Patterns of Evidence: The Exodus (2014) Movie Script

I never thought
I would he caught up
in a story such as this,
because I live on the
other side of the world.
On one hand, it's exciting
to be making a lm
that searches for the
truth about the Exodus.
On the other hand, I must admit,
I'm a reluctant participant.
I never wanted to go to the Middle East.
I never wanted to be
involved in controversy
because it means taking on the giants
of archaeology, religion and tradition.
But what I've found might
shock and surprise you.
You can decide if it will change you,
like it has changed me.
The Exodus
of the children of Israel
from Egypt and their
journey to the Promised Land
is one of the most influential
and important stories
in all of world history.
The stories in the Bible
are the most powerful
narratives ever told.
It's not a coincidence
that this book has held
the imagination of mankind
for thousands of years
because the stories are remarkable.
It's the most amazing
book, if you think about it.
It's a book that covers
about 4,000 years of history
and it really is the first history book
until the time of the Greeks.
Herodotus was supposed
to he the first historian
but in fact I think Moses was.
He remains,
without any competition,
the greatest legislator of all time.
And as for the Ten Commandments
that he brought down from Sinai,
it is the foundation of our civilization.
Take away the Ten Commandments
and we are out of business.
Yet, against the idea
that the biblical account is true,
voices across our culture
and around the world
are raised in protest.
These voices say that
the biblical narrative
is nothing more than a myth, a fairytale.
And their antagonistic
claims appear to he supported
by the findings of modern archaeology.
The Exodus did not happen
in the way that it is
described in the text
on the background of the 13th century BC.
I don't believe there was a single event
that we can call the Exodus,
archaeologically or historically.
It's 24 minutes past the hour
on the Michael Medved show,
your daily dose of debate,
and right now, debating
some of the most important
questions with Rabbi
David Wolpe, who leads
one of America's largest
Jewish congregations.
In 2001, Rabbi Wolpe
created a national furor
when his Passover sermon challenged
the historical reality of the Exodus.
Rabbi Wolpe, what did you say?
I said that the Exodus
certainly didn't happen
the way the Bible depicted
it, assuming that it was
a historical event in any description.
I think that if you look
at it scientifically,
it's virtually indefensible
to make the Bible's case.
But you also have to
understand that your faith
isn't based on splitting
seas or archaeological digs;
it's based on something much deeper.
But if these are not facts,
if this is a fairy story,
if this is fabricated somehow,
doesn't that undermine
the religious meaning?
In other words, doesn't
that change things?
The extent to which
it has a historical core
is very hard to say, but my
deeper conviction about it
is that it's a story that,
whether it was true, it is true,
and those are two different things.
That seems to he evading
Well, in other words,
things that aren't facts can he truths.
What part of the Torah
would you grant
to be based upon historical reality?
I can't tell you. I don't know.
I don't know and, although it
may irk people, I don't care.
If the
leading scholars agree
with the most outspoken
atheists and agnostics,
if even some rabbis agree
with the most skeptical
archaeologists that
there's no evidence at all
that the Exodus ever really happened,
then what are the rest
of us supposed to think?
If none of it happened,
then the two religions of the Bible,
Judaism and Christianity,
are both based on a gigantic lie.
It was the type of question that troubled
a filmmaker from Minneapolis
named Timothy Mahoney.
As he probed more deeply,
little did Mahoney realize
how far his journey would take him.
The more I looked into the Exodus,
the more I realized its significance.
I knew I had to investigate
this story for myself,
and the first step was to
explore whether there was
any hard evidence for the Exodus at all.
I began my journey by
traveling to the very place
the Bible says it happened:
the ancient land of Egypt.
I was raised as a Christian
and I remember hearing
amazing stories from the Bible as a child,
and I believed them.
Stories about an ancient
family of shepherds,
the sons of Jacob, who came
from a foreign land to Egypt.
They were enslaved by the pharaoh,
then miraculously delivered out of Egypt
and journeyed across the desert
to conquer the Promised Land.
But, as I grew older,
I was challenged to lose those beliefs.
Now I just wanted to know the truth.
The Exodus is
believed by most scholars
to have occurred in the
reign of Ramesses II.
Ramesses was Egypt's
greatest builder king.
Were these mighty monuments
built on the sweat and
toil of Hebrew slaves?
If experts say there's no evidence
during the time of Ramesses,
why do they think he is
the Pharaoh of the Exodus?
I'm no historian, so I had
to find a way to visualize
how the history of ancient Egypt
related to the events of the Bible.
The thought came to me
to imagine a Wall of Time
extending back to the earliest
moments of civilization.
On the first level, Egyptian history,
and above it the events
recorded in the Bible,
and at the bottom, a
timeline of absolute dates,
an immovable base to gauge
the events of history,
with great pylons marking
every thousand years.
Over the
course of 2,000 years,
Egypt experienced three
great periods of power.
It began with the Old Kingdom,
with its great pyramids of stone.
Then came the Middle Kingdom,
the highpoint of art and literature.
Finally, the New Kingdom,
with its vast empires that
dominated foreign lands.
These great periods of power were followed
by dark periods of disunity and weakness.
Ramesses II was a pharaoh
of the New Kingdom
who ruled a grand empire
and filled Egypt with his monuments.
There is one crucial passage in the Bible
that leads many to chain the Exodus event
to the time of Pharaoh Ramesses,
in what is known as The
Ramesses Exodus Theory.
A key to that theory is the building
of the city of Ramesses
mentioned in Exodus 1:1 I;
the Hebrews are making bricks
to build the city of Ramesses,
or the storage facilities of Ramesses.
Professor James Hoffmeier
is one of the few Egyptologists
who has written extensively
on the biblical Exodus.
This important city, which
we know Ramesses II built,
it's being excavated even as we speak
and continues to he studied.
This city has a very brief history.
By around 1100 BC, the city's gone.
It has a very narrow history
of no more than 200 years.
So, the question is, if
this building project
that the Israelites are involved in,
is Ramesses | | 's Delta residence,
then we have no escape but to say
this is an important chronological marker,
and that can only be somewhere
in the 13th century BC.
Dates in the BC period
can be confusing to work
with because they move
in the opposite direction
to modern AD dates.
The farther back you go in
time, the bigger the BC number.
So the Ramesses Exodus
Theory places the Exodus
about 250 years before 1000 BC,
or at about 1250 BC.
I wanted an Egyptian perspective,
so I went to see Mansour Boraik,
director general of antiquities for Luxor,
one of Egypt's most important
archaeological sites.
I asked Mansour if he was in agreement
that there was no evidence
for the early Israelites
or the Exodus in Egypt.
Well it wasn't as if
I hadn't heard this before,
but I was still hopeful
of finding something
in the ruins of this
magnificent civilization.
What I really needed,
though, was physical evidence
of the cultural group that
the Israelites were a part of:
Semites, coming down to live in Egypt
from a land called Canaan.
The problem is
that no archaeological evidence
has turned up for these Semites
in the city built by Ramesses II.
Him] But then, I heard of something
that seemed astonishing.
New archaeological discoveries
of a city and a people
that appeared to match the biblical story,
made at the very location
of the city of Ramesses,
where the Bible places the Israelites.
would he interviewing
one of the world's most
respected Egyptologists.
Professor Manfred Bietak
and his Austrian team
have been digging in Egypt's delta
for over 3 | ] years at the site of Avaris.
Avaris lies directly
below the southern sector
of the city of Ramesses.
I asked Manfred to tell me
about these exciting new finds.
This sounded
exactly like the Bible.
Pharaoh gave his blessing by
allowing the early Israelites
to freely settle in
the best part of Egypt.
Once there, they and their flocks
prospered and multiplied greatly.
This was just what I was looking for.
So I asked him,
could these foreigners
he the early Israelites?
I was stunned when Manfred said
it was a weak affair.
Why couldn't these he the Israelites
when they match the Bible's story so well?
What Manfred was telling me
is that the physical
evidence of these people
is centuries too early to be connected
to the events of the Exodus.
This is profound,
because no Israelites in
Egypt means no Exodus,
and no Exodus means that the foundation
of Judaism is a myth.
And for Christians, it means Jesus Christ
and the writers of the
New Testament got it wrong
because they all accepted the reality
of Moses and the Exodus, and
built their teachings on them.
I returned home from Egypt.
I wanted to be openminded,
but as I replayed the
interview in my thoughts,
a cold chill came over me.
All my life I had believed the
Bible's stories to be true.
I know some people say
you don't need any
evidence, just have faith.
But if there's no hard
evidence for any of it,
had I been believing
in a lie all this time?
And what about my kids and grandkids?
What should they put their faith in?
Whether you believe these stories or not,
isn't it important to
know what's really true?
The more I thought about it,
the more I realized I couldn't stop now,
no matter how hard it would he.
I made a decision.
I had to go back to Egypt.
arranged to meet with one
of America's leading Egyptologists,
Professor Kent Weeks.
He rediscovered KV5, the tomb of the sons
of Ramesses II in the Valley of the Kings.
He brought up a crucial issue
when considering the
problems with these events.
Ramesses II as
the Pharaoh of the Exodus,
how can we prove that?
Chronology doesn't really help.
