The compelling memory of the Egypt experience and the disgrace of having been slaves
And Hertz goes on to say on page 396:
All this applies with immeasurably greater force in regard to the historicity of the Oppression in Egypt. Compared with the Egyptian bondage and the deliverance therefrom, everything else in Bible history is of secondary importance.
The memory of that bondage and deliverance is woven into the message of legislator, historian, psalmist, prophet and priest; and a large portion of Jewish life both in the Biblical and the post-Biblical ages is but ……. an echo and reminder of that Divine event which meant the birth of Israel as a nation.
Now, it is unthinkable that any nation, unless forced to do so by the overwhelming compulsion of unforgettable fact, would of its own account have wantonly affixed to its forefathers the stain and dishonour of slavery in a foreign country. No people has ever yet invented a disgraceful past for itself.
The invention by a later age of a story so humiliating to national self-respect would be still more astounding in the case of Israel, when we consider that after the days of Menremptah the decline of Egypt began, and the invented national bondage would have been to a weak and waning Power.
If, therefore, Israel’s sojourn and bondage in Egypt were merely a fiction, such fiction would be quite inexplicable – in fact, a psychological miracle. Even a radical student of this question like Prof. Peet sums up his conclusions as follows: ‘That Israel was in Egypt under one form or another no historian could possibly doubt; a legend of such tenacity, representing the early fortunes of a people under so unfavourable as aspect, could not have arisen save as a reflection of real occurrences’.