The Date of the Exodus, Part 2 (The Covenant & the Cross #70)

Exodus 14:29-31 which reads: “the children of Israel walked upon dry land in the midst of the sea; and the waters were a wall unto them on their right hand, and on their left. Thus the Lord saved Israel that day out of the hand of the Egyptians; and Israel saw the Egyptians dead upon the sea shore. And Israel saw that great work which the Lord did upon the Egyptians: and the people feared the Lord, and believed the Lord, and his servant Moses.”

Today’s quote about the Bible is from Phillips Brooks. He said: “Christ is the Word of God. It is not in certain texts written in the New Testament, valuable as they are; it is not in certain words which Jesus spoke, vast as is their preciousness; it is in the Word, which Jesus is, that the great manifestation of God is made.”

Our topic for today is titled “The Date of the Exodus (Part 2)” from the book, “The Promise and the Blessing” by Dr. Michael A. Harbin.

Today, we are going to look at the second study regarding the issue of the date of the Exodus.


The conclusion regarding the date of the Exodus that has been reached from deciphering languages has created problems. One of the most serious difficulties was the discovery of an inscription called the Merneptah stele. On this stone document, Mer-nep-tah (the son of Rameses) claims a victory over Israel in the land of Canaan, showing that during his reign Israel was already in the land of Canaan: “Israel is laid waste, his seed is not.” Thus, Merneptah could not have been the pharaoh of the Exodus, for that identification does not leave room for the Exodus, the forty years in the desert, and the five to ten years of conquest during his reign. For this reason, many scholars have suggested that the pharaoh Moses met on his return to Egypt was Rameses, the same one from whom he had fled about forty years earlier.


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).

The Passage Out of Egypt, Part 2 (The Covenant & the Cross #68)

Today’s passage of Scripture is Numbers 1:45-46 which reads: “So were all those that were numbered of the children of Israel, by the house of their fathers, from twenty years old and upward, all that were able to go forth to war in Israel; Even all they that were numbered were six hundred thousand and three thousand and five hundred and fifty.”

Today’s quote about the Bible is from Martha Kilpatrick. She said: “Shift your mind from conquering the Bible to surrendering to the Spirit of God who will whisper to you what He meant by what He wrote.”

Our topic for today is titled “The Passage Out of Egypt (Part 2)” from the book, “The Promise and the Blessing” by Dr. Michael A. Harbin.

Today, we are going to deal with two separate issues concerning the Exodus.

The first one is THE LUNAR CALENDAR and the second issue is the NUMBER OF PEOPLE WHO LEFT EGYPT.

Ancient Israel used two calendars, both of which were lunar. The religious calendar began with the spring equinox (when the length of day and night are almost equal). The first new moon after that day began the month of Nisan, also called Abib. Since the spring equinox falls around March 21, we usually equate Nisan with March-April. The political year began in the fall with the Feast of Ingathering or Tabernacles in the month of Tishri (September-October), the seventh month in the religious calendar. Today this civil new year is called Rosh Hash-a-nah. Both new years are referred to in Exodus.

These texts suggest that from the beginning of the nation there was a dual calendar, which we find confusing today. However, we do the same thing in a variety of ways in our own culture. We follow a calendar year that begins on January 1. We also follow a school year that begins around September 1. Different levels of government and many companies use a fiscal year that begins at various times; for the U.S. government, it is currently October 1. Some churches also observe a liturgical year, which does not have a “new year,” but it begins either with Easter in Eastern churches, or with the first Sunday of Advent (near the end of November) in Western churches.

The spring festivals find typological fulfillment in the crucifixion of Jesus as the Messiah and in the founding of the church. Consequently, many scholars argue that there will be a yet-future typological fulfillment of the fall festivals in the second coming of Jesus, when his kingdom will be established on earth. These two roles of the Messiah may then provide some explanation for the two calendars.

The Passage Out of Egypt, Part 1 (The Covenant & the Cross #67)

Today’s passage of Scripture is Exodus 14:5-8 which reads: “And it was told the king of Egypt that the people fled: and the heart of Pharaoh and of his servants was turned against the people, and they said, Why have we done this, that we have let Israel go from serving us? And he made ready his chariot, and took his people with him: And he took six hundred chosen chariots, and all the chariots of Egypt, and captains over every one of them. And the Lord hardened the heart of Pharaoh king of Egypt, and he pursued after the children of Israel: and the children of Israel went out with an high hand.”

