In The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, Thomas Kuhn talked about the role of paradigms in the advance of science [Kuhn]. The role of a paradigm is to set the rules and the acceptable methods of scientific research. He pointed out that major advances in science came during periods of paradigm change. Between paradigm changes "normal" science continued to build up knowledge within the accepted paradigm. The shift from geocentric or earth-centered astronomy to heliocentric or sun-centered astronomy is a case in point. In examining the motion of the Sun, moon and stars two models or paradigms were put forth: the geocentric model of Ptolemy and the heliocentric model of Aristarchus. Within each paradigm, the motion of the planets had a different meaning to its adherents. The zigzag motion of the planets in the sky to the geocentrists meant a minor epicycle in its motion around the Earth but to the heliocentrists it meant the Earth was passing the planets as they went around the Sun. Both made the same observations but assigned them different interpretations.

Before Copernicus astronomers assumed planetary orbits were in the ecliptic plane of the Earth and were circular - neither of which is true. Using these assumptions geocentric astronomers made better predictions of the planetary motions. Hoyle states, " will be realized that the predictive capacity of the constructions of Ptolemy and Copernicus are very nearly the same. Copernicus' theory becomes superior to Ptolemy's when account is taken of the inclinations of the planetary orbits. [Hoyle, p.79]" Finally, when Kepler assumed the orbits were not circular but elliptical, the data fit perfectly. When astronomers made the correct assumptions about planetary orbits the reality of the heliocentric model was plainly evident and astronomy experienced a paradigm change.

It is important to understand that until the 16th century the geocentric paradigm had dominated on the basis of good science. The paradigm of heliocentrism, although correct, was not accepted because the geocentric calculations from accepted assumptions were better when compared to actual observation - i.e. good science. Prejudices and preconceived ideas were not to blame. The precision of the data was not the problem. The correct paradigm was rejected because it supporters failed to analyze the data using the right assumptions. Here is the lesson. It is possible with the right paradigm taken from the right interpretation of the Scriptures, to analyze the data with bad assumptions and arrive at a bad result that legitimate science ought to reject. Biblicists too easily attribute the rejection of "their" biblical theory to prejudice. They interpret this rejection as anti-God or anti-biblical bias when it is simply good science. They fail to question the assumptions they use to interpret the biblical paradigm.

Rejecting the Biblical Account

Redford, an Egyptologist, is typical of those who hold the biblical account in error concerning the Exodus. He states, "A detailed comparison of this version of the Hebrew takeover of Palestine with the extra-Biblical evidence totally discredits the former. Not only is there a complete absence, as we have seen, in the records of the Egyptian empire of any mention or allusion to such a whirlwind of annihilation, but also Egyptian control over Canaan and the very cities Joshua is supposed to have taken scarcely wavered during the entire period of the Late Bronze Age. "

"Far more damaging, however, than this argument from silence is the archaeological record. Sites such as Hormah, Arad, Jericho, Ai, and Jarmuth had indeed suffered violent destruction, but this had been during the Early Bronze Age or at the end of Middle Bronze and during the Late Bronze Age they had lain unoccupied (save for squatters); others such as Kadesh Barnea, Heshbon, and Gibeon were not to be settled until the Iron Age. Those sites that do show massive destruction at the transition from the Bronze to the Iron Age, about 1200 B.C., can as easily be explained as victims of the movement of the Sea Peoples. The regions of Edom and Moab, represented in Numbers as sedentary states, supported only a few cities in the Late Bronze Age maintaining the north-south trade route to Damascus; the Edomite and Moabite kingdoms, which Numbers wrongly understands to be already in existence, did not put in an appearance before the ninth century BC." [Redford, p. 265]

Archaeologists who reject the biblical Exodus have focused their research on non-conquest models. Dever states, "And with new models of indigenous Canaanite origins for early Israel, there is neither place nor need for an Exodus [Dever, p. 67]." They explain the arrival and establishment of the Israelites and the record of their history by one of two non-conquest models. The first model is the infiltration model proposed by Alt. [Alt, A. 1967] and supported by Noth [Noth, M., 1960.] It was reasoned that since there was no change in the cultural artifacts in Israel between the Late Bronze and Iron Age, the Israelites came in gradually, adopting the Canaanite culture as their own. This model fails to explain from where the Israelites infiltrated. Also it assumes that the appearance of the Israelites in the stratigraphy is at the Iron I level. If this assumption proves wrong the entire model quickly collapses. The second model is the internal revolt model advocated by Mendenhall [Mendenhall, G.E.] and Gottwald [Gottwald, N. 1979]. This theory says that the Israelites were a submerged culture in the Canaanite era and revolted against their rule and then fled to the hills and later returned to conquer the lowlands. Lemche [Lemche, N.P. 1985)] and Ahlstrom [Ahlstrom, G., 1986] have also proposed theories along these lines. These theories fail to explain why the Israelites believe that they lived in Egypt for 215 years.

If we are not prepared to reject the historical value of the Exodus account we could respond that Redford is less qualified than God to speak on the matter. Or we could point out the errors of fact - Gibeon was occupied before the Iron Age; or critique his textual interpretation - Edom and Moab in the book of Numbers could be merely nomadic tribal kingdoms; or to challenge his assumptions - the textual misreading that all cities captured in the Conquest should show destruction in the archaeological record. I think, though, the honest investigator has to admit that the Evangelical model of the Exodus is a poor fit to many though not all evidences. I attribute this poor fit to poorly chosen assumptions and mistaken chronologies. With new assumptions and chronologies, a biblical Exodus model can be proposed that fits all the evidence.

Archaeology and the Exodus

The archaeological eras of biblical times are divided into three Bronze ages and an Iron Age. Early Bronze (EB), approximately 2900 - 2300 BC, has three subdivisions. Most refer to the next era, approximately 2300 - 2000 BC, as Middle Bronze I (MB I). Middle Bronze II (MB II) consists of the Middle Kingdom in Egypt and the Hyksos era, 2000 - 1550 BC. The Late Bronze I and II (LB I and LB II), which covers 1550 - 1200 BC, consists of the New Kingdom's 18th and 19th Dynasties, which reigned over Egyptian empires in Syria and Canaan. After this came the Iron Ages I and II (IA I and IA II), 1200 - 600 BC, in which the Judges, United Kingdom and Divided Kingdom eras in Israel are supposed to have taken place. This is the standard archaeological model among scholars. In this model the Exodus occurs in the 13th century, which is the time of the 19th Dynasty in LB II. Evangelicals reject this model because they believe the conventional biblical chronology supports an Exodus date in the middle of the 15th century, which places the Exodus in the middle of the 18th Dynasty in LB I.


Behind the standard Evangelical Exodus model stand four basic assumptions:
(Strictly speaking 3. is a conclusion based on the first two)

1. The Exodus is a real historical event.
2. Conventional chronologies: biblical and Egyptian are reliable
3. The Exodus occurred in the Late Bronze;
4. Any conflict between Egyptian and Assyrian chronologies are resolved in favour of the Egyptian;

According to the book of Exodus the Israelites were pressed into slavery in Goshen in the Nile delta building storehouse cities, Ramesses and Pi-Thom. This indicates a powerful and prosperous Egypt. At the Exodus the plagues destroyed much of Egypt's crops and livestock. Together with the loss of over 600,000 male slaves, the Egyptians would have suffered a serious loss resulting in a major downturn in the Egyptian economy. Then Pharaoh and his army were drowned in the Red Sea. Egypt would be vulnerable to unruly internal elements and external attack resulting in instability. Also, the Pharaoh of the Exodus should lack a mummy and maybe even a tomb [Ex 14; Ps 106:11; Ps 136:15]. The Israelites wandered through the desert for 40 years with no contact with other peoples except for a battle with the Amalekites who were also passing through. The Sinai and the wilderness ought to have no permanent inhabitants at this time. Canaan ought to be inhabited with walled cities in a prosperous land of "milk and honey". Among the walled cities, we ought to find Jericho, Ai and Hazor were burned down. The Israelite invasion would have significantly increased the population and prosperity of the land.

Thus we require a period in archaeology in which all eight situations are manifest: prosperity to impoverishment, social/political instability, the disappearance of Semitic people from the Nile delta, a mummyless pharaoh, an uninhabited Sinai, a prosperous Canaan with walled cities, a burned Jericho and Hazor and finally a significant increase in Canaan's population. In searching the region's archaeology we must be willing to examine the basic assumptions in the conventional thinking and open our minds to the possibility that these assumptions can be changed. It is also important not to reform these assumptions by some arbitrary or insignificant criteria but that biblical, historical, chronological and archaeological evidence should form a unified picture. The assumption that the Exodus is historical will be kept but others will be changed according to requirements of the evidence.

Is the Exodus a Late Bronze Event? - Evangelical View

The Late Bronze 18th Dynasty began with Ahmose I 1552 BC (Conventional Date) drove the Hyksos out of Egypt into Canaan where he besieged them at Sharuhen. About a century later Egypt had gain sufficient power to launch an invasion of the whole of Canaan under Thutmose III, circa 1460 BC. The empire expanded to include most of present day Lebanon and Syria over the next 20 years. This empire lasted for about a century until the famous Tutankhamun circa 1330 BC. Semitic slaves are well attested during this period but there is no record in Egypt in the 18th Dynasty of any disaster involving the loss of a million slaves, Egyptian agriculture and livestock. It has no writings that express woe or lament for some major disaster. Thus, Egyptian history denies a place for the Exodus in the 18th Dynasty. Some scholars would excuse this lack of written record by suggesting that the Exodus was no inconvenience to the Egyptians and went unrecorded by them as well as their vassal states. But, indeed, the Exodus was a major political, military and economic disaster of the highest order. That it went unnoticed is inconceivable. That it went unrecorded is unlikely in the extreme [Aardsma].

