The Date of the Exodus, Part 1 (The Covenant & the Cross #69)

Today’s passage of Scripture is Exodus 13:21-22 which reads: “And the Lord went before them by day in a pillar of a cloud, to lead them the way; and by night in a pillar of fire, to give them light; to go by day and night: He took not away the pillar of the cloud by day, nor the pillar of fire by night, from before the people.”

Today’s quote about the Bible is from T. Austin-Sparks. He said: “The whole meaning of spiritual understanding is that we see what the Spirit has always meant. It is one of our laws of interpretation that the whole Bible is focused in Christ, and that the work of the Holy Spirit in every dispensation relates to Christ.”

Our topic for today is titled “The Date of the Exodus (Part 1)” from the book, “The Promise and the Blessing” by Dr. Michael A. Harbin.

Even for those who affirm that there was a historical Exodus event, there is still debate regarding when it occurred. Various dates have been suggested by researchers, but only two have been widely accepted: an early date in the middle of the fifteenth century BCE (the year 1446 is frequently offered) and a late date in the thirteenth century BCE (c. 1260). Perhaps the best way to understand these different views is to trace how the two proposed dates were derived. Traditionally scholars understood the Exodus event to have occurred during the fifteenth century, based on the Old Testament genealogies and the lengths of kings’ reigns. For example, Bishop James Ussher developed a chronology that put the Exodus at 1491 BCE. For these scholars, however, there was very little information linking the Old Testament data to secular history.

Two events changed that. A French scholar named Jean Francois Champollion deciphered the Rosetta Stone in 1822, allowing us to read Egyptian hieroglyphics. Then in 1835 the British scholar Henry Gres-wich Rawlinson set out to decipher the Be-his-tun Inscription, leading eventually to a knowledge of Akkadian, and thus the ability to read the clay tablets that appeared through the excavations of Nineveh by Austin Layard beginning in 1847. With these two languages—hieroglyphics and Akkadian—scholars were able to develop historical ties with both Egyptian and Mesopotamian civilizations (and later with other civilizations through them).

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