No. This is not even remotely the case.
This would be true only if we were to throw out all record that we have of the exodus of Jews from Egypt, as Brian Dunning seems to do.
Let's take a look at some of his outrageous claims. The statement in question comes from an essay on skeptoid.com entitled "Did Jewish Slaves Build the Pyramids?"
Mr. Dunning begins by claiming:
"To find the truth, we need to take a critical look at the archaeological and historical evidence for the history of Jews in Egypt. In order to do this responsibly, we first have to put aside any ideological motivations that would taint our efforts."
While this statement sounds noble and objective at first glance, it actually personifies the common logical fallacy of Pretended Neutrality. In reality, there is no such thing as a neutral position. Everyone, when considering anything at all, looks at it with bias based upon their own initial presuppositions, or personally-held worldview.
The only worldview that is actually objective rather than subjective is the Christian worldview, however, Christianity itself is far from "neutral". The Christian looks at things as filtered through the objective Word of God, the only legitimate measure of truth (Psalm 119:160; John 17:17), whereas the non-Christian filters things through his own subjective and inherently faulty reasoning, necessarily rejecting the only legitimate measure of truth.
So no one is unbiased. "For" or "against" are the only possible positions (Matthew 12:30; Mark 9:40; Luke 11:23).
Mr. Dunning is rather clearly "against".
When he says "we first have to put aside any ideological motivations that would taint our efforts", as we shall see, what he apparently really means is that we have to take the accurate history of the Hebrews contained in the Hebrew Bible and throw it out. We need to pretend that the only truly objective witness that we have to the events in question does not exist.
How very misleading to claim "neutrality" by throwing out any evidence that disagrees with your own initial presuppositions!
Moving on from there, things in his essay do not get any better.
"One of the first things you find out is that it's important to get our definitions right. Terms like Jew and Hebrew are thrown around a lot in these histories, and they're not the same thing. A Jew is someone who practices the Jewish religion. A Hebrew is someone who speaks the Hebrew language. An Israelite is a citizen of Israel. A Semite is a member of an ethnic group characterized by any of the Semitic languages including Arabic, Hebrew, Assyrian, and many smaller groups throughout Africa and the Middle East. You can be some or all of these things. An Israelite need not be a Jew, and a Jew need not be a Hebrew."
This statement is simply fantastically humorous for several reasons.
As anyone who has ever opened a dictionary knows, words usually have multiple meanings. Here, Mr. Dunning picks one specific meaning for each of these words and then dismisses all other meanings as wrong. While that would be fine if he were attempting to define how HE HIMSELF is going to be using these words in his essay, that is not the context in which he is defining them. He makes it clear that he is defining these words for ANYONE WHO MIGHT ASK THIS QUESTION, and it is patently obvious that the questioner would not have Mr. Dunning's "right" definitions in mind when asking the question.
Mr. Dunning seems to dream up these "right" definitions simply so that, later on in his essay, he can get caught in a Straw Man Fallacy, namely, misrepresenting the opponent's position and then arguing against that misrepresentation rather than the actual position of the opponent.
THE OPPONENT'S POSITION:
The descendants of Jacob built the pyramids while slaves in Egypt.
MR. DUNNING'S MISREPRESENTATION OF HIS OPPONENT:
Followers of the Jewish religion built the pyramids while slaves in Egypt.
One wonders what Mr. Dunning means when he refers to "the Jewish religion". If he means by this a dedication to the Levitical laws and the Ten Commandments, along with the Jewish sacrificial system and Jewish dietary restrictions, then obviously there were no practitioners of the Jewish religion enslaved in Egypt building pyramids before the exodus of Moses... since it was only after the exodus that those laws were given by God through Moses! No one claims, not even Mr. Dunning's imaginary opponent, that practitioners of these Mosaic laws were enslaved in Egypt building pyramids!
Thus, by misrepresenting his opponent's position, Mr. Dunning seems to think he has handily defeated his opponent, when in fact he has not even addressed his opponent's actual claims.