Archaeologists have identified the biblical Rameses with a mound in the region of Qantir named Pi-Rameses and Pithom at either Tell Maskhuta or Tell el-Retabeh. Excavation has revealed that at Pi-Rameses there is no significant activity in the 18th Dynasty. Egyptian archaeology fails to find any significant foreign occupation in Goshen during the 18th Dynasty. Almost all archaeologists and most biblical scholars have dismissed this possibility because of the archaeological evidence relating to the 18th Dynasty does not fit the biblical Exodus and Conquest.

During the early 14th century, in Joshua's time by conventional chronology, there were a number of letters written between Egypt and its vassals and allies. Some of these letters were recovered from the 18th Dynasty royal archive at modern-day el-Amarna. These letters revealed that the cities and states in the Levant were under attack from the Khatti and the 'Habiru' or 'Apiru'. The term 'Habiru' is used derisively as a synonym for bandit. Some Biblicists would like to see this term as an ethnic term referring to the Israelites and equate the 'Habiru' attacks with Joshua's Conquest. This idea although attractive at first has some major drawbacks. (To the Egyptians Edomites, Moabites and Ammonites would also qualify as Hebrews but this does not help identify the Amarna period as the period of the Conquest as these nations were not involved in the fighting the Canaanites).

Some cities attacked by Joshua are among those that corresponded with 18th Dynasty Pharaohs (Amenhotep III, Akhenaten and Tutankhamun) e.g. Jerusalem, Megiddo, Ashkelon, Gezer and Lachish. However, other cities attacked by Joshua have no correspondence, e.g. Jericho, Bethel, Hazor, Hebron, Eglon and Debir. These cities, important during the Conquest, are not important during the Amarna period. Hazor, in particular, appears to have no political or military significance during the Amarna correspondence, yet in Joshua's day, it was the head of the largest coalition of cities in Canaan. Finally, the names of the kings of these cities in the Amarna letters do not match the biblical kings in Joshua or Judges. The King of Jerusalem is Abdi-Heba in the Amarna letters not Adoni-Zedek; (Joshua 10:3) The Amarna letters and their 'Habiru' provide poor correlation to Joshua's Conquest.

Another major problem is that the biblical Canaanites are not given any foreign allies in their wars against the Israelites. The aid sent by the Egyptians to these cities according to the Amarna letters is never mentioned in Joshua or Judges. Indeed, Egyptians, as a significant military force, are not mentioned after the Exodus until the time of Solomon when a pharaoh captured Gezer as a dowry for Solomon's wife. Another difficulty is that the Arameans were a significant power during the 18th Dynasty but during the Conquest they go unmentioned and do not become a significant factor in Israelite history until the time of David.

The final blow to the 18th Dynasty Exodus is that all the mummies of the Pharaohs of that dynasty have been found and identified. It is evident from the examinations of these mummies that none of them drowned in the Red Sea. None of the 18th Dynasty pharaohs meet the biblical requirements of the Exodus. There is no fit in biblical history nor Egyptian history and archaeology in the 18th Dynasty.

Is the Exodus a Late Bronze Event? - Liberal View

Most scholars in the archaeological community take the Liberal view. This view says that the Exodus was a 19th Dynasty event. This is the so-called Albright school and includes scholars such as Kitchen, Wright and Yadin. Archaeological support for a 19th Dynasty Exodus comes from the sites of Qantir (Pi-Rameses) and Tell Retabeh (Pi-Thom) where there was major building activity during the 19th Dynasty. However, the occupation of Pi-Rameses goes back to the beginning of the Middle Kingdom, circa 2000 BC. It existed long before Rameses II. In Genesis 47:11, Jacob and his family were granted land in the 'land of Rameses' 215 years before the Exodus. There is no surety that the biblical Rameses was named after Rameses II. Activity during his reign is not necessarily proof of a Late Bronze date for the Exodus.

Though there are records of Semitic slaves in the 19th Dynasty there is no evidence, written or archaeological, of unexpected poverty or loss of slaves. Weinstein sums up the situation, "The only question that really matters is whether any textual or archaeological materials indicate a major outflow of Asiatics from Egypt to Canaan in the 19th or even early 20th Dynasty. And so far the answer is no" [Weinstein, 1997, p 93]. Egypt was at its zenith during the New Kingdom and there is no disruption that could be attributed to the Exodus. At the same time there is no settlement of new people in Canaan during the Late Bronze.

The chronology of the 19th Dynasty is problematic for the Liberal view. If Ramses II is the Pharaoh of the Oppression then Ramses must die before the Exodus and there are not 40 years before the mention of the name of "Israel" in a stela of his successor, Pharaoh Merneptah. If Rameses II is the Pharaoh of the Exodus, then his father Seti I would be the Pharaoh of the Oppression and the Exodus would happen shortly after his death. There is no major disruption to the economy or the political power in the time of Ramses II. In fact, two stela have been excavated at Beth Shan that shows that Canaan was under Egyptian control during both their reigns. Second, although the Egyptians were supposedly in control of Canaan during the eras of the Judges, they are never mentioned as a military power.

There are also severe biblical difficulties. Under the accepted Egyptian chronology, this view does not leave sufficient chronological room for the era of the Judges, only about 300 years between the Exodus and the building of Solomon's Temple. The statement by Jephthah to the Ammonite king that the Israelites had lived in the Transjordan for 300 years (Counting the years of the Judges only) is discounted [Judges 11:26]. Thus, this view takes a low view of biblical chronology. The final blow to the 19th Dynasty Exodus is that all the mummies of the pharaohs of that dynasty have been found and identified. It is evident from the examinations of these mummies that none of them drowned in the Red Sea. The 19th Dynasty while it deals with some of the archaeological problems facing a Late Bronze Exodus does not meet the biblical requirements and must also be rejected.

In the so-called Liberal view the Exodus dates about 1260 BC. If the date of the Exodus cannot be so late then the Exodus is not in the 19th Dynasty. In the Evangelical view the Exodus took place in the 18th Dynasty. This is contradicted by history and archaeology. If the biblical chronology is wrong for a 19th Dynasty and the archaeology is wrong for an 18th Dynasty then the Exodus is not in the Late Bronze. The Late Bronze Exodus was determined by the conventional chronologies of Egypt and the Bible. If our conclusion is correct it implies that either the biblical or the Egyptian chronology is wrong or both.

Biblical Exodus in Other Archaeological Periods

Egyptian sources show that the Israelites controlled Canaan during the 18th Dynasty. This may be reasonably inferred from the cities that Thutmose III conquered with the Semitic names: Beth Zur, Etam, Joseph El and Jacob El [Wilson, 1969a, p. 242]. These first two names are listed as Israelite clan leaders in biblical genealogies [I Chr 2:45; I Chr 4:3]. In fact, Beth Zur and Etam were cities fortified by Rehoboam [II Chr 11:6]. The spelling of place names in the list corresponds to their spelling in the time of David and Solomon [Vycichl, 1942]. Names of people containing the name of Israel's God, Yahweh, such as 'Yashuya' [Letter 256 line 18] and 'Yahzabada' [Letters 275, 276] demonstrate Israel's presence in Canaan during the Amarna period [Moran, 1992]. Last, the mention of 'Yahu of the Shoshu', believed to refer to the name of Israel's God, in an Egyptian inscription of time of Amenhotep III in the Temple of Soleb, confirms again that the Israelites must already have both occupied and controlled Canaan [Redford, p.272; Giveon]. Note also that during Joshua and the Judges the use of "Jah" as a prefix or "iah" as a suffix to a name is rare. The practice increases greatly in the time of David. To find the Exodus in Egyptian history then requires that we look back to an earlier era.

Courville suggested the Early Bronze as the Exodus era [Courville]. In his scenario the 6th Dynasty and the 12th Dynasty, which share some similarities, are contemporaneous. Thus the EB and MB periods overlap. This view is dismissed in scholarly circles because EB material in Egypt is never found in Middle Kingdom tombs and MB material is never found in Old Kingdom tombs. Aardsma has also proposed 2450 BC for the date of the Exodus citing the work of Anati and Cohen to support his case [Aardsma]. But Anati and Cohen regard the archaeology of the Exodus as separate from biblical history. They claim that the Exodus stories were inspired by the events of the EBIII/MB I era which the Israelites adopted into their history much later. For them there was no Israelite Exodus to explain.

A Middle Bronze (MB) Exodus has been suggested by Velikovsky [Velikovsky,1952], Bimson [Bimson, 1981] and Rohl [Rohl,1995]. In these scenarios Joseph was a 12th Dynasty vizier. The Exodus of Moses was either at the end of the 12th Dynasty, the middle of the 13th Dynasty or the end of the 15th or Hyksos Dynasty. Each dates the Exodus about 1445 BC. They keep biblical chronology and demand some change to Egyptian dates. Meyer actually claims that the Hyksos are Israelites. He uses an Exodus date of 1560 BC without modifying Egyptian dates [Meyer].

Scholarly Critique

If the Exodus occurred in the Early Bronze (EB) Age or Middle Bronze (MB) Age, does this overcome his critical objections based on the archaeology of sites in Israel? Stiebing, a critic of the biblical Exodus, named several sites that conflict with a Late Bronze (LB) Exodus: Arad and Hormah, Jericho, Bethel and Ai, Heshbon and Gibeon.

