For individuals who subscribe to the Christian faith, the account of the Israelite Exodus from Egypt (Kemet) is one of the most outstanding stories in the Christian Bible. We are taught that this event is a true historical occurrence and one of the many examples of the power of “GOD” on Earth! The Holy Bible is held as the supreme authority dictating this assertion and it is reinforced by spiritual leaders of the Christian faith. Since this Western religion is one of the three dominant spiritual forces in the world today, billions of people across the globe accept this teaching without questioning it. The end result of this belief is that Kemet has been demonized to the masses for centuries. However, anything that is asserted to be true should be put to the test, so for this blog entry I will be putting to the test the historicity of the Biblical Exodus, and presenting factual historical information along with questions that we should all consider regardless of background and spiritual affiliation.
According to the Bible, the Israelites went into Kemet under their patriarch Joseph to escape a famine plaguing the land of Canaan. The famine subsequently passed, Joseph died at the age of 110 while the Israelites remained in Kemet. They multiplied exponentially, eventually outnumbering the Kemites, and a new King enslaved the Israelites out of fear that they would join with outsiders to oppress his people. They are ultimately liberated by Moses after God subjects the Kemites to several plagues including, turning the Nile into blood, calling forth infestations of frogs, lice, swarms of flies, hail, locusts, three days of complete darkness and the death of all of Kemet’s first-born sons. The Israelites leave the land but are pursued by Kemet’s army who are destroyed when they attempt to follow the Hebrews through the Red Sea which was parted by God for their safe passage and then closed on their pursuers. The Hebrews then travel for forty years in the land of Sinai where they also receive the ten commandments from God. (Note: 9 of the 10 commandments are also found within the 42 affirmations of Ma'at)
This story sounds fantastic and amazing, however, the only account of it exists solely within the Bible. As it currently stands, there is no historical record of it to be found anywhere in Kemet and they were a very literary nation having three writing systems. They documented their history in papyri, all over their temples and in their tombs, and to this date, no reference has been discovered detailing the occurrence of this enormous event. Scholars place the occurrence of the Exodus during the New Kingdom period of Kemetic history, based on information given in the Bible. While the Israelites do not give the name of the two kings who oppressed them, they are considered to be Seti I and his son Ramesses II.
The reality which should be considered is the numerous plagues attacking Kemet would have affected other nations in the Nile Valley because they were so close in proximity, interacting with the Kemites regularly. The Nile is the longest river in the world, stretching 4,132 miles into the interior of Africa, comprised of the White Nile which originates in Rwanda, and the Blue Nile originating in Ethiopia. It flows from south to north through nine countries ending at the Mediterranean Sea in Lower Kemet. If this river was turned to blood, people from all these other nations would have been affected and as a result recorded it, either in their written documents or oral traditions. Exodus 7:20-25 explains that the Nile changed into blood for seven days, killing all fish in the river. The length of such damage would have been enough time for other nations to witness and take note of this event. In addition, all water tributaries on the planet are connected beneath the earth, so if the Nile changed to blood it can be argued that possibly, all water on the planet was changed to blood.
It must also be kept in mind that at this point in history, other African nations were under the rule of Kemet as their empire had stretched its tentacles to other parts of the continent, Western Asia and Europe. The Kemites were also engaged in on-going wars with the Hittite Kingdom for several years. At the battle of Kadesh, Ramessess with a force of 20,000 soldiers, the largest infantry in Kemetic history at that time, fought the Hittites to a stalemate, ending in a peace treaty of “mutual non-aggression and support.” Both nations have records of this treaty and a copy of it currently sits within the United Nations. If all these plagues struck the nation and all the first born sons in the land mysteriously died, the country would have been incapacitated and would not have been able to engage their enemies or defend its self from invasion.
Exodus 12:37-38 states that six hundred thousand men marched out of Kemet on foot with all their belongings. If the women and children are counted in this movement, an estimated 2 million people would be the final figure. At this time the population of Kemet would have been between 3.5 million to 4 million people. Such a mass migration would have created a huge chasm in the political, economical and social structure of the nation! The empire would have ultimately collapsed!
