WRITTEN & DIRECTED: Simcha Jacobovici
EXECUTIVE PRODUCER: James Cameron
PRODUCER: Felix Golubev & Simcha Jacobovici
Reviewed by Todd Burgett
Canadian documentary The Exodus Decoded was written, directed, and hosted by Simcha Jacobovici (The Quest for the Lost Tribes) and executive produced by James Cameron (director of Titanic); it seeks to bring archaeology, hieroglyphics, and science together to give evidence to the Old Testament account of the Israelite’s exodus from Egypt. Despite the excellent research, hi-tech production values and engaging flow, The Exodus Decoded is a mixed bag of fact and fiction.
The reason is its undetectable blurring of hard evidence and “scientific” explanations in dealing with the biblical account of the Exodus. The hard evidence comes in the form of archaeology – the evidence that is presented is quite provocative, giving great testimony to the biblical account of the Exodus. These archaeological findings continue to leave little doubt as to the validity of the Old Testament account of the Exodus. This evidence leaves the filmmakers (and their viewers) with the quandary of what to do with such facts. Now they must explain how all the amazing events surrounding the Exodus happened and, of course, this is where they depart from the biblical account. The underlying attitude then goes something like this, “Surely the ancient Egyptians and Israelites couldn’t understand these events like we can.” Or could they?
This is where the line between fact and fiction blurs. Jacobovici and crew make “scientific” postulations surrounding such events as the plagues and the parting of the Red Sea. Although it seems that Jacobovici and Cameron are sincere in their presentation and are not trying to take an anti-biblical or anti-God approach, they nonetheless “explain away” the facts of the Exodus as God merely “manipulating nature” as opposed to these events being truly supernatural.
Therein lies the danger. Archaeology only gives further credence to the biblical account, yet explanations are given under the heading of science to explain to the contemporary viewer what “really” happened. For example, the explanation given for the water turning into blood (Exodus 7:14-25) as being merely underground gases released into the Nile, thus discoloring the water to look like blood. This reduces the ancient Egyptians (the makers of Pyramids, etc.) and Israelites to superstitious fools who were not able to tell the difference between blood and discolored water.
The most preposterous deduction comes in their explanation of how the firstborn really died when the Angel of Death exacted the tenth and final plague. According to The Exodus Decoded, elevated sleeping positions made the firstborn sons susceptible to the noxious gases released when the water “turned to blood.” This doesn’t account for how the firstborn in dungeons and the firstborn among the livestock were killed, too (Exodus 12:25-32). In this explanation, not only do they take the Egyptians and Israelites for fools, but their viewers as well. If one is going to take the Bible at it’s word – one has to take it all, and not just the parts they want to believe.
The end result of “what really happened,” according to The Exodus Decoded, ends up being more ridiculous than the biblical explanation of an Almighty God who actually could turn water into blood and selectively kill the firstborn of whoever didn’t put lamb’s blood above their doorways. Despite their intentions, it is deceptive of the filmmakers to explain away supernatural events of the Exodus by putting the moniker of “science” on their explanations. These explanations only leave more holes to fill than taking the Bible at its Word.
It’s a shame that such a fine production as The Exodus Decoded, with its excellent treatment of archaeology, ends with such ridiculous conclusions about how the events of the Exodus can really be explained. Thus, I cannot recommend The Exodus Decoded for the confusion that may result in the filmmaker’s blending of fact (archaeology) and fiction (explanations). – Todd Burgett