Apr 18, 2015 I Scotty Roberts

Exodus: Lookin’ Pretty, But Dumb as a Rock

When I first saw the trailers for Ridley Scott’s Exodus: Gods and Kings, I was immediately excited to see that there was going to be a new, modern film adaptation of the historical Moses and the story of the Great Exodus, a topic near and dear to my research of over thirty years. But as swift coming was the excitement, came my disappointment, when the trailers revealed that the setting of the film was to be during the reign of Ramesses II. This fact alone told me that Ridley Scott had done little to research the history surrounding the story. Despite the lack of empirical firsthand evidence for an historical Moses and Exodus, there exists a plethora of evidence that establishes the plausibility of the event, based on “second hand” historical and archaeological data, which places the events far earlier than the Ramessean period.

Keep in mind that there were very few pharaohs of Egypt who inscribed their failures on the walls of their monuments and temples, and most assuredly, no pharaoh would inscribe for all eternity how his slave culture rose up and kicked his ass. So the historical evidence needs to be pieced together like an aged, tattered jigsaw puzzle.

Perhaps my opinion of the movie feeds off of my many years of study on the subject matter, leaving my approach to the topic with an inherent bias. I have established my own theories of the man Moses and the biblical exodus event, so my objectivity is definitely tainted. For me, watching the movie was going to be an exercise in clearing my mind of Egyptology, archaeology and my own established historical hypothesis. But I also wanted to approach the film with the excitement of viewing what I knew would be a spectacular film, created by a man who has made so many other phenomenal films, ranging from the Alien franchise to other more historically-based epic films such as Gladiator, Master and Commander, and most recently his masterful television adaptation of Bill O’Reiley’s, Killing Jesus.

And for all the future critics of this little essay, let me set something straight at the onset: this article is not an exhaustive presentation of all the historical details, facts, archaeological studies and research on the topic of Moses and the Exodus, for to do so would require a lengthy book, or volumes of work. This is a review of the historical aspects of a motion picture that will hopefully present you with enough fodder for discussion of the topic.

In short, while being utterly disappointed by Scott’s lack of historical research or adherence to egyptological matter, I thoroughly enjoyed the presentation in the movie. It has a fairly decent script – although overtly familiar in the “Moses genre” (i.e.: The Ten Commandments, The Prince of Egypt, etc.) – and the visuals were absolutely spectacular. The “parting of the Red Sea” sequence was well worth the two-and-a-half hours, and the CG fly-overs of the ancient city of Memphis were stunning eye candy, despite the fact that the pyramids being constructed in the background, were already well over 2000 years old at the time of the setting of this film. For all practical purposes, the film was a remake of the 1957 Cecil B. DeMilles classic epic, The Ten Commandments starring Charlton Heston and Yul Brenner, only with modern CG effects and a storyline that reflects the drifting agnostic spiritual mindset of many modern westerners. The film, by the way, was banned in Egypt for its depiction of Israelites building the pyramids.

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The city of ancient Memphis, as rendered in CG for "Exodus: Gods and Kings."

My lifetime’s research into the historical Moses and the Exodus began when I was a mere child of eleven years, attending a Baptist church. I was asked to do a short, 200-word mini-essay on the Pharaoh of the Exodus for a Sunday School class project, and was directed by my teacher to speak with one Chucky Aling, an academic archaeologist who attended our church. (As a note, Chucky Aling went on the become Dr. Charles Aling, who was the president of the seminary I later attended, and who has been the Chair of History at the University of Northwestern for the last 30 years, as well as, more recently, the president of the Near-Middle East Archaeological Society.) It was Aling who established for me the hypothesis that Moses was raised as a noble, and most probably became a high official under the reign of the Queen Pharaoh Hatshepsut, and that the exodus event, itself, took place during the reign of her grandson, Amenhotep II, around 1446 BCE. And thus began my love and intrigue with the topic.

In Ridley Scott’s epic movie, we see the story unfolding during the reign of Seti I, the father of the man who would become known as Ramesses the Great, arguably the greatest pharaoh in Egyptian history – or at least the most prolific in building projects and monuments to himself, many usurped from past pharaohs. In the film, Ramesses II is portrayed as the older brother of Moses, and the following exodus story unfolds during his reign, after the death of his father, Seti. There is obvious artistic license taken to establish the brotherly, yet tenuous relationship between Ramesses and Moses, and the necessary amplified fictionalizing of the scant facts of the story in order to create an emotional hook to flesh out the human aspect, making the tale appealing to viewers.

