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When Was the Exodus?

How misreading the Bible can affect archaeological evidence.

The question of the timing of the Exodus is an important one. If timed incorrectly then scholars will be looking for evidence in the wrong time period. And this is what has happened, many scholars time the Exodus event in the 13th century BC (1200s BC), with the famous Pharaoh Ramses II (the Great).

“The 13th century Exodus dating is why many scholars today say that there is no evidence for the Exodus event and it is therefore mythological.”

The problems with a 13th century Exodus abound, first of all none of the Pharaoh’s meet the Biblical criteria of the Exodus Pharaoh and neither does Egypt seem to give us any indication of physical calamity like the plagues would have caused, nor the loss of a great workforce. This is because the 13th century dating itself struggles against the Biblical evidence, it is trying to solve a Biblical problem by not taking Bible into account – a sure fire way to fail. And fail it has. The 13th century Exodus dating is why many scholars today say that there is no evidence for the Exodus event and it is therefore mythological. But what does the Bible actually say?

With a careful reading, the Bible gives us precise dates. In 1 Kings 6:1 the Bible dates the building of Solomon’s Temple to his fourth year as king and the 480th year after the Exodus. By using 967BC for Solomon’s fourth year, a date arrived at by synchronizing archaeological, historical and Biblical data, the year 1446BC is given for the Exodus.

Proponents of the 13th Century Exodus date claim that the 480 years in 1 Kings 6 is symbolic, and should instead be taken as 12 generations of people times the Biblical idealization of a generation, 40 years, but since a generation is really about 25 years they multiply 12 by 25 and arrive at a 300 year gap between the Exodus and Solomon. This discounts however the genealogical data of 1 Chronicles 6:33-37 which gives us 19 generations between the Exodus and Solomon.[1]

Judges 11:26 also gives an approximate date for the Exodus, the Israelites had been living in the Promised Land for about 300 years when the Ammonite oppression began. We only have an approximate date for the Ammonite oppression of around 1100BC. Adding 300 years to this still gets us to1400BC for the conquest and then 1440BC for the Exodus.[2]

Still more evidence arrives from the Jubilee year cycle, Ezekiel 40:1 gives precise numbers for dating the 17th Jubilee cycle, by counting back 17 cycles of 49 years you arrive at the first Jubilee celebrated on entrance to the Promised Land with a date of 1406BC, add 40 years of wilderness wandering and you have 1446BC for the Exodus.


Corie Bobechko | January 17, 2020 – 12:35 PM EST

[1] Bryant Wood, Recent Research on the Date and Setting of the Exodus, 2009.
[2] Ibid.