The chronology of Egypt
is still a bit ambiguous.
Correlations between Egyptian chronology
and that of other cultures
in the ancient Near East
is even more confusing.
We don't know precisely
when the Exodus happened.
Some people say it was Ramesses II.
It makes nice theater because he was
a great powerful ruler,
everybody knows his name,
he built fantastic monuments.
Everything really is appealing
to have him he the one to choose.
Because he'd be a very
large opponent, wouldn't he?
He would he indeed.
So, yeah, pick Ramesses II
as the pharaoh of the Exodus,
but other Egyptologists disagree.
Almost any pharaoh could he
the pharaoh of the Exodus,
if we can prove there even was an Exodus.
But if Ramesses wasn't
the pharaoh of the Exodus,
then who was?
Looking for the Exodus in a different time
or reign could be the solution.
Maybe Ramesses is the problem?
I found Mansour's openness refreshing.
It was clear, I
needed a new approach.
What might even he considered
a scientific approach,
beginning by taking a closer look
at the details of the biblical story.
The oldest
accounts of the Exodus
were written down in Hebrew,
in the first five books of
the Bible known as the Torah.
I asked Rabbi Manis Friedman,
a member of Judaism's Orthodox branch,
to recount the ancient
stories of the Bible
from these sacred scrolls.
In order to test
the Exodus fairly,
I wanted to know what the
story was actually claiming.
The story of the Exodus
begins before the Israelites leave Egypt.
It begins with Abraham
when God brings him to the land of Canaan
and makes a covenant with him
and, in that covenant,
spells out the entire Exodus.
The Lord said to Abraham,
All this land you see
I will give to you and
your offspring forever.
Go, walk through the length
and breadth of this land,
for I am giving it to you.
On that day, the Lord made a covenant,
a formal promise to Abraham.
He said, "To your descendants,
I give this land."
God led Abraham outside and He said,
"Look up to heaven and
count the stars, if you can.
"So numerous will your offspring be."
And God said, "Your
descendants will he foreigners
"in a country not their own.
"They will he enslaved and oppressed.
"But I will judge the
nation they serve as slaves,
"and afterward they will come out
"with great possessions and return here."
According to the text,
the events of the Exodus were
not a historical accident.
They were directed by the God of Abraham
every step of the way.
As my team and
I looked more closely
at this account, we could see that
these biblical events formed a sequence,
a sequence that could guide
the entire investigation.
I imagined the six steps
of the biblical sequence,
the major events of the Exodus story,
running parallel to Egyptian
history, starting with:
the arrival of Abraham's
descendants in Egypt,
their tremendous multiplication,
their descent into slavery,
the judgment of the
nation that enslaved them,
their deliverance and exodus out of Egypt,
and, finally, in Canaan,
their conquest of the Promised Land.
If the Exodus really happened,
there are elements in
the story that are so big
that you'd think some remnants of evidence
would've been left behind,
somewhere in Egypt's history.
We knew science solved problems
by looking for patterns of evidence
and a truly scientific approach
looks for those patterns,
no matter where they exist.
I set out to see whether a pattern
matching this sequence could he found,
starting with the first step,
the "arrival" of the Israelites in Egypt.
The book of Genesis tells us
that the first descendant of
Abraham to arrive in Egypt
was his greatgrandson,
Joseph the son of Jacob.
Joseph's brothers had sold him as a slave,
to a caravan of traders who
brought him down to Egypt.
Then, in an amazing turn of events,
he rises to become the
highest official in Egypt,
he saves the country
from a terrible famine,
enables his father, Jacob,
and his entire family
to settle in the best part of the land,
a place called Goshen.
My objective was to
see if any specific evidence
had been uncovered of
this Semitic familygroup
arriving in Egypt, as told in the Bible.
So, far I had none.
So far, not.
We only know we have some
evidence of shepherds
So far, not.
I was stuck.
But that was soon to
change, when suddenly,
something was telling
me to go to my library
and search out a book
given to me a year earlier,
that I had never read.
What startled me was that
this author had answers
to the very doubts that
Beitek had raised in me.
He had spent his whole life
exploring the Middle East,
a man familiar with the
mysterious inscriptions
and hieroglyphs of the pharaohs,
and what they might reveal
about the biblical stories.
Rohl, author, historian
and Egyptologist is an agnostic,
someone who remains unconvinced
of the existence of God.
Yet, he clearly sees
archaeological evidence
of the biblical Joseph,
Jacob and the early Hebrews
in the Nile Delta region of Egypt.
Rohl believes that many Egyptologists
have missed evidence for the Exodus
because they have been looking for it
in the wrong time period.
While most scholars think that the events
of the Exodus happened in the New Kingdom,
David Roh | 's view would put the Exodus
in an entirely different period,
the earlier Middle Kingdom,
where he claims evidence
for the Exodus can be seen.
I wanted him to
explain why he had come
to such a different
conclusion than Manfred Bietak
about Joseph and the early Israelites.
Tell me, who is Manfred Bietak?
Manfred Bietak is probably
one of the greatest
archaeologists alive today
and he's dug up one of
the most important sites
in the eastern delta,
a city called Avaris,
which is in the land of Goshen,
which the Bible calls it.
And I believe this is the place
where Joseph and his brethren lived.
Well, I went to see Manfred Bietak
and that's not what he said.
He said there's no evidence of
this at the time of Ramesses.
Exactly right. Most scholars will say,
if you look at the city of Ramesses,
there are no Asiatics there,
there are no western Asiatics
living at that particular city.
But dig down a hit a little bit deeper
and you do find a city full of Asiatics.
Yeah, but the Bible says it happened
at the time of Ramesses.
What are you saying?
I'm saying that
this particular mention
of the city of Ramesses,
the building of Ramesses,
is what we call an "anachronism".
It's something that's been added
into the text later by an editor.
So what the editor is basically saying is,
this is the place where the
Israelites built the store city
and we know it today as Ramesses.
Well, in the ancient times,
it was called Avaris.
Okay, so the people would
know the area, the region
The people of the Bible would've known
where Ramesses was, and where therefore
their ancestors actually built the city.
I also found that the
Bible in the book of Genesis,
uses the word "Ramesses" hundreds of years
before Pharaoh Ramesses
or his city existed,
to describe the land where
Joseph's family settled.
So, if the name Ramesses in Genesis
does not refer to the time
of Pharaoh Ramesses II,
then why should the mention of Ramesses
in the book of Exodus be any different?
Now, this Avaris is the city
which lies under the biblical Ramesses.
Ramesses of the New Kingdom,
Avaris of the Middle
Kingdom, the 13th Dynasty.
It lies underneath the city
that's mentioned in the Bible.
So, when Bietak digs up a huge population
of Semitic speaking peoples
with Semitic culture,
living in this city of Avaris
for several hundred years,
and then, at the end of the
period, these Semites all leave,
depart with their belongings
and abandon the city,
whatever Manfred says, that to me
sounds awfully like the Israelites.
Well what he told me was
that there was no connection.
Well, look at the
evidence that you've got here.
Right at the beginning, at the heart
of this community at the
end of the 12th Dynasty,
we see a Syrian house appear.
The Austrians call them Mittelsaal houses.
This type of house is
found in North Syria,
the area where Abraham came from.
It's exactly the same style of house
you'd expect Jacob to
build for himself in Egypt.
And we know that the
Israelites sought their brides
from Harran in that region.
They all went back to get
their brides from there.
So, the culture that turns up in Egypt
at the end of the 12th Dynasty
seems to have come from
North Syria originally.
So, what is the
connection with Joseph at Avaris?
Well after this house of
Jacob, if we can call it that,
is built, eventually it's flattened,
and on top of it an Egyptian
palace is constructed,
Egyptian architecture this time.
However, the occupant was not Egyptian.
The palace had courtyards,
colonnades, audience chambers.
There was even a robing room.
it obviously belonged to
some high official of state,
who was very, very
important to that state,
because when somebody
gets a palace like this
given to them, it means
they've been honored
for what they've done for the state.
Now, in the garden behind the palace,
the archaeologists found 12 main graves
with memorial chapels on top of them.
You have 12 graves?
We have 12 graves.
But why would that be significant?
Well, think about it: how
many sons did Jacob have?
He had 12.
How many tribes were there?
Twelve tribes.
And what's also amazing is
the palace had a facade,
a portico with 12 pillars.
So you've got 12 sons, 12
tribes, 12 pillars, and 12 tombs.
Yeah. Is that all coincidence?
Now, one of these 12
graves was very special,
because it was a pyramid tomb.
This in itself is extraordinary
because only pharaohs
and queens had pyramid tombs at this time.
Yet the person buried in
this tomb was not a king.
Even so, he was honored
with a king's burial.
And, inside the chapel of
the tomb, was a statue.
What we know from the statue
is that this man had red hair.
He had pale yellow skin,
which is how Egyptians depict northerners.
He had a throw stick across his shoulder,
a unique symbol of office
made for this Asiatic official
living in the land of Goshen.
And on the back of his shoulder,
we see the faintest remains of paint,
colored stripes from a multicolored coat.
And that matches exactly
with the story of Joseph in the Bible.
The multicolored coat is a gift,
which shows that he was
the favorite of the father.
