgs the time of Solomon and the Exodus. the number 40 also has symbolic time of the Exodus to the time of Solomon. meaning. the text something that is not really there.25 Other genealo- Mesha claims to have liberated his land from Israelite dominance half. involving the number 40 is indeed not twelve and forty. what appears in 1 Kgs 1:6 Consequently. and the use of priests from Aaron to Azariah indicates the number 40 with such regular- ity. Old Testament. nineteen generations multiplied by days half the days of his son. 1:6. 1 Chron 6:33-37 indicates order in which numbers are given in the there were eighteen generations from the Old Testament are an indication of how time of Korah. a musician from compound numbers appear in two dif- the time of David. and lived there (in) his tion. Then. mean. The Docu- There are a couple of issues concerning mentary Hypothesis and the Composition of the notion that the number 480 is derived the Pentateuch. but for the sake of this dis. the tens precede the hundreds. trying to recon- struct history and to establish dates is the number. to be understood. read all of the information literally. Hoffmeier clearly demonstrates the context and genre of a text should be the line of reasoning pertaining to 1 Kgs taken literally. If one adds one more ferent ways: sometimes the ones precede generation to get to Solomon’s time. Furthermore. four hundred and eighty. the 480 years of 1 Kgs 1:6. twenty-five years yields the number 475 Omri reigned 12 years.26 of time--an approximate number. it seems reasonable to another time. late date of the Exodus.24 Also. He declared that “Omri had Kitchen who say twenty-five years is a taken possession of the whole la[n] reasonable span for an actual genera- d of Medeba. and to Ahab years. He determined that the eration. Second. ber forty literally might be discussed at Given its context. then the tens.” According to 1 Kgs 16:23. forty years. there were nineteen generations from the and the hundreds precede the thousands. Consider the statement Following the logic of Hoffmeier and by the king Mesha in his famous stele. too. a number that coincides well with 22 years are credited (1 Kgs 16:29). First. then it is logical to take all 1:6 given by many who contend for the of its constituent parts literally. Cassuto observed that to the time of Heman.” and therefore one should found in this verse may be reading into not lightly dismiss the possible sym.” The genealogy of 1 Chron 6:3-10 showing the generations of the high Passages like these. suggests that the number may there were fourteen high priests from the symbolize an undisclosed period time of Moses to the time of Solomon. the date of the building of the temple.27 bolic nature of the number.

The Ammonites were dence and tenuous nature of understand- attempting to retake some of the land that ing the specific chronology of the judges Israel had taken when Moses had led his makes trying to do so nearly impossible people there. a time that well fits an early date of ous order. since to the Ammonites now. and the tens precede the ones. this ascending order would indicate intended to be precise but rather a general a “technical or statistical” number in order reference to an extended span of time.C. Bratcher eightieth year and four hundredth year” observes that the context of Jephthah’s in the Masoretic Text. his aggression against the Israelites living Moreover. when a solitary number occurs in dealings with the Ammonites happened a narrative passage or in a poem sometime from 1130 to 1073 B. most scholars estimate his prominence. according been there since between 1430 and 1373 to the more natural and spontane. there was no reason to give it back prefers the ascending order. the hundreds.” Up Also. the number of years governing the use of the numerals given thus far in Judges for the cycles of in Hebrew. save in a few cases where special for 300 years that would mean they had circumstances operate. order to speak with such precision.” that is. and eightieth year” in English translations Nevertheless. if the Israelites had been in the land numbers are invariably arranged. had been in the land for three hundred cal data and the like. and if the narrator had access to the informa- Judges 11:26 tion and wanted to convey chronological The final Scriptural text for consid- details.28 oppression and peace comes to 301 years. In fact. one may assume the narrator Jephthah sent to the king of Ammon in had something else in mind rather than order to persuade the king to discontinue precision in dating as his main concern. the narrator of the text portrays to this point.C. Cassuto writes. in other instances the thousands precede with the Ammonites over land he said. For Heshbon. the fore. the surrounding settle- example. Aroer. since Israel This is the principal rule: when the Bible gives us technical or statisti. As Jephthah was contending 86 . the hundreds precede the “For three hundred years Israel occupied tens. According to Cas- speech suggests that the number is not suto. Bratcher states the meager evi- in the Transjordan. no proponent of the late date Jephthah as one who probably would have of the Exodus has provided a response to had little access to historical records in Cassuto’s study as applied to 1 Kgs 1:6. then it is odd that the rest of pas- eration concerning the Exodus is Judg sage is void of any other historical details. time?” Jephthah was appealing to the idea of “squatter’s rights. not counting the Ammonite oppression While one often finds “In the four hundred Jephthah was fighting. This verse is located in a message Therefore. one may find eighty and four ments and all the towns along the Arnon.29 There- or in a speech and so forth.. 11:26. it frequently years. the descending order. to wit. to show “the tendency to exactness. This is a fundamental rule the Exodus. it is impossible to know the exact date bers to be given precedence and of Jephthah. On the other hand. some scholars object to of 1 Kgs 6:1. the number appears “in the this understanding of Judg 11:26. Even though the tendency to exactness in these instances causes the smaller num. B. hundred or one may find four hundred and Why didn’t you retake them during that eighty.

