Donald Redford writes in "A Study of the Biblical Story of Joseph (Genesis 37-50)":
'Two conclusions seem justified by our examination of the background detail. First, the Hebrew writer was not so well acquainted with Egypt as has often been imagined. Not a few of the supposed Egyptian parallels, especially titles, vanish under close inspection. On the other hand there are indications here and there that the writer was familiar with the Judaean foyal court. And second, those elements which do appear to be genuine cannot be dated with any degree of likelihood before the seventh century B.C. Of course anyone who draws this second conclusion lays himself open to the charge of being unduly influenced by the argumentum e silentio.'
Redford gives as an example the coin that was placed in the grain sack of Benjamin. Apparently coinage was not known in this region until the 6th century B.C.
The term 'argument of silence' also applies to the title of pharaoh. Although there may be no official use of this word until the New Kingdom, it was probably part of popular speech far earlier.
A related example is the city of Pi-Ramesses mentioned in connection with the Exodus story. Most conclude that this city either did not exist until the time of the 19th Dynasty or was a location renamed after Ramses.
I do not agree with Redford that the Biblical authors were unfamiliar with Egypt. I rather think that archaeologists have not yet percieved the Hebrew sub-culture that existed within the royal court of ancient Egypt.
In my book, I show that Ramses I was in fact the pharoah of the Exodus. However, at the time he evicted Akhenaten from Amarna he was pharoah of the Libyan throne and not yet the greater throne of all Egypt. What's more Libyan pharaohs were especially active as builders in the Nile Delta. Ramses I might well have been using "Hebrew" labor at "Pi-Ramesses" at the time of the Exodus.
Nevertheless, as part of the storytelling process, authors probably made use of terms that would have been familiar to their intended audience rather than being completely faithful to the original setting. Biblical authors also wrote composite accounts, which melded the events of widely differing time periods. This includes the Exodus account itself.
© Charles N. Pope, US Library of Congress. All rights reserved.