The following is an excerpt of a critique on "Reason to Believe":

Critic: Under these conditions, were the Ten Plagues and a total crush of the Egyptian army in the Red Sea waters to happen, as we are told by the Torah, Egypt's ruthless neighbors -- the Babylonians and the Hittites -- would immediately invade the powerless country, conquer it, and glorify their victory in dozens of records, inscriptions, and monuments. Yet nothing like this ever happened. More specifically, historical records tell us that between 1320 and 1283 BCE Egypt and the Hittite empire were at a state of permanent war; had the Ten Plagues and the Exodus happened in 1313 BCE, when Judaic tradition claims they did, they would have quickly led to a Hittite invasion and conquest of the ruined Egypt -- which, of course, did not happen. Instead, after almost four decades of indecisive war, a peace treaty and a mutual defense pact were signed between Egypt and the Hittite empire.

See there for the authors response (which only responds to the plagues - not to the splitting of the Red Sea).

Most of that discussion between the critic and the author I'm not currently interested in. What I want to do is strengthen the question of the critic based on extra-Scriptural Judaic tradition.

The simple read of Exodus 14:4 - 28 (especially according to the Ramban in pasuk 28 and the Ibn Ezra in pasuk 9) is that the ENTIRE Egyptian army drowned at sea. This is because even though I agree that pasuk 28 could be explained as specifically referring to the part of the army that came, if the word "cheil" in pasuk 28 (Ramban) or 9 (Ibn Ezra) is referring to foot soldiers, then when it says "u'v'chol chei'lo" in pasuk 4 and 17, it's also referring to foot soldiers (and not just the horsemen/charioteers), and in those pesukim (4 and 17) the pashtus seems to be that ALL of the foot soldiers are going to chase after the Jews.

If so, then the question of the critic is much stronger; why didn't the Babylonians/Hittites attack Egypt immediately afterwards?

  • Is your question "did the entire army drown in sea" of why didn't the Hittite's attack Egypt immediately afterwards? Please edit that in if necessary. Your title suggests option 1, the question itself suggests option 2
    – Shmuel
    Nov 7, 2022 at 20:49
  • @Shmuel Thanks for pointing that out. I have edited accordingly. My main question is #2, but it's dependent on my assumption regarding #1. Therefore an answer can either attack my assumption regarding #1 or it can answer question #2.
    – Tzvi K
    Nov 7, 2022 at 21:03
  • The only thing I found was: britannica.com/event/Battle-of-Kadesh It is not quite an answer to your question though.
    – Shmuel
    Nov 7, 2022 at 21:42
  • 1
    For one thing, this Hittie/Babylonian army would have had to invade through the Sinai Desert. Maybe they didn't want to tangle with the god/people that so thoroughly destroyed the Egyptian military.
    – Nic
    Nov 8, 2022 at 13:40
  • 1
    Note also that per historians, the Egyptian sphere of influence during that time extended throughout what is modern day Israel and Lebanon. This practically means they either actually had local garrisons throughout the land (to maintain order and resist and armed incursions), or relied on client kings and their local forces. Just because the "entire" Egyptian army (and I think you would be hard pressed to include the Israel/Lebanon garrisons in that) was destroyed, doesn't mean there weren't significant obstacles to any would-be invader.
    – Nic
    Nov 8, 2022 at 16:40

2 Answers 2


Actually the opposite can be said. The simple reading of

וַיִּקַּ֗ח שֵׁשׁ־מֵא֥וֹת רֶ֙כֶב֙ בָּח֔וּר וְכֹ֖ל רֶ֣כֶב מִצְרָ֑יִם וְשָׁלִשִׁ֖ם עַל־כֻּלּֽוֹ (and he took six hundred chosen chariots, and all the chariots of Miżrayim, and captains over every one of them)

Is that he did not take his whole army. Why would it say 600 chosen chariots if he took all off them? Rashi understands it to be saying that he took 600 chosen military chariots. The rest were from the civilians who came along (see the Sifsei Chachomim) The Ramban and the Ibn Ezra seem to be saying the entire Egyptian army in the same context as you would say "the entire American army " when discussing a specific battle. It is self-understanding you only mean the American soldiers who were participating in that battle, as opposed to the totality of the American army.