reasonable to consider his use of “300 years” to be something like the way most At roughly 1070.31 R. There are those Americans first to take a Ph. which in itself makes ten to twenty years ago if they had been no sense whatsoever on any asked “How old is the United States of current date of the exodus 40 years before. his people. and not exactly the reasonable estimation of the span of time kind of man who would scruple in question.C. it is reasonable to conceive that while So it can offer us no practical Jephthah was not trying to give a defini- help. Brave fellow that he was. not a mathematical precise chronological datum. that would place that occupation at about typical Americans would have responded 1370. Why is it so impossible for the number mised by inadequate data.34 As what Jephthah said was inaccurate. Jephthah probably had claim also. certainly not the last knowledge of the Torah is evident time a leader would have done so.D. concerning the number three chronological datum.32 Either way. sad to say.” and when they did most between. in chronology at some ancient ary insertion. is it hundred he says. 1260/1250. according to Kitchen. it would be odd if both the Israelites and Ammonites Therefore. university of the Yarmuk before Moreover. Confident of his chronol. but it to have been common knowledge.” However.33 have that knowledge. to not necessarily expect readers to believe. That is the biblical writers were accurate in Jephthah’s point.D. It is reasonable to expect recording what Jephthah said. people would have understood it to be a an outcast. whether in America?” Most would have answered 1447. Kitchen discounts Jephthah’s land? Granted. His his own people. but they do report of a brave but ignorant have an idea of the length of time the man’s bold bluster in favor of United States has been a nation. G. It is in the same class as tive time of their occupation of the land. other statements that biblical writers may well report accu. Davis observes. It would not have taken a Ph. in local chronology at some ancient who would still give that answer today. Therefore.30 to be accurate unless one needs it to fit Some say that the “300 years” an already established historical recon- is a gloss. “Ph. Boling argues the struction of events? Would it have even number of years is intended to be an been necessary for Jephthah to have a “exact figure” but that it is a second. In fact. or any time in “200 years old.D. What we have is nothing more than the nology of American history. Either he was ignorant of the facts or It is scarcely possible. it could university” to have knowledge of the still support the either date of the span of time his people had been in the Exodus.because the conclusions are compro.. were ignorant of such information. little concern for providing the Ammo- ogy of Jephthah’s activities in 1073 nite king with a “mathematical precise B. however. from the context of Chapter 11 of 87 . perhaps he intentionally lied about that Jephthah should make such a them in order to make the case for blunder in the midst of important international negotiations. he was giving a very close approximation rately but which they would of it. most Americans. Jephthah was a roughneck. making strident claims to the have little knowledge of a detailed chro- Ammonite ruler.

