Do Ancient Chronologies Challenge the Bible?
Part 2: Egyptian Chronology & the Pharaoh of the Exodus
In part one, on the way to determining how far off standard Egyptian Chronology is, I pointed out 3 ways scientists and non-believers use time or Chronology to cast doubts on biblical time frames:
1. Scientist think the Biblical account is too young (e.g. age of the earth/universe) 2. Scientist can't find evidence of the event in the time period they think it happened (e.g. The Exodus) or 3. Scientists believe they have found evidence that disproves the Biblical time line (e.g. Biblical artifacts like the above Dendera Zodiak or the Egyptian pyramids.)
In a docudrama titled
Egypt's Greatest Mysteries
- The Secrets Of the Hieroglyphs
about the work of Jean-François Champollion to decipher Egyptian
hieroglyphs, the writers invoke challenge 3 from above, claiming
Egyptian artifacts had been found that challenged the Biblical timeline.
Artifacts mentioned are the below pictured Dendera Zodiac, now on display at the Louvre, and of
course the quintessential icons of Egypt - the pyramids, particularly
the Great Pyramid at Giza (above).
The show challenged the Biblical time line by claiming artifacts such as the Dendera Zodiac or the pyramids might be older than the biblical flood - which would be impossible. Such items would not have survived the flood. But it appeared this show was gleefully stating these items were evidence that either the flood never happened, or it wasn't global. Neither of which are true of course. But it did get me to me to thinking how we could demonstrate they are mistaken in the assertion that such objects were older than the flood.
Clearly the standard Egyptian chronologies are off - since they are rendering dates for civilizations before the flood. The question is - how to demonstrate it? The best way it seemed to me would be to calibrate the date of a known Biblical event with a known Egyptian event - and see how far the dates vary. As demonstrated in Part 1, the date of the Exodus is well known. If we could compare that with an Egyptian event - like the pharaoh of the exodus, we would be able to determine how much the standard dates given for Egyptian events - like the reign of certain pharaohs - varies from the known date of the Exodus.
Calibrating the error - How far off are the Egyptian time lines?
So to correct the erroneous dates given the Dendera Zodiac and other Egyptian artifacts that are dated too early we need to recalibrate the Egyptian Chronology. I am not the only one who has come to that conclusion, nor is the Biblical timeline the only chronology of an ancient people that disagrees with the Egyptian Chronology. In his documentary "Patterns of Evidence: The Exodus" documentary film maker Tim Mahoney points out that to get Egyptian Chronology - the underpinning for other ancient Chronologies - to line up with events in the timelines of other nations, it is necessary to insert gaps into the chronologies of nations of: the Hittites, Phoenicia, Syria, Greece, Nubia, Troy, and Cyprus "... in order to match the dating of Egypt's third dark period." Clearly the Egyptian chronology is off. Though it may vary the further back in time we go, we'll get a baseline of the difference by identifying the pharaoh of the Exodus, and comparing the date traditionally given his reign with the date of the Exodus we determined in part 1 of this article.
Identifying the Pharaoh of the
Documentary film maker Simcha Jacobovici attempts to identify the pharaoh of the Exodus in his documentary The Exodus Decoded. He identifies pharaoh Ahmose I as the pharaoh of the Exodus for a number of reasons, the most memorable for me being that the name Ahmose could be a pun, a name play (and as we'll see in the next article puns are common in the Old Testament). In Egyptian, the name means "the moon is born" but in Hebrew, Ahmose (אח משה) would translate to "the brother of Moses." And if you've seen any of the Hollywood productions, you'll know the pharaoh of the Exodus is typically depicted as one who grew up with Moses from the time when the daughter of the Pharaoh adopted Moses to be her own. (Ex 2.10)
The traditional dates for Ahmose I reign are given as c. 1550-1525. Applying the correction of 150 years from above makes the actual reign circa 1400-1375 which would have been after the Exodus which as demonstrated previously occurred in 1446. Furthermore the standard history persuasively indicates that Ahmose I drove the Hyksos out of Egypt. Jacobovici, following scholars Charles Pellegrino and Donald Redford holds to a theory that the Hyksos are really the children of Israel, God's people who left Egypt during the Exodus. So you'd also have to buy into this theory and change the narrative - and say the driving out was really just an Egyptian propaganda story to cover the loss of their Israelite workforce or something like that to explain why we have accounts of Ahmose I driving out the Hyksos.
