Pastor Jeremy M. Thomas
Fredericksburg Bible Church
107 East Austin
Fredericksburg, Texas 78624
B0842 – November 16, 2008 – Ancient Egypt Chronology
We’re on the event of the Exodus now, and we are going to expand into some historical issues. Last year when we dealt with Gen 1-9 we said when we come to the age of the earth and the age of the universe we disagreed with the secularist in the area of physics, geology, chemistry and biology, as far as those sciences pertain to origins history, and when we get into the Exodus we’re going to find we also disagree with pagan reconstructions of ancient history. That’s sort of the way our faith is, and it’s not a commentary that men are stupid, it’s rather a commentary that the world’s a very dark place, and that there are spiritual forces that have an agenda behind the scenes that deeply affect how men think. That’s why we’ve emphasized again and again in this course that there’s no such thing as being neutral. There’s no such thing as a neutral piece of truth, because everything we state, everything we believe, carries with it an agenda, it carries with it a faith, it carries with it a starting point. As Christians we have to be sensitive to that or we miss what the Bible’s telling us. The Bible is telling us that, when man fell, he fell all the way. He didn’t fall from the neck down. He fell from the top down. And that means, as sinners, we are affected in our reasoning, we are subject to sucking up the world’s agenda. This is why God has given us Scripture, to give us a calibration point, a correction in faulty reasoning, else we cannot know who God is, and we cannot interpret history and the gospel correctly.
Last week we went through the Exodus plagues and we showed these events were catastrophic. These were not just natural phenomena, Egypt had an off year or something. According to a plain reading of the Scripture those events destroyed Egyptian agriculture, wiped out the Egyptian economy, they were mighty disruptions of the entire Egyptian civilization. As Christians, we have to think. If we go out and we start talking about the mighty Exodus, people are going to say, “Now wait a minute, that’s not what history tells me.” So we want to warn you about a problem here. Just like when we faced a controversy when we look at Genesis, the Creation, the Flood, these are ancient events and they are interpreted according to a philosophy, there’s an agenda at work when men look at the data. Men are not neutral in any area of investigation and so there’s a controversy in biology, physics, geology, we can’t go into any area and not find ourselves in a conflict. Now we see the same thing with ancient history. I’m going to have to amend my statements from the book of Exodus. Ancient history is a very complex issue. I didn’t know when I got into this the immensity of the problems we’re facing in reconstructing ancient history. I do not hesitate to say that this is not worked out. What I’m telling you today is not the final truth of the matter. Any dates before 700BC are not locked down. I just tell you this in advance because many of you have been taught a certain dating scheme, most of it based on secular chronology, and you think this is the way it is, you better forget that or you’re almost certainly going to have tremendous errors. We as Bible scholars have not been as true to the text and we just suck up whatever we’re told by the assured results of Sothic dating or something. You can’t do that. You do that you will have tremendous problems which we’ll point out. The standard Egyptian chronology printed in the university textbooks has the first Egyptian dynasty beginning ~3100BC.
Now, anyone see a problem with that? That’s 700-800 years before the Flood. Egypt didn’t begin till after the Flood with Ham’s son Mizraim. So we’re already talking about a huge discrepancy between the biblical timeline and secular reconstructions.
The second thing chronologists do is divide Egypt into three kingdoms: old, middle and new with two intermediate periods. By the secular dating scheme, the Exodus had to have occurred in the new kingdom, 18th dynasty. Another big problem! The new kingdom was the most powerful empire of Egyptian history! It was the best-recorded dynasty that ever ruled the land of Egypt. Yet there’s not a single record anywhere that their economy any time, during the new kingdom, was affected? Not a single note that the entire Egyptian army perished? Oops!
