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Evidence of Hebrews in Egypt


Published: 28 April 2020 (GMT+10)

Mathurin M. wrote to CMI as follows with responses from CMI’s Gary Bates interspersed.


I have been studying Ancient Egypt for a few years. I am a Protestant Christian and was happy to find your website in 2017. I have a question which your expert on Egypt, a man by the name of Mr Gary Bates might be able to answer for me.

Is any part of the Egyptian chronology in agreement with the chronology of the Bible?

[GB] Thanks. I’ll do my best but am not an expert. Keeping in mind that on the issue of Ancient Egypt even the ‘experts’ are widely divided. Asking if dates ascribed to Egypt agree with the Bible is a bit of a loaded question, and perhaps the incorrect question to ask. This is because there is widespread consensus that Egyptian chronology is in need of serious revision. Therefore, how can we start to reconcile something that we know is faulty to begin with? Before we start, and particularly for people not too familiar with the history of ancient Egypt, it will be beneficial to refer to table 1 as we go along. Note that these are secular dates that we would not agree with, but at least they should help us to understand the periods and sequences in which Egypt’s history is divided.

A ‘Kingdom’ was a time when all of Egypt was united under a central monarchy. An Intermediate Period was a time when Egypt was fragmented with different rulers, was a time of decline perhaps economically, or was a period when foreigners ruled some parts of the country. For example, the New Kingdom (18–20th dynasties) was a time when Egypt’s wealth and influence reached unprecedented levels.

Pre 3200 BC Predynastic/Prehistory
3200–2686 BC Early dynastic Period 1st–2nd
2686–2181 BC Old Kingdom 3rd–6th
2181–2055 BC 1st Intermediate Period 7th–10th
2055–1650 BC Middle Kingdom 11th–12th
1650–1550 BC 2nd Intermediate Period/Hyksos 13th(?)–17th
1550–1069 BC New Kingdom 18th–20th
1069–664 BC 3rd Intermediate Period 21st–25th
664–525 BC Late Period 26th
525–332 BC Achaemenid/Persian Egypt 27th–31st
332–30 BC Ptolemaic/Greek Egypt
30 BC–641 AD Roman & Byzantine Egypt

Table 1: Standard dating of Egyptian History

To determine any sort of match, Egyptian history itself would have to mention actual biblical events or biblical characters that we recognize, and then we could them match up with the biblical dates. The big ticket items that most want to try to determine are who were the pharaohs of the Exodus, or Joseph and Abraham’s times, for example. However, the Egyptians were unlikely to record any details of a slave group of foreigners on monuments dedicated to their kings and gods. In other words, one would not expect them to be mentioned which is why it is rather duplicitous when an ‘expert’ on Egypt proclaims that Egypt is silent about the Hebrew occupations. However, Egypt does eventually mention the Hebrews and even the nation of Israel (Habiru/Israel) from about the mid-18th dynasty forward (c. 1450 BC). This is after they had most likely departed Egypt, so it might also give us an indication that the Exodus occurred just prior to that time. If we can determine the dates of biblical events, then we might look at Egyptian history to see if we can find any synchronous events or characters.

For example, quite some time after the Exodus, Scripture tells about King Solomon and his son Rehoboam interacting with King Shishak of Egypt. Here are some biblical references to this king. (1 Kings 11:40; 14:25; 2 Chronicles 12:2–9).

So all we have to do is identify who Shishak might be. But there is no pharaoh called Shishak mentioned in Egypt itself.

Shoshenq inscription

However, the great French archaeologist Champollion (1790–1832—the one who deciphered the Rosetta Stone) deciphered an inscription on a portal in Egypt related to pharaoh Shoshenq who was the first king of the 22nd dynasty in the Third Intermediate Period (IP) of Egypt. The 22nd dynasty was the second non-native Egyptian dynasty of the of the 3rd IP. This period began with the death of the Egyptian king, Ramses XI (20th dynasty) and it left Egypt in turmoil. Along comes Shoshenq to sort it all out. Once done, he embarks on campaigns in the Ancient Near East. On his ‘booty list’—the Bubastite Portal at the Temple of Karnak at Thebes/Luxor, he lists around 180 cities that he conquered in the Jordan region. 43 of these are names of cities and kings that are recognizable as cities in Judah and Israel during the Divided Kingdom. There are also many names that are not legible, so a full picture is unclear. The kings of the 3rd IP had a Libyan origin and were most likely originally generals under former Egyptian rule, and Bubastis itself was a Libyan city. Keep in mind before you read on that there are lots of depictions of towns and cities that cannot be read on Shoshenq’s portal due to their poor condition, so a complete picture is hard to assess.

