I've heard from multiple sources that there isn't even the slightest of (extra-biblical) evidence of the Exodus story or even evidence for the presence of Israelites in Egypt.

If this is true, why is this and how do Christians get over this lack of evidence?

If this isn't necessarily true, what extra-biblical evidence is there of Israelites being enslaved, escaping, and wandering in the desert for 40 years?


5 Answers 5


"I've heard from multiple sources that there isn't even the slightest of (extra-biblical) evidence of the Exodus story or even evidence for the presence of Israelites in Egypt.

If this is true...."

Well, it isn't actually true.

Evidence 1

Manetho was an ancient historian in Egypt and he says the Exodus happened. Now he could have just been reading the Jewish Scriptures ie the Old Testament.... but he says something else which is significant and really strongly suggests he was using written records (which, I suppose, no longer exist).. he wrote that the Exodus happened during the reign of Amenophis. Amenophis is the Greek language version of the name Amenhotep. There were four Pharaohs called Amenhotep. If we take the Bible verse 1 Kings 6:1 literally and use the High Chronology for the 18th dynasty rather than the Low Chronology then the Exodus clearly happened in 1446 bc in the reign of Amenhotep II (1452-1425) after the death of Thutmose III.

Evidence 2

An important evidence is linguistic: there are many foreign loanwords in the Hebrew of the Old Testament. In the Pentateuch the most common loanwords are from Egyptian.. in fact the Pentateuch has far more Egyptian loanwords than the rest of the OT. When recording the wanderings in the wilderness the loanwords are from Arabic. When recording the events before the time in Egypt the loanwords are from Middle Eastern languages Sumerian and Accadian - eg Adam and Eve, the flood, the tower of Babel - all these do not have Egyptian loanwords, but rather Sumerian and Accadian.

This is circumstantial evidence, but evidence, nontheless.

Really, no one comes to faith in the Bible as the Word of the Living God by finding that one or two things in it can be verified by archaeological evidence... archaeological evidence is nice for believers, its interesting, and often fascinating, but its not essential to faith (John 20:29). Just because the evidence is not there does not mean it did not happen: arguments claiming proof on the basis of absence of evidence are logically invalid. We come to faith in the Bible as God's Word by reading it and coming to see it is right about things such as sin, righteousness and judgement. It is right about us, about the human race, about evil. It is right in its standards of morality, etc. Once we realise it is from God and could not have been produced by sinners then we can see that what it writes about the Exodus or anything else must be true, even if there is no external evidence.

For more interesting (circumstantial?) evidence see Who was Pharaoh when Moses lived in Egypt?

For more on the foreign loanwords of the Old Testament see Who documented biblical events before Moses?

For evidence of the falling of the walls of Jericho at the beginning of the conquest of the Promised Land in the spring of 1406 BC see: How do Christians reconcile archeology with the Bible in the account of the Battle of Jericho?

For an account of evidence of Joseph in Egypt see: Why we do we "know" that Joseph wasn't Hyksos?

  • 1) Manetho's writings according to Egyptologists tell the defeat of the Hyksos who conquered Lower Egypt and the subsequent expelling of Hyksos and Ypers. It is not about a Hebrew Exodus.2) Of course there are many loanwords from Egyptian: large parts of Palestine were part of the Egyptian empire for centuries, and Egyptian cults, like the cult of Osiris, were actively evangelizing in Palestine. 3) Archeologists have found no evidence for an Exodus.
    – Codosaur
    Jul 12, 2020 at 10:51
  • @Codosaur - If the fall of the walls of Jericho were to be included as part of the whole account then archaeologists have found a lot of evidence. Manetho gave two accounts, the first and earlier account is of the Hyksos, the second is of the Jews. This is Manetho according to Josephus. After the Hyksos have been driven out many years, there is a leaving of the Jews under Moses who was previously called Osarsiph. vridar.org/2015/05/26/… Jul 13, 2020 at 21:38
  • @Codosaur - "but after this he permits himself, in order to appear to have written what rumors and reports passed abroad about the Jews". This exodus happened after the exodus of the Hyksos. And this exodus under Moses happened in the reign of one of the kings called Amenophis (Amenhotep), which fits well with the Bible chronologically (if it was Amenhotep II). There are two independent chronological methods for the Conquest (& fall of Jericho) starting 1406 BC, which I think is good evidence that it actually happened. Jul 13, 2020 at 21:49
  • Of course, there is much slander in the account given of the leaving of the Jews (many lepers are counted amongst them, Moses was nothing more than an Egyptian priest, etc). This slander is not Manetho's but what was handed down in the Egyptian literature, to try to explain what happened in a "good light" as far as the Egyptians were concerned. Jul 14, 2020 at 7:47
  • Excavations at Tell es-Sultan, the biblical Jericho, have failed to substantiate this Biblical claim, which has its origins in the nationalist propaganda of much later kings of Judah and their claims to the territory of Israel. The lack of archaeological evidence and the composition history and theological purposes of the Book of Joshua have led archaeologists like William G. Dever to characterise the story of the fall of Jericho as "invented out of whole cloth". See "Jericho". In Freedman, David Noel; Myers, Allen C. (eds.). Eerdmans Dictionary of the Bible. Eerdmans.
    – Codosaur
    Jul 14, 2020 at 7:57

