Is the Bible’s account of the Israelites’ Exodus from Egypt a myth?
Or are most archaeologists wrong when they say there is no evidence of an Egyptian sojourn and Exodus?
A recent documentary boldly confronts the general consensus of opinion among archaeologists, Egyptologists, and scholars that the Exodus as described in the Bible never happened. Most say if it did happen, then it occurred around 1250 BC under Ramses II (aka Ramses the Great), but they say there’s absolutely no archaeological evidence for it then.
This outstanding documentary, Patterns of Evidence: Exodus, presents abundant evidence to dispute this consensus of opinion. This film from Thinking Man Films chronicles 12 years of in-depth archaeological research in Egypt and Israel by author and filmmaker Timothy Mahoney. He interviews over a dozen archaeologists and professors with expertise in Egyptian and Israeli archaeology on both sides of the Exodus issue: those who believe it did not happen and those who believe it did.
This article continues the review of Patterns of Evidence: Exodus that was begun in the prequel 1. Patterns of Evidence: Exodus – Did It Happen? This second article looks at some of the film’s interesting archaeological evidence corroborating the Biblical accounts.
Here’s the 3’41” trailer for the movie:
The Patterns of Evidence: Exodus documentary asks the fundamental question:
At any time during Egyptian history is there any physical evidence that the Exodus actually happened?
Mahoney organized his research into this question by six major events which he believed should have left some physical evidence that could be found by archaeologists:
1. Arrival of Joseph & Jacob’s family in Egypt
2. Multiplication of Hebrews into a nation in Egypt
3. Hebrew Enslavement in Egypt
4. Ten Plagues on Egypt
5. Exodus from Egypt
6. Conquest of Canaan by the Israelites
Mahoney presented multiple fascinating and convincing archaeological evidences for each of these events. They form a pattern in Egyptian history that matches the Biblical accounts in Genesis, Exodus and Joshua. But the pattern occurs hundreds of years before mainstream archaeologists think it should – much earlier in Egyptian history than 1250 BC.
These archaeologists discounted Mahoney’s evidence, because it did not fit their preconceived timeline. The movie argues that the reason archaeologists haven’t found any evidence is that they are looking in the wrong time period. Patterns of Evidence: Exodus builds a strong case that the Exodus actually happened around 1450 BC, just as the Bible’s timeline indicates.
In the ancient Egyptian city of Avaris (later renamed Ramses), excavation has uncovered what is thought to be Joseph’s palace and tomb with a twice-life-size statue of a Semite wearing a multi-colored robe. The tomb is empty — no bones! This matches the Biblical report that Moses honored Joseph’s dying request to take his bones back to the Promised Land when the Israelites left Egypt (Genesis 50:24-26; Exodus 13:19). Grave robbers take treasures from tombs but not old bones.
Was there ever a period of time in Egyptian history when an enormous transfer of wealth, land, and power from the Egyptian people to Pharaoh occurred? Archaeologists have found it as Bryant Wood reports at right, and the Bible records it happening as a result of Joseph’s famine policy:
Now there was no food in all the land, because the famine was very severe, so that the land of Egypt and the land of Canaan languished because of the famine. And Joseph gathered all the money that was found in the land of Egypt and in the land of Canaan for the grain which they bought, and Joseph brought the money into Pharaoh’s house. And when the money was all spent in the land of Egypt and in the land of Canaan, all the Egyptians came to Joseph and said, “Give us food, for why should we die in your presence? For our money is gone.” Then Joseph said, “Give up your livestock, and I will give you food for your livestock, since your money is gone.” So they brought their livestock to Joseph, and Joseph gave them food in exchange for the horses and the flocks and the herds and the donkeys; and he fed them with food in exchange for all their livestock that year. And when that year was ended, they came to him the next year and said to him, “We will not hide from my lord that our money is all spent, and the cattle are my lord’s. There is nothing left for my lord except our bodies and our lands. “Why should we die before your eyes, both we and our land? Buy us and our land for food, and we and our land will be slaves to Pharaoh. So give us seed, that we may live and not die, and that the land may not be desolate.” So Joseph bought all the land of Egypt for Pharaoh, for every Egyptian sold his field, because the famine was severe upon them. Thus the land became Pharaoh’s. (Genesis 47:13-20)
Although not mentioned in the film, it’s likely that the grain silos Joseph built to store the grain he collected during the seven good years preceding the famine years have been found (Genesis 41:33-36).
See Joseph’s Grain Silos Found in Egypt?
The Brooklyn Papyrus is from the Middle Kingdom of Egypt (hundreds of years before Ramses II, aka Ramses the Great). This document lists names of slaves, 70% of whom are Semitic with many straight out of the Bible.
There’s even evidence of the Plagues. In the Leiden Museum a papyrus titled Admonitions of an Egyptian Sage describes many of the plagues from the point of view of Ipuwer, an Egyptian eyewitness. When interviewed in the movie, museum curator Maarten Raven dismissed the papyrus as being too early to be a record of the Exodus plagues.
Three major excavations of Jericho match the Bible’s report. The 10-foot-thick wall surrounding the city fell down except for a small section on the north side which remained standing. This was probably Rahab’s house on the wall.
(Joshua 2:1-21; 6:17, 22-25)
The Berlin Pedestal inscription written by the son of Ramses the Great supports an early Conquest of Canaan. It has Israel already in Canaan 100 years before Pharaoh Ramses.
The documentary fascinates the viewer with ample additional evidence supporting each of the six major events listed above.
