Implications for biblical chronology
Apart from being out of harmony with itself, the Emar
evidence shows also that the conventional scheme of
Mesopotamia-Syria in the late second millennium is also out
of harmony with the data of Scripture as currently interpreted.
Consider here, for example, the picture in 1 Kings 10: 29,
where Solomon traded with the kings of the Aramaeans and
the kings of the Hittites. If we take the Emar evidence and
thereby condense the chronology of the Late Hittite period,
eliminate the ‘Dark Age’ in charts 1 and 2 above (which the
Emar evidence also strongly suggests, but space forbids me
to elaborate38), we have a scenario whereby Solomon belongs
in the Late Hittite period, where the early Aramaean period
also belongs (again, the Emar evidence also indicates this,
but space forbids a discussion here39). It is in this Late Hittite/
Early Aramaean period, archaeologically the Late Bronze II
phase, where, I firmly believe, we will find Solomon. 40
The above discussion has sought simply to highlight
anomalies in the conventional chronology at various points,
but has not attempted a revised structure. Nevertheless it
should be evident that the chronology of the Ancient Near
East, in particular the third and second millennia BC, whether
in Egypt, Mesopotamia, or Anatolia, is in something of a
disarray, and needs serious revision. The work of Bietak
in the Nile Delta, the evidence from Emar on the Middle
Euphrates, the Karnak reliefs, and reassessment of the
Amarna texts all point in this direction, albeit not always
to the same extent in each case. Such a revision, therefore,
would bring the biblical events out from the realm of fiction
into the world of sober reality. Further issues arising from
this data will be explored in subsequent articles.
1. See Courville, D., The Exodus Problem and its Ramifications, Loma Linda,
Challenge Books, 1971; Rohl, D., A Test of Time, Random House, Arrow Books,
1995. Both of these reconstructions have their problems, Courville’s (following
Velikovsky) the more serious. For a critique of one element of Courville’s
thesis see Clarke, P., Was Jerusalem the Kadesh of Thutmose III’s 1st Asiatic
Campaign?—topographic and Petrographic evidence, J. Creation 25( 3): 48–55,
2011. See also Gary Bates, G., Egyptian Chronology and the Bible—Framing
the Issues, creation.com/egypt-chronology. Bates’ discussion is much more in
line with the approach here.
2. See Adamthwaite, M., Archaeological light on the Old Testament; in: Baker, D.
(Ed.), The Face of Old Testament Studies (FOTS), Baker, Grand Rapids, MI,
pp. 75–78, 1999.
3. Adamthwaite, ref. 2, p. 77. The Battenfield reference is to his article, A
consideration of the identity of the pharaoh of Genesis 47, J. Evangelical
Theological Society 15: 77–85, 1972.
4. See also Hurowitz, V.A., Joseph’s enslavement of the Egyptians (Genesis 47: 13–26)
in the light of the famine texts from Emar, Revue biblique 101:355–62, 1994.
5. See Bimson, J.J., Redating the Exodus and Conquest, Almond Press, Sheffield,
UK, p. 39, 1981, who sees the Rameses reference in Genesis 47: 11 as
retrospective, “since the descent of Jacob into Egypt must have preceded the
reign of the first Rameses”.
6. Bietak, M., Avaris: The capital of the Hyksos, British Museum, London, p. 82,
7. Wilkinson, J., (Ed. and transl.), Egeria’s Travels to the Holy Land, Aris &
Phillips, Warminster, pp. 100–101, 1981. This 20th nome, called Arabia in
Hellenistic times and later, was known as Sopdu in pharaonic times. See Baines,
J. and Malek, J., Atlas of Ancient Egypt, Equinox, Oxford, pp. 175–176, 1984.
8. Some Egyptologists have read the signs as Šśmt, but Naville (Naville, E.,
The Geography of the Exodus, J. Egyptian Archaeology 10: 28–32, 1924) has
persuasively argued against this reading. See Adamthwaite, ref. 2, p. 73.
9. Bimson, ref. 5, p. 39.
10. See also Viccary, M., Biblical chronology: our times are in His hands, J. Creation 21( 1):
62–66, 2007; Austin, D., Chronology of the 430 years of Exodus 12: 40,
J. Creation 21( 1): 67–68, 2007. Viccary takes the view that the Masoretic text
as it stands can be taken to mean an Egyptian sojourn of 215 years, without
an appeal to the LXX, p. 64. One further point here is that Jewish rabbis
apparently held to a 215-year Egyptian sojourn, but that would be the subject
of a separate article.
11. A further difficulty for the conventional early-date model (as above) is that
the clear archaeological evidence indicates that Pi-Ramesse/Qantir was
unoccupied during the 18th Dynasty. See Bietak, ref. 6, p. 273; Baines and Malek,
ref. 7, p. 176; Shea, W.H., Exodus, date of, The International Standard Bible
Encyclopedia 2:231, 1982, reporting the work of Bietak at Tell el-Dab‘a.
12. Bietak, ref. 6, chs ii–vii. See also Bourriau, J., The Second Intermediate Period;
in: Shaw, I. (Ed.), The Oxford History of Ancient Egypt, Oxford, pp. 186–195,
Figure 4. Tablet 42 of the Emar corpus. Respectively obverse (left) and reverse (right)