Recently, we received an email from a visitor named 'Jenny'. Jenny made a long list of claims about the Bible. Sadly, most people hold these views because of what they read on the internet or watch on TV. Many have been lied to by their unbelieving college professors and mentors. Some even learn these erroneous views about the Bible in Christian colleges and seminaries! In providing this rather long and detailed response, it is our hope that 'Jenny' and others like her will seriously reconsider the authority of the Bible and its author, Yahweh, and the claims of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
Thanks for contacting the ministry of ABR and for visiting our website.
We received your email with interest and concern. Obviously, we are unsure if you are a hardened skeptic, or, perhaps, a person who has been grossly misled by college professors, other mentors, and the culture at large. We would like to provide a response to your email, as the misconceptions and errors therein are fairly standard canards that have been adequately answered by our staff and other researchers. Nonetheless, perhaps you are willing to hear our answers to these objections, and reconsider your claims. We felt compelled to respond to your claims to challenge you to begin thinking radically different about the Bible. These monumental misconceptions are held by many people in our post-modern world. We hope you are willing to at least rationally reflect on our response to your comments, read the articles to which we have referred, and reconsider your position. Your comments appear first in different font and are indented, followed by our response. I have reorganized them somewhat for presentation purposes. Your entire comment appears at the end.
1. Also, the problem with the whole Israelite slave allegations is that not only do ancient Egyptian records make no mention of the freeing of the slaves, it makes no mention of the supposed 500 years of slavery. It's unlikely that ancient kings would fail to boast about owning such a huge number of slaves, aquriing said slaves or noting the monuments built by slaves. Especially since we have intact records regarding Nubian (black) slaves.
Most of the arguments you have posed are fallacious arguments from silence, the issue of Israelite slavery in Egypt being a prime example. Brian Janeway explains the fallacy of an argument from silence: "It involves a tendency to make claims based upon incomplete evidence and fails to account for the principle that absence of evidence does not equal evidence of absence." (See: Archaeologists Fail to Use Sound Reasoning)
For more on these types of erroneous assertions by archaeologists, see: Let The Evidence Speak
The Bible, of course, does record the Israelites were "sojourners" in Egypt for 430 years (not 500). An ancient text with historical information should be treated with fairness, until other evidence is uncovered that might show otherwise. Of course, the Bible is treated with a double standard, primarily because sinners know in their heart of hearts that it is the voice of God speaking in the text, and they want to suppress that voice and place themselves on the throne. See my 4 part video series on this problem here: The Effect of Human Sin on Apologetics and Archaeology.
Aside from this fallacious reasoning and double standard, there is also actual evidence that has been discovered of Asiatic slaves (slaves from Canaan) in Egypt at the time the Bible records. Kenneth Kitchen explains:
In Middle-Kingdom Egypt of the 12th to 13th Dynasties (ca 1963–1786, 1786–1600 BC), and called by the Egyptians simply “Asiatics,” many West-Semitic-speaking individuals appear at various social levels. As the property of temples, they served, some as dancers, others as porters. As slaves, some might be handed-over as payment by the state to officials and private owners, and (as private property) could be passed on from one owner to another. Such Semites occur on family monuments as domestic servants (hery-per in Egyptian), as cup bearers, as personal confidants, and even entrusted with the family cult (libating to the dead). Papyrus Brooklyn 35.1446 of ca. 1740 BC sheds vivid additional light on this situation. Of 77 people listed on its reverse as belonging to a large Egyptian household, 48 were “Asiatics,” engaged in quite varied occupations, bearing good West-Semitic names that find an echo in Hebrew names. Such are a Menahem, a Shipra (cf. Ex 1:15), Sakar (cf. Issachar), an Asher, an Aqob (related to Jacob)." See: The Joseph Narrative: Genesis 37-50
In this article by Kitchen, you can see an actual picture of Semites entering Egypt from Canaan on the Beni-Hasah tomb painting from circa 1870 BC. There are also buildings built by Asiatics that have been found in the Egyptian delta (the region referred to in the Bible as the land of Goshen) at the city of Tel el-Daba. This is exactly where the Israelites resided. For more, see Rev. Gary Byers' article: Israel in Egypt
