Bibliotheca Sacra 129 (January 1972) 33-47.
Copyright © 1972 by
Evidence Supporting the Early
Date of the Exodus
Bruce K. Waltke
THE ISSUE AND ITS IMPORTANCE
Assuming that Solomon built the
biblical numerical notices pertaining to the date of the Exodus in
1 Kings 6:1 and Judges 11:26 yield a mid-fifteenth century B.C. date
for the Exodus.1 But, in spite of these specific statements by the
ancient historians, most contemporary Syro-Palestinian archaeologists
and Old Testament historians date the Exodus about one hundred
and fifty years later.2
Now the issue whether the Exodus occurred at ca. 1440 B.C. or
ca. 1290 B.C. merits the attention being given to it by serious scholars
of the Old Testament for at least two reasons. (1) Either the biblical
prophet-historians have committed a historical blunder, and therefore
the Bible is less than a completely trustworthy historical document
on which man can rest his faith,3 or the numbers in the Bible must
1 Working back from the death of Ahab in 853 B.C., and calculating an
interval of 78 years between the accession of Jeroboam I, Thiele secures the
date 931 B.C. as the year of Jeroboam's accession. See E. R. Thiele, The
Numbers of the Hebrew Kings (2nd
2 Joseph Callaway, "New Evidence on the Conquest of cAi," Journal of
Biblical Literature, LXXXVII (September, 1968), 313. Callaway says: "Pro-
fessor W. F. Albright's view that the Conquest occurred in the latter part of
the thirteenth century B.C. has generally prevailed." For a study of the
history of this problem in a succinct form see R. K. Harrison, Introduction
to the Old Testament (Grand Rapids, 1969), pp. 174-77.
3 H. H. Rowley, The Re-Discovery of the Old Testament (
34 / Bibliotheca Sacra -January 1972
be interpreted as meaning something other than their face value.4
If one opts for the second hypothesis he raises the question whether
or not the Bible can be interpreted literally in other areas as well.
(2) In addition to this theological and hermeneutical consideration,
the question is also vital for historical reasons. All biblical chronology,
the backbone of history, down to the Kingdom Period depends on
this date.5 Furthermore, those who accept the grammatico-historical
method of interpreting the Bible, which is by far the most commonly
accepted method, must interpret all passages affected by this issue
according to the appropriate historical background.
THE METHOD OF DECIDING THE ISSUE
Now while the writer has implicit faith in the Scriptures apart
from man's verification of them, he has chosen in this article for its
apologetic value to appraise some of the archaeological evidence
related to the problem. In the article he hopes to make a modest
contribution toward deciding the date of the Exodus by setting the
date of the Conquest which occurred approximately forty years later.
But by what accredited method can one decide the date of the Con-
quest? Here the writer proposes to compare the pertinent Palestin-
ian artifactual evidence with the pertinent Old Testament textual
evidence without consciously suppressing evidence. If these two
lines of evidence regarding the Conquest coincide, and if the artifac-
tual evidence can be dated, it seems reasonable to think that the
date of the Conquest can be established.
Now according to the textual evidence the Israelites took the
Canaanite cities in two different ways: most of them they occupied
first destroying them; but they burned three,
6:24), Ai (Josh. 8:28), and Hazor (Josh. 11:13). The writer will
consider first the cities they occupied without burning, and then he
will consider the three cities they burned.
With regard to the cities occupied by the Israelites without
burning, the adherents to the theory of the late date of the Exodus
commit two fundamental errors. First, they set aside the textual
evidence that these cities were not burned before the Israelites occu-
pied them, and instead they presume that the Israelite capture of a
5 J. Barton Payne, An Outline of Hebrew History (Grand Rapids, 1954),
Palestinian Artifactual Evidence / 35
town is likely to be marked by destruction.6 But the biblical his-
torian's account of the Conquest recorded in Joshua flatly contra-
presumption. He recorded: "
which stood on its tell, except Hazor only, that did Joshua burn"
(Josh. 11:13). Now admittedly he referred in this statement to the
in the case of Ai and
"burned" (saraph) them. By taking most of the Canaanite cities
without first destroying them, Joshua would have fulfilled Yahweh's
did not build; houses filled with all kinds of goods which you did not
put there" (Deut. 6:10-11). Cities burned to the ground do not yield
to their captors houses filled with all kinds of goods.
