Proof of the Exodus Story

Twelve+ Findings That Prove the Exodus Story 

The story of the Exodus is central to the formation of Israel. For decades, even centuries, the story of the Exodus was accepted as historically accurate. Somewhat recently a new movement known as the minimalist brought the entire story of the Exodus and the person of Moses into question. They are convinced the person of Moses was a fictional character and the story of the Exodus never really happened. Moreover, the story of the Patriarchs is also fiction and never took place. You might ask, what new information or archaeological discoveries brought about these dramatic change in attitude?

The unfortunate truth is that these new thoughts and theories are not based on new archaeological discoveries or even new discoveries of old manuscripts or scrolls. Most, if not all, of the claims made by this group are based on a lack of evidence. Their argument states that no archaeological evidence exist to confirm the biblical story and it must therefore be false. History has shown that any argument made from the absence of evidence is at best a weak one, and is certainly prone to error. There have been many instances when new discoveries have been made which confirm biblical events that were previously in question and were claimed to be fictional tales. 

 First, simply because no evidence currently exist does not mean the Bible is not accurate. As an example, it has been estimated that less than one percent of ancient Egypt has been excavated. In a recent program using infrared imaging, scientists were able to locate seventeen previously unknown pyramids, more than 1,000 tombs and as many as 3,000 ancient settlements. The study was undertaken by Egyptologist Doctor Sarah Parcak. This study shows how much there is left to discovery just within the borders of Egypt. Any argument based solely on the absence of evidence in regards to Egyptian history is obviously precarious at best. Still, the ultimate question remains, is there evidence supporting the Bible, or are the minimalist right?

While many more discoveries are possible and all but certain to take place, is there any current evidence which supports the biblical story of the Exodus? Fortunately, there is a great deal. If you research this subject you will quickly learn all of the evidence is not universally accepted. This is not unusual. What is unusual is that with so much evidence supporting an ancient document (The Bible), it continues to be denied and dismissed. Listed here are just twelve examples of the evidence supporting the biblical story of, The Exodus.

Seti War Relief

In the Karnak Hypostyle Hall the northern exterior wall is covered in war scenes which represent the military achievements of Seti I. A portion of the relief shows the starting point for Egyptian advancements into Canaan. Seti I reigned in ancient Egypt from 1290 B.C. until 1279 B.C. He celebrated several victories in Canaan and each of these are recorded on the war relief. Another portion of the relief shows Seti I forcing the chiefs of Lebanon to cut down cedar trees for his use. 

In the text the relief mentions an ancient road known as the Horas Way. It also mentions several fortresses along the way. Some scholars believe this road is a reference to a road which would have been taken by the Israelites when they were fleeing the Egyptians during the Exodus. 

Additionally, the relief shows a man-made waterway that connects lakes in the region. These waterways were not necessarily intended for navigation, but instead are thought to have been a defensive barrier on Egypt's eastern border. Today, these waterways have been replaced by a vast desert but geologists have confirmed the man-made waterways did exist in ancient times. Some scholars believe these waterways and lakes may have been the waterway which the Israelites crossed to escape the pursuing Egyptian army. The idea of the "Sea of Reeds" referring to a series of lakes and canals rather than the Red Sea is difficult for some to accept. The perception of the Sea of Reeds being the Red Sea has been debated for many years and this is yet another possibility to consider.

While the Seti Relief does not directly mention Moses, the Exodus, or the Israelites, it does confirm several aspects of the biblical story. There was indeed an ancient road which the fleeing Israelites would have taken just as told in the Bible. The relief also gives a possible location for the crossing of the Sea of Reeds, another very important element in the Exodus narrative. Taken by itself, these are anything but conclusive, but taken with the other evidence it begins to create a compelling argument.

Papyrus Brooklyn 35.1446

A key point to the Exodus story is the fact the Hebrew people were in Egypt. Not only is this critical to the Exodus story, but directly relates to the story of the Patriarchs. If there were not Hebrews in Egypt, then the story of the Patriarchs is in question and the Exodus could never have happened. For this reason scholars are constantly looking for any evidence of an Hebrew presence in Egypt. There are several artifacts and archaeological discoveries that show the Hebrewss were present in Egypt. One of these is an ancient papyrus which is dated to the 13th dynasty, which places it between 1809 B.C. and 1743 B.C. This would have been just after the time of the Patriarchs, perhaps during the time Joseph was in power or just afterwards.

