The Date Of The Exodus -- By: Harold M. Wiener

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 073:291 (Jul 1916)
Article: The Date Of The Exodus
Author: Harold M. Wiener


The Date Of The Exodus

Harold M. Wiener

There has been much discussion of the date of the Exodus in recent years. A careful reexamination of the sources has led me to believe that we can now determine it with a very great approximation to accuracy. This is due to the excavation of Pithom and Raamses, the finding of the Israel stele, and the recovery of the original order of certain portions of the text of Numbers. When the narrative of the Pentateuch is studied carefully in the light of a critical examination of the facts that these discoveries have placed at our disposal, we can ascertain not merely in what reign the Exodus occurred, but also in what year of the reign, and follow the course of events season by season from the death of the Pharaoh of the oppression to the departure from Kadesb-barnea. The exact year of the accession of the Pharaoh of the Exodus has, however, not yet been determined with precision, but the limits of doubt appear to have been reduced by the Egyptologists to the space of a very few years.

As many theories have been advanced, it will be necessary to give some consideration to them; but this can be done best when we have studied the facts, and I accordingly begin with these.

In Ex. 1:11 we read of the children of Israel: “And they built for Pharaoh store cities, Pithom and Raamses.” The

excavator of Pithom, Professor Naville, gives us the following clear and definite information: —

“The founder of the city, the king who gave to Pithom the extent and the importance we recognize, is certainly Rameses II. I did not find anything more ancient than his monuments. It is possible that before his time there may have been a shrine consecrated to the worship of Turn, but it is he who built the enclosure and the storehouses” (E. Naville, The Store-city of Pithom and the Route of the Exodus, 2d ed. [1885], p. 11).

The identification appears to be beyond doubt, and so we have firm ground under our feet. Pithom was built under Rameses II.

So was Raamses. Its excavator, Professor Petrie, writes as follows: —

“The city of Rameses, now Tell Rotab, is about twelve miles along the narrow marshy valley; and Pithom, now Tell-el-Maskhuta, is about ten [sic H. M. W.] miles further east. The city of Rameses is identified by remains of a town and temple built by Rameses II. There is no other city of this date along the valley, except Pithom. An official here was ‘over the foreigners of Thuku’ or Succoth, the general name of this land which was occupied with Bedawy ‘booths’ or succoth; he probably was the superinte...

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