Champollion deciphered one set of hieroglyphics (y-w-d-h-m-r-k) on Shoshenq’s portal as Ioudahamalek or yehudmalek, and as the kingdom of the Jews or of Judah. Therefore, he believed that Shoshenq of Egypt was also Shishak of the Bible who had plundered cities in the Divided Kingdom. However, Egyptian revisionist (not a Christian believer) David Rohl argues this deciphered interpretation is incorrect and ergo Shoshenq cannot be Shishak because the portal does not mention Jerusalem.

Some background

After King Solomon’s reign, his son Rehoboam went on to be the king of Judah in the Divided Kingdom. Jeroboam, a former superintendent for Solomon who became a destructive influence, fled his king’s wrath and sought sanctuary in Egypt with Shishak and there married an Egyptian princess. Scripture indicates he also became familiar with worshipping Egyptian sacred bull deities Apis and Mnevis.

Solomon sought therefore to kill Jeroboam. But Jeroboam arose and fled into Egypt, to Shishak king of Egypt, and was in Egypt until the death of Solomon (1 Kings 11:40).

If Rohl is correct that Jerusalem is not mentioned in Shoshenq’s relief at Karnak it might be for another reason. I believe Scripture indicates that Shishak did not conquer the city but, instead, Rehoboam may have handed over booty to stop it being plundered. The sequence kind of reads, Shishak is coming; he’s still coming to exact God’s judgment on them (God is giving them time to repent, 2 Chronicles 12:2–5). They get together, then repent and humble themselves (12:6). As God often does when His people repent, God lessened the judgment, and instead of being destroyed, they were only subjugated and plundered (12:7–8).

Then Shemaiah the prophet came to Rehoboam and to the princes of Judah, who had gathered at Jerusalem because of Shishak, and said to them, “Thus says the LORD, ‘You abandoned me, so I have abandoned you to the hand of Shishak.’” Then the princes of Israel and the king humbled themselves and said, “The LORD is righteous.” When the LORD saw that they humbled themselves, the word of the LORD came to Shemaiah: “They have humbled themselves. I will not destroy them, but I will grant them some deliverance, and my wrath shall not be poured out on Jerusalem by the hand of Shishak. Nevertheless, they shall be servants to him, that they may know my service and the service of the kingdoms of the countries.” So Shishak the king of Egypt came up against Jerusalem. He took away the treasures of the house of the LORD and the treasures of the king's house. He took away everything. He also took away the shields of gold that Solomon had made (2 Chronicles 12:5–9).

I think it is clear that Shishak was given the treasures of Jerusalem and Judah including the gold shields of Solomon etc. as tribute to not destroy the city. Indeed, if the city was not destroyed hence why it might not be mentioned on Shoshenq’s portal, if indeed, yehudmalek is not the correct interpretation of the hieroglyph and is not the city of Judah etc. But maybe we do not need to resort to such speculation.

What does y-w-d-h-m-r-k actually mean?

With the help of CMI’s Gavin Cox, I have been investigating the hieroglyph in question a bit further. The Egyptian language had no vowels and so it intends the reader to ‘force’ the sounds of the images being depicted. We then try to equate those to alphabetic letters that we understand.

To start, we looked up Champollion’s original writings in French and had it interpreted. He did not actually mention the words ‘king’ or ‘Jerusalem’ as some have claimed. But he did cite what I wrote earlier which was ‘the kingdom of the Jews or of Judah’.1 The transliteration of ‘y-w-d-h-m-r-k’ is interesting. In modern times we have verbally rendered the m-r-k as malek or king which is not correct. Gavin notes,

“an Egyptian word pronounced mrk means “offering, to give”, in Egyptian. This is attested in the Egyptian Wörterbuch (Wb 2, 113.3) and the lexicon by Dimitri Meeks (Meeks, AL 78.1800).”

So perhaps a better rendering of the hieroglyph is that y-w-d-h-m-r-k means “Judah gives an offering.” This is outstanding because this is exactly what Rehoboam did. He gave an offering to Shishak to avoid the city of Jerusalem and capital of Judah being plundered. This included the wealth of Solomon. No wonder Shoshenq/Shishak mentioned it!

We need to do more research but at this stage we think Champollion’s original idea and Kitchen (see later) are most likely correct.