One problem with finding an answer to this important question is that there are conflicting views as to which Pharaohs ruled when. There is an Egyptologist who says it was NOT Thutmose III who was on the throne at the time of Israel’s oppression, as is commonly thought. He has Khaneferre Sobekhotep IV on the throne when Moses fled Egypt into Sinai. Forty years later, Moses returned to Egypt during the reign of Pharaoh Dudimose. HE would be the Pharaoh at the time of the Exodus, according to this Egyptologist David. M. Rohl.

Rohl has written extensively on the evidence in Egyptian artifacts that prove the Habiru (Hebrews) were indeed forced into hard labor in Egypt. He's discovered Joseph's palace at Avaris in the Nile delta, known in the OT as Goshen. Joseph was entombed in a small pyramid in the grounds of his palace, with a chapel containing his colossal cult statue. This depicts an Asiatically pale fellow with reddish hair adorned with the multicoloured coat of a middle Bronze Age chieftain. Then the Hebrews became despised and pressed into hard labor. Bronze Age documents have yielded up pharaonic slave lists with Hebrew names, and the tinpot grave goods of an underclass were found at Avaris.

Independent dating of Rohl's chronology vindicates his dating of Joseph's pharaoh, Amenemhat III, at 1678 BC (give or take 4 years). The result was 37 out of 39 lunar month-length matches, whereas orthodox chronology scored no better than 21 matches. Astronomer Dr David Lappin, of Glasgow university, concluded,

“Most of the astronomical data... simply do not fit with the orthodox chronology, while the support it gives to Rohl's new chronology is nothing less than startling.”

Rohl also found water heights chipped into cliff faces just south of the Nile's second cataract that account for four massive Nile floods that would have made seed-sowing impossible for several years and famine inevitable. Joseph's God told him of this coming famine, giving him the interpretation to pharaoh's dream. Joseph was put in charge of preparing for the famine which also lead to Joseph's family moving to Egypt – the start of the Habiru population in Egypt.

So, although the Egyptian records do not relate the historic event of the 10 plagues and the exodus of the despised Habiru, Egyptian records do, indeed, point to the truth of the biblical account. The proud Egyptians would never concede, in writing, that their gods were humiliated by the 10 plagues, and that their forced-labour work-force left with great wealth! Granted, no record of the Habiru exodus has yet been found; it might never have been recorded, especially as that pharaoh's army was drowned at God's hand, but it also might have been recorded and is awaiting discovery. It is always a mistake to argue from silence against a historic event. Little more than 1% of ancient Egyptian artifacts have been uncovered.

Finally – plagues. Rohl has another hefty book where he deals with all of that. There have been Egyptian plague pits found, full of bodies, but the ten plagues were not akin to The Black Death or suchlike. Rohl deals with them all. For the tenth plague he proposes that things like earthquakes and tidal waves could have preceded the killing of the firstborn. Let me just quote this bit:

“The Egyptians had resorted to truly barbaric practices in a vain attempt to save themselves from the anger of a god they did not know or understand. Lying in the streets were the bodies of the first-born males – their throats cut. For centuries it had been the custom amongst many in the Asiatic world to deliver the sacrifice of first-born sons, at a time of crisis, in order to placate angry gods. The Egyptians of earlier times had NOT been party to this practice but, during the 13th Dynasty, much of the native population in the Nile Valley had interbred with the incoming Asiatics and had inevitably adopted many of their traditions. This influx of Canaanite and Mesopotamian ideas had penetrated into the highest echelons of society – even into the royal household itself. As we have seen, many of the pharaohs of this period bore Asiatic names and were therefore of second-generation Canaanite stock. Dudimose was no exception. Filled with terror and superstition, Pharaoh had taken the lead in the barbarism and sacrificed his own first-born in the temple of Seth (Canaanite Baal)... His eldest was a fully grown man in his late twenties, the heir to the throne of Egypt.”

