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Ancient Dating of the Exodus in Terms of Egyptian History

47a. The ancient dating of the Exodus in terms of Egyptian history was dependent largely on the traditions recorded in Greek by the Egyptian priest Manetho of Sebennytus, priest of Heliopolis (fl. second half third century BC), in his work called Aegyptiaca. (For a translation of the relevant sections of Manetho apud Josephus, Contra Apionem, see §S-202, below, >>, and §S-207, below, >>, for his Dynasty XVIII king list.) Manetho was not sympathetic of the Jewish point of view, and for that very reason can be treated as a valuable, albeit antagonistic, witness of the historical truth of the account of the Exodus preserved by the Jews. As regards his sources, Waddell (LCL Manetho, xx-xxi) remarks:

“An Egyptian high priest, learned in Greek literature, had an unrivaled opportunity, in early Ptolemaic times, of writing an excellent and accurate history of Egypt. He had open access to records of all kinds — papyri in the temple archives (annals, sacred books containing liturgies and poems), hieroglyphic tablets, wall sculptures, and innumerable inscriptions. These records no one but an Egyptian priest could consult and read; and only a scholar who had assimilated the works of Greek historians could make a judicious and scientific use of the abundant material. It is hardly to be expected, however, that Manetho’s History {the Aegyptiaca} should possess more worth than that of his sources; and the material at his disposal included a certain proportion of unhistorical traditions and popular legends.”

47b. As we shall see in this study, Manetho’s dating of the Exodus was actually rejected by the Jewish historian Josephus, because it involved a tradition which treated Moses as a native Egyptian, who merely allied himself to the “Hyksos” foreigners from Canaan (equated by Josephus with the Israelites), and, accompanied by them and a motley band of polluted and leprous Egyptians, departed from Egypt by leave of Pharaoh, through the latter’s desire not to “fight against the gods.” The Pharaoh at the time is named Amenophis by Manetho. He is said to have been forewarned of the danger these people would cause to Egypt by the prophecies of an Egyptian prophet, also called Amenophis, the son of Paapis (who is a known, historical, figure, Amenophis son of Hapu), and that is why he allowed them to go, in the end unmolested. The mention of the prophet Amenophis son of Paapis fixes the date here to the reigns either of Amenophis II or Amenophis III of the XVIIIth Dynasty, as these are the Pharaohs named Amenophis who are known to have been contemporary with Amenophis son of Hapu. (See §S-202d, below, >>, for this section of Manetho.)

47c. Manetho’s account, because of its depiction of Moses as an Egyptian and its implied slur on the Israelites as lepers, Josephus rejects as preposterous and absurd. He prefers what he describes as the more “historical” version preserved by Manetho in another section of the Aegyptiaca (§S-202a, below, >> ). There Manetho dates the event (represented as the final departure of the Hyksos from Egypt) to the era of Pharaoh Misphragmuthosis, the fifth (in some redactions of Manetho) or sixth (in others) king of the XVIIIth Dynasty, and his son. The position occupied by king Misphragmuthosis in the XVIIIth Dynasty, along with the Greek form of his name, equates him with Menkheperre-Thutmosis III, the fifth king of Dynasty XVIII. By regular rules of transcription the Egyptian name is represented in Greek in the strange form Misphrag (= Menkheperre) Muthosis (= Thutmosis). Africanus gives this king an additional name “Amosis.” Though at first sight this seems to be a different dating by Manetho, at variance with his dating to the reign of king Amenophis, it proves to be not so, since Thutmosis III is believed to have incorporated his son, Amenophis II, on the throne with him as his co-regent during the latter period of his reign. By the normal practice in the court of Egypt at this time, both Pharaohs were treated as proper kings of Egypt for the duration of the co-regency. Effectively, therefore, Manetho’s two traditions confirm eachother. The Exodus is now squarely dated to the end of the reign of Thutmosis III and the co-regency of his son Amenophis II, the known contemporary of the prophet Amenophis son of Hapu. We shall see how the details of this dating are corroborated by the evidence of archaeology in Egypt as the study progresses. We shall find that all other ancient datings of the Exodus agree with Manetho’s, though occasionally the Greek transcriptions of the Pharaoh’s name differ from those of Manetho. So Thutmosis III appears elsewhere in the role of Pharaoh of the Exodus under the name “Bocchoris” (a corrupt form of his name Menkheperre), or “Amosis” (as Thutmosis III is called by Africanus), or “Petissonius,” which is alleged to be an alternative name of Amosis. The Pharaohs did have several official names-cum-titles, so such variations in the traditional accounts are understandable.

47d. Josephus, for his part, accepted the identification by Manetho of the Exodus with the departure of the Hyksos, but rejected his dating of this event to the reign of the king we know as Amenophis II, because of the slur on the Israelites that was a vital element of that section of Manetho’s account. He preferred to equate the Exodus with the expulsion and withdrawal of the Hyksos mentioned earlier by Manetho and dated by him to an extended period, beginning with the reign of the king “Tethmosis” or Ahmosis I, the founder of the XVIIIth Dynasty, and ending with the final departure of the Hyksos in the reign of Misphragmuthosis or Thutmosis III, the fifth king of that Dynasty, and his son. Of course, Josephus did not know that the Thutmosis III of this story, the story he accepted, and the Amenophis of the story he rejected, ruled at one and the same time. Josephus also made the error of selecting the earlier phase of the extended period referred to by Manetho, the expulsion of the Hyksos kings by “Tethmosis” or Ahmosis I at the beginning of it, as the pivotal event of the Exodus, rather than the agreed withdrawal of the Hyksos remnants at the end of it, in the reign of Thutmosis III. Historically, Josephus had selected the episode c. 1570-1550 BC which gave birth to the period known as the New Kingdom, and the rise of the native Egyptian royal House of Thebes. After hundreds of years of domination by the Hyksos kings, as Manetho relates it, the Egyptians under Ahmosis I finally expelled them by military might and reinstituted native Egyptian rule. Any Hyksos remaining in Egypt subsequently departed, as already described, in the reigns of Thutmosis III and Amenophis II over 100 years later than Ahmosis I. By accepting the initial military expulsion of the Hyksos kings by Ahmosis I as the Exodus, Josephus lost the historical context of that event, and pushed back its Biblical chronology by a hundred years or more. He also influenced some modern commentators in the same direction. Manetho’s account, dating the Exodus to the end of the period of Hyksos subjection, is preferable and is found to agree in many particulars with the recent discoveries of Egyptology and archaeology.

The Exodus in Manetho and Related Ancient Sources Compared with Modern Discoveries

48. Amosius (i.e. “Amosis,” the alternative name for Thutmosis III in Africanus’ Manetho), also known as Petissonius, is identified as the Pharaoh of the Exodus in the Chronicle of John Bishop of Nikiu:

49. John Bishop of Nikiu, Chronicle (trans. Charles 1916), CHAPTER XXX. 1. And in the days of Moses the lawgiver, the servant of God who led the Exodus of the children of Israel out of Egypt, + in the days of Petissonius, that is, Pharaoh Amosius, king of Egypt, who ruled by the help of the book of the magicians Jannes and Jambres, who wrought shameful things before the mighty Moses, who talked with God—for this reason, they say, they were not willing to let the children of Israel go after the signs and the wonders which were wrought by his staff, + 2. Now (Petissonius) went to the diviners who were in Memphis and to the celebrated oracle and offered sacrifice. 3. And when one of the Hebrews asked the diviner Taninus <Who is first among you ? he answered :> ‘He who is in heaven, the Immortal, the First: before whom the heavens quake and likewise the earth and all the seas fear, and the Satans are affrighted and but a few angels stand; for He is the creator of powers and measures.’ 4. And Petissonius inscribed this oracle on a tablet and placed it in the temple of the gods near the water-measure whereby they learn the volume of the Nile. 5. We should recount that, when the temple was already destroyed: this tablet was the only one in Egypt that was still unbroken till the foundations of the idol temples were overthrown, and it was no longer possible for any one to maintain the temple of Memphis. 6. It was only through the power of our Lord Jesus Christ that all the temples were destroyed. 7. Now this mad Petissonius, that is, the Pharaoh Amosius, was overwhelmed in the Red Sea together with his horses and horsemen. 8. And when, after the children of Israel had gone forth from Egypt, he learnt that they had taken (with them) the riches of the Egyptians— a thing they had done with the approval of God and in accordance with His law; for the children of Israel had taken the riches of the Egyptians in compensation for the heavy labors which had been imposed upon them without intermission—Pharaoh was filled with indignation. 9. Thereupon he went forth in pursuit of them with his army. And he was overwhelmed in the sea with his followers and there was not one left. 10. And the children of Israel marched in the sea as on dry land, and they came to the place where God willed: for He is the conqueror of all the elements of creation.—Glory be to Him. 11. And, after the Egyptians had been destroyed, those who remained worshipped demons and forsook God. Those unhappy ones destroyed themselves and became like unto the angels who rebelled against God, and they worshipped the work of their own hands. 12. Some worshipped the cow, and some the ox, and some the dog and also the mule: and some the ass, and some the lion: and some fish, and some the crocodile: and some the leek and many other like things. 13. And they named their cities of Egypt after the name of their god. And they worshipped the + buildings+ of Busir and Manuf and Samnud and Sahraisht and Esna and of the Tree and of the Crocodile. And they gave divine honors to + the building of many cities + and likewise to the storm.

