Recent issues of BAR have covered a wide range of views regarding the Israelites’ servitude in Egypt, the parting of the “Red Sea” (the “Reed Sea” in Hebrew), and the route of the Exodus.a The authors were, in the main, archaeologists, linguists and experts in Near Eastern studies. Perhaps it would be appropriate to allow a Bible scholar to attempt to illuminate some of the problems from his special perspective.
We all know about the paucity of archaeological evidence concerning the Exodus. As a result, this sparse evidence has little explanatory value. But something deeper is wrong with the analyses cited in the footnotes. These analyses commit a fundamental methodological error in the fields of literary criticism, in general, and Biblical exegesis, in particular. They analyze Biblical history (or, more accurately, the Biblical account of history) out of context; they focus on certain details and examine them, so to say, under a microscope and in isolation. They fail to consider the general tenor of the Biblical account and the overall purpose of Biblical historiography.