|Amenhotep III and Solomon
Historical Deception: The Untold Story of Ancient Egypt – 2nd Ed.
by Moustafa Gadalla
Thirty-two years after the death of the warrior King, Twthomosis III, his great-grandson, Amenhotep III, sat upon the throne of Egypt.
King Length of Reign Dates
Twthomosis III (David) 54 1490-1436 BCE
Amenhotep II 23 1436-1413 BCE
Twthomosis IV 8 1413-1405 BCE
Amenhotep III (Solomon) 38 1405-1367 BCE
Egypt was the universal leader of the known world. Amenhotep III later became known as ‘king of kings, ruler of rulers ...’.
The details of his life and achievements match that of the biblical Solomon. The name Solomon means ‘safety’ or ‘peace’. Amenhotep Ill’s reign was almost entirely peaceful except for a minor military operation in northern Sudan during Year 5 of his reign. He developed alliances and diplomatic ties between himself and other leaders of the then-known world, to create a peaceful international climate.
A Solomon, according to the Old Testament, followed David to the throne at Jerusalem. Biblical scholars have assigned c. 965-925 BCE as the dates of Solomon’s forty-year reign. His supposed accession to the throne occurred during the Egyptian rule of King Siamun (c. 976-956 BCE).
There is no historical record of a ruler named Solomon at any time. Furthermore, both the Old Testament and the Talmud agree that Solomon was not the king’s original name. According to II Samuel 12:25, at the time of his birth, the prophet Nathan gave Solomon the name of Jedidiah, meaning ‘because of the Lord’ or ‘by the word of the Lord’.
The evidence points to Amenhotep III, as being the historical figure, identified in the Old Testament as Solomon. This evidence is described below.
Coronation of the King
A The idea of kingship, originally foreign to the Hebrews, was introduced into the Israelite theology from the time of David onward. In their case, as in Egyptian tradition, the king is regarded as the son of the deity. Jehovah tells King David in Psalms 2:7, “Thou art my son; this day have I begotten thee.” He also says of Solomon, “I will be his father, and he shall be my son” (II Samuel, 7:14). The Israelite Lord now also refers to his kingly son as “his anointed”. Psalms, 2:2, 18:50, 20:6.
Regarding the king as the son of the deity is a purely Egyptian concept that found its way into the Bible from the time of David.
A According to the Bible, David ordered Solomon to be anointed ‘king over Israel’ (I Kings, 1:34). Anointing the king was an Egyptian, not a Hebrew custom.
The Hebrew word ‘MeSHeH’, meaning ‘the anointed one’, is borrowed from the Egyptian word ‘Meseh’.
A After Solomon was anointed, David said that Solomon should come and ‘sit upon my throne’ (I Kings, 1:35). The German biblical scholar Otto Eissfeldt has made the point, “It is comparatively easy to visualize the throne of gold and ivory with its six steps which stood in the audience chamber as it is described in I Kings, (11:11-20) ... The lavish use of gold can be compared without hesitation with the wonderfully-preserved chair of Twtankhamen.” Twtankhamen was Amenhotep III’s grandson.
The mirror image similarity between the biblical description of Solomon’s throne and the actual throne of Twtankhamen, cannot be coincidental.
Other aspects of the account of Solomon’s coronation in I Kings — trumpet blowing, the acclamation ‘God save king Solomon’, and the royal procession — are descriptive of the ancient Egyptian traditions.
The King’s Egyptian Wife
He married his baby sister Sitamun (an Egyptian), in order to inherit the throne, since the line of royal descent was through the eldest daughter.
A According to the Bible, Solomon “made affinity with Pharaoh king of Egypt, and took Pharaoh’s daughter, and brought her into the city of David” (I Kings, 3:1).
Points of interest in the biblical account:
The reference to Pharaoh’s daughter as being Solomon’s first and principal wife indicates that, as in the case of Amenhotep III, that she was the wife of his own nationality. If Solomon was the king of Israel, he should have had an Israelite wife to bear his successor, since, according to Israelite tradition, the line of descent is from the mother.
Solomon married only foreign wives, beginning with the Pharaoh’s daughter. Even his crown prince, Rehoboam, is said to have been the son of an Ammonite (I Kings, 14:21).
