Extra biblical evidence


#1

Does anyone know of any extra-biblical evidence for the events that occurred in the book of Exodus (plagues and parting of the Red Sea)? I wonder if the Egyptians recorded these events in hieroglyphs?


#2

The History Channel had a program on this, but it was not very convincing. I don't think they meant for it to be...


#3

As far as I know, there isn’t any such evidence in extant Egyptian inscriptions from that period.

The usual explanation for that absence is that the Egyptians wouldn’t record events that were embarrassing. I don’t know how true that is, but that wouldn’t explain why Egyptians at a later period wouldn’t have mentioned those events since it wouldn’t have necessarily been embarrassing to those later Egyptians. It also doesn’t explain why the cultures surrounding Egypt also don’t mention those events – cultures which would have certainly noticed and likely taken advantage if the entire Egyptian army had been destroyed.

Any investigation is handicapped by the fact that the bible doesn’t identify the pharaoh in question.


#4

I don’t think there is much evidence, but I don’t think the Exodus was as big as the Bible
tells us, not that it isn’t true, but I think the number of people and so forth was somewhat
exaggerated to express certain importance.

Now the Egyptians would not have recorded these events, they hardly ever recorded any
fall backs as it would diminish the glory of the Pharaoh. Imagine, "Oh, by the way, during
my reign and administration, I was forced by a strange god to let thousands of slaves go,"
they’re not going to write that.

I suggest not trusting what you hear on TV, like History Channel, National Geographic,
Discovery, things like that, I don’t think they’re fully honest, used to be a time when all
of them were cool.


#5

One tentative bit of evidence, I think, is that Egypt always had multiple gods, I mean lots and lots. And their culture was always like this. But then, one day, a pharaoh whose name I forget, suddenly wiped out all their old religion and every god they ever had. And he created for the first one and only time a monotheistic religion in Egypt. Albeit that the new mono-god was the sun, or appeared to be the sun. The Pharaoh even built a new capitol city for the sun god where acres of altars were used for sacrificing vegetarian foods to the new god.
It was around this time that the hebrews and their monotheistic religion were believed to have been in Egypt.

I kinda like to think that all the plagues happened and this particular pharaoh decided the hebrew god was a bit more effective than their native gods and he tried to wipe out all gods but this one bright sun god in the sky, even to the extent of building a new city dedicated to him and starting a system of sacrificing maybe like Melchisedech with bread and wine sacrificed on altars though the pharaoh did add most other vegetarian food types too.

I think there was also evidence of epidemics of some sort at that time too.


#6

:thumbsup:


#7

[quote="rivera01, post:1, topic:340669"]
Does anyone know of any extra-biblical evidence for the events that occurred in the book of Exodus (plagues and parting of the Red Sea)? I wonder if the Egyptians recorded these events in hieroglyphs?

[/quote]

The History Channel did a fascinating segment called "the Exodus Decoded". It's on YouTube.

The Bible records, as do other ancient documents, that shamed rulers names were removed from monuments. This essentially erases history, and validates the claim that Egypt (along with many other ancient cultures) only recorded whatever made them look prestigious.

There is definitely evidence for Joseph and for Semitic people moving and living and working in Egypt.


#8

Just be warned though that this is a program by Simcha Jacobovici. Not that there’s anything wrong with that in itself, but as with most of his other work (read: the Jesus Family Tomb) much of the ‘evidence’ he proffers on the show are actually, well, kinda flimsy.

A better work on the Exodus IMHO would be James K. Hoffmeier’s books Israel in Egypt and Israel in Sinai.


#9

I know that this is not what you are looking for, but as for extra Biblical evidence on Exodus, there are some among the Dead Sea Scrolls, along with lots of other OT extra writings.


#10

I think you’re referring to Akhenaten. As this article points out, however, some have speculated that if there was a transferal it may have gone the other way, i.e. that the Hebrews got their notion of monotheism from him.


#11

[quote="patrick457, post:8, topic:340669"]
Just be warned though that this is a program by Simcha Jacobovici. Not that there's anything wrong with that in itself, but as with most of his other work (read: the Jesus Family Tomb) much of the 'evidence' he proffers on the show are actually, well, kinda flimsy.

