Hebrews in Egypt – Slaves and Plagues – Extra-Biblical Proof!

May 12, 2022 0 Comments

The history of the Hebrew people in Egypt is told in the Old Testament and in the Pesach Haggadah, mainly with regard to the miracles that were performed to escape slavery: the miracles of the “Ten Plagues” and of Moses dividing the Red Sea during the Exodus. The saga of the Hebrew-Israelites in Egypt begins with Joseph being sold by his ten older brothers, angry at his arrogance, to the itinerant Ishmaelites, who resell him as a slave in Egypt. Through his skills in dream interpretation and later executive administration, Joseph is eventually appointed vizier (second in authority) to the pharaoh, and through forced grain hoarding for seven bountiful years (building storage cities) , save Egypt, the whole Middle East. and the Hebrews from famine. (Extra-biblical source, “It was during the reign of Djoser that Egypt became a great power…great riches…accumulated…grain sold…years of famine…”) Joseph then brings his brothers and father plus their families (a total of seventy) to Egypt, where the stay of the Hebrews in Egypt begins. Centuries later, a pharaoh “who didn’t know Joseph,” concerned that his high birthrate might become a threat, enslaves them, then institutes the drowning of baby boys, and the Moses chapter begins.

There are many extra-biblical Egyptian references that lend credence to the above story:

  1. Slaves Building Monuments in Egypt – Papyrus, Leiden #348, “Distribute grain to the Habirus (or Apiru – Hebrews) who carry stones to the great basin of Ramses”, Wall paintings show starving men with protruding ribs severed.)
  2. An Austrian excavation of dwellings and tombs at Tel-ed-Daba, Egypt, in 1989, uncovered ancient cities near Goshen. Data from 800 drill cores gave evidence of a large number of Asian slaves, not Egyptians; eleven levels at the site indicate many generations during the Egyptian 12th and 13th dynasties {compatible in duration and time period with the biblical story of the Hebrew sojourn as slaves in Egypt}:
  3. The Brooklyn Papyrus 35.1446, tells of the reign of Pharaoh Sobekhotep, which contains more than 95 names of slaves, more than half are Semitic, seven are Biblical names {including the name of one of the two midwives named in the Bible, “Shiphrah”},
  4. In direct accordance with the Bible {the slaughter of Hebrew baby boys – the infant Moses is saved by the Egyptian princess} was the discovery of Unusual burial demographics at Tel-ed-Daba: 65% of graves were of infants under 18 months, compared to a normal 20-30%. In addition, there were far more graves of adult women than men (as male babies were killed at birth);
  5. Historians from the era of 300 B.C. C., Eusebios and Artapanus, with ancient records from the library of Alexandria, speak of Mouses {Moses}, an Egyptian prince who led a military campaign against Ethiopia. The Roman historian Josephus and a stela fragment in the British Museum indicate that such an event occurred during the reign of Pharaoh Khenepres-Sobekhotep. Also supporting the story of Moses’ military campaign, a statue of Sobekhotep {Moses’s stepfather} was found on the island of Argo, showing that Egyptian conquest and authority extended 200 kilometers from Egypt. Egyptian historians wrote that Mouses fame caused Sobekhotep to attack him {causing him to flee Egypt to Midian; however, as in the biblical story, the Bible and the Jewish Haggadah say that the cause was Moses killing an Egyptian slaver who was beating a Hebrew};
  6. The pharaoh of the Exodus is identified as King Dudimose, 36th ruler of the 13th Dynasty. {The Bible describes him as “Pharaoh who did not know Joseph”}.
  7. M. Bietek, in his excavation at Tel ed-Baba, which he dated to the mid-14th Dynasty, found shallow mass graves throughout the city of Avaris, clear evidence of some kind of major and widespread sudden catastrophe {not unlike which would result in a biblical “tenth plague”, the death of all the firstborn}. Furthermore, the archeology of the site suggests that the remaining population had left their homes quickly and en masse;
  8. Information from the extra-biblical source of Josephus, a Jewish-born Roman historian, who assisted Titus in his conquest of Jerusalem in AD 67. C., and then, as a reward, he received the Temple Scrolls, quotes Monetho, an Egyptian priest, circa 300 B.C. C., on the “easy” conquest of mighty Egypt by the Hyksos. {Bible: Egypt’s loss of its entire army of 600 charioteers and charioteers in the Red Sea seems like a reasonable explanation}.
  9. A very important extra-biblical source of corroborating details for many of the narratives of the ten plagues and the Exodus events of both the Bible and the Jewish Passover-Haggadah, is the Ipuwer – Leiden 344 papyrus scroll. Found in Egypt in the early 19th century. XIX century. century, it was taken to the Leiden Museum in the Netherlands where it remains. Described in many books about ancient Egypt, it is a papyrus scroll over twelve feet long, called “Admonitions of Ipuwer”. It was written during the 19th dynasty (the Middle Kingdom period) by a scribe/historian named Ipuwer, and performed in 1909 by AH Gardiner. The scroll describes violent events in Egypt that appear to parallel the biblical ten plagues and the Exodus story; seems like a description of a society in total crisis, providing, in essence, an eyewitness account of extreme and unusual events:
    • “What the ancestors had said has come to pass”, (Imhotep/Joseph, approximately 260 years earlier, had predicted the exodus of the Hebrews from Egypt.) {Gen. 50:24-26}
    • “We don’t know what has happened on earth.”
    • “The river is blood… there is blood everywhere, the dead are not lacking… many dead are buried in the river… cereals, coal are lacking… trees are cut down… food is lacking… a lot of hunger and suffering. {The first plague};
    • “destruction of grain” {The plague of hail or locusts};
    • “animals moaning and roaming freely”;
    • “darkness” {The ninth plague};
    • Deaths of the “sons of princes, prisoners, brothers” {The tenth plague, deaths of all the firstborn};
    • “It is over what he has seen yesterday. See now, the land is bereft of royalty. See, all ranks, they are not in their place… like a herd wandering without a shepherd.”
    • “Poor… have become… rich… Gold and lapis lazuli, silver and malachite, carnelian and bronze are tied around the necks of slave girls.” {“…and they asked the Egyptians for articles of silver and gold. And God caused the Egyptians to favor them and they granted his request.” Exodus 12:35-36};
    • “Look, the one who slept without a wife found a noble woman.. ‘they are gone’.” (This, written much later, obviously describes conditions after the loss of the Egyptian army and upper-class male officers. Note: This also supports the request of Pharaoh’s “real” widow, lost in the Red Sea, in a remarkable Amarna Letter to the king of the neighboring Hittites, asking one of his sons to become her new husband.

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