The Pharaoh whose daughter was married to Solomon was never named. The Pharaoh in question however is said to have “gone up, and taken Gezer, and burnt it with fire, and slain the Canaanites that dwelt in the city, and given it for a present unto his daughter, Solomon’s wife” (I Kings, 9:16).
This biblical verse has no historical evidence to support it.
None of the Egyptian kings, who lived during the supposed reign of Solomon, were involved in military campaigns in western Asia. The kings of this period belonged to the very weak 21st Dynasty.
A Solomon is said to have had seven hundred wives and three hundred concubines (I Kings, 11:3). They were all foreigners: “But King Solomon loved many strange women, together with the daughter of Pharaoh, women of the Moabites, Ammonites, Edomites, Zidonians and Hittites” (I Kings, 11:1).
This love of foreign women is mirrored in the life of Amenhotep III who, after marrying Sitamun to inherit the throne, married Tiye, the daughter of Yuya (Joseph), an Israelite. Amenhotep III issued a scarab in celebration of his marriage to Tiye. Copies were sent to foreign princes, reading in part “... the Great King’s Wife, Tiye, who liveth. The name of her father is Yuya, the name of her mother is Tuya ...” This scarab clarified the identity of Tiye. Earlier she had been thought to be a Mesopotamian princess from Mitanni, sent to Egypt to marry the king.
He also married two women from Mitanni, two from Babylonia as well as a princess from Arzawa in southwestern Asia Minor.
Troubles in the Empire
A According to the Bible, the empire inherited by Solomon was weakened, to a certain extent, during the course of his reign. Solomon left the empire somewhat smaller than he inherited it.
Similar weaknesses and rebellions are echoed in the Amarna diplomatic archives relating to the reign of Amenhotep III. Letters sent by Palestinian kings, especially Abdi-Kheba of Jerusalem, speak of continuous trouble in the area.
Frederick J. Giles, the Canadian Egyptologist who studied the Amarna letters, wrote that “At the time of the death of Twthomosis III [the Empire] was, to be sure, of somewhat greater extent than that at the death of Amenhotep III. Yet the apparent decrease may have been due to policy rather than military defeat.”
Therefore the biblical account of the weakening of King David’s empire during the time of Solomon agrees with historical records during the reign of Amenhotep III.
The administrative system attributed to Solomon does not belong to the Palestinian Israel, but to the period of the Egyptian Empire. Such a government structure is a purely Egyptian system that existed more than 5,000 years ago.
During the empire period, and in particular during the time of Twthomosis III, the political system was reorganized to suit the needs of the age, and was later developed further by Amenhotep III. The empire was arranged in twelve administrative sections, an arrangement that the biblical narrator borrowed for his account of the Solomon story.
A During the period between the entry into Canaan in the 13th century BCE, and the era of Saul at the end of the 11th century BCE, Israel existed as a confederation of twelve tribes. Each tribe was living separately in its own land, and governed by its elders. All twelve tribes were, however, sharing a common spiritual center. When the Philistines started competing for occupation of the same territory as the twelve tribes, the Israelites felt the need for a common leader to unify them against their enemies: “Then all the elders of Israel gathered themselves together, and came to Samuel unto Ramah, And said unto him, Behold, thou art old, and thy sons walk not in thy ways: now make us a king to judge us like all the nations” (I Samuel, 8: 4-5). So, Samuel chose Saul and declared him king. He was accepted by all the tribes, but this did not change the political system overnight, each tribe continued to govern its own affairs as before.
There is no evidence, during the time of the biblical David, of a political system for administering such a vast empire; no taxation system; and no organized army to guard its boundaries.
A According to the Bible, Solomon did away with the tribal divisions and united Israel, together with other parts of the empire
The bible would have us believe that the tribal society of the Hebrews, was integrated overnight into a sophisticated political system, under the control of the King and his central government. Furthermore, we are told that this political system, vanished at the end of his 40-year reign, as abruptly and as mysteriously, as it began!
The governmental positions during David and Solomon, as stated in II Samuel, 8:16-18, 20:23-6, and I Kings, 4:2-6, are similar to appointments made by Twthomosis III and Amenhotep III.
From its earliest history, Egypt had a tax system.
As mentioned earlier, the Empire during Twthomosis III’s reign, including Egypt, was divided into 12 areas. Each area was expected to contribute sufficient tax to cover the country’s needs for one month of the year. Each district had its own supervising official.