The Papyrus, which is housed in the Brooklyn Museum, provides a list of 95 household slaves. Among the names listed are several which are unquestionably Hebrew. The slaves were owned by an Egyptian named Senebtisi. Of the ninety-five household slaves, forty names are considered to be Hebrew. This papyrus proves there were Hebrews in Egypt at the time of the Exodus, but it also proves an additional element of the biblical story. As mentioned, all of the names were those of household slaves. Not only were there Hebrew people in Egypt, they were being kept and used as slaves, just as the Bible tells us.  

Egyptian Records of Slaves Making Bricks

We have seen proof that Hebrew people were being kept as slaves. The Exodus story tells us the Hebrew people were kept as slaves, but it also specifically tells us they were forced to make bricks for Pharaoh's building projects. In the tomb of Rehkmiore, who was vizier under both Thutmose III and Amenhotep II, there are many paintings and engravings. One of these paintings shows workers who are obviously slaves, forming and making bricks. 

It has been established that Hebrew people were being kept as slaves in Egypt and this evidence confirms slaves were used to make bricks. When these two elements are combined they are conclusive evidence of the biblical text. Slaves making bricks for Pharaoh does not prove the Exodus happened, but certainly confirms another key element of the story. 

Quota of Bricks made using straw

The Bible story gives us some specifics concerning the Hebrew slaves and their duties. They were to build a certain number of bricks, a quota, and they used straw to make the mud bricks stronger. Eventually Pharaoh ordered the slaves to make bricks without straw and even worse, their quota of bricks was not reduced. These details of the Exodus story have been confirmed by another archaeological discovery. 

Two Egyptian papyri known as Anastasi IV and V are not biblical, but they do offer context to the biblical story. In these ancient documents it mentions how the mud bricks were made with straw. It does not reference the Hebrew people directly, but it does state a problem in another district. It states there are no men to make bricks and no straw in the district. This is a clear indication that making bricks without straw was most certainly a problem, as apparently was a inconsistent labor force, which perhaps facilitated the need to use slaves, Hebrews, to remain on quota.

Housed in the Louvre is a leather scroll which also mentions brick production. In the document it mentions a group of stablemasters who have been given a quota of 2,000 bricks to be completed by themselves and those working under them. It should not come as any surprise that a work quota was assigned, but it is nice to have these elements of the Exodus story confirmed by ancient documents.

Record of Slaves being Brutally Worked to Death

We have shown proof that Hebrews were in Egypt, they were being kept as slaves, and slaves in Egypt were forced to make mud bricks using straw. Along with these elements, the Bible tells us the Hebrew people were treated very poorly by their Egyptian masters. Some scholars point to this as an historical error. Evidence shows many of the workers were treated very well. They were provided with housing, medical care, and some would even receive a weekly allotment of beer while working on a project. While these are all true, it was apparently not always the case.

[Builders of the Giza Pyramids wages included bread and beer rations. Even some of the workers' graves had preserved jars of beer contained in them. The Egyptians made the beer from barley and it is believed it was their daily beverage.]

In 1346 B.C. Pharaoh Akhenaten decided to build an entirely new capital city. The city, which was to be called Amarna, covered a vast area of almost eight miles. Once Akhenaten died, the city was abandoned and many portions of it were destroyed.  Archaeologist who excavated Amarna found massive evidence that the workers, who were mostly slaves, were brutally worked. Skeletal remains show the effects of the brutal conditions and even indicate some of the slaves were worked to death. This sounds very similar to the biblical narrative.

"The Egyptians used violence to compel the sons of Israel to labor; and they made their lives bitter with hard labor in mortar and bricks and at all kinds of labor in the fields, all their labors which they violently had them perform as slaves." - Exodus 1:13-14

While the Hebrew people were not present at Amarna, the archaeological evidence shows slaves, at least on occasion, were brutally treated, even to the point of death. 

Soleb Inscription

Once again, this inscription does not directly reference the Exodus story, but it does confirm certain information or elements contained in the Bible. The Soleb Inscription provides a list of military conquests of Pharaoh Amenhotep III. The inscription contains images of prisoners from each nation or territory Amenhotep III conquered. Most of the images seem to be from African nations, with the exception of one. In each scene the prisoner is seen kneeling with their hands bound behind their backs. The image in question clearly shows a Semitic individual whose characteristics are far different from the other conquered individuals. 