Today’s quote about the Bible is from A. W. Tozer. He said: “The Bible is the written word of God, and because it is written it is confined and limited by the necessities of ink and paper and leather. The Voice of God, however, is alive and free as the sovereign God is free. ‘The words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life.’ The life is in the speaking words. God’s word in the Bible can have power only because it corresponds to God’s Word in the universe. It is the present Voice which makes the written word powerful. Otherwise it would lie locked in slumber within the covers of a book.”

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

It would take some time for a large number of people to gather out of their houses to join with their leader and to begin heading east. They camped at Etham, a spot otherwise unknown. Then they moved out, changing direction so that they arrived on the shores of the Red Sea, where they again camped. These events likely took about a week (the time of the period of unleavened bread). It gave time for Pharaoh’s spies to observe that the people were “wandering around the land in confusion” and for him to gather his troops to pursue them.

One of the points of controversy concerning the Exodus relates to the path the newly released nation followed. Traditionally it has been thought that the nation traveled southeast to the shores of the Red Sea, where they camped until Pharaoh’s army approached. As we read the text, we note that at that point Moses raised his staff, a strong wind arose out of the east, dividing the waters, and the people passed through. After the people had crossed, Moses stretched his staff over the sea again, the wind stopped, and the sea drowned the army. Clearly, this calls for a major dose of the “miraculous”—something that has been disputed.

The Confrontation with Pharaoh (The Covenant & the Cross #65)

Today’s passage of Scripture is Exodus 5:1-3 which reads: “And afterward Moses and Aaron went in, and told Pharaoh, Thus saith the Lord God of Israel, Let my people go, that they may hold a feast unto me in the wilderness. And Pharaoh said, Who is the Lord, that I should obey his voice to let Israel go? I know not the Lord, neither will I let Israel go. And they said, The God of the Hebrews hath met with us: let us go, we pray thee, three days’ journey into the desert, and sacrifice unto the Lord our God; lest he fall upon us with pestilence, or with the sword.”

Today’s quote about the Bible is from Geddes MacGregor, author of “A Literary History of the Bible”. He said: “When a veil there must be, the translator’s task is to make it as gossamer-fine a veil as may be. Indeed, the face of even the most beautiful of women may be enhanced by a veil, if only the veil be worthy of her beauty.”

Our topic for today is titled “The Confrontation with Pharaoh” from the book, “The Promise and the Blessing” by Dr. Michael A. Harbin.

In addition to the sign of the return to Mount Sinai, God gave Moses several other signs to establish his position before both the people and Pharaoh. He was able to stick his hand inside his robe and have it come out leprous and then reverse the process. He was able also to cast down his staff and have it convert to a large snake and then revert back when he picked it up.

With this, Moses began a series of confrontations with Pharaoh. We know them as the ten plagues. The plague sequence struck a serious blow to the entire agricultural cycle of Egypt, which we have seen began with the rise of Sothis (Sirius) in June, signaling the coming flood of the Nile, and culminated the following spring at the time of the first Passover.

As such, the plagues were also directed at the gods of Egypt, whose role was to ensure the agricultural prosperity of the country. However, matching specific plagues with specific gods is very difficult. Many of the gods were local in nature; thus multiple gods had multiple functions, and several merged over the centuries. It is interesting to note that the first four plagues harassed rather than produced serious long-term consequences. It was only after Pharaoh continued to resist that the plagues progressed from being a show of force to having serious consequences.

The Recording of God’s Word (Part 2) (The Covenant & the Cross #15)

Today’s passage of Scripture is 1 Peter 2:1-2 which reads: “Wherefore laying aside all malice, and all guile, and hypocrisies, and envies, and all evil speakings, As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby.”

Today’s quote about the Bible is from Michael Phillips. He said: “The Bible is the greatest example of the whole being greater that its parts.”

Our topic for today is titled: “The Recording of God’s Word (Part 2)” from the book, “The Promise and the Blessing” by Dr. Michael A. Harbin

With all of the mighty acts that God had performed for the Israelites still fresh in their minds, God was going to speak directly to them. What an awesome day! The morning came, and the people had purified themselves sufficiently. They waited anxiously behind the roped-off area, and Moses stood there with them. Then they heard God’s voice. It was like thunder. “I am the Lord thy God, which have brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. Thou shalt have no other gods before me.” This was followed by the rest of the Ten Commandments. The people backed away in terror from the awesome scene. When the voice stopped, they asked Moses himself to speak God’s word—it was too scary for them to hear it directly from the Lord.