50. Several later Greek chronicles name Petissonius as the Pharaoh of the Exodus who drowned in the Red Sea and here John of Nikiu equates him with Pharaoh “Amosius.” The latter stands for “Amosis,” which is the alternative name of the Pharaoh more commonly called Thutmosis III in Africanus’ version of Manetho’s king list of Egypt, as quoted by the Byzantine monk Syncellus (§S-207a, below, >>). “Amosis” in Africanus is a second name of Thutmosis III, and is not the same person as Ahmosis, the founder of the XVIIIth Dynasty, which latter Africanus calls “Amos” by contrast. This is stated clearly by Syncellus as follows (Chronographica, ed. Mosshammer [M], 70. 1-7 = ed. Dindorf [D] 116f.): “For all those of the circumcision, Josephus and Justus, and those of the Greeks, I mean Polemon and Apion, Posidonius and Herodotus, wrote that the journeying of Israel out of Egypt took place in the time of Phoroneus and Apis the kings of the Argives, when Amosis was king of the Egyptians, not this [Amosis, i.e. Ahmosis I, M 69. 14f. = D 116, the first king of Dynasty XVIII], but the [Amosis] after him, also called Misphragmuthosis. For in many instances the kings of the Egyptians are found bearing two or three names.” (See also on Syncellus’ dating of Moses and the Exodus to the era of Amosis-Misphragmuthosis, Syncellus, Chronographica, M 69. 18 — 76. 21= D 116-127, M 78. 6 — 79. 22 = D 130-132, M 81. 5 = D 135, M 118. 9 = D 194, M 140. 9 = D 228, M 145. 8 = D 236, M 174. 1 = D 281, M 175. 20 = D 284, M 180. 1 = D 290.) The same dating of the Exodus to the era of Amosis (= Thutmosis III) is found in the works of the Egyptian priest Ptolemy of Mendes (whose floruit was in or before the reign of Tiberius) and of the anti-Semitic grammarian Apion (datable to the reigns of Tiberius, Claudius and Caligula), as cited already in the second century AD by Tatian and Clement of Alexandria (citations in §58d, below, >>). The common practice of ancient authors (see §§S-202b, below, >>, §S-202d, below, >>, §S-202n, below, >>, §S-205a, below, >>) was to refer to Ahmosis, the founder of the dynasty, as “Tethmosis,” which seems to represent one of Ahmosis’ official titles, his so-called “Nebty” name, Tutmesut, and to reserve the name “Amosis” for Thutmosis III. Only Eusebius calls Ahmosis “Amosis” and he seems merely to be giving the “Amos” of Africanus an acceptably Greek grammatical termination. (See further §58d, below, >>.) An indicator of the general trustworthiness of John of Nikiu’s entry is the fact that he names the diviner of Pharaoh Petissonius-Amosis as “Taninus” and in historical fact one of the chief officials and scribes of Thutmosis III was a man called Thaneni, who is thought to have been the author of the Pharaoh’s famous Annals inscribed at Karnak, and whose tomb is still to be found on the west bank at Thebes. “Amosis” and “Petissonius” probably represent two of the many official names of Thutmosis III. The first, “A-m-ôsi(s),” looks like his “Horus” name Kha-em-waset, “Shining in Thebes,” (Kha-em-waset, pronounced something like A-em-ose) and the second his “Golden Horus” name Sekhem-pehti, “Mighty in Strength,” with the two elements transposed (Pehti-sekhem), in the order the signs are sometimes found written on the monuments. The element sekhem was pronounced ousem in Coptic (e.g. the toponym Sekhem [Letopolis] became Ousem in Coptic and Ausim in Arabic), so Pehti-sekhem would be pronounced something like Peti-ousem, which is close to the Greek form Peti-ssonios.

51. There is actually only one dating of the Exodus in the ancient sources and that is to the era of Thutmosis III (who perished at the Exodus), of his son and presumed co-regent, Amenophis II, and of the latter’s son Thutmosis (IV) (both of whom survived). Artapanus in the account cited above does not mention any king intervening between the successor of Chenephres-Thutmosis II and his wife Merrhis-Makare-Hatshepsut, on the one hand, and the time of the Exodus, on the other, so we can conclude he considered the Pharaoh of the Exodus to have been this successor of Thutmosis II and Makare — i.e. historically Thutmosis III. In the Chronicle of Michael of Syria (Bk. III, ch. VI, ed. Chabot p. 41) and Bar-Hebraeus’ Chronography (§S-101, below, >>), Artapanus is drawn on to background the history of Moses, and the successor of “Amonpathis” (sic = Amenophis I in Bar-Hebraeus), who reigned after the death of Chenephres, is named “Psonos,” “Phosinos,” etc. and he was the Pharaoh who drowned in the Red Sea, i.e. these are Syriac transcriptions of the Greek Petissonios. Historically Thutmosis III (“Petissonios”, “Amosis” etc.) was the successor of Amenophis I, in the sense that the royal line was traced through him by preference, omitting Thutmosis I and Hatshepsut. According to Michael of Syria, Chronicle Bk. III, ch. VI, ed. Chabot, p. 41f., Petissonios (“Phosinos,” the Pharaoh drowned in the Red Sea) is said to have been the Aiguptos (Aegyptus) of Greek legend, the eponymous king of Egypt, and to have had a “son” called Ramses (Ramesses), who gave his name to the city where the Hebrews were oppressed. Contrariwise, Aiguptos is Ramesses in Manetho, and Petissonios is Amosis (Thutmosis III) in John of Nikiu. We shall find that the name Aiguptos-Ramesses became attached in Greek chronicles to several of the kings called Ramesses in the family line of Ramesses II, including Ramesses II himself, who bestowed his name on the city of Avaris, turning it into theHouse of Ramesses”; also the name Thutmosis III was chiseled out on some monuments and replaced by that of Ramesses II. The latter phenomenon would explain the identification of Aiguptos (properly Ramesses), with Petissonios, viz. Thutmosis III, in Michael of Syria. There was a real genealogical connection between Thutmosis III and the line of Ramesses, through one Ramesses the grandson of Thutmosis III, as will be demonstrated hereafter, and he must be the Ramses “son” of Petissonios (Thutmosis III) in Michael of Syria. To sum up, the name Petissonios was derived from Artapanus, and in Artapanus he was the reigning Pharaoh at the Exodus. This was not the only name Artapanus gave him, however. In an excerpt of that writer preserved by Clement of Alexandria he is named “Nechephreus,” which is likely a transcription of the Throne name of Thutmosis III, viz. Menkheperre (see §56a, below, >>, on Menkheperre > Nechephreus). The excerpt is found in Stromata (I. 23. 413 Pot.), and describes how Moses returned to Egypt to free the Israelites after the burning bush episode and was placed in prison by the then-reigning Pharaoh, the Pharaoh of the Exodus, “Nechephreus.” The native historian of Egypt, Manetho, (§S-202a, below, >>) confirms that the Exodus occurred in the reign of this same Thutmosis III, specifically immediately after his grandson Thutmosis (IV), who evidently had a position of leadership in the army, had besieged the Israelites (“Hyksos”) in Avaris. Avaris (modern Tell el-Dab’a) occupied a large area in the eastern Nile Delta near the town of Faqus, 60 miles northeast of Cairo. Faqus, the Greek Phakousa, according to an early church source c. AD 385, was the Biblical Goshen and the capital of the so-called “Arabian nome.” The Hebrews called this region the “land of Goshen” or the “land of Rameses.” The latter name was derived from the name of the city “Pi-Ramesse,” “House of Ramesses,” which, in the later New Kingdom period, was centered at the site of Qantir immediately adjacent to Tell el-Dab’a. The same area is referred to as the “Plain (Field) of Zoan” in Ps. 78. 12, 43, as it formed part of the great alluvial flood plain of the north-eastern Delta, the capital of which at a later period was Tanis (Zoan). The geographical name Plain of Zoan, like the name Rameses, is used retrospectively in the Bible to denote the area around Avaris.

51b. To give a little of the historical background, Manetho claims that after the expulsion of the main body of Hyksos by Ahmosis, the founder of the XVIIIth Dynasty (c. 1570-1550 BC), the remnant Hyksos were driven out of the rest of Egypt by Misphragmuthosis, viz. Thutmosis III (in the interval c. 1499-1472 BC), and came to be restricted to within their city of Avaris in the northern Delta. The general outline of events here is confirmed by the inscription on the Speos Artemidos (§S-2, below, >>) already referred to (§20a, above, >>), which proves that military action was initiated against the Hyksos during the co-regency of Thutmosis III with Makare, and that, in the rather unspecific words of the inscription, their “footprints” in the land were at that time “removed” (§S-2k, below, >>). Manetho relates in a subsequent, semi-historical, account (§S-202d, below, >>), that Avaris was an indeterminate period thereafter found in a ruined condition and without Hyksos residents, presumably as a result of the initial action of Thutmosis III. It was, however, reoccupied and fortified once again by them and their allies, as Manetho represents it, including elements of the Hyksos the main body of whom had been driven out long ago by Ahmosis. These helped build up a final time the Hyksos presence in Avaris. (See further §58d, below, >>.) At this point — and now resuming Manetho’s more historical account where it was left off — the newly fortified city was besieged by an Egyptian army (before c. 1446 BC) under the command of the “son” of Thutmosis III, called “Thummosis,” viz., presumably, the later-to-be Pharaoh Thutmosis IV, who appears under that name as son and/or successor of Misphragmuthosis in Manetho’s king-list. Thutmosis IV was actually the son of Amenophis II, and the grandson of Thutmosis III. However, the word “son” was commonly used

Geographical Map of the Land of Rameses or Goshen around Avaris and Pi-Ramesse

Geographical Map of North-Eastern Nile Delta Area with Avaris, Pi-Ramesse and Zoan

Local Map of Avaris and Pi-Ramesse

Local Map Tell el-Dab’a (Avaris) and Qantir (Pi-Ramesse)

both in Egyptian and Greek to mean “grandson,” and it is likely that it is so used here. Accordingly, Manetho mentions a little later in his account (§S-202g, below, >>) a son of Amenophis who was delegated by him commander of the Egyptian armies at the time of the Exodus, though he does not name him in that instance. There is evidence that the succession of Thutmosis IV to the throne was irregular (§53, below, >>), and this could explain the confusion in the traditions over his paternity. The siege of Avaris is dated by Manetho to the “era” of Thutmosis III. Though Thutmosis (IV) is named as a military leader, no mention is made of any succession of the latter to the throne — and in historical fact, Thutmosis III was immediately succeeded by his presumed co-regent Amenophis II, not Thutmosis IV. For some reason left unexplained by Manetho, and in a rather mysterious manner, Thutmosis (IV) abandoned the siege and “agreements were reached” that the Hyksos (identified by Josephus with the Israelites) should leave Egypt of their own free will. Thus, in Manetho, as in the Bible (Ex. 12. 37, Num. 33. 3), the Israelites departed Egypt, with Pharaoh’s reluctant concurrence, from Rameses (Avaris). They then journeyed across the Sinai desert and settled in the lands around Jerusalem.

51c. This is the strictly historical account of Manetho and the gaps in it are obvious. Only the later Greek chronicles record what happened to Pharaoh: Thutmosis III (“Amosis” or “Petissonius”), though neither Amenophis II nor Thutmosis (IV), perished in the Red Sea, chasing the departing Israelites. This scenario is implied already in Christian writers in the second century AD, as Theophilus of Antioch (§S-205, below, >>) names Tethmosis (Ahmosis I) as the Pharaoh of the oppression, not of the Exodus, and says that the Pharaoh of the Exodus perished in the Red Sea, in accord with the Biblical tradition (§57, below, >>), whilst Theophilus’ predecessor, Tatian, the schismatic disciple of Justin Martyr, following Ptolemy of Mendes, (§S-204a, below, >>), names the Pharaoh of the Exodus as Amosis (= Misphragmuthosis-Thutmosis III). Manetho also offered his readers the legendary account already referred to, admitting additional detail. He described “Amenophis” as king of Egypt at that time – and Amenophis II seems indeed to have been joint ruler with his father Thutmosis III during the latter few years of his reign – who fled from the scene of the Exodus because he did not wish to “fight against the gods.” He then took refuge in Ethiopia and remained there with his army for 13 years. Egypt meanwhile lay devastated from what are described as the ravages of the Israelites and their allies.§S-2, below, >>. At the end of 13 years he returned and led successful military campaigns into Canaan. Amenophis II is said to have been warned of the catastrophe that would befall Egypt at the Exodus by the famous Egyptian prophet Amenophis son of Hapu. The known biographical data concerning this Egyptian prophet supports Manetho’s account. He was an old man of between 80 and 110 years during the reign of Amenophis III, and his name disappears from the historical record after Year 30 of that reign. An interval of 36 years is commonly accepted as intervening between the death of Thutmosis III and the beginning of the reign of Amenophis III, and a 26 interval is more probable (§52b, below, >>), so Amenophis son of Hapu was in his young manhood during the latter part of the reign of Thutmosis III and the presumed co-regency of Amenophis II.

