Patterns of Evidence: Exodus is an award-winning documentary by filmmaker Timothy Mahoney that chronicles an in-depth archaeological investigation in Egypt as his team attempts to corroborate the biblical text. The film explores one fundamental question: Is there evidence that the Exodus story actually happened?
Dove: Tim, tell us about your journey to make ‘Patterns of Evidence: Exodus’
Tim: “Sometimes journeys begin long before you start a project. 40 years ago I saw a movie called ‘The Hiding Place’ 3 times in one week. Somewhere along that line, the idea of cinema, storytelling and the Jewish people were connected to me. Flash forward, I became a producer of TV commercials but I had a heart to produce films. I ended up producing movies for Billy Graham’s film company World Wide Pictures, the people who made ‘The Hiding Place,’ and I made the behind the scenes stories of the making of several of their films. It was through that experience that I became a part of an association helping other filmmakers and heard that there was somebody who was looking for evidence of the Exodus in Egypt.”
Dove: How much time did you spend in Egypt?
Tim: “6 months after 9/11 we spent a month going to the different locations of the story. One of the most important locations was the place where the Israelites (the family of Jacob) came to settle in the land of Goshen, the eastern part of the Nile Delta. An archeologist was there investigating under the city of Ramses and was uncovering archaeological remains at the very place that the Israelites had come to settle. I asked him ‘is there any evidence for the Israelites’ and he said, ‘So far, not.’”
Dove: How did that news affect you?
Tim: “When I came back, after a month in Egypt, that skepticism created a crisis of faith in my life. That’s where we begin the story of ‘Patterns of Evidence’. The rest of the story is the fact that I was able to move past that and go back into the investigation and found other archeologists who said, ‘wait a minute, there is another way to interpret the evidence’ so that began this 12 year investigation where we started filming scholars, archeologists and explorers of the Exodus and created a huge body of work, probably one of the largest investigations into the story of the Exodus.”
Dove: What evidence, in particular, were you looking for?
Tim: “The major events of interest to us were the ARRIVAL of the early Israelites in Egypt, their MULTIPLICATION, and their descent into SLAVERY, the JUDGMENT of Egypt, the EXODUS out of Egypt and the CONQUEST of the Promised Land. The Bible said that these things happened, so could we find those 6 steps in Egypt and Canaan? Was there any indication in Egypt’s archaeology, historical records, and writings? And, is there any indication of these people leaving with the collapse of Egypt and conquering the Promised Land? That’s what this film explores and ultimately uncovers. But it’s not in the time of history that people were suggesting, it’s earlier.”
Dove: What was one of the most intriguing things you discovered on the journey?
Tim: “Right in the beginning is the story of Joseph. Probably one of the most complete pieces of information the film reveals is found underneath the city of Ramses, where there is an older city called Avaris. There we see a dwelling that is not Egyptian, its more like a Semitic type dwelling from the area that Abraham came from. It had the same type of characteristics and the style of the house and the community of people that lived there, and it exactly matches the story of Joseph where Pharaoh said, ‘bring your family here and let them settle on the land.’ That group then grows into a larger community and over the top of that original Semitic-type house, a palace was built, which is a beautiful Egyptian palace but the occupant is not Egyptian, it was a Semitic ruler. You know the story of the Bible where it says Pharaoh made Joseph his second in command. Egyptologist David Rohl saw a connection in the archaeology to the biblical narrative and explained it like this, ‘So here was an esteemed person living in the heart of this Semitic community in this Egyptian palace. And in the back of the house is a graveyard with 11 principle tombs and one tomb that is very special. It is a pyramid tomb with a statue of a Semitic person with red hair and light color skin, not the type of color that Egyptians would have painted on their statues. It has a multicolored coat and a staff of authority and it absolutely fits the story of Joseph and his family.’”
Dove: What do you think is wrong with the timeline that modern scholars are using?
Tim: “I think the biggest problem is associating the time of the Exodus with Pharaoh Ramses. This would date the Exodus to around 1250 BC. There are other scholars who look at the biblical date of 1450 BC as being more accurate to the Bible’s own definition of when the Exodus happened. What Patterns of Evidence has uncovered is striking evidence matching all of the 6 major events recorded in the Bible. But these events still show up earlier than expected. So why is that?
Egyptologists like David Rohl suggest that there are problems with Egypt’s dating, that the reigns of pharaohs are overlapping, they are not end-to-end. Some are suggesting that this produces dates in those periods that are way off. David Rohl and others suggest that there needs to be a change to Egypt’s timeline if this is done then the evidence would synchronize with biblical history. It all starts to line up and that’s what this film looks at and raises that question again.”
We want to thank Tim for his insights and for the exhaustive research he has put into this project. The film Patterns of Evidence: Exodus presents both sides of the evidence and encourages the audience to decide what they believe. It can be found on DVD/Blu Ray and where digital downloads are available so if you want to know more, we encourage you to get your copy today.