Aside from the difference in physical appearance, below each image is a name ring. The name ring associated with the Semitic image is "the land of Shasu (nomads) of Yahweh". This mention of Yahweh is the earliest mention of the name outside of the Bible. This inscription shows there were a Semitic people living in the area of Canaan and they were worshipping Yahweh. Both of these are critical to the Exodus story. Some people point out that this information also helps date the Exodus. (Some scholars have identified Amenhotep II as the Pharaoh of the Exodus.)

Proto-Sinaitic Inscriptions

Moses is certainly a key figure in the Exodus story. Moses is not only a character in the story itself, he is considered the author. Tradition tells us Moses wrote the first five books of the Bible, telling the story of God's interaction with man from creation up to when the Hebrew people reached the promised land. This tradition was questioned by many for a very simple reason. It was believed that in the time of Moses there was no alphabetic writing system in place. Scholars who questioned the biblical tradition felt it highly likely Moses was like the rest of the general population who was completely illiterate. They argued Moses, if he existed at all,  could not have written the books because he was illiterate and moreover, the tools he needed to do so had not yet been invented.

This argument began to lose support in the early 20th century when several discoveries were made. These discoveries included stones carved with examples of alphabetic writing. Even more interesting was where they were found, and their suspected origin.

The stones were found near an Egyptian turquois mine which just happened to be worked by Semites. The language it uses was at first a combination of the Egyptian hieroglyphics and a Semitic language. It is believed the language was invented by Semitic people who lived and worked at the mine and has been dated to as far back at the 19th century B.C. The language is known as the Proto-Sinaitic script and was used for a variety of writing purposes.

[Semites - a member of the people who spoke a Semitic language, including the Jews and Arabs.]

One of the more interesting Proto-Sinaitic inscriptions to be found is known as Sinai 361. The script was translated by Dr. Douglas Petrovich and his potential findings were amazing. It should be noted that Petrovich's translation of Sinai 361 is not without its critics and a vast amount of controversy. This aside, the translation of Sinai 361 possibly shows the name of Moses. Doctor Petrovich's translation reads;

"Our bound servitude had lingered, Moses then provoked astonishment, it is the year of astonishment because of the lady."

As mentioned, this translation is not universally accepted. Even if the translation is incorrect, the writings show there was an alphabetic language in use during the time of Moses, thus removing the major objection to Moses as the probable author of the book of Exodus. It should also be remembered that according to the Bible Moses was raised in the house of Pharaoh, so we should expect him to be well educated and certainly not as illiterate as some critics would like to believe. 

Egyptian Words in the Hebrew Language

We have seen that an alphabetic language was in use during the time of Moses and have shown that Moses could have written the book of Exodus. Another element of the writing style used is seen by many as additional evidence of the Hebrew people in Egypt at the time of Moses. Intertwined in the Exodus text are numerous Egyptian words. 

These words, even including the Egyptian roots for the name Moses, are considered a strong indication the author of Exodus had an Egyptian background and was possibly educated by Egyptians. This profile fits perfectly with Moses childhood and upbringing. Moses would have certainly known the Egyptian language and it is only reasonable to assume some of that language would be transposed into his writings. While the evidence fits Moses perfectly, it does not fit the minimalists' theory.

According to the minimalists the book of Exodus was written sometime during the Babylonian Exile (597 B.C) in an effort to give Israel a glorious and historic past. It is highly unlikely any writers during the Babylonian Exile would have known or used Egyptian words in their writings. Even had they been familiar with the words, it is highly unlikely they would have incorporated these Egyptian words into a text meant to glorify Israel's history.

Berlin Pedestal

Berlin Pedestal

The Berlin Pedestal refers to an Egyptian relief which is housed in the Egyptian museum in Berlin. The stone inscription was purchased from an Egyptian merchant in 1913 and was likely part of a pedestal base, thus its name. The inscription has three name rings which show three captives with their hands tied behind their backs. Below each captive is a name referencing where they are from. 

The first name ring clearly states "Ashkelon". This is a reference to the Philistines coastal city which was a part of their Pentapolis. The second, or middle ring, clearly reads "Canaan". The third ring, which is farthest to the right, is damaged and as much as a third of the inscription is missing. Despite this damage, many scholars believe it is possible to properly interpret the writings. The most probably reading is "Ishrael" but this is disputed by some. If accurate, and if the inscription is just a slightly different spelling of the name Israel, then this would be the oldest known mention of the state of Israel to exist. 

