Christ said there are only two types of people in this world: those who are with him, and those who aren’t. This same principle holds true in all of the academic disciplines: philosophy, science, psychology, mathematics, economics, and history, just to name a few.
Either we will take his word to be our foundation (rock) in these areas, or else we will take our own (sand). One of these approaches is reasonable. The other leads to incoherence, a confusion of knowledge, and folly.
THE SANDY FOUNDATIONS OF ANCIENT HISTORY
The academic discipline of ancient history has been built upon foundations made of sand. Literally, the sinking sands of Egypt. As a result, the study of ancient history has crumbled into incoherence. Other ancient histories — those of ancient Greece, for example, such as in the so-called Minoan period — are keyed off of Egypt’s chronology.
Conventional Egyptian chronology determines the earliest Egyptian cultures began around 3,100 BC. This is inconvenient for the proponents of biblical chronology because this would have been around the death of Adam and a few hundred years before Noah’s flood.
The conventional chronology dates the exodus to the 1200’s BC. This is because they tie the name of the city mentioned in Exodus 1:11 (“Raamses”) to Ramses II, whom we date to have lived in the 1200s.
THE BIBLICAL KEYSTONE
The Bible gives us enough information in just a few verses to precisely date the Exodus to within one or two absolute years. The key verse is 1 Kings 6:1, which tells us that Solomon began building his temple 480 years after the Israelites left Egypt. Solomon began building the temple in the 4th year of his reign (2 Chron. 3:1-2). Solomon’s reign lasted 40 years (1 Kings 11:42, 2 Chron. 9:30), and Ezekiel tells us that there were 390 years between the division of the monarchy and the fall of Jerusalem (Ez. 4:4-5). Nebuchadnezzar destroyed Jerusalem in 586 BC (maybe 587).
Adding that up, we get 586 + 390 + 40 – 3 + 480 = 1,493 BC. That was the approximate date of the exodus.
This is a difference of over 200 years in terms of the conventional chronology. Wikipedia falls in line with the conventional tale. When describing the enormous size of the Israelite population and the devastating socioeconomic effects an event like the exodus would have created, it assures us that “no evidence has been found that indicates Egypt ever suffered such a demographic and economic catastrophe.” This is deceptive, though, because what they really mean is “no evidence has been found of such an event occurring in the 12th century BC.”
So why the discrepancy? The issue, in theory, is simple. Ancient Egyptians did not believe in linear time. They believed history was cyclical, an eternal balance ebbing and flowing between chaos and order. As civilization broke down, this gave rise to chaos, which was a frightening but also fertile ground for rebirth and the renewal of order. When Egypt made lists of rulers and recorded how long their rule lasted, they were not necessarily documenting a procession from A to B to C as we do in the modern era, as with our Presidents for example. When we speak of the 43rd president, we mean that he was the 43rd in line. To the Egyptians, however, the 43rd president might have overlapped his rule with the 30th. We would never say our 43rd president ruled at the same time as our 30th.
Linear time is a Hebrew concept that was bequeathed to Christianity. Christianity believes time matters because history is important. It is linear in the sense that there was a definite beginning (creation), and there will be a definite end: the day of judgment that coincides with the resurrection of the dead. Christ was born, died, and resurrected into history — what we might call the middle. This is why civilizations influenced by Judaism or Christianity tend to keep detailed historical records. Christianity believes in steady progress over time. Documenting history helps to trace it.
Modern historians are humanists. That means they tend to strip the religious framework away from ancient history, as Rushdoony has explained in The One and the Many. Their emphasis on Thales as the first true philosopher reveals their bias: they consider him to be the first naturalistic philosopher, one who looked to nature and man’s reasoning abilities alone to explain reality instead of appealing to religion. The Hebrews had already developed a complex philosophy thousands of years before Thales ever arrived on the scene; it’s just not counted because they say those discussions belong in the religion department, not the history or philosophy department.
In stripping away the religious framework of the ancients, they miss (or suppress) the religious motivations present in even philosophers like Aristotle, who believed homosexuality was critical to a man’s education. The Greeks worshipped the city-state. Plato, for example, was motivated to develop a systematic philosophy that unified metaphysics, epistemology, and ethics for the express purpose of training people to produce a better state. All people served the State. A righteous state was one that was founded upon justice. The principles of justice were discerned using reason and restraint as opposed to giving in to the appetite’s desires or indulging in sensuous pleasures. To teach people to be better citizens, to use reason and restraint, required educating the masses.
The unity of the polis was more important than individual liberty. Socrates subjected himself to an unjust execution because of his belief that membership in and submission to the State were ultimate. The impulse was religious, and the so-called neutral approach of secular humanists and academics remains religious: their faith in the healing properties and the restorative qualities of the modern State. They believe in salvation through politics manifested in a periodic covenant renewal ceremony that sweeps the nation in four-year political cycles, each growing to an ecstatic fever pitch before finally being extinguished in the public crowning of a new commander. The most important aspect of all is the messianic character of American education, where the hopes of individual redemption and salvation are placed in the promises of public education to create the ideal American man, formed in the image of the State and cultivated to serve the State.
This faith remains strong, even in the face of year-over-year declines in test scores and education quality.
