Palestinian Artifactual Evidence Supporting the Early Date of the Exodus -- By: Bruce K. Waltke

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 129:513 (Jan 1972)
Article: Palestinian Artifactual Evidence Supporting the Early Date of the Exodus
Author: Bruce K. Waltke


Palestinian Artifactual Evidence Supporting the
Early Date of the Exodus

Bruce K. Waltke

[Bruce K. Waltke, Professor of Semitics and Old Testament, Dallas Theological Seminary.]

The Issue and Its Importance

Assuming that Solomon built the temple ca. 970-960 B.C., the biblical numerical notices pertaining to the date of the Exodus in 1 Kings 6:1 and Judges 11:26 yield a mid-fifteenth century B.C. date for the Exodus.1 But, in spite of these specific statements by the ancient historians, most contemporary Syro-Palestinian archaeologists and Old Testament historians date the Exodus about one hundred and fifty years later.2

Now the issue whether the Exodus occurred at ca. 1440 B.C. or ca. 1290 B.C. merits the attention being given to it by serious scholars of the Old Testament for at least two reasons. (1) Either the biblical prophet-historians have committed a historical blunder, and therefore the Bible is less than a completely trustworthy historical document on which man can rest his faith,3 or the numbers in the Bible must

be interpreted as meaning something other than their face value.4 If one opts for the second hypothesis he raises the question whether or not the Bible can be interpreted literally in other areas as well. (2) In addition to this theological and hermeneutical consideration, the question is also vital for historical reasons. All biblical chronology, the backbone of history, down to the Kingdom Period depends on this date.5 Furthermore, those who accept the grammatico-historical method of interpreting the Bible, which is by far the most commonly accepted method, must interpret all passages affected by this issue according to the appropriate historical background.

The Method of Deciding the Issue

Now while the writer has implicit faith in the Scriptures apart from man’s verification of them, he has chosen in this article for its apologetic value to appraise some of the archaeological evidence related to the problem. In the article he hopes to make a modest contribution toward deciding the date of the Exodus by settling the date of the Conquest which occurred approximately forty years later. But by what accredited method can one decide the date of the Conquest? Here the writer proposes to compare the pertinent Palestinian artifactual evidence with the pertinent Old Testament t...

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