Then Rohl quotes from a papyrus known as The Admonitions of an Egyptian Sage, recording distress at disasters; storms, blood and death everywhere. “The river is blood… Children of the nobility are dashed against walls” then details the poor of the land having great wealth of gold and jewellery. Read both books to see the mass of evidence for the biblical record. Please also note that Rohl is not a Christian. I am not in a position to say whether Rohl's two books are correct, but I do refer to them as one source that claims there is, indeed, evidence to support the biblical account.

Sunday Times magazine 13 October 2002 article “How Myth Became History”.

Rohl, David M, A Test of Time (Century, 1995) used for Channel 4 series Pharaohs and Kings – a biblical quest

Rohl, David M, The Lost Testament (Century 2002)

  • David Rohl agrees the Exodus happened about 1446 bc, which is good, but then says Joseph ruled about 1670 bc which contradicts Exodus 12:41 because 430 years before 1446 is 1876 bc. Also, Rohl's view is rendered impossible by two factors: 1. the population growth of the Hebrews in Egypt is "challenging" in as little as 430 years and entirely impossible in Rohl's less than 250 years. 2. There is a recorded observation of the heliacal rising of Sirius which can only be accomodated in the 1800s bc or poss early 1700s but certainly not in the 1600s..Rohl disagrees with astronomy & the Bible. Jul 9, 2020 at 6:19
  • Rohl plays upon people's ignorance of the astronomical data. There are four leading interpretations of the lunar data (Borchardt, Richard A Parker, Ulrich Luft and Rolf Kraus). The difficulty of finding a perfect match with the Egyptian chronology is that there is not sufficient data to pin down the reign lengths and length of co-regencies for the relevant Middle Kingdom period with certainty. But as new data emerges Egypologists are getting closer. Borchardt's views, & Parker's to a lesser extent, are now out of date with new data having emerged since their time. So its Luft or Kraus! Jul 9, 2020 at 6:43
  • Without delving deeper into the relative merits of Parker, Luft or Kraus, the really critical point is this: we must start with the Biblical chronology given by 1 Kings 6:1, Exodus 12:40,41 and Ezekiel 40:1 (along with Lev 25:9,10 and the Seder Olam understanding thereof). If we do not then looking for Joseph in Egypt will be looking for a needle in a haystack. Egypt's history is so long it is bound to be littered with vast numbers of red herrings all suggesting "Joseph was 'ere"! God has put a chronology in the Bible for us to take seriously. There shall be no progress without it. Jul 9, 2020 at 7:14
  • I appreciate your points, Andrew and - as I said in my answer - I am not in a position to say whether Rohl's two voluminous books are correct (regarding the point in question in particular). There is huge rivalry among Egyptologists, and new discoveries are being made every year, to add to the few artifacts presently unearthed. My answer simply shows one source that claims to have discovered some evidence in support of some of the biblical exodus.
    – Anne
    Jul 9, 2020 at 18:47
  • Anne, thanks for your reply. My point is that you end saying I do refer to them as one source that claims there is, indeed, evidence to support the biblical account. My problem with this is that the conventional chronology of Egyptology supports the possibility of the life of Joseph and Rohl's chronology most certainly does not, nomatter what he claims to the contrary. He puts Joseph's Pharaoh, Amenemhat III, as starting to reign 1678 bc. But according to the Bible the beginning of the 3rd year of the famine was 1876 bc. The conventional chronology still allows a fairly broad date- Jul 10, 2020 at 18:00

The Hebrews lived in separate encampment (see Exodus) and were treated as common labourers. Effectively, they were migrants living on a separate housing estate, with a separate language, separate culture and separate literature. They did not integrate.

This is true today of many modern cities which accept migrant workers and tolerate their separate existence as cheap manual labour. Such a people will leave no trace of their existence once they have moved on.

