Wonderful Nova episode last night on PBS about trying to connect archaeological findings with the history of the Bible.
This is not an area where I feel well versed, but the show was eye-opening. Among biblical scholars, historians, and archaeologists, there seems to be a general consensus that the Israelites were originally Canaanites (that seems politically expedient, too) and that a small group emerged from Egypt and fused with these Canaanites in the central highlands (what is now the Westbank) to create the Jewish people.
The story of Exodus was likely brought by this small group. There is some evidence that indicates these migrants worshiped a god with the name Yahweh.
This took place between roughly 1300 and 1000 BCE.
Fascinating stuff. And, naturally, subject to some dispute. For my money, this kind of scholarship, divorced from the prerogatives of belief, is essential for human cultural evolution. The Bible is a complex and unmatched tapestry of myth and history. It is not, by any stretch, the word of God. The more we learn, the clearer that becomes.