A better work on the Exodus IMHO would be James K. Hoffmeier's books Israel in Egypt and Israel in Sinai.

[/quote]

Yeah, his Jesus tomb thing was very erroneous, but no ones perfect. He's also Jewish as opposed to Christian so he may have had a bias on the tomb thing.

I haven't heard anything negative about the exodus special he did, have you?

I know it is just a theory, but it is a very interesting theory regarding the plagues relation to Santorini's eruption.

The most interesting part to me though was the timeline and research done into a probable time and dynasty for the exodus.


#12

[quote="cornbread_r2, post:10, topic:340669"]
I think you're referring to Akhenaten. As this article points out, however, some have speculated that if there was a transferal it may have gone the other way, i.e. that the Hebrews got their notion of monotheism from him.

[/quote]

Akhenaten was King Tut's father :)(and father-in-law:eek:).


#13

[quote="rivera01, post:1, topic:340669"]
Does anyone know of any extra-biblical evidence for the events that occurred in the book of Exodus (plagues and parting of the Red Sea)? I wonder if the Egyptians recorded these events in hieroglyphs?

[/quote]

There is an informative booklet on this here: Ancient Israel in Egypt and the Exodus:
archeologiabiblijna.files.wordpress.com/2013/03/ancient-israel-in-egypt-and-the-exodus.pdf

Some major points:[LIST]
*]Archeologist's have discovered stables to breed and keep at least 460 horses, in the city of Piramesse: weekly.ahram.org.eg/1999/461/fr2.htm

*]They also found pieces of bronze chariots: youtube.com/watch?v=n-8e8PGvhgg

*]Exodus 14:5-7 describes Pharaoh sending chariots to chase the slaves who ran away

*]Bones of horses, human beings and chariots have been found in the sea at Nuiweba: arkdiscovery.com/red_sea_crossing.htm

*]Evidence of an eruption from a volcano from Aegean island of Thera has been discovered: ''This time difference is rather striking, as it could fit the desert period of 40 years separating the Exodus from the destruction of Jericho, mentioned in ancient Hebrew texts,'' the archeologists write. Bruins is a professor at the Ben-Gurion University of the Negev in Israel. Van der Plicht is at the University of Groningen in the Netherlands. - thefreelibrary.com/EVIDENCE+BACKS+BIBLE%27S+JERICHO+BATTLE+STORY,+ARCHEOLOGISTS+SAY.-a083956818

*]In 1966, Manfred Bietak, Austrian archaeologist, discovered and excavated ruins at Avaris, which was the capital of Egypt under Hykoses and the modern name for this city is Tell el-Dab'a. Bietak discovered methods of burial differing from Egyptians and the walls of buildings, floor plans etc were like those built by Hebrews in Israel

*]Roman historian Tacitus, who was an anti semite, says in his book 'Histories' (5.3), that 'most writers agree' regarding a 'plague' in ancient Egypt and Tactius says that the cause was 'a race hateful to the gods,' which was 'removed to foreign lands.' Tacitus says, 'So the Hebrews were searched out and gathered together' and names 'Moses.' Read the full text: penelope.uchicago.edu/Thayer/E/Roman/Texts/Tacitus/Histories/5A*.html

*]Sinatic inscriptions in Wadee El-Mukattab, Sinai record some of the events of the Exodus from a non Hebrew source: bibleprobe.com/exodus.htm

*]There is a book called, Israel in Egypt: The Evidence for the Authenticity of the Exodus Tradition by James K. Hoffmeier, professor of Bible studies and archeology, and he looks at the evidence for the Exodus and he argues that it supports the Biblical record

*]Here is a lecture he gave: The Exodus from Egypt, a Lecture with Dr. James Hoffmeier - youtube.com/watch?v=m2vhrK6Wczs

*]King of Egypt Merneptah says on the Merneptah stele: Plundered is the Canaan with every evil; Carried off is Ashkelon; seized upon is Gezer; Yanoam is made as that which does not exist; Israel is laid waste, his seed is not....

