The Pharaoh of the Exodus

Of the five major historical periods of ancient Egypt, only three were involved with the history of the nation of Israel in the days recorded in the Pentateuch and historical books:

A) The Middle Kingdom (2000-1750 b.c.)
B) The Second Intermediate Period (1750-1570 b.c.)
C) The Modern Kingdom (1570-1150 b.c.).

The Pharaoh of the Patriarchs

If we assume that the birth of Abraham was at approximately 2075 b.c., and that he may have arrived in the land of Canaan around 2000 b.c., then it would be reasonable to assume that his sojourning in Egypt (Gen. 12-13) would coincide with the reign of one of the Pharaohs of the strong XIIth dynasty of the Middle Kingdom. By the time Joseph arrives on the scene (ca. 1855 b.c.), the reigning monarch is Amenemes IV, of the same dynasty (who raised Joseph to the second position in the kingdom). About 15 years later, Jacob stands before the same Pharaoh and blesses him.

The Intermediate Period

The kingdom, however, soon deteriorated into disunity with a weak central authority. Just about that time, hordes of Asiatic Semitic tribes called the Hyksos invaded Egypt; they only managed to control the northern part of the country. Some authorities put the date of Israel coming to Egypt to this Hyksos Period (1750-1570 b.c.), on the assumption that only a Hyksos Pharaoh, being Semitic, would have treated the Hebrew Joseph kindly. However, we read that the social climate of the time was such that the authorities despised the Hebrews, and would not even eat with them (Gen. 43:32).

The ethnic origin of the Hyksos made them unpopular with the Egyptians, and particularly with the strong princes of Thebes in the southern part of the country, who never did submit to their rule. By the year 1570 b.c., Prince Ahmos of Thebes, with the help of the priests of the new religion of Amon, rallied the Egyptians around him to throw the now weak Hyksos out of the country and establish the modern kingdom of the XVII-XX dynasty with Thebes (Luxor) as its capital. This could well be the new king of Exodus 1:8 who knew not Joseph.

The Date of the Exodus

Most conservative authorities agree that the most likely date of the Exodus was not far from 1450 b.c. Notice that 1 Kings 6:1 gives the fourth year of the reign of Solomon (968 b.c.) to be the 480th year from Exodus (placing the Exodus at about 1448 b.c.) Most historians give the date of destruction of Jericho to be about 1400 b.c., in keeping with a period of about 40 years in the wilderness between the Exodus (ca. 1440 b.c.) and the Battle of Jericho.

The Pharaoh of the Oppression

Assuming the date of the Exodus to be approximately 1448 b.c., the great empire builder Thutmose III (1482-1450 b.c.) would be the Pharaoh of the oppression. He would have died while Moses was still in Midian (Ex. 4:19).

The Pharaoh of the Exodus

Thutmose's son, Amenhotep II (1450-1425 b.c.), would then be the Pharaoh of the Exodus. There are no historical records of the plagues or the disaster at the Red Sea in any Egyptian monuments, but this omission is explainable on the basis of national pride. It is notable, however, that if Amenhotep II was in fact the Pharaoh of the Exodus, his firstborn would have died in the tenth plague (Ex. 12:29). History confirms that his son who followed him, Thutmose IV (1425-1412 b.c.), was not his eldest son.

Other authorities make Raameses II (1301-1234 B.C.) to be the Pharaoh of the Exodus; there is no clear proof that this was the case, however.

My friends in Christ, history is indeed His story. "That the residue of men might seek after the Lord...saith the Lord, who doeth all these things. Known unto God are all His works from the beginning of the world" (Acts 15:17-18).