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Hip and Thigh: Smiting Theological Philistines with a Great Slaughter. Judges 15:8

Monday, September 28, 2009

One Addendum on Israel's Sojourn in Egypt

I promise this will be my last post (for a while at least) on Israel's sojourn in Egypt. I appreciate readers suffering me to take a brief break from my eschatology material, which I will return to shortly. I was personally blessed by my research with this subject, thus I wanted to share it with you all. I hope it reflects my passion for handling the text of scripture with accuracy and clarity.

At any rate...

I had a few more things to highlight on this subject.

First, Turretinfan was on Chris Arnzen's radio show last week talking about Harold Camping, Moses, and Israel's sojourn. You can down load the audio HERE. He has a lot of good stuff to say in relation to Camping's deplorable method of date setting, but I still think he is way off attempting to answer him by the use of the 215 year theory. He also has a summary of his notes HERE.

TF says he hasn't been impressed with any of my exegesis I have offered that limits Israel's sojourn to 430 years in Egypt. Especially my pointing out how the language in both Genesis 15 and Exodus 12 undeniably state they were in Egypt 430 years. A commenter by the name of "Don," who I wish was not a PNA and I hope is not a "Campingnite"- but none less - left a couple of good grammatical remarks under my first post on this subject. I thought they were worthwhile to bring to the mainpage:

You already point out the major flaw with the short sojourn view, and that is they require Israel to be stangers in two lands, and afflicted by two nations, in clear conflict with the statement of Genesis 15:13-14 (and Acts 7:6-7), where the focus is on a land (singular) and a nation (that nation, again singular). Thus, the 400 year period of affliction could not be in the lands (plural) of Canaan and Egypt, by the nations (plural) of Canaan and Egypt. In the long sojourn view it all happens in a single land by a single nation, Egypt, which is completely compatible with the above verses.

But there are a couple of other notable issues:

1) In Genesis 15:13, the KJV says they would be strangers in a land "not theirs". However "theirs" is not possessive in the Hebrew, it is literally "to them" or "for them". The idea is Israel would be strangers in a land not for them. Certainly Egypt was a land not for them, not being the promised land. But the land of Canaan cannot be in view, because it was a land for them, being the promised land. Reference

2) The KJV translates the relative pronoun "asher" of Exodus 12:40 as "who", which makes it appear to qualify "sons of Israel" (as if there might be some confusion as to which sons of Israel were being referred to). The LITV and YLT translate this pronoun "which", showing the reference is to the noun "dwelling" (a good translation of this phrase is "which they dwelt in Egypt"). So the relative phrase is highliting that the dwelling (sojouring) in view is the one in Egypt. Reference

I would add that the relative pronoun also speaks against the idea of a parenthetical comment TF raises in his argumentation. That being, The sojourn of the children of Israel (who lived in Egypt) was 430 years, implying Moses is meaning to compare the sojourning of Israel in Egypt with the previous 215 years in Canaan.

Anticipating potential questions and comments from readers, I reviewed Doug Petrovich's article on the exodus pharaoh over the weekend. He has a section outlining the means by which historians can pin-point historical dates for the pharaonic reigns leading up to the events of the exodus. This is my mind thoroughly defeats the 215 year theory and relegates it to merely being interesting conjecture among Puritan era commentators:

3. Egyptian Chronology: Precisely Dating the Pharaonic Reigns of the 15th Century BC. The final step before determining whether Amenhotep II is a viable candidate for the exodus-pharaoh is to synchronize the date of the exodus with Egyptian history. While inspiration does not extend to extra-Biblical literature or ancient inscriptions, many extant writings do possess a high degree of trustworthiness.

a. The Astronomical Date in the Ebers Papyrus. The Ebers Papyrus, an ancient Egyptian MS that dates the heliacal rising of Sothis to Year 9, Month 3, Season 3, Day 9 (ca. 15 May) of Amenhotep I’s reign (ca. 1550–1529 BC), records this astronomical event that fixes its composition to an identifiable time in the 18th Dynasty. Since astronomers can pinpoint this event by charting the positions of stars in antiquity, the papyrus can be dated to ca. 1541 BC, making his initial regnal year ca. 1550 BC. This dating, accepted by numerous Egyptological scholars, is based on the ancient capital of Memphis as the point of observation, despite the Theban provenance of the papyrus. A Theban point of observation, which is accepted by other Egyptologists, dates the papyrus to ca. 1523 BC. While the Egyptians never stated from where they observed the Sothic rising, Olympiodorus noted in AD 6 that it was celebrated at Alexandria, after having been observed at Memphis. Therefore, Memphis is taken to be the correct point of observation for the rising recorded in the Ebers Papyrus.

b. The Reliability of the Dating of the 18th Dynasty. Even without depending on astronomical dating, the chronology of Egypt in the mid-1400’s BC remains sure. Ward notes that “New Kingdom chronology can be fairly well established on the basis of the monuments and synchronisms, without recourse to the astronomical material.” As for the 18th Dynasty, he adds that the 25-year gap separating current theories on its starting date narrows to a scant three or four years by the middle of the dynasty, meaning that most mainstream Egyptologists consider the dating of Egypt’s exodus-era history to be fixed and reliable.

c. The Regnal Dates of the 18th-Dynasty Pharaohs from the Time of the Ebers Papyrus to the Exodus. With firm regnal dates for Amenhotep I, the reigns of the subsequent 18th-Dynasty pharaohs down to Amenhotep II are fixed with relative certainty: Thutmose I (ca. 1529–1516 BC), Thutmose II (ca. 1516–1506 BC), Queen Hatshepsut (ca. 1504–1484 BC), Thutmose III (ca. 1506–1452 BC), and Amenhotep II (ca. 1455–1418 BC). With these reigns chronologically ordered, the evaluation of Amenhotep II’s candidacy for the exodus-pharaoh may proceed.

I also appreciate Dr. Robert McCabe, professor of the OT at Detroit Theological Seminary for offering his support by linking to my discussions with TF.

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