Secondly, having set aside the biblical textual evidence, the late
date critic now commits the logical error of circular reasoning.
Confident from the Egyptian artifactual evidence that the Conquest
occurred at ca. 1250 B.C.,8 he interprets the destruction layers dated
in the second half of the thirteenth century B.C., and attested at a
number of hill country sites (Tell Beit Mirsim C2, Beth-Shemesh
L.B.), as the result of the Israelite invasion.9 Having interpreted these
mute layers of destruction by his assumption, he now uses this evi-
dence to support his thesis that the Israelites brought the Canaanite
Bronze Age to an end in the mid-thirteenth century B.C.10 The argu-
ment is obviously circular and not convincing. Critics of the late date
theory have long pointed out that other historical events could
these layers of destruction; viz., the raids into
carried out by Merneptah of Egypt ca. 1230 B.C.,11 or the raids of
M. Kenyon, Archaeology in the Holy Land
1970) [hereafter AHL], p. 209.
7 Leon T. Wood, "Date of the Exodus," New Perspectives on the Old
Testament, ed. by J. Barton Payne (Waco, Texas, 1970), p. 75.
8 G. E.
Wright, Biblical Archaeology (
Regarding the location of Pithom and Raamses (Exod. 1: 11) see now E. P.
Uphill, "Pithom and Raamses," Journal of Near Eastern Studies, XXVII
(October, 1968), 291-316, XVIII (January, 1969), 15-39.
9 G. Ernst Wright, "The Archaeology of Palestine," The Bible and theAncient
10 William Foxwell Albright, From the Stone Age to Christianity (2nd ed.;
11 For translation of Hymn of Victory of Mer-ne-Ptah (The "Israel Stela")
Near Eastern Texts, ed. by James B. Pritchard (
36 / Bibliotheca Sacra -- January1972
the People of the Sea at ca. 1200 B.C.,12 or by the Israelites in their
continuing seesaw struggle with the Canaanites during the time of
Now the writer proposes that in order not to commit the first
error of disregarding the textual evidence one should examine the
material culture and the pottery during the period 1400 B.C. to
1200 B.C. instead of the destruction levels at these hill country sites.
Now it is a fact that wherever within this period one puts the
arrival of the Israelites, there is no complete break in the culture
within the period.14 This should come as no surprise for migratory
tribes such as the Israelites had been would not be expected to
carry large equipment or durable material objects. Their containers
may well have been made mainly of skin, and their place of worship
was portable and temporary, a tent. Kenyon wrote: "History and
archaeology show again and again how such bands, coming amongst
a settled population, tend to adopt the material culture (which alone
is reflected archaeologically) of that population."15 On the other
hand, while it is a fact that there is no complete break in the material
culture, it is also a fact that the sharpest change in the culture occurs
at the transition from Late Bronze I to Late Bronze IIA (ca. 1400
B.C.). Concerning this fact Kenyon wrote: ". . . at the beginning
. . . the biggest change occurs, with the transition from L.B.I to II,
when the culture does seem to show a marked deterioration. In the
pottery, for instance, there is the introduction of a class of saucer
bowls of a very plain and undeveloped form, which form one of
the least attractive series in the whole of Palestinian pottery. The
archaeological remains are undistinguished and the objects found
suggest a low level of artistic ability."16 The crude art of the period
is well represented by a stone libation tray from Tell Beit Mirsim.17
Kenyon noted: "Such a situation would well reflect the state of
affairs during the acclimatisation to settled life of wanderers such as
the Habiru bands of the Amarna Letters and the Israelites of the
Old Testament."18 In a word, the material culture suggests the date
Noth, The History of
F. Unger, Archaeology and the Old
1954), pp. 162-63, 165.
14 Kenyon, AHL, p. 209.
17 William Foxwell Albright, The Excavation of Tell Beit Mirsim, Vol. 11,
Annual of the American Schools of Oriental Research, XVII (1938), 120, pl. 24.
