By the present chronological system of Egyptian history there are serious problems in synchronising the events described in the Biblical account with Egyptian history. Most scholars have therefore concluded that the Bible record is unreliable or distorted. In 1 Kings 6:1 it is stated that "In the 480th year after the children of Israel had come out of the land of Egypt, in the 4th year of Solomon's reign over Israel . . . that he began to build the house of the Lord". Most scholars would accept a date of about 970 BC for the beginning of Solomon's reign. His 4th year would be 966 BC, and this being the 480th year after the Exodus would place that event about 1445 BC.
But because of the lack of archaeological evidence both in Egypt and Israel to support this date, most scholars have rejected the information supplied in 1 Kings 6:1, and have accepted a date closer to 1200 BC for the Exodus. But even for this date there is only very flimsy circumstantial evidence, and scholars still disagree as to who was the Pharaoh of the Exodus. Dr Immanual Velikovsky's claims that the fault lies, not with the Biblical information, but with the generally accepted chronology of Egypt, and that the Egyptian dates need to be reduced by some 600 years at the time of the Exodus. This would mean that the ruling dynasty of Egypt at the time Exodus would be the 13th dynasty, rather than the 18th or 19 dynasty as is now generally believed, and the Pharaohs who ruled at the time of Joseph and Moses were the Kings of the 12th dynasty. When this system is adopted there is found to be remarkable agreement between the histories of Egypt and Israel. The following articles, the substance of which have appeared in articles already published in Diggings, demonstrate the consistency of the revised chronology.
Joseph, the son of Jacob, was sold into Egyptian slavery by his jealous brothers. In Egypt he was able to interpret Pharaoh's dream to mean that there would be 7 years of plenty and then 7 years of famine. Pharaoh appointed Joseph as vizier of Egypt, and entrusted him with the task of collecting the grain in preparation for the famine. Genesis 41. This was an astounding event, and there should be some record of it in Egypt. In the time of Sesostris I, second king of the 12th dynasty, there is such a record.
Ameni was an officer under Sesostris I. In his tomb he left an inscription which is very relevant. It reads, "No one was unhappy in my days, not even in the years of famine, for I had tilled all the fields in the nome of Mah, up to its southern and northern frontiers. Thus I prolonged the life of its inhabitants and preserved the food which it produces. No hungry man was in it. I distributed equally to the widow as to the married woman. I did not prefer the great to the humble in all that I gave away." Egypt under the Pharaohs, by Brugsch, page 158.
Ameni could well be one of Joseph's deputies who "gathered up all the food of the seven years . . . and laid up the food in the cities." Genesis 41:48. Brugsch recognised the significance of the inscription, and if it had not been for his adherence to the traditional chronology would have readily identified it. He wrote "The concluding words of this inscription, in which Ameni sings his own praises, have given rise to the idea that they contain an allusion to the sojourn of the patriarch Joseph in Egypt, and to the seven years of famine under his administration. But . . . there is the difference in time, which cannot be made to agree with the days of Joseph." page 158. But freed of this limitation, the inscription assumes great significance.
The heart of the twelfth dynasty was in the Delta. There were palaces at Memphis, Avaris and the Faiyyum, which provide a suitable setting for the establishment of the Israelites in the Land of Goshen. The religious centre was Heliopolis the city of the sun, then known as On. An obelisk still stands at Heliopolis, now a suburb of Cairo. This obelisk was erected by Sesostris I, and is today known as the Pillar of On. If we understand that Sesostris I was the Pharaoh under whom Joseph was vizier, Genesis 41:45 is very meaningful. "And Pharaoh . . . gave him to wife Asenath the daughter of potipherah priest of On."
The Faiyyum is a vast oasis in the desert west of Meidum. It today supports a population of two million people. This great oasis was developed during the period of the twelfth dynasty. The whole area is watered by a canal dug during this dynasty. This canal is today known as Bar Yosef or Joseph's Canal. No one seems to know how it got this name. It may have carried this name ever since it was dug in the twelfth dynasty. It could have been the work of Joseph in preparation for the seven years of famine.