Further, with regard to the specific definitions that Mr. Dunning chooses as "right", I would take issue. These words, Jew, Israelite, Hebrew and Semite, all find their origins in the English language through the context of English translations of the Christian Bible. Thus, their original meanings in English directly reflect their origins and roots in the Bible.
Having said that, I think the following definitions would be more historically preferred:
Semite - A genetic descendant of the Biblical patriarch Shem, son of Noah. Shem was probably born around 2,500 BC (Genesis 10:21-31; Luke 3:36).
Hebrew - A genetic descendant of the Biblical patriarch Eber. Probably born around 2,300 BC (Genesis 10:24-30; Luke 3:35). Eber was a Semite.
Israelite - A genetic descendant of the Biblical patriarch Israel, also known as Jacob. Probably born around 1,900 BC (Genesis 25:26, 32:28, 35:10; Luke 3:34). Israel was a Hebrew.
Jew - Initially, a genetic descendant of the Biblical patriarch Judah, son of Israel (Genesis 29:35). Judah was an Israelite. After the obliteration and deportation of the northern kingdom in 722 BC, when the large and powerful tribe of Judah and the tiny and insignificant tribe of Benjamin were the only Israelites left in the area, the term "Jew" gradually became generally synonymous with "Israelite". Additionally, the apostle Paul, writing in the mid-first century AD, explains that through the Christian's faith in Jesus Christ (the Lion of the Tribe of Judah), the Christian is adopted into the family of Christ, and thus properly becomes a Jew, and thus also an Israelite, by adoption (Galatians 3:29; Romans 2:28-29).
If one had to pick the "right" meanings, one would have thought these would be the meanings picked. They would certainly be closer to the obvious intended meaning behind the question.
DATING THE PYRAMIDS
"The biggest and most obvious evidence -- the pyramids themselves -- are an easy starting point. Their age is well established. The bulk of the Giza Necropolis, consisting of such famous landmarks as the Great Pyramid of Cheops and the Sphinx, are among Egypt's oldest large pyramids and were completed around 2540 BCE. Most of Egypt's large pyramids were built over a 900 year period from about 2650 BCE to about 1750 BCE."
This, again, is patently false.
According to the most common reading of the Hebrew historical record, if the Egyptians were building pyramids from 2650 through 1750, their construction occurred right in the middle of a catastrophic global flood! It further seems rather absurd to suggest that ungodly pagan people before the flood (2650) built pyramids in Egypt, then died in the flood (which somehow did not destroy their pyramids), then descendants of Godly Noah moved to Egypt and coincidentally continued in the exact same type of work in the exact same location (1750)...
The standard accepted dating scheme of Egyptian chronology has been frequently and repeatedly attacked on at least two of its primary bases. First, it is claimed that the dating scheme assumes that no two Egyptian dynasties reigned at the same time, and that this presupposition is demonstrably false. Second, it is claimed that the dating scheme relies upon the Sothic Cycle calendar invented by Eduard Meyer in 1904, a calendar that has undergone much criticism.
It has also been attacked due to a lack of coherence between it and related chronologies of other nations. For example, according to the standard Egyptian chronology, the Hittite nation was eliminated in 1185 BC. However, according to the standard Assyrian chronology, sometime shortly after 1115 BC, during the reign of Tiglath-Pileser I and then again in the 8th century during the reign of Sargon II, the Assyrians fought wars against the Hittites! Of course, we've already seen the incoherence of Egyptian chronology with regard to the standard Israelite chronology.
Archaeologist David Down, writing with John f. Ashton, Ph.D., in their book "Unwrapping the Pharaohs", date the first pharaoh of Egypt to approximately 2100 BC, hundreds of years after Mr. Dunning claims that it is "well established" that the first pyramids were built for them.
Ancient historians Josephus and Constantine Manasses both appear to date the founding of Egypt to approximately 2190 BC.
I am not suggesting that I agree with anyone's "revised" chronologies (It's kind of funny to call the claims of Josephus a "revision" to the standard Egyptian chronology!). I am simply pointing out that the standard dating schema has several problems, has not always been held to, and numerous individuals and groups have attempted to resolve those problems by altering the chronology one way or the other. At minimum, we can comfortably say that the age of the pyramids, as well as Egyptian chronology in general, is far from "well established".