18 Kenyon, AHL, p. 209.
Palestinian Artifactual Evidence / 37
1400 B.C. as the most likely time for the Israelite occupation of
Moreover, it must not be assumed that the Israelites could not
have been responsible for the Canaanite temples19 and the crude
Astarte plaques which are the most common cult object on almost
all the sites of this period,20 for the historian who wrote the book
Canaanite religion in preference to the more austere religion of
Yahweh.21 Even during the prophetic period abundant artifactual
evidence has been unearthed attesting the prophetic denunciations
that the Israelites adopted the Canaanite cult.22
Now if the Israelites were responsible for this marked deteriora-
tion in the material cultures in the cities of the hill country at the
beginning of Late Bronze (ca. 1400 B.C.) it follows that the same
situation ought not to prevail in the great cities in the north, Beth-
they did not fall into Israelite hands until comparatively late.23 Now
this is precisely the situation. With regard to
which we have evidence, for the level of culture here does not seem
to reach such a low ebb. The buildings, as far as they have been
excavated, have indications of architectural pretensions. The pottery
is not so exceedingly uninteresting, for the crude saucer forms found
on other sites are hardly present here, and the pottery decoration
19 For example, Temples II and III in the Fosse at Tell Duweir. Olga
Charles H. Inge, Lankester Harding,
Foxwell Albright, Archaeology and the Religion of
21 Judges 2:11 fl.
22 For example, the little model sanctuary found at Tell el-Farcah dated
in the 10th or 9th century B.C., and similar to several other pious household
Excavations at Tell el-Farcah and the Site of Ancient Tirzah,"
Exploration Quarterly [hereafter PEQ], 1956, p. 132. Gowan goes so far as
to say: "The phenomenon of syncretism scarcely needs extensive discussion
in this paper. One need only read the books of Judges, Samuel, and Kings to
be convinced that Israelite worship from the Conquest on was thoroughly
mingled with aspects of the Canaanite fertility religion, and that this was not,
for the majority of Israelites, considered apostasy, but was the commonly
thing" (Donald E. Gowan, "The Syncretistic Cult in
Biblical Scholarship, ed.
by J. Coert Rylaarsdam [
23 Judges 1:19.
38 / Bibliotheca Sacra -- January 1972
found during L.B. I has its continuation, though it is less elaborate.
Most striking of all is the collection of ivories found in the ruins of
the palace in the second phase of VII, which provide an indication
of the cultural tastes at least of the ruling classes."24 She concluded:
turbances, was not submerged in the increasing tide of barbarism."25
Beth-shan likewise exhibits a high degree of civilization.26 Now to
be sure, this archaeological evidence does not conclusively prove
that the presence of Israelites occasioned the cultural decline in many
strong cities and their absence explains the greater degree of civiliza-
tion in those cities along the great land route controlled by the
Egyptians. But it must be agreed that the literary evidence of Joshua-
Judges comports favorably with the only valid archaeological evi-
dence, and that this evidence points to an invasion of migratory
bands such as the Israelites would have been at about 1400 B.C.
THE CITIES BURNED ON THEIR TELLS
The writer now turns his attention to the cities burned on their
Most recently David Livingston in a superb article on the
objections to the common identification of historical Ai with Et- Tell.
argues in detail that Bireh is to be identified with
If this identification should prove to be right some small unnamed
ruin one and a half miles to the southeast, and on the other side of
a high hill (Et-Tawil) may be biblical Ai.27 Regarding this new
suggestion D. J. Wiseman, professor of Assyriology at the University
It must be emphasized that this new suggestion of Mr. Living-
ston must remain an unproven theory until checked by archaeologi-
cal soundings at both places for the evidence for the identification
and location of
theory here, the reader is reminded that the validity of the biblical
text and history will remain unchanged despite often changing inter-
pretations and hypotheses concerning it. Much archaeological work
and interpretation falls far short of positive and conclusive evidence.
24 Kenyon, AHL, pp. 215, 218.
25 Ibid., p. 218.
26 Ibid., pp. 218-19.
Livingston, "Location of Biblical
minster Theological Journal, XXXIII (November, 1970), 20-44.
Palestinian Artifactual Evidence / 39
This is especially the case in identifying places from which no epi-
graphic evidence has been produced. . . . Pending sure identification
the student of the Bible has every right to hold to the explicit
statement of Scripture rather than to any passing idea even though
the latter may seem to support him.28
Until the site of ancient Ai is located this enigmatic city must
continue to remain without consideration in deciding the issue.
The writer now turns to the most disputed
(Tell es-Sultan). The biblical historians give these three statements
logical research: (1) when the Israelites conquered the city the walls
collapsed (Josh. 6:20), (2) the Israelites burned the city (Josh.
6:24), and (3) the city was probably reoccupied shortly after the
Conquest, first by the Benjamites, and then by Eglon (ca. 1320 B.C.
according to the chronology of Judges) (Josh. 18:21, Judg.