52. A degree of confusion has entered into the retelling of Manetho’s story because of the fact that the Egyptian historian omitted from his Dynasty XVIII king-list the name of Amenophis II and instead reserved it for the place where he described this king’s flight to Ethiopia. Amenophis II is said after the catastrophic departure of the Israelites to have given his 5 year old son “Sethos-Ramesses” to a friend for safekeeping, and to have promptly marched south with his army, being welcomed and entertained for the period of 13 years by the Ethiopian king. (The young Sethos-Ramesses of this story is described by Manetho as the “brother” of Harmais, i.e. Haremheb, the later Pharaoh of that name, and, for the benefit of Manetho’s learned Greek readership, is identified as the Aegyptus of Greek legend, and Harmais as Aegyptus’ brother Danaus, the immigrant king of Argos in the Peloponnese.) Josephus criticized Manetho for thus inserting the name of an otherwise unknown “king Amenophis” not referred to in the king-list. However, Manetho’s account reflects historical reality. The Israelite Exodus is dated by him to the reigns of two kings: 1) “Misphrag-muthosis,” called also “Amosis” in Africanus’ epitome of Manetho, who is said in the later Greek Christian chronicles to have perished in the Red Sea, and 2) “king Amenophis,” who, instead of entering into battle with the Israelites, refused to “fight against the gods,” and fled to Ethiopia. These are the historical co-regents Menkheperre-Thutmosis III and his son Amenophis II. Amenophis II was not the firstborn son of Thutmosis III, neither could he have been, given the circumstances of the Exodus described in the Bible. The eldest son of Thutmosis III was one Amenemhat, who never became king, and seems to have perished several years before the Exodus. The “firstborn of Pharaoh” mentioned in the Bible, therefore, the son of Pharaoh slain at the Passover, must have been the firstborn of Thutmosis III’s co-regent, Amenophis II. There is historical evidence that such was the case, as will be shown hereafter. It is noticeable in the Bible that on the two occasions the firstborn of Pharaoh is mentioned (Exodus 11. 5 and 12. 29), he is described as the firstborn of “Pharaoh who sits on his (or, his own) throne,” using a phrase unique in the Exodus narratives, as elsewhere Pharaoh is called simply “Pharaoh” or “the king of Egypt.” This suggests it was a different Pharaoh whose firstborn child was killed at the Passover, and one who was “sitting on his own throne,” the phrase being used in the same sense as in I Kings 22. 10, where two kings are presented, each one “sitting on his own throne.” In this case, Amenophis II sat on “his own throne” separate from his father and co-regent Thutmosis III, and it was the firstborn of Amenophis II who perished at the Passover.

52a. Amenophis II displayed throughout his reign a bitter hatred of Semites, and hauled a huge multitude of them, totaling over 101,000, back from Canaan as slaves from his various campaigns. Both his hatred of this race, and his accumulation of slave labor, are understandable in light of the heightened tension between Pharaoh and the Hebrews at the time of the Exodus. His first and second “campaigns of victory” (the last in Year 9 of his reign) into Canaan would seem to have occurred before the Exodus, whilst his father was still living. Some have argued for a very long co-regency of Amenophis II, but around 10 years is preferable. 14 years thereafter (Year 23 of his reign) he is discovered on retreat in a “secluded place” addressing a mysterious missive (§S-3, below, >>) to User-satet, the vice king of Cush (Ethiopia, Nubia). He warns the vice-king to beware of Semites of the servile class, and of native Ethiopians, particularly “magicians.” A Semitic “magician,” who, according to tradition, influenced the religious beliefs of Ethiopians, as well as Semites, may have been prominent in his mind at the time. He says that if such were to be put in positions of power, the vice-king might hear unwelcome things from his new appointees. He instances the kind of cryptic advice these officers might give User-satet as follows: “When a battle-ax of fine gold bound with bronze is missing, then a stout quarterstaff is in the place of the water and the other is in the acacia fountain!” “Do not listen to their words,” the king says, “and do not investigate their messages!” (§S-3f, below, >>.) The monument from Semna below the Second Cataract in Nubia, on which the address is inscribed, would date from the latter part of his period of exile in Ethiopia, according to this reconstruction. The vice king of Cush in the inscription corresponds to Manetho’s “king of Ethiopia” who offered hospitality to Amenophis II on his flight at the Exodus. User-satet is known to have provided sumptuous tribute to the king (§S-4, below, >>). These circumstances make sense of Amenophis II’s curious advice to User-satet. His fear was that Semitic or Ethiopian officers would sympathize with the Israelites and their anti-idolatrous religion and influence User-satet in that direction. They might then mention the unmentionable — the death of Thutmosis III in the Red Sea — and hold that up to User-satet as an example of what might happen to him likewise if he failed to heed their advice. They would whisper in his ear:

Semna Inscription:

When a battle-ax of fine gold bound with bronze is missing …”


This would be one of the golden items taken from Egypt by the Israelites, Exodus 11. 2, 12. 35f.

Semna Inscription:

… then a stout quarterstaff …”


Moses’ rod.

Semna Inscription:

… is in the place of the water …”


The “place of the water” is Rephidim, the ancient Pharan and modern Wadi Feiran, at the foot of Mount Horeb/Sinai, the modern Jebel Serbal, where Moses brought water from the rock by striking the rock with his rod, Exodus 17. 1, 5f., Cosmas Indicopleustes, Christ. Topograph. Bk. V, MS. p. 195f., ed. Migne 88, cols. 198ff. The miraculous stream is still found in Wadi Feiran (Cosmas’ Pharan), making the wadi the most fertile oasis in Sinai. The New Kingdom Pharaohs were well acquainted with this region, through their mining operations in the adjoining wadi Maghara and the neighboring Serabit el-Khadim

Semna Inscription:

… and the other …”


Viz. the golden ax.

Semna Inscription:

… is in the acacia fountain.”


Whilst Moses was receiving the Law from God on Mount Sinai, the sinful Israelites at the foot of the mountain melted down the golden objects taken from Egypt, Exodus 32. 24, which would have included this golden ax, and formed the Golden Calf (probably an Apis bull). Moses subsequently came down from the mountain, and ground the Golden Calf to dust, scattering the gold dust in the stream of water produced from the rock, Exodus 32. 20. Acacia, Heb. shittim, trees grew, and still grow, on the banks of this stream, which might therefore rightly be described as an “acacia fountain,” and it was from their wood the Tabernacle and Ark were constructed, Exodus 36. 20, 37. 1 etc.

Incidentally, the ability to powder gold so it could be drunken as Moses did here, demonstrates a high degree of chemical expertise on his part. In his entertaining book Origines (Vol. II, 1825, p. 270f.), the nineteenth-century scholar Drummond put it this way: “According to the English version, Moses burnt the golden calf in the fire; nor does this translation vary from that given in the Vulgate. It would seem indeed, that all the translators had anticipated the notion of the celebrated Stahl, who in his treatise entitled vitulus aureus in igne combustus, is of opinion that the idol was reduced to powder by calcination. But the words in the text {Hebrew script wayisroph ba-esh, Ex. 32. 20}, should he rendered ‘and he melted it in the fire, and not ‘he burnt it in the fire.’ The gold, after having been first melted, might undoubtedly have been calcinated by a second process, and by the means of fire; but how, by any method of calcination, could it have been brought to such a state, that when ground down, and thrown on the water, it could become potable {= drinkable}? That Moses did render gold potable is a fact not to be questioned. Now one of two things necessarily follows — either Moses worked a miracle, or he must have possessed a very great knowledge of chemistry. There is no appearance of any miraculous intervention of Providence upon this occasion. We must then admit that the effect was produced by the operation of natural causes. Now the means of rendering gold potable have been shown by Stahl, and perhaps still better by Boerhaave; but those means are such, that only an able chemist could have discovered them. It is in vain to argue, that the knowledge of the means in question could not have existed in the time of the Hebrew legislator. If we admit the facts, we must admit the knowledge.”

The interval between the campaign of Year 9 and the Semna inscription of Year 23 leaves sufficient room for the 13 years of exile in Ethiopia. According to Manetho, the exiled Pharaoh finally consolidated his control over his devastated patrimony in Egypt and even conducted further campaigns into Canaan. Desire for revenge was no doubt the motivating factor here. One of these campaigns may be alluded to in a fragment of a Hittite text, which describes an attack on the border of Hittite territories by Egypt. This can be dated to some time not long after the recovery of the Egyptians from the catastrophe which befell them on the death of Thutmosis III (see §S-1d, below, >>, and §56, below, >>, for the chronology).

52b. Considering his love of all things martial, it is probable Amenophis II perished in battle, perhaps in Canaan on one of these campaigns of revenge, and his son, the general Thutmosis IV, then took the throne, being followed, in turn, by his son Amenophis III. The latest scarabs found in Jericho before its destruction by the collapse of its walls at the end of the Late Bronze IA period, c. 1405 BC, bear the name of Amenophis III, so he was Pharaoh during the latter part of the period of wilderness wandering, which, according to the Bible, lasted 40 years. The standard historical chronologies place the accession of Amenophis III 36 years after the death of Thutmosis III. The actual interval was probably more like 26 years, with something like a 10 year co-regency of Amenophis II (see §52a, above, >>). From the reign of Amenophis III and the following reign of Amenophis IV (Akhenaton) date the desperate letters found at Tell el-Amarna from the princes of Canaan begging Pharaoh for military aid against the destructions wreaked on them by the invading Habiru (Hebrews). (§S-6, below, >>.) In all respects the findings of archaeology support the reliability of this reconstruction of the sequence of events. This, in turn, is founded on the united testimony of the ancient Greek chroniclers around the turn of the Christian era who still had access to the living oral and literate tradition of the Egyptian priests.

52c. Eusebius, alone of the ancient chronologers, dates the period when “Moses led the journeying of the Jews from Egypt” to the “era” or “lifetime” (Armenian translation of Eusebius) or to “about the time” (Eusebius apud Syncellus) of the Pharaoh C(h)encheres. C(h)encheres appears in a position somewhat higher (earlier) in Dynasty XVIII than the dislocated name of Ramesses-Aegyptus. However, this and the royal name preceding it do not appear in all MSS; therefore it is probably out of its proper chronological position. In Medieval Irish chronicles, C(h)encheres is said not only to have been contemporary with the Exodus, but also to have drowned in the Red Sea. This assertion, along with the sporadic attestation of his name in the king-lists, enables us to identify him as Thutmosis III under the name given to him in Clement of Alexandria, viz. “Nechephreus.” See further §51, above, >> and §56a, below, >>, on Menkheperre > Nechephreus. Drawing ultimately on Artapanus, Clement of Alexandria (Stromata I. 23. 413 Pot.) describes how Moses returned to Egypt to free the Israelites after the burning bush episode, and was placed in prison by the then-reigning Pharaoh, who was also the Pharaoh of the Exodus, named “Nechephreus.” This is clearly a transcription of Menkheperre (Thutmosis III), and would easily be corrupted into the form C(h)encheres.