A third problem, Moses would get a message from God and he would go to the Pharaoh at the palace and he would say to Pharaoh, “Let my people go!” and Pharaoh would do his normal thing and Moses would go back to the Israelites. We all know the Hebrews lived in the land of Goshen, that’s here in the Nile delta. But where was the capital of Egypt in the 18th dynasty? Where was Pharaoh’s Palace? It was in Luxor. Luxor was 620 miles away from Goshen. Are you going to tell me that Moses was commuting 620 miles each direction to talk to Pharaoh? That’s a big problem!
A fourth problem, we know that during the 18th dynasty Egypt controlled all of Palestine. This was the greatest most powerful dynasty of Egypt. The problem with this is where did the Jews go after they wandered around the wilderness 40 years? Where did they conquer? Palestine. Yet do you read any case in the book of Joshua where they were fighting Egyptians? They’re fighting Canaanites, Perizzites and Hittites, do you ever read they fight any Egyptians? Where do you read they’re fighting Egyptians in Joshua? Not one place. Why, if Palestine is an Egyptian province, are they not fighting Egyptians? Why is there not a single reference to Egypt as a contemporary power between the time of Moses and Solomon? This shakes things up a bit. Five centuries go by and no evidence of Egypt’s existence. Yet it’s Egypt’s golden era. Excuse me? Got a problem here, a big problem!
These problems are so significant that in 1995 Time magazine in the cover article “Is the Bible Fact or Fiction?” wrote, there are “parts of the Old Testament where the evidence is contradictory or still absent, including slavery in Egypt, the existence of Moses, the Exodus and Joshua’s conquest of the Holy Land.” If they’re right then the Bible is wrong and we should all give up Christianity. So how do we handle this?
Well, about 60 years earlier, there was a Jewish atheist by the name of Immanuel Velikovsky who came up with something startling.i This is a guy who’s not out to prove that God exists, obviously, but Velikovsky, being a Jew, had a respect for the historicity of the OT. And he said, “Well gee, I read the OT and if these plagues were so destructive there must be some evidence it happened.” So he did a lot of research in the literature, and he discovered a text, well known among Egyptologists, written near the end of the middle kingdom. It’s a papyrus by an Egyptian poet by the name of Ipuwer.
Ipuwer Papyrus has been held at the Leiden Museum in Holland since the 19 century.
I’ve given you some of the text on your handout. On the left side, the verses from the papyri; on the right side are texts from Exodus which, for all the world, seem to coincide.
Ipuwer Papyrus Biblical Exodus
2:5-6 "Plague is throughout the land. Blood is everywhere" 7:21
2:10 "The river is blood. . .Men shrink from tasting it" 7:20,24
2:10 "Gates, columns, and walls are consumed by fire" 9:23-24
2:13 "He who places his brother in the ground is everywhere" 12:30
3:14 "It is groaning that is throughout the land, mingled with lamentations" 12:30
4:14 "Trees are destroyed" 9:25
5:5 "All animals, their hearts weep." 9:3
6:3 "Grain has perished on every side." 10:15
7:1 "The fire has mounted up on high." 13:21
9:3 "Each man fetches for himself those that are branded with his name." 9:19,21
9:11 "The land is not light." 10:22
I don’t know about you, but that sounds strangely familiar. Velikovsky said this is an eyewitness account by an Egyptian and what must have happened is the Exodus ended the middle kingdom. What Velikovsky concluded was, since the Exodus is dated on the basis of Scripture at 1447BC (1 Kgs 6:1), and I find my parallels in the Ipuwer text centuries before that then secular chronology must be too long, about five or six centuries too long. So he argued that they had doubled about 600 years, what should have been just 600 years secular chronologers had made into 1200 years. So he shifted the dates around and that put the Exodus in the middle kingdom not the new kingdom. And secular historians said, “This is preposterous, what, are you telling us we’ve got a 600 year error in our histories.” Velikovsky said “That’s right, you do.” There was a lot of debate and they wound up in the end saying this can’t be; the Bible’s wrong.