At Beni Hassan, 240 km south of Cairo, is the tomb of a nobleman of the twelfth dynasty. On the walls of this tomb are some paintings depicting the visit of some Asiatic people to Egypt. At present this is placed closer to the time of the visit of Abraham to Egypt. But if the migration of Jacob and his large retinue took place during this dynasty, as is claimed here, then this wall painting should be related to this migration. It is indicative that such a migration did occur at this time.
from Palestine depicted
of the 12 dynasty tomb at Beni Hassan.
As for Joseph himself, there was a vizier under Sesostris I who had extraordinary powers. His name was Mentuhotep. Of him Brugsch wrote, "In a work, our Mentuhotep, who was invested with several priestly dignities and who was Pharaoh's treasurer, appears as the alter ego of the king. When he arrived the great personage bowed down before him at the outer door of the royal palace." Egypt under the Pharaohs, page 162.
The Bible record states, "Pharaoh took his signet ring off his hand and put it on Joseph's hand . . . and he had him ride in the second chariot which he had; and they cried out before him 'Bow the knee.'" Genesis 41:42, 43. The fact that he is not named as Joseph is of little consequence. The Egyptians as well as Bible characters, frequently had more than one name.
from Palestine depicted on the
wall of the 12 dynasty tomb at Beni Hassan
"Now there arose up a new king over Egypt which knew not Joseph." Exodus 1:8. Not that he was ignorant of Joseph's services to the nation, but he wished to make no recognition of them, and, so far as possible, to bury them in oblivion. Josephus wrote, "having in length of time forgotten the benefits received from Joseph, particularly the crown being now come into another family, they became very abusive to the Israelites, and contrived many ways of afflicting them." Antiquities of the Jews, book 1, chapter IX, paragraph 1.
By this revision this Pharaoh would have been Sesostris III. His predecessor Sesostris II had no living sons at the time of his death. Sesostris may have been related to this predecessor but he was not in direct line to the throne, so could be classified as belonging to 'another family,' as Josephus says. From his statues we may conclude that he was a nasty character.
a nasty looking character.
From the historical records we learn that Asiatic slaves were used during the twelfth dynasty. "The Asiatic inhabitants of the country at this period must have been more times more numerous than has been generally supposed. Whether or not this largely slave population could have played a part in hastening . . . the impending Hyksos domination is difficult to say." Cambridge Ancient History, vol II part I, page 49. "Asian salves, whether merchandise or prisoners of war, became plentiful in wealthy Egyptian house holds." 1964 Encyclopaedia Britannica volume 8, page 35. Gardiner wrote, "it should be noted, however, that on stelae and in papyri Asiatic slaves are increasingly often mentioned, though there is no means of telling whether they were prisoners of war or had infiltrated into Egypt of their own accord." Egypt of the Pharaohs, page 133. From the Scripture records, we can say that they did infiltrate into Egypt of their own accord, but were subsequently enslaved.
There was an extensive building program carried on in the Delta where the Israelites were located during this dynasty. The temples of the eighteenth dynasty at Luxor were too far away from the delta to have been built with Israelite save labour, and they were built of stone. The buildings constructed in the delta under the twelfth dynasty were made of mud brick. Mountains of such bricks went into the city of Avaris and nearby cities.
Moreover the pyramids of Sesostris III and Amenemhet III were also made of mud bricks. The early dynasties' burial places were made of mud brick. The magnificent third and fourth dynasty pyramids were built of stone. For some strange reason these twelfth dynasty rulers reverted to mud brick. Josephus wrote, "they (the Egyptians) set them (the Israelites) to build pyramids." Antiquities of the Jews, book 2, chapter IX, paragraph 1.
On the assumption that the oppression took place during the eighteenth or nineteenth dynasty, this is regarded by scholars as a glaring blunder by Josephus, for by this time, according to their view, the pyramid age had ended. The Pharaohs of these dynasties were buried in the Valley of the Kings near Luxor. But maybe it is the scholars who have blundered, for the kings of the twelfth dynasty did build pyramids, and what is more, they built them of mud bricks laced with straw. "Ye shall no more give the people straw to make brick as heretofore: let them go and gather straw for themselves." Exodus 5:7.
Especially relevant is the research done by Rosalie David whose book "The Pyramid Builders of Ancient Egypt" was published in 1986. She researched the work done by Sir Flinders Petrie in the Faiyyum. Petrie worked in the Faiyyum in 1889 and he explored the pyramids of the 12th dynasty and identified the owners.