3:12-14). Now even though little remains on the tell from the Late
Bronze Age probably because of its long exposure between the
Israelite invasion and the time of Ahab,29 the writer will consider
these features respectively.
The walls. Everyone but the most naive tourist knows now
that Garstang's "Late Bronze Age" walls which he associated with
the Israelite invasion actually date from the Early Bronze Age, over
five hundred years before Joshua, because Miss Kenyon subsequently
identified both Early Bronze Age remains with these walls, and
Middle Bronze Age material overlaying them.30 She wrote: "It is a
sad fact that of the town walls of the Late Bronze Age, within which
period the attack of the Israelites must fall by any dating, not a
The burnt debris. But in the upper levels of the store rooms
joining the palace on the knoll, located on the slope, and first built
in the Middle Bronze Age, there is debris accumulation merging
with the overlying "Streak," the term the original excavators used
to describe a well-defined stratigraphical feature which is "clearly
burnt material washed down the hill" [italics mine].32 Now both the
upper debris in the store rooms and the "Streak" contained a con-
28 D. J. Wiseman, "Ai in Ruins," Buried History, VII (March, 1971),5-6.
M. Kenyon, Digging Up
DUJ], p. 263.
30 Ibid., p. 170.
31 Ibid., pp. 261-62.
40 / Bibliotheca Sacra -January 1972
siderable quantity of pottery from the first half of the fourteenth
century. Having analyzed the pottery "from the upper level above
the ruins of the store rooms" and "from the 'Streak' of debris above
the store rooms," Kenyon concluded: "As a group, the pottery has
connections with Megiddo Level VIII (1479 B.c.-1350 B.C.), but
also definite links with VII. The closest Beth-shan parallels are to
Stratum IX (first half fourteenth century)."33 Miss Kenyon rejected
the analysis of Albright and Garstang that it can be related to forms
from the second half of the thirteenth century. She wrote: "The
closeness of the material to Beth-shan IX is generally admitted, and
both Professor Garstang and Professor Albright also link it with
Stratum VIII (second half of fourteenth century B.C.). On the pub-
lished evidence, it does not, however, seem to be very close to that
later level, and the
but not equate with it."34 In a word, according to Kenyon, the latest
burnt debris from the Late Bronze Age city cannot be dated later than
mid-fourteenth century B.C., and probably belongs to the L.B. IIA period
(1410 B.c.-1340 B.C.). Now admittedly she formed this conclusion about
the pottery about twenty years ago, but in the 1970 edition of her work,
Archaeology in the Holy Land, she still refers her readers to this article
written in 1951,35 and she does not modify her statements in the appendix.36
Now can the fall of the city be dated more precisely during the
Late Bronze IIA period? Garstang argued convincingly that the
Conquest must have occurred before the reign of Akhenaten, who
began to reign ca. 1375 B.C., because: (1) not one of the distinctive,
plentiful, and well-established archaeological criteria characteristic
of Akhenaten's reign has been found in either the city or the tombs;37
(2) there is
no reference to
reign, though numerous cities of
frequently;38 (3) there is no scarab after Amenhotep III (1412 B.C.-
1375 B.C.) though there survived an abundant and continuous series
of scarabs of the Egyptian kings from the Middle Bronze Age right
on down through the reign of Hatshepsut, Thutmose III, and
M. Kenyon, "Some Notes on the History of
1951, p. 120.
33 Ibid., pp. 130-33.
34 Ibid., p. 121.
35 Kenyon, AHL, pp. 210-11.
36 Ibid., pp. 341-43.
Garstang and J. B. E. Garstang, The Story
1948), p. 126.
Palestinian Artifactual Evidence / 41
Amenhotep III of the Late Bronze I period.39 Confessedly these are
all negative evidences and may be subject to other explanations
than that the Canaanite city ceased to exist before 1375 B.C.,40 but
together they lead to the plausible suggestion that the destruction of
the city previously established by the ceramic evidence between
1410 B.C. and 1340 B.C. occurred before 1375 B.C.
The evidence of occupation after the destruction of Late Bronze Age IIA.
