SPECIAL TOPIC: THE DATE OF THE EXODUS

There have been two scholarly opinions on the date of the Exodus.

 

A. From 1 Kings 6:1, "480 years from the Exodus to the building of Solomon's Temple"

1. Solomon began to reign in 970 b.c. This is figured by using the battle of Qarqar (853 b.c.) as a certain starting date.

2. The Temple was built in his fourth year (965 b.c.), and the Exodus occurred about 1445/6 b.c.

3. This would make it occur in the 18th Egyptian Dynasty.

 a. The Pharaoh of the oppression would be Thutmose III (1490-1436 b.c.).

 b. The Pharaoh of the Exodus would be Amenhotep II (1436-1407 b.c.).

 (1) Some believe evidence from Jericho based on the fact that no diplomatic correspondence occurred between Jericho and Egypt during the reign of Amenhotep III (1413-1377 b.c.).

 (2) The Amarna texts record diplomatic correspondence written on ostraca about the Habiru overrunning the land of Canaan in the reign of Amenhotep III. Therefore, the Exodus occurred in the reign of Amenhotep II.

 (3) The period of the Judges is not long enough if the 13th century is the date of the Exodus.

4. The possible problems with these dates. 

 a. The Septuagint (LXX) has 440 years, not 480.

 b. It is possible that 480 years is representative of twelve generations of forty years each, therefore, a figurative number.

 c. There are twelve generations of priests from Aaron to Solomon (cf. 1 Chronicles 6), then twelve from Solomon to the Second Temple.  The Jews, like the Greeks, reckoned a generation as forty years.  So, there is a 480 year period back and forward (symbolic use of numbers, cf. Bimson's Redating the Exodus and Conquest).

5. There are three other texts that mention dates.

 a. Genesis 15:13,16 (cf. Acts 7:6), 400 years of bondage

 b. Exodus 12:40-41 (cf. Gal. 3:17)

 (1) MT – 430 years of sojourn in Egypt

 (2) LXX – 215 years of sojourn in Egypt

 c. Judges 11:26 – 300 years between Jephthah's day and the conquest (supports 1445 date)

 d. Acts 13:19 - exodus, wanderings, and conquest – 450 years

6. The author of Kings used specific historical references and did not round numbers (Edwin Thiele, A Chronology of the Hebrew Kings, pp. 83-85

 

B. The tentative evidence from archaeology seems to point toward a date of 1290 b.c. or the nineteenth Egyptian Dynasty.

 1. Joseph was able to visit his father and Pharaoh in the same day. The first native Pharaoh who began to move the capital of Egypt from Thebes back to the Nile Delta, to a place called Avaris/Zoan/Tanis, which was the old Hyksos capital, was Seti I (1309-1290 b.c. ). He would be the Pharaoh of the oppression.

 a. This seems to fit two pieces of information about the Hyksos reign of Egypt.

 (1) A stele has been found from the time of Rameses II that commemorates the founding of Avaris four hundred years earlier (1700's b.c. by the Hyksos).

 (2) The prophecy of Gen. 15:13 speaks of a 400 year oppression.

 b. This implies that Joseph's rise to power was under a Hyksos (Semitic) Pharaoh. The new Egyptian dynasty is referred to in Exod. 1:8.

 2. The Hyksos, an Egyptian word meaning "rulers of foreign lands," were a group of non-Egyptian Semitic rulers, who controlled Egypt during the 15th and 16th Dynasties (1720-1570 b.c.). Some want to relate them to Joseph's rise to power.  If we subtract the 430 years of Exod. 12:40 from 1720 b.c., we get a date of about 1290 b.c.

3. Seti I's son was Rameses II (1290-1224 b.c.).  This name is mentioned as one of the store cities built by the Hebrew slaves, Exod. 1:11. Also this same district in Egypt near Goshen is called Rameses, Gen. 47:11. Avaris/Zoan/Tanis was known as "House of Rameses" from 1300-1100 b.c.

4. Thutmoses III was known as a great builder, as was Rameses II.

5. Rameses II had forty-seven daughters living in separate palaces.

6. Archaeology has shown that most of the large walled cities of Canaan (Hazor, Debir, Lachish) were destroyed and rapidly rebuilt around 1250 b.c.  In allowing for a thirty-eight year wilderness wandering period, this fits a date of 1290 b.c.  Archaeology has found a reference to the Israelis being in southern Canaan on a memorial stele of Rameses' successor, Merneptah (1224-1214 b.c., cf. The Stele of Merneptah, dated 1220 b.c.). 

7. Edom and Moab seem to have attained strong national identity in the late 1300's b.c.  These countries were not organized in the fifteenth century (Glueck).

8. The book, Redating the Exodus and Conquest by John J. Bimson, published by the University of Sheffield, 1978, argues against all of the archaeological evidence for an early date.

 

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