Now, I think Velikovsky may not be right in all the details, but he may be on to something. There were a few people who continued Velikovsky’s work. Donovan Courville wrote a work in the 70’s. David Rohl, a British Egyptologist did a work in 1995 following up on his work. But I want to read to you another quote, this one by Peter James in 1991. James is a secular Egyptian scholar; he works in the field of chronology. This is in a book written by a Cambridge University lecturer. He says, “This disquieting book draws attention, in a penetrating and original way, to a crucial period in world history, and to the very shaky nature of the dating, of the whole chronological framework, upon which our current interpretations rest... The revolutionary suggestion is made here that the existing chronologies for that crucial phase in human history are in error by several centuries, and that, in consequence, history will have to be rewritten... I feel that their critical analysis is right, and that a chronological revolution is on its way.”th That revolution is indeed underway, it’s not been worked out with 100% certainty, there’s still a wide range of disagreement and it’s simply never going to be overcome completely but on every front, biblical and secular there’s a reduction of the dates taking place, everyone agrees that earlier Egyptian chronologies are inflated.ii
The man I’m going to be working from extensively, whose been involved in Egyptian archaeology for 50 years as a field archaeologist is David Down. There are other good men I just can’t read everything but I mention David Corson because he’s got an interesting theory on Israel’s history that relates it to the golden ratio, the golden number and that would be a very clever evidence of the inspiration of Scripture. But I’m going to be working from David Down. Down is from Australia and his book, for those of you who are interested, is called Unwrapping the Pharaoh’s. He’s been following the literature for years and he says, if you re-duce the Egyptian kingdoms, and there are various ways of doing this, then the 12 dynasty is the time of Joseph and the early 13thth dynasty is the time of the Exodus, not the 18th dynasty. And when you make that shift all of a sudden all kinds of evidence for Joseph, Moses and the Exodus appear. That’s his case, just shrink the kingdoms and all of a sudden there’s a mass of evidence of the Exodus.
Take Joseph, Down thinks he’s identified him in Egypt. We know the story, he was sold into Egyptian slavery by his brothers. He went down and got thrown in prison but it was found out he could interpret dreams and Pharaoh had a dream no one could interpret so it came out that this Hebrew Joseph could interpret dreams and he told Pharaoh there would be 7 years of plenty and then 7 years of famine. And Pharaoh made Joseph his vice-regent and he oversaw the collection of grain so they could survive the famine. Now if that really happened and the Nile failed for seven years you would have a national disaster and you would think there would be some record of it. And in the 12th dynasty there is such a record. In the tomb of an official under Pharaoh Sesostris I an inscription reads, “No one was unhappy in my days, not even in the years of famine, for I had tilled all the fields in the nome of Mah…Thus I prolonged the life of its inhabitants and preserved the food which it produced. No hungry man was in it.” What does the Scripture say in Gen 41:48, “So he [Joseph] gathered all the food of these seven years which occurred in the land of Egypt and placed the food in the cities; he placed in every city the food from its own surrounding fields.” Was the man buried in this tomb working for Joseph?
Egyptian history attests that to a vice-regent of Sesostris who had extraordinary powers. His name was Mentuhotep. We know that “Mentuhotep…was invested with several priestly dignities and…was Pharaoh’s treasurer…When he arrived the great personages bowed down before him…” The Bible states in Gen 41:42, 43, “Then Pharaoh took off his signet ring from his hand and put it on Joseph’s hand, and clothed him in garments of fine linen and put the gold necklace around his neck. 43He had him ride in his second chariot; and they proclaimed before him, “Bow the knee!” To bow the knee to a vice-regent was an extremely unusual honor. So Down’s says Joseph was Mentuhotep. But if you lock yourself down to the standard chronology you never see this because Joseph lived at the wrong time, but if you shrink the dynasties into the biblical timeline everything matches up.
Mentuhotep Statue in Luxor Museum
Another strange point of interest is this canal that was dug in the 12th dynasty.
This canal bears the name “Joseph’s Canal.” No one seems to know how it came to bear his name but was it because Joseph built it in preparation for the seven years of famine?
