Judaism
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Why were the Jews slaves in Egypt?

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March 26, 2018 6:46PM

There is no archeological or historical evidence that the Israelites were ever really in Egypt, as slaves or otherwise. The only thing we have is the biblical account, and Israel Finkelstein says that over 90 per cent of scholars say that the Exodus never really happened as described in the Bible. Therefore, the Jews and their ancestors never were slaves in Egypt.

The Bible says that Joseph, who had become vizier of all Egypt, had his own family migrate to Egypt at a time of drought. They remained in Egypt for 400 years and became so numerous that the Egyptians became concerned. Slavery was instituted as a result - Exodus 1:11-14:Therefore they set over them taskmasters to afflict them with their burdens. And they built for Pharaoh treasure cities, Pithom and Raamses. But the more they afflicted them, the more they multiplied and grew. And they were grieved because of the children of Israel. And the Egyptians made the children of Israel to serve with rigor; and they made their lives bitter with hard bondage, with mortar, and in brick-making, and in all manner of service in the field.

  • Answer 2
The Torah states that Pharaoh claimed that the high Israelite birth-rate could pose a potential threat (Exodus ch.1).

On a spiritual level, the Egyptian slavery was brought about by God (see Genesis ch.15). It taught us the importance of loving the stranger (Deuteronomy 10:19), it showed us the power of God when He redeemed us (Exodus 10:2) as well as His personal concern for us (Exodus 2:24); and it served as the "iron furnace" (Deuteronomy 4:20) which smelted us (the Israelites) into a nation and separated the dross.

The Ipuwer papyrus describes Egypt's experiencing the Plagues: "Pestilence is throughout the land....the river is blood, death is not scarce...there is no food...neither fruit nor herbs can be found...barley has perished...all is ruin...the statues are burned" (Professor John van Seters, Journal of Egyptian Archaeology no. 50).
The plagues were also described by ancient historians, including Herodotus and Diodorus. The Exodus is mentioned by Strabo, Berosus, Artapanus, Numenius, Justin, and Tacitus.
But in any case, few nations are content to record embarrassing setbacks honestly. Even today, British and American textbooks describe the American Revolution in very different ways.
An example of the above principle:
The destruction of Sennacherib's army at the walls of Jerusalem was denied by secular theorists, because the Assyrians made no mention of it. But then it was found that Berosus and Herodotus both state that Sennacherib's military campaign in Judea ended in plague and defeat. It should not surprise us that the Assyrians themselves didn't record their own losses.
It is only the Hebrew Bible, because of its Divine origin, that exposes the faults of its own people and even magnifies them.
In no other religious text can one find such openness. None of the Israelites were immune to strong criticism: Abraham (Genesis 16:5), Reuben (Gen.ch.35), Simeon and Levi (Gen.ch.34 and 49), Judah (Gen.ch.38), Joseph's brothers (Gen.ch.37), Moses (Numbers ch.20), Aaron (Exodus 32:2-4), Samson (Judges 14:1-3), Eli's sons (1 Samuel 2:12), Samuel's sons (1 Samuel 8:1-3), Saul (1 Samuel ch.15), David (2 Samuel ch.11-12), Solomon (1 Kings ch.11), and many others.


"Although critics contended that the Hebrew Bible is unhistorical and untrustworthy, time and time again, the archaeological record supports places, times, and events mentioned in Scripture. We now have archaeological information about a number of patriarchal towns mention in Scripture, including Bethel, Shechem, Jerusalem, Mamre, Gerar, Beer-sheba, and Dothan" (Professor John Arthur Thompson, The Bible and Archaeology). The personal names Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob are names of the time and area mentioned in the Bible (ibid).
"One city after another, one civilization after another, one culture after another, whose memories were enshrined only in the Bible, have been restored to their proper places in ancient history by the studies of archaeologists" (Prof. Gleason Archer, A Survey of Old Testament Introduction).
No parchment, scroll, or inscription has ever been found that would support the Bible-critics' JEPD (different sources) hypothesis, which remains a set of postulates. And those ancient writers who mention, describe, summarize or translate the Torah (Josephus, Samaritans, Targum, Septuagint etc.), describe it in its complete form.
Archaeological finds, such as the Ugarit documents and those of Nuzu, Mari, Susa, Ebla, and Tel el-Amarna, have repeatedly caused the critics to retract specific claims. The entire social milieu portrayed in the Torah, once criticized as anachronistic, has been shown to be historically accurate, including customs of marriage, adoption, contracts, inheritance, purchases, utensils, modes of travel, people's names and titles, etc. Professor Gleason Archer states: "In case after case where historical inaccuracy was alleged as proof of late and spurious authorship of the biblical documents, the Hebrew record has been vindicated by the results of excavations, and the condemnatory judgment of the Documentary theorists have been proved to be without foundation."
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November 21, 2016 8:20PM

Pharaoh claimed that the high Israelite birth-rate could pose a potential threat (Exodus ch.1).On a spiritual level, the Egyptian slavery was brought about by God (see Genesis ch.15). It taught us the importance of loving the stranger (Deuteronomy 10:19), it showed us the power of God when He redeemed us (Exodus 10:2) as well as His personal concern for us (Exodus 2:24); and it served as the "iron furnace" (Deuteronomy 4:20) which smelted us (the Israelites) into a nation and separated the dross.

See also the Related Links.

Link: Archaeology

Link: Evidence of the Exodus