He also excavated the remains of a town that had been occupied by the workmen who actually built these pyramids. He wrote, "The great prize of Illahun was unknown and the unsuspected by anyone. On the desert adjoining the north side of the temple, I saw traces of a town, brick walls, houses and pottery; moreover, the pottery was of a style as yet unknown to me. The town wall started out in a line with the face of the temple; and it dawned on me that this could hardly be other than the town of the pyramid builders, originally called Ha-Usertesen-hotep, and now known as Kahun. A little digging soon put it beyond doubt, as we found cylinders of the age, and no other; so that it was evident that I actually had in hand an unaltered town of the twelfth dynasty, regularly laid out by the royal architect for workmen and stores, required in building the pyramid and its temple. After a few holes had been made, I formed up the workmen in a line along the outmost street, and regularly cleared the first line of chambers, turning the stuff into the street; then the chambers beyond those were emptied into them; and so line after line, block after block, almost every room in the town was emptied out and searched." Ten Years Digging In Egypt, pages 112 - 113.
From the unidentified pottery and other evidence, Petrie concluded that the occupants had been foreigners. Expanding on this thought Rosalie David has an entire chapter headed "The foreign population at Kahun." She wrote, "From his excavations at Kahun, Petrie formed the opinion that a certain element of the population there had come from outside Egypt." The Pyramid Builders of Ancient Egypt, page 175. "It is undeniable that the inhabitants used foreign wares which were derived from the Aegean islands or from Syria-Palestine." page 188. "It is apparent that the Asiatics were present in the town in some numbers, and this may reflect the situation elsewhere in Egypt. It can be stated that these people were loosely classed by Egyptians as 'Asiatics', although their exact homeland in Syria or Palestine cannot be determined. . . The reason for their presence in Egypt remains unclear." pages 190 - 191.
Neither Petrie nor David guessed that these Asiatics were the Israelites because Velikovsky's views have so far not been widely accepted by the archaeological world, but obviously the evidence fits the Biblical records in a remarkable way.
The book of Genesis tells how and why they got there, and what they were doing in Egypt. "Then Jacob arose from Beersheba; and the sons of Israel carried their father Jacob, their little ones, and their wives, in the carts which Pharaoh had sent to carry him. So they their livestock and their goods, which they had acquired in the land of Canaan, and went to Egypt, Jacob and all his descendants with him." Genesis 46:5 - 7. "But the children of Israel were fruitful and increased abundantly, multiplied and grew exceedingly mighty; and the land was filled with them." Exodus 1:7.
No doubt the heaviest concentration of the Israelite immigrants was in the Delta, but knowing the Hebrew capacity for industry, trade and enterprise, there is no reason to conclude that they would all confine themselves to the same location, and the tomb paintings at Beni Hassan depicting Asiatic immigrants in the twelfth dynasty indicate that they had spread as far as central Egypt. The Hebrews have always had remarkable ability to maintain their identity, and this would explain the foreign settlement at Kahun which Petrie investigated.
Evidence is not lacking to indicate that these Asiatics became slaves. "A famous papyrus (the Brooklyn Papyrus) was left to the Brooklyn Museum . . . On the verso of this papyrus, a woman named Senebtisi attempts to establish her legal rights to the possession of Ninety-five servants. A list of them is included which states their titles, names and surnamed, and their occupations. Of the seventy-seven entries which are presented well enough to enable the individuals nationality to be read, twenty-nine appear to be Egyptian while forty-eight are 'Asiatics' . . . Although the foreign names were not precise enough to enable the exact homeland of these Asiatics to be identified, it can be said that they were from a 'Semitic group of the north west' . . . The Brooklyn Papyrus is important here because it shows that one household employed a large proportion of Asiatics and this household was situated in Upper Egypt (The south) and not in the Delta; therefore it is apparent that Asiatic servants were by now disseminated throughout the community." pages 189 - 190. "Asian slaves, whether merchandise or prisoners of war, became plentiful in wealthy Egyptian households." (during the twelfth dynasty). Encyclopaedia Brittanica, 1964, volume 8, page 35.
"The Asiatic inhabitants of the country at this period must have been many times more numerous than has generally been supposed. Whether or not this largely slave population could have played a part in the hastening, or the paving the way for, the impending Hyksos domination is difficult to say." Cambridge Ancient History, volume II, part 1, page 49.
