I have heard it often claimed that there is absolutely no evidence for the Old Testament recounting of the enslavement of the Israelites in Egypt as told in the book of Exodus. This is a pretty significant claim since it is fairly well known that the Egyptians had a tendency to keep fairly comprehensive records. So, this leaves the question…Is there evidence of the Exodus?
To answer that question, a quick search turned up some pretty interesting information. And that’s only after a few minutes of searching to find something, then looking further into that evidence to identify the veracity. The initial finding, however, only took a few minutes. That being the case, I’m a bit less than impressed with the claims that there is absolutely no evidence of the Exodus.
Enter the Ipuwer Papyrus. This, according to A. H. Gardiner, has been thought to be an eye-witness account account of pre-collapse Egypt. Here are some of the passages from the Ipuwer Papyrus. Let’s see if you can identify any corresponding narrative from the biblical accounts.
- “Plagues is throughout the land, blood is everywhere.” (See Exodus 7:21)
- “Men shrink from tasting – human beings and thirst after water.” (See Exodus 7:20)
- “He who places his brother in the ground is everywhere.” (See Exodus 12:30)
- “All animals, their hearts weep. Cattle moan …” (See Exodus 9:3)
- “The land is not light … ” (See Exodus 10:22)
- “…all the waters that were in the river were turned to blood.” (See Exodus 7:20)
Ok, I’ll stop there, but there is more where that came from.
Now, aside from that, while I intend to continue searching for additional archaeological findings that corroborate the Exodus account, I should not expect to find much. Why is that? Well, think of what the biblical account claims happened and how that would have impacted the nation of Egypt. Almost the entire labor force suddenly left, the plagues completely decimated the livestock and farm lands, the firstborn sons were dead leaving less experienced younger brothers to lead the nation and almost their entire army was drowned in the Red Sea leaving them defenseless against invading nations.
First of all, this is not much to be proud of. They say that history is written by the victors. I’m not sure I’d call the Egyptians “victorious” in this instance. But, let’s not just leave it at that. What about the fact that the new pharoah “who did not know Joseph” (Exodus 1:8) must have ruled for quite a long time given that it was his daughter who pulled Moses from the water and died when Moses was in Midian. Keep in mind that at this point, Moses was about 80 years old!
There actually was a pharoah in history who’s reign was a staggering 94 years. Pepi II had the longest reign in Egyptian history. Not only that, but his successor had a very short reign which ended with the collapse of Egypt. Just as one might expect when a new king takes the throne and soon afterward looses his labor force, his crops, his livestock and his army. So, it would seem that the facts add up.
There is still some debate about the dating of the Exodus account, as some place it much later in history. However, when dated to the time of Pepi II, the timelines are in sync. Not only that, but then it syncs up with the timelines of the Israelite invasion of Canaan, the reigns of David and Solomon, the division of the kingdoms, the invasions from Syria and Mesopotamia. It all adds up and totally makes sense.
Is the research done yet? Not at all. I still have a lot of research to do to find what evidence there may be, whether or not that evidence is credible and whether or not one can draw these conclusions from this evidence. But, given what I’ve seen thusfar, I’m not at all concerned that there will be anything to cause me any consternation.
That said, I do hope that others out there will not just take these claims as truth just because someone somewhere said it or wrote it. Look at the evidence for yourself. Draw your conclusions and follow the evidence where it leads.
Grace, love and peace.