The most blatant fiction I want to address, rather than reviewing the entire film, is in placing the Moses story within the reign of Ramesses II. This perpetuated theory over the centuries is really the fault of a misunderstanding of the text as it appears in the Book of Exodus. While there remain a very small handful of Egyptologists and historians who adhere to a Ramessean exodus (maybe one…?), that is an hypothesis that has long been considered inconsistent with Egyptian history.

The hinge pin for hanging Moses and the exodus on the reign of Ramesses II has been this single verse in the Old Testament’s Book of Exodus, which reads, “…and they (the enslaved Israelites) built Pithom and Rameses as store cities for Pharaoh.” [ Exodus 1:11 ]

The problem in deciphering this small passage is that there exists nothing about the reign of Ramesses II that would lend any historical credence for the exodus – other than the aforementioned reference in the Bible. And in my view, Ramessess II was simply 200+ years too late in history, despite the mention of his treasure cities having been built by the captive Israelites.

While it is an historical fact that Ramesses II built Pithom and Ramses – “Pi-Ramesses” – it has been well established that those were cities that the great pharaoh RE-built on the foundations of a much older city. Beneath the ruins of Pi-Ramesses, which is not much more than cultivated pastureland today, are the ruins of the much older city of Avaris, which many scholars believe has a connection to the biblical patriarch, Joseph, and the “Land of Goshen,” mentioned in the Book of Exodus. Within the confines of Avaris are the ruins of a nobleman’s palace that bears close resemblance to the palace of Joseph as mentioned in the book of Genesis. Among other striking details congruent with the biblical account, is the outer compound, which has has twelve tombs (one for each of Joseph’s Israelite brothers), one of which has the smashed remains of a statue of the high official who lived there, bearing all the ancient Egyptian artistic earmarks of a Semitic man, from yellow painted skin and red hair, to the striped “coat of many colors” associated with the Egyptian perception of the Asiatics. The ruins of Avaris have been established as being a “Canaanite/Semitic” urban center, filled with the style of homes and gravesites of commoners – perhaps even slaves – of a Semitic nature.

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Digital reconstruction of the smashed statue found in the tomb at Avaris - the "non-Egyptian ruler." Is this the face of Joseph?


But the question still remains: is Avaris the city that was built by the Israelites while in bondage in Egypt?

A good comparison can be made by asking yourself the question, “Who built New York City?” The answer is obviously, “The Dutch.” But that is not entirely correct, as the Dutch built the city of New Amsterdam, which was later rebuilt by the English and named New York.

A plausible answer to this question of Pi-Ramesses and Avaris is the recompilation of the Old Testament that took place at the Library of Alexandria, post-Babylonian captivity of Israel during the fifth century BCE. By that time, Avaris had long since passed out of history, leaving only Pi-Ramesses. The rabbis who wrote the Septuagint – the Greek version of the Old Testament – simply used the existing name of the city, “New York as opposed to New Amsterdam;” Pi-Ramsses as opposed to Avaris.

And it is interesting to note that the Egyptian government will not allow any excavations at Avaris that might establish an Israelite presence there in antiquity. That fact alone speaks volumes as to what is hidden beneath the ground at Avaris.

So, 72 Rabbis Walk Into a Library…

When Alexander the Great died in 323 BC, having “no more worlds to conquer,” he left the world that did exist in a very Hellenized state, in which the universal language of commerce was Koine Greek, the same language with which most of the biblical New Testament is written. As legend tells, the Greek pharaoh of Egypt, Ptolemy II (309-246 BC), sponsored the translation of the Jewish Torah and related texts from biblical Hebrew into Greek for inclusion in the Library of Alexandria. The translation took place in several stages over many years, but the result was to give us the Septuagint, the Greek version of the Old Testament that is the basis for the Old Latin, Slavonic, Syriac, Old Armenian, Old Georgian and Coptic versions of the Christian Old Testament.1 After the Torah, other books were translated over the next two to three centuries, but it is not even clear which book was translated when, or where that translation took place. There is even some evidence that some of the books included may have been translated more than once, and into distinctly different versions, and then revised again from that point.2