Arad is usually identified with Tel Arad. There is no occupation of Tel Arad between 2700 and 1200 BC) [Stiebing, pp. 69-72]. There are two possible sites for Hormah, Tel Malhata and Tel Masos. At both sites there is no LB occupation (1600-1200 BC). Aharoni solves the difficulty by observing that there were two Arads recorded by the Egyptians: Arad and Greater Arad. The later Greater Arad could have been built at Tel Arad and the earlier Arad could be located at Tel Malhata. It was occupied throughout the Middle Bronze but not the EB. Aharoni thinks that Hormah can be located at Tel Masos, which was destroyed at the end of MBIIB and was rebuilt in the Iron Age I [Aharoni, Y. pp. 38-39]. These identifications would allow for an MB Exodus.

At Jericho, there is really no evidence of the burning of a walled city in the Late Bronze. However, either an EBIII or an MBII Exodus would fit earlier levels of Jericho [Stiebing, p.142]. Bethel and Ai are also problem sites for an LB Exodus. If Bethel is identified with Beitin then et-Tell is the only site for the biblical Ai. It was burned in EB III and not reoccupied until the Iron Age. However, as Livingston shows Beitin is too far from Jerusalem to be Bethel [Livingston &Bimson, 1987]. They proposed sites el-Bireh for Bethel and Khirbet Nisya for Ai. These sites contain MB pottery but lack MB walls or destruction levels. No EB pottery has yet been identified. Nevertheless, Beitin is still too far to be Bethel and criticisms of the biblical account based on this identification are to be rejected.

Heshbon (Tell Hesban) was not occupied in the Middle Bronze or Late Bronze. Ibach has suggested that Tell el-Umeiri is an alternate site for Heshbon. It is located near Tell Hesban and was occupied from EB III until the end of MBII. Only traces of LB are found and the site rebounds in Iron I and early Iron II [Ibach, 1978]. It is possible that prior to the 9th century, Heshbon was located not far away at Tell el-Umeiri and was moved to its present location during Iron Age II. Gibeon was not occupied during the Late Bronze but there was a village in the EB and a sizable town in the MBII.

Another of Stiebing's points is the lack of occupation in the Sinai or wilderness between Middle Bronze I, circa 1900, and Iron I, circa 1200 BC. During Middle Bronze II, Late Bronze I and II, there is no sign of occupation in the Sinai, at Kadesh Barnea or Beer Sheva. He reasoned that any biblical Exodus/Conquest model proposed between the 12th and 20th Dynasty is contrary to archaeological evidence and is to be rejected [Stiebing, p. 62]. Biblical accounts fail to mention any people who greeted, fled or warred with the Israelites at Kadesh Barnea. When the Israelites approached Edom and Moab they offered assurances of peace and payment for food and water to them for safe passage through their land [Num 20:14-21]. No such offer is recorded for any other territory. This would imply the territory was unclaimed. No king, other than the King of Arad in the Negev, is mentioned as attacking Israel. Apparently, there was no authority over the area south of Arad. There is also no mention of any people occupying Beer Sheva in Moses day.

In the Transjordan it was once thought that there was no occupation of Moab and Edom in the Middle Bronze or Late Bronze. [Stiebing, pp.74-78]. This opinion resulted from Glueck's exploration of the Transjordan. Later surveys and excavations revealed that about 200 of 1500 sedentary sites surveyed show evidence of Middle and Late Bronze occupation [Stiebing, p.75]. These results refute the criticism that there was no evidence of a sedentary population in Transjordan during the Late and Middle Bronze. Indeed, the description of Moab and Edom [Num 21 and 33] supposed that they were no more than tribal kingdoms. Furthermore, the understanding of the ceramics in the Transjordan is just beginning. One excavator suggested that indigenous Late Bronze pottery developed into Iron Age pottery. "Theoretically, it is now quite possible that what Glueck called early Iron Age is in part fourteenth century BC Transjordanian pottery [Franken]". Thus the lack of Late Bronze imported pottery at some sites may not mean a lack of Late Bronze occupation. Conclusions about the historicity of biblical texts may have to await further development of a local pottery typology.

Finally, in Judah, Benjamin, Ephraim and Manasseh there are almost no Late Bronze sites in the hill country. This is the well-documented conclusion of Finkelstein who states, "Altogether only 25-30 sites were occupied in the Late Bronze II between Jezreel and Beer Sheba." [Finkelstein, I. 1988]. This is in contrast with almost 200 Middle Bronze sites and over 300 Iron I sites in the same area. Over 80% of the Middle Bronze sites are abandoned. He insists that this supports a view that the Israelites entered into an essentially empty Canaan occupied mostly by nomadic groups during the Iron Age.

This evidence is a very serious problem to any biblical Conquest model. If the Conquest began in the Late Bronze or early Iron Age then the hill country was deserted and the battles fought there against the walled Canaanite cities by Joshua are fiction. If the Conquest is in the Middle Bronze then during the period of the Judges the Israelites deserted the hill country en masse and returned only in the Iron Age. The book of Judges is then full of fictional events of people who never lived there. The data leaves no plausible scenario compatible with textual biblical history anywhere in the Bronze Ages. The explanation of this evidence is complicated will be addressed at a later point.

Consecutive Habitation Test

With the exception of the last point the objections raised against an LB Exodus can be satisfied by an MB Exodus and to a lesser extent an EB Exodus. Do these, however, raise new objections? To answer this question I used archaeological data to quantify the credibility of each of 5 models. God promised Joshua that he would dispossess the Canaanites [Joshua 3:10]. That is, the cities and possessions of the Canaanites would become Israel's. Joshua also proclaimed that the Lord had given them cities they had not built and groves they had not planted [Joshua 24:13]. Logically, the Israelites lived in the cities they had just conquered and worked the groves and fields that they just taken. With a few exceptions, the cities that Joshua possessed ought to be inhabited before the Conquest and re-inhabited after the Conquest. Even for those cities where the Israelites were unable to dispossess the Canaanites, it is self-evident that there would be Canaanite habitation after the Conquest. So then we are looking for a period in which cities were inhabited in consecutive periods.

In Appendix A is a table of sites that were mentioned in Joshua/Judges, which have been identified surveyed and/or excavated by archaeologists. For each site the different levels of occupation (EBIII, MBI, MBIIA, MBIIBC, LBI, LBII, Iron I, Iron II) were obtained from the Anchor Bible Dictionary (1992) Mazar's Archaeology of the Bible Lands 10,000 - 586 BC (1990), The Biblical World (Ed. Pfeiffer), Kenyon's Archaeology in the Holy Land (1960) or Biblical Archaeological Review. An effort has been made to include as many sites in Joshua as possible but there are many identification problems and the sources are not exhaustive. Sites Levels with insufficient excavation were marked 'U' for unknown and treated statistically as occupied. Pottery surveys were accepted as data. Many occupations in the Late Bronze were described as scant but were treated as occupied. Arad, Hormah, Heshbon, Bethel and Ai were given the alternate sites described above.

Each site was evaluated for each model so that it received a 1 if there was an archaeological occupation prior and post the Exodus and 0 otherwise. The total count was then divided by the number of sites. Admittedly, this is a crude test because it involves little more than occupation. Some sites have been excavated others are merely surveyed for pottery. There are some false negatives sites such as Jericho that shows up as 0 for Bimson because it lacks an LB I occupation when in fact that agrees with the biblical text. It must also be admitted that not all sites must be reoccupied. Also not all positives correlate to the Bible and not all negatives are contradictory. However, what it lacks in sophistication it makes up for in its wide scope and simple criteria.

There were 20 sites that were positive for all models, so a second percentage was taken without those sites. The results are as follows:

Table 1 - Comparison of Consecutive Occupation Test Results

 MODEL  Courville  Revision  Bimson  Evangelical Liberal 
 ALL  53%  88%  71%  59%  68%
 w/o 20  32%  83%  59%  41%  54%

There were 10 unknowns, that were counted as occupied: 6 EBIII, 1 MBIIB, 1 MBIIC and 2 LB I. Even with 6 unknowns counted as positive, the Courville model faired badly. It may have solved outstanding archaeological problems at Beer Sheva and Dibon but overall the results are poor. It was eliminated from further consideration. Bimson is clearly an improvement over the Evangelical view and Liberal view but the best model is the Revisionist model of Velikovsky and Rohl.

There are 3 sites where all 4 Late and Middle Bronze models fail: Beer Sheba, Dibon, and Kadesh Barnea. The Bible does not record occupation of Kadesh Barnea or Beer Sheba during Israel's wandering in the desert so they are not problematic. This leaves Dibon as the only well-identified unoccupied site that fails to support even one of the remaining models. There are 8 sites where only one model is satisfactory: Arad, Aroer, Gibeah, Gibeon, Hebron, Hormah, Shiloh and Timnath-heres. Of these, Aroer supports the Liberal model, Shiloh supports the Bimson model and the rest support the Revisionists. However, it is doubtful that Shiloh was occupied before the Exodus. The biblical text makes no mention of any previous occupants. The support of Shiloh for Bimson's model is therefore ambiguous. It could easily support the Revision also. Thus of the 8 difficult sites 1 creates a difficulty for the Revisionist model; 7 create difficulties for the Liberal and the Bimson and all create difficulties for the Evangelical model.