52d. The book of Genesis (15. 13) refers to a period of 400 years during which the Israelites were prophesied to sojourn in Egypt, and (47. 11) describes their arrival there in the land of Rameses (Avaris), whilst the book of Psalms (78. 12, 43) says the miracles performed through Moses at the end of that period, in the process of the Exodus, took place in the “Field [= flood-plain] of Zoan.” Zoan is the city known by the Greeks as Tanis in the eastern Nile Delta, to the north of Avaris. It is obvious, therefore, why a native Egyptian monument discovered in the ruins of Tanis in the 19th century dating from the New Kingdom and mentioning an era of 400 years in combination with the Asiatic god Seth, the patron deity of Rameses-Avaris, should have caused a flurry of excitement amongst students of the Bible. The broken monument was reburied by its discoverer then brought to light again in the 20th century. The surviving portion of it proves to be the work of Ramesses II, the second king of Dynasty XIX. Many have thought, and still think, that Ramesses II was the Pharaoh of the Exodus. This idea arose as a result of the dating of Manetho’s Pharaoh Aegyptus (also known as Ramesses) to the time of the Exodus, though, as pointed out supra, the sobriquet Aegyptus was attached to a number of different kings called Ramesses, one of them only being Ramesses II. See §51, above, >>. Certainly the founding kings of Dynasty XIX, Seti I and Ramesses II, traced their line back to forebears who worshiped Seth of Avaris, and Avaris came in their era to be known as “The House of Ramesses” (whence the Biblical “land of Rameses”) from their expansive building work in Qantir adjoining Tell el-Dab’a. Many monuments, including this one, were moved from Avaris to Tanis when the XIXth Dynasty kings relocated to the latter city. As more historical information has come to light it has become clear from what this monument says, that the era of 400 years (and therefore also the era of the Exodus) terminated not in the days of Ramesses II himself, but in the days of his forebears, and more precisely, as we shall show, in the 15th century BC. Perhaps the abandonment of the popular Ramesses II date for the Exodus which this historical re-evaluation necessitates has been one reason why the Stela of the Year 400 has been sidelined in more recent literature.

The Stela of the Year 400, trans. from ANET (with minor adjustments to the orthography and my notes in braces { }):

(1) Live the Horus: Mighty Bull, Who Loves Truth, . . . (Ramesses II). {The long titulary of Ramses II is omitted in ANET.} (5) His majesty commanded the making of a great stela of granite bearing the great name of his fathers, in order to set up the name of the father of his fathers {the “father of his fathers” being the god Seth conceived of here as the ancestor of the royal line of Ramesses II} (and of) the King Men-maat-Re, the Son of Re: Seti Mer-ne-Ptah {that is, Seti I}, enduring and abiding forever like Re every day:

Year 400, 4th month of the third season, day 4 of the King of Upper and Lower Egypt: Seth-the-Great-of-Strength; the Son of Re, his beloved: The-Ombite {the god Seth is here given a titulary like an earthly king to re-enforce the idea that he was the ancestor of Ramesses II}, beloved of Re-Har-akhti, so that he exists forever and ever.

Now {viz. in the year 400} there came

the Hereditary Prince, Mayor of the City and Vizier, Fan-Bearer on the Right Hand of the King, Troop Commander {this title is carved twice}, Overseer of Foreign Countries, Overseer of the Fortress of Sile {or Tjaru, the frontier fortress in the eastern Delta}, Chief of Police, Royal Scribe, Master of Horse, Conductor of the Feast of the Ram-the-Lord-of-Mendes, High Priest of Seth, Lector Priest of Uto, She-Who-Opens-the-Two-Lands, and Overseer of the Prophets of All the Gods,

Seti, the triumphant {“triumphant” is a word which indicates he was deceased at the time the stela was erected},

the son of

the Hereditary Prince, Mayor of the City and Vizier; (10) Troop Commander; Overseer of Foreign Countries; Overseer of the Fortress of Sile; Royal Scribe; and Master of Horse,

Pa-Ramesses {lit. “The Ramesses” a common Egyptian way of writing a personal noun, where we would simply say “Ramesses”}, the triumphant {deceased},

and child of

the Lady of the House and Singer of the Re,

Tiu, the triumphant {deceased}.

He {viz. the aforesaid Seti son of Pa-Ramesses, one of the ancestors of Ramesses II} said: ‘Hail to thee, O Seth, Son of Nut, the Great of Strength in the Barque of Millions {referring to Seth’s role in repelling the serpent which attacked the barque of the sun-god}, felling the enemy at the prow of the barque of Re, great of battle cry… ! Mayest [thou] give me a good lifetime serving [thy] ka {soul}, while I remain in [thy favor] …’’”

{The remainder of the stela is lost.}

The content of the main body of the broken inscription is stated at the beginning, thus (my italics emphasizing the most relevant phrases): “His majesty {Ramesses II} commanded the making of a great stela of granite bearing the great name of his fathers, in order to set up the name of the father of his fathers {the “father of his fathers” being the god Seth conceived of here as the ultimate ancestor of the royal line of Ramesses II} (and of) the King Men-maat-Re, the Son of Re: Seti Mer-ne-Ptah {Seti I, father of Ramesses II}”. This Stela contained the names of the fathers (ancestors) of Ramesses II and his father Seti I, the ancestral line being held to have been founded by the god-king Seth. Its object was to celebrate Seth himself and his descendant, Seti I (reigned c. 1300 BC), the father of Ramesses II. Seth is represented to have been “king” already for 400 years, when Seti, one of the ancestors of Ramesses II came to Seth’s temple in Avaris and prayed to him. This Seti could not be Seti I, as the mother of the Seti referred to on the Stela is stated to have been Tiu, whereas the mother of Seti I was Satre. This means also that the Ramesses (Pa-Ramesses) who was the father of the Seti on the Stela was not Ramesses I, the father of Seti I. In this line the kings were alternately named Ramesses and Seti, and the father of Ramesses I was accordingly called Seti, but this Seti could not be the Seti of the Stela either, as the latter is titled “Vizier” on the Stela, whereas Seti the father of Ramesses I was titled “Officer.” That means the Seti referred to on the Stela and his father Ramesses were an even earlier pair of father and son, so there were at least six members of the line: 1) Ramesses of the Stela, husband of Tiu; 2) his son, Seti the “Vizier” of the Stela, who prayed to the god-king Seth in the year 400; …. [perhaps a generational gap here, but more likely not, see infra;] 3) his son, Ramesses the father of Seti the “Officer”; 4) his son, Seti the “Officer” himself; 5) his son, Ramesses I, husband of Satre; 6) his son, Seti I who reigned as the first king of Dynasty XIX c. 1300 BC. Precisely six generations, at a round 30-40 years per generation, would take one back to around 1540-1480 BC as the era of the first Ramesses in the series, and c. 1500-1450 for the era of his son Seti the “Vizier” who prayed to Seth in Avaris in the 400th year of the god’s “reign”. There could hardly be more than six generations of kings in this line, as 400 years before 1540-1450 BC takes one back to around 1940-1850 BC: this was the time the first Hyksos kings, according to Manetho, arrived in Egypt, and the god Seth began to “reign”. The date is confirmed in a general sense by the archaeological data showing Avaris was founded in the century preceding c. 1850 BC. (§S-202a, footnote 3, below, >>.) Avaris was renamed “House of Ramesses” by the XIXth Dynasty kings because their “House” (household, family) originated from, or rose to prominence in, Avaris. Thus the 400 years ran out c. 1500-1450 BC. This exactly accords with the Biblical account. The promised 400 years of sojourning and affliction of the Israelites in a foreign land began with the arrival of Joseph in Egypt in 1875 BC and ended in 1476 BC (400 years inclusive). Some undefined period thereafter the Israelites were prophesied to leave the land of affliction by the operation of the hand (power) of God. Evidently Seti the “Vizier” celebrated in Avaris the expiration of the 400 year period, then 30 years later the promise of God was fulfilled at the Exodus in 1446 BC. Around the time the 400 years expired, Thutmosis III removed the Hyksos “footprints” from the land and restricted them to Avaris, perhaps in an attempt to interpret the 400-year prophecy as if it authorized the Hyksos’ removal from the rest of the country. Indeed that was the beginning of the heightened tension between the native Egyptians and Hyksos remnants which resulted in the Exodus 30 years later. The Seti (“Sethos”) “son of Ramesses” who is said to have been born to Amenophis II 5 years before the Exodus and was the ancestor of the XIXth Dynasty kings, could not, of course, have been this Seti the “Vizier” (number 2 in the list supra), as the latter was already well advanced in age 30 years before the Exodus. He must have been that Seti’s grandson, Seti the “Officer” (number 4 in the list). He was adopted, evidently, by Ramesses of Avaris (number 3 in the list), when he was abandoned in Egypt by Amenophis II on the latter’s flight to Ethiopia, and brought up as that Ramesses’ son.

53. Amenophis II was not followed on the throne by his natural heir, it may be presumed because of the death of the firstborn. A mummy of a young boy under 11 years of age, found in the tomb of Amenophis II, is generally thought to be that of his son Webensenu. This, or some other untimely death of a firstborn child, directly resulting from the Exodus plague, would explain why Amenophis II was succeeded in the event by an inferior son, Thutmosis IV. According to Manetho, Thutmosis (IV) already held a position of leadership in the army of Thutmosis III before the departure of the Israelites. Evidence of Thutmosis IV’s inferior status is found on an inscription he had carved on a monument discovered between the paws of the Sphinx at Gizeh. This inscription tells in detail how Thutmosis IV came to be Pharaoh. Supposedly, in his youth, he was chariot-racing near the Sphinx, when, feeling tired, he fell asleep in the shadow of the colossus, and began to dream. The god of the Sphinx, Harmachis, appeared to him in his dream and promised him the throne if he cleared away the sand that had accumulated around the huge form. Thutmosis did so and was thus granted the kingship. Such stories of “divine authorization” were resorted to by certain Pharaohs to shore up what would otherwise have been rather weak claims to the throne, hence, it is supposed, Thutmosis IV was not the natural successor of Amenophis II. In Manetho’s king list Amenophis II does not feature at all and Thutmosis IV is named as the immediate successor of Thutmosis III, followed by the latter’s son Amenophis III, whom Manetho rightly denominates the builder of the Colossi of Memnon.