Another objection is that Shoshenq also plundered cities in Jeroboam’s Israel. Why would he have destroyed the cities of presumably a former friend who he earlier gave sanctuary to? There are a couple of things to consider. In context Jeroboam sought sanctuary in Egypt because he was part of a revolt that helped divide Solomon’s kingdom. But he returns as king of a now divided kingdom. He may have thumbed his nose at Shoshenq now because he did not need him anymore. After all, he is now a king in his own right. But I think the biblical context helps us see a big picture. Rehoboam’s Judah seems to have been spared by God due to repentance, but Shishak was going to be God’s instrument of judgment on Jeroboam. Israel was ransacked but Rehoboam paid tribute and was spared.

Dating biblical Shishak

But here is the most exciting part. Solomon began the temple in the fourth year of his reign which we agree was 967 BC. We believe this year to be accurate as we have built our 1 Kings 6:1 Exodus date around this as 1446 BC (some creation ministries say 1491 BC). This means he came to power in c. 971 BC. He reigned for 40 years. This puts the end of his reign at about 931 BC. Shishak invaded Judah in the 5th year of Rehoboam’s reign meaning around 926 BC (by conventional Egyptian chronology which I believe to be reasonably accurate to within a few tens of years in some places from the 18th dynasty forward). The conventional date for Shoshenq’s invasion is 925 BC. These dates are very close and this could be a wonderful synchrony with biblical chronology.

The very respected Christian Egyptologist Kenneth Kitchen has written the seminal work on the 3rd IP of Egypt and he argued that Champollion was also correct in his interpretation. You might also be surprised to know that a large number of secular Egyptologists have accepted the Shishak/Shoshenq synchrony. But David Rohl (who should be admired for advocating a revamp of Egyptian chronology), rejected Shishak and Shoshenq as being one and the same because it did not fit in with his revised chronology of Egypt. He used other events to re-date much of Egyptian history and the Shoshenq/Shishak synchrony did not fill well with this.

I have read his interesting paper, Egyptian chronology and the Bible—framing the issues and find it interesting. Also can I ask if he can read the hieroglyphics and read original Egyptian text for himself. One last difficulty for me is Mr Bates gives three dates for Exodus. Two dates he explains but all I see for 1491 BC date is “some think that … ” Who are the ‘some’ and why do they think 1491 BC is correct? I do not understand this Can you help? Thank you.

[GB] No, I cannot, as yet, read hieroglyphics. But note above how even today experts disagree on an interpretation of one hieroglyph. Egyptologist Gavin Cox in our UK office is reasonably adept at reading them though and helped me out on this as can be seen above. BTW you asked if Egyptian chronology matches the Bible dates, but that article you cited explains exactly why not. I recommend that our readers spend the time going through it.

Also, I don’t believe I advocated three dates. I merely mentioned the other dates that some ascribe to and that 1491 BC is a date that another ministry subscribes to. My/our preferred date is the one that I believe we can reasonably deduce from Scripture and is also known as the early Exodus (compared to the late Exodus with Rameses II being the pharaoh of the Exodus c. 1279–1213). The date is 1446 BC (give or take a year). At the time of writing several CMI staff have been working on a guide book for our upcoming tours of Egypt commencing in August 2020 (all three tours sold out in a matter of weeks but due to COVID-19 they have been postponed to 2021). We have written:

The anchor point for our chronology is 586/7 BC, the year the Babylonians under Nebuchadnezzar destroyed Jerusalem. This date is well attested in secular archeology and is a fixed point in biblical history as well. But note that we are already starting with a 1-year discrepancy. Let’s assume 586 is the correct answer. From there, we can work backwards though the divided kingdom, the united monarchy, the period of the Judges, the Exodus, the Sojourn in Egypt, and from Abraham back to Noah. However, it is not possible to know the dates exactly, because the numbers given to us in the Bible are not always that precise. See The biblical minimum and maximum age of the earth.

The kings of Israel and Judah

Scholars debate how long the kings of Judah and Israel reigned. Accounting for all the little details amounts to about 50 years of ambiguity. However, several people have worked out the details to a reasonable level of accuracy. We can safely say that Solomon became king in approximately 970 BC.2

The building of the Temple

1 Kings 6:1 tells us that construction of the Temple began in Solomon’s fourth year as king. More specifically, “…in the month of Ziv, which is the second month, he began to build the house of the Lord.” Thus, it sounds like they were counting carefully. Temple construction began around 966 BC.