*]That is evidence of Israel having been in Egypt in an hieroglyphic inscription that has been dated to nearly 200 years prior to the Merneptah stele: biblicalarchaeology.org/daily/ancient-cultures/ancient-israel/does-the-merneptah-stele-contain-the-first-mention-of-israel/

*]Evidence for post Exodus Israelite sites have been discovered: haaretz.com/news/have-the-first-israelite-sites-built-after-exodus-been-found-1.273654

*]Sinatic inscriptions in Wadee El-Mukattab, Sinai record some of the events of the Exodus from a non Hebrew source: bibleprobe.com/exodus.htm

*]Discovery channel documentary, 'Who was Moses?' looks at the archaeological evidence is presented for Israel having been in Egypt:

*]Part 1 - youtube.com/watch?v=N6n0UTpBcFY

*]Part 2 - youtube.com/watch?v=76WPTIuAbmM

*]Part 3 - youtube.com/watch?v=n-8e8PGvhgg

*]Part 4 - youtube.com/watch?v=jO3Koaq1Jig
[/LIST]


#14

Cont’d from last post [LIST]
*]Leiden Papyrus 348, an Egyptian document, says, 'distribute grain rations to the soldiers and to the ‘Apiru who transport stones to the great pylon of Rames[s]es.’ Scholars have mixed views on whether ‘Apriu’ can refer to Hebrews, some thing it can, some think it can not. Exodus 1:11 says Hebrews, ‘built supply cities, Pithom and Rameses, for Pharaoh’ so the Leiden Papyrus 348 would fit with Exodus 1:11

*]18th dynasty painted inscriptions in Egyptian tombs show slaves making bricks etc. Professor Hoffmeier says in an article, ‘It is worth noting, that the practice of using forced labor for building projects is only documented for the period 1450 to 1200, the very time most biblical historians place the Israelites in Egypt’ - ctlibrary.com/ct/1998/september7/8ta044.html

*]The linked article in the prior paragraph says of this circumstantial evidence:
*]In a surviving Egyptian document called Leiden Papyrus 348, orders are given to “distribute grain rations to the soldiers and to the 'Apiru who transport stones to the great pylon of Rames[s]es.” This brings to mind Exodus 1:11, which says the Hebrews “built supply cities, Pithom and Rameses, for Pharaoh.” While hotly debated, 'Apiru is believed by some scholars to refer to the Hebrews, the ‘Ibri. If a future discovery of an inscription could link this word to the Hebrews, this document would prove to be our first direct extrabiblical reference to the children of Israel in slavery in Egypt.
*]Recent discoveries of military outposts on a road leading from Egypt into Canaan, built by Pharaoh Seti I and earlier kings in the thirteenth century B.C., shed new light on why a northern route for the Exodus would have meant war for the Israelites. Exodus 13:17 states: "When Pharaoh let the people go, God did not lead them by way of the land of the Philistines, although that was nearer; for God thought, ‘If the people face war, they may change their minds and return to Egypt.’ " Instead, the Bible explains, “God led the people by the roundabout way of the wilderness.”
*]While it is virtually impossible 3,000 years later to retrace the footsteps of a people who escaped over a sand-swept wilderness, an Egyptian letter (Anastasi III) from guards at a “border crossing” between Egypt and the Sinai helps explain Moses’ insistent cry, “Let my people go!” The text indicates that in the thirteenth century the Egyptians maintained a tight border control, allowing no one to pass without a permit. The letter describes two slaves who—in a striking parallel to the Israelite escape—flee from the city of Rameses at night, are pursued by soldiers, but disappear into the Sinai wilderness. “When my letter reaches you,” writes the official to the border guard, “write to me about all that has happened to [them]. Who found their tracks? Which watch found their tracks? Write to me about all that has happened to them and how many people you send out after them.” Another inscription from the same cache of documents (Anastasi VI) records that an entire tribe gained permission to enter Egypt from Edom in search of food.
*]If it seems incredible to believe that 600,000 men plus women and children could have survived as a people in the Sinai wilderness for 40 years, we may be misinterpreting the number, says Hoffmeier. Hebrew University professor Abraham Malamat, for one, points out that the Bible often refers to 600 and its multiples, as well as 1,000 and its multiples, typologically in order to convey the idea of a large military unit. “The issue of Exodus 12:37 is an interpretive one,” says Hoffmeier. “The Hebrew word eleph can be translated ‘thousand,’ but it is also rendered in the Bible as ‘clans’ and ‘military units.’ When I look at the question as an Egyptologist, I know that there are thought to have been 20,000 in the entire Egyptian army at the height of Egypt’s empire. And at the battle of Ai in Joshua 7, there was a severe military setback when 36 troops were killed. If you have an army of 600,000, that’s not a big setback.” In other words, the head count may have been far fewer than suggested by a literal reading of Exodus 12:37.
*]While conservative scholars debate an “early” and “late” date for the Exodus (fifteenth century or thirteenth century B.C.), all but the most skeptical scholars agree that the Israelites were in Canaan by the year 1208 B.C. This date was set a century ago with the discovery of the Merneptah Stele. This seven-foot high, black granite stone contains a victory hymn of Pharaoh Merneptah, which proclaims, “The Canaan is plundered with every hardship. / Ashkelon is taken, Gezer is captured, / [and] Yano’am reduced to nothing. / Israel is laid waste, his seed is no more.”
*]ctlibrary.com/ct/1998/september7/8ta044.html
[/LIST]


