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Did archaeologists discover ‘more’ evidence of the Exodus along the Jordan River?


Israel captive in Egypt by Edward Poynter (1836-1919) Credit: Wikipedia/Creative Commons

Israel captive in Egypt by Edward Poynter (1836-1919) Credit: Wikipedia/Creative Commons

Ancient ruins discovered along the Jordan River is the latest evidence that the Biblical account of the Hebrew exodus from Egypt under Moses is true. For decades, Liberal theologians and others have tried to throw doubt on the account that resulted in the birthing of Israel as Moses and Joshua resettled the Hebrews in the Promised Land of Canaan.

A group of archaeologists led by David Ben-Shlomo and Ralph K. Hawkins have found evidence of an ancient camp site along the Jordan River near Khirbet el-Mastarah that may be the remains of one of Israel’s early sites before entering the Promised Land.

In an interview with the British newspaper, The Express, Ben-Shlomo said:

“If they are, this might fit the Biblical story of the Israelites coming from the east of the Jordan River, then crossing the Jordan and entering into the hill country of Israel later.”

The ruins were found near Khirbet el-Mastarah generally believed to be the ancient city of Ataroth-addar mentioned in Joshua 16:5.

The Archaeologists further stated they found fragments of pottery that could be dated to the Iron Age (1200 – 1000 BC), which is the traditional date of the Exodus or the late Bronze Age  (1400 – 1200 BC).

Along with this some have suggested that this is the “first” evidence ever discovered of the Exodus.

This is not true.

When you look at the Exodus account, we read of God bringing 10 major plagues against Egypt that caused mass devastation throughout the country. If these took place, you would think there would be at least a brief mention of these plagues somewhere in the Egyptian record.

Arguably these were judgements that God brought against Egypt and the embarrassed Egyptian government might be reluctant to cite them. Still they were so wide scale, you would think someone would have discussed them.

And in fact they did.

Evidence of these 10 plagues were discovered on an ancient papyrus found in Egypt. Referred to as Leiden I 344 or more commonly the Ipuwer papyrus, it was discovered in 1828, but was not translated until 1909.

It was written by an Egyptian named Ipuwer, who claimed to have been alive when Egypt went through the plagues. He sent a letter to the Egypt’s leaders basically telling them to straighten out or they could face a similar judgment.

In the papyrus, Ipuwer actually lists seven of the plagues including:

First plague: River of blood, Exodus 7:20

  • Ipuwer papyrus reads:  “The river is blood. Men shrink from tasting — human beings, and thirst after water.” (Ipuwer 2:10)

Fifth plague: Animals diseased, Exodus 9:3

  • Ipuwer papyrus reads: “All the animals, their hearts weep. Cattle moan…” (Ipuwer 5:5). Then in 9:2-3 it reads, “Behold, cattle are left to stray, and there is none to gather them in.”

Sixth plague: Human plague, (Exodus 9:8-9)

  • Ipuwer papyrus reads: “Plague is throughout the land. Blood is everywhere” (IP 2:5-6).

Seventh plague: Massive hail and thunder-storm that destroyed the herbs and crops (Exodus 9:24-25, Exodus 9:31-32)

  • Ipuwer papyrus speaks of crop failure that affected revenues. “Lower Egypt weeps … The entire palace is without its revenues. To it belong wheat and barley, geese and fish” (IP 10:3-6).  It also reads, “Forsooth, grain has perished on every side” (IP 6:3). It also compares the weariness of the land to the “cutting of flax,” that would happen with a massive hail storm (IP 5:12).

Tenth plague: Death of the firstborn ( Exodus 12:29-30)

  • Ipuwer papyrus reads: “Forsooth, the children of the princes are dashed against the walls.” (IP 4:3, 5:6) “Forsooth, the children of princes are cast in the streets” (IP 6:12). “He who places his brother in the ground is everywhere” (IP 2:13) and “It is groaning through the land, mingled with lamentations” (IP 3:14).

But it doesn’t stop there, a Stella found in the Temple of Karnak in the ancient city of Thebes was recently translated by two professors from the University of Chicago’s Oriental Institute, Robert Ritner and Nadine Moeller. The Egyptians used Stellas to remember or commemorate events of national importance.

This particular Stella provided more evidence of the Exodus plagues. It described a massive darkness that covered Egypt that was so intense, people could not see each other even when they were standing side by side. The Stella also said the darkness was so thick, they could not light their torches.

The plague of darkness, also mentioned in the Ipuwer papyrus, is described in Exodus 10:21-23 as being so dark that people could not see each other and Moses adds it was so thick they could actually feel it.

This is where it gets interesting. Both the Ipuwer papyrus and the Stella put the Exodus at a later date than traditionally believed and connects it with the Hyksos invasion of  Egypt in 1800 BC. The Hyskso were Semitic and cousins to the Jews.  And there is significant Biblical evidence that Joseph’s rise to power coincided with the Hyksos rule:

The Hyksos also welcomed Joseph’s family to live in Egypt where they thrived and prospered.

The Egyptians were finally able to drive out the Hyksos in 1500 BC and this is the new king referenced in Exodus who put the Hebrews into slavery:

Now a new king arose over Egypt, who did not know Joseph. He said to his people, “Behold, the people of the sons of Israel are more and mightier than we. 10 Come, let us deal wisely with them, or else they will multiply and in the event of war, they will also join themselves to those who hate us, and fight against us and depart from the land.” (Exodus 1:8-10 NASV)

Having just driven out the Hyksos, notice how the Egyptian Pharaoh was very concerned the Israelis would join the Hyksos if they tried to retake Egypt.

This later dating for the Exodus is also confirmed by the recent discovery along the Jordan River.

The archaeological team dated the pottery found at the site as being from two periods of time that included the late Bronze age (1400 – 1200 BC). This is significant because this later date would fall in line with the Ipuwer Papyrus and the Thebes Stella that connect the Exodus with the Hyksos invasion.

Sources:

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