TO LEARN BIBLICAL PRIMEVAL HISTORY, WE MUST SET THE DATE OF THE EXODUS

Featured

ESTABLISHING THE EXODUS –
A CHRONOLOGY CONTROVERSY, Pt. 1

This article is taken from Rebooting the Bible, Part 1, chapter 6. Chapters 6 and 7 become the bridge to Rebooting the Bible, Part 2. (Coming later this winder). This is because we must establish when the Exodus occurs, for from that date everything that happened before and after is determined as I demonstrate in the book. But to establish that date, we must show why Egyptian chronology as presented by the academics and fundamentalist is off, by 100 to 250 years. We take up this matter in this article and several that will follow.


You can buy Rebooting the Bible (RTB) Part 1 from my Website for $14.95 from now until New Years. Or you can purchase RTB, Part 1 plus A Biography of the Christian Bible for $24.95. Indicate your preference for mail (Media or USPS-2 day) when you order. And I will be pleased to sign the books for you too!

The Egyptian Benchmark

When we think of ancient chronology, our minds fixate on Egypt, and images arising from millennia past, like the Sphinx and the Giza Pyramids. The notion that Egypt’s history represents humanity’s antiquity isn’t just a conception made famous by films and television.  This predilection is validated by the world of Archeology too. The chronology of Egypt is the benchmark for antiquity across the Mediterranean world, from Carthage in North Africa to Babylon in Western Asia.  But however ancient other civilizations are, Egypt seems still older to popular thinking.  The commonly held view is that the structures on the Giza plateau date to 2700 B.C. or thereabouts.

To be more precise, two primary sources in the Western world spawn archeological efforts.  While Egypt remains the first that comes to mind, Mesopotamia is not a distant second. The reason these two ancient civilizations are so prominent in the subject of antiquity is that both supply artifacts – physical proof of people and events that demonstrate these civilizations are much more than the substance of mere myth. The physical evidence retrieved from the dust reveals their history.

The Oxford Dictionary defines an artifact as “an object made by a human being, typically an item of cultural or historicinterest.” Whereas some texts like the Bible take us to times and places older than most artifacts, such writings can be subject to more debate.  In some cases, texts such may be more accurate in telling us real history (obviously) instead of myth, legend, or (tongue-in-cheek), archeologists’ interpretation of ancient artifacts. However, Egyptian texts are genuinely magical and leap to fantastic and famous myths (e.g., Isis, Osiris, & Horus). Egyptian texts reside on pyramid walls and temples, such as Karnak.  The oldest hieroglyph supposedly dates to 3150 B.C. from the tomb of a King at Abydos. The oldest Pyramid Text is the Unistext (from King Unas), estimated to date from 2353 to 2323 B.C.  These Egyptian texts, from the Pyramid Texts to the Ptolemaic Texts, tell the stories of the gods, ritual practices, magic, and the like.  The Egyptian Book of the Dead is a series of magic spells intended to help the dead for their journey in the afterlife. The Unis text falls into this category.  Like the others, many of the 192 spells are written with hieroglyphs and painted on tomb walls or its sarcophagi.  More spells exist on Papyri.[1]

However, in a world dominated by empirical thinking, a “hard object” always seems more reliable than a written text. Predictably, this positivistic bias infects the thought of the public. Scientists are the priests of our day.  What they say, goes.  This is even though honest archeologists will tell you that what they tell us about the past is only 10% hard data.  90% of what they write amounts to interpretation.  And interpretation is usually chock full of speculation.

Egyptian chronology connects the many dynasties with their respective Pharaohs and what they did. The very first dynasty, according to Archeology, dates to 3100-3000 B.C.  Archeologists classify history before this foundational period as “pre-dynastic.” The Pharaohs of the most famous and picturesque pyramids belong to the fourth or fifth dynasty, and the three most massive monuments to the Pharaohs, Khufu, Khafre, and Menkare.  Egyptologists, those archeologists that focus their time and effort on Egypt’s past, speculate that these kings lived ca. 2600 B.C. to 2500 B.C.