#15

No, I mean the opposite: much of the ‘evidence’ Simcha uses in support of the Exodus is what’s questionable here. See the links below for rebuttals of his claims. If we go by what you said, since he’s Jewish, in this case he might have had a bias on Exodus as well.

The Exodus “Decoded” (Bible Places Blog)
Debunking “The Exodus Decoded” (Associates for Biblical Research)
The Exodus Decoded series (Higgaion)


#16

[quote="cornbread_r2, post:3, topic:340669"]
As far as I know, there isn't any such evidence in extant Egyptian inscriptions from that period.

The usual explanation for that absence is that the Egyptians wouldn't record events that were embarrassing. I don't know how true that is, but that wouldn't explain why Egyptians at a later period wouldn't have mentioned those events since it wouldn't have necessarily been embarrassing to those later Egyptians.

[/quote]

This is in a sense true. Take of example the Battle of Kadesh (1274 BC) which Rameses II fought against the Hittite Empire. In that case, Rameses tried hard to portray the outcome of the battle as a decisive Egyptian victory - complicating the fact, however is that the Hittites in their own records also said that they won while Rameses was forced to depart in defeat.

In any case, modern historians don't believe Rameses - they postulate that what really happened was a draw (a few would even claim an outright Egyptian defeat). In fact, all Rameses had managed to do at the end was to rescue his army from further casualties (both sides suffered heavy losses) since he was unable to capture Kadesh - he wasn't willing to support a long siege. The Hittite army led by Muwatalli II on the other hand had failed to gain a victory in the face of what earlier must have seemed certain success, but did manage to sustain Kadesh through the brief siege. Anyways, the Hittite Empire expanded further southward after the battle, and Egyptian influence over Kadesh (and Amurru) seems to have been lost forever. Historians do concede however that Kadesh was a 'victory' for the Egyptians in the moral sense since they had developed new technologies and rearmed before pushing back against the years-long steady incursions by the Hittites, plus then-young Rameses was able to rally his troops after blundering into a devastating Hittite chariot ambush.

Another thing the Egyptians are notorious for is their practice of damnatio memoriae, the obliteration of an infamous person from the records so that he would, literally, be an 'unperson' lost to history and memory. The Egyptians believed that a person's name has an innate power, and can be a means of control, which is why preservation of it is of utmost importance: one who has destroyed a person's name was thought somehow to have destroyed the person himself. The infamous pharaoh Akhnaten was so unpopular, he became subject to this after his death. (In fact, in his lifetime, Akhnaten also conducted a damnatio memoriae against the gods of Egypt, erasing the name of the god Amun from monuments throughout the land.) His son, Tutankhamun was originally named Tutankh*aten* ('living image of the Aten'), but the latter changed his name when he ended the worship of the Aten and restored Amun and his cult and priesthood to supremacy. When Tutankhamun died, he was succeeded briefly by his vizier and advisor Ay. After Ay in turn died, Horemheb usurped the throne and conducted a damnatio memoriae against Ay and other pharaohs associated with the unpopular Amarna Period, which included Tutankhamun.

It also doesn't explain why the cultures surrounding Egypt also don't mention those events -- cultures which would have certainly noticed and likely taken advantage if the entire Egyptian army had been destroyed.

Just a question. Where does it say that the entire army is involved?