and Hazor. Destruction Layers tions. “Various Palestinian features of a region. important for those of us who study the dence involved in Israel’s occupa- tion of the territory of Transjordan Scriptures and are interested in archaeol- (cf. A British archaeologist from the nature to look for what one expects to 1930s. The Bible from cities built on top of one another on describes the complete destruction of both the same site. and tion in the second half of the 13th century distribution. 6:1-27.”37 The two area that covers numerous sites. evidence than does Scripture. which would agree with the onset of the deposition and relationships of the of the Israelites placed roughly 1240 B. puzzle of our attempting to put together ably reflects sober fact. Kitchen and (1) topography – the study of the surface Mitchell observe.C. (3) stratigraphy – the study B. it is knowledge of the historical prece. Archaeologists must be careful to could have exaggerated this number avoid allowing presuppositions to influ- as it was used in the argument to the king and have gotten away with ence their interpretations.C. (2) hydrology – the city-sites show evidence of clear destruc- study of water. probably the stron- data may sometimes vary quite a bit. Therefore. Interpretations of the same Rameses in Exod 1:11. 11:1-11). Bethel. John Garstang.. of the date of the Exodus. numerous challenges when addressing The first city the Israelites defeated as each of these issues. concluded that Jer- 88 . and structures must be Besides the reference to the city of interpreted.35 all of the events we see in the Bible. that were in ancient Palestine that indicate Archaeologists must take into account their destruction and rebuilding during several issues including the following: the thirteenth century B. It is doubtful that Jephthah find. Just like any text in the Bible.36 Archaeologists encounter of these cities (Josh 2:1-21. Therefore. gest argument for the late date of the One reason for this variance is because Exodus comes from a number of cities of the intricate nature of archaeology.C. Such sites are Tell Beit Mirsim site. artifacts. sources. Judg 11:13). The King of Ammon had some so is nearly impossible. ancient inscrip. now attention should be have some impact on one’s understanding given to the way scholars use archaeo. (4) regional archaeology – the study (possibly biblical Debir/Kiriath-sepher). its properties. Archaeology cer- information given in the passage under question does not appear in tainly provides an important piece to the a poetic section and therefore prob. Another reason they came into the Promised Land was for such variance is because it is human Jericho. the logical discoveries to pinpoint the date of following is just an overview of some of the Exodus realizing that archaeological the major concerns archaeologists have finds provide no more “hard/objective” brought to the discussion. and (5) biblical cities that have received the most the tell – a mound consisting of debris attention are Jericho and Hazor. Again it would be ogy to have an understanding of the role well to point out that numerical archaeology may play. Judges. occupational layers of an archeological onward. but it Archaeological Interests cannot stand alone. of the material remains of a geographical Lachish. Having given a look at many of the One may find numerous volumes per- issues concerning the date of the Exodus taining to the various discoveries that may in Scripture. but doing it.

According to Wood. Garstang’s that the city was not reinhabited until the study of the pottery was correct after time of Solomon in the tenth century B. responsible for this destruction because ing the early date of the Exodus.C. caused this destruction. still be seen today in its reconstruction. In the of military action against the city of Hazor upper city the temple/palace in area A itself.45 However. city of Hazor (Stratum XV Jabin (Judg 4:23-24). another renowned British archaeologist. 12-13). While the text The other two are Jericho and Ai. Kathleen Kenyon. contends that Joshua is responsible for the yet what she did discover corroborates destruction levels dating to the thirteenth the biblical account of Jericho and its century B.38 He based discovered where much of the mud brick his conclusion on a detailed study of the of the structure melted and then reso- pottery he discovered at the destruction lidified into the charred bricks that may level. the fortification Yigael Yadin..44 Based on her extensive work. Furthermore. she con. but it happened at the Ben-Tor is convinced Israelites were end of the fifteenth century B. excavators have uncov- cluded that Jericho actually was destroyed ered a destruction layer that dates to the in the middle of the sixteenth century B. In other words. indicates God “subdued” Jabin and that tions at Hazor have revealed the fifteenth the Israelites “cut off” or “exterminated” century B.C. that excavators have end of the fifteenth century. Nonethe. Stratum XIII. Sisera.40 Most scholars have Hazor and his general. He says. she concluded destruction level is the result of Debo- there was no occupation of the site during rah and Barak’s war over King Jabin of the fifteenth century. Excava. Wood argues that Kenyon failed to excavations of Hazor. Hazor was strategically located ten Deborah and Barak could not be responsi- miles north of the Sea of Galilee.46 all. Wood maintains that this Furthermore. ble for this destruction because the battle ing to the biblical writers.39 In the 1950s.43 In fact. thus supporting ferent understanding of ancient Jericho.C. of Hazor (Judg 4:6. probably fueled was the “head” of all kingdoms of by the blustery winds that move across northern Canaan would so thor- oughly be devastated by Joshua in 89 .C. The destruction was so severe destruction.. support. It is hard to believe that the city that the heat was so intense. Kenyon espoused. was destroyed and never rebuilt. an early date of the Exodus. Amnon Ben-Tor. it is the only they fought with King Jabin and Sisera one of three cities captured and destroyed happened about thirty-five miles south by Joshua and the Israelites (Josh 11:1-11).C.C. the Israeli archaeologist overseeing the less.48 Hoffmeier maintains Israel. Accord.42 It is the largest excavated site in were decapitated. thirteenth century B. after that. adopted Kenyon’s conclusions. thoroughly study the pottery of the site. Wood argues that Joshua and the Israelites excavated the site and came to a very dif.47 Also.C. Hoffmeier observes in the upper city and Stratum 2 in the that the text is silent regarding any kind lower city) was destroyed by fire. the Israeli archaeologist who system and evidence of its collapse did first excavated these stratums attributed not happen in the sixteenth century as the destruction to the Israelites.icho showed evidence of destruction at the the area each day.41 of the mutilated statues of Egyptian and Hazor is another city at the center of the Canaanite gods and kings many of which debate. in Stratum 1a and not at the end of the fifteenth century B.

