By Nathan Jones
Did the Exodus actually happen, since there is supposedly no archaeological evidence?
This question was posed to Dr. James Fleming, one of the most knowledgeable teachers of Biblical Archaeology, on our show Christ in Prophecy. Dr. Fleming has lived and taught in Israel for the past 37 years at Jerusalem University College and at the Hebrew University. His first claim to fame is that he discovered the ancient Eastern Gate buried beneath the current one. Dr. Fleming has walked or motorcycled about every square mile of Israel, and is so familiar with Israel past and present that Israeli tour guides come to him for training. He now operates the Explorations in Antiquity Center in LaGrange, Georgia, an interactive museum where people here in the U.S. can experience the life and times of Christ.
Dr. Fleming: In Judaism, when you ask a difficult question, the rabbis would always preface it by saying, "Please tell me while standing on one foot." So, I will give you a one foot answer.
You should not expect The Egyptian Daily News to have an article about Pharaoh and his army being defeated. They only would report victories. And so, it is not surprising that we don't have recordings of defeats. Everything the king says is good and powerful and stuff like that.
There are many evidences, though, that the Hebrews came from a time living in Egypt. The land itself shows a gradual change of pottery from east to west, meaning from the Jordan Valley to Mount Judah to the coastal plain, just as presented in the books of Joshua and Judges. This shows that people did enter from east of the land as the Bible says.
More specifically, there are some things that we need to be open to. Could there have been more than one exodus? The Bible records more than one route for the Exodus. In one tradition they are not allowed through Moab and Edom, yet in another text the kings of Moab and Edom let them through. At some sites in the land they worship the Lord at Gilgal, while at Shechem and other sites they battle. Could there have been a number of times the Lord brought people out of Egypt? The largest exodus would have been the Moses/Joshua led exodus and that is what ended up in the Bible. The total number then would be the number that the Lord brought out of Egypt on a number of exodi.
We just have to be careful to say the Bible says for sure there is only one Exodus when there is more than one route in the Bible. If it may have, it still would be an Old Testament miracle of par excellence. God brought the forced labor class from out of Egypt and He started their own nation.
Nathan Jones: I've never before thought of there possibly being more than one Exodus, or considered a number of Hebrew groups merging together at some point under Moses' leadership. What do you think?