First version: monday March 9th, 2009


Version Friday, July 25th, 2014

The Nile changed its bed circa 1130 BC, thus provoking the sudden abandon of the megalopolis of Pi-Ramses, and the exodus of the six hundred thousand people -without the children- that the Old Testament states.

NOTE: When transcribing Levant's names or toponyms in this text, the sign "š" is used, instead of "sh", for transcription of the hieroglyph "pool" and the arabic letter "shin", that are about homophones; the sign " c " for transcription of the hieroglyph "arm" and the arabic consonant "cayn", also considered homophones; and the apostrophe for transcription of the hieroglyph "vulture" (usually transcribed as "3") and the arabic sign "hamza", again homophones.


An event that has particularly fascinated believers and scholars has been the dramatic exodus of the Hebrew people, as Septuaginta says,

Fragmento de texto griego

(=from the land of Egypt, the house of slavery) (Deut, 5, 6). Its proposed date has been changed several times, as Egyptology and other sciences were providing objective evidence.
Objective evidence: this is what has recently emerged as a result of the work of Austrian Egyptologist Dr. Manfred Bietak.
Here I intend, most modestly (I am not archaeologist), to derive from these data, in a merely speculative way, some possible implications for the dating of the Exodus.

The number and origin of migrants

a) The number of evacuees
Egyptian Annals remain silent about it, but the Old Testament says that the crowd that came out was (Exodus, 12, 38) "a motley crowd and great herds of sheep and cows". Motley crowd means mix of ethnic groups?. Exodus, 12, 37 stands that more than 600,000 people came, "not counting the children."
Contemporary criticism does not accept this enormous figure. Nor it considers credible that such mass could survive in the desert for forty years.
We will see this later on.

b) Place of origin of the evacuees
Concerning the place of origin, again the usually meticulous Egyptian sources say nothing, but, according to the Bible, the exit of the Exodus had its origin in Pi-Ramses.

The lost City of Ramses

We know that Ramses II the Great (~1279-1213) [1] founded a new capital on the eastern shore of the "Waters of Ra" (on the map, in blue, continuous line) along the temple built in the area by Seti I, a city which received the name of Per-Ramses or, in the dialect of the time, Pi-Ramses (Domain of Ramses). He set up residence there from the 11th year of his reign (~ 1268). His successors (with exceptions, like Merenptah) held in that city the capital.

Around Pi-Ramses gradually developed a big city, which grew enormously over the years to cover 10 km along the Nile, with a width of about 3 km, giving a floor space of 3,000 Ha, the largest city in the world then, bigger than Thebes, Heliopolis, and even Babylon. The modern city of Qantir occupies the perimeter of the vast palace of Ramses, which gives an idea of its size.

The growth of the city came to encompass Tell ad-Dabca, site of the fortress-city of Avaris, the capital of the hated Hyksos. The Avaris of the Hyksos would have, according to Dr. Bietak, some 250 hectares, with room for 60,000 people. The number of inhabitants of Pi-Ramses is very difficult to ascertain, estimates varying between half a million and a million and a half.

Delta 14
The Nile Delta

It is worth to emphasize that, although during the rule of the Hyksos was accentuated the flow of Asian immigrants, this flow existed since long before [2] and continued to exist afterwards. Furthermore, the destruction of Hykso power could not lead to a mass expulsion of all Asians, but only the exile of the ruling class and the subjugation of the rest. With regard to the ethnicity of the Hyksos, the finding in Avaris of Cretan-style paintings, including scenes of taurokathapsia (ταυροκαθαψια), nothing will probe, since also the palace of Amenophis III at Malqatta was decorated by Cretan artisans, as well as the royal palace of Qatna, North of Qadeš, destroyed by the Hittites at ~1340. (16).

The Tell of the Hyena

Years ago Dr. Bietak, Director of the Institute of Egyptology of the University of Vienna and the Austrian Archaeological Institute in Cairo, published the results of his diggings at Tell ad-Dabca (Tell of the Hyena), about two kilometers south of the Qantir site, Eastern Delta. He had found a clear sequence of occupation: over the remains of the Middle Kingdom, a Semitic cultural layer associated with Palestine and Syria - traces of occupation by the Hyksos - and, after a long hiatus, a powerful reconstruction at the time of Ramses II. The news is that recent studies by magnetometer, with the decisive intervention of the German archaeologist Prof. Edgar Pusch, have allowed a glimpse of the lost city of Ramses, and surveys performed in situ have identified what was the course of the Nile at the time, thus leading to gather a data set highly relevant. (See bibliography).

The silting of the Pelusiac arm of the Nile

According to Dr. Bietak, in the XIIth century BC, the eastern arm of the Nile, called the "Waters of Ra", and then leading to the sea near the later city of Pelusium (Tell el-Farama), future key of the Eastern Delta, began to silt. Herculean efforts were made to dredge it, as evidenced by the landfills still be seen in the area, but in the end, there was no choice but to abandon the struggle: the Nile had irreversibly opened its way to the sea by a new arm, later to be called Tanite Arm (on the map, in blue, dashed).
No documents have been published so far describing these works, or alluding to their cost, which must have been gigantic. Necessarily had to affect the economic crisis that hinders much of the reigns of the XXth Dynasty.

A dramatic dilemma

Once dried the "Waters of Ra", one of two things: either changing back the course of the Nile, or changing the city. At some point it was decided to build a new capital precisely on the banks of the new main course of the Nile, later on called tanitic arm, having been built on its banks a city that in Greek would be named Tanis. In Egyptian is Djacnet. The Bible calls it Zoan. It is the enormous site of San el-Haggar, where San reminds of Zoan, and in Arabic hayyar -in Egyptian dialect haggar- means quarry.

Djacnet hieroglyph. The circle with St. Andrew's cross is the determinative of "city."

The number of evacuees and the number of exiles

We wonder whether, in view of the gigantism of the megalopolis of Pi-Ramses, its abandonment could lead to the narrative of the departure of more than 600,000 people stated in the Bible.

We should not exclude the possibility that the foundation works of Tanis were contemporary or even earlier to an abandonment of Pi-Ramses previsibly inevitable. The most remarkable monuments were transferred from the damned city to the new capital. Some, like a colossal statue of Ramses II, were found at Tanis, which complicated the first dating attempts by Pierre Montet.