The Revision is clearly the model with the best correlation. It scores zero at 6 sites. Kadesh Barnea, Beer Sheba and Shiloh are not problematic. Dibon and Aroer and have already been mentioned. The last, Taanach, has occupation in MBII B/C but none in MBII A. It may have been built before the time of the Conquest in MBII B. Thus there are serious difficulties for the Revision in only 2 sites.

Archaeological Test at Important Sites

The consecutive habitation test was a broad indicator of probable success. Its 'yes' or 'no' need not mean a compliance with the biblical text at any particular site. A more meaningful requirement would test the models against the archaeology details of the most important biblical sites. The test will focus mainly on occupation/abandonment, destruction layers, major structures and prosperity/poverty. These attributes are hard to miss and rarely in dispute. Scoring is as follows: 4 for perfect match, 3 good match, 2 some match, 1 poor match and 0 no match or contradiction.

The first site to test our new models is Jericho. In the Bible Joshua, attacked Jericho, a walled city. The walls fell and Joshua took the city and burned it. A curse against reoccupation is put on Jericho so that it remains uninhabited until the time of Hiel in the reign of King Ahab [Josh 6:26, I Kings 16:34]. During the reign of Elgon, King of Moab, Eglon took possession of the city of the Palm Trees (i.e Jericho) and oppressed Israel for 18 years [Jud 3:12-14]. During the reign of Hanun, King of the Ammonites, David sent envoys. The King humiliated them by cutting off their beards. David instructed them to stay at the abandoned city of Jericho until their beards were again respectable (II Sam 10: 1-5).

The archaeology of Jericho has a walled city that was burned at the end of the Early Bronze and abandoned during MB I; another walled city that was burned in the latter part of MB II. Jars of charred grain were found at this Level [Wood, 1990] It was abandoned for 150 years during LB I. It was modestly reoccupied during LB IIA circa 1400 - 1275 BC but without a wall and without any burn layer. In the 8th century (Iron II), it was re-established without a defensive wall or any sign of a destruction level.

Clearly, the Courville model is contradicted by Jericho. The Revision and Bimson model would use the MB II destruction as that of Joshua's Jericho. It was walled, it was burned, valuable grain was left behind and it was abandoned. Both models, however, must explain away the existence of an LB IIA unwalled city. I score them 3 each. The Evangelical model must first explain why Jericho was not occupied in LB I. There is no LB I wall nor burn layer. Furthermore, Jericho is not abandoned in LB II. I score the Evangelical model 0. With the Liberal view, there is a LB II occupation but no wall and no destructive burn layer. It was abandoned in Iron Age I but lasted past the reign of Ahab. I score the Liberal model 2.

The next site to evaluate is Hazor. Hazor was the city of King Jabin, who was the leader of the largest and most powerful coalition of Canaanites. His city was the strongest of all the Canaanite cities. Joshua attacked King Jabin, hamstrung his horses and burned Hazor to the ground. Later, Hazor and its Canaanites returned to oppress Israel until Judge Deborah defeated them. There is no explicit mention of Israelites occupying the city. After this Hazor plays no role in Israelite biblical history.

Archaeologically, Hazor MB II (Stratum XVI) was at its zenith. It is by far the largest site in Canaan during any Bronze Age. Furthermore, MB II Hazor decreased in size and wealth during the Late Bronze. It suffered a major destruction at the end of the Late Bronze II and was occupied throughout the Iron Age. The Revision and Bimson models agree exactly with biblical data. They score 4 each. The Evangelical model has an LB I occupation but lacks a destruction layer. Also the LB town is much less significant than MB II Hazor. The Liberal model can boast a major destruction level at the end of LB IIB but again was far less important than MB II Hazor. I score the Evangelical 2 and Liberal 3.

Next we examine Gibeon. The Gibeonites pretended to be from far away. In fact, Gibeon was the royal city of the Hivites. They did this to make a treaty of protection with Joshua. When the Canaanites attacked Joshua successfully defended Gibeon but imposed on them a serf-like yoke of drawing water and chopping wood - both menial and low-paying work. The Gibeonites were still living in Gibeon during the reign of David, circa 400-500 years later, when they demanded justice on the family of Saul. Thus Gibeon would have been a prosperous royal city before the Conquest; it was not attacked or burned and its significance would decrease afterward.

Archaeologically, Gibeon was a prosperous town in MB II but by the end of MB II it had become a small and insignificant. There are no occupation levels that belong to the Late Bronze. There is a poor reoccupation during the Iron Age I and II. The Revision model scores well because it puts the Conquest during the most prosperous MB II Gibeon. There is no MB II destruction level. However, there is a problem with the continuous occupation of the site for 400-500 years. The conventional archaeology suggests 200 years or less. The Revision scores 3. The Bimson model has the Conquest at the end of MB IIC when it was a small modest town. It was not attacked at that time. But the model cannot explain an LB I abandonment almost immediately after the Conquest. I score Bimson 2. The Evangelical and Liberal models do not have an LB occupation; they score 0.


After the success of Joshua's campaign, Israel gathered at Shiloh (Joshua 22:12). No mention is made of a Canaanite king, an attack or the removal of Canaanite idols or altars. No mention of Shiloh is made during the sojourn of Abraham, Isaac or Jacob in Canaan. It would appear to be a "new" site and thus unoccupied until the Conquest. The tabernacle was established at Shiloh and remained in Shiloh until Eli. During the priesthood of Eli, the Israelites were losing a battle with the Philistines at Ebenezer. The Ark of the Covenant was brought from Shiloh but still they were routed and the Ark was captured by the Philistines. When the Ark was returned it went to Kiriath-jearim not Shiloh. Thus, for about 450 years, Shiloh was the chief place of worship and sacrifice for the Israelites. Shiloh continued to exist into the days of Jeroboam I (I Kings 14:2) but its days of glory never returned. Instead Jeremiah used its destruction at some unknown time to illustrate the folly of the Israelites who abandoned God (Jeremiah 7:12,14).

According to Finkelstein, "Shiloh was first occupied in the Middle Bronze IIB". [Finkelstein, 1986, p. 26]. It was unwalled in MBIIB but in MBIIC massive fortifications were constructed including a wall and glacis. Its votive objects indicated that it was used as a cultic site. The wall was destroyed at the end of the Middle Bronze IIC. In Area D there was a major fill of broken bones, broken LB I pottery and ash. Iron IA houses and storage rooms were found with collar-rim 12th century pottery against the Middle Bronze wall. "Israelite (sic) settlement at Shiloh began at the beginning of Iron I after the tell had been abandoned(no LB II occupation indicated). [p. 36]" Shiloh suffered a major conflagration at the end of the Iron I period [p. 39].

The Revisionists would say the MB IIB was Israelite and the destruction at the end of the MB IIC was that of the Philistines. After that it diminished in importance during the Late Bronze. It recovered in the Iron Age before Jeroboam I and was destroyed by unknown forces after Jeroboam I. This does not accommodate a 450-year initial period; nor do the others. The fit deserves a 3. Bimson would claim that the destruction at the end of the Middle Bronze IIC was an unrecorded Israelite attack on the Canaanites and that the Iron Age destruction was Philistine but the abandonment of Shiloh in LB II is a major problem. The fit deserves a score of 1. The Evangelical model has an MB II/LB I Canaanite cultic centre that was abandoned in LB II just as the Israelites arrive. Then when Shiloh is re-established in Iron I. It lasts only 100 or so years before its destruction by the Philistines. The Evangelical view scores 0. The Liberal view has no cultic centre at Shiloh in the Late Bronze II before the Conquest and thus no attack. Shiloh appears to be a fresh start. However, it is destroyed within 200 years archaeologically speaking. Liberal model scores 3.

Shechem (Tel Balata) is a very old site going back to the time of Abraham and Jacob. It was not mentioned by Joshua as a city captured in the Conquest. He did, however, make Shechem a "city of refuge" (Josh 20:7) and he assembled the people there and erected a stone monument with their covenant with the Lord (Josh 24: 13). During the era of the Judges (Jud 9:45) the Shechemites rebelled against Abimelech the son of Gideon. The subsequent attack by Abimelech was successful and 1000 people were forced to take refuge in the stronghold of the Temple of Baal Berith. The temple was set on fire and they died. Abimelech subsequently razed and salted the city so that it could not be reoccupied. During the reign of Jeroboam I (I Kings 13:25), the King built up Shechem as his capital.

The archaeology of Shechem shows that it was a major fortified town throughout the Middle Bronze. In MB IIC there was a large temple-fortress, Temple 1, with walls 5.1 m thick. It came to an end during a complete conflagration. From then until the beginning of LB IB the site was abandoned. Courville and Rohl identify this as the Temple of Baal Berith followed by Stager [Stager, p.26-69]. Even the excavators were sure at first that this was the only temple that fit the text [Wright]. Later, after the pottery was determined to be MB IIC, the identification was abandoned. Temple 2b in the Late Bronze stratum was given the honour. There is no sign of a major destruction or abandonment of the Temple in the Late Bronze. In the Iron Age I, there was a destruction layer after which the temple was replaced by a granary. Hereafter, the status of Shechem appears to revert to that of a village.

