The book of Exodus is one of the fundamental points of Judeo-Christian theology in that it depicts the end of slavery and the commencement of the newly emancipated Jew’s journey to the Promised Land. Unlike the previous story in Genesis, which is wrought with complexities of the form of its many improbabilities such as the plague, exodus appears considerably more straightforward until it is critically analyzed. According to critics and historians, it appears to suffer from a consistent lack of empirical evidence, given that there has so far been no archeological proof supporting such a journey as described in the book and most of the events only exist in its wording. This begs the question, if it is possible, as some scholars have suggested that the Exodus is nothing more than a legend whose meaning should be sought in its symbolic and legendary rather than historical value. However, before attempting to contextualize this notion, one needs to consider the details of some of the accounts and their interpretive implications to the historical set-up.
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The bible describes the number of people leaving Egypt to have been 600,000 men, given that women and children generally tend to outnumber able-bodied men, one may assume the population was around 2 million people. However, this assumption quickly encounters serious logistical challenges. For one, the exodus appears to contradict itself when it states that those that left Egypt were far too few to populate the new land. Secondly, in Exodus 15:27, the Jews are reported to have made camp at an oasis of 70 palm trees, given the assumed population, fitting around two million people in such a space is not plausible. Another notable factor about the exodus is that although it is assumed, like most of the Pentateuch, to have been authored by Moses, historical accounts put is originality to question. The Kadesh poems and some of the reliefs describing Ramses’ reign are uncannily similar to the Exodus story with several overt parallels emerging in both accounts. For instance, when the Egyptians chase the children of Israel across the red sea, their horses and chariots are destroyed by water when the “seawalls” collapse on them. Similarly, on some of the wall paintings and in the poem, Ramses is described chasing his enemies, in this case, the Hittites, who plunge in the water and drown. Additionally, when this happened, his armies sang praises to him by the river describing his boldness and power.
In the same way, after YAHWE successfully destroyed their enemies in the red sea, the Jews stood by the banks and composed praises to him. In both cases, the contents of the songs are nearly identical, although the Egyptian version is addressed to the Pharaoh who was, according to Egyptian tradition, a god. Granted that this could be a coincidence, its implications cannot be ignored since it shows the exodus may refer to events that took place at the described place and time. Once again, one of forced to wonder how reliable the exodus account can be if it appears to mirror ex-post-facto unrelated events. While it is not possible to discount its occurrence, on the basis that “absence of proof is never proof of absence”, a critical thinker will nevertheless find it difficult to recognize the books as anything more than a mythical account.