A The supposed Empire of Solomon also had 12 districts, requiring each to furnish victuals and materials for one month of the year. Both the Egyptian tax and the levy on the Israelites were for the purpose of provisioning: “And Solomon had 12 officers over all Israel, which provided victuals for the king and his household: each man his month in a year made provision” (I Kings, 4:7)... “And those officers provided victual for king Solomon, and for all that came unto king Solomon’s table, every man in his month” (I Kings, 4:27)
Almost all scholars agree that the taxation system, which the Bible says was introduced by Solomon, matches precisely the system that was used in Egypt at the time of Amenhotep III.
The Great Builder
Solomon is reputed as being a master builder. He built “the house of the Lord, and his own house, and Millo, and the wall of Jerusalem, and Hazer, and Megiddo, and Gezer” (I Kings, 9:15) and numerous other building activities throughout the Empire.
Let us review the construction activities at the sites mentioned above in I Kings, 9:15, in their same order.
1. The Temples
A The Bible tells us that Solomon built a temple on Mount Moriah, north of Jerusalem. The site is now occupied by the Dome of the Rock mosque and therefore no excavation can be carried out to search for this temple.
There are, however, some remarkable similarities between this biblically described temple and the vanished commemorative temple of Amenhotep III in western Ta-Apet(Thebes).
Even though no remains of the commemorative temple have been found, two colossal statues of the seated king, just under 70ft (20m) tall, stood at the front of the temple, and still exist in western Ta-Apet(Thebes).
A They are comparable to the two pillars of the biblical Solomon’s temple. The two Egyptian statues have names, like the mentioned biblical pillars.
On a stela that came from this temple, we find the original inscription of Amenhotep III, in which he describes the temple as “an everlasting fortress of sandstone, embellished with gold throughout, its floor shining with silver and all its doorways with electrum. It is extended with royal statues of granite, of quartzite and precious stones, fashioned to last for ever.”
A Similarly, much precious material were also used in the biblically described Solomon temple.
Amenhotep III is known to have built many other temples, both in Egypt and in Canaanite cities. Archaeological evidence supports the belief that several of the biblically described Solomonic temples were built in Canaan during the reign of Amenhotep III. There are purely Egyptian aspects of this Solomonic temple, such as:
The two pillars, or representations, at the entrance of the temple. They signify the split of the spiritual One into two and that one has to pass through it in order to reach the inner element.
The practice of carrying the deity in an ark, and its placement in the Holy of Holies.
2. The Royal Palace
A This new royal house is said to have been constructed to the north of the ancient city of Jerusalem and south of the temple area. Although Jerusalem has been extensively excavated, no remains of such a palace have been found. Moreover, no further mention of it was made during the period that followed Solomon’s death.
If we are to compare the biblical description of Solomon’s royal palace with Amenhotep III’s at Ta-Apet(Thebes), we will find an identical picture.
The area of Amenhotep III’s palace was excavated between 1910 and 1920 by the Egyptian Expedition of the Metropolitan Museum of Art of New York. The result of these excavations found the layout of Amenhotep III’s palace to match precisely the biblical account in I Kings, 7:2-12 where Solomon’s palace consisted of five elements: 1) The King’s palace, 2) The house of Pharaoh’s daughter, “whom he had taken to wife”, 3) The throne room, 4) A hall of columns, and 5) The house of the forest of Lebanon.
3- The Millo
The British archaeologist Kathleen Kenyon was able, in 1961, to uncover the remains of the Millo (filling), which was utilized in the widening of the ground level below the ancient fortress of Jerusalem. She was able to date the first construction of the Millo to the 14th century BCE, the time of Amenhotep III.
A No evidence was found, to relate the Millo to the 10th century BCE, during Solomon’s supposed reign.
4- Sites of Fortifications
There is archaeological evidence of fortifications at Hazor, Megiddo and Gezer. The remains of these fortifications indicate that there were two cycles of destruction, and each was followed by a rebuilding operation.
Here is the sequence of these cycles:
Destruction - in the middle of the 15th century BCE. This was the time of the Twthomosis III campaigns. All three cities are contained in the list of western Asiatic cities that were conquered by Twthomosis III.
Rebuilding - Occurred approximately fifty years later during the reign of Amenhotep III. Egyptian objects, including a cartouche of Amenhotep III, were found in the strata belonging to this period.