Now the latest pottery from tombs 4, 5, and 13 is best dated to the second-
half of the fourteenth century.41 Garstang related this pottery to the later,
unimportant, sporadic habitation suggested in the Old Testament, and
expected because of the advantageous situation of the site.42 Kenyon, on
the other hand, held that this pottery (exhibits Canaanite occupation until
about 1325 B.C. at which time the Canaanites abandoned the tell.43
In order to clarify this evidence from the tombs appeal is now
made to the
during the fourteenth century Canaanite occupation? or was it built
after the destruction attested in Late Bronze IIA?
Garstang originally ascribed the
conquered by Joshua.45 But with the generally accepted revision of
the dating of the pottery from Beth-shan downward he revised the
date of the building down to the second half of the Late Bronze
Age.46 On this erroneous basis, as it appears to the writer, he sug-
gested that the building was intrusive and possibly to be attributed
to Eglon, King of Moab, at the end of the century.47
Kenyon, however, noted that no ceramic dating evidence is
building could not be dated by ceramic evidence, she attempted to
date it by stratigraphic evidence. On this basis she originally con-
39 Ibid., pp. 115-18, 126-27.
40 For example, Kenyon explains the scarabs of Hatshepsut, Thutmosis III,
and Amenhotep III as heirlooms to fit her theory that the tell was abandoned
during L.B. I (see Kenyon, PEQ, p. 117). While this is a possible explanation
it is also a possibility that their names were engraved on the scarabs after
their death because scarabs were believed to possess protective powers. The
names of well-known and popular rulers recur very frequently on these mantic
41 Kenyon, PEQ, p. 138.
42 Garstang, pp. 124, 127-28.
43 Kenyon, DUJ, p. 261.
building of Ahab's time and the storerooms of the Bronze Age.
45 Garstang, p. 177.
46 Ibid., pp. 171-80.
47 Kenyon, AHL, p. 210; PEQ, p. 121.
48 Kenyon, DUJ, p. 261; AHL, pp. 210-11.
42 / Bibliotheca Sacra --January 1972
cluded that Garstang's interpretation of the building after all was
clear. In her original article she wrote: "It is clear from photographs
and from published section. . . that most of what survived was
foundational, and therefore was dug into the surrounding layers.
These layers consisted of the upper debris in the store rooms and the
'Streak'. . . . From the startification it is quite clear that these have
do with the
accumulation."49 Now if the "Streak" can be dated by its pottery
B.C. and 1350 B.C., and if the
dug into the surrounding layers, then the building must be later than
the destruction represented by these layers and must be dated after
1340 B.C. In her later writings, however, Miss Kenyon reversed her-
self, and without producing any new evidence, she erroneously dated
the building by the debris beneath it.50
If then a substantial building such as
was secondarily introduced on the tell after the destruction repre-
sented by the "Streak," one has good reason to think that the few
recognizably late pottery examples from the tombs belong to this
occupation and cannot be used to date the Conquest.
Finally, in connection with the subsequent occupation of the
tell after its destruction, there is no evidence of any occupation after
1325 B.C. Kenyon insisted: "There is no evidence at all of it in
stray finds or in tombs."51
Conclusion. Although meager, yet the textual and the archaeo-
ably coincide, and once again the archaeological evidence suggests
a conquest during the first quarter of the fourteenth century. Even
more conclusive, however, is the evidence that the city was not
occupied during the mid-thirteenth century B.C., thereby precluding
the option of the commonly accepted late date for the Exodus.
The writer now considers Hazor, the third city burned on
its tell. The site of Hazar (Tell el-Qedah/Tell Waqqas) comprises
two distinct areas: the Tell proper, covering less than twenty-five
acres, and a large rectangular plateau covering more than one hun-
dred and seventy-five acres, called by the most recent excavators
49 Kenyon, PEQ, p. 120.
50 Kenyon, DUJ, pp. 262-63.
Pa1estinian Artifactual Evidence / 43
Solomonic period but have not as yet reached the Bronze Age strata
I on the Tell proper.52 On the other hand they have disclosed on the
of the Middle Bronze Age [ca. 1750 B.C.] while the latest belongs
to the end of the Late Bronze Age.53 Professor Aharoni, one of the
team that excavated the Tell, however, assured his readers that this
violent and long lasting end of the Late Bronze Age marked the
end of Canaanite occupation on the high tell as well.54 Likewise in
their principal publications on the excavations the teams asserted
that they think they know the synchronization between the strata
Presumably they are the same.