The consequence of this modern faith has been chaos in the brickyard. Government interference in the economy has distorted the price of information. Government funding of academia, backed by the deepest purse the world has ever known (and one packed full of stolen taxpayer cash), has played a hand in creating a glut of would-be archaeologists and historians. Professors vie for their fair share of this stolen loot, so they publish lest they perish. But to get the money, their discoveries must be consistent with the secular humanist presuppositions of the modern State. Else, they are like Mary Schweitzer who, upon her published discovery that dinosaur bones aren’t actually millions of years old, had her career sidelined for a time until she repented of her early mistakes and brought her data in line with acceptable scholarly opinion.
SEEING WHAT THEY WANT TO SEE
Because of their secular bias, modern academics have ignored the religious aspect of ancient Egypt and applied our modern dating methods to their ancient records. In biblical scholarship, we call this “eisegesis,” which means importing pre-conceived ideas and schemes and imposing them upon the text instead of reading the text in light of its original context. The truth becomes lost, buried beneath a pile of pretext used to construct a prima facie fairytale intended to support the myth that man is the measure of all things.
The result is a stacked Egyptian chronology that has distorted the actual historical timeline. As Velikovsky put it in the introduction of Ages in Chaos, imagine someone inserting 600 years of time into the British timeline while preserving those of America and Europe. “As Columbus discovered America in 1492, the [Winston] Churchill of 1341 could not have visited this country, but must have visited some other land — the scholars would be divided in their opinion as to the whereabouts of that land — and met its chief. Another chief, not Franklin Delano Roosevelt of Washington, would live in history as cosigner of a charter with Churchill of Britain in 1341. But as American records would speak of Churchill who crossed the ocean in the early forties of the twentieth century, British history would also have a Churchill II, six hundred years after the first one.”
Both World Wars would be fought twice. On and on these distortions could go — you get the picture. This is the kind of distortion facing Egyptian chronology and the other cultures of the ancient world which have been keyed to it. The distortions are created by the errors of interpretation introduced by modern archaeologists and historians.
A TERRIFIC DOCUMENTARY
A documentary was released in 2014 called “Patterns of Evidence: Exodus.” It serves as a great introduction to the problems with Egyptian chronology and its need for reconstruction. It was produced by a Christian, but it is not heavy handed. It offers a restrained approach to examining the evidence. It always begins by introducing the modern and prevailing viewpoint, a criticism of some piece of evidence that refutes the possibility that the exodus happened as described in the Bible. Then, it cross-examines that prevailing viewpoint. The results are shocking. The production is masterful and exemplifies this proverb: “The first to plead his case seems right, Until another comes and examines him” (Prov. 18:17).
Three of the evidences offer a stepping off point for anyone who wants to dig deeper after the documentary is over:
The Ipuwer Papyrus records a great calamity overtaking Egypt. In fact, it seems to be an eye-witness account of a poet who wrote about the ten plagues. It contains close parallels with the Exodus account, preserving phrases like “the river is blood,” “the land is not light,” and “the children of princes are dashed against the wall.” The similarity is uncanny. It is dismissed as a plausible record of the Israelites in Egypt on the basis of the dates; the original is thought to have been composed between 1850 BC and 1600 BC, and the exodus is said to have happened in the 1200s BC.
The remains and evidence of Jericho are also re-examined. Early German and British archaeologists thought they had validated the biblical account, but Kathleen Kenyon, based on her research in the 1950s, contradicted them. Her conclusion has remained entrenched in academia. Her reason for denying that Jericho was destroyed by Joshua? The dates were wrong. Whatever happened in Jericho, she concluded, happened much earlier than the exodus.
The problem is the Egyptian chronology. The reason it is so easy to deny that evidence of the exodus exists is because scholars rely on a lack of corroborating evidence between the relative chronologies of the Bible and ancient Egypt.
One of those histories is wrong. One isn’t.
Egyptian chronology has been distorted by biased researchers. Their interpretations of the facts are intended to undermine the authority of the Bible by contradicting its claims against the actual historical evidence. These so-called discoveries undermine the faith of those Christians who are subjected to this viewpoint in public school, college, and adulthood. The academics accomplish this effect by assuming Egyptian history is the correct foundation upon which all other ancient chronologies should stand.
They lean on a weak reed. As the cost of information falls in the digital age, and access to the Internet and a diversity of news sources spreads, the old gatekeepers are gradually losing control over the flow of information. This is beginning to undermine their authority. It will continue to do so. Isaiah’s old words remain true: “Lo, thou trustest in the staff of this broken reed, on Egypt; whereon if a man lean, it will go into his hand, and pierce it: so is Pharaoh king of Egypt to all that trust in him” (Isaiah 36:6).
Other individuals, relying on independent wealth who do not need the salaries or tenureships promised by the university system, have been eroding confidence in the prevailing viewpoint since at least the 1950s. Immanuel Velikovsky initiated this process with his book Ages in Chaos (1952). Donovan Courville extended it with his book The Exodus Problem (1971). David Rohl picked up the torch in the mid-1980s, and he continues to run with it today.
Gary North wrote about the problem of Egyptian chronology in Appendix A of Authority and Dominion. You can download it by clicking the link:
Jesus said that fools build their houses on foundations made of sand. Great will be the fall of conventional Egyptian Chronology.