Did the Exodus Actually Happen?


By Fred DeRuvo

Archaeologist and professor Israel Finkelstein says the Exodus did not happen.
Archaeologist and professor Israel Finkelstein says the Exodus did not happen.

First question: why would any group of people write a story about themselves in which their origins were as slaves, as one archaeologist who questions the accepted norm asked? It’s a good question.

In the early 1900’s and then again in the 1930’s, two separate archaeologists (the first from Germany, the second from England), went and dug at what were believed to be the ruins of the ancient city of Jericho. There, they discovered that the outer wall of the enormous and well-fortified city had collapsed. They also discovered that a very huge and hot fire had spread throughout the entire city after the wall had collapsed. The fire seemed to be of specific origin and not something that might have been the result of an earthquake. In other words, the fire appeared to have been purposefully set. Moreover, one small portion of the outer wall, which also contained a few homes built into that wall, did not fall with the rest of the outer wall. Sounds like the biblical account of the fall and destruction of Jericho recorded in Joshua 6, doesn’t it? So why wouldn’t this be considered to be proof from the archaeological community? Why won’t they even consider the possibility that what researchers and archaeologists have unearthed highlights the truth about Jericho’s destruction?

Agnostic David Rohl has an open mind about the possibility of the biblical Exodus.
Agnostic David Rohl has an open mind about the possibility of the biblical Exodus.

The answer is provided by filmmaker Timothy Mahoney, who produced the documentary titled, Patterns of Evidence: Exodus. In this roughly hour and a half film, Mahoney asks hard questions that lead him on a quest to determine the truth regarding the biblical Exodus, if he can. His search takes him to many people, most of whom deny that the biblical account of the Exodus and the events following it actually occurred. Numerous experts go on record to say that there is simply no evidence for it at all. Though a few are willing to admit that the evidence – if it exists – might still be in the ground, they also state that nothing that has been discovered up to now would in any way, shape, or form, support the biblical record.

As one might imagine, this is frustrating to Mahoney because he was raised in a home where these things were taught as true. If there is no proof at all as to their veracity, then where does that leave him? In fact, where does it leave any Jewish or Christian person? As one archaeologist stated in the film, “I hate to disappoint, but there’s no evidence” of the biblical account of the Exodus.

Some individuals like Finkelstein separate the reality of what they say archaeology has not found with the tradition they are involved in as people. Finkelstein, who is Jewish, says the moral of the Exodus is very important and since it is part of the tradition of Jewish believers for centuries, it has something to say. However, this type of mental assent given to something that, according to Finkelstein, did not happen, devolves into something that is purely traditional belief and nothing more. If it did not happen, that would-be fact undercuts the entire truth of the nation of Israel. Not only that, but it questions the integrity and veracity of Christianity as well since it is clear from the gospels and epistles that Jesus, Peter, Paul, and others fully believed that the biblical account of the Exodus actually occurred. If it didn’t occur, then what else in the Bible did not occur?

If there is virtually no evidence to support the biblical account, then where do we go from here? I believe Mahoney answers that question and answers it clearly. He sets about to determine the truth, wherever that truth happens to fall. He’s willing to let it fall on the side that either proves or disproves Scripture. To do so, he simply looked for any clues he could find. What he did find was that there is definitely a problem, but the problem is not in the evidence (or lack of it) regarding the Exodus. The problem may well be in the way the experts in the field have dated the Egyptian kingdoms.

Experts readily state that Egypt consisted of three kingdoms; the Old Kingdom (2700 – 2200 BC), the Middle Kingdom (2100 – 1800 BC, and the New Kingdom (1500 – 1000). These are the normally accepted dates for each of the kingdom periods even though there are experts in the film who state that much of Egypt’s history is confusing and somewhat convoluted. They are sticking to the accepted dates and that’s that. As Israel Finkelstein stated, “we’ve moved past that.” The dates are set in stone for many and therefore, immovable.