three main strata, each of which ends with a destruction layer.56
Of interest here are these destruction layers for they belong to the
disputed period between ca. 1400 B.C. and 1200 B.C. The earliest
destruction layer related to our discussion terminated Stratum III,
dated Late Bronze I, and belongs to the Pre-Amarna Age, viz.,
about 1400 B.C. The recent excavators recorded: "Stratum 1B
[=General Stratum II] was built after stratum 2 [=General Stratum
III] had been completely destroyed."57 In an earlier report regarding
the destruction of the gate built on the gate of Middle Bronze II and
before the final destruction of Hazor, so presumably belonging to
the destruction of about 1400 B.C., Yadin wrote: "This gate must
have been destroyed in a violent conflagration, traces of burnt bricks
of its inner walls and the ashes of the burnt beams still cover the
floors in thick heaps."58
General Stratum II (=Late Bronze IIA) likewise ends with a
destruction level at the end of ca. 1300 B.C. The final report reads:
"It can be determined. . . that Stratum 1B [=General Stratum II]
is the stratum of El-Amarna age at Hazor . . . The end of Stratum
1B may also perhaps be fixed with the help of the tomb-finds and
the finds on the floors of the buildings. As stated, the imported finds
Yadin, et al., Hazor I (
53 Ibid., p. 8.
Aharoni, The Land of the Bible (
Yadin, et al., Hazor II (
56 See the
synchronization table of the strata in the
in Yadin, Hazor II, p. 165.
57 Ibid., p. 92.
58 Yigael Yadin, "The Fourth Season of Excavation at Hazor," Biblical
Archaeologist, XXII (February, 1959), 8-9.
44 / Bibliotheca Sacra --January 1972
in the Tombs have nothing later than the end of the 14th century."59
A paragraph later they spoke of the end of Stratum 1B in terms of
General Stratum I (=Late Bronze IIB, ca. 1300-1260/30)
likewise ends in destruction. They concluded: "This enables us to
state that City 1A [=General Stratum I] began at the opening of
the 13th century. . . . The few Mycenaean wares belonging to type
IIIB enable the end of the stratum to be dated not later than the
last third of the 13th century. . . . It may be concluded that City
1A was destroyed in the second third of the 13th century."61
There are then from the Late Bronze Age Canaanite city, layers
of destruction at ca. 1400 B.C., ca. +1300 B.C. and ca. +1230 B.C.
Moreover, there is no occupation after 1230 B.C. on the Lower
and the era of Solomon. The interpretive problem then is: "With
which of these three strata shall one associate Joshua?" Most prob-
ably Yadin is correct in his suggestion that the destruction level at
ca. +1300 B.C. should be associated with the burning of the city by
Seti I (ca. 1318 B.C.).62 So then one is left with the destruction levels
at 1400 B.C. and 1230 B.C. Yadin opted for the 1230 B.C. level. The
report concluded: "This destruction should be related (according to
Yadin) to the Israelite Conquest."63
But the reference in Judges 4:2 to Hazor
generations after Joshua precludes this possibility. If the city ceased
to exist after 1230 B.C., and if it is still in existence at least three or
four generations after Joshua, then Joshua's destruction cannot be
attributed to the destruction level dated at 1230 B.C. but must be
related to the destruction level dated at ca. 1400 B.C. To the writer's
knowledge M. B. Rowton, assistant professor at the Oriental Insti-
for the early date of the Conquest.64 This battle between Jabin, king
59 Yadin, Hazor II, p. 159.
60 Ibid., p. 160.
62 Ibid., p. 159.
63 Ibid., p. 165.
64 M. B.
Rowton, "Ancient Western Asia," The
ed. by I. E.
S. Edwards, C. J. Gadd, and N. G. L. Hammond (2nd ed.;
bridge: At the University Press, 1970), I, pt. 1,237-39. In fairness to Rowton's
position it should be noted that he is of the opinion that it is premature to
attempt a date for the Exodus because he believes that more evidence is
needed to indicate whether one has to reckon with one Exodus or two Exoduses.
Palestinian Artifactual Evidence / 45
of Hazar, and Barak, he further argued, presumably was fought dur-
ing a period when Egyptian control had broken down. Moreover,
because of the presence of Mycenaean IIIB pottery in the last
stratum, he reasoned that the exact period of Egyptian weakness was
in the second half of the thirteenth century. So then, the battle can
be dated to this period. If this line of reasoning is valid, the chrono-
logical notices in Judges taken in conjunction with the anchor date
of ca. 1230 B.C. would yield a date for Joshua's conquest during the
first quarter of the fourteenth century.
