In October 2019, I was part of a team that organized the Ready Answers Apologetics Conference (ReadyAnswers.ca), held in Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario, Canada.
I asked Scott Lanser, the Director of the Associates for Biblical Research, with whom I am a Staff Researcher and Writer, if I could put together a free eBook of past articles from Bible and Spade magazine for those who attended the conference. Scott agreed and has graciously allowed me to make this resource available to the readers of my blog as well. For the eBook, I selected eight articles that provide archaeological evidence for the Exodus and Conquest. Below you’ll find the table of contents and the introduction that I wrote for this book.
You can download this FREE eBook HERE.
If you’re interested in more free articles about biblical archaeology that demonstrate the historical reliability of the Bible, check out ABR’s website at http://www.BibleArchaeology.org.
- Israel in Egypt, by Gary Byers
- Amenhotep II as the Pharaoh of the Exodus, by William Shea
- New Evidence from Egypt on the Location of the Exodus Sea Crossing: Part I, by Gary Byers
- New Evidence from Egypt on the Location of the Exodus Sea Crossing: Part II, by Gary Byers
- Rise and Fall of the 13th Century Exodus-Conquest Theory, by Bryant Wood
- The Walls of Jericho, by Bryant Wood
- The Problem of Ai Solved After Nearly Forty Years of Excavations in the West Bank of Israel, by Scott Stripling and Mark Hassler
- The Israelite Tabernacle at Shiloh, by Scott Stripling
Were Moses and the children of Israel led from slavery in Egypt to freedom in the dramatic fashion described in the Bible? Did the Israelites really conquer Canaan when they entered the Promised Land? If so, when did this occur? These questions remain at the heart of arguably the most controversial issue in biblical archaeology: evidence for the Exodus and Conquest.
If the Bible is historically accurate when it describes the Israelite Exodus from Egypt, and subsequent conquest of Canaan 40 years later, we should expect to find some archaeological evidence to support this significant event. The question is, “What kind of evidence should we expect to find?”
Some suppose a detailed description of the destructive plagues in Egyptian literature should be uncovered. Others read the book of Joshua and get the impression that the Israelites launched a swift and massive invasion of the entire land of Canaan, pillaging and destroying cities wherever they went. Neither of these views is realistic, however. While ancient Pharaohs regularly exaggerated their victories, they rarely, if ever, described their defeats. Thus, we should hardly expect a detailed account of Yahweh’s “judgement on the gods of Egypt” (Ex. 12:12) in the writings of the Egyptians. Furthermore, a careful reading of both Joshua and Judges, reveals that the Israelites did not immediately take over the entire land, destroy all the cities, re-build their own cities and establish their own distinct, material culture. After all, God promised his people that they were going to live in cities they did not build (Josh. 24:13). Scripture also record the fact that the Israelites did not conquer all of Canaan; there were numerous groups they could not drive out (Josh. 17:12). Since the Bible describes a limited, prolonged conquest of Canaan, with the Israelites living amidst the local population, the distinct archaeological record of their presence would be limited.
But let’s return to our question, “What kind of evidence should we expect to find for the Exodus and Conquest?” We might hope to find some indication of a Semitic presence in the Egypt during the time the Bible describes to demonstrate the Israelites actually lived there. We might also see evidence of Egyptian decline and anomalies during the reign of a pharaoh who ruled at the time the Bible describes the Exodus. Scripture records that three cities in Canaan were destroyed by fire by the Israelites –Jericho (Josh. 6:24), Ai (Josh. 8:28), and Hazor (Josh. 11:11) – and we would expect to find evidence of such destruction at these sites. Finally, we could imagine finding indicators in the archaeological record of a transition to a new culture at sites in Canaan, indicating the Israelites had settled there. Given that they had been given detailed instructions regarding their worship, it might be possible to find evidence of their worship practices at Shiloh, where the tabernacle was set up when they entered the Promised Land.
These are precisely the sort of discoveries that have been made which present a picture that is in line with the biblical description of the Exodus and Conquest. For the past 50 years, the Associates for Biblical Research (ABR) has been at the forefront of archaeological investigation into this period of history. ABR was founded in 1969 by Dr. David Livingston to counter the claims of certain scholars that the evidence from the site identified as the biblical city of Ai (et-Tell) was at odds with Scripture. Throughout the years, the archaeologists and scholars with ABR have demonstrated through their research that both Bethel and Ai had been misidentified. For decades they have led excavations at Khirbet Nisya, Khrbet el-Maqatir, and Shiloh (currently). They have researched others sites, such as the Egyptian city of Avaris (known later as Rameses), and the cities of Jericho and Hazor. Through ground-breaking investigation, ABR has:
- Identified Khirbet el-Maqatir as the likely site of the fortress of Ai that Joshua conquered
- Re-examined the evidence at Jericho to show that it was indeed conquered at the time and in the manner described in Scripture
- Highlighted two distinct destruction layers at Hazor (one from the time of Joshua and one from the time of Barak)
- Unearthed evidence of Israelite occupation and worship at Shiloh
- Consistently demonstrated the historical reliability of the Bible by publicizing discoveries that affirm details in the biblical text.
Currently, ABR leads one of the largest and most technologically-advanced excavations in Israel each year at Shiloh. We also produce a weekly television show called Digging for Truth, available online through our YouTube channel. Archaeologists and scholars associated with ABR publish their research online at biblearchaeology.org and in our quarterly magazine, Bible and Spade.
This ebook contains articles from Bible and Spade that highlight evidence for the Israelite exodus from Egypt and the conquest of Canaan. Each author demonstrates that there are indeed details in the accounts recorded in Scripture that have been affirmed through archaeology. It is our prayer that your faith is encouraged and that you grow to trust the truth of God’s Word in a greater way as a result of these articles.
Bryan Windle, Editor