It is totally unsurprising to find no mention of a group of troublesome migrants who left in a hurry, taking a lot of jewellery with them and being the cause of the loss of a number of chariots. Very embarrassing. Might have been gossip for a while but best not mention it in the Court documents. Heads may well roll.

Nor would one expect to find extant evidence for an event which happened 3,500 years ago, which event only affected human beings, horses and wooden chariots and a body of water.

Sedimentation would destroy any evidence on the seabed : currents would displace artefacts : bodies would utterly decompose.

Nor would one expect to find any documentation whatsoever in ancient records in Egypt. The Egyptians are known to have re-written history after each dynasty and one would not expect an event such as the Exodus to survive in the written culture of Egyptians who happily scrubbed out of their records anyone who did not fall down and bow to the Pharaohs as though they were gods.

The period within which the Exodus occurred was the Ramesside period (19th and 20th dynasties) [see reference below] a period of great fluctuation and - most relevantly - a period of extensive re-building and re-structuring. Again, one would not expect an event occurring at the very limits of the empire and an event which brought shame and disgrace to the rulers involved to be honoured in literature thereafter.

Reference : Ancient Egypt : Civilization

Upon Akhenaton’s death, the capital returned to Thebes and Egyptians returned to worshiping a multitude of gods. The 19th and 20th dynasties, known as the Ramesside period (for the line of kings named Ramses) saw the restoration of the weakened Egyptian empire and an impressive amount of building, including great temples and cities. According to biblical chronology, the exodus of Moses and the Israelites from Egypt possibly occurred during the reign of Ramses II (1304-1237 B.C.).


The same type of considerations stand for Joseph's time in Egypt.

A slaveboy arrives in Egypt, is sold and employed as a servant, and is accused of a despicable crime and is imprisoned. Nobody wants to remember such details.

An ex-prisoner acts as an advisor to the Pharaoh during a time of famine. And, afterwards, the Pharaoh takes credit for foreseeing the famine, but allows the advisor to bring his aged father and family to the country.

What record would remain of such events ? . . . .

. . . . only the faithful recording of that which was divine, the record being documented by the Divine Holy Spirit, working through faithful men.

The travels of Israel through the wilderness for forty years would leave little trace, even at the time.

It is a desert, after all !

I don't know what the OP would expect to see after 3,500 years. There are some daubings on some stones but I hardly see that as 'evidence', especially as it is in hieroglyphic, which, to me, sounds a little bit suspicious, frankly.


In 1993 Ron Wyatt released his archaeological report with photos showing chariot wheels and horse bones at the bottom of the Red Sea where the crossing is said to have taken place.

enter image description here

Ron Wyatt Red Sea Crossing

Furthermore, there exists two pillars which King Solomon had erected to commemorate the crossing, one on each side of the crossing.

enter image description here

Isaiah 19:19 mentions a monument (some translations say pillar) which King Solomon had constructed and this could be a reference to the pillar still standing today.

In that day there will be an altar to the Lord in the heart of Egypt, and a monument to the Lord at its border.

This website sums it all up nicely

  • The chariot wheels are most definitely not real (or at least not from that time.) If they were, they would be in museums, but no one even knows exactly where that photo was taken. Ron Wyatt is not to be trusted, he even claimed to have found the Ark of the Covenant!
    – curiousdannii
    Jul 6, 2020 at 0:34
  • I have heard of claims such as these but they have been debunked as @curiousdannii♦️ suspects.
    – Cam White
    Jul 6, 2020 at 1:04
  • I don't think that "debunked" is the right word, but there has certainly been doubt cast, as you would expect with any such claim, whether it's real or not. As for the chariot wheels in a museum, the reason they've not been removed from the ocean floor is because they would by now be so brittle that any attempt to move them would result in them falling apart. This is why we only have photos.
    – Vincent
    Jul 6, 2020 at 15:31
  • @Vincent Don't you wonder why Christendom or Judaism hasn't poured enormous resources into the study (if not retrieval) of these wheels? Jul 7, 2020 at 12:16

Look up the Papyrus Ipuwer. He tells of many disasters that happened in Egypt, circa 1490- 1445

Also Immanuel Velikovsky documents how many other civilizations also experienced terrible problems due the close bypass of Comet Typhon.

But I am confident that we can trust the Bible narrative.

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