Egyptian Records and the Bible

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Why do Egyptian records go right past the Biblical plagues and Red Sea without mentioning that they were all killed and then mostly killed again?

One of the things the biblical text does not do is smooth over character flaws, personality conflicts, losses in military pursuits, sins of the nations, and other flaws in the ancient world. It tells us about David being a man after God’s heart but doesn’t neglect talking about his adultery with Bathsheba or conspiracy to commit murder against her husband.

It tells us some of the worst stories, like Judah and Tamar in Genesis 38 or King David’s son and daughter, Ammon and Tamar. It is full of recounts of sins committed by God’s people, deceptions in his kingdoms and nation, and outright lies of some of the Bible people.

But this was not so throughout the Ancient Near East. Most kings only wrote down their successes, not their failures. They didn’t talk about their character flaws. Most of them spoke to their people as gods. They saw themselves as divine. Gods don’t make mistakes.

For instance, Senacherib comes down to Jerusalem during King Hezekiah’s time to sack the city and take him captive. He sacks every city until he gets to Jerusalem. But God destroys his army with angels outside the city of Jerusalem.

In the record we have he talks about every city he sacked and then whenever he gets to Jerusalem he simply says, “and I kept Hezekiah captive like a bird in a cage in Jerusalem.” So he doesn’t record the fact that his army was destroyed or that he failed to capture Hezekiah or sack Jerusalem.

They didn’t record their losses. And this is one of the reasons you will not see any record of what happened at the Red Sea in Egyptian records. They only talk about their successes, and the ten plagues we see recorded in Exodus our failures, not victories. Their Pharaoh and all of his army drowning in the Red Sea chasing the Israelites is a failure.

They have no reason to record these failures. So they ignore the failures and only write there victories. No Egyptian record will give you inaccurate account of any time they lost the battle or had any problems in their kingdom.

In general, as you look at ancient literature this fact must remain in your thoughts. These records are helpful to help us establish much of history, but if they don’t tell you the whole truth about everything that happened, you must collaborate with what other contemporary ancient records record about them.

Only after collaborating with all of these resources can we come to a more accurate history. The Bible needs to be included in these historical approaches because it is another record at the time of these kings and peoples.

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