THE STRAW MAN APPEARS
"It wasn't until almost 2,000 years after the Great Pyramid received its capstone that the earliest known record shows evidence of Jews in Egypt, and they were neither Hebrews nor Israelites."
This is where the Straw Man argument I mentioned earlier comes into play. As we have already established, Mr. Dunning's definition of "Jew" is one who practices the Jewish religion, and no one is interested in whether or not those who received the Ten Commandments from Moses after the exodus were somehow later enslaved to build pyramids, so this statement is entirely off-topic and wholly irrelevant. The question he is supposed to be addressing is whether or not descendants of Jacob (Israel) were enslaved in Egypt building the pyramids, BEFORE Moses was given the Ten Commandments. As I have already explained, there won't be any evidence of anyone practicing the Levitical law in Egypt BEFORE the exodus. That would just be silly. The Levitical law did not exist then. No one claims that Jews of this type, those practicing the laws given to Moses at Mt. Horeb, were ever enslaved in Egypt building pyramids. It comes as no surprise to anyone that those practicing the Jewish religion didn't appear in Egypt until after Moses established that religion.
I could go on, but essentially I believe I have thoroughly established reason for skepticism in Brian Dunning's skepticism.
I should here mention Dr. Gerald E. Aardsma, holding a Ph.D. in nuclear physics, whose research involves radiocarbon and other rare-isotope dating methods. He holds that the most common chronological reading of the Biblical historical record is wrong. He places the Exodus at approximately 2400 BC, before the pyramids were supposedly built, and coinciding with the fall of the Old Kingdom, possibly also coinciding with the events in the Egyptian Ipuwer Papyrus, describing utter chaos, rivers of blood, and some kind of servant uprising. This also places the destruction of Ai, Biblically (Joshua 8), on an equal dating with the destruction of Ai, archaeologically. He further claims that there is ample evidence of the Israelites' wanderings in the wilderness, but it has been utterly ignored by archaeologists due to an insistence upon the wrong dating scheme. You can read more about his claims at www.biblicalchronologist.org.
I will also mention Bryant G. Wood, Ph.D., who offers fascinating connections between the collapse of the walls of Jericho (Joshua 6) and the archaeological finds at that site, along with numerous other archaeological information at www.biblearchaeology.org, a site that would definitely be worth a read for the interested individual.
Answers in Genesis offers another perspective on a revised chronology citing mass graves of Semitic infants at ed-Daba and a significant number of other connections.
The documentary Patterns of Evidence: Exodus, is an award winning, must-see movie on this topic presenting plenty of evidence for the veracity of the Biblical account, tying together numerous archaeological finds and written traditions from ancient Egypt and surrounding nations. If you investigate nothing else I've mentioned, watch this movie!
Numerous other individuals have also connected scriptural incidents with archaeological findings, repeatedly, throughout the past few centuries. Apparently, Mr. Dunning is unaware of any of them.
Now, I am not claiming that the Jews built the pyramids. I'm not claiming that because I have no idea whether or not the Jews built the pyramids. The Bible certainly never claims that. I am not addressing the question Mr. Dunning is addressing. I am addressing the question that was asked of me.
And that point has not yet been completely made.
Dunning says there is no record of a mass exodus of Jewish slaves out of Egypt. If he is referring to a mass exodus of practitioners of the Levitical Laws given to Moses AFTER the exodus, then surely he is right and indeed, no one I know of claims otherwise. However, if he means that there is no record of a mass exodus of descendants of Jacob out of Egypt, I would have to ask him, what, then, is the Bible?
The following ancient texts, authored by various writers over numerous generations, all attest to the historicity of the mass exodus of descendants of Jacob from bondage in Egypt: Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy, Joshua, Judges, Samuel, Kings, Chronicles, Nehemiah, Psalms, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Daniel, Hosea, Amos, Micah, Haggai, Acts, Hebrews, and Jude.
Call me skeptical.