More than a megalopolis of orderly growth, Pi-Ramses would have grown in its time in the way of the so-called ranchitos in Caracas, or favelasin Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo. It seems logical that the evacuees were offered a relocation within Egypt, although in such circumstances that a dissenting minority would prefer to return to the land of their ancestors. Their small number would make possible their survival in the desert.


The Bible of Jerusalem: Ramses II, the date post quem
The Bible of Jerusalem (1-b) says in his Introduction to the Pentateuch:

"The modern historian's task is to confront these data in the Bible with the general facts of history.

On the date of the Exodus, we cannot trust the indications of I-Kings 6, 1, or Judges 11, 26, which come out of secondary and artificial computational procedures. But the Bible contains a decisive indication: according to the ancient text of Ex 1, 11, Hebrews worked in the construction of the cities of deposit Ramses and Pitom.

Accordingly, the Exodus must be after the seizure of power by Ramses II, who founded the City of Ramses.

Therefore, a post quem date would be the 11th year of Ramses II (~ 1268).
Undoubtedly, the Egyptian domination over Canaan collapsed, at an unspecified date, Egypt being replaced by two entities that fought fiercely against each other: the Hebrews and the Philistines, without Egyptian intervention. We must therefore find out this unspecified date, closely linked to the end of the XXth Dynasty.


Mapa de Canaán

(See attached clarifications)

MAP: Clarifications on place names

Some place names are repeated, so we must not confuse Qadeš on the banks of the Orontes with Qadeš north of Hazor, nor Qadeš-Barnea south-west of Jerusalem, in the confines of the desert.

Let us not confuse Hazor, north of Lake Kennaret (later called "Sea" of Galilee or Lake Tiberias) which was the center of the whole surrounding kingdoms (according to the Bible, it would be taken and destroyed by Joshua), with or Gezer or Gazer, halfway between Yaffa (by the sea) and Jerusalem, which would be severely punished the ~4th year of Pharaoh Merenptah.

The name "Gilgal" (meaning cromlech, stone circle) is repeated in at least three points of Canaan. The nearest to Jericho and the Jordan -the only one outlined in the map- was a meeting place in the early days of the conquest.

In several place names the word "bet", often written "beth", in the languages of the region means house.

In several place names the word "el" or better, '" 'el ", is the name of a divinity that has been embedded in personal names as Isra'el, Isma'el, Rapha'el, Mikha'el, etc.

Spanish Mediterranean areas provide us with the word "rambla" (deriving from Arabic raml=sand), preferable to the more humid climates word "torrent" to describe various channels usually dry, very common in all the coasts of this sea. They are drawn in dashed blue line.
(END of clarifications).


Egyptian rule over the region of Canaan is very old. It collapsed a the end of the XVIIIth Dynasty, in times of Akhenaten. Horemheb tried to reset it without success.

Campaign of Sethos I

It was Sethos I, of the XIXth Dynasty, who ruthlessly reimposed it, conquering the city of Yenocam on the banks of the Jordan, on the road passing south of the Sea of Galilee, and driving from Meguiddo to Astarot, capital of the kingdom of Basan (1st year stela found at Bet-San (Tell el-Husn, Cisjordania), and bas-reliefs of the great temple of Amun at Karnak).

Campaigns of Ramses II (year 4th and year 5th)

Again Ramses II in the 4th year of his reign, had to give a "blow of authority", as reported by another stela, also found in Bet-San. He clashed with the Hittite power and intrigues, and tried to reconquer the city and the acropolis of Qadeš on the Orontes, moving there with a powerful army (5th year) consisting of four divisions, one of them called Seth, in honour of this god. The battle ended in a draw, the acropolis of Qadeš was not taken by the Egyptians, and never would be.

Campaing of Ramses II (7th year)

In his 7th year, Ramses II launched a pincer movement against the kingdom of Moab, located east of the Dead Sea. He moved up the coast to Gaza, leading then to the east, passing north of present day Jerusalem, crossing the Jordan and leaving Mount Nebo on his right, turned to the South, by Dibon, to the city of Rabat-Batora. His eldest son Amen·hir·jopšef, abandoning the "Way of Horus" (the coast road, which later on would be called "Way of the Philistines" not yet installed there) plunged eastward across the wilderness of Sinai Peninsula to reach the Rambla of Arabah. He twisted northward to converge with his father the Pharaoh and close the iron clad on Rabat-Batora, which was wiped off the map. Since then, the city of Qir-Moab appears as the capital of Moab.

Other campaigns of Ramses II against Canaan

In his 8th year he launched another campaign in Western Galilee, submitting Akko, and winning Merom and other cities. In the South he had to submit Aškelon, and excavations prove that he destroyed manu militari, then reestablished Yaffa, leaving inscriptions on the pillars that flank the gateway to the city. The papyrus Anastasi I says that the cities of Jaffa, Damascus, and Sumur were personal property of Ramses II.


The peace treaty of Ramses II with the Hittite King Hatusil

In his year 21st (~1259), after long negociations, a perpetual peace was agreed with the new Hittite King Hatusil. This one sent to Pi-Ramses the cuneiform text engraved in a silver tablet, whose centre showed the Great Seal of the Hittite State, with the god Set embracing the Great Prince of Hatti. (See (7), p. 295). Ramses II ordered a hieroglyphic version to be engraved in the walls of the great temple of Ammon in Karnak. Impressed by the veneration of the Hittite State to god Set, patron of his family, and whose name bore his predecessor Sethos I, he considered pertinent to change once more the name of the Egyptian crown prince: Amen·hir·jopšef became Seth·hir·jopšef, and immediately communicated it to his Hittite "father", King Hatusil.

