The Improbabilities and Contradictions of the Exodus

Monicks tweeted that one reason we know the bible isn't true is the lack of ancient Egyptian historical evidence for the Exodus. I didn't see the full exchange of tweets, but saw enough to know she was discussing/arguing with a few who disagreed. Some other things were tossed into the mix by skeptics, like the lack of archeological evidence they left on the desert, the improbabilities, and the logistical impossibilities of the whole thing. In looking around for some more fodder for her to offer up, I came across this. Thought some of you might find this interesting.

How Many Came Out of the Exodus of Egypt

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Tags: Ancient Egypt, Exodus, Monicks, Old Testament, Twitter, bible, bible contradictions

Comment by Morgan Matthew on December 5, 2009 at 1:46am
This is awesome :] Great follow up!
Comment by Jacqueline Sarah Homan on December 18, 2009 at 7:39pm
Here is an excerpt from my book, Divine Right: The Truth is a Lie, which addresses the archeological evidence suggesting that the Exodus story of the Israelites leaving bondage in Egypt as a myth:

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In 1896, an archeologist uncovered the ruins of Thebes, the ancient City of the Dead. An ancient tablet documenting the reign of Rameses II’s son in 1208 BC was found. This tablet documents the ancient Israelites as a race that lived in southern Canaan. The discoveries of similar events in the Old Testament suggest that the Torah (the five books of Moses) was written by several different people over a span of several hundred years.

Archeologists look for the most ancient written letter form by which to gage historical events that mesh with the Hebrew texts. But any archeological evidence supporting the Exodus story remains elusive. Of the 31 sites of Canaanite city-states that the Bible claims that Joshua’s band of Israelites defeated, none of them corresponds to the date commensurate as being within 50 years of the Exodus. These Canaanite city-states were attached, as shown by archeological evidence, over a range of a thousand years — beginning in 2250 BC. And they were vassal states of Egypt.

Now the Bible claims that Joshua led an army of Israelites in a series of attacks against the city-states of Canaan. Two of these specifically mentioned were Jericho and Hazor, with Hazor named as the largest or most significant of these ancient kingdoms.

“At that time Joshua turned back and captured Hazor and put its king to the sword. (Hazor had been the head of all these kingdoms.)”
“Everyone in it they put to the sword. They totally destroyed them, not sparing anything that breathed, and he burned up Hazor itself.”
~ Joshua 11:10-11


Jericho was sacked in 1500 BC. Hazor was conquered and destroyed about 1250 BC. Clearly, these city-states were not destroyed at the same time under Joshua’s lead as the Bible states. Of the 31 sites the Bible claims that Joshua conquered, few showed any signs of war. There was no evidence of armed conflict or devastating fire, yet at the same time large Canaanite towns that were supposedly destroyed were either not destroyed at all, or they were destroyed by others at a much later time. So what does this mean? The key lies in determining who — or what — destroyed Hazor in 1250 BC, because that corresponds to the Egyptian tablet documenting the Israelites being in Canaan during the reign of Rameses II’s son as Pharaoh.

The evidence found in the uncovered remains of Hazor shows that the city’s patron god statues had their heads knocked off, yet there seems to be no other evidence supporting any armed invasion. Excavations of Hazor reveal that the city had a lower city of commoners, serfs, and slaves — similar to ancient Sparta. The upper city of Hazor was inhabited by the king and the wealthy elites. In the remains of Hazor’s palaces, archeologist Sharon Zuckerman of Tel Aviv University found signs of areas that revealed disrepair and abandonment. These are signs of a society in decline and rebellion from within, from an archeologist’s perspective. In fact, the archeological evidence shows that the ancient Canaanite city-state system broke down, including Hazor and Jericho: signs of a long period of decline and social upheaval from within that swept the entire Mesopotamian region and the Egyptian Empire around 1200 BC.

Signs of new people entering these deserted city-states are studied through unearthed pottery fragments. The pottery showed a pattern of consistency and a population growth that surpassed the rate of natural population growth. This tells us that a migration occurred following the collapse of the ancient city-state systems. The architectures of what is known as the typical ancient Israelite house and the type of grave goods, ruins, and pottery indicate that the ancient Israelites lived very simply and were an egalitarian society. But the mundane pottery found in the ancient Israelite houses matched those found in the Canaanite city-states’ lower cities. In other words, the ancient Israelites were natives of Canaan, but they were the “have-nots.” They weren’t conquering invaders. They were Canaanites from the lower social classes.

Tablets documenting Egypt’s tax collection from its vassal city-states governed by kings that answered to the Pharaoh show that the ruling classes burdened the lower classes with the most taxes. The Bible claims that the Israelites came from outside of Canaan to defeat the Canaanites and become a great nation. But archeology shows a different story: the Israelites became a great society as an outcome of the Canaanite collapse; they were not the cause of it. The Israelites were originally Canaanites. So why does the Bible constantly cast them as outsiders of Canaan who prevailed in military might over the “giants” who dwelt there? The answer is that they wanted to create a new identity.

Psychologists tell us that identity is created by first figuring out who we are not in order to sort out who we are, and who we want to be. Now, in constructing the new Israelite identity, the Israelites knew who they were not: they were not the elite or the kings of Canaan whose palaces and pottery were grander. The Israelites didn’t like their lives and social class position under the old Canaanite system, so they forged an identity in contrast to that system and all that represented it. Part of this included their embracing monotheism honoring a single god that was bigger and mightier than the gods of the polytheistic system that every ancient society subscribed to. To the ancient Israelites the polytheism and idol worship was reminiscent of the oppressive upper classes; that they were not a part of.

If the Israelites wanted to distinguish themselves from their Canaanite past, what better way to do it than to create a story about destroying them? But the stories about Abraham, the Exodus, and the Canaanite conquest served another purpose. It helped forge a collective social identity among the bands of freed Canaanite slaves, an identity of a people who valued freedom. The Israelites wanted to “be somebody.” They wanted to be what they previously were not: a favored, important people with the right to self-determination in a land of their own with the ability to attain immortality...by divine right.
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[ Divine Right: The Truth is a Lie, pp. 416-419, Jacqueline S. Homan. Copyright 2009. All rights reserved]

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