Lately I've been doing some broad and more or less random research through the internet looking for all sorts of claims of great public miracles to see if any of them well compare to the claims made in the Torah, but the truth is that they are few in far between and few even approximate the kind of story found in the Book of Exodus. Not that this means that the story in the Book of Exodus is 100% accurate history, but it begs for an explanation for why the very claim is made so uniquely.
See, the fact is that it's difficult to get a sizeable and self-contained group of people in one place to observe a single event. Times where that even happens in normal life are few and far between. You can get a large number of people, but that's not self-contained, i.e. of a single ethnic or national group so the cultural memory of whatever kind of event is not lost through dispersal.
Additionally, not only need there be an event, but it has to be a claimed event of significant cultural magnitude so that the self-contained group of people will supposedly retain it and pass it on to their children.
Now, the second condition is generally a function of religion while the first is a function of ethnic history and rather infrequently are the two things combined in anything but the most ancient-type peoples, of which the Hebrews count.
So the key is not to search for the origins of religions, especially the popular ones, which tend to be universalistic or otherwise widespread. You need to search for significant events that happen to a whole tribe and of which's stories were passed down within the tribe. There were likely many such stories in the past back when there were many more independent ancient tribes and few popular religions, but no doubt most of those are lost to us today.
The Jews have the unique benefit, in a sense, of retaining that original tribal/cultural memory while surviving into the modern world. Most tribes did not. And it is for that reason that such like-claims are so rare to see today.
So anyway, the key types of myths that I then went searching for from that point were tribal origins myths and migration myths where the whole tribe is ostensibly in the same place at the same time and experiencing the same things. One can easily see how the Exodus story fits into the category of a migration myth. And so I came across story of the Aztec migration.
The story is rather long and involved and so I recommend that anyone who's interested should do a google search and read up on your own, but the basic story is found here.
"One day, the legends say, a strange bird told the Aztecs to leave their country. It flew over the White Land crying 'ti-hui, t-hui,' which are the Aztec words for 'we must go'.
What can this mean? cried the puzzled people. They quickly gathered together. "The bird is calling us, said the priests. "He wants us to follow him."
The bird flew off towards the south. The tribes chose one of their number, Tecpaltzin, to lead them. "We shall go," declared Tecpaltzin. "A new homeland awaits us."
And so it was decided. The men set to and built boats, and soon the Aztec people were able to cross the water.
The legend also tells us that eight tribes of the Nahuas Indians came from the Ancestral Cave. These tribes had settled on the southern bank of the river Colorado, and were amazed to see the Aztecs arriving in their boats.
"Where are you going?" the princes of the Nahuas asked them.
"To find a new homeland," replied Tecpaltzin. The Nahuas were very excited.
"May we come with you?" they asked eagerly. The Aztecs agreed, and so they set out together.
The Aztec tribes decided to make a statue of their sun and war god Huitzilopochtli. Then the war god spoke to them through the statue:
"I shall lead you. I shall fly with you in the shape of a white eagle, with a serpent in my beak. Follow me wherever I go. Where I settle, build a temple to me, with a bed for me to rest on. Build your houses round the temple, and destroy the villages you find there. Worship the eagle and the tiger, and be a brave and warlike people. That is my command."
So spoke the god Huitzilopochtli. He had given the Aztecs a great task: to be noble, fight for the truth, and keep order in the world. His words were symbolic. But the Aztecs misunderstood, and they thought they were to enslave other people, occupy their countries, destroy their homes and behave like tyrants. And that is what they did.
The Aztecs praised their god, and swore to obey him. They set off on the great journey with the Nahua tribes. Three priests and a priestess bore the god's statue on their shoulders on a bed of reeds. On they went until they reached a suitable place to set up camp.
It was getting on towards evening. The Aztecs built a mound of earth and set their god on it. But before they could eat they heard cries coming from the tree. Alarmed they look up at the top of the tree, and at that moment, it split in two. They were terrified, for they knew this must be a sign from their god. They fell to their knees, weeping. Suddenly the god began to speak: "Wait, my Aztecs. you must part from the Nahua tribes. Call them here and tell them they must make their way alone." Tecpaltzin summonded the Nahua chief. "Our god has spoken" he announced.
"We are listening," replied the chiefs.
"He has ordered us to wait. The time has come to say goodbye."
The Nahuas were very sad. "But what about us?" they asked.
"You must go on without us," Tecpaltzin told them.
"Can't we stay with you?" asked the Nahuas asked sadly.
But Huitzilopochtli had forbidden it, for he did not wish his people to share the promised land with the Nahuas. So the Nahuas parted from the Aztecs and went on their way alone.
Then, for some years, they lived at Tollan, which people now call Tula. Up and down over Mexico, hither and thither they wandered. Not until the year 1216, after a migration that had lasted for nearly 60 years, did they come upon Anåhuac, the high plateau valley.
They stopped dumbstruck. Far below stretched the high plateau, dotted with lakes and bordered by mountains. It was, the ancient legends tell, a "Field of Dazzling Whiteness". Everything seemed to be brilliant white: the trees, the reeds, the meadows, the water - even the fish and the frogs. Were they really all so white, or was it simply that the new Mexicans were blinded by the beauty unfolding before their eyes?
The people fell to their knees and prayed. The chiefs and the priests wept with joy.
"At last we have come to our sacred land," they told the Mexicans. "It is Anåhuac, the Land by the Water. Our wishes have been granted. Rejoice, everyone. Rejoice, for our god has led us to the promised land." But could their wanderings really be over? Anxiously they awaited a sign from their god.
And suddenly the voice of Huitzilopochtli thundered forth.
"Stay, Mexicans! With all your strength and all your wisdom, make this country your own. Though you sweat blood and tears, you shall win what you have been seeking. Gold and silver, precious stones and splendid finery shall be your reward. You shall harvest cocoa, and cotton, and many fruits. Beautiful gardens will delight your eyes. This is your country!"
Wow, now doesn't that sound awfully similar to another story we've heard? The Aztecs considered themselves the 'chosen people' of Huitzilopochtli who lead them on their journey to a promised land. And apparently, through that time was a period of wandering the wilderness where their god spoke to them a good number of times. Especially impressive is that last time where it makes it clear that Huitzilopochtli was heard by the whole people.
In the part that skipped, Huitzilopochtli tells them to not longer go by the name Aztec, but by Mexica - and this is the founding story of Tenochtitlan, which became the capitol city of the Aztec Empire and is today located under modern Mexico City.
*To note though, this is only a very recent field of study for me and I have not confirmed this story's accuracy. There is a real paucity of data on the internet about it. I guess there aren't enough Aztecs around. So I ordered a book that is supposed to have good data on this subject and then I'll be able to confirm, or qualify as needed.