Exodus 14:5-9 states the following, “And it was told the king of Egypt that the people fled: and the heart of Pharaoh and of his servants was turned against the people, and they said, Why have we done this, that we have let Israel go from serving us? And he made ready his chariot, and took his people with him: And he took six hundred chosen chariots, and all the chariots of Egypt, and captains over every one of them. And the LORD hardened the heart of Pharaoh king of Egypt, and he pursued after the children of Israel: and the children of Israel went out with an high hand. But the Egyptians pursued after them, all the horses and chariots of Pharaoh, and his horsemen, and his army, and overtook them encamping by the sea, beside Pihahiroth, before Baalzephon.” Based on this information the question must be asked, realistically, if such a large population left the country after it was subject to so much devastation at the hands of the Hebrew God, how on earth can a force of 600 plus soldiers subdue and recapture 2 million people? It must also ask be asked, how can the Israelites have passed through such cities Pi-Hahiroth and Baal-Zephon when they were not in existence during the New Kingdom period of Kemetic history. Even if the Kemites had superior training and weaponry, such odds are just too great for such a small unite to overcome.
The Bible further articulates that this entire army was destroyed by the Israelite God when they attempted to pursue the Hebrews through the parted Red Sea. In regards to this event, consider the following facts about this body of water. In antiquity it was known as the Erythraean Sea; it is 1,450 miles long and approximately 225 miles wide. It is 7,000 feet deep and has dangerous coral reefs at the bottom. To cross such a long distance and overcome such obstacles while outrunning a pursuing army is an insurmountable task. However, according to Exodus 14:19-24, the Israelites accomplished this all in one night!
In this event the king and army of the most powerful nation in the world at that time drowned in the Red Sea. However, it is a historical fact that Ramesses ruled Kemet for 67 years and lived until 92 years old, fathering over 100 children and building numerous monuments during his reign. His mummy is currently on display in the Cairo museum for all visitors to see. In ancient times the Red Sea was an important trade route and the Sinai area was apart of the Kemetic kingdom. Since ancient times they excavated stones for the building of their temples and precious minerals for the making of their Jewelry. One such stone is turquoise which was used in the design of King Tutankhamen's gold funeral mask. The Kemites even built several temples dedicated to the Neter (diety) Hathor who was personified as a holy cow. With such facts presented, the Israelite destruction of Kemet and its army and migration to Sinai is equivalent to a group of people destroying the U.S. army and going to hide in Puerto Rico. It is just outside of rationale reasoning.
The fact that this momentous event was not documented anywhere at that time except within the Hebrew literature is one of history’s greatest mysteries. During this age, Kemet was engaged in trade with many other nations in the world and many of them were literary nations as well. The Phoenicians who were the sea merchants of Kemet had their own writing system and would have been able to learn about and document the events of the Hebrew Exodus. Kemet also was not a monolithic society and was populated by people from other nations and ethnic groups besides the pre-dominant, ruling indigenous Africans. This news would have spread throughout the Mediterranean world and Western Asia where nations such as the Hittites and the Indus Valley Civilization would have documented it.
It is important to keep in mind that while the Bible mentions Egypt or Mizraim some 700 times, there is only one reference ever made to Israel in all of Kemet’s documented history. A large stone tablet erected in the funerary temple of Ramesses II’s son Merneptah details a military campaign against Canaan listing the names of cities and people conquered. This document dates back to 1222 B.C. Line 27 at the bottom of the stele reads, “Israel is made desolate and no longer has any crops.” Senegalese multi-genius Cheik Anta Diop presents the entire text to this document in “The African Origin of Civilization: Myth or Reality.” This stone tablet is also on display in the Cairo museum for viewing.