Another correlation we find is from the writings of Josephus, after Joseph passed from the scene Josephus wrote, “having, in length of time, forgotten the benefits they had received from Joseph, particularly the crown being now come into another family, they became very abusive to the Israelites, and contrived many ways of afflicting them;”iii Exodus 1 opens with the words that “A new king arose over Egypt who did not know Joseph.” Likely what happened was this new king was of “another family” as Josephus says and tried to bury the previous family’s achievement to establish his own greatness. This was Sesostris II since Sesostris II had no living children at his death the family of the king changed. The “king who knew not Joseph” was Sesostris III, inscriptional evidence and his statue portray him as a cruel tyrant quite capable of inflicting the Hebrew slaves with bitter and hard labor.
Another fascinating note, Sir Flinders Petrie, an archaeologist who dug in Egypt for ten years says that at Kahun he found under the houses a large number of wooden boxes. The boxes had been made for clothes and household items but inside he found the skeletons of buried infants, often two or three to a box, no more than a few months old.
Clothing box found at Kahun housing infant skeletons.
Some of the boxes contain inscriptions from the 12 dynasty. We all know the horrifying parallel in the Exodus account. Pharaoh made several attempts to stifle the supernatural population growth rate of the Hebrews by killing baby boys. Certainly the Hebrews attempted to protect their little infants but in many cases the Egyptians were successful in tearing babies away from mother’s arms and killing them. They were buried in these boxes. Yet one of them miraculously survived, Moses.
Check this out, this is fascinating parallel. If Down’s chronology is correct then the last ruler of the 12thth dynasty was not a man but a woman named Queen Sobekneferu. She had no children. She was the daughter of Pharaoh who “came down to wash herself at the river” (Exod 2:5). If all she needed was a bath she could have taken that in her lavish palace bathroom. What she needed was an heir. The fertility god of the Nile was called Hapi, Down’s suggests she was praying to the fertility goddess for an heir and what do you know but here comes floating up a beautiful Hebrew baby boy in an ark. He’s the answer to her prayer. But this connection is lost if you accept the secular chronology. Only when you shrink it down to size does the history fit.
So now she’s got this heir, in her mind provided by the fertility goddess. But something went wrong with her plan. The authors of the Cambridge Ancient History explain, “Her reign, occasioned presumably by the absence of a male heir to the throne marks the virtual end of a great epoch in Egyptian history.” Something happened to her heir. She had an heir but she lost the heir. What happened to the heir? If she was raising Moses to be her heir what happened? He fled to Midian. The Scriptures tell us Moses went out to check on his people when he was 40 years old. He saw an Egyptian taskmaster beating one of his brethren and he knocked his block off. The punishment for murdering an Egyptian was lex talionis, eye for eye, tooth for tooth so Moses ran from the law. Thus Sobekneferu was left without a male heir. This marked, quote, “the end of a great epoch in Egyptian history,” by that they mean the end of that dynasty. And so there’s a power shift as the 12th dynasty ends and the 13th dynasty begins. Moses is absent for forty years, he becomes a shepherd in Midian and one day he sees the burning bush and a voice comes forth instructing him to go back to Egypt and tell Pharaoh, “Let My people go.” And after a little arm twisting Moses goes back and we come to the Pharaoh of the Exodus.