Josephus, the Jewish historian of the first century AD, wrote that the Egyptians "became very abusive to the Israelites, and contrived many ways of afflicting them . . . They set them to build pyramids." Antiquities of the Jews, page 55. It is generally considered that Josephus blundered in this statement, because it is assumed that the Exodus took place in the eighteenth or nineteenth dynasties, and by then the Pharaohs were being buried in tombs in the Valley of the kings, not in pyramids. But the kings of the twelfth dynasty built pyramids, and they built them of mud bricks mingled with straw. "Pharaoh commanded the taskmasters of the people and their officers, saying, 'You shall no longer give the people straw to make brick as before. Let them go and gather straw for themselves'." Exodus 5:6, 7.
An intriguing aspect of Petrie's discoveries was the unusual number of infant burials beneath the floors of the houses at Kahun, a tragic reminder of the harsh edicts issued by the cruel tyrants of the oppression. "Beneath the brick floors of the rooms was, however, the best place to search; not only for hidden things, such as statuette of a dancer and a pair of ivory castanets, but also for numerous burials of babies in wooden boxes. These boxes had been made for clothes and household use, but were used to bury infants, often accompanied by necklaces and other things. On the necklaces were sometimes cylinders with the kings' names; and thus we know for certain that these burials, and the inhabitants of the town, is of the twelfth dynasty, from Usertesen (Sesostris) II onward." Ten Years Digging in Egypt, pages 116 - 117.
We have the Bible what is probably a partial record of the efforts of the Pharaohs of the oppression to curb the growth of the Israelites. "Then the king of Egypt spoke to the Hebrew midwives, of whom the name of the one was Shiphrah and the name of the other Puah; and he said, 'when you do the duties of a midwife for the Hebrew women, and see them on the birthstools, if it is a son, then you shall kill him'." Exodus 1:15, 16.
These were probably only the midwives in the vicinity of the royal palace. Obviously a large population such as the Israelites then were, scattered all over Egypt, would require more that two midwives. These two midwives evaded their grim responsibility to Pharaoh by claiming that the Hebrew women gave birth before they arrived. But we do not know how many other midwives were obliged to carry out the edict.
Later, when Pharaoh found that these measures were not effective, he ordered the Egyptian neighbours to see that the babies were killed. "Pharaoh commanded all his people, saying, 'Every son who is born you shall cast into the river'." Exodus 1:22. Some parents managed to conceal their newborn babies for some months. Moses mother "when she saw that he was a beautiful child, she hid him three months." Exodus 2:3.
But many babies must have been drowned. Whether the parents retrieved the bodies, or whether some babies were put to death by other means we do not know. There must have been many traumatic scenes as babies were torn from their mother's arms by hostile neighbours. But this could account for the many infant burials at Kahun.
In her book, beneath a picture of a wooden box, David says, "Larger wooden boxes, probably used to store clothing and other possessions, we discovered underneath the floors of many houses at Kahun. They contained babies, sometimes buried two or three to a box, and aged only a few months at death . . . internment of bodies at domestic sites was not an Egyptian custom, although such practices occurred in other areas of the ancient Near East."
Finally there is the striking evidence pointing to the slaves' sudden departure. Up to the time of Khasekhemre-Neferhotep I of the middle thirteenth dynasty, who would thus be identified as the Pharaoh of the Exodus, there was evidence of continuous occupation. Then it suddenly all stopped. "There is every indication that Kahun continued to flourish throughout the 12th dynasty and into the 13th dynasty . . . It is evident that the completion of the king's pyramid was not the reason why Kahun's inhabitants eventually deserted the town, abandoning their tools and other possessions in the shops and houses . . . There are different opinions of how this first period of occupation at Kahun drew to a close. . . The quantity, range and type of articles of everyday use which were left behind in the houses may indeed suggest that the departure was sudden and unpremeditated." The Pyramid Builders, pages 195, 199.
"And it came to pass at the end of the four hundred and thirty years - on the very same day - it came to pass that the armies of the Lord went out from the land of Egypt." Exodus 12:41.
