[b-hebrew] 1450 BCE Exodus ? 'Apiru = Hebrews ?

MarianneLuban at aol.com MarianneLuban at aol.com
Sat Jul 24 18:04:09 EDT 2004

In a message dated 7/24/2004 2:18:06 PM Pacific Daylight Time, 
leviny1 at mail.biu.ac.il writes:

> Since there is NO direct Egyptian evidence of the Exodus (or even of the
> Israelites' sojourn in Egypt!) and NO biblical clues that would help us "tie
> in" to known Egyptian history (such as the actual name of a Pharaoh - and
> the city of Rameses could well be an anachronism), and since I suspect that
> numbers like that in ! kings 6:1 are typological, I have no way of dating
> the Exodus. As a historian, all I can hope for is to date the Israelites'
> appearance (by whatever means) in Canaan. All of the evidence for that seems
> to point at about 1200: the Merneptah inscription, the destruction of many
> Canaanite cities (though admittedly not all of those mentioned in Josh.
> 1-12), the arrival of the Philistines and other "sea peoples", the many
> small settlements that dot the hill country etc. Moreover, the stories of
> the Judges seem to fit Iron I Israel, NOT late Bronze Canaan. Even if we do
> accept some connection between Apiru and "Hebrew", it is semantic and
> etymological, NOT genetic or ethnic. During the 14th and 13th centuries,
> Canaan was ruled by Egypt - the Israelite "conquest" simply has no place. 

If you accept that there was only one exodus.    Egyptian historians of the 
Classic Period "do" name pharaohs under which there were expulsions.  This is 
all set forth in detail in my book.  Manetho seems to have written that the 
people in the area of Avaris left by treaty with a pharaoh called Thutmose--even 
though he knew full well that other Asiatics had been routed by Ahmose I--the 
Hyksos.  So there being an Egyptian Empire during the 18th Dynasty does not 
preclude an exodus from Egypt, in my opinion.  My speculation is that these 
people did not fight Egyptians but actually aided them in defeating the peoples of 
the Levant--in exchange for being able to settle there and stay loyal to the 
pharaoh.  But, by the time of Akhenaten any such treaty would not have been in 
force at all.  Joshua and Judges encompasses both the Bronze and Iron Ages, 
in my opinion.  People say--where are the traces of any large number of people 
leaving Egypt?  But I ask--where are the traces of them coming in?  I have 
already given you an example of how many Levantines one pharaoh took back to 
Egypt to enslave on a single campaign.  Even if some died on the way, that would 
have been a very large influx, indeed!

> And since I do not think that the Israelites wandered the desert for 240
> years, Amenhotep III would not work. Assuming that they did enter the Land
> during the very last decades of the 13th century, a mid-13 century Exodus
> seems to fit the bill. That's Rameses II. However, as I said, there is NO
> evidence outside the Bible that the Exodus ever really happened.
However, there is scarcely a whisper from antiquity of Ramesses II being 
involved in an exodus.  Since he was a very famous king, surely something of this 
occurring in his reign would have survived in the folklore about him.

And yet there has never been a single commemorated event in Jewish history 
that did not have some basis in fact.  That's not the way the Jewish holiday 
calendar works--commemorating some thing that is only a myth--even though some of 
the older feasts may have taken on some mythological qualities (such as 
Hanukkah and Purim).  There is only one Tisha B'Av, even though the Jerusalem 
Temple was destroyed twice.  In the Twentieth Century, we have added two more days 
to our calendar of days of commemoration, one lamenting the Holocaust (which 
certainly did not occur in a single year or on any given day) and the other 
celebrating the establishment of the State of Israel, which one might say 
happened the day the votes came in.  Josephus claims the Jews of Alexandria even had 
a feast commemorating the time when Ptolemy Physcon tried to wipe them out 
using drunken elephants--and failed to do so.  But, as the Alexandrian Jewish 
community was later wiped out by the Romans, nothing of this feast survives at 

> Thus far as a historian. As someone who gets up every morning and blesses
> God for having taken ME out of Egypt, just before reciting the Song of the
> Sea, I must say that this does not disturb me in the least. I believe that
> there is a reason that the Torah does not give us any more specific
> information, such as naming the said Pharaohs, is because, more than any
> other event, the Exodus and subsequent Sinai episode are events that stand
> outside the framework of human historical experience. They are unique. They
> are "outside" of ANE chronology. And they certainly don't need me to "prove"
> or "disprove" them.

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