“King Ptolemy once gathered 72 Elders. He placed them in 72 chambers, each of them in a separate one, without revealing to them why they were summoned. He entered each one's room and said: ‘Write for me the Torah of Moshe, your teacher.’ God put it in the heart of each one to translate identically as all the others did.”3

One of the problems encountered with the Septuagint is that the quality and style of the different translators varied considerably from book to book, sometime offering up a literal translation, then sometimes jumping from paraphrasing to out-right interpretative.4 This has cause many scholars to see the Septuagint as a work of not simply re-recording ancient Hebrew scripture, but of “re-writing” certain texts to support the national identity of Israel and appeal to the faithful adherents of Judaism.

It is from this Greek translation of the Old Testament that we have most of our current English version of the Old Testament, although Hebrew manuscripts still exist, but not in their ancient, original form. And it is this repeated translation and re-working of the Old Testament scripture that has left us with questions as to authenticity and veracity to the original documents – some say, if they existed at all.

And, by the way, the legend doesn’t deal with the Septuagint, itself, as we have copies of this document and many other forms. The legend is focused on whether or not it was Ptolemy II’s invite, or the 72 rabbis simply came begging on the doorstep of the Library of Alexandria, and were granted permission.

The skeptical/atheistic community’s periodical, Free Inquiry, of course takes the stance that none of it every really happened at all, and it was completely fabricated.5

So, in all reality, we have no real substantive proof of what Moses penned in his original books. Further, we have no hard evidence as to whether Moses even lived. According to the “true scientist,” we need to approach the notion of there being an historical Moses and an equally historical event known as the Great Exodus as if he never really existed in the first place. The absence of any direct evidence of existence, they will tell you, is the absence of existence. The biblical record is not direct historical evidence, as it is a book of faith, and absent any historical record, there is, they conclude, no Moses. He is a figment of Jewish fiction; an element of Canaanite folklore. But, then again, so are Joseph, Jacob, the Hebrews themselves, and all the fanciful notions of Egyptian bondage, miraculous deliverance and the conquest of the land of Canann.

But all of this presupposes that the Bible and the writing traditionally held to be those of Moses, have no real historical value. And as a result, you should, if a critical thinker of any sort, continually ask yourself why academia and science so discount the biblical record as having no historical value and no archaeological merit.

Nelson Glueck, noted twentieth century Jewish archeologist whose work in biblical archaeology led to the discovery of over 1500 ancient sites, put it this way:

“It may be stated categorically that no archeological discovery has ever controverted a single biblical reference. Scores of archeological findings have been made which confirm in clear outline or in exact detail historical statements in the Bible.”6
Not surprizingly – as some think of the biblical record as being inaccurate and rife with faith stories, alone - when stacked up against non-biblical accounts of historical events, the scriptural narratives reveal unflinching veracity.7

Something to Consider

Perhaps Moses, who was more than likely thoroughly Egyptian, despite being born of Israelite blood, simply wrote the Book of Exodus in a very Egyptian style. He didn’t omit the names of the pharaohs because he was creating some sort of fiction, he left them out as to not give them life. In the ancient Egyptian way of thinking, the Life Eternal and the Resurrection in the Afterlife was achieved through the recording of the name for all eternity to witness. By deliberately leaving their names out of the book, perhaps Moses, in his own way, was writing them out of history.

Important to understanding the dating of Moses, and really understanding why the Ramesses II of the movies is just wrong for the dating of the Exodus, has to start with the story of how the Israelite people got to Egypt, at all, in the first place. The question as to whether or not they became an enslaved, subjugated people has been under much dispute, but a little history will establish an incredibly plausible back story.

Migrating Semitic Peoples

The lush, fertile Nile Delta had become the permanent home to many migrating Semitic peoples, who, over 800 years prior to the events of the Book of Exodus, sought grazing land for their herds of livestock. Canaanite, Syrian, Mesopotamian and Sinatic peoples continually emigrated to Egypt, and, according to the Old Testament story, the family clan of Israel (Jacob), was no different, seeking refuge from the bitter famines that o’ertook the Canaanite region. The Egyptians scribes referred to them all as “Asiatics.”