We also have a six part article series on the life of Joseph, outlining the relation between the events of his life and the historical background of Egypt at that time. The synchronization between the life of Joseph and Egyptian records is very, very strong. See this second article of six parts by Dr. Charles Ailing, Joseph in Egypt: Part II, which explains that slavery was a growing and flourishing institution in Egypt during the sojourn period, and that many of the slaves in Egypt were, in fact, Asiatic slaves from Canaan. A written record of slaves in Egypt is satisfied by the Hieratic Papyrus, documented in Dr. Aling's article. The historical facts in Egypt fit the biblical account from that period of time perfectly. Dr. Aling further explains the lack of extensive records and the failure of the pharaohs to mention the Asiatic slaves in any detail:
First, let it be said that dismissing something on the basis of a lack of evidence is a dangerous business. Today, we have very few of the written documents composed in the Ancient Near East. What we have reflects accidental preservation. And, when we realize that the slave trade would have centered in the Nile Delta (northern Egypt), accidental preservation becomes even less likely due to the high water table there. Very few papyrus documents have been recovered from that region, especially from the earlier periods of Egyptian history. Also, the slave trade would have been in all probability in private hands rather than under government control. This would have made preservation of documentary evidence even more remote. Lastly, it is very possible that the slave trade would have been in the hands of foreigners rather than Egyptians, as the Bible implies in the case of Joseph. Records in so far as they were kept at all, would thus not be kept by Egyptians but by the Asiatics who were selling other Asiatic men and women to the Egyptians.
You are correct about Nubian slaves in Egypt. They can be seen alongside Asiatic slaves in a picture at the end of the article by Kitchen.
2. There is no evidence the Hebrew slaves built the pyramids or any other major Egyptian structure - many of these buildings predate the exodus by thousands of years, including the Sphinx and associated pyramids.
You are correct that the Hebrews did not build the pyramids nor the Sphinx, but the Bible does not say that they did, nor were they slaves in Egypt when the Pyramids were built! The Bible does say that the Israelites built the store cities of Pithom and Rameses, outlined here: From Ramesses to Shiloh: Archaeological Discoveries Bearing on the Exodus-Judges Period.
3. The truth is there was no mass exodus from Egypt (and certainly no evidence of it).
We cannot even begin to tell you how many times we have heard this one. First, you are again applying an erroneous argument from silence and impugning what the Bible records in the book of Exodus for no sound, logical reason at all. You merely assert it to be true and then move on from there. Second, there is a very good reason that the events of the Exodus are not found in Egyptian records: It was the most embarrassing incident in the long history of their country and demonstrated that their gods were false. Dr. Bryant Wood explains in this article, From the Mailbag:
The claim that there never was an Exodus from Egypt stems from the argument that Egyptian records do not speak of such an event. This is an argument from silence and is not based on reality. Surviving Egyptian records were, for the most part, propagandistic records carved in stone extolling the accomplishments of the Pharaohs. An event that demeaned Pharaoh would never be recorded. Writing was believed to be sacred, giving reality to the statements being recorded. If an event was not recorded, then it never happened. (See Gerald Wheeler, “Ancient Egypt’s Silence about the Exodus,” Andrews University Seminary Studies 40 : 257–64.)
Where would one expect to find these detailed Egyptian historical records that critics say do not record anything about the Exodus? The most likely place would be Rameses where the Israelites lived during the Sojourn (Gen. 47:11; Exod. 1:11) and where they left from (Exod. 12:37; Num. 33:3–5). Rameses has been excavated from the mid 1960s until the present by an Austrian expedition under the direction of Egyptologist Manfred Bietak. After more than 40 years of excavating, the Austrians have not found a single shred of a historical document from any time period, let alone detailed historical records from the time of the Exodus. The argument is fallacious.
Additionally, those very same excavations being done by Bietak in the Delta have provided substantial supportive material for the historical context of the Exodus account. Dr. Bryant Wood has documented those archaeological discoveries here: New Discoveries at Rameses and Recent Research on the Date and Setting of the Exodus. For an extremely detailed study of the Exodus and the pharaoh associated with it, see: Amenhotep II and the Historicity of the Exodus Pharaoh. For evidence pertaining to Moses and Pharoah's daughter, see: Moses and Hatshepsut.
