Khag Pesakh lkhem! (A joyous Passover to you guys!)
Pesakh is the celebration of the freedom from oppression - from enslavement of any kind.
In honor of the upcoming Pesakh, I want to explore the archeology relating to an ancient miracle.
Not only does God continue to save us today, but God also saves the Tribes of Yisrael (Israel) in ancient days!
This Ytsiya (exodus) from Mitsrayim (Egypt) shapes the self-identity of an aboriginal people.
Even thousands of years later, today, the event continues to shape the self-identity of over a billion members of the human species, directly and indirectly.
The Hiddenness of the Ytsiya
The Tora (first section of the Jewish Bible) describes the setting of the Ytsiya (exodus) as well as the event itself. The narrative involves large numbers of people and upheavals.
Nevertheless, despite the strong interest, archeologists still fail to identify these ancient Yisrelim (Israelis/Israelites) within the archeological record. Of course, what archeologists “want” is to find an inscription that mentions Yisrael by the name - better yet - an Mitsri (Egyptian) inscription that details the “plagues” that compel their Pharaoh to let these Yisraelim go free. Yes, that would be nice. Lacking these convenient labels, the archeological record is ... ambiguous.
The Tora never mentions the Pharaoh by name, but addresses him as “Pharaoh”, in other words, “King”. The title of address appears appropriate for the culture of this time - but unhelpful for modern scholars to identify the pharaoh, thus to examine the evidence.
Yet more difficult, the archeology of Mitsrayim is becoming robust. The science is gaining a better understanding of the record, to the point the scientists can start to say with confidence what times and places the Ytsiya *didnt* happen. And the Ytisiya is running out of places to hide in the archeological record.
Even archeologists that are skeptical about the Tora tend to suspect a “grain of truth” in these kinds of sacred traditions. They too want to clarify what actually happened.
Toward a Hypothesis
I have a tentative solution. It is speculative, but it understands the Tora tradition in a way that coheres with the archeological record. It is specific enough to form a hypothesis that archeology can confirm or disconfirm, and by knowing when and where to look, perhaps even to identify positively the tribes of Yisrael in their Ytsiya from Mitsrayim.