patterns of evidence: exodus (synopsis of the film) 2015 jan 26
Patterns of Evidence: Exodus was a wonderfully- done film, very interesting and engaging. It is going to be replayed in theaters in just a day or two, and if you get a chance to go see it, do so! Difficult concepts and contradictions were simply visualized and explained so that it is easy to follow for non- historians.
Concerning the Ramesses problem: I just have to clarify: whatever pharaoh enslaved the Hebrews, was not the pharaoh who refused to let God’s people go. Scripture makes it clear that Moses was not sent back to Egypt until after the death of the pharaoh who enslaved the Israelites (Exo 2:23). If it was Ramesses, the Egyptian records are confused as to how many subsequent rulers there were after his reign, before the end of the dynasty. If it was Ramesses, it was a later pharaoh in the dynasty, not Ramesses the Great, who refused to let the people go.
Now I completely concur that the evidence for the Exodus, for all six markers of Israelite history that the film investigated, are found in abundance as the film discusses. Archaeological finds do not come out of the ground with date tags attached, LOL. The internal evidence of Scripture is that the plagues, the death of the firstborn, the Exodus, the parting of the Red Sea, and the covenant made with Israel at Mt. Sinai occurred in 1491 BC, and a date very close to this is proposed for these events in this film.
But here is my problem. Simply eliminating Ramesses as the pharaoh of the Exodus period and moving the date of the Exodus several centuries to an earlier Egyptian dynasty does not absolve the Scriptural support for Ramesses in Exo 1:11, and does not address the broader message of Scripture. Consider this:
Historians and archaeologists are in agreement that Ramesses the Great was the greatest pharaoh of Ancient Egypt, in terms of military prowess, wealth, and real temporal power. Secular historians record that the Ramesses dynasty was unable to retain its might, and died out. As a result Egypt was thrown into a period of chaos from which it took hundreds of years to recover. But even then, Egypt never reclaimed its former glory. The reign of Ramesses the Great was its peak.
Now, let’s look at the big picture of the book of Exodus. The real history of Exodus and the deliverance of the children of Israel from Egypt is a prophetic type of God’s people at present and their deliverance from the kingdom of darkness into the kingdom of heaven. Egypt is a type and foreshadow. As such, God’s people were enslaved by the most powerful kingdom of this world, whose king refused to acknowledge God or His claim on His people. Pharaoh was so powerful and secure in his own might, that he mocked at God, just as the ruler of the kingdoms of this present world also does.
God poured out judgment onto pharaoh’s kingdom, educating him in who YHVH is in the process (Exo 5:2). He is the King of kings and Lord of lords, and the gods of Egypt bowed their knee before Him. He delivered His people with mighty power and an outstretched arm. The greatest kingdom of the ancient world was completely shattered, the greatest king of that greatest kingdom was completely humbled before Him. We know this essential history will repeat itself when Jesus returns as the King of kings and Lord of lords. This biblical logic is consistent with the history of Egypt in which its greatest dynasty — the Ramesses dynasty — is shattered so completely, that it takes Egypt hundreds of years to recover, and then never to the point of its former glory.
The other option is to place the Exodus in an earlier dynasty (as this film suggests). In that scenario, Moses brings the children of Israel out under a pharaoh no one has ever heard of, and God so completely shatters Egypt, as a type of the kingdom of darkness, that it soon recovers, and a few dynasties later produces Ramesses the Great, acknowledged by all as the greatest pharaoh Egypt ever produced, of the greatest height of kingdom Egypt ever attained. To me, that logic does not fit the big picture history of Exodus and the prophetic themes of the entire Scripture.
This problem was not mentioned in the film, and perhaps has not even occurred to anyone else.