Furthermore, there is no record of any people being enslaved in Kemet for 400 plus years. The institution of slavery is foreign to the social and political construct of quintessential African civilizations which shared a cultural unity with Kemet. In “Introduction to African Civilizations” John G. Jackson addresses the subject of slavery in Kemet by quoting European scholar W. M. Flinders Petrie who states the following in his “Social Life in Ancient Egypt,” “Slavery never attained the serious and infamous proportions that it had in Greece, or in Italy. The serfage, which probably continued throughout the history, prevented the requirements of slave labor on large estates. It was a mild and comparatively harmless obligation, which did not prevent ability from rising, and it saved the land from the ruin which slavery brings.”
An ancient Kemetic proverb states, “Popular beliefs on essential matters must be examined in order to discover the original thought.” Since historical evidence contradicts the Biblical account of the exodus, an examination of the text must be done to ascertain if what has been presented to the world is accurate. In “Chronicle of the Pharaohs” author Peter Clayton discusses the Exodus during the Reign of Ramesses II. He states the following, “when all the first born Egyptian children mysteriously died in the night, Ramesses took fright and expelled the Hebrews. But on hearing of their actual flight, he regretted the loss of his work-force, and set out to recapture them. With a vast army, he caught up to them by the “Sea of Reeds” (perhaps one of the inland lakes between the Mediterranean and the Gulf of Suez.)”
The encyclopedia Britannica corroborates Peter Clayton’s assertion in an entry discussing the life of Moses in a segment dedicated to the Exodus. It states, “The Egyptian army cornered them at the Sea of Reeds (papyrus), which barred their exit to the east. Later Jewish tradition understood the body of water to be the Red Sea, and this erroneous interpretation persists today, even in some of the most recent English translations of the Bible. Scholars disagree as to the precise location of the Reed Sea, but, since papyrus grows only in freshwater, it was most probably a shallow lake in the far northeastern corner of Egypt.”
The online Jewish encyclopedia validates both of the above arguments in an article discussing the Red Sea. It states, “References to the Red Sea under that name are not found earlier than the Apocrypha (Judith v. 12; Wisdom x. 18, xix. 7; I Macc. iv. 9). The name refers to the body of water, termed "Yam Suf" in all other passages, crossed by the Israelites in their exodus from Egypt (Ex. xiii. 18; xv. 4, 22; Num. xxxiii. 10 et seq.; Deut. xi. 4; Josh. ii. 10; et al.). It denotes, therefore, the present Gulf of Suez, which at that time extended considerably farther north, reaching, according to Greek and Latin authors, as far as the city of Hero (= Pithom), in the Wadi Tumilat. The meaning of the word "suf" in the name is uncertain, although it appears from Ex. ii. 3, 5 and Isa. xix. 6 that it meant "reed." According to Ermann and others it is an Egyptian word borrowed by the Hebrews, although the Egyptians never applied that name to the gulf. While it is true that no reeds now grow on the salty coast of the gulf, different conditions may have prevailed along the northern end in ancient times, where fresh-water streams discharged into it. Other authorities translate "suf" as "sea-grass" or "seaweed," which is supposed to have been reddish and to have given that body of water the name "Red Sea." Seaweed of that color, however, is seldom found there.”
This revelation that it was in fact the Sea of Reeds and not the Red Sea which was crossed by the Israelites gives us a better understanding of the original text. However, since this body of water is in the north of Kemet, it is still questionable how the Hebrews could have taken that route without being spotted by the Kemetic army? All along the northern border stretching through Sinai to Western Asia, were garrisons set up for the protection of the nation. The temple of Karnak in Kemet has reliefs indicating the existence of these garrisons. In their flight the Israelites would have most likely been spotted by soldiers at one of these locations.
