Exodus Decoded

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Documentary sets new date for Exodus


A new documentary by a Canadian Jewish filmmaker argues that the Exodus did happen, but that it took place a couple of hundred years before the commonly-accepted time frame.

The Exodus Decoded, a two-hour documentary by award-winning Israeli-born filmmaker Simcha Jacobovici, suggests that the Exodus of the Jews from Egypt as recounted in the Bible occurred around 1500 BCE, about 230 years before the date most commonly accepted by contemporary historians.

The 10 plagues that smote the Egyptians, according to the Bible, are explained in the documentary to be the result of a volcanic eruption on a Greek island that occurred 3,500 years ago.

The documentary, which is narrated by the director James Cameron (Titanic), identifies a 3,500-year-old gold image - found in a museum in Athens - as that of the lost Ark of the Covenant. It also cites a hieroglyphic inscription discovered in an Egyptian museum that attests to the Exodus.

The film also claims to reveal the "true location" of Mount Sinai, where Moses received the Ten Commandments according to the Bible.

None of the relics - or arguments - cited in the made-for-TV, state-of-the-art film, which is the result of six years of research, has been accepted by archeologists or any prominent archeological institution as proof for Jacobovici's theory.

And Jacobovici, who has produced an array of documentaries over the last two decades on subjects ranging from suicide bombing in Israel to the ebola virus to the global sex trade, readily agrees that he is no archeologist. But he asserts that this makes him no less qualified to investigate historical facts.

"I bring with me the same skills you bring to any investigation, whether it is sex trafficking, politics, terror or the Biblical archeological story," said the two-time Emmy award-winner, denouncing "minimalists" who say that the Exodus - and the Bible - is a fantastic fairy tale.

"I think it is a mistake when you have a situation in archeology where some academics have set themselves up as some sort of priesthood between us and the Bible," he added.

Jacobovici set out on his Exodus quest after doing a documentary in the 1990s on a group of people on the Indian-Burma border who claim to be the lost Israelite tribe of Menashe. That film was met with widespread criticism by people Jacobovici branded as "so-called experts." Jacobovici said he himself was skeptical of the tribe's Israelite claims until he researched the subject.

Similarly with the new Exodus documentary, he asserted that with his hefty $3.5 million budget, a lack of preconceptions, and none of the restrictions of conventional archeological wisdom, he was free to reach what he insists are credible conclusions about the Exodus.

The 55-year-old director, whose original claim to fame was his first-ever documentary Falasha: Exile of the Black Jews, made two and half decades ago and which focused on Ethiopian Jewry, said his research for the lost tribes film spurred him to question the widely accepted assumptions about what he called "the founding story of Western civilization" - the Exodus of the Jews from Egypt.

Six years later, mixing science, religion and a variety of archeological findings, Jacobovici is convinced that he has seen the light. Most of the archeological findings cited come from Egypt, with others from Greece. He said he researched in six countries, including Israel and the UK.

The film, which was first broadcast in Canada in April, premieres Friday at the Jerusalem Film Festival. It will be shown in the US on August 20 on the History Channel.


Exodus Decoded

Exodus Decoded is a 2006 documentary created by Jewish Canadian filmmaker Simcha Jacobovici, in which new evidence in favour of the historicity of the Biblical Exodus is explored. It is partially narrated by film director James Cameron. Jacobovici suggests that the Exodus took place around 1500 BCE during the reign of pharaoh Ahmose I, and coincided with the eruption of Santorini that most scholars believe ended the Minoan civilisation. In the documentary, the plagues that ravished Egypt in the Bible are explained as having resulted from that volcanic eruption, and a related limnic eruption in the Nile river delta. While much of Jacobovici's archaeological evidence for the Exodus comes from Egypt, a surprising quantity comes from Mycenae, on mainland Greece.
The documentary made extensive use of computer animation. It ran for two hours and was first aired in Canada on April 16, (Easter Day) 2006.