The Exodus


1 Kings 6:1 also says that Solomon began to build the Temple, “In the four hundred and eightieth year after the people of Israel came out of the land of Egypt.” This would place the Exodus in 1,446 BC. Some scholars believe that this 480-year figure should be understood symbolically, as 12 × 40, with 40 years equal to a generation. However, there is nothing in the Bible that says a “generation” is 40 years and we feel that these attempts at stylizing the passage in this way are introducing concepts foreign to both the writer and the initial audience. Also, the precision in the immediate context (“in the fourth year of Solomon’s reign over Israel, in the month of Ziv, which is the second month, he began to build the house of the Lord. “) is another argument against this.

Furthermore, two other calculations similarly converge on a date for the Exodus in the 15th century BC. First, Judges 11:26 allows us to make a rough calculation. In his taunt to the Ammonite King, Jephthah refers to Israel having occupied the land east of the Jordan for the previous 300 years. Jephthah lived in the latter half of the period of the Judges and prior to David, who became king circa 1,010 BC. Allowing for some time between Jephthah and David (let’s use “100 years” as an estimate), approximately three hundred years between the conquest of Canaan and Jephthah’s statement, and another 40 years for the wandering in the wilderness places the Exodus around 1,440 BC, give or take a wide margin of error. Yet, even with the uncertainties, these numbers cannot be stretched indefinitely. The Exodus had to be close to this date.

Second, if we subtract the 40 years of wilderness wandering from the 480 years of 1 Kings 6:1 and allow one year for the Israelites to get themselves established in the land, 439 years is exactly nine Jubilee cycles from the year the Israelites were settled in Canaan. It is probably not a coincidence that the Temple construction began in a Jubilee year!

Speaking of Jubilee cycles, there is a very interesting statement in Ezekiel 41:1:

“In the twenty-fifth year of our exile, at the beginning of the year, on the tenth day of the month, in the fourteenth year after the city was struck down, on that very day, the hand of the Lord was upon me, and he brought me to the city.”

The only time Rosh Hoshana (“the beginning of the year”) falls on the 10th of Tishri is during a Jubilee year (Leviticus 25:9). Outside the Bible, the Talmud and Seder Olam both say this was the 17th Jubilee.3 Thus, 14 years after the destruction of the Temple (572 or 573 BC) was a Jubilee year. Subtracting 17 Jubilees (17 × 49 = 833 years) and adding 40 years of wandering in the desert also gives us an Exodus of 1446 BC.4

Since three different methods of calculating the Exodus gives us the same result, we can take this date as fairly certain, plus or minus a year or two. Please note that there is room for scholarly debate here. Different people advocate for different timelines. We do not have space to present all the arguments, but 1446 BC is the most widely accepted date among evangelicals, and we agree.

[GB]I hope this helps. I believe there is a lot more we could write about in terms of determining who might be the pharaoh of the Exodus and even who Joseph interacted with, but hopefully these will be revealed in future articles.

References and notes

  1. Letters and Journals of Champollion the Younger, Paris (1909), pp. 160-163, gallica.bnf.fr/ark:/12148/bpt6k55516z/f195.image, accessed 4 February 2020. Return to text.
  2. According to Thiel. See Thiele, E.R., The Mysterious Numbers of the Hebrew Kings, Zondervan, Grand Rapids, MI, 1951 and Jones, F., Chronology of the Old Testament, King’s Word Press, The Woodlands, TX, 1999. Return to text.
  3. Young, R.C., Evidence for inerrancy from a second unexpected source: the Jubilee and Sabbatical cycles, Bible and Spade 21(4), 2008; biblearchaeology.org/research/exodus-from-egypt/2662-evidence-for-inerrancy-from-a-second-unexpected-source-the-jubilee-and-sabbatical-cycles. Return to text.
  4. Petrovich, D., Amenhotep II and the historicity of the Exodus pharaoh, The Master’s Seminary Journal 17(1):81–110, 2006; tms.edu/m/msj17.1.pdf. See also biblearchaeology.org/research/exodus-from-egypt/3147-amenhotep-ii-and-the-historicity-of-the-exodus-pharaoh. Return to text.