Mahoney's theory is more feasible. In that scenario the Hyksos were able to take control over Egypt once the Israelites departed because Egypt - including her army - were destroyed (Ex 14.28) , and thus the Hyksos, the "shepherd kings" were able to come in and take over "without striking a blow" as David Rohl puts it. That both 1) requires no departure from the commonly accepted history that the Hyksos are indeed a foreign nation (not the Israelites) who took control over parts of Egypt. And more importantly 2) it also makes practical sense: any time there is a vacuum of power, some other power will move in to fill it. (Matt 12.43-45). This appears to be what the Hyksos did as the power of Egypt crumbled as a result of the plagues of the Exodus which cost Egypt her army and her might.
So Ahmose I is not the pharaoh of the Exodus either. How then will we identify him? We'll use Mahoney's technique of looking for patterns of evidence, and take the advise of Egyptologist David Rohl on how to find him. Due to the judgments God brought on Egypt to bring about the Exodus, Egypt had suffered the loss of her crops, her first born males (of all ages), a large portion of her livestock, her entire army (Ex 14.28) and the Egyptian work force - Israelite slaves. Egypt was ruined. (Ex 10.7) Thus Rohl states:
But there are other clues as well. Here's the pattern of evidence or clues we'll be looking for to identify the pharaoh of the Exodus:
There's one Pharaoh that meets all of these criteria: pharaoh Merneferre Ay. As we look at the patterns of evidence, the above clues we see he's an exact match, a precise fit. For the background details and references for these assertions, see this reference diagram which charts out the details and lists supporting references.
Merneferre Ay: The Pharaoh of the Exodus
- Timing of The Pharaoh who raised Moses
But due to his long life (120 years Ex 34.7), Moses saw many pharaohs come and go and the pharaoh who raised Moses died before the confrontation of the exodus. According to the timeline I'm proposing, the pharaoh in whose house Moses was raised is different from the pharaoh who sought his death, who is different from the pharaoh Moses confronted with God's command, "Let my people go!" (Ex 5.1, 7.16 et. al.) This finally makes sense of why the pharaoh who sought to kill Moses after he learned Moses had killed an Egyptian. (Ex 2.14-15) It had never made sense to me that a King - who has the power of life and death over all - would choose to kill his son - albeit a step son - even though the charge is something serious like manslaughter. Why not select some other punishment like banishment to some forgotten region, or find a scapegoat as is sometimes done? Why choose death for your son?
But once you consider the pharaoh who sought to kill Moses was not the pharaoh in whose house Moses grew up in, and probably wasn't particularly close to or fond of Moses, then it makes sense. To the pharaoh who ordered his death, Moses is not a "prince of Egypt", he's just another Hebrew to be brought to justice. In my reconstruction of the chronology, the Pharaoh who raised Moses was Kendjer - who had a short reign - only 5 years - so he died while Moses was still a child. As for the pharaoh who orders his death - Soberkhotep IV - he dies shortly after Moses flees to Median. (Ex 2.23)
- 40 Year Gap between Pharaohs
- Unexpected death of the First born
during Ay's reign
In the case of Pharaoh Ay, we see a victim in the 2nd generation (after the pharaoh) for which we have a few details: To keep a Governorship in the family a former governor (named Aya) who had been promoted to vizier records a document moving the governorship from his unexpectedly deceased firstborn son whom he had with the princess, the daughter of Pharaoh Ay to his next son Ayameru. The deceased, (another Aya - typically differentiated as Ay Jr.) was the firstborn of the vizier and his wife the princess. Since they wanted the transfer of the governorship to be official, we have a record, an official document of the then existing Egyptian government of the untimely death of the first born son of the princess, daughter of Pharaoh Ay.
- Egypt overrun by the Hyksos after
the Pharaoh's reign
Correcting Egyptian Chronology
From the reference diagram we can see that:
In the year of the exodus (1446 B.C.)
Moses was 80.
1674 - 1446 give us 228 as the variance
between the date of the Exodus, which we are sure of; and Egyptian
chronology - of which the only thing we're sure is that it has gaps. So
at the time of the exodus, the gap between traditional Egyptian
chronology and the actual date is about 228 years. (The gap may
widen in earlier periods.)
2560 standard estimated date for Pyramids
We can now compare it to the year of
So once we account for errors made in Egyptian chronology we see the pyramids were indeed constructed after the flood. Remember these are all estimated dates, and we don't know how long the pyramids took to be built, but it appears (within a margin of error) there was sufficient time after the flood - particularly if the estimate of the pyramid's age is high - as I suspect. If that's the case they likely didn't begin building pyramids until dozens of years after the flood  and the date of the pyramid should be moved further down - after the flood.
