Posted by: BibleScienceGuy | February 4, 2015

3. Patterns of Evidence: Exodus – The Debate


Is the Exodus from Egypt a myth or is it the truth? Is there physical evidence in the dirt that corroborates the Bible’s account?

An outstanding documentary, Patterns of Evidence: Exodus, presents abundant evidence to dispute the consensus of opinion among archaeologists that the Exodus never happened.

Author and filmmaker Timothy Mahoney features over a dozen archaeologists and professors with expertise in Egyptian and Israeli archaeology. These experts represent both sides of the Exodus issue: those who believe it did not happen and those who believe it did. The in-depth interviews with some of the world’s top experts in the fields of Archaeology, Egyptology, and Biblical History are a key feature of the film.

This article continues the review of Patterns of Evidence: Exodus that was begun in the prequels:
1. Patterns of Evidence: Exodus – Did It Happen?
2. Patterns of Evidence: Exodus – Facing the Facts
This third article looks at competing opinions on the Exodus expressed in the film.


The totality of the evidence Mahoney gathers is weighty and impressive. In summary, 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 Debate

Filmmaker Mahoney presents compelling evidence. But most archaeologists ignore these findings, because they do not fit their own preconceived timeline. The movie argues that the reason archaeologists haven’t recognized any evidence of the Exodus 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, instead of around 1250 BC as most archaeologists assume.

Will Exodus skeptics watch this film, smack their forehead, and exclaim,
Duh! We sure missed the boat on the Exodus!“?

Not a chance! Most of the scholars who were interviewed pooh-poohed Mahoney’s findings.

Denying Historical Validity


Israel Finkelstein is one of Israel’s leading archaeologists and one of the experts interviewed in the film. He denies all evidence of the Exodus and Conquest of Canaan as he disputes most of the historical record of the Pentateuch and Joshua. In his book The Bible Unearthed, which would be more accurately titled The Bible Buried, Finkelstein says:

“The process we describe here is, in fact, the opposite of what we have in the Bible: the emergence of early Israel was an outcome of the collapse of the Canaanite culture, not its cause. And most of the Israelites did not come from outside Canaan – they emerged from within it. There was no mass Exodus from Egypt. There was no violent conquest of Canaan. Most of the people who formed early Israel were local people – the same people whom we see in the highlands throughout the Bronze and Iron Ages. The early Israelites were – irony of ironies – themselves originally Canaanites!”
(Israel Finkelstein, The Bible Unearthed, Free Press, 2002, p. 118)


Ze’ev Herzog is a Tel Aviv University archaeologist who does not believe in the Exodus either. He wrote in Haaretz (Israel’s oldest daily newspaper):

“Following 70 years of intensive excavations in the Land of Israel, archaeologists have found out: The patriarchs’ acts are legendary, the Israelites did not sojourn in Egypt or make an exodus, they did not conquer the land. Neither is there any mention of the empire of David and Solomon, nor of the source of belief in the God of Israel. These facts have been known for years, but Israel is a stubborn people and nobody wants to hear about it.

This is what archaeologists have learned from their excavations in the Land of Israel: the Israelites were never in Egypt, did not wander in the desert, did not conquer the land in a military campaign and did not pass it on to the 12 tribes of Israel. Perhaps even harder to swallow is the fact that the united monarchy of David and Solomon, which is described by the Bible as a regional power, was at most a small tribal kingdom.”
(From Herzog, Deconstructing the Walls of Jericho, Haaretz, October 29, 1999)

Even prominent Jewish rabbis like the late Sherwin Wine adamantly deny the Exodus. Rabbi Wine, known as “the rabbi who doesn’t believe in God,” says in his book A Provocative People: A Secular History of the Jews,

“The Jews did not begin with Abraham….The Jews did not emerge as a nation under the leadership of Moses. They were never rescued from slavery in Egypt. They never stopped at Sinai.”
(Wine, A Provocative People: A Secular History of the Jews, International Institute for Secular Humanistic Judaism, 2012, p. iii)

Speaking of the Biblical account from Abraham through the Exodus to the Conquest of Canaan, Rabbi Wine says in the same book,

“This is the biblical story of the origins of the Jewish people. Wherever Jews and Christians are to be found, this story is popular and familiar. It is so popular and so familiar that it has been incorporated into the patriotism and the holidays of the Jewish and Christian worlds. While the story may be familiar, charming and even inspirational, it suffers from a major problem. It is simply not true. There is no evidence—beyond the text of the Bible—that most of these events took place, or that most of these people really existed.”
(Wine, Prologue to A Provocative People: A Secular History of the Jews)

Mainstream archaeologists who accept the Exodus place it around 1250 BC under Ramses the Great, primarily because Exodus 1:11 says the Hebrew slaves built Ramses, a storage city for Pharoah. However, Ramses was a general name for the region used as far back as the time of Joseph (Genesis 47:11) — 400 years before the Exodus. So the Exodus 1:11 reference cannot be used to connect the time of the Exodus to Pharoah Ramses II anymore than the Genesis 47:11 reference connects Joseph to Pharoah Ramses.




