What should we make of the story of the Exodus in the Old Testament?
Two million people escape slavery in Egypt after a series of savage plagues, with God leading the way. They escape the pursuing Egyptian army by walking through the waters of the Red Sea, which God miraculously parts, then closes on the army drowning them all while the Israelites gloat.
God miraculously provides them with food and water in the desert, gives them his laws including the Ten Commandments engraved on stone, but only after killing 3,000 of them for worshiping an idol. God also sends other punishments for disobedience – fire, an earthquake and venomous snakes, but also helps the Israelites kill their enemies.
All in all it is a violent and supernatural story, but eventually the Israelites reach their destination, the Promised Land of Canaan.
The story is foundational for the Jews and important for christians. But many find it unbelievable. Some disbelieve in the supernatural, some have problems with the violence of a supposedly loving God, some cannot believe that 2 million people were involved. Some sceptics use the difficulties in the story to argue that the Bible is unhistoric and christian belief baseless.
These sceptics are supported by most historians and archaeologists, who say there is no evidence for the events portrayed.
A new book by Richard Friedman takes a fresh look at the Exodus and charts a course between the extremes of scepticism and faith.
I was given this book as a Christmas present, and I have finished it already, so that gives you an idea that I found it absorbing and easy to read.