The stele of year 400

At a moment after year 34th of Ramses II (after ~1245) a polemic stele was sculpted dated as never seen before (Since the Ist Dynasty, the dating restarted since the beginning of each reign). Erik Hornung opines (Der Eine und die Vielen. Ägyptische Gottesvorstellungen, Darmstadt, 1990; English translation: Conceptions of God in Ancient Egypt: The One and the Many; Cornell University Press, 1996):
«The date of the famous stele of year 400, that Ramses II planted in his new capital city [Pi-Ramses, the City of Ramses] in the honour of god Seth, contains a visible and constatable accumulation of the number four. Maybe his theologists intended to allude, with this fictitious date, once more, to Seth as the fourth god associated to the triad [Ammon, Ra, Ptah]?».
So says the said stele:
«...In the year 400, in the IVth month of Šemu (Summer), in the IVth day, the King of Upper and Lower Egypt Sethos Great-in-Victories, son of Ra, beloved of Nebty, etc...». The stele was discovered in 1863 by Auguste Mariette in Tanis, from where ruled the Pharaohs of the XXIst Dynasty; later forgotten, it was rediscovered by the also Frenchman Pierre Montet (1931), stating that it was transported to Tanis coming, as so many other monuments, from the abandoned Pi-Ramses. At its head, an effigy of Ramses II offers wine to the god Seth-Baal, to his left. This quasi-œcumenical version of Seth [3 bis], Egyptian god venerated since the Ist Dynasty, identifies it with the Canaanite Baal. It also establishes him as remote predecessor of Sethos I, father of Ramses II, and son of the founder of the XIXth Dynasty, going back 400 years and evoking, according to some, nothing less than the invasion of the Hyksos. (See (7), pp. 385-387 of the Spanish translation). Another indication, and indeed an evident one, of the complicity that Ramses always liked to show towards its Asiatic subjects, complicity that makes very improbable indeed that he ever adopted against them repressive measures of the kind adopted, and with very sound reasons, by Ramses III, as we shall see.


Campaign of Merenptah (4th year?) against Canaan

Merenptah, like his father and grandfather, had to re-impose its authority in Canaan by the force of arms. The Victory Stele says he subdued the cities of Aškelon and Gezer (which are clearly identified) and claims to have "left no seed" ("eradicated?) to YiSRRi3R. Although most analysts are inclined to identify these people with Israel, it is not impossible, in view of the enclosed map, that it relates simply to have devastated the crops of the Yizre'el plain, like others are saying. In the North he swept the city of Yenocam, which had been submitted by Seti I, but had rebelled. Around the plateau above Yizre'el, the map shows two place names with the same termination that Yenocam: Yoqnecam, and Iblecam. The Egyptians should have done a thorough job in Yenocam, wiping it out, because it still is not clear if the city lies at Tell el-Nacam or Tell el-cAbidiyah.


Sethos II (~ 1201-1195), Siptah (~ 1195-1189) and Tawsret (~1189-1187)/p>

Again a Pharaoh of this XIXth Dynasty chooses the name of Sethos, the god of its subjects of Asiatic origin.

Coloso de Seti II
Colossus of Sethos II in display at the Museo Egizio of Turin, Italy

As for the Egyptian rule in Bet-San during the first and last of these kingdoms (whose "cartouches" were found there), it is witnessed in Level VII, which shows a Canaanite city with Egyptian garrison. The full biography of anti-pharaoh Amenmose (~ 1200-1196) remains obscure. The same happens with an intriguing character of Khacru (Syrian-Canaanite) origin, which boasted himself of having installed Siptah on the throne of his father, and that held all the power of the state during this reign and, perhaps, the following on: Chancellor Bay, of such significance that he got his own tomb in the Valley of the Kings.


At this point, the Egyptian historian Manethon inserts a change of Dynasty. A new Pharaoh -named Seth·nakht, in honour of god Seth- faces succesfully a crisis from which we ignore much, and after two years he hands over the power to his son. This one adopts the prestigious name of Ramses, modernly designated as Ramses III.

Ramses III (~ 1185-1153)

In Cisjordania, in Bet-San, was found the statue of Ramses III, whose photo is enclosed.

Estatua de Ramsés 3
Statue of Ramses III unearthed at Bet-San (Tell el-Husn)

In Transjordania two sites have been studied, very important indeed for dating the end of Egyptian rule in the region: Tell es-Sacidiya (See Appendix 2) and Deir cAlla.

At Tell es-Sacidiya, near the Jordan, has been excavated and studied an Egyptian military post of the time of Ramses III. Just south, in Deir cAlla (Upper Monastery) in the right bank of river Yabbok, a tributary of the Jordan, are dated two attempts of reconstruction by Ramses III, followed by fires. On the death of Ramses III (~ 1153 BC) it is reoccupied with ceramic so-called "Philistine."
Ramses III in Canaan also built temples for the worship of the Canaanite gods, witnessing the Egyptian control of both banks of the Jordan at the time. Papyrus Harris provides an overview of this long reign (31 years), written apparently for the coronation of Ramses IV, but it reviews no evidence of significant developments, as no doubt would have been the collapse of Egyptian power in Canaan.
However, the major event of this reign was the rejection of the invasion of "Sea Peoples".

Invasion of the Sea Peoples: ~1177

One of the cascading consequences of the Trojan War was the great invasion of the so-called "Sea Peoples", which modern criticism tends to regard migrants or refugees fleeing the wave of destruction. Some groups moved in chariots pulled by oxen, others used boats. The destruction is evident throughout the Levante coast, from Ugarit and Alalakh in the north to Jaffa, Ašdod, and Aškelon to the south. But it is not detected at Byblos or Sidon, anomaly explained assuming that these maritime cities contributed their boats to the invading coalition. Since then, disappear the words "Canaan" and "Canaanites", replaced by Peleset, or its variants "Philistines" or "Palestinians."

Where Troy was defeated, and where the Hittite empire collapsed, Egypt managed to stand: the temple of millions of years of Ramses III (~ 1185-1153) and of the XXth Dynasty, praised in its magnificent bas-reliefs the glorious triumph of this Pharaoh to stop this sea-land invasion, which occurred the 8ht year of his reign (~ 1177).

The Peleset captured by Ramses III were marked with the name of the pharaoh and enrolled in the Egyptian army: "... I established them in the fortified places ... I assigned them rations and clothing of the treasures and granaries each year ...".

Cartucho de Ramsés 3
"Cartouches" with the royal names of Ramses III.
First "cartouche": User·macat·ra Meri·amon (see Appendix 3),
and second "cartouche": Ramses Hika·iunu.

If, when the Exodus occurred the Philistines were not yet installed in Canaan, year ~ 1177 would be date ante quem. But as the group of invasion led by Moses did a detour via the south of the Dead Sea, and attacked from Transjordania, nothing prevents that the coast were already at that time in the hands of the Philistines.

The question is when they became independent, for initially they would be mere fœderati of the Pharaoh (formula later used under the Roman Empire with the Wisigoths and other peoples). As we have seen, the power of Ramses III on both sides of the Jordan is proved, and also archaeological remains testifying to the Egyptian presence in Palestine during subsequent reigns were found.

