- Skeptical historians will claim that there's really no record of an event of the exodus's magnitude in Egyptian history. It should at least be discernible in the record, they say, considering what a catastrophe it would have been for the Egyptian state.
- Several points can be made as possible rebuttals: first, as explained in last week's post, there are serious chronological issues in the way that many mainstream scholars assess possible evidence for the exodus. It may be the case that they don't see evidence because they're looking in the wrong place in the timeline.
- Second, while the plagues on Egypt sound dramatic, you wouldn't expect much in the way of an archaeological record from this sort of event: just a wave of burials, which would look very much like any other common plague in the ancient world.
- Third, the one event that might offer archaeological evidence--chariot remains on the sea floor--is problematic because the materials used for chariots might not have been well-preserved in that environment, the site of the crossing is disputed (meaning there are multiple possible locations to be searched), and some of the plausible crossing-sites have active restrictions against archaeological testing.
- Fourth, you wouldn't expect to find monumentary evidence of the exodus, as the Egyptian monumentary records tended to be propaganda pieces for the pharaohs, so they would be unlikely to record their most humiliating defeat in that medium.
- Fifth, while scholars claim that there are no textual records of these events beyond the Bible, as you would expect to find, this claim is not precisely true. There are two major existing sources beyond the Bible. One is from Manetho, the Egyptian historian upon whose work most of Egyptian chronology is based. We no longer have his texts except where they are cited by other writers, but what remains in that form has proven valuable to historians. The content of Manetho's text relayed by Josephus makes reference to the exodus events, and Josephus has proven a fairly reliable source in many instances. The second source is the Ipuwar text (also mentioned last week), which is usually dismissed as being too early to relate to the exodus, but if possible chronological adjustments are taken into consideration, then its content should be studied with relation to the plagues. It contains references like "the river is blood," and mentions crops and livestock dying, Egypt filled with mourning, a God smiting Egypt, and slaves and poor people wearing riches--all details which match the biblical account with startling precision.
- Sixth, there is textual evidence within the Bible itself which points strongly to an authentic second-millennium BC experience, including proper names (like Moses's own name, apparently of Egyptian derivation) and relevant cultural details which would not have been known had the story been fabricated in a later Judean context.
- Seventh, as relayed last week, there is massive evidence of Semitic populations in Egypt in the mid-second millennium BC, which thereafter disappear quite suddenly from the Egyptian record.
Evidence from Typology:
- If the exodus story were true, a Christian would also expect there to be significant features of the story which point forward to God's plan in Christ. This is precisely the case with the exodus:
- The passing over of God's judgment through the blood of the lamb
- "The Angel [literally, Messenger] of the Lord," a personal representation of God's own divine presence, sent save his people from bondage.
- Deliverance through the waters (the Red Sea in the story, and baptism in the Christian experience), leading to entrance into God's covenant-community.