Egyptian Archaological Evidence

• The Hyksos Expulsion, contemporaneous Egyptian records of the departure of the mysterious Semitic Hyksos people. Jacobovich suggests that the Hyksos and the Hebrews were one and the same, a thesis he supports with Egyptian-style signet rings uncovered in the Hyksos capital of Avaris that read "Yakob," the Hebrew name of the Biblical patriach Jacob
• The 2A Ahmose stele, a stone tablet unearthed in Karnak by Henri Chevalier in 1947, the only Egyptian tablet ever found which mentions "GOD" in the singular. In it, "God" incurs some of the same plagues described in the Biblical account (i.e. darkness, a great storm). The Exodus Decoded official website quotes the stele, "How much greater is this the impressive manifestation of the great god, than the plans of the gods!"
• Ahmose. Jacobovitch suggests that the name of the Pharaoh at the time of the Exodus may have been a paronomasia. In Hebrew, the Egyptian name Ahmose would mean "Brother of Moses." The documentary also examines the mummy of Ahmose's son Sapair, who appears to have died at the age of twelve. In the Bible, the pharaoh loses a son to the Plague of the Firstborn.
• 6A Serabit el Khadim turquoise mine, a slave labour camp in the Sinai with a Semitic aphabetic inscription that reads "O El, save me from these mines." The use of "El" suggests that it was written before the revelation at Sinai, supporting the thesis that Hebrews were enslaved in Egypt when the Bible says they were.
Previous Research
• Ralph Ellis, much of this thesis has already been researched and published by Ralph Ellis. His groundbreaking work in this field is called Tempest & Exodus, which was first published in 2000. Ralph also links the Hyksos with the Israelite Exodus, and demonstrated that the Ahmose stele not only contains an account of the Exodus, but also has biblical 'quotes' engraved upon it.

Mycenaean Archaological Evidence
• Gravestones. Three of the stones marking the wealthy tombs of Grave Circle A in Mycenae appear to depict the parting of the Sea of Reeds. A man on a chariot (Ahmose?) is shown in pursuit of a man on foot (Moses?) who is holding what archaeologists have commonly referred to as a spear but which Jacobovitch suggests is Moses' miraculous staff. Above and below the scene are rows of swirls which, in the Exodus interpretation, represent water.
• A Gold ornament excavated from one of the tombs in the Grave Circle seemingly shows the Ark of the Covenant against a background of the tabernacle altar. Jacobovich suggests that members of the Tribe of Dan may have emigrated to Mycenae after the Exodus. This, the documentary suggests, is why Homer refers to the buried at Mycenae as "Dani."

Scientific Conjectures

Jacobovici suggests that the Biblical Exodus took place shortly after the eruption of Thera (now known as Santorini), which is thought to have happened some time between 1650 BCE and 1450 BCE. The dates are disputed, depending on whether you prefer to use archaeological dating results (1500 BCE to 1450 BCE), or radiocarbon dating results (1650 BCE to 1600 BCE). Jacobovitch accepts a date around 1500 BCE. He goes on to explain how each of the Mosaic plagues, and even the parting of the Sea of Reeds, could be explained by earthquakes, faulting and a limnic disaster all caused by Santorini.

One possible scientific conjecture of the past has referred to a spot on the western end of the Red Sea where it has been observed in the past to turn to a sandbar and facilitate foot travel when a low tide and a strong eastern wind coincide. Jacobovici refers to the possibility of the bed of the sea of reeds rising out of the water due to geological movements, leaving the water on the sides and below the bed. The text of the story of Exodus 14 states that there were literal walls of water on either side, making this explanation incomplete. "21 Then Moses stretched out his hand over the sea, and all that night the LORD drove the sea back with a strong east wind and turned it into dry land. The waters were divided, 22 and the Israelites went through the sea on dry ground, with a wall of water on their right and on their left." Jacobovici's theories intend to provide some plausible basis for stories later embellished, thus a paucity of evidence for physical impossibilities like "walls of water" does not injure his hypothesis.


The documentary notes that most historians consider the Exodus a "fairy tale," while others reject scientific explanations that are not explicitly miraculous. Jacobovich reminds that God, according to the Judeo-Christian description, can control nature, having an intimate understanding of it. His miracles may therefore be efficient and exploit natural cycles and logic.
The documentary ends with a voiceover:
"Was the Exodus just a natural event or was it the hand of God? We'll leave that for the viewer to decide."

Previous Published Research

This is a similar theory to that first expounded in the international best-seller Act of God written by British historian Graham Phillips. This ground-breaking book was published in 1998.


Simcha Jacobovici (pronounced Ya-Ka-Bo-Vitch) is an award winning documentary director and producer whose work deals primarily with controversies in Jewish history. In addition to filmmaking, Jacobovici does lectures, and writes articles that are featured in papers worldwide. Jacobovici is fluent in English, French, Hebrew and Romanian. Jacobovici has a B.A. with Honours in Philosophy and Political Science from McGill University and an M.A. in International Relations from the University of Toronto.