In short, the collapse of Egyptian power on Canaan had to occur during the reign of Pharaoh Ramses N, where N> 4. And it would give us a date post quem for the Exodus, as the Bible does not mention fighting against Egypt during the Hebrew occupation of Canaan.


Returning to the Delta, if the abandonment of Pi-Ramses, so sudden as the one of New Orleans in 2005, and like New Orleans, imposed by uncontrolled waters, coincided with the biblic Exodus, indeed it would have been a major event in the history of Egypt! In addition, if so, it would finally provide the date of the Exodus, which so much ink has spilled so far in vain.

The socio-political implications of the abandonment of Pi-Ramses, not to mention the economic, had to be huge, even for the unbridled pharaonic power. Just compare the economic and political cost today in a great country like the USA of the evacuation of the city of New Orleans, flooded suddenly as a result of a hurricane. New Orleans was reoccupied once the dikes repaired. But we know several examples of definitive abandonment of Mesopotamian cities, once the Euphrates changed its course. For instance, the very old city of Nippur -a couple of millenia older than the Ist Dynastie of Egypt-, city whose main temple was dedicated to the Sumerian god Enlil, besides an arm of the Euphrates today dry called Shatt en-Nil, abandon doubtlessly related to the drying of said arm.

Egyptian sources do not directly and clearly inform us how was managed the thorny issue of relocatiing the inhabitants of the desolate megalopolis of Pi-Ramses. But there are very clear indirect evidences.

The year 1130 that seems to have marked the end of the City of Ramses coincide (as the most probable dating) with the 3rd year of the reign of Ramses VII (~ 1133-1125) or the 7th year -and probably the last one-, if the dating was ~ 1137 to 1130.
In any case, between 40 and 50 years after the invasion of the Philistines (~1177), and their installation in what was to be known as the Philistine Pentapolis, which covered the South of Canaan.

The proposed identification of Merenptah or Ramses II as pharaohs of Exodus decayed with the finding of their mummies, now visitable in a special hall of the Egyptian Museum of Cairo. Even when the Old Testament asserts that the egyptian army perished at the Reeds "sea", it does not say explicitly that the Pharao did; if we nevertheless look for a Pharaoh whose mummy is lost, all the mummies from the XXth Dinasty are conserved, but two: the one of Ramses VII and the one of Ramses VIII.

What we know about Ramses VII -that he survived his firstborn son, and that his mummy has not been found so far - (See Appendix 3), and of Ramses VIII -whose burial place, if any, is unknown- does not contradict the story of the Pentateuch.


It is important to note that deltas vary so quickly - quickly on a geological scale-, that the map of the Nile Delta during the XXth Dynasty would certainly be very different from today. Let us consider this in more detail.

Fluvial dynamics and coastal dynamics

Modern coastal engineering has achieved significant progress in both fluvial dynamics and coastal dynamics. Work could be done to reconstruct the map of the Nile delta over the millennia, in the light of these two phenomena:

a) Fluvial dynamics
As we know in Aragon, where I write, river Ebro in the flat region 100 km upstream and downstream the city of Saragossa, snakes down, literally: it changes its course, it strangles meanders, leaving residual semi-lunar lakes called galachos, whose destiny is to dry up. The Nile is behaving the same way in the plains of its Delta. In both rivers and in any others of the Planet: the Garonne, the Mississippi, the river Meander (Turkey), who named the phenomenon, etc., we can glimpse through aerial photography the constant variations of their channels in plane areas, where they form meanders. Events of sudden channel changes often occur as a result of severe flooding, a yearly event in the Nile, and irregular in time in other rivers (Ebro, Indus, Yellow River, etc.). The arms and the mouths of the Nile have continued to alter its course over the centuries.

b) Coastal dynamics
Depending on whether or not there are tides, as well as the angle of incidence of the dominant waves, the rushing of the rivers develop deltas (such as the Nile and the Ebro), arrows (such as the one of Huelva), lagoons (called "albuferas" in Spain, "albufeiras" in Portugal, "estanys" or "étangs" in Languedoc), raffles (as in Peñíscola and Gibraltar), or other coastal formations.
The Nile, the largest river in the Mediterranean, a sea without tides, which developed a Delta where thousands of years earlier there had been an estuary, has been generating a string of "albuferas", whose destiny is to silt in, giving way to a second string of "albuferas", and so on -ainsi de suite.

Earthquakes, tsunamis, and subsidence of seabed

Furthermore, eastern Mediterranean is an area of high seismic instability, where also many earthquakes generate tsunamis. The contemporary Greek seismologists have documented dozens of tsunamis only since the early XIXth century [3]. The god Poseidon, "which removes the Earth," embodies the impact that these phenomena caused in the psyche of ancient Greeks. Later on, the Roman historian Ammianus Marcellinus documented the terrible tsunami of July 21st, 365, which swept the coast of Alexandria and its region. Still in the VIth century, Alexandria was commemorating the "Day of the Horror." Recent underwater discoveries off the city have found the remains of the Hellenistic Portus Magnus to about 6 m deep. Close by, the entire eastern part of the bay of Aboukir sank beneath the sea in shallow waters, apparently in the second half of the VIIIth century AD. Beneath the waves have been found the remains of the cities of Canopus and Thonis, and the great temple of Herakleon, along with the former Canopic mouth of the Nile (10).

All the above evidence proves that a tsunami could easily swallow an army running along the coasts of the Delta or surrounding areas.

In addition, the slow subsidence of the seabed in this region seems to indicate a general tilting of the delta, which for centuries has been turning around a north-south axis, and counterclockwise, slowly moving the mouths of the Nile from East to West. Taking advantage that no country in the world has preserved such a long and detailed sequence data on flooding as Egypt (for example, in the famous Palermo Stone), we can investigate, to better understand the events we are studying, the map of Delta those old days. From current Delta (whose contours are drawn in green on the attached map, as well as the two existing arms of the Nile, several "albuferas", and the Suez Canal), we can deduce, with the help of satellite photographs, a first approximation to the shape of the Delta at that distant time, more than three thousand years ago.


Preceded the Exodus of the so-called Ten Plagues of Egypt, let's comment some aspects of this traumatic process.

First Plague: water turns into blood. The blood of the Burgundians.

