There is ancient Egyptian papyri dating back to the 26th century BCE. The ancient Egyptians have records of biographies, drawings: cartoons, maps, books of the dead, literary texts, tales, poems, official records, private papyri, correspondence, contracts, religious texts, myths, science: mathematics, medical texts, teachings, instructions, and wordlists. Yet despite all this, ancient Egyptian records make no mention of the Crossing of the Red Sea narrative. From Abraham to Moses the ancient Egyptian records make no mention.

One of the only mentions in ancient Egyptian records of foreign people being chased out of ancient Egypt comes from the Hyksos, not Israelites. Nowhere do they mention a parting of the Red Sea, and the closest we come to the name Moses comes from Ahmose I, his brother Kamose, and decorated ancient Egyptian war hero Ahmose, son of Ebana. But they were all ancient Egyptian heroes. Not Israelite heroes. Surely the ancient Egyptians would have recorded something of this magnitude?

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    As a general comment, ancient rulers didn't tend to talk about their perceived defeats and often left them out of the annals of history. It is not entirely unreasonable for there to be no mention of the Exodus events by the Egyptians (though I am interested in the answers and will be following the post!) I have seen some archeological evidence that Israelites lived in Egypt, but nothing about the Exodus as of yet. Sep 3, 2022 at 15:31
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    Some writers explicitly associated the Hyksos with the Jews
    – Henry
    Sep 3, 2022 at 15:41

2 Answers 2


Consider this excerpt from a National Geographic article, and notice the part I've highlighted:

The identity of Pharaoh in the Moses story has been much debated, but many scholars are inclined to accept that Exodus has King Ramses II in mind. The Bible confirms that the Israelites were to build “supply cities, Pithom and Ramses, for Pharaoh.” Egyptian records confirm that the kings of the 19th dynasty (ca 1293–1185 B.C.E.) launched a major military program in the Levant. As part of this effort, King Seti I (ca 1290–1279 B.C.E.) built a new garrison city, which his successor, Ramses II (ca 1279– 1213 B.C.E.), later called Pi-Ramesses. Ramses II also built a second city dedicated to his personal patron, Atum, called Per Atum. These two cities are quite possibly the biblical Ramses and Pithom.

The Egyptian origin of the story is also emphasized by the name of “Moses.” The Book of Exodus says that his name is derived from the Hebrew verb moshe, which means “to draw out.” However, mose or moses is also a very common Egyptian patronymic, as in Tutmoses, meaning “son of Tut.”

Finally, the very first reference to “Israel” appears on the Victory Stela of Pharaoh Merneptah, one of Ramses’ sons. This monument is dated around 1207 B.C.E., which suggests that the Exodus story must be set in a time period prior to the reign of Merneptah, possibly between 1280 and 1220 B.C.E. No record of the exodus has been found in any Egyptian tablets, but that is not unusual; the new dynasty did not make a habit of recording its defeats. On the other hand, there are ample records of Semitic immigrant workers in Egypt, who may have drifted back to Syria-Canaan in the 13th century for a variety of reasons—including, perhaps, Ramses’ harsh policies of conscripting labor.

Who was the Egyptian pharaoh who challenged Moses?

One of the things that makes the Bible unique among historical documents is that it does record the bad times as well as the good, the losses as well as the victories.

The Israelites were chosen specifically for this purpose: to provide an example to the world of what happens when a nation does and does not follow God's laws.

  • Yes, history is written by the winners.
    – Geremia
    Sep 4, 2022 at 4:17

Virtually no biblical events are confirmed by other historical records until hundreds of years after the Exodus. The first time Israel was even mentioned in Egyptian records is in the Merneptah Stele (c. 1200 bce), which claims that "Israel has been laid waste."

The princes are prostrate, saying, "Peace!" Not one is raising his head among the Nine Bows. Now that Tehenu (Libya) has come to ruin, Hatti is pacified; The Canaan has been plundered into every sort of woe: Ashkelon has been overcome; Gezer has been captured; Yano'am is made non-existent. Israel is laid waste and his seed is not; Hurru is become a widow because of Egypt.

Thus we have confirmation that a tribe or nation known as Israel existed in the time of Merneptah. But there is no mention of the Exodus or any details about who this group called "Israel" really was. There are tantalizing possibilities in the archaeological record regarding the presence of proto-Israelites or Hebrews in Egypt and the Sinai during the period in question. They include the Hyksos mentioned in the OP and also the Apiru spoken of in the Amarna letters. But these are speculative. For an in-depth discussion of this issue see Who Were the Ancient Israelites and Where did they Come From by William Dever.

But as the OP says, there is no mention of the crossing of the Red Sea in Egyptian records. Nor is there anything in the archaeological record to indicate the 40-year presence in the Sinai, of 600,000 Israelites of fighting age, plus another million or more women, children and elderly men.

Dever suggests that the reason for this is simply that the Exodus story combines a much smaller historical reality with a very large Mythic Truth. There were indeed proto-Israelite slaves in Egypt who escaped over a body of water [the Hebrew yam suph is "reed sea" not "Red Sea"), probably in several groups over a period of decades. Their escape was understandably not mentioned in the Egyptian records. These proto-Israelites later intermingled with groups such as the Apiru, Kenites, Midianites or other tribes on the outskirts of Canaan and eventually formed the Israelite tribal federation we read of in the Bible. The stories of their escape were embellished over hundreds of years of retelling around countless campfires.

This of course, is only a theory, but it does explain why there is no historical record of the Exodus outside of the Bible.

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