Did the "Jewish exodus" from Egypt actually happen?

Mar 2012
1,579
Following the breeze
I was not quite sure where to place this thread, but I think it is a religious question. I know this is a rather touchy subject, but its a subject which I am very interested in learning about, and an area of history in which my knowledge is very limited.

We all know the biblical story of the "Jewish exodus". With Moses leading the Hebrews out of Egypt, and the subsequent settlement in "Canaan". My question is did this actually happen? Do we have any historical proof of any form to suggest that it did?
 

Toltec

Ad Honorem
Apr 2008
7,923
Hyperborea
The Religion forum probably isn't the place for asking if something really happened.
 

veka

Ad Honorem
Dec 2008
2,559
Finland
I don't believe that the Exodus as it is narrated in the OT happened, but I think there is an historical origin for the Exodus events. The biblical Exodus account was never intended to function or to be understood as history in the present-day sense of the word.
 

DreamWeaver

Ad Honoris
Aug 2010
10,445
Wales
As written one would believe it to be metaphor.


Perhaps it is based on some small grain of truth.
 

AlpinLuke

Forum Staff
Oct 2011
27,386
Italy, Lago Maggiore
I would start from a consideration: ancient Egypt was a land of immigration and emigration. Non rarely this phenomenon acquired the dimensions of a mass movement of people [nomad tribes were still common in Middle East in the period of the Middle > New Kingdom]. Of course that "mass" has to be evaluated in the correct historical perspective of an age where the population of this planet was well [but well] inferior to the present one.

This said, we can list a good number of "exoduses" [less or more wide] in Egyptian history.

Are there clues / evidences that a "Jewish" exodus happened?

Nor direct clues neither direct evidences.

We can infer something from the fact that Merneptah stele mentions a Israel as one of the defeated enemies during a campaign of the Pharaoh. This is a clue that the Egyptians knew Israel, not that Israel had been in Egypt in the past ...

P.S. IF there were evidences and / or clues, the discussion about the moment of the exodus wouldn't be that alive [and the temporal range for the event wouldn't go from early Middle Kingdom to late New Kingdom!!!!]
 
Mar 2012
1,579
Following the breeze
I don't believe that the Exodus as it is narrated in the OT happened, but I think there is an historical origin for the Exodus events. The biblical Exodus account was never intended to function or to be understood as history in the present-day sense of the word.
This is a very interesting view:), could you elaborate it for me?
 
Mar 2012
1,579
Following the breeze
As written one would believe it to be metaphor.


Perhaps it is based on some small grain of truth.
I remember a while back hearing a hypothesis that, Moses may have actually been a legitimate Egyptian Prince who feel in love with an old banned Egyptian "monothetic god" ideology. And that he later escaped with a "small armed group"(rather than a large unarmed group of Hebrews), crossing over the Reed Sea (rather than the Red Sea, which the hypothesis claims is among many mistranslations in this story.).

While this hypothesis would explain away the many problems with the narrative of the "Exodus", I failed to see how it could be taken seriously because of the lack of historical evidence...
 
Mar 2012
1,579
Following the breeze
I would start from a consideration: ancient Egypt was a land of immigration and emigration. Non rarely this phenomenon acquired the dimensions of a mass movement of people [nomad tribes were still common in Middle East in the period of the Middle > New Kingdom]. Of course that "mass" has to be evaluated in the correct historical perspective of an age where the population of this planet was well [but well] inferior to the present one.

This said, we can list a good number of "exoduses" [less or more wide] in Egyptian history.

Are there clues / evidences that a "Jewish" exodus happened?

Nor direct clues neither direct evidences.

We can infer something from the fact that Merneptah stele mentions a Israel as one of the defeated enemies during a campaign of the Pharaoh. This is a clue that the Egyptians knew Israel, not that Israel had been in Egypt in the past ...

P.S. IF there were evidences and / or clues, the discussion about the moment of the exodus wouldn't be that alive [and the temporal range for the event wouldn't go from early Middle Kingdom to late New Kingdom!!!!]
Very good points here:). If I am not mistaken, Merneptah stele said something along the lines of, "Israel has been destroyed."
But what does this mean? Does it mean that the Hebrews were living in Israel? Or does it mean another group of people were living in a place called Israel? Its all very confusing and unclear, in terms of historical evidence...
 

Belisarius

Forum Staff
Jun 2006
10,359
U.K.
Very good points here:). If I am not mistaken, Merneptah stele said something along the lines of, "Israel has been destroyed."
But what does this mean? Does it mean that the Hebrews were living in Israel? Or does it mean another group of people were living in a place called Israel? Its all very confusing and unclear, in terms of historical evidence...
Flinders Petrie translated it that way and everyone else has followed his lead. Other possibilities for "Israel" include "Jezreel" a region in Canaan. Basically Israel could have been a Canaanite chieftain or tribe, an area, a group of marauders, etc. No other Merneptah inscriptions about the same war mention Israel, so who knows?