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Did the Exodus Happen?

John on July 12, 2006 at 2:41 pm

Minimalist Biblical scholars have long said no, that there is no evidence for it. Now director James Cameron has teamed with another Canadian to produce a new documentary arguing that the Exodus did happen, only 200 years earlier than often supposed.

[S]tart from a stele long suppressed by the Egyptian authorities – these same authorities did nothing to help and much to hinder Jacobovici’s inquiries – that describes something very much like the Exodus from the Egyptian point of view but about 200 years earlier, and everything starts to fall into place.

For example, the Egyptian capital during that era was a wonderfully advanced, recently uncovered “island” city of temples named Avaris (with an intriguing resemblance to Plato’s Atlantis, by the way) whose ruler in 1500 BCE was a pharaoh named Ahmose, or “Brother of Moses.” Ahmose’s first-born son, like the biblical pharaoh’s son, died young, and the city contains a mass grave composed almost entirely of males – a detail that would appear to support the Torah’s description of the 10th plague. Further, wonderfully preserved wall paintings depict the arrival some centuries earlier of a group of Semitic shepherds, and royal signet rings have been unearthed in Avaris bearing the name “Jacob” in ancient Hebrew.

Specials like this tend to make me nervous. It reminds me of the frequently peddled stories (including one just this summer) of the discovery of Noah’s Ark. Inevitably these discoveries turn out to be bunk and the people who have jumped on the bandwagon end up looking like fools. I’m even more skeptical in this case because, so far as I know, James Cameron is an atheist. What exactly is his interest here? Is it finding truth or simply making money in the wake of The DaVinci Code conspiracy nonsense. It doesn’t help that the film’s title is The Exodus Decoded.

That said, I confess I would love to have some physical evidence of the Exodus. It would destroy an entire wing of archaeology, one which often seems devoted to dismissing the Bible as fiction. I will be watching the special when it airs August 20th on the History channel. For now, those interested in learning more can visit the special’s website.

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