There is also other evidence of wealth and trading activities, in this area, during this prosperous period.
Destruction - in the 12th century BCE. This was the result of the invading ‘Peoples of the Sea’ who included the Philistines.
Rebuilding - in the middle of the 10th century BCE by the Philistines. Their special pottery and iron objects were found in the strata belonging to this period.
After checking the archaeological findings of the rebuilding operation, some archaeologists attributed found pottery and iron objects (at Hazor) to Solomon. Their conclusions were based on the biblical historical sequence and not on credible physical evidence. None of the items found bore any inscription that identified a king named Solomon, or anything else related to his supposed kingdom. Furthermore, the Old Testament did not give us any description matching the archeological findings.
The construction work attributed to Solomon was the work of the Philistines, who were rebuilding Hazor, after their initial destruction of the city in the 12th century BCE.
To summarize, there is historical and archeological evidence of building during the reign of Amenhotep III that matches those ascribed to Solomon. However, none of them are dated to the 10th century BCE, the supposed time when Solomon ruled.
Solomon is described in the Bible as being very wise. “King Solomon exceeded all the kings of the earth for riches and for wisdom” (I Kings, 10:23).
The reasons given for his wisdom brings forth more similarities between Solomon and Amenhotep III. Two areas will be discussed here:
The authoring of the Books of Hebrew wisdom and poetry were attributed to Solomon. It is hard to believe that the king was the composer of all these books of Proverbs, of Ecclesiates and Wisdom, and of Psalms!
Where did all this wisdom literature come from? The answer is summarized in John Bright’s finding: “That parts of the Proverbs ... are based on the Egyptian Maxims of Amenemope (Amenhotep III) ... is well known”.
Yet another confirmation that Solomon and Amenhotep III are one and the same person.
Read more about this issue under the chapter Literature.
The most popular story about the wisdom of Solomon is his resolution of a dispute between two mothers, over the parenthood of a child, as mentioned in I Kings, 3:16-28. The story goes that two women, who lived in the same house, gave birth to baby boys. One baby died and both women claimed the surviving child as her own. They went before the king with their dispute. Solomon then ordered the child to be cut in half with a sword, so as to give one half to each woman. The real mother naturally tried to save the boy’s life by letting the other woman have the boy. That is how Solomon identified the real mother.
It is hard to believe that the king, who had professional judges and officials, would involve himself personally in such a dispute between two women who are described in the Bible as “harlots”. The king would not have personally sat in judgment of such a case, unless he had a personal interest. The women involved were his wife, Queen Tiye, the mother of Moses (Akhenaton), and Tiy, Moses’ nursing mother, who was already nursing Nefertiti, his sister. Both women were living in the royal palace, at that time. Read more about it in the following chapter.
The King and Foreign Gods
A The Bible tells us that Solomon was diverted to other gods: “King Solomon loved many strange women, together with the daughter of Pharaoh, women of the Moabites, Ammonites, Edomites, Zidonians, and Hittites; Of the nations concerning which the Lord said unto the children of Israel, Ye shall not go in to them, neither shall they come in unto you; for surely they will turn away your heart after their gods: Solomon clave unto these in love” (I Kings, 11:1-2).
“For it came to pass, when Solomon was old, that his wives turned away his heart after other gods: and his heart was not perfect with the Lord his God, as was the heart of David his father. For Solomon went after Ashtoreth the goddess of the Zidonians, and after Milcom the abomination of the Ammonites” (I Kings, 11:4-5).
Amenhotep III was also diverted and converted to the worship of the Aten, the God of the Amarna kings. He also continued his belief in the Egyptian gods (neteru).
Despite the hard work of biblical scholars, historians and archaeologists, no single piece of evidence has been found to support the period of the supposed United Monarchy of David and Solomon. Scholars have been confused by the biblical chronology, which present David and Solomon as having belonged to the period following both the Exodus and the settlement in the “Promised Land”.
Many of these biblical events occurred four to five centuries earlier than what the Old Testament would have us believe. Both Twthomosis III, the historical King David, and his great-grandson Amenhotep III, the Biblical Solomon, belonged to the Egyptian’s 18th Dynasty.
Amenhotep III and Solomon – Excerpt from Historical Deception: The Untold Story of Ancient Egypt