Any investigation is handicapped by the fact that the bible doesn't identify the pharaoh in question.

True.


#17

I know it is just a theory, but it is a very interesting theory regarding the plagues relation to Santorini's eruption.

I'm quoting from the link to Higgaion:

Exhibit F: Santorini/Thera pumice in Egypt. The Bronze Age eruption of the volcanic island known to the ancient Greeks as Thera and to modern tourists as Santorini plays such a large role in The Exodus Decoded that it requires four separate installments in this series. Jacobovici tries to use pumice from Thera (in the Aegean), excavated from Avaris (in Egypt), to establish that Thera erupted around 1500 BC. However, volcanologists date Thera’s Bronze Age eruption to c. 1625 BC, and Manfred Bietak, the archaeologist whom Jacobovici interviews on this point in The Exodus Decoded, concludes that the pumice was secondarily brought to Avaris after floating across the Mediterranean to the Egyptian shore (Exhibit F1). Jacobovici claims that an “earthquake storm” accompanied Thera’s eruption, and that this earthquake storm toppled Egyptian idols, as narrated in the Bible and in Ahmose’s Tempest Stela. However, the idols that suffered indignities in Ahmose’s Tempest Stela suffered those indignities before the titular tempest, and the biblical story of the exodus says nothing about idols toppling; moreover, Jacobovici’s has no geophysical or archaeological evidence that any such earthquakes occurred in Egypt c. 1500 BC (Exhibit F2). Jacobovici’s model of an earthquake storm depends heavily on a theoretical model that hypothesizes an earthquake storm propogating in a west-to-east pattern across the Agean, Anatolia, and the Levant in the period 1225–1175 BC. Based on this model, Jacobovici posits a similar earthquake storm around 1500 BC. However, the scientist who proposed the model in the first place calculated that the Mediterranean earthquake storm prior to the 1225–1175 BC storm would have occurred around 1625–1575 BC, much earlier than Jacobovici claims (Exhibit F3). Jacobovici claims that this earthquake storm could release gasses that oxidized the Nile, causing the water essentially to rust; he cites Lake Nyos in the Cameroon as his analogy. For Jacobovici, this explains the first through sixth plagues as a series of natural events. However, Jacobovici’s analogy doesn’t hold up when one considers the differences between lakes and rivers, and the phenomena he describes don’t actually mirror the biblical descriptions of the ten plagues, despite his claims to the contrary (Exhibit F4).

...]

Exhibit H: Santorini Ash in the Nile Delta. Jacobovici claims that falling and rising temperatures caused by the plague of hail—temperature variations for which no physical or documentary evidence exists—prompted odd behavior by locust swarms, the eighth plague. He turns again to Thera/Santorini for an explanation of the ninth plague, attributing the plague of darkness to ash from Thera’s eruption. Ash did reach the Nile delta region from Thera’s eruption, but in extremely small quantities, not enough to constitue a plague of tangible darkness.

...]

Exhibit M: Santorini wall paintings. Jacobovici wrongly claims that a particular wall painting from Santorini depicts a Minoan voyage to Avaris. He then locates some of these Minoans among Moses’s followers in the exodus—which, of course, the painting cannot possibly demonstrate.

Exhibit N: Mycenaean grave stelae. According to Jacobovici, the Minoans who followed Moses out of Egypt parted from the Israelites and “returned” to the Greek mainland, specifically Mycenae, where they carved grave stelae illustrating the crossing of the sea. Jacobovici’s interpretations of the stelae depend to a significant degree on distorting the stelae, in particular, on turning lions into horses.

The final comment is well worth heeding methinks:

For the reasons surveyed briefly above, I consider The Exodus Decoded misguided at best (if Jacobovici doesn’t know better) and deceptive at worst (if Jacobovici does know better). The pages that follow offer much more detail on each point. Unfortunately, I’ve heard from a number of well-meaning Jewish and (more frequently) Christian believers who find themselves attracted to Jacobovici’s thesis because they think his scenario gives them a firm historical basis for the exodus. However, Jacobovici doesn’t succeed in this—not only because he misrepresents (intentionally or ignorantly) his ancient nonbiblical evidence, but also because the story he tells differs noticeably, and sometimes quite dramatically, from the story the Bible tells.