10) and vineyards and olive trees that under Deborah and Barak. strategy was to eliminate the inhabitants compared to the major issues facing the 13th–century model which Hoff. Issachar. however. Could it of Solomon. and houses full of all only to be demolished by a much good things that you did not fill. but advocates of the late date say about 180 miles south of Cairo. 1400 BC and then rise from the ashes with great and good cities that you to be rebuilt to its peak of prosperity did not build. you forget the LORD. The Amarna tablets are Deut 6:10-12 says. grew stronger and stronger against The destruction of the three cities men- Jabin” until they “destroyed him” tioned in Joshua each seem to have hap- (Judg 4:24). the house of slavery. to give you-. who brought you out of the land of Egypt. or crops. Naphtali and Zebulon (Judg 4:6. if ies. not in Jabin being “subdued” (Judg 4:23). The Bible only men. the advocates of the thirteenth century B. from various vassals of Egypt in Canaan 90 . Furthermore. and Naphtali. are evidence of the conquest of the promised land. Amarna Letters Excavators have uncovered 382 tab- tions three cities that were destroyed by lets at Tell el Amarna. as the battle described in Judges 4 took going to live in the Canaanite cities and place at the Kishon River resulted houses that the Canaanites had built. to destroy the cities they are intending Hoffmeier denies that there was on inhabiting themselves? Moses gives any military action against Hazor the impression that the Israelites were itself by Deborah and Barak. and to Jacob. the book the 1320 BC destruction at Hazor is of Judges seems to indicate that there was assigned to Joshua.50 be that the numerous destruction levels As already indicated.49 you did not plant­—and when you eat and are full. smaller force from the tribes of and cisterns that you did not dig.C. Moreover. 106 of the letters were requests to Isaac. and Hazor were the IV or Akhenaton. of the land without destroying their cit- meier does not address.C. That is. which is located Joshua. Nevertheless. Out of this brings you into the land that he swore to your fathers. Benja m i n. named for the sun god only cities destroyed in the conquest? Aten or Aton. then take care lest In his response to Hoffmeier. the “Israelites that the Israelites would have to rebuild. it is reasonable that the Israelite military   These are minor points. The destruction of Jabin implies the destruction of his capital pened under special circumstances. collection. Is it logical for people who are conquering six northern hill country tribes. homes. where is the city that Jabin of Judges 4 ruled. could eighteenth dynasty named Amenhotep it be that Jericho. significant because they are a collection of And when the LORD your God diplomatic correspondences. a land with the intention of settling in it participated in the war against Jabin king of Hazor. since a great deal of conflict happening during Hazor was not rebuilt until the time that period in ancient Palestine. yet city Hazor. Wood says. Following this. 51 This that these cities are representative of the site was the location of the capital dur- mass destruction wielded by the Israelites ing the reign of the ninth pharaoh in the throughout the land. Ma k i r (Ma nasseh). Zebulon. destruction of Hazor? tury B. to Abraham. are the of the late date say the destruction levels remains of those conflicts along with the of numerous cities in the thirteenth cen. Ai. out of Judg 5:14-18 indicates that Ephraim.