As mentioned ut supra (§ Fluvial dynamics), changes in the bed of the rivers use to happen during floods, becoming visible at the end of these. In other words, when the waters of the Nile descended at the end of Akhet year 1130, it became obvious that the Waters of Ra, once navigable, had become a rosary of decreasing putrid pools, with adequate conditions for the development of the toxic alga Oscillatoria rubescens, that reddens the waters and kills fishes. This event is well known in Europe since 1825, when the waters of lake Morat (in German Murtensee) became red (14 bis), [5 bis], and the fishermen told that it was "the blood of the Burgundians" that came up from the bottom. In the memory of these people still lived the bloody battle of Morat in which, on June 21st 1476, the Swiss annihilated besides the lake the army of Charles the Bold, Duke of Burgundy. Such are the words of Philippe de Commynes, counselor of the King of France, in his Mémoires: «Le seigneur de Contay, qui arriva vers le roy, tost après la bataille, confessa au roy, moy présent, qu'en ladite bataille estoient morts huit mil hommes du parti dudit duc...» (14 ter, p. 353). (The lord of Contay, that arrived towards the King [Louis XI of France, nicknamed The Universal Spider] soon after the battle, confessed to the King, I being present, that in that battle were dead eight thousand men of the party of the said Duke [of Burgundy]...).

Following Plagues and duration of the process

From the red, toxic waters of the Nile first should flie the frogs (Second Plague), that did not devour any more the larvae of mosquitos (Third Plague) and other insects (Fourth Plague). Its proliferation should cause the ulcers, and these, at its turn, the death of cattle (Fifth Plague) and of many people, maybe by anthrax (Sixth Plague), thus establishing a chain of Plages, one after the other. Naturally, hail, locusts and darkness were due to different causes [7].

Let us now see how much could have lasted all this ordeal.
We know that between the First and Second Plague seven days were spent. Accepting the words of the Pentateuch after the Seventh Plague, hail: "It was destroyed the flax and barley, because barley was already in the stem and flax in flower, but wheat and buckwheat were not destroyed, by being late" (Ex. 9, 31-32) we can find the period of the year in what the Plague happened. Since in Egypt flax blooms in late January, the barley begins to ripen in late February, and wheat ripes in late March or early April, the Seventh Plague, hail, must have happened between mid-January and mid-February.

According to sources, between the Seventh and the Tenth Plague elapsed one month and a half or two months, and probably will not have elapsed a much longer period between the First and Seventh Plague.

In short, biblical exegetes believe that the process of the Ten Plagues would have lasted at most three to four months, from mid-November to late March. This is about to say that the Plagues started shortly after the end of Akhet season, and that they lasted most of Peret season [6].

After all this sequence of catastrophies along Peret, Šemu arrived, drying the wells and forcing the quick way out of all the population of the enormous Pi-Ramses, pressured by thirst.


On leaving in pursuit of the Hebrews, "Pharaoh," whoever it was, "took six hundred chosen chariots, and all the chariots of Egypt, each car with three warriors" (Ex, 14, 7) [KJV and (1-a)]. This is a very interesting detail, because the Egyptian chariot (at least in the battle of Qadeš against the Hittites, in the 5th year of Rameses II) had a staff of two warriors: the charioteer, who held the reins, and the warrior itself said, and not three. In the bas-reliefs of the great temple of Amun at Karnak depicting the battle, repeatedly published [see eg., pp. 179, (7), Spanish translation], it is easy to distinguish the Hittite chariots, with a provision of three warriors, from the chariots of the Egyptians, with two warriors only.

So, one of two things: either the text of Exodus tells us badly, or indeed the Egyptian war chariot at the time of the Exodus had a staff of three fighters. It is not impossible that the inglorious role played by the Egyptians in the aforementioned battle induced a subsequent change in the allocation of the cars, imitating the Hittite design, proven more effective. Precisely, details irrelevant for the story such as this one, are who deserve more faith in traditions past. It is high likely that each car in the Exodus had just three warriors, and not one, nor two, nor four. Why would they invent this irrelevant detail? The Septuaginta translators wrote, in that verse 7 of chapter 14:

Fragmento de texto griego
(And he took six hundred chosen chariots
and all the horses/cars of the Egyptians
and three warriors on all [of them]).

       The above proves that the Exodus could not have happened before the battle of Qadeš (5th year of Ramses II), nor before the date on which Egypt increased from two to three warriors the manning of each chariot. This would set a date of Exodus even more recent. Let Egyptologists find out that date, and we will have one more benchmark.

Ramses III, oppressor of Bedouins

On the other hand, Dr. Bietak has published in (15) an extremely acute observation that had gone unnoticed to the diggers themselves: two "four rooms" reeds-made huts, whose sculpted shallow foundations on the rock were found on the west bank of Thebes (most Israeli experts believe this type of "four rooms houses" are typical of Israelis), were inhabited by Israeli workers, perhaps slaves. Their task: the demolition of the temple of millions of years of Ay and his successor Horemheb, most likely ordered by Ramses IV (~1153-1146). The slavery of these individuals [4] would be documented in the Great Papyrus Harris, where Ramses III, after boasting of his victory over the Sea Peoples, added: "... I destroyed the people of Seir among the Bedouin (Šosu) tribes; I devastated their stores, their people, their property, and their cattle, in no given number, I immobilized them and brought them into captivity, as the tribute of Egypt. I gave them to the Ennead of gods as slaves for their houses (temples)." (Quote from (15)).

Accordingly, we can expect to find more huts of this kind in different parts of Egypt. Therefore, Ramses III may have been the oppressor Pharaoh mentioned in the book of Exodus. When a power is at war with another ethnic group, it tends to distrust those living in their territory belonging to that ethnic group. There are recent cases.


All the above mentioned allows us to suggest the possibility of a late dating of the Exodus, so considering that Psalm 78 (verse 12) gives the stormy interviews between Moses and the nameless Pharaoh, just in the city of Djacnet / Zoan / Tanis, whose construction may have begun. Although strictly speaking, this data only proves one thing: that the received text was written after the founding of Tanis, this Psalm nevertheless suggests a late Exodus.

The precise date would be much more difficult to determine, since construction of the new capital, and transfer to it of the great stone monuments of Pi-Ramses, would be delayed for several decades. In effect, the formal establishment of Tanis as the new capital took place during the long reign of Ramses XI (~ 1094-1064), specifically in year 19th (~ 1075), ie. about 55 years after the abandonment of Pi-Ramses.

