Biblical Archaeology Moses

But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear. (1 Peter 3:15)

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Passages concerning Moses

In the conventional chronology it is either Ramesses II (1279-1213 BC) or Seti I (1294-1279 BC) who enslaved the Israelites and it is Merenptah (1213-1203 BC) or Ramesses II who is the Pharaoh of the Exodus. But there is a two-century discrepancy between the biblical dates and the established archaeological dates. In the new chronology it is Khaneferre Sobekhotep IV who was the Pharaoh at the time of Moses' birth (he began his reign about 1529 BC) and it is Dudimose who is the Pharaoh of the Exodus (began his reign somewhere between 1457 and 1444 BC). (pg 114,115,282,283 "Pharaohs and Kings" by David Rohl)

Birth | Moses' Military campaign against Ethiopians | Goshen - Raamses | Israel's sojourn in Egypt | The slaughter of male infants Exodus | 10th plague | That Egypt was weakened by the 10 plagues | Table of Contents


From the Bible From Archaeology
Page numbers from "Pharaohs and Kings" by David Rohl
When the child grew older, she took him to Pharaoh's daughter and he became her son. She named him Moses. . . . (Exodus 2:10)

Then Pharaoh's daughter went down to the Nile to bathe, and her attendants were walking along the river bank. She saw the basket among the reeds and sent her slave girl to get it. She opened it and saw the baby. He was crying, and she felt sorry for him. "This is one of the Hebrew babies," she said. (Exodus 2:5, 6)
The birth of Moses coincided with the coming to the throne of Khaneferre Sobekhotep IV and it was in his reign that Moses was raised as a prince of Egypt. (pg 255)

A Jewish historian named Artapanus researched and compiled the material for his history of the Israelite nation in Egypt during the late third century BC and probably had access to ancient records which were housed in the great Egyptian temples and perhaps in the famous library at Alexandria. Although his work has not survived to our day we have extracts paraphrased in Eusebius' writings and a partial summary in Clement's writings. Artapanus refers to Pharaoh Khenephres who had a daughter who adopted a Hebrew child who grew up to become Prince Mousos. (pg 252)

Artapanus' Greek name Khenephres represents the Egyptian royal name Khaneferre. There is only one Pharaoh in the whole of Egyptian history with this name. (pg 255)

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Moses' Military campaign against Ethiopians

Moses had ready access to Pharaoh. This is best understood if Moses were a prince of Egypt. There is a tradition that before going into exile Moses was the commander-in-chief of Pharaoh's army and led a military campaign against the Ethiopians (Kushites).

From the Bible From Archaeology
Page numbers from "Pharaohs and Kings" by David Rohl
Afterward Moses and Aaron went to Pharaoh and said, "This is what the LORD, the God of Israel, says: 'Let my people go, so that they may hold a festival to me in the desert.'" (Exodus 5:1) There is a tradition, first discussed by Artapanus (a Jewish historian referred to by Eusebius pg 252) then taken up by Josephus, of a military campaign by Prince Moses against the Ethiopians. (pg 252,254,259,260)

The only time in the history of Egypt near the time of Moses when this could have happened was the biblical time of Moses (pg 254)

There is a life-size statue of Pharaoh Khaneferre deep in the land of Kush and dated to the time of Moses. It is difficult to explain what this stature is doing here unless the commander-in-chief [Moses] of the Egyptian forces had this statue erected to honor his stepfather. (pg 263)

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Goshen — Raamses

There is a ancient city named Avaris which was excavated by archaeologists. The details of this city match the biblical text perfectly.

From the Bible From Archaeology
Page numbers from "Pharaohs and Kings" by David Rohl
So they put slave masters over them to oppress them with forced labor, and they built Pithom and Rameses as store cities for Pharaoh. (Exodus 1:11) The city of Avaris is the same city as Raamses. (pg 114)

The biblical redactor would naturally refer to the city by the name which was familiar to all his contemporaries. In the sixth century BC the Jewish audience would know of this city by the name Raameses. (pg 116)
Now the Israelites settled in Egypt in the region of Goshen. They acquired property there and were fruitful and increased greatly in number. (Genesis 47:27)) There is incontrovertible archaeological evidence for a large Asiatic population in the eastern delta (i.e. Goshen) at the correct time period of the biblical Israelite Sojourn, Bondage and Exodus. (pg 273)

The people who populated Avaris originated from Palestine and Syria. (pg 269)

The grave goods associated with the majority of the tombs were of Asiatic origin. (pg 269)
So Joseph settled his father and his brothers in Egypt and gave them property in the best part of the land, the district of Rameses, as Pharaoh directed. (Gen 47:11)

You should answer, 'Your servants have tended livestock from our boyhood on, just as our fathers did.' Then you will be allowed to settle in the region of Goshen, for all shepherds are detestable to the Egyptians." (Gen 46:34)

Joseph went and told Pharaoh, "My father and brothers, with their flocks and herds and everything they own, have come from the land of Canaan and are now in Goshen." (Gen 47:1)
There were long-haired sheep from the Levant. (pg 272)

The people who lived in Avaris are the proto-Israelites and were highly Egyptianized. Joseph was highly Egyptianized and readily accepted the influences of Egyptian culture for his people. (pg 271)

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Israel's sojourn in Egypt

From the Bible From Archaeology
Page numbers from "Pharaohs and Kings" by David Rohl
Now the length of time the Israelite people lived in Egypt was 430 years. At the end of the 430 years, to the very day, all the Lord's divisions left Egypt. (Exo 12:40-41)

