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Was Israel Taken out of Egypt, or Egypt out of Israel?

Why some scholars want to see the exodus as just a great story.


The Sinking of Pharaoh in the Red Sea, 1530, by Lucas Cranach the Elder. Wikimedia.

Last Word
March 23 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.


I thank my fellow biblicists Richard Hess, Ronald Hendel, and Benjamin Sommer for sharing their insights into the question of the historicity of the exodus. As I mentioned in my essay, more and more people are interested in what professional Bible scholars have to say about this issue, and the editors of Mosaic have done a true service by offering something unavailable elsewhere on the Web: an extended discussion from different perspectives, pitched to general readers and educated non-specialists. Readers need to know that one cannot rely on a single scholar’s blog post or essay any more than on the advice of a single surgeon or financial analyst. There is simply no such thing as “what biblicists say” on a given topic, since biblicists construe the data in different ways.

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