See how this changes everything? This ought to shake you up. Ancient history is not as cut and dry as its made out to be. What we’re doing is completely unacceptable in the world’s eyes. This is radical what we’re doing. But it has to happen because the powers of darkness want to do away with these events. Why do they want to do away with the Exodus? What is the Exodus portraying that is so offensive to the pagan mind? Salvation. It’s the number one picture of salvation in the OT. For centuries the great Christian devotional literature has always picked up on the powerful visual aid of the Exodus. Egypt is a picture of the world system and the Hebrew slaves are the sinners tromping out the wages of sin, mashing the bricks, enslaved to sin and Moses the great deliverer, the type of Christ who topples Satan and his minions and saves the believers, gives them freedom. It’s a wonderful picture of salvation. Exodus is the cross of the OT. It’s not the idea of salvation that is offensive to the pagan mind, it’s a real salvation that has physical consequences, that can be observed. When God judges and saves He moves the pieces of history around. People do not like that, the Egyptians certainly didn’t like that. It was an intervention into their stable society. Talk about a disruption. This was catastrophic. All your gold and silver just walked out, your whole economic base, you’ve got no food, the hail and locusts wiped that out, no military, they’re off in the Sinai never to return, where’s your protection? It’s this kind of interference that is not permitted by the pagan mind. It is far too revelatory. Remember the Egyptian magicians, even they couldn’t deny it, “This is the hand of God.” What happens, because the pagan mind cannot stand this, is he just re-writes history, that way we can suppress the interference and feel safe again in my little sin filled world. That’s what’s happened with this chronology bit. Don’t kid yourself, if the Exodus never happened in history then the biblical scale of salvation doesn’t occur in history, it’s nothing more than an idea in your head, just a psychological phenomena, just your religious belief, and you’re free to believe that but don’t push that on me, that’s only true for you. So that’s the evil agenda behind the chronology taught in the university.
So, if we re-worked the timeline, bringing it back in line with the Biblical timeline Down says we can identify the real Pharaoh of the Exodus. What this does though, and conservative biblical scholars haven’t been too aggressive here, but once you correct the dynasties then the Exodus occurs in the 13th dynasty and that means the Exodus of the Hebrews happened before the Hyksos arrived, when traditionally it’s placed after. Who were the Hyksos? The Hyksos were a group of people who came in and took over Egypt, ruled for several centuries, but you go read any conservative commentary and they almost always place the Hyksos period before the Exodus of the Hebrews. But that has a number of problems. For one, the ancient historian Manetho said the Hyksos invaded Egypt and took it “without a battle.” Now are you telling me the Egyptian army just laid down their arms? Oh, you guys want Egypt, here you can have it? But if the chronology is corrected then there was no Egyptian army to stop them. Where were they? The bottom of the Red Sea (Exod 14:28). Egypt’s army had just been wiped out so the Hyksos just waltzed in and took things over, no one was there to stop them, Egypt was an easy target, there wasn’t much left, Egypt was a mess, but they took it nonetheless. So the Hyksos turn out to be sort of an after-punishment of the Egyptian people just so they didn’t raise up a new army in the ensuing years and go after the wandering Israelites. And if this is the case then the Pharaoh of the Exodus could not possibly be the classical identification. Who’s the classical guy? Amenhotep II since he came years after the Hyksos in the 18th dynasty. But it has to be someone before the Hyksos.