The promises were spoken to Abraham and to his seed. The Scripture does not say "and to seeds," meaning many people, but "and to your seed," meaning one person, who is Christ. What I mean is this: The law, introduced 430 years later, does not set aside the covenant previously established by God and thus do away with the promise. (Gal 3:16-17)

Then the LORD said to him, "Know for certain that your descendants will be strangers in a country not their own, and they will be enslaved and mistreated four hundred years. (Gen 15:13)

God spoke to him in this way: 'Your descendants will be strangers in a country not their own, and they will be enslaved and mistreated four hundred years. (Acts 7:6)
Israelite Sojourn in the land of Egypt lasted 430 years. This figure is not certain. (pg 329)

There is evidence that it was 215 years. (pg 329)

Josephus — "430 years after our forefather Abraham came into Canaan but 215 years only after Jacob removed into Egypt." Josephus had access to very old documents formerly housed in the Temple of Jerusalem from which to draw his account of early Israelite history. (pg 331)

Septuagint — the children of Israel sojourned in the land of Egypt and in the land of Canaan 430 years (Ex 12:40). (pg 331)

Genealogy of Ephraim to Joshua — 10 generations of 20 years each = about 200 years. 1 Chr 7:22-27 (pg 331)

Based on this information it is possible to correctly date Joseph, Jacob's arrival in Egypt — and there is ample archaeological evidence for these events are the correct time. (pg 331-332)

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The slaughter of male infants

In the city of Avaris [Raamses] in Goshen there is archaeological evidence for the slaughter of the male infants by the Pharaoh.

From the Bible From Archaeology
Page numbers from "Pharaohs and Kings" by David Rohl
The king of Egypt said to the Hebrew midwives, . . . "When you help the Hebrew women in childbirth and observe them on the delivery stool, if it is a boy, kill him; but if it is a girl, let her live." (Exodus 1:15, 16) More adult women were buried in the settlement than adult men which indicates a disproportionately high female population. There was also a higher percentage of infant burials — 65% of all the burials were those of children under 18 months (compared to the expected rate of 20% to 30%). These two bits of archaeological evidence are explained by the slaughter of Israelite infant males by the Egyptians. (pg 271)

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In the city of Avaris [Raamses] in Goshen the archeological evidence shows that the inhabitants at the time of Moses suddenly abandoned the city.

From the Bible From Archaeology
Page numbers from "Pharaohs and Kings" by David Rohl
The Egyptians urged the people to hurry and leave the country. . . . (Exodus 12:33) There was a clear break in the occupation of Avaris [in Goshen]. (pg 271)

A large part of the remaining population of the town abandoned their homes and departed Avaris en masse. (pg 279)

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10th plague

There is archaeological evidence of a sudden catastrophe which occurred at the time of the Exodus.

From the Bible From Archaeology
Page numbers from "Pharaohs and Kings" by David Rohl
Pharaoh and all his officials and all the Egyptians got up during the night, and there was loud wailing in Egypt, for there was not a house without someone dead. (Exodus 12:30)

The Egyptians urged the people to hurry and leave the country. "For otherwise," they said, "we will all die!" (Exodus 12:33)
All over the city of Avaris [in Goshen] were shallow burial pits into which the victims of some terrible disaster had been hurriedly cast. The bodies were not arranged in the proper burial fashion but rather were thrown into the mass graves, one on top of the other. (pg 279)

Artapanus tells us that on the night before the Exodus, Egypt was struck by a terrible hailstorm and a violent earthquake. (pg 283)

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That Egypt was weakened by the 10 plagues

The 10 plagues of Egypt which were followed by the destruction of the Egyptian army in the Red Sea [Sea of Reeds] devastated the country of Egypt. We should expect to find archaeological evidence for the weakening of Egypt. The time period of the Exodus coincides with the invasion of Egypt by the Hyksos who conquered and took control of Egypt.

From the Bible From Archaeology
Page numbers from "Pharaohs and Kings" by David Rohl
The water flowed back and covered the chariots and horsemen—the entire army of Pharaoh that had followed the Israelites into the sea. Not one of them survived. (Exodus 14:28)

And the next day the LORD did it: All the livestock of the Egyptians died. . . . (Exodus 9:6)

Pharaoh's officials said to him, . . "Do you not yet realize that Egypt is ruined?" (Exodus 10:7)

. . .  They [the locusts] devoured all that was left after the hail—everything growing in the fields and the fruit on the trees. Nothing green remained on tree or plant in all the land of Egypt. (Exodus 10:15)
According to Manetho in a quotation by Josephus on the fall of the 13th dynasty and the occupation of Egypt by foreign elements — "In the reign of Tutimaos [Dudimose] for what cause I know not what, a blast of God smote us [the Egyptians]; and unexpectedly, from the regions of the east, invaders of obscure race marched in confidence of victory against our land. By main force they easily seized it without striking a blow; and having overpowered the rulers of the land, they then burned our cities ruthlessly, razed to the ground the temples of the gods, and treated all the natives with a cruel hostility, massacring some and leading into slavery the wives and children of others. Finally, they appointed as king one of their number." (pg 280,283)

Avaris was reoccupied by an interval of unknown duration by Asiatics who were not "Egyptianized" like the previous population. (pg 279)

There was a clear break in the occupation of Avaris. Later Avaris was occupied by the Hyksos invaders. Their tombs were purely Canaanite and showed little Egyptian influence. (pg 271)

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 Revised: Nov 11, 2000