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Is there empirical proof that the exodus from Egypt and related happenings (like Har Sinai etc) did in fact occur (i.e: Archeological proof)? I believe in the Torah, but how would you prove to someone that the exodus did indeed happen if the other person does not believe in the Torah (yet)?

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See also mi.yodeya.com/questions/6894. –  msh210 May 9 '11 at 21:26
    
    
Cf. judaism.stackexchange.com/questions/8231. –  msh210 Jun 14 '11 at 3:00

9 Answers 9

There is no archaeological evidence of the Exodus. When you get down to it, it's surprising how little archaeological proof there is of many things which we're pretty sure happened - we have difficulty identifying some entire nations which are described by sober ancient historians; and there are many monarchs who are known only by a single reference in a stele or inscription that we happened to dig up. In any event, there's no archaeological evidence for the Exodus.

What's more of a problem is that we don't have evidence for a massive change in the population of what-was-Canaan around the time that the Torah describes the Benei Yisroel moving in. Once again, there's not a huge amount of evidence one way or another; partially because our ancestors failed to create massive archives of clay tablets, partially because they kept living in the same area and building over (or reusing) the remains of older buildings. None the less, the archaeological record doesn't support the Jewish narrative.

For what it's worth, I think that any attempt to "prove" the Torah via archaeology is doomed to failure. Even if a substantial bit of evidence supporting the Exodus were found - say, finding the altars and pillars near Mt Sinai - the entire Biblical narrative is so unlikely from a rationalist perspective that almost any explanation (e.g.., ruins of a previously-unknown civilization, a pious Herodian reconstruction, the foundations of a secret IDF military camp) would be preferred.

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Good answer. This question came up at my seder this year, and the answer I gave was, basically, it doesn't matter: either the exodus happened as described, or kivhachol, it's part of our history/tradition and I'm going to live my life as if it did, and that's all the support I need. –  Monica Cellio Apr 7 '13 at 15:08

See this article by R' Gil Student. He seems to be very familiar with the relevant literature, and he "believe[s] (with perfect faith) that 600,000 men and their families left Egypt," but it's clear to him that if there's any archaeological evidence of the Exodus, it's not great or conclusive. In sum:

Here's the simple truth: The single largest question about the historicity of the Torah is how so many people could leave Egypt and stay in the desert for so long without leaving any trace.

He mentions two books that apparently marshal what evidence there is and also argue against those who claim that the historical record disproves the claims in the Bible (which, of course, is different from providing proof that it did happen):

I haven't read these books, so I don't know how much is in them, but like I said, it's clear to R' Student that they don't provide proof of the Exodus. Someone who's read them (or you, if you're sufficiently interested to do that yourself) could provide a summary.

It seems to me that if you want to convince someone to believe in the truth of the Torah, the historicity of the Exodus is probably not the best place to start.

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Thanks Isaac Moses, I can agree with you that the Exodus may probably not be the best place to start when you try to convince someone else. But let's assume that someone comes over to me and tells me that he agrees already with everything in the Torah and in Judaism, but not so regarding the Exodus. Did something happen in Egypt? And if so, what happened in Egypt? –  lehrer Dec 29 '09 at 15:28
    
I guess the question is why this person who believes in the truth of the Torah would doubt the truth of part of it. If it's because he thinks it's been disproven, the arguments in the books I mentioned could be useful. If he requires proof, I'm not sure there's much you can do. –  Isaac Moses Dec 29 '09 at 15:53
    

Please read THE RIDDLE OF THE EXODUS by James Long, a gentile who has faith in the oral tradition. He has fascinating archaeologic corroboration for many events and their geographic location.