[Pentapolis - is a group of five cities. In ancient times this would have been done for political reasons, improved trade and military protection.]

Not only is this inscription important because of its possible mention of Israel, but also its timing in relation to the Exodus. This inscription indicates the people of Israel were occupying the lands in Canaan at exactly the time the Bible records them being there. 

[Canaan - a Semitic speaking civilization in the ancient Near East. - Canaan also means the son of Ham, who was Noah's grandson.] 

Merneptah Stele

The Berlin Pedestal mentioned above is perhaps the oldest known mention of the state of Israel, however it is disputed by some. Just slightly newer, by approximately two hundred years, is the oldest undisputed mention of Israel. The Merneptah Stele was discovered in 1896 by Sir Flinders Petrie and has been dated to 1208 B.C.

The large stone was erected in the temple at Thebes and stands ten feet in height. The message on the stele is basically a list of military conquest by Pharaoh Merneptah. One section of the stele states that "Israel is wasted, its seed is not; and Hurru is become a widow of Egypt." (Hurru refers to Canaan). Egyptian Pharaohs loved to boast about their victories and often made them far grander and sounding more impressive than they actually were. 

While Pharaoh Mereptah did invade Israel, and was victorious, his victories were limited to just three cities rather than the entire country of Israel. Israel was not laid to waste, but was left mostly intact. Despite the fact the victory was a bit overstated, scholars agree this is the oldest undisputed mentioned of the country of Israel. This helps to date the Exodus to sometime in the 15th century B.C. rather than a much later date favored by some. 

Mittelsaal House at Avaris

As mentioned, one of the great debates concerning the old testament is the story of the Hebrew people living in Egypt and their eventual departure during the Exodus. Many historians point to a complete lack of evidence of any Hebrew or Semitic people living in Egypt. In regards to this debate an interesting piece of evidence has been found in the Nile valley.

The item is a structure, or home, and is believed to be a Mittelsaal house, or middle room house. These are the types of homes built and occupied by Semitic or Hebrew families. The house, which is located in the Nile Delta at the site of Avaris, is believed to have been a part of a Semitic community that settled in the grasslands. The artifacts found indicate the inhabitants were allowed to settle in the region with permission. It is also notable that the community did not have any surrounding walls. This would indicate they did not feel threatened in their community, and the Egyptians were not trying to contain them to a particular area. 

[Avaris - was the capital city of the Hyksos when they occupied Egypt. It is located at the modern day site of Tell el-Dad'a in the Nile Delta.]

One theory of who these people were can be traced to writings of the historian Josephus. According to Josephus, the Hyksos people, well known to history, were actually the ancestors of the Israelites. According to Josephus the Hyksos were Hebrew. The Hyksos were enemies of the Egyptians and were eventually forced out of Egypt in 1550 B.C. 

While the connection between the Israelites and the Hyksos is also debatable, it remains very interesting to find a Hebrew community in the Nile valley dating back more than 3,500 years. This home and community offer some very intriguing possibilities and raises very interesting questions regarding who they were and why they were there.

The Bahr Yussef - (The Joseph Canal)

One of the key figures of the presence of the Hebrew people in Egypt is Joseph, who was sold into slavery by his brothers and forcibly taken to Egypt. We are told Joseph was second in Egypt [Vizier] only to the Pharaoh himself. When history is written, it is generally written by the winners, in this case the Egyptians were not victorious, but they did often wrote their own versions of history. It is very doubtful any Egyptian leader would ever want to highlight the Exodus and the events leading up to it. For this reason, there should be no surprise there is little if any Egyptian record of these events. Unfortunately, Egyptians have a history of attempting to remove unflattering events from history. Queen Hatshepsut was the ruler of Egypt and is today known as one of the great builders. However, when her step son became Pharaoh, he attempted to have all traces of Hatshepsut removed. Statues of Hatshepsut were destroyed or altered to hide her image and her name was stricken from most official listings. The effort was very nearly successful as the Great Queen was almost forgotten by history.

