Egypt and Israel 223
may well be that some of the Habiru were the people of the
Egyptian bondage, and that in later Israelite tradition they
were held to be the ancestors of the Israelites; that the tradition
reflected the truth is extremely probable. It must only be
added that the Biblical evidence makes it clear that the people
in bondage did not represent the entire ancestry of Israel.
When all that is said about the Habiru in the Amarna letters,
and in the Egyptian inscriptions, is compared with the narra-
tives in the Old Testament, these latter are seen to be sub-
stantiated in a surprising manner; as Jirku truly remarks: *What-
ever the Old Testament narrates about the Hebrews can be
brought into connexion with what is said about the Habiru or
about the <prw in the ancient oriental records.'
We turn now to the vexed question of the date of the exodus.
Here, again, want of space forbids discussion;1 we can but offer
a few general remarks upon the subject without discussing the
various arguments for and against the suggested dates. There
are three periods during which the exodus might have taken
place: (a) from the time that the Hyksos were driven out of
Egypt to the conquests of Tuthmosis III, roughly from 1570 to
1500 B.C. ; (b) from the decline of the Eighteenth Dynasty to the
time of Seti I, and Rameses II, approximately from 1400 to
1300 B.C.; (c) after the end of the Nineteenth Dynasty, i.e.
from 1200 B.C. onwards. None of the data adduced in support
of these dates, respectively, are conclusive; all that can be said
is that the last is the least probable, and that there is something
to be said in favour of the second. This conclusion is disappoint-
ing; but the fact is that unless, and until, more definite data
are forthcoming, the matter must remain in the realm of con-
While it will be allowed that what has so far been said has
a bearing on our main subject, it is all of an indirect character;
1 See Peet, op. cit., pp. 105 2.; J. W. Jack, The Date of tbe Exodus (1925);
Oesterley and Robinsoaj A History of Israel, i. 68 ft. (1934.).