In just over a week, Jews the world over will recount the biblical story of the exodus from Egypt and celebrate ancient Israel’s journey from slavery to freedom. But is there any proof for the Bible’s account of the events surrounding the exodus? Did the exodus really happen?
The answer of most contemporary academic Bible scholars is “no.” Pointing to the lack of any corroborating written records and the absence of archaeological evidence, these scholars assert that there is simply no proof for the scriptural account. However, in his 2015 Mosaic essay, “Was There an Exodus?,” rabbi and academic Bible scholar Joshua Berman reviews the data and comes to a very different conclusion. His piece reveals Egyptological and scriptural sources that indicate the author and audience of the Book of Exodus possessed detailed knowledge of Egypt, and he argues that this evidence is far too salient to be ignored.
In this pre-Passover podcast, Rabbi Dr. Berman joins Jonathan Silver to make the case for the historicity of the exodus. They discuss why scholars began to doubt the biblical account, the comparative evidence that points to the historical reality of the exodus, and how a greater understanding of what history meant in antiquity can help us moderns become better readers of ancient texts.
Musical selections in this podcast are drawn from the Quintet for Clarinet and Strings, op. 31a, composed by Paul Ben-Haim and performed by the ARC Ensemble.