In the Bible, there is a long treatise about the miracles that had forgone the Exodus, the Book of Genesis details these. Then there are the dealings between Moses and Pharaoh, the magic fight of Moses' and the Egyptian Sorcerers and, most importantly, the Plagues of Egypt, related in the Book of Exodus.

Are there any references or possible conjectures about these events in historical Egyptian literature?

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    The simple answer is "no". There is no evidence that Israelites ever lived in Egypt, neither archeologic nor literary.
    – Alex
    Apr 8, 2016 at 12:43
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    Also note, that we know very little about that period. There are a few tombs from roughly that time period, but besides that, there are no official records of events from that era. Basically, we can neither prove nor disprove it (using strictly secular resources) because there are no historical records from those times written by Egyptians to survive to the modern day.
    – vsz
    Apr 8, 2016 at 14:01
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    Actually there's overwhelming evidence of Semitic occupation in Goshen. Just read David Rohl's Pharoahs and Kings.But it's not from Egyptian literature, no. Apr 8, 2016 at 14:51
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    @TheMathemagician Pharohs and Kings is an unconventional and contested work, as he fusses with chronology using less-than-precise methods, so it can't be said to offer "overwhelming evidence."
    – rougon
    Apr 9, 2016 at 0:25
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    @TheMathemagician - Your "overwhelming evidence" should probably be replaced with "one researcher rejected by most academics". If you want, I can fix your comment for you. :-)
    – T.E.D.
    Apr 9, 2016 at 6:49

2 Answers 2


I will answer this in two parts, concerning historical tradition and actual historical documents.

Historical Tradition and Writings

None of the stories from the Hebrew Book of Names, which you know as the "Exodus" are found either in Egyptian sources or in later Greek sources describing Egyptian mythology with the exception of the account of Manetho. The account of Manetho, a 3rd century BC Greek writer, is called the Aegyptica and is purported to be based on old Egyptian history. In addition to Manetho's book we have a response attributed to "Flavius Josephus" which is a critique of Manetho's book. In the critique, the author seems to acknowledge the basic facts of the account as being true while denying various minor aspects. Manetho's account of the Hebrews is a long discursion from his main topic which is on the kings (pharaohs) of Egypt. We do not have the full original text of the Aegyptica, but only later epitomes, such as those by Syncellus. The account in the "Josephus" work, Contra Apionem is most detailed, so I will paraphrase it here:

Tutimaeus. In his reign, for what cause I know not, a blast of God smote us; and unexpectedly, from the regions of the East, invaders of an obscure race marched in confidence of victory against our land. By main force they easily seized it without striking a blow; and having overpowered the rulers of the land, they then burned our cities ruthlessly, razed to the ground the temples of the gods, and treated all the natives with cruel hostility, massacring some and leading into slavery the wives and children of others. Finally, they appointed as king one of their number whose name was Salitis. He had his seat at Memphis.... In the Saitian district [ie the Sethroite Nome] he founded a city and named it "Avaris" according to ancient traditions...[list of kings follows]...These six kings, their first rulers, were ever more and more eager to extirpate the Egyptian stock. Their race as a whole was called Hyksos, that is king-shepards.... Some say that they were Arabs. In another copy the expression hyk, does not mean "kings" : on the contrary, the compound refers to "captive-shepherds"...These kings whom I have enumerated above, and their descendants, ruling over the so-called Shepherds, dominated Egypt, according to Manetho, for 511 years. Thereafter, he says, there came a revolt of the kings of Thebes and the rest of Egypt against the Shepherds, and a fierce and prolonged war broke out between them. The shepherds were defeated and confined in Avaris. Avaris was besieged to no avail so a treaty was made by which the shepherds would depart Egypt. The Shepherds with everything they had numbering 240,000 people then left Egypt and journeyed to Syria. There, fearing the Assyrians, they built a city in Judea called "Jerusalem".


The only documents thought to be relevant to Hebrews in Egypt are the Amarna letters, which are clay tablets found both in Assyria and in the royal palace of Amarna in Egypt. These are diplomatic letters and in numerous instances refer to the habiru occupying the region currently known as Israel. In some cases there are Egyptian writings which refer to apiru and it is believed to refer to the same people. The heiroglyphics for this word are:

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In addition to the Amarna letters there are some historical inscriptions involving wars in the Levant, such as the famous Battle of Kadesh inscriptions, however, in these inscriptions identification of the Hebrews are much more conjectural.

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    Are you sure that is not the hieroglyph for eskimos? That bird looks a lot like a penguin :-p
    – SJuan76
    Apr 8, 2016 at 19:00
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    @ SJuan76: But Eskimos and penguins live at opposite ends of the globe. Are you sure it's not part of a Linux user manual :-)
    – jamesqf
    Apr 8, 2016 at 21:07
  • Plus the Merneptah stele. Apr 11, 2016 at 21:13
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    Wondering why you have quotation marks around "Flavius Josephus" and "Josephus?" This implies that there is some question about the authenticity of the documents. Most ANE experts I have read hold the authentic authorship of these documents by the Romanized Jew Flavius Josephus. Whether or not what he wrote is accurate is debated - that he actually did write or at least compile and edit is widely accepted.
    – vbnet3d
    Aug 30, 2016 at 0:48

There is an historical reference to Plagues of Egypt in an old papyrus. You can see papyrus Ipuwer article in wikipedia and here a comparison between the text of Exodus and the papyrus.

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    You should expand this answer to describe the papyrus, how it refers to the Hebrews and the main conclusions of its comparison with the Exodus. If anything, the wiki article dates the papyrus back to the 19th century BCE...
    – Evargalo
    May 7, 2018 at 6:20

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