The following is an excerpt of a critique on "Reason to Believe":

Under these conditions, were the Ten Plagues and a total crush of the Egyptian army in the Red Sea waters to happen, as we are told by the Torah, Egypt's ruthless neighbors -- the Babylonians and the Hittites -- would immediately invade the powerless country, conquer it, and glorify their victory in dozens of records, inscriptions, and monuments. Yet nothing like this ever happened. More specifically, historical records tell us that between 1320 and 1283 BCE Egypt and the Hittite empire were at a state of permanent war; had the Ten Plagues and the Exodus happened in 1313 BCE, when Judaic tradition claims they did, they would have quickly led to a Hittite invasion and conquest of the ruined Egypt -- which, of course, did not happen. Instead, after almost four decades of indecisive war, a peace treaty and a mutual defense pact were signed between Egypt and the Hittite empire.

See there for the author's response (which only responds to the plagues - not to the splitting of the Red Sea).

Most of that discussion between the critic and the author I'm not currently interested in. What I want to do is strengthen the question of the critic:

The simple read of Exodus 14:4 - 28 is that the ENTIRE Egyptian army drowned at sea. (If so, then the question of the critic is much stronger; why didn't the Hittites attack Egypt immediately afterward?)

See this related question.

  • @TzviK, if you really are interested in the Rabbinical view, look on Judaism.SE, and if you don't see an answer, ask there. Commented Nov 7, 2022 at 22:37

2 Answers 2


Ex 14:28 - The waters flowed back and covered the chariots and horsemen—the entire army of Pharaoh that had chased the Israelites into the sea. Not one of them survived.

The phrase "entire army" only occurs in Ex 14:28 (in this exodus story) where the operative word is לְכֹל֙ (lekol) meaning, "the whole, all" (Strongs).

If we accept this meaning at face value (as I would) then this would presumably mean the entire army that was mustered for that day was drowned; that is, since the army was mustered at very short notice, then only that part of the standing army that was immediately available went out to chase the Israelites was drowned.

Further, every army that has ever existed does not serve in its entirety on every campaign/battle; armies are invariably divided into sections that permits parts to be:

  • rested
  • trained
  • on leave
  • defending other parts of the country
  • etc,

... while another part is deployed. This means that in reality, while the entire (active) army of pharaoh was drowned that day, the (probably greater?) part of the army that was not deployed, survived.

A almost identical phrase "entire army" occurs in other places and simply means (in most places) the entire army that engaged in the particular battle being described, such as: Jer 37:10, 1 Chron 18:9, Judges 7:21, etc.

Lastly, there is some debate about which pharaoh and his army were involved in this failed battle for the Egyptians. The fact that, at the very least, the Egyptian army was severely weakened by this incident should not be lost on historians. Therefore, such an incident does not fit with the known facts about Ramases nor the any in the 18th dynasty. However, this question is now beyond the scope of the original OP and will not be discussed further here.

  • I have read where the entire German army at Stalingrad 1943 was either killed or captured. The writer was referring specifically to the German army at Stalingrad, not in all Europe. I liked this answer. I upvoted it because it is such a good answer. Keep in mind that ALL the livestock of Egypt perished TWICE during the plagues. ALL in Hebrew doesn't always mean every last individual one. In the Gospels, we read ALL Jerusalem came to see John the Baptist preach in the Jordan River. All doesn't always mean ALL like we do today. Commented Apr 24 at 23:59

My answer is no, the Egypt entire army was not drowned. I would give this answer even without the historical evidence the OP sites to the contrary, on the grounds that the Bible often uses hyperbole to describe battles and other events. Here are some examples:

  • As the people were filled with expectation, and all were questioning in their hearts concerning John, whether he might be the Christ. (Lk 3:15)

  • The king [Solomon] made silver and gold as common in Jerusalem as stones, and cedar as plentiful as sycamore-fig trees in the foothills. (2 Chronicles 1:15)

In fact "all" were not questioning in their hearts whether John might be the Christ, although many indeed were. And Solomon did not make silver and gold as common in Jerusalem as stones. This in no way diminishes the truth of Bible. It merely helps us understand that the biblical authors sometimes the embellished details with hyperbole for dramatic effect.

Biblical hyperbole is particularly common with military events.

  • In Num. 21:3 "the Lord listened to the voice of Israel and delivered up the Canaanites, and they utterly destroyed them and their cities." But when Judges opens, we learn that the Canaanites and their cities were not "utterly destroyed." Canaanites and Perizzites still offered opposition, and the Jebusites still controlled Jerusalem. In fact practically the entire Book of Judges recounts continuing struggles between the Israelites and enemies who, if we take Joshua literally, should no longer pose a threat. The reason is simple: Joshua used a hyperbole to emphasize that a great victory had been won.

The list of uses of hyperbole to describe biblical battles, both in terms of numbers of warriors and the extent of the victories, is large. The destruction of the entire army of Egypt is one example.

  • Hi Dan, I really appreciate your answer, and I did not down-voted. The OP is inside a process of becoming a religeous jew, and I think he is willing to hear answers that do not refer to the NT. He came to this website in order to ask about the common parts between Judaism and Christianity, such as questions about biblical history. I hope you understand.
    – Kapandaria
    Commented Nov 8, 2022 at 10:37
  • No problem, although when people downvote an answer it would really help if they offered their reason for doing so. As I understand it, a downvote shouldn't be based on religious disagreement but whether the answer is poorly done. Commented Nov 8, 2022 at 13:35
  • You are right, I do not know who did it.
    – Kapandaria
    Commented Nov 8, 2022 at 15:51

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