Does Archaeology Confirm the Exodus and Conquest?

There are records that indicate a small number of people left Egypt, perhaps even in a time frame that might mesh with the Bible. However, this is a far cry from the over a million recorded in the Bible. The same can be said of 30,000 that you suggest may have been Hebrews. Are the people of the area you refer to in 1209 B.C. the Habiru? No direct evidence has ever established a concrete connection between them and the Hebrews.

With no evidence we have no support for the Bible. There should be at least some archeological and written language to support the existence of two very prominent Kings in that area around 1000 and 900 B.C.

A person is welcome to their opinion on these things but without definite multiple lines of evidence, we really can’t say whether much or any of the Bible in these periods is accurate history. It would seem that the Bible is worse off than it was 100+ years ago because the Holy Land has been investigated carefully for archeological evidence for early Biblical historical events and characters (from David and Solomon backward) with virtually no success.

Here’s a video on the famous Tel Dan Inscription presented by archaeologist Dr. Robert Cargill. And he’s certainly not a fundagelical.

[Edit: The Tel Dan inscription references the “House of David.” And it was created by a foreign country, not Israelites]

Ba’al is a generic title meaning “Lord”, and hence was applied both to kings and deities, usually king deities like Zeus (belos), Melquart (Jezebel’s preferred one, most likely), Molech, Hadad (standard Canaanite), Asshur, Marduk, and any number of others. El meant “god”, and was usually applied to Ba’al’s (whichever one) father.


That is based on a particular reading of the translated text. The Hebrew words for “thousand”, “group”, and “chieftan” are written the same (LP) (the last one has different vowels from the earlier two).

If we take the thousands values as numbers of family groups, and the number after that as individual males between 20 and 60, then we get about 600 family groups and 5,500 adult males, and given population demographics of the day, about 20,000 individuals. This also gives a plausible population growth rate of 2.85 surviving children per couple (for 25-year generations).

No, it was a people group Israel cited by Merenptah in records of an Egyptian raid in the area.

We can tell that there were many significant building projects in the area c. 1050-950 BC. We can also tell that the area was fairly wealthy, in contrast to the previous few centuries. We have very few records from the area (other than the Bible) about anything prior to 950 BC, so the lack of them is merely uninformative.

And, as I said


The exodus/ conquest of Canaan as told in the Bible doesn’t line up well with Biblical archaeology.
And wandering desert tribes wouldn’t be likely to introduce new styles of pottery.

Could you expand on that somewhat?

Selective, hyper-literal interpretations (like using “destroyed all that breathed”, but missing all the “failed to drive out”) don’t line up well, certainly.

A tribe that settled down after wandering, and chose a different style from that of the former locals wouldn’t be particularly strange, what the difference is is “it’s not Minoan-like anymore”.

No massive influx of people, no evidence of a violent conquest (good news for me), no sign that cities reported as burned were actually burned, etc.

Question: would anybody really feel better if there was evidence that Canaanite men, women, and children were slaughtered by Joshua’s army? That would include the elderly, babies, and pregnant women. Have you ever imagined it?


Your rendition about Ba’al is astute. Agree. You are correct. Baal is a term for lord in the Semitic languages spoken in the Levant region during antiquity. However, Baal came to be applied to gods just as “Adonay” was applied to God in Hebrew. The use of Baal as the name of a god or as the title for a god can be observed in 1 Kings 19:18 and quoted in Romans 11:5. It reads “I have kept for myself seven thousand men who have not bowed the knee to Baal.”

The New World Encyclopedia provides "the term “Baal” in the Bible was more frequently associated with a major deity in the Canaanite pantheon, being the son of the chief god El and his consort Ashera . . . "

My intention is to use Baal in this sense.


You are right. Baal is the name of the Canaanite god as used in the Bible. I’m reminded of the Great Barbecue Contest between the priests of Baal and Elijah. And I love how Felix Mendelssohn composes the music for this scene in his wonderful oratorio “Elijah.” I got to hear Elijah at Tanglewood a hundred years ago.

That showdown between Elijah and the priests of Baal is (I think) the one and only mention of a scientific experiment in the Bible. The priests of Baal represent what one would call the “experimental control group.”


That account is fascinating to contemplate. Especially if one does to it what so many fundamentalists can’t stop doing today (and what we Biologos sorts around here are always cautioning people not to do): subject it to modern sensibilities and pretend that it all has to make sense on our terms.