the books biblical inscription where scholars agree of Joshua and Judges indicate that the on the mention of Israel.”55 While during the time of the judges. How- units which were not only engaged in ever.).”53 Astour says the Amarna tablets assumes it was impossible for Hazor to indicate the Hapiru “acted in large armed rebuild within forty to fifty years. who came Hapiru were Israelites. if the (signs in the text that indicate the nature Israelites had come into the land in ca. contains a passage concerning a campaign Probably the best argument against that happened early in his reign saying.59 ally of the Hapiru as they attacked Tyre. equating the Israelites with the any of Carried off is Ashkelon.”54 He continues. “Hapiru” is a term. Another possibility is under Egyptian rule.57 This observation raises two issues for an This inscription is the oldest extra- early date of the Exodus. The close of this “Hymn of Victory” the description of Hapiru. that the Hapiru appeared after the initial “History shows that whenever one finds conquest led by Joshua. The Hazor be waging war on other city-states determinatives accompanying the cities in northern Palestine if Joshua and the indicate that they were city-states. some proponents of the Extra-biblical References to Israel early date believe that some of the Hapiru The Merenptah Stele is a monument mentioned in the letters were references heralding military campaigns carried to Hebrews. Not all the process of sedentarization.C. Most attention Israelites and the inhabitants of Hazor has been given to the determinatives were anything but allies.52 These attacks happened in the were allies with Hazor obviously were early to mid-fourteenth century B.for military aid from the pharaoh in the Israelites had just destroyed the city? In face of attacks by a group of people called response to the first issue. but some may have from the semi-desert zone and entered been called this by the Canaanites who civilized regions as strangers . of the accompanying word) that follow 1400 B. He is Gezer. Second. his seed is not.C.C. the books of Joshua and Judges sug- plundering raids but were also seizing for gest it did regardless of which date of the themselves towns and parts of the lands Exodus one takes. the Hapiru who Hapiru. points out that one of the Amarna tablets Yanoam is made as that which does not exist. The 91 . The second issue of law. appears in texts dating from generic as well as derogatory term that 1750 to 1150 B.58 not all Hapiru attacking cities in Palestine were Hebrews. They would have independent armed bands.C. Hapiru. and was a designation was given to these semi-nomadic peoples for semi-nomadic peoples who “were in causing unrest in settled areas. The not Israelites. .. Once again. then how could the king of the names of the cities and Israel. First. . indicates that the king of Hazor was an Israel is laid waste. seized upon the Hapiru comes from Hoffmeier.56 From the perspective of the out by Pharaoh Merenptah (1237-1227 Canaanites the Hebrews would have fit B. these were been among those who oppressed Israel always ethnically homogeneous. they certainly would not have been concerned were members of tightly knit tribal units with making any distinction between whose allegiance was determined by these groups as they were conquering kinship and who had their own system Canaanite settlements.

60 hen during the eighteenth dynasty in the Since. Hoffmeier conviction pertaining to the message. Görg has because a great many people are abandon- discovered that it preserves three place ing the notion that the Exodus ever really names that were part of a longer list.?69 Did supporters of the early date contend that the populations in Moab and Edom dur- Merenptah’s mention of Israel indicates ing the fifteenth century B. says Görg’s reading of “Israel” is “plagued inspiration. evidence!”72 Both sides of the debate raise serious 92 .64 If so. the debate.C. Our chronological understanding ing the inscription should be read “Israel. then it would lend support for extra-biblical evidence to uphold our to an early date of the Exodus. As Wood states. yet apologetics is In Görg’s formal response to Hoffmeier. some argue the stele that seems to indicate the beginning of supports a late date. any fixed territorial boundaries.C. established in Canaan by this time. correspond the Israelites were established enough to biblical descriptions during Israel’s for Merenptah to boast about having trek to Canaan?70 The list goes on as does fought Israel. faith. Görg contends that the third issues.71 No doubt. While evangelicals have no need dynasty.C. determinative accompanying Israel indi. indicating his objectivity in of the exodus. and Merenptah actually perish in the Red Sea?68 Can one recognized Israel as only a tribal people trust the Jubilee’s data from the Talmud instead of a nation. “If so-called exodus. “My commentary has no relation.C. The happened. 1220 B.”66 Apparently. Several more issues surround the cating they were a tribal people without debate concerning the date of the Exodus. a picture Was there an Egyptian capital near Gos- in keeping with the time of the judges. no other mention of Israel appears mid-fifteenth century B.62 So why is it important for evangelicals Manfred Görg’s publication concern.61 On the other hand.?67 Did Pharaoh prior to ca.”65 the veracity of the bible. dependant upon our understanding of the ship to questions about the date of the date of the Exodus. Görg we are looking in the wrong century for has no interest in the debate concerning evidence to support the biblical account the Exodus. clearly we will not find any the matter.” then he proceeds by addressing world. but chronological issues naturally is Israel. Conclusion cates that it was a less settled people indi. The orthography 63 suggests arise if we acknowledge the historicity of this inscription dates to the eighteenth the text. by serious linguistic and orthographic we should be committed to upholding the problems which preclude it from being truth before a skeptical and unbelieving Israel.” of events before the Exodus and after the What is just as interesting is that Görg Exodus until Israel’s monarchy is largely says. the conquest happened in 1406 B. to concern themselves with what seems to ing a column base fragment located in the be insignificant compared to other mat- Egyptian Museum in Berlin has peaked ters concerning Scriptures? It is important some interest in the debate. Evangelicals do not need to prove “four of the most glaring objections. meaning Israel was well. an important aspect of contending for the Görg puts forth his reasons for maintain. and authority of Scripture. the message of the first two names are clearly Ashkelon and text is preeminent over any chronological Canaan.