#18

The verse below indicates that the whole army pursued the Hebrews

Exodus 14:9

Douay-Rheims 1899 American Edition (DRA)

9 And when the Egyptians followed the steps of them who were gone before, they found them encamped at the sea side: all Pharao’s horse and chariots, and the whole army were in Phihahiroth before Beelsephon.

But later it seems that maybe only the chariots and charioteers were drowned. So maybe the foot soldiers were spared. If that’s true, I think it’s fair to ask why they were spared when God had already done so much other damage to Egypt.

Exodus 14:28

Douay-Rheims 1899 American Edition (DRA)

28 And the waters returned, and covered the chariots and the horsemen of all the army of Pharao, who had come into the sea after them, neither did there so much as one of them remain.

One also has to wonder what was pulling the chariots since all of the Egyptians’ animals were supposedly killed during the 5th plague of pestilence and then infected with boils during the 6th plague and then killed again during the 7th plague of hail.


#19

The verse below indicates that the whole army pursued the Hebrews

Exodus 14:9

Douay-Rheims 1899 American Edition (DRA)

9 And when the Egyptians followed the steps of them who were gone before, they found them encamped at the sea side: all Pharao’s horse and chariots, and the whole army were in Phihahiroth before Beelsephon.

But later it seems that maybe only the chariots and charioteers were drowned. So maybe the foot soldiers were spared. In any case, even if only the chariots were destroyed, I still think their adversaries in the region would have noted that just as our enemies would notice if we suddenly lost all of our tanks. (I think it’s fair to ask too why the foot soldiers might have been spared when God had already done so much other damage to Egypt.)

Exodus 14:28

Douay-Rheims 1899 American Edition (DRA)

28 And the waters returned, and covered the chariots and the horsemen of all the army of Pharao, who had come into the sea after them, neither did there so much as one of them remain.

One also has to wonder what was pulling the chariots since all of the Egyptians’ animals were supposedly killed during the 5th plague of pestilence and then infected with boils during the 6th plague and then killed again during the 7th plague of hail.


#20

In 14:7 it is said that “[Pharaoh] took six hundred chosen chariots, and all the other chariots of Egypt with officers over all of them.” That leaves us with a minimum of 600 chariots. In the Battle of Kadesh Rameses II claimed that the Hittites had 2,500 heavy chariots in the initial attack, with 1,000-1,200 more chariots being dispatched later, bringing the total up to around 3,700. Now it’s likelt that there might be some exaggeration involved in the numbers, but the Hittite force would have still been large. It might be logical to assume that the Egyptian chariot corps then was of comparable size. There is no total for the number of chariots in the Egyptian, but as a working assumption it’s possible that Rameses gets to his total of the number of Hittite infantry by taking the ratio of infantry to chariots of his own army and applying that to the chariot strength of the enemy army (Rameses states that the Hittite army was 37,000 infantry, which - taking into consideration of 3,700 chariots in total - gives a convenient 10:1 ratio). The Egyptian army seems to have been divided into four divisions, each named after specific gods: Amun, Ra, Ptah and Seth. Each division appears to have been 5,000 infantry (a total of 20,000 is mentioned). Applying the assumption above, we could assume that the Egyptians have more or less 2,000 chariots, with 500 in each division.

Now the text does say “six hundred chosen chariots, and all the other chariots of Egypt,” but it really depends on whether one chooses to read this passage in a literal way. In any case, a minimum of 600 chariots is too small - the Pharaoh could have chosen to dispatch more chariots than he did, but apparently this was thought to be enough to apprehend the fleeing Hebrews.

At the height of the empire, the the Egyptian army was probably 20,000-25,000 strong. The entire army would never have been concentrated in one single location, even on a major military expedition during the New Kingdom, as there would have been troops stationed permanently in various outposts and fortresses in Canaan, North Sinai, the Wadi Tumilat Corridor in the Nile Delta, and Nubia. To be more precise, the whole military is distributed in different locations and wouldn’t have all been mustered: at best only the main army corps would have acted if a large force was detected.

Oh and by the way, I’m reminded of our conversation a year ago:

forums.catholic.com/showpost.php?p=9723018&postcount=17
forums.catholic.com/showpost.php?p=9723285&postcount=19


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