Who was he? Like I said, almost all conservative theologians, and I’m talking the seminaries, they say it was Thutmosis III or Amenhotep II, I taught he was Amenhotep II when I taught Exodus, that has to be corrected. I remember when I came to Exodus 14 and you have this great preparation for the Red Sea crossing, God is going to harden Pharaoh’s heart to go in after them and God is going to be honored through Pharaoh and his armies and I thought, “Hey, this is really neat, what a picture, when God saves Israel He’s judging Egypt, just like the Flood, everybody outside the ark gets judged, everybody inside gets saved, there’s a perfect line of discrimination, every Israelite is going to be saved, every Egyptian is going to be judged” And so I read commentary after commentary after commentary and you know what I found about Pharaoh. Pharaoh really didn’t die, because he just sat on the shore and watched his army disintegrate. I thought, this is strange. How did Pharaoh come out unscathed? What are these commentators talking about; the Psalmist says “Pharaoh and his armies went into the sea,” “not one of them remained…” (Ps 136:15; 106:11; 78:53). That doesn’t leave much room for Pharaoh’s survival. And besides, how in the world is God honored through Pharaoh’s survival. And further, every other picture in Egyptian art always has the Pharaoh in the lead. I mean, that was his job and that’s why several of them were killed, because they were in the lead. When they invaded, they were the point men. And it was considered honor that the king lead his men. And the idea of this Pharaoh chasing after these Jews, and he parks his chariot on the bank and says, “Alright guys, go get’em and they go in and get drowned, it doesn’t quite fit.” Well, come to find out most commentators accept flat out the secular chronology. So they’re going to have to be real loose with the text to keep Pharaoh alive, but they have to because Amenhotep didn’t die till 25 years after the Exodus, just died of natural causes, his mummy is down at the Cairo Museum, so they grandly conclude, “Pharaoh didn’t drown.” Do you see what’s happened? Scholars, and these are godly people, but they put down their secular chronology next to the biblical text, “Yep it’s Amenhotep” but wait a minute, Amenhotep is in Cairo not the Red Sea so what do they do? Do they change the chronology? No, they change the text, they fudge the Scriptures. It always will come back to the principle I taught you, “either you will let the word of God interpret the world around you or you will let the world around you interpret the word of God.” There is a conflict between light and darkness and we have got to learn now to stop accommodating, stop giving in to the world system, assuming they’re neutral. Either the word of God is what it says it is or it’s not. Stop buying into the agenda. What Christians are forced to do if they’re tired intellectually or just plain lazy is sort of ignore these verses, we can scrunch them down to size, make it all fit, if we can just get the verses small enough and just inconspicuous enough, then I can make it fit with the 18th dynasty. And I don’t’ think given a million years you could do it. So once again, we’re back to the Bible versus the world.
I don’t hesitate to say that Pharaoh was not sitting on the banks, in defiance against God he led the Egyptian army between the walls of water. Every last one of them drowned at the bottom of the Red Sea. And it’s one of the most exhilarating moments in all Scripture as the nation, men, women and children in Exod 15 sing one of the bloodiest, goriest victory songs ever. Some of you get embarrassed by this. Don’t be embarrassed, this is our God having total victory over evil. Imagine in your minds eye, two million Jews standing on the banks of the Red Sea watching thousands upon thousands of dead Egyptian corpses floating and they’re singing. “The horse and his rider He has thrown into the sea…They sank like lead...His hand has destroyed them…the Lord is awesome.” This isn’t 21st century worship, going to a garden or something. They’re relishing the blood and guts and it’s a powerful image of the greatness of our God. When He destroys evil nothing brook’s His hand. He has total victory. Pharaoh didn’t go driving off in his chariot, give me a break. And therefore the Pharaoh of the Exodus cannot be Amenhotep II. He’s in a museum. You can go see him yourself. So who is he? Down suggests Khasekemre-Neferhotep I. He comes right after queen Sobekneferu and his mummy has never been found. With the adjusted chronology he’s the Pharaoh of the Exodus.
So once you correct this it solves all the problems. For example, why during Joshua’s conquest, if Palestine was an Egyptian province during that time, why are they not fighting Egyptians? Now we know why. Egypt was ruined, the economy was destroyed, the army was drowned, the Hyksos came in and without a battle took over Egypt. On the secular chronology they were very active during this period, it was the high point of Egyptian power. But in the Scriptures you don’t hear anything out of Egypt for 500 years, five centuries of silence and then the 18th dynasty comes, then we move into the new kingdom, the Hyksos were near the end of the Middle Kingdom and now you can identify them. The Hyksos had a king by the name of Apop. Now it turns out, because of phonetic rules, that Apop can be also Agog. And the Hyksos, Velikovsky believes, answer to what the Scriptures talk about the Amalekites, whose king was Agag, who was slain by Saul. So now, all of the sudden, we begin to get connections. Now the Bible is reporting history, ah-ha, this is what was going on. So there’s some tremendous linkages there, and I just want you to be alert that here again, we come to the principle, we’ve got to let the text speak for itself, and use the Scripture to set up our understanding of history, not the other way around, get our history all from secular sources, and then wonder, “Gee, we got a problem fitting the Exodus in.” Well, maybe the problem is the way we totally misinterpreted history to begin with.