And it almost becomes
his insignia, this coat.
Its the thing we remember
about him most of all.
Do you know of any other statues
of a Semite of this kind in Egypt?
There is nothing else like this
in the whole of Egyptian
history, nothing at all.
Rohl is not the only one
to see a connection with Joseph at Avaris.
Mahoney went to see
Professor Charles Aling,
an Egyptologist who has also investigated
the events of the Exodus
and its connection to Egypt.
Would it be unusual for
a tomb to have a statue!
No. It's unusual to have one this large.
This would he probably twice
the size of a normal human being.
What does that tell
you when the statue's larger?
That it's a very important person.
Now of course, this is not a
pharaohs tomb or a palace,
but the man who lived
there, you can identify
his nationality by looking at
the fragments of the statue.
Three things: the hairstyle he has,
which we often call
the mushroom hairstyle;
and then, secondly, the weapon he carries
over his shoulder, called a throwstick,
which we would associate with
like an Australian boomerang;
and then the coloration of
the skin, the skin is yellow.
All those things indicate that this would
have been a SyroPalestinian.
Dr. Aling, do
you think this is Joseph?
Either it is Joseph,
or it's somebody that has
a career remarkably
the same as Joseph did.
It's just an incredible thing
to find this at this time period.
The Exodus was a story
about the birth of a nation.
It was time for Mahoney
to go to Israel.
This gave him the unique opportunity
to meet with Israel's
president, Shimon Peres,
and hear his perspective
about the character of Joseph
and his rise from slavery to
governing Pharaoh's court.
If you look at the
way the story is written,
God chose him for a mission!
With God's help,
Joseph was able to save Egypt
by warning of a coming calamity.
Seven years of plenty would he followed
by seven years of terrible famine.
Pharaoh is so impressed
that he puts Joseph
in charge of preparing for the famine,
and makes him second in command
over the entire country.
He managed to achieve
this by foretelling
or explaining the dreams of Pharaoh
about cattle coming out
of the water of the Nile.
First of all as seven fat
cows and then seven lean cows
come out and devour the fat cows.
It's an extraordinary story,
but the clue here is that
these cows are coming out of the Nile.
It's the Nile itself which is the cause
of both the plenty and the famine.
If David's
interpretation is right,
then the regulation of
the Nile may have been key
in planning for the coming famine.
There's a canal, or a waterway,
that connects the Nile to the Fayum basin,
which is a large lake area,
which has the name Bahr Yusef,
which means the waterway of Joseph.
This goes back thousands of
years, as far as we can tell.
Why do you think that
that canal has that name!
Because I think he made it.
I think it was under his instructions,
as vizier of Egypt,
that that canal was cut.
And it was cut to divert half the water
from the Nile into the Fayum basin.
You then get back to the situation where
the water levels are just
right for growing crops.
Can you see it today?
It's still in use today.
And the construction of
this water diversion system
is dated to the same period
as the early settlement at Avaris.
Joseph gathers up all the grain
during the seven years of plenty in Egypt.
He gathered as much as
the sand of the sea.
And then the famine comes
to the entire region,
and only Egypt has hread.
So everyone comes to Joseph for
what they need for survival.
When their money runs out,
they sold their animals.
When that ran out, they sold their land,
and eventually they sold themselves.
So Pharaoh, hy the end of the seven years,
owns everything in Egypt.
Mahoney wanted to know
if there ever was a time in this era
when a dramatic shift of wealth and power
occurred between the people
of Egypt and the pharaoh.
He went to Pennsylvania
to see an archaeologist
who's spent many years
studying the Exodus and the Conquest.
His name is Dr. Bryant Wood.
When we look
at Egyptian history,
we find something very significant
happened at this exact time.
Egypt was divided up
into areas called nomes,
kind of like districts,
all over the country.
And the leaders of these nomes
had tremendous wealth
and tremendous power.
We get to a point in Egyptian history
when suddenly that all changes,
and all the wealth is
concentrated with the pharaoh.
What on earth happened here?
If you read the Egyptian history books,
there is no explanation for it.
They don't know what
happened, how it happened.
I mean this was a tremendous
socioeconomic change.
Well, what do you think happened?
Well, we have
the answer in the Bible,
and it's Joseph's famine policy,
and he brings the wealth into Pharaoh,
and it fits exactly with Egyptian history.
David believes
these events occurred
during the reigns of two
important Middle Kingdom pharaohs.
This key time
is during the coregency
between Senuseret III and
his son, Amenemhat III.
I believe this is the time of the famine
and that Amenemhat was Joseph's pharaoh.
Amenemhat is depicted with worry lines.
His ears are turned out
so that he can listen
to the concerns of the people.
He's not depicted in the
usual bland way that you see
on all the other statues of
past and future pharaohs.
And I think this is an
indication that, in his time,
Egypt was experiencing serious problems.
And, guess what! He builds his pyramid
right next to Bahr Yussef,
the "Waterway of Joseph".
The amount
of archaeological evidence
matching the first step of
Arrival in the biblical sequence
seemed overwhelming to Mahoney.
The syrianstyled house
that appeared in the Delta
along with a palace fit for royalty
whose occupant was a high Semitic official
from the Canaan area, who
wore a multicolored coat.
The Waterway of Joseph,
contemporary with the rise of Avaris.
The end of influence and wealth
for the regional governors
as the power of Pharaoh
reached new heights.
Yet these events converged at a time
when the statues of the
pharaohs were depicted
in a unique careworn way,
the telltale signs of
a kingdom in distress.
Well, why is it we've
never heard of these nds?
Because in the
scheme that's used by scholars
to date all these events,
they're way too early.
They're much too early to he Israelites.
I'm basically saying, why
not call a spade a spade?
At the
pyramid tomb of Avaris,
excavations revealed one other
important piece of evidence.
The crucial clue for me,
which says to me that this man
with the multicolored coat is Joseph,
is found in the story of Exodus.
When Joseph is on his death bed,
he tells his brethren
that when they leave,
they must take his body with
them to the Promised Land.
What matches the story
even more incredibly
is that pyramid tomb was empty
when the archaeologists found it.
There was nothing in it at all apart from
a few fragments of this smashed statue.
There were no bones,
there were no mummy beads,
no coffin wood, nothing.
It was cleaned out.
So it was a grave robber!
Not a grave robber.
What grave robber is
going to take the bones?
Bones are intrinsically
of no value whatsoever
and nobody takes the bones.
Only people who are treating the body
with reverence take the bones.
The body was taken out
and all the grave goods were taken out.
I think this is the tomb of Joseph,
the pyramid tomb of Joseph,
honored by Pharaoh with a colossal statue,
that when Moses decided to
take the people out of Egypt,
he made sure he fulfilled
that promise to Joseph,
to take the body out of the
tomb and take it to Shechem
and bury him in the Promised Land.
This location,
photographed in the 1800s,
is where many believe Joseph's hones
were finally laid to rest
in the ancient town of Shechem in Canaan.
The city is known today as
Nablus on the West Bank,
where this tomb has been at the center
of much political and religious tension.
The Exodus is surrounded
hy controversy on many levels.
Even David Rohl suggesting
specific evidence of Joseph
and the early Israelites arrival in Egypt
is archaeologically controversial
because he looks earlier in time
than what is conventionally accepted.
But, at this stage, I didn't care.
I was determined to
stick with the guidelines
of the investigation, looking
for a pattern of evidence
wherever it might exist.
Then David
Rohl began to tell about
the remarkable expansion
that happened at Avaris,
which fits the next step of the sequence.
What the Bible describes as
"exceedingly great multiplication."
So Joseph dies,
and his brothers and
their entire generation.
The Israelites are multiplying
and they're fruitful,
exceedingly, until they fill the land.
We see a virgin land
with no population at all
and suddenly a small group of
Semitic people settle there,
a dozen houses or so, about
70 or 100 people, all told.
And over a period of maybe
three or four generations,
it becomes a very large city,
and it's one of the largest
cities in the ancient world.
This city is a city of
foreigners in the Egyptian delta
and it's been allowed
by the Egyptian state.
At this stage, there's
no slaves involved here.
We're talking about
Semitic peoples coming in,
living here, bringing their
flocks with them and surviving
in such a way that they
become quite rich and wealthy.
We do know that there was a large
Semiticspeaking population,
probably came in from Syria, Canaan
sometime in the early part
of the second millennium BC.
Their remains have been
found at a number of sites.
We have tombs that are clearly
those of foreigners, Semites.
We can tell this by the
pottery, by the kind of weapons.
These are not Egyptiantype daggers.
They have donkeys, in some
cases, buried with them.
This was not an Egyptian practice.
We can't say for sure that
any of these were Hebrews,
but we probably couldn't
distinguish a Hebrew
from a Canaanite in Egypt,
culturally speaking, anyway.
traveled to Bristol, England
to meet with a scholarwho had information
about the expansion of
these people in the Delta.
John Bimson is a
Professor of Dld Testament
at Trinity College, Bristol.
He specializes in biblical history
and its related archaeology.
Bimson sees a clear connection between
the growth of Semitic sites in the Delta
and the biblical account.
How many sites
would there have been!