The last ruler of the 12th dynasty was Queen Sebekhnefrure who died childless. She would have been the daughter of Pharaoh who adopted the baby Moses. The 13th dynasty followed and Khasekemre-Neferhotep I was probably the Pharaoh of the Exodus. He was the last king to rule before the Hyksos occupied Egypt "without a battle"e; according to Manetho. Without a battle? Where was the Egyptian army? It would have been at the bottom of the Red Sea. Exodus 14:28.
"And when the Queen of Sheba heard of the fame of Solomon concerning the name of the Lord, she came to prove him with hard questions. And she came to Jerusalem with a very great train, with camels that bare spices, and very much gold, and precious stones: and she communed with him of all that was in her heart." 1 Kings 10:1, 2.
It has been assumed that Sheba is to be identified with Marib in Yemen, south-east Arabia. Wendell Phillips conducted an exciting archaeological expedition there in 1951. He subsequently published a book called "Sheba's Burned City." Phillips made some interesting discoveries, and had some exciting adventures. The book makes fascinating reading. But Phillips found no evidence to prove that this was where the Queen of Sheba came from.
Actually there were three persons by the name of Sheba. The son of Joktan, brother of Peleg (Genesis 10:25 - 28), whose descendants apparently settled in Mesopotamia (Ezekiel 27:23). The son of Jokshan, son of Abraham and Keturah, whose descendants were probably those who settled in Arabia and became the Sabeans, (Job 1:15) and whose capital was Marib in Yemen. And the grandson of Cush (Genesis 10:7). This last Sheba was also the nephew of Seba (Genesis 10:7). Cush is translated Ethiopia in the Bible and is the Biblical name for Nubia south of Egypt.
"Josephus identified Seba with the Nubian kingdom of Meroe, whose territory lay between the Blue Nile and the Arbara Rivers," SDA Bible Dictionary, page 975. Since Seba and Sheba are quoted together (Psalm 72:10), and Egypt, Cush and Seba are quoted together (Isaiah 43:3), it seems that they are all in the same general area. It may be that Mizraim (Egypt) is a name that embraces both Upper and Lower Egypt, and Seba is a name that applies to Upper Egypt where Hatshepsut came from Hence she would be called the Queen of Sheba.
If we allow the Bible to be its own interpreter we would not be in any doubt as to her country of origin. Jesus called her the 'Queen of the South' (Matthew 12:42). There may be some dispute as the identity of the King of the north but it is not likely that any scholars will dispute the identity of the King of the south. According to Daniel 11:8, 9 the "King of the South" is the King of Egypt. So the "Queen of the South" must likewise be the Queen of Egypt.
This is also confirmed by Josephus. "There was then a woman, queen of Egypt and Ethiopia . . . When this queen heard of the virtue and prudence of Solomon, she had a great mind to see him . . . Accordingly she came to Jerusalem with great splendour and rich furniture." Antiquities of the Jews, book VIII, chapter VI, paragraph 5. Ethiopia should here be understood to refer to Nubia as in the Egyptian inscriptions, rather than to Ethiopia or Abyssinia as it is understood today.
If, as has been claimed, the expulsion of the Hyksos coincided with the reign of King Saul of Israel, then, as Velikovsky claims, this queen of Egypt would be identified as the well-known Queen Hatshepsut. And by a more precise synchronism to be discussed in the next section, we can demonstrate that this visit was in the latter half of Solomon's reign.
On the wall of Hatshepsut's mortuary temple at Deir-el-Bahri the queen has left a detailed record of her visit to the land of Punt. There are no inscriptions which identify the location of the land of Punt. The only clue scholars have worked on is found in the trees and plants depicted on the relief. These plants are known to grow in East Africa, possibly in Somalia or Eritrea, so this area has been identified as the land of Punt.
Queen Hatshepsut's temple at Luxor. Was she the queen of Sheba?
But Hatshepsut refers to the land of Punt as "God's Land," a term which suggests Palestine. And the Biblical record states that "King Solomon gave unto the Queen of Sheba all her desire, whatsoever she asked." Apparently Hatshepsut was interested in botanical specimens, for she took great pains to depict them in her relief. And Solomon was likewise interested in them. He says, "I made me gardens and orchards, and I planted trees in them of all kind of fruit." (Ecclesiastes 2:5).