Jacobovici's documentaries include:

The Exodus Decoded
Falasha: Exile of the Black Jews
Deadly Currents
Hollywoodism: Jews, Movies & the American Dream
Quest for the Lost Tribes
The Struma
James: Brother of Jesus.
Jacobovici also created and hosts the television program "The Naked Archeaologist"


Jacobovici was named Canada's Top Documentary Filmmaker by the Ryerson Review of Journalism. His has recieved a certificate of Special Merit from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, a Genie Award, a Gold Medal from the International Documentary Festival of Nyon, three U.S. Cable Ace Awards, two Gemini awards, an Alfred I. Dupont-Columbia University Award, a Silver Nymph from the Monte Carlo Festival, the Best Documentary from the Jerusalem International Film Festival and the 1995 and 1996 Emmy Awards for "Outstanding Investigative Journalism."


The Speos Artemidos Inscription of Hatshepsut
The following translation is adapted from that made available in the following article:

James P. Allen, "The Speos Artemidos Inscription of Hatshepsut", Bulletin of the Egyptological Seminar 16 (2002), pp.1-17, pls.1+2.

[Spellings have been anglicised, some elements of Egyptian terminology have been altered slightly; otherwise, the translation represents James Allen's published work].

(1) [The living one, Horus Powerful of Life-Force; Two Ladies Fresh of] Years; Gold Falcon Divine of [Appearan]ce; Young God, Lord of the [Two] Land[s, King of Upper and Lower Egypt MAATKARE; Son] of Re, [Lord of] Appearance [HATSHEPSUT UNITED WITH AMUN, given life like the Sun forever - (2) she whose titulary has been set and remains like the sky, setting up the annals of her diligence on the cliff of Her of the Mountain Top toward the (3) rising of the lord of [rays] over the desert edge, when his flames are on the back of the two deserts.

The favourite place(s) [of] all the gods have had their braziers spread and (4) their chapels broadened, each (god) at the sanctuary he has desired, his life-force content with his thrones, (5) for I have stipulated the fulfillment of their enjoyment, their colonnades having been [ ... ]ed, the hidden place of the house's interior having been made defensive for it with respect to "bringing away the foot", (6) every (god) fashioned in his body of electrum of Upper Nubia, their festivals stable in (their) totality, (7) the register of festival-offerings (in effect) with respect to to its timing in adherence to the system of my making, the rites of its arrangement haveing been made firm, which (rites) he (the Sun) made in the past (8) for the first (gods).

My divine mind is looking out for posterity, the king's heart has thought of eternal continuity, because of the utterance of him who parts the ished-tree, Amun, (9) lord of millions, and I have magnified the Order he has desired. For it is known to me that he lives on it: it is my bread, and it is of its dew that I drink. I was (10) in one body with him, and he has brought me up to make the awe of him powerful in this land. I am one who Atum-Khepri, who made what is- made (11) know(ledgable], one whom the Sun has fated as established for him.

The shores are united under my supervision, the Black Land and the Red Land under terror of me, (12) my impressiveness making foreign lands bow down. For the uraeus on my front pacifies for it all lands < ... >. (13) Rashaut and Iuu cannot be concealed from my incarnation. Punt has [swollen] forth for me on <all its> field, (14) its trees bearing fresh myrrh. The roads that were blocked in both lanes are (now) trodden. (15) My troops, which were unequipped, have finery since my appearance as king.

The temple of the mistress of Qusae, which had <completely> (16) fallen into dissolution - the earth having swallowed its noble sanctuary, children dancing on its roof<s>, (17) no tutelary goddess causing fear, the lowly reckoning defencelessness in (her) absence, nor (18) her days of appearance having <be>en experienced - I hallowed it, built anew, fashioning its Leading Serpent of gold < ... > (19) in order to defend its town in the processional bark.

Great Pakhet, who roams the wadis, resident in the eastern desert, [was] s[eeking] (20) the rainstorm's paths, since there was no relevant libation-service that fetched water (for her). I have made her enclosure as [what this goddess] intende[d] (21) for her Ennead, the doorleaves of acacia inlaid with bronze, in [or]der that [they] might be [in it, her register of festival-offerings] (22) (in effect) with respect to (its) timing, the lay-priests learning of its time.