The Revision scores at well at Shechem. It uses the MB IIC Temple-fortress as Abimelech's. The stratum experienced a major conflagration and was abandoned for about a century. "The final destruction of MB IIC Shechem displays a calculated ferocity and an intent to cause complete destruction of the city. Shechem lay in ruins for about a century until its rebuilding in LB IB" [ABD, Shechem, p. 1182]. The Revision must extend the Middle Bronze to 12/13th century of Abimelech and thus must place Jeroboam's capital city Shechem in the Late Bronze. According to Anchor Bible Dictionary LB IB Shechem was rebuilt by engineers who "seemed to have done the entire rebuilding in a single well-planned operation"[p.1182]. This would fit well the town planning of a new king. They score 3. Bimson has the conflagration of Shechem at the same time as Jericho and Hazor but not recorded in the Bible. During the first hundred years of the Conquest Shechem is abandoned contrary to its status as a "city of refuge". Temple 2b of LB IIB is his biblical Temple of Baal Berith but it is a too small to hold 1000 people. He must assume with the Evangelicals that it lasted into the Iron Age so that that Iron Age IA destruction level is that of Abimelech. Jeroboam I must be sought in Iron IB-IIA. "Unfortunately, the archaeological evidence for the period is sparse and ambiguous"[ABD, p.1182]. Bimson scores 1. The Liberals and Evangelical can claim a Shechem that was not attacked at their Conquest date and was occupied immediately thereafter but both must use a temple that is too small. In addition, the Liberals must compress the entire era before Abimelech into an impossibly short Iron Age IA and have no Iron Age IB-IIA capital city for Jeroboam I. Evangelicals score 3 and Liberals score 2.

Arad and Hormah are situated in the southern Negev. As the Israelites approached the "promised land", the King of Arad marched to attack them. The Israelites meet and defeated them at Hormah (Num. 21:1-3). Joshua listed (Joshua 12:14) Hormah and Arad among the 31 cities and kings that he had captured. Hormah is listed as being destroyed in Judges 1:17.

If Arad is identified as Tel Arad then all the models score 0. Using Aharoni's scheme older Arad is a Tel Malhata and Hormah is Tel Masos (Khirbet Meshash)[Aharoni]. These two sites were occupied during the MB II but there is no sign of any Late Bronze occupation. Thus Evangelicals and Liberals score 0. Tel Masos was destroyed at the end of MB IIB and Tel Arad after the end of MB IIC. Thus Bimson fits Arad but not Hormah. Bimson scores 2. Both sites were occupied in MB IIA and Hormah destroyed in MB IIB. The Revision scores 4.

The totals below reflect the superiority of an MB Exodus model over an LB one. Thus our confidence in the conventional assumptions fail and we assume a Middle Bronze Exodus assumption instead.

Table 2 - Comparison of Models for Important Site Test

 Revision  Bimson  Evangelical  Liberal
 20/24  13/24  5/24  10/24

Biblical date of the Exodus According to Ancient Chronologists

The Evangelical model although it affirms the biblical text accepts both the Egyptian and the biblical chronologies and so experiences archaeological contradictions. Its failure tells us that the juxtaposition of the Exodus with the 18th Dynasty is false and that at least one of the biblical or Egyptian chronology is wrong.

The conventional wisdom is that the Exodus is 480 years before the founding of Solomon's Temple. This is based chiefly on the authority of Ussher, Archbishop of Ireland. His chronology was published close to the Reformation in the 17th century when the King James Bible was first published in modern English. However, this interpretation was not popular in the Hellenist era or among the early Christian fathers. According to Whiston, Josephus in Antiquities of the Jews dated the Judges era at 592 years and later calculated 612 years. This places the Exodus not in the 15th century but the 17th century. Other chronologists in the church who dated the Judges' era were Africanus, 679 years; Clement, 576 or 595 years; Tatian 566 years and Eusebius 480 years. The Jewish chronologist Theophilus gave 566 years. Eusebius alone of the major Christian writers thought the Judges' era did not exceed 480 years [Meyer].

These ancients obviously understood the 480 years of Judges as other than chronological years. Paul in Acts 13:18:21 (NASB) also understood this. "For some forty years He bore with their conduct in the desert. Then in the Canaanite country, after overthrowing seven nations, whose lands he gave them to be their heritage for some 450 years he appointed judges for them until the time of the prophet Samuel. It was then that they asked for a king, and God gave them Saul son of Kish, a man of the tribe of Benjamin. He reigned forty years before God removed him and appointed David as their King...".

According to Kitchen: "The lazy man's solution is simply to cite the 480 years ostensibly given in (1 Kings 6:1) from the Exodus to the 4th year of Solomon (ca. 966 BC). However, this too simple solution is ruled out by the combined weight of all the other biblical data plus additional information from external data. So the interval of time from the Exodus comes out not at 480 years but as over 553 years (by three unknown amounts). " [Kitchen, 1992, p.702] De Vries notes, "It should be pointed out, moreover, that the chronology demanded by the books of the Judges and Samuel actually far exceeds the figure of 480 years. a total of 554 years plus two periods of unknown length occupy the interval from the Exodus to the founding of Solomon's temple." [De Vries, 1962, p.584]

Anstey thought the explanation lay in the numbering of the years of the Israelite rulers [Anstey]. The 480 years represented only years of the Judges ruling omitting those years where there was foreign oppression. But Anstey's calculation, like Kitchen and De Vries includes 40 years for the priesthood of Eli as a separate period when it ends near the death of Samson. Montgomery's calculation of 568 years puts the Exodus at 1591 BC [Montgomery, 1998]. A further reason to think that the 480 years is not chronological is that the Septuagint in I Kings 6:1 claims that the Exodus was 440 years earlier. The Septuagint translators may have counted the Philistines as a foreign oppression and so excluded those 40 years whereas the Masoretes included them under the Judgeship of Samson and Samuel. My new second assumption is that biblical chronology puts the Exodus near 1600 BC.

In Egyptian chronology 1600 BC would fall into Hyksos era. The early biblical chronologists put the Exodus at or near the expulsion of the Hyksos according to their understanding of Egyptian chronology. They concluded that the Hyksos were the Israelites. This is an historical error. The Hyksos were not like the Israelites in any respect except they were Semitic. Pharaoh invited the Israelites into Egypt but the Hyksos invaded. The Israelites demanded to leave but Pharaoh held them by force. The Hyksos were driven out. Such identifications can be rejected. However, if the Israelites are not Hyksos we must admit an error in Egyptian chronology.

The Assyrian Adjustment to Egyptian Chronology

If the Egyptian chronology is wrong by what standard are we to correct it? Unfortunately, datable Israelite artifacts are rare and in the Judges era non-existent. However, in the Middle Bronze II era, items of the First Babylonian Dynasty with its celebrated King Hammurabi, have been found in tombs in Byblos along side tombs dating to the late 12th Dynasty in Egypt 1991-1778 BC. Shamsi-Adad I, King of Assyria, was contemporary with Hammurabi and included in the Assyrian king list. Thus there is an archaeological connection that can help synchronize the Assyrian and Egyptian dates. Historically, Egyptian dates have been significantly higher than the Assyrian. Hammurabi's reign once thought to be 1728-1686 has been raised to 1792-1750 BC. Moreover, the newest Assyrian chronology is even lower, bringing Hammurabi down to 1696-1654 BC [Gasche et al]. This choice to adjust Assyrian dates to meet the Egyptian chronology is arbitrary. Instead I adopt my third assumption: that Assyrian dates are more reliable and are to be used to "correct" the Egyptian dates.

In the Middle Bronze in Mesopotamia, the 1st Babylonian Dynasty with its famous king, Hammurabi arose. Astronomical records of the planet Venus in the reign of King Ammizadaga gave hope that absolute dates could be determined for the 1st Dynasty. Investigators were disappointed. The merits of the High, Middle and Low dates are still debated [see James, P. Appendix 4 for a readable summary of the controversy]. The generally accepted dates of Hammurabi are High, 1856-1814; Middle 1792-1750; and Low 1728-1686. At Byblos, tombs showed that Hammurabi of the 1st Babylonian Dynasty was contemporary with the latter part of the 12th Dynasty. This favours the High and Middle chronologies. The Assyrian king list showed that Hammurabi was a contemporary of Assyrian King Shamsi-Adad I and this favoured the Low chronology. The Low chronology was also favoured by Mesopotamia cylinder seals of the 1st Babylonian Dynasty that were found at Nuzi and Arrapha in 15th century strata [Smith, p. 16].

In the Middle Bronze, East met West at Alalakh in northern Syria. In Level VII, Woolley, the excavator of Alalakh, found a letter of King Yarim-Lim of Yamhad, a contemporary of Hammurabi, who appealed to an unknown pharaoh to come to his aid. Woolley used the Low chronology to date his finds but soon encountered problems. Woolley noted that the latest time that Egypt had any presence in north Syria was under Amenemhet III, who died 90 years earlier under the conventional Egyptian dates [Woolley, p. 389]. Woolley resolved the issue by raising the dates 60 years to 1792 - 1750 [Woolley, p. 389]. This did not accord even with his own evidence. Nor did it resolve the problem of the Mesopotamia cylinder seals at Nuzi and Arrapha in 15th century strata or the Assyrian king list. Using the latest proposal for the Assyrian chronology [Gasche et al, 1998] would require a minimum 120-year adjustment.

Woolley also had difficulty aligning the post-Babylonian pottery in Levels VI and V at Alalakh. Specifically, polychrome and "Union Jack" ware is found at Alalakh in Level VI, 50-100 years later than its counterpart in Hyksos strata in Palestine [p. 389]. Furthermore, red on black ware, dated to the Middle Kingdom era should have preceded Level VI altogether. Again, this suggested a minimum 120-year adjustment of dates. Furthermore, the Tell el-Yehudiyah pottery that began late in the 12th Dynasty in Egypt (early 18th century), occurred in Syria "everywhere in a context later than 1600" [Schaeffer, p.25-27]. This would require a minimum178-year adjustment. If the down dating were 191 years then the 12th Dynasty would end in 1591, the date of the Exodus according to my Biblically Inerrant Chronology [Montgomery].