It seems significant that right in the middle of the Bible record of the Queen of Sheba's visit, the writer breaks off to mention - "The navy also of Hiram, that brought gold from Ophir, brought in from Ophir great plenty of almug trees." (1 Kings 10:11). Why would the writer interrupt his record of the queen's visit to mention this unless it was relevant to the visit? It is almost as though he was anticipating the question as to how those plants from East Africa got on the wall of Hatshepsut's temple. So Hatshepsut's expedition, depicted on the wall of her mortuary temple at Deir-el-Bahri, is the Egyptian record of the visit to Jerusalem of the Queen of Sheba.
After 21 years of peaceful and prosperous rule the remarkable Queen Hatshepsut suddenly disappeared. We suspect that her son-in-law Thutmosis III was responsible. He had been heir apparent to the throne ever since his father (and Hatshepsut's husband) Thutmosis II died. He obviously resented Hatshepsut usurping the throne, and he proceeded to demolish her statues and erase her inscriptions. He embarked on a vigorous program of military aggression, and became the greatest of all the Pharaohs. It follows that he would renounce Hatshepsut's policy of peace and cooperation with Israel.
"Year 22, fourth month of the second season, day 25," his inscription reads, "he passed Sile (on the Egyptian border) on the first campaign of victory . . . Year 23, first month of the third season, day 5, departure from this place (Gaza), in valour . . . in power, and in justification, in order to overthrow the wretched enemy, and to extend to frontiers of Egypt." The Ancient Near East, volume 1, page 175 - 176.
"That wretched enemy," is generally regarded as the king of Kadesh, as small town in northern Syria. There are some good reasons for disagreeing with this identification. Not only is this Kadesh an insignificant city, it is the only city mentioned in the inscription which is outside Palestine. And it is hard to explain why the king of this Kadesh would seem to be the prominent figure in the battle for Megiddo which is subsequently described. Kadesh was not only far removed from Megiddo, but was of different ethnic origin. There is even a question about the location of this Kadesh in Syria. It is usually identified with Tell Nebi 140 km north of Damascus, but no inscriptional material has come to light confirming this identification.
Actually Kadesh is the Hebrew word for "holy", or "holy place", or as Daniel 9:24, it is used to refer to the "holy city." It would be far more reasonable to identify "that wretched enemy of Kadesh" of Thutmosis' inscription as the King of Jerusalem, who by this time was Solomon's son Rehaboam. Following Thutmosis' reaction against Hatshepsut, and as a result his enemy to her ally Israel, it is natural to expect his hostility to Rehoboam.
Instead of making straight for Jerusalem however, Thutmosis decided to first reduce the coastal cities of Israel. Gaza had already fallen. No doubt Joppa had also been taken, and now it was the strong, well-fortified city of Jerusalem. Instead of waiting to be encircled, Rehaboam apparently decided to make a stand at Megiddo. But it was a pitiful attempt to stop such a powerful military machine. Instead of blocking the Egyptian march at the pass of Megiddo, the defenders allowed the Egyptians to spill out onto the Plain of Jezreel, and at sight of the Egyptian splendour, the defending army fled. The men of Megiddo slammed the gates, and the King of Kadesh and his allies had to be ignominiously dragged up over the walls of Megiddo to escape the advancing army. The result was a humiliating surrender. It only remained for Thutmosis to march on Jerusalem and help himself to its wealth.
"And it came to pass in the fifth year of King Rehoboam, that Shishak king of Egypt came up against Jerusalem: And he took away the treasures of the house of the Lord, and the treasures of the kings house." 1 Kings 14:25, 26. There is no mention of a battle at Jerusalem, or even of a defensive action as we might expect if Thutmosis (or Shishak) had marched directly on Jerusalem.
Josephus confirms the sequence of events here suggested. "When He (Shishak) fell upon the country of the Hebrews, he took the strongest cities of Rehoboam's kingdom without fighting; and when he had put garrisons in them, he came last of all to Jerusalem . . . So when Shishak had taken the city without fighting, because Rehoboam was afraid . . . he spoiled the temple, and emptied the treasures of God and those of the king." Antiquities of the Jews, book VIII, chapter X, paragraph 2 and 3.