As for the Dendera Zodiak, the aforementioned docudrama indicates some in the day of Jean-François Champollion (19th century) thought it might be so old it predated the flood (which of course is impossible). Champollion was charged with using his knowledge of Egyptian hieroglyphs to determine the truth about its age. So as not to ruffle feathers the show indicates he chose to keep the date to himself until his death. Whether that's true or not I'm don't know, but current sources indicate that "Champollion deciphered the names of Tiberius, Claudius, Nero and Domitian on the ceiling of Dendera's temple, and placed the zodiac in the era of Roman rule over Egypt" which places it around the 4th - 7th century AD - or about 3 millennia after the flood.
Thus the Egyptian chronology conundrum has been resolved. There is no conflict, and the Bible is proved right again. In the next article we'll look at a challenge to the date that the Bible indicates the Tower of Babel was constructed.
Epilogue: Remaining Questions
Egyptologist David Rohl agrees the standard Egyptian timeline is incorrect, and in fact has proposed his own corrected Egyptian timeline. Thus he had the best chance of correctly identifying the pharaoh of the exodus, but he also missed the pharaoh of the exodus because he made a critical mis-step in his identification. In his presentation on his identification of the pharaoh, Rohl quotes Josephus, who is quoting the Egyptian priest Manetho who is giving a history of Egypt. Rohl renders the quote as "Tutimaeus, in his reign, for what cause I know not, a blast of God smote us (i.e. the Egyptians)."
Based on the text of Josephus, "Tutimaeus" is unexpected as the name, so I wonder if that's his own translation or some translation other than the popularly used translation of Josephus. Regardless, though I don't have the original Greek manuscript of Josephus, the popular translation by William Whiston indicates the name of the Pharaoh as "Timaus" - not Tutimaeus. However Rohl identifies it as Tutimaeus which leads him to conclude, "Remember he [Manetho] is writing in Greek, Tutimaeus is Dudimose." And thus using the Royal Canon of Turin, he identifies Tutimaeus with the pharaoh Dudimose - the pharaoh who reigned about 45 years after Sobekhotep IV ( and Soberkhotep IV he believes is the pharaoh in whose house Moses was raised). Thus he mis-identifies Dudimose as the pharaoh of the exodus.
Rohl misses a key point. The key is in the explanation Josephus gives of the work that Manetho produced:
So what is Manetho doing? He's translating from Egyptian sacred texts into Greek. But it looks like Rohl sees the name not as a translation, but as a transliteration. A transliteration is when you merely substitute letter for letter without translating the meaning. For example, Luke writes his works (both Luke and Acts) to "Theophilus" (Luke 1.3; Acts 1.1) Theophilus is a transliteration of the Greek word, Θεοφιλος, with the letters we use in the English alphabet substituted for the Greek ones that convey the same sound. That's transliteration. But if you translate it - it looks like two words: Θεος (God) and φιλος (friend) - so together "friend of God." So who is Luke writing to? A person named "Theophilos," or is he writing to all "friends of God?" That's a discussion for another time. The point here is that Rohl missed that he should be translating not transliterating.
The pharaoh of the Exodus is named by Manetho as "Timaus." That's clearly a Greek name, not Egyptian, and looks like the Greek Τιμιος (Timios) - which means "of Great worth or value." What is the Egyptian word for "Great worth or value"? Fortunately there's an English to Egyptian dictionary online . Look at the word for "great", and you find: aAi: Very close to the king's name, which has been rendered Ay, Aya, Iy etc. but which likely all sound like "Ay" or "Ai". So clearly what Manetho has done is translate from Egyptian to Greek the idea of "Greatness", and gave us a Greek translation for that concept as the name of the Pharaoh of the Exodus - not a transliteration. Thus "Timaus" cognate "Timios" in Greek means approximately the same as the Egyptian "Ay" - one who is great - that is, of great value.
Thus we have a final piece of evidence that confirms and cements the case for Pharaoh Ay being the pharaoh of the Exodus: He's named by the Egyptian historian and priest Manetho who relates what's recorded in Egyptian sacred texts, which is then retold by the Jewish historian Josephus. How much clearer can you get than being given the name of the pharaoh of the Exodus by an Egyptian historian writing a history of Egypt, who identifies the reigning Egyptian king during what is clearly described as the events of, and immediately following the Exodus?
Question 2. What about Dates beyond the 228 year gap at the time of the exodus?
Some Egyptologists, scientists and historians claim dates that are even older than the pyramids. Some will claim dates for civilizations going back to 5,000; 10,000; even 20,000 B.C. Dates older than the age of the earth are obviously impossible. Biblically speaking that would be anything older than about 6000 years. Nor do we expect to find evidence of civilizations from before the flood. (i.e. before 2349 B.C.)