Woolley made the archaeology conform to the Egyptian dates meant adopting Middle dates for Hammurabi and Yarim-Lim. As can be seen above, it does not work. The alternative is to conform to archaeology to Assyrian dates and adjust Egyptian chronology. Thus the Hyksos Dynasty is to be down dated by 75 years to accord with the polychrome "Union Jack" ware (1648-1541 to 1573-1466 BC) and the Middle Kingdom 12th/13th Dynasties are to be down dated by 191 years (1991-1648 to 1800-1457). This demands a major overlapping of the 13th Dynasty with the Hyksos 15th Dynasty. Is this possible?

In the area regarded as that of the biblical Goshen, a stone block of bearing the name Hetepibre, a 13th Dynasty pharaoh, found together with a stele of Sobeknefru, the last pharaoh of the 12th Dynasty, was inscribed with the throne name "Amu, son of Saharnedjheryotef" [Habachi, L.]. To an Egyptian, an Amu name in a cartouche was a presumption that they would never tolerate. Egyptian literature shows they feared the Amu greatly and held them in great contempt. The fourth pharaoh of the dynasty, "Amenemhet V, the Amu" was also an Amu. The Turin Royal Canon, the only king list of Egyptian pharaohs, says after the second king of the 13th Dynasty "-no king for 6 years." This is the only time in history where it is stated that no king reigned during a dynasty. It is plain that at least some of the 13th Dynasty pharaohs were Amu/Hyksos. The only explanation that really fits this evidence is that the conquest of Egypt by a Hyksos invasion began with the 13th Dynasty. It was only later, perhaps in a second wave, that the Hyksos consolidated their power in Egypt at Avaris as the 15th Dynasty.

Exodus in the Twelfth Dynasty
Our new assumptions result in dating the Exodus at the end of the 12th Dynasty. This, however, is only a chronological juxtaposition. We must ask the question: does this make historical and archaeological sense. The 12th Dynasty was rich and powerful but the 13th Dynasty had impoverished remains. This is one of the Exodus archaeological conditions we are seeking. The Turin Canon gives about 60 kings for the 13th Dynasty. Most of the reign lengths are missing but the average for the dozen that are known is less than 7 years. Several pharaohs are known to have reigned months not years. This indicates great instability over a considerable period. This is another condition we are seeking. The reason for drastic economic decline and political instability is unknown according to Egyptologists.

Excavations in the Goshen region reveal occupation by large Semitic populations in the Middle Kingdom. Excavations by Bietak at a site called Tell ed-Daba revealed that Egyptianized Semites dwelt there during the 12th Dynasty at Level H [Bietak, 1996. p 9-10]. Bietak identified the site as Avaris the ancient Egyptian capital of the Hyksos. Unlike Egyptians, these 12th Dynasty Semites attached their graves to their homes in Middle Bronze Levantine fashion. Pictures and sculptures show these Semites with peculiar mushroom style hairstyle [Bietak, p. 19]. The same Semites also lived in nearby Ezbet Rushdi in Level d/2. Rohl proposed that these Egyptianized Semites were Israelites [Rohl, 1995]. The13th Dynasty began in Levels d/1 and G where a significant change in the Semite population occurred. There were no longer any images of people with mushroom hairstyle. The new burial practices began. The Semitic graves now abounded in weaponry. Pairs of donkeys were found buried at the entrances to the their graves. This kind of burial is paralleled only in southern Canaan, especially at Tell el-Ajjul [Bietak p. 25]. Tell el-Ajjul is usually identified with the Sharuhen which was the Hyksos centre of influence in Palestine during the Second Intermediate Period (SIP). Also, the pottery that had been imported from northern Canaan and the Levant was replaced in Levels d/1 and G by Tell el-Yehudiyah ware and pottery from southern Canaan [Bietak p. 31].

I propose that these Semites are the Hyksos. Velikovsky identified these Hyksos as Amalekites. The Israelites met the Amalekites in Sinai. As the Israelites were proceeding towards the East, the Amalekites were proceeding West toward an Egypt that was economically, militarily and emotionally exhausted. The Exodus would explain why they have met little resistance to their invasion.

Manetho was an Egyptian historian of the Hellenistic Period. According to Josephus, he said of the Hyksos invasion, "There was a king...whose name was Timaus. Under him it came to pass, I know not how, that God was averse to us, and there came, after a surprising manner, men of ignoble birth (Hyksos)...and subdued our land by force, yet without hazarding a battle." After a while, they gained control of the governors of Egypt, burned the cities, razed the temples, abused the inhabitants, sold many into slavery, left garrisons in key locations and put both Upper and Lower Egypt under tribute [Josephus, Against Apion I.14, p.610]. After a while one of them named Salitis established a fortress in the delta which he called Avaris. Salitis is named by Josephus as the first Hyksos king. It may be that there were two waves of Hyksos and Salitis may have been in the first king in the second wave. This could explain why the first wave of the Hyksos attempted to rule from Memphis as 13th Dynasty pharaohs but later found it more secure to rule from Avaris.

At Ezbet Rushdi a "Mittelsaalhaus", a house with a central court, was discovered. This kind of architecture also occurred in Mesopotamia, in 17th century Mari. Also a statue of an Asiatic with red hair and yellow skin was found. It also had a Mesopotamian parallel in 17th century Ebla [Bietak, p. 20]. These dates are taken from Assyrian chronology and thus, according to the assumption used in this model, would override the 19th century Egyptian date. This date for the strata agrees with our new model dating of the 12th Dynasty to the 17th century.

In summation, in the region of Goshen at the end of the 12th Dynasty, lived a Semitic race who disappeared, like the Israelites, and were replaced in the 13th Dynasty by the Hyksos (Amalekites). At that time a prosperous and powerful 12th Dynasty became the weak and impoverished 13th Dynasty. Furthermore, Middle Bronze architecture and artifacts from Mesopotamia date the latter half of the 12th Dynasty to the 17th century in agreement with our assumptions. These conditions are those sought to correlate with the Exodus. The question is does the 12th Dynasty correlate well with the Israelite Sojourn and does the Conquest of Canaan under Joshua correlate well with post 12th Dynasty stratigraphy in Canaan?

Twelfth Dynasty Sojourn

In the area of biblical Goshen the Israelites were building two store cities, Rameses and Pi-Thom. Archaeologists have identified Rameses as Pi-Rameses in the district of Qantir. Bietak's excavations showed that it was occupied both in the Hyksos and Middle Kingdom. Tell Retabeh and Tell Maskhuta, the two candidates for Pi-Thom also had Hyksos and Middle Kingdom layers. Thus the two biblical cities of the Exodus are represented in the appropriate strata.

Was there a powerful Vizier in the 12th Dynasty who could have been Joseph? Courville identified Joseph as Vizier Mentuhotep under Senusret I, the most powerful Vizier of the 12th Dynasty [Courville, 1977, Vol. 1, p.142]. His many impressive titles were: Vizier, Chief Judge, Overseer of the Double Granary, Chief Treasurer, Governor of the Royal Castle, Wearer of the Royal Seal, Chief of all the Works of the King, Hereditary Prince, Pilot of the People, Giver of Good -Sustaining Alive the People, Count, Sole Companion, Favourite of the King. Such titles were unprecedented either before or after this time. Particularly the epithet, "Sustaining Alive the People", brings some deed of national salvation to mind. Over 100 years later, in the reign of Senusret III, Mentuhotep's figure was defaced, so that his memory was dishonoured. Courville identified Senusret III as the pharaoh of oppression. [Courville, 1977, Vol. 1, p.149]

Sparks identified the Pharaoh of the Exodus as Amenemhet IV [Brad Sparks -personal communication]. He points out that of all the pyramids and tombs of the 12th Dynasty pharaohs are accounted for except those of Amenemhat IV and his sister Sobekhotep I. I would add that the death of Amenemhet IV is at exactly the right date in relation to the 7 years of Joseph's famine. Egypt's only king list, the Turin Canon, gives the 12th Dynasty 213 years. Sobeknofrure reigned the final 4 years, leaving 209 years at the death of Amenemhat IV. Adding 209 to 1591 BC yields 1800 BC for the first year of the 12th Dynasty. Jacob entered Egypt 215 years before the Exodus, or 1806 BC. This was the 2nd year of 7 years of poor crops that began in 1807 or exactly the last 7 years of the 11th Dynasty. The Turin Canon does not name the pharaoh who ruled just before the beginning of the 12th Dynasty but states instead that there were "7 empty years" [Grimal, p. 158]. The drought-ridden years were so bad that Egyptians refused to include his name in the king list.

At age 40 Moses murdered an Egyptian to protect an Israelite and fled to Midian for 40 years. Josephus records that sometime after the death of this pharaoh Moses asked his father-in-law for permission to return to Egypt [Antiquities of the Jews]. Thus this pharaoh and his successor ruled at least 40 years. In the latter part of the 12th Dynasty, Amenemhat III reigned 48 years. Moses could have been born under Senusret III, who ruled 38 years, fled to Midian under Amenemhat III and returned 40 years later to confront Amenemhat IV.