54. The reign of Amenophis II, immediately following the Exodus, marked, as one would expect, a turning-point in the history of Egypt. For some reason until now unexplained, Amenophis II reversed the policy of previous Pharaohs and began the custom which was followed by a number of his immediate successors of introducing into the royal harem, in positions of great eminence in the native Egyptian court, foreign wives from the region of Syria and Mesopotamia. This would have been unthinkable to Thutmosis III and his predecessors of the earlier XVIIIth Dynasty. To them, these nations, the people of Naharain, Mitanni, of Shinar and the Hittites, were bitter foes, to be opposed and crushed wherever they were met. The new policy of Amenophis II was one of appeasement rather than of conflict. It is hard to explain, particularly in the light of his well-attested hatred of Egypt’s Semitic neighbors to the north and east, unless one takes into account the tremendous catastrophe, including the destruction of prominent males in the nation, that had overwhelmed Egypt at the Exodus.

55a. The eradication of the manhood of Egypt is attested outside the Bible as well as within it. Arabic writers drawing on earlier Coptic sources expatiate on one of the consequences of the catastrophe in the legend of the “Wall of the Old Lady”. The following summary of the story from the earliest sources is taken from P. Sijpesteijn, Building an Egyptian Identity, 2011, p. 88ff, 91ff.: “Ibn Abd al-Hakam {d. 257/871} explains that when God destroyed Pharaoh and his companions, only slaves, work-men and women were left in Egypt. It was decided that Daluka bint Zabba a woman of great intelligence and impeccable nobility, would rule Egypt. This is the point at which the “old lady” enters the story, since, at the time of her accession to the throne, Daluka was a full 160 years old. Fearing that neighboring rulers would take advantage of Egypt’s sudden lack of fighting men by launching an attack, she ordered a defensive wall be built around the country. The wall took six months to build, and enclosed the fields, villages, and cities of Egypt with a large canal crossed by bridges. Guards and lookout posts were placed every three miles, with smaller lookouts at every mile. Each watch post held two soldiers and their provisions. At the first sight of danger, the guards were to ring the alarm bells with which every post was equipped, thereby mobilizing all the other soldiers. Daluka went on to rule for twenty years and thanks to her foresight, IbnAbd al-Hakam says, Egypt enjoyed four hundred years of security. She carried out a program of repopulation by marrying the free women to manumitted slaves, so that eventually a male successor was old enough to succeed her. One of IbnAbd al-Hakam’s informants, the Egyptian traditionistUthman b. Salih (d. 219/834), mentioned that large parts of the Wall could still be seen in Upper Egypt. His story is the basis of most later accounts about the Old Lady’s Wall and authors include it even when they offer additional information …. Another explanation for Daluka’s decision to build the wall is given by the historian al-Mas‘udi (d. 345/956), who claims to have examined in person the traces of the wall that still existed in 332/943 during his visit to Upper Egypt. In his global history (“The meadows of gold and mines of precious gems”), he writes that Daluka built the wall to protect her son, whose fondness of hunting, she thought, put him in great danger of being attacked by wild animals or hostile kings and nomads. A protective wall around the country, patrolled by guards within earshot of each other and surrounded by crocodiles and other wild animals, was supposed to keep danger out and her son in …. The North African scholar and travel writer al-Tujibi (d. 730/1330) also saw for himself the wall on both banks of the Nile Al-Tujibi offers yet another explanation for its existence, writing that when the sorceress-queen Daluka gave birth to her son, she had a horoscope made which warned that a crocodile would kill the boy. In a vain attempt to circumvent the prediction, Daluka built the wall to protect her son from marauding crocodiles. One day, when the boy was grown up and after his mother had died, he went to look at the wall and asked why it had been built. When he was told it was to keep out crocodiles, he asked to be shown one, but this request was refused on the grounds that it was too dangerous. Once home again, he asked that a crocodile be made for him from wood so he might know what the animal looked like. A splinter of the statue cut his finger, causing a festering wound that did not heal and from which he eventually died. Al-Nuwayri (d. 733/1333), who otherwise relies on the versions of al-Mas‘udi, Ibn ‘Abd al-Hakam, and al-Dimashqi, records a very similar story in which the boy, wanting to know what animal was mentioned in his horoscope, receives a wooden statue of a crocodile; the figurine gives him such a fright that he dies.

55b. These accounts might be dismissed as typical Arab fabulizing of the Biblical narrative. The key elements in them, however, viz. 1) the eradication of the nobility of Egypt, 2) the consequent exaltation of a woman to the throne of Egypt, 3) the necessity Egyptian females experienced thereafter to marry members of the servile class, 4) the extraordinary measures taken by the Queen to defend the kingdom of Egypt, and 5) the death on account of them, or in connection with them, of a young male related to her (her “son”), are echoes of actual historical events which transpired in the middle of the second millennium BC. Mursili, king of the Hittites, recorded on a huge inscription in the capital city of the Hittites an account of the glorious reign of his father, Suppiluliuma (§S-1, below, >>). Suppiluliuma was a contemporary, probably during the latter part of a long reign, of Amenophis III, and therefore, on the evidence of Manetho, a potential contemporary also of the Exodus. Mursili recounted a most unusual occurrence in the days of his father Suppiluliuma which coincides precisely with the historical scenario reconstructed here. A messenger is said to have arrived at the camp of Suppiluliuma one day with an extraordinary letter from the queen of Egypt. The Hittite king was busy besieging the city of Carchemish in northern Syria. He had already conducted daring military campaigns in the area, even as far south as the Beka valley between the two ranges of Lebanon, and had, curiously, seen no punitive action from the Egyptian side. Suppiluliuma was awaiting the Egyptians and will have had his tactical response prepared. Now came, not an army of Pharaoh, but this message from Pharaoh’s chief wife. The queen averred that her husband “Bibhururiya,” as the Hittites called him, had perished, and that there were no freeborn males left in Egypt fit for marriage to the queen. She feared the consequences in this dilemma, given, it is implied, the recent successes of Suppiluliuma in his Syrian campaigns. The queen now politely requested the king of the Hittites to send a son of his to Egypt, so that she could at least marry a man of royal blood, foreigner though he be. The only alternative, she said, would be for her to marry a person of the servile class, and that, of course, was unthinkable. King Suppiluliuma was dumbfounded. “Such a thing has never happened to me in my whole life!” That was his response, according to the Hittite annals. His great and inveterate foe, the mighty royal house of Egypt, was literally begging him for a marriage alliance, and that an alliance which would put his own son, the son of the previously despised foreign race of the Hittites, on the throne of Egypt! And what about this ridiculous statement that there were “no fit males left in Egypt”? Shock soon gave way to suspicion. This must surely be a trick. Why would the Egyptians do such a thing? They had Canaan in their grasp. They had won mighty victories in Syria in the reign of Thutmosis III. Were they plotting a coup against him, or hoping simply to overwhelm the throne of the Hittites by an alliance in which they would inevitably be the superior partner? But then again, what could they possibly gain by giving away the throne of Egypt to his son? It just did not make sense. He determined to send a messenger down to Egypt to discover the truth. Whatever this messenger reported back to Suppiluliuma, it finally confirmed to the Hittite king the genuineness of the request. In fact, one of the top officials of Egypt, a personal representative of the queen, accompanied the Hittite messenger back to the court of Suppiluliuma with a second letter from the Egyptian court. The queen protested her sincerity. Suspicions should be put aside. The need was urgent, the security of the Egyptian throne was at stake. Egypt would swallow its “shame.” The queen must marry a man of royal blood and who better than the son of the king of the Hittites?

55c. Unable, no doubt, to credit his good fortune, Suppiluliuma took advantage of the opportunity so strangely opened up to him. He sent his son south to Egypt to marry the queen. As it happened, things did not go well on that front for the Hittite king. There was clearly a powerful party in Egypt hostile to the queen’s revolutionary proposal. Zannanza, the son of Suppiluliuma, seems to have been murdered on the border of Egypt before he even arrived at the court and the throne of Egypt remained in native Egyptian hands. The Pharaoh (Amenophis II, according to this reconstruction) eventually took control. Without considering the possibility that Amenophis II was the contemporary of Zannanza, some have identified the mummy of an unknown male, who was discovered in a cache in the tomb of Amenophis II in the Valley of the Kings sewn up in a sheepskin (a mode of burial anathema to Egyptians), and seems to have died by violence or in unusual circumstances, as that of Zannanza. The reigning Pharaoh, whoever he was, sent back a message to Suppiluliuma blaming the Hittite king for the death of his son, stating he was already seated on the throne of Egypt, and threatening the Hittites with talk of armies and chariots. Suppiluliuma replied that he was not told there was a currently reigning Pharaoh and he dismissed the threat of war. A hawk might kill a single chicken, he said, but that would not make an army run from him.The weakness of the Egyptian throne was clear to Suppiluliuma, and, accordingly, he embarked on a program of imperial expansion in Syria, reversing, to a large extent, the previous gains of the Egyptians in those regions. Though placing a foreign male on the throne of Egypt proved unacceptable to the nationalist party, alliances were forged by marriage to suitable royal females. Thereafter power shifted in the Levant from Egypt to the native dynasties of the north, to the Hittites, Mitanni and eventually the Assyrians. Never again was Egypt the undisputed master of the area.

