It is considered one of the most devastating volcanic eruptions in recorded history. Known as the Minoan eruption, it took place on the Island of Thera (known today as Santorini), in the Aegean sea off the coast of Greece.
They estimate the ash plume was 19 to 22 miles high (30 to 35 km) and on the island of Santorini, the ash is over 200′ thick and the layered ash indicates there were multiple explosions in a short-range of time. And since no human remains were found on the island, the volcanoes early and smaller explosions were enough of a warning for people to flee.
It is believed the volcano erupted sometime between 1642 BC and 1500 BC. suggesting it could have erupted during the reigns of two Egyptian pharaohs Ahmose and his son Amenhotep.
Traditionally many believe that Ramses (1279 -1213 BC) was the Pharaoh of the Exodus but archaeological and Biblical evidence says Israel’s exit from Egypt took place earlier than Ramses.
Many now believe Joseph arrived in Egypt around 1800 BC coinciding with Hyksos’s successful invasion of Egypt.
The Hyksos occupied Northern Nile Delta and the Egyptians were forced south. The Hyksos were Semites and would have had similar language and culture as Joseph and his family and the Bible provides evidence that the Hyksos were in charge when Joseph arrived and later when Jacob and his extended family settled in Egypt.
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Around 1550 BC (date in dispute as many believe it was earlier), the Egyptians, under Ahmose I, were finally able to drive the Hyksos out of Northern Egypt. (Note at the best of times these dates are estimates).
Though the Hyksos were gone, the Hebrews remained and this “new king who did not know Joseph” (Exodus 1:8) was concerned the Hebrews would join with the Hyksos if they tried to retake Egypt. As a result this new king, Ahmose I, subjected the Hebrews to cruelty and slavery.
But since several years passed between when Moses grew up in the Pharaoh’s court, killed an Egyptian guard and then fled into exile and returned, it is doubtful that the Amhose I was still in charge when the actual Exodus took place. It probably involved Ahmose’s son, Amenhotep. But it also possible the plagues stretched through the reigns of the father and son.
But there is evidence of what may have caused the ninth plague of darkness where God brought a darkness on Egypt that was so intense it could actually be felt:
22 So Moses stretched out his hand toward the sky, and there was thick darkness in all the land of Egypt for three days. 23 They did not see one another, nor did anyone rise from his place for three days, but all the sons of Israel had light in their dwellings. (Exodus 10:22-23 NIV)
Like the Bible, an ancient Egyptian Stela (stone monument) called the “Ahmose Tempest Stela” or the “Storm Stela” speaks of an intense darkness that struck Egypt during either Ahmose’s or Amenhotep’s reign. The Stela reported that the darkness was so heavy, the Egyptians couldn’t even light their torches.
And Stela even hints at the confrontation that took place between the Pharaoh and Moses when it says the darkness was caused by a “God” singular who was much more powerful than any of the Egyptian gods.
As we look through the plagues we see that many had natural origins including plagues of lice, frogs, flies and hail/thunder and now there is evidence that the darkness plague may have had a natural cause as well.
It is obvious to many that the “Ahmose Tempest Stela” and the Bible’s description of the ninth plague are describing the same incident and many are now wondering if this darkness was caused by the heavy ash from the volcanic eruption on Thera.
In an interview with Breaking Israel News, Dr. Charlotte Pearson from the University of Arizona whose research is helping push back the date of the eruption said:
“It is now time to consider the possibility that the Tempest Stela is indeed a contemporary record of the cataclysmic Thera event.”
- Determining the Date of the Exodus: Breaking Israel News
- Yet another confirmation of the Hebrew’s exodus out of Egypt? opentheword.org