Affirming Historical Validity

Egyptologist David Rohl is a prominent exception to the scholarly consensus denying the Exodus. Rohl is an agnostic who is not convinced of the existence of God, but he sees clear archaeological evidence of Joseph and the Hebrews in the ancient city of Avaris in the Nile Delta. Rohl says that Moses was the greatest of historians and that the Bible is the world’s first history book. He thinks mainstream archaeologists miss the evidence for the Exodus because they are looking in the wrong time period. In the film he presented archaeological evidence that corroborated the historical accounts of Moses and Joshua, as they report on the Hebrews’ time in Egypt, the Exodus, and the Israelite conquest of Canaan.

The Exodus is not the first Biblical event denied validity by scholars due to lack of evidence (before archaeologists later found corroborating evidence). Many scholars once denied the existence of King David because no archaeological evidence for him had been found. But in 1993 archaeologists found an inscription by King Hazael of Aram (Syria) referring to his victory over a member of “the house of David.”
(Menachem Wecker, Ancient rock adds evidence of King David’s existence, The Times of Israel, December 16, 2014.)

Another example is the Hittite nation which according to the Bible was once a mighty people in the days of Elisha (2 Kings 7:6). Yet liberal scholars were sure the Hittites never existed simply because archaeologists had found no physical evidence for them. But now numerous artifacts from the Hittite culture have been unearthed. The Hittite archives alone fill over 100 volumes of cuneiform records. The Hittite kingdom extended over most of what is Turkey and Syria today, and even into Europe.
(Kitchen, On the Reliability of the Old Testament, Erdmans, 2003, p. 4.
Unearthed Hittite Artifacts in Istanbul Break New Ground, Hurriyet Daily News, Istanbul, October 31, 2013.)


The Bible teaches a date for the Exodus that is in line with the evidence Mahoney and Rohl present in the documentary. According to 1 Kings 6:1,
Now it came about in the four hundred and eightieth year after the sons of Israel came out of the land of Egypt, in the fourth year of Solomon’s reign over Israel, in the month of Ziv which is the second month, that he began to build the house of the Lord.
Since Solomon’s reign began in 970 BC, this puts the Exodus at 1446 BC.

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.”

The Exodus-opposing scholars of the film are all well-aware of the evidence David Rohl discussed. Why didn’t these scholars see how it substantiated Scripture’s record? I believe the answer is that they have a different set of presuppositions, a different worldview that prevents them from recognizing the significance of the evidence. One’s philosophical starting point always determines one’s interpretation of evidence. In addition, the power of academic pressure is hard to resist, especially when careers, books, and scholarly publications are based on the conventional “1250 BC Exodus” interpretation.

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.

We don’t need archaeological confirmation to know the Bible is true and historically factual. It is fully reliable as God’s inerrant Word. Jesus Himself said Scripture cannot be broken (John 10:35). Even viewed as an ancient manuscript, its own internal evidence of Divine authorship is outstanding. But where man’s discoveries do match up to Scripture’s eternal unchanging truth, it can help someone who is searching to take a few more steps in their journey toward faith.


Mahoney plans a second film on the Route of the Exodus and the Crossing of the Red Sea, as these aspects were not covered in the Exodus film.

A good earlier documentary from 2002 by Questar covers some of the same evidence that Mahoney does. Questar’s Exodus Revealed: Searching for the Red Sea Crossing also discusses the Red Sea Crossing and the location of Mt. Sinai.

How to See the Documentary

I strongly encourage viewing the Patterns of Evidence: Exodus documentary. If there are subsequent theater showings, they will be announced at Also many churches will likely show the DVD eventually. While the film probably will not convince any skeptics, it will be a huge encouragement to Christians. The book, movie DVD, and soundtrack are all available for pre-order at the documentary web site: Patterns of Evidence: Exodus.

Questions to Ponder
  1. What preconceived ideas do you have that prevent you from recognizing truth Yahweh has placed in your path?
  2. Will you ask God to open your eyes to truth you might be missing?
  3. If you saw the film, what was your reaction?
  4. Share your thoughts on these questions in the comments below. It could encourage or help another reader.

Read the prequels reviewing the Patterns of Evidence: Exodus documentary:
1. Patterns of Evidence: Exodus – Did It Happen?
2. Patterns of Evidence: Exodus – Facing the Facts
(with video)

Read the sequels reviewing the Patterns of Evidence: Exodus documentary:
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?
2. Patterns of Evidence: Exodus – Facing the Facts (with video)

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)
1. Patterns of Evidence: Exodus – Did It Happen?
2. Patterns of Evidence: Exodus – Facing the Facts (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 February 4, 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.
(Hebrews 11:23-29)

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