The Exodus Controversy -- By: Mario Seiglie
BSpade 16:2 (Spring 2003) p. 34
The Exodus Controversy
It seems that every year, especially around the spring Passover season when Jews and many Christians commemorate Israel’s deliverance from Egypt, newspapers and magazines publish articles questioning the validity of the Biblical account of the Exodus.
In 2001, for example, The Los Angeles Times ran a front-page story reporting that a liberal rabbi in the Los Angeles area caused quite a stir when he shocked his congregation by stating he had his doubts that the Exodus ever took place. “The truth is,” explained Rabbi David Wolpe,
that virtually every modern archaeologist who has investigated the story of the Exodus, with very few exceptions, agrees that the way the Bible describes the Exodus is not the way it happened, if it happened at all (Watanabe 2001).
Perhaps you have read such articles and wondered whether you can believe the Bible. After almost 200 years of archaeological research in Egypt and Israel, why do so many challenge the Exodus account? The stakes are not small, as the critics well know. If the narrative of the Exodus is not factual, then the trustworthiness of Biblical revelation is indeed seriously undermined. Therefore it is essential that our evaluation of the evidence be accurate and fair.
Christ Affirms the Exodus
First, let’s make sure we have a clear picture of the Biblical perspective. We find that Jesus Christ affirmed the Biblical account of the Exodus as true, and He based some of His teachings on it. Reminding His countrymen that God had miraculously provided food for them during 40 years in the wilderness, He said:
Your forefathers ate the manna in the desert, yet they died. But here is the bread that comes down from heaven, which a man may eat and not die. I am the living bread that came down from heaven (Jn 6:49—51).
Jesus staked His reputation, authority, and credibility on the Exodus account’s reliability—on His confidence that the Israelites actually did eat manna in the desert as the Scriptures describe. If this account were not true, then Jesus was wrong, and so are some of His teachings.
We should not be surprised, then, that some critics have focused so much attention on this fundamental event in the Bible. They try to discredit the story of the Exodus to undermine its historical validity.
Biblical historian Eugene Merrill describes the importance the Exodus has for the rest of the Bible:
The exodus is the most significant historical and theological event of the Old Testament because it marks God’s mightiest act in behal...
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