Exodus: A Book of Memories. By Ronald S. Hendel. Bible Review, Vol. 18, No. 4 (August 2002). Also here.
The Exodus from Egypt is a focal point of ancient Israelite religion. Virtually every kind of religious literature in the Hebrew Bible-prose narrative, liturgical poetry, didactic prose and prophecy—celebrates the Exodus as a foundational event. Israelite ritual, law and ethics are often grounded in the precedent and memory of the Exodus. In the Ten Commandments, Yahweh identifies himself as the one “who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage” (Exodus 20:2 = Deuteronomy 5:6). The deliverance from Egypt is the main historical warrant for the covenanted religious bond between Yahweh and his people Israel. In some texts (and featured prominently in the Haggadah, the traditional retelling of the Exodus story at the Passover Seder), the historically distant event is drawn into the present by the elastic quality of genealogical time: “You shall tell your son on that day, ‘It is because of what Yahweh did for me when he brought me out of Egypt’” (Exodus 13:8; see also Deuteronomy 6:20–25). In its existential actuality, the Exodus, more than any other event of the Hebrew Bible, embodies William Faulkner’s adage: “The past is never dead. It’s not even past.”
The Exodus from Egypt: Myth or Reality? By Baruch Halpern. The Rise of Ancient Israel. By Hershel Shanks, William G. Dever, Baruch Halpern, and P. Kyle McCarter, Jr. Washington, D.C.: Biblical Archaeology Society, 1992.
Under what circumstances did Romulus and Remus found Rome? What was the role of Hercules, or Jason and the Argonauts, in creating a unified Mycenaean consciousness? If you can answer those questions, you are ready to tackle the issue of the Exodus. For our accounts of the Exodus reflect the prehistory of the Israelite nation, or, perhaps, of some part of it.
How to Tell a Canaanite from an Israelite. By William G. Dever. The Rise of Ancient Israel. By Hershel Shanks, William G. Dever, Baruch Halpern, and P. Kyle McCarter, Jr. Washington: Biblical Archaeology Society, 1992.
Ceramics, Ethnicity, and the Question of Israel’s Origins. By William G. Dever. The Biblical Archaeologist, Vol. 58, No. 4 (December 1995).
The thirteenth/twelfth century BCE “Proto-Israelite” entity or polity that I have tried here to characterize archaeologically as an ethnic group was not, of course, homogenous in the beginning, because its members were of diverse origins. We must probably think of most of the highland colonists as “displaced Canaanites” (both geographically and ideologically), including an assortment of urban refugees, social dropouts and malcontents, migrant farmers, resedentarized pastoralists, perhaps some Shasu-like bedouin and other immigrants from Transjordan, and even some newcomers from Syria and Anatolia. All these peoples were among those displaced by the radical socio-economic and cultural upheavals at the end of the Bronze Age toward the late thirteenth century BCE. But the new alignments that followed soon produced, among the other coalitions, our “Proto-Israelites,” emerging as an agrarian socio-economic movement on the highland frontier, and thus with sufficient solidarity to constitute an “ethnic group.” This group certainly possessed an ideology as part of its self-awareness (although this is difficult to discern archaeologically) and perhaps pronounced "reformed" tendencies, as such dissident groups have often had.
How Did Israel Become a People? The Genesis of Israelite Identity. By Avraham Faust. Biblical Archaeology Review, Vol. 35, No. 6 (November/December 2009).
Migrations, Ethnogenesis, and Settlement Dynamics: Israelites in Iron Age Canaan and Shuwa-Arabs in the Chad Basin. By Thomas E. Levy and Augustin F. C. Holl. Journal of Anthropological Archaeology, Vol. 21, No. 1, (March 2002).
Biblical Peoples and Ethnicity: An Archaeological Study of Egyptians, Canaanites, Philistines, and Early Israel, 1300-1100 B.C.E. By Ann E. Killebrew. Atlanta: Society of Biblical Literature, 2005.
