Sunday, May 04, 2008

The Conquest of Canaan: Did It Happen?, P.5

5) The Exodus and Archeology

Furthermore archaeologists Israel Finkelstein and Neil Asher Silberman wrote in ‘The Bible Unearthed’ that there is no archaeological finding that supports the Exodus data recorded in the Bible:
“Repeated archaeological surveys in all regions of the peninsula…have yielded negative evidence: not even a single shred, no structure, not a single house, no trace of an ancient encampment. One may argue that a relatively small band wandering Israelites cannot be expected to leave material remains behind. But modern archaeological techniques are quite capable of tracing even the very meagre remains of hunter-gatherers and pastoral nomads all over the world…The conclusion – that the Exodus did not happen at the time and in the manner described in the Bible – seems irrefutable when we examine the evidence at specific sites where…Israel were said to have camped…during their wandering in the desert (Numbers 33)…” (p.62-63)
Finkelstein and Silberman, following Donald Redford, further suggest that the Exodus story found in the OT is a product of 7th century BC. This is due to the frequent corresponding data in the OT that match better with a 7th century BC Egypt rather than a 13th century BC Palestine. These evidences include:

  1. Similar records of the 7th – 6th century Egyptian building projects.
  2. The identification of an inscription ‘Pithom’ (Exo 1.11) at Tell Maskhuta.
  3. The fact that ‘Migdol’ (Exo 14.2) is well-known in the 7th century Palestine.
  4. The name ‘Goshen’ (Genesis 45.10) is not an Egyptian name but a Semitic one.
  5. All the major places (Edom etc) related to the Exodus were inhabited in the 7th century; some occupied only at that time (p.65 – 68).

These evidences have led them to conclude that the Exodus narrative reached its final form only in the 7th – 6th century BC, which is about 600 years after the Exodus supposed to had taken place. If this is true, the suspicion among scholars towards the Exodus and other Biblical stories are not entirely invalid or simply ignored.

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