Exodus and the Hyksos

Walter Mattfeld mattfeld at mail.pjsnet.com
Thu Jan 27 17:18:39 EST 2000

The Exodus and the Hyksos Expulsion

As pointed out in earlier posts to this list, I believe a case can be argued
that the Exodus of the Pentateuchal narratives is in fact alluding to the
16th century BCE Hyksos expulsion. We will explore in greater depth, in this
post, the complexities and contradictions to be faced and overcome in
establishing the date of the Exodus.

Scholars have noted that 1 Kings 6:1 states that 480 years elapsed from the
Exodus to the  fourth year of Solomon's reign and the building of the
Temple. Some scholars date Solomon's fourth year to circa 966 BCE, by adding
480 years to this date we come up with an Exodus circa 1446 BCE.

Kitchen has sounded a note of warning though about the above equation,
pointing out that a period in excess of 553 years appears to be warranted
instead of 480 years:


"The lazy man's solution is simply to cite the 480 years ostensibly given in
1 Kings 6:1 from the Exodus to the 4th year of Solomon (ca. 966 BC).
However, this too simple solution is ruled out by the combined weight of all
the other biblical dadta plus additional information from external data. So
the interval of time from the Exodus comes out not at 480 years but as over
553 years (by three unknown amounts), if we trouble to go carefully through
all the known biblical figures for this period. It is evident that the 480
years cannot cover fully the 553 years + X years. At the best, it could be a
selection from them, or else it is a schematic figure (12 x 40 yrs., or
similar)."  (p.702 Vol.2, K.A. Kitchen, "The Exodus," David Noel Freedman,
Editor, The Anchor Bible Dictionary, NY, Doubleday, 1992)

Another scholar, De Vries had made earlier, similar, observations:

"It should be pointed out, moreover, that the chronology demanded by the
books of the Judges and Samuel actually far exceeds the figure of 480 years.
As will be seen from Table 3, a total of 554 years plus two periods of
unknown length occupy the interval from the Exodus to the founding of
Solomon's temple. Josephus evidently based his estimate of 592 (Antiq.
8.3.1) or 612 (Apion 2.2) years for this period upon this observation (cf.
Acts 13:18-21)."
(p.584, Vol.1, S.J. De Vries, "Chronology of the Old Testament," G.A.
Buttrick, Editor, The Interpreter's Dictionary of the Bible, Nashville,
Abingdon Press, 1962)

De Vries noted two periods of unaccounted length, the period of Joshua and
the Elders (Judg. 2:7) and the length of King Saul's reign, noting a "full
number" was lacking ( 1 Sam. 13:1). He renders these two anomalies as "X"
and "Y" in his formula thusly:

554 yrs. + X + Y + 966 BCE (Solomon's 4th yr) = 1520 BCE and "earlier" for
the Exodus.

De Vries, in passing, alluded to another important "dating marker" but did
not directly employ it in his article, the historical schema preserved in
Acts 13:18-21.

Acts 13:18-21 provides us with the length of Saul's reign, missing from De
Vries' "Table 3", equation "Y" and the missing data on Joshua and the
Judges, equation "X":

"For some forty years he bore with their conduct in the desert. Then in the
Canaanite country, after overthrowing seven nations, whose lands he gave
them to be their heritage for some 450 years he appointed judges for them
until the time of the prophet Samuel. It was then that they asked for a
king, and God gave them Saul son of Kish, a man of the tribe of Benjamin. He
reigned forty years before God removed him and appointed David as their

I note that according to 1 Kings 2:10-11, David reigned 40 years:

"So David rested with his forefathers and was buried in the city of David,
having reigned over Israel for forty years..."

We are told that in the fourth year of Solomon the Temple was begun (1 Kings

So, when we add up the totals from Acts 13:18-21, 1 Kings 2:10-11, and 1
Kings 6:1
we have 40 yrs in the Wilderness, 450 years to Saul, 40 yrs for Saul's
reign, 40 yrs for David's reign, 4 yrs for Solomon and the temple, for a
grand total of 574 years between the Exodus and the Temple's founding. Add
this to 966 BCE when the Temple was begun, and we have 1540 BCE  for the
Exodus date, on the "testimony of the sacred writings" of the Jews and Early

Egyptologists are not in agreement amongst themselves about the dates for
the reign of Pharaoh Ahmose I (Ahmosis I) who expelled the Hyksos. In
Albright's article, he alludes to Parker preferring 1557-1532 BCE, while
Helck prefers 1552-1527 BCE (Cf. p. 56, William F. Albright, "Some Remarks
on the Archaeological Chronology of Palestine before about 1500 B.C," in
Robert W. Ehrich, Editor, Chronologies in Old World Archaeology, Chicago,
The University of Chicago Press, 1954, 1965, reprint 1971, ISBN

Other dates are championed for Ahmoses I reign- James Breasted (1912, A
History of Egypt) argues for 1580-1557 BCE. Alan Gardiner prefers 1575-1550
BCE (p.443, Egypt of the Pharaohs, Oxford Univ. Press, 1961).

So, we have dates ranging from 1580 to 1527 BCE depending upon the authority
being cited (Egyptologists sometimes refer to these varying theories under
the term of "High, Middle and Low Egyptian Chronologies").

Acts 13:18-21 in conjunction with 1 Kings 2:10-11 and 1 Kings 6:1, gives an
Exodus in 1540 BCE which falls within the 1580 to 1527 BCE dating range for
Ahmosis I reign.

I have attempted to argue that the internal chronolgy of the Hebrew Bible as
well as Early Christian traditions point to the Exodus as being a phenomena
of the 16th century BCE, the same century that witnessed the Hyksos Exodus.
It is my understanding that the fictionalized Pentateuchal narratives have
creatively re-interpreted, transformed and modified the Hyksos Exodus into a
new story of how a merciful God saved his people and brought them to their
Promised Land.

If the above suppositions are correct it follows that Israel was not in
bondage for 400 years in Egypt, that is fiction. The Hyksos ruled Egypt for
200 years until defeated and expelled. They fled along the Way of the
Philistines, back to Canaan with the Egyptians in pursuit. There was no
crossing of the Red Sea, or journey to Mt. Sinai (Horeb) or invasion of
Canaan from Trans-Jordan. Excavations at Heshbon reveal it didn't exist
before 1200 BCE, which doesn't surprise me as I hold the account to
fictional of the war with Sihon the Amorite. The excavations of course,
serve as a marker that the Pentateuchal account was written some time after
1200 BCE and the settlement of Heshbon.

I understand that Humanist scholars rejected the Pentateuch's 1520 or 1480
BCE dating schema because they believed that the mention of the town of
"Ramses" in the Exodus (Ex. 12:37) account must be a "historical marker,"
dating the event to the reign of Rameses II 1290-1224 BCE) who founded
Per-Rameses, which they believed was the biblical Ramses. I have tried to
show their error, the Pentateuch and Early Christian writings did preserve
the correct chronology.  I have argued that the Pentateuch is a late
composition of the 5th century BCE, full of historical errors, fictious
dialogues, and fictional events. The presence of the town Ramses was a
marker allright, a marker that the text was composed after 1290-1224 BCE,
not that the Exodus event must be in the 13th century BCE.

I realize that these proposals are "not going to settle well" with either
the Conservative or Liberal scholarly communities.

All the best, Walter

Walter Reinhold Warttig Mattfeld
Walldorf by Heidelberg

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