Exploring Exodus: The Oppression. By Nahum M. Sarna. The Biblical Archaeologist, Vol. 49 No. 2 (June 1986).
The Exodus and the Settlement in Canaan. By H. H. Rowley. Bulletin of the American Schools of Oriental Research, No. 85 (February 1942).
The Egyptian Empire in Palestine: A Reassessment. By James M. Weinstein. Bulletin of the American Schools of Oriental Research, No. 241 (Winter 1981).
Were the Jews Slaves in Egypt? By S. David Sperling. NJBR, June 20, 2013. With related articles.
Was King Saul Impaled on the Wall of Beth Shean? By Amihai Mazar. NJBR, June 8, 2013. With related articles.
The Exodus and Cultural Memory. By Ronald Hendel. Video. Biblical Archaeology Society. (BAS Membership required.)
Ancient Israel’s Exodus from Egypt, rather than being a single, momentous event that can be confirmed through archaeology, should be viewed as a deep-seated cultural memory that allowed disparate groups of highland villagers and escaped Canaanite slaves to coalesce into a single people. How this story arose and why the early Israelites adopted this memory are key questions, which find coherent answers in the relationship between Canaan and the Egyptian empire of the Late Bronze Age. By fusing historical and fictional memories, the story created the necessary social context for the birth of Israel as a people.
Out of Egypt: Israel’s Exodus Between Text and Memory, History and Imagination. By Noah Wiener. Bible History Daily, February 6, 2014. With links to videos from the Qualcomm Institute conference to be added.
Exodus: Out of Egypt: Transdisciplinary Perspectives on Archaeology, Text and Memory. Qualcomm Institute. Calit2. University of California at San Diego.
Website introduction by Thomas E. Levy:
This website does not advocate any solutions to the story of ancient Israel’s Exodus from Egypt, known from the Old Testament or Hebrew Bible. Rather, it highlights new transdisciplinary perspectives on this ancient puzzle based on an international conference held May 31 to June 3, 2013 in Calit2’s Qualcomm Institute at UC San Diego. The conference – Out of Egypt: Israel’s Exodus Between Text and Memory, History and Imagination – brought together more than 40 of the world’s leading archaeologists, Biblical scholars, Egyptologists, historians and geo-scientists. In tandem, the Qualcomm Institute staged an exhibition, EX3: Exodus, Cyber-Archaeology and the Future, through June 9, as an experiment in trans-disciplinary research, team science, and scholarly communication using technologies developed for the museum of the future. Archaeologists and Biblical scholars teamed with computer scientists, engineers, geo-scientists and sonic artists to show how 21st century collaboration in these fields can provide new ways of looking at ancient historical problems. Nearly four dozen scientists contributed their unique expertise and worked “out of the (disciplinary) box” in search of potential answers to historical questions. They explored cyber-archaeology data collection, analyses and dissemination, and the exhibition featured new 3D and large-scale visualization platforms developed by the Qualcomm Institute as prototype display systems for the museum of the future. At right is a collection of images from the conference and exhibition. Below, this portal features streaming video, including an overview of the exhibition, as well as on-demand video of all conference proceedings. At bottom, click on the links to view panels from the exhibition on the significance of the Exodus from an ecumenical perspective in Judaism, Islam, and Christianity.
Keynote Lecture: The Exodus as Cultural Memory: Poetics, Politics, and the Past. By Ronald Hendel. UCSD Exodus Conference, May 31-June 1, 2013. Video. Calit2ube, June 11, 2013. YouTube.
The Exodus and the Bible: What Was Known, What Was Remembered, What Was Forgotten. By William Dever. UCSD Exodus Conference. Video. Calit2ube, June 11, 2013. YouTube.
The Emergence of Iron Age Israel: The Question of “Origins.” By Avraham Faust. UCSD Exodus Conference. Video. Calit2ube, June 7, 2013. YouTube.