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Semitic peoples - the "Asiatics" - migrating to Egypt. Note the striped cloaks and skin color as painted by the ancient Egyptian artists.


The eastern Nile Delta, where the Israelites abandoned their nomadic ways, sinking their foreign feet into the most beautiful, lush part of the region known as Goshen, held some of the richest soil in all of Egypt. According to the Jewish traditional story, the pharaoh who had elevated the Israelite patriarch, Joseph (remember the tale of Joseph and the Coat of Many Colors?), to power as his vizier, is the same pharaoh who had also given this land to the Israelites. But he was not an Egyptian pharaoh, at all. It is more than likely that he is one of the “Shepherd Kings,”8 the heqa khaseshet – the Semitic race of Hykos9 peoples from Syria and Canaan who had migrated to and infiltrated Egypt in a similar fashion as did the Israelites. Hyksos is the Greek translation of the Egyptian phrase, heqa khaseshet, but there is newer etymology of the word Hyksos (from the Egyptian hekw shasu) as meaning Bedouin-like Shepherd Kings rendered, simply, rulers of/from foreign lands.10

Archaeologist Jacquetta Hawkes states of the Hyksos, “It is no longer thought that the Hyksos rulers... represent the invasion of a conquering horde of Asiatics... they were wandering groups of Semites who had long come to Egypt for trade and other peaceful purposes.”11 Their usurpation of the (northern) throne of Egypt was a gradual affair as they worked their way into Egyptian politics and governmental affairs over generations. From migrating shepherds to Egyptian kings, the foreign nomadic Bedouins became rulers of the Nile Delta and all of Lower Egypt, while Egyptian pharaohs ruled from Thebes in the south of Upper Egypt.

Eventually the Asiatic Hyksos went even further than simple migration, and by the Fifteenth Dynasty of the Middle Kingdom (around 1700-1650 BC), they had wrested the ruling power of northern (Lower) Egypt from the Egyptians, dividing the Kingdom, and established and held that northern pharaonic throne until they were ousted at the beginning of the New Kingdom (around 1600-1550 BC) by Ahmose I, who had already been on the Theban throne in the south of (Upper) Egypt for some time. Ahmose invaded to the north and drove Khamudi, the last of the Hyksos rulers, out of Mennefer (modern day Memphis) and the entire Nile Delta region.

According to the biblical accounting of the Israelite migration to Egypt under Joseph and the Hyksos pharaoh in Mennefer, the Egyptians were none-too-fond of foreign, shepherding peoples, and Joseph expressly tells his brothers to mention to the pharaoh the fact that they are shepherds. This directly supports the fact that the sitting pharaoh at the time of Joseph is not an Egyptian, but rather, a Hyksos ruler, one of the Shepherd Kings, the rulers of/from foreign lands.

31 Then Joseph said to his brothers and to his father’s household, “I will go up and speak to Pharaoh and will say to him, ‘My brothers and my father’s household, who were living in the land of Canaan, have come to me. 32 The men are shepherds; they tend livestock, and they have brought along their flocks and herds and everything they own.’ 33 When Pharaoh calls you in and asks, ‘What is your occupation?’ 34 you should answer, ‘Your servants have tended livestock from our boyhood on, just as our fathers did.’ Then you will be allowed to settle in the region of Goshen, for all shepherds are detestable to the Egyptians.” (author's emphasis) [ Genesis 46:31-34]

This biblical passage gives clues as to the nature of the pharaoh and the ruling class in northern Egypt at the time of the Joseph story, lending plausibility to the notion that the entire account of Joseph’s time in Egypt and the migration of his father’s clan from Canaan took place while a Hyksos ruler sat on the throne of Egypt, placing it sometime during the Fifteenth Dynasty. And it makes perfect, indirect, albeit plausible sense. The pharaoh, who favored the shepherding people from Canaan, while the rest of the Egyptians detested them, is the one who grants the family of Jacob/Israel the “finest land in all of Egypt.” After all, they are “his” people.