Picture Archive of the Bible (ed.” Until stronger evidence cal Date for the Exodus is 1446 BC: A points to the contrary. “On the Dating of the 09. A. Howard Jr. Wil- sity. (2008): 249-58.” Presbyterion 32 (2006): 111. 57-69. A Study liam H. Bietak. used proleptically in Gen 12:8 and from the Bronze Age Through The Jewish 13:3. Biblical Date for the Exodus? A Response  5 Hoffmeier. Vasholz.C. Exodus: An Introduction & M. 256-62. logical Exploration in the Eastern Nile 1966). 1996). Merrill. 288-91.” Commentary on Exodus (Auburn. Kitchen. named by the Danites Wars (Nashville: Broadman & Holman. in Judg 18:29 but used proleptically in 1998). David Alan Cole.” Journal century B. Kaiser. “The Bibli- arch “Pharaoh.” 249. Hoffmeier. “From Ramesses to Shiloh: Archaeological Discoveries Endnotes Bearing on the Exodus-Judges Period” in  1 The following are some well-known Giving the Sense: Understanding and Using proponents of the late date of the exodus: Old Testament Historical Texts (ed. 22. ment. 307. in vol.  9 Robert I. Caroline 10 Ibid. On the Reliability of the Old Testa- 139-43. 93 . On the Reliability of the Old Testa- Gaebelein. 354 1990). Exodus. the mid-fifteenth Response to James Hoffmeier. Avaris and PiRamesse: Archaeo- Testament (Downers Grove: InterVarsity. Exodus. Masom and Pat Alexander. A History of Israel 28:19. Grisanti. Theological Society 50 (2008): 225-47. 256. 112. “What Is the ment. and Michael A. Exodus.” Journal of the Evangelical the Exodus?” 233. (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans. Wood gives ponents of the early date of the exodus: several examples. King. “The 13 t h –Century Exodus-  2 The following are some well-known pro. such as Bethel in Gen Walter C. “The Rise and Fall of the of the pharaoh there would be no debate. 234-35. “The Date of the Exodus. 75-79. idem. Eugene H. Shea. idem. 2000). 14 Hoffmeier. 2 of The Gen 14:14. of the Evangelical Theological Society 50 able date for the Exodus. 13 Kitchen. 2003). 13th-Century Exodus-Conquest Theory.  3 Hoffmeier. Conquest Theory. appears to be the most prob. (Downers Grove: InterVarsity. “What Is the Biblical Date for to Bryant Wood. idem.” However. ety 48 (2005): 475-89. Expositor’s Bible Commentary (ed. 236-55.  4 Kitchen. If Moses had recorded the name Bryant Wood. 1996). idem. Herts. The Bible in Its World Delta (Wheeler Lecture for 1979. 2003). Richard Hess. John Currid. K.questions concerning the date of the Israel (Grand Rapids: Baker. Oxford: (Exeter: Paternoster.” 479. “What Is the Biblical Date for dom of Priests: A History of Old Testament the Exodus?” 233. Alan Millard (archeological notes). 66-75. 12 Wood. England: Lion Books. 11 Ibid. Evangelical. “The Date of the Exodus. during that time it was custom. 1981). Oxford University. James K. Ancient Orient and the Old  7 M. On the Reliability of the Old Testament  8 Shea. Jr. 1973) 40-43. and Dan... MA: in Giving the Sense. Grand Rapids: Kregel.  6 Ibid. 1977). Journal of the Evangelical Theological Soci- ary for people to call the Egyptian mon. 104-11. Grand Rapids: Zondervan. Tring. idem. Frank E. “What Is the Biblical Date for Joshua: An Introduction & Commentary the Exodus?” 236. 67-79. 1987). 27-29. Commentary (Downers Grove: InterVar.