Other linkages when you get to the time of the 18th dynasty, which would be the time of Solomon, you have another queen in Egypt. She was a famous queen. Unknown for a long time to Egyptologists, because this was a very patriarchal, masculine society, but all the sudden we have this queen, and she becomes very powerful. Her name is Queen Hatshepsut, she rules over Egypt. And somewhere during her reign, something happened, and she began to import, into Egypt, she went in and she completely changed the priesthood of Egypt, made changes in the temples. So much so, that when her younger half-brother, Thutmose III ascended the throne he was so angry at what his half-sister had done to all the temples and the religion of Egypt, that he went to every single place where Hatshepsut’s picture was inscribed, and he plastered over it and put a picture of himself. So nobody, for years, even knew Hatshepsut existed, until somebody banged into some plaster and it fell off, and all of the sudden, “Oh gee, look at that.” Well, what they found was a relief of Hatshepsut making a trip to a place called Punt, God’s land. They took a boat for most of the trip loaded with gifts and finished the journey on land. When she arrived she met the greatest wonders of the world, and she brought back some of the treasures. One of the treasures was a specific tree called algum.iv
Almug or algum trees brought back from Queen Hatshepsut’s journey to God’s land.
Those trees, Down’s points out, are the same trees that Solomon gave a queen called “The Queen of Sheba,” and her trees are listed in 1 Kings 10. When you compare Hatshepsut’s journey to God’s land, and look at the trees she brought back to Egypt, and then you look at what Solomon gave the queen of Sheba” you find a perfect correlation. And what did Josephus say about this? He says that the Queen of Sheba was none other than the “queen of Egypt and Ethiopia”v But historians say, “Oh, Josephus, gotta be wrong here, couldn’t possibly be right.” Oh really, why not? He was closer to the time than you are. Why are we getting such nice correlations?
Then her step-cousin, Thutmosis III, when he gets old enough he takes the throne and remember this is in the Solomon era, after Solomon, his son, Rehoboam, is sort of an idiot and he loses the kingdom because he’s so foolish in the way he listens to his advisers, and now he is invaded by an Egyptian Pharaoh named Shishak. This is the first time Egypt is active again as any kind of world power. And the man that Downs identifies as Shishak is Thutmosis III, because when you look at his record he made several military campaigns, some into Palestine, and he brought back articles from a temple there. And if you look in the art depictions of his spoil, lo and behold, it looks like temple vessels described in Exodus. And what does Chronicles tell us? “They took treasures of the house of the Lord” (2 Chron 12:9). The Egyptian depiction of these spoils lists 119 cities that Thutmosis captured and the first one in the list is called Kadesh, and you say, where’s Kadesh, obviously it’s an important city, it’s listed first, it’s not Kadesh Barnea, that was a very insignificant city. Downs argues that Kadesh comes from the Hebrew word Qodesh which means holy, the holy city, what’s the holy city? “Jerusalem,” not a minor city at all, number one on the list, recorded in 2 Chron.
Finally what about the pyramids? How does this change our thinking about them? We know from an abundance of historical records that there was a group of slaves in Egypt called Asiatics. It’s hard to tell how they came to be in Egypt, whether they were enslaved or whether they came of their own accord but from Scripture we can say they came down with Jacob of their own accord. They lived in Goshen which was in the Nile delta and they built things for the Egyptians. What were the building materials? Mud brick. Exod 5:6, “Pharaoh commanded…You are no longer to give the people straw to make brick as previously; let them go and gather straw for themselves.”vi What were the cities in the Goshen region built out of? Mud bricks, cities like Avaris and Tanis. When were they built? 12 dynasty. Everything starts to fit. Here’s one of the pyramids from the 12thth dynasty, pyramid of Amenehmet III’s. It’s made of mud bricks. You can see the straw in some of these pictures.