In Egyptian chronology, there are three primary periods, equivalent to three kingdoms: Old, Middle, and New. There are also “intermediate periods.” These periods are “dark” times of transition. There are pharaohs in these periods too, but they are less prominent than those of the “kingdoms.” The beginning and end of each of these periods is placed along a timeline that extends from the first dynasty beginning with Menes I (aka Narmer, 3100 B.C.) to the thirtieth when Alexander the Great conquered the last native Egyptian Pharaoh, Nectanebo I, in 332 B.C. Afterwards, the Greek Ptolemies ruled from Alexandria until they were defeated by the Romans.  The death of Cleopatra (50-31 B.C.) constitutes the conclusion of Egyptian history as the benchmark of the ancient world. Afterward, the chronological context for history shifted to Rome and its Caesars. [2] The dynasties were recorded by an Egyptian Priest, Manetho, whose works are lost to us apart from what’s quoted by others, most notably Flavius Josephus.  Supposedly, Manetho was the author of Aegyptiaca from which we draw out the history of the Pharaohs. Like the Septuagint’s authors, he wrote while living in Alexandria and commissioned by Soter (Ptolemy I) or Philadelphus (Ptolemy II). The reader can certainly see how Alexandria stands head and shoulders above all other cities of the ancient world when it comes to recording our primeval history.

From a historical point of view, the most famous of all Pharaohs is Ramesses II, aka Ramesses the Great.  He was the third Pharaoh of the Nineteenth Dynasty.  His reign was long – 60 years – dated from 1279 to 1213 B.C. He represents a crucial character because he is most often associated with the Exodus (as the “Pharaoh of the Exodus”). Academics that grant the Exodus occurred at all, believe it took place ca. 1250. It should be no wonder then that when Cecil B. DeMille created his famous film, The Ten Commandments, Moses battles Ramesses II – a worthy opponent.  For Ramesses, the Great’s reign constituted the peak of the New Kingdom’s empire culminating in the Battle of Kadesh (1274 B.C., the greatest chariot battle of all time).  However, why Ramesses became the Pharaoh of the Exodus amounts to one of Archeology’s greatest blunders. Nevertheless, this mistake and one other, go to the heart of our story.

Archeology’s Mistakes: Confusion with the Bible

Despite the fact, secular Archeology gives little credence to the Bible, the best-kept secret of Egyptology is how it was built upon two biblical references, both of which are misunderstandings of Bible passages. This is the great irony of Egyptology.

The first mistake is easy to follow.  It generates little debate today. The second mistake is a more significantmistake, dramatically affecting Egyptology. It is much more difficult to follow.  We will explain this colossal blunder nevertheless.

Tim Mahoney, filmmaker, and his “consulting Egyptologist,” David Rohl, describe how this mistake happened and why it affects Egypt’s chronology.  Rohl constitutes the driving force behind the so-called “New Chronology” in Egyptology.[3] His proposed revision of Egyptian history (which influences the dating of the chronologies of other lands) has drawn little support from academia.  However, we will show Rohl is mostly correct. From his extensive effort, it appears adjusting Egyptian history (by moving it forward 150 to 200 years) makes great sense. There are just too many years in Egypt’s timeline.  (This is covered in chapter 7 of Rebooting the Bible).

But first, to review the easy mistake. It is the false accusation that Pharaoh Ramesses II was the pharaoh of the Exodus.  Why was Ramesses II identified as Moses’ opponent?  Probably due to a scribal error (or at least a misunderstanding) from Exodus 1:11.

No, Rameses II Was Not the Pharaoh of Exodus

The Septuagint reads, “And he set over them task-masters, who should afflict them in their works; and they built strong cities for Pharao(h), both Pitho(m), and Ramesses, and On, which is Heliopolis.” The King James Version has a shorter version with a material difference, “Therefore they did set over them taskmasters to afflict them with their burdens. And they built for Pharaoh treasure cities, Pithom and Raamses.”

Apparently, we could celebrate yet another material variation to the Masoretic Text as it drops the city of “On, which is Heliopolis.”[4] This omission (or inclusion in the Septuagint) may give us a clue, however, regarding how Ramesses becomes identified as the Pharaoh of the Exodus.  We note the translator likely added the mention of the city of On aka Heliopolis. It is odd because the word “both” applies to only two cities, but three are included in this passage. Since the Septuagint translators lived in Egypt, they had “local knowledge.” So, this inclusion may have been important, or it’s possible the Masoretic Text dropped this clarification since Akiba’s team decided it wasn’t vital to the passage (perhaps since Jews around the world didn’t know Egyptian geography anyway).  Second, it is possible that the most accurate statement (as we will see), would have been referencing “the city of Avaris which is today Ramesses.”

