Lack of Historical Evidence

The Tanakh / Old Testament Bible contains a detailed account of the Israelites' history, including a chronicle of events from the times of the Patriarch Abraham, on through to the Israelite enslavement in Egypt, continuing on to their mass exodus from Egypt and wandering in the desert for several decades, leading up to their dramatic and brutal conquest of the Canaan region, and finally culminating in their beginning of an empire under the first three kings Saul, David, and Solomon, the latter two of whom established and maintained a strong, wealthy, and unified kingdom. It then continues the empire’s history to its post-Solomon split into a Northern Kingdom (Israel) and a Southern Kingdom (Judea).

This is the account as it is found in the Tanakh.

However, outside of the Tanakh, there is a conspicuous absence of non-Jewish-sourced historical remains, records, etc. supporting these Tanakh accounts of the pre-Solomon era Israelites—and this is despite the numerous efforts that have been made to find any kind of data that could back up these accounts, as well as the fact quite a few Egyptian and other Middle Eastern records and writings from that era have survived to this day[30].

These various writings mention a variety of ethnic groups, but make virtually no references at all to a group of Israelites. In fact, the earliest Egyptian mention of an Israel is in a 1200s BC slab that briefly describes a group named Israel in Canaan that suffered a military defeat[31].

So is it possible that a large distinct ethnic/cultural group lived in Egypt as slaves, made a sudden mass exodus out of Egypt after ten plagues of monumental proportions, wandered about and lived in a nearby Sinai Peninsula desert for about half a century, brutally conquered and often destroyed various Canaanite cities, and then established a powerful, wealthy, and unified or semi-unified Kingdom—and yet, they left almost no trace of any of this, even despite the fact that we have numerous historical remains from that era and region?[32]


[30] Such as the Hittites, the Assyrians, and the Babylonians

[31] Egyptian records also make very brief mentions of two obscure groups that might have been the Israelites: the Apiru and the Shosu

[32] Based on the data we have available today, it seems far more like that the Israelites were a rather small and obscure cultural group that may or may not have ever been in Egypt (or perhaps some of went to Egypt and others remained in their native land), and, if they were ever in Egypt, may or may not have ever been slaves. They probably were scattered and un-unified during their early history, and became a clearly defined cultural group and community around the 1200s BC, and gradually rose to power in Canaan through small wars, and due to voluntary emigrations made by Canaanite natives.