Are Exodus: Gods and Kings — and other Moses movies — picking on Ramses II unfairly?

Donna Dickens has an amusing post up at Hitfix in which she begs Hollywood to “please stop character assassinating Ramses II”.

The Bible, you see, never says precisely who was the Pharaoh of the Exodus, but most big-screen versions of the story — from The Ten Commandments to The Prince of Egypt to Ridley Scott’s upcoming Exodus: Gods and Kings — have assumed it was Ramses II, one of the most powerful Pharaohs who ever lived.

There are reasons for this, which I’ll get to in a moment, but Dickens proposes an alternative theory. Instead of dating the Exodus to the time of Ramses, who lived in the 13th century BC, she proposes dating it to the time of Thutmose III, an accomplished Pharaoh in his own right who ruled in the 15th century BC.

Why so much earlier? Partly because I Kings 6:1 tells us that Solomon began building the Temple 480 years after the Israelites came out of Egypt, and that he did this during the fourth year of his own reign. So Solomon began his reign 476 years after the Exodus, and if you date the beginning of Solomon’s reign to about 970 BC, as Dickens apparently does, then all you have to do is add 476 years and — voila! — the Exodus took place in 1446 BC, right in the middle of Thutmose’s reign.

I used to subscribe to this theory, or at least a version of it, myself.

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