Readers’ comments

King T.
From Miguel M: "There is no magical mountain where magical things happened."
I just can't resist statements like these, just in order to point out the magical things one would have to believe if there is no Creator, God (of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob).
1. Everything came from nothing - in spite of Dr Krauss's best effort to make nothing into something.
2. All space and matter suddenly accelerated to a speed faster than light with no known cause and then just as magically decelerated to below light speed - also with no known cause.
3. Stars magically form all by themselves from clouds of gas, defying the Jeans Mass limit - with the magical help of the two spirit forces Dark Matter and Dark Energy.
4. Planets magically form all by themselves from clouds of dust against all physical odds, leaving behind great magical puzzles that the evolutionists/atheists cannot solve in things like Mercury still having a magnetic field, Venus spinning the "wrong" way around, Uranus rolling along like a football, Pluto seemingly being geologically active and so on.
5. Life magically springing up from non-living material via random chemical and physical processes with no highly intelligent and powerful outside help whatsoever. This magic totally defying the daily scientific observations that once things die they NEVER come back to life all by themselves again.
6. All of the current life forms magically forming via a path of increasing complexity from one original ancestor.

Maybe Miguel just doesn't like the "magic" of the Christians competing with his.
Miguel M.
The exodus is a myth and myths are not to be dated because they are myths. Where is the evidence of the seven plagues destruction in egypt if those events happened we should see evidence of destruction and disease and human bodies in archaeology in egypt. The seven plagues of egypt were the result of the santorini volcano and not the result of some magical god. The hebrews israelites were never in egypt they were always in cannan. There is no magical mountain where magical things happened and where the 10 commandments came from as if humanity didnt already have a law system code of hammurabi hint hint. The israelites invented those events so that they could have a standing in world politics in the ancient near east its all folklore no different from the other folklore tales around the world. Egyptologists and archaeologists in israel have already written books on these subjects like israel finkelstein and others. We know there is no such thing as magic what there is is called hallucinogenic drugs like the egyptian priests throwing their staves and they turn into snakes and moses doing the same this is the reason rational people dont take the bible seriously
Gary Bates
Well, your atheistic faith might wish your assertions to be the case but that doesn't make them so. Clearly you have not investigated our site to find any reasonable answers for your objections, which is a requirement before submitting comments and questions. If you understood, anything about Egyptian history and their culture, which clearly you don't from your comments, one would not expect to find any historical records of the Hebrews because of the way Egyptians viewed non-Egyptians. This topic was covered in the linked article Egypt Chronology: framing the issues which we recommended everyone read (clearly you didn't before submitting a comment). For example, we know the Hyksos ("rulers of foreign lands") ruled over Egypt (they were not slaves like the Hebrews) for at least 5 dynastic periods. But good luck trying to find any Egyptian records about them for the reasons I just mentioned. But because the Hyksos did rule Egypt, they built temples and left artifacts behind that we can discover today. And when they escaped back to the ANE they wrote about their experiences in Egypt, just like the Hebrews. There are also excerpts in Genesis about Joseph and his interactions with a pharaoh who was clearly non-Egyptian, that line up with pharaoh being a Hyksos 'foreigner'. Finkelstein is an atheist, probably like you, so one can hardly expect a balanced view of Jewish history from him either. There is more I could write to answer your objections, but I suspect you are not really interested in answers as you have already displayed poor knowledge on the subject (i.e. there were 10 plagues, not 7 BTW). I have no intention of doing your leg work for you on our site. But, for example, you could have just typed "Hammurabi" into our search engine and see your canards similarly answered there. As for rational people not taking the Bible seriously...really? How is that even a true statement? Tell that to the millions of educated people and academics all over the world who believe the Bible's history to be true. Moreover, the archaeological evidence supports it as detailed in this very article showing a synchrony between Shishak and Shoshenq. As Dr Eilat Mazar, granddaughter of pioneering Israeli archaeologist Benjamin Mazar, stated: “I work with the Bible in one hand and the tools of excavation in the other, and I try to consider everything.” It's just that you fail to and choose not to seriously engage with all the evidence that supports the Bible's history. It might be confronting to you,if the Bible is correct, but it is incumbent of you to consider all the facts, like her, before making such assertions and decisions, as it has eternal consequences. I wish you well and encourage you to dig deeper and truly find out if you are right or wrong.
Archibald C.