4. Also, there's no historical evidence King David, King Solomon, or King Saul existed. If so, where are the temple and palace ruins in modern-day Israel/Jerusalem? The "Temple Mount"/Wailing Wall foundations don't match the dimensions of Solomon's temple (the Temple Mount is much smaller). Old Testament = propaganda of some minor race that didn't have the powerful kings and mighty war victories they claim.
Sigh...more bald assertion and arguments from silence. Concerning David, we have both the Mesha Stela and the Tel Dan Stela, which specifically mention David. Not to mention the testimony of the NT authors and Jesus Himself. On these important evidences that affirm the historicity of David, see: Mesha: King of Moab and the Tel Dan Stela. Additionally, Dr. Eilat Mazar is conducting excavations in the Old City of Jerusalem as we speak, and thus far, is uncovering evidence to support the biblical account. She summarizes thus:
The Biblical narrative, I submit, better explains the archaeology we have uncovered than any other hypothesis that has been put forward. Indeed, the archaeological remains square perfectly with the Biblical description that tells us David went down from there to the citadel." See: Did Eilat Mazar Find King David's Palace?
Concerning Solomon, his gates have been discovered, exactly as recorded in the Bible. From Dr. Bryant Wood:
The finely built gates at Gezer, Megiddo and Hazor are dated to the time of Solomon and fit very well with the Biblical statement, “Here is the account of the forced labor King Solomon conscripted to build the Lord’s temple, his own palace, the supporting terraces, the wall of Jerusalem, and Hazor, Megiddo, and Gezer” (1 Kgs 9:15)."
See also this article by Rev. Gary Byers: The United Monarchy Under David and Solomon and this extensive article by Dr. Alan Millard, King Solomon in His Ancient Context.
Excavations at Khirbet en-Nahas are overturning scholarly assertions concerning the Kingdom of David and Solomon. Brian Janeway writes:
This important Edomite copper mining site near the Dead Sea has already caused a revision in the date of the emergence of the Iron Age polity of Edom to at least the 11th century BC, where scholars had long assumed no such development had occurred prior to the 8th century.
See this news report: http://www.biblearchaeology.org/post/2008/10/28/Researchers-may-have-found-King-Solomons-mines.aspx
Concerning the Temple Mount, Dr. Leen Ritmeyer is probably the most qualified expert in the world on the archaeology and history of the Temple Mount. I would simply refer you to his excellent book: In Quest of the Temple Mount and his website: http://www.ritmeyer.com/ Your comments concerning the Temple Mount are extensively refuted by his 35+ years of research.
5. Many of the cities the Israelites claim to conquer and the heathen kings they claim to defeat didn't even exist at the time of the alleged conquests.
The ministry of ABR was founded, in part, by David Livingston to counter this claim. Dr. Bryant Wood has extensively refuted the claims of Kathleen Kenyon concerning Jericho. I would refer you to this excellent video, Jericho Unearthed, that outlines the evidence and shows, beyond question, that the Bible is absolutely correct in its recording of the events at Jericho.
Concerning Ai, we have conducted our own excavations, and the evidence strongly suggests that Khirbet el-Maqatir is the Ai of Joshua 7-8. The scholars have made a series of colossal blunders concerning Ai and Bethel.
Concerning Hazor, Doug Petrovich has outlined the evidence, showing how the biblical account is vindicated: The Dating of Hazor's Destruction in Joshua 11 Via Biblical, Archaeological, and Epigraphical Evidence
These are just three examples of cities that were destroyed and conquered by the Israelites, and how archaeology, when properly interpreted, has vindicated the Biblical accounts. Many more articles and evidence are found in our Exodus and Conquest section of the ABR website.
6. The only way the Biblical accounts make sense is if you realise the Israelites hjiacked ancient Egyptian history and passed off the Pharoahs as their own kings (in Hebrew-ised form, for political/religious purposes). In short, the Bible may not be a forgery. But there is compelling evidence that it is a patchwork of plagiarised and appropriated texts from other sources e.g. the Bible writers making out Egyptian history as their own.