” 250-51.” in Archaeology and Testament.. Kitchen and T. 25 I would like to thank my colleague for an excellent introduction to 47 Yigael Yadin. 37 Kenneth A. I. Hammerton.C. The Bible in Recent 20 Kitchen. to Early Tenth Centuries B. “The Fall of Canaanite Century Exodus-Conquest Theory. 33-37. A. D.E (ed. On the Reliability of the Anthropology 21 (1934): 118-30.” in Mediterra- tor’s Bible Commentary with the New Egypt (Grand Rapids. Thirteenth International Version (ed. See R. 1959): 9. 31. 1988). 103. Maxwell Mill. Dyer.. Mitch. Oxford: Clarendon. The Hebrew University. “The Date of the Exodus Reex. 181. “What Is the Biblical tary (Anchor Bible. amined. Canaanite Hazor—The ‘Who’ and 1 & 2 Kings. 262. Baker.Provenance Study Pentateuch (Jerusalem: The Magnes Biblical Story. Douglas. ignorant. Old Testament. Gaebelein. The more I study ancient 45 Wood. Moses and the Gods of ‘When’ Questions. meier. 23 Ibid. erpool Annals of Archaeology and Exodus Reexamined. “Jericho: City and meier. 265-67. 1978). Jerusalem: Israel the events taking forty literally.org/exodusdate. (London: Ernest Benn. 1990). Grand Rapids: Zonder. Na’aman. Currid.” The Biblical passage to me and its significance to reading see Joel F.” 256. 30 Bratcher. New York: Ancient Near Eastern Texts (Tel Aviv: 1961).” idem.” 487-88. “The Date of the 32 Boling. “A Response to James Hoff. 1971). nean Peoples in Transition.” in Wonders of the Past of the Amarna Tablets and Other Press. “The Fall of Patterson and Hermann J. Bible Dictionary (3 vol.. “A Response to James Hoff- 27 Dyer. On the Reliability of the Old dus. Kingdom of Priests. Judges. Scripture. Davis. moderns portray the ancients as so 44 Ibid. in vol. On the Reliability of the Old in the 2006 excavations at Hazor. “From Ramesses to Shiloh. “The Date of the Exo. J. Secrets of the Times: Myth Old Testament Study (ed.” 456. Kingdom of Priests. 31 J. 21 Hoffmeier. Date for the Exodus?” 244. Fourth Report. [cited 25 August Testament.” Date for the Exodus?” 236. Testament. am amazed at how much they did 46 Am non Ben-Tor. “Jericho and the Inscribed in Clay . 49 Hoffmeier. Amihai Mazar. 34 I am always amazed at how we 268. J. (ed. Doubleday. Bimson. Redating the Exodus 39 John Garstang. D. 52.” Bibliotheca 148. “Jericho. “A Response to James Hoff. Digging Up Jericho 17 Merrill. “What Is the Biblical 26 Wood. Drinkard. Sacra 3 (1983): 226. Wheaton: Tyndale House. cf. 43 Wood. 204. 29 John J. 36 See John D.” Liv- 16 Charles H. for further of Excavation at Hazor.cresour. “Chronology. Goren. ed. 1988). Semour Gitin. 209. Merrill. meier. Online: http://www. 1937). this discussion. 83. 35 John J. 262-63. and van. (JSOTSup 66. Mattingly. 307. Garden City: 41 Wood. 22 Dennis Bratcher. Hughes. and Conquest (Sheffield: Sheffield. and J. Finkelstein. 51 For a detailed study see Y. 18 Kitchen. On the Reliability of the Old R. Sheffield: JSOT. Gerald Archaeologist 22 (February. “What Is the Biblical near Eastern cultures the more I Conquest Theory. Judges: A New Transla. Doing Archaeol.html. cei.” in The Illustrated 50 Wood.” 253. 456-67. 204. “What Is the Biblical and History in Biblical Chronology Thomas. 