That said, it is possible he did take his whole army. Inconclusive either way.

As far as why the Babylonians and the Hittites didn't invade afterwards. First, very little is known about those groups in ancient times. What records of this alleged 37 year conflicts are there that give enough information to speculate on their strategies? In fact, until 1838, when the first Hittite remains were found, the anti-Torah crowd claimed that the lack of evidence of their existence indicates that they didn't and the Torah was made up. AF"L. But assuming they were at a state of war with Egypt at the time there could be a thousand reasons why they didn't rush to invade. Could be there were international diplomatic relations and NATO type mutual defense treaties that prevented them from doing so. Could be that they were scared if that if they did conquer Egypt they would follow the same devastation as the Egyptians for occupying the territories. Could be Egypt was so decimated at the time that occupying it would have been taking on a white elephant. Could be that even without an army the Egyptians would have engaged in asymmetric warfare similar to the Palestinians in Gaza making it too difficult to occupy. Could be Pharaoh had a deal with some foreign mercenaries were his army to be stretched too thin (very common in that era) etc. etc. etc.

  • See the new edit to my question (it addresses your suggested explanation of the Ramban and Ibn Ezra)
    – Tzvi K
    Nov 7, 2022 at 20:39
  • "What records of this alleged 37 year conflicts are there that give enough information to speculate on their strategies?" I don't know either, but that's why I'm not trying to answer a question about it.
    – Double AA
    Nov 9, 2022 at 16:29

There are a lot of assumptions that underly this question without which the question falls away.

The primary assumption is how the dates line up. Egyptian dating and Jewish dating of events both have a lot of uncertainty prior to 664 BCE (the Sack of Thebes). You can read some of the debates between Kenneth Kitchen and David Rohl to get an idea of the uncertainty of Egyptian dating.

For example, if the Exodus took place in 1446 BCE (as some suggest), the Hittite Empire had not yet clashed with Egypt. If it took place in 1225 (the latest date scholars propose), Egypt and the Hittite were allies.

However, even granting all the premises of the question, it is not a very strong one. The Hittite Empire and Babylon did not border Egypt proper. Between them was Canaan. Egypt had expanded its empire into Canaan and Syria and governed portions of it from afar. The Hittite Empire governed an area that stretched into what is today Lebanon and it was there that they clashed with Egypt. Neither the Hittites nor the Babylonians (Assyrians?) were trying to conquer Egypt. They were trying to keep Egypt out of their backyards.

So in the late 14th century BCE--around the time of the 1313 BCE date used in the question--the Egyptians had pulled back from Canaan/Syria and the Hittites were less inclined to fight them. Moreover, around this time there was tremendous turmoil within the Hittite empire. The Hittites were beset by plagues which killed multiple Hittite kings. The king that eventually took over, Mursili II, spent the bulk of his reign putting down rebellions within and on the edge of his borders (or those of his vassal states). He was in no condition to invade Egypt.

It was only starting around the year 1290 BCE (using convential Egyptology dating) that the conflict between the Hittites and Egypt really got going again when Egypt began to expand back into Canaan. See the Wikipedia article on the Battle of Kadesh.

I would also add the Amarna letters includes letters from various former vassals of Egypt--Kings of City-States in Canaan--pleading with Egypt for help in fighting off invasion of the Hittite's from the North and "Habiru" or "Apiru" who were invading from the South. No help ever came. Perhaps because the Egyptian army still had not recovered from being drowned at the Red Sea.

In summation, it is very easy to play with the dates of the Exodus and find time periods that line up pretty well with the destruction of the Egyptian army. Anyone who tells you that the Exodus could not have happened or must have happened based on the archeology, is fooling themselves and/or you.

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