The Book of Exodus describes a movement of the Hebrews from Egypt, through the desert, and into the Palestine/Israel region.

It also describes a number miracles, such as the ten plagues and the parting of the Red Sea, but they are not the subject of this question.

There is a lot of debate as to whether the mass migration happened.

Was there ever a migration of people from Egypt that settled around Palestine and became what would become the kingdom of Israel?

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    possible duplicate of Did Moses live? – ChrisW Jan 19 '15 at 22:21
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    The answers to 'Did Moses live?' focus on there being no evidence for Exodus. See also Archeological proof of Exodus? – ChrisW Jan 19 '15 at 22:24
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    I think you need to clarify your question. Do you mean Exodus more-or-less as described in the Bible, or just folks who happened to wander out of Egypt? – jamesqf Jan 19 '15 at 22:24
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    history.stackexchange.com/questions/19012/… has 3-4 sources that claim that the exodus did in fact happen. – Himarm Jan 19 '15 at 22:25
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    @Himarm I think you should replicate the sources (and perhaps quote from them) in your question, as it would make your question easier to read and answer. – March Ho Jan 19 '15 at 23:05

In his essay, Was There an Exodus?, Joshua Berman states that the book of Exodus was written by someone intimately familiar with the structure of early Egyptian dynastic life; and that the Biblical account is supported by recent archaeological discoveries that could not have been known at the time when the Old Testament was compiled:

  • There is rich evidence that West-Semitic populations lived in the eastern Nile delta—what the Bible calls Goshen—for most of the second millennium. Some were slaves, some were raised in Pharaoh’s court, and some, like Moses, bore Egyptian names.
  • We know today that the great pharaoh Ramesses II, who reigned from 1279 to 1213 BCE, built a huge administrative center out of mudbrick in an area where large Semitic populations had lived for centuries. It was called Pi-Ramesses. Exodus (1:11) specifies that the Hebrew slaves built the cities of Pithom and Ramesses, a possible reference to Pi-Ramesses. The site was abandoned by the pharaohs two centuries later.
  • In the exodus account, pharaohs are simply called “Pharaoh,” whereas in later biblical passages, Egyptian monarchs are referred to by their proper name, as in “Pharaoh Necho” (2 Kings 23:29). This, too, echoes usage in Egypt itself, where, from the middle of the second millennium until the tenth century BCE, the title “Pharaoh” was used alone.
  • The names of various national entities mentioned in the Song at the Sea (Exodus 15:1-18)—Philistines, Moabites, Edomites, et al.—are all found in Egyptian sources shortly before 1200 BCE; about this, the book of Exodus is again correct for the period.
  • The stories of the exodus and the Israelites’ subsequent wanderings in the wilderness reflect sound acquaintance with the geography and natural conditions of the eastern Nile delta, the Sinai peninsula, the Negev, and Transjordan.
  • The book of Exodus (13:17) notes that the Israelites chose not to traverse the Sinai peninsula along the northern, coastal route toward modern-day Gaza because that would have entailed military engagement. The discovery of extensive Egyptian fortifications all along that route from the period in question confirms the accuracy of this observation.

For the relevant sources and a much more in-depth look at the specific issue of a possible Egyptian origin for elements of the Exodus story, see the linked article.

Obviously, this evidence is not meant to support any kind of supernatural occurrence, nor the exodus of 2 million which is hard to imagine under any non-supernatural circumstances. But the idea that slaves could have been freed and settled in Israel around 1200 BCE is a reasonable one and the Bible shows evidence of conveying an oral account of a real occurrence.

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  • This article also supports some of the evidence addressed in your link. It also discusses some of the archeological and historical concerns over discrepancies in the historical timeline in those areas. starways.net/lisa/essays/exodus.html – user26274 May 21 '15 at 11:46

The overwhelming consensus of scholars, based on sound evidence, is that the Exodus from Egypt never happened as described in the Bible.

Wikipedia describes the Exodus as the founding myth of Israel, but says most histories of ancient Israel no longer consider information about it recoverable or even relevant to the story of Israel's emergence. A century of research by archaeologists and Egyptologists has found no evidence which can be directly related to the Exodus captivity and the escape and travels through the wilderness, and most archaeologists have abandoned the archaeological investigation of Moses and the Exodus as "a fruitless pursuit".