Ramses XI, with his long reign of 30 years, was the last monarch of the XXth Dynasty. In its 19th year, in addition to the installation of the court in the new capital of Tanis, Egypt was officially established in the era of wehem mesut, literally, "repetition of births" or, if preferred, Renaissance era.

But this is a separate issue that I shall, perhaps, try later. END.


The "Victory Stele" of Merenptah (~ 1208) date ante quem?

In the 5th year of the reign of Merenptah (~ 1213-1203), 13th son and successor of Ramses II the Great, Egypt rejected an invading coalition formed by two Libyan tribes allied to Luka, Šarden, Akiwaša, Šekleš and Turša; in total, seven allies. The Egyptian victory was commemorated in the granite stela

Cartuchos de Merenptah
Royal "cartouches" of Pharaoh Merenptah. First "cartouche": Ba·en·ra Meri·amon;
second "cartouche ": Meren·ptah Hotep·hir·macat

whose photo has been published in (12), found at Thebes in 1896. Although the data in a whole are of great interest, they are skirted here to focus on his last line, referring to Asia, which Egyptologists translated: "... Every evil afflicts Canaan, Aškelon is deported, Gazer is conquered, Yenocam is no more there, Israel is wasted, with no seed, Khacru has become Egypt's widow ...". The text in italics is read in the before-last line of the stela. Aškelon, Gezer and Yenocam were Canaanite cities (see map). Khacru designates the Syro-Palestinian region.

Therefore, the year ~1208 had Israelites in Canaan, ergo the Exodus would have been prior to that date. But in reality, the text does not necessarily proves that finding. In fact:


Hieroglyphic script wrote only the consonants, and to some words it used to postpone an additional sign not to be read, but whose function was to clarify the meaning of the preceding word. This sign is called a determinative. Thus, the word "MR" (pyramid), was followed by the schematic drawing of a pyramid. Well, in the stela, which is read from right to left, the determinative following the word YiSRRI3R (where the transcription of the hieroglyphic sign 3 "vulture" represents a consonant sound that does not exist in Indo-European languages, similar to that shown by the Arabic sign "hamza") included, on three vertical lines (the Egyptian plural), a man and a woman. It would, therefore, be about people, not about a nation or a city.


Some Egyptologists are inclined to locate this YiSRRI3R, identifiable with Israel according to most experts, in the interior of Canaan.


Two Biblical references include the name of pharaoh Merenptah. They cite both a source located northwest of Jerusalem, called the source of "Neptoah" or "Mineptah" (Joshua 15, 9 and 18,15). Archaeology has proven that in times of Merenptah resided there an Egyptian garrison. The existence of the locality and of the garrison seem to prove the Egyptian control of the territory during this reign.

Fourth: The rule of Ramses III in Transjordania and in Northern Cisjordania

The site of Tell es-Sacidiya later commented, and the statue of Ramses III found at Bet-San (Tell el-Husn), prove Egyptian control of both banks of the Jordan under this pharaoh, which invalidates Merenptah arguments about forty years earlier.


The literality of the text describes (in its harsher interpretation) the extermination of a proto-Israel executed by a Merenptah quite inflexible: other documents claim that the battle against the invading Libyans and their allies left 6,000 dead and 9,000 enemy prisoners. At the foot of the window of his palace at Menphis were deposited the hands and the genitals of the dead enemies, as proof of victory. The prisoners would be executed until the last, and executed -cruelty never seen before or since in Egypt-, by impalement. Would the Holy Qur'an (38,12 and 89,10) allude to it when writing Pharaoh "of the stakes" (in Arabic, du-l-awtad)?

But if we do not accept that interpretation of the stela's text, but the more likely that the tribe was severely hit but survived, it might well be assumed that one or more groups that later left Egypt were associated with the remnants of that tribe and other tribes already settled Canaan. All of them, twelve in number, would have made what in Greek world was called an "amphictyony" or alliance made sacred before a deity in his sanctuary. Thus, according to Joshua, 24, the Alliance of the Twelve Tribes would have been solemnized in the assembly of Šechem, on the basis of the Ten Commandments written by Moses. To commemorate the Alliance, Joshua stood there a large stone. And the first sanctuary -in the Tent of Meeting- was installed (Joshua 18, 1) - at Siloh (today Seilun, some 20 km south of Nablus).

For all the foregoing, the Merenptah stela does not prove that ~1208 is date ante quem for the biblical Exodus.


The question marks of Tell es-Sacidiya

This source of Transjordania, in the current Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, involves, in our opinion, a great interest for the topic under study: the dating of the Exodus.


It is located (see map) halfway between Lake Tiberias and the Dead Sea, within walking distance of river Jordan, and has its own source of drinking water. The tell is located between two tributaries of the Jordan River: Yarnak to the North and Yabbok to the South, which limit the land of Gilead, which was won by the very Moses in person, assigning it to a half tribe of Manasseh.

The data

He was surveyed in 1942 by N. Glueck. The war situation in the region prevented further work until twenty years later. Between 1964 and 1966 excavated there James Pritchard, from the University of Pennsylvania (USA), which cleared the spring and the pool. After a new nineteen-year hiatus, Jonathan Tubb, from the British Museum, resumed field work, which found no treasure, but something much more valuable: that in Stratum XII, the area was controlled by the Pharaohs of the XXth Dynasty (founded by Setnakht, it also includes the Pharaohs from Ramses III onwards: Ramses IV, V, and so on until Ramses XI, with whom, as is well known, the cited Dynasty was extinct). In addition to a wall, a palace complex has been excavated, as well as a large house, all around the significant water infrastructure referred to above. In the cemetery have been open more than four hundred tombs, most of which are completely Egyptian, with many bodies wrapped in linen bandages. Burials have also been found that could indicate the presence there of the "Sea Peoples." View (13) for details.
The complex was destroyed by iron and fire at the end of s. XII BC.


Archaeology must clarify the meaning of the Egyptian presence at Tell es-Sacidiya in this historic moment, presence always valuable when establishing dates. Because it is noticeable whether Egyptian rule would have been there before the Exodus, and the destruction of Egyptian Tell es-Sacidiya a result of it.


Ramses VII (~ 1133-1125)
Given the possibility that Pharaoh Ramses VII were the Exodus' Pharaoh, we collect in these notes what we could find about him.