You've got a good many
settlements, 20 or more,
which would fit the land of Goshen,
where the Bible says the
Israelites were settled.
Many of these have not
been fully excavated yet.
That are similar
to the Avaris site!
We don't know
whether they're as big.
Until people start digging there,
the Avaris site, of course, no one knew
how big that was until excavation began.
So there could be a lot
of stuff in the ground
waiting to be discovered and
to throw a lot more light
on this period of Asiatic settlement.
The only
time that the archaeology
shows massive numbers of
Semites living in ancient Egypt
is in this earlier period
around the Middle Kingdom.
This is strikingly different from
the New Kingdom and the time of Ramesses,
when there is no evidence of this.
when there is no evidence of this.
The question is,
does the Middle Kingdom
also contain evidence for the next step
of the biblical sequence: "slavery?
Cecil B. DeMille portrayed
this slavery in two of his famous films,
both called The Ten Commandments.
Although Hollywood likes to focus
on the Israelites moving
large blocks of stone,
the Bible never mentions this.
A new pharaoh arises,
and he doesn't remember Joseph.
He enslaves the people
because they're becoming
too numerous and becoming a threat.
So he puts them to work
and embitters their lives
building store cities
of Pithom and Ramesses
and makes them create
bricks out of mud and straw.
It was intriguing to see this type
of construction in
different parts of Egypt.
Were any of these bricks
molded by the hands of Israelite slaves!
However, Mansour was quick to remind me
that these types of mud bricks are present
throughout Egypt's history
and don't prove any
connection to the Israelites.
But is there any slavery evidence
matching the Bible at Avaris,
the older city beneath Ramesses?
David, what does the archaeological record
reveal at this location?
We've got a
situation of prosperity
followed by a lack of prosperity
and a shortage of life.
We begin to see in the
graves of these people
Harris Lines in the bones,
which indicate shortage
of food and nutrients.
These people suddenly
have become impoverished
and they're dying at an age typically
of between 32 and 34 years.
So how do we explain that?
What is the mechanism
that we would understand
why these people only
lived to such a short age?
And the obvious answer is slavery.
The descriptions of slavery
was so horrible,
To take a whole people and make from them
an inhumane group of men,
working so hard.
They wanted to free themselves.
The Bible then tells us that the more
the Hebrews were oppressed,
the more they multiplied
and the more they spread
throughout the land of Egypt.
Pharaoh gives the order
for all the baby boys who are born
to be thrown into the
river by the Egyptians.
It was during this time Moses is born,
and in fear for his life, his
mother hides him in a basket
and floats it among the
reeds of the river Nile.
But God is watching over baby Moses,
and Pharaoh's daughter comes
down to bathe in the Nile.
She finds him, adopts
him, and names him Moses,
which means, "drawn from the water".
Is there anything
in Egyptian archaeology
that might reflect this biblical detail,
the killing of Hebrew infant boys?
At this particular
point, we start to see
an increase in the number of
infant burials at the site.
Now normally, in a typical
Middle Bronze Age cemetery,
we'll get something like
25% of burials of infants.
In this particular case,
the figure jumps up
to an extraordinary figure.
David directed me to
the dig reports from Avaris,
where Bietaks team referred
to what they called,
"an extremely high
mortality rate of newborns."
When all the children's graves
aged 10 and younger were identified,
it was found that nearly 50% died
in the first three months of life.
Okay, maybe this was just an epidemic
that hit the newborns especially hard.
But when the graves of those who made it
to adulthood were examined, it was seen
that there were 60% females to 40% males.
The reduction appears to have been
in the male side of the population.
So could this massive
increase in infant burials
at Avaris be evidence for the killing
of the male Israelite children?
It's an intriguing thought,
but it made me sad to think
of what it could have meant,
the murder of thousands of innocent boys.
generations, the Exodus story
has given hope to people around the world
in their quest for liberation,
inspired by the freeing of the slaves
from the most powerful nation on earth.
But were the hopes and
dreams of all those people
merely based on a myth?
Who would invent a story
about our ancestors were slaves?
I, that, just, just, you know, I
can see people saying,
Our ancestors were princes.
Our ancestors were great merchants.
Our ancestors were something wonderful
"and glorious and noble,"
But, We were slaves.? Why?
I mean, if you are going
to dream up a story,
surely you'd come up with
a better one than that.
And if none of it happened,
how do you explain an Egyptian papyrus
with a list of slave
names that seem to come
right out of the pages of the Bible?
There's one particular
document which is quite amazing.
It's called the Brooklyn
Papyrus and this actually
is a list of domestic
servants from one estate.
We have maybe up to 100 people
listed as slaves in Egypt.
When we look at those names,
70% of them are Semitic names,
and you can literally pick
off Israelite names in there:
Menahem; Issachar and Asher, the names
of two of the tribes of Israel;
Shiphrah, one of the Hebrew
midwives in the Exodus story,
a name that appears in this document.
These are Hebrew, Israelite slaves
and they're in a papyrus
from the 13th Dynasty.
Not from the 19th
Dynasty, not from the time
of Ramesses II in the New Kingdom,
but from the 13th Dynasty,
the Middle Kingdom.
What does this mean to you?
What does it say?
This is real evidence for the time
when the Israelites
were in Egypt as slaves.
It's when you get a text,
suddenly you've got history.
Archaeology, you have to interpret.
When you have a text, this
is something very different.
This slave
list is predominantly female,
which matches the grave
evidence from Avaris.
The fact that
they continued to multiply
despite the oppression,
despite the slavery,
despite the boys being killed,
it just shows that there was
a divine plan here at work
and that this whole event was miraculous.
The thing that I'm puzzled by is
why so many Egyptologists
ignore the Brooklyn Papyrus.
Although everybody recognizes
that this list is a
list of Semitic slaves,
and everybody recognizes that
the names appearing in here
are also Israelite names,
these can't be the Israelites,
because it's the wrong time period.
The Israelites are much later in history.
So these people we're seeing here
in this Brooklyn Papyrus
cannot be the Israelites.
So that's why they disregard it?
So they put it to one side
and say it's another coincidence.
So there
appears to be strong evidence
matching the Multiplication
and Slavery steps
of the biblical sequence.
Indication of a rapid expansion
of the Semitic population at Avaris,
the only time in Egyptian
history that there is evidence
of Semites dominating the Delta like this.
These Semites begin free,
powerful and prosperous,
but then succumb to
impoverishment and malnutrition.
There is a sharp rise in the
number of infant burials.
Near the end of this period
comes a list of slaves,
many with Hebrew names.
And all this occurring 400 years earlier
than would be expected
with the Ramesses Exodus.
But what if all these finds
in the Middle Kingdom
are not a coincidence
and the Exodus actually did happen
much earlier than the reign of Ramesses?
To see if that's the case,
I would need to look more closely
at the details of the
biblical story concerning
the next step of the sequence;
the judgment of Egypt
and the Israelites
deliverance from bondage.
The Bible records that Moses
fled to the land of Midian.
After 40 years of living as a shepherd,
Moses first encountered God.
Moses sees a
bush from the distance,
and it's on fire, but
it's not being consumed.
So, curious, he approaches
to see what's going on
and God says, Don't come any closer.
Remove your shoes, for
this place is a holy place.
God said, I have surely
seen the oppression
of my people who are in Egypt,
and I have also heard their cry.
like a shepherd rescuing his
sheep, God commands Moses
to go back to Egypt and tell Pharaoh,
Let My people go, so
that they may serve Me.
Moses comes to Pharaoh.
Pharaoh does not listen,
refuses to let the people go,
and God sends the first of a series
of spectacular plagues
against the land of Egypt.
James] In Exodus chapter 5,
the God of Israel says,
Let my people go.
Pharaoh says, Who is the Lord!
Who is Jehovah, who is Yahweh
that I should listen to him!
And so we have setting
up there this contest.
Who really is the god to be obeyed?
Who is the one in control of things?
And, in the Egyptian view of things,
Pharaoh was the god of the Egyptian state.
He was responsible for cosmic order.
He was responsible for the
proper flow of the Nile,
the rising of the sun,
the fertility of the fields and so on.
And now we have the God of
Israel, the God of Creation,
of the Bible, who's saying,
Now, wait a minute.
That's not what you do.
Im the one who controls
all these things.
So He begins with the Nile
and ends in the ninth plague with the sun.
And these two things that
Pharaoh is said to control
are completely outside of his control.
God protected
the children of Israel
from these plagues, while
the rest of the land
was being devastated by them.
To where Pharaoh's servants
themselves pleaded with him,
saying that this was the finger of God
and that Egypt was being ruined.
But Pharaoh would not relent.
He knew that Egypt depended
on the work of these foreign slaves.
In Israel,
Mahoney also had the privilege
to speak with the Prime Minister.
Although seen by most
as a political figure,
Benjamin Netanyahu was also an author
and historian, like his father.
Tell me about the
effect the Exodus has had
upon civilizations in
the last 3,000 years.
Moses was the greatest
revolutionary of all time.
Remember that in antiquity
there were grand empires
that were based on one
principle and that is slavery,
and Moses challenged that twice.
He challenged it by taking
his people who were slaves
in bondage in Egypt and freed them
and took them to their Promised Land.