 Was Joseph really a ruler in Egypt as the Bible tells us? For this entry the evidence is in the way of a major engineering endeavor and legend. There is an ancient canal which connects the Nile river with Fayyum. This waterway has been known as the Joseph Canal since ancient times. The canal is also known as The Bahr Yussef. This is the Quranic counterpart of the Biblical Joseph. 

There is an ancient story of unknown origin which tells of the construction of the canal. The story tells of how the Pharaoh who Joseph served under eventually died. When the new Pharaoh took the throne, he was urged by other counselors who were jealous of Joseph's power to test Joseph. He eventually asked Joseph to prove himself by supplying water to an area of dryland. Joseph’s response was to design and construct the canal which was then named in his honor.

This is certainly not absolute proof of the existence of Joseph in Egypt, but it certainly fits his profile of problem solving and providing original long-term solutions. The facts and legends align to give a very interesting insight into one of the oldest stories in the Biblical text. Can a canal named after a person named Joseph be called proof? No, it is certainly not absolute proof, but when combined with other pieces of the puzzle, it has a good deal of merit and possibilities.

Other Discoveries / Theories 

Many people have searched for evidence both of the time spent in Egypt, as well as the Exodus. These expeditions have met with varying degrees of success. During one of these excavations in Egypt, Sir Flinders Petrie discovered a large number of wooden boxes concealed under the floors of homes. The homes belonged to slaves and within the small wooden boxes were discovered the skeletal remains of infants, most only a few months in age. This is thought to be a possible connection to the mandate of the King of Egypt to have all of the newborn Israel males killed by throwing them into the river. (In fairness infant mortality rates were far higher in ancient times and it is possible this area could have experienced an unusually high mortality rate for a variety of reason. One of these potential reasons could have been because of the order of Pharaoh.)

Then Pharaoh gave this order to all his people: “Every Hebrew boy that is born you must throw into the Nile, but let every girl live.” (Exodus 1:22)


Petrie found large amounts of evidence of the slave population as well as the infant remains, but he did not associate these findings with the Hebrew people. It is interesting that with an adjustment of the time-line of the 12th dynasty these new findings match the Bible narrative extremely well. This theory, and the evidence supporting it, is seen as solid evidence for the Bible story by archaeologist David Down who has been promoting the theory for more than fifteen years. The theory was proposed well before Down by Doctor Donoville Courville and Doctor Immanuel Velikovsky. Down claims the theory is slowly gaining acceptance by more and more archaeologist and he believes it clearly shows there is evidence for the people of Israel not only being in Egypt, but being subjected to slavery as well.

Another piece of fascinating evidence which seems to support the Bible was also found by Petrie. In the same area where he discovered the evidence of forced labor and the infant skeletons, he found another interesting element. The evidence indicated the slaves working in the city departed very rapidly. Moreover, it seems the departure was not only sudden, but was certainly not a planned event. Doctor Rosalie David wrote a book covering the findings of Petrie and recorded this concerning the apparent rapid departure.


"... inhabitants eventually deserted the town, abandoning their tools and other possessions in the shops and houses.... The quantity, range and type of articles of everyday use which were left behind in the houses may indeed suggest the departure was sudden and unpremeditated."


Why would a large group of slaves leave so suddenly? Why would they leave behind their tools and other everyday objects? Once again, the evidence so closely matches the Bible text it is hard to believe there is no connection.


The Egyptians urged the people to hurry and leave the country. “For otherwise,” they said, “we will all die!” (Exodus 12:33)


It is also possible the people of Israel had their hands full carrying other objects and felt they no longer needed the tools of their slavery.


The Israelites did as Moses instructed and asked the Egyptians for articles of silver and gold and for clothing. The LORD had made the Egyptians favorably disposed toward the people, and they gave them what they asked for; so they plundered the Egyptians. (Exodus 12: 35-36)


Any one piece of evidence taken by itself may seem weak or even unrelated. When everything is looked at together the picture becomes much more convincing. As with anything that happened thousands of years ago, we are likely never to have a complete picture with all details included and all questions answered. What we do have are a series of archeological discoveries which tend to support the biblical narrative.

When all elements are examined it seems clear the Hebrew people were in fact living in Egypt, were being kept as slaves, and at some point left (somewhat rapidly) and settled in the land we now know of as Israel. The time line, events and historical evidence match up very well if not exactly with the Bible. Given the amount of evidence listed here, plus additional evidence not listed, we can conclude the Bible is in fact a historically accurate document and the Exodus did take place.

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