He was the sixth Pharaoh of the XXth Dynasty. His rule might not have lasted over 7 years. Other dating for his reign is ~1138-1131. Its original name was not Ramses, but he adopted it in the act of his enthronement.

Quo nomine vis vocari? (By what name do you want to be called?) asks the cardinal chamberlain to the pope elected by the Sacred College. Pharaoh also, at his enthronement (and, sometimes, in significant occasions), adopted a new name. As these titles used to condense his "government program", let us see what names adopted the seventh of the Ramses the day of his inauguration:
He chose as name of "Nesu Bity" (traditionally translated as "king of Upper and Lower Egypt", the term is given now a more subtle meaning, but always dual: Nesu would indicate the divine and immortal Pharaoh, while Bity would indicate the human and mortal Pharaoh) the first of these two "cartouches":

Cartuchos de Ramsés 7

Anyone versed in hieroglyphs will read effortlessly in the one at the left User·Macat·ra Setep·en·ra ("Powerful is the righteousness (Macat) of Ra, Chosen of Ra"), identical - in its first half - to that of Ramses III, which imitated in that to Ramses II. This equality of titles suggests that - as did Ramses III - he chosed as political model Ramses the Great, referring to Ra's righteousness rather than to his mercy. Just as Amon was the god of Thebes, and in general, of Southern Egypt, the god of the North was Ra. In addition, the Egyptians designated as "Waters of Ra" the pelusiac arm of the Nile, at whose shores had Ramses II built his new capital city.

He chose as name of "Sa-Ra" (second cartouche, on the right) that of Ramses Itef·amon Neter·hika·iunu, which informs us that wanted to be considered "Ramses descendant of Amun, ruler of the god of Iunu." The city of Iunu, in Greek Heliopolis, in the Bible is On, and it was the Delta city which hold the main sanctuary of Ra.

The power of Ramses VII would be effective in the Delta, and little more than theoretical in the South, because we know that the lands of Amun made to this god and his priests, extremely rich and powerful. An asymmetric situation with the diminished power of the Crown, which would undoubtedly be a source of tensions of all kinds.

He chose as "Nebty" name (cartouche ommitted) that of Me·kemet Wefja·sety ("Protector of Egypt, feared by foreigners"), which seems to imply a strong line of reaction against a foreign threat, but which one?

Estatua de un presunto retrato de Ramsés 7
(Statue of Ramses VII - presumed portrait)

If the premature death of the firstborn, which broke once again the line of succession (as had happened to Ramses II -twelve times-, Seti II, Ramses III and Ramses V, among others), would have constituted an additional source of concern for the Pharaoh, it would have been with much reason, as he would eventually be succeeded by his uncle, Ramses VIII.

The tomb of Ramses VII

The most important monument of this king is his grave, known as KV1 in the Valley of the Kings. It is a modest tomb that has been open for centuries (it contains graffiti in Greek and Latin).

KV1 is too far from the bulk of the graves of the Valley of the Kings, in a sub-valley known simply as the valley of the Tomb of Ramses VII. This isolation has resulted in not being popular among tourists. The royal grave closer to it, in a southerly direction, is KV2. Its design, featuring a straight axis, is oriented in a northwesterly direction, and is very simple: an entrance ramp, a corridor, and the burial chamber itself. Further on, it can be guessed the beginning of a second chamber, which was unfinished, probably due to the unexpected death of the king. The coffin had to be placed in the chamber, enlarged for the occasion. The second room, just outlined, was used to house the canopic vessels of the deceased.

It is anomalous that his tomb at Thebes remained unfinished the 7 th year of the reign, when it was common for pharaoh's tombs to be finished the second year of his ascension to the throne. This fact, coupled with the "strike" of workers that describes the Turin papyrus, confirms the existence of so serious economic difficulties, that they came to affect a privileged group, as were the workers of the royal tombs of Thebes. Egyptology reports that the shortage of wheat resulted in tripling its price in this reign.

Excavation of KV1

The first excavation was conducted in 1906 by Edward Ayrton. Although we knew that previous visits had cataloged and studied this grave beforehands, Ayrton's expedition was in charge of reopening and cleaning the site.

Only under the leadership of Edwin Brock, from the Museum of Ontario , was conducted a larger study, completed with the adequation of the tomb for beeing open to the public.


As foreseen (KV1 was used for many years by Coptic monks and hermits), there were not found many objects in the tomb: Only some ušebtis, the remains of amphorae or ostraka, belonging to different periods. The grave is merely carved in the floor stone and covered with a slab, which was been broken by one side to reach the mummy and the riches that she would hide. This massive lid is decorated with figures of Isis, Nephthys, Serket and the four sons of Horus.

The mummy of the King

No one knows the circumstances of his death, nor his mummy has been found to date, although there were four faience vessels with the king's name in the cache near DB320, in Deir el-Bahari, which may suggest that the his is one of the unidentified bodies found in that cache.


None of this information is repugnant to what the Bible assigns to the Pharaoh of the Exodus and his environment.


(1) Biblia de Jerusalén; (1-a) 1st edition in Spanish (nihil obstat of 1966), translated having present the French text fixed by the École Biblique de Jérusalem; Editorial Desclée de Brouwer, Brussels;
(1-b) 2nd edition in Spanish (nihil obstat of 1975), Éditions du Cerf, Paris, 1973; there is no mention here of the number of warriors over the chariot.

(2) Ur, by Sir Leonard Woolley, Collection The King Penguin Books, Edited by Penguin Books. Ltd.; London, 1946.

(3) Y la Biblia tenía razón, por Werner Keller; Ediciones Omega, 9ª edición; Barcelona 1961.

(4) Archaelogy of the Bible Lands, by Magnus Magnusson; editor: The Bodley Head Ltd.; London 1977.

(5) The Exodus Enigma, by Ian Wilson; editor: Wiedenfeld & Nicholson; London, 1985.

(6) Avaris, the capital of the Hyksos, by Dr. Manfred Bietak; editor: The British Museum Press; London 1996.

(7) Ramsés II: la véritable histoire, by Christiane Desroches Noblecourt; Éditions Pygmalion; Paris 1996.

(8) Ägypten und Levante, by Dr. Manfred Bietak; (in German); editor: International Journal for Egyptian Archaelogy; Viena, 1999.

(9) Kenneth Kitchen is author of many publications (see Internet); among them: The reliability of the Old Testament; editor: William Eerdmans Publishing Co., Grand Rapids, Michigan, USA.