So that was what Moses did. Over the next several months, he wrote down, at God’s direction, the books we call Genesis, Exodus, and Leviticus. Genesis gave the background to the overall situation, explaining why humankind was in trouble and what steps God had already taken to resolve it. After recounting God’s creation, Genesis cited seven key failures of humankind, followed by God’s call of Abraham. The rest of the book traced the line of Abraham to the point where it became an embryonic nation—which was taken to Egypt to incubate.

In Exodus the account quickly jumped four hundred years to the current generation. It focused on the birth of Moses because he was the next individual God spoke to. The people recalled vividly the following events: the plagues and the Exodus. They certainly would have raised an uproar if Moses had gotten it wrong. Exodus ends with an account of how the Israelites built the various items God had commanded in order to provide a focus for their religious ritual.

The book of Leviticus describes the ritual processes and the implementation of what we might call early Israelite religion, the precursor to Judaism. The whole purpose of these three books (or this three-part book) was to explain to the nation why God had intervened so mightily on their behalf and what He expected from them in response. As we will see, the purpose of God’s intervention was to set into motion a process that would profoundly affect world history by setting the stage for the coming Messiah. But that would be hundreds of years later. In the interim, God had a purpose for this group of people camped on the plains of Sinai.

The Recording of God’s Word (Part 1) (The Covenant & the Cross #14)

Today’s passage of Scripture is Psalm 119:9 which reads: “Wherewithal shall a young man cleanse his way? by taking heed thereto according to thy word.”

Today’s quote about the Bible is from Mark Twain. He said: “Most people are bothered by those passages of Scripture they do not understand, but the passages that bother me are those I do understand.”

Our topic for today is titled: “The Recording of God’s Word (Part 1)” from the book, “The Promise and the Blessing” by Michael A. Harbin.

God’s written Word began to come together on a sun-soaked plain in the Sinai peninsula. After God had brought the descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob out of Egypt, He led them to the foot of Mount Sinai, where Moses had been commissioned more than a year earlier. There God started the process of making this motley throng of Israelites, Egyptians, and others into a nation. Moses went up on the mountain and received most of the material included in the books of Genesis, Exodus, and Leviticus. That was the foundation of God’s written Word.

God could have done it differently. He could have given His revelation to the nation as a whole. When we look at the account in Exodus 19, we find that God had the people prepare themselves so that He might speak to them directly. They cleansed themselves for two days. The anticipation must have been intense as they recollected all that had happened during the past year.

Moses had come out of the desert in a spectacular manner, proclaiming that God, after more than four hundred years of silence, had spoken to him. He presented signs to the elders of Israel, then went to meet Pharaoh, asking for his people’s deliverance. Word quickly spread among all the Israelites in Egypt that there was a major power struggle going on between Moses and Pharaoh. Clearly, the evidence Moses was presenting to show that God was working was hard to hide from both Egyptians and Israelites.

After the introductory signs, such as turning his staff into a snake and then back into a staff, he turned the Nile River to blood. Then things got serious. Over the following months, one plague after another struck at the heart of the Egyptian economy and its pantheon of gods. Even the most jaded Israelites (and many Egyptians) were starting to believe that it was indeed possible that the God of Abraham existed — and that He meant what He said. Then, in the following spring, just three months before the people arrived at Sinai, the cries of mourning pierced the Egyptian night as family after family discovered their firstborn dead.

Pharaoh finally relented and sent the Israelites away, although he later changed his mind and chased after them. Then there came the awesome experience at the Red Sea. After several days of camping and waiting, Israel watched Pharaoh’s army appear over the horizon. That was when God told Moses to stretch out his arm. A strong wind came up out of the northeast. It seemed to bring the aroma of the Promised Land with it, if anyone had the peace of mind to consider it. The next day the nation passed through parted waters, then watched the sea close over the pursuing Egyptian army.

Only three days later, the water supplies were desperately low, and the people cried in bewilderment because the springs at Marah were too bitter to drink. God sweetened the water for them. After a month, the food supplies began to dwindle. Again they grumbled and complained, and God sent — well, something. “What is it?” they asked, and the name stuck — manna. God would provide it on a daily basis (except on the Sabbath) for the rest of the desert period, all the way up to the time they crossed the Jordan River and entered the land.

Following the giving of the manna and several other challenges, the people arrived at Sinai, just three months after the last of the plagues on Egypt. That is where God was going to speak to them directly.