It is no wonder that the “new (unnamed) pharaoh” mentioned in Exodus 1:8, who was none other than Ahmose I (1550 – 1525 BC), had no regard for Joseph or the Israelites, as they were sharp reminders of the foreign rule of the despised Shepherd Kings. It is also no wonder that he wanted to cull their population and control their influence by placing them under harsh administration and the imposition of enforced labor. He didn’t want another “shepherding people” to have any possible foothold in the building of a new government or the usurpation of the Egyptian throne. This wasn’t an act of cruelty, it was an act of pharaonic responsibility from the Egyptian perspective. He kept his friends close, and his enemies even closer and more controlled.

Then a new king, to whom Joseph meant nothing, came to power in Egypt. 9 “Look,” he said to his people, “the Israelites have become far too numerous for us. 10 Come, we must deal shrewdly with them or they will become even more numerous and, if war breaks out, will join our enemies, fight against us and leave the country.” [ Exodus 1:8-10 ]

So, the Israelite clan, who had come to Egypt several generations past to avoid the harsh famine in Canaan, found a new homeland, given them by the Hyksos pharaoh. But by the time of the Hyksos ouster, they were nothing more than a despised people who bore the guilt of association and benefit at the hands of the invading Hyksos Shepherd Kings. It was not a good time to be living in Egypt for these nomadic emigrants from Syria and Canaan, for the new pharaoh, Ahmose I, saw them as a blight and feared that because they had grown so exponentially in numbers that they would be a force to be reckoned with if not subdued, now. So in great administrative reorganizations, Ahmose cleansed Egypt of the Hyksos influence, and began massive, new building campaigns to reconstruct Egypt in a new glory. He reopened the quarries that had lain stagnant for generations, and opened up the mining in the Sinai, reestablishing the trade routes throughout Egypt, improving the grand canal of the Pharaohs stretching east along the Wadi Tumilat, down through Lake Timsah and the Great Bitter Lake to the Sea of Reeds and across the northern tip of the Red Sea and into the Sinai desert. Ahmose forcibly breathed the air of Egypt back into the lungs of the Nile Delta. Not only had he driven out the usurpers, but he would be the pharaoh known for building an even greater Egypt than had existed before. But all of this required the living, breathing, pulsing technological machinery of his day: the blood, sweat and tears of a human workforce.

Not only did Ahmose I incorporate the talents and raw loyalty of his Egyptian craftsmen and workers, but he found in the Israelites and other Asiatic peoples dwelling in the Delta region, a sizeable workforce of which he took great advantage.12 As described earlier, there was no love for the Israelites and other Semitic peoples living in the Delta, and Ahmose I and his successors imposed harsh labor on them, forcing them into servitude, pressing them into work camps in the quarries along the Nile and the copper and turquoise mines in the mountains of the western Sinai wilderness.

Nearly a century later, Pharaoh Thutmose III is still utilizing Semitic peoples as a workforce. Rekhmire, vizier to Thutmoses III left behind beautifully detailed paintings on the walls of his tomb amongst the Tombs of the Nobles in Thebes (current day Luxor) depicting Semitic workers making mud brick and carving blocks. The accompanying hieroglyphic text reads: “He supplies us with bread, beer, and every good thing," while the Egyptian taskmaster is saying, “The rod is in my hand; be not idle!”13


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From the tomb of Rekhmire, Grand Vizier to Thutmoses III, Valley of the Nobles, Luxor, Egypt


The questions of a Hebrew presence has to solidly rest on whether or not the books of Genesis, Exodus, Levticus, Numbers and Dueteronomy – the writings of Moses known as the Pentateuch, the Jewish Torah – can be accepted as historical documents, or at the very least, while being books of faith, present facts that can be established – if not directly – then indirectly through plausible secondary archaeology. It is worth reminding ourselves that just because an ancient document is ‘spiritual” or “religious” in nature, we ought not preclude its contents from being considered as reliable history. But the proof is in the putting, as the ubiquitous “they” contend. Establishing historical plausibility is then the primary means in establishing biblical authenticity of record.

Albright and Wright, American scholars, contended that the biblical record is reliable in its historical presentations. And when coupled with secondary historical data, give us a very authentic picture of Israelite history. In A History of Israel (1959), John Bright, a student of Albright’s, maintained this biblical authenticity. In the third edition of his book in 1981, he stated emphatically from a faith-based position:

“There can really be little doubt that ancestors of Israel had been slaves in Egypt and had escaped in some marvelous way. Almost no one today would question it.”

