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The Exodus
Kings 6:1 dates the Exodus to 480 years before the founding of Jerusalem’s temple by King Solomon. According to the orthodox chronology this gives a date of around 1450 BC. However, Exodus 1:11 states that Pharaoh put the Hebrews to work on the cities of Pithom and Raamses. The location of Pithom is in doubt, but the city of Raamses is thought to be Pi-Ramsses built by Ramesses II (orthodox dates 1279-1212BC). As a result, it is usually suggested that the Israelites actually worked on a settlement in the same location as Pi-Ramesse which predated it. A stele from the reign of Merenptah (the successor of Ramesses II) notes that “Israel is laid waste, bare of seed,” confirming that the exodus must have taken place before his reign (given the forty year sojourn in the desert), dated as 1212-1202 BC (orthodox chronology).

The name “Moses” may be the Egyptian name “Moses” or “Messes” meaning born of. This was usually combined with the name of a god (eg Thuth-moses or Ra-messes). However, the name may also come from the Hebrew verb “Masha” (to draw out) and be translated as “he draws out”. In Exodus 2:10, Pharaohs daughter states that she gave him his name “Because I drew him out of the water”, perhaps she chose an Egyptian pun on a Hebrew name to reflect his origin.

Moses apparently belonged to a group of Semitic settlers whose ancestors had arrived in Egypt from the land of Canaan. People from Canaan had settled the delta since the middle of the Twelfth Dynasty (the Middle Kingdom). Remains from the settlement at Tell el-Dab’a in the Delta, confirm that the settlers were Semitic nomads and pastoralists, like the Hebrews. This settlement grew and developed into the Hyksos capital of Avaris, and was later swallowed up by Piramesse.
According to the modern translation of the Bible, Moses prophesised the advent of the “ten plagues of Egypt” and then escaped with the Israelites via the Red Sea. Pharaoh gave chase and God saved the Israelites by parting the waters to allow them safe passage. Pharaoh’s charioteers were all lost.

The Exodus

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