56. This amazing record confirms the obliteration of marriageable males in the Egyptian court in the time of Suppiluliuma. Little certain is known, however, about the chronology of Suppiluliuma, except the following particulars: 1) his reign coincided in one phase with that of Tushratta, of the rival kingdom of Mitanni, whose death he outlived; 2) Tushratta was a contemporary of Amenophis III — whose reign commenced conventionally 36 years, and more probably around 26 years, after the death of Thutmosis III — and also a contemporary of the latter’s son Amenophis IV (Akhenaton) — who may, or may not, have ruled for some time as co-regent with his father; and 3) the royal grandson of Suppiluliuma, Muwatalli, was a contemporary of Ramesses II. The more detailed knowledge of the chronology in the reigns of Amenophis III and IV is due to the accidents of discovery, namely to the wealth of information provided by the el-Amarna archives. One reconstruction is as good as another where the facts on the ground are so limited, but the hypothesis offered here has the advantage of explaining the highly unusual set of circumstances and the most peculiar behavior of the Egyptian court revealed in the Hittite annals. Suppiluliuma’s grandson was a contemporary of Ramesses II. The interval between the accession of Amenophis III and that of Ramesses II is approximately 100 years. That figure suggests a generation length of 50 years, or even more, for the Hittite kings of this period, and correspondingly high figures for their reigns. Therefore the medial point of the reign of Suppiluliuma may have preceded, rather than followed, the reign of Amenophis III, as is commonly assumed, and its commencement fallen within the reign of Amenophis II, or even within the latter part of the reign of Thutmosis III. Suppiluliuma is said to have taken 20 years in the earlier period of his reign to settle the neighboring territories around his homeland before the better-attested royal activities of the latter period, about the time of Amenophis III. If his accession is taken, for the sake of simplicity, to have fallen a round 20 years before the beginning of the reign of Amenophis III, the date of the accession is c. 1440 BC. That is 10 years before the end of the reign of Amenophis II, during the period of his exile in Ethiopia, on the understanding that the interval between the death of Thutmosis III and the commencement of the reign of Amenophis III was 26 years. The Carchemish expedition at the time of the Zannanza affair would then be dated towards the beginning of the reign of Suppiluliuma and towards the end of the exile of Amenophis II. The utter incredulity of Suppiluliuma at the reported predicament of the Egyptian queen serves only to emphasize the magnitude and the unusualness of the catastrophe her people had suffered, their “shame” as she calls it, yet its reality Suppiluliuma established through the offices of his personal courier. Nothing short of the scale of disaster described by the Bible and confirmed by Manetho would adequately account for these circumstances. Manetho dates the event to the reigns of Thutmosis III and Amenophis II and describes how the latter fled from the scene of the departure of the Israelites and retired for 13 years in Ethiopia while Egypt lay devastated under its effects. We may presume that the letter from the queen was despatched some time during this period, and that the exiled Amenophis II retained, or regained at the end of it, enough control over the North to ruin her marriage-plan. In actual fact, the plan of the queen’s counselors had good reasoning behind it. For one thing, it bought time with the Hittites, who would surely have discovered Egypt’s dreadful secret, sooner or later, if an Egyptian army failed to turn up in Syria. It also forced the hand of Amenophis II and made his return from exile a near certainty. What Pharaoh, even in the dire circumstances Egypt had been reduced to, would tolerate a Hittite on the throne of Egypt? And finally, if the worst fell out in the event, and Amenophis II remained absent, an alliance would have at least been forged with Egypt’s enemies in the North, and thus the direct threat from that source removed, whilst the hated Hebrew slaves, now headed for Canaan, and potentially so dangerous to Egypt’s interests, would end up caught in a pincer between Egypt on the one hand and their new Hittite ally on the other. For the Hebrews it was a blessing that the national pride of Amenophis II issued in the expected result.

56a. The name of the deceased Pharaoh is “Bibhururiya” (with medial h aspirated) in the Hittite transcription. A fragment preserves the variant “Nibhururiya.” With eyes fixed on the period following Amenophis III for this period of the reign of Suppiluliuma, most historians have chosen to identify B/Nibhururiya with Neb-kheperu-re (Tutankhamun). The difficulty with this identification is that it does not fit the facts. There was no reason for the queen of Tutankhamun to go looking for suitable males to marry, as two powerful members of the court were ready in the wings to take over when the young king died. One was Ay, who immediately following Tutankhamun’s death married the very wife these historians think sent the letter to Suppiluliuma, and the other was the King’s Deputy, Haremheb. They ruled consecutively and without an interval for another 30 years or more after the reign of Tutankhamun. This evidence alone, without consideration of a second, more acute, chronological difficulty, makes the identification with Tutankhamun untenable. As regards the second and third elements in the name Bib-huru-riya there can be no dispute. The final element -riya stands for the native Egyptian divine name -re, as in the el-Amarna letters. The preceding -huru- or -khuru- represents the element -kheper(u)– in the Egyptian name, as likewise in the el-Amarna letters. Between the time of Thutmosis III and the time of Haremheb, who are the earliest and the latest Pharaohs respectively who could have been contemporary with Suppiluliuma, the royal names ending in kheper(u)-re are in chronological order: Men-kheper-re (Thutmosis III), Aa-kheperu-re (Amenophis II), Men-kheperu-re (Thutmosis IV), Nefer-kheperu-re (Akhenaton), Neb-kheperu-re (Tutankhamun), Ankh-kheperu-re (Smenkhkare) and Kheper-kheperu-re (Ay). Because of the vagaries of transcription in this era, as evidenced in the el-Amarna correspondence, the difficult first element could, with a little imagination, be held to stand for any of the initial elements of the royal names of the relevant period, though with less probability for the first element in the names Aa-kheper-re (Amenophis II), Ankh-kheperu-re (Smenkhkare) and Kheper-kheperu-re (Ay). Some have equated B/Nibhururiya with Nefer-kheperu-re (Akhenaton) and even with Ankh-kheperu-re (Smenkhkare), rather than with Neb-kheperu-re (Tutankhamun), in the attempt to fit this episode into the Amarna context. There is an acute difficulty with this whole chronology, however. That is that the el-Amarna letters, dating from the era of Amenophis III, Amenophis IV (Akhenaton), and the first year or so of Tutankhamun, presume that the Hittite war with the Hurrians of Mitanni and their king Tushratta was in progress and far advanced when they were written. In fact, the most probable, internal, chronology of the letters dates the war, mentioned in letter 75 (EA 75 §S-6, below, >> ), to the reign of Amenophis III; yet the siege of Carchemish, during or before which Bibhururiya died, was (on the reconstruction favored here) long prior to, or (according to the currently popular understanding) at the beginning of, the Hurrian war. Therefore the identification of Bibhururiya even with Akhenaton, the earliest of the Amarna kings whose throne name contains the requisite final elements, should be rejected. Bibhururiya seems to have preceded Amenophis III and Amenophis IV. It must be concluded that the Hittite transcription stands for one of the three Egyptian royal names Men-kheper-re (Thutmosis III), Aa-kheper-re (Amenophis II) or Men-kheperu-re (Thutmosis IV), the three immediate predecessors of Amenophis III and Amenophis IV, and more probably for either the first or the last of these. A hypothetical medial form between Men-kheper(u)-re and Bib-khuru-riya would be *Mim-khuru-riya, with the m and n being both represented by b in the Hittite transcription. The variant “Nibhururiya” shows a metathesis of the m (b) and n in the first element, through a presumed medial form *Nim-khuru-riya. (Compare the “Nechephreus” = Men-kheper-re of Artapanus in Clement of Alexandria, supra. Men-kheper-re > Nim-kheper-re > Ni[m]-khepre > Nechephreus. With a similar metathesis of the initial consonants “n” and “ch” in the first element, along with a doubling of the “ch” because of the immediately preceding “m”, and a softening, then disappearance, of the “ph” in the second element: Ni[m]-khepre > Nech-chepre > Chen-che[p]re > Chencheres.) All three Pharaohs were contemporary with the Exodus, on the evidence of Manetho, and of these, only one is known from other evidence to have perished at that period, and left Egypt in the peculiar situation described in the Hittite inscription, viz. Thutmosis III. A transcription of the Pharaoh’s name similar to the Hittite one recurs in later Greek accounts (Lysimachus, §S-202l, below, >>, followed by Tacitus, §S-203a, below, >>), which date the Exodus to the time of “Boc(h)choris” king of Egypt. This is not the first millennium king of that name but one datable to the earlier XVIIIth Dynasty, 1700 years before Josephus’ own time (§S-202n, below , >>), according to his own chronology of the Exodus, which is about 100 years too early (§47d, above, >>). Tacitus (ibid.) states that the majority of writers known to him dated the Exodus to this reign. “Boc(h)choris” appears to be the Greek equivalent of the Hittite “Bibhururiya.” An alternative tradition (Chaeremon, §S-202j, below, >>), with a similar theme including elements not directly derived from Manetho, names the Pharaoh as Amenophis. So here again, in Classical writers, the Exodus destruction is, by implication, dated to the end of the reign of Thutmosis III and the co-regency of Amenophis II. The elder Pharaoh perished at this time, along with all other males normally considered suitable for royal marriage, according to the Hittite annals. What happened, in the event, to the wife of Thutmosis III? The archaeological record confirms an unusual marriage-arrangement following his death. The queen’s name was Hatshepsut-Meritre. She was the mother, by Thutmosis III, of Amenophis II. When the latter returned to power, he took his own mother as his wife in what was, if nothing else, a nominal espousal for the sake of the stability of the kingdom. This exceptional procedure is not unexpected in view of the exceptional circumstances revealed by the correspondence with Suppiluliuma.