So what do you do when faith runs headlong into science? This is the ever-present debate that exists in every field of scientific study. Do we accept carte blanche the teachings in a book of faith, or must we balance those teachings against what we know by research and scientific study? I think we all know the answer is in the latter. Acceptance by faith is a matter of heart and belief, while the examination of fact must be applied. Recently, Dr. Aling said to me, “Remember, in all of your historical research, you cannot forget to maintain the Bible as your filter.” This is good advice from a seminary professor, but it is clearly a statement of faith. Using the Bible as your only means of filtering historical data can lead to a dangerous end and sometimes to unfounded conclusions – no matter what you wish to be true or what aligns with your religious beliefs.

And that was the beginning of the Israelite captivity and enslavement, which lead to their glorified emancipation story in the Book of Exodus.

Hatshepsut, the female Pharaoh of Egypt.

As the story moves forward, the grandson of Pharaoh Ahmose I, who ousted the Hyksos who and reunified the divided Egypt, was Thutmoses I, whose daughter was the young Maatekare, most probably the “Pharaoh’s Daughter” of the Book of Exodus. Maatekare bore the royal title of “Pharaoh’s Daughter,” and would have been around seven to ten years old at the time of the birth of Moses, as dated in the Old Testament. Maatekare was married to her brother, Thutmoses II, who died young, and she became co-regent with his son, of a lesser wife, Thutmoses III. Six years into the co-regency, she completely took over as the pharaoh and took on her regnal name of Hatshepsut. When she died, 21-some years later, after a successful reign, her step-son/nephew, Thutmoses III came to the throne in his full glory, and it was his son, Amenhotep II, who 40 years later encountered the eighty-year-old Moses and the events of the Great Exodus.

And this is where we come headlong into Ridley Scott’s rehashing of the Ramesses II version of the Exodus. The date for Ramesses’ reign is simply far too late in Egyptian history to fit the calendar of events laid out in the Old Testament story, as it aligns with Egyptian history.

It has been said throughout the centuries, that the Bible is simply a book of faith that contains to “real” historical data, and that one should not take its history at face value. But, suffice it to be said in simple terms for the purpose of this article, that just because a book of faith contains historical events, does not render the historical account false. You can take or leave the faith stories of the Bible, but their linkage to historical events have been established more and more over the last century.

Let’s look precisely to the biblical dating of Moses and the Exodus.

Dating Moses
In the Old Testament book of 1 Kings, chapter six, verse one, there is the account of the dedication of the building of the grand Temple of Solomon in Jerusalem. Although there exists the perpetual dispute between biblical maximalists and minimalists, ”Solomon’s Temple” is known in archaeological terms as “Temple 1,” and has been dated to the middle of the tenth century BCE. Give or take a small handful of years, the median date ascribed to that event is 966 BCE. The biblical passage reads:

In the four hundred and eightieth year after the Israelites came out of Egypt, in the fourth year of Solomon's reign over Israel, in the month of Ziv, the second month, he began to build the temple of the LORD.” [ 1 Kings 6:1 ]

The mention of “480 years” is the key to a more or less orthodox view of the biblical exodus, and in dating back that number of years – if that passage is indeed accurate with its numerologically round figure – you end up with the year 1446 BCE as the approximate date of the Great Exodus. And if Moses was indeed eighty years old at the time of the exodus, he would have been born around 1526 BCE, the date ascribed as the first year of the reign of Thutmoses I, whose daughter, Maatekare – later known as the Queen Pharaoh Hatshepsut – was about seven to ten years old, and plausibly the Pharaoh’s Daughter who found Moses in the basket in the reeds on the banks of the River Nile.

In the movie, Exodus: Gods and Kings, Ridley Scott thankfully skips the basket-down-the-Nile scenario, mentioning it only in the dialog between the characters during a pivotal scene between Moses and Ramesses. But the biblical story of the basket is well worth noting, in that minimalists and skeptics have recited that the account was an obvious fictional enhancement to the story, as it too closely reflects the Egyptian story of Osiris. In fact, it should be highly considered that Moses’ mother, an Israelite whose people had been living in Egypt for hundreds of years, was most probably very “egyptianized,” and knew well the Osiran tale, and it was she who was mimicking the details of the story in order to attract the attention of the young Egyptian princess, by placing her infant son in a basket on the banks of the river where she knew the young Pharaoh’s Daughter regularly came to bathe. Remember, this is only speculative conjecture, but paints a picture of high plausibility that links the Old Testament story with an historical event.

