A new date for Exodus

According to the Book of Exodus in the Hebrew Bible, Moses led the Israelites out of slavery in Egypt and  received the Ten Commandments from God. There are sceptics who suggest that Moses never existed as a historical figure and that the Exodus too is mythical. Now in a new documentary titled The Exodus Decoded, filmmaker Simcha Jacobovici suggests that the Exodus did happen, and it happened around 1500 BCE.

Jacobovici set out on his Exodus quest after doing a documentary in the 1990s on a group of people on the Indian-Burma border who claim to be the lost Israelite tribe of Menashe. That film was met with widespread criticism by people Jacobovici branded as “so-called experts.” Jacobovici said he himself was skeptical of the tribe’s Israelite claims until he researched the subject.

Similarly with the new Exodus documentary, he asserted that with his hefty $3.5 million budget, a lack of preconceptions, and none of the restrictions of conventional archeological wisdom, he was free to reach what he insists are credible conclusions about the Exodus. The 55-year-old director, whose original claim to fame was his first-ever documentary Falasha: Exile of the Black Jews, made two and half decades ago and which focused on Ethiopian Jewry, said his research for the lost tribes film spurred him to question the widely accepted assumptions about what he called “the founding story of Western civilization” – the Exodus of the Jews from Egypt.

Six years later, mixing science, religion and a variety of archeological findings, Jacobovici is convinced that he has seen the light. Most of the archeological findings cited come from Egypt, with others from Greece. He said he researched in six countries, including Israel and the UK.

The 10 plagues that smote the Egyptians, according to the Bible, are explained in the documentary to be the result of a volcanic eruption on a Greek island that occurred 3,500 years ago. [Documentary sets new date for Exodus]

What was happening in the world at that time? In the middle of the second millennium BCE, Hittites , Egyptians and Mitannians were struggling for supremacy in the Levant. Myceneans of mainland Greece had taken control of Crete and the Aegean, and the Olmec of Mesoamerica had begun to build their massive ceremonial centers. In China, the Shang state had assumed control.

This time frame coincides with the time the Indus Valley civilization was on the decline probably due to the disappearance of the Ghaggar-Hakra river system, tectonic activity or a failure in monsoons. After the demise of the Indus civilization, the main cultural and political focus shifted to the east, to the Ganges valley. It was a thousand years before the Buddha was born.

This documentary also identifies an image of that time frame, 1500 BCE, of the Ark of the Covenant in an Egyptian museum, that according to film makers is proof of Exodus. The Ark of the Covenant, the sacred container which contains the stone tablets having the Ten Commandments is the same thing which the Nazis and Indiana Jones were searching for in Raiders of the Lost Ark.

The documentary also identifies the real location in Mount Sinai where Moses received the Ten Commandments. Currently, Saint Catherine’s Monastery in Mount Sinai, built around the Chapel of the Burning Bush is considered to be the site where Moses is supposed to have seen the burning bush. When the documentary is shown on The History Channel on August 20th, we might know more details.

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