So here goes: Elijah pulls off this “experiment” as you’ve called it, and does what so many atheists today are practically begging Christians to do: Let’s see some fire from heaven … some moved mountains … some resurrections, all out in plain sight! So Elijah does this. Lightning from Heaven, right on command! While the deadbeat competition is a total no-show.

Now here’s the curious part: how do Elijah’s enemies react? How would you react if you’d just seen fire come down from heaven at someone’s command? To hear today’s atheists tell it, they would be on their knees worshipping with no further prompting necessary! And then this singular prophet kills 400 of the opposing team right then and there! (Did they just let him do that? They were so disheartened? or what?) So after all this razzle dazzle, what does the queen do? “Curses be on me if by this time tomorrow I haven’t made your life just like one of those you slaughtered!” she says.

Can you imagine that? Can you imagine any of her people around her following her in this … yeah - this is gonna end well. And yet without any apparent fear, and with still quite a following (!) Jezabel maintains her murderous intentions toward Elijah … as he slinks away (he’s had a pretty full day, I guess - who can blame him?) and hides.

Modern sensibilities fail at so many levels in this story that it’s hard to tell where to even begin. Probably by discarding our modern sensibilities - which might be the most sensible thing to do. Like so many OT texts, one probably needs ask themselves what people back then were doing with their accounts and what it was they wanted their readers to remember and learn. We have so much to learn by just letting these narratives speak in their own terms to the extent we can even follow them and let them lead us.


There is the influx of about 20-30,000 right around 1200 BC.

We see a destruction layer at Hazor, and a lack of material from any of the other sites, either due to unknown location, or to multi-century abandonment.

Wow, @Mervin_Bitikofer. I was just making a joke. You kinda took it to a whole other level. Well done.

I think that’s one of my, ummm, giftings. Be careful what you joke about around here!


20,000 - 30,000 Hebrews arriving in Canaan? Says who? Is this some internet source or an article from a professional archaeological journal? And no, the cities mentioned as being burned/destroyed don’t line up with the archaeological record.

For the ones cited, here is a list:
Biblical Account Archaeology
Azekah: Went Past; Occupied from Early Bronze Age to Hellenistic Period
Makkedah: Attacked; No remains from close to right date found yet
Libnah: Attacked; No destruction layer
Lachish: Attacked; Two small destruction layers, c.1220 & c.1150
Gezer: Not Attacked; Around at the time, no destruction layer
Eglon: Attacked; No destruction layer
Hebron: Attacked; No remains found yet from this date
Debir: Attacked; No destruction layer
Jarmuth: King executed; No destruction layer
Hazor: Burned; Destruction layer with extensive burning c.1220
Megiddo: King defeated; Minor destruction layers, dates wrong
Taanach: King defeated; No destruction layer
Joqneam: King defeated; Destruction layer, not burned c. 1220
Dor: King defeated; Excavations not deep enough to tell
Tirzah: King defeated; Few surviving remains
Aphek: King defeated; No destruction layer
Jerusalem: King executed; Few surviving remains excavated
Achshaph: King defeated; No destruction layer
Qedesh: King defeated; Location unknown
Bethel: King defeated; Significant decrease in size c.1220
Shechem: Nothing said; Weak at this time (satellite of Tirzah)
Jericho: Burned; All remains from this date eroded away
Ai: Burned; Location unknown
Gibeon: Surrendered Remain of right date not found yet

I can send you a list of the papers cited for the cities.

That seems to me to fit quite well with the account.

This is an article from an archeological journal, as cited by a summary book. I am not quickly finding the right section in the book.

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Hazor and Bethel really do show signs of destruction. But little else in the right time period. Jericho is the most famous city that supposedly fell, and there is the famous spiritual where “the walls came tumbling down.” But Jericho was only minimally inhabited at the time (at best) and it didn’t have fortified walls. And that’s been known for years and years. Jericho has been under excavation for many, many years.

When a city is attacked/burned there are always clues (soot, weapons, other signs of destruction) for archaeologists to find.

I am aware of the Tel Dan inscription. Very good video. As Cargill indicates, this is still not hard evidence for the existence of a real historical person of King David of the Bible. It does seem to be solid evidence for something called the House of David. I think one can make a reasonable circumstantial case that there was someone historical that this title got associated with. However, as Cargill indicates, we need to be very careful to associate in our mind this person with the person presented in the Bible. The Biblical David could easily be an embellished person for a local founding chieftain of a limited area whose exploits grew in importance similar to the myths of Romulus the supposed founder of Rome. Until more evidence accumulates, nothing more can really be deduced about King David of the Bible.

It likely had some walls, but there are no surviving remains from there from 1280-1200 BC.

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