There has been a bit of discussion recently on whom the pharaoh of the Exodus actually was.
One thing we know for sure is that despite the blockbuster movies that portray Ramses (1279-1213 BC) as the pharaoh, it was not him.
And in a recent presentation at the International Symposium on Archaeology and the Bible in Albuquerque, New Mexico in Sept 2021, Dr Steve Collins, a professor of archaeology at Trinity Southwest University, made his case that Thutmose IV (1401-1391 BC) was the actual pharaoh of the Exodus.
Many are now convinced that Israel’s Exodus out of Egypt took place about 200 to 300 years before Ramses, sometime after Egypt drove the Hyksos, a Semitic group, out of Northern Egypt.
Around 1800 BC, the Hyksos took over the Nile Delta, driving the Egyptian government into southern Egypt.
The Hyksos were Semitic people and because of that they had a similar language and customs to the Israelis, this explains why Joseph so easily rose to power and why they welcomed Joseph’s family to settle in some of the best land in Egypt.
Around 1550 BC, the Egyptians, under Ahmose I, were finally able to drive the Hyksos out of Northern Egypt and retake their lost territory.
And we see that mentioned in the Bible, when Exodus tells us of an ominous change in Egypt with the arrival of a “new King, who did not know Joseph” or his family (Exodus 1:8).
This new pharaoh decided to enslave Joseph’s family because he was concerned they would join with Egypt’s enemy, if they ever attempted to retake northern Egypt (Exodus 1:9-10).
This unnamed enemy was, of course, the Hyksos, who Ahmose recognized immediately were close cousins to the Jews, who may ally with the Hyksos in the event of another war.
In a recent podcast, I suggested that the pharaoh of the Exodus was actually Ahmose’s son Amenhotep. It was certainly not Ahmose, because several decades would pass before Moses finally showed up to call for the Israel’s release from their slavery.
Ahmenhotep fits because archaeology discoveries suggest that he died childless, after his son died in infancy, fitting the Bible’s description of the final plague, the death of the firstborn, that also hit the pharaoh’s home (Exodus 4:22-23).
But Dr Collins believes the Exodus did not take place until several pharaohs later, during the reign of Thutmose IV (1401-1391 BC). The pharaohs followed in this order: Ahmose, Amenhotep I, Thutmose I, Thutmose II, Hatshepsut, Thutmose III and Thutmose IV.
The reason he gives is that the end of Thutmose IV’s reign marks a dramatic decline of the Egyptian empire, which essentially collapsed.
Collins believes this coincides with the Exodus for several reasons:
Secondly, we read as the Israel was departing, they plundered Egypt of its wealth (Exodus 12:36).
Third, their departure resulted in the loss of a large workforce of slaves, that would have been a third major hit on the economy.
And finally, at the parting of the Red Sea, Egypt not only lost its pharaoh, but its army was essentially wiped out as well. As a result, several nations were able to take back territory they had previously lost to the Egyptians.
In Deuteronomy 11:4, we read that years later, Egypt still hadn’t fully recovered from the dramatic destruction of its military.
And finally, Dr. Collins notes that Thutmose IV’s grandson, Akhenaten (1353-1336 BC), eventually dumped all the Egyptian gods, in favour of a new god ‘Aten’.
Collins believes he abandoned the old Egyptian gods because they were powerless to stop the downhill slide that started after the country was devastated by the ten plagues.
According to Dr. Collins, these multiple economic hits and military devastation associated with the Exodus best explains the sudden decline of Egypt after Thutmose IV.
READ Dr. Collins’ presentation: Will the Real Exodus Pharaoh Please Stand Up?
Though Dr. Collins makes some very valid points, personally, I still think, it was Amenhotep. But we agree on one thing, it was not Ramses: