Why an Exodus beginning at Rameses in Egypt?
29 Nov. 2003
Updates and Corrections: 26 October 2004
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in the Exodus as being at Ras el Ballah (my Baal-zephon)
Note: Emphasis in all quotations are mine via bold print , italics, _CAPITALS_ and colored passages.
How does one account for the biblical tradition that Israel's Exodus began at a place called Rameses in the eastern delta of Egypt ?
Archaeologists have failed to find a single encampment of Israel in the Sinai, Negev and Arabah for the period of time that the Exodus is understood to have taken place. Some proposals for the Exodus' date are ca. 1540 BCE and the Hyksos expulsion (following accounts preserved by the Jewish historian Flavius Josephus of the 1st century CE citing the Egyptian historian Manetho of the 3rd century BCE), ca. 1446 BCE (cf. 1 Kings 6:1), ca. 1260 BCE (A Ramesside Exodus) and 1175 BCE (after the settlement of the Philistines in Canaan). These dates fall within the Late Bronze Age (ca. 1560-1200 BCE) or Iron I (ca. 1200-1000 BCE).
Because many bible scholars understand that based on the lack of archaeological evidence, that there is nothing whatsoever to link the Exodus traditions to in the Sinai, Negev or Arabah, they have accordingly concentrated their efforts on explaining Israel's presence in Canaan as local home-born Canaanites, NOT invaders. In essence some scholars have "given up" in attempting to link the archaeological evidence of the Sinai to the Exodus traditions.
An Israeli Egyptologist , Professor Raphael Giveon, who has personally led archaeological expeditions into the Sinai, echos the lament heard throughout the halls of "Academia" about the _absence of evidence_ for the Exodus :
"If, as seems likely, we shall never find a single shred of external evidence of the Children of Israel anywhere in the Sinai, the fact remains that here, in this vast desert on these towering mountains the People of the Book saw the cradle of their religion and of its nationhood. The Ten Commandments, and the ethical teaching connected with them, as well as the leadership of Moses are forever connected with Sinai. Thus we can observe a special sentiment for Sinai in the Jewish people. However their special regard for Sinai goes beyond this, it being shared by those people who consider Moses' teaching relevant to their own religious and ethical thinking. Already in the fourth century AD, Christian hermits and pilgrims came to the Holy Mountain, which evoked events of the "Old Testament" which they considered the foundation of their own faith." (p. 152. Raphael Giveon. The Stones of Sinai Speak. Tokyo. Gakuseisha. 1978)
My reseach has revealed that the _ONLY_ archaeological evidence for the period 1560-1175 BCE to be found in the Sinai, Negev and Arabah, is that of New Kingdom Egyptian initiated mining expeditions of Dynasties 18, 19 and 20. These mining sites are found principally near Serabit el Khadim in the southwestern Sinai and at Har Timna and Wadi Amran in the southern Arabah, near the mountains forming the eastern perimeter of the Sinai, as noted by Professors Beno Rothenberg and Gregory D. Mumford, (both of whom, have led archaeological expeditions into these regions).
Many scholars understand that Israel's invasion and settlement of Canaan under Joshua is to be identified with the Iron IA period (ca. 1220-1100 BCE), which is the era of the Ramesside pharaohs, the 19th and 20th Dynasties. They associate the sudden appearance of 200+ agrarian villages in the Hill Coutry from Galilee to Hebron, with Israel's occupation of the land. I find myself in agreement with this conclusion.
I have proposed elsewhere that events in the mining camps are being recalled, embellished and transformed for religious-polemical reasons in the Exodus account. Although I understand the Exodus to be fiction as presented in the Bible, I understand it is based on real events and attested by archaeological evidence which exists in the Sinai, Negev and Arabah.
So, to get to the main question, "Why does the Exodus BEGIN at Rameses?"
I understand that Rameses was one of several possible "entrepots for mining expeditions" into the southern Sinai and southern Arabah in Ramesside times. That is to say, from Rameses (Egyptian Pr-Ramesses or Pi-Ramesses, the area of modern Qantir), mining expeditions were staged and outfitted for the Sinai to mine turquoise, malachite, and copper. I suspect that at the end of a season's work, these expeditions returned to Ramses via the same way they left.
Their route would have been from Rameses (Qantir) to the western end of Wadi Tumilat, and thence following this wadi eastwards, they encountered the pools of Pithom (Pr-Tum), the remains of a great overflow lake, west of Tell er-Retabeh (Pithom) which in Ramesside times guarded the eastern approach to Egypt via this wadi from the Sinai. From here they marched along the Bitter Lakes, to the area of the modern port of Suez. Alternately, they could have trekked down the Nile to the vicinity of On (Heliopolis) from which they took the track eastwards to the modern port of Suez (this would have some miners possibly residing at On, where Joseph settles in the biblical narratives).
Under Ramesses III, ca. 1182-1151 BCE, a fortress was constructed in the Suez area. The Romans later built a fortress on top of the Ramesside fort -which has been excavated by archaeologists- and called the site Clysma. Today Clysma is preserved in Arabic as Qom Qulzoum, just north of the port of Suez (note that Mumford gives a list of Ramesside sites between the Sinai and Ain Musa, "the wells of Moses" and Tell er-Retabeh/Pithom)
According to Professor Rothenberg, Ramesses III boasted of sending mining crews to the land of Atika to there disembark and trek overland to its copper mines. He has proposed that Egyptian ships docked in the area of an island near the head of the Gulf of Aqaba called in Arabic Jezirat Fara`un (The "island of Pharaoh"). He has found Midianite sherds in the vicinity,and these same sherds were found at the Ramesside era Egyptian-run mines at Har Timna in the southern Arabah. The Jewish historian, Josephus relates that the Gulf of Aqaba in his day was called the Egyptian bay. I note near Jezirat Fara`un a headland called Ras Masri, Egypt in Hebrew is Mizraim, perhaps Masri preserves Mizraim and the bay of Egypt, recalling Rameside ships carrying miners from Egypt?
19th century AD maps reveal a "ship's channel" extending from the Gulf of Suez, past the port of Suez and Clysma (carved out by tidal actions?). Perhaps Ramesses III's expeditions for the Sinai set out from the Clysma area?
The fortress would be ideally located to send ships to the Sinaitic New Kingdom port of Tell el Markha, 5 kilometers south of Ras Abu Zenimeh, which has been recently excavated by Professor Gregory Mumford. From el Markha the miners treked inland to the mines in the vicinty of Maghara and Serabit el Khadim.
How does one account for early Christian traditions related by the 4th/5th century AD French/Spanish pilgrimess Etheria/Egeria of the crossing of the Red Sea being idenitified with Clysma?
I suspect that this area was in fact where the Bible associated the event. If I am correct in proposing that events associated with Egyptian-run mining camps are behind the Exodus traditions, then this area, the Clysma site, would have been "well-known" by the Asiatic Sinai and Arabah miners. They would have had the opportunity to observe the extensive shoals at low-tide and the 5 foot tides which engulf the area at high tide. The fortress built by Ramesses III, I suspect came to be preserved in the Exodus account as "Migdol" a location in association with Pi-ha-hiroth. A number of scholars have suggested that Pi-ha-hiroth might be an Akkadian word meaning "the mouth of the Canal" ( or "channel", as a water channel or irrgation channel is called a Kharru). I have proposed that the Hebrew hiroth, pronounced chiyroth, is the ship's channel which lies east of an adjacent to the Ramesside fortress. I note that maps of this area made in the 1930's call this bay Birkhet Kharira, which for me suggests the Akkadian Kharru, that is to say, the channel or kharru has had its name transferred to the bay it is a part of.
In the Exodus account Israel crosses the Red Sea (Hebrew: Yam Suph) to get to the Sinai. From the Ramesside fortress, miners could have trekked on foot across the treacherous shoals to follow the western shoreline of the Sinai penisnula to the mines at Serabit el Khadim. Perhaps this is what is being preserved in the Exodus account ? These miners would have been careful not to be caught on the extensive shoals by the 5 foot high tides.
Although it is possible that mining expeditions may have, at times, left on foot, the Ramesside fortress at Clysma for the southern Sinai, it would have been quicker to have the expedition go by sea, being carried by ships docking at Tell el Markha, disembarking the miners, then picking them up and their workings and returning to Clysma for overland transport to Egypt (either via the Bitter Lakes and way stations, or by taking the track west of Clysma to the Nile and On [Heliopolis]).
Mumford comments on mining expeditions trekking over the Isthmus of Suez from possibly Avaris and later Ramesside Tell er-Retabeh (identified with Pithom by some scholars) to the mines of Serabit el Khadim:
"During the Second Intermediate Period and early 18th dynasty, West Asian (Hyksos?) activity in the southern Sinai may be attested through the presence of some sherds of Tell el-Yehudiyya ware and some Hyksos-style scarab seals at Serabit el-Khadim...Early in the 18th dynasty, Ahmose captured the Sinai fortress of Tjaru, defeated the Hyksos at Avaris (Tell ed-Daba), and conducted three campaigns against Sharuhen (Tell el-Ajjul ?) in southwestern Palestine. Ahmose initiated the New Kingdom "empire"...in the northern Sinai and in Syria-Palestine, and he renewed Egyptian turquoise mining and copper smelting in the southern Sinai...Three New Kingdom sites in northeastern Sinai form ten clusters, with a central fortress or administrative structure, a reservoir, magazines, and satellite campsites. Three New Kingdom sites at Tell Heboua (I-III) straddle a causeway between the western and eastern lagoons (probably T3 dnit: "the dividing waters"), possibly representing Tjaru...The eastern frontier fortifications included Ramesside forts at Tell er-Retabeh (Wadi Tumilat) and Kom el-Qulzoum (today's Port Suez; Ptolemaic Clysma). The Isthmus of Suez also contained in situ, albeit possibly reused, gateway blocks of Ramesses II at Serapeum; a stone shrine of Sety I and a stela of Ramesses II at Gebel Abu Hassa; a stela of Ramesses II at Gebel Mourr; and New Kingdom (?) or later (Roman) activity at Ain Moussa (e.g. a shawabti funerary figurine). Those sites facilitated maritime and overland expeditions to an 18th dynasty anchorage and pharaonic site (numbers 345 and 346) in el-Merkha Bay, from which ancient expeditions accessed Mughara and Serabit el-Khadim. Another route to el-Merkha Bay traversed the Eastern Desert via Wadi Araba to cross the Red Sea." (p. 290. Vol. 3. Gregory D. Mumford. "Sinai." Donald B. Redford. Editor. The Oxford Encyclopedia of Ancient Egypt. New York. Oxford University Press. 2001)
New Kingdom activity concentrated at Wadi Nasb and Serabit el-Khadim...Wadi Nasb contained a copper mine...slag heaps...an inscription of Ramesses II...Serabit el Khadim yielded twenty turquoise mines...and New Kingdom potsherds...The plateau also yielded a small shrine to Ptah (with three stelae dedicated to Hathor), the Hathor temple, and five sandstone quarries used for this temple's construction.
New Kingdom expeditions repaired and embellished the Middle Kingdom shrines of Hathor ("Lady of the Turquoise") and Sopdu ("Lord of the East")...Many votives bore the cartouches of most New Kingdom rulers from Ahmose to Ramesses VI ) including an unpublished votive of Horemhab), but excluded werw Amenhotpe IV (Akhenaten), Semkhare, Tutznkhamun, Ay and Amenmesse.
From the 19th dynasty to the 20th, expeditions initiated copper mining and smelting at Wadi Reqeita (in southeastern Sinai) and in the southern Arabah...Timnah...produced votives with cartouches of Sety I, Ramesses II, Merneptah, Sety II, Queen Tawosret, and Ramesses III, IV, and V.
Late in the 20th dynasty (in the time of Ramesses VII to XI) and in the 21st to 25th dynasty, evidence of Egyptian activity disappeared from the southern Sinai and declined in the northern Sinai..." (p. 290. Vol.3.Gregory D. Mumford. "Sinai." Donald B. Redford. Editor. The Oxford Encyclopedia of Ancient Egypt. New York. Oxford University Press. 2001)
CORRECTION of 26 Oct. 2004: Wadi Reqeita's copper deposits were NEVER exploited by the Egyptians. The evidence suggests they were used ONLY during the period of the Early Bronze I-II by peoples from the Negev near Early Bronze II Arad. Cf. the research by Beit-Arieh :
"The results of our survey show clearly that the production of copper in Sinai in the Protodynastic period was solely in the hands of an autochthonic and/or a Canaanite-orientated population, and was unaffected by an Egyptian presence during any phase of this period. In fact, the findings indicate that even during the later periods the Egyptians displayed no interest in south-Sinai generally, or in the copper deposits, specifically. As for the Late Bronze Age copper-production site in western Sinai around Wadi Baba and Bir Nasb (Petrie 1906:27), to my knowledge there is as yet no ceramic evidence to date it before the New Kingdom.
It appears that the earliest datable copper smelting which was found and studied by the Ophir Expedition in Southern Sinai was based on the mine at Wadi Riqita [Reqeita] in south-central Sinai. The associated population beside the local population was Canaanite-orientated, not Egyptian. No archaeological evidence of earlier copper production has yet been discovered in this area, although the suggestion that copper was already produced here at the end of the Chalcolithic-beginning of the Early Bronze I period (Ilan and Sebbane 1989: 148-153) cannot be discounted entirely." (p. 204. Itzhaq Beit-Arieh. Archaeology of Sinai, the Ophir Expedition. Tel Aviv, Israel. Tel Aviv University. ISBN 965-266-018-3. END OF 26 October 2004 UPDATE)
The biblical account mentions Egyptian chariots at the Red Sea crossing point. To the degree that Clysma possessed a Ramesside fortress, it is possible that some chariots may have been stationed there, and this might be what is being recalled.
The Israeli Egyptologist Raphael Giveon found a Ramesside inscription in the vicinity of Serabit el Khadim mentioning a commander of the chariot corps, identified as a Ramesside "prince of Egypt" being present to supervise the mining activities. Perhaps this is what is behind the notion of Egyptian charioteers being associated with the Exodus into the Sinai?
"Chief Charioteer of his majesty P3-r`-hr-wnmy.f
Chief Charioteer of his majesty Mntw-hr-hps.f
This short inscription was discovered by us in 1968. It is inscribed on building block which had a fragment of a scene showing a man sacrificing before Hathor. The end of the usual dedication can still be seen "Beloved (of Hathor, Lady of the turquoise)." The inscription mentions two high officers of the Egyptian army. Two sons of Ramesses II were named Pa-Re-Wenemy-ef ("the [god] Re is to his right") and Monthu-kherukhepeshef ("Monthu is over his sword"), and both held exactly the same title; two sons of Ramesses III also had the same names and the same title. It is even more likely that the latter are referred to here, because the two sons of Ramesses III appear to have been born one directly after the other: the two brothers, sons of Ramesses II with these names, had another brother who was born after Pa-re`-kher-wenemy-ef and before Monthu-kher-khepeshef.
There is not much use for chariots in Serabit el Khadim: the inscription shows that high officers were taken from their original posts to serve, for a few months, on the staff of the Sinai expeditions." (pp.161-162. Raphael Giveon. The Stones of Sinai Speak. Tokyo. Gakuseisha. 1978)
Israel serves an Egyptian bondage of 400 years in the Exodus account. Archaeologists have found at ancient Avaris a stele set up by Rameses II honoring 400 years of the worship of the Egyptian god Set (Seth, Sutekh), who is dressed in Asiatic warrior garb like the Late Bronze Age war-god Reshep. Could these miners have passed on traditions of this honoring of Seth, that is, of his 400th anniversary? The Asiatic Hyksos associated their north Syrian war-god Baal of Zephon with Seth. They were overthrown ca. 1540/1530 BCE by Pharaoh Ahmose I who founded the 18th Dynasty and the New Kingdom. For approximately 400 years, 1540/1530-1140/1130 BCE Egypt dominated Canaan. After ca.1140/1130 BCE we begin to see the rise of Israel in Canaan. Did the Iron II (9th-6th centuries BCE) Israelites and Judaeans understand that the Hyksos defeat ca. 1540/1530 BCE, was Israel being oppressed in Egypt for 400 years, until ca. 1140/1130 BCE when Egypt vacated Canaan, the Sinai and Arabah, and Israel appears on the world stage?
That is say, the Asiatic miners recalled their Hyksos ancestors enslavement for 400 years? Professor Mumford has noted that Hyksos Tell el-Yehudiyeh pottery has been found in the vicinity of Serabit el Khadim suggesting the Hyksos may have sent ming expeditions to this area from Avaris, modern Tell ed-Daba (near which Rameses was later built) before they fell to Ahmose I ca. 1540 BCE. (add his comments)
Could it be that the Asiatic Hyksos miners of Serabit el Khadim, became "slave-miners" under the New Kingdom and their descendants, following in their father's occupations _remained miners_, generation after generation, of the Sinai until Egypt withdrew from Canaan, the Negev, Arabah and southern Sinai ca. 1133 BCE under Pharaoh Ramesses VI ? During the "off-season" when the mines were not being worked, these Asiatic slaves may have been construction laborers at Rameses (Qantir) and Pithom (Tell er-Retabeh).
The late eminient American bible scholar William Foxwell Albright, was of the notion that Hyksos slaves were utilized by Ahmose I and his successors to mine the Serabit el Khadim area :
"...it seems unlikely that Hyksos captives (see below) should have been sent to Sinai to work under extraordinary difficult conditions until after Amosis had occupied the Hyksos fortresses at the southern fringe of Palestine toward the end of his reign, i.e. after about 1550-40 at the earliest..." (William Foxell Albright. The Proto-Sinaitic Inscriptions and Their Decipherment. Cambridge. Harvard University Press. 1966)
Albright, suggested that the bible's likening Israel's Egyptian Oppression or Captivity to an "Iron Furnace" might recall their being mining slaves :
"It is quite possible that the reference to Egypt as the "iron smeltry" (kur barzel), in passages...actually goes back to traditions of state slavery in the mines of the New Kingdom." (p.14. William Foxell Albright. The Proto-Sinaitic Inscriptions and Their Decipherment. Cambridge. Harvard University Press. 1966)
Deut 4:20 RSV, has Moses telling Israel :
"But the Lord has taken you, and brought you forth out of the iron furnace, out of Egypt to be a people of his own possession, as at this day."
The proposal I am making here is that the Exodus traditions are Iron II (9th-6th centuries BCE) transformations of oral traditions traced back in time to 13th-12th centuries BCE Ramesside Asiatic mining slaves, who were descendants of the 16th century BCE Hyksos miners of Serabit el Khadim.
I have proposed elsewhere that Tel Masos in the northern Negev is Kadesh-Barnea. It is my understanding that this site may have been an "alternate" mining entrepot, a place the southern Arabah miners returned to after a season's work. Egyptian ships would pick up the copper ores at Jezirat Faraun, while the miners returned to the Negev and Tel Masos.
When Egypt under Ramesses VI vacated Canaan, the Negev, Arabah and Sinai, the Asiatic miners were "freed" and remained behind at Tel Masos (cf. my article Kadesh Barnea is Tel Masos ?. There they intermarried with local Canaanites and Arameans invading Canaan from northern Syria. I suspect that it was the Iron IA (ca. 1220-1100 BCE) Arameans invading Canaan fom northern Syria who are behind the Exodus tradition of an invasion of Canaan from Transjordan, an area they conquered before settling in Canaan.
I am proposing here, that the Exodus traditions are drawing upon events from Hyksos and Ramesside times, events from Aram (Syria), Egypt, Sinai and Canaan.
Why a Spring Time Exodus?
It is my understanding that the Exodus narratives are recalling real events which occured in the Late Bronze and Early Iron Ages (the Ramesside eras), but transforming and embellishing them for religious-polemical purposes. That is to say, while the Exodus as portrayed in the bible is fiction, it is nevertheles based on real events, documented by archaeological findings in the southern Sinai, Negev and Arabah.
I have identified events occuring to Asiatic miners serving in the Egyptian mines in the Sinai and Arabah as the "historical kernels" lurking behind the Exodus narratives.
The Exodus is portrayed as leaving Rameses in the eastern Delta in the Spring. The problem ? The Egyptian mining expeditions made up of Egyptians and Asiatics, did NOT leave Egypt for the Sinai in the Spring ! They left in the cool season, the Winter, according to Sir Flinders Petrie, who excavated at Serabit el Khadim and who read inscriptions left by these miners in Middle Kingdom times.