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Welcome to Judaism.SE, and thanks very much for bringing this on-point book to the community's attention! Please consider registering your account, to help the site keep track of your contributions. –  Isaac Moses Jun 23 '11 at 14:42
    
Rabbi Benjamin Blech recommended this book to us. I haven't seen it yet, but I want to take a look at it when I get the chance. –  Adam Mosheh May 30 '12 at 20:29

ב"ה

Hope this helps.

http://members.bib-arch.org/publication.asp?PubID=BSBA&Volume=29&Issue=5&ArticleID=9

Interesting find in 2003 by Manfried Bietak. This find is actually a real game changer in proving the existence of the Israelites in Egypt. This doesnt seem to be a huge find on the surface, but really this sort of throws a wrench in the modern archaeological consensus on who the Hebrews were (they believed they were people having always lived in Canaan. Then broke away and became Israelites, but always stayed in Canaan not ever having been in Egypt.) This find helps prove that Israelites were a people foreign to the land of Canaan and had lived in Egypt as evidenced by the identical housing structures found in both Egypt and in Israel.

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Archaeological evidence for the Exodus does exist. Archaeological evidence for the exodus that follows the time line of Seder Ha'olam does not.

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Can you clarify when else it might have occurred? –  Double AA Aug 27 '12 at 3:23
    
There is very good evidence for the Exodus from Egypt happening 1,000 years earlier than we think, and spanning a time period of hundreds of years, instead of 40. harkarkom.com/exodustimeVERS1.htm –  avi Aug 29 '12 at 6:08

This article goes through many issues of archaeology and Torah and explains things from a traditional perspective: http://truetorah.blogspot.com/2012/05/part-1-archaeology.html#more

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Welcome to Mi Yodeya, Meir Goldberg. Thanks for your answer, but "even more helpful would be to also summarize, in your own words, what the external material says". Also, please consider registering your account, which will give you access to more of the site's features. –  msh210 Apr 7 '13 at 6:25

There is a lot of archeaological evidence for all the events in the tanach(bible). I hope you can read Hebrew. Please see this link. http://www.daat.ac.il/daat/vl/tohen.asp?id=676 which is an entire book dedicated to the wealth of evidence. Just a few examples: 1. Joseph in ancient egyptian sources 2. Exodus in ancient egyptian sources 3. Extensive archeaological evidence for Israelite presence in desert 4. Extensive archaeological evidence for conquest of Israel by Israelites etc. etc. etc. Just read the book!

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For ALL the events in Tanach?? –  Double AA Jul 31 '12 at 18:16
    
Yehudah, welcome to Mi Yodeya, and thanks very much for sharing this source! You could make your answer more valuable by editing in the title and author of the book, as well as some more information about the nature of some of the most interesting and relevant pieces of evidence. Also, please consider registering your account, which will give you access to more of the site's features. –  Isaac Moses Jul 31 '12 at 22:09
    
Please reference exact place in the source you've mentioned. –  JNF Oct 14 '12 at 6:30

Shevet dan picked up all lost items and returned them to their owners. This is a yerushalmi brought in rashi in parshas bihaalosicha ch 10 vs 25. Now, if any nonbelievers try to answer why would the yerushalmi 'invent' a good excuse as to why there would be no archeological evidence over a millennium before archeology was invented, that might in itself be good proof of the Higher Providence being seeked.

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Did they carry out all the trash too? –  Double AA Jun 24 at 2:44
    
Where is the Yerushalmi? –  Double AA Jun 24 at 2:45
    
Eiruvin 5 1. First the joke then the request for the maareh makom? Its ok, I would do the same. But considering they ate manna and their clothes didn't wear out, the amount of trash would be negligible. As far as pottery shards, the archeologist's best friend, use your imagination. I doubt there is any archeological evidence of any society that lasted only 40 years, bu thats just my guess. –  user6591 Jun 24 at 11:51

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n7OUK4RSVHg look at this and make your decision , but this prove Exodus and that the Moses and Torah are real.

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Edited. I can't watch the video now, but as this is a historical question, the source doesn't bother me as much, provided the information is accurate. –  HodofHod Dec 11 '12 at 4:13
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@HodofHod Let's just say the video is...suspect. -1 for uselessness. –  Double AA Dec 11 '12 at 4:16

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