On His return Thutmosis made a record of the booty he seized from this campaign. It is on the wall of the sixth pylon in the temple of Karnak. The booty is pictured and enumerated. Much of it is what we would expect to come from Solomon's temple at Jerusalem. "Piece by piece the altars and vessels of Solomon's temple can be identified on the wall of Karnak." Ages in Chaos, pages 151. There, on the Karnak pylon, are the candlesticks, golden altar, basins of gold, and significantly, 300 golden shields. "And king Solomon made . . . 300 shields of beaten gold; three pound of gold went to one shield." 1 Kings 10:16.
Under this revised chronology the invasion of Palestine in 1405 BC occurred not during the late bronze period as currently believed, but at the end of the early bronze period. With this placement we find the archaeological evidence that is so lacking during the late bronze era. In Jericho Professor John Garstang found walls that had toppled outwards, layers of ash and charred wheat and dates which he dated to the middle of that late bronze period, and therefore in his thinking, to the Israelite invasion. Later, when Doctor Kenyon re-excavated Jericho, she was obliged to redate Garstang's walls and ash to the end of the early bronze age. This effectively ruled it out as attributable to the Israelites by the usual chronology. But with this revision it once more becomes the obvious evidence that it is, and visitors to Jericho today can still see a one metre layer of pink ash from this period.
And it is not only at Jericho that the evidence is found. In her book "Archaeology in the Holy Land" page 134, Kenyon wrote, "The final end of the early Bronze Age civilization came with catastrophic completeness. The last of the Early Bronze Age walls of Jericho was built in a great hurry, using old and broken bricks, and was probably not completed when it was destroyed by fire. Little or none of the town inside the walls has survived subsequent denudation, but it was probably completely destroyed, for all the finds show that there was an absolute break, and that a new people took the place of the earlier inhabitants. Every town in Palestine that has so far been investigated shows the same break. The newcomers were nomads, not interested in town life, and they so completely drove out or absorbed the old population, that all traces of the Early Bronze Age civilization disappeared."
"An absolute break . . . a new people . . . every town in Palestine . . . newcomers were nomads . . . completely drove out or absorbed the old population . . ." Could we expect to find a more apt description of the Israelite invasion, nomads from the desert who initially were not interested in living in the cities?
James Pritchard, who excavated in Gibeon he stated "These relics of the Middle Bronze I people seem to indicate a fresh migration into the town of a nomadic people who brought with then an entirely new tradition in pottery forms and new customs in burial practices. They may have come into Palestine from the desert at the crossing of the Jordan near Jericho and may then have pushed on to settle eventually at places such as Gibeon, Tell el-Ajjul and Lachish, where tombs of this distinctive type have been found." Gibeon, Where the Son Stood Still, page 153. Nothing could more aptly fit the Biblical record of the Israelites coming in from their desert wanderings, crossing the Jordan at Jericho and occupying the Promised Land.
Strange to say Pritchard uses these very facts to try and prove the unreliability of the book of Joshua. When the Gibeonites defected to Joshua, the other five prominent cities of Palestine were apprehensive, "They feared greatly, because Gibeon was a great city, like one of the royal cities . . . and all its men were mighty." (Joshua 10:2) Pritchard did indeed find that Gibeon was a great city, but not during the Late Bronze Period when he thought that the Israelite invasion took place. He wrote "Since Gibeon is described as a 'great city' at this time, one would expect to find city walls and houses, if the tradition preserved in the book of Joshua is historically trustworthy. Yet traces of this city of the latter part of the Late Bronze period have not come to light in the four seasons of excavations fraction of the total area - - the remains of the 'great city' of Joshua's day are to be found." (pages 157, 158) Extraordinary! He found them but did not recognise them.
Carbon 14 dating is often quoted in support of ancient Egyptian dates. But what most people do not realise is that these carbon 14 dates have to be calibrated to agree with the generally accepted dates of Egyptian history.
There is a chapter on dating methods, in the Cambridge Encyclopedia on Archaeology. The chapter is very relevant to the problem of Egyptian chronology. On page 424 the following paragraph appears. "When the radiocarbon method was first tested, good agreement was found between radiocarbon dates and historical dates for samples of known age (for example, from Ancient Egyptian contexts). As measurements became more precise, however, it gradually became apparent that there were systematic discrepancies between the dates that were being obtained and those that could be expected from historical evidence. These differences were most marked in the period before about the mid-first millennium BC, in which radiocarbon dates appear to recent, by up to several hundred years, by comparison with historical dates. Dates for the earliest comparative material available, reeds used as bonding between mud brick courses of tombs of Egyptian Dynasty I, about 3,100 BC, appeared to be as much as 600 years, or about 12%, too young."