The argument that the Israelites invented their histories based on fabrications and plagiarized the history of other ethnic groups is, of course, a almost universally accepted argument used by liberals and skeptics. The problem with this argument is that there is not one shred of evidence to support it. Further, as Doug Petrovich explains in his article, The Fallacy of Historical Reconstructionism: "Blind Faith" Actually Belongs to the Atheists, it takes a lot more faith to believe the Israelites constructed a mythical history than to just accept the straightforward history that is presented in the Bible:
...there is no evidence whatsoever from antiquity that would verify or support such a radical view, at least among the Israelites themselves, if not across the ANE as a whole: no record of its falsification, nobody speaking to its non-truthfulness, no known dissenters, and nothing whatsoever in the epigraphical or archaeological record.
There are no parallels with Egyptian history that reflect any sort of plagiarism by the Israelites, nor has anyone ever discovered a manuscript of a redacted or edited biblical book that proves any of this. This claim is rooted, in part, in the acceptance of the highly subjective and erroneous Documentary Hypothesis (JEDP). Archaeology has blown away this theory, discussed in detail here by Dr. Clyde Billington: The Curious History of the Editor in Biblical Criticism.
Commenting on JEDP, Kenneth Kitchen cannot be surpassed:
Here we will be concise, open, and fairly staccato. First, the basic fact is that there is no objective, independent evidence for any of these four compositions [J, E, D, or P] (or any variant of them) anywhere outside the pages of our existing Hebrew Bible. If the criterion of "no outside evidence" damns the existence of such as Abraham, Moses or Solomon and company, then it equally damns the existence of these imaginary works. They exist only in the minds of their modern creators...
Our resourceful biblicists are not sitting on some secret store of papyri or parchments that contain any such works. The Dead Sea Scrolls show no sign of them whatever; stubbornly they [the DSS] know only of the canonical works that we have, and of commentaries and "romances" based upon them...Modern guesswork, as we all know, is often extraordinarily and breathtakingly clever and ingenious... But it does not constitute fact and cannot substitute for it.
I might choose to dream up a theory that the Ramesside kings of Egypt also once built pyramids in Egypt, twice as big as the Great Pyramid. But absolutely nobody is going to believe me unless I can produce some tangible, material evidence in its favor. And we require, likewise, some kind of clear, material for a J, E, D, or a P or an H from outside of the extant Hebrew Bible. The standards of proof among biblical scholars fall massively and woefully short of the high standards that professional Orientalists and archaeologists are long accustomed to, and have a right to demand. Some MSS, please! (On The Reliability of the OT, pg. 494).
7. And here's the most glaring evidence of all: why are all the great archeological ruins, finds and discoveries in Egypt? If Canaan/Israel was such a jolly important place, with such a glorious history, why its relative poverty of ruins and remains today? I've been to Israel and the only holy sites/historical stuff they had to offer was endless churches built on sites which supposedly played a role in Christ's life. But where's the pre-Christ stuff? Let me tell you this: if Israel could hurry up and find all that wonderful stuff linked to King David, it would help the tourism industry!
I am not sure where you are getting this idea. "All" the archaeological remains are not in Egypt. Egypt, of course, was a superpower for many centuries in the ancient world. They recorded their histories and propaganda in stone, and besides the delta region, much of the country is dry and barren, perfect conditions to preserve ancient history for millennia.
Canaan/Israel was important, but for different reasons. First, it was not a superpower. During the Conquest, Canaan was controlled by a variety of city-state kings, small coalitions vying for control of the region. Second, an extremely important trade route went right through Canaan, running from Egypt to Syria. Control over this area was vital to keeping international trade moving, and so many nations sought to control this area. Ancient traders had strong economic interests in their goods and peoples being able to safely navigate through the region. This explains, for example, why Megiddo was destroyed and rebuilt over thirty times in antiquity. See, Megiddo: The Place of Battles in the Spring 2010 issue of Bible and Spade.
Third, the region was generally under the control of many different foreign powers over the centuries, so records and cities were less likely to be preserved over centuries of time, whereas Egypt was rarely occupied by foreigners. Fourth, there are some seasons of cool and rain in Israel, which tend to erode and destroy ancient remains much easier, unlike the dry and barren nature of Egypt outside the delta. Fifth, God deemed the land to be important by promising the land to Abraham and his descendents.
Sixth, we actually do have an enormous amount of archaeological evidence from Israel. I wish you could go on an ABR tour to Israel, you would see a lot more than churches! There are dozens and dozens of archaeological sites we could have you visit, both from the Old and Testament eras. You can actually go to the City of David Excavations in the Old City and see the work being done by Dr. Eilat Mazar and her team. I was there just last year. Just go to the Israel Nature and Parks Authority website for a long list of great sites in Israel. Jenny, you must go back to Israel, visit these sites, then get a refund from your last tour company!