My question and simple solution:
What if it is the standard Egyptian chronology that is wrong? What if the assertion that Ramesses belongs to the New Kingdom in 1250 BC is what is in error? Why is Ramesses not placed in his proper time in 1400s BC? What if the evidential history of the surrounding nations including Egypt were synced to biblical chronology as a foundation, instead of to Egyptian chronology as a foundation? The source of Egyptian chronology is Manetho, who is accepted without question. What if there is an error in Manetho? This is precisely the assertion that Jacob Bryant makes in his Ancient Mythology, with extensive proof from the histories and writings from the ancient world that have come down to us. What if we threw out Manetho, not Ramasses, in order to better sync the history of the ancient world?
I would like to type out and post here Jacob Bryant’s theses exposing the problems with Manetho’s chronology … watch this space …
patterns of evidence: exodus, part three 2015 feb 23
patterns of evidence: exodus, part four 2015 apr 08
patterns of evidence: exodus, part five 2019 jun 10
Thank you for your thoughtful review of the film. I wanted to respond to one of the points you brought up – “What if is the standard Egyptian chronology that is wrong?” This was, in fact, the controversial possibility that the final segment of the film focused on. The film featured a shift in the opposite direction then you are thinking of because the evidence for all the other major biblical steps shown in the film lie more than 400-600 years before Pharaoh Ramesses II (not during his era on either side). For example, there is no evidence for large numbers of Semites in the city built by Ramesses II, but Goshen is clearly teeming with Semites hundreds of years earlier. Many of the Conquest cities in Canaan are empty ruins during the time of Ramesses II and for many years afterward, but a few hundred years before Ramesses all these sites were populated, had high walls, and were all destroyed in the same period. Another problem with shifting Ramesses II back to the 1400s BC (or earlier) is that the period immediately following Egypt’s New Kingdom is the Iron Age, which is clearly linked to the time of the kings of Israel and Judah – but the Bible paints 480 years between the Exodus and Solomon. This entire period would need to be eliminated to make that theory work. Many Exodus theories run into problems by ignoring most of the six steps and zeroing in on just one or two. That is why the film took the approach of sticking to all six of the major elements presented in the Bible. To do otherwise opens things up to dozens and dozens of possible scenarios (all of which don’t fit certain aspects of the biblical account). There is nothing said in the Bible that requires the pharaoh of the Exodus to be the most powerful king in Egypt’s history. That is an idea inserted into the text and supported by Hollywood’s version of the story. All that the biblical account conveys is that the pharaoh was very powerful, prideful and belligerent. This description fits almost every pharaoh of the Old, Middle and New Kingdoms as well as some in the intermediate dark periods. As covered in the film, the use of the term “Rameses” in Exodus 1:11 does not mandate that the events of Exodus 1:11 happened during the reign of Ramesses II, since Rameses is also mentioned in Genesis 47:11 for the land that Jacob’s family moved to – and this was hundreds of years before the time of the Exodus and about a hundred years before the events of Exodus 1:11. One explanation for the use of “Rameses” in the biblical text is that is an updated term. This practice can be seen in other places in the Bible such as the cities of Dan (Gen. 14:14, Josh. 19:47 Jdgs. 18:27, 29) and Bethel (Gen. 12:8, 13:3, 28:19, 35:6). Happy researching.
Thank you very much for visiting and for leaving your feedback, Mr. Law. From your comment, I was able to discern three points deserving of further clarification:
1. ““What if is the standard Egyptian chronology that is wrong?” This was, in fact, the controversial possibility that the final segment of the film focused on.”
2. “There is nothing said in the Bible that requires the pharaoh of the Exodus to be the most powerful king in Egypt’s history. That is an idea inserted into the text and supported by Hollywood’s version of the story.”
3. “As covered in the film, the use of the term “Rameses” in Exodus 1:11 does not mandate that the events of Exodus 1:11 happened during the reign of Ramesses II, since Rameses is also mentioned in Genesis 47:11 for the land that Jacob’s family moved to.”
Each of these points deserves further consideration, and since to do so requires enough information and explanation for a complete post in itself, that is what I will do, and then link from here the discussion concerning each one.
On the errors of the standard Egyptian chronology (2015 feb 23).
Stay tuned …
Shalom in Messiah Yeshua – Christine