Now the adherents to the late date of Exodus have reacted to
Rowton's apparently decisive evidence for an early Conquest in two
ways: K. A. Kitchen, on one hand, suggests that either the location of
Hazor at the time of Barak differed from its location in the time of
that the city of
On the other hand, Aharoni, although not directly addressing himself
to Rowton's thesis, vitiated Rowton's argument by his acceptance of
Mazar's theory that the two accounts in Joshua 1 and Judges 4
are reversed.66 According to this theory the two wars do not belong to
the first stage of penetration but to a later period, and the battle of
Merom (Joshua 11:1-9) was eventually associated with Joshua. He
supports his position by these three arguments: (1) in both accounts
Jabin is king, (2) according to the account in Joshua Hazor was
destroyed,67 and (3) the results of a
stage of occupation that preceded the Conquest of the Canaanite
Against Kitchen's argument that the name became associated
with a new site the writer makes these two points: First, his argument
is ad hoc and has no convincing textual support. Second, although
in the judgment of the writer Kitchen has no convincing textual sup-
port, Kitchen does correctly note that Jabin II's main strength is
"curiously" not in Hazor but with Sisera in Harosheth.68 Now the
apparent weakness of Hazor at the time of Barak finds archaeologi-
ical support in the final Canaanite stratum at Tell el-Qedah/Tel
Waqqas. Before the city's final destruction a sharp decline took
place. This is especially noticeable in the
dently ceased to be fortified in Stratum I. Its temples were aban-
65 K. A.
Kitchen, Ancient Orient and the Old Testament (
66 Aharoni, p.203.
67 Ibid., p. 201.
68 Kitchen, p. 68.
46 / Bibliotheca Sacra -January 1972
doned and apparently plundered, being rebuilt afterwards in a very
poor and temporary form. According to Aharoni the last town was
concentrated mainly on the high Tell.69 Here then the artifactual
evidence further confirms the association of Barak with Stratum I of
Tell el-Qedah/Tell Waqqas. Finally, it seems unlikely that the
excavators missed the site in all seven squares excavated.
Against Aharoni's desperate argument, the writer makes these
points: (1) it should come as no surprise that at this time Hazor
had more than one king named Jabin for as Kitchen has illustrated
there are many parallel examples of this situation from the period
in question;70 (2) it is astonishing that a Palestinian archaeologist
should suppose that a tell would not be reoccupied after its total
destruction for this very situation is attested over and over again in
Palestinian archaeology; (3) Aharoni has committed the logical error
of positing an unnecessary, novel hypothesis in place of an ancient,
reliable, consistent account; (4) he handles a text verified over and
over again as creditable by archaeological research in a most radical
fashion; (5) finally, he commits the logical error of arguing in a
circle when he says that the clear data attesting Israelite occupation
during the late fourteenth century, such as the mention of
(i-s-r [Asher]),71 in a fragment of a stele from Seti I, "show a stage
of occupation that preceded the conquest of the Canaanite districts."
Aharoni in this discussion presumed the settlement occurred before
the decisive battles in the North. Having posited this conclusion he
interpreted the data according to his presupposition rather than ac-
cording to the biblical statement. Finally, as incredible as it may
seem, he appealed to this data to support his conclusion. A better
method of procedure would have been to interpret the data according
to the historical narrative rather than according to the conclusion he
is seeking to establish.
On the basis of the evidence mentioned above and without
consciously suppressing other evidence two conclusions impose them-
selves: (1) there is no convincing support from the Palestinian arti-
factual evidence for a Conquest in the mid-thirteenth century. On the
the artifactual evidence from
69 Aharoni, p. 207.
70 Kitchen, p. 68.
71 Aharoni, p. 168.
Palestinian Artifactual Evidence / 47
refutes the theory; (2) in every way studied in which the textual
tradition regarding the Conquest and the Settlement can be tested by
archaeology, the two lines of evidence coincide. Furthermore, all the
accredited Palestinian artifactual evidence supports the literary ac-
count that the Conquest occurred at the time specifically dated by
the biblical historians. Therefore, from this data one has no reason
either to question the trustworthiness of the Bible regarding the date
of the Exodus, or to use another method of interpretation for these
numbers than the normal literary approach.
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