So, if the miners did NOT leave Egypt in the Spring for the Sinai WHERE is Israel getting the notion of a Spring Exodus ?
I note that the Exodus is portrayed as taking place in the Spring, (March-April) and that this is the period of time that the Egyptian miners in the Southern Sinai began their "exodus" from the mines and returned to Egypt. The reason being that the approaching Summer would bring heat which made mining work intolerable. A number of Egyptian inscriptions left in the vicinity of Serabit el Khadim (in the southern Sinai) mention the mining season, announcing the arrival and departure of the miners.
In the biblical narratives Israel speaks of a desire "to return to Egypt," complaining of the hostility of the wilderness. Could this motif be recalling the "Spring exodus" of the miners, that is, their "return to Egypt" ? If so, then what we have in the biblical narrative is what is called in scholarly language, "an INVERSION" or "reversal" of an event or motif.
The biblical narratives also speak of "the thousands of Israel" asking Moses for food. A number of Egyptian inscriptions in the vicinity of the mines of the southern Sinai make requests of the viewer to "recite a formulaic prayer " (going back to Egyptian Old Kingdom times and the Pyramid Texts) asking that "THOUSANDS" of beer, bread and flesh (fowl and bovine) be granted to the writer's soul or "ka." In return for this blessing the writer states that he will ask the gods to grant the viewers a safe journey home, back to Egypt.
Perhaps this motif has been transformed into the "thousands" of Israel asking for "thousands" of flesh and vegetables and a wish to return to Egypt and enjoy these foods ? That is to say, the biblical narratives are an INVERSION of the prayer requests written down by the Egyptian miners ?
So, the SPRING RETURN TO EGYPT by the miners, who ask in inscriptions for THOUSANDS of beer, bread and flesh for themselves, and promising a safe return to Egypt, may be what is behind the Exodus narratives.
I suspect that these motifs or elements within the Exodus narratives were "preserved" via oral traditions passed on by the Asiatic miners who settled at Tel Masos (Kadesh Barnea) in Iron IA ( ca. 1220-1100 BCE) and whose great-great-grandchildren in Iron II (ca. 1000-586 BCE) transformed these motifs into an Exodus of their forefathers leaving Egypt, wandering the Sinai, and in a Spring-time "frame-of-reference" have their forefathers mentioning "concerns about food and a return to Egypt." All this is to say, that "genuine" events and even the "correct season" of the year are being recalled in the Exodus narratives, but as INVERSIONS of events occuring to the Asiatic miners.
How does one account for two differing origins traditions, Canaanite miners of the Negev, Sinai, and Arabah being fused with invading Iron IA Arameans from Aram or northern Syria?
The answer is preserved in the Bible. We are told that the first generation remained aloof from the Canaanites after destroying several Late Bronze Age sites like Hazor and Lachish, but when that generation had passed away the succeeding generations began marrying Canaanites and worshipping their gods and goddesses:
Judges 2:7-13, RSV
"And the people served the Lord all the days of Joshua, and all the days of the elders who outlived Joshua, who had seen all the great work which the Lord had done for Israel...And all that generation also were gathered to their fathers; and there arose another generation after them, who did not know the Lord or the work which he had done for Israel. And the people did what was evil in the sight of the Lord and served the Baals; and they forsook the Lord, the God of their fathers, who had brought them out of the land of Egypt; and they went after other gods, from among the gods of the peoples who were around them, and they bowed to them; and they provoked the Lord to anger. They forsook the Lord, and served the Baals and the Ashtaroth."
Judges 3:5-7 RSV
"So the people of Israel dwelt among the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Amorites, the Perizzites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites; and they took their daughters to themselves for wives, and their own daughters they gave to their sons; and they served their gods. And the people of Israel did what was evil in the sight of the Lord, forgetting the Lord their God, and serving the Baals and the Asheroth."
So, it is my understanding that the Late Iron II (ca. 9th-6th centruy BCE) traditions of an Exodus from Egypt via the Sinai, Arabah and Negev are Canaanite origins traditions of Asiatic miners from New Kingdom and Rameside times who setled in the Negev at Tel Masos (Kadesh Barnea) in Iron IA, fused to Iron IA Aramean Origins traditions of an attack upon Transjordan first, then Canaan.
