Academic journal article Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society

A Critical Analysis of the Evidence from Ralph Hawkins for a Late-Date Exodus-Conquest

Academic journal article Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society

A Critical Analysis of the Evidence from Ralph Hawkins for a Late-Date Exodus-Conquest

Article excerpt

In a recent issue of JETS, Ralph Hawkins sidestepped the insurmountable problems associated with a late-date exodus-conquest and offered five arguments which he suggested "may open up the possibility of a renewed consideration of the Late Date Exodus-Conquest as a viable choice for evangelicals."1 Three of the arguments are textual and two are archaeological. The present paper addresses these five issues.


1. First wrong textual argument: the 480 years are inconsistent with the chronology of Judges. The 479 years of elapsed time indicated in 1 Kgs 6:12 are entirely consistent with the chronology of the book of Judges, as Paul Ray, Andrew Steinmann,3 and other authors have shown, whereas a thirteenthcentury exodus cannot be reconciled with its time spans and sequences. The various pericopes of Judges can be divided into two classes, the sequenced and those that might be called unprovenanced, to use a term familiar to archaeologists. Sequenced stories are those that are connected to what immediately precedes or follows by a time-sequence phrase (some are connected at only one end). An example is Judg 10:1-2 (niv): "After the time of Abimelech a man of Issachar, Tola son of Puah, the son of Dodo, rose to save Israel. ... He led Israel twenty-three years."

Unprovenanced pericopes are those that are not related by a sequenceexpression to either what precedes or to what follows. Examples are the story of Samson (Judges 13-16), the story of Micah and the Danites (Judges 1718), and the final three chapters of Judges. The only chronological marker in the history of Samson states that he judged Israel for twenty years in the days of the Philistines (Judg 15:20; 16:31). This could have overlapped a part of the judgeships of Jephthah, Ibzan, Elon, or Abdon, who also were active in the days of the wars against the Philistines.4 Judges 13-16, then, provides an example of a pericope which is not in strict chronological order with what precedes and follows, and the proper way to determine the chronology of Judges is to distinguish between these unprovenanced sections and those that are sequenced. Sequences of years can be constructed from the latter, and the interpreter must then seek the most reasonable time to assign to the unprovenanced passages. It is completely improper to add all the numbers together without this consideration, as Hawkins does, in order to discredit the testimony of Judges as a chronological witness.5

For Hawkins, it is essential that the credibility of the numbers in Judges be negated, because the numbers exceed the time that proponents of a latedate exodus can afford to give to the time of the judges. This is true even with a judicious approach to the chronological data instead of Hawkins's and Hoffmeier's artificial adding up of everything. The proper approach to Judges, then, is to carefully study which sections are sequenced and which are unprovenanced, taking note of the exact meaning of the various bridge passages and considering whatever extra information is available, such as the 300 years of Judg 11:26. Advocates of a thirteenth-century exodus cannot afford to take this approach, and so they must discredit the data. Or, in the case of Kitchen's treatment of Judg 11:26, he defames poor Jephthah.6 But with the proper literal approach to the text, the pericopes in Judges are compatible with the 480th-year datum of 1 Kgs 6:1. They cannot be made compatible with an entry into the land in the late thirteenth or early twelfth (per Hawkins; see below, section II.2.a) century BC.

2. Second wrong textual argument: the 480 years represent twelve generations. Hawkins repeats the familiar argument that the 480 years of 1 Kgs 6:1 are a symbolic representation of twelve generations of forty years each. He gives as his basis van Daalen's comments in The Oxford Companion to the Bible.7 As supporting evidence for 40 years = one generation, van Daalen cites Exod 16:35; Num 14:33, 32:13; Ezek 4:6; and 29:11. …

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