The dates you provide for the exodus would give a range of around 2300-2400 BC that Noah came out of the Ark. Traditionally, according to secular historians, Ancient Egypt starts around 3000 BC or a bit earlier. I know that the ancient Egyptian Chronology is a bit wonky because experts can't agree on certain parts plus overlap is largely ignored by secular historians. But is there a date of which creationists could say is a reasonable deduction for the actual start of A.E.? I remember it's mentioned in the Bible as Mizriam shortly after the flood events, so it must have been within a few centuries at least, right? Maybe around the time Peleg was born since the Earth was divided in his days?
Gary Bates
Archibald, if you did not read the recommended article on Egypt Chronology I strongly recommend you take the time to go through it as it will provide a framework for understanding the problems associated with attempting to work out such chronologies. It is more than just overlapping dynasties. First, one has to understand how the concept of dynasties came about. They are a modern invention courtesy of Manetho. Some dynasties and the kings may have never even existed. Even the biblical date of the Flood depends upon whether one assumes a long or short sojourn in Egypt. Certainly, the beginning of Egyptian history cannot predate the Flood. But after the Flood we still need time for the Babel event and for the descendants of Noah to migrate to Egypt and for populations to increase. Egyptian history requires radical shortening which some are not in the favour of doing. It is a highly controversial subject. It is possible that the beginnings of ancient Egypt might be a thousand years out.
Jimmy C.
Thanks for the information Gary. I appreciate your time.
Jimmy C.
Just read this fine article by Mr. Gates [actually Bates] . I am not a Hebrew or Egyptian language scholar but I have an opinion. I was recently watching a documentary on the History channel about the pharaoh Djoser which may be available on demand. I don't trust everything the History channel asserts about historical facts. The images in this video showed his step pyramid and walked enclosed around it. It was built like a fortress and the odd thing about the inside was the huge pits in th ground which were surmised the be grain storage pits. Also, it appears that this pharaoh has I visited who was the designer of the complex but had many other amazing attributes which almost made him a god. The other thing that was perplexing about this man was that he had any elaborate tomb, but no body was found. Maybe Joseoh? I'm not speculating, just saying what if. I leave this to the scholars to decide. It does seem perplexing to say the least.
Gary Bates
Hi Jimmy, this idea has been around for years particularly in Christian circles, and that Djoser's architect, Imhotep was Joseph. There is no validity to this claim whatsover. The timing is out by hundreds of years. Djoser was a 3rd dynasty king. The events surrounding Joseph likely occurred during the 2nd Intermediate Period which are the 12-17th dynasties. The Egyptians reviled foreigners, so if Joseph and Imhotep were the same it is unlikely that he would have been lauded throughout subsequent Egyptian history by the kings that followed, which they did. See my earlier comment which indicated (from Scripture) that Joseph likely served under a foreign-born pharaoh. And given the biblical date of the Exodus, the 2nd IP immediately preceded that date. Moreover, I don't believe there are huge pits underneath Djoser's pyramid. There are two miles of tunnels, but they were there to confound grave robbers. it is very complex and it doesn't seem like a good place to store grain in my opinion.
Chris S.
I would have expected C.H. Spurgeon to have favoured a 15th century date for the Exodus but I am not sure he did. I have been reading John Mackay's commentary on Exodus. He discusses the question whether Pharaoh perished with his army in the Red Sea. He thinks not, as there is no mention of the death of Pharaoh in Exodus. He notes Psalm 136v15 says '...but swept Pharaoh and his army into the Red Sea', but he takes that as poetic expression. I decided to check what Spurgeon himself said on the Psalm in The Treasury of David. Spurgeon merely assumes Pharaoh dies and does not discuss the question. However, the Treasury includes extracts from other commentators at the end of Spurgeon's comments on each Psalm. These were assembled by Spurgeon's helpers but he was 'editor in chief' (his own term) of them. One of these snippets does identify the Pharaoh; the commentator is William Osburn (about whom I know nothing) and he identifies the Pharaoh as Sethos II (also known as Sethi II and Seti II). According to my resources Sethos II reigned 1208 to 1202 BC. A late date for the Exodus and I am surprised Spurgeon supported it.
Gary Bates
Hi Chris, yes I think any of the Seti's is too late. That places the Exodus in the 19th dynasty. Many others also adopt a 19th dynasty view (Rameses) because of the naming of the cities of Pi-Ramses in Scripture. That is actually known as the late Exodus idea. We believe that current name of Pi-Rameses to be a textual update. See the section down the page on 'Historical Updates' on this articleby Rob Carter and Lita Cosner. See one of my other responses where I personally think it took place in the midst 18th dynasty. Mackay has probably got his ideas on pharaoh not dying in the Red Sea from Egyptologist Dr Doug Petrovich. I will send you a private email with a link to his article on the pharaoh of the Exodus.
Renae B.
The 1491 BC Exodus date comes from Ussher's Annals of the World.