The Middle Kingdom also provides historical documents that refer to the events of the Exodus. Velikovsky proposed that the Egyptians, having lost all their slaves and their capacity to fend off the invading Hyksos, recorded this disaster in the Middle Kingdom papyrus called "Admonitions of Ipuwer". Its author complained of a lack of authority, justice and social order as if the central authority no longer had the will or power to keep control. He also complained about barbarians and foreigners as though the country had been invaded. He wrote, "Nobody is planting crops" because they were not sure what will happen. Their crops were devastated, "Grain is perished on every side." The southernmost districts no longer paid taxes. The Nile strangely turned to blood so that "If one drinks it, one rejects it as human (blood) and thirsts for water." The similarities to the plagues of the Exodus are obvious. Gardiner followed by most Egyptologists dated the events of Ipuwer to the First Intermediate Period. However, Wilson conceded that the language and orthography belong to the Middle Kingdom [Wilson, 1969b, p. 442]. Other scholars such as Van Seters, and Velikovsky have argued for a Second Intermediate Period date, i.e. the 13th Dynasty/Hyksos era [Van Seters, 1966, pp.103 120], [Velikovsky, 1952, pp. 48-50]. If the latter opinion is correct it negates the criticism that the Egyptians failed to record the devastation wrought by the Exodus.

The Conquest after the 12th Dynasty

What might the archaeology outside of Egypt say about an MB II Exodus? We have mentioned already that the Sinai and the Negev were uninhabited during the MBII and this explains why, apart from the Amalekites, the Israelites met no one in their wanderings for 40 years. What happened after their arrival in the Promised Land and their battles with the Canaanites? According to Kenyon "During MB IIB the towns in Palestine show great development and all the evidence of an eventful history. Each town excavated was rebuilt several times within the period and each suffered several destructions." [Kenyon, 1960, p. 173]. Finkelstein says, "The entire country flourished in MB IIB. In contrast to earlier periods of prosperity, however, an unprecedented number of settlers inundated the central hill country as well. Hundreds of sites of every size were founded throughout the region..."[Finkelstein, p. 339] Again, he states, "The wave of settlement crested in the MB IIB" [Finkelstein, p. 340]. The MB IIB provides exactly the archaeology required for the Conquest by Joshua.

Dating Jericho

It would be an appropriate test of our new MBII B Conquest model to apply our chronology to the archaeological remains at Jericho. Several artifacts and pottery can provide independent dates. Do these dates agree with a Conquest date of 1551 BC? After 40 years in the Sinai, the Israelites under Joshua captured Jericho and burned it completely. Afterwards Jericho was cursed and deserted. The mound of Jericho is located in the Jordan Valley at Tell es-Sultan. In 1908, Watzinger and Sellin, excavated it and found a MB walled city and glacis. At the Late Bronze level, they found no walled city at Jericho. Garstang continued the excavation and claimed he had found an LB walled city that had been burned that he could date to 1400 BC. When Kenyon resumed the excavation she discovered that Garstang's walls were not LB but EB, circa 2000 BC not 1400 BC. However, both EB and MB Jericho had been walled and burned to the ground. She also discovered that, "...there is a complete gap (in the occupation of Jericho) both on the tell and in the tombs between 1580 and 1400." [Kenyon, 1960, p. 198]

Kenyon's discovered other interesting facts about the MB Jericho. The MB upper walls of Jericho, which were situated on top of the Early Bronze walls, toppled outward (almost unique in archaeological sites). The fallen bricks provided the attackers with a convenient ramp to enter the city. In its rubble, charred wheat in jars was found in unusual quantities six bushels. Grain, normally, would be carried off as booty rather than being left to burn in the conflagration. Wood concluded that only the MB Level IV at Jericho meets uniquely the requirements for Joshua's Jericho. [Wood, 1990].

Wood attempted recently to redate the fall of this city to 1400 from its pottery evidence [Wood, 1990]. His attempt has been rejected by several archaeologists [Bienkowski, 1990; Halpern, 1987]. The case against the redating was stated by Bartlett thus; "The explanation is not simply that Jericho was a backwater in the Jordan valley which bichrome ware ... failed to reach, for that leaves its failure to reach Tell Beit Mirsim unexplained and, in any case, it is not just bichrome ware but a whole range of pottery of that period that is missing from Jericho." [Bartlett, p. 96]. The date of the conflagration of Jericho IV must precede the date of bichrome ware by circa 150 years. Wood's attempt to redate Level IV does not seem to have succeeded.

Scarabs and Radiocarbon dates

At Jericho a scarab of Sheshi of was found in the Hyksos Group v tombs. At Tell el-Ajjul a scarab of Maibre Sheshi was found the foundation deposits of the construction of Tell el-Ajjul Level II dated to about 1650 BC. Kempinski concluded that the Group v scarab and the destruction of Jericho ought to be dated to the late 17th century [Kempinski]. Bienkowski agreed with Kempinski dating the end of the Jericho Level IV to 1600 BC. Applying our new assumptions we calculate a 75-year downward revision of the Hyksos pottery and scarabs that results in a new model date of 1525 BC. (Note also that the revised date of the Hyksos is 1573 -1465). Group iii tombs contained scarabs of the 13th Dynasty including one from Sobekhotep V dated to about 1725 BC, but this is an estimate as many reign lengths of the 13th Dynasty are unknown. Applying our new dating assumption we subtract 191 to arrive at 1534 BC. This compares with 1551 BC, the biblical date according to our new assumptions.

Radiocarbon dating has also entered the debate over the date of the destruction of Jericho Level IV. Wood cited a late 15th century radiocarbon date for BM-1790. The British Museum later revised a series of radiocarbon dates that included the sample BM-1790 [Weinstein, p.101, n.28]. The revised calibrated date was the mid-16th century BC. Newer results agree to this date also. Bruins and Vander Plicht recently published radiocarbon data on charred grain from Jericho IV [Bruins & Vander Plicht, 1996, p. 213]. Short-lived materials from Akrotiri (Santorini) averaged 3356±18 uncalibrated years BP while those derived from cereals gathered at Jericho averaged 3311±13 BP. They noted "These averages taken together yield 3356±18, 45 years older than our 14C destruction date for MB IIC Jericho. This time difference is rather striking as it could fit the desert period of 40 years separating the Exodus from the destruction of Jericho, mentioned in ancient Hebrew texts." Because of the "wiggle" in the mid-16th century, the calibrated results are ambiguous. Using the lower calibration dates results in a composite interval of 1551-1535 BC for the Jericho grain.

After Joshua defeated Jabin, Canaanite King of Hazor, he burned Hazor and hamstrung its horses [Joshua 11:10]. Was MB Hazor burned at the same time as MB Jericho? Concerning Hazor, Kenyon states, "The remains of the final Middle Bronze Age buildings were covered with a thick layer of burning. A comparison of the pottery suggests that this was contemporary with the destruction of Middle Bronze Age Jericho." [Kenyon, 1973, p. 100]. In the MB level at Hazor, a tablet in Old Babylonian was found. It was a letter addressed to King Ibni-Addu or Jabin Adad in Hebrew and dated to the time of the kingdom of Mari (17th century in Assyrian chronology). This is the same date placed on some of the archaeological finds at Tell el-Daba.

The ceramic date 1525 BC and the scarab dates 1525 and 1534 BC are dependent on Assyrian chronology; 1551 BC is dependent on the biblical chronology and the radiocarbon dates 1551-1535 are independent of both. Furthermore, a Babylonian cylinder seal of the era of Hammurabi - here dated by Gasche's chronology to the mid-17th century - found in a Group ii tomb fits well into the above dates [Rohl, 1995, p. 309]. Thus, there is a remarkably close agreement from 3 independent chronological witnesses that Jericho Level IV was destroyed in the middle of the 15th century BC and pottery from Hazor also agrees that it was burned at the same time. It would be very difficult to argue that all this agreement is just coincidental.

To the previous evidence identifying the Exodus of the Israelites in Goshen at the end of the 12th Dynasty, and an empty Sinai and wilderness, we can further add a walled city at Jericho and Hazor (the largest tell in Palestine in any Bronze) that was burned and then deserted. In addition, we know that in the Middle Bronze there was at least one Canaanite king of Hazor with the name Jabin. Furthermore, we can say that there was a major increase in settlement in Canaan in the MB IIB as well as several destructions at many sites as one would expect in the Judges era. Lastly, there is no sign of any Egyptian military power at this time in agreement with the texts of the Judges. Thus all the archaeological conditions needed to meet the requirements for the Exodus have been found in the Middle Bronze IIB. The four assumptions of biblical MB Exodus model are:

1. The Exodus is a real historical event;
2. The Exodus is in the Middle Bronze IIB;
3. A biblical chronology that puts the Exodus near 1600 BC; and
4. Egyptian chronology modified by Gasche's new Assyrian chronology so that the Middle Kingdom advances 191 years and the Hyksos 75 years.

These assumptions then produce a Biblically compatible archaeological model of the Exodus.
Redating the Late Bronze

The most significant challenge to the biblical Exodus Model described above is the chronological gap at Jericho. What is to be done with Jericho's Late Bronze occupation? According to the Bible Joshua cursed Jericho so that anyone who rebuilt its walls and gates would suffer the loss of his oldest and youngest sons [Joshua 6:26]. In the days of King Ahab, Hiel the Bethelite rebuilt the walls and the gate of Jericho at the cost of his eldest and youngest sons [I Kings 16:34]. In the Biblically Inerrant Chronology (henceforth BIC) the fall of Jericho was in 1551 BIC and the beginning of the reign of Ahab was 929 BIC or 622 years [Montgomery, 1998]. According to conventional chronology Jericho's LB strata began at 1400 BC leaving a gap of 151 years. The down dating of the Libyan Dynasty accounts for 73 years but that still leaves an additional 400 years. Either the biblical or the conventional Late Bronze dates are wrong.

