There is significant scepticism related to the historicity of the Bible account. Baruch Halpern compares the evidence for the Bible account of the Exodus to that of the unicorn as an indication of the mythical nature of both. The problem is one of the lack of evidence. The timing for Israel’s exodus from Egypt according to standard theories of when it happened yields no evidence. Their conclusion is then that it couldn’t have happened and the Biblical account is not worthy of investigation.
Some Bible scholars have tried to argue the lack of evidence as due to the Israelites being a rabble bunch of slaves in a country of a world power of the time. We should not expect the super power of the day (Egypt) to make mention of the fact that their slaves escaped and plundered them while doing so. Typically in the records of the Ancient Near East (ANE) the stories recorded were only of victories, not defeats, especially not at the hand of their own slaves. But others say the Israelites had failed to leave their archaeological footprint in the ancient lands of the Bible at all.
Why is that? How can we solve this problem.
David Rohl, a prominent Egyptologist, suggests we have all been looking for the evidence at the wrong place in time. We have taken for granted that the historians of the ANE knew what they were doing. However Rohl suggests they didn’t. He suggests they made mistakes in assigning a chronological framework to the secular history of Egypt and the Pharoahs and applied those false assumptions to Bible Chronology. Both systems are based on the years the kings reigned. Egyptian history records historical events as in the 11th year of the Pharoah’s reign etc. In the same way we read in the Bible that the temple of Solomon in Jerusalem was plundered for its treasure by the Egyptian Pharoah (read king) Shishak in the fifth year of King Rehoboam’s reign of Judah. We can understand how that works. So we assume when scholars tell us that happened in 925 BC that they are right.
David Rohl is relooking at Egyptian history, specifically that of the Third Intermediate Period (his area of expertise). In doing so he has noticed that assumptions made were incorrect. Rohl says it is normal to calculate time in Regnal Years (the number of years a king reigned) but you have to also take into account other factors. Rohl has concluded that the period of time in which we have been searching for clues related to Israel in Egypt or even the evidence for the Kingdoms of David and Solomon have been miscalculated by over 300 years. David Rohl suggests that instead of looking for such evidence in the Iron Age IIA (1000 – 900 BC) we ought to be looking in the Late Bronze Age (1350-1250 BC). He suggests when you look in the right time frame you find abundant evidence for the story recorded in the Bible.
Rohl’s new research is challenging the experts of the ANE to rethink their chronology and to reevaluate the assumptions they have made. He claims they have wrongly assumed that the Egyptian Pharoah Shoshenk I was one and same as Shishak mentioned in the Biblical account in 1 Kings 14:25-26 and 2 Chronicles 12:2-9). He has also found the reigns of a number of Pharoahs in the Third Intermediate Period of Egyptian history were mistakenly assumed to be sequential in time but in fact they have been proved to be co-regencies or parallel dynasties. Rohl therefore suggests we have been looking for the evidence for the Biblical account in the wrong places. He is not a Christian neither does he have an underlying motive to prove the Bible right. He is simply an historian who is seeking truth. His findings have led to him seriously challenging the accepted chronology of Kitchen and Thompson and others. He says if we accept mistakes have been made and recalibrate the time frame and begin looking in the right place in time then we come across some staggering implications for our understanding of the Bible account and its historicity.
I am planning to use the next series of Nuggets to focus on the evidence to which David Rohl is pointing us. Come on a journey with me over the next Nuggets which will give you assurance and evidence that you can trust the historical record of the Bible. That it is neither myth nor legend. That there is indeed evidence for the things written related to the Exodus event and the following conquest of the Promised Land and the ensuing kingdoms of Israel.
Source: A Test of Time by David Rohl