By Rev. Clinton Chisholm
Those Afrocentrists who assert (often without supporting evidence) that the ancient Hebrews derived their major doctrines from Egypt arising from the Hebrews’ collective presence in Egypt for over 400 years cannot easily go on to raise questions on the reality of the biblical exodus. If an Afrocentrist critic of the Judaeo-Christian faith concedes the presence of Hebrews in Egypt for any extended period then the question arises, did they ever leave en masse? If not what happened to them as a people group in Egypt and where is the evidence for the answer to this critical query? Let it be clear, the critics cannot have it both ways, it is either presence in Egypt and thus access to direct Egyptian influence on the socio-religious traditions of the Hebrews with openness to the reality of an exodus from Egypt or serious doubts about the biblical exodus from Egypt along with doubts about a collective Hebrew presence in Egypt and loss of the argument for access to direct Egyptian influence on the socio-religious traditions of the Hebrews. But it cannot be both.
Other permutations and combinations may seem possible but they all fail to add to the two-fold option I have mentioned. For instance, as was attempted at the Nile Valley forum by Bro. Neter, once you argue that the Hebrews got their main ideas from living in Egypt then mention of the Hebrews as possibly being the Habiru/Apiru/Hapiru or the Hyksos is to introduce a red herring. Indeed it is a sign of intellectual desperation when an individual in the same presentation mentions both the Habiru and the Hyksos as options to confirm the presence of the Hebrews in Egypt—a point which has never been in doubt from the Judaeo-Christian side!! The time frame suggested from the documents of the Ancient Near East that mention the Habiru and the Hyksos put the dastardly activities of the Habiru in Canaan during the reign of Akhenaten’s father, Amenophis III (1390-1352 BC) and even beyond Akhenaten’s reign (1352-1336 BC). Britannica online Encyclopaedia says the Hyksos (Egyptian for ‘foreign rulers’) “…settled in northern Egypt during the 18th century BC. In about 1630 they seized power, and Hyksos kings ruled Egypt as the 15th dynasty (c. 1630–1521 BC)”.
Neither the odious picture of the Habiru’s tactics in Canaan nor the portrait of the Hyksos as foreign rulers in Egypt fits what the Bible says about the early Hebrews in Canaan and Egypt.
Critics who demand Egyptological evidence for the biblical exodus must ponder the words of Kenneth Kitchen, Ancient Near Eastern specialist, Archaeologist and Egyptologist, “The Delta [where the Hebrews operated] is an alluvial fan of mud deposited through many millennia by the annual flooding of the Nile; it has no source of stone within it…So those who squawk intermittently ‘No trace of the Hebrews has ever been found’ (so, of course, no exodus!) are wasting their breath. The mud hovels of brickfield slaves and humble cultivators have long since gone back to their mud origins, never to be seen again. Even stone structures (such as temples) hardly survive, in striking contrast to sites in the cliff-enclosed valley of Upper Egypt in the south.” (On the Reliability of the Old Testament, 2003, p.246)
Pointing to the paucity of even written records from Delta sites Kitchen provides another sobering comment on the same page “And as pharaohs never monumentalize defeats on temple walls, no record of the successful exit of a large bunch of foreign slaves (with loss of a full chariot squadron) would ever have been memorialized by any king, in temples in the Delta or anywhere else.”