22 Oct, 2020
JERUSALEM WEATHER

A new film, the culmination of two decades of research, considers the possible routes the Hebrews took when the left Egypt, presenting evidence that the Exodus actually happened. The movie is part of a series that graphically presents the case that the Bible scholars may have gotten it right and the scientists, or at least some of them, are beginning to reconsider their assumption that Moses, Joseph, and all the rest of the cast of the Bible, actually left their footprints in the sands of time.

ONE MAN’S JOURNEY OF FAITH: IS THE BIBLE TRUE?

In addition to being an award-winning filmmaker, Tim Mahoney is first and foremost a devout Christian with a strong belief in the Bible. As such, he set out more than a decade ago to document his search for an answer to the questions that challenge everyone man of faith who reads the Bible: Is the Bible, the basis of all Abrahamic religions, true? As fantastic as they sound, could the events that forged the relationship between the Hebrews and God really happen the way they were described in the pages of the Bible? If they did, then where is the proof?

Towards this end,  he established Thinking Man Films, which released its first feature documentary film “Patterns of Evidence: The Exodus” in 2015. This film won multiple awards in film festivals across the country. He released the second in the series, “Patterns of Evidence: The Moses Controversy” in 2019. The films bring evidence from archaeologists and historians and Mahoney compares that to the Biblical narrative.

Though Mahoney is a devout Christian, he consulted with rabbis and Jewish scholars in his search for the truth of the Bible. The movies and accompanying books are for anyone who is interested in the Bible, regardless of their religion.

“I am not making Christian films,” Mahoney explained. “I am making investigative films as a Christian.

I am searching for the truth. The Bible says that there are consequences for not believing. Agnostics appreciate this type of search for the truth. Sometimes, people don’t want to believe out of some kind of illogic. This can help them to find the reasons to believe.” 

“I’ve always believed the Bible was true,” Mahoney told Breaking Israel News. “We put great confidence in God helping us. When researchers started telling me that there is no evidence that these stories ever happened, that seed of doubt really bothered me. But you need to be honest about these negative voices.”

“I’ve tried to be as honest as I possibly can with my films,” Mahoney said. “I look at what the scriptures say and compare it to the pattern of historical events. This has given me deeper insights into the Bible.” 

“For example, we know the Exodus actually began with God’s promise to Abraham which included his descendants being slaves in Egypt. But he also promised he would bring them back to the Promised land. In this narrative, Joseph is even more important than I previously thought. It is actually in Joseph’s life that we can find evidence of the Exodus story in Egypt.”

But there are also personal lessons.

“God took 600,000 men of fighting age out of Egypt, I found evidence of that. He provided for them in the desert,” Mahoney said. “If He can do that, provide them with all their needs in the wilderness, then surely he can provide for me and my family.”

THE RED SEA MIRACLE: THE ROUTE TO THE SEA

Mahoney set out to find the precise route the Hebrews took when leaving Egypt. Towards this end, Mahoney created his third film, “The Red Sea Miracle. In this documentary, he examines the journey to the crossing location, looking at two competing views of the Red Sea Miracle. One he calls the “Egyptian Approach,” which looks near Egypt. The other he calls the “Hebrew Approach,” which looks far from Egypt to the Gulf of Aqaba where divers have been searching for the remains of Pharaoh’s army on the seafloor. 

The movie is essentially a documentary but it is presented with graphic explanations that make the history and archaeology accessible to the layman. Sections have the appearance of a Hollywood production.

But this movie, the one he initially intended to begin the series two decades ago, was put on pause. 

BUT DID THE EXODUS ACTUALLY HAPPEN?

“When I started my investigations, I wanted to find the route of the Exodus. But people asked, ‘What is the point of finding the route if the Exodus never really happened?’”

So Mahoney put his project on pause and went to Egypt to answer that question, searching for evidence that the Jews had lived in Egypt and for the subsequent miraculous mass Exodus. In this quest, he was stonewalled by historians who rejected the Biblical version of the Exodus based on a specific time-line connecting the Hebrews’ presence in Egypt to the reign of Ramses the Second, during the New Kingdom of Egypt. This is based on the verse in the Bible stating that the Hebrews built the city of Ramses.

So they set taskmasters over them to oppress them with forced labor; and they built garrison cities for Pharaoh: Pithom and Raamses. Exodus 1:11 

Archaeologists determined that the city of Ramses existed only during the 13th century BCE. There is no archaeological evidence of Semitic culture in the city or in Egypt at that time so archaeologists concluded that the Biblical story, from Joseph to Moses, has no factual basis.

“Most mainstream scholars today tell you that the Exodus that didn’t really happen, and if it did, it happened around 1250 BCE,” Mahoney said. “So they’ve limited their search for the Exodus to that time and since they didn’t find any evidence for an Exodus at that time, they concluded that it never happened.”

In his film, Patterns of Evidence, Mahoney did not find evidence for an Exodus in that era either.

