The story of the Exodus is told in the books of Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy, the last four of the five books of the Torah (also called the Pentateuch).
It tells of the events that befell the Israelites following the death of Joseph, their departure from Egypt, and their wanderings in the wilderness, including the revelations at Sinai, up to their arrival at the borders of Canaan.
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The second theory, sometimes called the "Citizen-Temple Community", proposes that the Exodus story was composed to serve the needs of a post-exilic Jewish community organised around the Temple, which acted in effect as a bank for those who belonged to it. In Levy, Thomas E.; Schneider, Thomas; Propp, William H. Israel's Exodus in Transdisciplinary Perspective: Text, Archaeology, Culture, and Geoscience.
The history of the Exodus story stretches back some two hundred years before the achievement of its current form, to a point in the late 7th century BCE when various oral and written traditions were drawn together into written works which were the fore-runners of the Torah we know today.
Numbers gives a more precise total of 603,550 men aged 20 and up.
the memory of Egyptian oppression, for example, may be based on the harsh treatment of Canaanites inside Canaan during those centuries in the 2nd millennium when the region was ruled by Egypt: these memories could later have been transferred to Egypt itself, and a new exodus story created.
A historical Moses associated with a small group may have been later generalised into the savior of Israel, while others have found echoes of the descent into Egypt and the Exodus in the history of the Hyksos, who were Canaanite rulers of the Egyptian Delta in the 16th century BCE.
A proposal by Egyptologist Jan Assmann suggests that the Exodus narrative has no single origin, but rather combines numerous historical experiences into "a coherent story that is fictional as to its composition but historical as to some of its components." These traumatic events include the expulsion of the Hyksos; the religious revolution of Akhenaten; a possible episode of captivity for the Habiru, who were gangs of antisocial people operating between Egypt's vassal states; and the large-scale migrations of the 'Sea Peoples'.
There is no indication that the Israelites ever lived in Ancient Egypt, the Sinai Peninsula shows almost no sign of any occupation for the entire 2nd millennium BCE, and even Kadesh-Barnea, where the Israelites are said to have spent 38 years, was uninhabited prior to the establishment of the Israelite monarchy.