8. Uh, what proof do you have that the Bible "objectively" describes its characters? Plenty of ancient texts paint good characters and bad characters. How is the Bible different from the propaganda of any other ancient people - idealising their heroes and demonising their enemies?
The "proof" concerning the "objectivity" of the Bible is found in its author, God. Human beings are completely incapable of "objectivity", for they are fallible, biased, flawed, finite, sinful, and wrong about most things. God, on the other hand, is the infinite, eternal, omnipotent One, who is completely and totally objective, both in His actions, His will, and His very being. The Bible is objective because it is God speaking in the text, and therefore, when you read the Bible, you are reading the very Word of the absolutely objective God. And if you read the Bible closely, every major figure who serves the Lord is portrayed as both noble and painfully flawed and sinful. While men like Moses and David are giant figures in biblical history, they are also deeply flawed as well. God does not mince his Words in describing them. The Bible is different precisely because it is NOT what you claim it is. It is different because God is the author. All those other texts to which you refer are the words of fallen and fallible men.
There is only one person in the Bible who is portrayed as flawless, and that is the eternally begotten Son of God, the Lord Jesus Christ. He is the quintessential manifestation of God, par excellence. I do realize that accepting His claims as both Lord and God are difficult, particularly when you have so many misconceptions about the Bible.
We encourage you to do a complete and total about face. On this side of death, it is never too late to ask God for mercy. Cry out to Him today. Perhaps C.S. Lewis said it best: "...if you're on the wrong road, progress means doing an about-turn and walking back to the right road; in that case, the man who turns back soonest is the most progressive."
Turning back is both wise and prudent. Eternity is at stake. Jesus accepts anyone who comes to him in true faith and repentance. Jenny, we encourage you to repent of your sins and unbelief and turn to the merciful love of the great God and Savior, Jesus Christ. You will stand before Him one day upon your death, either in judgment or mercy. We pray you will choose the latter.
Henry B. Smith Jr.
Uh, what proof do you have that the Bible "objectively" describes its characters? Plenty of ancient texts paint good characters and bad characters. How is the Bible different from the propaganda of any other ancient people - idealising their heroes and demonising their enemies?
Also, the problem with the whole Israelite slave allegations is that not only do ancient Egyptian records make no mention of the freeing of the slaves, it makes no mention of the supposed 500 years of slavery. It's unlikely that ancient kings would fail to boast about owning such a huge number of slaves, aquriing said slaves or noting the monuments built by slaves. Especially since we have intact records regarding Nubian (black) slaves.
The truth is there was no mass exodus from Egypt (and certainly no evidence of it). Also, there's no historical evidence King David, King Solomon, or King Saul existed. If so, where are the temple and palace ruins in modern-day Israel/Jerusalem? The "Temple Mount"/Wailing Wall foundations don't match the dimensions of Solomon's temple (the Temple Mount is much smaller). Old Testament = propaganda of some minor race that didn't have the powerful kings and mighty war victories they claim.
Many of the cities the Israelites claim to conquer and the heathen kings they claim to defeat didn't even exist at the time of the alleged conquests.
The only way the Biblical accounts make sense is if you realise the Israelites hjiacked ancient Egyptian history and passed off the Pharoahs as their own kings (in Hebrew-ised form, for political/religious purposes).
In short, the Bible may not be a forgery. But there is compelling evidence that it is a patchwork of plagiarised and appropriated texts from other sources e.g. the Bible writers making out Egyptian history as their own.
There is no evidence the Hebrew slaves built the pyramids or any other major Egyptian structure - many of these buildings predate the exodus by thousands of years, including the Sphinx and associated pyramids.
And here's the most glaring evidence of all: why are all the great archeological ruins, finds and discoveries in Egypt? If Canaan/Israel was such a jolly important place, with such a glorious history, why its relative poverty of ruins and remains today? I've been to Israel and the only holy sites/historical stuff they had to offer was endless churches built on sites which supposedly played a role in Christ's life. But where's the pre-Christ stuff? Let me tell you this: if Israel could hurry up and find all that wonderful stuff linked to King David, it would help the tourism industry!