Rationalwiki says Exodus is now accepted by scholars as having been compiled in the eighth–seventh centuries BCE from stories dating possibly as far back as the thirteenth century BCE, with further polishing in the sixth to fifthth centuries BCE, as a theological and political manifesto to unite the Israelites in the then‐current battle for territory against Egypt. Archaeologists from the nineteenth century onwards were surprised not to find any evidence whatsoever for the events of Exodus, and by the 1970s, archaeologists had largely given up regarding the Bible as any use at all as a field guide. The archaeological evidence of local Canaanite, rather than Egyptian, origins of the kingdoms of Judah and Israel is "overwhelming," and leaves "no room for an Exodus from Egypt or a 40‐year pilgrimage through the Sinai wilderness.

Ariel Lewin says, in The Archaeology of Ancient Judea and Palestine, page 8, that researchers have concluded that there could not have been a mass exodus from Egypt followed by a dramatic conquest of Canaan in the fifteenth and fourteenth centuries BCE, the period the Bible attributes to the Exodus. Lester L. Grabbe says, in Ancient Israel, pages 86-88, a careful look at the text shows that it does not reflect the fifteenth or thirteenth centuries BCE but the seventh or eighth, and goes on to say that despite the efforts of some fundamentalist arguments, there is no way to salvage the biblical text as a description of a historical event. Carol A. Redmount says in 'Bitter lives', published in The Oxford History of the Biblical World, page 63, recent research indicates that even more of the extant Exodus account than previously thought comes from periods during or after the Israelite monarchy or even the Exile. She believes that the biblical Exodus account was never intended to function or to be understood as history in the present-day sense of the word.

There is simply no evidence for the biblical Exodus. Grabbe says (page 85) there is nothing in Egyptian texts that could be related to the story in the Book of Exodus. If the Exodus is historical, then the biblical conquest of Canaan must also be historical, and therefore there must be archaeological evidence of widespread destruction occurring within a short period of time. Lawrence E. Stager says in 'Forging an Identity: The Emergence of Ancient Israel', published in The Oxford History of the Biblical World, page 97, that of the thirty one cities said to be taken by Joshua and the Israelites, twenty have been plausibly identified with excavation sites. Of these, only Bethel and Hazor exhibit synchronous discontinuities such as destruction layers, and it is even debated whether the destruction of Hazor XIII was as late as that of Late Bronze Age Bethel. Instead, most historians now believe that the Israelite settlers were themselves Canaanites who, in the thirteenth century, settled in the hitherto sparsely populated hinterland.

The Merneptah Stele is the first Egyptian record of Israelites as a distinct people, and is dated to the reign of the Egyptian king Merneptah (1213 to 1203). The stele claims the Israelite settlements were wiped out ("Israel is laid waste and his seed is not"), but this crucial event gets no mention in the Bible. Perhaps by the time the story of the Exodus was being written, this disaster had long been forgotten.

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No. There is a general consensus among archeologists that there is not one bit of credible evidence for the Exodus. We know, for instance, through archeology that late Canaanite sites and early Israeli sites have some big differences but also many similarities that suggest societal change, not outside invasion.

Turning to the written record, the evidence is even stronger. While we must treat all historical documents with cynicism, where there is a convergence of claims we can reliably reach a definitive conclusion. The written records of Egypt don't tell of losing at least a fourth of the population (such a thing would also be detectable archaeologically) and even more tellingly the documents of the Hittites the Mycenaeans and the other literate societies of the Fertile Crescent or the Bronze Age Near East don't mention this either. Many of these societies were enemies of Egypt and would have crowed loudly had this happened.

Remember, we have a vast amount of archeology and written evidence that this is simply a myth.

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    Welcome to Skeptics! Its the custom of this site to make one's case using references, without them you will probably get down-votes even if your answer is correct. Sorry, also I didn't downvote you for the record. – Mark Rogers Apr 4 '15 at 14:54
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    Welcome to Skeptics! Please provide some references to support your claims. – Oddthinking Apr 4 '15 at 15:14

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