Mud brick pyramid of Amenehmet III, probably built by Hebrew slaves.
What do other historians say about who built the pyramids? Of course modern historians say, “No, it wasn’t the Hebrews, they were much later. But here’s the ancient historian Josephus reporting in his Antiquities of the Jews. Josephus lived at the time of Christ and he wrote a history of the Jews where he’s trying to supplement the Scriptures. He wrote his book from sources out of a library in Alexandria, Egypt. The Alexandrian library was one of the saddest cases in history, we lost that library, it was burned. But that library at Alexandria had history books on it that probably, if we had had those, we could reconstruct ancient history with very little problem, but it was all burned. But Josephus had access to that library, and he writes in his book that “they [the Egyptians] set them [the Israelites] to build pyramids.”vii But since the standard chronology insists that pyramids were no longer built when the Jews were in Egypt, this report is seen as a figment of Josephus’ imagination. We could go on to show how Rosalie David’s in her 1986 book discusses Sir Flinder’s Petries research from the 1890’s and they found artwork that shows Semitic slaves building pyramids.
In conclusion, notice that to do this re-interpretation, we have had to challenge completely, the modern reconstruction of Ancient Near Eastern history. I’m going to have an appendix on these course notes, like I had appendices last year on geology and biology, and I’ll go into this, the little details of how do you date ancient history. It’s not, by the way, by Carbon 14, it’s by something called Sothic dating, and there’s other kind of things they use, kingdom reigns, and so forth. But the point today is that we are as screwed up here on ancient history as we are in geology, and biology, and physics. I just throw that out, be careful, don’t be like a lot of Christians, even in Bible school, they accept this whole scheme and then they try desperately to fit the Exodus in and make it sort of a quiet little event that happened that nobody remembered inside the new kingdom. The whole thing gets downplayed because there’s no evidence of it in that period. And I don’t think you can stretch the text that far for reasons which we’ve gone through today. The Exodus is too BIG not to have been recognized by people and when you compress the dynasties that’s exactly what you find, the evidence is there it’s just you’ve got it at the wrong time. And this is just another example that the word we live in is a dark place. There are powerful forces at work that have suppressed the evidence. Pagans do not like God intervening in history on this scale. So just like the Creation and the Flood the Exodus gets warped by our pagan society or just outright mocked and rejected on PBS and the History Channel. And we have a responsibility as Christians to not suck up the agenda of the world system but to get in there and do our homework. When we fail to do this it starts eating away at our faith, slowly but surely before you know it you can’t believe God for the simple things. Your faith has been rendered impotent. You can try to believe but let’s face it, if you’re convinced these things didn’t really happen then you’re going to have a very weak faith. And before you know it you’ve retreated to a personal psychological faith that has nothing to do with the real world. It’s just your feeling. And when that happens you’re right where Satan wants you, tamed as a Christian.
i His book is called Ages in Chaos.
th xiv, xvi.
ii The inflations can be explained several ways: by co-regencies, often this is undoubtedly the case. There were also co-dynasties, the kingdom of Egypt was so large that often different parts of the Nile were ruled by different dynasties. To get a much longer Egyptian history you have to see a large part of these cases as successive and not in any way overlapping (though some exceptions do occur even in secular chronologies). And more are likely on the way.
iii Flavius Josephus and William Whiston
, The Works of Josephus : Complete and Unabridged
, Includes Index. (Peabody: Hendrickson, 1996, c1987), Ant 2.202.
iv Sometimes “almug” trees.
v Antiquities viii, vi, 2.
vi Some early pyramids of the 3rd and 4th dynasties were also made of stone for some mysterious reasons but in the 12th dynasty they resorted back to mud bricks.
vii Josephus, F., & Whiston, W. (1996, c1987). The works of Josephus : Complete and unabridged
. Includes index. (Ant 2.203). Peabody: Hendrickson.
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