Archaeology relies heavily on pottery dating. The present Egyptian chronology is responsible for giving dates to most of the pottery of the Middle East during the biblical era. The current dates were largely determined at the turn of the century. At that time Petrie discovered Mycenaean pottery in 18th and 19th Dynasty tombs [Petrie]. This allowed absolute Egyptian dates to be applied to this pottery. It is important to understand that these dates caused a serious controversy [Torr, 1896]. Torr, a Greek archaeologist, pointed out that Petrie had raised their dates for Mycenaean pottery by 400 years. Before this, they had dated the pottery of the Late Mycenaean period circa 1200-800 BC to allow continuity and even overlap with the Geometric period. Petrie's pushed back the dates from 1200-800 to 1600-1200 BC. This caused a "Dark Age" to appear in Greek archaeology between 1200 and 800 where there was little or no history, architecture, art or weaponry. Furthermore, the dates of the Greek pottery were then transmitted to other contemporary pottery types. Thus all over the Mediterranean the "Dark Age" spread everywhere that Greek Mycenaean pottery and its cognates appeared [James, 1993, p.16]. Egyptian dates prevailed but the problems created have never been resolved.

The problem between biblical dates and conventional Late Bronze dates is now seen to be with the latter. A 400-year down dating will fully realign the stratigraphy of Israel so that the chronology of the strata and the biblical dates are synchronized. This adjustment of the Exodus model to include the Late Bronze archaeology will be called the Biblical Stratigraphic Model (BSM).

Velikovsky's Revision

It is now opportune to point out that the down dating of the Late Bronze by 475 years is exactly the Velikovsky scheme [Velikovsky, 1952, 1977, 1978]. Velikovsky was convinced that because of the proximity of Egypt and Israel there ought to be a mutual record of their historical encounters. The poor record of their shared events convinced him that there was something wrong. "It is strange that there is no real link between the histories of Egypt and Israel for a period of many hundreds of years" [p. 4]. For example, during the reign of Solomon, during the weak 21st Dynasty, a pharaoh captures Gezer as a dowry for Solomon's new Egyptian wife. There is no Egyptian record of a royal marriage to any foreign king or any conquest of Gezer in the 21st Dynasty.

Velikovsky, having aligned the Middle Kingdom with the Sojourn and Exodus of the Israelites, then moved down the time corridor and matched the Hyksos with Joshua and the Judges, the reign of Ahmose I (18th Dynasty) to King Saul and the reigns of Amenhotep I and Thutmose I to King David. Hatshupset's visit to Punt was identified with the Queen of Sheba's visit to King Solomon. Then, in the reign of Rehoboam, in his 5th year, Pharaoh Shishak invaded Israelite, captured Megiddo and looted the Holy City, Jerusalem.

Velikovsky credited this invasion to Thutmose III who had the tribute taken from his invasion of Palestine's Kadesh (Holy City) pictured on the various walls of Karnak near Thebes. Conventionally, this city is thought to be a Canaanite Holy City in Phoenicia or even Syria. But when any of these temples had such wealth is enigmatic. The lack of any image or mention of any Canaanite, Philistine or Syro-Hittite god leaves no doubt that the temple of was none of these. Velikovsky favourably compared these items in number and metal composition to those described in the Bible, as belonging to Solomon's Temple. One must admit that the treasure belonged to the Israelites who were the only nation forbidden to make images of their God.

One hundred years later, came the famous el-Amarna letters previously mentioned. These fall into the late Omride or Jehu era. Velikovsky analysis of this era may be flawed but there is definitely a correlation. In both the Amarna letters and in the biblical text the Arameans are a significant military force in the region and the kings of the Hittites and Egyptians are the major players [2 Kings 7:6]. Furthermore, there are Hebrew idioms in the Amarna letters that would appear to deny that they were written prior to the Israelite conquest.

Velikovsky has the 18th Dynasty succeeded by the Libyan 22nd Dynasty. The first Libyan pharaoh, Sheshonq I, is no longer the scriptural Shishak but reigned just before Israel's recovery from the Arameans. After this point Egyptian/ Israelite chronologies can be synchronized within narrow limits. The scheme is completed by showing the 19th and the 26th Dynasties are the same as well as the 20th and 30th Dynasties. The 21st Dynasty is a series of priest-princes operating in the Persian period [Velikovsky, 1952, 1977 1978]. Thus the histories of the contact of the two nations are harmonized. The new MBII Exodus archaeological model then agrees with Velikovsky's Bible history harmony.

Thus, having set the Exodus/Conquest in MBIIB, the archaeological evidences and biblical dates at Jericho demanded that we make an additional 400-year (475 in total) adjustment to the Late Bronze Age so that we could synchronize the archaeology with biblical history. This down dates the beginning of the reign of Amenhotep III from 1400 BC to 925 BC in the reign of Ahab, similar to Velikovsky's scheme. No use was made of Velikovsky Egyptian evidences nor did Velikovsky make use of any of the assumptions or analyses above. Thus there are two independent lines of evidence that arrive at the same conclusion: that the extensive archaeological evidence of an MB IIB Exodus combined with the biblical history and archaeology of Jericho yields the exact same 475-year down dating of the Late Bronze that Velikovsky proposed and supported by evidence from Egyptology.

New Biblical Stratigraphic Model for Israel

If the Late Bronze Age is down dated by 4-5 centuries from 1550-1200 BC to 1075-825 BC then where do we put the strata already dated to those years? James has shown, as already mentioned, all over the Mediterranean there is a stratigraphic "Dark Age" between 1200-800 BC created by Petrie's Egyptian dates for Mycenaean pottery at the protest of the Greek archaeologists like Torr. Torr, although he lost the debate, was actually right in opposing Petrie's redating. The down dating of the Late Bronze 4-5 centuries then returns stratigraphy to the dates that Greek archaeologists gave or would have given the strata were it not for Petrie's erroneous redating of Mycenaean ware. To accommodate the Greek archaeology we redate the Late Bronze 1075-825 BC. The first stratigraphic benefit of the BSM is to fill the chronological gap between the Late Bronze and Iron Age in Anatolia, Greece, Sicily, North Africa, Spain and related areas. If the Late Bronze is down dated by 4-5 centuries but the Hyksos dates are advanced only 75 years what happens to the 1480-1075 era. To keep stratigraphic continuity another 400 years must be added to the length of the 13th/Hyksos era or SIP so that it dates are 1591-1075. The SIP now parallels the era of the Judges. The dates of the new BSM are illustrated in Table 3

Table 3 - Dates for the new Biblical Stratigraphic Model

 Archaeological era  Egyptian Dynasties Accepted Dates BSM Dates    Israelite History
 Middle Bronze IIa  12th   2000-1750  1800-1600  Sojourn/Exodus
 Middle Bronze IIb/c   13th /17th   1750-1550  1600-1075  Conquest/Judges
 Late Bronze I  18th   1550-1400  1075- 925   United Kingdom
 Late Bronze II   18th   1400-1330  925- 825  Divided Kingdom

The BSM resolves three problems exposed by the Specific Site Test. First, the BSM has by design answered the problem of the Late Bronze at Jericho. Second, it confirms that the Middle Bronze strata, Temple 1b and its Middle Bronze IIC pottery at Shechem extend to the era of Abimelech and the Temple of Baal Berith, 1152 BIC, as required by the Revision model. Abimelech's Shechem lay abandoned and under the new BSM, the abandonment belongs to the last century of the SIP era circa 1150-1080 BIC. Shiloh was also functioning as a cult center 600 years after the Exodus, not only in Saul's day but also to Jeroboam I, circa 980 BIC. This date is an Iron I date. Under the BSM it can be seen that the destruction level in Shiloh is at least 500 years after the MBIIB initial occupation in agreement with biblical text. Furthermore, the final destruction of Shiloh would appear to be the result of Aramean attack, circa 870 BIC rather than a Philistine one. Thus in the tests of specific sites above, all three points lost by the Revision for being a good fit rather than excellent are regained. The BSM provides an excellent fit to the biblical text at all tested sites.

The BSM also provides an explanation of the lack of Late Bronze sites in the hill country of Judah and Israel. As previously mentioned Finkelstein's analysis put all Conquest models in doubt because it appeared that either there were no Canaanites living in the hill country during the Conquest (LB Exodus) or that the Israelites abandoned the hill country after the Conquest (MB II Exodus). Now it can be seen that the Middle Bronze period extends down into the 12th/ 11th century when the collar-rimmed storage jars are found. Thus there is no gap and Iron I strata sits directly over MB II strata because Iron I directly follows MB II in the hill country. This denies the final substantive criticism of the historical Exodus and Conquest by archaeology.

In the Middle Bronze II period, the store cities, Ramesses and Pithom are being built. The Semitic people of the Nile delta disappear during the 12th Dynasty and are replaced. The nation plunged into poverty and instability. The Sinai had no kingdoms, tribal or otherwise. The cities of Joshua's with a few exceptions were present. The land was prosperous and filled with walled cities. There was a population explosion. Jericho and Hazor were heavily burned. In conclusion, the Middle Bronze II period provides all the archaeological requirements to correlate to the historical biblical model.


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Revised July 9, 2004.