For those who claim such dates, I would simply ask, what evidence is there that's a real date, and not just someone's biased or made up date based on a Bible denying worldview? What concrete evidence can they adduce? Can they, for example, to prove their supposed ancient date, calibrate their suggested dates to a known event as I've done here with the exodus and the pharaoh of the exodus? For dates beyond the flood the answer is no, they can't. Nor can they claim any age as "measured" because as I pointed out in part 1, age - the amount of time passed - is not a quantity you can measure directly after the fact - not even with radiometric dating techniques. 
Assertions of ancient ages for previous civilizations are similar to assertions of an ancient universe. Based on the evidence, the universe is young. Suggestions it is billions of years old are based not on evidence, but on a world view that requires billions of years for its godless theories to look feasible and not be laughable. (Though they still are.) In these theories man - homo sapiens - supposedly evolved from some common ancestor about 200,000 years ago, and thus they conclude there must be evidence of civilizations from tens of thousands of years ago. But what evidence do they have of any civilization at that time? In a popular and widely spread prop for evolution they draw the famous icon - the sequential picture of an ape looking more and more human. But such pictures are merely an artist's depiction. There is no evidence of large scale macro evolution from ape to man. Fossils show either apes, or humans. Nothing in between. The only "missing links" have been mistakes and hoaxes.
Likewise artwork that depicts various ages going back tens of thousands of years is merely another icon meant to persuade. But like the icon of evolution, there is no evidence for dates of civilizations beyond the flood. I saw an icon recently, a depiction in a documentary on Egypt that aligned ages for ancient civilizations going back to 21,860 BCE with periods they divided up and named after signs in the zodiac. The second to last age they depict - named the "age of Sagittarius" dates supposedly back to 19,700 BCE. And what was happening during that period? According to icon, the "first known alphabet" at about 18,000 BCE.
If alphabets started with the Egyptians as some suggest , then as already demonstrated: first, those dates are off and second, the dates for Egypt are nonetheless relatively recent - thousand of years ago, not tens of thousands. So suggestions that alphabets are tens of thousand of years old are obviously wrong not only to the biblical world view, but to standard secular history as well.
Finally, keep in mind: artifacts don't come with little tags with dates of origin. (Neither do fossils or galaxies for that matter.) So pictures of items with ancient dates with large numbers representing old ages (like the icon of ancient civilizations mentioned above with ages named after the zodiac ) are not evidence, they are art. You have to do more than draw a pretty picture and label it with ancient ages to be persuasive about ages. You have to ask a few questions and do a bit of digging to calibrate alleged dates in artwork with real dates and events - and see if they actually match up.
Duane Caldwell | January 31, 2018
5. Jewish Historian Flavius Josephus
indicates that the word "Hyc" means king in the "sacred dialect" and "sos"
means shepherd in the "ordinary dialect" and thus "Hycsos" is a
compound word. Which would mean they were Asiatic - from the same area
as the Israelites. He also notes some say "that these people are
Arabians", and others say the word means "Captive Shepherds."
8. K.S.B. Ryholt: "The Political
Situation in Egypt during the Second Intermediate Period, c.1800–1550
BC", Carsten Niebuhr Institute Publications, vol. 20. Copenhagen: Museum
Tusculanum Press, 1997
10. Thirteenth Dynasty of Egypt, Everipedia, accessed 1/13/18,
generations would of course be Princes Charles, William and George.
While prince Philip, the husband of the queen is the only (and thus
eldest) son of his parents, he is not the firstborn and thus would
likely have been passed over for the biblical plague. Had he been the
firstborn, one can easily see how the plague could affect 4 generations.
15. Pyramids are found
all over the world from China to Italy to Mexico, and many exhibit
similar design features, though the cultures are thousands of miles
apart. This suggests a scenario as depicted in Genesis 11.1 - where the
world had one common speech - and a common knowledge base - including
how to build pyramids. After the languages were confused and the people
groups split up and gathered together by common language, it appears
they again began building tall structures - pyramids within their own
people group. This scenario would require time - for the people to
separate, setup their own cultures, and again begin building pyramids.
So it's unlikely people began building pyramids in the diverse locations
immediately after Noah and his family departed from the ark - when they
still had "a common speech."
16. "Dendora Temple
Complex", Crystal Links, accessed 1/11/18,
David Rohl, "The First &
Last Exodus - On Our Way to the Promised Land...once again"
21. English to Egyptian
dictionary, accessed 1/21/18,
22. For the many
ways Radiometric dating can be erroneous, see my article,
Radiometric Dating: Science or Guesswork?,