GHCA has been studying archaeology for nearly a year now and we coming close to our goals. Archaeology is important because many conclude that where they see little archaeological evidence for the Bible's major events then they must conclude that those events are mythological. So, many authorities assert that most of the Bible's history before the kings of Judah and Israel is largely fictitious because there was no substantial archaeological verification for many years. Those with this view are often referred to as "minimalist". Given minimalism we can't expect many to become interested in the Bible's version of creation. Nor are many likely to be interested in the Bibles theology which comes from Genesis and underlies everything in the new Testament.
Another group called "maximalist" or "Biblical archaeologists" point out that over the last two centuries the Bible's narrative has led archaeologists to a very impressive number of discoveries that well confirmed much about the Bible. The maximalist assert that the record of success demands that additional evidence should be diligently pursued in the areas where evidence is still lacking. For decades the entire Hebrew sojourn in Egypt has been wanting for archaeological evidence.
Many church leaders have heard little other than the minimalist view so they are often uneasy about affirming creation or critiquing evolution. That leaves them with little historical or theological foundation. Likewise, the general public sees little but the minimalist view. So, how can we expect them to be much interested in Biblical creation, history, or theology?
In the last few decades quite significant archaeological evidence has begun to appear regarding both the Babel event and much of the Hebrew sojourn in Egypt. Some of the most significant work has been produced by PhD Archaeologist, Dr. Doug Petrovich. A very brief outline follows to refresh our memory:
A strong case can be made that the Tower of Babel event occurred in Uruk in southern Mesopotamia. The Uruk Expansion of conventional archaeology caused a rapid migration out of Uruk and Sumer in many people groups. These previously peaceful people suddenly began to commonly settle differences through force rather than negotiation. When people are unable to communicate force, violence, and subjugation take over. Also, Sumerian legends indicate that previously all people spoke one language. Also, the first historical writing followed soon after the Uruk Expansion.
Dr. Petrovich makes a good case that Biblical Nimrod can be equated with historical Sargon of Akkad. Nimrod/Sargon started his empire from Eridu, Uruk, and Akkad (interestingly Akkad has never been located). He expanded his control northward building or rebuilding cities to form the Assyrian Empire under one language. He was known as an tyrannical ruler slaughtering people not hunting animals. Other languages groups either migrated elsewhere or became subservient or both. In regard to the Biblical genealogies Nimrod followed several generations after Cush. In regard to the conventional archaeological timeline the Uruk expansion occurred around 3400 BC and the Akkadian period was about 2400 to 2200 BC.
The Hebrews become visible in Egypt when Joseph interpreted the Pharaoh's perplexing dream and was made second in command over all of Egypt for the purpose of preparing Egypt to withstand the coming years of famine. The abundance Pharaoh was Sesostris II and the year was 1885 BC. Joseph appears in the History of Egypt under several names related to the distinguishing event in his life in Egypt as was the Egyptian custom. Joseph started his work at Lahun building canals from the Nile to flood a low lying area called the Faiyum and irrigate the surrounding. That area is still a major agricultural producer.
Jacob and his clan entered Egypt in the second year of famine and settled in Avaris in the eastern Nile Delta by the Pharaoh's command, now Sesostris III. Jacob died in 1859 BC after he adopted Joseph's two eldest sons, Manasseh and Ephraim, giving the primary blessing to the younger, Ephraim. Ephraim (he who was lifted up) got the chief job of running the estate while Manasseh (he who lost his place) was assigned to oversee the mines in the sweltering Sinai.
The first alphabetic language appeared at this time in the Sinai mining areas in a Semitic language that had never been completely deciphered until Dr. Petrovich deciphered them as Hebrew. This language used a small subset of the Hieroglyphic pictographs as the letters of the alphabet. These first appeared where the Hebrew were in the Egyptian mines, not in the Levant. Also Joseph and his sons were no doubt well educated and instructed in hieroglyphics but they had no way to write their own language, so they invented the first alphabetic language much more simple and efficient than hieroglyphics.. Joseph died in 1805 BC.
In the Second Intermediate Period of Egypt (~ 1668 - 1575 BC) uncontrolled migrations, chaos and eventual foreign control by Hyksos invaders ensued. As Egyptians regained control around 1550 BC Semites were feared and suppressed and the Hebrews became enslaved and essentially disappeared from history again.
The Biblical date of the Exodus is 1446 BC and the plague events would be within a year before that. Like today's politicians the Egyptian pharaohs were bent on making themselves look good and suppressing from the public record all that goes wrong. It very well fits that Hatshepsut retrieved Moses from the reed mash and raised him in the palace where he received the best of education. Eventually Moses had to flea for his life. After spending 40 years in Midian an encounter with God there returned him to Egypt to bring the Hebrew people out of slavery in 1446 BC. After the plague and Exodus debacle the Egyptian Pharaoh Amenhotep II mounted excursions into the Levant to bring errant kings back in control. At the same time they took more than a hundred thousand slaves back to Egypt with them. Not long before the Egyptians were concerned that they had too many slaves to keep under control! There was also a campaign to deface public images of Queen Hatshepsut across Egypt.
But what about the Exodus route? It is logical that Moses would be inclined to take the Hebrews back to the mountain in Midian where he encountered God and was ordered to go bring the Hebrews out of Egypt. This is where the archaeological evidence becomes problematic and remains so until after the conquest of Canaan.
The Patterns of Evidence organization of Tim Mahoney has recently delved into the Exodus rout problem extensively. He continues his method of interviewing the best experts advocating opposing lines of thought and illustrating each with great movie renditions. The result is both highly educational and entertaining. On July 17 Mahoney made a special presentation of "The Red Sea Miracle part 2" and now that video is still available and on DVD soon. Mahoney's result does not present enough archaeological evidence to be a final solution. But it does do an excellent job of presenting the possible evidences from several viewpoints. In the end the current evidence leans fairly strongly toward the mountain of God being in Midian east of the Gulf of Akaba. The movie also leans toward a miraculous sea crossing of the Gulf of Akaba at Neweibaa Beach. Crossing there would be a miracle, a big miracle indeed!
For those who missed the July 17 presentation online and are interested in the current state of hypotheses and the supporting evidence and that which is still missing, it is worth the cost to buy the Red Sea Miracle Part 2. More here.
Dr. Petrovich has announced two more books in process on Biblical Archaeology so we are definitely looking forward to the 2nd volume.
On August 6th GHCA will look at history before Nimrod and the tower of Babel event and take a look at Dr. Petrovich's paper titled Identifying the "Sons of God" in Genesis 6:1-7. Just who and what were these? We will take a brief look at the Sumer King lists that include some who are claimed to predate the flood. What is known about these Sumerians and their strange legends. Some people think that some legends speak of people from another world. For sure not all is true but we should be aware of a little of what is floating around and what is most likely and not true.