Another archaeological fact that deflates a Ramessean exodus, is the city of Jericho. In the biblical account of the exodus, we are told that after the exodus event and the parting of the Red Sea, the Israelites wandered as nomads in the Sinai wilderness for some 40 years. Once they came to the Promised Land in Canaan, their first action of conquest was the destruction of the fortress city of Jericho. We all remember the old story and the ‘negro’ spiritual, “Joshua fought the battle of Jericho, and the walls came tumbling down.”

Tel es Sultan is the mound of ancient Jericho that rises up on the outskirts of the modern-day city. The destruction of the city in this mound dates to around 1400 BCE, and the city there lay vacant and unpopulated for nearly 800 years, until the seventh century BCE. If Jericho was indeed destroyed by the conquering Israelites, approximately 40 years after the events of the exodus (1446 BCE), that would place the conquest of Canaan by Israel at 150 years before the reign of Ramesses II, who wasn’t even an itch in his grandfather’s loins when Moses walked the earth.

The presentation in Exodus: Gods and Kings of Ramesses II and Moses being brothers thrown into rivalry that leads to the Ten Plagues and the Great Exodus is pure fiction, void of any real historical data or archaeological evidence. However, the historical data and archaeological record clearly place the life of Moses and the Exodus event around 1446 BCE, during the reign of Amenhotep II, son of Thutmoses III, establishing a very plausible connection to the biblical tale, making Moses a contemporary, not to Ramesses II, but to Hatshepsut, Thutmoses III and Amenhotep II, the pharaoh of the Exodus.

Ridley Scott created a beautifully visual film, with an enticing storyline and gorgeous visuals that transport you into the tale. But he did us all little service to represent the story as a plausible piece of history. It appears his intent was to merely tell a strong tale, but not to confuse anyone with establishing facts or historical content.

Whether you believe that Moses existed in real history or was a figment of legend and faith mythos is a personal choice. But to dismiss the plausibility based on the data that exists would simply be to ignore what history reveals.


* * *



Read more about it: The Exodus Reality: Uncovering the Real Historical Moses, Identifying the Pharaohs and Examining the Exodus from Egypt, Scott Alan Roberts and John Richard Ward; 2013, New Page Books


  1. Würthwein, Ernst (translation: Errol F. Rhodes); The Text of the Old Testament, Eerdmans, Grand Rapids, MI, 1995
  2. Dines, Jennifer M; The Septuagint, Michael A. Knibb, London T&T Clark, 2004
  3. Tractate Megillah, The Talmud, pages 9a-9b
  4. Kalvesmaki, Joel; The Septuagint, http://www.kalvesmaki.com/LXX
  5. Paulkovich, Michael B.; A Tale of Two Tomes, Free Inquiry, 2012, 32 (5): 39–45
  6. Glueck, Nelson - Rivers in the Desert: A History of the Negev: Being an Illustrated Account of Discoveries in a Frontierland of Civilization, Macmillan - Farrar, Straus & Giroux, New York, NY, 1959, p. 31
  7. Roberts, Scott, The Secret History of the Reptilians, New Page Books, 2013, p. 36
  8. Evans, Craig A.; Jesus and the Ossuaries, Volume 44, Baylor University Press, 2003. pp 45–47
  9. Krall's etymology modified in trnslation, "Zeitschrift für Aegyptische Sprache," xxvii. 42, 7th Orientalist. Congr." p. 110
  10. http://www.jewishencyclopedia.com/articles/15167-zaphnath-paaneah
  11. Lictheim, Miriam; Ancient Egyptian Literature, Berkeley University of California Press, 1975, p. 141
  12. Albright, William F. The Old Testament and Modern Study, Oxford University Press, Oxford, England (1951) page 44
  13. Unger, Merril F.; Unger's Bible Dictionary, Moody Press, Chicago, IL, 1966 pp 333-334

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