Exodus models and the Philistines
This page presents a rapid and approximate summary of Judges dates (making a variety of different assumptions for Exodus) compared with conventional chroology dates for salient Egyptian dynasties and rulers. The main focus here is on the arrival of the Philistines and other Sea Peoples groups, and the Judges who are said to have confronted them. The variation between models is taken to arise simply through varying the date of Exodus itself. Judges is assumed to relate events sequentially, but the years assigned to each Judge, and the degree to which the various Judges may have ruled in parallel, are altered. The overall result is that each Judge is located at approximately the correct proportion through the overall period. This kind of reconstruction is only intended to give a rough indication, and not an exact one - the purpose is broad-brush comparison with Egyptian history, not a detailed analysis.
Samuel, Saul, Battle of Mizpah
Textual mention of other Sea Peoples starts
Archaeological evidence starts (pithos burials)
1st Sea Peoples' invasion
Textual mention of Peleset
David's reign is taken to start around 1010 BCE. The Battle of Mizpah can be taken as marking the end of the period of Judges. In broad terms the internal OT chronology places this between 1040 and 1090, depending on issues such as the reign-length of Saul and the age of Samuel, neither of which is known with certainty.
The various models represent the following situations:
- 1640 - Exodus coincides with the arrival of the Hyksos in Egypt
- 1540 - Exodus coincides with the departure of the Hyksos from Egypt
- 1450 - Exodus dated using the 1 Kings 6 indicator
- 1250 - Exodus in the reign of Rameses 2
- 1640 - Shamgar is before the earliest Egyptian indication of any groups of Sea Peoples. If this model were adopted, it would be necessary to assume either a) that the author/compiler of Judges applied the term Philistine to a group of people related to but not identical to the Peleset, b) there were groups of such people in Canaan earlier than Egyptian records indicate, or alternatively c) that the account of Shamgar is misplaced and should be at a different point in Judges. Jephthah is extant around the time of the first Sea People's attack on Egypt - Peleset are not mentioned in the surviving Egyptian records of this, so one would have to assume that they were present at least in Canaan at this stage without having been mentioned by Egypt (or perhaps without having been involved in the attack). The time interval is quite small (about 20 years) so the problem is not as great as with Shamgar, and can be easily resolved within the intrinsic inaccuracies of the figures shown.
- 1540 - Shamgar is after the Amarna period and the first Egyptian textual reference to Sea Peoples groups, but before the earliest archaeological evidence. The time interval is not great, however, and as mentioned above the accuracy of the model is low. However, it would have to be assumed either that the author/compiler of Judges applied the term Philistine to a different but closely-related people, or that there were groups of Peleset unreferenced by Egypt. Jephthah is after the reign of Rameses 3 so there are no difficulties with his combatting Philistines.
- 1450 - The same comments apply to Shamgar as above, except that the later dating means that he is now placed within the scope of archaeological evidence. Again there is no proble with Jepthah.
- 1250 - Both Shamgar and Jephthah are after the Sea Peoples' invasion of Rameses 3 year 8, so there are no difficulties here from this regard. Jephthah's activities would be seen as parallel to those of Saul and Samuel rather than preceding them.
Hyksos - 1636-1539
18th dynasty - 1539-1295 (Thutmose 3 - 1479-1425, Amarna c. 1350)
19th dynasty - 1295-1186 (Rameses 2 1279-1213, Merenptah 1213-1203)
20th dynasty - 1186-1069 (Setnakhte 1186-1184, Rameses 3 1184-1153)
21st dynasty - 1069-945