But he also challenged
it by providing a code,
a moral code for mankind that said
that it is not the king or the emperor
that decides the law, there's a higher law
and these were absolutely
revolutionary ideas.
The text
then says that God sent
the tenth and final plague
to force Pharaoh's hand:
the death of the firstborn
of man and beast.
The Lord told the Israelites
that each household
was to slaughter a lamb
and mark the doorposts
with the blood of the lamb.
And on that horrible night,
death passed over all the
homes marked with blood.
But in every home that wasn't marked,
all the firstborn males died.
There was crying and wailing
in every Egyptian home
because each family had lost someone.
The tenth plague,
the death of the firstborn,
affected everybody.
Even Pharaoh's firstborn died that night,
and the will of the people, the Egyptians,
was completely shattered.
The tenth plague broke
Pharaoh's defiance of God,
and he finally let
Moses and the people go.
But then, Pharaoh changes his mind,
pursues the Israelites with his army,
and, at the sea, God parts the waters
so that the Israelites can escape,
while it destroys the
entire Egyptian army.
Every year, Jewish families
from around the world
celebrate the deliverance
of Israel from Egypt
during the Passover feast.
Records confirm that
the Passover
has been observed for
thousands of years.
Many believe it is
difficult to explain
the origin of Passover if there were
no real event on which it was based.
While in Jerusalem, Mahoney went to speak
with Rabbi David Hartman,
the founder of the
Shalom Hartman Institute.
Each year, we celebrate
the Exodus as if we were there.
We were slaves to Pharaoh in Egypt
and we dramatically
celebrate the Passover Seder
as if we are participants.
So there's always a renewal,
always a renewed giving,
a new spirit into the
Passover Exodus story.
Because in remembering the Exodus,
we remember that in the
dark conditions of history,
God, the Lord, had in
some way made possible,
through Moses, our liberation.
But what about those
who think the Exodus never happened?
Noted Israeli archaeologist,
Israel Finkelstein,
specializes in the ancient
history of the land of Israel.
In his infiuential book,
The Bible Unearthed,
he has argued that the
Exodus did not happen
in the manner described in the Bible.
He proposes that it was based
on vague memories of events,
written down for political
motives centuries later.
Do you believe in
celebrating the Passover?
What do you say to people
who are concerned with the idea
that these stories didn't
happen as they were written?
Rabbi Wolpe has said
that Professor Finkelstein's work
has greatly influenced his thinking.
The idea of the Exodus
and the Revelation,
however you configure it,
it is central to the Jewish tradition.
But I think that doesn't
mean that you have to believe
that the Torah gives a
historical account of it.
I don't think the Torah
is a book of facts.
It's a book of meaning.
However, John Bimson
shared a very different view.
John] History and theology
are tightly intertwined in the Bible.
If you took away the historical basis,
then you've really deprived it
of a lot of its theological truth.
So much of what the Dld Testament says
about the character of
God and His purposes
in calling Israel are intertwined
with this story of these
people coming out of Egypt
and entering the Promised Land.
So history and theology
are tightly intertwined in the Bible.
After more than
a decade of searching,
this is what it comes down to.
Is the Bible's account true history,
or is it simply the
traditions of a devout people?
If the judgment happened
as described in the Bible,
Egyptian society would have collapsed.
Loss of their agriculture,
loss of their firstborn sons,
loss of their slaveforce,
and the loss of their army.
In fact, Moses recorded that
Egypt was still suffering
from defeat 40 years after the Exodus.
are quick to point out
that there is no such record from Egypt
of supernatural judgment and devastation.
But others believe there
is an Egyptian document
that actually gives an eyewitness account
of the plagues and chaos
surrounding the Exodus.
Mahoney went to Holland to meet
the curator of the Leiden Museum,
where this significant papyrus is housed.
But Egyptologist Maarten
Raven sees no evidence
for the Exodus in this
document or anywhere else.
The story of the Exodus is
described in the Old Testament.
It's part of the national history
of the Jewish people, or so they say.
We have no independent evidence
that this is a real historical event.
We can believe it because
we believe in the Bible?
There are no Egyptian
sources that describe it.
There are no other documents.
There are no archaeological sources
that could prove this took
place as a mass exodus.
Raven's position, again,
is that of most Egyptologists today.
But there are some scholars who suggest
that descriptions found
in this Egyptian document
bear a remarkable resemblance
to the plagues of the Bible,
only from an Egyptian point of view.
Written by a scribe named
Ipuwer, the papyrus known as
The Admonitions of an Egyptian Sage
poetically describes
a series of calamities
and the chaos that followed.
Ipuwer, we
don't know who he was,
but he was obviously
somebody in a position
to address his majesty, the king.
There's only one copy
of this specific text
and that is here in the Leiden Museum.
It's a very, very vivid report,
or would be report, of
what happens to Egypt
when the central power falls away.
Many believe a
collapse of Egypt's power
is exactly what would have happened
due to the plagues of Exodus.
And as I compared the book of Exodus
to the writings of Ipuwer,
I too was intrigued by the similarities.
To convince Pharaoh, God says,
Take some water from the Nile
and pour it on the ground,
and as it hits the ground
it will turn into blood.
Behold, Egypt is fallen
to the pouring of water.
And he who poured water on the ground
seizes the mighty in misery.
And all the water
in the Nile turned into blood.
And the fish of the Nile
died, and the Nile reeked,
so that the Egyptians could
not drink water from the Nile.
The River is blood.
If you drink of it,
you lose your humanity,
and thirst for water.
All the livestock
of the Egyptians died.
Fire ran down from heaven
and the Lord sent hail upon the land.
Even the flax and the barley were smitten.
Gone is
the barley of abundance,
food supplies are running short.
The nobles hunger and suffer.
Those who had shelter are
in the dark of the storm.
I see no connection
between the papyrus of Ipuwer
and the story of the Plagues of Egypt.
It is, in a way, in a very indirect way,
an eyewitness report
of a historical period.
It pretends to be such a
report, but in fact it isn't.
At midnight, the Lord struck down
all the firstborn in the land of Egypt,
from the firstborn of Pharaoh,
sitting on his throne,
to the firstborn of the
captive in the dungeon.
plague sweeps the land,
blood is everywhere, with
no shortage of the dead.
He who buries his brother
in the ground is everywhere.
Woe is me for the grief of this time.
And there was a great wailing
throughout the land of Egypt,
for there was not a
house without its dead.
is throughout the land,
mingled with lamentations.
All the time we have
to convince ourselves
that this person can't have seen all this.
He imagined it, or he had
received this information
from other similar
propagandistic literature.
Because it's so fantastic?
Yes. It's very fantastic.
But he hasn't seen it,
he just imagined it.
Don't confuse this with
the message of the Bible,
the Ten Plagues. That's
quite a different story.
Whether this happened
or not is irrelevant.
It's a beautiful literary document,
and again, yes, God was angry
and punished the Egyptians,
but this is just a literary cliche.
influential Egyptologist,
the late Miriam Lichtheim,
ruled out the possibility
that the papyrus,
The Admonitions of Ipuwer,
referred to a real national calamity.
Agreeing with other scholars,
she stated the following:
The description
of chaos in the Admonitions
is inherently contradictory,
hence, historically impossible.
On the one hand, the land is
said to suffer from total want;
on the other hand the poor are
described as becoming rich,
of wearing fine clothes,
and generally of disposing
of all that once belonged to the masters.
However, when you
read the biblical account,
it becomes clear how this apparent
contradiction could have happened.
Moses told the
Israelites to ask the Egyptians
for silver and gold
jewelry, and for clothing.
are stripped of clothes.
The slave takes what he finds.
Gold, lapis lazuli, silver and turquoise
are strung on the necks of female slaves.
The Lord gave the people favor
in the sight of the Egyptians,
so they gave them whatever they asked.
Thus, they plundered the land of Egypt.
The very point that
Miriam Lichtheim viewed
as contradictory and therefore
historically impossible,
is the very point that most specifically
matches the biblical text,
but Maarten remains unconvinced.
He revealed to me the main reason why.
It's out of the question that
this can refer to one and the same event.
Conventional chronology has it
that the Exodus took place somewhere
during the Ramesside Period in Egypt,
maybe around 1200 BC.
Whereas our papyrus, when
you look at the grammar
and the literary figures,
et cetera, there's no question
that it was composed in the Middle Kingdom
and it is 600, 700, 800 years earlier.
But I realized
that all the other evidence
I had looked at was also converging
in the Middle Kingdom,
not the time of Ramesses.
And was it just another coincidence
that this document was originally composed
in the only period when Egypt's delta
was dominated by large numbers of Semites?
It became obvious to me and my team
that if people look at
the wrong time in history
for evidence of the Exodus,
they won't find any.
So Ramesses is a giant,
standing in the way
of connecting this
evidence with the Exodus.
And for over 50 years, all the books,
all the television programs,
and all the university
professors who've been
convincing the world to dismiss the Bible
have been doing so based
mainly on this one issue,
chronology, the dates
assumed for the Exodus,
and the lack of evidence
at the time of Ramesses II.
But if it happened long before his time,
then it means they're all wrong.
Wrong about the pharaoh,
and perhaps wrong about
the Exodus never happening.
