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Old Testament

The Pentateuch

When did the Exodus occur?

The book opens around four hundred years after the death of Joseph. While Joseph was alive, the Israelites were treated hospitably. At some point during those four hundred years, however, his family and their descendants were forced into slavery. The book of Exodus concerns God calling Moses to save his people and lead them to the Promised Land.

In I Kings 6:1 there is a description of the building of the Lord’s temple: “in the four hundred eightieth year after the Israelites came out of the land of Egypt, in the fourth year of Solomon’s reign over Israel.” Solomon began to rule in 970 B.C.E. So the fourth year of his reign was 966 B.C.E. Some scholars place the events of Exodus around 1446 B.C.E. Proponents of a later year point to Exodus 1:11: “Therefore they set taskmasters over them to oppress them with forced labor. They built supply cities, Pithom and Ramses, for Pharaoh.” Ramses, it is argued, must be named for one of the Ramses pharaohs, probably Ramses II. That places the year of the Exodus around 1290 B.C.E.



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