With so much damaging evidence to the historicity of the Biblical Exodus, the only two conclusions that can be drawn is that the event did not occur or did not transpire in the fashion presented in the Bible. In the reading of history one will come to realize that fact is stranger than fiction. One would be amazed to find that many events from the past did not transpire the way presented to us, or that people are not who they have been presented to be historically. Such comments relate to this topic in that in Ivan Van Sertima’s “Egypt Revisited,” Wayne B. Chandler sheds light on the Israelite presence in Kemet. He states, “Josephus, (37-100 A.D.) Jewish statesman and historian commented that the Hyksos were the ancestors of the Israelites, “The Egyptians took many occasions to hate and envy us: in the first place because our ancestors, the Hyksos, or shepherds had dominion over their country…..” As modern historians will now attest this fact is undoubtedly true. The Hyksos invaded Lower Egypt following the Thirteenth Dynasty. They pillaged and destroyed thousands of statues, maimed and killed an undisclosed number of Egypt’s inhabitants and mercilessly raped the women of the kingdom. This domination of Lower Egypt persisted for two centuries! How ironic; the Jewish people identify themselves as he former slaves of Egypt, when in fact their ancestors, the Hyksos, ruled and enslaved Egyptians for 200 years.”
Now, many cold, hard, painful and shocking facts were just shared and individuals will find them difficult to manage if they subscribe to Christian theology. This revelation shakes the foundation of the core beliefs of such teaching. However, it is important to learn to live in historical reality. As stated in the beginning of this article, anything asserted to be true must be put to the test. If something that is believed to be true is proven otherwise, it must be discarded or subject to its proper interpretation if possible. As Dr. Leonard Jeffries states, “we must learn to follow the truth wherever the truth may lead us.”
Even though we can no longer believe that the Biblical Exodus is an historical event, and thus falls into the category of a myth, the story can still be interpreted to teach a positive lesson from which many can learn. To do so, one must understand that the ancients dealt with the esoteric, and told stories from a metaphorical point of view. While myths are not historically true, they convey a universal truth that can transcend time. To understand many of the ancient myths and the purpose they served requires a certain level of spiritual maturity. When this is achieved the individual will be better prepared to deal with reality. The Kemites recognized this importance and it was infused into all aspects of their culture. For them, all of humanity was an extension of the creator and thus served a higher purpose, but to achieve that purpose individuals had to be able to understand and deal with all aspects of the reality in which they lived. And according to the late Dr. Ishakamusa Barashango, “Whether that reality is pleasant or unpleasant, we must be able to deal with reality in order to be rational and sane and to reach that place for which we are being called to go.” Thank you for reading.
Holy Bible: King James Version
Clayton, Peter A., “Chronicle of the Pharaohs,” Thames & Hudson, 1994
Van Sertima, Ivan, “Egypt Revisted,” Journal of African Civilizations, 1989
Jackson, John G., “Introduction to African Civilizations,” Citadel Press, 1970
Diop, Cheik Anta, “The African Origin of Civilization: Myth or Reality,” Lawrence Hill Books, 1974
Beegle, Dewey M. “Moses,” Britannica Concise Encyclopedia: http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/393555/Moses
Hirsch, Emil G., Benzinger ,Immanuel, “Red Sea” Jewish Encyclopedia http://www.jewishencyclopedia.com/view.jsp?artid=158&letter=R&search=red%20sea#ixzz18b6t828S
How the Nile River Works by Alia Hoyt: http://history.howstuffworks.com/african-history/nile-river.htm/printable
McArthur ,Tom, "Alphabet,” Concise Oxford Companion to the English Language 1998: http://www.encyclopedia.com/topic/alphabet.aspx#1-1O29:ALPHABET-full
"Red Sea." The Columbia Encyclopedia, Sixth Edition. 2008. Encyclopedia.com. 17 Dec. 2010: http://www.encyclopedia.com/topic/Erythraean_Sea.aspx#1-1E1:RedSea-full
Bible: History or Hoax II – Moses & "Exodus" From Egypt – 1: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yrrzzHOhr8Y
Bible: History or Hoax II – Moses & "Exodus" From Egypt – 2: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k1eO5Dd6WgY&feature=related