Rohl took
Mahoney to see the replica
of a monument erected just a few years
after Ramesses death,
by his son Merenptah.
It's important because
it shows that Ramesses
could not be the pharaoh of the Exodus
because in his time, Israel
was already a nation,
established in the land of Canaan.
So this is the
famous Merenptah Stela,
or what we call the Israel Stela.
And it actually belongs
to the King Merenptah.
Up there at the top you can
see him, facing the god Amun.
And he lists, in a poetic form,
all the different conquered nations,
the nations that are at peace.
But right at the bottom, we
have three crucial lines,
because this is where we
find a link to the Bible.
Let's read it together, okay?
We have the two reeds, that's
the sound yee or ee, okay?
Then a bolt, which is
s, an r, a mouth,
an e, an ah, and an l, Israel.
This is the only time
that we see this name
on an Egyptian monument.
After the name Israe |
are these two figures here,
these two seated figures
of a woman and a man
and three strokes underneath.
These three strokes mean plural.
So it means the people
or nation of Israel.
And then this is the interesting bit.
It says, Fekty bin peret f.
Israel is laid waste,
his seed is no more.
Well, does it mean that
they were literally no more?
No, it's a sort of
poetical way of saying
they'd been overcome, defeated.
Or pacified?
Yeah. All these phrases
here above are like that.
It's a poetical phrase, effectively.
How significant is this then,
to the story of the Exodus?
Well, for me it's very important,
because if we're talking
about Ramesses II or Merenptah
being at the time of the
Exodus of Moses and Joshua,
this just does not fit the pattern.
It's not tribes wandering
around the Sinai,
lost in the desert or, you know,
during the wandering
periods of Moses and Joshua.
They seem to be a political entity.
This monument
doesn't fit the idea
of Ramesses being the
pharaoh of the Exodus
because it was written
shortly after his death
and it recognizes Israel
already existing in Canaan
as one of the significant
powers of the day.
And that shouldn't be
because the Bible says
that the Israelites did not
even begin to conquer Canaan
until 40 years after the Exodus.
So Ramesses could not have been
the pharaoh who let the Israelites go.
Then Mahoney got a lead
about another inscription.
Charles Aling brought
him to see his colleague,
historian Clyde Billington,
who has extensively researched
this newlydiscovered find.
Besides the Merneptah Stela,
there's another reference to Israel.
It's called the Berlin Pedestal.
It's in the State Museum
in Berlin, Germany,
and this is something that's just now
being studied and discussed by scholars.
On the base
of this Egyptian statue,
they showed Mahoney name rings,
each representing an
enemy defeated by Pharaoh
in the region ofCanaan.
So would these
have been captured people?
Realize that pharaohs
all the time exaggerate,
to say the very least.
So is he bragging?
He's bragging.
He's bragging.
He's saying, Ive conquered these people.
I control these people.
This is the one that's
caused all of the excitement
because you have, again, a bound enemy,
so telling you that these people
are enemies of the Egyptians,
and the name down here,
that while it's partially broken away,
has been reconstructed,
and it's the name Israel.
And this dates to around 1360.
This makes the late date of
the Exodus an impossibility.
This is 100 years earlier.
This is a very crucial
evidence that we see here.
This name ring demonstrates
that Israel had already left Egypt
and was in Canaan as Egypt's enemy
a century before the Ramesses Exodus date,
so obviously Ramesses could not have been
the pharaoh of the Exodus.
As another test to see whether Ramesses
really was the Pharaoh of the Exodus,
Mahoney would need to find
out if there were any signs
of major problems during
this famous king's reign,
such as a sudden collapse of power,
that would match the
biblical judgment of Egypt.
I don't see any evidence that during
the reign of Ramesses II there was
a significant decline in
the strength of the army,
in the economic
wellbeing of the country.
I don't see anything in the
succeeding reign of Merenptah either.
So you're saying
there was some type
of stability that was formed?
There was a great deal of
stability during this period,
had to have been for a lot of
these things to have occurred.
But there's more.
It came to my attention
that the Bible itself
contains a passage that's
been largely ignored.
It gives a date for the
Exodus hundreds of years
before Pharaoh Ramesses ruled.
Yet it clearly says it was 480 years
from the building of Solomon's temple
backto the time of the Exodus.
Most scholars
agree that King Solomon
began his reign in 970 BC,
so 480 years before this
would place the Exodus around 1450 BC,
200 years before the Ramesses date.
Yet the popular view continues to be
that the Exodus occurred
in the time of Ramesses.
It's a date that is based on
very flimsy indicators, but this is where
the majority of scholars look,
almost out of habit really.
Earlier periods have just
dropped off their radar.
And would you say
that's the bottom line
of why they don't find any
evidence for the Bible?
I would, and I find it
deeply ironic.
If I'm going where
the evidence is strongest,
then I've got to look beyond
the Ramesses Exodus Theory.
And that's really encouraging,
because it means that
the events of the Exodus
can be shifted 200 years earlier.
But my challenge isn't over,
because this new biblical
date, around 1450 BC,
still leaves the events separated
from the Egyptian pattern by 200 years.
I was determined to
find an answer for this,
and to do so, I would continue
to explore the pattern
that seemed to exist
in the earlier period.
Is there any
indication in the Middle Kingdom
of the next step of the Bible's sequence:
a massive and sudden exodus
following the death of the firstborn?
Rohl told Mahoney about something amazing
that was found at Avaris.
We find an extraordinary thing happens.
The archaeologists who've
been digging this area
suddenly find lots of pits in the ground.
And in these pits are bodies,
and they've been tossed into these pits.
They're not buried formally.
They have no grave goods
or anything like that.
These bodies are tossed
on top of each other.
They're lying strewn.
You have hands and legs crossing over.
What is happening here? What is going on?
Bietak thinks its actually
some sort of plague that's happened.
A dramatic event where suddenly
they have to bury people very quickly
because of contamination
of the living population.
So it's an emergency burial.
And then, all of a sudden,
all these Semitic peoples
who were living there
suddenly get up, they pack their bags
and they leave and the
whole mound is abandoned.
And we don't know for how long,
and it just falls to ruin.
Now, isn't that just
like the story of Exodus?
120 miles
to the south of Avaris,
another similar abandonment
was uncovered at the town of Kahun.
Excavators found a walled
and guarded settlement,
which supported a large
Semitic population.
They also found documentation of slavery.
Mysteriously, the inhabitants here
seemed to have disappeared overnight.
According to Professor Rosalie David,
the town's abandonment was
sudden and unpremeditated.
Their goods were found in the streets
and houses of Kahun exactly
where they were left,
before being buried by the
sands of the desert so long ago.
One of the great
moments in Egyptian history
is the collapse of Egyptian civilization.
When these foreigners
invade, these Hyksos rulers,
come in and destroy the land
and the Egyptian native rule
is completely suppressed,
Egypt is on its knees.
That's what we see in the
archaeological evidence
of this period and it only happens once
in 1,000 years of Egyptian history.
If we can link this to
a very famous tradition
told to us by an Egyptian
priest called Manetho,
he wrote a history of Egypt
in the 3rd century BC,
and what we end up with
is a story like this:
in the reign of a king called Dudimose,
one of the last kings of the 13th Dynasty,
in his reign, God smote the Egyptians.
And God here is singular;
you would expect to see
and the gods smote the
Egyptians, but you don't.
You see God smote the Egyptians.
And then, because of the
smiting, whatever the smiting is,
foreigners, people of obscure race,
invade Egypt from the north
and they conquer the land,
without striking a blow is the term.
Now why? Because God smote the Egyptians.
Something had happened to devastate Egypt,
which made them unable
to defend themselves
and these marauding hordes
took over the whole country.
And we call this the Hyksos period
and they enslaved the Egyptians.
But the point is they could
have defended themselves,
they had a mighty army,
except for the fact that God
had smitten the Egyptians.
The earlier
pattern of evidence
for the Judgment and
Exodus steps includes:
a Middle Kingdom papyrus
that describes events
remarkably similar to
the biblical plagues;
grave pits filled with
bodies, hastily buried;
mass abandonment at
Semitic sites in Egypt;
an Egyptian source, outside the Bible,
stating that a powerful god
acted in Egypt's history,
delivering a deadly blow,
which led to an invasion by foreigners;
and all this coinciding
with the only collapse
of Egyptian society in 1,000 years.
You look for a
collapse in Egyptian civilization
and that's where you'll
find Moses and the Exodus.
But what about the
final step of that sequence,
the conquest of Canaan,
the land that had been promised
to Abraham and his descendants?
Would the earlier pattern of evidence
continue there as well?
The children
of Israel leave Egypt.
They travel to Mount Sinai
where they received God's law
and made a covenant to be His people.
Then, after 40 years of
wandering in the wilderness,
Moses transferred his authority to Joshua
and ascended the heights of Mount Nebo,
and there he died.
The Israelites had been waiting centuries
for the promise to be fulfilled,
and now it was Joshua who would lead them
in their conquest of Canaan.
The land of Canaan
was very different from Egypt.
It was a land ruled by many
independent citystates
with names like Hazor,
Jericho, Hebron, and Arad.