57. The Biblical dating of the Exodus is 15th Abib-Nisan. See Num. 33. 3: “And they departed from Raamses in the first month [Abib or Nisan]; on the fifteenth day of the first month, on the morrow after the passover [the slaying of the Passover Lamb, 14th Abib], the children of Israel went out with an high hand in the sight of all the Egyptians.” The Israelites remained in their houses under the blood of the Passover Lamb until the morning of the 15th Nisan (Ex. 12. 22), then left Egypt. They camped successively at Succoth, Etham and the Red Sea. Pharaoh was overthrown in the sea, according to Psalm 136. 15, when he attempted to follow the Israelites through the miraculously parted waters (cf. Ex. 14. 28, Ps. 106. 9-11). The best Biblically-based calculation of the year is 1446 BC, that is, exactly 480 years prior to the building of Solomon’s Temple (I Kings 6. 1), in the 4th year of Solomon, viz. 967/966 BC (according to Thiele’s chronology), the construction commencing in the month after Passover, 966 BC. In that year, 1446 BC, the first Full Moon after the equinox, i.e. the Passover Full Moon, on the 14th Abib-Nisan, was, according to the modern reckoning, March 25th (Gregorian) at 17.37 hrs. GMT, which is, for Northern Egypt, + 2 hours at the Cairo dateline, 19.37 hrs. This means the 14th Nisan, i.e. the day of the Full Moon, reckoning the day as the Hebrews did from sundown to sundown, would be, according to the modern calculation, sundown March 25th to sundown March 26th 1446 BC Gregorian, which corresponds to March 16th-17th Julian. The 15th Abib-Nisan, therefore, when the Exodus occurred, would be sundown 17th March to sundown 18th March Julian. However, this modern calculation takes no account of the “approximately one complete day” during which the sun and moon stood stationary at Gibeon and Ajalon at the command of Joshua (Josh. 10. 12-14), of the retrogression of the sun’s shadow by 10 sun-dial degrees (hours) during the reign of Hezekiah, according to the word of Isaiah the prophet (2 Kings 20. 8-11), and the foreshortening by about 1 hr. of the day as a consequence of the disappearance and reappearance of the sun on the day of the Crucifixion AD 33. (See the chart following for a reconstruction of the chronology of the Exodus.) Taking these events into account, the modern calculation of the moon’s phase prior to the time of Joshua c. 1400 BC is out, too late, by around 33 hours (24 hrs. for Joshua’s “long day” + 10 hrs. for the retrogression under Hezekiah, minus 1 hr. for the Crucifixion event): i.e. the Passover Full Moon, on the 14th Abib-Nisan 1446 BC, was actually at 08.37 hrs. GMT, which is, for Northern Egypt, + 2 hours at the Cairo dateline, 10.37 hrs, March 24th Gregorian. Sundown would fall similarly 33 hrs. earlier. This means the 14th Nisan, i.e. the day of the Full Moon, reckoning the day as the Hebrews did from sundown to sundown, spanned the two days nowadays referred to as 24th and 25th March Gregorian, corresponding to 15th and 16th March Julian. The 15th Abib-Nisan, therefore, when the Exodus occurred, was sundown 16th to sundown 17th March Julian. At around sunrise (“the morrow after the Passover”) on the 16th March Julian the Israelites left Egypt. Towards sundown on the 17th March Julian they camped at Succoth, a region in the border land between Pithom in the Wadi Tumilat and the Gulf of Suez. Towards sundown the next day, 18th March Julian, they camped at Etham, not far from the head of the Gulf of Suez. Towards sundown the next day, 19th March Julian, having “turned back” from Etham at the command of God, they camped at the Red Sea, “between Migdol (= ‘a military station’) and the sea”, also “opposite” Baal-zephon: the site opposite Baal-zephon was later occupied by the Greco-Roman military post Clysma (named from the area “washed by the waves” [Gk. klysma] where Baal-Zephon stood, cf. Eusebius Onomasticon, s.n. Beelsephon [Greek]), on the western shore of the Gulf of Suez, at latitude 28° 50´ (according to Ptolemy’s Geography IV. 5. 14), not far from the ancient monastery of the Coptic monk Paul on Mount Clysma, known today as Deir Mari Bolos (Antonine Itin. 43, ed. Geyer, 1898, p. 188 line 16). They entered the Sea that night half a Roman mile, 500 paces, from Clysma (according to the epitome of the unidentified female pilgrim known as “Silvia” or “Egeria” in Petrus Diaconus, ed. Geyer, 1898, p. 117, line 9), and crossed over to the opposite shore of the Gulf. The drowning of the Egyptians occurred just before sunrise on 19th March Julian, in the last of the three watches of the night, approximately 2am to 6am (Ex. 14. 24-28). The Egyptians themselves reckoned their day from sunrise to sunrise, so the day on which the new Pharaoh succeeded to the throne, was, on the Egyptian reckoning, sunrise 18th March Julian to sunrise 19th March Julian. Modern historians would conventionally class this day as the 18th March Julian. According to Breasted, in his translation of the Inscription of Amenemhab, Records §592 and note c, this official’s tomb inscription dates the last (complete) day of the reign of Thutmosis III to the 17th March Julian. That corresponds to the 30th, or the “last day,” of the Egyptian month Phamenoth, viz. the “third month of the second season,” which is how the Inscription defines the day using the native Egyptian terminology. The inscription uses an Egyptian convention identifying Thutmosis III with the sun, and describes his death in terms of the disappearance of the night sun, which was believed in the native Egyptian theology to sink into the waters of the underworld. This is an appropriate, if somewhat euphemistic, metaphor in the circumstances. When the darkness of night was past, the inscription continues, the new “sun” arose, viz. Pharaoh Amenophis II (Breasted, Records §592): “Lo, the king {Thutmosis III} completed his lifetime of many years, splendid in valor, in [migh]t, and in triumph; from year 1 to year 54, third month of the second season, the last day (of the month) under [the majesty of] King Menkheperre (Thutmose III), triumphant. He mounted to heaven, [he] joined the sun; the divine limbs mingling with him who begat him.” The inscription continues as follows (Breasted, Records §808): “When the morning brightened, the sun arose, and the heavens shone, King Okheprure, son of Re, Amenhotep (II), given life, was established upon the throne of his father, he assumed the royal titulary ….” Thus Amenophis II succeeded to the throne the day following 30th Phamenoth, viz. 1st Pharmuthi, which is termed 18th March Julian, 1446 BC, precisely as reconstructed here.

Note: It must be remembered the terminology is technical. Actually the drowning of Thutmosis III and the succession of Amenophis II took place, according to our calendar, just before sunrise 19th March Julian, viz. towards the end of the Egyptian day 1st Pharmuthi: this Egyptian day ran from sunrise 18th March Julian to sunrise 19th March Julian, and the whole Egyptian day, which spanned two days on our calendar, is conventionally termed the 18th March Julian. The Egyptian civil calendar was hardly affected by Joshua’s “long day,” as it was fixed to the heliacal rising of Sirius, and not, like the Hebrew calendar, to the phases of the moon. The interval between each heliacal rising was divided into 12 months of 30 days, making 360 days in total, plus 5 intercalated days, with an extra day inserted every 4 years, to keep the calendar in line with the solar year of 365¼ days. On Joshua’s “long day” only the sun and moon were affected, since they remained in the same position in the sky. This could not have been the result of a pole-shift on earth, as the sun and moon would then have moved forwards or backwards, as the sun did on the occasion of Hezekiah’s retrogression, and as both celestial bodies did at the time of the Crucifixion. The continued rotation of the earth on Joshua’s “long day” would have meant the stellar positions in relation to the earth, the horizon etc., remained unchanged, and thus Sirius would have continued to rise at the normal time. The stellar background of the sun and moon also would have been almost, if not exactly, the same, as the phenomenon is said to have persisted for “approximately one complete (lit. “perfect”) day.” The sun and moon remained stationary almost exactly for one 24 hr. rotation, till the starry background behind them was nearly, if not precisely, the same when the phenomenon ceased. Thus the Egyptian calendar, fixed to a particular rising of the star Sirius above the horizon, would have continued in its normal course, so that 1st Pharmuthi 1446 BC still equates to sunrise 18th to sunrise 19th March Julian, with the required adjustment to the clock hour of sunrise.

57a. There is no contrary, chronological, evidence available to negate this conclusion: the only otherwise supposedly “fixed” point in New Kingdom chronology is the Sothic date found in the Ebers papyrus which locates July 3rd 1541 +/- 6 years within the ninth regnal year of Amenophis I (though that has increasingly been disputed, and only applies, in any case, if the observation upon which it is based was made in the region of Memphis or Heliopolis). “Ninth year of the reign of his majesty the king of Upper and Lower Egypt, Djeserkare [= Amenophis I] — may he live forever! Festival of the New Year: third month of summer, ninth day — rising of Sirius.” On this date Grimal comments: “If this is evidence for a heliacal rising of Sirius, the astronomical calculation gives the date 1537 BC for the rising, and therefore 1546 BC for the beginning of Amenophis’ reign, but only if the astronomical observation was made at Memphis. If, however, the observation was made at Thebes — which would logically have been the reference point if it was the capital — twenty years have to be deducted from the figure, giving the date of 1517 BC for the astronomical event and 1526 BC for the coronation of Amenophis I.” 1537 BC is the date of Amenophis’ 9th year favored by Hayes. Most modern schemes would date the death of Thutmosis around 90 years subsequent to the ninth year of Amenophis I, depending on the particular interpretation of the sequence and lengths of reigns of the early XVIIIth Dynasty followed in each case. That puts the death of Thutmosis III at ca. 1451 +/- 6 years, and 1446 falls within the margin of error, even assuming, as the mean date here does, that the interval was precisely 90 years. Hayes’ calculation of the Sothic date for the ninth year of Amenophis I as 1537 BC differs by an insignificant single year from that estimated, according to this reckoning, if Thutmosis III perished in 1446 BC.

Timeline of the Exodus

Click the image above to see a higher quality version

58. There are, in fact, only four years within the 15th century BC when the Passover Full Moon, viz. the moon of the 14th Abib-Nisan, occurred on March 25th-26th Gregorian = March 16th-17th Julian, namely 1495, 1476, 1457 and 1446. Since Thutmosis III, under his Horus name “Amosis” (Kha-em-ose), is the only Pharaoh identifiable from the ancient sources as having perished in the Red Sea, and we know from inscriptional evidence that Thutmosis III “joined the sun” in departure from this world and passed the throne to his son, the new “sun”, Amenophis II, on the Egyptian day sunrise 18th to sunrise 19th March Julian = 27th-28th March Gregorian, then the Passover full moon of the Biblical account must have been three days inclusive earlier than that, viz. on 25th-26th March Gregorian, as it was in the aforementioned years. So these are also the only possible years for the Exodus. Of these dates, 1446 alone falls within the range of dates (between 1452 and 1413) commonly assigned by modern Egyptologists for the death of Thutmosis III. This date happens also to be precisely the date 480 years before the building of the Temple of Solomon favored by the strict, conservative, Biblical, chronology. We have to dismiss the evidence of one or more of these witnesses, — either of the Bible, or astronomy, or the native Egyptian history, or archaeology, or the post-Biblical sources, — in order to evade the conclusion, and what reason is there to do that when they are all in harmony?

58a. But is there any physical evidence of the catastrophic judgment which fell on Egypt at the Exodus? The answer is — very significant evidence. A volcanic explosion of a magnitude greater than any other experienced in the heartland of the civilized world occurred during the latter part of the reign of Thutmosis III. That was the Santorini or Thera explosion in the Aegean Sea. Its effects worldwide are incalculable, but it is certain it caused a collapse of economies, cultures, and agricultural cycles, as well as tsunami and earthquake damage, in the immediate vicinity of the eastern Mediterranean. Pumice from the explosion has been found in the Hyksos capital of Avaris in a layer datable clearly to the reign of Thutmosis III. Precisely how and in what manner the natural disasters described in the Biblical account of the Exodus were interconnected with the Thera explosion is yet to be determined. That there was an interconnection seems undeniable. No other catastrophe of the requisite magnitude is known from extra-geological sources at the era indicated by the ash-layer deposits. Could it have been coincidence that just when the prophet Moses went down to Egypt, announcing God’s judgment on that mighty civilization, the biggest volcanic explosion ever to have struck the world’s cultural centers blew an ancient island off the map, obliterated the Minoan palaces of Crete, and deposited pumice right there in far-away Egypt? The modern debate about the date of this event, which is currently troubling the academic waters, resolves itself into a question about whether the ash-layers that were deposited in the time of Thutmosis III, and therefore the reign of Thutmosis III itself, are to be dated to c. 1620 or to c. 1450 BC. The former is the date favored by certain Radio-Carbon and other modern chronometric techniques, which are still in their developmental stage, the latter is the date established by historical analysis of the Egyptian evidence. That there may be something wrong with the modern chronometric techniques is suggested by the Radio-Carbon dating of Thutmosis III’s reign, using other materials discovered in Egypt, and after calibration, to 50 years more or less later than the historically computed date, with a considerable margin of error taken for granted. The uncalibrated Radio-Carbon date is 300 years later than the same historically computed date! But the absolute chronology in this respect is of no consequence. The era of the Exodus as demonstrated here was also the era of the Santorini explosion. For absolute dating we should look to our Absolute, the Word of God. That indicates a date of 1446 BC. According to Jean-Daniel Stanley, the Senior Scientist and Director of the Geoarchaeology Program at the Smithsonian, referring to his article in Nature 1986 (vol. 320, no. 6064, pp. 733-735), “volcanic ash from the Thera volcano about 500 miles northwest of the Nile Delta in Egypt was found in four out of five sediment cores we recovered for scientific study along the margins of the Manzala lagoon in the northeastern delta …. Our radiocarbon data indicate that the Thera ash settled in the delta about 3,500 years ago …. I leave to others the proving (or disproving) of any relation of this documented material and event with the Biblical Exodus and/or other associated natural episodes. However, as useful background … readers should know that this Thera volcanic eruption released one of the largest recorded volume of volcanic material in human history. Moreover, prevailing winds in northern Egypt are directed to the southeast, that is, quite directly from Thera to the Nile Delta. At the very least, important clouds of volcanic ash from this eruption would indeed have been seen, and perhaps felt, by those living at that time in Egypt’s Nile Delta.” (Biblical Archaeology Review Jan/Feb 2005 vol. 31 No. 1, p. 63 cols. ab, “Thera Eruption Seen in Egypt.”)