There may be a mathematical discrepancy in Jubilee year calculations between assigning the start of the building of the Temple to a Jubilee year and the method used to date Ezekiel's vision (Ez. 40:1, not 41:1). Using Young's chronological work, Ezekiel's vision was in the 17th Jubilee year that started in 574 BC and ended in 573 BC. The math is 17 x 49 = 833; 573 BC (end of 49th year) + 833 years = 1406 BC entrance to Canaan; 1406 BC + 40 years in wilderness = 1446 BC Exodus.

The same method of calculation places the 9th Jubilee year in the year that started in 966 BC and ended in 965 BC. The math is 9 x 49 = 441; 965 BC + 441 = 1406 BC; 1406 BC + 40 = 1446 BC.

But Thiele's chronology with Young's modifications does tie 1 Kings 6:1 directly to the 1446 BC Exodus. Solomon began to build the Temple in a year that started in 968 BC and ended in 967 BC. The math is 967 BC + 479 years (the 480th had not been completed) = 1446 BC.

Rodger C. Young thoroughly explains in other published work why Jubilee cycles were 49 years long and were composed of seven 7-year Sabbatical cycles. Technically, the religious year began in the spring month of Nisan, the first month of the religious year, but Sabbatical and Jubilee years began in the fall month of Tishri, the seventh month of religious year. That may be the source of confusion with 49 and 50 year cycles. Sabbaticals and Jubilees ran from the 49 1/2 to 50 1/2 point of the religious year. The 50th year was also the first year by the count.

John H.
This is not a comment. I am asking Gary Bates, whom I greatly respect, to look at my website, [URL withheld per CMI's publication rules], before he writes another piece on Egyptian history. Thanks.
Gary Bates
Dear John, I did take a look at your site, but you had dozens of articles there. After I found a couple on Egypt it became very evident that you follow a Velikovskian revision on Egyptian history. Sadly, we do not agree. Over the years I've discovered that there is a tendency to gravitate to almost 'magic bullet' type solutions when it comes to Egyptian chronology. Respectfully, suggesting that I view your articles before I write further would indicate that you too have kind of 'solved' it all. See my response to Rob R. on this article's page and you will find many links as to why Velikovsky is wrong. I also find it odd why so many Christians would gravitate to the views of an atheistic Jew when it comes to aligning the Bible with Egypt (it should be the other way around BTW). I peronally think there is a strong candidate for the pharaoh of the Exodus, but it is based upon what Scripture says about him and the events, and FWIW I would place the Exodus in the midst of the 18th dynasty. But the further we go back in Egyptian history the more difficult it gets when trying to determine who Joseph's pharaoh was, or even Abraham. See my response though to Justin F. as, once again, I think Scripture gives us a basis for determining at least a period or cultural setting in which Joseph lived. I would encourage more to research Egypt, but do so from the Bible rather than following others. I think the old saying that if it (the solutions) seem too good to be true, then they probably are. Hopefully, you've read my article on Egypt Chronology and why I genuinely think that no one can honestly say 'they know' who all these pharaohs are. All we can do is propose some candidates. All the best.
Tim L.
I think the point Paul was trying to make is that you say, "... 439 years is exactly nine Jubilee cycles from the year the Israelites were settled in Canaan." But clearly, 439 years is not *exactly* 9 Jubilee cycles. It is certainly within the range of uncertainty, but we should be careful to not overstate the precision of these things.
Gary Bates
Thanks Tim, and I completely agree.
Rob R.
if the flood was about 2305 bc, then babel, then the current Egyptian middle kingdom would be the pre dynastic period."unwrapping the pharaoh's" by david down and someone else is where i reproduced the dynasties and put on my wall about 10 years ago.
Gary Bates
Yes, there are many opinions about Egypt and trying to 'fit' its chronology into the Bible etc. See my other comments. David Down followed a Velikovskian inspired chronology, which is simply not correct. I recommend reading some of Patrick Clarke's articles on hi bio page. At the top of his page you will see some articles deconstructing David's views on Sheba being the same as Hatshepsut, for example, and David's responses. I think Patrick is correct though.
Justin F.
I've been doing study on the Israelite occupation and the chronology. Thank you for writing an updated Egyptian history piece. When it comes to Joseph in Egypt on the Egyptian timeline, is it safe to assume he came to Egypt under the 12th Dynasty, in Egypt known as Mentuhotep as AiG supports?
Gary Bates
Hi Justin, for the sake of brevity (not bluntness), I'll be direct. No, I don't think they are correct. So, many people, as you'll see from other comments received, all like to think they have 'solved' the issues when it comes to Egyptian chronology. If you haven't done so already, I recommend reading my article on Egypt Chronology as it provides a framework to show why this is so terribly difficult. AiG have articles promoting David Down's work (a friend of ours when he was alive BTW), which similarly follows Veilikovsky's revisionism, which is demonstrably wrong. You mentioned Mentuhotep, but which on?. There were at least 3. But regardless, this would place Joseph in the 1st Intermediate period which is much too early. I think it is impossible to work out which king he served under because we just don't have enough information. But one thing I am convinced about is that Joseph did not serve under an Egyptian-borne pharaoh. And my insights come from Scripture itself.Here is just one example in Genesis 46 where we read:

“Joseph said to his brothers and to his father’s household, ‘I will go up and tell Pharaoh and will say to him, “My brothers and my father’s household, who were in the land of Canaan, have come to me. And the men are shepherds, for they have been keepers of livestock, and they have brought their flocks and their herds and all that they have.” When Pharaoh calls you and says, “What is your occupation?” you shall say, “Your servants have been keepers of livestock from our youth even until now, both we and our fathers,” in order that you may dwell in the land of Goshen, for every shepherd is an abomination to the Egyptians’”(emphasis ours).

Why would Joseph be telling his family to identify themselves as something detestable in the eyes of pharaoh if Joseph wanted them to be favoured? If pharaoh was a native Egyptian, this passage makes little sense. Clearly the pharaoh of the day was a sheepherder. This fits in with the Hyksos rule of the 2nd IP. They ruled over all of Egypt and had their power center in Avaris. They were of Semitic origin and we know there was mass migration into Egypt prior to them taking rule. The native Egyptians (who eventually expelled the Hyksos--'a pharaoh arose who did not recognize Joseph') were relegated to live in central Egypt with Thebes, nowadays Luxor, as their capital. I think this gives us a better understanding as to timing.
Paul S.
Lev 25:8-12 even states it is a 50th year, not the 49th. The question is when the next cycle starts. 25:21,22 cover the sabbath cropping so it is not really a problem for a 2 year cropping hiatus. We get bumper crops every so often even without following sabbath rest. No, we aren't under the law due to Jesus, but there is a lot of good physical advice and principles in it.
Graham M.
Looks like it was written by an expert to me!!
Well done Gary.
Paul S.
Jubilees were 50 year cycles, and 439 is not a multiple of 9.
Robert Carter
I influenced the wording this section, so I was asked to reply.

1. Scholars disagree about the length of the Jubilee cycle. Most people say 50 years. But this would mean the land would have to lie fallow on the 49th AND 50th years, since the Jubilee year is also a Sabbath year (Leviticus 25:11-12), which would be untenable for a farming community. Manna stopped when they entered the Promised Land and God never told them He would miraculously provide for them. It is remotely possible that they could have looked ahead and planned for two years of no harvest, but this is absent from any biblical text. And, besides the doubled Sabbath years, two consecutive regular Sabbath years would also be 8 years apart.

Others say it is a 49-year cycle. The 50th year would be inclusive. If the Jubilee is the 49th calendar year, there is no double Sabbath year and each regular Sabbath year is 7 years apart. This parallels the 7-day week and is a more natural fit.

There is a third option. The Jubilee could be the 50th calendar year but also the first year of the next 7-year cycle. This still has consecutive Sabbath years, and there are six years between the Jubilee year and the next regular Sabbath year, so this is not a popular position.

2. Concerning your statement that 439 is not a multiple of 9, first you means 49. Second, you are right. However, 441 is a multiple of 49. If I made a mistake in following others, it is not fatal. All we have to do is shift the building of the Temple by one or two years. Or, we may appeal to inclusive language again, plus say that the clock starts ticking when they enter Canaan, not, as I said, one year later. Without that extra year and/or with inclusive language, it is 480 years from the start of the Exodus. There are also questions about the timing of the Exodus (by definition, Passover is in the springtime) vs. the timing of the entry into Canaan (the Jordan was in flood stage during the annual harvest, Joshua 3:15), how much of a "year" is entailed, and if the year(s) is(are) inclusive. Either way, we are in the right ballpark. If we are forced to make it 1447 or 1448 BC, or if we have to build the Temple one or two years later, so what? The discrepancy is small.

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