The history of these
cities has been divided
into two major time periods:
the Middle Bronze Age,
matching Egypt's Middle Kingdom,
when they were thriving and
fortified by high walls.
Then a sudden destruction and
burning came upon the land,
leaving those cities in
ruins and bringing in
a new period known as the Late Bronze Age,
matching the time of Egypt's New Kingdom.
Archaeologist Norma Franklin
represents a large group of
scholars that sees no evidence
for a biblical conquest
of the Promised Land.
As an archaeologist, I
hate to disappoint people,
but we have no evidence
for a single mass migration
of people from one country,
over a period of 40 years,
wandering and coming into another country.
There is destruction,
amazing destructions.
None of them actually fit one another.
They all happened within 100
years, but not overnight.
Not what you'd expect in
You know, Joshua didn't live that long,
if he existed, okay?
This is a serious
problem for the Conquest
if it really happened
in the Late Bronze Age.
But, again, what if it happened
in the earlier Middle Bronze Age?
It seemed only logical to begin
by looking at the key site of Jericho,
the first city the Israelites
are said to have destroyed.
And we know exactly where that was.
Major archaeological
excavations at Jericho
began with a German
team in the early 1900s,
led by Ernst Sellin.
This was followed by a British team,
headed by John Carstang, in the 1930s.
At the time of their digs,
both Sellin and Carstang
believed they had uncovered
a layer of destruction
that matched the biblical story.
However, things took a dramatic turn
when Kathleen Kenyon dug
at Jericho in the 1950s.
She demonstrated that
there was no evidence
for a destruction of Jericho
matching the biblical account
because she dated the demise
of the city much earlier.
A wave of skepticism began to sweep
across the field of archaeology.
In an instant, Kenyon's
discoveries at Jericho
had undermined the entire Exodus story.
She was expecting
that if there was
any evidence there at all it would be
in what we call the Late Bronze Age
and it simply isn't there.
If the Israelites had
arrived in the 13th century,
they would have found almost nobody there,
no walls to collapse.
It just wouldn't have fitted
the biblical narrative.
So her excavations helped to compound
this very negative view
that was developing,
not just from Jericho, but
from other sites as well.
Is there a time
when Jericho was destroyed
where the walls fell
down or it was burned?
But David Rohl
sees things differently.
If people are telling us
that there was no Jericho
at the time that Joshua
conquered the Promise Land
and therefore Joshua is a piece of fiction
and therefore the Conquest
is a piece of fiction
and then probably Exodus is
a piece of fiction as well,
if that's the case, why don't
we ask the simple question,
Well, when was Jericho around?
When was Jericho destroyed?
and start from that point of view.
The Conquest began
with the Israelites
crossing the Jordan River.
Joshua sent men to spy out
the massively walled city of Jericho,
and there they met a harlot named Rahab,
who reported that all
in the land had heard
what God had done for the Israelites
and they were terrified.
Rahab hid the spies and aided
their escape to the mountains.
What evidence do you see
matching the conquest at Jericho?
First of all, we're told
that Jericho was fortified.
When the archaeologists dug the city,
particularly Kathleen Kenyon,
when she did her work in the '50s,
discovered that the tell
that the city's built on
was surrounded by a great earthen rampart.
found that Jericho
was protected by a
brilliant defensive system.
At its base was a stone retaining wall
more than 15 feet high, with
a defensive extension wall
of mud bricks rising higher still.
Beyond this was the rampart, a steep slope
covered with a slick
surface of white plaster,
where attackers would have been exposed
to arrows and sling stones from above.
At the top of this rampart
was the main city wall,
also made of mudbrick,
this one more than 25 feet
high and 10 feet thick.
Imagine the dread
and the desperate panic
of the people of Jericho.
Day after day, for six
days, the people of Israel
are walking around their city
with the Ark of the Covenant
and the sounding of ram's horns.
Then, on the seventh day,
they encircle the city seven times,
and the priests give a
long blast on their horns.
The people let loose with a mighty shout.
The walls come tumbling down,
allowing the Israelites
to climb up into the city,
taking it and commencing
the conquering of the land of Israel.
Well, when
the city met its end,
these mud brick walls collapsed
and they actually fell down
to the base of the stone retaining wall.
Kenyon describes it very clearly
and in detail in her excavation report.
And then we're told they
set the city on fire,
and that's exactly what we find:
Jericho was massively destroyed by fire.
Kenyon said it was very
clear that within the city,
the walls of the buildings
had fallen as well
and she says that the walls
fell before the fire.
And so we have the sequence
that we read in the Bible:
first the fallen walls,
and then the city being set
on fire by the Israelites.
at the site uncovered
clear evidence for a
massive destruction by fire
with a very thick burn layer
of extremely high temperatures.
This caused Kenyon to
attribute the burning
to an enemy attack and not fires
that would result solely
from an earthquake.
She claimed that the city was destroyed
around 1550 BC by the Egyptians.
Well, there's absolutely no
evidence that the Egyptians
were ever in the Jordan
Valley at this time period.
So because Kenyon dated
the destruction of Jericho
150 years before the Israelites
were supposed to be there,
she made no connection between
the destruction and the biblical account.
But, once again, this date fits
the earlier pattern I'd been seeing.
Within the city, a very
unique discovery was made.
Both Carstang and Kenyon found
in the houses that they excavated
many jars, full of grain,
that were stored there.
The store jars in
the city were pretty full.
That suggests the harvest
had only recently been gathered in.
And the details in the biblical account
point to an event that happened
sometime in the spring.
And, down there in the Jordan valley,
spring is when the
harvest was gathered in,
the grain harvest.
When the Israelites crossed the Jordan,
the first thing they did
was celebrate Passover.
Well, when is Passover?
Again, the spring of the year.
The full jars also indicate
that if this was a
siege, it was very short,
unusual for a strong fortified
city such as Jericho.
And that matches the biblical account
because the siege was only seven days,
otherwise the people
inside would have consumed
a lot of that grain if it
dragged out for months.
Was the grain found all over the city?
Yes. In every house that was excavated
they found jars of grain.
There was
one other intriguing detail
at Jericho that fits the
Bible remarkably well.
It had to do with the
promise made to Rahab.
She actually lived in the city wall,
and after hiding the
spies, they promised her
that she and her family would be protected
when they attacked the city,
and they kept their promise.
She had marked her home
with a scarlet cord,
which she hung out the window.
But if her house
was built into the city wall,
how could it have survived?
I came across the
actual archaeological report
that the German excavator of Jericho,
Ernst Sellin, had published in 1913.
He was the first to conduct a
major excavation of the site,
and I could see that
his work was impressive,
but now seemed to have been forgotten.
Here were detailed plans and photographs,
including one part of the site,
which echoed the Rahab
story in an unexpected way.
The Germans found that
in this one short stretch
on the north side of the city,
there were houses built on the rampart,
between the lower city wall
and the upper city wall,
and some of those houses were built
right up against the lower city wall.
They found that the city wall
did not fall in this area.
So that provides an
explanation for how the spies
could have saved Rahab and her family
because God brought the wall down
everywhere else except
where her house was,
and we have archaeological
evidence to back that up.
What if people say,
Well, you're biased.?
I think everybody in
the field is biased,
one way or another.
I admit my bias.
However, I cannot make up the evidence.
I cannot plant it in the ground.
I have analyzed it and
compared it to the Bible
and I see, wow, it matches exactly.
That's science: look at your evidence
and come to a conclusion
based on the evidence.
have uncovered:
a city with high fortification
walls that fell down;
evidence that the city was intentionally
burned after the collapse;
storage jars filled with charred grain,
evidence of a short siege in springtime;
and a section of houses within the wall,
miraculously preserved, just
as in the biblical account.
According to the biblical account,
Joshua spoke a curse against anyone
who would rebuild the city of Jericho,
and the archaeology shows
that, after the destruction,
the city of Jericho was indeed
abandoned for centuries.
But, of course, this is all happens
in the wrong time in the
view of most scholars.
Bryant Wood believes that Kenyon
misdated the pottery at Jericho,
resulting in a wrong destruction date.
He, along with Charles
Aling, believed that
the Conquest occurred around 1400 BC,
using the conventional
dates for Egypt and Canaan.
However, David Rohl and John
Bimson have a different idea.
They propose that Kenyon came
to a wrong destruction date
at Jericho because the dates assigned
to the Middle Bronze Age are not correct
and these dates for history
need a major adjustment.
Regardless, all these
scholars agree that Jericho
was destroyed in a manner that matches
the story of Joshua and the Israelites.
But there's more to the
conquest than just Jericho.
Spies had reported that
Canaan was a beautiful land,
flowing with milk and honey.
But it was also filled with
great, fortified cities
that had walls reaching up to heaven.
One by one, they would fall to Joshua.
Then Joshua turned north
and headed for the city of Hazor.
Jabin, king of Hazor,
gathered all the kings of
the region against Israel.
Joshua captured Hazor and
struck its king with the sword
and Joshua destroyed Hazor by fire.
archaeologists at Hazor
found a massive burn layer
from the same time as
Jericho's destruction.
They also found something else.
We found tablets in the
Middle Bronze Age palace
belonging to a king called Jabin,
and that's the name of
the king that Joshua
actually stuck his
sword into in the story.
