Ancient Egyptian history is ripe with mummies, pharaohs, mythology and pyramids. It’s also intertwined with biblical history. Yet some scholars claim that biblical history clashes with modern archaeology; therefore, they conclude, the Bible must be wrong.
An article written in DiscoverMagazine.com illustrates this quite well. They are emphatic that slaves did not build the pyramids. Nonetheless, the Bible records both the arrival of the Israelites in Egypt, their time there, and their exodus. And while the Bible doesn’t explicitly state that Israelite slaves built any of the pyramids, it does mention they built the Egyptian cities of Pithom and Ramses (Exodus 1:11), and the stone they used is consistent with the brick used to build the pyramids. So, while it’s reasonable to infer that they were involved in pyramid building, we cannot state this as fact.
The author claims the best evidence suggests that paid workers built the pyramids- NOT slaves. But how can they be so certain? Because archaeologists studied the tombs and other artefacts of those who built the pyramids and concluded that the tombs couldn’t be those of slaves, but of local peasants.
The article goes on to explain why so many people wrongly think the pyramids were built by slaves, and they pin the blame on three sources: the Greek historian Herodotus, the Bible, and Hollywood.
According to Herodotus, who spent time in Egypt, he described the builders of the pyramids as slaves. But the author explains that Herodotus cannot be believed because he lived thousands of years after the pyramids were built. Really? If the historian Herodotus can be dismissed because he wasn’t alive when the pyramids were being built, then surely we can dismiss modern archaeologists by the same standard, as they weren’t alive when the pyramids were built either. And while Herodotus wasn’t able to study the tombs as modern archaeologists have, he would have had access to information modern archaeologists don’t (information that has since been destroyed), and those who were alive at the time would have had better knowledge of the events, and they wouldn’t have known how controversial and political this subject would become. So the rationale for denying Herodotus seems weak and biased.
Next the author attacks biblical history, specifically the book of Exodus, which records how the Israelites served as slaves. The author seems to suggest that the Bible shouldn’t be believed because some modern Egyptians are critical of the narrative. But whether or not some modern Egyptians disagree with the Bible is not evidence… it’s more bias.
Lastly, Hollywood gets some of the blame, especially Cecil B. DeMille for his film, The Ten Commandment, for depicting these events.
The author goes on to claim that archaeologists have never found any evidence supporting the Israelites being imprisoned in Egypt, and even if they had been, modern archaeologists believe the Israelites first appeared AFTER the last pyramid was built, so they couldn’t have been involved in their construction.
I would argue, however, that the Bible’s recorded history serves as sufficient evidence for the Israelites being enslaved in Egypt because it has a reliable track record. So why do some archaeologists deny this? I’d suggest they’re looking in the wrong place and time. And maybe their anti-Bible bias serves as a real barrier to their recognition.
It has long been known that the modern archaeological ages for ancient Egypt are inflated and in need of revision. So when archaeologists consider the Israelites living in Egypt, they’re looking in the wrong time period. Other archaeologists- like A.R David- have found evidence of slaves suddenly disappearing, just as it’s recorded in the Bible. Further, I’ve outlined much of the evidence in previous articles, including the documentary, “Patterns of Evidence”. The book, Unwrapping the Pharaohs is another good source.
The bottom line is that serious anti-Biblical bias exists, and those who exhibit this want to prove the Bible wrong. Yet when the Bible is used as foundational evidence, we’re able to find lines of evidence consistent with the Bible.
I’m familiar with many archaeologists who believe the Bible is a remarkably accurate and reliable source. Let me close with this quote from Yale Professor Millar Burrows: “On the whole, however, archaeological work has unquestionably strengthened confidence in the reliability of the Scriptural record. More than one archaeologist has found his respect for the Bible increased by the experience of excavation in Palestine….Archaeology has in many cases refuted the views of modern critics. It has shown, in a number of instances, that these views rest on false assumptions and unreal, artificial schemes of historical development. This is a real contribution and not to be minimized.