But he was undiscouraged and using the Bible as a guide, followed rumors of Semitic remains in the ruins of Avaris, a large city in Northern Egypt that had a population of 30,000. Mahoney became excited when the chief archaeologist at the site, Manfred Bietak, revealed that the city had a special, elevated status, a type of free-zone That seemed to match the Biblical description of Goshen as being separate from Egypt proper.

Beitak described that proof of shepherding, an unusual practice in Egypt, was found around the remains of Avaris. But Beitak, working on the same timeline as other egyptologists, did not believe that Avaris was connected to the Biblical Exodus. Bitek’s research determined that Avaris was built at least four centuries before the city of Ramses and disappeared before the Hebrews were thought to have arrived in Egypt.

At the dig in Avaris, remains were discovered of a  palace built around 12 pillars with royal trappings. In the land adjacent to the palace were 12 impressive burial crypts. The most elegant crypt was a small pyramid containing an unusually large statue with skin painted yellow, red hair, and a multi-colored robe. Most intriguing was the fact that the crypt contained no human remains. This corresponds to the Biblical account of Joseph’s bones being carried back to Israel when the Jews left Egypt.

“There is an amazing pattern of evidence for the Exodus,” Mahoney said.

“But not when the historians say it should be.”

As a religious documentarian, Mahoney seems to have been successful where the scientists failed. But he knows precisely why.

“I always start out by asking what the Bible is telling us. And this led me to an amazing amount of evidence pointing to an earlier time period.”

In another parallel to the Bible, a canal, built during the period of Avaris, still called the Joseph Waterway, connected the Nile to the Fayum Basin. Rohl suggested that it was constructed under the direction of Joseph in order to regulate the Nile flooding.

He found another piece of evidence in the Dutch Museum in Leiden; the Ipuwer Papyrus, a single page from 1250 BCE which is a copy of another papyrus from the 18th century BCE.  The earlier document records details of events that corroborate the Biblical version, describing the Nile as “blood” and servants running away. It describes a famine and the destruction of all the crops: “Plague sweeps the land, death is everywhere”. In a verse almost identical to the Bible, the papyrus states, “Wailing is throughout the land…yet the poor become rich, slaves take whatever they want.”  Nonetheless, any connection between the Ipuwer papyrus and the Exodus is discounted by archaeologists, because it comes from the Middle Kingdom, far too early according to classical theories.

Perhaps the greatest testimony to Mahoney’s search for the truth was revealed in his most recent movie.

“Manfred Bitek, the chief egyptologist at Avaris and skeptic of the Exodus, appears in the Red Sea Miracle testifies that he now has evidence for the Exodus,” Mahoney said excitedly. 

HEBREW: THE MYSTERIOUS LANGUAGE

As an investigator, Mahoney saw the Bible as an eyewitness account given by a firsthand witness name Moses. 

“But the same people who said that there never was an Exodus also say that Moses didn’t write the Torah,” Mahoney said. This challenge, which he claims was even more difficult than proving the existence of Joseph, led him to his second movie, “The Moses Controversy.” 

“Many mainstream scholars entirely dismissed this idea, claiming that the first books of the Bible were not written by Moses, but were written centuries later by a number of contributors who mixed fact with fiction to create an origin story for Israel. Therefore, they claimed that these biblical accounts are not historically reliable.”

 To refute that claim, he investigated the tool Moses used to write his account; the Hebrew language. The first part of the investigation was to determine whether there was a writing system in place at the time of the Exodus that Moses could have used. Most scholars believe that Hebrew did not exist until 900 BCE, after the time most scholars believe the Exodus took place. But Mahoney’s tenacity led him to an alternative alphabet and an alternative timeline. Mahoney found scholars had discovered proto Sinaitic, an alphabetic language similar to early forms of Hebrew. In his previous film, Mahoney suggested a variation on Exodus timeline that placed the Israelites in Egypt in 1800 BCE, much earlier than most scholars had previously asserted.

Mahoney was faced with a new set of questions:

Hebrew separated the Children of Israel from the Egyptian taskmasters. Did Moses have the writing system? Did it exist in Egypt at the time of the Exodus? Was it Semitic?

Mahoney noted that hieroglyphics and cuneiform are composed of thousands of symbols which required years to learn. It was by nature restricted to an elite. An alphabet composed of fewer than 30 symbols made reading and writing much more accessible.

“This investigation shows that this alphabet showed up in Egypt exactly when I believe Joseph was in Egypt,” Mahoney said. “This early form of writing influenced the message of the Bible.”

“This foundational alphabet was a technology that democratized information, allowing it to be widely transmitted,” Mahoney said. “The Bible was given to the entire nation through an alphabetic language.

Part One of The Red Sea Miracle will be showing in over 800 theaters for one day only on February 18. Part Two will be in theaters on May 5. For more information and to purchase tickets go to patternsofevidence.com