The Exodus In The Light Of Archaeology -- By: A. E. Whatham

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 075:300 (Oct 1918)
Article: The Exodus In The Light Of Archaeology
Author: A. E. Whatham


The Exodus In The Light Of Archaeology

A. E. Whatham

In the Bibliotheca Sacra for July, 1916, Mr. Harold M. Wiener published an article entitled “The Date of the Exodus,” and in October, 1917, one on “The Date of the Exodus and the Chronology of Judges.”

Now Mr. Wiener claims to have shown in his first article that the Israelites were defeated by the Egyptian Pharaoh, Merneptah, in the fifth year of his reign, being overthrown outside of Egypt somewhere between its eastern border and the southern border of Canaan. In his second article Mr. Wiener claims to have shown that the Exodus of Israel from Egypt took place in the second year of Merneptah’s reign. In other words, Mr. Wiener claims to have shown that the defeat of Israel which is mentioned on the celebrated Merneptah stele took place after the Exodus, and while the Israelites were yet in the wilderness.

In opposition to Mr. Wiener’s assertions stands a previous statement by the well-known scholars Professors Harris and Chapman, that “a recently-deciphered Egyptian inscription shows that the Bene-Israel were already in Palestine at the time of the Exodus, so that the migration must have been partial and not national” (“Exodus and Journey to Canaan,” HDB, vol. 1. p. 802).

The discoverer of this Egyptian stele, Professor Petrie,

views the defeat of “Israel,” to which reference is made on this stele, as an overthrow which took place in Palestine while the historic Israel had not yet fled from Egypt (Cont. Rev., May, 1896); and with this conclusion most modern Biblical scholars agree; such, for instance, as Professor Barton (The Historical Value of the Patriarchal Narratives, p. 190; cf. Petrie, HE, vol. iii. p. 114; Paton, ICC, p. 39; BW, July, 1915, p. 86b).

Notwithstanding this consensus of opinion amongst the majority of modern scholars on the point in question, there are, nevertheless, some eminent scholars who still view the Exodus as having taken place in the early reign of Merneptah (B.C. 1225–1215), and in a location outside of Palestine. Be this as it may, Paton thinks that the Exodus may have taken place in the reign of Merneptah’s successor, Seti. II. (B.C. 1209–1205), about ex. 1207 (ICC, p. 34), a view further entertained by Breasted (HAE, p. 328). Petrie thinks that the Exodus of the Biblical Israelites took place in B.C. 1213, that is, during the reign of Merneptah, and that the entrance of these people into Palestine took place in B.C. 1173, that is, in the reign of Rameses III. (B.C. 1198–1167); although, as we have said, this writer views the Israel of the Merneptah stele as a people distinct from the Israel of the...

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