600 years too young! And the differences were most marked in the period before about the mid-first millennium BC. That is the period of time that Dr Immanual Velikovsky, and Dr Donovan Courville claimed have been erroneously added to Egyptian chronology. "The magnitude of the task confronting any one who would attempt to propose a credible altered chronology involving a condensation of this magnitude was becoming increasingly apparent. The discrepancy in terms of Biblical chronology is of the magnitude of more than 600 years at the time of the Conquest (of Jericho by Joshua)." The Exodus Problem, by D. Courville, volume 1, page XVIII.
The problem, of course, is in reconciling the Biblical record of the Exodus with the history of Egypt. Most archaeologists assign the Exodus to the 18th or 19th dynasty. But these were the most powerful dynasties that ever ruled Egypt, and there is no trace of any disaster of the magnitude of the plagues that fell on Egypt prior to the Exodus, or the destruction of the Pharaoh and his army in the waters of the Red Sea.
So, if the chronology usually adopted for Egyptian history is correct, the Biblical record of the Exodus must be discredited. But if the revision of dates proposed by these later scholars is to be accepted, and Egyptian chronology is reduced by approximately 600 years, then the Exodus would have occurred after the 12 dynasty ended, and at that time there is abundant evidence for national disaster in Egypt.
Where then should 600 years be dropped from Egyptian dates? The Nubian king Tirharka of the 25th dynasty came to the throne of Egypt in 690 BC, and was contemporary with King Hezekiah of Judah who reigned from 729 to 686 BC. 2 Kings 19:9. These kings were also contemporary with Sennacherib of Assyria, verse 16, who ruled 705 - 681 BC. So there is no dispute about Egyptian chronology back to these dates.
But Pharaoh Merneptah of the 19th dynasty, usually dated about 1236 BC, states on his stele, "Israel is desolate, his seed is no more." Courville ascribes this to the conquest of Samaria by the Assyrians, and the exile of the ten tribes in 722 BC. If that placement is correct, as seems likely, then instead of ruling in the 13th century BC, Merneptah and his father Rameses the Great must have ruled in the 8th century BC, shortly before Tirharka of the 25th dynasty.
This then would account for the reduction of dates by more than 500 years shortly before 700 BC. It means that dynasties 20 to 23 must be regarded as contemporary with 19 and 24, and the time period of nearly 500 years usually allotted to dynasties 20 to 23 would be dropped from the progressive time scale. A further reduction would result from recognising that some kings of dynasties 18 and 19 were also contemporary.
So the radiocarbon dates should not have been manipulated to "agree" with Egyptian history "in the period before about the mid-first millennium BC." Rather Egyptian history should have been shortened to agree with the radiocarbon dates for this time.
It was first published in a "Special Edition Diggings, a monthly archaeological journal keeping you in touch with the latest finds in Bible lands, and reviewing the great discoveries of the past. Published monthly by D. K. Down, P.O. Box 341, Hornsby NSW 2077. 4773595."
David Down is also the editor of the "Archaeolocical Diggings" a bimonthly magazine which can be purchased from the address above; the on site narrator of a series of videos filmed in the Middle East - "Digging Up The Past"; and takes "Diggings" tours regularly in the Middle East. Kendal Down, the Web site coordinator, can assist with any information about the journal or magazine, or other services and products sponsored by "Archaeolocigal Diggings"
|AGES||CHARACTER||USUAL DATES||REVISED DATES||BIBLICAL EVENTS|
|10,000-3,100||2,300-2,100||Era after the Flood|
||Urban life develops
Destruction of cities
|MIDDLE BRONZE I
||Invaders from south
New, nomadic culture
Pottery with Egyptian influence
|2,100-1,850||1,400-1,000||Israelites Era of Judges|
|MIDDLE BRONZE II||Sophisticated culture
|LATE BRONZE||Some people as MB
Cities not fortified
|1,550-1,200||586-539||Assyrian & Babylonian
|IRON||Increase in population
Same people as MB/LB
|1,200-586||539-300||Return from Exile|
© S. D. Goeldner, February, 2013. Last updated August, 2020.
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