Why do conservative or traditional biblical scholars believe that we should place the Exodus in the 15th century? It involves two major scriptures, Judges 11:26 and I Kings 6:1, and other material, not as solidly based, that is more a matter of interpretation of historical data.
Jephthah was a judge raised up by God to deliver a portion of the Israelites from an oppression they suffered from the Ammonite people. The location of Ammon was east of the Jordan. Before he went into military activity Jephthah attempted to resolve the conflict through peaceful negotiations. In this he failed. In the process of the negotiations, Jephthah, in an attempt to justify Israel's possession of lands east of Jordan, told the king of Ammon that Israel dwelt in Hesban in all the cities for 300 years. His question was:
Biblical scholars date Jephthah to approximately 1100 BCE. Now Jephthah said Israel dwelled in the land for 300 years. So, according to this text exactly when did Israel take possession of the land? ca. 1405 BCE. Now, taking possession of that land was part of the conquest under Joshua. That conquest took place how many years after the Exodus? 40. So, if the Israelites take possession of the land at approximately 1405 BCE then the Exodus had to be about 1440. Therefore, looking at this particular scripture (and there seems to be an essentially unanimous opinion that Jephthah lived at approximately 1100 BCE) it does not seem to be a disputable point.
Taking this particular scripture on its face value requires a fifteenth date for the Exodus. This is indicative of an early Exodus.
I Kings 6:1
I Kings 6:1 that the Exodus from Egypt occurred 480 years before Solomon began building the Temple in Jerusalem. This occurred in the fourth year of his reign, about 960 BCE; therefore, the Exodus would date about 1445 BCE.
The chapter in 1 Kings that deals with the temple of Solomon bears on this issue as well. According to I Kings 6:1:
This scripture provides two pieces of important information. First, it was Solomon's 4th year. Second, that it was 480 years after the Exodus. There is, however, some dispute about exactly when Solomon began to reign even among conservative biblical scholars (that is why we suggest an approximate date for Solomon's 4th year as 966 CE – rounding it off). If we do the mathematical computation, taking Solomon's 4th year as 965 BCE (assuming we dated it correctly), it gives a date of approximately 1445 BCE for the Exodus.
So, from two different scriptures, we arrive at approximately the same point for the Exodus.
The 18th Dynasty
Ahmose (pharaoh, 1539-1514) or Ahmosis founded the 18th dynasty of Egypt. This became the greatest dynasty of the New Kingdom of Egypt. It was the dynasty that was to develop some of their greatest expansions. Ahmose took power by ousting an oppressive, foreign Asiatic ruling dynasty. Ahmose is a likely candidate as the pharaoh who oppressed the Israelites (Exodus 1:11-14).
Is it not logical to conclude in this connection that once native Egyptians secured their own power back from an repressive Asiatic dynasty, which they viewed as a foreign oppressors, that they would be fearful of the numerous Asiatics, known as Israelites, remaining in their midst? There is no reason to believe that Egyptians had any motive to favor the Israelites. Exodus records that the pharaoh believed that Egypt's Israelite population was greater and mightier than ethnic Egyptians (Exodus 1:9). Israel had become a threat to national security.
The 18th Dynasty
Thutmose I was probably the pharaoh that initiated the order to throw all Hebrew male babies into the Nile (Exodus 1:15-16). A later pharaoh gave the second order. A considerable period of time had gone by but the Israelite population continued to increase provoking this decision.
Hatshepsut, the daughter of Thutmose I, was the principal wife and sister of Thutmose II. She gave Thutmose II no male heir. His son, Thutmose III, was born to another wife. The phrase "daughter of pharaoh" (Exodus 2:5,7-10 cf. Acts 7:21; Hebrews 11:24) is not simply one describing any one of his daughters, but used in the sense of being the throne princess. It was she who adopted the baby Moses (see Hatshepsut) and sought to make him the heir to the throne.
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