[b-hebrew] The Exodus' mention in Egyptian Annals ?

Walter R. Mattfeld mattfeld12 at charter.net
Wed Aug 25 12:02:58 EDT 2004

Bányai Michael wrote :

"We all know the Egyptian propagandistic literature. It exploits even the 
smallest incident."

Banyai's statement recalled to mind the oft heard assertion that the Exodus 
is apparently _unrecorded_  in Egyptian annals. One of the "rationalizations 
(AKA "arguments from silence") which some scholars resort to, is to the 
effect that Egyptian pharaohs did _not_ record the "defeats" of Egypt ONLY 
the victories, thus it is not to be wondered that Egypt would remain silent 
on such an humiliating event.

K. A. Kitchen (an Egyptologist) speaking of the "absence" of the Exodus in 
Egyptian annals :

"And as the pharaohs _never_ monumentalize _defeats_ on temple walls, no 
record of the successful exit of a large bunch of foreign slaves (with loss 
of a full chariot squadron) would ever have been memorialized by an king in 
the temples in the Delta or anywhere else." (p. 246. K.A. Kitchen. _On the 
Reliability of the Old Testament_. Grand Rapids. William B. Eerdmans 
Publishing  Company. 2003)

Then there are the war-reliefs of Ramesses II carved on his temple facades 
celebrating his "great victory" at Kadesh on the Orontes over the Hittites, 
but when the Hittite archives were excavated, they suggested a "stalemate," 
as the Egyptian border was NOT pushed north of the city. So the Egyptians 
engaged in a _little_ "spin," making a defeat or "draw" into a resounding 
victory !

Another Egyptologist, Donald B. Redford, sees things quite differently from 
Kitchen, he understands that the Hebrews did what Ramesses II did, that is 
to say, he understands that the defeat and expulsion of the Hyksos under 
pharaoh Ahmose I was "re-spun" into a mighty vicory for Yahweh, setting his 
people free :

"In sum, therefore, we may state that the memory of the Hyksos expulsion did 
indeed live on in the folklore of the Canaanite population of the southern 
Levant. The exact details were understandably blurred and subconsciously 
modified over time, for the purpose of 'face-saving.' It became not a 
conquest but a peaceful descent of a group with pastoral associations who 
rapidly arrived at a position of political control. Their departure came not 
as a result of an ignominious defeat, but either voluntarily or as a flight 
from a feud, or yet again as salvation from bondage." (p. 413. "Four Great 
Origin Traditions." Donald B. Redford. _Egypt, Canaan and Israel in Ancient 
Times_. Princeton, New Jersey. Princeton University Press. 1992)

Redford's analysis, is not a "new" one though, he was preceded by some 2000 
years, by the Egyptian priest-historian Manetho and the Jewish historian 
Josephus, who associated the Hebrew Exodus with the defeat and expulsion of 
the Hebrews under two events, the Hyksos expulsion and a later expulsion 
under Amenophis and son Rameses.

If _"IF"_, Manetho and Redford are correct, then the Exodus _IS INDEED_ 
recalled in Egyptian annals, but as a VICTORY not a _defeat_ for Egypt ! It 
was, then an "earth-shaking event" for both nations, Egypt was LIBERATED and 
the enemy defeated and chased back to Canaan, while the Israelite version 
had the Egyptians as oppressors who were defeated. That is to say both 
versions, Egyptian and Israelite are somewhat "mirror-images" of each other 
(you know, two sides to the same coin).

Although the Egyptian annals which have been unearthed suggest that the 
Hyksos did not reign over Egypt for 400 years, they do reveal that after the 
Hyksos expulsion Egypt ruled over her former oppressors for 400 years (again 
another "mirror-image" or inversion/reversal).

Did Yahweh "defeat" Egypt after a period of 400 years of bondage for his 
people ? Yes, the Hyksos and their descendants in Canaan were 
"ruled/oppressed" by Egypt from ca. 1530 to 1130 BCE when Ramesses VI 
withdrew from Canaan, and Israel begins to appear in hundreds of suddenly 
appearing Iron I villages of stone, wresting the land away from Canaanites 
who earlier had Egypt's protection against Israel (Merneptah having claimed 
he defeated a rebellious Israel ca. 1207 BCE).

By what "mechanism" did the Israelites obtain the notion of an Exodus ? 
Redford thainks they are nomadic Shasu wandering the Negev and Edom who 
conquer and settle in Canaan with the Egyptian withdrawl, noting the Exodus 
stories of Yahweh dawning from Sinai, Seir, Paran and Edom and Egyptian 
Rameside annals referring the the Yaw Shasu of Seir.

>From a biblical point of view, the "mechanism" might be preserved as 
Canaanite mothers and fathers teaching their Israelite sons and daughters 
their Canaanite-Hyksos Origins traditions as noted by Redford. The Bible 
does suggest that the Israelites DID marry the Canaanites and worship their 
gods and goddesses.

Judges 3:5-7 RSV

"So the people of Israel dwelt among the Canaanites, the Hittites, the 
Amorites, the Perizzites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites; and they took 
their daughters to themselves for wives, and their own daughters they gave 
to their sons; and they served their gods."

Thus, if the Bible is right (Judges 3:5-7) Israel of Iron II (ca. 1000-587 
BCE) is an AMALGUM of Canaanites and Hebrews; Why wouldn't these Canaanites 
NOT pass on to their "Israelite sons and daughters" THEIR Hyksos Expulsion 
origins, and Egypt's 400 year oppression of their ancestors ?

Well, that's _my_ "Spin" on the notion that Egypt NEVER made any mention of 
the Exodus.

Regards, Walter
Walter Reinhold Warttig Mattfeld y de la Torre, M.A. Ed.
mattfeld12 at charter.net

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