1967). Guide (Grand Rapids: Baker. Kitchen. “The Fourth Season Peter Gentry for pointing out this Palestinian Archaelogy. Sonia and Marco Nadler Institute of 94 . 1957). Austell know. 48 Ben-Tor. 268. 1:275. Wood. 486-86. D. 465. 1222. 1999) Exploration Society. The Documentary 1980). Necropolis. Boling. (Atlanta: Scholars.” 2008]. Frank E. and N.p. 107. Winton 19 Hoffmeier. Date for the Exodus?” 237. Date for the Exodus?” 235-36. Hypothesis and the Composition of the 38 John Garstang.15 Wood. “The 13th-Century Exodus- 24 Hoffmeier. idem. Archaeology (Atlanta: John Knox. for a discussion of ogy in the Land of the Bible: A Basic Ephraim Stern. “The Date of the 1981).” 235. Y. tion with Introduction and Commen.” Benchmarks in Time and Culture Hazor. C.” n. 40 Kathleen Kenyon. 4 of The Exposi. Wise. ell. “From Ramesses to Shiloh. G. 42 I had the privilege of participating Exodus: The Historical Study of 33 Kitchen. 28 Umberto Cassuto. “The 13th L. 207. 1998). 1975).

” 54 Ibid.” Journal of the Society 71 Carl Rasmussen. A. 63 Orthography describes or defines the set of symbols used in a lan- guage and the rules about how to write these symbols.” 57 Hoffmeier.” 249. “Israel in Hierogly- phen. W. “A Response to James Hoffmeier. Ahlström. 69 Robert C. 71-72. 155-56. 60-62.” Grace Theological Old Testament (Grand Rapids: Baker. “Explorations in Exodus-Conquest Theory. Thompson. 220-21. meier. in Giving the Sense. 102-108. “A Response to James Hoff- of Bible Lists (Grand Rapids: Baker.” Ugarit-Forschungen Date for the Exodus?” 239-40. ‘Israel Stele’). “The Ha-Bi-Ru— Gerald L. Bible and Archaeology (3d ed. Hill. 31. Mattingly. 153. Tel Aviv University. 253-54. Merrill.” 255. 55 Ibid. 603. 58 Meredith Kline. The History of Ancient 60 K. 62 Merrill. “A Response to James Hoff- 95 . Kingdom of Priests. “The Exodus- Kin or Foe of Israel?” Westminster Conquest and the Archaeology of Theological Journal 20 (1957): 54-61. 1981). 31 (1999): 41. 65 Hoffmeier.” 489.. 61 Andrew E.” 274. or Resettlement?” 24 (1994): 74-75. J. “From Ramesses to Shiloh. Archaeology and the Old Problem. “The Physical Text Palestine (Minneapolis: Fortress. “From Ramesses to Shiloh. Astour.. the Amarna Texts: Basic Points of 68 Hoffmeier. Eastern Palestine and the Negeb. meier. Theological Society 46 (2003): 599- 109-11. “The 13th-Century 70 Nelson Glueck. 2004). Kitchen. Wood. A History of Israel from the mon Die?” Journal of the Evangelical Bronze Age Through The Jewish Wars. “What Is the Biblical Bulletin of the American Schools of Date for the Exodus?” 245. Infil- for the Study of Egyptian Antiquities tration. 66 Wood. “When Did Solo- 56 Kaiser. Kingdom of Priests. Wood.. “What Is the Biblical Date for the Exodus?” 241. Gösta 1998). Grand 53 Michael C. A. The 269. of Merenptah’s Victory Hymn (The 1993).” amined. 228. “What Is the Biblical Controversy. “The Date of the Exodus Reex- 52 Wood. “Conquest. Wood. Oriental Research 55 (1934): 3-21. “The Hapiru in Rapids: Eerdmans. 67 Dyer. 40. Transjordania: New Light on an 59 Alfred J. 1982). Revolt. Journal 4.” 233. Hoerth. Archaeology. Baker’s Handbook 72 Wood.” Biblische Notizen 106 (2001): 24. 64 Manfred Görg. no. Young. 2 (1983): 245-62.