Ramesses was built on top of Tell Ed-Dab’a, identified as Avaris. Austrian Egyptologist, Manfred Bietak, who has excavated and studied this eastern area of the Nile Delta for over 30 years, has thoroughly demonstrated that Avaris was the city of the Hyksos, the western Asiatic rulers of Lower Egypt from ca. 1600 B.C. to 1500 B.C.[5]  About 200 years later (most scholars say the Hyksos dominated lower Egypt for 105 years) the Hyksos were “run out” of Egypt. The Nineteenth Dynasty, that is, the Ramesside family, “buried Avaris” and built the city on freshground above.  What isn’t said in Exodus 1:11, This spot (and at least 20 others nearby) in the eastern Delta, is where the children of Israel resided as slaves for at least 215 years (or 430 years, depending on your view of the length of the Egyptian Exile). Their property was provided through a gift from Pharaoh to Joseph and his family.  At that time, c. 1800 B.C, this location was prime real estate.  As Rohl and Mahoney illustrate in the movie, there is substantial evidence for the story of Joseph lying beneath Avaris; that is, specific characteristics of graves and their contents as well as the special housing built in the style of Northern

Syria (from which the patriarchs originated). As has been clearly demonstrated by Bietak’ s excavations (at the level below Avaris), another Asiatic people dwelt in this same place, but with different traditions from the Hyksos (i.e., the Amorites).

Tim Mahoney’s fabulous film, Patterns of Evidence, a film and accompanying book we will rely upon heavily in this chapter, make it obvious that people from Canaan – more specifically, the Hebrews – populated this city, making it one of the largest cities in the world at that time. Of particular fascination: Given the extent of the evidence presented, the tombs of Joseph and his brothers may have been located there. This discovery, presuming it an accurate interpretation of artifacts from the excavation, provides solid proof for the Bible’s historicity.  And, more pertinent to our study here, it provides data from which we can assign a date for the Exodus.

[The next article will deal with the second big mistake… which while complex is essential to understand the vital difference between the Exodus as derived from Egyptian chronology, compared to the true date supplied by the Bible and other sources.]

NOTES

[1] Karl Richard Lepsius, is the first author to publish an entire “Book of the Dead” in 1842, containing 165 spells.  However, the awareness of an Egyptian Book of the Dead (EBOD) goes back to Medieval times. The work of the famous E. A. Wallis Budge of the British Museum is often associated with EBPD.

[2] A website providing a concise but clear overview of the Egyptian chronology has been created by Michael Stecker.  It is entitled, The Thirty Dynasties of Egypt. See http://mstecker.com/pages/egyptdyn_fp.htm.

[3] My research indicates (in concurrence with Setterfield), that an adjustment is necessary, mostly related to the Hyksos invasion, conventionally dated ca. 1750-1650 B.C., preceding the Exodus by 100 to 150 years. And yet, it appears more likely the Hyksos, who were likely the biblical Amorites, invaded Egypt immediately after the Hebrew Exodus, when Egypt had no army to defend its territory (it was at the bottom of the Red Sea!) Other implications can be drawn from this possibility that amplify the providence of the timing of the Exodus. Please see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/New_Chronology_(Rohl) for an overview of the New Chronology.

[4] The city of On, Heliopolis, is known as the City of the Sun (Ra-Atum). It was occupied since the pre-Dynastic period, one of the world’s oldest cities. It was the origin for the obelisks in London and New York. It is associated with Thoth, the scribe of the so-called Seven Sages of pre-dynastic Egypt, aka the Apkallu (familiar to fans of Dr. Michael Heiser). Thoth is often connected to Enoch, and sometimes to Hermes Trismegistus. In this “ancient wisdom,” Enoch is the builder of the great pyramids. For a wild trip into this occult viewpoint, see https://www.matrixdisclosure.com/thoth-enoch-saurid-great-pyramid-egypt/.

[5] I will utilize the dates that are generally agreed by Barry Setterfield and David Rohl (as supplied by Tim Mahoney in his film and book, Patterns of Evidence). These are dates to which I concur.  When dates based upon conventional Egyptology differ (which is most of the time), I will specify the conventional dates.