But why were these two traditions fused together ? The answer : The Iron II Israelites and Judaeans were the _decendants of the the intermarriages_ of the Late Bronze Age Canaanites and the Iron IA Arameans. I suspect that these Iron II descendants wanted to preserve the origins tradition of _both_ their ancestors, Canaanite and Aramean, so they fused them together into ONE origins story (cf. my article on Israel's Aramean Origins).
I realize that the identification of the Exodus traditions as being "rooted" in New Kingdom Asiatic miners experiences in the southern Sinai, Negev and Arabah is NOT going to be "acceptable" to those of faith. But I have attempted to find an _archaeological link_ from the Late Bronze and Early Iron Ages, eras when scholars posit the Exodus might have happened, and the _ONLY LINK_ is the Egyptian mining camps. Of course, the day might come when future surveys find Israel's Late Bronze/Early Iron IA encampments, which would change the whole scenario presented here.
Secular Humanist research or hypotheses and proposals are based upon archaeological evidence at hand. They cannot be based on "flights of the imagination," and "rationales" advanced for why the archaeological evidence is "missing" and that consequently "lack of evidence is NOT evidence the event never occurred."
Professor Garret explains why archaeological evidence is crucial in sustaining proposals (emphasis mine):
"In this article I wish to lay out some first principles of archaeological research, so that all may be clear on several fundamental points of difference that separate the conventional side from the alternative side in this debate.
FIRST PRINCIPLE: THE REQUIREMENT OF EVIDENCE
Archaeology is the study of the physical remains from the past. Where there are no physical remains, there can be no archaeology. The most basic principle in archaeology, therefore, is that the discipline requires evidence to function.
This is what stands at the root of scholars' constant and consistent demand for evidence when faced with new hypotheses. It is not some sort of pedantic cop-out as it often seems to be perceived by alternative supporters, it is not based on a desire to crush new ideas or enforce any imagined orthodoxy: it is the expression of the most basic requirement of archaeology -- "Show me the evidence upon which your hypothesis relies." Professional archaeologists ask it of themselves constantly. If the answer comes back negative, OR THERE ARE ONLY EXCUSES AS TO WHY THERE IS NO EVIDENCE, archaeologists very quickly lose interest and move on. Because without evidence, archaeology cannot function.
A sub-principle of the basic requirement of evidence is that no amount of excuse-making for the complete absence of supporting evidence for a theory compensates for that absence. In the eyes of archaeologists, if you have no evidence, you have no case. Supposition, assertion, innuendo, and speculation do not constitute archaeological evidence and cannot be supplanted in its stead.
These are not unreasonable positions to take as they prevent the discipline from being overwhelmed by any number of baseless suppositions, extreme possibilities, and unsubstantiated claims. By definition, such assertions are devoid of evidence and so are bypassed as archaeologists continue to focus on those matters for which evidence does exist. People are perfectly at liberty to pursue any claims they wish and to search for evidence to support those claims, but until evidence actually surfaces, archaeology will pay them no attention. And this is perfectly correct, otherwise the discipline would be swamped by speculation and futile arguments over uncheckable beliefs." (Garrett G. Fagan, Assistant Professor of Classics and Ancient Mediterranean Studies and History Penn State University)
I have attempted "to link" the Exodus narratives to attested archaeological evidence found in the Sinai, Negev and Arabah, places Israel is alleged to have wandered in either a Late Bronze or Early Iron I setting.
CONTRA the claims of others, that there is NO archaeological evidence _whatsoever_ in the Sinai to link the Exodus traditions to, I maintain there is. It has been hiding in plain view as the Late Bronze-Early Iron I Egyptian-run mining camps.
I have proposed that the Exodus began at Ramesses, because this was the staging area for the Asiatic miners of the Sinai since 16th century BCE Hyksos times down to the Ramesside era of the 13th and 12th centuries BCE. Furthermore, I understand that Israel's SPRING EXODUS is an INVERSION of the Spring Exodus of the miners, they returning to Egypt at this season of the year to avoid the intolerable heat of the coming summer.