Amenhotep II as Pharaoh of the Exodus -- By: William Shea

Journal: Bible and Spade (Second Run)
Volume: BSPADE 16:2 (Spring 2003)
Article: Amenhotep II as Pharaoh of the Exodus
Author: William Shea


Amenhotep II as Pharaoh of the Exodus

William Shea

The Exodus Problem

The Biblical book of Exodus does not name the Pharaoh whom Moses encountered after his return from Sinai. This absence has provided the occasion for considerable controversy and speculation as to just who this Pharaoh was and when he ruled in Egypt. Three main views have been proposed: (1) that he belonged to the 18th Dynasty and ruled in the 15th century, (2) that he belonged to the 19th Dynasty and ruled in the 13th century, and (3) that there was no Exodus and thus no Pharaoh of the Exodus, but it was only a literary creation of later Israelites. The first view may be referred to as the early date for the Exodus, the second is the late date, and the third is the nonexistent Exodus.

Exodus Literature

Literature on the subject of the Exodus is extensive. In his Schweich Lectures for 1948, From Joseph to Joshua, literature from the 19th century to 1948 was covered by the excellent English bibliographer H. H. Rowley. He provided an exceptionally thorough list of studies in favor of dating the Exodus in the 13th century under the 19th Dynasty and in the 15th century under the 18th Dynasty. T. L. Thompson, in J. H. Hayes and J. M. Miller’s work Israelite and Judean History has updated this bibliography to 1977 (1977:149–50, 167–68, 180–81). The bibliographies in these sections are of more value than the discussions in the text, which adopts a very negative view on the historicity of the Exodus. A strong picture has been made for the 19th Dynasty as the background for the Exodus in the work of K. A. Kitchen, Pharaoh Triumphant (1982). More recently, a theologically sensitive, but historically minimalist, commentary on Exodus has been contributed to The New Interpreter’s Bible, by W. Brueggemann (1994:675–982).

The attitude of Old Testament theologians toward early Israelite history has varied. G. von Rad used the first major section of his Old Testament Theology to give a negative evaluation to the historicity of the Biblical account and that left him free to construct his theology unhampered by historical limitations (1962). G. Ernest Wright, on the other hand, held that theology must ultimately be rooted in history in his God Who Acts. Coming from the Albright school as he did, Wright firmly anchored his Exodus and Conquest in the 13th century. In his 13th century approach Wright was preceded by W. F. Albright in his The Archaeology of Palestine (1961:108–109) and paralleled by J. Bright’s History of Israel (1983).

Three more specialized works on the Exodus and its Egyptian background have appeared quite recently. A conference on the subject was held at Brown University in 1992 and its proce...

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