The story of Exodus contains some of the most vivid biblical set-pieces, from the ten plagues unleashed upon the Egyptians, through the inundation of Pharaoh’s army by the ‘Reed’ Sea to the delivery by Moses of the Ten Commandments on Mt Sinai. Taking precise biblical chronology literally, it would have occurred in the reign of Amenhotep II (1455–25 BCE), but Egyptian contemporary sources make no mention of such noteworthy occurrences, nor does the archaeological evidence in Sinai support a protracted occupation by the Israelites. The biblical account lists a total of 42 way-stations on the route of Exodus, before the Israelites reached the Kadesh-barnea on the southern borders of their homeland. The early way-stations such as Pithom can be clearly located, but the ‘Reed Sea’ might be the Bitter Lakes, or the shallow string of saltwater lakes on the Mediterranean coast. Similarly, Mt Sinai has candidates both in the peninsula and across the Gulf of Aqaba in Midian.
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