Hur and Hermopolis were im[poverish]ed of provisions. (23) I have hallowed the sacred precincts of their towns, established as a frequented place. Those who were in [ ... ] the storehouse (24) are (now) requisitioner(s) from it.

Since great Thoth, who came from the Sun, has been reveal[ing (this) to] me, I [have consecrated to] him an altar in (25) silver and gold and chests of cloth, every vessel set in its (proper) place. For the one authorised to see, the leader of (26) Atum's two Enneads, did not know how to do it, there being no knowledge in his house; the god's-fathers were empty-headed, [and there was no son who] learned from <his> father. (27) My incarnation's vision gives clarity of vision to those who shoulder the god. I have constructed his great temple of white stone of Tur[a], its gateways (28) of alabaster of Hatnub, the doorleaves of bronze of Asia, the reliefs on them in electrum, holy with (the image of) him of high plumes. I have [magni]fied (29) the incarnation of this god with a double festival of Nehebkau and the festival of Thoth, which I set for him anew (30) when they were (only) in the mouth and not on his calendar since the time when the conduct of the festival was single. I have multiplied the god's offering for him more (31) than what was before, by my acting for the Ogdoad - for Khnum in his forms and for Heqet, Renenet, (32) and Meshkenet, united to build my body; Nehmetawy, Nehbetka, She of Whom it is Said (33) that the Sky and Earth are Hers, and He in the Mummy Wrappings - in Hebenu.

The relevant towns are in a festival of witnessing to me with (the words) "Unknown! Unknown!" The enclosure (34) walls are in foundation , for I have established them and made them festive, giving the houses to [their] owner(s). Every [god] says to himself: "One who will achieve eternal continuity has come, (35) whom Amun has caused to appear as king of eternity on Horus' throne".

So listen, all you elite and multitude of commoners: I have done this by the plan of my mind. (36) I do not sleep forgetting, (but) have made form what was ruined. For I have raised up what was dismembered beginning (37) from the time when the Asiatics were in the midst of the Delta, (in) Avaris, with vagrants in their midst, (38) toppling what had been made. They ruled without the Sun, and he did not act by god's decree down to my (own) uraeus-incarnation. (Now) I am set (39) on the Sun's thrones, having been foretold from ages of years as one born to take possession. I am come as Horus, the sole (40) uraeus spitting fire at my enemies. I have banished the gods' abomination, the earth removing their footprints.

This is the system of the father (41) of [my] fathers, the Sun, who (now) comes at his dates. Damage will not happen (again), for Amun has decreed that my decree remain like the mountains. When the sun-disk shines, (42) it will spread rays over the titulary of my incarnation, and my falcon will be high on the top of the serekh for the course of eternity.



Allen, James P.

"The Speos Artemidos Inscription of Hatshepsut", Bulletin of the Egyptological Seminar 16 (2002), pp.1-17, pls.1+2.

Bickel, Suzanne and Chappaz, Jean-Luc

1988 "Missions épigraphiques du fonds de l'égyptologie de Genève au Spéos Artémidos", BSEG 12, 1988, pp. 9-24.

1993 "Le Spéos Artémidos", in Les Dossiers de l'Archéologie - Hatchepsout, femme pharaon, novembre 1993, pp. 94-101.

Chappaz, Jean-Luc

1984 La mission de 1984 au Speos Artemidos, Geneve: Beaux-arts et culture, 1984, pp.2-8

Fairman, H.W. and Grdseloff, B.

1947 "Texts of Hatshepsut and Sethos I inside Speos Artemidos", JEA 33 (1947), pp.12-33.

Gardiner, Alan H.

1946 "", JEA 32 (1946), pp.43-56. "Davies's Copy of the Great Speos Artemidos Inscription," JEA 32 (1946), p.56.

Goedicke, Hans

The Speos Artemidos Inscription of Hatshepsut and Related Discussions, Baltimore: Halgo, 2004.

Lalouette, C.

1995 Thebes ou la naissance d’un empire, Paris, 1995, p.267 (French translation)

Joyce A. Tyldesley

1996 Hatshepsut: The Female Pharaoh, 1996, p. 155-158.

Vandier, Jacques

1955 Manuel d'archéologie égyptienne, Tome II (2), Les grandes époques - L'architecture religieuse et civile, Paris 1955, p. 944-948.



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