This is the cuneiform tablet
containing the name of Jabin,
found in remains of the
palace in ancient Hazor.
So you have a connection
between the Bible story and these tablets?
We have a name that's identical.
We have a tablet coming out of the ground
with the name Jabin on it,
and in the story of Joshua,
Joshua killed King Jabin of Hazor.
But, when
looking for the Conquest
in the expected time period,
archaeologists have found no evidence.
In fact, many of these
sites were not even occupied
throughout the entire Late Bronze Age;
no high walls; no massive destructions;
only a series of
burnedout and empty ruins.
This has been a key factor
in the current skepticism
over the biblical account of the Conquest.
Again, maybe they've
been looking in the wrong time
for evidence of the
Israelites entering Canaan,
because when you look earlier
in the Middle Bronze Age,
all these cities were occupied,
and they were guarded by high walls,
and, amazingly, they all
suffered major destructions
in the same short period, just
as described in the Bible.
When you put those cities side by side,
the biblical account and the archaeology
match extremely well.
I think we have enough
destroyed and abandoned cities
to say this fits the sequence of events
the Bible is describing.
There's a high probability
that we're looking here
at Joshua's Conquest.
The whole
thing, from the beginning
of the sojourn in Egypt, to slavery,
Moses and the Exodus, the
Conquest of the Promised Land
is all there in one nice neat
line, but it's way too early.
Rohl, Bimson
and others suggest that
this problem didn't start with the Bible,
it began with Egypt.
They propose that early scholars
developed its dating incorrectly,
and that new information requires
that the events of Egypt's
history be shifted forward
on the timeline by centuries.
And all of
a sudden, these things
that are too early become contemporary
with the events in the Old Testament.
They sync up again.
Everything links together.
I was so excited to
hear of this possibility.
It would explain why all the evidence
has been consistently earlier.
But could the history
scholars created for Egypt
really be off by centuries?
I'm very much against
chronological revisionism.
Very good, very competent historians
have been working for decades and decades
on Egyptian chronology and
Near Eastern chronology.
There's still more work to be done,
but I don't see a possibility
of moving things centuries.
I'm not into this business at all,
and I think that we
know enough to say that
we maybe wrong 10 years
here and 10 years there,
but there's no way to
change, to shift centuries.
I mean, forget it. I think
that we are on solid ground,
so there's no need to look
for different centuries.
What was I supposed to do now?
Hoffmeier and Finkelstien
represent mainstream opinion,
and I can't simply ignore it.
The fact is, the majority of scholars,
even believers in the Bible,
won't allow the evidence
I've seen to be connected to the Exodus.
It's just too early.
This is the biggest giant of all,
standing in the way of
solving this problem.
But the biblical pattern was so strong
that I just couldn't let it go.
researchers uncovered a lead
that led him to Oxford University.
Dn St John's Street is
the Griffith Institute,
one of the greatest storehouses
of Egyptological documents in the world.
He was here to review the writings
of the late Sir Alan Gardiner,
perhaps the greatest specialist
in reading hieroglyphs
in the 20th century
and he had a great hand
in uncovering what we know today.
I was moved as I looked
through his personal notes.
In some ways, I was following a path
that he had helped to clear.
After a lifetime of searching,
Gardiner wrote something
that directly impacted the
question I was dealing with.
It must never
be forgotten that we are
dealing with a civilization
thousands of years old
and one of which only tiny
remnants have survived.
What is proudly advertised
as Egyptian history
is merely a collection
of rags and tatters.
If all we have
are rags and tatters,
how sure can we be about the dates?
Alan Gardiner said that what
we have is rags and tatters.
Is that still true today or
do you think that's changed?
No, I think that basically is true.
What's interesting about
the source material
from ancient Egypt, though,
is that those rags and tatters
are more numerous and
of a more varied kind
than almost any other civilization
on the face of the Earth.
You name it, every kind of material
imaginable has come down to us;
not complete, but
tantalizing rags and tatters.
And it's a wonderful thing
to have all of this material,
but it's also extremely
frustrating because it means
there's that much more room
for argument and doubt.
Kent Weeks made no indication
that he'd be in favor of anything as major
as shifting Egypt's history by centuries.
But the reality is, a shift
wouldn't just affect Egypt,
because the archaeological
dates for Canaan
and the surrounding region
are all dependent on Egypt's history.
When all is said and done,
it's the Egyptian
chronology that underpins
everything else that's being done
throughout the rest of the known world.
It's a big responsibility
and it's one of the reasons
that people look at it so closely
because in terms of
reconstructing ancient history,
a lot hinges on the answers.
So if Egypt's historical dates
are not that certain and need adjusting,
then Canaan's history would also require
the same kind of shift,
because theyre connected.
But a lot of people don't want to do that.
No, no, no,
because Egyptian chronology
has been assumed to be fixed now
for a very long period of time.
So the whole idea of taking
it apart and starting again
is an anathema to most Egyptologists.
Uhhuh, because it would undo
a lot of their books, wouldn't it?
Well it certainly would, yes.
there's mounting evidence
that the current reconstruction
of Egyptian history
has major problems that have
nothing to do with the Bible.
There's a whole host of
reasons for being skeptical
about the current Egyptian chronology,
and some of them to do with Egypt itself,
but a lot of them from outside Egypt,
which a number of people
are beginning to look at.
Other good scholars maintain
that you don't need to
change Egypt's timeline
in order to see evidence for the Exodus.
James Hoffmeier believes
textual clues in the Bible
point to the Exodus happening
at the 1250 BC Ramesses date.
Bryant Wood and Charles Aling believe
the Exodus occurred around 1450 BC,
using the conventional
dates for Egypt and Canaan.
They believe a case can
be made for Israelites
living in Egypt prior to that time,
and later Israel appearing
as a nation in Canaan.
So an Exodus of some kind
must have taken place.
But the only
place that I saw a pattern
matching all the steps
was in the Middle Kingdom,
not the New Kingdom.
And if that's not a coincidence,
it would require some
kind of major change.
Either the Exodus
happened long before 1450,
or the dates for Egypt's timeline are off.
The debate over the dates
of ancient history is intensifying.
While the conclusions of those who support
major adjustments differ in their details,
they're all of the same mind that
these things are worth investigating,
and that chronology is not yet
fixed and is not yet final.
Researchers like Rohl and Bimson
believe the main problem lies in these
lesserknown dark periods of Egypt's past.
They think scholars have
miscalculated their lengths,
causing distortions in the dates
for everything before them.
The biggest suspect is this
very long third dark period,
which new information suggests
has been overinflated by centuries.
If it were reduced, the history of Egypt
would need to move forward in time.
For many years, I was intimidated
by the giant of Egypt's dating.
But what made me take
a second look was when
I learned that it's been
necessary to insert gaps
into the histories of all
the surrounding civilizations
in order to match the dating
of Egypt's third dark period.
Yet the archaeology of these cultures
does not seem to support such gaps.
Something was wrong.
What might history look like
if the dark periods were adjusted the way
that some scholars believe
the evidence demands?
What's not changing
is the Bible timeline,
because that's not affected by it.
If you're changing the Egyptian timeline,
you're moving it against
the Bible timeline.
So, all of a sudden, things that were not
in the right time period between the two
are suddenly lining up in a different way.
And that's the exciting bit,
because that's when we suddenly start
to find evidence for the biblical story.
It's startling to think
how significant this could be.
Because chronology, the dates
assigned to these events,
is the thing being used
to convince the world
that the Bible is just a fairy tale,
but look at the pattern:
evidence matching Joseph
and the early Israelites
arrival in Egypt;
their tremendous multiplication;
their descent into slavery;
the judgment and collapse of Egypt;
the deliverance and exodus
of the Semitic population;
and finally, in Canaan, evidence matching
the conquest of the Promised Land.
I know there's a lot of
disagreement over the dating,
but what strikes me is that if you
put all the dates to
the side for a moment,
what emerges from the
archaeology is this pattern
that matches the Bible
every step of the way,
and doesn't that deserve
to be taken seriously?
But for now, those who hold
to established conventions
will not allow these
connections to be made.
I'm not an Egyptologist, I'm a filmmaker.
And I'm not endorsing any
one dating theory out there.
I'm just searching for the truth.
Because isn't that what
the pursuit of both science
and faith should be, a search for truth?
At the end, the audience,
the people themselves, they will judge.
They will know if you
are a scientific man,
a logical theory, or you are exaggerating
or you have some story from your own mind.
Are these findings
just an exaggeration?
Or is looking for the
Exodus at the earlier date
the key step in bringing the Bible
out of the shadows of myth
and into the light of true history?
People wonder why they haven't
heard about this before,
but what I found out was that
a lot of people don't
want to talk about it.
Archaeologists, people in the media,
no one's willing to
actually tell this story,
and I had to ask that
same question of myself:
was I willing to follow this
story to where it really led?
But there is something
to these ancient stories
and we just felt that, You know what?
We just have to let people
know what the truth was.
After the
Israelites left Egypt,
it is written they miraculously
crossed a mighty sea
and traveled on to Mount Sinai.
No trace of their journey
has ever been found.
But, if there really was an Exodus,
then the mountain was somewhere out there.