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The second lesson in the new TrueU DVD series "Is the Bible Reliable?" offers a fascinating argument from evidence we have that supports the Biblical record of Israel's slavery in Egypt, the Exodus and wanderings for 40 years, and the conquest of Canaan, all about the time the Biblical timeline would indicate.

Steve Meyer, the instructor, offers the argument for three minimal facts:

  • Israel slaves in Goshen before 1446 BC, before Biblical date for Exodus. 
  • Israel arrival in Canaan about 1400 BC. 
  • Israel wandered from Egypt to Canaan about time of the Exodus

While the Exodus isn't mentioned specifically in archaeological evidence, this collection of facts is specific enough and matches the Biblical record in a number of ways that the historicity of the Biblical account is a justified conclusion.  His argument is one of specified complexity.  A number of pieces of evidence correspond with the Biblical details, which adds up to a reasonable argument.  Here's the evidence he cites:

Artifactual Evidence for Israel in Goshen Prior to 1400 BC

(Note:  The name Asiatic was a general term used by the Egyptians to refer to residents of nations east of Egypt.)

  • Style of architecture common in Northern Canaan after 1400 BC when Israel resided there, a style not Egyptian, dating to Joseph’s time
  • Large Asiatic statue
  • Tombs with Asiatic weapons
  • Canaannite pottery dating to Middle Bronze era
  • Ceremonial artifacts of Asiatic style

Textual Evidence for Israel in Egypt

  • 1740 BC Egyptian household record listing slave names – including distinctively Hebrew names
  • Wall paintings depicting Asiatics dating to 1870 BC
  • Known established trade routes between Egypt and Canaan consistent with the description in Exodus of Abraham's sons traveling there for trade
  • Written reference to Asiatic sheepherders who don’t worship Ra
  • Reference to public works building projects built by Asiatics and Semites
  • Wall murals depicting Semitic slaves working
  • Wall inscription in Semitic language
  • Record indicating Semites held positions from lowly slaves to high ranks in Egyptian government

Evidence of Israel Entering Canaan about 1400 BC

14th c BC Amarna Letters refers to conquest of Canaan by Habiru – term some scholars think was used for Hebrew people throughout Middle East. What is recorded that the Habiru do upon conquering a city matches the Biblical record.

The Merenptah Stele records an attack in Canaan by Pharaoh Merenptah circa 1209 BC, mentions Israel as part of the settled population of Canaan, and implies that Israel was the dominant group in the area.  Helps set the date of Israel’s arrival because they were established and dominant by 1209 BC.

Egyptian monument 1400 BC describes “nomads of Yahweh” in the specific area mentioned in the Bible for Israel’s 40 years of wandering

The Ipuwer Papyrus is an Egyptian document of a poem that describes events that resemble the Ten Plagues mentioned in Exodus

BlogPost | Apologetics
Jun 22, 2011