It would not surprise me to find that if the actual Ark of the Covenant was located somewhere, the experts would likely deny that it was the actual artifact. Many of these experts are scientists who are also atheists. For them, science is their god and if the evidence happens to point to something that is born of religious faith, it is marginalized or outright denied because of the ramifications of what it might mean if it’s declared authentic. Such is the case with any potential evidence connecting to the Exodus.

What this means is that even though there is a growing body of ample evidence that aligns with the events of the Bible, these experts cannot or are unwilling to acknowledge that the evidence that has been unearthed actually depict the events noted in the Bible. If what has been unearthed as of today does not support or prove at least some of the events highlighted in Scripture, then they are simply coincidental. This is how this unearthed information is seen by the experts.

It is very clear that everyone in every field has a bias. That bias comes to the surface from the many experts who participated in this documentary. One individual, a Christian, who is also an archaeologist, believes the evidence found supports the biblical account of the Exodus. Mahoney says that people would say that man has a bias. He readily admits to it and states that everyone has a bias. Most simply fail to admit it.

The only person in the entire film (aside from the filmmaker), who probably did not have a bias is David Rohl. As an agnostic, he simply allows the evidence to point him the the truth. Isn’t that the way it should be? It’s interesting that he is the one who is able to see the evidence and even though it might bolster the argument that there is a God and a personal one at that, One who is interested and involved in the lives of humanity, he still allows the evidence to go there.

Patterns of Evidence: Exodus is a film worth seeing. If you are a person who does not believe the biblical account of the Exodus, then you will view it with jaded eyes. You will pick it apart and ultimately come to the same conclusions that people like Israel Finkelstein has arrived to; that there is no evidence that the biblical narrative of the Exodus actually occurred. If you are a person of faith, you might be more open to the possibility.

It seemed very clear that those in the film who are absolutely opposed to anything that smacks of truth concerning the Exodus account became almost hostile to the suggestion that the Exodus actually happened and the unearthed evidence points to it. It tends to remind me of people who continue to believe that an unborn child is not a human being, but merely fetal tissue, even after watching three or four D video scans of the unborn in utero. They walk away believing that people see what they want to see. So for them, when they see something as fantastic as a 4D ultrasound, they aren’t impressed. It proves nothing to them. They can walk out of that room and continue to believe what they’ve always believed; that the unborn is nothing but a grouping of fetal tissue and to abort it creates no pain for that fetal tissue because tissue cannot generally feel pain. They continue to brainwash themselves. Have a look. What do you see?

It’s the same with anything. A person must determine their personal bias for or against something that bias will cause them to make a decision based not on any evidence that they are presented with, but ultimately, their decision to accept or reject something falls to their own personal bias. That’s (fallen) human nature.

The same is true for any evidence in this documentary that purports to highlight biblical facts surrounding the Exodus of Israelites from Egypt. Everyone has a bias. I have a bias. You have a bias. In Patterns of Evidence, if filmmaker Timothy Mahoney had found absolutely no evidence about the Exodus and events following it, that would be one thing. I would have to find a way to deal with it and just saying “have faith” would not necessarily be enough. God does not expect us to have “empty” faith, faith that is based on nothing. There are proofs regarding the events of the Bible (unlike the Book of Mormon), that help us in our faith.

Faith allows us to see what cannot necessarily be proven though, in the spiritual realm. Do you believe Jesus is God the Son, that He came and lived a perfect life (without sin), as the God-Man? Do you believe He was found worthy (Revelation 5) to offer Himself as a propitiation for our sin and that by exercising faith in Him and His completed work, you can receive eternal salvation? That is where faith is used. You cannot prove beyond doubt what faith can see.

However, there are many things in the Bible that are proven because of the archaeological record, yet people still choose to ignore or deny them. Facts tend not to mean much to many today and all because of their bias. I would encourage you to view Patterns of Evidence: Exodus with an open mind. It is available on Netflix or the DVD can be purchased. After you’ve watched it, do some research on things yourself as there are many books and resources available today. Allow the evidence to lead you where it actually leads. We’ve listed a few resources to get you started.

Visit Fred’s Website at – https://studygrowknowblog.com