(10) Tesoros sumergidos de Egipto, catalog of the great exhibition (Madrid, 2008). Edites Franck Goddio, with David Fabre.

(11) The Hieroglyphs of Ancient Egypt, by Aidan Dodson; editor: New Holland Publishers, Ltd

(12) The Seventy Great Mysteries of Ancient Egypt, by Bill Manley; editor: Thames & Hudson Ltd., London, 2003.

(13) Archaeological Encyclopaedia of the Holy Land, entry " SAIDIYEH (TEL ES-)".

(14) Arqueología de la Biblia, by James Hoffmeier; editor: SAN PABLO; Madrid, 2008.

(14 bis) "Oscillatoria rubescens", D.C. as an indicator of Lago Maggiore Eutrophication, by O. Ravera & R. A. Vollenweider; contribution Nº. 395 to the Euratom Biology Division; manuscrip received in 1968.

(14 ter) «Mémoires sur Louis XI», by Philippe de Commynes; edition prepared by Jean Dufournet; Editorial Gallimard, Collection Folio; 1979.

(15) Israelites Found in Egypt, by Dr. Manfred Bietak; Spanish translation by Ana Quesada; and An Iron-Age Four-Room House in Ramesside Egypt, Eretz-Israel, 22 (1999), pp. 10-12.

(16) Qatna, el enigma de la ciudad perdida; Revista Geo, nº 283, August 2010, pp. 49-72.



[1] Critics have set the chronology of the Nineteenth Dynasty in doubt for a few years. Although the aforementioned Introduction to the Pentateuch accepts the years 1290-1224 BC for the start-end of the reign of Ramses II the Great, we preferred the low dating: 1279-1213. For the Twentieth Dynasty, the most modern chronology of the recent work (11) by Aidan Dodson.

[2] Upon discovering and excavating the city-state of Ebla in the Syrian region of Aleppo, a rich library of clay tablets was found. Several artifacts, including an alabaster vase with the name of Pharaoh Pepi I (Sixth Dynasty), allow to date Ebla from s. XXVII BC. Kings were elected for periods of seven years. But one of them, named Ebrum, was king (according to Pettinato, but not by other researchers) for twenty-seven years, then retired from politics and lead a religious reformation. Could this Ebrum be identified with the figure of Abram who, according to the Bible, changed his name into Abraham? (~1850 BC).

[3] According to Galanopoulos (1960), between 1801 and 1958 were recorded in Eastern Mediterranean as many as 482 earthquakes of intensity greater than six, of which 170 of intensity equal to or greater than 7. Twenty of them generated tsunamis, where 6 of them catastrophic. According to Pararas-Carayannis (1973), earthquakes and tsunamis have hit the continental and insular Greece since ancient times, causing catastrophic damage to the Minoan world and other ancient settlements. Many of these phenomena affected the Egyptian coast.

[3 bis] In the temple of Abou Simbel we can see a bas-relief of Ramses II protected by the god Seth to the left and the god Horus to the right. Being both gods mithological enemies, Ramses pretends to project a message of unification and consensus. The god Seth was represented in papyri and bas-reliefs with human body and the peculiar head of the "Seth animal", of uncertain nature. I am inclined in favor of the aardvark (scientific name Orycteropus afer, from Greek ορυκτηρ, digger; and πους, feet; and from Latin afer, African), placentary mammal exclusively African, of ~1,30 m long, tail included, with pig-like snout, donkey-like ears, 4 strong claws in his forelegs and 5 in his hind legs, and kangaroo-like tail. Strange animal, indeed. Brown in its top and reddish in its low, it has nocturnal habits, digging labyrinthine burrows with several entrances for protection and mating. Though its food is almost exclusively termites and ants, it has several molars. Nocturnal and shy, it therefore is rarely visible. Its habitat includes all the African continent south of parallel 20º North ( which in the Nile means the 3rd Cataract), except Gabon, Rio Muni and surrounding countries. In Egypt does not exist today, but may have existed in Pharaonic times.

[4] Experts affirm that there was no slavery in Egypt in the Greco-Roman sense of the term, "slave" for life and hereditary (in Greek, doulos), on which the master had the right to life and death, and who could buy or sell them. The Egyptian language lacked even a word to designate this odious concept. Egyptians used the words, "hem" or "bak" to designate workers or state officials, even of the highest ranking. Even the Wazir, head of all of them, was considered "bak" of the Pharaoh.

[5] Avaris is the Greek version of Egyptian Hat waret, where both "t" were deaf, thus giving Hawara. There is a Hawara in El Fayum (Egypt) and, also, Fabara (Aragon, Spain), Favara (Valencia, Spain,) and Favara (near Agrigento, Sicily, Italy).

[5 bis] According to (14 bis), Oscillatoria rubescens is known to occur in many other eutrophicated European, American and Japanese lakes and reservoirs. That would also be the case of the beautiful Hutt Lagoon, Western Australia. The spectacular «Blood Falls» in Antarctis (77º 43' S, 162º 16' E) would merely be iron oxide.

[6] It is anachronistic, quite obviously, to use Gregorian calendar to define the period of the year of beginning and end of the Ten Plagues. It happens, nevertheless, that Julian calendar, from which ours is mere retouch, is basically the Egyptian pharaonic calendar. It divided the year in twelve months of 30 days each, comprising three seasons of four months each: The first season, Akhet ("flood"), started end of June-begining of July; the second season was Peret ("exit", of the lands out of the water); and the last one was Shemu ("summer", that is, water shortage), thus closing the year. Each month had three weeks of ten days. To these 360 days, 5 epagomenous days were added. This was equivalent to compute years of 365 days, while in reality the tropic year of our Planet lasts 365,2422 days. Such computing incurred in an error of 0,2422 days per year. The temple of Ra in Heliopolis was in charge of observing the heliacal rising of the star Sothis, today called Sirius, rising that initially coincided with the beginning of Ajet. Between two consecutive heliacal risings a sidereal year of 365,25636 days elapses.

[7] It is worth noting, nevertheless, that no mice Plague was mentioned, even in a cerealistic land, due indeed to the efficacity of egyptian cats, which maintained under control in these difficult circumstances the population of little rodents. Cat was a sacred animal in Egypt, under the protection of goddess Baset o Bst. Yet today, many of us still call our cats with the customary "bs, bs, bs", thus invoking, without knowing it, the said goddess.

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