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Was There an Exodus?

Many are sure that one of Judaism’s central events never happened. Evidence, some published here for the first time, suggests otherwise.

From Israel in Egypt, 1867, by the English painter Edward Poynter. Wikimedia.

From Israel in Egypt, 1867, by the English painter Edward Poynter. Wikimedia.

Essay
March 2 2015
About the author

Joshua Berman is professor of Bible at Bar-Ilan University and a research fellow at the Herzl Institute. His new book, Inconsistency in the Torah: Ancient Literary Convention and the Limits of Source Criticism, is just out from Oxford University Press.


To this day, no pulpit talk by a contemporary American rabbi has generated greater attention or controversy than a sermon delivered by Rabbi David Wolpe on the morning of Passover 2001. “The truth,” Rabbi Wolpe informed his Los Angeles congregation, “is [that] the way the Bible describes the exodus [from Egypt] is not the way it happened, if it happened at all.”

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More about: Biblical criticism, Exodus, Hebrew Bible, History & Ideas, Religion & Holidays, Torah