The totality of the evidence Mahoney marshals is weighty and impressive. In overview, he effectively presents archaeological indications and evidence of Joseph in Egypt and of a Semitic population mushrooming in the Nile delta. This Semitic group experiences slavery and hardship, then departs suddenly and reappears later in Canaan as a populous nation called “Israel” which proceeds with a military conquest of Canaan. This sequence fits the Biblical record very well.
The series of six major events connected to the Exodus with supporting archaeological evidence forms a significant pattern. It’s much more compelling than if the evidence were only of a single event. This intricate pattern could not be coincidence. It has to be the historical imprint of Israel’s history in Egypt, the Exodus, and the Conquest of Canaan.
Near the end of the film, Mahoney summarized his case for revising Egyptian chronology:
“It’s startling to think how significant this could be because chronology, the dates assigned to these events, is the thing being used to convince the world that the Bible is just a fairy tale. But look at the pattern! Evidence matching Joseph and the early Israelites’ arrival in Egypt, their tremendous multiplication, their descent into slavery, the judgment and collapse of Egypt, the deliverance and Exodus of the Semitic population, and, finally, in Canaan, evidence matching the conquest of the Promised Land. I know there’s a lot of disagreement over the dating but what strikes me is that if you put all the dates to the side for a moment what emerges from the archaeology is this pattern that matches the Bible every step of the way and doesn’t that deserve to be taken seriously? But for now, those who hold to established conventions will not allow these connections to be made.”
Patterns of Evidence: Exodus makes a compelling case for the Exodus occurring about 1450 BC in contrast to the late date of 1250 BC that most archaeologists accept. The film will make the historicity of the Exodus a topic of interest among lay people. It will be an encouragement to many Christians as it presents evidence supporting the Biblical timeline.
Encore Showing Thursday Jan 29
The overwhelming attendance nationwide for Patterns of Evidence: Exodus on Jan 19 and the subsequent demand for another showing has led to an encore showing to be scheduled and confirmed for Thu Jan 29 at 7 pm local time.
Participating theaters can be found at http://www.fathomevents.com/ by clicking “Buy Tickets” and entering your zip code to show theater locations. Tickets are available at participating theater box offices and online at http://www.fathomevents.com/.
Tickets seem to cost around $12.50 depending on the theater. Many theaters nationwide sold out on Jan 19. I bought our tickets early to make sure we got in, and I suggest people consider doing so. As word spreads from the first showing, the attendance may increase for Jan 29.
I strongly encourage viewing this documentary. While it probably will not convince any skeptics, it will be a big encouragement to many Christians. The book, movie DVD, and soundtrack are all available for pre-order at the documentary web site: Patterns of Evidence: Exodus. Many churches will likely show the DVD eventually.
Questions to Ponder
- If you saw the film, what was your reaction?
- Do you think it’s possible for the vast majority of professional archaeologists and Egyptologists to be wrong about the Exodus?
Share your thoughts on these questions in the comments below. It could encourage or help another reader.
Read the prequel reviewing the Patterns of Evidence: Exodus documentary:
1. Patterns of Evidence: Exodus – Did It Happen?
Read the sequels reviewing the Patterns of Evidence: Exodus documentary:
3. Patterns of Evidence: Exodus – The Debate
4. Patterns of Evidence: Exodus – What Did Jesus Think?
5. Patterns of Evidence: Exodus – Does It Matter?
Click SUBSCRIBE to go to the SUBSCRIBE Button in the sidebar to get the sequel articles free by email.
Soli Deo Gloria.
Read my other articles on Biblical Archaeology:
1. The Mystery of Tsinnur
2. Copper Country
3. One Night of Sin Spawns Centuries of Havoc
4. Blown to Pieces
5. Joseph’s Grain Silos Found in Egypt?
6. Archaeological Study Bible
7. Lost Treasures of the Bible
1. Eyewitness to Jesus
2. Early Date for Matthew
3. Forensic Evidence
4. Significance of the Magdalen Papyrus (w/ video)
Noah’s Ark Found? (with video)
1. Rebuilding Noah’s Ark – Intro
8. Hike the Bible – Roman Road
9. Hike the Bible – Via Maris
21. Hike the Bible – Jesus Boat
23. Hike the Bible – Capernaum Archaeology
25. Hike the Bible – Miracles at Capernaum 2
26. Hike the Bible – Miracles at Capernaum 3
1. Patterns of Evidence: Exodus – Did It Happen?
Read my other Movie Reviews:
The Genesis Code (with video)
Marilyn Monroe and the Age of the Earth
Mystery of Noah’s Flood (with videos)
God’s Not Dead, the Movie (with videos)
Noah, the Movie (with videos)
Exodus, the Movie (with video)
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©William T. Pelletier, Ph.D.
“contending earnestly for the faith”
“destroying speculations against the knowledge of God”
(Jude 1:3; 2 Cor 10:4)
Wednesday January 28, 2015 A.D.
By faith Moses, when he was born, was hidden for three months by his parents, because they saw he was a beautiful child; and they were not afraid of the king’s edict. By faith Moses, when he had grown up, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter; choosing rather to endure ill-treatment with the people of God, than to enjoy the passing pleasures of sin; considering the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures of Egypt; for he was looking to the reward. By faith he left Egypt, not fearing the wrath of the king; for he endured, as seeing Him who is unseen. By faith he kept the Passover and the sprinkling of the blood, so that he who destroyed the first-born might not touch them. By faith they passed through the Red Sea as though they were passing through dry land; and the Egyptians, when they attempted it, were drowned.