58b. As regards traditional evidence of the destruction in the area of the Aegean, as well as in Egypt, the following statements of Africanus, as quoted by Eusebius (§S-206a, below, >>), are apposite: “So then in the first year of the … years set forth from the time of Moses and Ogyges to the first Olympiad there occurs the Passover, and the Exodus of the Hebrews from Egypt, and in Attica the flood in the reign of Ogyges; and very naturally. For when the Egyptians were being scourged by the wrath of God with hailstorms and tempests, it was natural that some parts of the earth should suffer with them; and that the Athenians should experience the same fate with the Egyptians was natural, being supposed to be emigrants from them, as is asserted, among others, by Theopompus ….” A modern retelling of this Greek legend runs as follows: “The first Egyptian who thus settled in Greece was a prince called Inachus. Landing in that country, which has a most delightful climate, he taught the Pelasgians how to make fire and how to cook their meat. He also showed them how to build comfortable homes by piling up stones one on top of another, much in the same way as the farmer makes the stone walls around his fields. The Pelasgians were intelligent, although so uncivilized; and they soon learned to build these walls higher, in order to keep the wild beasts away from their homes. Then, when they had learned the use of bronze and iron tools, they cut the stones into huge blocks of regular shape. These stone blocks were piled one upon another so cleverly that some of the walls are still standing, although no mortar was used to hold the stones together. Such was the strength of the Pelasgians, that they raised huge blocks to great heights, and made walls which their descendents declared must have been built by giants. As the Greeks called their giants Cyclops, which means “round-eyed,” they soon called these walls Cyclopean; and, in pointing them out to their children, they told strange tales of the great giants who had built them, and always added that these huge builders had but one eye, which was in the middle of the forehead. Some time after Inachus the Egyptian had thus taught the Pelasgians the art of building, and had founded a city called Argos, there came a terrible earthquake. The ground under the people’s feet heaved and cracked, the mountains shook, the waters flooded the dry land, and the people fled in terror to the hills. In spite of the speed with which they ran, the waters soon overtook them. Many of the Pelasgians were thus drowned, while their terrified companions ran faster and faster up the mountain, nor stopped to rest until they were quite safe. Looking down upon the plains where they had once lived, they saw them all covered with water. They were now forced to build new homes; but when the waters little by little sank into the ground, or flowed back into the sea, they were very glad to find that some of their thickest walls had resisted the earthquake and flood, and were still standing firm. The memory of the earthquake and flood was very clear, however. The poor Pelasgians could not forget their terror and the sudden death of so many friends, and they often talked about that horrible time. As this flood occurred in the days when Ogyges was king, it has generally been linked to his name, and called the Deluge (or flood) of Ogyges.” This is a very vivid description of a tsunami of the type that overwhelmed the coastal areas around the Aegean at the time of the Thera explosion. Most of the ancient chroniclers who dealt with the subject of synchronism between the Hebrew and native Greek traditions (see §S-206, below, >>) dated Moses to the time of Inachus of Argos and his two successors in that ancient city, and to the time of their contemporary, Ogyges, the autochthonous inhabitant of Attica. It would not automatically have occurred to them to describe the effects of the Exodus plagues on their country in terms of a flood if they were concocting non-existent synchronisms. In the Bible it was only Pharaoh and his army who were drowned subsequent to the plagues, because of the personal hubris of the king in his dealings with the Israelites. No other Egyptians are said to have been affected by the waters which drowned the army, and the destruction is represented as local. As it happens, however, the archaeological synchronism of the Exodus and the Thera explosion posits precisely tsunami or flood damage as one of its most obvious concomitants in the immediate vicinity of the Aegean.

58c. Though no reliable dates for the history of Greece can be calculated before the First Olympiad in 776 BC, the traditional chronology of Argos, according to Dionysius of Halicarnassus (§S-206c, below, >> ), was the most ancient, and that dated Inachus, the contemporary of Moses, to around 400 years before the Trojan War (ibid.). The traditional date of the fall of Troy is c. 1183 (Eratosthenes). Excavations at Troy confirm a destruction layer (Troy VIIa) at precisely this time. The Pharaoh Thuoris who, according to Manetho, was Homer’s Polybus, and reigned in Egypt at the time of Troy’s fall, is the historical Tawaseret of the late XIXth Dynasty. Tawaseret’s 2-8 year sole reign terminated, according to a range of different authorities, c. 1201-1186 BC. These findings strengthen confidence in the traditional date of the fall of Troy, and give credence to the general reliability of the traditional Greek chronologies, such as that of Argos. According to the native Egyptian priest and historian, Ptolemy of Mendes (§§S-204a, below, >>, §S-206a, below, >>, §S-206b, below, >>, §S-206c, below, >>), Inachus, Pharaoh Amosis (Khaemwaset-Thutmosis III) and Moses were contemporaries, and according to Polemon (apud Africanus, §S-206a, below, >>), the Exodus occurred in the time of Inachus’ grandson, Apis. That suggests the floruit of Inachus was contemporary with the earlier phase of Moses’ life. Inachus is datable to c. 1580 BC (c. 400 years before the Trojan War) and Moses, according to this reconstruction, was born 1526 BC (see §59, below, >>). These two dates are near enough for Moses and Inachus to have been contemporaries, as stated by Ptolemy of Mendes, and the synchronism suggested by the dates falls in Moses’ earlier years, as implied by Polemon. Moses was also a contemporary of Amosis (Thutmosis III), as demonstrated here passim. Interestingly, the recent excavations at Avaris (Tell el-Dab’a) have uncovered in the latest phase of occupation at the site, datable to the reign of Thutmosis III and Amenophis II, Minoan frescoes of the highest quality, which demonstrate the presence at that time in Avaris of nobility from the area of the Aegean. The religion practiced by these foreign residents involved rituals including bull-leaping identical to those attested at Knossos in Crete. This is in the very era when, according to Greek legend (Aristippus and Aristeas apud Clement of Alexandria, §S-206c, below, >>), Apis, the grandson of Inachus of Argos, migrated to Egypt from the Aegean region and established there a form of the Apis bull cult which was believed by later Greeks to be the origin of the Classical cult of Serapis.

58d. There are two indicators that the Amosis of Ptolemy of Mendes is Khaemwaset-Thutmosis III, the contemporary of Moses, not Ahmosis I, the founder of Dynasty XVIII. These are in addition to the direct assertion of Syncellus which identifies the Amosis of Polemon and Apion at the time of the Exodus with Misphragmuthosis-Thutmosis III (§50, above, >>), not Ahmosis I, and his claim that Ptolemy of Mendes was in full agreement with these authors (ed. Mosshammer, 72. 13 = ed. Dindorf 120). One indicator is that Africanus, who knew and used Ptolemy of Mendes’ reference to Amosis, also used “Amosis,” in his epitome of Manetho’s king-list, as an alternative name for Misphragmuthosis, the 6th king of the XVIIIth Dynasty (i.e. Thutmosis III), and called Ahmosis I, the first king of that Dynasty, “Amos,” not Amosis (§S-207a, below, >>). The second is that, according to Ptolemy of Mendes, Amosis demolished Avaris (§S-204a, below, >>). In historical fact, though Ahmosis I, the founder of the Dynasty, fought against the Hyksos at Avaris, the city still stood, according to Manetho, till the time of Misphragmuthosis (Thutmosis III, the Amosis of Africanus). Furthermore, Theophilus of Antioch informs us that Tethmosis (= Ahmosis I) actually built Rameses (§S-205a, below, >>), which is the usual Biblical name for Avaris, rather than demolish it. This is confirmed by recent excavations at the site. After defeating the Hyksos, the earliest kings of the New Kingdom, i.e. Ahmosis I and his successors, probably Ahmosis I himself, built a great royal citadel at Avaris, whilst large areas of the residential districts seem simply to have been left to go to ruin. The city is only known from the ancient sources to have been found abandoned some time between the Hyksos campaign of Thutmosis III and the pre-Exodus reign (co-regency) of Amenophis II, when the Hyksos returned to their ancient, but by then deserted, city. (See further §51b, above, >>.) According to Ptolemy of Mendes, Avaris was demolished by Amosis (as is here demonstrated = Thutmosis III). That would be presumably during the period he was “removing the footprints” of the Asiatics from the land. The archaeological excavations at Avaris have revealed that after the initial building phase ascribed to Ahmosis I, the founder of the XVIIIth Dynasty, other building projects were commenced some time later, but still within the first half of the XVIIIth Dynasty, which cut into and overlaid the earlier phase. The New Kingdom scarabs found on the site start with Ahmosis I and cease with Amenophis II. (According to the Christian pilgrim in the 4th or early 5th century AD, variously identified as Silvia or Egeria, the whole city of Rameses [= Avaris] was burned by Pharaoh immediately before he set out in pursuit of the departing Israelites, viz. during the reign of Amenophis II.) This new building work in Avaris, therefore, commenced no later than the reign of Amenophis II, and it is in his reign, during his pre-Exodus co-regency with Thutmosis III, that the Hyksos are said by Manetho to have returned to the deserted Avaris. This would be an obvious time for the newer building works to have commenced. The destruction of the earlier buildings at Avaris, into which these new buildings cut, was either done at this same time, during the co-regency of Thutmosis III and Amenophis II, or somewhat earlier, and we have the testimony of Ptolemy of Mendes that it was in fact done in the time of Thutmosis III (Amosis). Thus the general outline of events described here is confirmed. Also, the earlier and original building, or rather rebuilding, of Rameses (Kessa, Avaris) by Tethmosis (Ahmosis I), according to Theophilus of Antioch, and by Palmanothes (his successor, Amenophis I, see §59, below, >>, following), according to Artapanus, is now proven to reflect the historical situation in Avaris immediately following the expulsion of the main body of the Hyksos and of their Hyksos kings. These Pharaohs, the first Pharaohs of the New Kingdom, are said to have used Hebrew slave-labor in that building project, and are identified implicitly with the oppressive new government of Exodus 1 which arose in Egypt just prior to the birth of Moses. Ahmosis I is clearly the new Pharaoh, the founder of the New Kingdom, who “knew not Joseph” (Ex. 1. 8), and he and his successor are represented as harshly subduing and enslaving the Hebrew population, because of the likelihood they would ally themselves with Egypt’s enemies (Ex. 1. 10). Such a scenario is realistic in view of the recent expulsion of the main body of Hyksos from Egypt, and their scattering into Canaan and neighboring districts by the follow-up campaigns of Ahmosis I.


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