Is there any physical evidence for the Exodus described in the Bible? If you were to read the popular press, you would come to the conclusion that not only was there no evidence, but the evidence actually contradicted known archaeology. One such article recently appeared in Time Magazine. The usual complaints surround the lack of archaeological evidence of the Hebrews' wanderings through the desert. However, nomadic people seldom, if ever, leave any evidence of their presence. The Bible tells us that throughout the Exodus, the people never planted crops, built cities or did anything that would be expected to be found in thousands of square miles of desert. The Bible says that even their clothing did not wear out. The chances of finding any physical evidence of the Exodus itself seems extremely unlikely. However, the events surrounding the Exodus (both before and after) are testable and datable.
Unfortunately, extremely strong evidence for the validity of the Exodus has been published only in the scientific journals and never made it to the popular press. These studies examined one of the Egyptian plagues (before the Exodus) and demise of Jericho (after the Exodus). Drs. Hendrik J. Bruins and Johannes van der Plicht reported in the prestigious British journal, Nature,1 that the destruction of Jericho was dated to 1580 (" 13 years) B.C. (using 14C dating). This date is significant, since several archeologists have insisted that Jericho was destroyed by the Egyptians between 1550 and 1300 B.C. The recent study discredits the Egyptian theory, since the date is much too old.
What is even more interesting is that scientists, using 14C dating and tree rings, have found evidence of a volcanic eruption from the Aegean island of Thera, which has been dated to 1628 B.C.2 This would place the eruption at 45 years prior to the destruction of Jericho, at a time which coincidentally corresponds to the time of the plagues the Lord unleashed upon Egypt. Check out Exodus 10:
Then the Lord said to Moses, "Stretch out your hand toward the sky, that there may be darkness over the land of Egypt, even a darkness which may be felt." So Moses stretched out his hand toward the sky, and there was thick darkness in all the land of Egypt for three days. (Exodus 10:21-22)
Even the researchers commented that the 45 years difference in events was "rather striking."3
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- Bruins, H.J. and J. van der Plicht. 1996. The Exodus enigma. Nature 382: 213-214.
- Renfrew, C. 1996. Kings, tree rings and the Old World. Nature 381:733-734.
Kuniholm, P. I., Kromer, B., Manning, S. W., Newton, M., Latini, C. E., and Bruce, M. J. 1996. Anatolian tree rings and the absolute chronology of the eastern Mediterranean, 2220-718 BC Nature 381:780-783.
Friedrich, W.L., P. Wagner, and H. Tauber. 1990. Thera and the Aegean World III Thera Foundation, London, UK.
- "These averages, taken together, yield 3,356 +/- 18 yr BP, 45 radiocarbon years older than our 14Carbon destruction date for MB-IIC Jericho. This time difference is rather striking, as it could fit the desert period of 40 years separating the Exodus from the destruction of Jericho, mentioned in ancient Hebrew texts." from Reference 1.
Last Modified April 28, 2006